Archive for July, 2009

July 25 ’09

Today was a rare day where my beautiful boys and I were alone from daybreak to sundown.  I know many mothers have days like that all the time, but with so much family around its very unusual for me.  In general I’m very grateful for the support of other adults – I’d go insane without their help! – but on a hot lazy summer day it was rather pleasant to cater only to our own whims.

In a mad bout of industriousness, last night I prepared all the food we would need to spend the day on Jonah’s property in Rocky Mountain House, where Si was helping Jonah build his workshop. At the last minute Silas and I decided I should stay home with the boys instead, so we had monstrous amounts of picnic food prepared for the day. This led to a cheap and very convenient mall expedition! I took the boys to put together activity packs for our upcoming voyage to Australia.

Dair and Malkie were both very interested in playing in the play section and didn’t have much input into what I was buying at the time.  Mack was very on the ball though, and asked for the play area as soon as we stepped out of Wal-mart! At the play area there was another 3 year old boy that Dair got very involved with, playing wild games of Monster chasing. It will be interesting to watch Dair’s behaviours when he goes to daycare in September, as he was very good at playing with the other boy as long as that boy was following Dair’s directives. If the other boy tried to take charge, Dair simply ignored him and carried on with his own game!

Malkie, as usual, played nicely with all the kids and randomly switched to do his own thing. His own thing mostly involved jumping from precariously high places. This is right in line with his current theme of jumping from unsafe places all around the house. I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to teach him some discernment. I don’t want to instill unnecessary fear, but I don’t want him hurtling off cliffs either! I’m afraid this might be an ongoing discussion in Mackie’s life.

Malkie fell asleep on the way home and stayed that way for a good long while (thank goodness – half hour naps are killing both of us!)  I sorted through the activities and Dair latched on to the two transformers immediately. It was interesting watching him. I showed him once how to do the Bumblebee car and then he was able to do it as well as figuring out Mack’s Mudflats one. He undid and redid them for a good hour. Then he seemed to have it straight in his head and moved on to playing with them as cars. Even more interestingly to me, he was quite excited to have a transformer because “Stefan doesn’t even know that we have transformers too!” Right beneath my eyes, totally unbeknownst to me, my son had been indoctrinated into What Is Cool by his cousin. I didn’t realize he even knew what a transformer was; he was overjoyed to now be in the inner circle of “haves”. It broke my heart a little – I know it’s impossible but I would have wished for my children that they could be pure individuals without feeling peer pressure. It also adds to my hesitation about putting him in daycare in the fall – I’ve kept my kids so deliberately innocent and I’m not sure I’m ready to give that up. When I think of it that way it makes me even sadder for Malkie – shouldn’t I be protecting him at least as long as his brother? I am still really struggling with the mothering/my own mental health balance.

The evening was lazy and mostly fun. Easy dinner, playing in the yard. There was an incident where I was on the phone with Si and I heard “Bang. SCREAMOFANGER. Bang. SCREAMOFANGER. (Repeat)” I ran outside and demanded to know what was going on. The boys were standing on opposite sides of the deck and Mack was holding a large landscaping rock about half his own size. Dair said “Mackie was throwing rocks at me” I replied “And you just stood there and let him?” “Yes.” “Well how stupid is that? Why didn’t you move?”

I also told Malcolm to CUT IT OUT. He loves to throw almost as much as he loves to jump, and repeated NOs don’t seem to impact him at all. I really do need to figure out how to get through to that smiling, disarming ball of nerves.

I put the boys to bed in the cool basement and tonight it was Dair’s turn to not sleep for hours. I think they must be in cahoots to have it alternating so smoothly between them. At long last he did sleep though.

One other note – my baby robins opened their eyes today and they are far, far less ugly now 😀

I am thankful for long hot summer days and for beautiful intelligent boys.


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Our Robins

We were astonished and thrilled when a pair of robins chose to nest in our deck supports this spring! Well I was thrilled. Si was torn between being happy and being Very Put Out that they were nesting on his climbing holds, thereby halting climbing on the deck until the babies are out of the nest!

They actually started two nests, the first on the more western of the two vertical holds. They abandoned that for mysterious Robin reasons and built a very pretty and sturdy one on the eastern hold.

