Taming the Beast

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10726509325_44e1195b13_oMy home is messy.

I used to keep an immaculate home. I washed the dishes every night or at least frequently enough the kitchen was usually pretty clean, and the rest of the house received regular scrubbings and cleanings too. I worked really hard to maintain the cleanliness and then my depression returned full force and just getting out of bed and into work every day was a huge effort and accomplishment. Then more children came along with more stuff to call their own and between my depression and our expanding family’s ever-expanding piles of stuff, I lost control and I have yet to get it back under control.

We live in a small three bedroom condominium and there’s very limited space for each person. It’s not impossible but it takes work and it takes compromise and it requires mutual respect of each others’ space. All of which we struggle with as each person has different needs and different ideas. My husband is a collector of super hero and sci-fi paraphernalia. He places a much higher value on his stuff than I do on my own so I sometimes don’t honour the value he places on things just because I don’t feel the same way about stuff in general. I’m trying, but it’s hard when I barely have a bookcase worth of space to call my own, while he has several bookcases and shelves. The children have no boundaries and their toys and book bags and whatnots and whathaveyous end up pretty much anywhere it’s convenient for them to drop them when they are finished with them. Yes, it’s part of the problem. My husband tries but there’s no consistent measures being employed to set these boundaries and maintain them. It’s on my to-do list…

To give a measuring stick of the mess we live in, we would not qualify for an episode of Hoarders but watching Hoarders makes me feel better about my mess. And it shouldn’t. Just because Hoarders is worse doesn’t make my situation less poisonous, suffocating or overwhelming. I hate living like this but I feel like I’ve surrendered to the beast simply for the sake of my sanity. Going to war every day with the beast and feeling like I was always on the losing end of the battles was and is emotionally exhausting, so I put up the white flag and surrendered. I let the mess envelop me and define me. I took on the mantra of this is me, this is my home and if you love me and want to spend time with me, you must accept my mess.

Yes, I have good days where I get up and say, today is the day I tame the beast and I’ll pick up my bucket and scrub brushes and go to war against the disorganization and dirt, but it’s always short-lived because as one place is improving another is falling apart or while I move on to tackle the next area, the first place falls apart all over again, and so I surrender yet again and the beast is victorious.

It’s not one battle that will win this fight, it’s a systemic planned attack with everyone working together and the adults setting good examples for the children. I can’t get mad at my daughter for not cleaning up her room when I haven’t seen the floor beside my bed in weeks. I have to take the lead, show her (and my other children) how it’s done and encourage them to work with me, but I feel so overwhelmed and I figured out why this week. I went to an Angel Healing session and I asked a question and as part of her answer she said, I sense your house is very oppressive.

It was like a light went on. That is the exact word to describe our home. Oppressive: weighing heavily on the mind or spirits; causing depression or discomfort.

At first glance it doesn’t seem so bad but it’s the emotional stuff people don’t see that really makes my home feel oppressive. The gunk, the unresolved anger, the frustrations, the unspoken emotions, and the soul grinding pain that lives just below the surface and robs us of our ability to live happily. It affects all of us to some degree or another and it won’t stop until we face the mounting pile of repressed emotions.

We’re very good at throwing things in boxes and sticking them in corners and pretending they don’t exist because taking the time to open them up and go through each piece of paper and item to decide what to do with it all feels overwhelming and impossible. There are probably more invisible boxes of emotional detritus that need clearing than there are boxes of stuff we need to go through but we are even better at ignoring the invisible stuff.

We’ve all found ways to cope with the invisible piles of emotional gunk that oppresses our living space. We’ve pushed it down and hidden it away, pretending it’s okay when it’s not. We’ve put up barriers between each other to keep a safe distance so we don’t accidentally trigger one another. If someone is accidentally triggered it rarely ends well. We have all developed defensive mechanisms and they are very quick to kick in.

I’m passive aggressive, I use guilt trips and am quick to assume the martyr role. My husband runs away, pushes away or lashes out if you insist on getting too close, mostly with painful words. My 18 year-old fumes, swears and hits things. My 10 year-old whines, throws temper tantrums and she’s learned a few techniques from me as she resorts to guilt trips and “feel sorry for me” lines. The four year-old is still working on finding his place in this little game we play.

