My Not So Perfect Life

I had someone reach out to me privately and ask if I was really doing ok because the people who post perfect lives on social media are usually the ones found overdosed in bed on a Tuesday. 🤔

And the answer is, don’t get me wrong: I do *not* have a perfect life, in spite of my eternally optimistic and sappy social media presence. I can be a hot mess sometimes; lots of times. I have really struggled this year with my health. I’m having a hard time finding work/ life balance. I wish I had more time to volunteer or do creative things. I don’t get to spend time with friends or family the way I would like. I should be getting my butt to the gym more. My house is never clean the way I want it. Sometimes I think my way is the best way or the only way. I’m working on that.

But I am a believer that a life without struggle or challenge is not necessarily a happy life. Happy is a state of mind, not a state of circumstances. You can be fighting your way through something and still be blessed. Sometimes the blessing *is* the struggle because of what you learn on the other side. And I am also a big believer that you attract what you put out. Focusing on your woes and complaints magnifies them. Having an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness is a magnet for good things and abundance.

So posting about all the good things is a modern-day public prayer of thanks for me. Of marvelling over grace and peace and plenty. Life really is good. Honest. ✌🏻

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Homeless and Crazy on Bay Street

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So I’m sitting beside a homeless lady in the food court.

She leaned in to me and said “China. Take the mother fuckin heat out of my shoes. Fuck you. I’m not asking you again. No wonder you get heavy periods. That’s the last time I ask.” 👀

I smiled and said “I’m so sorry I can’t help you with your shoes”.

“You ain’t fuckin sorry”

I asked her if I could buy her a coffee, to show her I was, and she told me she tries not to talk to ignorance. I said I try not to be ignorant and would love to get her lunch if she would like it. She said she would like me to leave her alone. So I wished her a very good day. And she said have a nice life; I wished her the same.

#ThisIsMentalHealth For some its depression and anxiety. For others, it’s homelessness and scaring people with your hot feet in food courts.

To quote Patton Oswald’s wife “It’s chaos. Be Kind.”

3:15 AM

Were I still 8yo Jenny, last night would have been one of those nights where I would have tip-toed quietly into my parents’ bedroom, careful not to wake my dad, shook my mom’s shoulder gently and said “mommy, I don’t feel good”.
She would have slipped out of the bed, taken me by the hand, led me back to my bed, placed her “therMOMeter” hand on my forehead and known before the real thing confirmed it that her skills as an unregistered nurse were needed. Out would have come the children’s Tylenol, the cool cloth, the glass of ginger ale, the hot water bottle, the just-in-case bowl and the sitting by my bed until I fell back to sleep. Costing her sleep, giving me peace.
Many years later, this same scenario would be played out in my own daughters’ bedrooms, Alan’s girls’ bedrooms and endless children’s rooms across the globe from before and into eternity.
But last night 45yo Jenny got out of bed, trying not to wake Alan. She stood in the bathroom shivering while confirming a low-grade fever. She weighed the fever against the responsibilities of the day ahead. She took some Tylenol, made some tea, put herself back to bed to ride it out then put her big girl panties on and went to work. Because ain’t nobody got time fo dat.
**No need for sympathy comments. This is adulting and actually not the point of my story.
But as I sat drinking my tea and meditating (waxing nostalgic?) on the luxury of being sick as a kid vs. as an adult, it led me to meditate on all the people I know with little ones. Either at the very beginning of the game, smack dab in the middle, or nearing the end of when they need you at 3:15am. I remember. I remember and I salute you.
Whether you have 1, 2, twins, 3, 4, 5. Doing it alone or doing it with a partner. All the times of lost sleep, worrying if it will pass by morning or are you taking a sick day yourself to care for them? Will you have to find someone at 6:30am who can sit with your child for the day? Will they take care of them as well as you would? Feeling guilty because you *have* to go to work.
I lift my thermometer high in recognition of the lost sleep, the snotty kleenexes and the projectile vomit.
Heaven knows I wanted my mommy last night!
Peace,
J

On Being a Mom – Mother’s Day 2017

**note – I posted this a couple of years ago on a now-deleted blog, so some of you may have read this before. The sentiments are the same, though I have more grey hair and wrinkles this time around – J

I calculated it yesterday, I have been a mother since I was 4 years old.

