the empty nest

my full nest

my full nest

I’m obsessing about The Empty Nest.  This will be boring to those not looking straight into the barrel of this life transition.  Even though I now have two adult children, ages 18 and 21, the idea of mourning for my leaving children coupled with an identity crisis seemed distant to me up until exactly two weeks ago.

Then BOOM.

On Monday, my eldest son informed me he was moving to LA in two days.

On Tuesday, my daughter told me she’s moving out with her boyfriend on September 1.

Since this is too fresh to analyze (well, I attempted a post, but it was mostly about birds), I will lean on others to offer wisdom for me.  Oddly, my own children’s transitions have coincided with the American phenomenon of sending away children to college in the fall.  So there’s a wealth of essays for me to draw upon.

Here is a perfectly constructed quote from Randye Hoder in the New York Times Motherlode that sums up the whole damn thing really well:

She is well on the road to adulthood, & from this, she will never return – Randye Hoder, Struggling to Let Go of My College-Student Daughter

The aptly-named Grown and Flown blog by Mary Dell and Lisa Endlich is now my bookmarked encyclopedia on this subject.  I’ve harvested my favourite Empty Nest quotes from their post called 8 Best of the Empty Nest:

  1. No surprise, Anna Quindlen wrote a beautiful piece ten years ago that is still relevant today.  She says:  No, not the writing job–the motherhood job. I was good at it, if I do say so myself, and because I was, I’ve now been demoted to part-time work. Soon I will attain emerita status. This stinks.
  2. Parenthood offers many lessons in patience and sacrifice. But ultimately, it is a lesson in humility. The very best thing about your life is a short stage in someone else’s story. And it is enough.  -Michael Gerson in Saying Goodbye to My Child the Youngster.
  3. Madeline Levine says in After the Children Have Gone: It is a pleasure to remember that it is not a form of abandonment but an expression of a job well done — and is something to keep in mind as we move back into the center of our own lives, in ways that will make our children proud. 

I will continue my fixation on information gathering, but I believe I will not be able to reflect upon this phenomenon until I am safely on the other side.  One revelation I have had is:  This is not about me.  This is about my kids.  I put on my brave face as I help my daughter pack up moving boxes, and retreat into the bathroom to shed private tears.   I’ve been so proud of NOT being a helicopter parent, but now I’m a puddle on the floor.  I seriously have got to get my shit together.

the summer list

IMG_5079Since I own my own company, I can take time off whenever I want.  I love this autonomy, although I do not get paid for vacation, which hurts the next month when my paltry invoice payments come in.  I’m not complaining.  For our family’s life, this flexibility is worth it.

Every spring, I start vibrating about arranging summer childcare for Aaron.  For my clients do not halt work over July and August, and I need to be available to them.  Each April, I lie awake at night, contemplating our options:  regular babysitter, day camp (segregated where I don’t need to hire an aide, or inclusive where I do), lean on older siblings, take conference calls in the bathroom on mute with kids screaming in the background.  None of these options are appealing for the entire eight weeks that is summer vacation.

Two years ago, Aaron had a really challenging year in Grade 3.  So much so that we sold our house and moved in order to get him into a more welcoming school setting.  I will admit to running away that year on the school break.  We packed up our vehicle, and took off for a month long road trip to Idaho, Washington State and British Columbia.  We stayed at a lake cottage, a winery, a yurt and a water buffalo farm.  It was really awesome to have no schedule and all that time together as a little family.  We took Aaron’s lead on activities, and splashed around at beaches and in pools, went to drive-in movies, and ate a lot of burritos.

When we returned, with the month remaining, we started a Summer List.  This helped me feel like we had a sense of purpose to the long summer days at home.  Aaron would help create the list, and each day we would pick one thing a day that we wanted to do.  

