Friday, 28 June 2013


This was written in Colin's school agenda on Tuesday, by his male supply teacher:

"Colin is a serious boy and a hard worker.  He was the most well-behaved in the class today.  I congratulate him, and thank you for him."

That's the kind of parenting boost you need now and then.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


I am overwhelmed right now with thoughts on bullying.  I devoured our latest book club book, called "Please Stop Laughing at Me" in two days.  Then I watched a documentary on Netflix called "Bully."  So many of the following thoughts deserve entries all on their own, but I'm afraid if I wait until time to address each one properly I'll be so far removed from these initial impressions I won't do them justice.

First of all, I do not believe that pulling a child from a bullying situation is "running away" or "letting the bully win."  It is not preparing them for the real world.  It is leaving them in a dangerous situation.  They are children.  There are adults who cannot handle that kind of abuse so why should we expect our children to live with it day in and day out?  You can bet that I would yank my children in a heartbeat from any situation (bus, school, church, etc) in which they were being mercilessly bullied.  Some might argue that we need to stand up as an example and show others we are not afraid, but the tiger-mother in me would say "not on my child's life."

Second, the bullying culture among pre-teens and teens is not representative of real life.  As adults, we know that we can remove ourselves from an unhealthy situation.  We are not told we must spend our days in a place where people are abusive.  I surround myself with friends with whom I have healthy relationships.

Third, while bullying is much less prevalent in adulthood, it is not entirely absent.  I have been witness over the last year to an adult abusive situation that turned into group bullying, and it has taken me reading this book and watching this documentary to realize that I am playing a part in this horrible tragedy in my role as bystander.  I have been trying to "stay neutral" because I did not want to play the part of judge.  I have extended love, help and friendship, but I have realized that is not enough.  I must stand up and speak out, as an adult who has loving support around me, and stop this terrible behaviour perpetuated by other adults.  The saddest part in the situation I find myself in is that there are children and teens also involved, and they are being shown this bullying behaviour.  I hope they have not learned to model it, yet.  I am re-reading Barbara Coloroso's book "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander" to help give me a clear voice with which to speak.  I want to approach the situation with a calm manner, and stand up for the victimized without judging the perpetrators and without coming across as "holier than thou."  I do not feel hate or anger toward those who are bullying; surprisingly I feel an outpouring of love and hope that their behaviour can be amended.

Because, in the end, I can't imagine anyone can have peace in their heart and a happy outlook if they are part of a situation involving bullying.  I have found, through the years, that any contact with negative emotions and situations permeates your life.  In order to find peace and joy we must live peaceably with each other.

Monday, 24 June 2013


It was a wise God for sure that made day and night in the first period of creation.  I can't be sure, but it's possible that when he did, he had young mothers in mind.

I heard this truth last night: a parent has much more patience with their child when they are curled up sleeping in their beds.  That struck me deeply.  My days with the children are hard.  I have four high energy and highly emotional kids.  I laughed to myself when I read about a mother yesterday who has carved out time to grind wheat and make her own bread every day; right now my days are literally eaten up by just the very basics.  My children are taking up 100% of my energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With so little sleep and such high demand, breaking points come easy.  Patience wanes, tempers flare, exasperation leaks out.  If this is a place to be honest, then there are points in the day when my frustration just boils over.

But at night time, all the trials of the day are washed away.  Watching those little eyes fluttering lightly, the bodies lying across the sheets, and hair matted on their faces, my heart melts.  I want to grab them up into big bear hugs.  Frustration is replaced by adoring love and all the days troubles fade away into nothing.

Morning comes and brings a new day, a fresh start.   Even if I've been up all night with a baby, there is something about the rising of the sun that brings the promise of peace.  Those darling three year old eyes peeking through our bedroom door, or the heavy five year old footsteps clunking to the bathroom, or the lithe seven year old body stretching in bed, or the soft one year old cooing: each brings a smile to my face.

I know the day will not be perfect.  I know I will be at my wit's end at some point in the next 14 hours. But I also know that at the end I will be once again blessed with the coming of the evening, the cycle from day to night and day again, and all their trying behaviour will once again be forgiven and forgotten.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Beautiful summer days

Today is a day like I imagine our summer days will be.

