my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

October 15th, 2012

Mommy, Daddy, RRBB Make Three = Family

My husband, with his ever-delightful voice, sings a variety of made up songs to our son. “Mommy, Daddy, RRBB, that is our family. Mommy, Daddy, RRBB, that is our family. Mommy, Daddy, RRBB make three, and that is what we call a family.” And they get stuck in your head. For days. Which is infinitely better than having the theme from Mighty Machines rolling over and over in your brain at all hours of the night–I’ve been there too. The cottage is amazing but I’m kind of thankful that it’s closed up for the season. All the driving, all the doing, all the toddler-management, all of the panic of getting there and getting home–it’s a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth it, just for the sunshine and the swimming alone, but I’m ever-so tired these days. A familiar refrain, yes, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

So. The last few weeks have come and gone. I’ve slept and not slept. I’ve had good days and bad days. I’ve discovered that the key to surviving either is a nap and a good cry. I’ve pretty much given up reading novels at the moment. My brain simply can’t compute, or I’m not particularly inspired to say or do anything. I’m spent. In the truest sense of the word. That said, I did have a good spell of writing this week, it’s not particularly good, but at least I did it. Time moves forward. I’m stuck. Another week goes by, I get nothing done except surviving. The pattern defeats me.

We have, however, done a world of fun family things over the last few weekends. Days that have left my little boy wrangy and exhausted from fun–days that I know he might not remember but I will, and even thinking about it now cracks me up. The High Park Zoo and his now obsession with Highland Cattle. Springview Farms and their amazing tractors sprawled all over the grounds. Thanksgiving at his grandparents and playing the leaves. Visiting a fire truck with his Poppa. Happily accompanying his frantic mother who’s trying to get meals organized for an incredibly busy week. Preparations for a birthday party where he will turn two.

Two.

And what a wonder he is–his language, his comprehension, the very way he snuggles into you one moment and then kicks you like a donkey the next. The best moments of the day come while watching him “dance”–this involves jack-rabbiting around the room exclaiming, “that’s a good song!” He cracks me up. Sometimes, it’s close to a movie moment, those seconds where you are convinced you should have never been a mother, where you’ve yelled at your son in a typical knee-jerk reaction without thinking first, and then within three seconds the two of you are giggling crazily at being pet like a cat. In the end, there’s nothing like a day alone with a toddler to teach you everything you need to know about life. You know?

September 20th, 2012

The Seasons Turn Turn Turn

We spent Friday and Saturday up north closing the cottage. At the beginning of the summer, it was a death zone for our almost-two-year-old. Now, he’s familiar with the place, understands the rules (nowhere near the dock without a life jacket on!), and has a veritable playground set up with a broken-down jeep that he can climb on and pretend to drive, an old sandbox and pool from a previous generation of kids up there, and about a bajillion trucks, front loaders, dump trucks and excavators. Shutting down for the summer is always bittersweet for me. September always feels like the start of the year for me, all of those years spent getting ready for school, being in various different kinds of school, it’s hard to think otherwise. I bought a giant calendar to try and keep us organized and it started with September. I have moved the RRBB into long pants for his daycare days. I’ve started making many more meals in the slow cooker. I pulled a bunch of the garden down yesterday and I’m still not prepared.

It’s funny, I can’t get through a single day without leaving some aspect of my life completely incomplete. Work’s busy, but that’s good, life’s busy, and that’s good too–but I’m frustrated and exhausted just trying to keep things just moving forward. I know all working moms must feel this way. There’s a Van Morrison song from one of my favourite records that tears me up every time I hear it lately, about a mom making sure her boy’s got clean clothes, putting on his little red shoes–reminding me that it’s okay if things slip, it’s okay if all we manage one Saturday is clean clothes and leave half the garden done. If we can manage a smile or two in between the brilliant meltdowns and toddler tantrums, we’re doing okay. If I can manage to get soup made and bangs trimmed, that’s even better.

Right now, the whole strategy of jamming my “old” self into the pockets of time I have to myself, simply isn’t working. I need a revolution. I need my whole outlook to change. And, if you’re anything like me, you know how impossible this is–change feels big and overwhelming. I did manage to make headway in terms of budgets, and getting that part of my life under control, but every month something comes along to blow it out of the water. Money, like time, well, there’s just never enough of it. And then I bring it all back to motherhood, and how that’s going these days. Closing the cottage was a good indication–at the end of it, I was exhausted, it’s hard work, and we were lucky enough to have my aunt and uncle keep watch over the RRBB for most of the day–and I was angry at myself for not having more energy, for being out of shape, for letting the disease win, for all of the things I can’t control bleeding into the parts of my life that I actually adore. I think I said to my aunt that I was frustrated by how limiting the disease has been — a day that would be nothing for a healthy person just about destroys me, and then I’m irritable and cranky with my son, my husband, which isn’t fair to anyone.

