There’s no manual? Seriously?

Of course, I always knew there was no actual parenting manual. I guess I just thought that if I had kids, I’d know what to do with them. That this information would just appear in my head.

Unfortunately, like so many other Adult Things (cooking, buying a house, marriage, fixing stuff), parenting is just winging it. That’s right, my childless friends: everyday, I’m just waking up and guessing at everything. Some stuff you figure out pretty quickly. For example, it’s pretty much always a bad idea to let your kid stay up super late on a school night. Don’t feed them junk food all day, everyday. Probably avoid letting them play with knives and matches. Teach them how to use the washing machine as soon as they can reach the buttons. Force them to drink water, change their underwear, and brush their teeth occasionally. Hose them down every so often.

Some stuff is harder. How do you teach your kids to deal with bullies? How do you answer some of the difficult questions they ask about divorce, poverty, war, racism, in an age-appropriate way that won’t give them nightmares? How do you help them feel at peace with themselves? And when should you give them a little push out of their comfort zone? Should you ever do this?

I forced Budsie to take skating and piano lessons, join Beavers, and go to swimming. With each activity, he said he didn’t want to, he hated everything, he just wanted to stay home. He now LOVES 3/4 of those activities (he really hates swimming). And a few weeks ago, I forced him to audition for the Variety Show at his school. He said he hated me, that everything was the worst. But then he got in the show, performed his magic ball trick in front of his entire school, and had an awesome time. He loved the attention, loved the clapping, loved it all. Sigh.

Sometimes I feel bad, pushing him into this stuff. He’s not an outgoing kid, more of a thinker than a doer. And sometimes I think I should just leave him be, let him pick what he wants to do. But honestly, if I did that, he’d pick nothing. And whenever he misses out on stuff, he gets upset. Sooooooo…yeah. It’s all about finding balance, reading signals, staying sharp. Gods, it’s all so exhausting.

Seriously, there should really be a manual.

that Mum look

This morning, I looked in the mirror and I didn’t recognize my face.

I’m not even sure when it happened. Losing my face, that is. I mean it was there in 1999. It was there in 2006. It was even there in 2012. I may have lost it in Israel. Honestly, I haven’t checked in a while. Most mornings, I frantically throw on the closest t-shirt and skirt and just bolt. Lipstick is applied by looking at a tiny mirror in the car, or on the bus. I never look at the whole picture, really.

But some time between 2012 and this morning, my face, and indeed my entire look, went missing. Replacing it: The Mum Face. With Mum clothes. And a Mum body. I stood in the bathroom today and I honestly stared at myself for a full five minutes, not recognizing this boring ass woman. I was wearing a t-shirt with holes in it, baggy men’s shorts, and black flats. I’ve been wearing the same outfit for an embarrassingly long time because I a) work from home, and b) have gained 15 lbs, and don’t fit my own clothes anymore. My unwashed hair, which is greying unevenly, was plastered to my face, presumably held down by grease. I suddenly noticed the permanent frown line between my eyes. I had a mascara smudge under one tired eye, which accented the gigantic bags beautifully. Funnily enough, I don’t remember the last time I put on mascara. There was toothpaste on the corner of my mouth. Like, a lot of it.

And I dropped the children off looking like this. I talked to people. Dear. God.

So I guess that’s this summer’s mission: Find my face. Because this look isn’t working for me. I don’t look like me! I look like some sad, tired, and puffy version of me. When did I stop caring? When did I stop paying attention? Well, no more. My kids deserve better. My husband deserves better. MOST IMPORTANTLY I DESERVE BETTER. I know I’m not 25 anymore, but surely almost 37 isn’t when everything goes to hell in hand basket, is it? Not for this lady.

REBOOT.

***
NOTE: Mums are beautiful in all shapes and sizes. This is not a slight on Mums. And this is not a post to complain about weight gain or aging, which is perfectly natural and also, it’s not like I’m enormous/old here. There are plenty of people with worse problems than what I’m describing, and I know this. BUT there is something disconcerting about not recognizing one’s face. I did not care for it.

