Category Archives: Family

Microblog Mondays: Our House(s)

Both of my parents’ houses are up for sale.

They are for sale for good reasons: my mother wants to move closer to her children and grandchildren, and my wheelchair-bound father cannot get into his house and needs to sell it so he can move to the new house which will be accessible.

Still.

It is surreal to be able to look them up on MLS, to read how the real estate agents have described them, to watch the slideshows of the rooms I know so well.

My mother has lived in her house for twenty-six years.

My father has lived in his house for twenty.

Neither of those houses is “home” for me now, but I have a lot of memories tied up in both.

E. is also struggling. He’s asked both sets to take videos of the houses, “going through every single room so I can always remember what they looked like”.

Some change is good. Some change is necessary.

That doesn’t always make it easy.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Family, Loss, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Waves

We’re down under at the moment, visiting Q.’s family.

It’s technically winter here now, but the weather has thus far more closely resembled what would be a nice spring day at home (except in the late afternoon when it gets cold and dark unexpectedly quickly).

Yesterday we walked to the beach. There were humpback whales breaching off shore and sea eagles soaring overhead. It was a beautiful day.

E. went for a paddle in the shallow end of the rock pool.

Q. went for a swim in the ocean.

He caught a few waves and even though I know, I KNOW, that he grew up doing this, that he has done this thousands of times, that he knows how to read the ocean in ways that my father never could have, I still spent his entire swim trying not to cry or throw up (I wanted to do both).

I haven’t been next to the ocean since it happened.

I’m going to be visiting this beach every couple of years for decades to come. One day my children will not want to swim in the rock pool. They will want to dive into the waves, just like their father, just like I once did.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do it again.

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Anxiety Overload, Family, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Cake-tastrophe

E turned six today.

He requested, just like last year, a train cake (although with a few modifications).

I am not what you would call a Pinterest-worthy mama. The train cake last year was a stretch, but it turned out surprisingly well. So I wasn’t too stressed when I woke up this morning and still had to bake and decorate said cake.

By 11:03 a.m. I was sitting on my kitchen floor sobbing because absolutely NOTHING was working with the cake. It stuck in the pan and broke when I tried to get it out; it crumbled whenever I tried to cut it; the icing glued to the crumbed edges and broke them off; the jelly roll sitting on top of a flat slice of cake looked nothing at all like the oil tanker of my imagination.

The cake was completely, utterly, fucked, and I no longer had any time in which I could fix it because I was out of cake mix and out of icing and P. was soon going to wake up from her nap.

And although I knew it was JUST a cake, when E. had woken up that morning he had been disappointed because he had thought that all of his presents would be out and wrapped just like at Christmas and when I’d taken him to school he’d said to me sorrowfully that “this hadn’t been how [he’d] imagined [his] birthday would start” and the thought that I would have to pick him up that afternoon and tell him I hadn’t been able to make him the train cake he wanted, the train cake that he’d picked the decorations for when he went with me to Bulk Barn, the train cake that he’d asked for months ago, just broke my heart.

So I sat on my floor and cried.

And then I called in the cavalry.

My youngest sister turned up with a slab cake and more icing (AND helium balloons including a giant silver E) and my mother turned up with one of those icing nozzle things and together we fixed the cake.

And E. loved it (except for the fact that I directed my mother to put the boiler too far away from the cab of the steam locomotive).

Some days it really does take a village.

What was your worst baking disaster? Were you able to fix it?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), E.- the sixth year, Family, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Tale as Old as Time

When my sisters and I were little we had a tradition of going to see every Disney animated film in the theatre. Originally this was less a conscious tradition and more a “going to the movies with your parents and siblings” thing, but as we got older it became a deliberate choice. We would rearrange our schedules to make it work, even after we started university.

Our first film was The Little Mermaid in 1989. My youngest sister was five, so it probably wasn’t an appropriate choice (sorry, third child). As labmonkey pointed out, exposure to Ursula at that young age possibly explains our youngest sister’s long-term fear of the ocean and the creatures that live in it.

Our unbroken streak lasted until 2002, when we did see Lilo & Stitch but then didn’t watch Treasure Planet, partly because at that stage I’d moved across the pond to start my graduate work and partly because it looked like such a terrible film that we weren’t inspired enough to make it happen.

The Little Mermaid; The Rescuers Down Under; Beauty and the Beast; Aladdin; The Lion King; Pocahontas; The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Hercules; Mulan; Tarzan; Fantasia 2000; The Emperor’s New Groove; Atlantis: The Lost Empire; Lilo & Stitch.

14 films.

14 years.

We grew up together with the music from Disney soundtracks running through our heads. I can still sing, letter perfect, “Under the Sea”, “Circle of Life”, “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” and a host of others. We have an entire series of sibling in-jokes that require, for example, only that one of us says “Llama face!” to the others to make us all fall about in helpless laughter.

Those movie trips are some of my best memories. We were children, then teenagers, then young adults, but the cartoons were always there. We had our quarrels as siblings do, but our bond never weakened, because between our father’s military career and our parents’ divorce we figured out very quickly that we could only ever truly count on each other to be there.

And then real life intervened and we all grew up too much and the tradition died.

