hedgehog adventures

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

There is no "I" in Mommy

What makes me unique?

That's a tough one. I always thought that my life is a little different than most because I have these overlapping layers that is a source of constant internal struggle but then I realized most women have this.

One of my favourite books is The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. It’s the story of a woman’s life, but told from the perspective of everyone around the central character. There was no “I” and the point was not lost on me. In general, us, as women, are not very good at telling our own stories. Our lives have meaning because we touch other people’s lives. It’s what we do. We connect the dots, fill the spaces between the gaps, mediate between people. It’s what we are.

So with that preface what I think I'm saying is that I don’t think I have a very good perspective on what makes me unique, but here goes. My list so far: I'm Filipino (my family immigrated when I was 12), now living in Toronto but I’m an ex-Western Canadian (Calgary, Vancouver, Prince George), married-divorced-remarried woman who rode the fertility emotional roller coaster with my second husband (from Eastern Canada), a first time mom at age 43 to a beautiful little boy (part Filipino, part Scottish) now nearly five years old but who happened to show up two months early.

After having my son and after waiting all those years to have a child, I decided not to go back to my (paid) work in corporate communications and instead decided to run my own home-based business where I rely on social media for developing relationships. I’m pretty sure all of the above count for something, but does that really make me unique? It seems pretty normal to me but as I said, I think I've lost all perspective.

Maybe it’s better if I say what I might be able to write about and share with Today’s Parent viewers.

Experience I can share with others

Infertility ups and downs. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. I totally understand the emotional rollercoaster.

Being a mature mom. Had my first – and probably only – child at age 43. Adopting a second child is under consideration at the moment.

Being a preemie mom. Did I mention he showed up TWO MONTHS EARLY!

Divorce. After 10 years of following someone’s career, the relationship ended because he wanted to “find himself.” I did not realize until years later that was actually code for “I want to live full-time with my girlfriend and have babies with her.” I can tell you about being deceived and manipulated. By the time he left, I was 37, had $16.25 in my bank account, no house, no car, and alone in a city I did not know. Oh, I have stories.

Being in a mixed-race marriage. Yeah, I (re)married a white guy who is originally from Nova Scotia, an engineer, a geek. Cultural clashes abound in this marriage. See my post Staging on girlmeetsgeek.

Other stuff I think about a lot

I’m interested in the social construction of “boy.” I care very much about my role in the cultural process of defining what is appropriate look and behaviour for boys and young men. This interest is woven not only into my personal philosophy but business as well.

I'm also trying to reconcile my feminism and current job as retailer of boyswear (as well as mom to a four year old boy). Specifically, I’m trying to understand my societal role in defining culture through fashion. I am conscious of the impact of fashion in the construction of knowledge so I try to do what I can. For example, I do not source items that promote negative boy stereotypes, glamourise violence, or exploit children. I do not buy brands that use sexist stereotypes in their ads nor ones that use children in sexualized poses. I also go the extra mile to promote businesses that reflect the diversity of our population.

I supposedly have some expertise on issues concerning nannies and caregivers. I wrote a thesis on that topic many moons ago.

And finally: blog posts that you might want to read

I've been blogging since 2004 but have only ever shared information with family and friends. I stopped updating content on my girlmeetsgeek blog when I started my business and found myself more google-able. There's a lot of stuff there and here but I picked out a few writing samples as you requested.

Interview with a toddler. My son had a cold and I gave him a lollipop to ease his sore throat. As he was sitting there enjoying his lollipop, it looked like he was holding a microphone so I decided to videotape him. Here’s the result.

Here’s my musings about my non-pregnant body. It received a bit of reaction from my family and friends including an “eww” from my cousin.

I posted a comment on a New York Times article on When Mom is Mistaken for the Nanny. My post wasn’t really about being mistaken for a nanny, which has happened many times, but it was more of a look at race in general and how my son is learning about the topic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bliss is Overrated

When I was younger, I was madly in love with this guy whose presence made me giddy. I was living in Vancouver at the time, enjoying a beautiful summer and had not a care in the world. When things were great, they were REALLY, REALLY great, but when things were not, well...let's just say I crumbled.