My husband and I have set a horrible example for dealing with conflict and difficult emotions. Until he and I can sit down and put all the detritus and craziness on the table and face our parts in this game nothing will change.

I believe in living by example and it extends to everything not just cleanliness skills. If children see you model good conflict resolution skills they will learn them too. If children see you lovingly deal with difficult emotions and honouring the individual’s trials with help and on-going support, they will mirror that back into the world. If children see you own up to your mistakes and apologize they will learn that too and if children see you trying to work on your weak points, they will know it’s okay to have weaknesses but that you need to always strive to do better. Having a weakness is not a valid reason to hurt others, and the excuse “that’s just who I am” is a very poor excuse to hurt the ones you love.

We must all strive to do better by each other. That is the true gift of loving someone, and it starts with a willingness to unpack and sort through the gunk that’s holding us hostage in our home. We really want to move, but I’d rather not take all this craziness with us. It’s time to purge, it’s time to clean it out, it’s time to tame the beast!

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Love is Not a Mistake

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wpid-wp-1413783567264.jpegI have made many mistakes. Many of those mistakes have in return fundamentally changed who I am.

Motherhood started out as a mistake, a responsibility thrust into my young arms that felt too weak to bear the weight. I made so many mistakes but my son was not one of them. He was a gift. A gift I just wasn’t quite ready to receive or fully appreciate. As a result I fumbled around the world of motherhood very lost and distrustful of my instincts. How could I know anything? How could I possibly get anything right?

But I did get one thing right.

Love.

I just forgot sometimes….

Even early on in my pregnancy when my son’s biological father was encouraging me to “get an abortion”, I chose life for my unborn child. I walked out into the world and looked into the eyes of the people around me and wondered why they had any more right to life than my child did?

In that moment I chose love.

I didn’t even recognize it as love until I looked into my son’s eyes and finally met him in the quiet of the hospital room after everyone had gone home. When the nurse came to get him after his feed and I asked her to leave him with me for a while so I could really meet him, fall in love with him, just hold him and smell his beautiful smell. I didn’t want to send him back to the nursery. He was mine and I loved him.

Love didn’t pave our path with bricks of gold or lay pillows on the ground to cushion us when we stumbled and many times we lost the path completely. Loving someone is hard and it is work and it is staying when you want to run and learning from and apologizing for mistakes and most of all its forgiveness when forgiveness seems impossible.

I wear layers upon layers of bruises from all the mistakes I’ve made in the last eighteen years of motherhood. I don’t doubt my son has his own layers of bruising. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that my introduction to motherhood and his introduction to the world had to come with such painful lessons. The effects of those lessons still ripple through our lives and we’re trying to find forgiveness in a chaos that seems unyielding to any efforts at finding peace. Even in the good moments anger breaks through and smashes the fragility of the bubble that is encapsulating the laughter and connecting fibers being forged by our moment of happiness. As the bubble disperses it is like our world is exploding and though I try to keep it together as with the thin film of a bubble when it pops, it disappears like it was never there and we find ourselves yet again staring across a painful abyss filled with blame, repercussions, anger and resentments.

Many tell me they would have given up on my son by now, that it’s time for some tough love, “let him learn his lessons the hard way” they say. It feels like he’s learned too many lessons the hard way. Moments where I ignored my instincts, made uneducated choices, gave into pressure to follow society’s ideas and notions, or failed to ask for or find help or apologize when I should have or hold my temper when my depression was raging out of control and the pressures of meeting the outside world’s demands trumped meeting my son’s need for love, like the day I lost my cool because he was struggling to practice French dictation words and I screamed out in frustration and smashed my head into the wall leaving a hole in the drywall. Then there were tears and broken spirits and emotional bruises as we tried to pick up the pieces.

I had no idea what I was doing. What I should have done was let the dictation go and pull him into my arms and hold him and tell him it was okay, the dictation didn’t matter, I loved him and would help him. The pressures of meeting the demands of the teacher, the school system, the expectations of society in general that were labeling him a problem child overwhelmed me. I just wanted to prove them all wrong.

They were wrong. They are wrong. I never had to prove them wrong because there was nothing to prove. Love was more important than all that, but I didn’t understand that then.

I do now.

And I’m sorry.

