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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category


I was 14, he was 15. The very first day we met, he kissed my hand, very Cinderella style. Little did he know he was kissing the hand of a hopeless dreamer. An incurable romantic. A girl who, even at 14, had learned how to exit the world of her reality and dwell in the world of books, movies, plays and music. My fantasy world was the real one in which I dwelt and the reality of school and homework and parents and such were just the nuisance that had to be endured between escapisms.
Our first date. How ironic it was to a movie. Escapism please!
We went to see The Little Mermaid. When it was first released to theatres (am I dating myself, much?). The song “kiss the girl” was the backdrop to our first kiss. He with his towering height and me with my fantasies and already I had us married off with kids and living in a far away land.
Cut to now, and we’re married with kids and moved provinces, so in a way, my 14 year old dream came true.
My number is inverted now. I’m 41. I still use books and movies and plays and music as a way to leave the trappings of the adult world, a world VASTLY more disappointing than I was led to believe as a child. Sure, I can eat what I want and go to bed when I want, but I also pay taxes and clean and raise children and have a job. But I have my dreams. Tucked away where I can call upon them when needed. I still read books and fall in love with the mythical worlds weaved for me. I even write books where I can bend the fantasy to my own will and whimsy. Songs still transport me and movies are where I give over my heart and soul to be drawn into another place and time.
So, it’s no surprise that when the live action Beauty and the Beast was announced that I immediately professed that I would not only see this in theatre, but that we would all go, husband, wife and the three children still remaining at home. No one minded. When your mother is a dreamer, she tends to influence her children.
The day approached and the closer we got, the more excited we became. The kids would frequently play the trailers on the internet and I, the eternal crier, would more often than not, feel my eyes growing hot with anticipation.

On Sunday we crammed our five adult forms into the car and drove to the theatre where Belle awaited. As we sat in a row at the back of the theatre, I leaned over to my husband and whispered “I love that 22 years of marriage later, you’re still taking me to Disney movies. Only now we bring our children.” He tried to pretend like that didn’t make him “catch the feels” too, but I know it did. He has been much more sentimental since his heart attacks.
The show started and transported is exactly what we were. My youngest, the 15 year old, 6’2 man-child sitting beside me, spent the entire show holding my hand, or laying his head on my shoulder, or hugging me. My girls sat at the end silently letting tears fall. The movie was perfection. It should be held up as an example of how to bring a beloved animation to live action. I won`t go into the details of the myriad of ways I loved it, because this post would simply be too long.
It was beautiful visually, artistically, musically and in it`s composition. The casting was perfect and I truly wanted to step through that screen and into Belle`s world.
We left the theatre that evening to go home to the world that we built. It`s warm, inviting and loving. It`s full of laughter, and yes, sometimes tears. Usually mine. It`s teenagers and adult children who still hug their parents. It`s kids who were brought up to love and to treat people with kindness and dignity and inclusion. With all the mistakes and pitfalls I’ve taken in my life, it`s my deepest source of pride to see the family that we built and what we`ve built it into. Even with my love for escaping through books and music and movies and plays, it’s still that Prince Charming of mine that I come back to.

And he still kisses my hand.

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Last Saturday the hubs and I drove north to Fredericton for an electrical stimulation demonstration. (TENS machines, etc). It was a great opportunity for us to meet some new people and learn about some new techniques in pain control.  Not for him, though, you don’t use those types of products when you have a serious heart condition.   For me, with recurring back pain and sarcoidosis, it was worth looking into.  

Discussion and demo started at six and ended juuuuust before eight and we had been invited to a friends house for nine.  Perfect, time to go have dinner together. 

We were both hungry.  We had left Saint John just around four and had driven straight to the venue.  I must also add that driving along the river in Fredericton is BEAUTIFUL.  Truly.  I’ll never get tired of how lovely the maritimes are.  And I loved that our hour and forty minute drive between two major cities in New Brunswick is so scenic.  Not like driving between major cities in Ontario at all. (Sorry-not sorry, Ontario) 

Anyway, we don’t actually know Freddy very well so we pulled over and looked in the GPS for nearby restaurants.  

