Remember When We Thought This Was A Good Idea

notes, observations and musings on a life that took me by surprise

Thanks

I haven’t written anything in a while.  My dad died in late January, and a bleak February and March didn’t have me in the mood for blogging.  It just took one thing, one rather odd thing, that has stuck in my craw to bring me back.

I am the Chair of the Parent Council at my children’s school.  My first started at the school 10 years ago, it will be another 6 before the last one graduates.  For all of the past 10 years I have been involved with the Parent Council.  I have been Chair several times.  I organize fun fairs, movie nights, pasta dinners, guest speakers, hot lunch days fundraisers and field trips.

I would say that I don’t need to be thanked, but, I kinda do.

Our school board organizes a thank you breakfast for parent volunteers.  Each school gets a table of 10, usually the principal, vp, and the rest are parent volunteers.  In the years that our current principal has been at the school we have never attended the breakfast. I have enquired about it, and he usually plays it that he is doing me a favor, he knows who busy we moms are and he doesn’t want to put another item on our agendas.

Hmmmm.Yeah, no.

See the thing, is at almost all schools there is a core group of volunteers, usually stay at home moms or moms who work part-time, who do the most of the work.  Then there are tons of parents who come out to help on the day of big events, like fun fairs and pasta dinners.  Nothing would happen without that army and about 99% of them come and spend 3 or 4 hours volunteering after a full day of work.  We are all busy. No one is really looking for another thing to do, but this is different.

This breakfast is the one day of the year, the one event that I can attend that I haven’t organized.  I can  come as a guest. I get treated as a guest. I don’t have to set up or clean up or anything else.  The whole thing is wrapped up by about 9:30am.set.

When I found out that this years breakfast had come and gone, I was upset.  I spoke to other volunteers, who were not surprised that we were left out again.  For a while I felt foolish that I was so mad about missing this event, but as time passed I realized I have every right to be mad. The administration at our school would have been given lots of notice about this event.  There was plenty of time to organize a table. I am being told it is not worth 2 hours of their time to say thank-you to myself and the other members of our Parent Council who put so  much time and energy into  helping with these days that the kids love so much, and , often make quiet a bit of money for the school.

I can’t speak for all the parent volunteers, but I don’t  need to be thanked all the time for every little thing, but that it would mean the world to me to think  that they thought enough of us to take time for this one Thank You.

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Moment in Time.”

The last photo I took was actually of a photo of  a photo of me.  Did you follow that.  It was last week.  Thursday to be exact.  I have a picture of me when I was 6 years old that I just love, I wanted to post it to my instagram account for #tbt and the quickest way to do that was simply to use my phone to take a picture of the  picture.

I am the youngest in my family of 5, but I am the youngest by a lot, by the time I came around my siblings were 18 ( the twins) 14 ( my brother) and 11 ( my sister, who after an 11 year run as the baby and to give up her title  – you would think she would be bitter, but no).

It was one of the twins that took me to K-Mart to have this pictures taken.  She would have been about 24 at the time.  She was home for the summer because both she and her womb mate were ( wait for it)….Showgirls in a skating show! I kid you not.  Think Ice Capades and you will know what I mean.  The show kept them away from home for pretty much the school year, when they came home in summer it was like having celebrities around.

On this day, my sister sat me on the bathroom counter and went to work with her CurlBaby curling iron to try and give my poker straight, baby fine blonde hair some shape.  She fussed over me and I loved it. I loved that dress. I am wearing a pink dress in this picture but I had the same one in pale blue, apple green,  and a sunny yellow.  If I recall correctly she took me to K-Mart and had me photographed in each of the dresses. I figured people who saw us together would assume she was my mom and that was fine with me – having every other kid in the city jealous that they didn’t this hip cool beautiful mom. Too bad for them!  Our own mom was closing in on 50 at this time – and when I look at photos it makes me think that 50 year olds looked a lot older in the 70’s than they do today.  People often asked if she was my grandmother.  I was well into adulthood before I learned about all the worries my mom carried with her back then.

I remember that day with such clarity.  I can recall the way the red interior of her little white Chevy Vega smelled, and putting up with the heat. Leaving my window up so that my fragile curls wouldn’t get blown around. I remember how cool the air conditioning felt when we walked through the big doors into the store.  In the portrait studio the photographer  draped a big piece of honey beige carpet over the table that had a little block on it that I could sit on.  I had to sit kind of facing sideways and clasp my hands in my lap.  I remember thinking how is was a shame no one would see my pretty white sandals.