Sorry doesn’t fix the broken walls or broken spirits. That takes work, a lot of painful, slogging through mud and emotional trenches work, not to mention the willingness to dive head first into the trenches and face the demons of the past, the demons of our emotions and behaviours that created the abyss I find myself staring across into the blue eyes of a soul so broken he hides from me in his video games where he finds an outlet for his pain and anger by blowing things and other characters/people up. His video game world is safer than the real world and it was my mistakes that drove him into that world because I forgot that love is more important than anything, than video games, or toys, or money, or meeting society’s expectations, or getting our way and insisting on showing him who’s in charge and that we can make him do what we want him to do regardless of his own will and desires – an illusion of power at best.

After eighteen years I’m trying to hold the memory of looking into the trusting eyes of the seven and a half pound child laid in my arms by a twist of fate he had no control over, and remember the overwhelming waves of love I felt and my need to hold him close and protect him. If only I had spent more time listening to that instinct like when he had night terrors and I sat next to him singing “Jesus Loves You” over and over, drawing him out of the terror with my soothing voice that had rocked him to sleep so many times.

Now my soul is doing the singing, calling to my son to remember the moments in the chaos where love conquered the fear and anger, to remember the love that holds him and surrounds him no matter what because society is wrong and I was wrong. He is amazing and wonderful and talented. He may not fit into the mold society wants him to but it just means he thinks different, he sees the world around him in a different light and somehow he will make it work for him, despite society trying very hard to stuff him in a box and get him to “get in line”.

It will take time, patience, healing and most of all it will take love. That’s my commitment going forward, I will radiate, enclose him and even smother him in love, until the raw wounds become aching scabs, then itchy scars and with some luck at some point even the scars will fade to a barely visible lightness, and we will find our peace, rebuilt upon a solid foundation of love. The scars may never disappear but some day I want the memories to be faint whispers of by-gone stories instead of festering wounds filling an abyss that separates us.

I’m ready  to let love build us a bridge over the abyss. I am ready to heal. I’m ready to do the hard work. I’m ready to forgive myself and let my mistakes go and I am hoping that my son can eventually forgive me too, and help me build that bridge. Surrender the future to love and we will find our way, the path will meet us where we are and if we stay true to love, it’ll show us the way forward.

To my son: you are the child that made me a mother and I will always love you and that isn’t and never was a mistake.

 

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It is Time to Heal

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IMG_20141001_175030Sixteen years ago I lay on the floor trying to sleep, anxious and excited about the events of the next day. The room was ready. Clean sheets on the bed, beautiful flowers on the side table and many little touches of romance all around.

Waiting…. waiting…. waiting….

I was in a place of waiting. Alone but knowing very soon I would not be alone any more. The anxieties, the nerves, the hopes, the dreams crystallizing in that moment as I lay on the floor unable to sleep for the sheer excitement that I would be a bride in just a few short hours, and then HIS wife forever.

How young and naïve I was sixteen years ago to believe marriage could save me from my anger and my pain; to think that marriage would change being a single mom into being a family with the minister simply uttering a few words for us to repeat and then blessing us by the power of the church vested in his 91-year-old hands and heart.IMG_20141001_175301

How so much more complicated the process would all end up being…. And how much more pain we’d unwittingly cause each other in the process…

It has been sixteen years filled with passion, love, anger, disillusionment, grief, and struggles of many varieties including power struggles, parenting struggles, health struggles and financial struggles, but here at the threshold of another celebration the biggest fact I cling to is we are still here. Every day we get up and reach for love, reach for understanding, reach for forgiveness and we look at each other across the bed sheets hoping we can find the love, the healing, the forgiveness to carry us through many more years.

There is a lot to forgive and a lot of letting go that needs to happen. Sometimes the pain feels overwhelming and like a gaping hole that can never be filled with enough love to wipe it out. It’s an ongoing, ever-challenging, ever-changing, ever-demanding process. Some days it still involves a lot of waiting… Waiting for patience. Waiting to feel loved. Waiting for validation – to feel noticed, to feel seen and to feel heard.