The sun is shining and a light breeze is in the air.  It's hot in the sun and cool in the shade.  A lovely play in the morning, a little music with a friend at lunch, a lazy nap, a little writing, and backyard fun and barbecue with some friends of the boys later in the afternoon.

I picked up two workbook for Colin and Caleb, French books that are called "Heading into Third (First) Grade."  they are designed to help combat the lag in learning that happens over the summer months.  I've told the boys they will each do 3 pages during afternoon nap.  I envision this happening out on the back deck, and then some puzzle fun, or cards, or board games.

A local art shop offers one-off art classes for $25 a session, including materials.  I'm going to sign Colin up for a couple of them.  I want him to get some exposure to other artists, other children creating art, and some new materials also.

July is shaping up quite busily, which is good.  I like to be busy at first and then roll into a more lazy, spur of the moment feel for August.  We have Canada Day up in my Grandmother's town (small town games, three-legged races, face painting, a parade, and fireworks if they can stay awake.)  Then we have a few days of nothing before we literally go from one event to the next: Father's Day Blue Jays game, a week of Vacation Bible School (morning play group activities at a local church), a weekend at an outdoor Pageant in New York and a day at the Museum of Play in Rochester, a week at a cottage with family, Colin's Friday Night Lights Baseball game (at a real big diamond under the bright lights!), then the weekend in St. Thomas seeing the Thomas the Train event.

August will hold the mom and kids camp right in the middle, and I'm also trying to arrange a camping trip with some of our friends and their families.

The rest of the days will hopefully be busy in the morning with trips out, play dates, and parks, and the afternoons quieter with school work, reading aloud, board games, and Lego.

Here we go!

Thursday, 20 June 2013


This afternoon I am sitting down with my lovely "Food is Medicine" book that I LOVE.  I've been reading it off and on for ten years, since we received it as a wedding gift.  I have yet to really implement much yet, because it's really a philosophy that you need to understand really well to put into practice, otherwise it it just a bunch of expensive recipes and foods that don't integrate into your daily diet well.  But I think once this information is second nature to me we will really start to see some benefits.  (And I'm hoping to really get it going come September when I have a little more time to spend in the kitchen.)

Full disclosure: I'm reading this lovely book with a tray of brownies by my side and a bottle of pop on the table :)  Hey, they were leftovers from the party and I don't like anything to go to waste :)

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Happy birthday Juliette

One month

Two months
Three months
Four months
Five months
Six months
Seven months

Eight months
Nine months
Ten months
Eleven months
One year

One year.  How it has flown by.  Juliette, you have stolen my heart.  There is no doubt a special bond between mother and daughter, a bond forged by childhood memories to recreate and future lessons to share.  In you, I will relive the imaginative days of my own youth, and with you I will share the secrets of womanhood I have learned.

Your bright blue eyes capture everyone who gazes on them.  Your smile is so darling, one that you freely give away.  You babble in so many sounds that we strain to listen, sure that it must be a full language, meaningful sentences and thoughts.  You are so close to walking and yet seem to be holding out to give me one last sense that you are still my baby.

You are a force, no doubt.  Your personality is big and strong and you make yourself known.  While your appearance is delicate, your temperament is bold.  Your attachment to me is strong.  Some have noted that it is unhealthy, but I strongly disagree; it is simply a matter of confidence in your mother's fierce love for you.

You have music in you.  From hearing a musical toy sing the french alphabet a hundred times a day, you have adopted a cute way of singing that is the start of that song: "A, B"over and over again, while wriggling your upper torso in a dancing motion.  You love to sit and hear me play the guitar and sing away, and love even more the second guitar we have that you can pluck away along with me.  I love to sit and strum and sing, while you sing your "A, B" with me.

You love your vegetables.  We have yet to pin down your exact food sensitivity, so you can't have anything with grains it, which is tough on you because you want what everyone else has.  But you love pureed sweet potato more than anything, with frozen peas coming a close second.  Chicken is also right up there.  Fruits you eat under protest, and usually only a couple of spoonfuls.