Over the past two summers, we’ve tinkered with the Summer List.  This year, Aaron is 11.  He is now very specific about what he wants to do.  Fort Edmonton?  NO.  Corn Maze?  NO.  Instead he replaces these with an infinite number of movies, mini-golfing, go-karting, meeting Dad downtown for a hot dog lunch, KFC picnic in the park, LRT train ride and Telus World of Science. Fair enough.  It is his Summer List, not mine.  (Mine would look something like:  Walk.  Bookstore.  Movies.  Pedicure.  Drink wine with friends. Date with husband. Repeat).  This is important:  we only pick one thing off the Summer List a day.  Sometimes we do nothing at all.  We have opted out of doing the busy thing.

We supplemented that with a week at a truly inclusive summer camp (thank you, University of Alberta), where the staff was trained to work with all types of kids.  His eldest sister hung out with him while I attended the occasional work meeting.  This, coupled with a month in British Columbia lying on a floatie on a lake, has filled up the Summer of 2014.

There are ten days left in summer.  Aaron is downstairs, slowly eating his Cheerios and nectarines and watching Spiderman on his iPad.  We are not missing the morning school rush, which is a complex process that includes pulling him out of bed in the morning, setting the timer, having a contest to see who gets dressed first, combined with bribes, threats and pleading to get him out the door in time.

I’ll have lots of time over our cold harsh winter to catch up on work while Aaron is at school.  Having two adult children reminds me that this time with Aaron is not forever.  One day, he, too will move out and leave our nest.   As the great George Harrison once said:  All there is ever, is the now. Each day is a precious gift.  Let’s govern ourselves accordingly.

your mom resume

I am catching up on my stack of newspapers that piled up while we were on holidays.  There was a super essay published last month in the New York Times by Lisen Stromberg called The Not-So-New-Mother: Finding Balance.

I so appreciate any writing about women’s work that isn’t black and white.  The black being:  Go back to work!  Don’t lose your career! And the white being:  Stay at home with your kids!  Look after your house!

Life instead presents us with infinite shades of murky grey.

Lisen Stromberg shares her experience struggling with the paid work question when she had children.

But I was paralyzed, unable to find clarity on what was right for me.

This is the way it is for most of us.  We struggle with our decisions, no matter what they are, but hopefully find peace with them.  Or if we don’t, we creatively adjust our working arrangements.

When I meet a mom, I am careful to ask, not ‘do you work?’ but ‘do you work outside the home?’ I firmly believe that if you are at home, you still work.  It is just not paid. So I’ve always used the terminology: paid work and unpaid work.  This is to value all types of work, whether it is paid or not. Paid work is self-explanatory, but can include regular full-time, part-time, casual, or irregular contract work.  Unpaid work includes caregiving of all types (children and other loved ones), volunteer work, and work tending to the home.

Let us consider our own journeys navigating work after we have had children.  The results may be interesting, and not as linear as we might think.  Yes, there are some women who go back to their full-time position after maternity leave, and others who purely are at home full-time with their children.  But there’s a lot in between.  

Here’s what my Mom Resume looks like:

1993 – Kid #1 is born.  Take 6 months’ maternity, but then quit to stay at home full-time.

1995 – Old boss calls me up and says, “are you ready to go back to work?”  Husband and I switch – he stays home, I go back to work full-time for a year and a half.

1996 – I get pregnant with kid #2.  Husband’s search for work necessitates a move two provinces away.  We move there for his job, and I stay at home for the next 4.5 years.  Unpaid work includes:  being involved with a national group called ‘Feminist Mothers at Home’, building a new community of support in a city where we know nobody, volunteering at school, and becoming a volunteer La Leche Leader.

2000 – Marriage #1 breaks up.  I have no paid job.  I slowly start freelance writing, but $25 per book review for our local paper is not paying my bills.  I take in children for before and after school care in my home to cover my mortgage.

2001 – I move to Norway with my children to live with a family and their three children.  I look after all five kids during the day, and then have the evenings free to write.

2002 – I move back to Canada with my kids, but arrive in the city where their dad has moved where I again have no paid job and no place to live.

