To know they were here.

by Alicia on September 16, 2014

I have kept close with exactly two friends since kindergarten. They live so close, and yet I only see them like thrice a year. We seem to talk either not for a few months, or a whole whole lot at one time. This past week was one of those latter times. My dear, sweet, strong, steady friend Amie, lost her 30 year old sister Kari to cancer on Thursday, September 11th. (Fuck cancer, though. Fuck.It.) Amie called me on drives to and from the hospital, we had been talking on and off from diagnosis until that horrific morning. Because what else do you do? No, seriously…what else is there at all to do?

Talking and listening seems like you’re standing still. But you know what? Maybe that’s the most comforting part of all. Because Amie and I talked about how when tragedy strikes, your personal world grinds to a halt. Everything urgent on your to-do list takes an immediate backseat, you no longer worry about anything beyond your current circumstance. Yet the world keeps moving around you, Life keeps happening and all the other parts that were spinning before are still spinning it’s just that you’re standing still and trying to remember to breathe. And as simple as that sounds, it is one of the things I find most frustrating about dealing with tragedy, stress and death: you just want the world to pause for one minute and acknowledge the weight of what you’re going through, to stop and give you a minute…but it doesn’t. Emails keep coming in, bills are still delivered to your house, lunches have to get made, people still say “have a nice day” in the drive thru. So perhaps the greatest thing I can do for my friend is stop my time and give it to her. To acknowledge that what she is experiencing defies logic, that her anger and despair and confusion are valid, there are no skills which I possess yet that will make her feel better. Support feels good, true. But better? No. The only thing that would have made her feel better is the impossible. So I can stop my time and make sure she knows that she is all I’m thinking about, while all she is thinking about is Kari.

The hard part now is the emptiness. When Kari’s family feels the unforgiving weight of the empty time that they formerly spent focused on Kari. The loss of her is unfathomable. It came at me in waves during her funeral, the finality of it all, but really I found myself searching for Amie’s face in the massive crowd. But the weight of having loved and lost a sister, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a cousin…I know a little of that.

Kari wore a bracelet that read “No one fights alone”, and oh I love that message so much. It’s so far-reaching. Kari didn’t fight cancer alone one second of her too-short life. Amie won’t fight through grief alone. I don’t fight through my own battles alone…I often need reminding of that. We see our friends, we see those we love. Maybe that’s all you can do, see them. Know they are here, prove that they aren’t alone, that what is happening to them is real and important and you care about it too. Sometimes support can be small in appearance and large in importance.

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Higgy Girls In Glasses“Sweet mother of MERCY Maëlle, if you don’t find that damn blanket in like 2.2 seconds we are leaving without it!” And I watch that beautiful blonde head just roll around her adorably still-somewhat-baby-plump little body and I want to shake her wrap her up in a love hug…(I don’t shake my kids, guys. Put the phone down.)

You see, my children are gloriously now old enough to be responsible for getting themselves ready to leave out the door somewhere. Get dressed, brush your hair and teeth, pee, gather whatever useless belongings you simply must sherpa along with us this time, get your shoes on, get to the vehicle and strap yourself in. I’m not even fabricating when I tell you that the day Maë learned to buckle herself into her carseat, I bought that girl an ice cream cone because FREEEEEDOOOOOMMMM!! However, getting to the point at which she is, in fact, strapped in, the other two are buckled and we are pulling away from the house? ELEVENTY BILLION HOURS.

And this isn’t just limited to Outside The Homestead outings. Oh no. Chores? I defy anyone to get Annika to sweep a 4 foot square radius of linoleum in under 40 minutes. And Isabella will tell you 17 incredibly detailed stories before she can possibly brush her teeth for the night and head to bed. Then she has got to read 4 books and probably draw something and maybe also primp a little in the mirror, and check for 3 stuffed animals she hasn’t seen since she turned five.

No one but me cares about my timelines.

They really don’t know a thing about time anyway. Which suits me very well when I can say things like “you’ve got 10 minutes, and then we’re leaving” and three minutes later I’m calling out that it’s time to go. But when I’m shouting up the stairs “Bella! Can you come down here please?” and 11 minutes pass with me tapping my foot in the kitchen…it burns me good that she strolls in none the wiser and politely asks “yes, Mom?” as if the expectation was just that she grace me with her presence eventually.

