Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day... to my Dad

Today was a bittersweet day for me...

Father's Day always is. As I celebrate the father of my own babies and am surrounded by friends and family celebrating their own special fathers I feel alone in my grief over not celebrating my own. I can neither join in the celebration of the living, present fathers, nor join in the solemn grief over fathers who were present and have passed away into whatever is waiting for us after this life.

My father is alive. He is well as far as I know. He lives not two hours away from here. He is not a criminal or a violent man. He is not batshit crazy. He lives and works and functions in normal society and has friends and even family in his life.

The last time I saw my father was in October, 2008. Almost three years. He has never met my middle or my youngest sons. Despite living only three streets down from us when my oldest son was born he saw him only a handful of times in his two years of life before the last time I saw him. Even though he regularly came into the city where I live to pick up my much younger sister for weekend visits he has never been to my home.

Two years ago, after over half a year of not seeing my father. After not hearing from him after the birth of my second child. After years of hurt and disappointment had built up, I made the decision I couldn't pursue him anymore. I couldn't put myself, and now my children, into the path of being hurt when we felt like we didn't matter enough to him to warrant his care.

It was, hands down, one of the most painful, heart wrenching decisions I have ever made in my life.

And still, even now... I miss him. I grieve for the relationship I wish we had. Right now, as I sit here typing this I am not a rational, calm, collected almost 25 year old. I am a hurt little girl with tears running down her face desperately missing a man who has always been there... but never really been there.

My Dad is alive. I hope he is well. I hope that today was filled with laughter and life and music, because if there is one thing my Dad loves it is music. Happy Fathers Day to the man who gave me the gift of having music in my soul. Who taught me that having a play list with every type of artist and song and time period on it together (except rap, that was our one agreed on type missing from the list) was the way to express everything in life, all the ups and all the downs to help your soul feel better. Who only yelled when it really mattered (which was less than a handful of times my whole life) and never, ever raised a hand to me, to my siblings, to the woman he loved in our home, or to our animals.

Happy Fathers Day to my Dad who grew up without a Dad, but also without the ability to grieve that Dad because his Dad too was alive. And my Dad never stopped loving him.

With tears on my face and a lump in my throat I wish my Dad a Happy Father's Day. I wish it was different. I miss the good times we've had.

I'm off to soothe my hurt with some music... and while I grieve I'll remember that gift of music in my soul and I'll remember that I'm lucky to have that.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What Makes a Family

I am one of those people who has all sorts of notions in my head about what family should be. About what a family should look like. About what is best, in terms of what family should be doing, for the children involved who have no say yet.

These things have nothing to do with what sorts of couples should be allowed to marry each other (whether decided based on sex, sexuality, race, religion, age etc.) or how many children they should have (because quite frankly, if a couple wants zero children I am so all on board with that plan if it's right for them... in the exact same way I am totally on board with the couple who wants a dozen).

They have to do with what family means beyond the outward appearance of the people that make it up.

They have to do with loving each other, supporting each other, being there for each other. I feel it is important to not belittle or cut each other down, and that it is important to remember that family is forever and fight for those bonds to remain intact unless and until it reaches such a point where it will harm the people involved to continue. Even then, for me, family is still forever. I have certain family members with whom I have no relationship any more, by my own choice. And yet still, even now, if those family members were to be open to having a relationship with me that was healthy enough to not do harm to me or my children I would have it. I could never just be done, although I know I have family members who could/can.

Also family for me isn't just the people you are born with. I have a third whole family (my other Mom and her family) that I didn't have when I was born. I also have friends, no blood relation, who are some of the closest family members that I have.

