Making Donuts: The guilt and the pleasure

I have never before attempted making donuts.

They are too big a project- all those tricky steps, complicated instructions. Added to this, I have to admit: the real reason has always been that donut-making is too messy- the grease and flying fat. Yuck. And aren’t they too time consuming, don’t they have to be rolled in sugar, no less? And glazed? Ugh. Again, so many steps. So much bother. They really are just too complicated. Besides, they are the stuff of grandmothers and professionals- not a recipe for an amateur baker like myself to dabble in, a woman with more than a few projects on the go at any given time. A woman who really could be doing about thirteen other things right now- of more significance than this project, to be completely honest.

And furthermore, what’s so wrong with Oreos for dessert?

But it’s been decided: I am making donuts today if it’s the last project on the agenda for the weekend (it might well be at the rate I am going). And I am making these delectable little yummies mostly because I feel guilty.
Internal-guilty: (oh let me count the ways. I am a glutton for punishment, I am home today due to a storm- I might as well be busy, I haven’t baked in a while, I need to do something with the kids, there’s nothing to eat in this house…).

External guilty: (I just got off the phone with someone who is making baked donut-muffins; so, what do I do but feel I must go and bake too; in a friendly case of ‘one up-manship’ along with the fact that I cannot find the actual recipe I am looking for, I decide to make fried donuts, the old-fashioned way).
Guilty for the sake of feeling guilty: (it has been a loooong time since I baked anything delicious; which means I now have to over-do it and bake something delectably challenging- something as delicious as it is complicated).

Yes, I am feeling it. Guilty. Just plain old guilty. Guilt always has a curious way of motivating me to action, sad but true. But it does.

I enlist my Husband to secure me a bowl from the high cupboard. It is under a mountain of junk food. A precarious mountain that threatens to become an avalanche unless One more patient (and taller) than I takes measures to protect ‘said heap’ of treasured snacks. I have everything under the sun crammed into that pantry cupboard. I look longingly at the two granola bars I have to move out of the way first. These instant snacks are where it’s really at, so much simpler than this journey of dough and flour catastrophe I am about to initiate and embark on. I maneuver around the six bags of chips stacked on top of one another at random angles.


At which point, Husband comes to my rescue. He hands me a bowl, but it is much too small. I explain which bowl exactly and why, and he sighs. It is of course the aqua rimmed bowl at the bottom of everything. And I do mean everything. Eventually, the bowl is produced, while I find the bag of flour at ground level, behind my antique stove, where it has been preserved securely inside two grocery bags: in case mice get at it before I do. That’s how often flour gets noticed around here. By the mice.

And we are a go. I am ready to begin.

I quietly call a child to help share this journey into uncharted territories with me (because that’s really what this is all about- spending time with the children doing something productive, meaningful and memorable). Quietly I call a child over. Yes, QUIETLY. That’s because this mama can only handle one child in the kitchen with her at a time. Immediately, however, there is tension in the air as everyone hears the rattle of glassware and dishes in spite of my precautions, and they all come pouring into the kitchen wanting to help.

Just what I need to make the guilt levels ramp it up a notch. Great.
I negotiate. Distract. Plead, beg and nearly cry. And the Others not involved in the Project are finally sufficed with a promise from me that they’ll get to help next time. That is, in my next life. When I make donuts again.

We begin. I mean, really. We begin.

I set the recipe on the counter, and Daughter begins to stir melted butter and sugar. Eggs, milk and vanilla. It’s dreamy, actually- this mixture of yellow liquid froth and foam. Daughter looks almost entranced. I feel a sense of calm wash over me. Maybe this won’t be as bad as I thought.

We mix the dough. I add flour and so does she. The lard is on the stovetop and things are pretty much at that point of no return. As the Daughter who is helping is getting tired of stirring in flour, I recruit another child to take over where she left off. Actually, two others.

They pat down the dough with their fingers and make cut-outs with my donut maker. The flour puffs up in little bursts. Reminding me of steam.
Surprisingly, the atmosphere in the kitchen is one of calm and repose. It is almost cathartic, this process. And I even get Husband to help fry the dough.

We sit in to a brunch meal of eggs, sausages, toast, oranges and homemade donuts. And I decide: even though I began this process for all the wrong reasons, things have a way of working themselves around for good.
These donuts were well-worth the effort it took to make them. Well-worth the elbow grease and time. And right now, listening to quiet munching around the table, I also realize: some things in life are just better done the old-fashioned way.

(Although I could do without that little side-motivation of guilt…I’ll know better for next time).

And yes, Children: there really will be a next time. Scouts promise.

Now, where’s that bag of Oreos…

When running is futile…and giving brings the joy back.

