The True Hallmark of Mother’s Day: Taking What We Can Get

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Every year we are flooded by media about Mother’s Day from all of the retailers hoping to sell stuff to us. Radio ads urge husbands and sons to buy diamonds. Chocolates and flowers grace the most prominent areas of the grocery store, and everyone posts old photos of their mother or pictures of their own children with glowing social media boasts about love and being blessed and that sort of crap.


But under that, there is a current of disappointment. The people whose mothers have died and hurt to be reminded, the people whose mothers were just… really terrible at being a mother, and not really worthy of being honored, the people who wish they were mothers, or were ALMOST mothers, but aren’t…

…and the mothers of young children who face a day like any other – but with the added bitterness that comes from the contrast between their lives and the Mother’s Day commercials.


I am sure that some mothers out there got the Hallmark Card Mother’s Day – they got breakfast in bed and spent the day with guilt-free leisure while their usual jobs were done by others.

But I don’t know any of those mothers.

Every mother I spoke to – mothers of small children like I am – said that they had a good Mother’s Day… really… I mean, yeah, it was mostly the same as any other day, but there was something good about it.

A friend of mine got breakfast in bed. I mean, she had to buy the bacon and hashbrowns the day before, and she had to poke her husband and tell him to go make them for her, and he didn’t actually cook the hashbrowns, but she got bacon and eggs in bed and she figured that was good enough, really.

Another friend of mine had a nice barbecue at the house of a good friend of hers. And sure, her husband didn’t want to go at all and complained loudly about having to go – or maybe he didn’t go at all in the end, I don’t remember. Anyway, she went because she wanted to and she had a nice time, although she was annoyed about having to have a relationship fight in the process.

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And as for me, well the baby slept until 9 am and PH dealt with Owl before that, so I got the best sleep in I have had in months, and then after the kids were in bed at night I sent PH to get me some pasta from my favourite restaurant, and some wine, and then I ate it at 9:30 pm while watching Mythbusters. So that was good.

During the day, I met up with another friend of mine (who had all three of her small children with her all day because her recently separated ex had decided to spend Mother’s Day cooking breakfast for other mothers at a Kinsman event and so was not available to help or do anything for the mother of his own kids) and we went to the beach.


The beach was nice, in a visiting-it-with-ungrateful-children sort of way. First they complained that they were cold. They refused to go near the water. They didn’t want to play in the sand. They wanted to go home and play video games.

But we, being experienced mothers, informed them that we didn’t give a tiny rat’s ass (not our actual words) how they felt, and we settled down on the sand anyway.


Fritter loved the beach. She ate sand and then when I carried her down to the water she happily splashed in the surf. She got covered in sand and thought it was fantastic.

The boys eventually warmed up to the beach. When they stopped whining about video games and claiming to be hungry despite having JUST eaten lunch, and when we put an end to their stick-based warfare, they finally started discovering crabs and sea shells and sand castles.


So our last hour there was quite peaceful, watching the kids dump sand into a puddle on a rock while Fritter followed them and tried to help, grabbing handfuls of sand in her tiny fists. We listened to the surf and smelled the sea air and looked at the mountains and enjoyed the sunshine and it was lovely.


At least until the boys started hitting each other with sticks again.

Of course, no Mother’s Day would be complete without a child asking the annual littany of  “why isn’t there a BOY’S day?” to which all of the present adults must answer in chorus, “EVERY DAY is BOY’S DAY.”

I’ll give this to Owl – he accepted the point of Mother’s Day very well. When I pointed out to my friend’s son that he got breakfast made for him every day, and that he got taken care of every day, he just argued that he couldn’t do those things yet. And of course I agreed but told him that that is why it is nice if, once a year, someone does those things in return for the mother who normally has to work at caring for other people and rarely for herself.

My friend’s son looked unconvinced but Owl took my side. Lord knows the poor kid hears me complain all the time about how much work I do looking after him.