You are a beautiful light to our family.  You have taught your brothers compassion and your parents how to manage four children all at once.  We can't imagine our family without you, and we can't wait to watch you grow day by day (but not too fast!)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Just one

Today James and his dad took the three boys to Canada's Wonderland.  They aren't home yet, but all reports so far have been outstanding.  Other than when, halfway through the day, a ride operator insisted on re-measuring Caleb and measured him 1/2" shorter than when he was measured at the gate.  Then he demoted his bracelet, which meant there were a bunch of rides he could no longer go on, that he had been riding all morning.  TERRIBLE!  I wouldn't have minded had they measured him that in the first place, but to take away rides from a kid?  Caleb had a meltdown for about an hour.  I probably would have, too.  Have some consistency, Wonderland.  Rant over.

With all three boys gone today, it was just me and Juliette.  A little glimpse of what September will hold.  You wouldn't believe all we did today.  I drove down into Brampton to shop for her birthday party supplies.  I painted the front steps.  We went on a 2 hour walk, and a 30 minute bike ride.  Juliette rode in her bike carrier seat on the back of my bike for the first time.  We did a mini photo shoot.  We played the guitar and sang songs.  We cleaned up the house.  We had lunch and dinner together.

You know what I realized?  How incredibly draining Benjamin can be.  I wrote a couple of days ago about having a non-compliant child, and some methods I'm trying to use in dealing with him.  But I didn't realize just how much of my time and attention (like, all my time and attention) he demands every day until he wasn't there to demand it.

Benjamin requires 100% of your attention.  Half of the time its because he's asking for something or needing something, and the other half of the time its because he's going to do something that will harm himself or someone else.  You literally cannot drop your guard for a second with him.  And trying to get him to do anything requires either a genius level kind of mental coercion, or a really great trick, or good old coaxing and bribery.  Simple tasks like getting dressed, eating dinner, or going to the bus stop are great sources of stress because it's never a matter of just asking.

To sum it up, for one entire year now, Benjamin has demanded every moment of my day, and Juliette has demanded every moment of my nights (she still wakes every 2 hours.)  Well no wonder I'm zapped!  At any rate, while I'm sure I'll miss his cheery smile, infectious laugh, and my sports/outdoorsy companion, school in the fall will provide the first break I've had since Colin was a year old.  It will be a treat to spend some one on one time with my little girl.

We have lost our way

We have lost our way.

We are not wandering in a dark wood, arms outstretched, pleading in the mist for a tiny ray of light to shine on a path.

Rather, we are wandering in a massive city of towering buildings and flashing lights and blinking billboards.  

We are not lost in a vast emptiness.

We are lost in a bustling city.  We are standing in the middle of Times Square, holding three different maps and our GPS in the air trying to get reception.  We are in a sea of street signs pointing left, right, up and down and everything in between.  Ours eyes are blinded from the flash of street lights promising to bring order to the chaos.  We are bumped and jostled by a million other people who walk with purpose and yet some of them, some of them, must be lost also.

Never has there been more information available to us, more "how-to" guides, more DIY guides, more encouragement and methods and masters and teachers and books and theories.  How can we possibly lose our way with a million ways we could go?

We have lost our way.

In centuries gone by, they did not have the luxury (paralyzer?) of so much information.  They had to raise their children with only two tools: the experience of friends and family in their community, and their mother heart.

Oh, how we distrust our mother hearts today!  We are women, with the specific physical anatomy to bear children, but we also have the specific emotional makeup to raise them.  Sharing experiences and information has always been an important method of learning and growth, but the plethora available to us today has caused us to distrust or ignore the very essence of motherhood within us, that little voice that says you know your children better than anyone else.

We have lost our way.

How different would our lives be if we lived in a world without blogs, home shows, parenting/decorating/fashion magazines?  I might not have a cute house with handmade decorations from upcycled toilet paper rolls.  I might not have colour coordinated birthday party decor.  I might not have a thousand pounds of guilt about turning on the TV so I could make dinner, and another thousand pounds of guilt because of the packaged dinner I made.  I might not get caught up in the convincing writing of experts without carefully considering the other side.  I might not sign my children up for little league and music lessons and talent-honing classes to create "well-rounded children."

We have lost our way.

We have lost what it is we want our children to become; not professional sports players or Carnegie Hall performers or Oscar-winning actors.  We are filling our time with pursuits that are marketed to my children because they are of a certain age or live in a certain area.  We have lost our way in connecting with each individual child to see how they should spend their time so that they can become who they are destined to be.