2002 – Despite being out of the paid workforce for 6 years, I have kept in touch with paid work contacts, and have volunteer work in my arsenal.  The Job Gods shine down on me, and I secure a full time, well paying government contract.  My kids are now in kindergarten and grade 3.  They go to pre and after-school daycare in their school.

2003 – Marriage #2.  I am pregnant with Kid #3, take an early maternity leave, but still plan to return to my full-time job.  During that time, I decide to pursue more freelance writing, mostly in the world of food.  I also start up a food blog. I get regular writing gigs with a food magazine.

Kid #3 is born, and surprise, he has Down syndrome!  The time after his diagnosis is a blur of grief, looking after a newborn who won’t eat, attending tons of medical and therapy appointments, tending to his four young siblings, generally freaking out and having to make a decision about my job.  I decide not to return full-time to the paid position.

2003 – 2012 – Over the next 11 years, I start up a mom’s group for moms who have babies with Down syndrome.  I co-found and coordinate a formal peer support program with our local support society for 9 years.  I present to health professionals about the value of peer support.  I start becoming involved with the patient and family centred care movement – first as a volunteer on a Family Advisory Committee and then in a paid, part-time/contract/work at home position as a Family Centred Care Consultant.  I volunteer a lot when Kid #3 starts school.  I am on the Board of our support society.  I go to Down syndrome conferences, and present at international conferences about peer support.  I continue to write for food magazines, and then move into health writing.  I get a paid gig writing proactive health stories for our health authority.  I have other writing clients on the side.  I start writing and presenting more about patient centred care, and even travel to Australia for a speaking gig.

All this is a jumble of paid and unpaid work.  I never make a full time wage, and have the good fortune to have a financially and emotionally supportive husband.   We engage all sorts of pieced together, part-time childcare for Kid #3 – university students, older siblings, moms from his school, & a part-time twice weekly nanny.  Somehow it all works.

2012-present – My freelance writing business blossoms into a network of 13 communication folks.  I go to school to get a post-grad Professional Communication Management certificate.  I’ve never had an office all these years – working instead in my kitchen, in coffee shops, and now in an office in my home. Kid #1 has long graduated high school. Kid #2 has just graduated, and is working in her gap year.  Kid #3 is now 11, and heading into Grade 6.  We take the majority of the summer off to be with him and fill in with summer camps and babysitters in between.  Every year I have summer work/childcare anxiety, and every year it has somehow works out.

2014 – My nest is emptying out and my identity is currently a work in progress.

Writing this Mom Resume has been an interesting exercise.  If you had asked me before about working and being a mom, I would have said, well, I’ve mostly been at home with my kids, and I did some freelancing on the side.  But you can see that my journey has been more complex and twisty than that.  I bet yours has too.

Lisen’s first child is the same age as my second child – they both have graduated from high school.  As she reflects with her ‘not-so-new-mother’ friends who have children of the same age, she realizes that there they have all taken unique paths in their previous 18 years of motherhood.

You can be a mother and still rise to the top of your industry, and you can take time out to focus on family and still migrate back into rewarding, paid work.

I challenge you to sit down and write out your Mom Resume since you had children.  I bet you will be both impressed and surprised at your inventory of work.  And no matter what work you’ve done paid/unpaid, you have also raised the next generation of human beings – and that’s a pretty significant job, don’t you think?

bird is the word

birdslove

My last name is Robins. Over time, I’ve learned to spell it like this: “R-o-b-i-n-s, like the bird,” for the double-b spelling is much more common. I have a single b, like the bird with the red breast, the one who gets up early to catch the worm.

Boys teased me in junior high, calling me both Robins, Tweet, Tweet and Suzie Homemaker. Our family gets very excited at weddings when they play the Chicken Dance.

My mom and dad work at a nature store and are experts of all things bird. My dad hosts the bird walk on Vancouver Island. He is a bird guru and steps in to calmly resolve rare bird identification disputes. Once I wrote a song about him called “How does it feel to be Neil” that included lyrics about watching owls on telephone poles.