In the end, the relationship failed for a number of tiny and big reasons but primarily because I finally accepted this:

- it is not possible to live in a constant state of bliss
- the price of bliss was the occasional bout of despair.

And when I say despair, I mean shattered spirit, crushed hope, curled-in-a-fetal-position-under-the-table-with-an-empty-whisky-bottle kind of despair. I loved the bliss but I couldn’t take the despair.
Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
~Joseph Campbell, mythologist/writer/lecturer

When Steve Jobs died in October, the world wept and his inspirational quotes flooded the interwebs. “Live each day like it was your last” in particular resonated with a lot of people. It reminded me a lot of Joseph Campbell’s “follow your bliss” message several years before.

But personally, I had a little difficulty with that message. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to live life to the fullest and follow my bliss and all that, but I just could not wrap my mind around it on a practical level.

Take today, for example, if I had followed my bliss, I’m pretty sure it would NOT have involved clearing the crumbs from the breakfast table, loading the dishwasher and vacuuming cat hair. Nope.

My bliss du jour would have meant clearing a nice sunny spot on the couch, propping myself up with cushions, having tea nearby and cracking open my friend Caitlin’s latest novel (The Pattern Scars) and reading all day. (Actually, if I really wanted to follow my bliss, what I really meant was “poolside someplace tropical” when I said “couch,” “alcoholic beverage with tiny umbrella” instead of “tea,” and Ewan McGregor would be somewhere nearby ministering to my needs.*)

But I digress. I guess my point is this: how realistic is following your bliss when the day to day is so gosh-darned-complicated?

Bliss vs. Happy

I guess the point of this rambling is really to remind myself to be careful about the mantras I embrace. It is 2011 and yes, we have come a long way, baby, but there are things that have not changed. Things that are spoken as universal truths really only make sense from the perspective of a few -- often men, often privileged, often lighter skinned. We embrace it because it seems to make sense.

“Live each day as if it was your last” holds an intoxicating promise of fulfillment, but think about the price of that. What are you going to miss it if it's all about "you?" And honestly, who will take care of the kids?

So, with all due respect to Mr. Jobs and Mr. Campbell, thank you for these words but it’s not for me. I am foregoing the search for bliss and choosing instead to live a happy, full life. Happy works with my overlapping selves and my complicated woman’s life.

Happy means doing stuff for me but recognizing that as a mother, daughter, wife, sister, friend, I need to give a little, forgive a little, change plans a little. For this phase of my life, my family is my priority. I’m pretty sure there is a novel or a screenplay or other creative projects in me yet, but I honestly believe there will be time for that. I just want to enjoy what I have now.

I read somewhere that happiness only works when it is a consequence of living a life well and NOT when it is the primary object of pursuit. So in terms of goals, I think this is more achievable for me. Bliss vs. Happy? I'm choosing happy with the occasional hits of bliss.


Last night, just before he fell asleep, my son peppered me with loud, sleepy kisses in the dark and told me how much he loves me. If this has ever happened to you, you know exactly what I mean by bliss.

*Sorry, hon. If you're reading this, you know I really meant "you" when I said "Ewan."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


It now takes me a week to make lasagna.

First I think about making the sauce. That takes three days. Then I actually make the sauce. I put that in the fridge for another two days. Then I bring out the lasagna noodles from the cupboard and move it to the kitchen counter. The next day, I cook spinach and throw that in the fridge. While the spinach was cooking, I also had time to grate the cheese. Finally, on the 8th day, when I got the baby to take a nice long nap in the afternoon, I cook the noodles and assemble the dish.

Oh. I forgot to mention that all the steps leading up the cooking part was actually done using only one hand. This is the life of a mom.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Mind the Gap

I've neglected this blog for a while but if you go to my other blog: girlmeetsgeek, you'll understand why. I've been a little busy. Talk about an adventure.

