Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the tag “joy”

February Ashes

February discontent is rattling around my chest, blown by the icy wind to bump against my heart. Too many days inside, too little sunshine, no holidays, no presents, no big family dinners for months. Every year it’s the same thing at the same time. One professor I had announced to the lecture hall, that universities noticed an increase of suicide among students which peaked during the second month of the year. And spring break was born. That seems too cynical even to me, until I peer outside the window to see a sky the same shade of gray as the asphalt sidewalk.

It’s because of this that I so look forward to Ash Wednesday Mass, the beginning of Lent. It is probably my husband and my favourite. Why? First, it seems so Medieval — the immolated blessed palms from last year’s Easter season, turned into a remembrance of our mortality and sin, and marked on our foreheads. What modern would suggest doing that? It might hurt our self-esteem. Lead to anxiety.

Which also leads to the second reason: In this culture of Self Actualization, Self Realization, Who Ever Finishes with the Most Toys Wins, Shred It, Own It, I Did It My Way, and Branded People, it is refreshing to remember that no one is getting our of here alive. And it is beyond anyone’s ability to save her own soul. It is a stark reminder that everyone’s days, from the moment they take their first breath, are numbered and counted out, and that my life should not be taken for granted, and that my faith should not be taken for granted. It reminds me that what’s really important in life cannot be “achieved” through human will. And that Easter celebration will follow Lenten penance, like spring rebirth will follow winter’s long cold sleep.

Waiting is Empty

Waiting is an activity robbed of its activity.  Anticipation is waiting plus joy.  Dread is waiting plus fear.  But sheer waiting itself is empty.

But this is what we are doing now, with the house spic and span and the pictures on the Internet, we wait as the white and black For Sale sign swings on the front lawn.  And I ramble about the empty house with its echo, and scrub stray fingerprints off the barren fridge.  No pictures, no knick knacks, all the toys in bins.  Everything valuable is either pack in numbered boxes in the basement, or stuffed into a black gym bag to be stowed in the trunk of the minivan when someone comes to look.  Look at a house which is still ours, but may not be for long, or maybe ours forever.

The next item on the house selling project agenda: wait.

I went for a walk with Princess, Big Boy and Baby yesterday.  As I pushed the Chariot stroller down the icy sidewalks, and I looked up at the front room windows of my neighbours and I somewhat envied their state.  My emotions reminded me of sitting in the reception area while waiting to be called in for a job interview, as they employed nonchalantly moseyed by trying to get a look at who they might share a cubicle with.  Meanwhile, all I could think is how great it would be to be one of them, with a pass card and a paycheque.  Now here were all these  Not For Sale houses, and I imagined their toothpaste stained counters, stacks of personal papers and corners of unfinished projects, with no worry of someone calling an demanding entrance to peek in their most distant closet.

But at least the waiting has given me a chance to stop working at getting the house ready to wait, and I have had a chance to slow down with the kids again.  I realized that my parental skills had slipped this past month when today, Art Girl kept jumping up from lunch to play a musical accompaniment on the computer.  I finally got up to check what she was up to and found that she was jumping from game to game on the National Geographic Kids website.

This last month Princess changed the most.  Sometime in the last 4 weeks, she grew up.  I noticed it first at the restaurant on Tuesday when she confidently ordered a cheese pizza, carrots and chocolate milk from the waitress with no help from me.  Full eye contact, please and thank you.  Then today, I dropped her off at her preschool dance class.  I kissed the top of her head and she ran off into the room, and started leaping toes pointed, across the floor, her arms out, smiling.  She was wearing her hot pink and blue tutu tunic, with leggings covered in multi-coloured heart polkadots.  She looked like a deer in the sugar plum forest.  And it filled my heart with such joy that I could have stayed there all day and watched her and wept.   As I dragged Big Boy, Baby and myself back to the car, a lady passed by.  She looked up at the blue sky and sunshine.  “Isn’t it a glorious day?” she asked.  It was.

The problem with waiting, is wishing the now over, wishing the time to pass and the days to fall away.  With so little time on this earth, and so much to make us happy, it seems a sacrilege to wish it away, to pine for days ahead.  That’s why I see waiting as empty, and a waste.  So we will call this phase resting.  Because whatever the future brings, we will find some joy in it.

Something Found for Christmas

One of the many nice things about having kids hanging about at Christmas, is that they act like purifiers against the vapours of jadedness lingering around us adults. Take Tall Girl, for example. I took her out to a pancake house – just her and me – for a celebratory lunch. She ordered something called the “Cinnamon Stackers,” four pancakes “stacked” with cream cheese icing on top. She then criss-crossed four types of syrup back and forth. Finally, she dug in.

“Is that any good?” I asked, worried that she regretted her meal. That’s a whole lot of sugar, I thought. She stopped, looked me in the eye, and with a smile starting to to play at the corner of her mouth, answered:

“This is the most delicious thing ever!”

So with Christmas Eve upon us, I find I don’t have a lot of time for radio stations that want to play Post-Ironic Bobby and the Atheist Trio Re-interpret Christmas marathons. I’d rather hear a choir sing Alleluia.

Before I forget, this is the correct way to eat a gingerbread house.

Around here, we’re too busy to be bored with the holiday. Too busy checking out where Santa is the NORAD website.

Too busy writing letters.

To busy catching up on our baking.

As my tag line reads, I consider myself residually cynical. I find a weird solace smirking along to Leonard Cohen as he sings “Everybody Knows.” I look at my kids and their unbridled joy, and I know it can’t last. One day they’ll know what I do about what’s real, and they’ll smirk, too.

Or maybe they’re the ones that know what’s real, and I’m the one that’s forgotten.

Have a very blessed and Merry Christmas everyone!

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