In fact, he reiterated it today on the way to school. “Mother’s Day is when you get people to take care of you, instead of taking care of other people, right? But you did take care of me yesterday.”

And I told him that yes. While he is small, I don’t really get a day off. He can’t cook me breakfast, and he still needs me to make him dinner, and put him to bed. Daddy helped with some of it, so I got a break, but not the full Mother’s Day that you see in commercials. No woman with small children that I know got that. When the kids are this age, we take what we can get, because we know that Mother’s Day or not, they still need their diapers changed, and they still need to be entertained, and they still want dinner, and they don’t really give a damn how we feel about any of that.


But I do think that in a few years Owl will bring me breakfast in bed.

And in a few years, Fritter won’t need diapers changed.

And in a few years, things will be even better.

And I think that, considering the age of my kids, and life being what it is, yesterday was a darn good day.


 

Confessions of a Terrible Mother

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Dear Owl,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I am not the mother you deserve. I’m sorry that I’m not the mother I thought I would be, or that I think I could be, if maybe things were a little different.

I’m sorry that when I’m stressed, I revert to old patterns probably set in my childhood – I talk to you as if you are an adult. I treat you as if you an adult – a belligerent, unreasonable, whiny little adult.

You are not an adult, you are a child. But when I am stressed, I don’t see you that way.

And so, today happened:

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Go The F*** To Sleep, The Reboot

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People love to ask you how your baby sleeps, and I have occasionally told people that Fritter sleeps “great!” only then to clarify to say that she still wakes several times a night.

You see, our bar is set LOW.

Until he was nearly two, Owl was waking multiple times in the night, usually every hour and a half.HELP, SHE'S STARVING MEEEEEEEEEEE!

 

Meanwhile, Fritter from day one would sleep in two to three hour stretches. There were some caveats – she couldn’t be put down, for example. I tried. Oh, how I tried. But if you put her down, she would wake up, until about 11 pm in the evening.

Those first couple of months I spent my evenings watching The Mindy Project with her nursing and fussing, and about an hour after she fell asleep I would transfer her to the Moses basket and she would sleep for another couple of hours.

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Compared to Owl, that felt like a MIRACLE.

Once my anxiety about SIDS was relieved enough that I could leave her alone to sleep (around 5 months), I started nursing her down on my bed and then just sneaking away. By adding our trusty old Sleepy Suit to the mix, I was actually able to pick her up off of the bed and transfer her to the Pack N Play next to our bed (the successor to the Moses basket).

And so, I have been pretty okay with her sleep overall. She would go down to sleep at around 8 pm, sleep until midnight, until 3, until 5 or 6, and then until 7 or 8.

I could HANDLE that.

Plus, she has two solid naps a day, one in the morning at around 9:30 am that often runs until 11 or 12, and another around 4 pm that goes until 5 or 6.


Golden.

But lately, that has been falling apart.

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The Time Draws Nigh (In Which I Agonize About Going Back To Work And Am Both Successful And In Deep Trouble Simultaneously)

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How has it been nearly a year since Fritter was born? Where did the time go?

  
I have spent the last month or two slowly gearing back up to work mode, because in a month I am going to have to go back into the world of unmet expectations and absolutely no down time which is the life of the working mother.

I don’t wanna.

I don’t want my cuddly baby to get bigger.

I don’t want to leave her at daycare because she has some stranger issues (which I will discuss at some point).

I don’t want the stress of having to meet people’s expectations, avoid judgement, etc.

I don’t want to lose the hour and a half of down time I get every day during Fritter’s morning nap while Owl is at school.

I don’t want any of it. I LIKE maternity leave.

 
But, since it isn’t a choice, what I really want is to get my dog training business going, and going HARD. Because training dogs pays between 40 and 70 dollars an hour and working at the vet clinic… doesn’t. Also because it’s one of my life dreams, along with being an author.

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Be It Ever So Humble

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I had a new experience this year, while “home” for Christmas in Nova Scotia.

…I missed home.

West Coast home.

…Things have changed.