Keeping control over the crankiness that comes with pure and utter exhaustion is almost as much work as trying to get some sleep. It’s amazing to me how RRBB slept so well from about 4 months until he was just about 1, almost always through the night, maybe a quiet night feeding or two when we were still able to breastfeed. Now, it’s as if something has possessed him at night–he’s up sometimes two, three times, screaming, wailing, and completely inconsolable. Just a week or so ago, if he was totally freaking out, I could stand at the window and he’d look out at the moon. If there was no moon, he’d say, “No moon, only lights momma.” Pause. “Only lights momma.” A little bit of poetry to calm him down. Now, try to take him to the window and it’s, “Nooooooo!!” Shriek, scream, shriek, scream. “Too scary! Too scary!” How does he even know what scary is? I’m ever-impressed with the evolution of him, as a human, but I’m finding the toddler stage particularly challenging. “Momma put the pillow on you!” Translation: Put the pillow on him. “No pillow!” Translation: take the pillow off. “Momma put the pillow on you!” You see the cycle emerging? All the hijinks to push back the bedtime, which used to be blissfully easy. Don’t even get me started on the wrestling match that is changing diapers or getting dressed. I’m telling you, the MMA would do well to hold training sessions with toddlers who need to get dressed. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll often take out EVERY SINGLE T-SHIRT he owns just so that he picks the one he wants if it’ll avoid a complete and utter meltdown at the sheer audacity of there being a dinosaur and not an excavator on the one clean shirt left in the drawer.

And here’s the rub. I’ve been writing this blog post for four days and am no closer to either being coherent or completing a single thought. So, I’m just going to leave it here.

May 30th, 2012

Busted on the Bloor Line: One Half of a Whole

There are so many unexpected surprises of parenthood. One aspect that I never truly understood until the RRBB came, well, out of me, was how much he feels a part of me. I know there’s a very real line that separates him from me–and entire person, in fact, his entire person, but sometimes I can’t really see where I stop and he begins. There was a funny line in a Laura Lippman novel I recently read about a single mum worrying about scarring her child for life by him accidentally and then sometimes on purpose seeing her in the bathroom. Goodness, I thought when I read that, RRBB’s probably already mortified because he’s in the bathroom with us all the time. When at home and he’s awake, I never eat a meal without a baby on my lap. He’s starting holding our finger with his tiny hand as we walk around as a habit. And as much as he likes to assert his independence, it usually ends up with a crash, a bash and a fall, and he’s in my arms again.

This weekend at the death-trap otherwise known as the cottage, the RRBB fell off of a deck onto a lower deck. It was the most scared I have ever been in my life. I was a step away. Just far enough that I wasn’t there in time to catch him, and just close enough that I was horrified to watch it happen. It wasn’t the first accident he’s had–like I keep saying, he’s an intrepid little fellow–and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But to see your child topple off something at least twice his height, well, the response is immediate, aching, and utterly emotional. There’s no thought. You scream. You run. You pick him up. You access whether or not he’s injured (he was fine; amazingly). And then you realize how much instinct is involved in everyday life. And then, the guilt descends, almost immediately. I’ve been replaying the fall in my end on a ceaseless loop for the last few days. The RRBB is his usual go-go-go self, he seems no worse for wear, and was actually scaling a playground two days after the fall like it was no biggie, with me, panting along behind him in fear of him tumbling again.

Therein lies the difference between parent and child. Okay, the many differences–he feels safe and secure, all the time and is utterly shocked when something happens when he’s not. I am constantly terrified for his safety and even when you are vigilant, which we are, accidents still occur. But that deep, deep feeling of “OMG OMG OMG!” when he fell was beyond emotions for me. I was all reaction, no thought, there was not a calm bone in my body. I know it’s not an easy age, for him either, he wants to go, to move, to jump, and just assumes the world, and his parents, will be there to catch him. I suppose, in a terrifically metaphorical way, his fall is simply preparing both of us for what’s to come–that I won’t always be there for him, that he’s an utterly separate person from me, as hard as that is for me to admit, and that he’ll soon be big enough to toddle through the world without my hands in his. I just wish all of the growing didn’t have to be so very painful.

