Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thanksgiving: a good time for reflections and meltdowns...not necessarily in that order

It is one of those days.
You wake up groaning because you suddenly have a sinus cold and you are acutely aware of the fact that you stayed up much too late last night cooking food for today's big dinner and should have gone to sleep instead so that you had the physical wherewithal to fight off the cold you will battle all day
You drag your sore self out of bed, you rush around getting four people ready for church while your husband grabs a shower and gets himself ready. You grumble, you complain. You say to yourself, "Just once I would like the luxury of getting only myself ready and YOU can get the kids ready. Just once." Which you know is a complete lie. You would like that to be the case more than once.
Your kids are dressed, diaper changed, breakfast eaten, hair is done and you venture into your closet to find something to wear. And then you realize you have nothing to wear. You pull down the basket of seasonal clothing because it has snowed and you realize that you cannot get away with one more Sunday in summer capris. You rifle through your seasonal clothes and see everything that you've worn for the last two years. You realize that the last time you went shopping for clothes was in a second hand store. Your mind floats to the images of the beautiful women at church. Women, who it would seem, have just stepped out of a catalogue. You try not to be envious as you think of a friend who has $70 high heel boots. You love this friend. And yet, all you can think of is, "Just once....just once, I'd like the luxury of being able to spend $70 on something other than groceries! Something on myself." Which is a lie, of course, because you really want it more than once.
So instead you take a deep breath, you try and tell yourself that your friend and her husband both work and have no kids. You have a different course that you are on. You are not willing to go into debt for clothes, you are living on a single income so that your kids can have you at home, you are being obedient to the things God wants you to do. But your heart betrays you and you find yourself still wanting those high-heeled hooker boots and a suede skirt, knit sweater and fitting accessories.
In frustration, you approach the mirror and realize that if you were any good with scissors you would chop off all your hair and give yourself a haircut that would somehow take away the dramatic reality of the dark bags under your eyes. You fiddle with your hair clip, and hairspray and swear to yourself that if paper bags placed over your head ever come into style you will champion their cause.
Checking the time you yell, with a voice far from meek, that in 10 minutes we're leaving whether anyone is in the car or not. You grab the vacuum and dramatically clean the carpets thinking, "Just once, just once, I would like it if I wasn't the only person who cared about how the house looked." Which, of course, is a lie because you'd like it to be more than once.
And as you miserably vacuum the floor--aware that you will have to wear running shoes with your outfit because you have no appropriate footwear (hooker boots included), that you look like you just came out of the laundry pile because you have had to get three children ready, that your hair is a possible example of a bad hair commercial--you ask yourself, "Why the bloody hell am I doing all this?"
And as you vacuum, you answer yourself, "Because it's Thanksgiving, and I want to celebrate it with my friends and family."
And then you stop. The vacuum hose falls to the floor as you cover your face and start to cry.
It's Thanksgiving. A day to be thankful. A day to count your blessings. A day to rejoice that your son isn't fighting in Afghanistan, that your husband has a job, that your children are healthy, that you have clothes to wear, a house to clean, a vacuum that works, food to have dinner with and friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving with.
And you think to yourself, "Just once, just once, I'd like the luxury of not comparing myself, not complaining about my life, not focusing on myself."
And then you decide that that "once" is now. Today you will be thankful and be grateful to God for all His blessings. Today your whole heart will praise Him for His goodness and favour towards you. Today you will say "thank You".
And not just once.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

True Story

When I was in kindergarten, I told my classmates that I rode a horse to school everyday.
I lived in the country, it was possible. But it wasn't true, of course. Obviously.
I just wanted to be cool like the girl with boundless energy, pretty hair clips, and the pudding pop snacks in her lunch pail.
I was questioned by her and her groupies as to why the horse wasn't standing outside waiting for me when it was time to go home.
I told them, with a straight face, "I just slap it on its bum and it knows the way home."
True story.

During show and tell a kid named Clinton stood up and bragged about the gift his Dad got him. I am from a family of four and cool gifts happened--just not as often as Clinton's did. My Dad was currently in Toronto and we were very excited about him flying home on a plane that night. So I stood up and took my turn with Show and Tell. I told the kids how my Dad was flying on a plane, and how he was in Toronto...and that he was bringing me a tricycle from Toronto.
I still remember the look on my teacher's face when I said that. It was one that was mixed with the arched eyebrow that questioned whether or not I was telling the truth or really believed it and hoped it would happen, crossed with the wide eyes of "how in the world would he fit that in his suitcase!"
True Story.

I sometimes sit by myself and laugh out loud when I'm alone. I'm thinking of what a tricycle would look like in my Dad's brown suitcase. And how a horse would determine which road to turn down in order to get to my place.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


It happened.
And it always seems to happen in the grocery store.
The grocery store is always an adventure when I take my kids. I could go by myself, but
1.there are so many teachable moments for my kids in a grocery store that I always take them along.
2. I have precious few hours with my husband in the evening and I like spending it with him rather than the melon man and the checkout girl
3. If I went by myself that would probably happen during my scheduled alone time during the week, and in my books, it doesn't count to have alone time when you are with the melon man and the checkout girl.

Our Little Man was blissfully sleeping in his car seat while we piled high our cart with all the trimmings for our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner this weekend. I was trying to be thorough and yet quick since I was aware that Our Little Man had been sleeping for quite awhile and that when he woke up he would start wailing for his food.
We had only encountered a few teachable moments (no, we don't lie on the floor at the supermarket, yes, you can have ONE box of Kraft Dinner,no, we don't pester the melon man with unwanted bird facts and you stay with Mommy and stop hiding in the aisle because you are freaking me out!)I headed for the checkout line thankful that I had made it this far without complete catastrophe.

And that's when it happened.

I had a rather large order. It's $200 Tuesday--you spend $200 and you get $25 dollar gift card. So, with Thanksgiving coming this weekend, my cart was full. And the checkout girl at the counter was in no particular hurry.
I live in a small town and so stopping and chatting with every patron is just part of the checkout girl's job--being thorough, taking her time...precious minutes slipping away only to equal up to the throaty yell of my newborn son!

He cries for his food, he wants his mother, he hates his car seat.
Pick a reason.
He's loud and he's awake. But I don't panic because I'm nearly ready to pay and the littany of endless chatter with the checkout girl and her conversation with the people next in line is almost at an end.

And then it really happened.

I was blindsided. I didn't see it coming because my back was to my baby and I was paying the cashier who had finally stopped talking and was taking my money.
I turned around and some woman in her forties had her hands all around my baby's face, stroking him, cooing him and telling him everything was going to be ok. Her face, mere inches from his, breathing her breath into his face.
My jaw was open. I stood shocked, and tried to find my voice to say, "Hey lady, get away from my baby."
And just as I find my voice, the lady sees that I'm finished at the counter and she steps up to pay and starts her conversation with the checkout girl once again.
I stand for a moment, wondering how I couldn't get the words out of my mouth. Praying that she didn't stick her finger in my son's mouth to keep him quiet as he has suddenly settled. I temporarily think about finding the melon man and asking for a large pumpkin to carry as arsenal to throw at anyone who attempts touching my child without asking.
And I leave the store feeling as though I had missed the opportunity to protect my child.

I leave completely blindsided.