2018- Top Ten things I’m thankful for!
- Feelings of envy, stoked by the flames of curated lives on social media.
- Prosthetic legs aren’t that heavy
- Mr.D’s Fightin’ Canadians
- No birth control is 100%, #surprises
- My family participating in all my crazy ideas
- There is very little chance I will ever have to clean out a placenta fridge again
- In hockey, if you cry in goal you get pulled.
- My parents are here for Thanksgiving, and we get to celebrate how grateful we are for them!
- No fatalities were (officially)reported, when I worked at St. Boniface Hospital
My gratitude list might look a little different than yours … but … anyways,
Hello, my little turkeys! I am so excited to be undertaking this task, especially since it is coinciding with this season of Thanksgiving! I would love to say this was by design, but I decided long ago, to let go of the reins of this blog, and let good old Gert (my intuition) lead me through this process, as usual her timing is perfect.
Task#7- Learn to make Créme brulee
Turns out Kyle’s favorite is not Créme Brulee, so I’m going to make Bonoffee Pie, a British specialty Kyle was introduced to when he lived in London. So, let’s talk about my oldest, Kyle!
I have always wanted to be a mother. I wish I could tell you I had great career aspirations and goals; I would sound a lot more driven and ambitious, but really …. I was hoping and praying that Mummy would be my starring role in life. Until then though, like all dazed and confused twenty year olds, I was in search of purpose and employment.
After getting my bachelors degree, before going back to school I decided to try on my two career choices before committing. I was thinking nurse (I’m a natural caregiver), or teacher (I love kids). So I got a job as a Nurses aide at St. Boniface hospital. I loved the patients and didn’t even mind the less than glamorous moments of nursing. I happily, cleaned dirty sheets and took people to the bathroom (I remembered most of them in a timely fashion … the ones I didn’t, I convinced I was just giving them time for quiet reflection and prayer). When a recent amputee threw his prosthetic leg at me, I mustered my courage and went back in with a love offering, pudding … the panacea of the ailing. Within the hour we were watching old Dallas reruns together.
My worst experience, however, was on the maternity ward. Somebody accidentally unplugged the fridge on the labor and delivery floor. You know what was in it ???? … ALL THE PLACENTAS FROM THE BABIES BORN ON SATURDAY!!! OH … MY …GOD !!! The nurses were busy delivering babies, so yours truly got the delightful task of cleaning out the fridge. You can’t imagine … no really you can’t imagine!!!! Nonetheless, I was ok with it all, and fancied myself quite the Florence Nightingale.
Wrong … again … alas, while compassion is essential to being a good nurse, so is organization and focus. They actually wanted me to remember to write down things like, what and how much people ate and how much they peed. I know, lame right, so there was a bit of fudging on that. It became clear there was far too much precision involved in nursing, so after I graduated from University I retired from the hospital.
I then worked as a Teachers assistant. There I was less dangerous, but I did get in trouble a fair bit. I found myself doing french braids instead of worksheets and painting the girls nails with glitter glue. Also, the annoyingly structured teacher I was working with kept chastising me for talking during circle time. She also thought it was “inappropriate” when I organized a Barbie fashion show and had them in cocktail attire drinking from tiny construction paper cocktails … ya she sucked. Apparently, I wanted to go back to elementary school, not teach it.
So, I was 22 and still working at the school, trying to figure out my next move when I passed threw up and passed out at the mall. Yup … you guessed it, …I WAS PREGNANT! An overly zealous wee swimmer had outwitted science and had found it’s way to a perfect little egg, (ya … the Today sponge a contraception available then should have been labeled The Today Sponge ( you can get pregnant today!), it was removed from markets in 1994 for manufacturer error. They say manufacturers error, I say serendipitous act of God. We were a little shocked, but very, very excited!!!
Of course it was going to be a girl … I was going to have all girls, I understood girls, I love all stereotypical girly things. Feelings, hair, sharing, reading, coloring, feelings, making up, plays, dress up … did I mention feelings?
Truthfully … I was a little scared of boys. They make weird noises, and smells, and they have a habit of making sudden aggressive movements and jumping on stuff, why are they always dirty? ….so much destructive energy!!!. Nope, I was going to have a cookie baking, barbie loving, craft machine, little girl.
Feeling super confident in my mother’s intuition, I decorated the nursery in fuzzy bears wearing ballet tutus. Then two weeks before I gave birth, I was standing in line at Superstore, and I had a moment. One of those freaky-deaky moments when a truth suddenly washes over you, … just me having those ? C’mon I think your just not paying attention! I knew right then, unequivocally, that I was having a boy. I went home and took the ballerina bear wallpaper border down, and you know what … I was totally good with it! I don’t know how to explain it, my heart did a complete flip. I was not just resigned to having a boy, something I had never even considered, I was psyched. We picked out a boy name, and then two weeks later I did indeed give birth to an adorable little boy. I was so excited to begin being a mummy … and then my mind spiraled out of control.