While I spent my early childhood in Ontario and the Caribbean before settling in Nova Scotia, the Maritimes were always “home” to me.

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I loved my home town and my university fiercely, and I have made many, many, many posts about how much I miss it, and how much I love the close-knit culture of the East Coast. Perfect Husband, who grew up on the South Shore, feels the same.

It used to be that whenever we traveled back to Nova Scotia, we would be hyper-vigilant to change: That store moved to a different location! That other store is gone! Someone repainted that house! They put in a STOP SIGN!

Things change all the time, slowly, but when you’re only home once every year or two you see them all at once, and it feels like you have entered some sort of strange parallel universe where everything looks slightly wrong.

Perfect Husband especially would get indignant about changes made to his neighbourhood back home (which is the sort of neighbourhood where people look out the windows and wonder “who is that?” when they see an unfamiliar car).  It hurt him to see developers come in and destroy his old stomping grounds and built large vacation homes on top. It hurt more when one of the wealthy retirees who moved into those houses called the home where he and his four siblings grew up a “quaint little cottage”.

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That was his home, and it has been largely plowed over and rebuilt, and he resents it.

But we have come to accept over the years that Nova Scotia is not our personal museum, and now it has gotten to the point where I am surprised by what hasn’t changed after all this time: The local convenience store is still there, with the same sign. My favourite Pita Place, still going strong. The neighbourhood houses which seem to have used the exact same Christmas lights for the past twenty years.

The changes no longer faze me. I have accepted that life goes on. I’m just delighted by what stays the same.

Nova Scotia has also emptied itself. Most of my friends have evacuated in search of jobs that suit their education level. Of the remaining old friends and relatives, I only saw a couple. Traveling was challenging for us with two kids in tow, and they didn’t have the time or inclination to travel to see us. They were all busy with their own lives and kids during the holidays and I am just not relevant to those lives any longer.

It isn’t their fault, it’s mine – I’m the one who left. Besides, with Facebook I can still chat with them and see pictures of them and their families, so maybe the need to see each other in person is less urgent because of that.

Really, I was touched by the couple of people who did take time out of their day to meet up with me when I was passing through their region. The holidays are a busy time, and the weather was not always great. So it meant a lot to me when they did.

Nova Scotia just… doesn’t belong to me any more, and it doesn’t miss me or need me. I felt strangely superfluous on this visit, except among immediate family.

Meanwhile, BC has been growing on me slowly for a long time. It took me years to start putting down real roots, and up to a few years ago I desperately missed Nova Scotia and wanted to go home.

But I finally built a strong support network of friends. Besides, the mountains and the cherry blossoms get to you over time, and I have started to take pride in the beauty.

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I loved the look on my Mother In Law’s face on her first week staying with us last year, when she saw crocuses coming up. Just small trips around town had her amazed.

“I went to the grocery store and they had FLOWERS on display outside!”

“…isn’t that normal?”

“Carol, it’s JANUARY!”

“Wait until you see the fruit and vegetable market. It doesn’t have walls.”

And when my parents came out, they kept taking pictures of daffodils while their friends back home sent them photos of snow piles up past their shoulders.

It made me proud, because BC is starting to feel like it is mine.

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I love the early spring, and the long, dry, but not-too-hot summers. I love the snow on the mountains, and the mix of skin colours, languages, cultures and cuisines all around us.

So, while I cherished every day of our time with the family, and I ate a lot of pitas, it also felt really good to come home. I missed our bed, our bathroom, and even our cluttered, toy-laden living room and minuscule kitchen.

It’s not perfect, but it’s ours.

And I kept getting texts from my friends here, asking when they could see me, now that I was finally back… back home.

The Cancer Principle: Depression is Okay, Abuse Is Not

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I joined a support group online for people with depressed or bipolar spouses. I expected to find other people who know what it is like to sit downstairs alone in the evenings imagining life after their husband’s suicide.

