Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the tag “Sadness”

The One I Am Leaving Behind

No, I'm taking this one.

We are moving in a month and my feelings are on a seesaw. As much as I’m anxious to set up in our new home, I feel like a shadow is chasing me. Unwelcome thoughts of loss poking into the edges of my mind.  A baby blanket draped over the banister turned, out of the corner of my eye, into a child standing with bare legs. When I looked again, there was nothing but shadow.  I feel like I am losing someone, and I realized that I am: this house.

It always surprises me how human inanimate objects can become to us — well, to me.  Just like a friend or family member, this house has a personality. It is much more than just a backdrop to our memories, it has become a silent partner in many of those memories. How many times has someone told you a story about someone, only to have the surrounding architecture play a pivotal role in the outcome? And just like any family member, I’m blind to some of its worst faults, I make excuses for its bad design and location, but a minor quirk will drive me nuts and lead to complain constantly about it to my friends (the poor choice of tile colour comes to mind here.)

Did I miss my last house — our first house — this much?  The answer was always no, until I was scanning some old photos and I realized that I don’t miss it because part of me has never left.  I just haven’t been there for a long while.  I know it’s irrational, but I’m sure that the kitchen’s still yellow, and the curtains and rod we bought on sale right after we married are still hanging in the basement, and all our pictures are still on the walls.  If I walked in and found it all changed, I think I would faint!

The landscape of the man made world is just as real as a physical landscape but so much less reliable.  I can recognize peaks of mountains we’ve hiked by in 100 year old photographs, but I don’t even know if our second floor Vancouver apartment is still standing.  What happened to the tiny oven, the green bathroom, the double closets in the living room?  Are the anchors of my memories hanging in the breeze 12 feet up?  Stuck between two floors in a new upscale condo?  Or are they still there growing more decrepit with each passing year?

I said good-bye to the physical shell of this house while cleaning and polishing before the first buyers walked through.  But our home was much more than just a building.  It became it’s own emotion, almost like a member of the family who was always there, and part of everything that happened — good, bad and mundane.  And it’s that part that I am having trouble parting with.  I suppose it will always live on inside my memories and pictures, and through stories that start “Remember when…”  And it will have a new job to play in the lives of the family that will soon, well, call it home.

So here’s to houses past, present and future, and to the special place they hold in our hearts.  Though we may be long gone, you dear buildings, are not forgotten.

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.

Have Yourself a Little Bit Sad Christmas

It’s Christmastime around here, and that means one thing — cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.  Between decluttering to make way for whatever Santa brings, and the scrubbing and polishing everything else to get ready for Christmas Day company, I’ve had my arms elbow deep in Murphy’s Oil Soap for a week.  All this is made harder by the constant cry of “Don’t go in there!”  whenever I venture toward a closed door or closet.  With 8 people exchanging gifts, the entire house becomes one big booby trap of secreted packages.  One of our Christmas morn traditions is the game “Guess where I hid it?”  I still win with my husband’s 40th Birthday Present.  I merely wrapped the 2′ by 3′ box in colourful paper and placed it on the shelf overhead of his work area.  Here it sat for two or three weeks, in plain sight, as he typed daily at his computer below.  Well, at least I can’t accuse him of wasting time while he’s working, staring at anything but his computer…

This Christmas has me a little pensive, too.  Not regretful or sorrowful, but a bit sad.  As 2011 comes to a close, I realize that another year with my young ones has also slipped pleasantly by.  While I am no big fan of the baby stage, as I made painfully clear in my post on walking 3 kids to school in 90km/hour winds, I still can’t believe that my little baby is closer to 1 year old than she is to being a newborn.  This September will also usher in a new phase for this big brood Mom.  Princess will be 5 and starting Kindergarten.  In 8 short weeks I will be attending the school’s Open House, and filling out her registration papers.  And that first fall day that I walk her into her classroom, will also mark the first time I have the majority of my kids out of the house during the day, rather than at home with me.

2012 will be a year of firsts — and a year of lasts.  This time next year, Tall Girl will be gearing up to attend Junior High Information Nights with us.  The first of our children to leave Elementary School.  But it will also be a year of packing up baby clothes, and sending maternity wear to the local thrift shop.  Baby will stop needing to be rocked to sleep this year.  Big Boy will learn how to zip his own jacket.  Someone will take off her training wheels.  I’ll be hands on mothering just a little big less.

This makes be both happy and sad.  I know many Moms make a joke or a boast about how they’re “done with that.”  And trust me, I get what they mean.  But I still treasure the warm hands in mine, or the little boy who just needs a hug.  These milestones come and go, and you don’t even realize that suddenly, you have a Tween in your house, who listens to strange music, and get’s pinched by the boy sitting next to her.  It was just 5 years ago that you packed her first snack for Kindergarten, and walked her to the bus stop.  Now she’s telling me she wants a bikini, and to dye her hair blue “temporarily.”

That’s why this Christmas season, I know now that no matter how many times the camera clicks, the glasses clink, the children squeal, that no matter how “perfect” the moment is, it’s all fleeting, tomorrow’s memories.  So with all the joy, there is ever the slightest tinge of sadness, because I know that the moment, however wonderful, can’t last.  So no matter what, I will have a Merry Christmas.   Why?  Because all this passing of time has helped me realized that happiness isn’t something you achieve, it’s something you have.  And I have it in spades.

Plus I made two loaves of my kick-*ss Light Cherry Orange Fruitcake.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

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