I love it here. It’s my little space in the world where I write about the things that I don’t want to forget. I don’t have to worry about people’s eyes glazing over as I do when I tell stories in person because you can just stop reading if you’d like. This space is for me. It gives me an excuse to write, to practice making pictures with my words.
I love it here but haven’t been in awhile. I’ve had to refocus on blogging for my business which took a bit of a hit as I was having so much fun here.
Jackbear and Lilypad isn’t going anywhere, I’ll be back, but in the meantime you can always visit me at mocobabies.
I recently came across some emergency room observations I had written down while visiting our local hospital with Jackson. Reading it again I could picture every person that was in the room with us that day.
There was one particularly memorable woman:
“Her mouth is set in a constant frown, her lips slipping ever so slightly into her mouth subtly announcing the absence of teeth. She glares across the room with furrowed brow. Her hooded sweatshirt is a size too small, unzipped to reveal a t-shirt pulled tight across her hard, round belly. Breakfast crumbs still litter her chest. The way she sits contradicts her appearance. Her legs are long. She crosses them in an elegant and graceful fashion as if she, in her best gown, is the guest of a diplomat at an important gathering. Her toes, once polished and perfectly groomed have grown gnarled, nails hard and yellowed, yet she still sits with them pointed towards the ground; the unconscious habit of a woman born into privilege and trained as a dancer. With each growling cough her gold flip-flop bounces against the sole of her foot and a strong calf muscle bulges against her wrinkled skin. While her face screams of a past that has been hard fought, her long sculpted legs tell the story of a beautiful ballerina”.
She was fascinating. I wonder if her reality is the adventure I saw unravel in my mind as I watched her that day so many months ago.
We were playing together when Jackson started to sing:
Lily is the best
She is a rainbow
Lily is a song
I’m not sure if his lyrics are original but it made my heart swell regardless. Through all the bickering he really does love his little sister. Some days I wonder…
Jack: Did you cut up your things today?
Me: Did I cut up my things?
Jack: Yeah. Cuttin’ up your things.
Jack: Did you cut up your errands?
Did I cut up my earrings?
No! Errands. Did you cut up your errands. It’s a saying, I thought it sounded good.
Oh, you came up with it?
Yeah, just now.
Ah, I think it could really catch on.
Really?? [eyes wide, big smile]
Lily loves clothes. Her style has no classification; sometimes bold, usually funky, hardly ever matching but always awesome. Her spirit shines through in almost everything she wears. She is bold, she is funky, she’s forever a contradiction and always awesome. Even when I’m ready to pull my hair out and lock her in her room, I’m acutely aware of her awesome. She is a force and I want her to be a force for the rest of her days.
And that’s why sometimes I’m brought to tears watching her on the playground.
She walked into my room this morning dressed for school in a pair of purple stretch pants, her black soccer shorts, a purple striped top, and her royal blue soccer jersey over top. All perfectly finished off with her fairy Halloween costume headband. It was perfectly Lily.
As we were getting ready to head out, she hugged me and said she wanted to change because she was pretty sure the kids at school would make fun of her. I told her that I didn’t think anyone would and that if they did say anything she could respond with ‘that’s not a nice thing to say. I like my outfit.’ I could tell from her face that she was still unsure so I told her that if she would be more comfortable she could run and change quickly. She did.
Lily returned with a dress and sweater, still topped with her fairy headband.
As I watched her walk through the schoolyard by herself this morning, I wanted to run and scoop her up in my arms. She stood in front of the swing set for a few moments staring at the kids already whooshing back and forth. She walked with her head held high, this little mash of plaid and gingham with her turquoise tulle flower sitting atop her head. I watched from the van, hoping that it was a true confidence that was keeping her head up and not the brave face of a little girl trying to look like she didn’t mind being alone while other children ran, playing around her. I know she has friends but I hurt for her, knowing that someone made fun of her, not necessarily maliciously, and Lily gave their words power.
