"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Don't Mess with the Dress

I went for a flying visit to the city yesterday to have dinner with some old, dear friends and to get my glasses fixed. I also had another, less pleasurable item on my agenda: I needed new clothes.

Many of my friends up here complain that there’s nowhere to shop in Kincardine, especially for clothes. I’ve found that between Southampton and Goderich there are plenty of boutiques, some lovely consignment shops and even a few mainstream stores. “But there aren’t any malls,” my friends moan. To which I quietly respond, “Thank the Lord.” Because I really, really hate malls.

I’ve never been much for owning the latest fashion trend, although I often notice and admire folks who wear their clothes with flair. I think clothes should be functional and fun, and serve as an expression of your personality. The problem is that my fashion personality of late could best be described as indifferent. Or, as my sister so eloquently puts it: “Meh.”

I like to wear clothes that make me happy, like a colourful dress that hugs my body and makes D’s eyebrows go up like Groucho Marx’s, or jeans that are so comfortable I forget I’m wearing them. This summer, most of my clothes just make me shrug. My jeans are torn and frayed, or else they sag and make me look like I’m wearing a full diaper. My tee shirts are stained, stretched, moth-eaten or all three and my favourite skirts are older than my marriage certificate. I have beautiful closets, and nasty clothes.

Since I’m done being pregnant, over my career crises, and my other health issues are fairly under control, I’m hoping my wildly fluctuating body shape will settle down where it’s currently at, give or take a few pounds. Last year’s happy Buddha pot-belly is gone, D keeps asking me whether I have any pants that don’t have torn cuffs, and I’m getting a bit tired of searching for shirts that haven’t been used as a moth picnic. But what really made me realize a shopping trip was in order was a conversation I had with Jade before I left for the city.

“Hmmm, which top should I wear with this skirt?” I mused aloud as I surveyed the tumbled mess of half-folded shirts in my closet. I’d chosen a longish cotton pencil skirt emblazoned with a dragon-phoenix-y thing; it was a hand-me-down from my more fashionable sister. D hates that skirt because it hides my legs. I love it because it's comfortable and good for days when I didn’t feel like shaving my legs.

I reached into the closet and selected a garnet-coloured tee shirt that sort of matched the feathers in the phoenix-dragon’s wings. The v-neck was stretched and the colour was faded, but it was the best I could do. “There, this will look nice.”

Jade, who was standing beside me, crossed her arms. “No, it won’t.”

“But...it matches my skirt?” I said, taken aback that my four-year-old daughter had an opinion about what I wore.

“No, Mumma,” said Jade. “I will choose you something else. That one is yuckky.”

As I watched my child rummage through my motley collection of shirts, it occurred to me that I shouldn’t be taking advice from someone who thought wearing pink pyjamas every day for a week was the height of fashion sense. Then it hit me; my daughter noticed what I wore, knew I wasn’t all that happy wearing it, and that made some kind of difference to her. Which got me thinking about how I’d been dressing lately: sloppily, without much thought to whether my clothes were neat or clean (the one clothing rule I enforce with both my kids), or whether I felt good in them. I’d forgotten an important fact: little kids notice everything. As a parent, I was a living, breathing model of adulthood, from the way I brushed my teeth to the way I handled a phone call from the “this will just take a moment of your time” telemarketing company. As trivial as it seemed, the clothes I wore and the way I felt when I wore them was all part of the model.

As Jade handed me a sheer orange top with an image of Ganesh surrounded by twinkly rhinestones in the middle, I thought about my own mother and her flair for fashion, as comfortable in silk dresses and high heels as she was in the terrycloth tank tops she wore in the garden. I didn’t need to prance around in yellow silk, but maybe I needed clothes that made me feel good about myself to keep my “roughing it” outfits in balance.

