Monday, December 28, 2009

My first Christmas without her

I did pretty well this Christmas. No crying in the service when we attended my grandparent's church for the Christmas Eve candlelight service that she loved so much. I held back the tears when my mother opened the "Tree of memory" glass ornament I gave her. I wanted so much to give her what she really had wanted, but what can you do when you ask your mom what she wants for Christmas and all she can tell you in a quiet, shaky voice is "I want my mom back"? I held myself together at the big family gathering where her absence was as obvious as a big gaping wound despite everyone's eforts to press on with the festivities. Luckily I was alone in the car every time I heard this song on the radio, because I lose it every single time.

And it was just November past
She said goodbye, and breathed her last
And the great grandchildren miss her so
But if she could she would let them know …
This is my first Christmas
First time to hear the angels sing
Glory, hallelujah to the risen king
And a holy night is what this is
‘Cause this is my first Christmas
This is my first Christmas.
-excerpt from "My First Christmas" by Carolyn Arends. 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

December frenzy

I thought Christmas was busy enough last year. This fall I accepted a second job as a "clinical facilitator" which roughly translates into bringing wide-eyed nursing students into the hospital and trying to let them do nurse-things while trying to prevent them from damaging the children we are trying to help heal. It's been a busy term juggling students between my regular job days where I get to do the work myself (instead of standing by cringing).  And home life is just as busy as ever. - Hence the lack of blog entries these last months.

But now add the Christmas rush, the decorating, the buying gifts, the baking (which used to consist of a carefully planned list of quadruple batches of 8 different recipes to provide my family with platters and my mother with a freezer stocked, as well as tins for relatives, now not even requiring a slip of paper - how hard is it to remember shortbread and gingerbread?). That would be busy enough, but lucky me the school term happens to end at Christmas meaning slogging through and marking the last of the student papers, filling out in-depth 15 page evaluations on each student, and scheduling meetings to break the news of how they did just in time for Santa.

I love tradition. Already bought all the candies for decorating the gingerbread house that I have to make sure we get around to baking. Already decided what the boys should wear to see Santa at the mall...

Bruce took the dog (and the boys) to the pound to get Rita a Santa picture for a fundraiser one Saturday while I was working. It was a picture for Rita, but the couch was big enough for them all. I like the tradition of going to Polo Park and getting the pre-requisite picture of the boys with the ornate background and the Santa with a real beard, but this year I'm just going to have to resist my anal tendancies and say good "enough".

Monday, November 9, 2009

What is a GOOD bye?

My grandmother is dying. I'm terrified that she won't make it until we get to see her today. Yes, I've told her I love her, but I haven't actually said Good Bye yet. I know where my Nannie is headed. I know that she is ready and more than willing to go. We've talked about it so many times over the last months. But now, as I face saying Good Bye to the woman who has been my example and impacted my life to the point where I owe her everything, because I know my faith began because of her, I can't bear the thought of not having her here.
I thought I was doing well with this, I knew she wouldn't last long. But there was that part of me, knowing that she likely wouldn't make it until Christmas, but still hoping that the boys could make her one last Christmas ornament, that maybe we could make her gingersnaps this year and bring them to her so she can see how part of her will carry on. For all the baking I do, and how I can impress with my fancy cheesecakes and scones, I still can't get her gingersnap recipe to go right. That's my favorite memory of her, the two of us in her kitchen baking gingersnaps. But I know even if she made it through Christmas, it wouldn't make it any easier, I'd just find another reason for her to stay.
I keep reminding myself that this is what she wants. She wants to go home, she's been ready since my grandfather died last year. I know wishing her to stay is utterly and completely selfish on my part, but I can't help it. And there's that part of me that hopes she dies soon after we say goodbye. I know she wants it, and I don't want to see her suffer any more. And I read back over the words I've typed and I see I's all over the place. Once again, I've made it all about me.
Whenever I visit her, she goes on and on about how proud she is of me, and how happy she is that her granddaughter has found the Lord. She talks about her great-grandsons being raised in a Christian home, and how important that is.She thanks me for little tiny things that I've done that she's already thanked me for several times.She faces death like it's no big deal and goes on and on about me picking her up one day when she didn't have a ride. I need to learn some of that selflessness. So today I will take my family in to say good bye, and hopefully today she will be the selfish one, to take our love without feeling like she needs to give anything back. She has given more than enough for one lifetime.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Curse of the Nurse.

