Best Imitation of Myself

Monday, January 31, 2011

The time has come to share some of Dawn’s top “Don’t’s”, in the realm of parenting.  Because I am rapidly approaching Doctor of Education (Early Childhood)

Yes, Yes, we all know now about the dangers of throwing Bitty Baby shoes in your child’s direction. But these are some lesser know, but equally hazardous moments in my parenting career.

At this point I would specifically like to make a professional disclaimer. As an early childhood guru, many of these things I would have never suggested or done with the children in my care. I mean, I was getting PAID to rear these other children. No, these screw ups were entirely with my own child.

1. When your child is 3 weeks old and can’t possibly roll over, do not try to simulate your body with pillows next to her on the bed. You will do this in an attempt to move away from her, while she is sleeping so you can – I don’t know – Pee without holding her. Perhaps you will even attempt to seek nourishment. You will be sitting on the couch and hear a distant, but distinct noise. You will be chewing a food item. You will think “Hmm, that is an odd sound”, as you chew quickly. You will hear the sound again and think, “No, really, that IS odd”. You will trip over the coffee table as you realize that this is the muffled sound of you baby – screaming. She is muffled, cause she has rolled, face first into the pillow. Cause 3-week-old babies never roll.

But yours does.

2. In an attempt to “teach your child who is boss” you will attempt to Ferber her over the course of the week. You will find that your 11 month old has far more will power than you, as she is perfectly happy to scream bloody murder for six hours, without falling to sleep. She can sleep all day. She has nowhere to go at 7 a.m. But you do, you sorry Mo-fo.

As you walk in to her bedroom at the prescribed increasing 5 minutes intervals, your child will look at you with bottomless hatred and disgust. At 5 a.m. on day 4 of this marathon, you will pick her up and pop a boob in her mouth, take her to your bed and fall asleep. Cause this Ferber dude must not have slept in the same house with his kids. And he sucks.

3. Because you are the Director of the child care, your child will become a brutal biter, with many, many victims. These victims’ parents will address you – Director- and say things such as “I don’t know what is wrong with that Biter’s parents. I mean, they must not be doing a very good job at parenting”. Your child will continue to bite until she is three and her language has gotten better.

4.After watching Marie Osmond give advice on some talk show (cause before she went all crazy, she was an Uber mom), you will think it a good idea to snip the ends off of your child’s binkies. Cause Marie says that the baby will lose the pleasure of sucking the binky when the end is nipped. Your baby is 2 and needs to give up her binky…Right? Everyone says so.

So you do this. You present the modified binky to child, who loses her shit and begins to wail “YUCKY MINE! YUCKY MINE!” as she flops on the floor kicking and screaming. This goes on until your frantic husband finds an unmodified binky and says “What the hell did you do that for?” Your child gives the binky up at 5 when she is damn good and ready thank you very much.

5.When the monsters begin to live in the closet and under the bed, you read a Parents magazine that recommends making “Monster spray” by purchasing a small spray bottle and decorating it with glittery stickers. You will then present it to your fearful child and empower them with the knowledge that they can conquer their fears by using this “Monster Spray”. Then your child will be able to come to terms with the monsters ( which are only an manifestation of the child’s growing awareness of the dangers of the world – as they seek more and more autonomy), in a self esteem and empowering sort of way. You will buy this shit hook, line and sinker. You will make the bottle. You will present it to your child.

Your child will react by shrieking, “The monsters are going to eat me!” (or a reasonable facsimile with the binky in her mouth) and screaming as she runs in circles. She will then attach herself to your body and attempt to climb up onto your head as she continues to scream about the monsters.

You have unwittingly acknowledged and confirmed the existence of the monsters, that you had heretofore staunchly refused to agree were real. You will have to show your child that you are throwing away the “Monster Spray” so the “monsters” won’t go all postal when they find out she has acquired such a potentially lethal tool.

Thanks Parents magazine. A real life saver there.

Ah, yes. Don’t do these things. If you do, your child will still be sleeping with you at age 10. Learn from my mistakes, people. Do not listen to child development experts like me! Throw away those magazines. Ignore those crazy Tiger Moms!