Lots of people I know adore shopping. My mother was the master of it, and my sister Tanzi and friend Ruth are the same. They have an incredible instinct for finding outfits that are the right size, colour and style, usually on sale. Even D, on his rare annual shopping expeditions, can pick out half a dozen shirts and pants that look great on him in less than an hour. Me? Not so much. I don’t mind window shopping, but honestly, I’d rather clean eaves troughs in the rain than try on clothes. The trip to the city was a golden opportunity to right my fashion wrongs, though, and I figured the mall, as much as I loathed it, would be the quickest and most painless way to get myself a few summer outfits to help look more like a confident, funky mama than a bag-lady.


There are days when I really feel my age. Like when Dylan runs away from me and I nearly have a coronary trying to catch him. Or when I walk into a store at the mall filled equally with thud-thud electronic music and pretty teenagers clad in white shorty-shorts. Then I feel every millisecond of my forty-three years.

As I took my fourth step into the store, I had three immediate thoughts:
1) Why is everything so short?
2) Why is everything so cheap?
3) What the hell am I doing here?

I should have turned around and found a different store, one with fewer teens and more down-tempo music. Instead, I ground my teeth together, grabbed a random sampling of synthetic stuff off the “Now 3$!” and “2 for 10!” racks and corralled a bored-looking clerk. I told her I wasn’t sure what size I was so I’d taken two of everything to try. She chewed her gum, flicked her eyes over my body and shrugged.

“Prob’ly a medium,” she said with another shrug and nodded at me to follow her as she scuffed her bejewelled ballet flats across the store to the change rooms.

After trying on my third absurdly short sundress, having had to squeeze my way out of my tiny change room to the communal mirror each time, I gave up. The clothes just weren’t me. In fact, the whole store just wasn’t me. I felt, more than ever, like a sloppy, un-funky, old-bag-lady mom and fled the store.

In vain I searched the mall for stores with styles that might speak to me, that girl who used wear fun dresses to work, the woman who used to get tarted up to go out dancing, this country mama who wanted something pretty but functional, casual but flattering, feminine but tough enough to withstand sticky embraces and blueberry pancake missiles. It didn’t take long to figure out that whatever I needed, I was definitely not going to find at the freaking mall.

Hot, flustered, angry at the stores, the clothes and myself, I got into my car and started driving. I went past the beautiful wooded trails where I used to walk on my lunch hours, past the old building where I’d spent seventeen years of my working life, past my favourite sushi restaurant. Suddenly I was downtown Waterloo, near Young Street. And that girl who used to know how to dress whispered “Turn left, TURN LEFT!” so I did, and found myself in front of Unique Boutique, a clothing store my sister and I had discovered a decade ago when we’d both lived in the city.

The shop is owned by a warm, lovely woman named Gosia. She’s the type of person who wears her clothes so effortlessly that you feel as though they’re simply part of her. Her store is full of outfits and shoes and jewelry that are one-of-a-kind, colourful and, well, unique. I hadn't been there in years, but Gosia remembered me and asked about my sister, too. She listened carefully as I stammered through my sad mall story, the fact that I had two kids and was a completely different size than I'd been last year. She nodded, thought for a minute, and then began to fly around her store, gathering dresses and blouses she thought would suit me and my lifestyle. I’ve never had such fun trying on clothes; I’ve never felt so well attended in a store before. It was the best hour of shopping I’ve ever had in my life. I even stuffed the garnet shirt and phoenix skirt into my purse and wore a new black dress and long beaded necklace right out of the store.

And that, my friends, is how I finally ended up with the delightful sundress I’m floating around in today, a wild concoction of peacock green with red and purple paisley spots with spaghetti straps and a deep V-neck that flatters my boyish chest. It’s just short enough to make D smile, and it’s cool and stretchy enough for me wear while I dive after the kids. Like the other stuff I bought, it wasn’t on sale, but I can tell it will last me more than a few summers.

Jade took one look at me after I’d put the dress on this morning, fingered the soft material and said, “Ooooh, Mumma, this feels so beautiful and cosy.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Lovin' the LEIBSTER!

