She Taught Me The Secret To Motherhood


My oldest child just entered her teen years, which leaves me feeling like I've crossed the bridge to the beginning of letting go—where my influence will continue to diminish and my seat will move higher and higher in the stands and further from the playing field, where I have always been the coach. 

But the secrets we teach our children, about how to play their best game, stay long after they've left the field.

My mom did not have an average or textbook childhood. And though there were many good things, there was also a lot that was hard. And the early years of motherhood were hard, too.

She was a very young mom in a new country with a husband who worked two jobs to feed and house us. She had to do a lot on her own and while raising us she shared a very important secret with me and my sister (probably without realizing it).

Take care of yourself, too.

My mom likes to get her way. Because at her core she believes she deserves it. Mothers don't do that for themselves enough, and if they think it is for the benefit of their children, I will tell you that it is to their detriment. 

She gave up dreams, she gave us the better piece of food, she went without to give us more. Of course, she did. 

But if my mom didn't feel like parenting us, or getting up and helping us to get ready for school, she didn't. She was there if we needed her, but we learned we could do it on our own. And we were okay and no less loved.

She watched soap operas while we played downstairs, she didn't worry if our favourite shirt was clean, she stayed home while our dad took us tobogganing. 

She left room for us to learn how to do things on our own and she allowed our dad to take on a greater role than most of the other fathers of that time.  

She also she drove me to every painful swimming lesson and sat with reddened cheeks as I screamed in terror at the edge of the pool. She showed up to every parent-teacher interview and concert. She made us our favourite foods whenever we requested them. She let us stay up late and watch TV in her room. And if either of us were sick, she always let us sleep in her bed.

She loved us completely, but never at the cost of loving herself. 

Thank you, Mom. 

Because wanting my own happiness has invited so much joy to my life. 

I hope you see what you have given us. 

Happy Mother's Day. 




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He Meant What He Said


He has a very unnerving way of upholding his vows. 

I mean, I think I do the best I can on my end, but he is sort of unwavering.

Last year, on March break, he got sick. And I got irritated

This March break, I got sick. Right after a girls' night in the city, which meant that instead of coming home and being all in again, I was all out and in solitary confinement to keep the flu bug from spreading. 

He didn't complain, eye roll or sigh. And if he did do any of those things, it was away from where I would see it. 

He took care of me, he took care of the kids, he took care of the house. 

And while, yes, I am the one to do all those things when he is working outside the home, when we are all home at once, it's divide and conquer, all hands on deck. 

His generosity will not be brought up again, and thanks are not required. He has never been one to accept accolades or let me make a deal out of the good stuff. Even though he knows I need him to make a deal out of the good stuff sometimes. 

If I had to say, I think it's because he understands I'm always riding a work/stay/work/stay pendulum. And every day that I choose to stay—even though he'd gladly support me if I went back to working outside the home—he is grateful. He understands that I need validation and even some accolades from time-to-time.

Maybe in his mind, he's the one that has to catch up. 

But I don't know that he thinks about it as much as I do. He just does what he promised he would. 

For you, JB. Even though you don't need me to give it to you.







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Unchained Love


I think this is establishing itself as a decade of nostalgia. More often, I'm going back to the moments that pushed me down or lifted me up; sometimes I'm able to see they did both. I'm sure it's because I'm in that phase of parenting when sharing some of those experiences with my daughter might help to make hers easier.

This morning, I read a status update from a friend about sending secret carnations to crushes (at least that's who we hoped they were from) in high school and how it's a practice that's still happening (cringe) today. 

In the five years I spent at high school, I received zero carnations. And, yes, of course it means nothing now, but it did back then. I remember those deliveries to our homerooms very well. Emotions bring a sharp focus to memories. 

My self-esteem was shaky at best and my shyness held me back from so much then. I wanted to find my place, and I definitely had crushes, but I hid. Outward shows of popularity reminded me how successfully I was hidden. But the day would come and go, and I'd move on from the experience with a fresh bruise on my heart.

Back then, when you hung out with your friends on the weekend, you put the radio on in the background and hoped your favourite song would come on so you could turn it up loud and sing along. 

If you really wanted to hear a song, you had to call the radio station's DJ and request it. 

I decided to make a request that night.

It was the weekend, and it was late because my sister and I had some friends staying over. At our local station, once the on-air DJs left for the night, college interns would come in to answer the phones and take over the playlists. 

He answered and took my request.

He made fun of the song choice.

Then he asked for my name.

I made one up. 

I was about to hang up and get back to our friends, when he said, Hold on.

Your voice; it's beautifulI want to keep talking to you. 

Let me go ahead and fast forward through all your concerns that he said that to every girl who called and asked for a song. I had the same thought, and maybe it was true. But I decided I felt safe enough being on the other end of a phone that was attached to the wall of our family room, which was filled with our friends, who made me feel bold.