We are lost under the mounting pressure of being the perfect parent, when the definition of perfection is all wrong!

We are lost!  But our compass is within.  It is that mother heart.  It has always been there, but now we must turn inward and patiently wait while the arrow finds true north and points us in the direction that the ever-faithful arrow always finds.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

To my sons

" sons, and be men!"

I read this in my scripture study today and it leapt right off the page.  I feel the importance of the work I am doing as a mother, but especially so when it comes to my boys.  There is a failure in the world today to teach boys that they must be men, that they must take responsibility to care for their families, and that this involves hard, honest work.  There is a deep-seeded vice of wanting the easy way out, the path of least resistance, to gain the greatest reward for the least amount of work.  There is a propensity to shirk the blessed calling of fatherhood for the vain pursuits of money, pleasure and power.  It makes me weak in the knees to think of raising boys in this culture.

And so I want to affirm to my boys that they need to "arise and be men!"  Be a man as you learn in your youth, filling your mind with knowledge and your heart with the Spirit.  Be a man as you work in your younger years to save for an education or a house for your future family.  Be a man as you serve other around you, giving two years of your life to the service of your God on a mission.  Be a man as you choose a lovely young woman to marry for eternity, and treat her as the queen she is.  Be a man as you father children, standing by your wife as you raise them up to be men.

I pray I will not shirk from the responsibility of raising my boys into men.  I hope I will have the courage to discipline sharply when needed, to not coddle them as they learn the tough lessons of life.  I want them to know of my unconditional love while understanding that that can be manifest both as tender love and sharp rebuke.

Arise, my sons, and be men!

Monday, 10 June 2013


My friend was commenting how her 4 year old refers to the past and present as either "yesterday" and "today."  No matter when in the past, it's always "yesterday."  No matter when in the future, she always calls it "tomorrow."

It made me realize how Benjamin refers to time.  Everything that happened in the past, he calls "last year."  And everything in the future is "next Thursday."  I can't be sure why, but here's my guess.  Because of my illness with Juliette's pregnancy, time became very drawn out.  Not much happened at all during that year (nine months) and so everything in my timeline happened "last year."  In terms of "next Thursday," I think its because Thursday has always been our really busy day.  I have almost nothing planned the rest of the week, but Thursdays had preschool, bible study, ball hockey, baseball and band.  So I'm thinking that maybe it came from me constantly saying that things were happening "next Thursday."

Saturday, 8 June 2013


Why aren't we perfect?

There is a general idea that if we learn enough, read enough, teach ourselves enough, we can come closer and closer to perfect.  So, if you take humanity in its entirety, we've been around for so many thousands of years that we should be fairly close to perfect by now.  All the knowledge and experience should have brought us so far from the first humans on earth.

And yet, of course, we are not.

No amount of knowledge accumulated in the world will propel us, because we as humans can't simply amass lessons from other's experiences and immediately be "better."  Even throughout time historians guess we have gained and lost great amounts of knowledge.  The great library of Alexandria is considered to have had many answers we still don't have today.

Life is an individual journey.  I have realized this as I walk my own steps and learn my own lessons.  there have been billions of mothers who have lived and raised children, and yet I must gain my own experience.  Reading about their journeys will give me some insight, and it will help shape me as I go, but change is something that must be engaged in personally.

For example, think of the typical image of new parents.  They look at their tiny baby and worry over every fever, sterilize their baby spoons, adhere strictly to the diet guidelines, and check off baby milestones on a chart.  Three children later that same parent will be much more relaxed, realizing those little things don't matter much, that their child will eventually walk and talk and each more dirt than was ever washed off their baby spoon.  And yet each time new parents are hyper protective.  You see, reading about being relaxed will never affect them the same way that experience will.  Only the act of raising 3 or 4 babies will move them from one state to the next.

And that is why this quest for perfection is ridiculous.  If I could simply read all the parenting books out there and learn myself into the perfect parent, then we would live in a perfect society.  But I can't.  I must experience each stage on my own.  Likewise, I must travel my own path to spirituality, my own path to household organization, my own path to friendship, my own path to love.  Many people have gone before, many have even done it much better than I.