You’ll find your way, I promise.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There are grudges I have nursed for years. Kept their flames small and in the dark, feeding them occasionally on bitterness and blame, resentment and anger.

Logical Dawn? She doesn't entirely understand the Why of these grudges, some held against classmates from high school, or friends or lovers from long ago.  Some grudges, held for her Mother and Father, Logical Dawn understands better.

It is a flaw of Dawn, she knows. A twisting of anger not expressed, these tiny lights of resentment.  Seeds of self doubt and self guilt, nourished in the deep loam of things never said.

Dawn is an Old Soul, if you believe in those things. Her back is broad and rarely buckles. She continues to move forward, at the cost of her sanity and body, for she is a workhorse of unparalleled quality. The things she produces are exquisite creations, filled with the entirety of Dawn, poured into each word, each rug or quilt, each story. They are the beauty of Dawn distilled. She sparkles inside of these creations.



Until the quiet moments.

The quiet moments when she moves something and finds the chest filled with those resentments.

She falls to her knees and opens the chest, surrounding herself with the glory of Resentment. Bitterness. Anger. Blame. She is the white light of Fury and Righteousness. She bursts into flame. She glows.



Until Dawn stops burning, all tinder and oxygen used up.  Logical Dawn can finally be heard. "What is this all for?", she asks.

Mirrored faces looking at each other, until one falls to ash.

I rise, a phoenix.

Only this time, I do not close the chest. I do not hide it away. Not this time.

I don't need it anymore.

Rabbit, Rabbit

Monday, January 24, 2011

On Saturday, I heard Terrance call Coco. He serves the morning salad, and usually both rabbits are standing next to the bowl looking, disapprovingly, at whatever piteous human is Late in serving them.

But on Saturday, Only Jackson was by the bowl.

At 10 a.m., I heard him call her again. Jackson had eaten ALL of the salad and Terrance was worried.

It was at the second call that I got worried too.

I won't bore you all with my description of how much I love this rabbit. I won't tell the story of how I found her in the basement, abandoned in darkness and in filthy litter with no water. I won't tell you of how she charmed me by thumping her back leg at me when I stopped rubbing her nose, or her ridiculously sweet temperament for an animal who had been mistreated and neglected by the other humans she had known.I don't need to tell you that she helped me during a depression, her kind and quiet presence sitting in bed with me, or licking my foot in the morning when I was late with the salad.

When I found her, hidden under the bed, I knew something was very wrong. She was listless. While still conscious, she let me flip her over in a trance position without fussing or kicking- something she has never, ever, ever done. I checked for wounds. Nothing. I listened for belly sounds. Nothing.

Her lips were blueish and she just stared at me.

I am fortunate to have a Vet for Coco who only treats "Exotics" - we pet owners who chose not dogs or cats, but Rabbits and Ferrets and Birds, and Reptiles and Hedgehogs and Lizards and Spiders. When I sit in the waiting room, I feel a funny sense of community. No one looks surprised to see people holding rats, or walking around with birds on their shoulders.

I got Coco to the vet in less than 30 minutes. They took her temperature, and immediately put her into the incubator. She was Cold for a rabbit, 35 degrees C.  39C is where she should have been and her lips were quite blue. I talked to her and comforted her, reminding her that she was my girl.

The vet spent less than 5 minutes with me. Coco was dying.  Her body was going into shock and her odds were very bad.  80% of the cases they see like her die within an hour or so.

I could take her home to die...Or I could OK the treatment, with no guarantees of her survival.

Do it, I said. Treat Her.

 I brought her home today.  As I picked her up, the Vets, the Vet techs, and the front desk Staff all smiled at us. She had made it, against all odds this 4 pound rabbit had pulled through.

As I packed her into the car, I looked down in the snow.  Someone had lost their Blackberry. I picked it up and walked it into the Vet's office.

One good Karmic turn deserves another.

( and I finished the rug tonight - It will always be associated with Coco coming home to us)

An interlude in Pictures

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I find that I forget to put pictures here. I load them onto facebook, or send them off to Envisage, but I rarely put them Here.

