Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Life B.C.

Dear Claire,

You're probably thinking by the title of this post that it's going to be about Life Before Claire.  

Nope.  I can barely remember what that was like!

It's actually about Life Before Cells.  Not the tiny ones floating around inside of you!  Cell Phones.

I don't know what communication devices are going to be like by the time you're a young adult, but trust me, you don't want to have one with you all the time.

I actually consider myself really lucky because I went to high school and university before everyone and their seven-year old had a cell phone.  Believe me, those really were the days.

Why?  Because I left my house on a Friday night, crammed into a car with four other friends, and nobody's parents could get a hold of us!  It was bliss.  You made it home by curfew, parents would ask a few questions, and you could tell them most (okay, some) of the truth.  Best part - there was no evidence.  There was no cell phone with a GPS being carried around all night. There weren't a hundred pictures that were taken only hours earlier to scroll through.  There weren't texts from twenty people to read over. And they couldn't just go check out my Facebook or Instagram to see what I'd really been up to. Freedom!!!

Not only do I love how there was no evidence for my parents to see/read, I loved how there's no evidence for anyone to see/read!  High School is a bit of a gong show, and not one that I want myself, or the whole world, to have to re-live with me!  

But the absolute best time to not have a cell phone with you at all times?  University.

Being able to make some plans with some friends, head out to the bar, and just see what happens is a kind of freedom that is difficult to find these days.  Seriously, we would go out with a few people and then just let the night happen.  We might run into more friends, we might not. We might decide to leave one place and go to another so we just would.  We didn't have to text a bunch of people and let them know.  

The best part of that freedom was that we could talk to new people and make new friends because there was nothing holding us back.  There wasn't a friend who was going to be angry because we didn't call/text them back.  No one was going to see tons of pictures of us the next day and know our every move from the night before.  And when things weren't going great with a boyfriend I never received a series of angry texts that would ruin my night.

Ahhh, Freedom.

It really was great, just "being" out in the world, without technology cramping the fun.

So Claire, whatever your communication device is ten and fifteen years from now, I really encourage you to leave it at home when you're out with your friends.  It may feel strange, but trust me, you'll never find that kind of freedom again, it only exists for a short time so seize it while you can.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Letting Go

Dear Claire,

I haven't been able to write to you in over four months now, I've had a complete mental block and for the most part it's still there.  I'm starting to think that the only way to break through it is to write.  Even though I don't know what I want to say to you anymore.  Even though I feel like my writing is now frivolous.  Even though I feel like it's not important, that it doesn't matter, and that I really don't know anything after all.  I'm going to do it, I'm going to write because afterwards I always feel better.

Four and half months ago, on October 11, 2013, my cousin and friend, Lisa passed away.

I feel like nothing has been the same since.

Since then I have been processing and asking and avoiding and crying and wondering.  I've asked 'why' and slowly come to terms with the fact that there is no answer for that question.

I've blamed God, I've thanked God and I've begun to realize that when it comes to matters of life and death, God is not picking and choosing, it's just the natural cycle of coming in and out of our world.

This would be a lot easier if Lisa had been a terrible mother.  She was the greatest mother.
This would be a lot easier if Lisa had been an awful wife.  She was the most loving wife.
The most loving daughter, friend and cousin.

She hosted my bridal shower.  When you were born she hosted my baby shower and gave you your wooden table and toy box.  She is Jack's Godmother.  She loved having the family Christmas at her house every year and still used the place cards that Teghan wrote when she was just a little girl.  She organized an amazing golf tournament to raise money for the Hospital for Sick Kids. She made the best Slush and martinis.  She loved baseball and Zumba.  She loved dressing up at Hallowe'en.  She did everything she could for her kids.  She planned family vacations.  She put her family first.

Some days I still can't believe she's really gone.

I had pictured the two of us having each other when our parents are gone.

She was supposed to be at your wedding.

She was supposed to be there at every step of Teaghan and Chris' lives.

She and Bruce were supposed to grow old together.

So you're probably waiting for the "Something Profound" part.  I was watching a movie the other day and they were interviewing a grief counselor, he said that "grief is love's unwillingness to let go".  It's true, it's so hard to move beyond grief when I don't want to let her go.  I want to see her this summer.  I want her to come again at Easter so we can do another egg hunt outside.

But, then I ask myself, what would Lisa want me to do?

She would want me to love life fully just like she did.  And I can't love life fully if I'm stuck in this hole of grief.

Then I ask myself, what would I tell you to do if you lost someone you loved.

I would say "Claire, you have to love the person enough to let them go.  Let yourself have peace.   Remember them with an open heart of love and joy and not one of resentment and bitterness."

I'm not at the part yet where I can be grateful of the life she lived, even though it was an amazing life, i'm just not there.  But I will get there, I will let go, and I'll do it a little more each day.  Lisa loved reading this blog so I will keep it up and remind myself that nothing, done from your heart, is meaningless.

Love you Claire,

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Breast Milk v/s Formula...The Real Truth

Dear Claire,

Lately, and by lately, I mean the last fifty years, the debate of breast milk v/s formula has raged on.

Lots of pressure being put onto mothers regarding their choice (or not!) of how their baby will be fed.  Studies showing that it doesn't matter, studies showing that one is better than the other, studies showing that one will make your baby smarter, study after study after study.

I wonder, will this pressure still exist when you (maybe) have children????

I just want you to know, all the studies are wrong.

I had an epiphany last night while you were in the bath and I realized the liquid that actually makes kids smarter.

It's the bath water sucked out of the face cloth.

That's right. You heard me, the bath water sucked out of the face cloth.

