Parenting a child is a daunting task. No matter whether you give birth, adopt, find one in some reeds somewhere, or otherwise legally procure a infant human being, taking on the responsibility of parenthood is not for the weak. Not only are you responsible for raising a person who other persons can tolerate, but you are also in charge of giving this person their first identity marker: their name.
We all have emotional baggage we carry with us throughout our lives. Some of us are lucky enough to cart our feelings around in Louis Vuitton, others have department store duffles or plastic bags from Longos. My luggage is a blue plastic basket, and lately it has become too emotionally weighted to lug around any longer. It doesn’t hold broken dreams, or lost loves, or resentment for my parents, but rather a huge tangled pile of mismatched, odd socks.
Mother’s Day is coming, and greeting card aisles marked “For Mom” are crowded and picked clean. Finding the right card was always a challenge for me, because my relationship with my mother was unconventional and cordial at best. When she and my father separated in 1978, I was five and although divorce wasn’t rare, that my mother left (and left us with) my father was.
There is no lack of writing fodder when you have a teenager, and no lack of things that will drive you crazy. It's hard to tell ahead of time what is going to irk you, and even those amongst us with patience to rival the saints will straight up lose their shit at the 27th apple core pulled from under a bed. Hey, at least they're eating fruit, I guess.
Every year as the holidays approach, the inevitable panic sets in. As sure as my neighbour's 37 light-up inflatable snow globes will be shining in my bedroom window at midnight, I'll also find myself frozen in fear at the thought out "getting it all done." And surely "getting it all done" is not the spirit or point of the season, no matter which holiday you enjoy/endure with your family.
There are several universal truths amongst parents, and I'm no different from you when I say I love my children more than anything. I want them near me always, but not necessarily with me always. That is because another parenting truth (albeit, relatively unspoken universal parenting truth) is that one day, we'll want the space they occupy back. I have big plans for the two bedrooms my kids currently use.
Only a few more sleeps until Halloween, and if you blink, it's going to suddenly be October 30 and you’re standing in the department store with a sobbing child forced to choose between “Ugly Troll with Wart” or “Super Ugly Troll with Multiples Warts” costumes. This is a busy time of year in Canada and while many of us still have leftover cranberry sauce in the fridge after Thanksgiving, there are now also pumpkins to be carved and candy treats to be bought/hidden/consumed and bought again.
Canadians and Americans have many common interests and traditions - Thanksgiving amongst them. However, we are two completely different countries with our own ideas of how things should be done ....cough cough ...Donald Trump... cough cough... so it's no surprise that the same holiday is experienced in unique ways in each nation.
Who doesn't love music? I know I've never met anyone who thought "Music? Nope." except maybe that jerk dad in Footloose, and frankly, he was sort of an asshole. It's a universal language and humans respond to it on a primal level like no other stimuli. Even before babies are born they respond to music. Children learn effectively from it (hello, Schoolhouse Rock); teenagers lie to their parents and board trains headed for large cities to hear it (Ozzy; CNE Grandstands, 1987; good times), and then...and then? What about the adults?
Can you imagine being born into a world before television existed or having a car wasn't common for the average family? And then living to experience all the technological advancements the modern digital world affords? Seventy years is not a big segment of time, historically speaking, and yet many seniors — like my own Grandmother — have lived across these two parallels. Contrast that with people born in the last two decades, and this is the only world they know.
Finding a suitable name for your baby can be an overwhelming task, and one that may come in second only to "push human infant from soft parts" in the pain factor. Everyone wants to weigh in, and you may even have pressure from family members to choose a traditional family favourite, like Ralph or Bumstead. (Sorry; NOPE.) Instead, why not start your new baby out with some edge? There are no pablum-flavoured names here in this list.
There are many things common convention tells us under the guise of keeping us safe and happy; things like “stay away from a Mama Bear with her cubs,” or “avoid small patterns if you’re pear-shaped,” or “Jeni, for the love of God, please do not wear that crocheted beer-can hat to my parents' anniversary party.”
I bet you’ve even told your kids such things. We’ve all told a child to watch their fingers in the car door, lest they be chopped off, but we know that never happens.
How do you like your steak or burger? Medium rare, well-done, or with a sharp jabby death spike hidden in the centre?
If you are using one of these bristle style BBQ cleaners to clean your grill, BBQ, or smoker, it's a very real possibility your next patio party will wrap up in an operating room, and no wine pairs well with that.
Parenting in the modern age presents many challenges (hello, Pokemon GO), but we often forget to think about all the great and new ways it makes our job as parents easier. People are, as a rule, generally glass half-empty thinkers, and it's hard to shake; after all, that's the thinking that kept us alive when large animals roamed the earth looking for snacks. And heaven forbid if your child lost a finger to a wooly mammoth's chomper, there was no doctor in sight, let alone one who accepted after hours email or did cave-calls.
I also sing in the car, at the grocery store, in line at the passport office, and while I am walking my dog. I sing in the school carpool, at my friends' houses, and in the stirrups at the doctor's office. It seems I sing everywhere but where one might normally sing, but it makes me happy and I have never been told to stop - yet.
Babies are cute and cuddly for a reason - and it's biological. Nature makes them adorable so we want to care for them; it's an aspect of our species survival and it's what makes it impossible to ignore chubby baby cheeks on a human, yet be able to walk straight past a newborn rat or brand-new puddle of wasp larvae.
However, once said babies are toddlers, those stinging wasps may make better company. If you have, had, or know toddlers, some of these experiences are going to look familiar.