Besides the achy feet and sore back that go along with standing in one place for too long, being at concerts in this phase of my life means being able to enjoy the music without getting distracted by my age.
Happy 13th birthday, my girl.
There are so many letters of advice I could write as you head into this new phase of life, because you're ready and wise enough to hear it.
But there are some things I don't want to tell you.
There are some things I would rather that you see.
Because it's hard to get an appointment with a specialist and harder still to find a babysitter for the pocket of time right after school, the two of us ended up in a waiting room for a check up with my thyroid doctor.
Our first baby would have turned 14 this month.
And every year around this time,
a tiny shudder will run through me when I step into a bathroom.
It will always be a room where I first said hello and good bye to motherhood.
I'm writing this as the sounds of bath and bedtime trickle down the stairs.
I'm not part of the routine tonight. Actually, I'm not most nights.
In the earliest days of our shared parenthood, I would have been in the room (if not right on top of him) while he made his best attempt at helping. Because of course it wouldn't have been right, and I would have had to do it anyway.
I was always a let the other kid go first, because she'll do it better kind of kid.
I wasn't brave.
Not when it came to talking in front of the class, calling a friend on the phone, putting my hand up when I knew the answer.
With four kids to raise, I find it takes a lot of mental manoeuvering to honour each child's nature—so s/he feels seen and valued—while also establishing a family code of conduct that works for all of us.
There has been no greater push for me to rise to that challenge than parenting my youngest child.
The moment is seared in my mind, like parenting moments often are.
It came during a dinner party with three other couples. Two of the couples were still childless, and the other had one child. We were sitting pretty at three kids then.
We landed on the topic of family size, and one of the childless guests said, I would never have more than two kids.
My little loves:
There are some ugly things happening in the world. You will read this post when those days are part of history. I'm not ready to talk to you about them yet.
But I can't keep you from them forever—I know there will come a time that you see the ugly with your own disbelieving eyes.
Growing up, Sundays meant country and western music on the radio and a sink filled with soapy water and dusting cloths. My sister and I were expected to clean our rooms while my parents did the rest of the housework—together.
I've never seen my dad cook a meal, but I've never seen my mom push a vacuum either. They each had their domestic strengths, but the workload was divided. Even though he worked long hours outside the home, my dad never hesitated or balked at being part of the work that happened at home.
I'm about to lecture my grade five kid about the stuffing of her snow pants into the secret compartment of her backpack, when the memory of a winter coat creeps in and silences me like the overnight snowfall waiting for us on the other side of the front door.
This post took its time.
It was hard for me to write. It's a topic that reveals some of my greatest failings as a parent. That's never easy.
The first time I heard Michael Reist, he was on CBC radio speaking about differences in the way boys and girls perform in school. I had to pull my car over; I wanted to take in every word.
Sometimes what I need is a good swift kick in my parenting behind; a new perspective.
Today, I got one.
And the giver of that kick has no idea what he's given, because as much as he deserves to have a poor me approach to life, he never does. Telling a story about his childhood is never meant to be a comparison or a lesson, but somehow it always is.
It's report card time around here. A couple of days ago, I received a courtesy call from our son's teacher. She wanted to warn us about a mark that didn't look like the rest. It was no surprise to hear it was in an area of oral evaluation.