May 14th, 2012

Busted on the Bloor Line: Cough, Cough, Sniff, Sniff

Of course, of course, of course! the minute I go banging on about feeling better I am felled by a ridiculous disgusting cold that has me hacking, spewing and sneezing. Someone walked by me at work today, where I had no business being, just as I sneeze-hacked and remarked that I sounded like a goose. He was not incorrect. Still, I made it through the day. I made it home from work. I lay down for a bit before we made dinner, and if I’m still feeling this awful, I’m actually going to call in sick. What a concept.

We made some vegan chocolate chip muffins the other weekend. The RRBB seemed to enjoy them. His emotions vacillate so easily these days — one minute he’s blessed out on vegan-choc-apple sauced goodness. The next he’s face down on the floor shrieking because, woe to be me, I have taken away something, closed a drawer, locked a cupboard, who knows. The other day he cried the entire way home in the car, then shrieked for another hour after we got home. I almost didn’t survive that day. We had dinner guests and a pile of people coming to the house and it was a day where there was no breathing, only moving, forward, forward, forward until I collapsed in a puddle on top of my bed.

And the small changes are working. At least, I think they are. Each week, I add something new, something teeny tiny, hardly noticeable to anyone other than myself, and it’s helping me come to terms with, well, all of the changes. My attitude is better. I’m not so run-down, so short-tempered, but I still have a long way to go. I haven’t managed to rescue myself entirely from the emotional hurricane of the last eighteen-months. It’s amazing to me how little time I have to actually sit and think — something I took completely for granted before I had the RRBB. Entire afternoons spent in a glorious state of an internet coma, doing “research,” keeping up-to-date with friends, and strangers, and bloggers, and books, and more books. Now, I’m caught thinking in the in-betweens, on the way to work, stolen moments here and there, raw impressions, never full, never tender, crammed all together in an endless loop until my days get ever-busier that anything that resembles a thought gets crashed around and out of my head.

Yesterday, while my RRHB was up at the cottage, thankfully, doing all of the chores so we can be ready for the long weekend, the RRBB opened up one of the cupboards and pulled out his animal crackers. He looked straight at me and said, “Mama, ya?” A question! A full and complete thought where he reasoned he wanted an animal cracker and knew enough to ask. The answer was, unfortunately no, he had already had some at lunch, but at least someone that I love and adore has the presence of mind to actually finish a thought, and that is worth revelling in.

May 7th, 2012

Busted on the Bloor Line: Sand in My Shoes

Goodness. The week has whizzed by. Work has been busy, life is busy, and in it all, I’ve actually been feeling better than I have in ages. The RRBB has started saying, “Mama.” It sounds like he’s half-Italian, and comes out, “Mumaa,” but it’s the most heart-filling thing in the world. When he started smiling, that was something. When he rolled over, that was something else, when he said, “Mumaa,” the other day as I left for work my heart cracked. And then, when we all went outside to see me off to work, there was a woman across the street with bleached-out short hair, and RRBB pointed to her and said, “Mumaa!” So, maybe he thinks all women with hair like mine are called “Mummy.” Who knows. It was very funny.

Up until last week, when I would say to him, “RRBB, where’s Mummy’s nose?” He would point to his own nose. “Where are Mummy’s eyes?” He would point to his own eyes, and so on. I found it comforting that he, in a sense, could not define himself outside of me. For the longest time, even when he was growing inside me, I wondered how he would know me when he was on the outside. How would he come to realize that I was his mother, how would he feel about me, would I be enough for him in my ever-depleted state. I mean, there are so many definitions of what a mother is — a baby doesn’t have to grow inside of you for someone to be its mother, but until he had some way of talking about it, I was never really convinced that my RRBB knew what I was — who I was sure, but that’s a very different thing.

Philosophically, I’ve been thinking a lot about mothers over the last little while. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with not having mine for the majority of my adult and young adult life. There was an article in the gossips the other day about how Gwyneth wants us all to stop judging each other, and then there’s all the hullabaloo over The Conflict, which I’m going to refrain from talking about only because I haven’t read the book yet (and I’m not sure if I will; I’m quite happy being the feminist I am, the working mother, AND someone who practiced attachment parenting while I was well enough to do so). It’s not enough that I define myself, I read, therefore I am, I write, therefore I am, I watch TV, therefore I am, I love, therefore I am, but now I’m being defined for the rest of my life by this other person — this person I created. So, it’s not enough that all the other moms getting their good shoes stuck in the playground sand are wondering about one another, passively judging how their kids are acting towards mine, and so on, we all have to be worried about how badly we’ll flapjack up our children too.