So we talked until I moved into another room, and we and talked and talked some more.

For the next few months, I called him on the weekends he was covering the night shift.

And in the early morning hours, we swapped stories about favourite books and songs that made us cry.

He played every one of them for me. 

He told me I was intelligent and wise, and that I would do great things. 

Then one night he asked me what I looked like. Again my memory is sharp for this moment, and all these years later, I can still see myself as I pulled the phone over to a full-length mirror that was leaning up against the wall of my room. I sat down cross-legged in front of my reflection with the phone held to my ear.

And I looked at my face, like I was a stranger seeing it for the first time.

I had never seen beauty there before.

But I saw it looking back at me, and I laughed and cried when I told him what he had helped me see. 

We finally worked up the courage to meet in real life. I was 16 and he had just turned 19. I let my sister know where I would be, and we met in a public place. He told me what he would be wearing, but I already knew who I was looking for.

A few weeks earlier, my sister and I took the bus to the library downtown and pulled the yearbook for his senior year at high school from the shelf. He wasn't my type at all, but maybe I wouldn't be his either.

By then we had spent months getting to know one another without the benefit or detriment of seeing each other first—I had never been so truly myself with anyone before him. I told myself types didn't have to matter.

We saw the movie Ghost that first night, and there was a nervous energy between us that I can't describe. It was one of the most vulnerable and tenderhearted moments I've ever experienced. 

We met up a couple more times after that, and we continued with our late night talks. As we uncovered more differences between us, we decided it was best to part ways. He was in his first year of college, he smoked, he partied, he had big plans to have a lot of fun. We both knew we weren't each others' types, and that eventually it would matter.

And it wasn't hard to move on, because I felt I was taking more away than I was leaving behind. 

We chose a night to talk for the last time, and as his shift came to an end, he said,

I want to play you one more song.

I'll always be grateful to him for the way I changed during the months I let him get to know me.  I came out from hiding and went on to have a healthy, long-term relationship in my last year of high school—because a late night DJ who liked the sound of my voice helped me find my worth.

Later today, I heard that song played for Valentine's Day, and I didn't think of carnations—I thought of him.


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A 15 Year Love Letter

Fifteen years is a marital milestone, isn't it?

And I feel like this day (and you) deserve the most exquisite love letter. 

But the holidays can really take you down when you have four young kids. And more than anything, I want to crawl between the flannel sheets I gave you for Christmas and watch a movie, while we devour the box of holiday Turtles sitting on the kitchen counter. 

And you'd be as okay with that as I am.

Because we don't need to try when we're together.

It's my favourite part of who we are.

For the past week, while you've been on vacation, I have laughed at least once a day so hard that my eyes leaked tears—because we have an endless collection of inside jokes and the amazing ability to show one another grace and humour in the every day muck of life. 


Two weeks before our wedding, I hobbled into a quaint shop in the town where I grew up and where we had plans to be married. As the sales person wrapped a gift for my mom, it came up that it was for our wedding. 

When are you getting married?

In two weeks.

Oh my god, what about your crutches? Are you going to cancel it?

I had wrecked my knee a couple of weeks earlier, and the orthopaedic surgeon had already delivered the news I'd be wearing crutches as an accessory on the big day. 

Still, I was silenced by her question. My best friend—who was with me—jumped in and answered on my behalf.

If you knew the guy she was marrying, you wouldn't have asked that question. 

It had never (not for one moment) crossed my mind not to walk/hobble down that aisle to you.

Life doesn't have to be perfect, to be worthy of a picture.

And I don't have to be perfect, to be worthy of your love.

From the moment I let myself fall for you, I knew that would be true.

In 15 years of ups and downs, of my good side and bad side, of my successes and failures, I have always, always felt worthy of your love. 


On our wedding night, in a room as quiet as the powdered snow that fell outside the window, I told our friends and family you were my mirror. And that whenever I stood in front of you, I saw the best version of myself

You have never failed to hold it up when I need you to.

Even in the moments when I felt like I deserved to have you show me my ugly side, you don't.

When my anger or hurt or disappointment swells so much that I push and prod you to show me my flaws, you won't.

For 15 years, even during the hardest moments, you have given me a love and companionship that exceeds every wish or hope I carried in my heart before meeting you. 

I can hear you in the other room wrapping up a game of hairdresser with the little girls, and I know you'll be making your way in here soon. And I'll be so happy to see you fill the frame of the door to our room, so we can lie close and demolish a box of chocolates and laugh until we leak tears.

Here are my annivesary words to you:

You teach me, you lift me, you better me. 

You have filled my life with pictures. 

Together, we are writing a story.

And in our story, you will always be the guy who gets the girl. 






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