One of the most intentional emotions I brought away from my retreat in August is that it is time to clarify, to re-define, to evaluate, to change, to face the challenges of my relationship. To stop settling for unhappiness for the sake of my children. It’s an old story. What kind of example are my husband and I setting for our children when we settle for unhappiness in one of the most important and singularly defining relationships of our lives? I wouldn’t want this kind of relationship for any of my children so why am I settling for living in one and asking my spouse to do the same?

After sixteen years my husband and I are at a crossroads. Neither choice is an easy one.

Down one road, there are lawyers, not enough money to keep two households functioning, inevitably more anger and resentment, children having to adjust to missing one parent when they are with the other, missing their bedtime routines of “I love yous” and “see you in the mornings”, and so many more crazy changes and adjustments we haven’t even thought of. Down the other, there is work, lots of work. Reconnecting work, honouring work, loving work, re-defining work, hard work. Really hard work. Divorce will seem like a viable option at times because it would be easier to move on than face some really tough emotions we’ve spent a lot of time and energy avoiding over the last sixteen years.

It is time to heal.

It is time to face our relationship, ourselves, our choices, our responsibilities and find the love again or, and this is always a possibility, not find it but I want to know we did everything possible to save this family because we do owe our children that much and if at the end of the day we can’t, hopefully this process will at least help us choose an ending that honours each other and our children.

For now we are choosing the path of hard work and in that spirit my husband and I have decided to go on a relationship retreat in December. It’s in Paris, France. For a week, the focus will be us, there will be no hiding from each other behind screens or responsibilities or day-to-day life or the needs of the children. Anni and Tim Daulter will help us find our way back to each other, help us find ways to reconnect, help us find ways to redefine our relationship in healthier ways so that there’s less hiding behind pain, resentment and anger.

As we embark on our seventeenth year of marriage, I commit myself to the work that Paris will bring, to meeting my husband in a safe place where we can begin the process of letting go of all the burdens that weigh us down and keep us from being the people, the couple we are capable of being. I believe in my heart that if we don’t fix us, nothing else matters and that’s why this trip to Paris is so important and I am soooo grateful that my husband has chosen to participate in this retreat with me.

A friend asked me if I was placing too much hope in this retreat solving our problems?

The truth is I have to believe it’s possible, that this retreat could bring us the closure on a less than stellar past and an opening to a better future together. I have to believe we love each other enough to give this gift to each other and be willing to open the package and accept the gift into our lives. If I don’t believe that than what’s the point of going to Paris at all? We might as well give up now… So yes I believe this retreat can help turn our relationship around, can temporarily plug the holes in our sinking ship and give us the life boat to save ourselves. We just have to be willing to get in the life boat and row like hell.

I am willing to do the work. I am willing to let go. I am willing to find a new path. I am willing to get in the life boat with my husband and row like hell, hoping that both of us will be pulling together and working together towards the goal of a healthy, happy relationship that is the center of a healthy, happy home. At the end of the day I believe that’s all either of us really want.

So as we celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary, we look to our future, waiting, waiting for the day we pack our bags and get on an airplane and for five days make us the center of our world for better or for worse…

I am ready to change, to heal, to love my husband with all my heart and in return open up myself to accepting his love, his healing and his changes, and together creating a safe place within ourselves and around us for the evolution to happen.

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My Tug-of-War

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WARNING – SUICIDE DISCUSSION
hog-s-back-fallsI fought to live to give my son life.

There were some days on my walks home from my many doctor’s appointments I would cross over Hog’s Back Falls and I’d think about jumping. I’d stare at the rushing water and think of the blissful silence death would bring as I was pulled along and under, filling my lungs with water instead of air, ending it for me and the child I had yet to meet.

I would no longer have to face the pain that tore at my insides 24/7. I wouldn’t have to find out if I was a good or bad parent, or make anymore monumental choices that I felt too young, too immature, too lonely to make. I just wanted to escape, to hide somewhere no one could find me, no one could look at me with disapproving eyes for impossible decisions that I never seemed to get right, really I couldn’t get right even if I’d had a cheat sheet at my disposal.

But jumping would have been the easy choice and I’d have simply been transferring my burden of pain and guilt to my friends and loved ones. I was more worried about their happiness than whether I was strong enough to carry my pain alone. So every time I walked over that bridge and the waters called to me, I held tight to the railing and pulled my eyes away to look at where I was going and face my decisions, my choices, my mistakes, and live whatever life they made for me.

