ms. fresh fish

New Year, Old Me
January 7, 2017, 8:59 pm
Filed under: events, general, The big picture | Tags:

The annual reflex to set a personal improvement goal to mark the new year passed right by me this year. 

The meme that went around about how people could expect the same old, sarcastic-yet-charming jackass that they’ve grown to love (or not) deeply resonated with me. Maybe it’s something in the air. Clearly, I’m not the only one who is incapable of feigning the desire to set out a grand goal that I know will be a future failure. I feel like I’m quite fine just as I am – partly because the quest of self-improvement is a running theme in my life. Always. 

If anything, I’m actually hoping to bring to the forefront some of old me rather than reinvent myself. There are parts of younger me that I quite miss and are due for a comeback. 

More sass, less sacharine. 

More movies, less phone. 

More music, less silence. 

More fire and feeling, less calm.

More writing. (Uh-oh, that sounds like a resolution. Don’t hold me to it.)

“Balanced” doesn’t look the same in any two people. I’ve been trying to emulate a version of it that I admire in other people, but that isn’t necessarily mine. My balance is a little further along the “energetic” and “sassy” end of the spectrum. It means that I can rub people the wrong way, but that’s something that at #thisis38 has less weight than it did five years ago. Even two years ago, to be honest. (As my dear friend Kelly said just today: “I can’t wait to see how little I care at 50!!”)

And so, if I were to have a new year’s resolution, it would be to find more of my old self, and to let go of turning myself into a new, ideal version that I can’t actually live in.

Old me. As in, I’m old. 😂


Bring it on back
March 21, 2016, 6:27 pm
Filed under: general | Tags: , , ,

My eyes hurt from crying. I imagine if I looked in a mirror, I’d look like a boxer… after the fight.

And as always lately, the trigger was a song.

When it came on a smile built on a two-decades’ old memory washed over my face. As the song went on, it felt like all that time, it had been prophetic.

My brother, until he was forever changed – yes, changed – by an autoimmune disease combined with a mental illness, was my brother, my father, my best friend, my biggest fan, my mentor and ally.

We used to dance around our house and sing. Like, sing. Our two favourites were Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” (he was totally Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites, as an aside) and the one below.

I hadn’t heard it in… forever. So, when it came on today on the way home from visiting him in hospital, where he’s been for almost 3 months, I was instantly overcome. I remember so vividly us yell-singing this song so damn theatrically around our living/dining room, that we would end up doubled over laughing.

But today, as the song progressed and then came to its beautiful ending, the smile evolved into tears. And I continued to bawl for the countless times I then replayed it.

Bring it on back, bro. Keep fighting and come back to us. We love you.

You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

Stepping Back In Time: #MessyBun4Eva
March 15, 2016, 6:40 pm
Filed under: babies, general, ottawa, Parenting, shopping, The big picture
The kids are away for the week (I can hardly breathe, but let’s not go there), so obviously today I distracted my heartsick self by going back into my beloved former Centretown life – a yoga class followed by a quick trip to Hartman’s (apparently it’s now called Massine’s?) to grab sushi for dinner.
I had never, ever before noticed the night and day-level difference of the clientele at my old grocery store versus my new one. It was like seeing myself 10 years ago. It was like being able to see the future of my fellow customers in a way that they would never believe me if I tried to tell them as they casually perused which of the fancy cheeses to buy.
Instead of diaper bags, they carry yoga mats or designer purses.
Instead of a best-intentioned-but-barely-pulled-off messy bun, women wear make-up, their hair… BLOW DRIED. Seriously y’all, they look amazing.
Instead of seeing bags under eyes that are the result of many nights (weeks, months, years) of no sleep, eyes look fresh, rested, people’s steps almost bouncing. Like, they don’t even know what to do with their energy.
Instead of dressy fake-lululemons that were bought at the very grocery store where we now shop and are used rarely, if ever, for actual exercise, people are wearing non-stretchy clothing, fitted and formed to their energetic bodies. So glamorous! Are they all models?!
Instead of, despite the clear exhaustion, the look of relief of having the peacefulness of Alone Time to cruise the grocery store aisles uninterrupted in silence, couples stare and giggle lovingly at each other as they experience their first grocery shopping together relationship milestone. I blatantly stared at those ones.
Instead of toddlers being fed a different thing directly off the shelf in every aisle, spilling things here and there, teetering on the cusp of tantrums, adults have civilized conversations about different ways to get curry into their diet with the taste test providers. Not a child to be seen anywhere.
Despite knowing how much our world has changed, and goddess knows, how much we were desperate for it to change and are so thankful that we have what we do now, what a startlingly visual reminder of where and what I used to be. And a reminder to appreciate and accept the extent to which we’re all so tired instead of wondering why and giving ourselves grief for not trying harder to be like our 25 year old selves.
Mind you, I’m almost inspired to try to dig out my blow dryer. Almost. #messybun4eva

