metro mama

Friday, September 29, 2006

It's Wednesday--Time to Wet the Wick

I was going to title this post Friday, Time to Fuck but thought it sounded a little crass.

A good friend of ours was in town this week and stayed with us for a couple of nights. He’s the father of a six-month old girl, so we had lots to talk about. After all of the requisite bragging about our girls’ sparkling personalities, the conversation turned to the effect of a new baby on marriage; in particular, the effect on one’s sex life (I’ve mentioned before the challenges we faced in this department).

We learned our friends have a strategy for coping with the post-baby coital slump. They establish a minimum sex threshold by scheduling it once a week. Yep, if Friday comes around, regardless of how many times they’ve done it, how tired they are, or any other excuses, they just do it. This way, you never have more than a week go by without a bit of the old in and out.

At first we laughed, then I thought, wait a minute, this is brilliant. If you wait until you're in the mood for the old mattress mambo, it never happens. There have been times when I haven’t felt like bumping bellies but did it anyway because I thought I should. Every time, I’m glad I did it. It’s like diving into the ocean—you feel lazy and don’t want to bother getting your hair wet; the water is kind of cold and is a bit of a shock to the system at first; but once you’re in, you feel invigorated and refreshed.

So, Papa and I have decided to do the mommy-daddy dance every Wednesday, at the absolute minimum. We chose Wednesday because we’re less likely to have plans, I don’t have school, there’s nothing on TV (oh shit, I just remembered Lost is on Wednesday). No matter, we’re doing it anyway. If he’s working Wednesday, we move it up to Tuesday (by the way, it was my idea to move it forward, not back. I’m really on board with this plan).

I’ll let you know how it comes, I mean goes.

All’s well when ends meet.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

13 Things I Regret

I don’t believe people who say they have no regrets. I don't dwell on mine—I hardly ever think about them; however, sadly, I was able to come with thirteen. Here they are:

1. Not being a better student in my teens and twenties.
2. Not being nicer to my mother in my teens.
3. Not getting a tattoo when I was younger—if I get one now, everyone will think I’m having a mid-life crisis.
4. Not travelling more in my teens and twenties.
5. All the money I spent on cigarettes in my teens and twenties.
6. All the times I drank enough to throw up (unfortunately, this is not limited to my teens and twenties).
7. Losing my virginity too young, unceremoniously.
8. Not cuddling Cakes more when she was a baby.
9. Not selling my stocks that just went from $10 to $2.
10. Not watching Grey’s Anatomy when it first started—I’m too far behind now.
11. The big piece of pie I ate last night.
12. Not doing any creative writing between the ages 12 and 33.
13. Not keeping in touch with old friends.

What are your regrets?

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2 Buck Chuck

Now that we’re living on one salary, Papa and I have been looking for ways to save money. Our wine expenditure was one of the things we had to consider. Now, we like our wine, but we can’t afford expensive wine. Luckily, we are willing to sacrifice quality for quantity.

One way we save money on wine is by making our own. The wine we make is decent enough, but the best part is, it works out to about 3 bucks a bottle. We make ours in a shop—my father-in-law brews his at home and can produce a nifty little wine for about a buck a bottle. Our homemade vino is a perfectly acceptable everyday wine. When we’re having guests, or a special meal, we like to spring for a treat—a 12-dollar bottle of wine. Our very favourite is Yellow Tail Australian Shiraz. It’s only $11.95 and we like it better than many more expensive wines.

Another good, cheap red is Brindisi (15 bucks for a 2 litre bottle). It’s not a screw cap, either. If the huge bottle embarrasses you, you can decant it. I find that most people, even some who profess to be connoisseurs, can’t tell the difference between a 12-dollar and a 40-dollar bottle of wine. If your guests can, just try to distract them with the food and conversation.

Our newest great find is Unbuntu, a rich, fruity South African Shiraz—only $11.05! Let it breathe before you bolt.

My pick for white, and it’s great for a picnic in the park, is Vendange Chardonnay—$5.95 for a half-litre (great size for lunch) and it comes in a convenient tetra pak. The only thing that’s missing is a straw on the side. If you’re willing to spend a few more dollars, we love the Cave Springs Riesling.

The best advice I can give you is, if you find a cheap wine you love, buy as much as you can afford and put it away. I still recall, with horror, the summer everyone discovered Yellow Tail—the supply couldn’t keep up with the demand and there was nary a bottle to be found.