Tomorrow I will be blessed to have some of my amazing family members with Malachi and the rest of us as he gets welcomed into our church family and also into our world in general as right after he was born I wasn't well enough to gather everyone to welcome him. I will have some of the family I was born with there... including my mother, my grandmother, several of my aunts and uncles, and some of my cousins. I will also have some of the family I got after I was born such as my brother and sister, and my mother in law and father in law. I will also have a family who are way to much to be "just friends"... aunt and uncle to my kids, and my children's youngest two cousins. Also known as my best friend, her husband (also an amazing friend) and their children. All of these people are taking time out of their busy lives to join and celebrate and support us tomorrow.Some of our family aren't able to be here but would really love to be but distance and poor timing (not a lot of notice on our part, and it's also Fathers Day) prevent it. They will be missed very much.

I am very excited about tomorrow. I love celebrations, and I love being with my family even more. Doing both together is best of all. I am so grateful to the people in my life who are family who gets it and care enough to be here with us (even if they aren't able to be physically here). We are blessed indeed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Reading Update June 13th

My goal for myself was to read more this year. So far since starting midway through April I have been successful, but not as successful as I'd like to be. I am going to update my reading list once a week to try and keep myself accountable.

So far I have finished reading five books:

1. I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui

*This book broke my heart for Nujood. She is a child bride forced to marry a man much older than her in Yemen. He treats her horribly with the excuse that he is her husband, she his wife, she of course must just do whatever he says because that's how it is. This brave young girl manages to escape and go to the high court to ask for a divorce. It's a true story and one that left me feeling haunted that this sort of thing happens daily, and yet hopeful for the amazing spirit Nujood shows. I'd highly recommend this book but be warned that there are graphic details in it about the abuse Nujood suffers at the hands of her husband.

2. A Dad's Many Hats by Wade B. Mumm

*This was a short book (less than 100 pages) about the different roles that fathers take on with their children and how to best be a good father in those different roles. It is written from a strongly Christian perspective. Most of the ideas in the book were good ones although I'm unlikely to read it again because I couldn't really get into the style of writing. All in all a quick read but unlikely to be a book I'd recommend to others.

3. My Journey with Jake by Miriam Edelson

*Wow... this book had me laughing and crying and angry and nodding along with the author, also a mother of a child with significant special needs. Her son was not expected to survive very long but as of the publish of the book he was ten years old. She writes about the challenges facing parents in Ontario (or really... across Canada and even into other countries) who are raising children who have special needs. She discusses some of the wonderful programs available and also some of the flaws in the system. I'd highly recommend it to other parents with children who have any sort of special need that requires intervention within the system.

4. Roots by Alex Haley

*This book takes a look through seven generations of one mans family back to Africa and follows through the journey of being captured as a slave and brought to the United States and then sold and owned and more generations being born until they are finally free and the journey right through to the author himself. It is an amazing read. I couldn't put it down. It is graphic and real... not so much in the details that are specific to this one family but in that this really happened to countless people and families through the years. It's a horrifying story at times but also one which I was glad to gain more perspective on. I would recommend this book highly and I am grateful to my coworker who introduced me to it.

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

*Another fabulous read introduced to me by my coworker. Written in three different voices... two black women and one white woman they join together to tell the true story about what it is like for the black help to be working for the white people who hire them. Written during a time in Mississippi when it was incredibly dangerous for black people to be getting any ideas about doing anything except what they are told this story unfolds revealing the true heart of the people in it. This is one I'd read again.

I'm currently reading:
6. The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair by Marion Roach
7. On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross M.D.
8. Telling Tales edited by Nadine Gordimer

My goal is to finish all three of them by the end of the week. Hopefully the children cooperate ;-)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Friends From in the Womb

Today we've had a wonderfully lazy, fun Sunday. We slept in (some of us at least...) and lounged about until after noon and then did some much needed grocery shopping to feel like we'd actually accomplished something today. After bringing the perishable stuff home and putting it away we headed off to the Pirate Ship Park to meet up with some friends we hadn't seen in a while. It was good times catching up with R while her daughter E, who is just 5 months younger than Tobias played at the park along with our three boys.

