Category Archives: family

Your Fifteen is My Fifteen

It was 15 years ago today I felt the twinges of contractions. They say you’ll know the difference and you do or at least I did. It was the middle of the night. I thought I would let the Evil Genius sleep a little longer so I just penned down the times I felt the contractions. The night is a strange time, so dark and full of solitude. I woke him. I couldn’t do it – didn’t want to do it on my own any longer. Of course he was calm but alarmed after he looked over the times I’d written down and realized I was already at 5 minutes between contractions.

No, it was not an easy introduction to my first born. It was kind of scary and surreal. I knew something wasn’t right. Still, I laboured dutifully but ultimately had to have surgery to see my daughter. Like in a movie I was wheeled down the hall, watching the ceiling lights go by as I made my way to the operating room. She was born at 10:07am and except for a quick glance that was the last time I saw her until the afternoon. I didn’t feel anything.

Frozen halfway down I was immobilized. Had I been emotionally drained as well? All I wanted to know was the size of her head, convinced it was a cranium of such magnitude that it prevented her from emerging the “normal” way from me. She wasn’t nearly as big as they predicted in the last ultrasound. She was fine. She was perfect. She had 10 fingers and 10 toes and I had yet to meet her. I was in recovery. She was in the nursery for her special needs after delivery. I sat there waiting.

I was finally allowed to move to my room even though I still couldn’t feel my legs or move my toes. The epidural was taking an exceptional long time to wear off. Then my family and friends arrived. People came to see me. They came to see her. I asked how she was. They all said she was fine. I was jealous. They all got to see my baby before me. They got to describe her nose or her blonde hair with the shock of white patch. What was she really like I wondered? I was anxious. I wanted to see for myself. Finally a nurse brought me a polaroid of her. She was crying. This red faced wrinkled thing attached to tubes was mine? I worried that I was already an unfit mother, no maternal instincts, someone who couldn’t love their child. I felt nothing.

It wasn’t until after 4:00pm, some 6 hours after I gave birth to her that they allow me to see her. Still not moving very well I was wheeled down the hall in a wheel chair anticipating the first true meeting of my daughter. Why was I feeling nothing? I was scared of my own lack of emotion and then I hit the entrance way to the nursery. I didn’t see any of the other babies but I heard one. I’m pretty sure it was mine. I just knew. The flood gates opened. I was wheeled right up beside my tiny child, naked except for a diaper, under lights and tubes and tears rolling down my face. I touched her hand. I soothed her. I asked the nurse if I could hold her. As this wee thing was placed in my care just like that I knew. I knew she was mine, I knew I loved her and I knew I would do anything for her. I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Hello Aurora. It’s Mommy.”

It’s been 15 years since that meeting. Happy birthday to my amazing Aurora, a beautiful, smart and engaging young woman. It is her day but quietly I also mark today, more than in other years as my own celebration. Something that I can’t quite believe as I replay the movie in my mind, that this is the day I became a mother.


Not Your Father’s Tattoo

Long gone are the days of tattoos being reserved for the military and bikers or for the under belly of society. They have slowly, quietly and consistently made their way into the mainstream. Some body ink is pure artistic beauty. Others, well, they could use a little help. Most tell a story of course – themes of courage, adversity, celebrations and memorials are so common now as they weave their way encircling our skin that we are not shocked by their presence on all sorts of people.

I never really considered a tattoo in my youth. I didn’t think they were bad a thing but I suppose just not my thing. Growing up my Dad had a tattoo on his forearm. It was a youthful lark, without much forethought – it was a heart with an arrow through it and it said “MOM.” He has since had it corrected embellished from its faded, fuzzy outline to a colourful sunburst. Not until I was *ahem* older with kids of my own and with the illness, then death of my sister-in-law did I really consider getting one for myself. asked for submissions for Mom’s with tattoos and their stories. There are hundreds of stories, more likely thousands of stories but here is mine:

I have two tattoos. Each is very significant and important to me. I claim one as “mine” and the other is Joanne’s. Joanne was my sister-in-law. She was a young, beautiful woman I had known since I was 11. She was more like a cherished older sister than an in-law. Joanne battled and succumbed to the evil of breast cancer after a 7 year fight. and fight she did until the bitter, bitter end. She left behind my brother and 3 children. She was 41.

The pain associated with the unfairness of her illness and the eventuality of her death was life altering for me. I wanted a way to connect with her even though she was gone. It took me a long time to find something that was meaningful enough to represented her. I settled on Celtic knot butterfly wings, to celebrate her Irish background and the transformation and freedom imagery joined on the body of the pink ribbon symbol. This September marks the 6th anniversary of her death, but Joanne’s tattoo is a reminder of a life never forgotten.

I got my tattoo at the same time I got Joanne’s. I needed to get something for myself, to balance the sorrow. The spiral is an ancient symbol represented in almost all past cultures. To some it represents life force or motherhood. I chose this symbolism to represent me and my two crazy, beautiful, wonderful girls that I have always affectionately called, my “girlies.” A double spiral—two swirlies, for my girlie whirlies!