{I have been feeling it all week- like a balloon expanding far past its limit. It pushes on my chest and squeezes my lungs.
Stress. Anxiety. Tension.
It is eating away at me from the inside out.
I was able to hide it at first, putting my game face on to face the world. But today: it all came bursting out in a torrent of words and feelings. Emotions- much bigger than I could contain. And I felt the wind being knocked out of me, the air leave in a rush. I felt that feeling of deflation. Busting wide open.
And I just couldn’t get it all back together again- couldn’t contain it in time for the real world to happen at exactly 8:35 a.m.. Sometimes we’re not ready to move forward but we take that first step anyway. That first step forward in the right direction.}

I am leaving the house in a flurry. Ponytail flying from behind while I carry coffee mugs and bags, over-filled with hats and gloves and jewellery and snacks, lunch and papers. Reams and reams of papers. And goodness knows what all else.

Is there ever any end to the insanity?

And now I’m just running. In my black buckled high-heel boots. The ones with the black shoe polish, a quick fix. Silver necklace swinging like a pendulum. And while I run, I am just steaming. STEAMING. Anger pouring out from every fiber. The end result of so many missed opportunities, missed connections. The final straw that broke the camel’s back, a combination of so many abrupted attempts to get things done. I can hardly even think. So I don’t. I just let the steam flow profusely out my ears. And I don’t look back again as I run, other than to throw my hand behind me to check that the door knob is safely secured. And then, I run as if my life depended on it.

This is me: I hit the ground running at break of day. And I don’t stop running until I hit the pillow at day’s end. I run to the shower. I run up the stairs. I run down. I run from room to room. I run out the door. I run to the school. It is all I can do to NOT run down the halls. And while I may not be running at school, my mind is racing. What does this one need? And that one? And what was I suppose to do again on my prep, my recess, my lunch?

I run back into the house at end of day. Race around the kitchen getting supper underway. Run out the door. Off to soccer, piano, Kid’s Club. Who knows…I am running, and that is all I know some nights.

And sometimes the cycle just starts to spin and spin and spin- until I feel like I am being sucked into the center of a vortex, an endless, smothering vacuum.

I felt that stress today bearing down on me. I could feel its pressure on my chest, my back and head.
I was standing at the door when I saw him. The Boy in my classroom. I had already intervened about five times to remind little ones where they should be sitting. I was tiring of the reminders and just about to wonder if there was any point when he did it: when he high-fived the palm of my busy, little sprinter.

He high-fived his little friend the Sprinter, the one who couldn’t sit still in his chair even for the five minutes allotted for his snack. For truly, his little friend certainly hadn’t heeded any of my nagging pleas. The Boy high-fived him. Blew my socks off- blew me right out of the water: “Good sitting,” he said to his friend. “High five!”

And I felt it then: a well breaking deep within. Some kind of release from down inside my soul. Because The Boy had achieved what I had not with just a simple gesture. He had achieved what I had not with a generous dose of kindness.

The greatest antidote to stress is a perspective shift. When we can see outside of the world we live in and realize that there is more to the narrow box within which we have locked ourselves. Within which we are confined. When we can see that there is something beyond our troubles. That there is more than the messy ‘here and now’. When we can see that life is a composite of ‘what we’ve been given’ and ‘what we make with that precious, wonderful gift’. When we can see with eyes wide open.

When we can truly SEE.

We realize: life is exquisitely beautiful. It is raw beauty and heady wonder mixed with a generous dose of heartache, pain and trouble. It is a perfectly imperfect combination of hope and wonder and awe. Truth: life might be hard, but it is doable. It is possible. It’s not hopeless. It’s just not.

You know, after the Boy reached out his sweet little five-year old hand to touch the palm of his busy little friend- the one having trouble sitting still, as per my teacher-ly expectation: suddenly I started to see things clearer. And I realized: I can do this. I can smile. I can laugh- even when I feel like crying. I can encourage, even though I feel myself getting discouraged. I can offer grace. I can love. I can give.

I can always give something.

And that’s just it: in giving, I have felt that aching, troublesome burden lifting. In giving hugs. In wiping tears. In offering gratitude. In exuding praise. In holding close. In love, I can offer much.

In giving: my burdens can be lifted.

On living the life we were born for…

We were born for this.  This journey, this life adventure.  This journey on which we travel in and out of days and weeks and months and years.   In and out of seasons.    We were born for this quest.   Were born for the highs and lows, the twists and turns.   The bends.  The forks in the road.   Were born for travelling up hill and down.  We were born for the good times and the bad times.

We were born for the ride.

And it is a ride.  At times a roller-coaster.  At times a meander.  And at more times than I would like to admit: a tedious crawl- face to the ground.