What are your favourite cheap wines? I’m always looking for a new bargain.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Woman's Work

I recently listened to the bloggers’ Gloria Steinem interview—you can download it here. It was all very interesting, but the one question I just can't get out of my head was posed by Kristen from Motherhood Uncensored (see her recap here).

Here’s her question: “Until men are stuck with infants, then we've got our work cut out for us. We've been adapting to a man's world for years and proving that we can do just what they can. Problem is, they're not coming into ours. And perhaps, we're not letting them.”

Gloria responded that we need our children to see loving, nurturing dads. If they’re not doing their part, perhaps we should leave our children with them and disappear for a few days. Gloria also warned against the “get out of my kitchen” mindset, and said we have to just let them do it—if it’s not done our way, we need to get over it.

Feminism has made huge strides for women outside of the home, though there is still so much work to do. Make no mistake, we have a long way to go for equality in terms of political representation, equal pay, etc. However, I think women should focus equally on the issue of equality in the domestic sphere.

Now I don’t want to generalize, and I recognize there are many men who do their share, and more--my husband is one of them. But I think many, many, fathers are not doing their share. Lots of women are working outside of the home, and coming to another day of work inside the home.

I’ve mentioned a few times how much my husband does, but sometimes I catch myself about to downplay it. I’m embarrassed, because I know so many people who aren’t as fortunate. People have actually told me how lucky I am. Now that’s ridiculous--if you say that to me in front of my daughter, I will slap you. The fact that my husband does his share around the house should not be considered exceptional. What century are we living in?

I agree with Gloria; we need to accept some responsibility. We shouldn’t insist that things be done our way. This is something I need to work on--I catch myself being critical often.

Big Papa: I pledge to you, from this day forward, not to criticize your work.

Her suggestion of simply leaving the child with the father, a sink or swim scenario--is this feasible? I don’t know. It sounds like some women have very little faith in their husband’s ability to cope with this situation. I don’t think I’d want to leave my baby with someone who is incompetent.

What else can we do? I don’t pretend to have the answers. Personally, I would bitch, moan, complain and threaten until he did do his share, but perhaps I’m simplifying things. Am I? Do we just need to speak up more? Put our foot down?

What do you think?


Sunday, September 24, 2006


We’ve been sick around here for the last couple of days. Of course this happens during the busiest part of BP’s schedule. Cakes is snotty, whiney and miserable and so am I.

This is one of those bugs that just knocks all of the energy out of you—she is napping again, but I have to nap whenever she does; consequently, I’m getting no school work done.

We were supposed to go the Word on the Street festival today with Penelope. Instead, we will mope about the house.

My hardest days at work weren’t as hard as this.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Metro Mama Recommends: A Spot of Bother

I love stories about dysfunctional families—the Fischers of Six Feet Under; the Lamberts of Jonathon Franzen’s The Corrections. Mark Haddon’s latest novel, A Spot of Bother is another delicious tale of a modern family and all its foibles.

When recently retired George Hall discovers a lesion on his hip, he begins a descent into madness that’s exacerbated by the upcoming marriage of his daughter, Katie, to a man her family deems unsuitable. He’s further tormented by his discovery that his wife is having an affair with one of his former colleagues. George’s family have their own troubles: his son Jamie is dumped by lover Tony because he failed to invite him to Katie’s wedding; wife Jean juggles her exciting new lover with the increasing demands of a husband going mad and an upcoming wedding; Katie agonizes over whether not she loves her stable and supportive fiancée Ray or if she is just marrying him because he’s a good father to her son.

A Spot of Bother
is darkly funny, quirky, and entertaining. It was hard to put down.

Mark Haddon also wrote the best-selling, award-winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The highly original novel is narrated by Christopher, a teenager suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome. Haddon has also written many children’s books.

Next review: Alice Munro’s latest The View From Castle Rock. So far, I’m lovin’ it.

Speaking of Alice Munro, I’m excited to see Away From Her, Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Munro’s short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain. Did anyone catch it at the film fest? Was it good?

What are some of your favourite films adapted from literature? Here’s a few of mine: Apocalypse Now, Romeo + Juliet (Baz Luhrmann), The Hours, The Sweet Hereafter, and, of course, the BBC Pride and Prejudice. What would you like to see adapted that hasn’t been already?