Tobias and E were destined to be friends before they were even named LOL. Rachel and I met at the bus station when we were both pregnant still. It turned out we worked together. We chatted and enjoyed each others company and then realized we planned on doing a lot of the same parenting things with our yet to be born babies. Then after Tobias was born and I'd left my job she ended up moving on to the same street I lived on without even knowing I lived there. In fact, it turned out we even shared family!!! One of my aunts was her partners Dad's partner (did you follow that? LOL).

E was born on a cold clear February morning and I headed to the hospital to help with breastfeeding when she was just a few hours old (our local hospital is not known for it's support with breastfeeding... but that's another post). I ended up staying there until about 10:00 at night. When they came home I was there every day and it was the start of a pattern that lasted the whole time we lived down the street from each other. We never went a day without seeing each other unless we were out of town and therefore the kids spent nearly as much time together as they would've if they had been siblings.

It's funny to see them together now. The five month age spacing doesn't matter much now that they are both four, but yet she is still a "baby" to Tobias who sees her more as the annoying little sister (whom he is of course fiercely protective of) than the best friend. Of course she feels the same way about Linus who is less than a year younger than her so I suppose it's just the way of the world.

We don't see them nearly as much as we used to (although we can always count on the August long weekend visit as it's a family reunion that we share together), but still I remember those days fondly. The kids have grown up like crazycakes. I can't believe that once upon a time they were just hopes and dreams of possibility inside us.
Tobias' WTF face when I held her as a new baby

T and E Father's Day 2007

Wearing Two for the very first time! Summer '07

Tobias (almost 4) and E (3.5) in August, 2010

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Books I'm Going To Read

This is an ongoing, ever growing and changing list... but I need to keep it all somewhere so here is the first draft. I'm including the books I have already read since the start of my challenge to myself.

