Practicing flight

It’s been an overwhelmingly wonderful, fast and exhausting two months. I clearly recall moments of joy, success and productivity, but I also remember a kind of stasis, lethargy and a sense of just SO much going on that it made me want to cry.

Some of the lows:

  • Le Mari got the mumps. Yes, MUMPS. As if any grown person who has already received the vaccine in this new century in the western world would get that. Well apparently there are some cases in Canada and it looks like he was one, according to all the symptoms. Fortunately, like chicken pox, he just had to ride it out and after 5 days of being quarantined, it passed and he was fine, and we in the household were all fine.  But it threw a week off its normal track and made for serious discomfort and misshapen-ness around the house.
  • Projects at the office sometimes just…stalled. I think I felt discouraged because the obstacles seemed bureaucratic, unnecessarily existing because of practices implemented 25 years ago that CLEARLY need updating for the current day. Yeah, there were a couple of moments like this in the recent weeks.
  • Oh, the state of the house. Enough said.
  • Oh, the state of my thesis. I was on a roll, on a roll, then hit a bump, wrestled a bit, then a while, then opened that darn Archive of Our Own fanfiction Avengers Marvel universe fandom, and then got sucked in and…KAPUT. Days of engaging in an incredibly articulated fictional world of  superheroes, alternative plots and some very great writing.
  • The actual, dumb struggle of feeling like a suck in not being the kind of mom that engages her son in the activities that 5-year old boys are clearly supposed to be doing, if a glance around me was any indication – i.e. ALL of le Petit’s peers in soccer or baseball – and I, being so caught up in our tasks and daily life completely MISSED ALL DEADLINES for the entire year for these team activities. I never thought I’d see the day that I would rue NOT being a soccer mom, but I felt like I had missed out on providing him with something very key for his age group and development.

Some of the highs:

  • Got over the soccer mom struggle fairly quick. A second glance around me showed that families could choose to put their kids in the kind of activities that engage their sons and daughters in healthy, socially encouraging and developmental play – like team sports. Yes, I would LOVE le Petit to play. Yes, I would love him to learn to engage in team activities. But at the same time, WE were and are not ready for the commitment that sports leagues in Kamloops, and everywhere else in North American suburbia I imagine, requires – practice + games twice, sometimes thrice weekly, special events, weekends devoted to league activities, and if your child is good, away games, not to mention the equipment, the drives, the fundraisers and the precise scheduling that is needed to manage this lifestyle. Well, GREAT for people who can manage this, but at this time, we cannot. When I realized this, my sense of not quite achieving what I thought I should be doing as a mom vanished. (We decided to encourage le Petit to try out karate next month).
  • SPRING. At looooong last.
  • Some, if very sparse, practice with the Sony NEX camera (I remembered my promise to Le Mari)
  • A beautiful Easter choir and performance of A Tale of Three Trees by 15 or so children, ages 5-12, at Summit Drive Church, in which le Petit took part. One dedicated, super-loving lady took on this project out of love of music and teaching, and she lead, encouraged, and spurred these kids on to bravery and performance in a musical that had a wonderful message.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Need I say more?
  • Serious progress on my thesis: the section on mobility and the research method has been fleshed out, the literature been covered. Very happy to cover these sections, and also IMPRESSED with the scholars and the research happening in the cross-disciplinary field of mobility.

Well, last night, I went for a quick after dinner walk with le Petit in our neighbourhood. Ironically, we went for a walk in a field that was beside school ground where 2 soccer teams were practicing. It was a gorgeous evening, my first one out with just a short-sleeve T, though I brought as sweater. I didn’t need it in the warm evening air, but oh, did we make good use of it.

Le Petit took my sweater and ran with it. Then he flew. And soared. And then landed back to earth. What a GLORIOUS reminder of how things are.

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A wonderful break and reminder

walk Kamloops winter nature bcbeautifulThis past weekend, between Sunday service at our place of worship, a run to the supermarket, picking up le Mari from the pool and reviewing four articles for my studies, le Petit and I put on our winter layers and took a quick walk, about 15 minutes from our home.

It was glorious. Why, oh why, haven’t we been doing this more, this winter? We trace this path a lot in the warmer months but recent snow, illness and priorities have kept us, have kept me, away from a pastime that I actually LOVE: walking around our city trails with le Petit.

Our impromptu Sunday walk was a strong reminder of how important it is to take breaks from the “daily grind” (and a grind it has been lately, between day shifts and night shifts, sickness, buses to catch, volunteer responsibilities, appointments, and books to review) and to lay down all media and distractions and just be, in place, in quiet.

I was also reminded that if we take more of these breathing breaks, then we are much less likely to feel that life is a grind and likelier to gain perspective and space regarding the things we deem important. It’s like this walk reset my current orientation on things. The word “refreshing” comes to mind.

We’ll definitely be doing this again soon.