Going Under …
It started, five days after we went home with Kyle. It wasn’t a gradual mood decent, it was an aggressive and fast plummet into uncontrollably negative feelings. I felt like someone had pushed me off of a cliff into a deep, dark, dank hole. A place where there was no joy, no hope, no wonder, just an unbearable feeling of anxiety and soul sucking sadness. I started to cry, and literally did not stop for many, many, weeks. I found myself in a place I had never inhabited before … deeply and profoundly depressed, and in that deep, dark inertia I felt I had lost my soul.
Here I was with a beautiful baby boy, and a husband who was thrilled to be a Dad. I was a Mum, my deepest hearts desire, and all I wanted to do was sleep, the only refuge for my tormented mind. It was terrifying for Tim and me. The person I was, was gone … completely. I have heard some women with postpartum depression think about, or actually do sometimes, hurt themselves or their babies, thankfully it wasn’t like that for me. I just kept thinking this perfect little boy deserved better. It seemed very clear to me I was not going to be able to be the mother I always dreamed of. I actually thought someone else would have to raise Kyle (depression convinces you of horrible lies).
The thing no one tells you about becoming a parent is that it’s like a whole layer of protective skin is peeled off of you, exposing all your nerves. Every sad story, every accident, every painful event happening, anywhere, is an anxiety inducing event because now you are completely vulnerable! Not only do you deliver a baby and a placenta, but your heart comes out with them and moves around in what can be a frightful world! Parenthood shines a spotlight on the dark that lurks in the shadows, and all you can do is pray that clinging to vigilance will keep it from touching your world. Watching the news made me apoplectic with fear. I was terrified to live, and even more terrified for Kyle to live in the world.
Thank God, I had a husband who was patient, never shamed me, took me to the Dr., and took over as main caregiver. I am also thankful I had an excellent Dr. who was understanding, kind and compassionate. She held my hands and said “I know you feel terrible and like a failure, but that is the depression talking. You are going to be fine, I promise, you are hardly alone, many women go through this”. I honestly didn’t believe her, but … she seemed to believe it, so that was something. She put me on medication and gave me a sedative to help me sleep when Kyle was. I am also so, so very thankful for my parents, who were so helpful with Kyle during that time, their bond has continued and strengthened over the years and “The Ompas” are still a sacred part of my children’s lives.
Between the medication and counselling, it took about eight weeks to start feeling human again, but never again did I feel like the girl I was before. That’s not a bad thing, I am glad that girl is gone. She was okay … and fun (she did know how to throw a bumping party) but she was lacking in maturity, and depth of emotion that only comes from experiencing pain. Clearly, I had led a charmed life.
The upside to depression, is that once you have sat in that ghastly, hollow sadness for a time, there is a new richness to life if you feel better. It would be like always eating that blasphemous, hideous, low carb, low fat, store brand ice cream, then someone takes it away for a few months, then brings you a big bowl of Häagen Dazs Ice Cream (chocolate, peanut butter cup, please!), the layers of silky, creamy chocolate, full fat ice cream, the crisp explosion of the peanut butter cups flavor, followed my the marriage of all the flavors together in your mouth … oh wait … what the hell was I talking about? Oh ya, mental illness!
For many, many years, I worried my depression had scarred Kyle, I remembered his little soft bald head being covered in tears while I tried to feed him, I actually tied a a housecoat belt around my face above my nose to stop the torrent of salty drops from disturbing him. I felt so very guilty and ashamed that I was not the mother I desperately wanted be.
Counselling helped me learn to accept that like a coin with two sides, my melancholy, thoughtful side, is as much a part of me as my fun, happy side. If I share with someone that I have struggled off and on with depression since my 20’s people often say “But your so fun and bubbly”. I am … a lot, but any picture needs light and shadow to compose a beautiful, honest image. That’s what makes me, for better or worse … me.
I also learned, what happened wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t weak, lazy or stupid. Depression knows no socio-economic or cultural barriers. Like all situations, though, it was an opportunity for growth. Kyle was my revelation and my revolution all rolled up into a little chubby package with blonde curls and moss green (with flecks of blue) eyes. He revealed so much to me about the true essence of life. He also started a revolution in my mind about many things, but especially the male gender. Women are quite fond of dogging on men, and sometimes they deserve it … ok … a lot of the time … but I have learned from Kyle how beautifully the male species is made. A son can open a mother’s heart in a different way than a daughter does.
It is a documented fact, Kyle Teasdale was the cutest little boy ever! Period. Don’t bother sending me pictures of your baby boys, you will just embarrass yourself and I will have to waste my time pitying you. Everything about him, from his mere existence, his gender, to the love I feel for him, has been exciting, surprising, challenging, and transformative.