I used to compare myself to my sisters a lot. Very foolish really, because they were women while  I was still a child.  I had no memories of them as awkward teens, they were always cool and perfect to me.  For most of my life I have hated having my picture taken, I often skipped school picture day, and I would always offer to take a picture to avoid being in one. On that they though, I felt like the prettiest girl in the world and for that reason this will always be my favorite photo.

Uncharted Territory

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Re-springing Your Step.”

Earlier today I received a text from my bff : Total existential crisis.  Well not CRISIS, but you know what I mean. I do know exactly what she means.  She and I have been friends for over 20 years.  I am married with 4 kids, she is a recently divorced,  mother to one cat.  Her beloved senior dog and ancient cat both passed away just before Christmas.

Our lives have taken very different paths, but at this point, both in our 40’s we find ourselves in a very similar spot.  Our days have taken on a very predictable rhythm.  We were out for dinner last week talking about the restless feeling with both have.  We have gone through this before, when we were 20 something’s fresh out of university and wondering what to do with our lives.  For the first 40 of so years of your life there seem to be a lot of paths and road signs. Are you going to take high school classes that direct you to university or college? Are you in university? What about grad school? Is this guy the right one? That one? Marriage? Career? and Kids?  We both encountered all those forks in road and made our choices.  Now, here we are, and the paths seem to have vanished and it feels like we are standing in a big field, with very few sign posts – and most of them have to do with endings rather than beginnings. Death of your parents, your spouse. Divorce. Empty nest.

I know it really isn’t all that bleak, its just that this really feels like uncharted territory.  I have been so busy having babies and raising children that just now for the first time am I feeling the weight of the responsibility of it all. I only recently began to realize that for almost 30 years, I made all my plans thinking about me.  What was going to make me happy. Looking forward, its not that simple, my children will start making all those decisions I once made, and I want them to do it with the same healthy selfishness that I did, but I will always take them into consideration when I decide what path to take next.  I don’t think I could really be happy if the choice I made hurt my family

The restless feeling isn’t so bad, it was one of the things that made me want to try writing a blog.  A place to discover my voice, and a space to claim as my own.  Maybe this is my great adventure, its still early days – I can’t quiet tell yet, but now that I think about it, maybe my steps have been a little springy-er lately.

A Happy Camper

I don’t do well with unhappy people.  I don’t mean people who are sad, or dealing with depression or anything like that.  I am talking about those people who find a grey lining in ever silver cloud.

You know who I mean. It’s the woman who gets a week at a 5 star all inclusive Caribbean resort in the middle of a bleak winter and returns to tell you  it was, okay, you know, it rained one day, so it could have been better. Its the person who gets taken to dinner at that restaurant that has the 6 week wait for a reservation – and just, you know, thought it would be better. Aaaarrrggghhh. Makes me want to scream. Nothing is ever good enough. No one ever meets much less exceeds their expectations, everyone and everything is judged to be less than.

These people are not perfectionists. They are not hard on themselves, always pushing to the be the best at whatever they do, they are just complainers.  Quick to find fault and lay blame with others.

I have a “friend” on social media who posts her disappointment with life daily.  Sometimes the rain ruined her day, sometimes the sun is the bad guy making things too hot.  Bad drivers, stupid teachers, incompetent baristas, ignorant customers.  Friends who disappoint, confuse, irritate, frustrate and upset her. Co – workers who are stupid, lazy and inconsiderate.  A spouse, who, judging by status updates, has never, ever. in 20 plus years of marriage done anything right or on time EVER. And worst of the all, the golden haired child, constantly praised for their countless wonderful qualities and the other child who rarely rates a mention other than a mock offer of being put up for adoption.

I just don’t get it.  I will admit.  My life is pretty good.  Solid marriage, healthy kids.  I have my ups and downs and some days are better than others.  Yes, I absolutely get annoyed and bothered – but not all the time every day.