You can check out more stories here: Do you have a tattoo? What is it? Tell me your story!

Daily Awesome = Cupcakes

How does one get so much pleasure from something so simple?  The daily awesome is not so much in the technical definition of “awesome”  of expressing awe in the remarkable or outstanding but more in the informal sense, that sometimes you have to slow down and appreciate some of the common, everyday things we take for granted.

I was feeling a little dejected and low.  I came home after work and said hello to my girlies as usual.  My oldest asked me how my days was.  I said, “fine, but I have a headache.”  She then asked me if I needed a hug? Of course I accepted. 

I went upstairs to lie down.  I must have fallen asleep.  I woke up to the sound of tinkering from the kitchen.  I came downstairs and my girles said, “aww, we were going to surprise you when it was ready.”  The Evil Genius was making dinner and my girlies were making cupcakes.  I could taste the love.

Practice What You Preach: Tonight You Make Dinner

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day (gag!). I don’t go crazy for this holiday.  The evil genius and I try to do things for each other at other times during the year.  What did I get?  Nothing.  I’m ok with that.  Really I am.  This day is not a big priority for us and he works hard.  Like really hard, at his own business, as a volunteer for the swim club, as a present father.  I can cut him some slack.

What I didn’t feel like doing was dinner.  My youngest had a late swim schedule last night and I knew we could all have dinner together so I thought I’ll ask my girlies to make it.  They are 14 and 11 and we have tried since the beginning to prepare them for life without us. I firmly believe we are raising adults, not children.  We want them to be responsible, confident and independent women.  This doesn’t happen over night and you can’t teach it to them in a weekend or the summer before they leave for university.  So to put my money where my mouth was I thought they were ready for a challenge.

I was at work and texted my oldest “I want you and your sister to make dinner tonight.”  The response, “Okay.”  That was it.  I guided them to a meal I wanted them to prepare. They were on their way.  After some questions like, “how many potatoes do I use?” and “how do I cook them?” (insert face palm here) I gave them some options then said I would be driving so I couldn’t text. They were on their own.  They needed to figure it out.


I came home to a meal cooking and the dining room table set.  The ham had not been started.  They googled “How to cook a ham” and only came up with tips not temp and time (note: need to work on their google skills).  So I made them get the package out of the garbage and calculate the weight and convert the time for cooking.

They continued to prepare the meal and set out the appetizers I brought home, some cheese and fresh bread.  The evil genius came home from work and we were getting close to go time.  They put everything in bowls and placed it on the table.  We enjoyed a lovely meal and then the evil genius cleaned up.  It was absolutely wonderful.  We toasted to our family.  They truly are the reason for my full heart on Valentine’s Day and everyday.


Times They Are a Changing: Death and the Tooth Fairy

When I first started this blog I wasn’t sure exactly how much to talk about the people in my life.  Up until now I have kept most things pretty generic and the people nameless.  If you are the 3.5 people who read my blog (I am being generous, I think) you may know who they are but because I didn’t specifically ask their permission or even let them know I was writing about them, at this point I chose not to name them.  I did name my sister-in-law, Joanne in this recent post but she’s um, deceased and no longer gets to speak for herself.   I mean no disrespect.   Joanne and I are good.  I digress.  What I’m trying to say is this blog really is a work in progress.  While I’m not naming names this particular post gets personal.  That’s a lot of “P”s.  Ready?  Here comes another one… I’m pissed at my sister.

Yep!  I found out yesterday by way of her Facebook status that my aunt had passed away.  Now I know my aunt had been sick, she had a form of stomach cancer.  We all knew it was only a matter of time though clearly I wasn’t prepared for yesterday’s announcement.  I’m not sure what bothered me more, her death and the suddenness of it or that the cyber world knew before I did and before I had a chance to tell my children.   I suppose it was both, I mean this is my aunt.  My younger cousin’s mom.  My dad’s sister.  We shared so many family holidays and celebrations together growing up and she joined us at the family BBQs and parties as my kids grew.   I felt cheated.  How did my sister know already?   I checked my email.  My father had left a message for everyone so he could go to the hospice to be with my aunt, his other sister and my cousin.  Aren’t there family spoiler alerts on Facebook?  I know my sister didn’t mean any harm.  She was posting away her life like we all do.  I wish she had chosen to wait.  My big girlie found out the same way and she was none too impressed, either.   Heavy sigh.

Then last evening I read an article about the Tooth Fairy and how someone,  somewhere did a study saying how all lies are bad lies. Children are confused and have a hard time processing the inconsistencies between their parents telling them lying is bad, don’t lie and the “hey, guess what I’ve been lying to you about imaginary childhood icons in the name of fun or to change your behaviour and that’s bad and wrong and will scar you and render me and other parents completely untrustworthy in their children’s eyes.”  Again, I digress.  I completely scoffed at it but it got me thinking about exposure and our current state of social media.  We are surrounded by the whole world.  It is literally at our finger tips and feels like things happen in our own backyard when they happen half way around the world.  Children will find out about the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus earlier than we did as children simply because the information is there in ways we just didn’t  have 30, 40, 50 years ago.  Things are changing. Things have changed.