It’s amazing to me how language develops, how his language is developing, I should say. He’s been saying a version of “Daddy” (“Daddend”) for months, and it was spectacular. But in the last few weeks, since he surpassed that 18-month mark, it’s like a whole new world — not full sentences, but concepts like, “more!” and really recognizing objects like “plane” and then making the sounds that they make. But what of the “concepts” of “Mumaa” and “Daddend” — how do they relate in his giant brain that’s working a mile a minute. That’s the part that I wish I could climb inside his ear and find out, and I’m sure I’ll still be wondering what he thinks of us when he’s a teenager and we’re really flapjacking old.

Anyway, I’m rambling now. All I can say is that I find this whole motherhood thing utterly fascinating. When I’m not exhausted, sick, pulling out my hair, frustrated, exhausted, tired, exhausted, and oh, exhausted.

 

April 30th, 2012

Busted on the Bloor Line: How Many Hours in a Day?

These days, our lives are moving so fast, I am honestly shocked when it’s Friday (when this photo was taken), and then the weekend whizzes by, Game of Thrones is over, and we’re back at daycare/work first-thing Monday morning. The weather might not feel spring-like for Ontario, but it sure felt spring-like had we been magically transported to Banff… it snowed last week, teeny tiny little white flakes that melted as soon as they hit the ground, but, still, snow.

That didn’t matter, we got out on Sunday and walked up the West Toronto Rail Path to the Clean Train Rally held by our MP, Andrew Cash. (Who else sings “Time and Place” every single time you hear his name? Exactly.) It’s nice to see the community rally over such an important issue, but it was nicer just to be out and about, regardless of how tired/ill I felt, and the lesson for this week is how consistently surprising your children are…

They were giving away apples and so I gave the RRBB a bite of mine, which he ate, and then another, and then another. And then he took THE WHOLE APPLE AND ATE IT CORE AND ALL. This is a kid who, up until now, has not eaten a sliver of fresh fruit, well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s very rare that he eats fresh fruit, but he ate that apple, top down, for the majority of the walk home.

The second lesson for this week, no one cares about such stuff as much as you do. “RRBB ate an apple!” I kept saying. Blank stares. “An entire apple!” Patronizing, “that’s good, right?” Yes, yes, it is.

They were talking the other day on Metro Morning about that viral video floating around, Lotte Time Lapse, about the importance of capturing life like this — taking a photo of yourself every day, keeping a diary, finding ways to remember those things where memory itself becomes faulty. We have so many ways of pausing our life, social media, old-school blogging, camera phones, iPhones, iPad (which is what I took the above photo with) that it’s impossible not to be thinking about how to record your life as it’s happening. But it always gets me wondering about how different it’s going to be for my kid to grow up with all of this just the way life is — what kind of expectations around their lives, their images, their person, will change because I’ve been writing about him here since before he was born.

I’m sure I’m not remotely the first mother to be thinking about this kind of stuff. I mean, I keep his name away for a reason, and would have kept my own under wraps for longer if my particular work situation didn’t make it so that I had to drop my pseudonym. It’s a false veil, I know — people who know us, know him, know me — and my blog is small, traffic-wise, but I also want his life to be out there because it gives me pause to examine what it means to be a mother, how my life has evolved, and the different ways the world is now.

This weekend my son ate an apple. That news isn’t going to change the world. That he ate it core and all I find endlessly hilarious because why wouldn’t he, there’s an amazing sense of abandon in his world that we forget completely as we grow more and more knowledgeable. Seeing him chewing away, not caring about the juice dripping down his face, grinning, kicking his feet in his stroller, happy to be out looking at all the people around him, listening to the music, meeting his MP; it’s important that we remember these moments so that he has stories, so that he knows that he comes from somewhere, from two people who adore him, and if this is the way that I have to remember on his behalf, then I’m just going to continue, and worry about it all tomorrow, when, for sure, he probably won’t eat another apple in that very particular way again.

April 23rd, 2012

Busted on the Bloor Line: Like Waves

Just like the so-called “spring,” my body can’t decide whether it’s coming or going. This month I’m back pumped up on the steroids, have finished another week of the gross Septra, and am trying desperately to maintain a little perspective. Everyone I know seems to be in a bit of dire straights. The ups and downs of life are just barreling downhill and not seeming to climb back up, so I’m spending time hugging, giving advice, hopefully being there, listening, and putting my heart out to be held by those who might need a boost or two.  Friends are important. You know who you are. I wouldn’t be here without you. I only hope that I can give a little bit of that back to you when you need it.