A big shout out to my dear pal Susan at Notes from Innisfree...she awarded me a Leibster!
Whoo hoo! Hurray! Yippee!!!

Okay, I didn't know what it was either, but hey, I got an award, yo.

Susan told me that Liebster is a German word, meaning dearest or beloved, or favorite. This lovely little award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers in order to help them get a little well-deserved attention and coax more awesome readers to visit their blog.

Further to my earlier post about paying it forward, once you win a Liebster, the idea is to pass it along to other bloggers you love, and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. Apparently I'm supposed to do this to eleven other bloggers, but to be frank, I'm kind of like a hermit in the bloggesphere and I don't really know eleven other bloggers who need that many followers. So I'll keep it to four of my favourites and stick to the other rules by posting four random facts about myself, and answering four of the questions Susan asked as my nominator. Oh, and I have to make up four questions for my nominees to answer...mwah ha ha!

Normally I detest form letter type stuff, but this feels more like a big, bloggy love-in. So, thanks Susan! And here goes nothing, my leibschens...

Four Funky Facts about Me
1) I have seen Michail Gorbachev, Cybil Shepherd and Tony Danza in person. I know. Now you want to be my friend, right?

2) Someday I'm going to travel to Japan and climb Mt. Fuji at sunrise. I even know a few words in Japanese. I just need to learn the ones for "I am not dead, I am just resting here on the side of the mountain."

3) I have a terrible, terrible crush on the guy that plays Jaime on Game of Thrones. This has replaced my terrible, terrible crush on Hugh Jackman, which replaced my terrible, terrible crush on Scully, which replaced my terrible, terrible crush on Harrison Ford that pretty much lasted a decade.

4) The four foods I can never get enough of are olives, ice cream, popcorn and sushi.

Four Questions from Susan
1) What motto do you live by?
I'd like to say it's something philosophical and deep, but I think it's more along the lines of, "Knock yourself out." Which I say a lot to my kids when they ask whether they can do something, like build a fort out of every piece of furniture in the house, or take off all their clothes in the sandbox. Basically, I figure if it isn't dangerous, unkind or unhealthy, go for it! We shelter our kids too much these days. They need to have harmless little adventures. And so do I.

2) What's your favourite movie?
Favourite feel-good movie: Greencard. Favourite movie I never get tired of watching even though my husband doesn't get it: The Matrix. Favourite foreign movie: Oldboy. Favourite nostalgic movie: a tie between Grease and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

3) If you could wave your magic wand and solve one world issue, which issue would you choose to address?
I wish mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders would just vanish off the face of the earth. Cancer comes a close second. And the repression & abuse of women and children. I know, that's three things. But man, that's a tough question.

4) If you could have dinner with any living person, who would it be?
Wayson Choy. I just love that guy. Plus he's funny and would never judge me for ordering too much bacon or wine.

And My Nominees Are...
In no particular order, here are my awesome Leibster nominees. Check out their blogs! Stay a while! Leave a comment! (Us bloggers really dig comments because then we know real people are reading our stuff)

Public Recluse The Lesser - your daily dose of truth with a sprinkle of sarcasm

Tea and Spice and All Things Nice - tips, recipes and other funky posts from a local tea goddess

Converse, Wookies and the Pursuit of Joy - the title kind of says it all, doesn't it? Zen zaniness and sharp observations from one seriously cool woman

Hick Chic - a little Johnny Depp (okay, a LOT of Johnny Depp), musings about country life, hilarious barn stories, sweet posts about her critters. What's not to like about this girl? And did I mention we went to high school together?

Four Nosy Questions for my Nominees
1) What's your favourite childhood memory?

2) In four sentences, describe your ideal day.

3) Do you believe in Heaven?

4) When's the last time you had a really good belly laugh, and why?