What I didn’t expect was to end up becoming a relationship counsellor.800px-Vincent_Willem_van_Gogh_002.jpg

Some people are angry and impatient with their spouse’s depressive symptoms. They use words like “lazy” and “can’t be bothered” and “selfish”. I have to remind them that depression is a disease and should be treated as such. They shouldn’t go around getting angry at someone for being sick.

There’s a difference between “won’t” and “can’t”. People with depression often CAN’T get out of bed, CAN’T interact positively and CAN’T pull it together for important family events.

Others are putting up with horrific levels of verbal and emotional and occasionally physical abuse, and blaming it on the depression/mania/addiction. They talk about how their husband tried to choke them and threatened to kill them and say “I had to call the cops. I felt so guilty, I really hate this illness. I know he won’t understand why I did it, either. He’ll think I am against him.”

I have to remind them that depression or bipolar disorder is not a get-out-of-abuse-free card that gives someone carte blanche to emotionally damage their loved ones, particularly their children. You shouldn’t stay with someone who abuses you or puts your children at risk physically or emotionally just because the person is ill, especially when that person keeps insisting that this is all somehow your fault.

But how, people are always asking, do you know what is okay and what is not? Why is okay for my wife to sleep through our daughter’s birthday party, but it isn’t okay for her husband to swear in front of the kids?

So I have developed a litmus test to tell what should, and what should not, be tolerated from a spouse.

The Cancer Principle

Since depression is a deadly disease which causes a wide range of known physical symptoms, I find that cancer makes a good analog because it is a deadly disease without the stigma that comes with mental illnesses. Depression is one of the leading causes of death in the world. Like cancer, some cases are worse than others, and some kinds are more curable than others.

Really, though, you could use any illness that is serious enough to put someone in the hospital. The point is to consider it from the point of view of “my spouse has a serious disease” and not “my spouse is abnormal”.

So, when your depressed husband or wife does something that makes you angry (and they will – it’s hard NOT to be angry when they suddenly sleep through an important event, or leave you scrambling for child care at the last minute, or snap at you for no good reason), ask yourself this:

Would this be considered acceptable if they had cancer?

For example – I go out for a walk with Owl and Perfect Husband is perfectly fine, watching football. I come back and discover that he has crashed in the hour that we have been gone. He is now in the throes of a suicidal misery. He snaps at me twice, then removes himself to the bedroom because he realises that he is growling like an injured bear.

Would this be considered acceptable if he had cancer?

I conclude that the answer is yes – if he had cancer and he suddenly started to feel sick or his pain medications wore off and he became very painful, it is understandable that he would become snappy and then retreat to the bedroom to be alone.

On the other hand, if he had gone onto a verbally abusive tirade calling me a “selfish whore” and threatened to hit Owl, that would NOT have been okay, no matter how much pain he was in.

For example – Perfect Husband agrees to watch the baby while I go to train a puppy. When the day arrives, he has been unconscious for two days and is clearly going to sleep through today as well. I have to cancel the appointment and reschedule it with apologies.

Would this be considered acceptable if he had cancer?

Yes! He was feeling better and thought he could handle it, but then he had a relapse and had to take medications which made him very sleepy and unable to take care of his child. If that was due to cancer, that would be totally understandable.

So I was not angry with him.

On the other hand, if he had agreed to watch the baby and then went out partying with friends and didn’t come back until 5 am, only to fall on the bed dead-drunk, that would not have been okay whether or not he had cancer, so I would have had the right to be angry with him about it.

For example- I watch Breaking Bad. Walter White’s wife discovers that her husband is manufacturing and selling meth, and his contacts with the drug underworld is putting himself and her family in serious danger. He has cancer. Does that make his behaviour okay?

No!

The Cancer Principle. It works every time.

Once someone argued with me, saying “I think there’s a caveat – if they aren’t seeking treatment. My husband sleeps all day and snaps at all of us and he won’t get help and that’s not okay.”

Okay, so then you ask yourself, if he had cancer, and it was making him sick and miserable and yet he refused to seek treatment for his cancer (not even palliative/symptomatic treatment), would that be okay?