I love to read and learn.  I devour books and ideas as though I'm starving.  But even then, if I'm not ready to experience that knowledge in real life (if my own journey is not there yet) then there is the unmistakable feeling that something is just out of reach.  I cannot force feed myself experience.

We must accept that the years will change us.  We must accept that many of our ideas, however solid they seem now, will slowly, almost imperceptibly, change through time.  We must allow the journey to pass in ourselves, and in others, and be tolerant of that change.  Experience is not hypocrisy, although some intolerant or inexperienced or unenlightened people might accuse it as such.  I hope for change, I yearn for change.  I do not want or expect to be the same at the end of my life as I was at the beginning.  I want to embrace this journey, not be afraid of it.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Down the road

The announcement yesterday from our provincial government that getting a teacher degree would now take two years instead of one got me thinking about life down the road.  Since I'm not currently homeschooling (though not ruling it out down the road), in three years my kids will all be in school.  So what will my days look like then?

I don't see myself entering the work force full time.  I want to be able to devote 100% of my attention to my kids whenever they are home.  So that means getting all the cleaning, cooking, and shopping done during the day.  It means taking any personal time, reading, research or completing projects while they are at school.  And it means that once they are home I can help with projects, homework, personal enrichment projects for the kids, develop talents and interests, and taking them to any extra curricular activities they want to be involved in.  It means being able to take a kid out for a special lunch or go with them on a field trip, or run music/sports/arts programs in their school.

That being said, I still hope to contribute to our family financially.  But instead of one job that I attend on a regular schedule, I see myself as dabbling in small projects here and there.  I don't want a music business, but I would love to hire myself out as a pianist for events.  I don't want a photography business, but I do see myself doing family portraits or special occasions.  I don't think I would write day in and day out, but I do have some writing ideas I want to pursue.  I don't want to be travelling all over as a public speaker, but I would love to do some functions a few times a year.

I've always been a "jack of all trades, master of none" so to speak, and that's exactly how I see life "down the road" shaping up.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The modern day woman

I was listening to a radio broadcast the other day about how to help the business world realize the value and experience of a mother.  Many women take time out of the working world to raise their children and then when the kids are older, the women decide they want to reenter the workplace.  Trouble is, today it is very hard to explain to employers exactly what happened in the ten year (or other) gap between employable jobs.  While there is talk about how stay at home mothers aren't "just moms" it hasn't yet translated to the workplace.

There have been lots of lists made about the number of hours moms work, the various job titles and responsibilities they fulfill daily, and the equivalent salary in the working world.  But it wasn't all these that jumped into my head; instead it was a passage of scripture written more than two thousand years ago.  You see, there is a strong tradition in the Jewish faith of how hard working the women are, and it was so much more than making meals and bathing the children.

So here is the list from Proverbs 31, the definition of a "virtuous woman."  I've taken the liberty of translating the list into modern-day equivalents, so the passage can be applied more easily to us women today.

1.  Her husband husband can trust her fully, 100%.
2.  All of a woman's actions toward her husband will be positive, encouraging, and of help to him in all areas of his life.
3.  She works around the house busily, not idling throughout the day but always actively engaged in keeping up her house.
4.  She plans healthy, nutritious meals, making sure to prepare a variety and tailors the meals to the physical needs of her family.  She learns about food and its nourishing and healing properties.  She seeks out the best value.
5.  She gets up first in the morning to get things going, so that she has a handle on things by the time the rest of her family get up.
6.  She finds ways to help in the monetary contribution to her family.  She might contribute in small projects to earn money, or help in her husband's work to ease his load if it is too heavy.
7.  She strengthens her body, exercising, making sure she is fit and strong so that she can endure long days of hard work, both physical and mental.
8.  She is industrious in the home, looking for things she can make instead of purchase, or mend when broken.  She learns how to do home repairs so that they do not have to rely on outsourcing.
9.  She helps those in need, with less than she has.  She prepares food, donates clothing and items no longer needed.  She supports them emotionally without judgment.
10.  She takes care in her appearance, dress and grooming.
11.  She allows her husband time to study spiritually so that he can lead out in the home.
12.  She educates herself, learning new things, keeping up on current events.
13.  She stays calm, peaceable, speaking in kind tones with her family.
14.  She oversees every aspect of the home.
15.  She takes time to build her own faith.