It started with my first baby doll, “My Baby Brother”, an anatomically-correct Fisher Price baby doll who drank real water from a bottle and peed real water from a tiny, fascinating, male appendage. He required diapers that really got wet, had a sweet little baby face and I loved that baby brother with all my 4-year old heart.

My second child was Mandy. A Fisher Price gem who became my best friend and companion. My nan knit Mandy a beautiful wardrobe and I think she may have even knitted us matching jackets. Mandy doll looked about 6 -8 years old, she wasn’t a baby. I read to her, fed her and took her on sleep overs to play with my friends’ dolls. In our neighbourhood, when we weren’t playing Star Wars until the sun went down and the street lights came on, my girlfriends and I were the Original Real Housewives of Suburban Edmonton. I even organized a babysitting service where my friends could leave their dolls with me over the weekend (tired, haggard moms that they were) just so I would have more dolls to play with. 

I would take Mandy to “work” with me. I would dress her before I left for school, made her breakfast, put on her little knit jacket, popped her in my back pack and away we went. When I got to school, out she would come. I would take off her jacket, sit her in my cubby hole, kiss her and admonish her to be good at “daycare”.  I would then sit at my desk, pretending to smoke my pencil before it was time to pick Mandy up to take her home. In 1978 I was a single mom already. 

From my earliest memories, all I ever wanted to be was a mom. As I made my way through school I honestly had no burning career plans. While all my friends were driven to become pilots, nurses, teachers, librarians, scientists…I really just wanted to have a family. For a while, I wanted to write children’s novels, probably because I thought I could do that from home with kids. I also flirted with journalism, urged by my high school English teacher, but ultimately didn’t trust my writing enough. I wasn’t so naive as to think I would find a sugar daddy to keep me and let me breed or anything. I wanted to do something with my life. So I chose elementary school teacher. The one thing that would let me mother ALL THE CHILDREN until I had my own.

Then wouldn’t you know. My plans to be mother to ALL were put aside as I unexpectedly became mother to 2.

I certainly did NOT plan to become a mom at 20 years old. As much as my little maternal heart wanted babies, babies and more babies, my intentions were to have them according to the societal formula: school, career, fall in love, marry, babies. Precautions were taken. Precautions failed. And next thing you know I am lying on an ultrasound table with a doctor saying: “What we have here are 2 heartbeats”. “Mine and the baby’s, right?”, “No. It looks like we have 2 babies in there.” 

I was 19. I was terrified. I was ecstatic.




Having a congenital heart defect, I was told I probably would never have children, my heart wouldn’t hold out. Being me, if you tell me “no”, I respond with “here, hold my beer.” 

I was given the option to terminate my pregnancy immediately. My answer was pretty much “F you”. These babies and I, we were going to see this thing to the end one way or another. And the three of us, well, we got through it without a hitch. I was a high-risk pregnancy, expected to deliver preemies, probably by c-section, expect bed rest for 3 months….blah, blah, blah. Nope. Perfect pregnancy. No issues. Delivered naturally, assisted by a lovely, lovely epidural, 4 weeks early, 8 hours labour, gained only 16 pounds which, after 25 years, I am still trying to lose. It was 4 days after my 20th birthday.







I was raised by a pretty amazing mother. She set the bar high on how to be a good one. I always felt loved. Cherished. Safe. Protected. My mom was my biggest fan, I always knew that. To me, she was perfect. I don’t know that she feels she was or not but mom…you were perfect. 