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cakes Guest Blog: 13 Things I Hate

1. authority
2. bananas
3. the asshole at the drop-in that won’t share the trains.
4. dresses
5. hats
6. shoes
7. poopy diapers
8. Pooh
9. when mom tries to blog instead of playing with me
10. when dad tries to read the paper instead of playing with me
11. being still
12. cuddling my mother
13. baby talk

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When Teething and Insomnia Collide

* Update below!
**Second update!

For as long as I can remember, I have been plagued by off and on insomnia. There are many triggers: when I’m excited about something, worried, an evening social outing, an evening class, blogs that get me riled up, a glass of port before bed. Sometimes it happens for no reason at all. Lately it always seems to happen when Cakes has a bad night.

Take last night. I tossed and turned for hours and had just dozed off when I heard a cry.

“Fuck,” I mutter, stomping down to her room (I am much more pleasant than this by the time I get to her).

I give her a cuddle and a Hylands (no, Hylands didn’t pay me to say that) and she goes back to bed.

I go back to bed and toss and turn for two more hours. I’m awakened from a raunchy dream involving Michael Scofield and Samantha Jones by more crying.

“Ohforfuckssakes,” I curse. Stomp, stomp, stomp.

This happened three times. Then it was morning.

Today I was looking forward to Cakes' nap—I’d planned to ditch my homework and delve into Alice Munro’s new book.

Instead, I will be having a nap.



*It is now 2 pm. I have not napped, nor have I read any Alice Munro. Cakes has decided that in addition to not sleeping through the night, she is having a half-hour nap instead of the usual 2 hours. All I accomplished was making Kraft Dinner, reading a few blogs and fucking around (unsuccessfully) with my template.

Does anyone know how I can make my title appear a little higher?

**7:30 pm. Cakes and I remained napless for the rest of the day. Thankfully, our neighbour and her baby came over for a tea at around 4, a much-needed diversion--we were getting mighty sick of each other by then. The exhausted little monkey finally went to sleep by 7 pm. By 7:15 her mother was enjoying a big bowl of pasta and an even bigger glass of wine. Now, off to Alice Munro.

***The Kraft dinner was for me, not Cakes (in case BP's reading).


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Baby's Cuter Than Your Baby

In this competitive blogosphere, it is not enough to merely have the most readers. Nope, the real question is, who has the cutest baby? I do.

Cakes is a giving little soul; she likes to feed the people she loves:

She’s showing signs of being an ESFJ, like her mother. At the drop-in the other day, a mom and her one-year old came in for the first time. Cakes approached the baby immediately and gave her the toy she was playing with. Then she got down a fire truck for her from the shelf of vehicles. Next, she walked over the bookshelves and gestured magnanimously. She’s a sweet little girl.

For the longest time she’s been throwing Dirty Simon
everywhere: down the stairs, out of her crib, in empty boxes--then she gets upset. We couldn’t figure out why she did that, until BP realized she throws him where she wants to go. Makes perfect sense—why couldn’t we figure that out sooner? Dumb parents, we are.

She’s been walking for quite a while now—it’s such fun to watch her adorable penguin-like waddle. Now she tries to run too. It’s hilarious—she gets going a little too fast and her chubby little legs get caught up, her eyes get a little wide and splat! Down she goes. She gets back on her feet right away, with a smile.

We play hide-and-seek together. I run down the hall and hide in the guest room closet. She chases me; she finds me; “boo!” I shout. She puts her hand on my arm, laughs and turns heel, and runs the other way.

What cuteness is your babe up to lately?


Monday, September 18, 2006

Keeping it Light Today

A few pop culture ramblings to lighten up the mood 'round here...

Prison Break

Prison Break keeps getting better and better. Now that the convicts are over the wall, there is a huge cash reward for their hides, and all of America is in on the hunt—it’s all very Running Man. William Fichtner is a great addition to the cast as intelligent, relentless FBI Agent Mahone. If you haven't been watching, rent the DVDs (would be a smashing way to spend the upcoming cold winter nights).

Amazing Race

Did anyone else watch the Amazing Race premiere? It is one of the two reality shows I allow myself (the other one being So You Think You Can Dance). This promises to be another great season. They started off in Beijing. As always, there are plenty of people to make fun of: the drug addicts turned models; Ms. New York and Ms. LA. I (and many others, I’m sure) will be rooting for Sarah, who scaled the Great Wall of China with a prosthetic leg. Go, Sarah!