Red Lobster.  Within minutes!  Sure it’s weirdly cliche for maritimers to eat there but, biscuits!  Shrimp!  Off we went.  However, upon reaching the spot where the GPS said it would be, there was nothing.  No restaurants of any kind. Nothing that even looked like it was once a restaurant.  Disappointed, we checked again.   Olive Garden.  Six minutes away!  I’ve never eaten at an Olive Garden but Shawn has. He immediately got excited by lasagna.  I did what I do best while navigating,  started a running commentary on every restaurant we passed, which admittedly, wasn’t riveting.  There was an Asian fusion place called Ko-To, a Thai place, a McDonald’s.  Six minutes later and no Olive Garden.  Same situation as with red lobster.  We drove around in case the GPS had merely put us in the vicinity of Italian food, or by this time, 8:30, any food but no. Gas station, optometrist, law office, pet smart. No restaurant.  No Olive Garden. No lasagna.  

We decided to go back to the Thai place. After all, we were due at our friends by nine.  And we were very hungry.  So, back we went.  We parked in the suspiciously empty parking lot and walked to the door.  Closed at 8 on Saturdays.  Closed at 8??? We were flabbergasted.  What restaurant closes at 8 in a weekend?  I turned to my beloved. Ko-To it is.  We got back in the car and started joking about how the city was conspiring against our hunger.  We pulled into the parking lot and the open sign was still on. Another sign pointed us to park in the back.  We drove around and parked beside the only other car. Looking behind us, I noticed that the restaurant was located on the street directly in front of a mini mall with a McDonald’s.  Ha ha, I thought. No homogenized burgers and fries today. 

There was a long ramp on the side of the building that wrapped around to the front door.  That’s nice, I remember thinking.  Wheelchair friendly.  JUST As we reached the top of the ramp, we heard a loud lick click. We rounded the corner in time to see the open sign get turned off. 

Because they closed at nine. Because Fredericton did not want us to eat.  Laughing softly through our raging hunger pangs, we went back and say in the car.  We watched seconds later as a lady came out the back entrance, got into her car (right beside us) and drove out.   We watched her drive right around and into the McDonald’s  lot behind us. Shrugging, defeated and famished, we followed.  Shawn and I ate our Big Macs and loudly rolled our eyes at one another over the terrible conversations by a nearby table of six teenagers.  Thn we went to our friends house for a great evening with adults. 

That was last Saturday.  And three weeks before that we came home from Ontario to my having to deal with a bad case of laryngitis.  No voice for four days.  

Last Sunday my throat was sore.  Monday it was very sore.  Tuesday myself and all three teens went to the clinic for sore throats and varying degrees of voice loss (and this is prom/grad week for ash).  We were given the once over and prescribed a gargle for our sore throats.  By last night just before I left work, I could not swallow.  So I went to urgent care.  Raging laryngitis.  I was told to stay home and not talk.  Naproxen for pain, and wait.  

So I’m home today.  I can’t talk and I’m frustrated.  Our middle daughter graduates high school tonight.  Im going to go, I’m going to cry, but I won’t be able to say a word.  

And that, my friends, is how I’m kicking off my holiday week.  

Good grief.  

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I haven’t really commented publicly on the Orlando shooting at Pulse, but believe me when I say it has been on my mind and very close to the surface since it happened.  So I’m finally going to talk about it. Or at least, talk about why a mass shooting in a gay nightclub in another country,far away from me; a married woman in her forties with children and dogs and a husband, would matter so much.  

I have five kids.  If you read my blog, you already know this.  If you have read my blog for a while now, you also probably know my oldest daughter is gay.  Coming out wasn’t easy for her.  Not because of my reaction, her dad’s, her siblings, but…other members of our family can’t understand it and don’t accept it.  She got a lot of backlash at high school.  We lived in a very small town and believe me, being out there wasn’t always easy but, one of the things I admire most about my daughter is that she is beautifully herself.  Unapologetically.  Being authentic is a gift. She has it. Anyone who knows her knows how utterly genuine she is.  