At first they were very skittish about us, but once the eggs were in the nest Mama Robin had to just put up with us moving around while she kept them warm, and now both Mama and Daddy are quite relaxed about us, to the point that they let me take some awesome pictures yesterday.

I am so excited about this nest and babies – I feel like it’s  proof of how welcoming and safe our yard is (not to mention chemical free and bug laden! ).

So without further ado, here is our robin family! 

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That sounds like the introduction to a sermon, doesn’t it? I’m not thinking about Yahweh sending flocks of locusts though. I’m thinking about the many, many conversations I’ve had with other mothers about judging and being judged about particular parenting decisions.

The most recent involved older children riding in strollers. I came down rather firmly on the “get them walking” side of the fence, but that’s immaterial to the discussion of judgement in general.  A large part of the discussion was about whether anyone should be judging anyone else’s stroller use, and by extension, any parenting decision at all.  As always happens, at the merest suggestion that they might be considered judgemental, people began to backpedal and phrase things in conditional language.

Why does that always happen? No wants to be seen as judgemental, even though we all are. By defining our own set of values and morals, we are necessarily also defining what is unacceptable to us. Of course we can live according to our own values and not try to impose them on others, and we can have compassion and understanding for those who choose different ways, but if you do not think your way is the best way, why would you be doing it?

This is where the fear of being judged comes in. In the endless Mommy discussions it is often proposed that “We should all assume that everyone is doing the best they can”. Now first of all I disagree with that – lots of people are lazy or uninformed and simply are not doing the best they can. But secondly, if you really truly believe that what you are doing is the best for your child, then why is there such an angry visceral reaction to being  judged? Surely if you are confident in your decisions judgement from others should roll off without impact.

This doesn’t apply only to parenting decisions. It applies to everything. If you really like that pair of skinny jeans and truly think they show off your figure to best advantage, oughtn’t you wear them without worrying about disapproving glances (particularly from me 😉 )?

Therein lies the answer, I believe. People may make informed, carefully considered decisions, but it is a strong part of the human condition to desire approval from others as well. The anger at being criticized and judged doesn’t necessarily come from a lack of confidence in our own decisions, but from hurt at the lack of approval. It takes a strong person indeed to be able to say “so what if they don’t approve, I’m still right” with no hurt at all.

The intersection of logic and feeling is always fraught with difficulty. The best we can do is to remember that not everyone’s opinion matters, but only that of those who have our best interest at heart.

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One of my very first experiences in geology was  field school. My prof for the course was Jerry Osborn and we took daytrips out from Calgary for 2 weeks straight, learning how to look at the world from a geological perspective.  I was 19 years old, eager and energetic and very able to climb up and down steep mountain sides, wade through glacial creeks and traipse through dense underbrush for 10 hours a day. I wasn’t very good at observing subtle details, telling one kind of rock from another or coming up with theories as to why anything at all might be happening.

Today I did the first round of field observations for my Masters in Geology. My supervisor is Jerry Osborn, and we took a daytrip out from Calgary to look at some of the rivers I’d been analyzing on airphotos. I’m 30 (and oh-so-close to 31!) years old, eager and relaxed and to my great satisfaction, very able to climb up and down steep river banks, wade through glacial creeks and traipse through dense underbrush for a good 8 hours (I was darn glad there weren’t another two to go though!).  I was pretty good at observing subtle details and came up with a reasonable amount of original thought as to why certain things might be happening in the river. My rock ID skills weren’t put to the test, but rusty as they are they’re still better than 12 years ago :D. 

The beauty of today was that it crystalized all the learning I’ve been doing for the last 12 years. Walking up the creek at one point today I felt honest euphoria . Surrounded by Mother Nature in all her gentle glory, I was able to look around me not just with awe and wonder but also deep understanding.

I don’t know whether very many people get to have an experience like I did today. So often we choose our path and forge ahead with it, dealing with the sucesses and pitfalls, reaching goals and moving on without really reflecting. Even more often, our achievements are so different from those we visualized when we began that a comparison doesn’t make sense. Somehow, today I was given this extraordinary gift of a situation almost identical to the one I had when starting down my path and was able to truly conceptualize the learning I’ve done over the last 12 years.

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