Archive for the ‘sunrise’ category

What basic human rights mean to me

January 25, 2012

I love the dark, grey clouds covering St. John’s where I can hide and write my heart out. I don’t miss the sun, the obligation to bask in its brilliance, it only hurts my eyes. My fingers move across the keys more freely with the rain pounding on the windows, or when the snow piles up and locks us inside for yet another snow day.

The world I now live in, the place I’m at, now, is contentment with how far we got with decorating our newest home, the last colours we chose were red, and grey, I hated them at first, thought I’d made the biggest mistake, thought I couldn’t live with one more shade of darkness. But too much light only reflects off my screen, obscures my words, the fuel that keeps me going.

Under my clouds, sitting in front of my computer, I watch the world unfold. I’m seeing this world where there’s a God who exists that would take away the very basic right of choice. Some news, these days, not of wars or blatant disrespect for human rights in countries where we already know that is happening, but some news out of the States terrifies me, the news of potential leaders claiming women have no right to choice. These statements attempt to mask their controlling dictatorship in a religion that’s supposed to be all about love. Is the US for real? Does a significant percentage of their population actually support those who say a woman should live with even the consequences of rape? And here I thought we were all fighting for basic human rights.

My children are growing, changing before my eyes, filling my heart to overflowing more and more each day, and I am grateful for the fact of where I live, that my early years with them have been supported in so many ways. The one year maternity leave I had with my first child, because I was working at the time, paying into that pool that allowed me a paycheque for the first twelve months of my daughter’s life, it wasn’t much, but the promise of it, the offer, the fact of the existence of “maternity leave” was like a nod to my new life as a mother. A nod of respect. From my country. A country I’m so proud to call home.

I know some of my fellow countrymen and women would say our own PM is against abortion. But the last statement I’ve read him uttering on that topic was that he was not going to open the abortion debate. Abortion is legal in Canada. What he didn’t say, I believe, is more powerful that what he did say. That is, that we have the right, in this country, to the basic human right of choice. I know there’s many people in my own country still fighting that fight. But us parents, we make decisions on behalf of our children every single day. I know it’s a brutally touchy subject. But we as adults have to have the right to make those choices. No one ever said they were easy. But if we can’t have that very basic right, the right of choice, call it God-given Free Will if you aren’t an atheist, we might as well call these the dark ages. Maybe we never ever did leave those days behind.

I don’t want to offend another person’s beliefs. But I don’t understand why anyone, in the name of a religion that desperately needs to be modernized, taken not so literally, why anyone feels they have an obligation to take away another person’s right to choice. Or to claim “family values,” and the upholding of the “traditional family” as the only acceptable place to raise a child. I also don’t understand those who shoot down even gay rights — why can’t everyone see that there’s many ways to love in this world, to offer love, to cherish it and to share it?

I used to love the sun. I still do, occasionally. But sometimes, the things it illuminates are terrifying. Sometimes, I’d rather hide under my dark clouds, wrap my own definition of love, human rights, happiness, around me as a shield against the parts of the world that I can’t understand or relate to.

Stepping back in [summer]time

July 2, 2010

There are many ways in which moving to a small town from a larger city centre is like stepping back in time. I’m not talking about being the last to get the latest movies – which we sometimes are up here, but maybe only by a few hours – or the fact that the first hairdresser I went to here gave me a mullet (yes for real, but in her defense, I brought in a terrible picture, and didn’t explain very well what I wanted…I have since found someone else in this town to cut my hair, who did a much better job, no more mullet!). I’m not even talking about a lack of technology, because I have a terrific internet connection (thank goodness!). What I’m referring to, is the lifestyle of young families, and what mothers of this generation tend to do in the summer. In the city, most kids come from double-income families, and will be spending most of their summer holidays at home. But the situation is different in in smaller locales.

In my experience, the further away from a big city you get, the more stay-at-home moms you find. A lot of locals here have a camper at a nearby campground, or a cabin on a lake. Many mothers take their kids to those places for most of the summer. Since they are close to their summer get-aways, they can come and go from town as often as they like, without traffic to contend with.

As there are now more people living in cities than in rural areas (at least in Canada, although I think I recently read that as a stat for the entire globe), that means there aren’t a lot of us stay-at-home moms. But if you’re like me, and you’ve followed your husband’s career to a location far away from family, you are enacting a version of what the locals do, and are likely heading “home” for most or at least part of the summer.

My next door neighbour left a week ago with her three kids, to do some camping with her parents. My other dear friends left today. Two weeks from now, my kids and I will be arriving in Toronto, searching for my dad (aka Grumpa)’s smiling face to greet us and drive us the two hours north to cottage country, where my parents now call home.

My parents live on Georgian Bay. I’ve always loved the stories from a generation ago, when hundreds of mothers migrated from cities and towns once school was out, unpacking towels and bathing suits, the official uniforms of summertime, and spreading themselves out across the lake at their various cottages and cabins. At the peak of this hiatus, boat-only access ice cream stores were busier than the most popular downtown Toronto restaurants, and many a girl-chat was had over cocktails, with one eye always on the children splashing in the water.