My parents let us use their trailer at the lake for a few days as a vacation. It was fun, except for all the fun parts.

Walking along the docks trying to catch minnows, leaning over the sides with the nets. Thinking about the near drowning kids I see at work. And panicking when Toby manages to pry his hand clear of mine and take off running down the docks.

Catching a painted turtle on a minnow hunt,and while my kids lean in to get a better look at him on the dock, my mind flashing to a nasty turtle bite I've seen.

Being down at the beach and wanting to help build the canals and waterfalls, but scared to get too involved and taking my eyes off them, because I know that even in shallow water kids can drown.

Sitting around the campfire, roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. Holding my breath every time one of the kids gets up to walk around the fire, remembering kids who lost their footing and ended up with burned hands and bums and faces that come into the hospital every summer and are often stuck there until fall, enduring painful dressing changes and skin grafts that never look quite "normal" again.

I'm trapped between wanting my kids to have a wonderful full childhood, packed with memories and experiences, and wanting to lock my children in rooms with padded walls and soft low furniture to keep them safe.

I'm used to the eye rolls and "well you turned out okay" when I make a comment on safety to my parents who often take care of my children. Never mind the fact that my mother did a brief stint as a teenaged candy-striper and saw one unlucky motorcyclist,and spent years ranting to us children that she never wanted us on motorcycles. My husband knows better than to question my judgment, but even he can't understand, because he hasn't seen the horrible life-changing things that can happen in the blink of an eye. Granted, I don't see all the kids who go for a snowmobile ride and come back with smiles and happy memories. I just see the broken limbs, internal injuries, and the families that the ones who aren't going to make it are leaving behind. I have another friend with whom I've worked at the hospital who's now a mom and now getting the eye-rolls as well. So, I'm lucky that I have someone in my life who understands.

So, no, my children aren't allowed outside while the grass is being cut. No, they can't put another log on the fire. No they can't ride in the back of the pick-up truck (even though I did on a busy highway as a teen several times and somehow I "turned out okay"). No, they aren't allowed to play on a trampoline. No, they aren't allowed to skateboard, bike or rollerblade, even for a minute, even on the quietest of streets, unless they have a proper fitting helmet strapped on their head. No, they aren't allowed on an ATV, dirt bike or snowmobile, even to do a quick test drive on an empty back lane. You may find something here unreasonable, and probably things will change as they get older(and more responsible, she says with her fingers crossed), but if everyone saw what I do at work there'd be a whole lot more children walking to school dressed up like hockey goalies.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Drama Queen requests an end to all this Drama

Bruce's alarm goes off, waking up Luke. Luke is alternating coming out of his room whining to get up, and laying in bed crying to get up. This wakes up Toby, and by the time Luke's Monkey Light turns on at 6:15am signaling that he can get up, everyone is grumpy, especially me. After being out later than I should on my Stonewall Epiphany and having trouble sleeping with my mind racing from all the excitement (and maybe the latte), this morning came WAY to early.
8:02am- I finally shake my grumpiness and we decide to start breakfast. As always these days, Toby wants "blueberries...with a...bit of...sugar" (in his high squeaky voice) as his fruit.
8:04am- Apparently the "blueberries...with a...bit of...sugar" taste funny. They taste fine to me, but Toby refuses to take my word for it. Refuses to have any other type of fruit. Refuses to just eat the #%@&%$ berries.
8:10am- trying to diffuse the situation and get the #%@&%$ berries out of the way The In-MOM-erator 3000 steps in. At the site of the disappearing berries a tantrum ensues.
8:56am-the tantrum has ended, but the stubborn boy has decided that he will not be eating breakfast today.
10:23am-a fresh bowl of "blueberries...with a...bit of...sugar" followed by Rice Krispies masquerade as a "snack". We both think we have won this battle, but the war is far from over.