My house is one where we talk about everything.  So, when she came out to us, the kids just took it as easily as if she had told them that actually, despite the rainbow of colours that have found their way into her hair, she is actually a natural blonde.  I mean, it’s still her. What was there not to accept? 

Ah but there were things not to accept where others were concerned.  Some of our family was not and is not so accepting.  And that pains me.  

We all know that there has been an extreme uphill battle for the gay community to climb.  And I’m embracing ALL of the community. Gay, lesbian, queer, trans, bi, questioning and anyone else I’m leaving out. There is a lot of ignorance and intolerance out there and that breeds fear and hate.  But I had thought, as most of us likely had, that we as a society have come leaps and bounds. 

And then.  The shooting. 

It’s too much.  

I was texting my gorgeous girl the morning it happened.  She lives in another province and I couldn’t be there to hug her, hold her.  She was looking forward to going to pride this year in Toronto.  She is not going now. Because she was going to go alone and now, well, without someone there with her to help her feel safe, she doesn’t want to risk it.  

Which is the saddest thing. She will be 21 next month. This is the time in her life when she should be going out to gay bars and clubs and meeting people and having fun.  

As I watched the Tony awards last Sunday night, I cried when Lin Manuel gave his speech and said “love is love is love is love is love”. Because that hit the nail right on the head for me.  

To everyone in the world who doesn’t get it. There is no wrong way to love.  There is no wrong gender to love. No evil way, no sacrilidgeous way, no broken way no hateful way, no sinful way. Love. Is. Love. 

Love is love. 

Say it out loud.  Love is love.  

And every single person on this planet is entitled to love in whatever incarnation it makes them feel loved in return.  How could anyone begrudge love?  

I hope the families of this massacre find peace in their days to come.  I hope the gay community finds new strength and continues to stand up and say WE ARE WORTHY.  I hope my daughter finds joy and happiness and love with a wonderful partner some day.  

And I hope the people whose hearts are still closed to a part of humankind find a way to open them.  Have your grinch moment and let your hearts grow.  Because, no one wants to threaten you, or put their relationship “in your face” anymore than you do.  They simple want to dance, without dying. 

They just want to love their lives and one another.  As we all do.  

Love is love.  We learned to love as children.  

So grow up.  

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My parents arrive tomorrow for a few days’ visit. I’m actually really happy to have them come. Because they are leaving in a few weeks for a trip back to the motherland. Ireland. And shortly after that, they are moving back to Ontario. Yeah. I have no idea why either. If my own recent trip back to Ontario taught me anything, it’s that I don’t want to live there again and I don’t know why anyone else would either after they’ve had a taste of life in, um, I don’t know, ANY OTHER PROVINCE. I take back ANY time I have bitched out here about traffic or construction. We have it easy. We have it super easy.

What I *did* miss was people. Specific people. My daughter. Oh lord Keisha you are SO beautiful you don’t even realize. And seeing you happy, full of energy, settled, you have no idea how much that made me smile. I think the last time I saw you in such a good place, you were about 12. Maybe. I’m so proud and I really wish we could spend time together more, but at the same time I’m happy to let you live your life and just…fly.
Best friends Alex and Greig. I have no words. Three years were like three days. Because we just fell right back into our wonderful ways as if no time had passed at all. God I missed you.
My brother and sister and the new baby. Yes, I have two other sisters in Ontario and I didn’t get to see either of them, but new babies win. Always. And Saoirse is a dream. My eighth niece (I also have three nephews) and I’m sure, knowing our family, that we’re not done yet. I mean, I am done, but I still have two unmarried brothers and Ciaran and Angela are newly weds, I’m sure they’ll have at least one more. I just love the babies. LOVE

One of my favourite visits of the trip was seeing my grandparents. I love how my Grandmother is still so full of joy and laughter. I loved making Grandpa’s eyes light up at new pictures of my kids, their great-grandchildren. I love their cozy home and I just loved spending time with them. I miss that, living so far away. I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to do it.