Until now.

Yesterday, my sisters and I went to the movie theatre to watch the new Beauty and the Beast.

We were without partners, without children.

We worked out that the last time the three of us were together, just the three of us, was in the fall of 2010, when I was barely pregnant with E., just before my youngest sister moved to California.

We ate popcorn and Swedish berries.

We laughed and we jumped in our seats.

We bit our tongues so we wouldn’t sing along to the songs that we STILL know, after all these years.

We had so much fun.

I hope we get to do it again.

Do you love Disney animated films too? What’s your favourite?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Family, Microblog Mondays

When you can’t go home again

My mother is planning to sell her house. It is the right decision: she is newly widowed; the house is much too big for her and too hard to maintain; the property is rural and isolated and requires too much work; she is a long drive away from her siblings, children, and grandchildren; and she does not have a strong support network of friends in the area where she currently lives.

It is a big house that got away from my mother and stepfather over the last few years as he became increasingly unwell. It is in an economically depressed area. Up until a couple of weeks ago, when I’ve thought about the reality of Mum selling the house, my thought process has largely revolved around the fear that my mother will want to sell the house and not be able to, or that she will sell it for such a pittance that she will not be able to move closer to me and my sisters, even if we help financially.

I’ve been afraid that the house will be an albatross, a millstone wrapped around my mother’s neck, dragging her down and chaining her to the past when she is willing to move forward and explore a new future.

When I saw my mother last week, she commented that the real estate agents who have been in to see the house have called it a “breath of fresh air”. There are, apparently, not many houses of its size on the market, and there are buyers who want a larger house.

They don’t think it will be hard to sell.

Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but in that moment, when the sale of the house became a real possibility, the door that I have been keeping resolutely shut cracked open and the emotions that I have been holding at bay flooded in.

Because it’s not just a house, of course.

It’s our childhood home.

It’s the place my city-born son loves to visit most of all.

It’s where I can see all the stars.

Selling the house is absolutely, without a doubt, the right decision. And yet, last week, when I was sitting in the bedroom that used to be mine, looking out the window at the snow and the trees and the landscape that my body recognizes as “home”, it seemed impossible to comprehend that it might be one of the last times I was there, that at some point very soon visiting my mother will not mean returning to the place where I grew up.

It’s another loss.

How do I make the space to grieve it?

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Filed under Family, Grief, Loss

Microblog Mondays: Guilty Pleasures

I love real estate.

Before we bought our house, I loved going to open houses, especially when we really were just “looking” and weren’t ready to buy yet.

I’m on the email list for one of the agents who is most active in our neighbourhood, so I feel like I have a good sense of how things are selling (extremely quickly and for stupidly over asking because the market in our city is out of control).

When we bought our house, we bought what we could afford and we bought a house that would not prove to be too big for us if we weren’t able to have children. We’re going to be in this house for a long time now, as we can’t afford to move up to anything bigger in our neighbourhood (see comment above about the ridiculous state of the market). So until recently I didn’t really have any reason to look at listings or go to open houses.

My mother is going to be moving, hopefully sometime this spring or summer.

She’s set me loose on MLS to look at listings in likely areas. When she comes to visit we’re going to go and see some places in person.

I have already spent a couple of hours cruising the website, looking at walk scores and watching virtual tours.

I am SO HAPPY.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

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Filed under Family, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: (Un?)Welcome Memories

Microblog_MondaysI started a five year journal (this one) in May 2014 (on E’s third birthday). I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage the pressure of a “full” diary (I’ve tried multiple times and, except for travel diaries, always get bogged down after a few weeks), but I also knew I wanted something a bit more quotidian than this blog or the notebook where I write down E’s milestones and witty sayings.

This particular journal was perfect- even if I miss a day or two (or a week, as has happened), I am always able to go back and reconstruct what happened in enough detail for an entry.

I don’t have a single blank day. And, for close to two years, the journal entries are a mix of notes about E., my PhD, places we went, things we did, dinners we ate, books I read, etc. Just ordinary days in an ordinary life.

I didn’t know, of course, that 2016 was going to happen.

Here’s the thing: my journal preserves memories that I wouldn’t otherwise have. I usually reread the entries for that particular day from previous years and there have been many occasions where the entry has triggered a flood of memories about a day or an event that up until that moment I would have said I’d forgotten about completely.

So I don’t know that I would remember that particular sliding outing at E’s school with my Dad, or that lunch with my stepfather on the patio with the waitress who messed up all of our orders without the prompt of the journal entry.

The entries are nothing special. I didn’t know, of course, that those visits would turn out to be the last visits. I thought we had years left.

There is a stark contrast in the journal between the entries I made before my father’s accident and those that come afterwards. Rereading is physically painful. I don’t recognize the woman who made the entries in 2014 and 2015 or the life that she was living.

I’m hoping that one day I’ll be glad to have those ordinary visits preserved in more than just my memory.

Right now I feel like I never want to touch this journal again once it’s full.

Would you want the memories of those last ordinary days, or would it hurt too much to be reminded of what you had lost?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

7 Comments

Filed under Family, Grief, Loss, Microblog Mondays, Writing