Sunday, November 5, 2017

Random Compliment... So Appreciated

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We went out for dinner tonight... the Hubs, Baby D and me.

Baby D is always super stoked for the kids' treasure chest at Swiss Chalet because, well, free toys. Or, treasure I guess.

I am a disgusting fiend when it comes to that dipping sauce. I will dip anything and everything in that hot salty bath. It's revolting. I leave a trail of little dipping dishes behind me in disarray. The servers are exhausted from the excessive trips to the kitchen to fill my trough with the sauce. There can often be few survivors in my path.

But I digress.

When we arrived, Baby D was quick to survey the treasure box and to select a pack filled with jewelry. A rainbow bracelet, ill fitting ring, and sticker earrings lit her eyes up as we proceeded to our table. She was quite pleased with her find. I love that I can ask her to go with me and she never hesitates because of that treasure box and the inevitable Skittles delicacy offered at the end of her kid's meal.

She excitedly put on the bracelet and ring while I tried to carefully peel off a pair of sticker earrings from the backing. It was harder than expected, but I didn't back down in the face of adversity. Baby D's puppy dog eyes watched me intently as I painstakingly peeled and scratched. I assumed it meant they had some decent staying power to them at least, so they wouldn't end up in her hair in 2 seconds flat (I was correct, they lasted at LEAST 60 seconds).

She proudly showed off her ears, and we acknowledged their neatness, but also said we love her and she's wonderful with or without decorations on her.

Boring feminist parenting aside: I amp up the importance of superficial things like clothes, hair styles and accessories, jewelry, etc., as being merely decorations on us. They aren't what makes us beautiful, and we aren't better or worse with or without them. Everyone is so quick to praise a young girl and tell her she is SO PRETTY with whatever she has of those things...  I personally think that is bullshit and it encourages and reinforces the idea that she ISN'T pretty and wonderful as her own self, without the glittery shit. People mean well, but it reinforces the having-to-improve-your-looks-to-be-validated stuff that I abhor. And little girls are also so much more than pretty. If you tell my kid she looks incredibly brave, or strong, or powerful - THEN you've won my heart, dear friend. Anyway...

She was quite excited and showed her new earrings and those left on the cardboard backer with the family at the table beside us. The Dad said they were very pretty but that he didn't have any. The Hubs offered him a pair, which he politely declined, then Baby D suggested that the other Daddy go get himself a pair from the treasure chest at the front. He explained he was too old to enjoy the gifts, as they were meant for kids, but we praised her good problem solving skills.

Fast forward near the end of dinner. Baby D was tired, I was oblivious to the time change and realizing it was actually an hour past her bed time, and we were all fading. But dinner went well. We all chatted, reminded her not to talk with a mouth full of food, reminded her that the protein in her chicken strips had to get in her belly before the Skittles could, and all that.

At one point in the meal the neighbouring family was brought an extra sauce of some kind (I was proudly on sauce six. So gross. I know. #sodiumlover), and Baby D proudly said "Hey! I can give them this!" proudly about to share her plum dipping sauce she hadn't used. (My love for Chalet dipping sauce is only surpassed by Baby D's love of ketchup and all vehicles used to get ketchup into her mouth. She comes by it honestly).

We stopped her politely by explaining that it was really nice of her to want to share, but that people that don't know each other generally don't share open food. That it was different from trick-or-treating because people give out sealed food. But I told her it was very kind of her to want to share. She really gets kindness and she genuinely has a good heart. Of all the preschoolers I have met, she's one of the best at peacemaking and sharing toys/food/art supplies, etc.

So we are about to leave and the Dad from the neighbouring table explains he just has to tell me something. I'm hoping that it wasn't that I should be ashamed at the sheer amount of sodium I just rammed in my gullet. It was not. I was so surprised, and touched.

