Things I’ve Actually Googled (or considered Googling) this week: An abridged version

“How little sleep does it take before sleeplessness murders you”

“At what age does a boy start having Man Colds”

“Signs your three year old is a sociopath”

“Signs your three year old is a psychopath”

“How much rage is normal in a three year old boy”

“What is a Shopkins”

“Five year old girl acting like teenager is this normal”

“Kids dancing along to Justin Bieber ‘Sorry’ video – bad parenting?”

“Explanation of vegetarianism vs omnivorism for kids”

“What happened to Dino Dan on Trek’s Adventures”

“Does Dino Dan have a father”

“Children refusing to wear pants is this normal”

“Children refusing to wear socks and shoes is this normal”

“Summer camps”

“All inclusive vacations CHEAP”

Draw whatever conclusions you will, friends. I’m off to develop the wine habit I’m obviously lacking.

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Because memories are not premeditated

Perception is a funny thing. I can clearly remember looking out the car window as a small child, studying the yellow lines on the road. I couldn’t have been more than five, and I didn’t have any understanding of road rules, or how cars worked, or why every drive felt like an eternity. All I knew was that the yellow lines seemed significant, and so I asked my parents what they were. “The dashes let drivers know they can pass other cars,” my father explained. “The solid lines can’t be crossed.”

For whatever reason, I took this to mean that you could not physically cross the solid yellow lines. It wasn’t a matter of “should not”, or any sort of regulation – it was could not, end of story, impossible. Envisioning some sort of forcefield separating the lanes, I’d hold my breath when my parents drove too close to the centre line, picturing us being hurled back into traffic by an invisible energy. DRIVING IS SO STRESSFUL, I thought. So dangerous! Was there not a better way?

I don’t remember when I stopped believing this, or if it was all at once. Did I question it out loud, leading someone older and wiser to explain? Did we cross a solid line with undramatic results, leading me to conclude that my parents were wrong? Or did I simply forget, slowly and gradually, as I grew up? I’ll never know.

My children are at an age now where their interpretations are spectacular. They question everything and take in the answers so willingly, with so much trust, and yet it’s impossible to know how their minds will process the information they are given. The simple words I offer in the car or at bedtime could create a lifelong imprint without me ever knowing it – a realization that is both remarkable and terrifying. What was surely a forgettable, throwaway conversation to my parents so many years ago meant something completely different to me. It’s a memory I still drift back to occasionally, when the roads are dark with rain and the yellow lines gleam brightly in contrast. There’s a magic in how wrong I was and how sure I was, and in only being able to wonder what mysteries are unfolding in my own children’s minds.

But like my parents never knew, I likely never will. It is a pure joy and utter burden to teach all that you know without ever planning a lesson, hoping that everything will fall into place, more or less, and the memories you leave are warm. Parenting is often rooted in happenstance, which seems ridiculous but is so true. Plan all you want, and then watch those plans unravel as you improvise and make do. Just do your best, we all say, and I know I try. Some days are wins and some are fails, and often I don’t know which it’s been. The most important job in the world, and all I can really do is cross my fingers.

M is for Marriage (and Murder)

Marriage is a polarizing topic. Not just the cost of weddings, or the fight for equal rights for same sex relationships, or the religious ideals and restrictions that factor in. NOPE. All marriage is controversial. While many view it as the ultimate declaration of love and commitment – for some, a MUST before children, cohabitation, or even sex – others perceive an awkward, unnecessary legal contract that has more to do with government than with love. And you know what? I’m totally cool with both opinions. Do what you will, lovers! If you’re both adults, it’s your call. Marry or don’t; have babies or do not. Just live your life and stop being judgemental jerks about it all, some of you.

What is universal about all couples – married, dating, gay, straight, monogamous, not, etc – is that they have to figure out sleeping arrangements. Sure, there is the odd long distance couple that rarely spends the night together, or those who opt for separate rooms out of preference, but typically, couples share a bed. And with that comes sharing a blanket. And here’s where I cease to understand humanity.

SHOW ME ONE PERSON ON EARTH WHO HAS EVER ENJOYED SHARING A BLANKET.

You can’t, because that person is a unicorn. They don’t exist. You like sharing a blanket, you say? You’re a liar.

Unless you’re curled up on the couch watching a movie and cuddling romantically, blankets are not meant to be shared. When we are sleeping, we our bodies need to be comfortable. This means moving; adjusting your body and your covers until you feel just right, and then re-adjusting repeatedly throughout the night.