No!

The Cancer Principle, man. It WORKS.

Quality Over Quantity

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With the progression of my father’s Alzheimer’s, his physical condition has become increasingly frail.

The man who never ailed a thing throughout my entire childhood now gets recurrent bladder infections and pneumonia. He moves at a slow shuffle, and falls easily. His cheerful tenor voice has disappeared and he can’t speak above a hoarse whisper.

  
We went for dinner at a neighbour’s house. Her son was home for the holidays, and he hadn’t seen Dad in years. Dad taught him how to drive and he has always liked my father very much. He spent half an hour carefully shovelling new snow off of the front porch and driveway so that it would be easier to get Dad to the car, but Dad still slipped and fell into the snow, causing a big kerfuffle.

“It’s embarrassing,” Dad told me later when I asked how he was feeling. “I feel like a sissy.”

Once upon a time Dad would have been the one shoveling the driveway, and clearing off the car. But now he falls in the snow and is hustled, shivering, into the car by the boy he once taught to drive, who is now a thirty year old man.

For the most part, he bears it without complaint. Alzheimer’s robs its victims of their faculties and dignity, but my father had so much dignity to begin with that somehow he still has plenty left, and my mother does everything she can to keep him feeling well and able to live at home.

He chokes on his food a lot, and they think that this is the cause of at least one of his bouts of pneumonia, because he inhales stuff. So they told my mother that he shouldn’t be allowed to drink thin liquids any more, or eat food that is easy to accidentally inhale. Instead of water, he should have smoothies, and so on.

They gave her a list of all of the risky categories of food. That list is two pages long and seems to encompass every single kind of food there is.

  
So, my poor mother now has the burden of finding foods that do not stick together, but also don’t NOT stick together (??) and so on. She also has to thicken his all of his drinks. They gave her a pamphlet on that, too, with suggestions like adding pureed banana, tasteless “drink thickener”, or even baby pablum.

For example, to thicken soda pop (I swear I’m telling the truth), they advise whisking the pop thoroughly and then blending in pablum until it is nice and thick.

  
Mmm. Tasty.

So Dad drinks a lot of smoothies now, since banana is a good thickener, and occasionally Mum lets him have some egg nog. He eats whatever she gives him to eat or drink without complaint, but I am sure he misses drinking water and milk like a normal person.

One night my mother poured me a glass of rosée, and my father came shuffling over. He pointed to the bottle and said in his new, husky, quiet voice, “don’t you think I should keep her company?”

“What’s that, dear?” my mother said distractedly, working on dinner.

He gestured at me. “It seems cruel to make her drink alone.”

“Oh, you want a glass of wine?”

“Just to be polite, you know,” he replied with a hint of a sparkle in his eye.

“Well, you’re not supposed to have that… I can get you some more thickened egg nog if you like…”

“Aren’t we going for quality of life over quantity at this point?” I said, exchanging amused glances with Dad.

“Yeah,” said Dad hopefully.

So Mum poured him a glass of wine. With no bananas in it at all.

Sometimes, it’s the little things in life.

Saying Goodbye To Old Times

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Our Christmas home in Nova Scotia felt sort of… final, to me, this year.

We plan to spend next Christmas here in BC because it is expensive to travel during the holidays, and it makes a stressful time just that much more stressful. Our next trip to Nova Scotia will probably be during the summer when more people will be free to get together with us, and travel is safer and cheaper.

Although the snow was certainly a thrilling novelty to Owl.

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My father’s Alzheimer’s is slowly progressing. He still knows who everyone is, and what is going on, but he is frail, and quiet, and easily confused. My mother has to help him shower, get dressed, and she puts him down to bed for naps and at bed time like a child.

But he’s still Dad.

img_4313If and when we spend another Christmas in Nova Scotia, the person that I know as my father may have faded away entirely.

Christmas was always a big deal in our house. Both my parents love Christmas, and we used to have all sorts of traditions built up around it. The annual tree decorating was so idyllic that my high school friends used to attend it too, because it was just such a Christmassy THING.