So I came home, out from the (not even kidding) 40 degree heat, to a brisk 12 degree, cool Saint John day and promptly lost my voice. Total laryngitis. I actually could not make any sounds for three days and even now, I’m still scratchy.

June is not cooling its heels though, and we are careening quickly through a season that has left me emotional. Aislinn, our middle daughter, is graduating high school in a few weeks. I don’t know, I’ve been through this graduation thing before, but, on different scales. Liam finished the way I did, through correspondence. Keisha finished through an alt high school and I definitely remember her graduation ceremony, and how choked up I was sitting in the auditorium with Shawn watching our baby cross that stage to get her diploma. But Ash is the middle baby. I have a mental picture of my kids: the “older two”, Ash, the “middle child” and (much to their eternal chagrin that I STILL use this term) the “little two”. If Ash is graduating, that means that really, for REAL this time, they’re all getting older. I have one kid moved out, another on the cusp and now Aislinn making plans for moving on and my beautiful big family is shrinking.
Believe me, I do know that it will eventually get to the phase where it grows again when they all start making their permanent relationships and having their own families. But right now, I’m in the midst of the emotional roller coaster of watching them grow, and letting them go.

I’m feeling my age. I’m searching for a cure to that.

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Where did all the damn traffic come from??? Seriously? And I won’t even talk about the INSANELY aggressive drivers. No wonder we were always smoking and stressed out. Woah.
We landed yesterday morning at about 6:45am Ontario time, got Shawn dropped off in Brampton and then I went to Guelph to pick up our oldest daughter Keisha from her house and we zoomed 25 minutes north to Elora, my hometown. We walked around for about an hour, saw the house where I grew up and where she spent most of her childhood weekends and almost all of her childhood major holidays and decided that it had changed too much. The town, that is. The vibe was completely different. It no longer felt like home to me. So, we headed back to Guelph. As much as to beat the massive storm clouds as to go play around the other city I grew up in and where her Dad and I first met. We had a great time. We saw the high school I went to in Grade nine, both where it used to be and where they rebuilt it, the park where Shawn and I had our first kiss, his old high school, the hospital where my beloved Nana lived out the last years of her life, and a whole bunch of “places of interest”. Read: where all my teenaged shenanigans took place. The Guelph ones, anyway.
But the city has changed SO MUCH. At one point we were headed to a Walmart, which I distinctly remembered the location of, and she kept telling me to turn too soon. I tried to argue with her but, well, she lives here now, so I turned and there it was. Guelph had picked up the whole damn building and moved it. And painted it green! I told Guelph to go home, because it was (and is) clearly drunk.

We didn’t actually wind up taking a lot of pictures, though I thought we would, but, we were so in the moment yesterday. And dudes, she looks fucking amazing. She has worked really hard for the last year and has lost almost 80lbs and she just was so, so, HAPPY. I loved it.

We went out for dinner all three of us last night and finally Shawn and I got some sleep.
Today I get the morning to do just this: writing. First this post and then I’m working on my book again. (SQUEALS OF JOY) and then….
We’re off to Paris Ontario tonight to see our beloved friends and to go to the theatre. You remember my theatre days, right? Lord I miss that. The last show we ever did and by far my favourite was I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. Damn I loved that role. I played Jan. I got to go crazy, shoot a (fake) shotgun, cry onstage, kiss onstage, freak the fuck out on stage, go catatonic onstage and finally, murder my stage husband with an axe. It was awesome.
And Paris Performers are doing the show tonight. So we’re going to see it. YAAYY!!!!

Tomorrow we are going to meet our new niece for the first time, see my brother and sister in law, see my Grandparents and get ready for the early Sunday morning flight home.

I’m already sunburned (I had forgotten about Ontario heat, it’s going to be 40 today with the humidity), I’ve already laughed until my face hurt. I’ve already gotten emotional.