Eighteen years on I’m still fighting every day for my child to live, to find happiness and peace within himself. A combination of genetic codes, bad parenting choices from my lack of experience and lack of knowledge have left my son struggling through a fog of diagnoses, jumping from one social net to the next and hiding inside his video games where he finds an outlet for his intense anger and an escape from a world where he can’t get it right no matter what he does.

Right now I’m caught in an epic tug-of-war. I’m the rope and the divided parties are pulling very hard, so h2972358342_6af6e789f0_oard I sometimes think I will snap in two. On one side I have my son and his long list of needs and his cries for help and a mother’s love unwilling to abandon her child. On the other the voice of “reason” that he needs to learn for himself and I can’t save him if he doesn’t want to be saved, as well as the needs of my other children and my husband and how I’m going to lose the rest of my family if I don’t let the oldest go.

How do you win that game of tug-of-war?

I can’t. My soul and heart are being torn in two. I will lose a part of me no matter which side wins and if the rope snaps, I fear I will lose everything, even myself.

I drive over Hog’s Back Falls a fair bit in my travels now and sometimes I still wonder what that cold solitude where you feel nothing would be like. I wonder what it would be like to not hurt anymore. Not to have to choose between my oldest son and the rest of my family. And I wonder how I fought so hard to save my son and I’s life eighteen years ago to still be fighting that same fight today, sometimes feeling like my oldest resents the fact I gave him life at all.

My son and I are bleeding out slowly and the tourniquets aren’t holding. Something has to give but I’m afraid of what that will look like for all of us.

For now I’m just trying to keep the tug-of-war going long enough to get help, real lasting help that opens everyone’s eyes and makes them realize what’s truly on the line. It is a life or death struggle, and while I can’t speak for my oldest, I want to live, and I want a family where everyone’s needs are met, everyone feels loved and accepted for who they are, and we work together to support, honour and help each other overcome our problems and follow our dreams.

Til then I pray I am strong enough.

Who is in Control?

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Lack of choice

Other’s voices singing in your head.

You must do things our way.

Change direction.

Don’t argue. Don’t stop.

Just do.

Do it our way.

Who controls me?

Who controls us?

Is it my three-year-old?

Or is it society

disapproving of my ways?

Is it my ten-year-old?

Or is it all the clutter

in our lives

keeping us from authentic connections

with each other?

Is it my seventeen-year-old?

Or is it the emotional baggage

born of years of anger

and frustration?

Or is it mental illness?

ADD/ADHD,

Aspergers,

High-functioning Austism,

Depression.

All of us dealing with it

in our own way,

but never tackling it as a team.

Who is really in control

of our lives?

I have been exploring the idea of control. What is control? Does my youngest control my life? Some people apparently think he does and are concerned about me. Should they be? He’s three. He’s at a very busy stage, learning so much all the time, and I try to provide healthy environments for him to learn and grow in. I have a couple of memberships, we try to attend playgroup as much as we can and we’ve started regularly going to the library to return and discover new books.

He is becoming more independent all the time but still needs me for a lot. I let him do some things that some parents would think are crazy. He’s used sharp knives under supervision, he plays out front of our house and in the gardens while I work in the kitchen. I let him more or less freely explore his environment, make messes with soap and water on my kitchen floor, let him clean – he loves spray bottles and he loves pretending to clean. Yes, sometimes it makes more work, but no one ever said parenthood was clean and tidy!

I’m struggling to understand what is meant by control and how, as was suggested to me, my Facebook posts are giving off the impression that my three-year-old is controlling me. I spent some time re-reading them and there were some expressions of frustration and exhaustion but many were recounts of our adventures or a clip of something he said that I thought was amusing. I don’t even post that frequently, especially since we stripped the data service from my phone so when I’m away from the house I have no internet access anymore. I have to wait until I get home to upload my pictures and put up a status so often I don’t even bother.

So who is reading my status updates and concluding I’m being controlled by my three-year-old? I just don’t see how they are making that connection from my words. As I mentioned, I sometimes express elements of frustration or fatigue and legitimately so, parenthood usually entails some degree of both, but add in my health issues and yes I often do too much and the fatigue and frustrations can get the better of me. Does that mean my three-year-old is in control? I don’t think so. If anything my health issues are running that show. I’m working hard to take that control back but it’s a work in progress.

