Many of you have been there: it’s 8am, the coffee has barely kicked in, and the kids need to be dropped off at school in half an hour. But not just your kids, because today is your turn to carpool! Every seat in the back of the minivan is filled, and even though the little voices are happy and chirpy there are just. so. many. of them.
Two years ago, my family made a choice. Premeditated only in our need for change, we sold our house, I quit my job and we moved 300km away. The change we made might have been bigger than the change we needed, but it led us to discover a new way of living, and a new way of being together. We’ve had our challenges and our disappointments, but the choice we made two years ago is one we have never regretted. It was scary, it was hard work, but it was worth it.
How would you like to spend the day combing a beach for artifacts from a long lost shipwreck, or viewing the world from the top of a hundred-year old lighthouse, or climbing the limestone walls of ancient glacier-carved cliffs?
Well, we had the opportunity to do these things and more, and along with my family, I discovered a whole new world in Ontario’s BruceGreySimcoe region.
Summer has been flying by. Well, no, not exactly flying, which insinuates not only speed, but also a degree of grace, some precision, and a destination. Summer here has been a whirlwind. A blur, a stumble, a lark, a poorly choreographed dance that delights in its spontaneity even as we trip over each other's feet.
We have days of enjoyment and moments of pure glee and a few snippets of relaxation, but even in the midst of those, I am scrambling for purchase on a constantly churning sea of obligations.
Growing up in the cornfield awarded my husband a very different teenagehood than I experienced in Toronto’s closest suburb. We have compared notes many times, and now that I am out here in the sticks, it’s interesting to see that (most of) what he said was totally accurate and not just fable. If we’re still here when my own kids are teenagers, they sure are in for a different ride than the one I was on. For better or for worse. To prepare, a short summary of my life in the city vs. my husband’s life in the country when we were teens.
When I was pregnant with my first child (gender unknown), we told my mother that if it was a girl, we were going to name her India. To my husband and me, India was a beautiful, lyrical name steeped in both ancient roots and possibility, and choosing the name for our firstborn child was something we did with the utmost consideration and care. But to my mother, it was a travesty.
India? She practically sneered, WhyIndia? Who comes up with a name like India? We do, we told her, and instantly wished we hadn’t said a word.
For many of us, a bicycle is a tool for fitness, a fashion accessory, a piece of leisure equipment or a seasonal mode of transportation. Perhaps we load a basket up front with produce from the farmers’ market, or a trailer hitched behind with a couple of kids.
A bicycle, for most of us, is not a necessity and won’t make too much of a difference in our day-to-day lives. We have other options for fitness, fashion and transportation. We don’t think about it too much.
When Disney announced that they were giving Merida a makeover, I rolled my eyes (hard) but wasn’t that surprised. If there was ever a concept I would never expect to see, learn or pass on to my children from Disney, it’s gender equality. To whit: the kids finally get a realistic, relatable, strong female protagonist, and Disney wants to whore her up.
Like I said, it’s disappointing, but I expect no less.
I knew before it happened that the bike was about to skid out from under her. The rock was too big to ride over, the sidewalk too narrow to go around it. I called out in warning and concern, but it was too late.
By time I reached my seven-year-old daughter Mischa, she had crawled out from under the bike and was wiping the gravel from her hands and her knees. I pulled her close to me and she burst into tears.
My five-year-old daughter is a bright, happy little imp who pays attention to everything, chatters at me non-stop and likes to tell stories. Sometimes the stories are pure fantasy: magical tales of stuffed animals come to life, having adventures in dreamy, colourful places.
Ah, how quickly childhood ends. Gone are the evenings spent wasting time in the backyard, throwing a ball around, or riding bikes. The weather may finally be warming up, but it's into the house the children go. They are seven years old now, practically grown. There is homework to be done.
The harbinger of all things health admits to Harper’s Bazaar that she is still, “finding the balance between cigarettes and tofu.”
When Gwyneth Paltrow, the glossy, golden good girl that everybody loves to hate, suggests that “any pair of” $255 leggings or $895 Valentino flats will do for your spring wardrobe, I chuckle at the joke it is and wonder if she realizes even for one second per year, how very privileged she is.
After a winter of being a total sloth that concluded with too much Easter goodness, I planned to begin the week (and spring, if it would ever get here) with a cleanse. The plan was simple: follow the recommendations of the product I had chosen to support my cleanse, lose the bloated feeling and at least 5 lbs, and brag to everybody that I had just done a cleanse!
The cleanse I had chosen to do dictated that I spend the first three days drinking nothing but these protein/probiotic shakes plus as much vegetable broth and water I wanted.
It was circumstance and not experience that told me the fist-sized package that had fallen 25 feet to the asphalt was a baby squirrel. At first I thought it was a dried pinecone or a clump of dirt meant to pad a nest that had been freed from the thick web of needles and fallen to the ground. Only when it began to scream — high-pitched, desperate — did I realize it was a living thing that had rained on my driveway, and even then, my immediate thought was, baby bird.
Yesterday, I attended a wonderful class with my younger daughter that was put on by our Early Years Centre and Public Health. It was the second of a four-part class called Feed Your Mind, and it focuses on teaching small children the importance of good nutrition and a love of healthy food, in an interactive, age-appropriate, and delicious forum. We heard stories, did crafts and participated in the preparation and enjoyment of a delicious, healthy meal.
I am a writer and a bit dramatic, so my entire life has been accompanied by a running narrative in my head. I am constantly writing the story of my life—both figuratively and literally. But I have not always been writing the same book.
Parks and Rec registration used to be a highly co-ordinated operation requiring hours of forecasting, strategy meetings, and negotiation. I had to have plans, back-up plans and back-up back-up plans, plus a conciliatory offer at the ready for whichever child would inevitably be disappointed when I did not get them the program they wanted, despite the planning.
I am a rule-follower. I appreciate order and safety and being a good citizen, and will do my part to contribute to order and safety and being a good citizen. This means obeying traffic lights, parking only in designated areas and being respectful of other people’s property, space, and time.