Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Garbage Truck

I don’t have a good reason for not getting the garbage out today. We slept in, Geister fought me tooth and nail to get his dirty overnight diaper changed, and then complained about every piece of clothing I offered to him. But somewhere during our spar-and-parry routine of “Let’s-put-this-on NO!”, I heard the dreaded sound of the garbage truck on our street.
I ran to the front windows to check—no sight of it, but still, I could hear the sound of a heavy truck that was just out of my line of vision, and while it could be one of the many construction trucks in our neighbourhood it could also be the garbage truck.

I ran downstairs with Boo in one arm, calling to Geister as I flew past his room that I was checking if the garbage truck was here. This left Geister to howl, “But Mommy don’t leeeaave me.”
“Hold on, I’ll get you in a minute,” I yelled back, as I threw open the front door and saw that, indeed, there was the garbage truck a few houses down on the opposite side of the street, but coming our way. And I saw that technically our side was already done, but it’s a short stub street with no traffic, so what difference does “side” make anyway?
In a panic (because I really have to get this garbage out before we go away for two weeks) I ran to put Boo down somewhere (no gate, don’t have time to wedge it in the doorway), grabbed the bag of garbage with my free hand, and ran barefoot and in my pajamas out to the curb.

There, I’m sure they totally saw me. I’m sure they’ll get my garbage. And they see I have a baby in my arms, so they’ll have lots of compassion for me and make an extra effort to grab my one bag of garbage. And, once they’re directly in front of my house, they may even see that my toddler is standing, without pants on, at the front door. So, we’re good. No problem. Oh. Wait a minute. Maybe they don’t see me. Why are they driving past my house? Oh no. Are those teenage garbage boys actually looking at me now as they hang off the back of the truck, and round the corner out of sight? They’re going to act as if they didn’t see my mad dash to the curb in my pajamas with a baby and one bag and now I’m stuck with this garbage?????

I retreated inside.
“Mommy!” Geister said, with a serious and concerned expression, “They didn’t take our garbage.”
“I know.”
“Mommy the garbage truck came and it didn’t take our garbage. It’s so sad. It’s so sad that the truck didn’t take our garbage can I get my pants on?”

And so it was. The sight of a pajama-clad mommy, holding a baby, and running to the curb does not play to garbage collectors, at least today on my street.

Monday, July 09, 2007


I had more time to prepare for the idea of becoming a wife than I did for becoming a mother. Pregnancy lasts nine months; my engagement was a year long. I took two prenatal classes, and I would say at least three premarital classes. None of these stats matters though, or seemed to foretell which was going to be the more difficult transition for me: that of single girl to married wife, or that of child-free me, to being someone’s mother.

I admitted here to having a “huge” identity crisis when I got married, and then not when I gave birth. So this is my attempt to think about why this was so. First, I remember how true it was; I have an image of my new husband and I attending a small Bible study in our new town, and me deliberately sitting across the room from him so that no one would confuse us, as—I don’t know—one Borg-like unit. I never once shied away from claiming my new son as my own, however; the closer I could be to him in public, the better. I can’t imagine how odd it would have felt if someone hadn’t known I was his mother, if they had guessed I was his nanny or something. But during the early days of my marriage, it would have been fine if people had not immediately known my marital status, so that I could be a separate entity distinct from the guy I chose to sit across from. My husband, M. didn’t react this way at all. For him, the more he could throw around the phrase “my wife” the better. I could tell at times he was practicing it, that the words didn’t come naturally, but he always said it with some measure of excitement and pride, with a pause afterwards and a glance towards me as though seeing if I liked what he’d said.

I got married when I was 29. M. and I had been engaged for a year, and had dated for a year and a half before that. But the thing is, there is only so much time and energy you can spend on “Why are there no decent men?”, “Will I be single forever?”, and “Please Lord, don’t let the verse ‘Sing, O barren woman . . . because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband’(Isaiah 54:1) be a verse for me” without the singleness becoming an indelible part of who you are. The girls with the boyfriends, strangers. The girls bonding over why there are no guys, me. I remember one day at work, after university and after my year abroad, sitting in the cafeteria by myself and observing a table of married middle-aged women: they had mom hair and they had mom hips, but they had men. It wasn’t fair—I didn’t have mom hair or mom hips—and I resented them their good fortune, and my as yet unburgeoning one. But I didn’t see how I was going to be crossing to that side of the cafeteria any time soon, being such a single person and all.

