Monday, October 15, 2012

sleepless nights

When I was 19 years old and living in my first apartment one evening a man in a ski mask broke into my little studio apartment and attacked me while I was taking a bath. He hit me hard and held me under the water and began to assault me further. I briefly left my body (passed out) and apparently it scared him enough to make him flee before he could do anything more. I spent a long time unable to shower or bathe without having someone stay in the bathroom and talk to me the entire time. But more than that I lost something, I lost a fearlessness I had always had. A security in myself.

Years later in college one evening I awoke to a man in my bedroom. I shared an apartment but my then roommate was asleep. I had told myself for years I would beat the crap out of anyone who ever tried to harm me like that again, or at the very least scream loudly as I had been unable to do under the water that night. But instead I found myself faced with frozen terror and could not bring out any sounds. My mouth agape trying in vain to scream and unable to even make a whisper, and unable to move I lay there in sheer terror and burning frustration, shame and fear. Thankfully the man was a lost drunkard friend of my upstairs neighbours and had entered the wrong apartment. My roommate was never left to lock the doors at night again. The incident understandably caused a lot of resurfaced trauma, but with time I got past it. But still, that sense of ever feeling totally secure was never really there.

I lived on my own many times since then, and I healed a lot. But then I had children, and one thing that happens when you have children is this very real sense of vulnerability. This awareness at their complete dependence upon you as their parent. It is awe inspiring, and amazing, and terrifying all at once. But for me there was something more, a sense I could never fully protect them, because I knew all too well what could happen, at any time. I lived with my fantastic chosen family/roommate by this time and she worked nights and on more than one occasion when Bliss was an infant I bundled him up at night and whisked us off to her work to feel safe. And on more occasions than I want to remember I sat bolt upright in bed listening to every sound in the house waiting for first light to go to sleep, or waiting for her to get home, whichever was sooner.

But with time I got better, and with more time the roomie switched to days and time went by. And then we moved to rural Canada, a much safer environment, and I had another child and all was well. But recently she began working nights again, and again I hold vigil, awaiting her key in the lock so I can sleep safely. And it makes me so angry, and so sad, and feel so helpless when I should be fearless in caring for my young.

So please, do not ask me why I am up so late, or why I don't sleep. I am doing what I have to, and trying to get by as best I can.

Friday, May 4, 2012

she is 3...


 I cannot believe you are three years old. You are such a gift and so loved. I am so very lucky to be your mama. It took so long for you to come to me and I am just so glad you did. Never stop being you Soul, even when you hit every button and every nerve I have your are so very very perfect and lovely just exactly the way you are. I am so fortunate to be allowed the honour of being your mother and I never forget that, even for a second. I love you baby girl.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

an afternoon at the shore...

Things have gotten very busy of late. Fall swim and Robotic Club have begun. I joined a local Roller Derby team (much more on this later). Putting up 8 cords of wood (and injuring my rotator cuff) and getting the house winter ready.

I have a few back posts I need to get up but thought I would put up some lovely pictures from earlier today. This small beach is about 15 minutes from our home and has the best rocks for rock hunting. The small patch of sand is good for playing as well.

It has been a rough week for me as a parent. So this was a good re-group for me. Just remembering to breathe all day every day is so important in my life and when I get so busy I so quickly forget. Enjoying nature with my children lets me remember in a gentle way.

the tide was really low and the rocks were covered

she hangs on his every word, so precious

Bliss decided to make "sand angels"

experimenting with my camera settings

tiny paper-like seaweed had me captivated at close range

nature is so fascinating and efficient

looks like coral but feels like thin paper

showing it to Soul

yummy neck

Saturday, September 3, 2011

paddling along...

Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing. – Henry David Thoreau

We went to the lake today for some end of summer fun. We go often especially at the end of summer and we are trying to take advantage of any nice days from here on out. Bliss had recently gotten a new body board he wanted to try out and Soul is happiest at the lake or the zoo.