My company is called Bird Communications. We’ve embraced all the bird lingo that goes along with that moniker, including naming our people Birds. Recently, a new addition to our group said, ‘thank you for birding me’ and so now we use bird as a verb. We flock together for projects, and then we migrate elsewhere when we are done. We donate human bird food (aka trail mix) to events. Our thank you cards have birds etched on them. One phrase we never use is ‘two birds with one stone.’ (Reference to killing birds is strictly off limits).

I’m resisting collecting items of a bird nature for fear of turning into the Bird Lady. I have limited myself to only one shirt with birds imprinted on it, but I’ve longingly admired many more dresses and sweater and tops decorated with swallows and chickadees. One day I will crack at Anthropologie, and then I will start wearing birds too.

There’s a bird feeder outside my window on the deck. I fill it with carefully sourced shelled sunflower seeds to attract the little twittering birds, and peanuts for the occasional blue jays. Our cats are restricted indoors to prevent bird massacres.

Last month, my youngest and I spent a birdy afternoon with my parents, watching the ducks and geese for a very long time paddle around Swan Lake, skimming the water for treats. We saw great blue herons diving for fish at the ocean. We witnessed a daddy osprey feeding his young high up in a nest, and a mama robin bringing sustenance to her chirping babies in their home in the eaves of a house.

I’ve built my own mama’s nest for my children, and now my nest is suddenly emptying out. I find myself gazing into the black hole of a life’s transition. Last week, my eldest son moved to LA. Next month, my daughter is moving out with her boyfriend. That leaves one chick left in my nest.

Mama birds feed their children and then teach them to fly. I’ll admit to feeling shocked that my children are actually flying away. I’ve flown headfirst into a glass window and am currently lying stunned on the ground below.  This emptying nest offers up a strange combination of emotions. My heart is bursting with pride at the same time it is breaking in two. I will miss them very so much, but I’ve finished the job that I was supposed to do.

My overwhelming hope is that my eldest children are flying away both knowing that they are deeply loved. For with that feeling under their wings, I know that they can conquer anything. Safe flights, my loves, wherever you may land.

weekly love, august 8

This week I have been thinking about simplifying my life and compassion and that’s really about it.  (And why do I have to wait until February 2015 for the new Game of Thrones season to be released on video).  Compassion in society, compassion in health care, compassion for those health professionals who work with our loved ones.

The Simple Life
Leo Babauta explains how living a simple life means letting go.

Compassion
Louise Kinross writes about understanding the perspective of health professionals in Every Time I See Her I Feel Guilt.

Oh my a conference about Compassion in Health Care in San Francisco.  CANADA WE HAVE TO CATCH UP.

Why oh why won’t the ‘R’ word go away?  Love that Max tackles this tired old issue head-on (you go girl).

This essay by Stephanie Adler Yuan eloquently explains the concept of narrative medicine, complete with some great references.

 

the power to be

IMG_4972

The Power to Be’s name pretty much sums up this organization.  Their vision is that nature is accessible to everybody.  They offer programs that encourage nature-based activities for people with a barrier or a disability.   Power to Be is based in Vancouver and Victoria, which are two of the most beautiful and nature-blessed cities in the world.

Today, just outside of Victoria, I watched a young lady with CP be lifted out of her wheelchair to kayak in the gorgeous open ocean.  My son joined her on an accompanying kayak with his Corrie.  Corrie is on a practicum placement with Power to Be to finish off her kinesiology degree.

The kids saw seals, crabs, and even a submarine from the nearby naval centre.  The sun shone down on them, and there was a soft breeze across the deep blue ocean water.

Aaron embarked on a six hour hike along a meandering ocean trail in Sooke on Tuesday, and this kayaking adventure on Friday. He is not a kid who is naturally drawn to nature.  We are not an outdoorsy family, and I blame my nerdy library girl self, and our 8 months of winter in Edmonton for this.  So this was a fabulous opportunity for the professionals to step in and offer him new experiences.  Life is for living, right?