It’s been the best day so far. I’m looking forward to the next two immensely.

Happy Friday, all!!

Now I’m off to exercise my fingers and work out what’s going on in Summer Poppies. I’ve been working on this book for Four Years. It’s time I get serious with it again and wrap it up.

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It’s been three years since we moved from Ontario to New Brunswick. And that last year in Ontario? It was ROUGH. Three years and although Shawn has returned several times (for work) I have yet to go back, even once.

Back when Shawn had his heart attacks, a situation presented itself for our oldest daughter to go back to Ontario to live. She wasn’t doing well out here. It’s hard. She was out of high school, not in college or University yet, had a part time day job where she worked with people my age and there is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING out here for late teen/early twenties people to do. She was drowning. So she left. Smartest thing she ever did. She went to live with one of my sisters first. She was even able to come home for Christmas that year. She tried a break for independence by taking a nanny position, but, in a very scary two weeks we realized that they had totally bait and switched her so our oldest and dearest friend Randy went and got her and took her in. She lived with Randy for nearly a year, moved to Guelph where my amazing cousins took her in for a few weeks and now she has just moved into her first place all of her own. I’m so proud of her it’s practically bursting from me. But all that moving meant that last Christmas she couldn’t come home so I haven’t seen my daughter in a year and a half.
And finally, I’m going to see her.

The SAME EXACT DAY Shawn had his heart attack, my parents sold their house in Ontario. The one they had lived in for over 30 years, the one we all called home and came back to as often as we could for holidays or visits. It’s where we spent our last night in Ontario before the move. I have been told the new owners are wonderful, but of course, they wanted to make the house their own. I’ve been told there have been changes. On my trip back, I plan on driving out to Elora, my hometown, to see them. Take a walk around old haunts.

I also plan on going to Cambridge to see my old house there and hopefully, thank Randy in person for everything he did for our girl.

And then….KITCHENER because my brother and his wife Angela had a baby girl. I am DYING to hold her, see them all, hug them all and most importantly hold that beautiful baby. I’m going to drive by my sister’s old house. Maybe take a drive through my old park. All the memories, the good and the bad, have been spilling through my mind ever since I booked the ticket.

If you’re a long time reader of the blog, you know that I love theatre and used to do quite a bit of it in Ontario. My last show there was undoubtedly my favourite. “I’ll be back before Midnight”. God I loved that show. Creepy and awesome and I got to play a neurotic woman who loses her mind. Well, our best friends in Paris Ontario are doing that show and, of course we’re going to go see it with them. And then, epic awesomeness will ensue as it always does with our friends the Grahams.

In many ways, this trip, only three whole days long, is going to be exhausting. In many ways, it’s going to feel like going home.
Until, I have no doubt, that moment on Sunday when our flight lands once again in New Brunswick and we drive home, past the rocky hills, the lakes and rivers, into the valley where we live in a place that looks like Algonquin Park only prettier. Where I’m still not used to the stunning views and the sight of the sun setting over the KV river making the water look like it’s on fire.

There is no question Ontario will have its moments where it feels like home. Because most of my life was there. And you always feel like “home” when you see family.
But my heart has shifted, ever so slightly, and my real home is here. Ontario, now, is a beautiful memory. One I’m very excited to revisit.

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** Warning ** I intend to speak on sexuality. If you don’t wish to read this from me, I suggest you skip this one.

