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Big feelings

30 Jan

Today is Jade’s birthday. She’s 11 years old. Can I just take a moment to feel somewhat flabbergasted that I have an 11-year-old?

… (Seriously. How can I be old enough to have an 11-year-old? It’s amazing. And also awesome.)

Jade had a sleepover party on Friday, but this post isn’t really about Jade’s birthday, although it started with Jade’s birthday presents this morning. Halia thoughtfully got up early and wrapped a present for Jade; she improvised wrapping paper by using a colourful napkin because she didn’t want to wake me to ask for gift wrap. (Greatly appreciated by me!) Halia was almost as excited as Jade was about seeing what the presents were.

Jade’s last present was a heavy box from Michael, which turned out to be a giant box of dog biscuits. The biscuits were a stand-in for the real gift: Michael plans to take Jade dogsledding. Jade was excited at the prospect and Halia immediately asked, “Can I come, too?!”

Michael said he’d have to see, maybe, but probably not. (Generally, two people can take one dogsled, one in the sled and one behind, so with Michael and Jade, the sled would be at capacity.)

Let me just say that this is not a post about solving the problem of how to give Halia what she wants. I can already feel some of you wanting to give suggestions on how to resolve the situation, because I know you already foresee Halia’s reaction: envy and disappointment.

Jade carried on with opening a birthday card and Halia sat sedately (not like her usual self at all!), blinking a litte faster than usual. I could see she was wrestling with her feelings, so I held her and let her try to sort herself out.

As we moved on to start getting breakfast ready, Halia went and sat in an armchair in the living room, facing away from everyone. Michael asked her what was up, and she burst into tears, wailing that she wouldn’t get to go dogsledding.

It’s a tough reality that our feelings can be inconvenient to others. Small children don’t face any dilemma because they let their feelings be known as soon as they feel them, but Halia has reached the age where she knows that her feelings can conflict with other people’s feelings. I was very proud of her at that moment because I had seen how hard she had tried to be brave in the face of disappointment. She knew that being upset was “inappropriate” and that her disappointment could be upsetting to Michael and Jade. She had done her best to rein in her big feelings and keep them to herself.

So I held her a while and let her ride that out. I told her about a time I remembered feeling envy and disappointment and how difficult that was. I told her I saw how brave she had been.

Later on, after breakfast, I was able to talk to both Jade and Halia about naming our feelings and recognizing them, about honouring and understanding them. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to observe our feelings without judgment, without rushing to “fix” them or make them go away.

When I was a young child, I remember overhearing my mother telling a friend, “Fawn never cries!” (I was a pretty tough little kid. I could fall down and skin my knees and get up and keep going with seeming indifference.) I recognized the pride in her voice and I treasured it. Well into my early 20s, I rarely let anyone see me cry. If I had big feelings of sadness or disappointment, I’d wait until I was in bed or in the shower to sob out my heartache. Journalling was my way of talking through my feelings, but outwardly, I was staunchly stoic.

I don’t mean to imply that this one statement by my mom caused me to hide my feelings for years. It’s just a memory that crystallizes what most of us have been taught to do: to not make other people uncomfortable with our feelings, to not show weakness, and to deny, even to ourselves, the difficult things we feel.

This past year, I’ve been working hard on letting myself experience my emotions fully, without running from them, covering them up, denying them… or wallowing in them, either. It has been a powerful experience. This morning, while talking to the girls about it, I had the insight that my inclination to cover up my feelings contributed to some very unhealthy habits in my marriage. Sometimes I was afraid that my feelings would cause conflicts, which I wanted to avoid. Sometimes, I was afraid of the feelings themselves, because they implied big changes that I didn’t want to face. But how could we, as a couple, deal with conflicts that were never named? How could I, as an individual, deal with a conflict I refused to acknowledge to myself?

For Halia today, simply being seen and understood was enough. I didn’t have to try to convince her that her feelings weren’t okay. I didn’t have to be angry with her for reacting in an inconvenient way. I didn’t have to solve the “problem” by promising that I would take her dogsledding. I helped her to name her feelings and I let her know I was proud of her for her bravery. I let her know that I wanted to listen. I acknowledged the conflict between what she was feeling and what she knew she was “supposed” to feel. And just feeling seen and understood was enough. By the time I left for work, she was back to her usual self.