Before she left for school, I kissed her cheek and told her that I loved her spirit and didn’t want her to change. With a confused look on her face she said ‘But I already did’. I smiled, hugging her tight with the hope that her humour and strength will carry her through childhood unscathed; sad that I can’t protect her from the moments, the words, that will inevitably make their mark upon the very core of who she is.
We locked eyes for the briefest of moments, each wondering how we were going to make our escape. I fell backwards with a scream, slamming into the gate at the top of the two stairs that would carry me from the small landing into our living room. The thundering rattle of the gate startled my two year old son who was standing just beyond.
The tiny mouse, that had fallen from the wrapping paper tube I had grabbed from the garage, scurried past me into the bathroom.
I turned to unlock the gate but my fingers were useless against the power of the childproof lock. I gave up and in a moment of genius, decided to launch myself over the gate. As I took air, the gate fell open causing my shirt to catch on the stubborn metal pin. With a rip and resounding thud, I hit the ground at the top of the stairs.
Our Golden Retriever rushed to my side and my son, hypnotized by his mother’s brush with insanity, stood clutching his bear with a white knuckle grasp.
As I reached for him I glanced down to see the mouse peering at me from the bathroom doorway. I swear he snickered just before he bolted across the landing down our basement stairs.
Embarrassment, pain and a tiny peppering of shame overtook me as I hugged my son telling him everything was okay. I started to laugh, further confusing him, but I couldn’t stop. I stretched out, kicking the basement door closed only to fall back in a fit of laughter.
There had just been a showdown: Mom versus Mouse and I was trying to take the loss in stride. My actions during battle were so contrary to the behaviours I wanted to model for my kids, and so childish, I could only laugh.
Before having children I had dreams of the person I would be when I became a mother but in that moment, laughing on the floor, I realized that motherhood hadn’t changed me much at all. I wanted to be the perfectly coiffed, mature, domestically qualified mom that magazine ads are made of, but, I was stuck just being me.
Motherhood did intensify my desire for domesticity but desire and doing are such different things. I adored the first few loads of laundry after bringing each of my babies home. The special soap and tiny clothes mixed together to create an intoxicating brew that left me standing, hormonally hypnotized by each outfit. I would stand in front of the laundry basket, folding every onesie perfectly, inhaling deeply, trying to hold on to the happiness I felt knowing I had made that tiny creature that lay sleeping upstairs.
But after a few loads it just became another load of laundry.
I didn’t instantly love cooking and even more unfortunate; my cooking didn’t get any better after giving birth. Dusting didn’t take on greater importance and vacuuming wasn’t instantly fun because I had spawned another human being. The glowing beacon of domesticity that I had envisioned for myself was buried under all the laundry.
My social identity had changed but I hadn’t. My capacity for love increased exponentially upon the birth of each of my children. But did my entrance into motherhood increase it or did I just need to have children to know it was there?
The only thing I know for sure is that I am who I am: the good, the bad and the utterly undomestic. Throw me in dirt, challenge me to a good play fight but I cannot be be expected to feign sensibility and act heroically in the name of motherhood when face to face with a mouse.
We’re in bed reading Cinderella. Lily, through giggles, tells me to stop - she’s adamant that the princess is not named Lilyrella. As we continue to turn the pages, she tells me about the many differences between her own horsedrawn carriage and Cinderlla’s. “When you and I ride in our carriage there are four horses. Cinderella’s carriage only has two.”
We finish the book and she rolls to her back, upset that I’m not reading another. The light rests on her cheeks, giving her face a magical glow as I lay there watching her. She’s quiet and still.
I spend so much of my time with Lily trying to harness her formidable power without hampering her creative fire and fierce spirit. It’s exhausting and there are days (more than I care to admit) that I fail miserably, but then bedtime comes and in the quiet I’m able to smile and just enjoy being there with her. It’s my time to make sure, no matter how often we’ve butted heads during the day, that she knows I adore her.
“Lily, ” I whisper, “I think you’re a pretty spectacular little girl.”