 

 

 

 

11

Probably the most popular question I was asked during my first year of law school was “How are you doing this with kids?” My answer varied: “Oh, well, they’re not babies so it’s not that bad” (false: it is that bad), “You get really good at time management” (true, but it still sucks), “Oh, you know, you just do it because you have to” (false: I did not have to do this. I could have easily not done this. Wait, why did I do this? *jumps over rabbit hole*).

Anyway, however varied my answer was, it always included “with A.’s support.” Which was the understatement of the year. “With A.’s support” sounds like he was just sort of there, cheering me along. And he was, but he cheered while making dinners, doing all the bedtime, driving kids to piano/scouts/swimming/skating, never getting to sleep in on weekends, and taking many, many days off work to deal with sick kids. He cheered while setting his own career ambitions aside. He cheered while listening to me complain and question my abilities. And he continues to cheer even though he has at least two more years of this garbage.

In other words, he cheers me along while being the truest of true partners. Gods, but I love this man.

Happy eleven years, A. It’s been #sofuzzy.

 

 

 

 

my kids rock

Warning: this post is all about how awesome my children are. I’m totally going to brag about them for, like, 400 words. As the kids these days say, #sorrynotsorry (people still say that, right?).

My kids are amazing.

Ok, so they are 4 and almost 7, and sometimes they aren’t amazing. They fight, they whine, they need to be told to brush their teeth a million times before they will do it, they leave dirty clothes all over the place, and they complain about going to the bathroom/washing their hands/”boring” desserts/the lack of television in their lives/setting the table/going outside/coming inside.

But then there are days like today. Today I woke up to someone stabbing me in my ear. Or what other folks call an ear infection. I didn’t think it was that bad until the sound of pouring cereal into a bowl made me double over in pain. So there I was, sitting on the kitchen floor, unable to say or do anything because all sound was torture. And what did my kids do? Well, first Budsie asked if he should call 911. Having established this wasn’t an emergency, but that Mummy was clearly in a bad way, he and Pixie decided to have the quietest breakfast in the world. They whispered to each other, they didn’t fight over the cereal/water cup colour/seating arrangements, and they said nothing when it took me 300 years to cut up apples for their breakfast. Later in the day, when I was stuck in a dark bedroom, full of painkillers and antibiotics, they came in and calmly sat with me. They looked at pictures on the computer, and later just quietly watched my show (‘Friends’), and didn’t complain that it was boring grown-up television.

This may seem like a small thing, but this was huge to me. Because sometimes kids smell fear and pounce. Today, they were both caring and compassionate. Yeah, they rock big time.

 

#lawschoolwithkids

5:15am: Alarm goes off. On a good day, I get up and exercise. On a bad day, I turn off the alarm, ignore Pixie, who is kicking me in the head, and snooze.

5:45am: Actually have to get up now. Unload dishwasher, tidy kitchen, pack lunches for everybody. Write special note to Budsie. Make sure the library books/math homework/permission slip is in Budsie’s bag. Prepare breakfast. Forget to feed cat. If super organized that day, pop dinner in the slow cooker. Check calendar for any special school days. Find the required gear for that day.

6:30am: I *should* be showering here. But odds are, one or more of the following has happened: Pixie has woken up early and is freaking out about whatever breakfast I have chosen to make, Zoe has vomited at the top of the stairs and I’ve stepped in it, or Budsie is having a crisis about Something Very Serious (read: he remembered that time 3 years ago when I said I would give him jellybeans for a snack and didn’t). Spend 30 minutes dealing with this issue.

7:00am: Actually having a shower (read: toss water on body, forget to rinse conditioner from hair). Run around getting dressed/packing my school bag. Pretend to be a grown up person and put make-up on. Result is…troubling. Kiss kids, A., and sprint to the bus. Text A. at bus stop about feeding the cat.

7:15am-8:00am: Readings on the bus.

8:00am-4:00pm: Worry about children, go to class, meet with professors, miss the children, deal with club commitments, research, readings, wonder what the children are doing, job applications, special seminars.

4:00pm: Review class notes on the bus.