I hope that these “small” moments will let Halia and Jade (whose gentle spirit also gives her the instinct to hide her feelings) figure out healthy ways to acknowledge and understand their emotions. There are more big feelings on the horizon, with tweendom coming in full force. I hope that they can learn to feel compassion not just for others (important as that is!) but for themselves, as well.

I know firsthand how important it is. And how challenging it can be.

 

 

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En route

7 May

I’m sitting in the International wing of the Vancouver Airport. There’s a little oasis here, with a stream, grasses growing along the edges, a footbridge from which small children can throw coins, a giant salt-water aquarium, and comfy chairs all around.

I have quite a nasty head cold and am grateful for the sinus-clearing drugs that allowed me to stave it off long enough on Saturday that I had a fantastic show, and that allowed me to land in Vancouver this morning with trepidation but no pain.

I am off to meet my parents in Oslo. It will take all day today and a good chunk of tomorrow to get there. I’ll be gone for 10 days. I’m excited, but melancholy all at once. Yesterday as I was packing Jade’s lunch, I was getting teary thinking about leaving my girls for so long. And I very nearly cried when my plane took off this morning. I am a suck.

I know Michael is perfectly capable, and yet I feel bad to leave him to parent both girls and try to get his work done. (Although I do the same thing. But my work doesn’t pay the bills. It just barely pays for itself. Yet.)

I just had a Skype talk with Michael and Halia, so I feel a bit better.

My Oma will be in Oslo, too. I haven’t seen her in a couple of years and I’m really looking forward to giving her a great big hug. I wish I’d thought to ask the girls to make a card for her before I left home.

This is my life today. Chaotic, disorganized, and exciting.

And my kids will be fine.

Halia, talking to herself whilst colouring

16 Apr

“I went for a walk and found some wild animals. Oh! Were they lost? No, I’ll take them home tomorrow.”

I believe she’s looking for a venue to have her first stand-up comedy show.

Jade, singing in the back seat of the van

15 Apr

“Yippee-eye-yaaaaaay!

Yippee-eye-ooooooo-oooh….

No spiders in the sky…”

This is not a post about puke

1 Apr

I think my dad was trying to curse me yesterday, in the first sentence of the comment he left on my post. He remarked that although, yes, I had done a post on pee, and then one about poop, I hadn’t yet done one about puke. So, just to spite him, I am not going to blog about puke.

I will tell you that I went to check on Halia last night before retiring. She was sleeping so sweetly, breathing so gently, tucked under the beautiful quilt my friend Nita made for her. I’ll tell you how I tucked her in a little more securely and leaned in to kiss her on her sweet cheek.

But I certainly won’t tell you how my nostrils filled with the sour smell of vomit, or what my hand encountered in trying to tuck her in. And I won’t mention that this appears to be the third time this week that Halia has thrown up in her sleep. The other two times, I didn’t even discover what had happened until the next day. But I won’t tell you about that.

Nanuq has been doing so much better, too. For a while, I was worried there was something seriously wrong with him, as he was throwing up so frequently. Disgusting, too, since all he eats is raw fish. But after several vet appointments and making some changes to his feeding schedule, he’s been doing really well for several weeks. It’s been such a relief not to haul out the carpet shampooer every day.  (Haha! Like I actually did that every time!)

This week, we ran out of Nanuq’s fish and I tried to get some more, but the place where we get it was closed. So last night I concocted a mixture of rice and tuna (which he has tolerated fine before) and scrambled eggs (an experiment). He ate it up happily. Isn’t that a nice story?

I won’t add any sour notes to that one by telling you just how many puke puddles I found around the house this morning. It was a bit of a treasure hunt for the kids, since Jade found two and Halia found one… but you won’t want to hear about that.

I absolutely refuse to do a post about vomit.

Now please, people, don’t leave any smart-aleck remarks about snot, blood, or other bodily fluids. I think I’ve had enough, both of blogging and not blogging about these things.

And now for a poop tale

31 Mar

I’ve had this deep philosophical post planned out in my head for weeks now, but haven’t got round to committing it to, er, pixels. These things take time. But here’s a post about  this morning, as told to my sis via Skype. Because I notice the last post I did was about pee, so of course we’ve got to up the ante. Be sure to picture it all clearly in your mind for maximum comedic effect.