On top of feeling generally somehow single, I craved independence and self-sufficiency. To this day, I have to have alone time on a regular basis or I lose my equilibrium. I saw marriage as a potential threat to these, even as much as I wanted to be married to my husband-to-be. I worried about negotiating my (solitary) needs with my new identity as wife, co-dependent: What is my space? What becomes our space? Before the wedding, M. moved some of his things over to the new apartment and placed his lab coats in the closet: to me this became the symbol of our space, which amazingly included his stuff too.

The wedding day came and went. You can’t tell from my wedding pictures that I didn’t believe any of it was happening, in that surreal kind of way brides can experience their own wedding days; I just looked happy, in fact, I looked happier than I’d ever been. Once the honeymoon was over, and we moved into our apartment, with his stuff, my stuff and our stuff, I had the luxury of standing apart from my marriage, and drawing inwards to myself, to have those moments when I could look at the fact I was married (really gobs of time to do this, since I was in a new town, knew no one, and was looking for a job). What resulted was a feeling that everything had changed while not much had changed. Eventually I got used to people knowing me as a married person without ever having had the chance to know the single me. I even got used to the words “my husband.”

When I became a mom, I didn’t have that luxury of standing back and ruminating (way too sleep deprived). But more than that, I accepted motherhood much more graciously. Even when a great representative of the me I used to be—my brother—watched me with my new son, and said incredulously, “Do you realize you’re someone’s mom?” I knew it was true, but so? Your point? The fact of motherhood didn’t rattle me a bit; the act of motherhood, well, quite a lot.

There is nothing like getting married and having kids to make one feel so changed and so ordinary, but ultimately so very (despite what Stats Can says to the contrary) happy. And it is possible, I find, to do these things—marriage and motherhood—with my own style, me-ness, and identity, rough hewn and still under development as it is.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Eight Things About Me

I’ve been tagged by Bub & Pie for this meme. These are the rules:

A. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.

B. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.

C. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

1. I’m a little over 5’8”.
2. INTJ, and that’s the story I’m sticking to.
3. My favourite new reality show is Age of Love. Have you seen it? It pits a group of women in their 40s against a group of women in their 20s in order that one woman from either group wins the affections of Mark Philippoussis, tennis star. I keep hoping for the 40-somethings because I’m closer to that stage of life than I am to my 20s (ah, the glorious 20s), but then again, I’m hoping for the 20-somethings because Mark has every right to want a family, and frankly he oughta go for a nubile woman. But then I hope for the 40-somethings because I so firmly believe in women marrying younger men (ahem), but then I hope for the 20-somethings because why not, they’re young, they don’t have kids or established careers, I'm sure they deserve something to get excited about.
I’m offended to think that the premise, I mean the whole show, wouldn’t work if the 40-year olds weren’t uncommonly beautiful (although I would say both groups are equally plastic). It’s like age doesn’t matter when it comes to love, but looks sure as heck do.
4. I can’t figure out why I liked Knocked Up (the movie) so much, when I found The 40-Year Old Virgin offensive, and not likeable. Lots of raunch, in both films. Do I forgive offensive content as long as it’s funny? Is this the human condition?
5. Getting married gave me a huge identity crisis; becoming a mother did not.
6. I’d rather be a t-ball mom than a soccer mom.

7. I hate dumb blonde jokes.
8. I’ve rediscovered The Watchmen. I listened to one of their CDs last week. I’d forgotten how much I like it.

There’s no way I know eight other bloggers who haven’t already been tagged by this, so I’m going to try something different. I’ll list some people who don’t know about this blog, and get them to visit.


Well, that’s three-quarters of eight.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Happy Birthday to Canada

. . . last year.

This year, too much running around finding stones and trotting them over to Grandpa to sit still; too much pine cone collecting, running circles in squeaky shoes, standing up in the playpen so as not to sleep, squealing and shouting at passing dogs, marshmallow roasting kind of fun, for a picture.