After reading a post by Mikmaq Mama I decided we WOULD try going canoeing this year. I have gone back and forth about this since Soul is 2 and not always happy to sit still. I felt a sense of excitement and tranquility at the thought of gliding across the water with my 2 little loves. A shared new journey to experience together. We got on our life jackets, rented the canoe, grabbed the oars and were on our way.

We went out about 100 feet and started turning around in circles by the large rocks sticking out of the lake and after about 7 minutes I finally got us back in. Next I turned the canoe around and got the kids situated better (and the canoe facing forward finally) and to their delight we were back on our way. This time it went so much better, we took off staying along the edges of Sandy Bottom Lake and headed towards the end 3 coves down. Bliss saying "Mama wouldn't it be amazing to go all the way to the end of the lake?!" 

The wind at our backs, we glided very quickly down to the very end of the lake. My arms felt great to work hard taking my family on a wonderful adventure. My heart soared as we neared the end and I managed to get us turned around. As we headed back the way we came Bliss told me he loved having conversations with me even more in a canoe than in a car. I felt tears of joy sting my eyes.

We got almost out of the cove we were in when we did a few slow circles. I laughed as we tried to right ourselves and head back the way we came. I got us mostly turned around and tried again only to be turned around again and pushed further out away from where we were headed.

My voice strained a bit as I asked Bliss to also paddle. Soul, who has been very over tired of late felt the strain in my voice and began to cry. Bliss comforted her as I was at the back of the canoe and I spoke to her gently. She calmed and we were back on our way.

This time we went in 3 circles and wobbled twice, then we got further out. At this point Bliss mentioned maybe I should use the whistle they gave me. I told him we were not in danger, just seemingly unable to go the direction we wanted. We had already been out a little over a half an hour.

At this point I realized we should have perhaps paddled up current to start and then would have had a nice time getting back "with" the current. Instead we were at the end of the lake fighting currents and waves from passing boats. We turned back around and I paddled as hard as I could and once again I ended up further away and going the wrong direction. At this point I was laughing a lot but Soul was beginning to really cry again.

So we headed for the other side of the lake, made it their swiftly and went ashore in front of a house. I saw some people outside and asked them if it was OK if we parked there for a bit. They were wonderful and I was able to get Soul on dry ground while she cried and asked to nurse.

The women at the house were so sweet and informed me that the winds were really strong today and asked if they could drive us back to the other side of the lake. We could leave the canoe there and they would drive back someone from the rental place to get the canoe back.

We were all so grateful as we drove back but inside I felt a little foolish and sad. I started to berate myself in my head about how I should have known it was too windy and how it was foolish to go out on the lake with just me and the 2 children. We got back to the beach and turned in our stuff. The lifeguards were wonderful and kind. We thanked everyone and went down to our towels. As we were walking Soul said to me "Mama, I like the boat, I like being in the canoe" and I just paused as I kissed her head.

I took a breath and let it all go. 

It HAD been a wonderful adventure. 

It HAD been a great experience. 

And we WILL canoe again.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a play group that wasn't and an opportunity that was....

We decided to go to our local park after swim classes the other day. I had posted on a local FB homeschool page we would be going and we were hoping to run into some friends who regularly meet on that day for a play group.

When we got to the park there was no one there from either group but there was an opportunity. The park has an amazing natural playground that was recently made. I have written about it before here.

Soul is behind me but refused to be in this picture

On that day there were two people from our town's recreation department and from the town maintenance doing work spreading fresh wood chips the town was able to purchase recently from a grant they received.

picture taken by Bliss, the park is called Jubilee Park
We immediately went to work helping them shovel and wheel the chips around to spread them out. The area seems small but it deceptively large.

picture taken by Bliss

Bliss jumped right in helping me shovel and even wheeling the wheelbarrows around to dump the chips. Soul even got her shovel from our sandcastle bucket we keep in the back of our car so she could help too. 

picture taken by Bliss
 I told Bliss what a great opportunity this was for us to volunteer and we had a great discussion about that. He said how much more fun it was and how great it felt to be doing this instead of sliding or running around.