Hi! This is me walking to my massage therapist today. Yep, It is Cold in Montreal, but Hey. It is winter. And it is still January. It is supposed to be cold.

This is the foyer where I take my rug hooking classes. I really Love my rug hooking classes. I look forward to Tuesday All week.  And what else can make you say that about a Tuesday? Which brings me to:

My most recent rug. It is actually a bit more finished at this point, but this was last week. The rug I have planned for after this one will be my maternal grandparents farm.

Here is Coco making sure her likeness to up to her standards. She has not urinated on anything, so I have to take that as her saying OK to the rendering.

I am older. I am a bit worn, but I am still me. 

Life After

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I have a habit of leaving my body.

Whenever I am feeling at odds with my life, I move into my head and leave my body vacant. A shell in which I inhabit, but barely live.

My head is a lovely comforting place. It is filled with lush chaise lounges, and reading lamps. The carpets are plush and there are ever percolating pots of coffee and tea that magically refill.  The temptation to live permanently inside my head is ever present, and I can happily live in there for undetermined amounts of time.
It is peaceful and safe and I don't have to feel anything.  Of course, the added bonus is that a majority of people simply don't notice my vacancy.

Generally, an illness or injury is what forces me back into my body. Like any structure left unattended, my body starts to break down. My blood sugar rises. I gain weight. My pap smears come back wonky. I get shingles or start to consume bottles of liquid ibuprofen at a truly alarming rate...You know, the sirens to pull over and get my collective self together.

When I started the massage therapy  almost four weeks ago, I went in knowing that my body was holding an enormous amount of feelings. Like always, I knew things were terribly out of balance.  The headaches. The pain - all located in the left side of my body - head to toe. I couldn't verbalize entirely what was wrong with me, except that I knew it was something.

It wasn't depression. I know that feeling, for it has also driven me into my head. However, the place in my head in which I live while depressed is not a lovely place. There is nothing comforting about that place, as it is bereft of joy. There are no chaise lounges. There is no light. There is nothing there to nourish me. It is the rock  where Prometheus has his liver pecked out, wind blasted and barren. Living there was not a choice, but a punishment.

As I have lay on the table and had my massage therapist activate my meridian points, I have been forced to inhabit my body. Forced to figure out what I am holding in various parts of my body and then breathe through the pain as the points are worked until they release. Forced to stay in touch with what I am feeling, followed with why.

Following my massage last Thursday, I was crabby. Whatever had been worked through left me initially feeling a bit panicked and unsure. I didn't WANT to deal with any of this.

Finally,  late Saturday night it came to me. This thing I was desperately avoiding.

Grief. Not sadness, not wistfulness. Grief.

I will allow my body to fall to pieces around me to avoid grief.  To avoid feeling grief.

And why? Because it feels like failure. Failure on my part. My own blame points directly back at me for not being...whatever it should be to have avoided that grief.  I lock it up in my cells and blood and muscles and try to out wait it, or out think it.  I should have been smarter, I should have anticipated differently. I should have been less trusting. If I truly let go, then I have failed.

So, instead of feeling the grief, and then moving through that to life After, I refuse to acknowledge the tyrannosaurus rex of my grief as it snacks on my limbs.

In the moment of the massage on Thursday that this thought swept through me, I began to cry.  The words "This is my Life After..." were what came to mind. My Life After, which means that I will survive. I will thrive, even.

Then I packed it up for another two days until the energy of my body forced me to release the thought and look at it.  Not terrified. Not with tears, but simply to look at it.

It is scary to look at your grief, at least for me. Everything I fear is wrapped up in it, a churning mass of family and friends and lovers and expectations and disappointments over 40 long years.

I can no longer avoid it, so I must sit - face to face - and figure out a way to integrate Grief into my life. Not in a way that denies Grief, nor in a way that consumes Me.

My Life After.

I value your opinion about my parenting

Monday, January 10, 2011

My friend Marsha was recently sharing about an encounter in which another parent shared their opinion about her parenting....which is a rather dangerous thing to do to most women, but a particularly bad thing to do to a Blogger.

Cause we blab it all over the internetz.

So, in her honor, I created a new T-shirt.

Behold the front:

and the back?

I think it really says is all, don't you?