Unless you are a robot or a clone, your partner is not going to have the EXACT same sleep habits and preferences as you. They will move, they will mess up your blanket flow, they will sweat up on you or graze you with their ice cold feet, and if you’re married to my husband, they will steal your cozy, perfect duvet away completely in order to wrap themselves like a deranged adult sleep burrito. At this point, you will be cold, tired, and angry. So what do you do? You smother your husband with his pillow, obviously, and steal back the damn blanket.

EXCEPT MURDER IS ILLEGAL AND MORALLY WRONG, I guess, so there has to be another way. And there is! Behold, my one and only tip for a successful (murder-free) relationship: same bed, separate blankets.

My husband and I share a queen sized bed. We snuggle up together when we want to, avoid each other’s hot breath in the night, and occasionally have a small child wedged in between us. He freely drapes his limbs across my body while snoring away beside me, and that’s fine. We don’t kill each other, because we have two queen size blankets on our bed, and thus, he can enter his weird,  man-swaddle duvet cocoon while I lay under a flat blanket with my feet sticking out (it’s too hot otherwise). We’re together, but apart, and it’s bliss: the perfect combination of intimacy and personal space. Honestly, why isn’t this the norm? I can’t tell if other people are masochists, or just in better relationships than I am.

So go forth, married and unmarried people of the world, and get your own blankets. They don’t even have to match, because you can hide one under the other. It’s the holy grail of cohabitation! Which sort of makes me, like, the Jesus of bed-sharing (or at least one of the apostles – not Judas, hopefully). In conclusion: two blankets, you’re welcome, and sweet dreams.

 

Consistency

Time is a cruel motherfucker. WAIT, please, don’t go. I promise my language will get cleaner from here on out. (For this post, at least.)

It’s after midnight on a Tuesday and I’m up writing, not only this blog post but also a magazine article that’s due tomorrow, which is why I’m writing this blog post. Procrastination, I am your most glorious example.

Why isn’t the article done? Well, I can blame a million things, and they’d all be partly true: a busy schedule, slow replies from certain involved parties, writer’s block, the fact that my children have been sick and then made me sick and have kept me from sleeping for, oh, YEARS at a time; and also my long-time habit of finishing things AS THEY ARE DUE, because “I work well under pressure”. The last part is mostly honest, but also an excuse for my deeply embedded procrastination.

I always think I have more time than I do, until it disappears. Minutes to get out the door, hours to complete work projects, whatever. I am always going to be the person drinking coffee at 2am in order to finish a project by 3 or so, and wake up at 7 with a delirious pseudo-hangover from lack of sleep. I survive on caffeine and adrenaline, mostly, and an anxiety-fuelled inner drive to not be a complete failure.

If I weren’t the mother of two small children, I’d crash until late morning in order to support these late night marathons. That’s what I used to do, and while it was widely judged as a bad habit, I was pretty content. I don’t like mornings, I do like night-time, and I work better with no distraction. When everyone else is sleeping, I do the work of a thousand daytime-mes. And anyway, writers are always drunks and/or insomniacs, right? It makes perfect sense!

But then I had children – the best thing that’s ever happened to me, without a doubt – and things changed. I have to be up when they are, get them to and from school, care for them, engage with them, pack their lunches and break up their fights, soothe their nightmares and rearrange fallen blankets, provide an endless supply of strawberry yogurt drinks, and generally run their lives. I love being a mom, and dread the day when my children don’t need me as much as they do now, but it’s exhausting. And so is my job. And yet they co-exist! And I subsist, to an extent, to make it all happen. Which brings me back around: time.

The reason I stay up all night writing and working to exhaustion before getting up with my children in the early hours of the morning is because time escapes so cruelly and unceremoniously. I’m tired now, and want to sleep, but I’ll write this article and then get up with my children in the morning because I want to write it, just like I want to be the person who gets up with my children. I would never give that up. It’s a luxury that I’m extremely lucky to have – being a stay at home mom AND having a career that I love. And even if the combination is killing me some days, I’d rather push through than quit. The hard truth is unavoidable, and bittersweet: in the blink of an eye, my kids are going to be the ones up all night, writing exams or working or doing whatever fulfils their creative needs, and I’ll be somewhere else entirely, sound asleep, dreaming of days past when they called out for me in the middle of the night.

So for now, coffee.