Today, so many of those moms are working equal days and hours to the fathers of their children, that most of those ice cream places have closed down. There are new resorts in cottage country where families go together during the one or two weeks, or one or two long weekends, that mom and dad get off together. And the rest of the summer, well, the kids are in daycare or day camps back in the city.

The thing that saddens me about the loss of this way of life, is that there are more and more kids who rarely get out of the city. I was one of the lucky ones, for when I was still enjoying childhood my mom was a teacher, and summers for us were spent at the cottage. Shoes were only for going into town to fetch groceries, and bugs and sticks and dirt were my best friends. There were always lots of other kids around, and together we’d find crayfish and clams amongst the boulders by the beach, build sandcastles and rock collections, have campfires and watch sunsets. Summers were a nice balance to year-long classroom learning.

Dads weren’t missing out on all the fun, either. On weekends they would head north to join their families, to take the kids out fishing, to putter around and tinker with anything that needed fixing, and to unwind from their work weeks. But most dads I’ve known have also enjoyed their work weeks at home alone, at least in part, to be able to do what they do best: focus on their job, without the distraction of family. It’s all a balance!

I also know of some families who split their holidays, so that when one parent is working, the other has the kids out on some holiday or other. This gives the kids more time outdoors, even though the parents don’t get as much time together.

I am a little torn about “leaving” my husband for about a month this summer. But with the kids home from school, and him working 12-hour days, it wouldn’t be much fun for us here. Besides, the grandparents are anxious to spend some time with the kids. My hubby will join us for a week this summer, so we can enjoy family time together. And as I pack up, I look forward to the fact that I am giving my kids the opportunity to enjoy summer the way I did, surrounded by love and attention, but with the freedom to explore, bare toes in the sand, and learn in a short-lived, unstructured way that only ever happens in summertime.

January cabin fever

January 27, 2010

My five-year-old daughter greets me with a cheery, “Good morning!” at 6:50 a.m. I groan. Last night I had stressed to my children the fact that today is a PD day – no school, and daddy is not here (away on a business trip), so none of us have to get up early. Please, just let me sleep until 7 a.m., just once in a blue moon! It’s extra painful, because she woke me out of a very deep sleep (as she did yesterday, at 6:40 a.m.). I convince her to get in with me and get warm. She does so, about as gracefully as a very large animal trying to devour the home of its prey, and proceeds to call out the numbers on the digital clock each time they change…6:51…6:52…6:53.

“Please,” I plead for the second time in three minutes, “just keep quiet, say nothing, until…7:00.”

Whispered: “6:54…”

Seven o’clock rolls around in the blink of a puffy, blood-shot eye, and my two-year-old son shuffles down the hall, calling out, “I need to go pooh!” So up I get, to proceed with our regular routine of unzipping his pj’s and lifting him onto the toilet. Then, I convince him to come back to bed.

I keep the kids in bed with me until 8 a.m. It isn’t relaxing – there’s a lot of arguing over what the numbers on the clock say (my daughter continues reading them, while my son pulls his thumb out of his mouth long enough to announce: “Seven dot-dot free!” which he says with more and more umph each time, and soon it’s a game for him to say his own line after she says hers). And there’s a lot of grumbling over the rumbling in their bellies, which I ignore, because at least in bed I can keep my eyes closed just a little longer, even if I am, reluctantly, awake.

Downstairs there’s the next part of our routine to engage in: peanut butter on bananna for the boy, while the girl attempts to pour her own cereal. Which ends up all over the counter and floor. And I still have to empty some back into the bag in the box, because her eyes, in the morning at least, are bigger than her belly.

The kids play for a while, then ask for a movie. My wave of guilt is washed away with the relief of having them occupied for long enough for me to attack the pigsty that my house has turned into seemingly overnight. I vacuum the entrance, which looks like a gravel pit, and then suck up the spilled dry cereal. Then I go outside to shovel a large enough path in the snow to get the garbage out. I’ve already missed the recycling pick-up.

We had made plans to go swimming with friends, but the heater at the pool, it turns out, is broken. At least we found out before we got there (a process that almost discouraged me from committing to the activity in the first place, as gathering bathing suits, snacks, towels, extra clothes, etc. takes a good hour to accomplish). So, with said friends, we get into our snowsuits instead, and head to a nearby hill to toboggan. The wind turns us back. Five of six kids are crying after only 10 minutes. My friend and I look at each other, decided that, as our husbands are both out of town, we’ll get together later for pizza (and alcohol, I think, knowing she’s thinking the same thing).

It’s afternoon, and my son is down for a nap. My daughter is alternating between being my best friend and my worst enemy every five minutes. The cabin fever is getting to us all. I come upstairs to gather the laundry, and hear a bang, and then tears.

My daughter has spilled her milk.

The doorbell rings at 2 p.m., waking my son.

Now we’re all crying over spilled milk.

Sunrise to close a decade

January 4, 2010

Winter Sunrise on Georgian Bay