-25 points for religious knowledge, +150 points for literature knowledge

I wrote this over two years ago, but it is still shockingly the same.  Last week, during a fit of anger, Emily started cursing the object of her ire....using Greek Gods. Between this power, and her training in how to survive the zombie Apocalypse, it becomes clear that I am grooming my replacement.


On Friday, Emily went with a friend to a Christian "club" for kids. Apparently, they play games and hear Bible type stories. The plan was for me to pick the girls up from school - get them fed, and the father of the friend would pick them up at 6:30, take them to the club, and then return them afterwards for a sleepover.

Emily had already announced to the friend that Mom and Dad didn't "do" church. I have to suffer the pitying glance of a nine year old who, I'm sure, is calculating my descent into hell postmortem.

But hey. I'm no religious bigot. If Emily wants to go and check these things out, no problem. She has attended church with her grandmothers and aunts, so she has a vague inkling of the rituals.

This morning, after the friend had gone home, I asked Emily how she liked the church club.

"It was pretty good", she said.

"Oh. What did you learn?"

"Well, God touched people with lepers and they were healed."

I pause. As a former Roman Catholic, I know my Bible stories.

"I think it was Jesus, honey - and the people WERE lepers. They had Leprosy and Jesus isn't god."

She pauses. "Who was Jesus then, if he isn't God?"

"Well - he is the son of God."

She takes this in. "So Where does Mary come into this?"

"She is Jesus' mother - and God was his father."

She stares off pondering the union between invisible spirit and Human.

"So Jesus is half God, half mortal?"

I raise my eyebrows. "Yeah. I guess you could say that he was."

Her expression smooths into understanding.

"Just like Hercules."


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I've spent a large portion of the last three years feeling dissatisfied.

With everything - my life, my marriage, my body, my job, my lack of job, my dissertation, my lack of dissertation. I wanted more, I wanted less, I wanted different

In part, I could point to the need for a different medication for my depression.  Since I had been taking Prozac for ten years, I should have suspected that perhaps a medication fail was occurring. No, like always it wasn't until I was constantly sobbing ( at everything) and sleeping for 18 hours a day that I suspected something more was up than my cheerful glass half empty personality.

By nature, I am a cautious person. I hedge my bets obsessively. I play, replay and counter play scenarios in my mind until I think  I have every possible angle covered, every possibility vetted. I am also not, by nature, a person who believes in any kind of "power of positive thinking" bullshit. I think those people are trying to pull a fast one by redirecting your attention over "there" while the boa constrictor slides up you leg and tightens its grasp and opens its jaws.

I am also not a person who believes in resolutions, new years or otherwise. I don't start diets or go to gyms.

Things either Are, or they Are Not.

Last week I decided to go have a Reiki session.

My whole left side of my body had been going numb since the last fall, and I didn't think it was an issue for the chiropractor. It felt different, like something was blocked which, despite my very best efforts, could not be unblocked by myself.

I tend to be sensitive to energy. I know this sounds ridiculous, but on more than one occasion in my life I can feel when people with whom I am close are thinking about me.  Regardless of their proximity. I used to think it was crazy, but I simply accept it now. Sometimes it is lovely. A tingly feeling that starts in your scalp and runs over your body. Othertimes? Maddening. Some strange psychic violation that you can't block out.

After the Reiki session, the practitioner told me that my right side energy was lovely - like caramel. But the left side? She shuddered. "Some intense stuff going on there."

I know. I am holding all the pain and dissatisfaction and disappointment on one side of my body. By the end of the session, I started to cry as the left side of my body went numb. "I've cut off my left side", I said to her.

And I have. I did.

The following night was the first night I woke up without a numb left arm.  Two days later, I was able to forgive someone within my own heart and start to move on.

Balance is a funny thing. It can not come until you are willing for it to come.  Saying you want to be in balance will not make it takes hard work, on a multitude of levels.

Tomorrow I go back for another Reiki and massage session. I also cut out carbs from my diet, after spending the past 9 months dodging my doctor since my blood sugar levels were starting to creep back up.

2011 is going to be a good year. Not because I hope for it, but because I am making myself ready for it.
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