I dropped him off with the staff and I wasn’t there, so I cannot report precisely on what happened.  But the lack of Mom is part of the point.  He’s 11 years old, old enough to be without his mother.  My older two kids were staying at home solo by this age.  Aaron is not ready for this, but we are fiercely pushing his independence this summer.  Is this in spite or because of his Down syndrome?  No matter.  Eleven year old boys do not hang out with their moms.

He’s been ordering for himself in restaurants, going to the bathroom solo, scanning all the groceries at self-check out and handling his own transactions in retail stores.  If we want him to be independent and move out one day, we must to stop holding his almost-teenage hand when he is crossing the street.

As Lou Stein wisely says about his own four year old son with Down syndrome, it is our job as parents to encourage confidence in our children.  Part of doing that is guiding our kids to do the things that they think they cannot do.  This is the only way they acquire confidence.

So Aaron and I boarded a plane to Victoria after our family vacation in Naramata.  The Power to Be was shockingly easy to sign up for.  I didn’t require a physician’s letter, or ok from our Family Support for Children with Disabilities social worker, or an interview process.  I sent in the simple registration forms and he was in.  They didn’t seem to care that he lived out of province.

One of the things that I really love about the Power to Be is their cost.  To keep things accessible for all people, we were asked to bring $10 per program.  Ten bucks. And if you had a hard time paying that, there was a subsidy.

In Alberta, an adapted horse riding program costs in excess of $300 a session.  We have to beg our social workers for approval to get our kids into other programs.  There are onerous screening processes to access services, where you have to emphasize what is wrong with your kid in order to get them in.  I hate all that.  None of these jump through the hoops processes make programs accessible to families.

So hurrah to Power to Be for being truly accessible.  Hurrah for their enthusiastic, friendly and knowledgeable staff.  They start each session with an opening circle, where everybody introduces themselves and answers an ice-breaker question as best they can.  The activity has a closing circle where the participants can express their favourite part of their day.

How I wish we had such a program in winter-heavy Edmonton.  I wish that classes weren’t segregated into types of disability or severity of condition, or by how well the parents can advocate for participation for their child, or by artificial age groupings.  I wish that our kids could participate with community kids so they could all learn from each other.

At Power to Be, nobody was freaked out by the girl in the wheelchair, or blinked an eye in response to my son’s silly rolling around on the ground.  Because a wheelchair, diagnosis or challenging behaviour should not be barriers to experience nature, should it?  Mother Nature-God-whatever spiritual being you believe in – says emphatically:  I created this beautiful Earth for everybody.

IMG_4928

weekly love, august 1

On holidays, spending an excessive amount of time floating on a floatie.

I am on holidays, spending an excessive amount of time floating on a floatie in a pink bikini.

Self-Care – Moms
I feel so passionately about all moms taking care of themselves.  For moms with kids with disabilities, this is extremely important for the good of your whole family.  How I’d love to start up a subsidized retreat for moms who have kids with differences – to connect them together for peer support, and to teach leadership and self-care skills.

Catherine St. Louis wrote a super piece for the New York Times called, When the caregivers need healing.  I think the key to our peace comes in this quote from the article:  “The idea is to stop wasting energy resisting the way life is.”

Ellen Seidman at Love that Max had a similar theme with her post called Taking Care of Yourself as a Mom.  I’ve realized that there is no glory in martyrdom.

Fatherhood
“My greatest role would be to encourage his individuality and confidence that he has a place in this world.”  A thoughtful audio piece from BBC from Lou Stein about how having a son with Down syndrome changed his idea of fatherhood.  (Thanks to Louise Kinross at Holland Bloorview for the link).