I love and loathe lists: I love them because it gives me something obvious to work toward.  I loathe them because they make it easy to measure failure as much as success.  This is not a list I have perfected, or one that I even think I ever could.  But what I take from it is that I want to have a good wok ethic and be well organized.  If I am not idling time away in the day, if I am not pitying myself because of lack of sleep, I am doing well.  I don't need to run myself off my feet, but instead work steadily throughout the day, moving from one thing to the next, gradually working my way through a laid-out plan, then I am doing well.  If I have well-thought-out goals for myself and my family and try different ways to help us achieve those goals, then I am doing well.

I am doing well.

I am not perfect, but I am doing well.

(Some might read this and think "but what is the husband doing in all this?"  Well, that is a post for another day.  This is about me, from where I come from.  And I should also note this isn't about a woman being less than a man, of less worth or value, or of being a servant in the home.  This about about love.  I love my husband and want to do all that I can for him and my family.  I may not be a servant in my home, but I want to serve those I love, giving them everything I can.)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

A non-compliant child

These days, one of the buzz words for children's behaviour is "compliant" or "non-compliant."  A compliant child is one who will generally follow instructions and obey requests with little resistance.  These kids are often pleasers, who like to do as they are asked because they like making others happy, or they enjoy the rewards of being obedient.  Non-compliant children have to be coaxed into doing things.  Their initial instinct is to take the opposite side of everything.

I was a compliant children because I liked the reward.  James was a compliant child because he liked to please others.  Colin and Caleb are both compliant children.

Benjamin is not.

No, not by a long shot.

Ben is a kid who will take the other side even if it means he loses out on something he really wants, even if he would have probably chosen your side in any other circumstance.  Benjamin sees a challenge in every statement and request and direction.  And he is challenging out parenting skills every single minute of the day.  (It's exhausting.)

The other day after a rough morning, James was off-loading about how he just doesn't get where Benjamin is coming from.  James didn't understand how Ben doesn't see that life would be pleasanter for all if he just did as he was told.

The next evening, this happened:

It was Ben's bedtime.  We've been having trouble getting him to stay in bed.  So I explained to Benjamin that if he got out of bed, he would lose his pancake breakfast in the morning and would have to have cold cereal instead.  5 minutes later he was out of bed.  James put him back and told him if he got out again he would lose his TV time.  Then we took away his bike riding time.  And so on and so on until at 10pm he came down again and James said "That's it!  Now you lose..." his voice trailed off. There was nothing more we could take away from him.  Benjamin was put to bed another 3 or 4 times, before he finally fell asleep.

Finally at 10:15pm we won.

Actually, no we didn't.  Yes, Ben was sleeping, but not because of anything we did.  He just finally decided to go to sleep.  He didn't care about any of his lost beloved activities. He actually reminded us in the morning that he was only having cereal.  He shrugged his shoulders at the lost TV.  He pouted for a moment at the bike, but then just took off at a run.

As I reflected on the experience, I was struck with the only answer: I have to refuse to play his game.  From now on, he has three things he can lose: fancy breakfast, TV episode, and bike riding.  If he gets out of bed three times, he's lost them all.  After that, I just ignore him.  There's no percentage in my wasted energy of fighting with him to go to bed; he'll only end up going when he decides he's ready.  My hope is that if he loses those three same things consistently for days on end he'll eventually decide if it's really worth it.

And therein lies the parenting moment for the future.  This is a kid who will likely always push boundaries.  My job will not be to break him and mould him into a compliant child.  He will never, ever be one.  Instead, it will be my job to make sure he understands that every action has a consequence.  Ben will always weigh the consequence versus his desire to do something against the rules.  Sometimes (as he does even now as a three year old) he will choose the consequence and forge ahead full speed anyway.  But I hope as he grows and the consequences get more serious that we will have armed him with enough good sense to steer clear of the decisions that might land him in jail, or get a girl pregnant, or something that will have a lasting effect on his life.

There will be times when the consequences are not life-threatening or life-altering, like not doing school assignments or not working effectively in a job.  As his mother I will want to step in and defend him, save him, shelter him.  But as his mother it will be my job to stand aside and allow him to feel the full brunt of the consequences of his decision.  Only in this exercise, now and in the future, will he learn how to succeed as a non-compliant personality.