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But many of the traditions have fallen by the wayside one by one what with my commitments to Perfect Husband’s family, and my father’s illness, and the fact simply that time is moving on and things change.

We did still decorate the tree this year. Mum needed PH to help bring the tree in and get it set up. The last time we were home, Dad could still do that. He still sat and watched us decorate while he sipped egg nog, but once upon a time he would have been the one pouring the drinks and sloshing too much rum into everyone’s nog.

The decorators this year were mostly Mum and Owl, with me alternately helping, taking photos, and watching the baby. It was the same, but not the same, at the same time.

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If that makes sense.

Meanwhile, the Christmas Eve traditions on PH’s side of the family are going to be changing soon, too. Their Christmas Eve family gathering had the same food, the same schedule, but less exuberance. My nieces and nephews are older now. The next youngest to Owl is already ten years old, and most of them are young adults in university and beyond.

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Our kids were definitely the hit of the show.

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We got a family photo of all of the “kids”, including Fritter, on the front steps. We don’t know when another group photo will be able to be taken as the grown “kids” start moving away and living their own lives.

I’m really glad we made it home this Christmas, because I felt like I was getting a chance to say goodbye to these old traditions and accept that things are changing.

Owl got to experience and explore these “old times”, and I got to make my peace with their passing.img_4393

And these changes don’t have to feel bad. But they will be different.

Maybe that is okay. Maybe it is time for us to build our own traditions, here, at home.

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Pursue Happiness

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I have mixed feelings about New Year’s Resolutions. I feel like people make resolutions just to feel good for a while, and don’t really think about it. Most years I don’t give a thought to my resolutions until New Year’s Eve rolls around again.

But there have been exceptions.

Many years ago, I made a resolution to “SORT THE F&%$ OUT OF MY LIFE”. I was struggling in a relationship in which the same problems kept coming back, and no amount of arguments seemed to change or improve things. I was painfully aware of the fact that my best friend who lived on the other side of the country gave me more emotional support and interesting conversation than my significant other, and I felt that this was not how the world should be.

But I wasn’t sure how to change things. And as the year passed and I became increasingly worried about the fact that my life was NOT getting sorted out, I found the resolve to put down a foot, and say, “if X happens again, I am done with the relationship”.

It happened again. I ended the relationship.

I can’t say that it made me happier. Ending a long term relationship with someone you genuinely care about does not make life happier. It was painful and chaotic and I felt like my entire life had been turned upside down.

But I knew that nothing could get better until I did that. It was a necessary, if unpleasant, step.

Within six months I had started officially dating my best friend, and life was much better. It was unspoken from day one that we would get married. Sometimes you just know these things.

Things got sorted out, and I ended up happier in the long run.

So when I read this article about how the pursuit of happiness is a false God, it spoke to me. Specifically, it said this:

It’s the perpetual pursuit of fulfilling our ideal selves which grants us happiness, regardless of superficial pleasures or pain, regardless of positive or negative emotions. This is why some people are happy in war and others are sad at weddings. It’s why some are excited to work and others hate parties. The traits they’re inhabiting don’t align with their ideal selves.

The end results don’t define our ideal selves. It’s not finishing the marathon that makes us happy, it’s achieving a difficult long-term goal that does. It’s not having an awesome kid to show off that makes us happy, but knowing that you gave yourself up to the growth of another human being that is special. It’s not the prestige and money from the new business that makes you happy, it’s the process of overcoming all odds with people you care about.

He talks a lot about how people mistake pleasure for happiness, and how worrying about their own happiness can make them afraid to take important life steps which will, for a while, make them less happy.

And when I look back on it, the resolutions I have kept in the past were the ones that really mattered to me. The ones that were life changing.

And so, this year, I resolve to try to pursue my ideal self. I will try to make changes that align myself with the person I feel that I am inside, the person that I want to be.