- Bruce's alarm goes off, waking up Luke. Luke is alternating coming out of his room whining to get up, and laying in bed crying to get up. This wakes up Toby, and by the time Luke's Monkey Light turns on at 6:15am signaling that he can get up, everyone is grumpy, especially me. Deja Vu.
8:12am- everyone is showered and dressed, the boys are just finishing the TV show that kept them from forcing me to jump out of the shower to referee fights. I'm enjoying a few minutes of peace, but know that the boys need breakfast. The phone rings and I discover that the in-laws aren't coming to church, CRAP! During the call the boys have made it downstairs and have started with the Hot Wheels, and now don't want to come up for breakfast.
8:23am- Luke is starting his breakfast, but Toby is staging a sit-in downstairs. He's not playing anymore, but refuses to come upstairs for breakfast. As the sit-in wears on, the howls from the basement grow louder, although it is not an organized chant, it still gets his point across. All he needs is a protest sign. I didn't realize that breakfast had become so political.
9:08am- after a sit-down negotiation, a truce has been declared and breakfast restarted. Guess we're not going to church, since we should have left 3 minutes ago and I'm just sprinkling "a...little bit...of sugar" on His Highness' berries.
12:45pm-there is a surprisingly smooth relaxing atmosphere of having a lazy Sunday morning at home. It has put me at ease, and now I'm getting's nap time in 15 minutes for both boys and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. The phone rings, apparently my grandma went into the hospital last night and now needs to get home, and since the paramedics had cut off her nightgown, she's got nothing to wear. The boys try to put away as many toys as they can while I run around looking for things to make my grandma decent enough to get home.
1:25pm-Victoria Hospital emergency room. Luke is persuaded by stickers, but people are looking at Toby screaming in the hallway, only screaming louder if staff approaches to try to help. And after trying to hear the story from my grandma's nurse, I walk out behind my grandma wearing bright red pajama shorts and the only button-up comfortable shirt I could find in my closet. It's fleece and it's hot outside, but my grandma is too busy trying to say thank you whilst apologizing for imposing to even notice the heat. Luke trails behind. I've got new prescriptions and a purple patient belongs bag in on arm and a screaming Toby under the other. As we walk past security I swear to the guards that he is my child, and this is not an abduction in progress.
2:12pm-The screaming finally ends when we finally make it into the apartment and I pull out the box of toys. I call my in-laws and although he missed church because he wasn't feeling well, he willingly comes around and picks up the kids so they can have some semblance of a nap. After running out for the prescriptions and a few groceries. I get to spend the afternoon visiting with my grandma without being interrupted every 23 seconds.
7:40pm-My parents arrive home from the lake. My grandmother reluctantly is driven to their house for the night. She's upset that they had to come home early from their vacation "when they didn't have to". She knows she almost died and that her heart needed to be "shocked", but now wishes that those paramedics hadn't come because then she'd be gone and my parents wouldn't have had their vacation spoiled by her, and I wouldn't have to spend the day away from my children. I still don't get the logic of all that, but she's facing cancer, and a fatal arrythmia seems like a much easier out.

5:21am- Luke's not waiting for Bruce's alarm anymore. His internal alarm clock is now set. Luke is alternating coming out of his room whining to get up, and laying in bed crying to get up. This wakes up Toby, and by the time Luke's Monkey Light turns on at 6:15am signaling that he can get up, everyone is SUPER grumpy, especially me.
7:55am-Today, both boys are happily requesting blueberries. There are pink lady apples is the fridge, so that they'll be cold, just how Luke likes them. Strawberries used to be Toby's favorite, until he discovered the joys of blueberries this summer, but there are still strawberries in the fridge ready to be eaten. There are still 4 bananas in the fruit bowl, but I know these are destined to become banana muffins, because there are a few brown spots, and more importantly there are no stickers on them. Luke will only eat a perfect blemish-free banana, and Toby will ignore a few brown spots as long as there is a sticker on it. I'll have to remember to complain to Chiquita and Del Monte, because after being pulled off the discarded banana peel, the stickers will only stick to 2 more bananas before it ends up as just an oval of no-longer-sticky paper in the fruit bowl. There are red grapes that were well tested in the store to make sure that they were the firmest bunch for my beloved picky husband, which my beloved picky youngest will only eat whole on the stem, despite my trepidation about choking. But they are whole and still on the stem, so it shouldn't be a problem. Not to mention all the watermelon sliced into triangles in the downstairs fridge or the untouched cantaloupe, which won't do for Toby, but Luke likes melon so much that he begs for it in the store when we already have it at home, except that his melon craving dissipates as soon as we enter the front door. But blueberries, well I figure there's probably about 18 left in what used to be a 2 lb container. 9 blueberries each...I don't think that counts as a serving in the food guide...18 won't even do if I could somehow serve them to one without being one of those moms who plays favorites. I'm getting tired of writing, so you must be tired of reading, so I'll spare you a play-by-play of today's dramatics, the begging, the pleading, the bargaining. Let's just say it breakfast took a while and by the time we made it out of the house to go grocery shopping for more blueberries (amongst other things), it was close to 11am.

