Thursday, July 31, 2008

To Paisley: Six Months Old

Last night I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep (why I don't know since I am perpetually tired) and I was thinking about how much my life has changed in the last six months. Only six short months ago I was awaiting your arrival (and still thinking I had plenty of time left!) and trying to imagine what you would look like and what it would feel like to be a Mom. I had only just finished work and did not yet know what my life as a stay-at-home-Mom would look like. It was just your Dad and I. We would lie in bed and talk about our day and invariably we would be interrupted by a kick or a hiccup and we would stop, and look in wonder at my giant belly. Who was in there?

Now, you are here and you are better than we ever imagined. I cannot really even remember being pregnant and the days of driving to work every day are long gone. Now, each day starts with you and ends with you. You wake up, sometimes crying but usually quite happy to lie in your crib and wait for us, and start my day with the most beautiful smile. Yesterday your dad snuck in early in the morning to get his suit out of your closet and found you happily lying there, beaming up at him. I get you up in the morning and we have a little chat. We usually stop at the mirror in the hall on the way downstairs and have a little mirror time. You love it when I run up very close to the mirror so that our noses are almost touching the glass and then run away again. We do this for about 5 minutes, or until you get bored, and make our way to the kitchen where I grab breakfast and get ready for the day. At night we cuddle and read stories and I usually feed you before bed. You immediately roll onto your side, stick your thumb in your mouth and that's it. You're asleep.

Your Dad started his job this month and for the first time since you were born our threesome became a twosome. The first week was the longest week of my life and so, by the second week, I had signed up for every mommy-related activity known to man. On Tuesdays we go to Salsa Babies, where we dance the merengue and the cha cha with all the other moms and babies. You love it because you're close to me and get to move for 45 minutes straight. I love it because I love dancing and it's a great workout. On Thursdays we do yoga under a tree in Riley park. Okay, I do yoga under a tree and you lie on the blanket and cheer me on. It's very calming and relaxing and you love being outdoors so you're happy. The other days are spent running errands, meeting friends for lunch, visiting with Grandma and Grandpa and sometimes, but rarely, just hanging out at home. I am still trying to figure out what our life is going to look like and I have to admit that some days are easier than others. On busy days I feel full and energized and happy. On dark days, where it is raining, or we have nothing planned, I feel sad and a little lost. It's hard to carve a life out for yourself when there isn't anyone else telling you what to do, where to be or when you can go home. I have reserved Sunday evenings for myself - I go and play beach volleyball and I am merely Caroline. Not "Paisley's Mom" or "Brian's Wife"...just me. It feels good.

You are the joy in my life and even though adjusting can be rocky, I have never regretted my decision to stay at home. Not once. You are laughing so much these days and some times you get going and all I have to do is look at you and you start all over again. You are eating everything in sight (except the food I try to give you. Last week you spat squash in my face. We laughed. And then I spat it back at you.) and you're favourite snack is still your fingers, with some toes for dessert. Your hair is growing in and it is soft, and downy and very blond. I am curious to see what it will look like as it grows. You still love your bath time and have recently discovered that you can kick to your heart's content in there. The water goes flying and you squeal and kick like a frog on speed. I would like to report that you are sleeping through the night, but alas, I cannot lie. You were sleeping the night and then all of a sudden, you decided you actually preferred to get up three times a night to yell at Mom. You've stopped crying at night and have started this seal-like barking. It's very demanding and a little bit rude but I can't help but laugh, even when I am barked awake at 4:00 AM. I suppose the barking comes along with the giggling so I'm happy to take it.

This is a very special time in our lives and although you won't remember it, I always will. You are my baby, my companion and the reason I do the things I do. You have helped me to become more outgoing and you make me laugh every day. Not a day goes by where I don't stop and look at you and take a mental picture because it's all going so fast. Not very long ago you couldn't even control your arms and now you are rolling over, propping yourself up, kicking, talking and growing. You are doing a wonderful job of being you.


Monday, July 28, 2008

No Balance without Compromise

When I first found out I would be having a baby girl it sort of threw me into a fit of particularly harsh self-analysis. For whatever reason I felt a lot more pressure about raising a girl than a boy. I felt like I had to be more educated, more accomplished, more independent and more determined than I found myself to be. I needed to hack out a path for her in this world, show her that women can have jobs, be educated and earn money. I wanted her to understand that I chose to stay at home but that I never had to and suddenly I felt very under qualified and to be honest, a bit ashamed.

It's hard enough to figure out what you want to be, never mind finding the time and money to do it all. All my life I wanted to be a doctor. It is a dream that still haunts me every time I go to the hospital or bump into someone who is in medical school. My stomach starts to churn and I feel sad. Having said that, I am fully aware of the time commitment that would take and I am not prepared to do it now that I have Paisley. I regret that I didn't do it right after my undergrad but I also know that I wasn't ready for it then and that had I done it I would have missed out on all the traveling I have done. My plan, once Brian was finished law school was to go back and get my PhD. This is still a possibility but even that has been put on the back burner for at least a year. Brian and I sat down yesterday and took a good look at the program and it just doesn't make sense to start it right now. I feel okay about that - it just didn't feel right and I certainly don't want to start anything until I'm sure it is exactly what I want.