He said that Baby D was so articulate and had such good manners that he wanted to say it was so nice to see. He said he was a police officer and deals with the public all the time. He said he's never seen such an articulate child that is so polite. He said he worries with what he sees today, and that his wife gets embarrassed when he comments to other families, but he just had to let us know. I said she had tried to share her sauce earlier and he said he heard the entire exchange.

I was honestly so touched. People rarely go out of their way to say nice things any more. He could have observed and carried on with his evening. He could have smiled and waved at her. But he let us know that he thought she was wonderful and that he thought we've done a good job teaching her manners. It was just so heartwarming. It made me so proud of her, of the wonderful little person she is, of all she is and all she is becoming. It was small, but at the same time it was huge to hear someone validate my thoughts on Baby D after sitting beside her for an hour and a half.

Anyway, not huge blog material, but just something really special. I'm so proud of her. And not simply because a stranger thinks she's sweet, but because I know she is. She has a good soul and a kind spirit and I always want to do my best to encourage that in her. Reinforce her. Lift her up. When I'm not a tired emotional haggard bitch myself.

Sweet dreams. Time to bloat with all the sodium. And to try not to be a bitch.


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Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Am Actually Proud

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I don't say that often. That I am proud.

I don't even know if I've ever said it but not really meant it. It feels like just saying "I'm Proud" is so cocky... and pretentious.

(Well THERE'S a sad, small glimpse into my confidence, psyche and upbringing. But anyway...)

I'm often proud of the people in my family. It's a pride I feel FOR them, and a happiness I feel for their accomplishments.

This time, I'm actually proud of ME. And it feels strange to type it. I don't know that I've even said it aloud. Maybe to The Hubs, but that's even doubtful.

This past weekend I competed in my second sprint triathlon. It's my third triathlon this year, (well, EVER) but the first one was a "short" distance. The sprint is longer and consists of a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride, and then a 5km run. Like, all at once. On the same day. Back to back. Moving non stop. (Who chooses to do this shit you ask? I dunno, seriously.)

Me and The Hubs had talked about triathlons in 2016. He signed up for an Olympic (Standard) distance lake race in the fall of 2017. I had (breathlessly, slowly, poorly) completed the Whistler Mudderella course in fall 2016 when other ladies there were talking about triathlon. It seemed interesting - the sports involved were far less likely to cause surprise injuries or rib sprains or torn quad muscles like the obstacle race bullshit always ended with me.

Me + FUN, not-typical physical exertion/race = FAIL

Source (I think, I'm not sure, I fucking hate Pinterest and its pop ups....)

The seed was planted, but I knew that I wasn't fit enough. Or strong enough mentally. I had finally put my butt back on a bike for the first time in TWO LITERAL DECADES in spring of 2016 and the idea of 20km seemed like a distant dream. It was the first bike I'd ever used with hand brakes! Then I was extremely ill with a chest infection for October, followed by a solid month of virus in our household for December.

The idea of completing something that seemed so massive just seemed impossible. Those around me (not The Hubs) were quick to tell me it would be stupid, that I do things like that and get hurt, that I couldn't do it. And so I believed that. I decided I wasn't capable.

And with all my aches and pains and health problems, I went on a run on vacation in January. And my stomach pain temporarily subsided. I felt so sluggish, out of shape, and pathetically slow compared to the patient (and not even REMOTELY out-of-breath) Hubs, but I did it. In the sun. There were walk breaks, but it was the only time on vacation when my stomach didn't feel terrible.

So we went for two more runs. And for a fleeting moment, I felt STRONG when I was running up an incline. It was quick, but it was an incredible feeling.

And so, that began my training.

Spin classes in the pouring Vancouver rain, running around an indoor track, and swimming. Oh dear lord the swimming. I still so totally and completely SUCK at swimming, but even there I've made leaps and bounds.

I have very vivid memories of beginning to drown in a pool as a child. My mom couldn't swim so couldn't jump in to save me. I remember it all so clearly. And it's never left me.