-you guessed it.
8:04am-breakfast seems to run surprisingly smooth. I'm not sure if it's because I know this is my last day off, or if Toby feels his point is proven, or if we're both just too plain tired to play games.

4:05am-I wake up and sneak out of bed and go out to sleep for a while longer on the couch.
5:20am-My quietest little alarm on my palm pilot goes off. I quickly turn it off. And stalk into the bathroom like a Ninja. I leave the bathrroom door open with the light on for just a minute hoping it is enough to wake Bruce before his alarm goes off. I get into the shower turning the water on ever so slowly and gradually.
5:32am-Bruce walks in. Judging by how long it took him I'm guessing my light signal didn't work and he slept until his alarm went off.
5:33am-Luke walks into the bathroom, already whining and crying. Bruce sends him back to his room. I shampoo, rinse and Luke repeats...and repeats, and repeats.
6:04am-Luke is still going on like the world`s going to end. The monkey light is set to go off early today at 6:10am, but I`m dressed and just finishing up my makeup, realizing that nothing will hide the bags under my eyes, if I was even motivated enough to try. Bruce tries to send him back to his room yet again. Toby`s awake and chatting in his room, and has been since 5:33am. I yell to Bruce to give it up, let Luke come out. I grab Toby out of his room, and everyone is dressed and loading into our respective vehicles by the time Luke`s monkey light would normally come on at 6:15am.
6:28am-I usher the kids into my parent`s house. I`m trying to play the part of caring mother who is torn about leaving her children to go to work, and I`m hoping my father can`t see the excitement in my eyes. I stay awhile anyways, making sure to leave with enough time to stop at Starbucks for a VENTI Caramel Frappucino (that means big ole blended milky, caramely and espresso-y goodness). YUM!
I dream that I`m headed off to a day of pampering at the spa, but after the preschool drama, I`m happy to even head to work for the next 2 days. Working in the PICU has plenty of drama, but it`s real drama, not tantruming over blueberries. Besides, the kids can`t whine with breathing tubes in, they can`t refuse to eat with a tube that goes through their nose down to their stomach, and I`ve got lots of drugs to help anxious kids settle.
I admit to being a bit of a drama queen at times, but I even I can`t handle all this drama.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Path Not Taken

On Friday night I drove to a little cafe in Stonewall to meet Oria Dale. She`s currently in Zimbabwe (an has been for quite some time) working as a photographer & missionary. I thought it would be cool to pick up my friend who lives in Stonewall and we could sit in the coffee shop, looking at the beautiful pictures and catching up. What I didn`t expect was the churning up of those old feelings inside. Soon after we got there, this beautiful woman with her dreadlocks pulled up in a scarf making her look like the artist she is, stood up and began talking about what`s going on in Zimbabwe, and what she and some other artists are striving towards. She is a part of Artisan ("a creative network for people grappling with issues of Christianity within the arts"), where she and a friend brought this international network to Zimbabwe. She is also part of 24-7 Prayer where from time to time it looks like she posts updates.

Although what she`s doing sounds wonderful and amazing, that`s not the reason for this post. When she was talking about Zimbabwe and the people and conditions there, I felt a familiar feeling that I haven`t felt in a long time. When I was in nursing school my plan was to go to Uganda after I graduated. I pictured myself there helping the orphans of the AIDS epidemic. I studied the spread of AIDS throughout the regions and wrote papers on it. I took courses like "Death in the Family" trying to prepare myself for helping these children who only knew loss. When Bruce and I started dating I told him one day that I was planning on going to Africa when I graduated and I wasn`t going to let our relationship interfere with those plans.

My Stonewall friend went to nursing school with me, and when Oria was finished talking she turned to me and said she had a strange feeling, flashing back to nursing school, because it could have been me up there talking.
And although I argued that the dreadlocks wouldn`t have looked nearly as good on me, she was right. It could have been me coming back from doing something wonderful for God in Africa. And part of me feels that it SHOULD have been me.

