My piano takes up a fair amount of space.
For many years I have moved it from one rental house to the next, accepting the extra costs of hiring special piano movers. It’s a beautiful bulky piece of furniture, and in Toronto-sized rentals, it never really fit in. But, throughout the years of enduring small spaces, my piano survived — including one very close call.
About ten years ago, tired of hauling it around, I paid to have my piano carted to a music store where it was put on sale, but as soon as a family was interested in buying it, I regretted my decision.
“NO! I changed my mind! It’s not for sale!”
So, I again hired piano movers to return my beloved instrument to me.
Following its rescue, I was riddled with guilt. Sometimes I still relive that day, how close I came to saying goodbye to an inanimate object that, for all its loveliness, has no feelings whatsoever.
Let me give you some background on this love:
When I was a child, I wanted a piano so desperately I could feel the ivory keys beneath my fingers long before we’d ever met.Then, at the age of eight, my dream came true. I arrived home from school one day, and it had been any other ordinary day, until I opened the door and saw my mom beaming. A few feet behind her stood a brand new black piano; It was gleaming and gorgeous and proud in the way pianos are.
I was confused.
My parents certainly couldn’t afford the luxury of a piano, especially for a hobbyist player such as myself, yet, there it was. Later I learned that my mom had arranged a loan from my grandfather to pay for it, and she was radiating joy when she saw the look on my face. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. Until that day, I’d been practicing notes on a sheet of paper with the keys marked on it, which, I can assure you, is a rather lackluster way to learn. For years, I tinkered away on those keys. Then a little less, and a little less still.
By my late teens, I didn’t play at all.
Yet, there remains an unwavering emotional attachment to it. It symbolizes how much my mom supported my dreams and passions and that is everything. Eventually, I stopped moving around so much. I bought a house, had a child with the love of my life and, eventually, we married. Our son is almost two-and-a-half years old and lately the piano — which he calls the ‘iano’ — has captured his attention, however fleeting.
“I want to play the 'iano, mommy!” he chimes, and it’s like music to my ears.
And so we do.
We sit together smiling, with him banging the keys erratically and me trying to remember how to play anything at all.
In 1997, my mom passed away, but each time my son and I snuggle up on the piano bench to ‘play,' I feel she is near, laughing and smiling and watching over us as fresh dreams unfold and come back to life.
Image Source: WikiCommons
From the bedroom I hear an assault of gunfire, insane car chases, and the mighty growl of motorcycle engines.
I hear the zombies, too. They are the most terrifying; there is nothing more unsettling than the sound of a man’s desperate screams as he is being torn apart by a pack full of bloodthirsty zombies.
After a few fun zombie attacks, courtesy of The Walking Dead, or a violent action flick, my husband is ready for sleep.
Nightly, he waits until I shuffle off to bed to read before devouring material I consider too ghastly to watch.
He is lucky, for I go to bed very early, with 10 p.m. being a late night. But, for all of my husband’s love of sports car races and greasy motorbike fix-up shows, gruesome shooting scenes and cruel, brain-sucking zombies, he is a true romantic. This romance isn’t contrived, more like a spontaneous slow dance in the living room, a lovely, unexpected email, or a hug so warm and genuine, I never want to let go.
It isn’t the syrupy stuff of Hollywood or The Bachelor, thankfully. It is real and wonderful.
Yet, a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that men don’t get revved up by romance in the same way women do.
In fact, it can cause the male sex drive to decelerate.
The study revealed that male participants became more turned on viewing clips from an English history documentary than they did by watching the epic kiss scene between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet from the 1997 film, Titanic. “Results showed that, at the implicit level, women wanted more sex after being primed with romantic mood, whereas men showed the least wanting of sex in the romantic condition,” the study found. Lead author Marieke Dewitte, assistant professor of clinical psychological science at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, explained that men require more explicit visual stimulation for arousal compared to women, who may not need visual stimuli to inspire desire.
It also suggests that women prioritize attachment, to ensure their partner stays and helps raise the child.
Dewitte's study involved 86 men and 78 women, who were analyzed while watching three different styles of material.
The first involved a couple having sex; the second was the famous Titanic kiss followed by a romantic scene from 1993's Indecent Proposal, and the last was a clip from the English history documentary.
Women reported being most turned on by scenes from the Titanic and Indecent Proposal, whereas men most desired sex after watching the sex video and the history documentary.
While my husband will watch so-called ‘chick flicks’ with me, some he will find too nauseating to stomach. For the record, so will I. It seems the men in the study shared this sentiment. In fact, they were physically turned off by the famous Titanic smooch scene. Personally, I am just thankful that English history documentaries are not at the root of my romantic life, but I do have a newfound appreciation for high-speed car chases and gory apocalyptic TV shows.
So thank-you death, destruction and unsightly flesh-eating zombies: Without you, romance might be dead.
Image Source: WikiCommons
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The other day a friend posted a New York Post article on her Facebook page with the headline, Modern moms looking for perfection in all the wrong places.
Naturally, it caught my eye.
These so-called "perfect moms," where are they? I can’t say I know any.
Of my parent friends, only a meager handful seem to be striving for Gwyneth Paltrow-inspired perfection, with carefully curated birthday parties, the scent of fresh baked goods wafting through the kitchens — 100 per cent organic, of course — and the selfless giving of all their time to their children.
Then there are the rest of us — the perfectly imperfect moms.
And we, I think, are fine with that.
Sure, we drool over the cool craft projects some super moms manage to pull off with their kids — which are then beautifully staged for ‘impromptu’ Pinterest photoshoots — but we also know that in our version of craft day, children end up completely covered in glue goo and we're left scrubbing random art-project splatters from the cupboards and floor.
And that is okay, too.
Karol Markowicz writes in the NY Post piece, “Domestic perfection is in, and no one has been harder hit than moms.”
While I empathize with what Markowicz is saying and with the pressure some moms feel, I proudly remain the antithesis of domestic perfection.
Let me give you a quick snapshot here:
— At this very moment there are dust bunnies bigger than the family dog floating by my feet.
— The other night I baked a big batch of super chocolaty (non-organic) cookies, which spread out across the pan like a living monster and turned into one giant cookie. Then the scary mega-cookie had to be scraped off the tray because a certain ‘domestic goddess’ didn’t know that using butter to grease a pan is a no-no.
— The article makes mention of the film Frozen, which I had to Google because I have no clue what all the hoopla is about. And now that I’ve learned that Frozen is a musical, there is no way in hell I am introducing it to my toddler. Nothing makes me want to jab my ears with sharp objects more than musicals.
— Meanwhile, simple kiddie parties (think cheese pizza and store-bought cakes) are apparently passé. Too bad, I say. For our son's second birthday party, we picked him up a yummy but inexpensive Loblaws cake (which was devoured) and piles of pre-made snacks and dips that went like hotcakes. Oh, and the theme of the party was, let me see, "simplicity. Yeah, that’s it.
Truthfully, I would give anything for my son, but I do not sacrifice every piece of myself to do so.
My son is loved and listened to and given more hugs and kisses than he knows what to do with. He is spoiled with great books, spontaneous dance parties, tickle fests, and quality time.
And yet, I love to work, exercise, and see my friends. I savor alone time as well as quiet time with my husband, and I continue to nurture my own passions.
To me, aiming for perfection sounds stressful and exhausting.
Instead, my test for success comes down to some pretty basic questions:
Is my son happy and healthy? And are my husband and I happy and healthy?
If the answer is yes, and everything is good in our little corner of the world, then that’s quite enough for me.
I am not selfish or selfless — I am just a happily imperfect mom striving for balance.
Image Source: WikiCommons
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