So I learned to swim with my head above the water at all times. My front crawl (or freestyle?) was like that of a lifeguard, where I keep my face up and out of the water the entire time. It was exhausting. The back half of my body is angled down, and basically acts like a dickish anchor, impolitely slowing me the f*ck down no matter how hard I swim.

The short triathlon was hard. It was a 50m long pool and I took long breaks at the end of each lap. I still need breaks now after every 25m. Yup, But I'm doing it still. I swim the 25m in about 29-31 seconds consistently. Any slower and I seem to sink. Can't really go much faster. But I need a break at the end of the lap because I'm not breathing properly.

In April I finally forced myself to learn to swim with my face in the water, properly(ish), and it was AND CONTINUES to be wholly terrifying. No exaggeration, the entire swim is a full blown panic attack for me, every time.

This liquid is going to swallow me. (Source)

But I'm not giving up, motherfuckers. Nope.
Yippy kai ay.
I have no idea how that is actually supposed to be written and I'm too bloody lazy to google it.

So I completed this sprint triathlon. My swim was slow. And I have to put myself in a slow bracket because my overall time IS around 26 minutes. But my laps are fast so I'm gurgling and looking for the swimmers in my lane that are actual NORMAL swimmers who don't freak the fuck out and breathe normally but just swim more slowly. I have to haul ass and then rest at the wall. It's not ideal but that is where I need to be. I'm eating feet and then passing if I can, just so I don't sink, and even though I tell my lane mates my weird system, I'm sure I'm annoying them. But that is how it is, and I do all I can to stay out of the way.

I got my bike, and went for it.

I had completed a 55km bike race in July where shit went sideways for a multitude of reasons, and I thought I was having a stroke. Turns out it was a migraine with aura, which took most of my vision away for the last 5km of the race. I was worried that it would be another exercise induced deal at the triathlon, and was prepared to stop and leave the race if I had to.

This was the first race where I was able to pull and drink from my water bottle, and grab chews from my jersey WHILE CYCLING. Laugh if you want, but this was a big deal for me. Before I was too forward/arm heavy and would appear to be suffering from spontaneous electrocution on my bike before fantastically crashing to the ground because I'd tip sideways. I did end up stopping for water for a minute or two at the turnaround point aid station because the Gatorade I had was tasting slightly like ass and bad breath. Mmmmmmm.

It felt like I was moving much slower than my May race, but it turns out I actually went quite a bit faster. I didn't know until I was done. And that was on my hybrid bike. I still really want a proper road bike and clip-in cycling shoes. But baby steps for now.

Then, the run. I suck at running, but I have been trying to keep at it. I'm not the fastest, and my post-baby bladder sometimes likes to just fuck with me and decide I need an ISTA-PEE, regardless of my surroundings or proximity to an ACTUAL TOILET. But, I digress.

Actual photo of me on my last training run. (Source)

This run had hills. One really big one. And I HATE running up hills. I had to take a few walk breaks and figured I shouldn't be in the race. It felt like the opposite of those slopes on vacation. I stopped for water. I couldn't maintain my pace, and felt like I had blown it.

Then I forced myself up the last hill and in another half kilometre, I was done.

I looked at my watch - I had shaved 14 minutes off of my time from three months prior.

I thought I made an error on my watch. But I hadn't.
I actually started to cry a little. I hadn't passed Hubs based on our swim start times (before he had always passed me once or twice which was the motivation I needed to keep strong). I didn't know anyone else, had almost not signed up because I was literally so scared of the swim, afraid that I wouldn't be able to finish, worried that I'd be a joke to those who enjoy seeing me fail. I didn't sleep the night before. My already constant-in-every day anxiety was so insane. I hadn't been able to train as much due to illness, heat, air quality and scheduling with Baby D.

And I crossed that finish line STRONG. I was scared, but I was brave goddammit.
And I can say, for the first time in a very, very long time, that I am proud.

And that's a big deal.


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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Sad Heart & Broken Pencil Crayons

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This is another one of those probably-too-hard-on-myself things, but it is still my reality and so I'm going to write about it here.