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Random acts of do-good

Ever see that movie Pay it Forward? The one where Kevin Spacey sports a grotesque scar, Helen Hunt gets beat up by Bon Jovi and the kid from The Sixth Sense attempts to look tough by wearing sleeveless shirts? Gawdawful movie. Seriously, I detest films that try too hard to make you feel a certain way. But as horrid as the movie was, it (and the book it was based on) did spark an interesting do-gooder movement back in 2000.

The concept of paying it forward is simple: someone does something nice for you, so you do something nice for someone else in the hopes that they'll do something nice for someone else...and so on, and so forth. Kind of like Faberge shampoo, but with good deeds. You know, like paying for the guy behind you at the Tim Horton's drive through, or offering to take a stranger's empty cart at the grocery store so they don't have to tramp across the parking lot to return it. I think the author called it "spontaneous acts of kindness." The idea is to change the world, one nicey-nicey at a time.

Back when I lived in Waterloo, in my pre-D and pre-kid life, I loved volunteering. I stage managed plays at my church, helped organize my department's morale committee, wrote the newsletter and assisted at the drop spot for the local CSA. But after my divorce, I plunged into a very self-absorbed state where I just didn't have the heart to get out and do anything for anyone else. Then I met D, got swept into our wonderful tornado of a romance, and had a wonderful year of focusing on just us. Add a move and two young children to the mix, and I became someone who could barely make time to shower regularly, let alone spend a few hours volunteering.

I know I'll get back out there some day; right now I'm focusing on the kids and my writing and our gardens and keeping the house from falling down around our ears. But by inserting a few little acts of kindness into my day, I think I can make life a little more bearable for folks, even if it's just for a minute or two. And it makes life a little more lovely for me, too.

I think a lot of us tend to get sucked into the whirlpool of "busy." Aren't we all stretched to our limits in terms of finding time for our careers, friends and families, let alone ourselves? It's not a contest about who's busier than who; it's a matter of how we spend our time. I like to tell D that Gandhi had the same 24 hours in a day that we have (I don't remember where I heard that, but it really annoys D when I say it) so we don't have much of an excuse to whine. What if we stopped focusing on how busy we are and focused instead on trying to be kinder to others and ourselves? I want to model that behaviour to my kids, young as they are, so here are some of the things I've tried in order to add a little kindness to my life.

Simple, huh? But dropping in to see someone who either doesn't get a lot of guests, or isn't able to get out much on their own, can make a huge difference to them. It can be an afternoon, or just a half-hour. The point is that you knocked on their door and made contact. I've watched my mother-in-law, who seems like quite a shy person in my eyes, reach out to neighbours who are ill or who have lost someone close to them. She takes them something to eat and stays for a chat. Even if small talk isn't your thing (it sure isn't mine), if you learn how to direct a conversation, it's easy to get people to talk about themselves. Such moments are like hidden treasures: you discover incredible stories, common interests, local history. Or you talk about the weather - it doesn't matter. Just so long as you reach out to another person, in person.

Donate to the Food Bank
Money's tight, I know. But I also know that a lot of us could be just a few paycheques away from using the food bank ourselves. Eventually, I'd love to help out in person, but until then, I donate as much healthy food as I can afford each week. It's pretty easy to do, and when I get the kids involved, it's kind of fun. During our weekly trip to the grocery store, we pick out $10 worth of food, usually whatever is on sale so we can get the most bang for our buck. It sparks all sorts of conversations with Jade, from why we probably shouldn't donate $10 worth of Dora gummy snacks to why anyone would want to eat barley since it looks like tiny pebbles. Even Dylan understands how to put the food in the Food Bank box, even though he may not yet understand why we do it. One time when I explained to a cashier that the pasta was for the food bank so she didn't have to pack it, she got tears in her eyes and said, "Bless you honey. I never thought I'd have to use the food bank, but last year when I wasn't working I used it a lot." Then we both got choked up and probably would have hugged each other if the stupid counter hadn't been in the way.