It’s been a relentless twenty months. TWENTY MONTHS. I can barely manage to type that out. I’m chubby and puffy and feeling more than a little prednisone-crazy these last couple weeks. I’m not sleeping, of course, but I’ve finally found my groove again when it comes to reading, and I’m going to get caught up here over the next few days. We’ve been watching some great TV, and I’ve been enjoying some BBC shows on my iPad as I ride the stationary bike in the evenings. A terrific show called The Hour. Luther, which freaked me out, and then Wallander, wherein Kenneth Branagh is perfection. It’s all to say that despite the sheer stress of the last couple weeks of feeling truly horrible yet again, I’ve managed baby steps in the right direction: biking in the basement 3-4 times a week, lots of books read, lots of time spent with the baby. Now if I could only get my body to cooperate with my mind, and make me healthy, we’d be climbing back uphill in a moment.

The other night, lying in bed, I thought that there’s so little that I can control at the moment. Not my health, not my life to an extent, and not my mind from wandering all over the place and back again. I know I put so much pressure on myself to be doing all of the things that I did before I had the RRBB. To try and keep pushing forward, to keep moving at a pace that I recognize, and I’m failing, miserably. Making myself miserable. Making my husband miserable. All the while claiming to be happy, in a sense, because I have everything in life that equals my own personal sense of happiness. The long list that I made all those years ago: a job that I enjoy (for better or for worse), a rewarding career, a family, a nice house, a solid marriage — these are all things that I value. I would be floundering without them. Yet, I’m feeling dragged down and drugged out, moody and dangerous, unable to pause for a moment and just take a deep breath — and that’s the fatigue of dealing with the disease leeching into every aspect of my life. I can get through the days. But I don’t want to, if you know what I mean.

So, my epiphany.

The big things I cannot control. I can’t will the disease away. If anything, worrying about it, being frustrated and sad, only feeds the fire. I have to find a way to just be in it without letting it completely overwhelm me. I need to make my life smaller. Not bigger. I need to change tiny things every day until I’m feeling better, more like myself. That’s the real tease of the disease — for two or three-odd days over the last few weeks, I felt alive, like myself, not dragged down in the mud, not exhausted, happy and ready to take on the challenges of life with a toddler, a job, a household. And then, bam! I’m back to feeling horrible, ill, exhausted, more tired than I’ve ever been in my life, old, old, old.

So, small changes.

Something everyday that makes me, well, me. Small changes. Big thoughts. Right?

March 17th, 2012

Busted On The Bloor Line: Take A Moment

There is a marked uneasiness these days. Something isn’t quite right. I can’t trust the weather — it leaves a pit in my stomach that something is going to go horribly and absolutely wrong. It is not normal to be wearing white short-shorts in March to the sugar bush. And I’m not just talking about the sheer oddity of having no snow for an ENTIRE winter, but the fact that the world might be changing in ways that I won’t recognize as my son grows up. (more…)

March 10th, 2012

Busted on the Bloor Line: This Sounds Much Worse Than It Is

First, before I dive into the guts, and, well, grumpiness of where this post will necessarily go, I want to post this — a portrait of my son as if we were sending him off to The Wall with Jon Snow and the rest of the Night’s Watch. Can you tell we’re a little excited about the return of Game of Thrones?

Anyway, for members of my family who might read this, please don’t be alarmed, and don’t be upset, please feel free to not read this, it’s okay.

So, I saw the psychiatrist last week. I am freely going to admit that I’ve been in some form of therapy for well over a decade now. If only to cope with the disease, to right some difficult patterns in my head, and to be able to understand how my mind works just that little bit better. And when I was there, rambling as I do, I told her that I feel unhealthy in my body, unhealthy in mind, and unhealthy in my spirit — that not a single part of me feels like myself, and I don’t even know where to begin in terms of getting it back. (more…)

March 3rd, 2012

Busted on the Bloor Line: The Times, They Are Changing

Things are getting better. I saw the SFDD this week, and while my bloodwork is never entirely good news, there’s hope on the horizon in terms of finally being in a little more sustainable remission for my Wegener’s. My kidney function was severely damaged by the pregnancy and intense flare all those months ago, and I just have to come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably be on some form of medication for my poor, beleaguered organ for the rest of my life. That said, at least I’m alive. I manage to get to work. I’m raising a little boy. I have an outlet here. (more…)

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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