I've recently learned a new name for my bullying myself. It's called harsh superego and it fucking sucks. But more on that another time.

I struggle as a mom to Baby D to give her all she needs to thrive. I have fairly extreme fatigue, I'm training for my second (YES - SECOND!!) triathlon, I'm working through abusive/narcissistic parent issues in therapy, and I have treatment-resistant depression and anxiety.

Before Baby D, I had a hard time getting up and out of bed. I've never had energy. I have never in my teens or adult life woken refreshed. Or ready to seize the day. EVER.

But that is the reality of my life, and my health and my body. So I zone out sometimes, I'm always tired, in chronic pain, and I'm fighting some serious demons from a really sad childhood. There are new revelations every day and it is just draining.

Is that an excuse to be a shit mom? NOPE. Am I ALWAYS a shit mom? NOPE. But I know I let the fatigue take over and I don't want to play on the play room floor or draw. The kind of things that Baby D's Aunts and loving Grandparents (read: not my father) would be all over.

It pains me to write it, but it's true. Playing in the play room is the last on my list of things I want to do. I love to snuggle her, and tickle and fling her around the living room. I love to bike with her, or pull her in the trailer. I love to walk with her, but she usually resists me like I've asked her to floss my teeth with live electrical wires. I love when she will just talk to me and ask questions and we can look at the world. We play pretend superheroes with our hands and she loves it. We can play board games or read as long as she is willing. But the play room. I hate the play room.

I used to like to sit on the floor or draw, but she has a way of making me just sit and watch. Or I get a feather to play with and she gets the good toys, lol. I used to love to draw but she stopped working with me. I lost interest fast.

So today I sat in the play room while I was doing some bill payment/internet-y stuff (no, not porn). We talked while she drew and she told me what she was doing and showed me her work. It seemed like a decent compromise. I noticed a few of the pencil crayons she picked up were worn down.

Then, it was off to swimming lessons. Usually I do laps at the same time, but I'm recovering from the flu and just getting her to the pool took gargantuan effort today.

Fast forward to tonight. She was in bed. I'm still having post-surgery pain from February of last year. Yeah. I really wanted to sit in a hot epsom salt bath, but I figured I would stay downstairs to keep our senior, borderline dementia dog company for a while. Buy a few hours for later when he barks for company in the middle of the night.

And I remembered the pencil crayons.

I grabbed the sharpener I bought specifically for keeping those babies at the ready, and went to the play room to find a few.

All but five were broken off or worn down. And it hit me hard.

It might not seem like much, but it actually says a lot.

If I had drawn with her, even just one of the last six times the kid had asked me to.... when I was tired and late off the draw, scrambling to make dinner in reasonable time... when we got back from somewhere after I'd exercised and I was feeling utterly spent... when the laundry pile was overflowing onto the floor and couldn't be ignored anymore... when I had to clean up the dog's incontinence for the third time that day and start bleaching down the floors... when she had been previously been giving me all of the threenager sass and attitude I could stand and I just needed some separation from her... when I desperately just needed to finally eat and maybe rest on the couch for 20 minutes...

All those times that it would have taken a little extra effort, but not THAT much effort...

I would have seen that she couldn't even draw with them. I didn't give her that time. I didn't give her even a few minutes to draw. And that's not okay.

Yes she had crayons overflowing, and the few markers left that were miraculously capped and not dried out. But the pencil crayons were my love when I was a kid, and I gave them to her. And then I ignored her and them.

I will never catch up to the housework. I will never be clutter free, or a good cook. I feel so much guilt around not being better domestically and keeping on top of things. But this kid is only going to want to draw with Mommy for a while. She will only be this little, and this creative and interactive NOW. I keep hoping that soon I'll "feel better" and have more energy. The reality is that she deserves the energy I have, and we will NEVER get this time back together.

Tomorrow we're going to fucking draw. You bet your ass. With a boatload of sharp, fresh pencil crayons.


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