So Nem and I were just chatting about summer plans, like so…

[8:08 AM] {blah, blah, blah, plan, plan, plan, plot, plot, plot}

[8:09 AM] Fawn: hang on – poo emergency

[8:09 AM] Nemmy: I keep telling him the Dempster will still be there later 😉

[8:09 AM] Nemmy: we’ll discuss it over breakfast… and no problem, poo comes first haha

….

[8:19 AM] Fawn: well, that was fun 😛

[8:20 AM] Nemmy: the poo emergency?

[8:20 AM] Fawn: yeah

[8:20 AM] Nemmy: what happened?

[8:20 AM] Nemmy: (baby just knocked the castle over… she’s such a brute… lol)

[8:20 AM] Fawn: Halia was in the bathroom crying and I asked her if she was okay

[8:20 AM] Fawn: She said, “Waahhhh, I got poo on it!”

[8:20 AM] Fawn: brb – bacon needs flipping

[8:21 AM] Fawn: Okay, so I go into the bathroom, and there’s runny yellow poop all over the floor in front of the toilet

[8:22 AM] Fawn: Halia’s upset that she didn’t make it to the toilet

[8:22 AM] Nemmy: awwww

[8:22 AM] Fawn: there was no toilet paper left on the roll

[8:22 AM] Nemmy: awwww

[8:22 AM] Fawn: (all in the toilet)

[8:22 AM] Nemmy: bahahaha

[8:22 AM] Fawn: and so she took a brand new roll out

[8:22 AM] Nemmy: wait, she put the toilet paper in the toilet???

[8:22 AM] Fawn: Yes, she tried to clean up the mess

[8:22 AM] Fawn: by herself

[8:22 AM] Fawn: and the poop was smeared everywhere

[8:23 AM] Fawn: got it all over herself, of course

[8:23 AM] Nemmy: lol

[8:23 AM] Fawn: and on the newspaper that was on the floor that I hadn’t had a chance to read yet

[8:23 AM] Fawn: (darn you, Michael!)

[8:23 AM] Nemmy: ah, the glamour of motherhood

[8:23 AM] Fawn: and the brand new roll of toilet paper was in the puddle of poop

[8:23 AM] Nemmy: lmao

[8:23 AM] Nemmy: a perfect storm

[8:23 AM] Fawn: 😀

[8:23 AM] Fawn: Poor Halia

[8:24 AM] Nemmy: ok, i better get baby all dressed

[8:24 AM] Fawn: K – ttyl

[8:24 AM] Nemmy: give her a hug from me

[8:24 AM] Fawn: Okay

[8:24 AM] Nemmy: loooove you

[8:24 AM] Fawn: Looooooooove you more

The definition of good timing

9 Mar

…when your daughter, who is drinking way more than she ever has in her life (in an effort to prevent kidney stones) crawls into bed with you in the middle of the night and snuggles up, only to wake you an hour later because she peed in your bed.

…and the arm of your pajamas are soaked, so you strip her, and you strip yourself and put everything in the washing machine, and freeze a little as you dig a set of freshly-washed PJs out of the dryer.

…and you head back to the bedroom to check out just how bad your mattress is.

Then you’ll be glad you didn’t get around to changing the sheets on your bed this week. Well, that’s good timing, I guess, you might think to yourself.

Then…

…you wrestle with the heavy mattress, which has just one slightly-damp spot on it, because it really needed to be flipped and rotated, anyway.

…and you wonder where the heck your husband disappeared to as you grunt and sweat to flip the darned thing over.

…then you put fresh sheets on, and while you’re at it, change the pillowcases, too.

…and you trip all over the clothes lying about the floor as you switch from one side of the bed to the other, tucking the fitted sheet under, lining up the flat sheet, noting that it’s taking you a good 10 minutes to get it just right so that the scratchy Hudson’s Bay blanket is encased in the flat sheet so that it won’t grate your face in the night, thinking this would go so much faster if only another adult were around at the moment.

…and you finally, finally, settle back into bed, in those cool, crisp sheets, read the alarm clock (4:55), and switch off the bedside lamp.

Then…

…your husband walks in, having snuggled a very distraught girl back to peaceful sleep in her own bed.

Then you might tell him he missed all the fun of helping you change the sheets on your bed, and doesn’t he have excellent timing?