At the moment I am a stay-at-home mom by choice. If I really wanted a job I could find something in retail but then our lives would be controlled by a chaotic, often unpredictable schedule, and by the time I paid for any daycare, I’d probably be no further ahead financially, and certainly not enough to make the added stress worthwhile. So I have chosen to make my family the priority, even if it has meant choosing a financially frustrating path while I work on building a business for myself that will hopefully begin to fill in the gaps within a year or so, hopefully less. I just need some support to find the time to do that work so that I’m not up all night working on my studies which drains my energy for looking after the children and family during the day. No one can run 24 hours a day, not even a mom…

The three-year-old may be part of the reason for my lack of time but he is not the only reason, and I don’t feel like he is the controlling reason. He is just being three, curious, rambunctious, full of energy and very loving. His behaviours are normal. He doesn’t like to be alone. He’ll play independently but he likes to be able to look up and connect with a familiar person. He is more reserved than my older two were, he’s slower to join in to large groups, preferring smaller groups or one-on-one interactions, but he amazed me the other day!

We met my husband for lunch at McDonald’s, one with a playland, and for the first time my three-year-old went straight to climbing, never asking for help, and when there were other kids to play with he went up and introduced himself and asked their names. It surprised me and filled me with happiness that he was finding his strength and his voice. I didn’t have to force him, or train him, it happened naturally when he was ready. He played for nearly three hours on the playland and still didn’t want to leave but we had to get home to meet my daughter off the bus. I spent the better part of that three hours while he was playing, writing, mostly uninterrupted. It was really amazing.

I’ll take my moments when I can get them but my three-year-old is still at an age where he relies on me for a lot of his needs. Yes, I could plop him in front of a TV or let him have my phone all the time, I’d probably get a little more done but is that truly preferable? We do enough of that when we’re cooped up indoors during the winter. Now that the beautiful weather is here it’s really hard to keep anyone indoors and that’s how it should be. So we walk the dog, take even more advantage of our memberships because we don’t have to fight with layers of outerwear or clear the car off. We go to parks and beaches for the day, pack picnic lunches and explore wherever our feet take us.

I try to squeeze in time for the things I need as best I can, unfortunately cleaning, studying, writing/blogging and reading often find their way to the sidelines. But I am okay with that. My kids will be young once and only really need me for such a short time in the scheme of things, I’m going to enjoy the ride. If that looks like control to the outside world, well I guess it is what it is.

For those who are concerned my message is this, parenthood is a tough gig. I have three children, all with unique needs and personalities. Some days I do feel like I’m being pulled in too many directions, and like I’m going to burst from the frustration. Add to those three different directions, my family as a whole entity’s needs, my husband’s needs, my marriage’s needs and my own needs. It’s a tight rope walk of epic proportions and it’s too easy to stumble and fall, it’s too easy to sacrifice my needs for the bigger picture, or unwittingly hurt someone or overlook someone. If you are truly a friend and you have these concerns, the best thing you can do is be part of my safety net. Listen when I need to talk, don’t judge my mistakes too harshly because I’m harder on myself than you can ever be and if I am to learn self-forgiveness, I can’t also feel like I’ve wronged you somehow too.

Most importantly, if I ask for help and you are able to help, then please help me, not with criticism but genuinely true understanding, love and support, and if you aren’t sure exactly what I need, just ask. Sometimes it could be as simple as an ear to listen, or a shoulder to hold me up, other times it could be physical help with the kids or the house. It is always immensely appreciated, and often rewarded with baked goods.

The Story-Teller

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe’s three years old, dark-haired with deep brown eyes framed by long eyelashes, talkative, loving and with an imagination so big that it engulfs our entire world.

He is my third child, probably my last. I’m drinking up every moment of him, trying to slow down time so he doesn’t grow so fast but he just amazes me with his ideas, his ability to articulate complex ideas and his physical abilities to master tasks, especially sports. He loves hockey and is an avid Ottawa Senators fan. One of his favourite toys is his hockey set with sticks and nets just his size to play with.