This Superhero is Hanging Up Her Cape: #NervousBreakdown2015
November 8, 2015, 9:38 pm
Filed under: general

Disclaimer: This post is overflowing with privilege. I fully recognize that our family has financial choices available that others simply do not.

Not long ago, I wrote A Parent’s Super Power about how parents become superheroes when they have kids and tap into a previously unharnessed source of energy in order to live their lives. I cringe when I read it now. Here we are, two years on, my children still don’t sleep through the night, one has turned out to be prone to anxiety and highly sensitive and my husband and I have been working very stressful jobs, and… I’m burnt out, officially/medically. I have left my job, my career. Maybe not forever, but certainly for the foreseeable future.

When I went to the doctor about six weeks ago, her series of questions made me realize that while I knew that I had become extremely fragile, I hadn’t fully accept the internal collapse that had happened.

“Do you ever think about hurting people?”

I was surprised to get that question. It was a first. As anyone who has experienced bouts of depression, one knows the “do you think about hurting yourself?” question is standard, and I’ve thankfully always been able to reply in the negative. But this was a new one. By asking it, the doctor was revealing how bad off she thought I was.

If I was surprised by being asked the question, I was even more so with my answer, which came out so reflexively without any filters, that it essentially revealed the root of my current crisis:

“I fantasize about taking better care of people,” I responded in tears.

My children, who I knew needed me more than I was able to give them with how our lives were organized. My husband, with whom, under all the stress and frantic chaos of our lives, I have been dancing a waltz of resentment and bitterness. Myself, to breathe without chest constrictions, to meditate, to do yoga, to run, to paint, to read, to nest, to fulfill that part of me that wants to care for those close to me (seriously, the aforementioned privilege that this post is soaked with makes me nauseous, but there it is).

I started with a month off, which was spent basically asleep, building up some basic physical, emotional and mental reserves. It soon became clear that this was a new world order that, for the sake of our family, needed to become more permanent. I was able to breathe again, parent with patience, wife with kindness – all of which was complementing the compassion, kindness and gentleness that my own self was demanding.

Much has been written by people more eloquent, smart and researched (there will be no research happening by this camper right now, needless to say) than I about the debate of whether or not we (implicating women generally, for some reason) can have it all. Some adults have to have it all – be parents and work – because financially that’s what they need to do. What they are teaching and modeling for their children is incredibly valuable and I will call them superheroes until I’m blue in the face. In the case of two parent households who can contemplate one parent staying home, it should go without saying that both parents’ careers should be up for reconsideration. In some households that I know, Dad stays home, takes care of everyone and sits on school council. As it works in our household, mine was the easier to put on hold, primarily because I am so burnt out and when thinking about alternatives to 9 to 5 office life, the only things I want to do are things like walk my kids to school and stay home with them when they’re sick without thinking twice about it (rather than fly my mom in from another city so that le husband I don’t have to take so many sick days, as was the approach last winter).

One of the most surprising revelations that this experience has revealed to me has been the pervasiveness of this level of exhaustion. While certainly everyone is (legitimately!) tired and feeling stretched, it was when I started to tell people what I was going through that their eyes would suddenly change. I can only describe it as an instant recognition of what I was saying and without them even having to say it (though almost invariably they did), I could see that they needed the same break. So many are operating close to this edge that it breaks my heart.

Just to be clear – it’s not that marriages are not partnerships, that men aren’t pulling their weight. My mother constantly stands stunned amongst my friends as she watches the men parent, cook, care in ways that were unheard of two generations ago. Le husband has probably been doing the majority of our house stuff (without complaint) over the last six months as I descended further into my depressive and anxious burnout and generally is a totally present and participatory dad and husband. But, notwithstanding the obvious fact that we are different people with different levels of tolerance for different types of stress, I without doubt spend considerably more emotional and mental energy worrying about the kids’ present and future well-being, not to mention the one who gets up with them every night because OMG HOW DOES HE NOT HEAR HIS CHILDREN CRYING?!?! These two things alone are a mighty significant drain on my energy level, which may have a gendered aspect with which I don’t even know where to start.