Don't Drive Like an Ass
Seriously, people. This is an easy one. And it is voluntary, so I'm counting it as volunteer work. Please don't drive up my rear bumper with your oversized truck when I'm doing the speed limit. Please don't pass me doing 80 km/h on the lower shore road, which is now posted at 40 km/h. Please don't drive like a maniac down my road because you're late for work or rage at slow-moving farm equipment. Take a deep breath, turn on your radio, and think pleasant thoughts. We'll all be better off for it. (And yes, I'm including myself in this lecture)

Write a Letter
Okay, if you HAVE to send an email, that's okay too. There's just nothing like getting ACTUAL MAIL that isn't a bill or solicitation for money. Even if it's just four lines on a goofy postcard, trust me, it will make the recipient grin like a fool. A well-written email can do the trick too; a random thank-you to someone who has inspired you, a note reminiscing about time spent together, a photo with a caption. It's all good. It's proof that someone is thinking of them - what's kinder than that?

Be a Drive Thru Fairy
I had never tried it before, but I'd heard about people who paid for the coffees of the people behind them in the drive-thru. So one day I did it. The cashier grinned at me as she handed me my order, and I tried to drive away quickly because I felt sheepish and triumphant and sneaky and silly, but the person behind me caught up to me at the traffic light. She rolled down her window and yelled, "HEY, DO I KNOW YOU?" I shook my head. She held up her hands with an expression of confusion on her face. I just shrugged and smiled. "OKAY, WELL, THANKS!!" she shouted as the light turned green and I rolled away. Honestly, it was just a $1.50 coffee, but I felt giddy about it for a good hour afterwards. D thinks I'm a lunatic, but I keep doing it anyway.

Give a Stranger a Compliment
This takes a little bit of guts, especially if you're not an extrovert. But the next time you see someone doing something worth complimenting, even if it's something small, take a breath and tell them they rock. The first time someone complimented me on how well behaved Jade and Dylan were out in public was in the Bulk Barn, a place I don't usually take my kids because all that food in containers at their eye level is just too much temptation. For whatever reason, they were mellow that day, and a fellow shopper said some kind words about how calm and sweet they were and how I was doing a great job with them. I knew that on any given day, my kids could very well be the ones rolling down the aisle with fistfuls of gummy bears, but, flushed with the compliment, I thanked the lady anyway. Just a few words from a complete stranger made me remember that I'm not half-bad as a mom. So now, whenever I see a parent with kids who happen to be acting civilized, I make a point of complimenting them, because every parent should feel a surge of pride in their parenting skills, even if it's really just good timing.

Anyway, this is my version of Paying it Forward. No Haley Joel Osmont, no bad Helen Hunt accents. You're welcome.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Random thoughts when I'm supposed to be paying attention in Yoga class

Gah, I'm late again! There's one spot left over there in the corner. (Unfurl my mat and sit down) Holy crap, where is that arctic breeze coming from? No wonder this spot is open. Brrrrr...

Overheard on the mats beside me:
Woman #1: Your uncle's insane.
Woman #2: Which one?

I love my teacher. Her movements are like water, her voice like warm honey. She radiates kindness with every word and look. Oh boy...I might have a girl crush.

Having to clench my cheeks to hold in pizza-related flatulence while doing Goddess pose is kinda ironic. This goddess really needs to let one fly.

This older woman next to me is so beautiful. She's lean and fit, and I like that she hasn't dyed her hair. The silver grey suits her.

Wow, that preggo woman can hold these damned poses longer than I can.

Yoga Instructor: "Are you experiencing the pose, or enduring it?"
Me: I don't think you want me to answer that.

This alternate nostril breathing exercise really doesn't work when you have allergies. Oh man, I just shot stuff out of my nose....did anyone see that?

Yay! My cousins are here!

I am beautiful and strong. I am beautiful and strong. I am - oooh, trembly legs! Trembly legs!!