5:00pm-7:00pm: Deal with dinner. Throw in laundry. Clean a toilet. Check schoolbags for rotting things, dirt, sticks, newsletters. Colour with Pixie. Talk to Budsie about space/death/pokemon/starwars/zombies. Attempt to talk to A. about his job/my school. Tell one or both kids to stop interrupting. Convince Budsie to use utensils. Negotiate with Pixie over how many bites she has to have to get dessert. Have fight with children about the lack of television/Jell-O/candy in their lives. Get told I am the worst mother in the world for not stuffing their minds/bodies with junk. Bake stuff for the lunches. Forget to help with Budsie’s homework. Remember right before bedtime.

7:00pm-10:00pm: Say goodnight to the children. A. is bathing the children, tackling bedtime, and trying to keep the kids quiet while I work. Sometimes I am called up to bat if Budsie has decided to make it One of Those Nights. Most nights I cram in as much reading/summary-writing as possible.

10:00pm-12:00am: Get stuff ready for tomorrow. Watch television with A. One or both of us pass out. Sometimes we’re both awake and try to take advantage of that fact. Pixie senses this and bursts into the room, thwarting all efforts at marital relations. Watch A. pass out. Lie there and worry about the kids. Fall asleep with a four year old’s foot in my eye.

Throughout: Be prepared for stomach flus, holidays, accidents, lessons, Epic Meltdowns, last minute birthday invites, bake sales, parent teacher meetings, tough conversations, and themed school days.

Huh, maybe two steps back

Once I had the kids, I started using this blog to draw attention to real life problems. Depression, parenting, abortion, posting abroad, healthy living. I think it’s important to write about this stuff, to be candid about these issues, so that other people do not feel alone. Because it sucks to feel like you’re the only one garbage is happening to. And things like Facebook, Instagram, and the dreaded parenting blogs, they all make it seem like everyone else is doing better than you are. Which is simply not the case.

So in the spirit of being open, and drawing attention to issues that some of you may also be facing, I’m going to tell you something: I cried today.

“Is that all?” says a longtime Ezmy Writes reader. “Ezmy, you cry over coffee commercials. And don’t get me started on Disney films.”

Yeah this was different. Today I cried in a professor’s office. Over absolutely nothing. She was talking to me, and I was listening and going “uh huh” and “oh sure” in all the right places and suddenly, I just burst into tears. The tears of someone who is clearly underslept and overdone. The poor woman – she didn’t know what she had said. Probably because she hadn’t said anything. Sigh.

I’d be embarrassed, but anyone who has travelled internationally with children has long since stopped caring about what others think. I stopped getting embarrassed by stuff around the time my daughter pooped all over me and I had to fly to Halifax covered in said poop. Or maybe it was when Ewan rolled around the floor of the liquor store screaming. Or perhaps it was when I was in labour, yelling at everyone, telling them all to fuck off, begging them to rip the baby out of my eye sockets because I was definitely going to die.

I don’t know, somewhere in there.

Anyway, it’s not embarrassment that troubles me now. It’s what the crying means. Because it’s not like this career is going to get easier. Still, maybe there are ways to control the madness. I’ve started meditating. And I’m pondering giving up *gasp*afternoon coffee, because it’s probably disrupting my sleep. All suggestions are welcome.

So there. That’s my real life post for today. Were you having a crappy day? Maybe it looks better now compared to this blubbery nonsense. Woot!

one step back

I lost my voice on Friday night. I knew it was coming. Thursday morning it disappeared briefly, as if sending out a warning signal. By late Friday, I was very hoarse but still able to speak. When I woke up on Saturday, it was gone.

I am annoyed by this voice problem, but not surprised. My body is amazing at shutting itself down when it gets overworked. And holy hellfire am I overworked. It should come as no surprise to anyone that law school with kids is hard. Even with a supportive husband, even with outside help, even with people rooting for you. It’s fucking hard. It means squeezing in the work whenever you can. It means early mornings and late nights. It means missing out on stuff – rescheduled classes which conflict with daycare drop off, or cool evening events which coincide with stomach flus. It means forgetting stuff – bake sales, birthday parties, PTA meetings. It means knowing that you’re always sort of half-assing everything.