Sometimes I find myself thinking about how my life could be different.  What if I had of gone to a different school, taken different jobs. dated different people.  There are bazillions of ways that my life could be different.  I am not sure many or any of them would be better. I don’t think I could have the life I have right now if I changed even one thing about my past. I hope that my gratitude for a happy life has let me be a help to those people in my world who have gone through hard times or those who just have a harder road to travel.

I have a good life and the only thing I really know is that fate could deal me a harsh blow and that  this life could change without a moments notice.  So the wrong coffee order, or a co-worker who shows up late, or the guy who cuts me off in traffic are never going to be enough to make me wish this life away.

Wish You Were Here

Four years ago this month my mother died.   My sister died a few months earlier.  They both had cancer, my sister lived for 10 months after her diagnosis, my mother for 6 days.

My siblings and I knew that my father was beginning to show signs of memory loss and that the death of my sister, the oldest child, had been very hard on him.  Our mother kept telling us that he was worse than we knew – she was right.  When she passed so suddenly his care fell entirely into our laps.  We kept him at home.  The man was 80 years old, had just lost his wife and daughter, was losing his memory, and there was no way we were going to make him leave the house he had called home for 60 years. We managed this by taking shifts, someone with him all night, someone else all day. We managed this way for almost 2 years. Then he became very ill, and he went to hospital. He was so sick.  He just kept asking to go home. So we brought him home, to die.  He didn’t die though, and we realized, even with the home care we now had to help us, caring for him at home was no longer an option.  He was declared a crisis placement and put in a nursing home.  He has been there for just over 2 years now.  He is in his own world, rarely speaking, not knowing any of us.

Death is hard. My mother and sister were sick and then they were gone. I missed them. I miss them. Somehow, there was a way to make sense of their deaths. I could explain to my kids that while one of their aunts, had cancer and had an operation and got better, not everyone is that fortunate.

What my dad is going through is much harder to handle.  He is both here and gone, quiet literally  a shell of his former self. The kindest man I know, the one who saw and/or spoke to 5 children and 14 grandchild daily, stopped knowing us. He stopped calling us by name, and because the cruelty of dementia knows no bounds he began swearing and acting violently. My dad who told me he loved me every time we spoke was now telling me to fuck off.

What gets me through this  is my siblings.  We have always been close, both emotionally and geographically.  I am thankful everyday that we like each other and we love to laugh.  When I think about my mom, I know that, the love we still have for each other would make her proud.

I was supposed to write this post to my “dream reader”. Really I think my dream reader is someone who “gets” me.  These events, the death of my mother and sister, the way my father is drifting away, have changed me and shaped my world view more than any others.  I guess if I was going to pick specific dream readers it would be my mom and dad,  figures.

That’s An Excellent Question

Why am I blogging?

The short answer? It’s cheaper than therapy.

Let’s see.  I have been married for 16 years and have 4 children.  Those are great things….but man, when you are in your 40’s and you feel like everything you are is summed up in one 11 word sentence, it can make you feel kind of small.

I haven’t had a “real” job since I got married.  No, no, don’t say it, please to do not tell me what a great and important job motherhood is, because I get it.  I have great kids. Great kids.  I have a great husband and his job makes it possible for me to stay home with the kids, and for years I loved it.  I still love being home.  Now that everyone is in school full time, I enjoy the freedom of being at home.

I don’t miss the jobs, or the paycheques (okay maybe I miss those just a bit) I miss being somebody.  I used to work in the arts, doing fundraising and marketing.  Symphonies, art galleries, they are vibrant and fascinating places to work. Everyday, even when the work itself was dull, there was lively discussion, there were people, real honest to god people, that liked my company and talked to me like I was an adult.

Recently I ran a fundraiser for  my children’s school, a woman messaged me about it, asked how much money we made.  I told her it was wildly successful and told her what we made.  She immediately replied and proceeded to explain gross and net and outlined for me how to determine what our profit was. Are You Shitting Me?

Writing this blog is a way for me to have a voice. Even if no one ever  reads it, I will have put something out there. My opinions, my thoughts, my words.  I am nothing if not opinionated.  I love to read. I need to know what is going on in the world.  I am passionate about social justice.

I suppose I could do this the old fashioned way, buy a journal, write it all down. The thing is, I have done that. I want to take all the things that interest me, or drive me crazy and have the nerve to put it down, and send it out there.  Believe in myself enough that what I have to say it worthy of being said in a forum where anyone can see it.

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