I so wish our society could be reorganized. Rather than front-loading child-rearing with career, I want to be able to opt-in to a system where we can be supported for 10 years-ish to parent properly and then work an extra 10 years beyond our current plan (or have to pay it back. Maybe? Would that work? I don’t know! Don’t stress me out!). Same amount of working years, less societal burnout. Maybe this is how people are generally starting to organize themselves anyway and I’m just catching up. But wow, what a toll it has taken to figure this out on my own.

I am unspeakably grateful about having the ability to choose this path. I will miss spending my days with my co-workers immensely – they are a group of incredibly smart, dedicated public servants who also happen to be good, kind, and most importantly, hilarious people who probably kept me working a good year longer than I would have otherwise. We have accomplished some pretty unbelievable feats in the past almost-two years and I will forever be thankful that I was involved in them – truly a life experience for the books. The management in my organization has been supportive beyond even my wildest expectations (which mostly just confirms to me how much people understand how hard this life phase is). But I’m trading them in for two four year olds and two kittens (another post, to be sure) and adventures that I cannot yet predict.

So, as it would turn out, I’m not a superhero. It turns out that I’m just a mere human with some strict limits and hard choices. Giving up my job (and relying on a man?!?) goes against the cardinal rule of my single mother (well, until recently, when she was downright relieved to hear my decision) and gives my feminism a conflict that is even more significant than having birthed two walking gender stereotypes. But when I drop all of the expectations that I’ve set up for myself that I’m allegedly failing, at its root, this decision feels bold and true. And what better feelings to have than those?

So, here I am. Here we are. Starting a new chapter. Wish us luck.

Kitties and Kiddies

Evolution of a Twitter profile
October 6, 2013, 9:47 pm
Filed under: babies, events, general, The big picture

It occurred to me recently that my Twitter profile is an interesting perspective on how my brain – or at least my perspective – changed throughout my two years out of an office setting. I happened to get really into Twitter just after the Twinkies were born (because #zombiemoms was a lifesaving hashtag and community at 3 a.m.). This is how my profile description has evolved since then, more or less:

Federal Public Servant on leave. New mom to twins. I like running and yoga.  Location: Canada’s Glorious Capital

Govie on leave, mom to twins (insert/update age) via IUI, miscarriage survivor, trying to run, wannabe yogini.  Location: Canada’s Glorious Capital

If Monica Gellar and Liz Lemon had a baby, she’d be me. And then that neurotic baby had twins and named her cat Lisa Loeb. Lucky them.

I parent twins. I wife, sister, daughter and friend. I yoga. I run. My cat’s name is Lisa Loeb.

I parent twins. I wife, sister, daughter and friend. I yoga. I am 99% on the extrovert scale. My cat’s name is Lisa Loeb.

A place to go on Sunday mornings
September 28, 2013, 9:52 am
Filed under: family, general, The big picture | Tags: , , ,

I love the idea of Church/Temple/Mosque. I love the idea of people gathering on a weekly basis as a community to help each other and strangers. I love the idea of being able to move from city to city, from country to country, and have a community waiting for you. I love the idea of a weekly play group for kids where they learn about morality and ethical issues in a kid-friendly way (while we have coffee and snacks, right? Is that what happens?). Continue reading

(2 x 2)love
September 15, 2013, 2:13 pm
Filed under: babies, birthday wishes, events, family, general

Well my little twinkies, you’re finally two. Or already two. You’re two.

I love it (you can do so much and you’re both so hilarious!). I hate it (I want my babies back). I’m a mess.

We had a serious birthday party for you yesterday. There were banana-shaped loot packages, personalized bunting hanging across the back of the house, carefully colour-coordinated balloon arrangements evenly placed along the perimeter of the backyard, dishes to match carefully coordinated balloons, hired entertainment, way too much food and a delicious theme-appropriate cake. The backyard was teeming with people from near and far who love you. In a nutshell, it was a seriously thought out party. This is important for you to know, because it will most likely never happen again. But we did right for you, if only once. We have the pictures to prove it.

Continue reading