I can't go to school full time and be a stay-at-home Mom. I can't give Paisley the gift of my time and presence and still be a full-fledged member of "the outside world". So, my plans as it stands right now is to relax. And enjoy Mom-and-Baby yoga class, and salsa dancing. Play my beach volleyball on the weekend and take a web design course in the fall. And write. Writing was always something that lurked behind everything else in my life, popping its head out every once and awhile. Now it will be given ample time and dedication and hopefully, the opportunity to grow and improve. Above all I want to enjoy the time I have with P - this quiet, special time with just her, me and a whole world to explore.

I can conquer the world on her behalf next year.

Okay, I lied, I'm not entirely okay with this. I hate making big decisions.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Punctuated Equilbrium

I am just finishing Lynn Truss' book Eats, Shoots & Leaves and I have really enjoyed it. What I have enjoyed most is the vindication I feel. All my life I have struggled with the idea of punctuation and quotation marks. When I was young it made me avoid dialogue entirely. I remember in the seventh grade I wrote a 22 page story (the assignment called for three) and never wrote a single line of dialogue. This technique worked but not for long. It is very hard to avoid using quote marks in journalistic writing. I was forever struggling with this, which was weird because I've always been good with all other aspects of grammar and spelling. To me, the punctuation should go outside the quotes when it ends the whole sentence and within if it ends the quote.

Why did she say "you'll never see me again"?
Nobody heard her yell "Where are you?"

(That last example still bugs me because the sentence doesn't have en end punctuation. It needs a period but it looks crazy next to the ? in the quotes. Arrgghhh.)

Anyway, at least part of my dilemma has been solved. My friend in j-school used to say, "What's so hard? All punctuation goes inside the quotes!" but that is not entirely true. That is only true in America. In the UK the same hard and fast rule doesn't exist and they are far more flexible with their approach. Being that Canada adheres to many, but not all of, British language conventions I am still not entirely sure where we stand. I am relieved to know however, that my confusion comes from somewhere other than my own mind.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Alberta: Stuck in a Rut

The Alberta government is currently developing a new license plate that is set to be releases in 2009. I have been following this story ever since I found out about it and participated in the survey for the new plate. I was asked what images, if any, I would like to see, what colours etc. I was very clear that the only images I didn't want to see on the plate was oil rigs or cowboys. We'll see if I get my way.

Slogans were another issue on the survey. Currently it is "Wild Rose Country" which I have to admit, is a little lame. The front runner right now is "Strong and Free". If that's the slogan I think I might just have to remove my vehicle from the road in protest. I hate that slogan! First of all, it doesn't make any sense. Strong? How? How are we stronger or weaker than any other province? Free? That's the really annoying part. Free from what exactly. We live in a democratic nation - we are all free. It smacks of the Alberta separation movement and sounds a bit American. "Strong and free" are words found in their national anthem, on many license plates and in the Declaration of Independence. Surely we could come up with something a little less inflammatory...a median must exist between a wimpy pink flower and a manifesto.

Monday, July 07, 2008

At least I don't have bifocals anymore...

Being a joiner isn't easy. Part of being a stay-at-home-Mom for me is being more than just that. I promised myself that this year would also be an opportunity for me to make friends, learn new things and have some fun. So, I have been joining things. I joined a few Mom's groups and do yoga in the park on Thursday's. I joined a sports league and had my first beach volleyball game last night. As I stood there, not knowing anyone, waiting to be introduced to my team mates I felt like I was in Junior High all over again. What if I'm at the wrong place and I have to walk out in front of everyone? What if they're really good and I am really bad? What if they don't like me? They weren't necessarily conscious questions but I'm sure they were at the root of that uncomfortable, queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Nobody likes to be the new kid and it doesn't get better when you are thirty. I can see why many people don't join things, why it's easier to keep the friends you have than to put yourself out there all over again. I have a renewed sense of sympathy for people who find themselves dating again after being "on the shelf" for awhile. It is not pleasant; it is humbling.

As it turned out (as it almost always turns out), my team was very nice and I had a great time. And next week I'll be the girl at the swimming pool asking everyone who walks in, "Are you with the hip mama group?" and I will feel stupid each and every time. It's hard but every time I think about not going, not registering, not bothering I tell myself that there are some things that are even more difficult than this. Namely, staying at home all day with a baby, with no life, few friends and nothing to show for your time.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

An Order of Evil...Served Hot

"So, did you hear? My boyfriend is receiving the order of Canada?"
"Morgentaler is your boyfriend?"
"No. Peter. The hottest guy on TV next to Ian Hanomansing."
"Oh. Well congratulations, I guess."

So go the conversations around out house. In all seriousness, I'm pretty proud of Peter for this accomplishment and just as happy that Morgentaler is receiving the same award. On the radio this morning I heard an excerpt from Henry Morgentaler's reaction speech and he said "I deserve this award. It's about time that my accomplishments were recognized." I loved that. Fake humility is so overdone and really, so unnecessary. If you win a huge award for a lifetime of achievement you better think you deserve it, or someone might reconsider.

I remember being told my a Catholic man I used to know that you could see the devil in Morgentaler's eyes. Well, I guess the devil just received the Order of Canada.