Dancing warrior has got to be the coolest name for a pose ever.

There is something really intimate and powerful about 15 women facing each other in goddess pose. But now I want to stick my tongue out like Kali...

Thank God for Shavasana. AT LAST. Okay, stop thinking. Relax. Breathe. Geez, I wonder if D remembered that the kids are at his Mom's tonight? AHH! Stop thinking things! Shavasana, Shavasana. Ahhhhh. Yes. This is nice. (pause) Is that woman beside me snoring??? Seriously?? *sigh*

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Five things about...A Mother of a Day

What do you think of when you realize that Mother's Day is around the corner? Sloppy but well-intentioned breakfasts in bed, home-made cards festooned with sparkles and stickers, bear hugs and giggles? Visits to someone's home, apartment, nursing home or hospital bed? A quiet drive to the cemetery? Or maybe a card in the mail, a phone call, or a passing pang of guilt for cards unsent and phones left untouched?

Mother's Day has been kinda weird for me ever since my mother died back in 1992. And it's gotten progressively weirder since I lost babies of my own, then had two healthy children. I honestly don't know what to do with myself when that hallowed Sunday in May rolls around. Do I allow myself to be pampered and showered with extra attention, or do I wring my hands and grieve what might have been? Do I celebrate the contented mothers in my life or reach out to those for whom the day is pure torture? I don't know that there's a right answer to that question. So I did a bit of both.

1) Hot Coffee
After a good night's sleep (a rarity at Someday due to my son's penchant for nocturnal roaming), I enjoyed an uncharacteristically mellow morning with the kids while D did chores for his mother. We'd had a crazy day on Saturday with a combined birthday party for Jade and her cousin, so it was a relief to wake up and realize I had nothing to do. I set Dylan up with his breakfast in front of his favourite video, then invited Jade to watch her latest internet fascination - Teletubbies - seriously - on my laptop in bed with me. This meant I could drink my coffee and Baileys while it was still hot, people....still hot! If you have neither pets nor kids, you might not appreciate the enormity of this achievement. But trust me, it's big. I read my book - Cheryl Strayed's incredible memoir, Wild - cuddled with Jady and listened with one ear to Dylan whoop it up downstairs a la Team Umizoomi. It was peaceful. It was pleasant. It was perfect.

And then D got home, the kids went ballistic and my coffee cup was empty. Still, it was an hour and a half of bliss. Wayyyy better than breakfast in bed or a macaroni card.

2) Holy Crepes!
After he'd shattered the peace by having an impromptu wrestling match with Dylan on our bed, D reminded me that I'd offered to go to the farm and make breakfast for his mother. Crap. So I crawled out of bed, whipped up some crepe batter, grabbed a pint of berries from the fridge and herded the kids into the car.

We were so late that I'd missed seeing my sister-in-law and nieces, who'd left for a different family gathering - oops. My mother-in-law had already set the table and concocted a gorgeous fruit tray, so I wasted no time getting the crepes going. I have my mother's old crepe pan and it never fails me. Bro-in-law Paul cooked eggs and peameal bacon, the kids ran around, Grandma whipped some cream to replace the stuff I'd forgotten at home and D made the toast.

It was a raucous, crowded, splattery half-hour and I felt weirdly relaxed, even in the midst of all the breakfast chaos. I think I must have made thirty crepes; we slathered them with Nutella, whipped cream and fruit and ate until we couldn't eat any more. I think my mom would have been pleased to see me carrying on her tradition; my grandmothers would have been proud of how many I snarfed back.

3) Sharing the Burden
The day before Mother's Day, I got on the phone to my favourite flower shop in Waterloo and placed a last-minute order. I'd meant to do it the week before; I guess the party details erased this task from my mental list. When the clerk asked me what I wanted to put on the card, I opened my mouth to tell her, but no words came out. Instead, I choked on a sudden suffocating wave of tears. I finally managed to say, "My friend lost her daughter last month," before the wave drowned my voice again.