Meme: My all-time 10 best TV characters

The Guys

1. Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: As Bub and Pie says, “oh yes.”
2. Michael Scofield, Prison Break: Smart, sexy, sincere.
3. Doug Ross, ER: Suave, sexy surgeon. I like.
4. Nate Fischer, Six Feet Under: I love complicated characters.
5. Tommy Gavin, Rescue Me: Complicated and a firefighter! ‘Nuff said.

The Gals

6. Jenny Shecter, The L-Word: Just love watching this train wreck.
7. Karen Walker, Will and Grace: Crazy lush. Love her.
8. Ruth Fischer, Six Feet Under: Slut.
9. Samantha Jones, Sex and the City: Slut.
10. Amanda Woodward, Melrose Place: Slut Bitch! You go girl!

I tag and Crazy Mumma and Penelope.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

The So-Called Politics of Blogging

This topic is being beaten to death, but I’ll beat it some more.

Firstly, I agree whole-heartedly with Catherine's assessment of so-called blogging “politics”. Like she says, it’s not politics; it’s hurt feelings. Many bloggers are aspiring writers. We want to be heard. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t put our writing on the internet, it would be in a journal, hidden under our beds. I’ll admit it hurts my feelings when my readership doesn’t grow as quickly as I’d like. It upsets me when bloggers I admire, and visit faithfully don’t return the favour. But I accept it, and I stand back and look at the reasons: I’m relatively new to the community, my writing needs work, and I often post about trivial matters (there are probably more reasons than this). I know other bloggers with little traffic for different reasons: they don’t update regularly, they don’t visit, their subject matter is not compelling. Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve become acutely aware that the blogosphere is a big pond and I am a very small fish indeed. There are many amazing writers and lots of stories being told—with this much “competition”, I’m happy anyone’s reading me at all!

My point is, don’t whine; suck it up. If you want to be a writer you’d better get used to rejection.

The second hot topic is the “commercialization” of the blogosphere. Some folks think there is no place for advertising in the blogosphere, and earning money for blogging is inherently corruptive.

I couldn’t disagree more. First of all, correct me if I’m wrong, but are we really talking about a lot of money? Is a blogger going to alter her message for beer and popcorn money? If I am wrong, if we are talking about a lot of money, again, what’s the problem? As long as it is clear that something is being sold, we have a choice whether or not we want to buy it. In addition, is this not supposed to be a supportive community? If a blogger can make a few bucks, shouldn’t we be happy for him or her? If a blogger can even make enough money to be a stay-at-home parent, isn’t that a good thing?

Perhaps if more women earned money blogging, the blogosphere would become more representative. It really isn’t right now, don’t you think? Most of the bloggers I’ve come across are writing from a privileged position—they’re educated, reasonably financially secure, with some amount of time on their hands. I don’t know any single parent, minimum wage earning bloggers, do you? Tell me if I’m wrong.

Please, let’s stop wringing our hands over this. If you really can’t take rejection, maybe a diary under your bed is better for you. If you really hate blogs with ads, there are plenty of other blogs to visit, but there’s no need to disparage those who choose to advertise.

Above all, let’s be more supportive of each other’s choices.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Toronto the Good, Part 4: Diversity

I love Toronto for its cultural diversity. There are over 100 languages spoken here. Half of Torontonians are immigrants and another 22% are second-generation immigrants with at least one parent born outside of Canada. *

I want Cakes to appreciate that she lives in a big world with many different people and many different beliefs and attitudes. I want her to have an open mind.

I want her to speak more than one language. In this city, she will be exposed to many. I love the fact that we sing Twinkle-Twinkle in Mandarin at our local drop-in.

I want my daughter to be colour blind. There are several children on our street and she is the only white one; where I grew up, I could count on one hand the number of non-white kids I went to school with.

Cultural diversity has many other benefits, a huge one being food. We’re so lucky to have so much fabulous and authentic food to enjoy, from dim sum in Chinatown, to curries in Little India.

Here in Toronto, she’ll have access to cultural festivals, foreign films at the Toronto Film Fest, and music and dance from around the globe.

She’ll have a taste of the world; I hope it will whet her appetite to see it for herself.

*Source: Immigrants in Canada's Census Metropolitan Areas - Grant Schellenberg, Statistics Canada.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stealing My Kisses

I recently wrote about my physical love for my baby. Unfortunately, this love is getting less and less reciprocal.