But obviously I never made it. I took the easy road. Life here was so comfortable, I`ve never left the continent, all my family was here...and there was Bruce. The person I loved most, and he loved me too. How could I leave all this? Truthfully going there terrified me, and as graduation drew near, I made the excuses that I didn`t know how I would get set up there, that I didn`t know of any organizations that fit for me to go over as both a nurse and a missionary to help these kids, but the truth was, I didn`t look very hard. The next excuse I found was that I had no experience and it would be better to work a year or two first. After that I saw the aboriginal children right here in Canada who need love and thought Ì don`t have to travel to the other side of the world to help children when there are so many here who need help. And I had managed to convince myself.

Now a decade later I sit at my computer in my comfortable house with reliable electricity and running water, and I worry that I`ve missed out on something really big. I feel that I`ve failed. I love my job and feel fulfilled when I`m able to help, but I`m stunted in sharing my faith and resort to praying for babies and sleeping children when no one`s around. The hard days when a child is dying and the family is trying to come to grips with the fact that there is no hope, those are the days when I cry all the way home, but love my job the most. It sounds sick writing that, but I feel like I`m doing what I was made to do when I have days like that. And I think that`s how I would feel in Africa. And it makes me question if the life I`m leading is what God wanted, or if the other path was what was meant for me. I looked at Oria, two years younger than me, doing wonderful things with people she has made her friends, and I look at my husband and my children and think that I wouldn`t have them if I were in Uganda or Zimbabwe. Growing up, the biggest desire of my heart was to get married and have children. And I have to think that it seems to me that I couldn`t have this life had I not chickened out.

Maybe one day I`ll still make it over there, maybe once the kids are grown Bruce and I could go together. I don`t know. But for now I guess I`ll stick to praying for Oria over there, and the children at my work here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A relief and a burden.

I try to be a good Christian example for my kids. Unfortunately they see me at my worst more often than anyone. Sleep-deprived, frustrated and annoyed from not getting a moments peace (day or night) hardly sets the stage for the gentleness of Christianity to shine through. I keep trying my best, and although it's a lot easier on those days when the kids are miraculously sleeping past 6 am to spend time doing devotions in the peace and quiet, I also want to hold back and wait until they are awake so they can see me. It takes 100 times as long to read that same passage of scripture, but I show them how important it is, even if there are interruptions every 5 seconds. Luke often asks me to read him a story from my "grown-up" bible. My NIV version may not be quite as easy for him to understand as his Children's version (or the Veggie Tales video versions for that matter), but he loves it all the same, especially Daniel in the Lion's Den. I love that he sits there absorbing God's word, even if some of the words are above his understanding.

Last night I could tell Luke was feeling sick, and since he's a back-sleeper I knew that his runny nose would soon turn to nighttime coughing. We prayed before bed as always, and his first wake-up (if he had ever actually made it to sleep) was about an hour later. I helped him blow his nose and gave him a dose of tylenol because he felt warm, and just as I was shutting his door he called to me. When I asked what he needed he asked if I could pray for him one more time tonight. I'll tell you, my heart soared, my little boy asking for prayer because he was sick may not seem huge, but day after day when he says grace he spews out the same words like a robot, which makes me worry that he sees prayer as a monotonous task. We've tried explaining that it's just talking to God and you can just talk to him like you do a friend, but he often shies away from spontaneous prayer on his own.

Then last night when I crawled into bed, still thinking about my son's prayer request, I had a terrible worry. What if after we've prayed for a night of rest that he has a terrible night and thinks that God wasn't listening to us. He's only 4, but I worried that this night may lay a foundation of uncertainty rather than faith. I'd like to tell you that I prayed about it and felt peace about it and drifted off to sleep, but I didn't. I begged God and worried until I fell asleep.

After an okay night with only one big coughing fit, that didn't turn into hysterical crying (from either of us), I am thankful for the good night, and hope that it helps both my son's and my own faith to grow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The In-MOM-erator 3000

Do you have one of these under your sink? As a child we always had a garbage disposal. When we moved my dad would uninstall it and our beloved in-sink-erator would move with us.