Since that person is thinner, but dieting has never worked long-term for me, I am going to try to increase my exercise and make a conscious effort to eat along the lines of the diabetic diet I was on during pregnancy. I think that even if I don’t lose a lot of weight, I will feel better about myself if I am more active and make good eating choices more often. I will feel closer to my ideal self.

I think that losing weight would make me happier, but I am not going to make that a goal. I am just going to become the kind of person who COULD.

I am breaking out the old fit bit, and I am going to download Zombies Run onto my phone. I will listen to it while walking the dog, and we’ll see if that helps keep me moving.

Since that ideal self is also a dog trainer and a writer, I am going to focus on finishing and then publishing (through createspace if necessary) my dog training book, even if that means that I have to put my fiction book aside for now. Having that dog training book will help get me business, and help free me from the shackles of working as someone else’s employee.

Once I have done that, then I can play with fiction.

We’ll see how this goes. But something needs to change, and I am going to start now.

Thank You, 2015

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I have mixed feelings about the passing of 2015.

Some parts of 2015 really sucked. My husband nearly killed himself, I ended up heavily pregnant, with a bacterial infection, working and caring for our four year old who also had a bacterial infection, while he was stuck in the hospital and unable to help.

My father broke his hip and overall has deteriorated markedly in his health.

My relationship with my son deteriorated, as my capacity to tolerate his extroverted highjinks hit a new low.

I spent a significant amount of this year coughing, exhausted, diabetic, extremely stressed, half-expecting to become a widow at any moment, researching the potential cost of burying my husband, and wearing Depends because I kept wetting myself.

On the other hand…

This year also brought me the generosity and love of the friends and relations who came streaming in to help during these difficult times. There were friends who picked Owl up at daycare when I was stuck at the hospital, and friends who brought Chinese food so that I wouldn’t have to cook, or took Owl for play dates so I could nap.img_1840

There was my mother in law, who is terrified of flying and financially limited, flying in TWICE to spend a grand total of three months sleeping on our couch, just to help.

On the first visit she made me diabetes-friendly meals and arranged snacks for me at a time when I was working and exhausted and could never have kept up the dietary management that was expected of me on my own. She put my son to bed at night and made him breakfast in the morning, she read to him and joked with him and brought some humor and pleasantry to a home that was seething in stress.

On her return she cooked and cleaned, entertained Owl and then held the baby so I could shower, get dressed, eat meals, and spend some quality time with my son.

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And in between those visits, my parents flew in for four months. They took money from their nest egg to rent a place nearby, and my mother drove back and forth making meals and snacks, cleaning, and reading Owl bedtime stories.

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Not only did it bring me much needed aid, but I got to spend time with my father while he still knows who I am.

And this year brought me Fritter, who made a safe landing on the shores of time and gave us the gift of a colic-free fourth trimester. She brings me joy every day with her grins and chortles, and I wouldn’t change a thing about her.

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And with all of those months of support from our family, PH was able to retreat and rest and begin healing. While he is still very ill, I have seen more of the old Perfect Husband in the last three months than I have in the past two years. There are mornings when I come downstairs to find breakfast laid out for me, afternoons when he greets me at the door to take my coat and offer me a drink, and evenings when he rubs my feet and offers to run me a bath.

Whenever he has a good day, I feel like I could suffer another two years just for a chance at more days like that.

I feel like I could kiss 2015 for bringing me even one day like that, let alone as many as I have been gifted with these last few months.

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2015 also brought me maternity leave, which I love because I am a lazy slob. I love being home with my baby and watching The Walking Dead or writing during her naps. It’s way better than working. I’m sad that there are only a few more months left. I have a lot of writing to get down in that time.

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Yes, over all I am very grateful to 2015. I feel like it got handed a terrible set of cards but it played them all right.

2015 for me was a year of defeat and renewal, of family and love.

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We survived it, and maybe it has made us stronger.

If 2016 can keep up with this upward trend, I think I can look forward to the coming year.

And if it can’t… well… Bring it, 2016.

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