Ah, the first day

Every year, every September, in every Canadian city I’ve ever lived in, there is a recurring event. The preparation: crowded Superstores and Walmarts, “back-to-school” events everywhere, salons and eye doctors busy with personal prep prior to the main event, and then the Day: streets jammed up with more traffic than usual, public transportation filled to the gills with hoards of students, and even sidewalks suddenly busy with thousands more bodies marching and scurrying on to new classes and the new semester.

As I work in a university, I love the buzz of the new school year upon us. As someone who looks after international student partnerships, it’s especially exciting to see new students come to our BC university from all corners of the globe.

But this year is especially moving as it is the first year for our little one to attend school. Kindergarten begins, and so also is it a new phase in le Petit’s and in our lives.

running to school

This is how he was on his first day: running towards it, eager and open.

Oh, how I wish that he retains this attitude towards learning and the major institution that is “school” for his whole life. Corresponding to that: I wish we will be wise enough to help foster the love of learning and provide him with guidance through the sometimes tricky, sometimes hurtful social aspect to school life.

I’m very pleased, and we are all so looking forward to the adventures to come!

One thing (well, two) that counts 365 days a year

I don’t know if it’s the influence of Mary Oliver’s poetry, but I’ve been thinking lately that when it boils down to it, what’s important in life is very very simple.

It’s just a matter of taking time out in our daily lives to take stock of what we have and what we do and gleaning the extra from the necessities, and then honestly looking at the necessities to figure out what’s really important.

No matter what comes or happens every day, there are 2 absolutely solid, simple realities and basics of who and what I am these past few years:

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I’m not only defined by my relationship with these two and being loved in return – there is more to me, to women, and to individuals, than being known only in relation to another person – but without them, I would be a much different person than I am today.

A box of kisses, a conversation with a three-year-old

Last September, Le petit just started pre-school, more like a daycare, with activities, learning and gym time. For Mother’s Day this year, the class made little paper boxes which the kids all “filled” with their kisses, to give all the moms, and some dads, and some grandmothers.

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Tonight, Le petit must have suddenly remembered this box that he had made for me.

All tucked away for the night, his suddenly cried out from his bedroom:

“Mom, mom! I forgot to tell you something! Where is the box of love?”

Me: “You mean the box of kisses you made me?”

T: “Yes, it is in wrapping paper now.”

Me: “Oh, it is?…. But petit, you know what? I don’t need the box of love. Because I have a LOT of love with me ALL. THE. TIME.”

T: “From me?”

Me: “Yes. It is always here, in my heart.”

T: “But mom, if your heart gets empty and you don’t have love anymore, you can get the box and put the love back in and get more. Just put the box in your shirt and it will melt like ice.”

—-

I hope I never forget his words, or this moment.

Best summer weekend so far

Sometimes unexpected plans make for the best experiences. I planned to work really hard on my thesis this past weekend, but that didn’t happen very much.

children parkOne element of this small(er) city life that has really bowled us over is toddler birthday parties. So. Many. Really. How many parties can a 2 year old get invited to? It was ridiculous last year when we had been invited to 3 parties in one month, and 2 the next.  I have a big rant stored up about kiddie parties, but that’s for another day. What struck me this past weekend, though, is that the birthday party, expectations and obligations aside, can actually turn out to be very neat occasions to celebrate friendships and companionships. How had a forgotten this basic fact in my snobby disdain for toddler parties?

Our neighbor, whose home we actually rented for a short 3 months before moving 2 houses over, had a baby who turned 2, and the celebratory gathering at Riverside Park was a blast. I got the chance to actually converse with our direct next-door neighbor, and to meet a wonderful family from Mexico, where the mom, it turns out, has worked and travelled with a number of my work colleagues (two degrees of separation in a small town? SO true.)

Birthday kids

Happy days at the park

Other than the party, the three of us hung out on Friday, stopping in at The Marble Slab for a cool treat, my first one there, and the yogurt there is the best ever.

ice cream

And we ended the weekend with a jaunt to Sun Peaks, where, like a typical small community, we ran into tons of people we knew (from the office, from parties, friends of friends), including 2 families with kids who were le Petit’s buddies.  There was an Abba cover band, impromptu brunch on the street with produce from the local farmer’s market, friends running into friends, a visit to some friends’ condo up there, and all around terrific company.

troublemakersI didn’t expect to meet so many people through our toddler (now little boy) and his friends, but that’s exactly what’s happened. It’s made me rethink birthday parties. Now we have friends, too. I’m grateful.

Le fromage est beau

Le Petit at 28 months, from the other room:

“Wooooooooow.”

“Mmmmmmmm. Woooooow, c’est beau, le gros fromage.”

“Mmmmmmm.”

Listening closely, I realized Le Petit was watching a segment about a cheese factory on a children’s French program. Good taste.

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