So while I showered away the rough day I had because I also chipped a tooth, dropped my bag in the mud, found out my aunt passed away via facebook and shattered a wine glass,  I thought we really have no control over these things the way we once did (or thought we did). Information is power and it’s already out there.  Whether you are ready for it or not.  So Sister, we’re good.

Auntie Barbara you were loved.  You will be missed.

Arrrggh! A Pirate’s Life For Cancer

This past weekend I participated  in “My Sister’s” Pink Pajama Party, a dinner and fundraiser for the walk against women’s cancer.  Cancer is such a horrible, evil disease.  It affects so many people, too many people, with a stunning ripple effect.  I have seen its personal devastation.  I have been consumed by the ripples.  My sister-in-law, Joanne found the lump in her breast in 1999.  At the time she was young, healthy and was going to kick cancer’s ass. Sadly, we didn’t know it then but Joanne would not survive.  It was seven years later when the summer faded and so too did our “angel” Joanne, as her body succumbed to the ravages of a ruthless disease.

During her illness and since her death in 2006 there have been many “find the cure” related activities and opportunities I could have participated in.  I participated in very few of them.   It’s fine for other people.  It just never really sat well with me, my own personal issues.  There was one event however that I have consistently been able to do and that is “My Sister’s” Pink Pajama Party.  What makes this evening particularly special for me is the people I share it with.  My mom, is the matriarch of the group and secures us tickets every year.  I am able to attend with my fabulous sister.   Then there is my brother’s wife,  my “new” sister-in-law.   While she’s no longer “new” I have yet to figure out exactly how to describe her when I am explaining about her and Joanne.   She is one of the most gracious and kind people I know and has done so much to help us heal as a family.  Not better.  Not worse. Just different.  We are lucky enough to have her crazy, wonderful sister join us and then rounding out our unique, little, sorority is my sister’s best friend, who has been around long enough, she might as well be a sister.

Laughter is good medicine.

I feel so grateful when we get together.  We can celebrate the ones who are gone.  We can support “survivors” and we can hope for a cure.  Plus there are laughs.  Such big, belly laughs.  It’s good for the soul to laugh that much.  We have so much fun.  Who doesn’t love a theme night where you get dressed up in your pjs to go out?  Then THEY make dinner.  There is dancing and prizes and did I mention fire fighters?  Oh Yes!  There are nekked fire fighters. Well, maybe not nekkid but they dance without shirts!

This year there was a table decorating theme.  It’s amazing what you can do with a bunch of dollar store items.

Pirates Rock but cancer sucks really bad eggs.

A treasure map.

What? Pirates like pretty bows and feather, right?

Drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Of course we needed a plank! Arrgghh!

We “pillaged” other tables and stole some of their table decorations by knife point, all in good fun of course.  We even managed to nab us a fire fighter.   The table next to us was having just as much fun watching us pillage and plunder.  They decided to steal our whole centre piece… so we made them our crew!   The company was great, the evening was fun and while cancer sucks and makes me mad and I miss Joanne, I am so happy to share this special night with my “sisters”.

Oh and just  in case you thought I forgot about the firefighters…enjoy!

photo: Tina Daquano

photo: Tina Daquano

photo: Tina Daquano

I Take a Walk

I don’t generally make resolutions.  I have in the past but like most people my motivation wanes.  Maybe the original goals were too lofty or unrealistic.  Maybe I’m just a lazy ass.  I could be just a lazy ass.   January and February are more like hibernation months for me.  It’s cold and dark.  I have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), such an appropriately named acronym and it makes me grumpy.    Earlier this January I read this post by director, Michael Moore.  After talking with some folks on twitter about going for a walk, he did just that.  He got up and went for a walk for 30 mins.  He donned his shoes and continued to walk for the next 250 days.  Wow!  He walked for no other reason than to get outside and move.  Since then he has inspired thousands to move and walk with him.  I felt inspired.  That’s when I decided I could get in on this too.  I convinced my family and out we went in the glorious sunshine on a cold winter day.  We bundled up and away we went.  No destination in mind.

My girlies are getting older.  At 11 and 14 they aren’t going to be hanging around the old folks for much longer.  I love to soak up the family moments when I can.  These are what memories are made of .  Since that day I have been going out for 30 mins walks.  Not quite everyday but that’s okay too,  it doesn’t bother me.  I am doing what I can for the sheer fact that I can and for no other reason.  Just to go out there in the cold, crisp air and breathe it all in.  It’s amazing what happens in 30 mins.   Thankfully my daughters have separately joined me on each walk.  I haven’t had to do it alone yet.  We look at the houses and seasonal lights still a glow, comment on a cool snow fort and talk about our day.  Mostly I try to listen more than talk and just take in the view and relish the company.  This year I didn’t make a resolution.  I took a walk.

Winter Walk

Winter Walk