Monday, 3 June 2013


A couple of months back Caleb invited a friend over.  He and his mom came on a Saturday morning to play and chat.  I will admit that as an introvert, I don't often stretch myself to make new friends.  I'm terrible at small talk, and often find myself sitting in silence, unsure of what to say next.  Luckily, this woman, Parisian by birth, had honed the European trait of easily sharing yourself and opened herself up like a book.

By the end of the morning, I was surprised at how much of her story she so easily shared.   Her journey to Canada involved a love affair with a married man with a crumbling marriage, her spending years as a mistress, her ultimatum, a wedding she planned while he was oversees, her emigration from a beloved country, the heartache of infertility, one miracle baby, the ostracizing from his family, her journey to personal acceptance and spiritual stability... all these pieces and more as if we were discussing the weather.  We even found a surprising connection between the two of us (her husband's nephew was a good friend of mine in university.)

After she left, I reflected on this new woman I had come to know.  She was so very, very different from me (including being much older).  I could not relate to much of her experience.  Even our moral and spiritual centres were miles apart.  And yet there was the spark of friendship there.  It made me realize how much value variety can have in our lives, if we let it in.

So often we are drawn to those with similar ideas, ideals, viewpoints.  We shy away from those who differ.  Perhaps we are afraid of their challenge to our own selves, or perhaps we feel we have no common ground on which to start, or perhaps we wonder what on earth we would talk about.  But if we fill our circles with only those who believe exactly what we already believe, and know what we already know, how can we possibly be stretched and grow?  Only by exposing ourselves to the beautiful variety in life can we find exciting new parts of ourselves.  And even if we hear something new and don't agree, it should solidify our own views, not threaten them.

I regularly check in on three blogs, three "virtual friends" so to speak, even though I've only ever met one of them in person.

One is a mom to 5 kids at home range in age from 5 to 15.  She's a few years ahead of me in parenting, and I like to see what's down the road.  Her kids go to the local public school and are crazy busy involved in sports, music and other activities.    Her parents are best-selling authors of parenting books, and she's always got great lists and tips and parenting ideas.  She's a go-go-go kind of mom who has lots of plans for every stage of life.

One is a mom to 3 children younger than mine.  She's a feminist who challenges the status quo.  She's a brave and honest writer who tackles really tough subjects like pornography addictions and her feelings about femininity and self-image.  She's a free spirit with a really strong personality.  She writes her opinions passionately and firmly.

One is a mom to 8 children from newborn to pre-teen.  She and her family live on a country property with a large greenhouse and garden and several animals.  She home schools and home churches.  She has built her community mostly at home.  She loves to challenge her own ideas and the ideas of others, constantly on a search for truth.  While a house with ten people can't be quiet, there is a feeling of peace that emanates from her writing about her life.

These three women are about as different from each other as you can possibly imagine, and each one imparts such a different view of life.  I love my exposure to each of them, and I feel equally drawn to what they each have to offer.  I wonder if the result is that my own life is a harmonious mix of these three, or a chaotic melee.  Whatever the end, one thing is sure: this kind of variety stretches me beyond my own settled comfort zone as I grow year by year.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Honesty (part two)

Wonder why I called that last entry "Honesty?"  It wasn't about revealing that I might be pregnant.  I was about being honest about my feelings about maybe being pregnant.  Because I know the reaction to such feelings would be varied, possibly critical, possibly judgemental, and hopefully a little supportive and understanding also.  When you put something on the web, you open yourself up to all of that.  In fact, even by putting it in print and leaving it for posterity opens you up to all that.  Sometimes I worry as I write here that one day my kids will read these entries and wonder at the emotions and thoughts I had.  I've often thought "should I sanitize what I write?"  Should I leave out the dark feelings?  The doubts?  The hard times?  In the end, I decided, no.  Honesty, as long as it's not destructive, can actually be helpful, not only to myself (in getting things out and finding support from friends) but also to others who may be struggling in the same way.

And so I let myself record those "freaking out" feelings.  If it ended up I was pregnant, those feelings wouldn't be about wishing a child wasn't here.    A fifth baby would be loved, wanted and cherished, even if he or she was not "planned" in the traditional sense.