Most significantly, it means you simply cannot compete at the level that the sans children students are competing at. You really can’t. Because no matter how hard you work, or how smart you are, if you are missing the things, if you have to cut yourself into so many more pieces, you just can’t be present in the same way. And therein lies the hardest part of law school for me. I’m a competitive person and I need to let go. I came into this with the mindset that I was doing this for me. I came into it saying I would not get swept up in the nonsense. But somewhere along the way, I forgot that focus.

So it’s time to take a step back. Today I work on my law review application, which is important to me. But then I’m having a nap, playing lego with the kids, and going for a walk. Will I do better tomorrow if I get ahead on the readings for this week? Yes. Oh well.

 

 

Out with the old

Good gods what a year, eh? I honestly can’t even. I mean heaps of awesome stuff happened (new life in Canada, new friends, new jobs, new school). But what the actual crap was going on with everybody else? Yikes.

My resolutions for last year were remarkably vague, which experts (read: interweb people) tell me is no way to ensure success. And I was generally only half-ass successful. I blame Trump. This year, it’s back to specifics! *insert drum roll* Here they are, this year’s shiny resolutions *insert more drum roll*….

1) Learn how to make ridiculously good chicken noodle soup. 

2) Sing in public.

3) No work between 5 and 7pm – only kids.

4) Reserve 1 hour each day for exercise of some kind. Any kind. 

5) Go dairy-free except for VERY special occasions/unavoidable situations in which I would otherwise starve. Honestly, it’s ridiculous that it has taken until 2017 to get to this one.

6) Create a new budget.

7) Sleep. Do I need to check Facebook/Instagram/Jezebel at 11:30pm? The answer is no.

8) Get screened for that stupid breast cancer gene that appears to be haunting my family.

9) Ride my bike to school. I’m shooting for one time here since I’ve never ridden that far.

10) Write a letter each week. 

 

Happy 2017, everybody! Live long and prosper.

A perfect ten

On June 9, 2006, my whole life changed. That night kicked off ten years of just plain awesome adventures. Ten years of waking up with a best friend, ten years of laughing our asses off, ten years of a whole-hearted love that is, at times, overwhelming in its awesomeness.

Not every day has been perfect. Indeed, that we are still enjoying a successful relationship is no small achievement. Foreign service life is hard on people, hard on friendships, and hardest on even the strongest marriages. Being a million miles away from support, having to navigate strange places and challenging new jobs, as well as that all to common directionless feeling that comes with the diplomatic spouse gig, all of it can kill a partnership. Throw in some difficult kids, some regular life events (death, money, etc), and you have the makings of a serious mess.

And of course it will get harder. Posts will be more challenging, kids will continue to find new ways to make things insane, and life will insist on being a mess. But ten years in, and I still know I picked the best person to spend this life with. No one makes me laugh harder, no one believes in me more, no one understands my nonsense better than A. He is my bestie, my soul mate, my other half, and the person who makes me want to slow things down so I can soak up every last second of life with him.

Happy First Date Anniversary, A. Ten years and counting of greatness. xx

 

book club

For the women of book club,

When I arrived in Israel, I mentally prepared myself for three years of superficial friendships. You know the ones – people you hang out with because meh, you get along and you might as well have friends as not when you’re stuck in a place for three years. I thought I’d join some groups, just to get to know folks so I wouldn’t be bored senseless. When a book club was suggested, I figured sure, why not?

I did not anticipate your awesomeness.

I did not know, for example, when I agreed to join book club, that I would be agreeing to meet a group of fantastically funny, crazy smart women every single month. I did not know that I would count the days to the next monthly meeting, that I would arrange my entire schedule just to get to said meeting, and that I would come home after each meeting feeling refreshed and ready for another month. I did not anticipate the relief, the powerful feeling of release that these meetings would provide, as I vented the frustrations/joys/ridiculousness of living in this maddening country with husbands who have maddening jobs. I did not know I would be gaining incredibly dear, lifelong friends.

I did not know how much I needed this group until I had it, and then had to say goodbye.

Thank you. Thank you for the friendship, the support, the laughter, the intense conversations about nothings, and the light conversations about somethings. Thank you for helping me navigate this post. Thank you for three years of joy.

So much love.