The clerk paused for a moment. "Well, what about something like, 'Thinking of you?' Or, 'With warm thoughts at this difficult time?'"

I swallowed the tears and shook my head, not that she could see it. "No," I croaked, as a mixture of anger and helplessness bloomed in my chest. "No, no, NO."

I heard the clerk let out a small sigh on the other end of the phone. I knew I was placing a last-minute order on an insanely busy day for her store. I knew I'd begged her to tack it on to the last delivery time, but mother of pearl, didn't she GET IT? Shouldn't she know that there's nothing you CAN say on Mother's Day in the space of a tiny florist's card to someone who has lost a child? I clenched my teeth to bite back the urge to yell this at her.

"Just write, 'With love from the Lowrys,'” I finally said. It was banal, but true. All I could send them was our love. And a lot of frigging chocolate.

I sent my love to relatives and coworkers who have lost mothers and mothers-in-law; neighbours whose mothers are hopelessly ill; friends who have lost sisters, aunts, children. Mother's Day is no picnic for a lot of moms, no matter how many macaroni cards or pedicure gift certificates they get. It's not much fun for many guys either. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do except offer to share the burden of pain and grief and disappointment, so they know they aren’t carrying it alone.

4) The Hike
Every year on Mother's Day, I slip away for a few hours and take a long walk on my own. I used to go to the beach, but this year I tackled the Kincardine Trails.

The kids and I often do short treks through what they call “The Muddy Woods,” near the Penetangore River, but until recently, I had no idea that the trails can lead you for hours through woods and field, over bridges and up steep ravines, behind subdivisions and arenas. It’s blissfully silent, perfect for days where you want to think of everything, or nothing.

When you hike by yourself, your mind is free to wander, and your attention sharpens. There’s no conversation to distract you from the little details: a plunging kingfisher, the way the river talks to itself, a carpet of trilliums, the tiny perfection of a robin’s eggshell, the smell of snow in the air. (Yes, it snowed on Mother’s Day - apparently Mother Nature had PMS.)

I expected to feel sad, and cry a little. I usually do, thinking of the people I’ve lost and the mother I’ve become. This time I didn’t. Instead, I felt wistful. Like, what would life be like if Rose had lived? Or my mother had recovered from her cancer? Or my friend’s daughter had been born healthy? Fantasies ran unchecked through my brain as I panted for breath and stomped my way over bridges and up steep, muddy hills.

When I got to a small gap in the trees where the river rushed by, I stooped and picked up a handful of stones. I threw one into the river for each person I was missing: Bun. Rose. Baba and Nana. My mother. My friend’s daughter. It was a simple act, just a few splashes and ripples that disappeared as quickly as they’d been created. Then I had to laugh a bit, because wasn’t that life? We make our mark, but eventually our presence fades and we become part of something bigger. The stones are still there, even if you can’t see them. Maybe knowing they’re there is enough for now.

5) This Girl is on Fire
D’s family doesn’t really celebrate occasions like my family does. Birthdays come and go with a card and a cake - unless it’s for a grandchild, in which case the party lasts for several days. But Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc. are sort of shrugged at. So I don’t get too upset if I don't get a card from D or the kids. I prefer to spend the day in quiet contemplation, truth be told. Having a loving husband who tells me I’m a good mom almost daily and being able to enjoy the company of two healthy kids is gift enough.

This year, D astounded me with a spa gift certificate to a place I'd been raving about to my sister recently. I was so sure he wouldn’t get me anything that I went out and bought something for myself: an outdoor fire pit thingy! Oops.

So now I get to pamper myself at a fancy spa, AND enjoy a cosy fire any time I want. I think the kids are old enough to discover the sticky joys of roasted marshmallows and spider dogs, the spark and crackle of a bonfire and the way it feels to fall asleep in your mother's lap outside under the stars. I think that's all I really wanted for Mother's Day anyway.