Cakes does not like to be cuddled. The only time I get a cuddle is when she’s just woken up. In the short time it takes for her to clear out the cobwebs, I might get a little mellow time in my arms. Other than that, I get nothin’.

Oh, there’s one exception: she likes to give me a big hug when she’s soaking wet, getting out of her bath.

She doesn’t even like to cuddle at night, when she’s tired. She wants to be put in her crib to play with her favourite friends on her own. She’s a bit of a loner sometimes.

So, I steal my kisses. I steal them when she’s prone: on the change table, in her car seat, in her highchair; when she’s sleeping; as she’s running by to do something more interesting than hugging her mother.

I take what I can get.

Too cool for cuddling


I am lucky to have a husband who completely does his share around the house. I am usually most thankful. However, the other day BP cut the grass, after which he mentioned off-hand that he had pulled “some really huge weeds” from the front garden. I felt a twinge of nervousness, but quickly forgot about it. Today, as Cakes and I were heading out for a walk I thought the garden appeared a little emptier; the weeds were all gone—and so were my coralbells and lily of the valley.



Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back to School

I’m fully back in school mode already. Happily, after a rotten summer course, I have a course load I’m excited about and profs I think I’m going to love. While I’m enthusiastic about this term, already I’m feeling some anxiety about the workload. I put all the deadlines on the calendar today, and it’s a little daunting.

Tuesday afternoons I have Four Contemporary Canadian Writers. We’re reading lots of works by Findley, Atwood, Ondaatje, and Urquhart. Thursday afternoon is The Body in Feminist Thought, which I think is going to be fascinating. It’s my first philosophy course—I was worried about that but it turns out the same is true for much of the class so the prof is going to give us a grounding in some of the relevant major theorists as we go. It’s the first time the course has run and the professor is really enthusiastic about it. I love that. I also think the subject matter will give me lots of interesting blog fodder—I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday evening I’m doing a course on The Romantics; specifically, we’re looking at Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Byron, and Shelley. I love this prof already. His name is John Unrau. He’s very funny and outspoken; he encourages creativity and doesn’t have much time for critics or theory. This is the last time he’s teaching the course; unfortunately, the suits at York, in their wisdom, are forcing him to retire this year. He has a reputation for being a wonderful teacher and I’m glad to get a chance to learn from him.

I’m really hoping my university experience can end on a high note (this is my last year). I started my degree at Trent, which has an amazing English department. Having to transfer to York is my one regret about moving to Toronto (I would have preferred U of T, but York was willing to give me more transfer credits). At Trent the classes were small and all of the faculty I encountered were dedicated, approachable, and excellent teachers. The same cannot be said of York.

A truly great professor can have such an impact on his or her students’ lives. I’ve had one like this--his name is Zailig Pollock and he taught me Shakespeare at Trent. He encouraged my writing and urged me to rely on my own insight, and not just parrot what I’ve read or been taught. I had to move to Toronto in the middle of the semester and missed some classes. On two occasions, he invited me to his home to help me catch up—we sat in his study and discussed King Lear and Anthony and Cleopatra, one-on-one. I can’t imagine an experience like that at a huge university like York.

If I end up teaching, I hope I can make an impact. I’m not going to do it unless my heart is in it. I’ve been on the receiving end of too many lousy teachers—I don’t want to be one of them.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Friday Night in the Kawarthas

To celebrate our anniversary, Big Papa and I went up north for a bit of alone time.

We stopped in Peterborough and had lunch at one of our old faves, Hot Belly Mamas. I had a margarita and the brown sugar chicken. Papa had a Stella and the blackened catfish.

We went by the old house where we met and took a picture:

We went to an inn just north of Buckhorn. The setting was gorgeous:

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. We just got settled by the lake with our books and beers and the rain started. We made the most of it though—we spied a covered hot tub, so we dashed into it just in time for an excellent thunderstorm. We relaxed in the jets and listened to the booming thunder and the sound of hail (yes, hail!) pinging off the deck.

After the storm, the sun came out for about half and hour; we took advantage and jumped into the lake for a swim. We swam out to a nearby raft and pulled ourselves up. I stretched my arms, feeling good and relaxed—until BP giggled and pointed at my right breast, which was hanging out of my swimsuit. Damn you, cheap old navy swimsuit.