The getting-ready-for-school routine and the after-school-but-before-you-can-play routine are getting ironed out right now. All three girls are in school now, we’ve entered a new era. Wherein some of our previous rules work with three of them bustling around the kitchen (because let’s get real, 90% of my life is spent in the kitchen in some way), and some things have to be re-examined 8 bajillion times because welp…that’s just not the way our house works anymore. And I guess there’s my lesson: no one but me cares about my timelines, because they all have their own. Raising fully functioning members of society can really bite me in the ass sometimes…

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A friend asked me recently how I handle raising three kids, three daughters specifically. I blew it off of course with my usual “oh it’s a challenge, alright” laughraiseeyebrowsshrug.

But then I had some time to think about it. And I just sat there. Dumbfounded. I have no strategy. I’m a planner by nature and yet, with parenting? I just kind of wing it. I think honestly if I let myself come up with a plan, I’d be so focused on Executing The Plan that I’d miss seeing my kids entirely. I guess I live a little in the present and a little in the future when it comes to parenting. I want to enjoy them, but I want to produce functioning members of society as well. Most Some days those two things don’t coincide very well, and we end the day completely burnt out and frustrated with each other.

But I have to say, I can’t really identify with the moms who lay in bed berating themselves over their terrible parenting days. I care about doing a good job, but I also know that mistakes are the best way to learn. I know my kids aren’t damaged from a day of too much yelling. Plus they were probably being jerks anyway and they needed to be scolded for it. Tomorrow we’ll wake up and start all over. Maybe I’ll yell again, maybe I won’t…I don’t hold myself up to a standard that I can’t ever reach because it’s invisible. And I truly believe that kids see more than they see, if ya get what I mean. If I’m trying too  hard, if it’s not coming naturally to me? They’re going to see that. They might exploit it, and that’s the least of my worries. I worry more that they’ll mirror the behaviour of Fake It Til You Make It. I hate that phrase. Be you. That’s not fake. It’s not perfect, it’s not always pretty but it’s sustainable and approachable and fulfilling.

I’m a pretty relaxed parent who holds a hard and fast line on rules and behaviour. You want to play outside in the rain in your fanciest dress? Have at er, kid! You give me sass face at my dinner table? Up to your room immediately. Oh, we’re in public and you drop to the floor in a heap of drama? How embarrassing for you that right there in the middle of the aisle I’m bent down in your face counting to three with Epic Mom Face. But that fart joke was super funny and I guffaw laugh with you until I can’t breathe.

I’m a fun mom. And both of those descriptors are equally important to me.

My Parenting Philosophy probably looks a little something like this:

  1. Laugh at their jokes
  2. Praise their work ethic
  3. Thank them
  4. Remind them not to be jerks
  5. Show them empathy
  6. Admit when you messed up
  7. Let them do it their way a little (<- that one is haaaaard for me)
  8. Model fun
  9. Build tradition
  10. Encourage individuality

I’m not trying to hit markers in my parenting. I don’t really believe in “stages”. I think each kid has their own ways of growing and coping and it’s not my job to mold them, it’s my job to guide them through the walls they build in their own paths. We parent in such a way that changes aren’t really noticed right away. It’s more gradually shifting and settling until one day Ryan and I look at each other & go: “So, she just showers herself now? Okie dokie.” If I’m over here preaching individuality and self-love and grace and independence…well, I better actually show it, or they’ll retain nothing.

So I have no plan here. I have no magical way to get your kids to listen to you, to ensure they’re polite and well-rounded. But I truly think my kids are that way, and I’d like to take some credit for that. Just don’t ask me for a handbook, cause it’ll be 12 pages of this guy:

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Like A Girl

July 3, 2014

I mostly avoid viral videos. (Most especially the ones on Facebook.) This morning I finally watched the Like a Girl video ad from  Always. I was not moved to tears. I think it may juuuust miss the mark for me, like it’s missing a little something. Raising three daughters can be a daunting thing when [...]

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The “Expert” Label that comes with Celebrity.

June 6, 2014

expert  [n., v. ek-spurt; adj. ek-spurt, ik-spurt] noun: a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority adjective: possessing special skill or knowledge; trained by practice; skillful or skilled   Oh, The Internet. You’re adorable. And I love you. Except for the parts of you I absolutely abhore. Just throw a little celebrity on someone, they’re automatically the smartest person anyone has ever met. Even the people who have never met them. Allow me to present Exhibit A: [...]

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