self portrait taken by Bliss

Bliss worked tirelessly for an hour and a half alongside myself and the other men, one of whom was using  a tractor which both thrilled and terrified Soul. She kept asking over and over "is it gonna get me?" and we kept saying "it won't get you" nonstop for about an hour.

taken by Soul

 I finished up clearing the chip pile, they still need to order more, but it took me about a half hour more and while I was shoveling and dumping and spreading and sweating I was also thinking. It IS so much more fun than those other things, and so much more important. We do not do volunteer nearly enough and it is something I want to raise my children to care about and do often. So many people we have met here in Canada do so much volunteer work. It is always so impressive and heart warming.

taken by Soul, I LOVE the toes
So I want to find more opportunities for us as a family to volunteer. What do you do to volunteer? What are your experiences with it? How do you feel about it? I really want to know your thoughts and suggestions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011



I want to talk about my personality a little bit. I am what most would call a "type A" personality. Along with that comes a lot of great things and some not so great things. When I became a mother I began noticing more and more of my personality as it played out in relation to my child(ren).

I had a childhood. WOW, can you believe it, pretty amazing huh? But it is hard to qualify that statement because it is so charged for me. There were some great parts of my childhood, and I treasure many times. But since becoming a mother I have found that I am way less forgiving of the other parts of my childhood than all my years of therapy had led me to believe.

I went through a lot of abuse as a child. A lot. My father damaged my being in so many ways. My mother did as well but the damage done by my father leaves the most bitter taste in my mouth. I went through that abuse until my mid 20's with my father and then just kept finding others to continue that abuse. When I couldn't find others to do it I made sure I abused myself.

At some point after coming out and finding myself and getting to know me more I left behind the need for all that abuse. That led me to know I was ready to become a mother which had always been my plan and dream.

After having Bliss I got the opportunity to re-parent myself in so many ways. So much healing has happened and so much more keeps happening when I stay open to it all.

Oprah says that "Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past can be changed." I think about that quote a lot. I don't think I am stuck thinking things could be changed but I do think they could have done so so so much better and that sometimes makes me wonder if I really have forgiven, or even if I want to. I am continually finding my weaknesses of learned behaviors from my parents maddening.

Let me first say clearly and with great pride I HAVE NEVER EVER LAYED A HAND ON EITHER OF MY CHILDREN. They have never been hit, spanked, belted, thrown, kicked, slapped, or whipped. They never will be by me or anyone else as long as I am their mama. Those were my daily childhood norms and they ALL stopped with me.

But when I lose my shit I yell. And I loathe that aspect of my personality. I want to be better. I want better for them. I do not want them to someday yell at their own children.

In our house we do not use bad words. "Stupid" is never allowed. Neither is "dumb" or "moron" or "jerk". The only name calling that goes on is "dorko morko" and "doofus schmoofus" and calling one another "Perry the platypus". Actually we DO have a habit of cursing one another. You will often hear "Curse you Perry the platypus!" yelled at one another.

But seriously, one cannot stay angry when saying that.

Try it, I dare you.

It works.

But back to the topic at hand. I am trying to get a handle on my yelling. And I know it all comes down to me finding my center. To me working on being. In the moment, finding my breath, finding my calm and knowing no matter what is going on the children are the lights and loves of my life and any trivial thing not going my way is meaningless and if I can just find that truth amid my internal chaos I can come at any situation with peace and calm.

SOOOOOOO much easier said than done.

My Buddhist practice helps me a lot with all this but I still have such a long way to go. With both things. My practice and my finding my inner peace in those situations.

I do not need to know how to center in the lotus position before my altar with incense flowing and calm music playing. I need to know how to breathe when my head feels like it is about to explode.

So I ask you, all 9 or so readers I have at the moment. How do you find calm amid chaos? When your buttons are being slammed (and isn't that always it anyways, it truly is never what my kids are doing or not doing, it is my own buttons getting hit and my reacting to that) and steam is coming out of your nose and ears.

How do you find the calm?

*I changed the font after a few requests, let me know if this is better.*