Friday, March 8, 2019

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Tired

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Tired.

My son, clearly a shill for the patriarchy, woke me up at 4:30am. He came into bed and said, "Hi, Mama. Hug, Mama?" It has been so many hours since 4:30am.

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Guilty.

We have made it through our whole roster of Daniel Tiger. We are sick and exhausted and there is no Daniel Tiger, I AM Daniel Tiger. He is me. Meow meow, Toots. Ugga mugga. A better mother would have...

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Scared.

I will start the new job and I am scared I'm too stupid, now. I miss things, now. And I'm told that being a mother makes me an asset, but I'm not sure I see that, now.

I am scared I'm not enough and I am scared I'm too much. I am definitely too much, this I've been told. I am scared I have failed my son and he will miss me during the day and that I'm making the wrong choices, always the wrong choices, and the stakes are so high.

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Privileged.

I will never know the experience of BIPOC women and yet I will continue to benefit from their labour. My rights as a woman were earned on their backs. My voice is louder and more respected. I have more than most of the world but it never feels like enough.

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Disliked.

I am too loud, I am inappropriate, I am insensitive, I am annoying. I am distasteful. I am a burden. I am invalid. People don't like how I walk through the world.

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Ignored.

I am too old and fat to be considered a sexual prospect, too young and blonde to be considered an authority.

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Hungry.

Hungry for food, hungry for acknowledgement, hungry for travel, hungry for rest, hungry for justice, hungry for change. They make lollipops that suppress hunger now. To remind us that hunger is shameful.

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Aching.

Aching for another minute with my child. Aching for another minute alone. Aching for another minute with my partner where we do not discuss schedules or errands or cleaning or taxes or or or or or

Happy International Women's Day, I Am Angry.

My tolerance for bullshit is low. I'm losing friends and ruining parties. But I only have pictures of me smiling.

Happy International Women's Day.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Moment of Silence

A moment of silence for the relentlessness of parenthood.

A moment of silence for sleeping in.

A moment of silence for my once perfectly symmetrical breasts.

A moment of silence for the noise, the banging, the shuffling, the breaking of glass, the whining, the cry in the middle of the night.

A moment of silence for the weight of his small body lying on mine, the soft skin of his belly brushing up against my arm.

A moment of silence for staying up too late.

A moment of silence for every moment I wish for my old life back.

A moment of silence for the gasp as I see him fall, the slow motion of his head hitting the ground, the rush over to him, his arms clinging around my neck. A moment of silence for his sobs into my shoulder. The check for blood.

A moment of silence for the way he shouts "Mama!" when he hears me walking through the door.

A moment of silence for my career. For the lack of acknowledgement, the lack of care, the lack of space.

A moment of silence for my marriage, for what it used to be, for learning how to reinvent it.

A moment of silence for travel.

A moment of silence for his cuddling noise, "Bbbbbbb", as he nuzzles his head into my arm.

A moment of silence for my vocabulary.

A moment of silence for the ceaseless chatter as I crouch next to him on the potty, fruitlessly.

A moment of silence for the hours of work planning the birthday party he will not remember.

A moment of silence for being his favourite person in the world.

A moment of silence for the endless, fleeting, days. For the hours I try to fill.

A moment of silence for the way he shoves his hand up my sleeve when we cuddle.

A moment of silence for the weeping when I think about him leaving one day. For the fear of not knowing where he'll be or if he's safe.

A moment of silence for the hours we spend looking at photos of him after he's fallen asleep.

A moment of silence for his perfect bedhead.

A moment of silence for not knowing what to do.

A moment of silence.

Photo by Sharalee Prang

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dear Small Boy: On Your Birthday

It was a snowy December.

It snowed while we waited for you to arrive. We took midnight walks along the path, urging you to get moving, our boots crunching and the light from the street lamps making the ground sparkle. The branches were weighted with snow and I walked slowly, slowly because you were so heavy inside me and I didn't want to slip. Every night we knew that our walk might be the last one before you came.

We lay on the couch next to the fireplace with our stockings hung with care, three stockings, watching Saturday Night Live and big clumps of flakes falling outside, waiting, waiting.

I wanted you to be born before Christmas, you see. I was terrified you'd come on Christmas Day and your birthday would be ruined forever.