After our swim, we had wine and cheese on the deck overlooking the water. Then, a long nap before a huge dinner of: potato and leek soup, spinach salad, escargot, pickerel, and chocolate mousse (my favourite) for dessert. It was all very tasty but way too much food. We weren’t up to anything, um, athletic for a couple of hours after that.

The next morning the weather was shit, and we missed Jane so we came home right away.

A night away sure is nice, but one night is definitely enough.


Sunday we took Cakes to Taste of Toronto festival at Metro Hall. We had a very nice time. We listened to live jazz and gorged ourselves on oysters, dumplings, shrimp rolls, and butter chicken. Cakes ate most of our nan, leaving us with a disproportionate amount of sauce. It was a great way to sample the entertainment district fare, and inexpensive too. Next time we just need to remember to buy extra food for our little eating machine.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Sleeping Children Around the World

Her Bad Mother put out the call for bloggers to give a shout out for their favourite causes.

I’d like to tell you about Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW). Founded in 1970 by Margaret and Murray Dryden, SCAW raises funds to provide bed kits to needy children in undeveloped and developing countries.

Murray Dryden believed “the comfort of a bed is a basic right of every child,” and that, “there is nothing more peaceful than a sleeping child.” He endured many nights without food or a bed during the Great Depression in the 1930's, while travelling East from Manitoba looking for work.

Since its founding, SCAW has raised over $17 million to provide bed kits for over 700,000 children in 31 countries. Each recipient child is photographed with their bed kit and the photo is sent to the donor.

How can you help?

You can donate a bed kit--a $30 donation provides a bed kit that consists of a mat or mattress, pillow, sheet, blanket, mosquito net (if applicable), clothes outfit, towel and school supplies (contents vary from country to country depending upon local needs). The kits are made in the countries where they are distributed.

There is zero overhead—the organization is entirely volunteer driven and 100% of bed kit donations reach a needy child.

You can reach SCAW by phone at phone at 1-866-321-1841 or online here.

Please give their site a visit and help support a worthy cause.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Metro Mama Reviews: Cease to Blush

I’ve just finished Billie Livingston’s second novel, Cease to Blush. A mother-daughter tale, and a story about rebirth, Cease to Blush is fast-paced and provocative. The novel thrusts the reader into two different worlds, narrated by two voices: that of Vivian, actress and internet pornographer, and her recently deceased mother, Celia. When Vivian’s mother dies, she discovers her life was very different from the one she knew. Vivian follows the clues her mother left behind to unravel her mysterious past and both she and the reader are launched into the sixties: the glittering, fascinating world of Rat Pack Vegas; the worlds of the entertainers, politicians, and showgirls. The reader is quickly invested in Livingston’s complicated heroines: Vivian--cynical, carnal, vulnerable; Celia--ambitious, nervy, and ingenuous.

I highly recommend this book.

Livingston’s first novel, Going Down Swinging, was critically acclaimed. She was born in Toronto and presently lives in Vancouver.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Baby and Marriage

My last few posts have focused on my favourite stories about my relationship with my husband; however, our relationship hasn’t always been easy. Of course, marriage is never easy—it requires constant effort and commitment. Add a baby to the mix and it’s infinitely more challenging (for us it was, anyway).

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Cakes’ birth was really traumatic and Sean had to take on so much responsibility. For the first few days he did all of the diaper changing and feeding; he exclusively finger-fed Cakes (a very time consuming process) because we were still hoping to breastfeed and the nurses who were “helping” us had us terrified of nipple confusion; he was worried sick about me. Needless to say, childbirth was as exhausting and stressful for him as it was for me.

We made it through the first nightmarish week, but parenthood continued to be a struggle. She was up every two hours during the night; she was colicky and cried every evening; I was spending hours each day pumping breast milk; the construction of our new home was delayed and we were trapped in our one-bedroom apartment; it was a scorching hot summer, so we could rarely leave our air-conditioned prison.

Parenthood was not what we had expected. Of course, it is wonderful--it was also devastatingly hard at first: hard on both of us and hard on our marriage.

After the first few months, things did get better: we slept more; she was no longer colicky; I was healthy again. There were still challenges though. The division of labour became an issue. Sometimes one or both of us would resent the other, thinking we doing more of the work. We would alternate night feedings, but he could not help me pump milk every three hours. He took on all of the cooking and grocery shopping, on top of his job. I resented doing most of the housework.