Body Acceptance
To my female friends – let’s stop hating our bodies.  I’ve spent the past month in a hot pink bikini.  Perhaps some might think I should be in a more modest one-piece black tank with a skirt with my my 46 year old, post three kids, jiggly stretch-marked body.   Too bad.  So I say hurrah for this piece called Cleaning the Mirror from Rachel Haas.

Inclusive Education
So many of us can sadly relate to the horrible, terrible school year.  For us, it was Aaron’s grade three year.  This is a reminder from the Equality for Gage blog to be grateful when things are going well (or even ok) because it could be much much worse.

weekly love, july 26

I’m still in holiday mode, alternating between my bathrobe and my bikini, but here’s the good stuff from this week:

Mothering

I absolutely adored the essay Notes from the Milk Cave by Sarah Menkedick, published in the Paris Review.  This is writing to aspire to.  Her beautifully crafted piece brought me right back 21 years ago, when I was sitting on my couch, nursing my newborn, pre-iPhone, with absolutely nothing to do except endlessly stare at his fuzzy little head.  It is exceptional to find writing like this that transports you back into time.

Andrea Nair wrote this smart article about falling out of “like” with your child.  She prescribes both empathy and practical advice – and yes, all you really need is love.

Motherhood & Disability

The title of Lisa Freidman’s piece is Our children aren’t broken – thoughts on how society treats disability.  In it, she quotes a mother of a young adult with Down syndrome, who says:  “How can I help or fix Katie? But Katie isn’t the one who needs to be fixed.”   This is such a profound sentiment, and an important essay.

The Squeaky Wheelchair blog is filled with super writing and wisdom about life, and yes, disability.  I like this post called:  The doctor was right about me - in it is an important message for health professionals:

Hey, Doc! You were right. I never walked. My CP is as severe as you said. But that’s OK, because you being “right” doesn’t mean that my life lost its value. Please tell other parents that it’s OK if you are “right” too about things like walking and talking, because you never said it had to mean an unhappy life. And if you once thought it did, I hope you see now that you got that part wrong.

Finally, here’s the transcript of Lia Temblay’s insightful speech on Mother’s Day, called On Being Joe’s Mom.

Health Care

Dr. Dennis Rosen wrote an essay for the New York Times Well Blog called, Seeing the child, not the disability.  The title speaks for itself.  I cannot tell you how much I agree with this sentiment.  This is the secret to patient and family centred care:  seeing the person first, and treating all people with respect and dignity.

Disturbing – Food

Yeah, my kid eats fast food sometimes, and here’s even more for me to feel guilty about.  

Fun – Food

We had some friends who are vegan over for a lunch last week.  I was scratching around the Internet to find good recipes.  So many food websites take themselves waaaay too seriously.  Thug Kitchen is profane, vegan, and is the first food blog that made me laugh out loud.  And their potato salad f****** rocks.

 

tightly wound since 1993

IMG_4817I know where I belong, and it is 11 hours and 25 minutes from where I reside.

I live in Edmonton, a dusty, but frantic, prairie city in the middle of Oil Country, Canada’s Texas.  We holiday in Naramata, a hippy village perched on the east bank of Okanagan Lake in beautiful British Columbia.  Naramata sparkles with a patchwork of vineyards, fruit orchards, and the clear water below.  My youngest son, age 11, announces:  “this place has a nice view, Mom!”  And so it does.

Naramata has been proclaimed a slow city, including all 2,000 inhabitants who are a motley mixture of peacocks, dudes in pickup trucks with big dogs, young French Canadians with dreadlocks, old left-leaning types (aka the locals), and the tony folks who own the million plus dollar houses on the Bench that nest over the tiny village.  All these diverse citizens do the same thing:  meander down the middle of main street, sleepily wave hello to each other, and playfully jostle for position in line for ice cream at the town’s only store.

We spend a chunk of each summer here.  We rent a friend’s mom’s place.  We housesit for my old boss.  We stay with my father-in-law across the lake in Summerland.   We will do anything to spend time in Naramata.  This year, we have rented a perfect little cottage in the flats, a two minute walk to the weekly farmers’ market and the pier, where Aaron climbs to the top railing and cannonballs into the smooth, clear water.