Both your Auntie Andrea and I did this obsessively and between the two of us we have five university degrees, so clearly, it's the bath water that really makes kids smart.

It all came to me in a flash of dirty-water brilliance when I saw you lapping it up in the bathtub yesterday.

So don't worry about what you feed your baby, breast milk or formula, they'll turn out just fine.  Well, just mediocre.  If you really want a smart kid, better get them chugging that bath water a.s.a.p.

There, now you can relax and just enjoy your baby, whatever she/he is drinking.

Love Mom

Monday, April 22, 2013

Claire's Forensic Portrait

Dear Claire,

Lately this video has been circulating the internet in a big way:

After watching this (and tearing up like every other woman!) I immediately thought of you, my little beauty.

Right now, I'm sitting with an imaginary forensic artist.  This is what I have told her so that she can draw you perfectly.

1. Claire is three-feet tall, this is the perfect height for reaching counter tops, peeking out windows, and riding a tricyle.

2. Claire has dark brown hair that flows to-and-fro when she runs outside, goes down slides, and goes way up high on a swing.

3. Claire has happy-shiny eyes that have a beautiful sparkle radiating from them.  They especially shine everytime she sees someone she loves, small animals, and jumps on her bed.

4. Claire has a cute nose that seems to be very good at smelling any kind of baked goods.

5. Claire has a perfectly shaped mouth and lips and she often turns her tongue into a taco.  She is extremly skilled at making her mouth do strange things like opening super-duper wide, making click-clack sounds, and getting chocolate and candies to disappear in it.

6. Claire has two very nice strong arms.  She can carry almost anything she tries, she can pull herself up on to the play equipment, and she can give great, big, long, wonderful hugs.

7. Claire has a great tummy and back, she can roll around on them, bend to do summersaults, and enjoys being tickled on either. Most importantly, Claire's beautiful heart is safely nestled between them, ready to give kisses at any request.

8. Claire has two strong legs that make her run fast, jump high, and dance happily wherever she goes.

9. Claire has ten perfect toes that she likes to be counted and tickeled every now and then.

10. I almost forgot!  Claire has the most wonderfully shaped head in the world!  It is perfect at containing the best part of her - her brain!  Her brain is fantastic, too amazing to be drawn accurately!  It holds all of her great ideas (dressing dolls, playing house, going on adventures), it is home to her talents (making people laugh, doing puzzles, colouring,) and displays all of her feelings (happy, excited, grumpy when she gets her hair brushed).

This is how I see you...I hope you see yourself the same way :)

Love Mom

Monday, April 15, 2013

Risk It Baby!

Dear Claire,

When it comes to work, your mom, is a mini-risk-taker.  That's right, for the most part, I've followed pretty safe and traditional paths. I've always done what i've enjoyed, but never in a crazy, over-the-top, wild and throw all caution to the wind kind of way.

But here's the really weird thing.  When I have taken risks at work, they've always worked out in my favor.

Oddly enough, out of my four teaching positions, I only knew what one of them really was, when I accepted the job!

Being willing to dive into the unknown is what has kept me feeling challenged, what has stretched my learning, and was has forced me to rise to the occasion again and again.

In only nine years of teaching I have been willing, excited, and able to change.  Able to go with the flow.  Able to embrace newness.  Able to learn as I go.  Able to invent and create.  Able to fail and then learn from those experiences.

So DIVE IN!!!!    It will all work out in the end because it's your instinct to swim.

Love you when you're brave,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Let Me Count the Ways

Dear Claire,

I think all mothers would agree that having children changes your life in so many ways.  You go from seeing movies, hanging out at Starbucks, and having room in your back seat to spending most evenings at home, having to make plans ahead of time and having the back seat of your car filled with car seats, toys, and random crumbs.

But you, my sweet and lovely girl, have changed me in the most wonderful ways, let me explain.

#1. Before you, I thought work was simply what you did during the day.  I thought it was something you got paid for and that you got days off.  Now I know that having kids is real work.  That you don't get a coffee break, that you're on-call 24/7, and that all the motivation is intrinsic.

#2.  Before you, I used to call my students' parents and talk to them like I really knew their kid!  Crazy!  Now I completely recognize that I know a little speck of their child, I know only how they are in my class and it doesn't reflect their whole child at all.  I am, thanks to you, a much gentler teacher now.

#3.  Before you, I used to feel sorry for kids when they were being bullied; now I feel worse for their mothers.  Now that I have you, I can't imagine you being bullied, or picked on, or made to feel small.  I feel like it would break my heart and my heart breaks for all the moms (and dads) who's kids are made to feel this way.

#4. I used to think in a much more 'black and white' way when it came to parenting.  Things used to be either right or wrong, this way or that.  Now I feel like there are grey areas everywhere, and parenting is just a guessing game.

#5. I used to be hard on people.  I used to be more judgemental.  I used to dislike more people.  Now I just feel more love and see the child in everyone and how they came to be the way they are.  You have made me more accepting.

#6.  I used to think mothers were crazy.  Why are you so worried about where your kid goes to daycare?  You're spending how much on your kids activities?  What do you mean your kid won't sleep in past 7am?  Who cares what you kid will or won't eat?  Turns out, they're not so crazy after all.

Love you Claire...I'm sure you've got a lot more Mommy-Makeovering to do, especially in those teen years!
Love Mom

Monday, February 25, 2013

Claire, Our Little Player

Dear Claire,

This weekend you had this conversation with Daddy in the car:

Daddy: "I love you Claire."

Dead Silence

Daddy: "I love you, I love you, I love you Claire."

Dead Silence

Daddy: "Claire?"

Claire: "I heard you Daddy."


That's right girl, you're young, keep 'em guessing!

Love Mom