The additional work a new baby brings to the home, brings another big adjustment—lack of time; specifically, lack of alone time. When the baby slept, I would greedily hoard those precious hours to read, or watch tv. Spending time with my husband became the last priority in a busy day. I also had trouble adapting to being at home. I really missed my friends at work and envied him for having so much time away from us to go to a job he loves.

Lack of physical intimacy was another a stress on our marriage brought about by baby. I wouldn’t even consider sex for months after the birth and didn’t really enjoy it for a full year. For once in my life my breasts were magnificent—but I couldn’t stand for them to be touched. I felt fat, unattractive, and tired all of the time. He couldn’t help but take my rejection at least a little bit personally.

On the positive side, having a child together taught us a lot about each other. I have a new regard for his patience and dedication. He saw in me, a strength he didn’t know existed. In our baby’s nurturance, we found a common goal that superseded everything else and united us like nothing else could. We learned what was truly important to us and how to work as a partnership.

Our daughter is 15-months old now and our marriage is stronger for having weathered the stormy past year. After the initial turmoil, life has finally improved in many ways. We have time: time to pursue our own interests, time alone, time with friends, time for each-other, and time as a family. We have love: physical love, emotional love, committed love, crazily intense love for our daughter. We have confidence and commitment: we’ve survived this—we can handle anything, can’t we?

But can we handle a second baby? I’m sure we could. Do we want to? The short answer? Nope. Not yet at least.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wedding Story

On September 6, 2003, Sean and I made it official.

It was a small wedding in his parents’ backyard in Kingston. The site was spectacular and it was a perfect sunny September day:

We said our vows (which we wrote) between the two magnificent willow trees. The groom was handsome in his uniform:

My mother-in-law’s talented book club provided the gorgeous flowers:

I can’t document an event without a picture of the bar:

We swayed to Etta James’ At Last for the first dance and later, we shimmied to You Can Leave Your Hat On:

The night was straight out of a fairy tale. The full moon came out and shone a spectacular display on the water--an auspicious beginning to a new life:

Happy Anniversary, my love. May there be many more.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Big Papa Guest Blog: Buying the Ring

BP has the blogging bug...

Proposing to Jewels was pretty much a formality from my point of view. When she decided to join me in Toronto the deal was done. The question became, when was the wedding, not are we going to get married. To that end, we had looked at engagement rings, and I had a good idea of what to get. I thought that left me well prepared to go out and pick one up. How wrong I was.

I found buying a wedding ring extremely difficult for a number of reasons. Firstly, I hate shopping, for anything. Secondly, I knew next to nothing about jewellery. To compound the problem, there was no way to educate yourself.

For example, if I were to buy a car, I could talk to the guys at work about what they drive, read the paper, the internet and in the end probably get something that is right for us. Talk to a dozen firefighters about what kind of wedding ring to get, or where to get it? They’d run you out of the hall!

As well, how do you know one jeweller’s diamond is better then the others? Even looking at diamonds through a microscope, I could not often tell the difference from one to another, then what size do you get, and with what ring? I started to get stressed.

In addition, the guidelines they would give you were 2-3 months after tax salary (I didn’t spend that much). To be dropping that kind of money on anything would stress me out, to drop it on something I did not really understand was terrifying.

The last wrinkle was the sales people; it was just like buying a used car. They would give the “A diamond is forever” line, as well as, “its important to show how much you love her” with a high quality diamond, which by the way starts at $10 000. Oh and here was the real killer, they wanted 8-10 weeks to manufacture the thing, which blew my proposal plans right out of the water.

Then there is the whole values clash I had. The only time I paid any attention to rings was when I was buying one. You could walk into my house with a boulder on your hand, and I would not notice. I’d rather use the money on the down payment for a house, or a trip, but this purchase was not about my values.

I want Julie to be happy, I am fully aware the size and cost of a ring has little to do with how much you love someone. However, I don’t want her to go out with her friends and have some crappy little ring, she’s embarrassed to wear. As well, we’re not moving to Rosedale anytime soon, but we’re not poor either. We can afford something decent. But what is decent?

This is a decision only I can make. I can’t say “hey Julie, we’ve got the wedding, honeymoon, and I’d like to buy a house soon. As well, the car has three tires in the grave and you want to finish school. How much do you want me to drop on the diamond?”