When my oldest daughter was about nine, she came to me and told me that she liked girls. D’uh, I told her, of course you do, all your best friends are girls. No, she said. I LIKE girls. Oh, okay. Well….
I asked her to wait for a few years before deciding whether or not she wanted to talk to people about this and for her to feel more sure of herself (which in hindsight, this kid has never been anything BUT sure of herself, but I was a young mom and didn’t want her to be feeling any societal push-back before she was mature enough to deal with it). She agreed and again at about fourteen or fifteen she told me she was gay. Cool. Keisha has always known her mind, and we raised her in a home that is accepting of people no matter how they identify. I always told my kids that I don’t care who they date as long as the person is a good person who loves them and treats them well and as long as they are happy. Because really, isn’t that all we can ask for our kids? Besides, I have adult friends who were so scared to come out that they married into hetero sexual marriages and even had children before they were able to fully be themselves. I can’t imagine the pain/courage it took for them to face their partners and speak the words “I’m gay” and then have every single thing in their lives change. But, I’m drifting.
I had a gay teenage daughter. And she dated. We met her girlfriends and some of them we liked and some of them we didn’t. We watched her fall down the rabbit hole of teen love where everything becomes about the other person and you feel like you can’t breathe without them in your life and then we watched her heart shatter after a particularly hard breakup, as a teenage heart does when love ends. There was NOTHING unusual about this with her. It’s the same for all teenagers, regardless of whether they are dating same gender or not. It was no less easy to watch her go through it. She has the same struggles now as any single person, trying to meet someone she can share her life with. Being gay has only changed the players, not the game.
What breaks my heart is that in this day and age there are STILL so many people who think she is something less than simply because she is gay. I am, in fact, incredulous about it. She didn’t ask to be gay. She didn’t decide it. She certainly isn’t trying to be “en vogue” because gay is “in” right now. She just is. And she is still just my daughter. A sister. A cousin. A niece. A grand daughter and a great-grand daughter. One day she will be an Auntie. A wife. Hopefully even a mother.

Now.

Last night. My 14 year old son came into my room. It was around ten thirty and we were all winding down for bed. He had his phone in his hand. He asked me if I remembered him mentioning his friend T. I did. He asked me if I would read something and then he handed me his phone. My 14 year old son gave my his text message to read. T is a biological girl. But, feels like a boy. T has two friends, my son, and a young woman in their class. They are the only two who don’t question T for feeling like he does. T’s parents DO NOT accept this. I get it, and I explained to my son that not every parent can deal with discussing such things, let alone accepting them. I explained that if Keisha had come to me to say she was transgendered, while I would absolutely accept her, I would definitely have to mourn the loss of my daughter before accepting my new son. It’s a complicated process, but, he wanted to know, wouldn’t I still love her? Of course I would. My love for my children is unconditional.
My son started to cry. T tried to talk to their parents about it and now they refuse to discuss it and they are forcing T to by hyper feminine. They insist T wears skirts and dresses. My son wanted to know if T could come live with us if it became necessary.
I read the texts. T is in pain. There were a lot of very sensitive and well, scary thoughts, expressed. Depression, cutting, feeling like everything about T’s body is fundamentally wrong. And the agony of not have parents to talk through this time with. My son cried.

I told him we cannot know everything that is going on in that family. Because it’s not our family, and we are only hearing one side of the story. And no, asking T to come live here would likely do more harm than good. But, that he can continue to be T’s friend and that T is welcome here anytime to visit, to hang out, whatever.

My son asked me how a parent couldn’t just….love their kid. Why the need to try to force that kid to be something they are not. Why not at the very least BE THERE to talk and most importantly, to listen.

I had no answer for him. Because I truly don’t understand that. I wish I did. I told him instead that I loved his heart. That I wasn’t worried for him for his future and his future relationships because he is such a strong, loving person. His heart is so open. It’s just what I wanted in my children. Because they are, after all, the legacy I’m leaving on this earth. What better legacy than a child with an open heart who just loves people, regardless of who they are?

I know my generation is different to previous ones when it comes to understanding that gender is a fluid thing. The age of the internet has made it so that this is an actual social conversation now, which is only to the benefit of us all. People are afraid of what they don’t understand and the more we talk about it, the more understanding can be borne.

I gave birth to five children. Two boys and three girls. One of my kids is gay. One of my kids is a science nerd. Of of them is a music junkie. One of them had a brief problem with drugs and has come full circle to sobriety. All of them are my children and I love them all.

No matter what. Or who. They become.

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