The cottage is obviously a grandma’s old house.  I wonder when she passed away.  The new owner has put in new lino and laminate.  The walls are painted a beachy light blue and yellow.  When we drive up, we shout with glee at the unexpected hot tub and fire pit.  I’m enamoured with the clothesline in the back, which isn’t allowed back in my Edmonton suburb.

There is an elderly lady living next door.  Rae is originally from New Zealand, and spends her days puttering in her garden.  She leaves baskets of warm freshly picked cherries on our back table.  One day she knocks on the door with two handfuls of raspberries in her garden-dirty hands.  These are only for you, she whispers.  I know how much work it is to be a mom.  My eyes tear up in gratitude.

Aaron laps up being unscheduled.  He gets up and watched Rio 2 on his iPad.  He sets up his ziplock bag of Batman and Shrek figurines and coordinates a dance party to Pitbull music.  He sits in his bedroom and reads anatomy books.  He wears his goggles in the hot tub and snorkels for invisible fish.  He gets dressed on his own, with no nagging from me at all.  He’s proudly figured out how to open a Fanta pop all by himself. He has me post pictures on his Facebook, all with a similar caption:  “I am the most awesome dude in the house.”  And that he is.

My newly-graduated daughter and her boyfriend arrive for a week.  We go floating on inner tubes in the river canal and shriek when we get seaweed stuck in our feet.   We take them to Salty’s in town for fish tacos.  We watch the salmon jump off the dam.  They go go-carting and spray each other on the bumper boats.  Ella and I go to the spa for leisurely massages.  Mike and I escape for twinkly-light and wine-filled evening with Joy Road Catering at the aptly-named God’s Mountain.  When the older teenagers leave for their own camping adventures, I feel the pang of missing them.  Ella has written, “Yay!  Holiday! Bye family!  Love you!  Have fun!” on the chalkboard in the kitchen.

We even have friends here.  We consume a goat-cheese and basil trout, charred vegetables and strawberry and rhubarb crumble feast with a food writer friend, her husband and their lively house guests up the hill.  My husband goes mountain biking with a work colleague, and he and his partner come over for a vegan spread of carefully chopped medley of watermelon, raw corn & mango and potato salads.  Our Edmonton pals have a boat and we zoom around a southern lake with them in the hot sun, while the kids jump off the boat and the moms supplement their coolers with extra vodka.

Here, the furrows leave my forehead.  My shoulder migrate from under my ears and settle back in their natural place.  I stop fretting about the next meal, or the cleanliness of Aaron’s face, or the sticky floors in the cottage.  My biggest concern becomes what should we pack for a day at the beach.  I’m only right here, in the moment, because that’s all I have, in this limited, precious time.

I’ve been tightly wound since 1993.  In Naramata, I finally, finally relax.  My only question now is this:  how do I bottle this Naramata nirvana and transport it back home?

 

weekly love, july 18

Here’s what I liked this week:

Motherhood
This Babble piece by Ellen Seidman is about raising kids who care about people with disabilities.  It is a good one.

I’ve been following the journey of Jacqui and Dan on Instagram.  Their little boy Ryan died tragically in June, and their story is one of sorrow and grace.

Kate Baer wrote a perfect essay about being tightly wound.  My kids are now 11, 17 and 20, but I’m STILL tightly wound.  I think that I became this way when they were little, and it is time that I figured out how to unlearn it.  Keeping focused on the moment really does help.

Woman Stuff
I love this Australian campaign called Embrace, to fund a documentary to promote women loving their bodies.  I think that it is never healthy for any woman to hate her body.   For those of us with daughters, the interviews of women describing their bodies is especially chilling.

Similarly, Calla Thomson Wright wrote an essay about loving Thunder Thighs.  This is an impressive piece of reflective writing from a writer of any age – but even more so because Calla is only 21.