The day before you came I woke up early and I knew. I let daddy sleep and I got up and baked butterhorns while the light came through the kitchen windows and the snow fell and slowly, slowly you started making your way to us.

You got closer and closer and the snow kept falling and we pulled out all of the Christmas movies to watch, one after another, to distract me from my body getting ready. When I couldn't be distracted anymore we got in the car and drove through icy roads in the dark and I shouted and punched the car window and daddy carefully, carefully got us to the hospital. That car ride felt like hours and hours and hours.

When we got to the hospital I shouted and cried and cracked the respirator of the laughing gas because I bit it so hard. Finally I got some relief and the room got calm and quiet and we were ready for you.

             You waited until the wee hours to arrive and then all of a sudden you were here.

We couldn't wait to bring you home so we got an early check-out, on your birthday. Tiny, sparse flakes fell in the darkness as we carried you out into the world in your car seat. We buckled you in and drove slowly, carefully, home.

You are scary and exquisite. You are joyful and fun and precious and every moment with you is fleeting. You are almost always inconvenient. You are a wonder and a glory. You came to me in winter, making my life more complicated and frightening and beautiful. You are the snow to me.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Will Not Fail Her

"You look like you're going to have another baby", my 5-year-old niece says casually.

I pause. I'm not prepared. I glance at my 7-month-old baby playing on the floor. I regret my outfit choice.

"Oh, really?", I say, keeping my voice as measured as possible.

"Yeah, look like you're going to have another baby", she says a bit louder. Conversationally.

I pause again. I'm not prepared. I lick my wounds. I look down at my stomach. I really regret my outfit choice. I think about the weight I've gained since the birth. I think about the cookies I brought. I think about how I used to look, how I thought I'd look, how nothing fits the same and my body doesn't feel like my own. How embarrassed I am. What a cliché I am. I'm still pausing. And then I think,

I will not fail her.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dear Small Boy #7: This is Hard

Dear Small Boy,

This is hard.

Sometimes I get so angry so quickly. It surprises and frightens me. I want to yell at you and apologize to you at the same time, and the irony is that you don't understand either. Sometimes I hold you close and cry and whisper, "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry" in your ear because I keep making mistakes, I keep losing my patience, and I know there is no end in sight.

I walk into your room for nap time like I'm preparing for battle. You hate to go to sleep. You hate to stay asleep. It is, by far, the worst thing about you, the dark spot in your sea of smiles and giggles and curiosity, and I spend hours every day thinking about it, theorizing, strategizing, and when you are finally asleep at night I lie awake, fruitlessly dissecting it. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dear Small Boy #6: On Mother's Day

📷 Sharalee Prang

Dear Small Boy,

Motherhood is damp.

I don't wear my wedding ring anymore. Breastmilk gets underneath it and it's sticky and I can't properly get it out when I wash my hands so it bothers me all day.

Motherhood is damp with everything you can imagine. First with water and blood, then with breastmilk and puke and tears and pee and drool and sweat and formula and poop and more blood and more puke and OH SO MUCH PUKE. How much could there be? Always, always, more. Motherhood is constantly damp.

Dear Small Boy, morning is my favourite time of day because you are so happy and giggly and funny. Nighttime is my favourite time of day because you have gone to sleep and I can breathe, breathe, breathe.

Motherhood has turned me into a pile of contradictions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Dear Small Boy #5

Dear Small Boy,

Dear Theodore,

You came into the world on a cold, snowy day. You came after swearing and punching of the car window and some movie-level-drama emergency room screaming. You came after I baked butterhorns in the kitchen and rapped Hamilton in the bathtub through contractions. You came in a quiet, calm room with Bob Dylan playing and your Daddy and Auntie nearby. You came quickly, quicker than I thought, everyone in the room was surprised and scrambled into action, and when they placed you on my chest I asked, "Is this our baby?"

I felt you come out, I felt your body slip through mine, I felt how you were still attached, and I felt your weight on me as I asked, "Is this our baby?" 

You felt bigger than I thought you would. You looked different than I thought you would. You have blonde hair and a dimple on your right cheek just like me. You knew right away what to do and you latched on and stroked my hand and I looked down at you and asked, "Is this our baby?"