Kyle has done well for himself in life. He has gotten a good education, and followed his passion of traveling all over the world. He lives in gorgeous Vancouver British Columbia with his girlfriend Carolyn (CC), whose is just an outstanding human being (and cuter than a pair of tiny yellow rain boots on a ladybug). That’s all good, and I’m very proud, but a lot of people can travel and get degrees if they put their mind to it. As a mother, I’m concerned about the state of his soul, and like any parent I crave confirmation that he is on a good path.
Well … Kyle has taken it upon himself, without us even suggesting it, to continue Dennis’ mother’s legacy of fundraising for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Kyle formed a bike team of MS warriors, Mr. D’s Fightin’ Canadians. This is the fourth year he has done it. Kyle was 14 when I married Dennis and he has done more than his share of picking Dennis up off the floor, helping with his equipment, driving him around, and generally living with the inconvenience of a severely disabled person. Not once, has Kyle ever complained to me, remember this is his step-dad not his biological dad. He gets how hard life can be for a family struggling to deal with MS.
Anyways, this August we went up to Vancouver to participate in the fundraiser pub night that precedes the bike ride in September. A lot of my favorite people were there. One of my favorite cousins, my bridesmaid from when I married Kyle’s dad, my niece/cousin and her husband, and a lot of Kyle and Carolyn’s friends and co-workers! We raffled off moonshine and gift baskets from the South.
It was such a fun night! The air was full of positive energy, good cheer, and kindness. Then while I was drinking my wine, clapping along, (out of time … for sure), to the lively Irish band, everything stopped turning. I got that confirmation that he was on a good path, and … just for a moment the past was reconciled, the future didn’t exist, I just sat and exhaled, because everything was well with my soul.
Everything I did as a Mom was completely worth it. Things like
- Getting up at 5 a.m for years (OMG, my child is a morning person … why …!!!! He used to creep up on me early in the morning pry my eyes open with his pudgy fingers and scream “DAY!!!”), it was freaking torture!I
- Read 10 little bunnies until I wanted to kick the bunnies in their “carrots”, then 12 years later had a full emotional breakdown because he read ahead (WITHOUT ME!!!) in the Harry Potter series. That betrayal still stings a little.
- Crawled through long tunnels at the McDonalds play structure, when I was seven months pregnant with his sister. Kyle had panicked and frozen at the slide and a mob of mutinous toddlers was forming behind him. I got stuck and a Dad had to help me get through, well that wasn’t embarrassing! I’m also 100% positive he got a look at my maternity underwear.
- Played goalie while Kyle shot pucks at me. When we moved to Calgary, didn’t know anyone, and his dad was away on business, Kyle convinced me to go in net. I lasted until he hit me so hard with the puck I cried. He told me goalies don’t cry and my career was over
- Constantly chased behind him with everything he forgot. Karma has prevailed and, just like his mother, Kyle constantly forgot everything. So, I spent 20 years schlepping jocks, books, lacrosse and hockey gear, homework, and everything else to him.
It was one sentence that was music to my ears. A colleague of Kyle’s told me “Kyle is so great to work with, not only because he’s fun, but he makes me a better human being”.
Could there be a greater affirmation?! YAAAASSSSSSS!!!, thank God… no really …THANK GOD, we didn’t mess him up!
This Thanksgiving, along with being thankful for my Son, I am celebrating the swirling, tempestous, hodge podge, of crazy events, heartbreaks, and surprises that is life. What better way to do that than by learning how to make the favorite pie of the person whose arrival started a revolution in my life.
So, I have made my Banofee pie! It was actually very easy (I’m going to tell Kyle it took days), and I popped it into the freezer. The pie and I are both anxiously, awaiting my handsome, adventurous, Son to come home for Christmas. Then, for a little while, my nest will be completely full again, and all the pieces to my heart will be back together.
May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and just for me, make a list of all the things in your life that didn’t go as planned but ended up being huge blessings!
Oh ya! I forgot to explain why I’m thankful for social media fueled jealousy. Two years ago I took a class called The Comparison Trap. After two classes I had to drop out because Dennis became very ill. The leader of my group Joni Jance and I kept in touch. Sadly, not that long after Joni lost her beloved husband George. It was a strange twist in life, and a reminder we all should be living like we are on borrowed time. Anyways, Joni has become a great friend, editor for me when CC is busy, and is going to become my neighbor in the new year!! See … I’m still jealous of others because I didn’t finish the class … but I have a friend to tell all about it to!
Joni sent me this package after I had a rough week and had penned a blog post about losing my Marshmallowiness! Yeeesssss,
Take Heart We’re All in This Together!,
xoxo Mummy, aka (Auntie Lee-Lee, Goose, Tart, Naner)