After we were first married and I would be peeling carrots and potatoes for stew, I always got frustrated at not being able to peel right into the sink, turn on the water and flip a switch..and POOF! like magic have my mess would disappear. Needless to say the good old garbage disposal was high on my home reno list. Bruce had never had a disposal, so he didn't see the need, but he wanted to eat, so he humored me. After some help from my father, Bruce was able to...okay, so it didn't quite go that way...after Bruce stood around watching my father install my special purchase from Sears, I looked down into my drain and saw the familiar, comforting sight. AHHHHH! Less environmentally friendly than compost (although we do try to do that too), but so much easier. All the less desirable parts of produce disappearing with the flip of a switch. The only down side is the grinding, grating, rumbling beneath the sink.

I want my children to grow up eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, so I buy fresh produce even when it's not all that cheap. But I want my children to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables and develop a life-long habit of healthy eating, so I try to keep the house fairly well-stocked. I often find myself walking over to the fruit bowl and seeing a pristine pear, but I leave it because one of my kids may want it. Fast-forward a few days, when the pear is not so pristine, a little bruised from being shoved around the bowl and bashed against the bananas. Many snack times that pear has been offered and refused. It is now looking tired, beaten and a little mushy. Since we live in Winnipeg and local produce amounts to mushrooms and onions this time of year, the pear wasn't cheap. How I wish I could rewind back to when that pear looked edible, and I actually felt like eating it, but I can't, so I turn on the water, rinse off the pear and toss it into the in-mom-erator 3000 (aka me). The kids didn't want the pear, they've been inhaling strawberries for the last few days at $4.99 a pound. I finally broke and bought the big pack and somehow they don't feel like strawberries anymore. As the days pass and some of the strawberries start to get the deep pink of upcoming fermentation, I convince Luke to have a bowl. I'm dropping the hulls and leaves into the sink (because even I have limits), and as Luke comments that he doesn't want any mushy ones I start popping every other strawberry into my mouth. Only the non-mushy get the privilege of making it into the bowl, all else goes into the trusty in-mom-erator, unless I can convince the boys to have a smoothie. Last Christmas the mandarins were a hot commodity in my house. I bought box after box. At first the boys ate and ate them. Then the boys kept asking for them, peeling them and then I'd find them sitting around, sometimes without a single segment missing. Have no fear in-mom-erator 3000 can make that unwanted orange disappear.

Yes, the in-mom-erator 3000 is unparalleled at handling unwanted fruit, but that isn't all it can do...see how it quickly consumes the chicken left untouched on plate. Crusts a problem? Not only can the in-mom-erator 3000 take care of those unsightly pieces of sandwich but it provides an exchange service, trading crusts for a piece of her own sandwich with nary a crust in sight. All that unwanted food quickly disappears and the only down side is the grumbling sound...something about "fussy, ungrateful children"

Friday, April 10, 2009

What's so Good about Friday?

Before I was a parent, I thought I knew how much God loved me. I had loved my family, I had loved my friends, and I knew it was kinda like that. I love my husband absolutely, utterly, completely...but there is still the give and take of a marriage and its love relationship. I’d sacrifice for my husband without question, and I figured that was a lot like God’s Love...

That was before I glimpsed what His Love was like from God’s point of view. That all happened when I had children. I love my children dearly. It doesn’t matter if they’re constantly doing things I’ve told them not to do. It doesn’t matter if they refuse to give me a hug, or continually forget to say “thank-you”. Although I can’t say I have God’s patience with them when they are whining on and on about something insignificant, I can tell you that I still love them as much as when they are happy and smiling and behaving. I may be angry at their bad behaviour when they act like monsters, but I love them even in that anger.
Young children are incredibly self-centered. But I dare say that as “adults”, many of us are only a little better. While we wander around this planet doing things we know we shouldn’t do, whining about our lives instead of being thankful that we have been blessed with so much, thinking our life is all about us, there’s God watching, (sometimes shaking his head I’m sure), and loving us. We may love God, but truthfully our love with God is more one-sided than reciprocal. It’s like our love for Him is small, compact, pea-sized, and His for us is enormously mountainous.
I like to believe that I would be willing to give up my life to save another. But then, I think about Abraham being willing to kill his son for God. I can’t say that my faith would be strong enough to be willing to give up my child’s life. At work, I see worst case scenarios some days. Parents faced with a terrifying diagnosis, watching their child suffering, or dealing with a dying child. So often I see that same look on the mother or father’s face and I know that they are wishing that they could do something, anything to put themselves into their child’s place, to sacrifice themselves instead of having their child go through the pain. I don’t think I recognized this before I had my own children, and I hope that I never have to experience it first-hand as a parent.
But I am that child. My Father sacrificed His son, a part of Himself, to save me when I certainly didn’t deserve it. I know I still can’t fathom the immense depth of God’s love, but I now understand the nature of the sacrifice that was made for me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spring chicken to Mother hen...when'd that happen?