In any case, the good news is that I can taste food again! Not much time to eat it or prepare it, but I can taste food! I should be blogging about food a little bit more.

I also have a new occasional gig as a food blogger for TasteTO.com. Here's the last article I filed for them about New World Organics.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mac and Cheese

Toronto had a huge dump of snow overnight and all day so I was cooped up with two resentful cats who blame me for the weather. I spent the day in flannels and sipped a lot of tea and tried to think of warm thoughts.

Dinner was less than inspired but it was certainly good even for my preggy taste buds. I finally got a chance to try this recipe for macaroni and cheese and OMG was it ever good. I even had second helpings which I know I shouldn't have because I know it's going to give me terrible heartburn tonight.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Holiday Highlights

Happy New Year! Just getting back to the swing of things this year and I thought I should take the time to reflect on the highlights of the holidays.

December 23: Spent the night at the wonderful Elora Inn, about two hours outside Toronto.

December 24: Drove back to Toronto in +13 degree weather and sunny skies. Is it spring or what? Prime rib roast dinner with Lynne and Tony. Phone calls to Calgary and Nova Scotia to wish the family a Merry Christmas.

December 25: Blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup and bacon for brunch. Turkey dinner with all the fixings at Carol's! Trifle and plum pudding for dessert.

December 26: Did our bit for the Canadian economy and purchased electronic equipment. Jon got himself a new MP3 and he got me a new sexy Sony Vaio! Yippee! For dinner, we had leftovers from Carol's dinner -- ham, scalloped taters, roasted root veggies.

December 28: Jon awoke to discover his MP3 headphones in three pieces. Apparently, the cats heard his remark that the headphones were c$#! and they exacted violence on it during the night. Don't know if it was a tag team effort or what, but we have two guilty-looking cats and they won't "rat" on each other. :-)

December 31: Rich's house for pork roast, baked potatoes, mixed vegetables. Dufflets caramel apple cheesecake for dessert. Stayed up till midnight to drink some sparkling (I mean why waste the good stuff on a pregnant woman!) and to bang pots and pans on our front porch.

January 1: Pancakes again with ham for breakfast. Went for a walk in the afternoon then hosted an impromptu tea time/drinks with the neighbours. Gave the neighbours kids lots of sugar in various forms (cookies and cake). I have a feeling they will get us back for that someday.

In between the feeding, shopping and visiting was some knitting, napping, and general relaxing. I had the luxury of having lots of time off but poor Jon had to work.

It was tough getting back into the groove of work. When's the next holiday?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Synchronized Sleeping

Cinnamon and Fergus seem to be getting along well. Most of the time anyway. There's still the occasional "over-enthusiastic" play (well, okay, more like a fight) -- brief interludes of WWF activity in the house. A little body slamming, a little hopping on each other's backs, a little chase around the living room, punctuated by loud sound effects. But no blood. For as long as there's no blood, I can pretend it's still play.

After more than a year and a bit, I guess they have decided to happily co-exist. They share a litter box, share the same water bowls, and they eat their food side by side. I think they have also worked out the politics of the bed. Cinnie gets the foot of the bed and Fergus gets to cuddle by my side.

There's still the occasional power play on the litter box. Cinnie will use the box, to be followed a few minutes later by Ferg, whether or not he had to go. But hey, for as long as this dominance thing is getting played out in the litter box, I'm okay with that.

A cute scene the other day: I was watching TV and Cinnamon was sleeping on the ottoman, and Ferg was half a metre away on the matching chair. They are at the same level, with the exact same pose -- curled up with chin on paw. With their similar face markings it was very, very sweet to see them like that. Then there was a bit of noise, and Cinnie turned around in the same spot, to be followed a few minutes later by Ferg who also assumed the exact same pose. I wanted to grab a camera but I knew that if I moved, I would have ruined the moment.