He’s intense. He uses his hands to pull your face to look at him, to make sure you’re paying attention to what he wants to show you or tell you. And it must always be NOW. Patience is not easy for him…

For him the world holds untold possibilities, where cucumbers make good light sabers, and Britax car-seat boxes make good garbage trucks and his bed can take him anywhere because some nights it’s Santa’s sleigh and other nights it’s a rocket ship or even the TARDIS from Dr. Who. We go on such adventures!

His first words were a simple sentence, “What’s this?” He was asking questions before he could walk. Now at three “Why?” is one of his favourite words, sometimes to our frustration, but it’s hard to discourage his enthusiasm for knowledge. Hopefully it’s a trait that will fuel a lifetime of learning.

We have a Museum membership that gives us access to three local museums and he loves exploring, playing, touching everything and weaving stories of adventures as he goes. Most visits it’s all I can do to keep up with him as he moves from one area to another, at times settling on one place for a little while before moving on. Usually just enough time for me to catch my breath!

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We also have a membership to Little Ray’s Reptiles and we love going to hang out with the animals and playing in the gift shop like the time he picked up a whole handful of bouncy balls and dropped them all at once sending them flying every which way and then he laughed as I tried to catch them all. Or the time he fed a whole bunch of tiny rubber frogs to one of the toy dinosaur heads that you use a lever to open and close their mouths. Sometimes he just goes into the empty presentation area and pretends to bring out the animals, imitating the presentations he has watched so many times. We love Ray’s and the last time we visited he insisted on taking some of the cookies we were baking to Ray. Ray loved them!

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I love that I am home with him and I can experience his love, his intensity, his questioning, his imagination full on. It’s exhausting but never dull.

This past Friday we spent an hour or more painting our tub walls with water-paints. He started out in the tub by himself but before long I was in the tub with him and we were painting each other, our nails and drawing tractors on the tub wall. We made nose prints and he drew a smile on my face because my smile was missing some lines apparently. I drew him a small John Deere tractor but he wanted one of the big blue ones we’d climbed on at the Farm Show the week before so I drew him a big New Holland blue tractor and he was happy.

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When it came time to scrub the walls clean he just as enthusiastically crawled back in the tub and helped me scrub the walls with baking soda. Most of it came off! The little faded spots of blue will be a reminder of an afternoon spent indulging his big spirit.

He is my wonder, my spirit, my story-teller, my reminder that there is so much in this world that is amazing from the sticks and rocks he collects to the whimsical stories he weaves to the fountains of knowledge he seeks but I cannot always answer. He’s also my quiet, my love over-flowing when I rest my head next to him at night and sing him “Winken Blinken and Nod” until he falls asleep because I know tomorrow he will be bigger and time cannot be stopped so enjoying him now, as he is, is the greatest gift I can give myself and him.

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My daughter is beautiful!

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10002989_10152284089025505_1001480336_nA moment caught in time. I wish I could have frozen the moment forever.

I sat in the hair dresser’s chair, the woman clicking away with her scissors and asking me to tilt my head down but I kept lifting my eyes to watch my daughter through the mirror.

What I saw was inspirational…

She was breathtaking. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I had no way to take a picture of her, but a photograph would not have fully captured what I was seeing in that moment as she waited her turn.

I saw the child she used to be, the pre-teen she is becoming and the woman she will become, all radiating from her in a single instance.

It was more than beauty. It was a sense of blossoming energy, of dreams and her potential occupying an indefinite space of possibilities.

It took slowing life down enough to create the opportunity to see it. At home there is so much craziness and different energies vying for my attention that it is hard to catch these fleeting moments. Moments where I am reminded of how very awesome and beautiful my daughter is, and not because of anything she has achieved or is capable of but simply because she is, no qualifiers necessary.

I am glad I was able to take her out and away from the distractions of everyday life and be reminded of her awesomeness. Her joy for life, her excitement at spending one on one time with her mom – getting her nails done, her hair cut and doing some shopping, and talking, talking, talking. Talking about how she loved her nails and about her trip to Nova Scotia for March Break, and her running commentary on how she sees the world around her.

Yesterday was a visible reminder that I need to slow down and take more time to watch my kids, to catch them glowing with their unique awesomeness, and love them passionately and without reservation for everything that they were, are and are becoming.

The moments may be fleeting but they are always there if I take the time to look for them.

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