When I was 21, I started working as a grad nurse at Children's Hospital. For years I was the youngest nurse on the ward. The teenagers liked having me as their nurse, because even though I was a grown-up I was still young enough to understand them. I know that more than 10 years had passed and I'm far from 21. I was not so ridiculous as to think that the teenagers still viewed me as a slightly older peer, but I still thought that they would see me as a little older nurse who was still somewhat cool.

Last night I worked on my old ward, and I took care of a teenager who had been on some heavy pain medication the night before...too heavy. Apparently the kid was as high as a kite, and acting more than a little goofy. So last night after he was back on planet earth and vaguely remembering the previous eve, he mentioned how embarrassed he was. "I was flirting with a nurse who was old enough to be my mother!" he told me. I remembered that his nurse from that night had been one of the nurses who started not long after me. She was a few years older than me, but not much. I tried to rebuke him explaining that "she's not old enough to be your mother, your nurse last night is only a few years older than me"...a blank stare was my response. That's when I did the math and realized that I was 17 when this young man was born. I AM OLD ENOUGH TO BE HIS MOTHER!

I know I'm not in my 20s anymore and I've long since realized that I can no longer be the "cool older-cousin-type nurse" to the teenagers, but I was hoping I was still seen more as the "cool-auntie-type nurse". But no, somewhere in the past years I've changed in those teen eyes. I am now a full-fledged uncool, out-of-touch Mother Hen, not to be trusted. When did I get old?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ratty frayed towels and sheets with holes.

Yesterday I went on a bit of a shopping spree. I bought half of a set of new towels for the bathroom (the first half I got for Christmas) AND I also bought a new set of sheets.
When Bruce and I were engaged and preparing for getting married and living in our own house, we bought good quality towels. We also bought several sets of sheets, both flannel and jersey knit (because my husband wasn't used to using a top sheet and didn't think he could be comfortable in traditional sheets...but that's another story). That was back in 2000. Now it's nearly 9 years later, and the towels are looking like rags with frayed hemlines and the occasional bleach spot. I'm sure the dog won't mind being dried off with them, but I'm embarrassed when we have company in our bathroom. Our flannel sheets has a huge run like a cheap pair of nylons and our jersey sheets are warped and stretched out of shape with pencil-sized holes scattered about. Our quilt that was hopelessly dated and had a rip or two (thanks to Rita), was lucky enough to also be replaced this Christmas with a swanky new duvet (thanks to Mom & Dad).

I'm very thankful that I still get a little spoiled at Christmas, even though I'm all grown up. And I know that I'm blessed to be able to live with the means to go on a mini shopping spree now and then. But the thing that makes me feel truly blessed, that thing that makes me so very grateful, is that I was actually needing new towels and sheets. When you look at the divorce statistics I can't help but feel scared. Each year in Manitoba there seem to be between 2300 and 2500 divorces. More than one-third of marriages in Canada will end in divorce before the thirtieth anniversary. I never used to worry when I saw the statistics, I'd just use my cock-eyed optimism and say that our love was real, so divorce would never even be a thought. Seeing friends' marriages end, and learning how truly hard it is to keep the marriage life-raft afloat when dealing with children and two shift-workers desperately sleep-deprived and stressed, I've learned that divorce doesn't mean that it wasn't true love. Do I think I'll end up a statistic when it comes to divorce? NO WAY, NEVER!...well, I don't think so, and I certainly hope not. But I now realize that I have to work to keep it. Maybe bite my lip so that nasty remark stays inside where it belongs. Maybe do something sweet to remind my sweetie how much I love him a little more often.

My marriage has outlived all my linens (except those tablecloths that sit in the closet, never on the table). I think that's something to be proud of. I can't wait until these towels get ratty...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is the Mama Chipmunk at all worried that Junior might choke?