“And I’m so very proud of you.”
A faint smile lifts her cheeks in the soft light of the rising moon and I know she’s heard me. Maybe for the first time that day.
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.” ~Life’s Little Instruction Book, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
A friend sent me that quote recently and took away my excuse for not writing.
So, here I go. A short little story to get me going again.
It’s been quite the headache this year trying to make plans for Jackson’s birthday. Last night we chatted about what he wanted to do and tried to confirm details for his party with friends. “So do I get to open my presents Friday [his actual birthday] or do I have to wait for my friends to come over on Saturday?”
“No, you can open presents after cake on Friday. And you still have to decide what you want for dinner too.”
“So, I get whatever I want?”
“Yes, it’s your birthday, you decide what you want to eat.”
“Okay. [Smug grin spreads across face ] I would like cake first with ice cream. Then…spagetti.”
This morning I woke up to Lily pulling on my arms telling me that I had to go with her to her room; there was something I had to see. Her brown eyes were brimming with excitement as she tugged harder and harder on my arm. ”Mom, you have to see this! Someone left a Snow White doll in my room!”
During the night, Jackson had crawled into bed with us. Lily’s cries of “there is something in Jackson’s room too!” shook the sleep from his eyes and he jumped from the bed to run from our room with his sister. Beside their beds I had placed a small toy along with a box of smarties. You would think we had given them the world.
Kisses, hugs andcheerful I love you‘s from the kids was a pretty sweet way to wake up.
And then there’s my husband. With a smile he said ‘Can you believe we’ve been together for seventeen years?’ I replied ’And we’re not sick of each other yet!’
We won’t buy roses and chocolates today but we will take a little extra time to reflect on us.
Sometimes I watch my husband as he works or plays with the kids. I can still see that eighteen year old boy I fell in love with behind his greying temples and laugh lines. Just looking at him can move me to tears, thinking about all that we’ve been through together and the kind of man he is. I can lose myself in watching him. Happiness, pride, adoration and respect swirl in a tornado of emotion as I look at my best friend.
I loved him before we had children but something changed the moment he held Jackson for the first time; something that made him immeasurably more attractive. The spark that ignited behind Chris’ eyes in the delivery room six years ago intesified with the birth of our daughter and it’s been incredible watching him as a dad.
I’m not an artist; I can’t paint Chris a picture or build him something special as he does for me. I only have words but I can’t even shape them to adequately describe how I feel. There aren’t words big enough. He doesn’t expect too much of me but pushes me to always do better. He is the archenemy of the mean girl that lives inside my head who tells me I’m not good enough or not pretty enough. Just as I start to believe her, he puts his arm around me and just his touch reminds me that I am enough. Better than enough.
We are partners. Sometimes he gets his way, sometimes I get mine but it’s always a conversation. We’re not perfect and we argue (oh, can we argue) but we (ok, mostly he) talks it out and we get back to being happy. And we are. Happy. Content. We’re figuring life out as we go and we’re doing it together – mistakes and all. As each year passes we realize new dreams, put old ones to rest and forge our way through new adventures. And there is no one that I’d rather adventure with.
I watch my husband and I fall in love with him all over again. He is a reflection of me, our lives are intertwined and we have left a mark on the very core of each other.
I only have my words, Chris, and it is here I leave them for you. It’s you who has helped me and supported me in developing this small place in the world to write and I just wanted to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you. You are the lynch-pin in our little four-pod of awesome.
Jackson: Mom, is it really true that Kangaroos have pockets on their bellies?
Jackson: Really true?
Yes. They have a pouch on their tummies. It’s where they keep their most important files.
And their wallets and credit cards.
Lily: And their babies!
Yes, their babies too. The mommies have to keep their fingers crossed that their babies don’t take their credit cards; that they don’t peek into their pouch one day to see their babies with new guitars and fancy new purses.
Jackson, through laughter, with his eyes open wide: Are you serious???
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