Big Papa – last of the romantics

In the end, I found a nice little jewellery shop, run by a mother and daughter, who were not too pushy, and not far from our apartment. They had my ring ready in about 10 days. The number of carats on Julie’s diamond, I can’t remember, but the ring itself is white gold. The sad part for me was that it was not a “magical experience” giving Jewels the ring; it was a fucking relief I finally purchased the thing.



Monday, September 04, 2006

Untimely Proposal

It was fall of 2002 (two years after I met BP). The previous spring, he had landed his dream job—in Toronto. I had quit my job and left all my friends to move with him to a city I hated (at the time--I love Toronto now). We had lived together for about 6 months and things were going well; we’d discussed making it official. I was thirty and the clock was starting to tick; worse, I was feeling slightly insecure in the relationship.

Thanksgiving weekend, we went to Kingston to see his family. Thanksgiving is his favourite holiday and his parents’ spot is one of his favourite places. I was certain he would propose.

I was on tenterhooks all weekend, anxious for the big moment. I rehearsed my acceptance in my mind. It was a beautiful sunny day; finally, he asked me to go for a walk. Hooray!

Nothing happened.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful; we returned to Toronto; I was pissed.

I brooded for a month.

We returned to Kingston a month or so later, for American Thanksgiving (my sister-in-law lives in Boston so we celebrate both holidays). I was still bitter.

Saturday was a cold, rainy, rotten day. I was reading my book and Papa was pacing around.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” he asked.

“Look how shitty it is outside. I’m trying to read my book.” Leave me alone.
More pacing.

Ten minutes later…

“I’d really like to go for a walk. Sure you won’t come?”

Sigh. The sooner I go, the sooner I can return and read my book in peace.

We set off for our stroll. A few minutes later, my built-up frustration erupted. I asked him if was ever planning to propose; I told him he better not be planning to do it at Christmas-time (I hate Christmas and had never wanted a holiday proposal). He didn’t get many words in edgewise.

Finally we arrived at the scenic park we usually visit to sit and chat. By then the wind was really howling and the rain had picked up. We walked down to the magnificent large rocks that jut into Lake Ontario.

I still didn’t have a clue.

He pulled out a diamond ring and asked me to marry him.

My rehearsed speech flew out of my head and I just said, with delight and relief, “yes.”

We returned to the house and his mom just happened to have a chilled bottle of champagne. We celebrated, joyfully.

It turns out my instincts were correct—he’d planned to propose the first weekend but the ring wasn’t ready in time. I bet he had no idea it would cost him that much grief.

All’s well that ends well.

Coming next…the wedding!


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Big Papa Guest Blog: He Said, She Said

For my anniversary present I asked Big Papa to write the story of how we met (before I showed him my version). Here it is…

I first caught a glimpse of my future wife from the kitchen window of my upstairs apartment. There was a light rain; she was rushing to carry a box from her Dad’s truck into her apartment. Jewels had a slim figure and thick red hair. I could not tell much else about her and did not see her for a couple of weeks afterward.

However, I did hear her; Jewels is quite the partier. I listened to her now familiar laugh late at night, when her friends were over having drinks. At times I wished they would all go to bed. Other times, I thought I should just go over and introduce myself.

I never did, because as much as I hate to admit it, I am shy. Luckily Julie had also seen me and was arranging an encounter. We met in the driveway when I arrived home from work, she was washing her car (this would be the first and last time she ever did this). I remember her making it clear the guy she was living with was just a roommate, and when I suggested we get together for a beer, thankfully she agreed, but when?

Here again I ran into the shy problem. It was a nice Saturday, maybe a week later? I knew she was home and it would be a great day to have a beer. I could not work up the nerve to go ask her. But here is the thing, to get to my apartment you had to unlock the downstairs door, then come up the stairs to my door, and there was no doorbell. That day, I had purposely gone down the stairs to make sure the door was propped open, so if she came over she could come up the stairs to my apartment door, which I also left open.

Sure enough, like a lobster entering a trap Julie came bounding up the stairs maybe an hour later. She was wearing her jean cut-offs. We went over to her place and I think I brought the beers. She made me a ham sandwich and we shot the breeze for the afternoon.

What we talked about I cannot really remember, but we were having a good time. In the evening some of her friends joined us and we went to the Red Dog tavern, which is a real institution in Peterborough. We kissed at her apartment door; in fact we went a bit beyond that, and we agreed to meet the next day.

I just remember on the Sunday we had Chinese food, and we have been together ever since.

Big Papa


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