Have you ever been to summer camp or some other childhood activity where they had the Chubby Bunny contest? If not, playing Chubby Bunny is seeing how many marshmallows each kid (or maybe adult) can fit into their mouth and still be able to say "chubby bunny". I haven't seen this since my youth, but I'd imagine that these days I'd be more worried about the enormous risk of choking to enjoy the puffy-cheeked, barely audible, spit-splattering fun.

If you're wondering how many tater tots an almost 2 year old can fit into his mouth, I'm not sure because I only gave him 6 on tonight's supper plate, and although it dismayed me when I saw that he had crammed them all in at once when I went into the kitchen to get my glass of water, I could also tell that he had room in there for at least a couple more, especially because he was asking for more with those still in his cheeks. We are working hard teaching one bite at a time, but he doesn't seem to get it. It's those days when he's grabbing raisins by the handful and shoveling them in that I hope I can remember my Heimlich maneuver.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kickin' my childhood to the curb.

It seems in life there are two types of people. The pack-rats and the purgers. I'm a pack-rat. I always have been, and I can't see that changing any time soon. I was the girl who once kept a collection of bus transfers, although I didn't need much encouragement to throw that away. I am however, still grieving the "loss" of my rock collection (that took up 4 ice cream pails beside the shed in our yard) that apparently melted with the snow one spring when I was about 8. On a side note, my parents thought they were getting payback this year when they brought Luke home from the lake with a big box of rocks, but they didn't know I had a rock tumbler stashed away in my crafting pile, and they simply gave Luke and I a project.

However, I did marry a purger, which is the cause of some marital strife in our household. Over the last 8 years of our marriage my husband has slowly whittled away at my mountain of "useless stuff". Gone are the out-of-style clothes that will likely never fit me again. Gone is my collection of shopping bags from fancy boutiques and once trendy places. Gone is my purse collection (although I am working on building that back up, except that now the purses are larger). Gone are most of the notes passed back and forth during class and the bulk of letters that were stuffed in my locker, the movie stubs, the tickets from the roller rink, and those other little scraps of paper that were once so important (yes, I have kept a few in a shoebox...unless they melted last Spring). My 3 garbage bags of stuffed animals has been pared down to 1/2 of a big moving box. The other half of the box, as well as a second one filled with Cabbage Patch Dolls, Barbies, and a teensy doll house with little plastic 80s precursors to Polly Pocket which I can no longer remember the name, that once smelled as fruity as Strawberry Shortcake, but now smells of stale air. My childhood reduced to 2 boxes, that is, as of last year.

Lately my husband has been in purge mode. We need walls in the forgotten part of our basement and to build those walls, we need space. My husband really wants those walls, at the expense of many of his Hockey and Baseball cards, Sports Illustrated magazines, Sports memorabilia and trophies. Now Christmas is over, the tree and decorations are down and boxed, and now is the time of year when the husband heads back into the crawl space, and the out-of-sight out-of-mind theory can not protect my childhood mementos. So the other day, out came my childhood, smelling a little musty but still in good shape. I had to sacrifice the giant stuffed schnauzer that my grandfather gave me, and the rest of the stuffed animals to protect my Cozy Teddy bear. I gave up all my Barbies, the suitcase of novelty shaped erasers, glittery pencils and dime-store treasures, but it didn't seem to be enough to protect the larger stash of Cabbage Patch dolls with a hamper of clothes. And then I discovered my mother's baby doll, Barbie and some old records from her childhood, which my father must have accidentally packed in my stuff, in his hurry to get my mountain of junk out of his house. When I called my mom to see if she wanted these things back, maybe it was the sound of desperation in my voice, maybe she remembered all those times I spent hours in my room trying to purge but ending up reminiscing and coming out with the tiniest of discard piles, but she suggested that I bring the Cabbage Patch dolls, their bed and all the clothes over to her house so she can see about getting rid of the musty smell so we can find a home for them. I hope I understand her right when I think that this is all a code for her harbouring my fugitive dolls until the heat dies down. So as not to be fooled again by promises to give stuff away that get lost in the heap of junk, Bruce packed up the box and it now sits in the van awaiting transfer to the more secure facility. Hopefully my childhood will make it back home someday when the walls are completed. I'm so thankful for my mom buying me some time...I almost forgive her for getting rid of my rock collection that fateful spring...almost.