I was a far from perfect mother in the early years. I was a child when I had my girls and we grew up together. You know shit at 20. But, like all moms, I did my best, I really did. And if love covers all mistakes, I loved, and do love, those 2 babies more than I have ever loved anything in my whole life. Sorry Mandy. To say they were a gift doesn’t do justice to gifts. 

I had my tubes tied 2 months after they were born. The doctor wrestled with my request. I was so, so young. But in a moment of clarity and wisdom, I knew that if I had accidentally gotten pregnant once, I could do it again. I had my 2 baby girls who were never meant to be. Next time could kill me, was it worth making my children orphans?  Let’s not be greedy. Snip.

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I don’t want to say I regret doing it, because I don’t. But would I have liked to be pregnant one more time? Oh yes. I really would have liked it. I really would have liked to hold a little baby (babies?) once more. But the Universe is perfect in it’s provision and in knowing the desires of your heart. I have been sent children to mother throughout my life and I have loved  all of them as though I carried them myself. As any mother knows, more children does not mean less of your heart to go around, it only gets bigger to accommodate all the love. I have my beautiful girls. I love and helped raise 2 amazing step-children. I recently have had 2 more incredible little girls enter my life. Before you know it, there will be grand-babies to mother (oh my God, I am going to be so out of control as a grandma). 

 

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At 44 I have started to see my friends lose their moms. My mom, a bright, vibrant, vivacious, spit fire of a woman, will not be with me always. I will not be with my girls forever either. We leave what we love behind and hope the love we shared was enough. When I am gone, I honestly have no idea how I will be remembered. I don’t know what they will say about me after the theme from Star Wars has played me in and my ashes are sitting there for everyone to say nice things about. 

But if they say I was a good mom and her children knew that she loved them. That will be enough.

 

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Meet the Cast and Crew

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This here is my family. And I love them deeply. We are an unconventional little unit, bound both by genetics and by free will.

That’s me, Jennifer, the lady in the middle (TK14792) . The two other beautiful young women are my grown daughters, twins, 24. Emma (far right) and Brittany (far left). The hot guy? Yeah that’s my man, Alan. Ladies back off, he’s taken. The sweet little one on the left is Sebastienne (11) and the blossoming young thing on the right is Amelie (14). Now you know the cast and crew.

This is not my first rodeo…I mean family. I raised my twins alone until they were 9 then met my (now ex) husband. He has two amazing children, a daughter the same age as my girls and a son, 2 years older than all three. While that marriage was destined to fail from day 3 of the honeymoon, it lasted 8 years. My ex and myself, for both of our considerable faults, parented well together. Blending a family is not an easy thing and we did it as best as we could. Our children put aside blood, water and anger at the end and chose to remain siblings. They think their parents are idiots but still believe and trust in the bond they formed. The kids are alright.

When I decided to wade into the waters of dating again, I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to become involved with someone with children. I’d been there and done that. I’d raised mine and they were/ are healthy, well-adjusted and happy. I survived the teen years (with 4 teens!). I didn’t really want to do it again.

But then Alan happened.

I had jokingly presented to the Universe a laundry list of qualities I wanted in a man and insisted I wouldn’t settle for less. Right down to “likes camping” and “practices martial arts”. I present exhibit A and B below. He is the biggest surprise and delight to ever happen to me. When the Universe delivers, it delivers.

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The clincher, of course, were his girls. Self assured, sweet, funny, kind, polite, intelligent, poised and adorable; both of them. If they hadn’t been them, this may not have been. They have a wonderful mom who I get along with very well so there is no pressure to “mother” them. Just love and mentor and enjoy. I won the lottery in so many ways.

This also, is not my first blog, but probably my third or fourth iteration. I have been scattered and unclear as to what I want to write about and keep re-writing my story (some of you may have heard this all already). If you followed me before, welcome back. If you are new, welcome also. My posts won’t always be this long but I wanted to make sure you knew who everyone is as we go forward.

I’m just a Jenn with a story to tell and hope you’ll join me on the journey.

Cheers