1. 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller
2. A Dad`s Many Hats by Wade B. Mumm
3. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
4. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey*
5. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
6. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens*
7. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
8. Accept No Mediocre Life by David Foster
9. An Adoration by Nancy Huston*
10. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
11. An Unexpected Apprentice by Jody Lynn Nye*
12. Atonement by Ian McEwan*
13. Baby Wars by Robin Baker and Elizabeth Oram*
14. Backing Into Forward by Jules Feiffer
15. Beautiful Boy by David Sheff
16. Binu and the Great Wall by Su Tong*
17. Bone Dance by Martha Brooks*
18. Born Round by Frank Bruni
19. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
20. Buying a Fishing Rod For My Grandfather by Gao Xingjian*
21. Cassandra and Jane by Jill Pitkeathley*
22. Come Away by Anne Hines*
23. Consumption by Kevin Patterson*
24. Dead Boys Can`t Dance by Michel Dorais*
25. Discover the Power Within You by Eric Butterworth
26. Dream Catcher by Stephen King*
27. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
28. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert*
29. Emma by Jane Austen*
30. Everything`s Eventual by Stephen King*
31. Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah
32. Fatherhood by Bill Cosby*
33. Fearless by Max Lucado
34. Fifth Life of the Catwoman by Kathleen Dexter*
35. Find Me Again by Sylvia Maultash Warsh*
36. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
37. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
38. Great House by Nicole Krauss
39. Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies
40. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo
41. History of a Suicide by Jill Bialosky
42. How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu
43. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish*
44. How We Live by Sherwin B. Nuland*
45. I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali
46. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith*
47. I`d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
48. I`m Sorry You Feel That Way by Diana Joseph
49. I`m Too Sexy For my Volvo: A Mom`s Guide to Staying Fabulous by Betty Londergan
50. In The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje*
51. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
52. It`s Your Time by Joel Osteen
53. Kids Are Worth It! by Barbara Coloroso*
54. King Solomons Mines by H. Rider Haggard*
55. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
56. Letters from Across the Country by Marsha Boulton*
57. Letters from Dad by Greg Vaughn
58. Life by Keith Richards
59. Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses by Paula McLain
60. Linchpin by Seth Godin
61. Little Boy Blues by Malcolm Jones
62. Lopsided by Meredith Norton
63. Lost in the Meritocracy by Walter Kirn
64. Lost in Translation by Charlie Croker*
65. Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
66. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen*
67. Master of Souls by Peter Tremayne*
68. Moby Dick by Herman Melville*
69. My Journey With Jake by Miriam Edelson
70. My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe
71. My Name is Number 4 by Ting-Xing Ye*
72. Night by Elie Wiesel
73. No by David Walsh
74. No Great Mischief by Alastair MacCleod*
75. No Pretty Pictures by Anita Lovel*
76. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen*
77. Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller*
78. On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross M.D.*
79. One Drop by Bliss Broyard*
80. One for Sorrow, Two for Joy by Clive Woodall*
81. One Hundred Names for Love by Diane Ackerman
82. Opium Dreams by Margaret Gibson*
83. Parallel Play by Tim Page
84. Parenting Through Crisis by Barbara Coloroso*
85. Persuasion by Jane Austen*
86. Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America by Rickie Solinger
87. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen*
88. QBQ: The Question Behind the Question by John Miller
89. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisa*
90. Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier*
91. Return to Dragon Mountain by Jonathan D. Spence*
92. Roots by Alex Haley
93. Rules for Saying Goodbye by Katherine Taylor*
94. Runaway by Alice Munro*
95. Sacred Balance by David Suzuki*
96. Salvation City by Singrid Nunez
97. Say You’re One of Them by Uwar Akpan
98. Second Wind: One Woman's Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents by Cami Ostman
99. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen*
100. Shade by Neil Jordan*
101. Someone Will Be With You Shortly by Lisa Kogan
102. Spirits in the Wires by Charles de Lint*
103. Stuff Christian`s Like by Jonathan Acuff
104. Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
105. Telling Tales edited by Nadine Gordimer*
106. Tess of the D`Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy*
107. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
108. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill*
109. The Books of Fell by M. E. Kerr*
110. The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck
111. The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas*
112. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
113. The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe by Peter Godwin
114. The Foremost Good Fortune by Susan Conley
115. The Glorious Ones by Francine Prose*
116. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers*
117. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
118. The Hollow Tree by Janet Lunn*
119. The Interpreter of Silences by Jean McNeil*
120. The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney*
121. The Known World by Edward P. Jones
122. The Long Goodbye by Meghan O`Rourke
123. The Masterpiece by Anna Enguist*
124. The Murder`s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers
125. The Orange Trees of Baghdad by Leilah Nadir*
126. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
127. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver*
128. The Power of Half by Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen
129. The Power of Respect by Deborah Norville
130. The Power of Two by Susan Foster*
131. The Road by Cormac McCarthy*
132. The Room by Emma Donoghue
133. The Roots of Desire by Marion Roach*
134. The Sakiad by Brian Hall*
135. The Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards*
136. The Skating Pond by Deborah Joy Corey*
137. The Song of Troy by Colleen McCullough*
138. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
139. The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker
140. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke*
141. The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp
142. The Ultimate Insiders Guide to Adoption by Elizabeth Swire Falker*
143. The Uglies, The Pretties, The Specials and The Extras (4 books in a series) by Scott Westerfeld
144. The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro*
145. The Wars by Timothy Findlay*
146. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
147. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
148. Travels With Our Fellow Creatures by Phyllis Hobe*
149. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
150. Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel
151. Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells*
152. Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, M.D.*
153. You Don`t Look Like Anyone I Know by Heather Sellers

So far I've read five of them all the way through. I need to get the reviews up. That's next on the to do list.


A New Blog... Mmmmm

Today I start the blog I've had on my to do list for the last several months. The blog which I hope will finally be the key to my jotting down memories and thoughts on a regular basis. The blog which I hope will hold details that my head forgets.

I am excited.

About a month ago I decided I wasn't reading enough and I wasn't writing enough. I've compiled lists of books to read (which I plan to store on this blog) and I've already started my reading list. Between this blog and my plans for more postsecondary education I believe I will also have the writing aspect covered.

A new blog... full of possibility. Love love love it.