I’ve always liked to think that my exciting, real life is going to happen sometime soon.  Like maybe today.  Or tomorrow.  Or sometime in the not-so-far-away future.  Because this business of crawling: of living in reality.   Of working 9-5, of making meals, of chauffeuring, of settling spats amongst children.  Of living the daily grind.  This business is for the birds, really.  And it cannot possibly be what I was born for.

I was born for more.

And the real life I am so desperately waiting for looks more like this: quiet mornings sipping coffee. Uninterrupted writing time.   Long, invigorating walks.   Deep, meaningful conversations.    Face-time with my spouse.   My head stuck in a good book.  Exotic travel.    Rewarding humanitarian work.  Service to country and fellow human beings: brothers and sisters both here and abroad.

And to cap it all off, maybe just a little more time to follow my dreams.  In other words, time to pursue what I have always believed I was born for: something more.

Something more than crawling.

And there are times I wonder, “Why this?”  Why the noise and confusion and chaos and trouble and hurt and heartache and pain and sacrifice?   It wasn’t part of the dream.

Or was it?

To be sure, life is a ride.  A ride full of fearful unknowns and weary treks as much as it is a ride full of adventure.  And so it is that I will hold to the belief that I was born for the trip in its entirety.  And although the ride is not what I always envisioned the real journey to look like-this stuff of everyday living slows my travelling down.  It is this- the stuff of everyday living that has truly taught me the most.  About self.  About others.  And about God.  About life.

I was born for this.  Was born for mothering.  For teaching.   For service.   I was born to live this life that I am living now.

I was born to these callings.  Was born for such a time as this, for such a time as now.  For such a time as are a mother’s hours: 24/7, 365 days a year.  And added to that, I was born for teaching five days a week, from 9-4.    Was born for such a time as even more than those boxed-in hours.  For late nights at the computer and early mornings, my hands busy folding laundry.

I was born for this.  For these crazy moments spent slogging away.

But I was also born for this: I was born to be that friendly, cheerful face by the classroom doors- greeting children of all ages with a welcoming smile.  A warm hug.  An inquiring question.  A thoughtful comment or two.  Was born to hold chubby little hands, to look intently into blue-eyed baby faces.  To hear sweet and innocent stories.  To hear stories not so simple, of lives more complicated than my own.  To hear stories told that bring me to my knees, that haunt me in my waking hours.   Stories that propel me to advocate for change.

I was born for this too.  For opening up milk cartons.  Cutting yogurt packages into a slit at the top.  Passing out pizza slices.   Issuing band-aids.  Umpteen-dozen band-aids each and every day.  I was born to look at ‘owies’- with a professional’s eye.

Was born to read books- piles and piles of glorious books.  To read them with expression, passion and joie de vivre!  To saturate the room with them.  To buy them by the dozen!  To relish children’s laughter as I read favorites again and again.

I was born for even this.

I was born to find joy in everyday pleasures.  To find joy in the mundane, the ordinary.  Joy.  In reciting the alphabet, counting to twenty and playing with play-doh.  In watching the weather and growing bean plants and using scented markers.  In playing with puppets and using brand-new crayons.  In practicing piano.  In bouncing balls.

I was born for all this.

Was born to fight for the underdog, to defend the rights of the under-privileged.  To hear the hard stories and not turn away.  To look into hearts and ask difficult questions.  To put a face to the data.

I was born for this.  What joy!

I was born to do hard things.  To make tough calls.  To follow through.  To see a story through to its ending.  To never give up.

To always hope.  To always protect.  To always believe.

I was born for this.  For all of this.

I was born to not go down quietly.  To be a loud voice, if need be.  To shout it from the roof-tops or whisper it in the quiet of a room.  I was born for even this.

I was born to be a builder of blocks, a builder of lives.  A mender of hearts- a champion of dreams.

I was born to be a mother.  Was born to teach.  To be the teacher and the learner.  To make room in my heart.  Always enough room for one more.  And true.  It has not always been the easiest space I’ve ever inhabited, nor has it always been the most pleasant.  It is exhausting work- all of it.  But these acts of service have been the most rewarding of my journey thus far.  The most worthwhile.  Because the joy I have found in giving and receiving love, in knowing and in learning about people and the world we live in.  In understanding the stories connected to the lives.   This privilege. It is unmatched in nearly any other act of service I have ever done.  And these acts of unconditional love in service to the four precious children I have borne as well as the caring and compassion I freely give to the children I have found room for in my heart.  Whom I teach inside classroom walls.  Whom teach me that life is more.  So much more.  These lives, these stories are what make the ride worthwhile.

It’s about the people.  It’s about humanity.  And it’s about the children.

Because I was born for much, not the least of which- to nurture, love and care.  I was born to do the grueling work of care-giving as much as I was born to inspire, challenge and motivate.  And above all, I was born to give back.  For in my life I have been given much.  And so much is required.

I was born for this, this life I am living.   I was born for all of it.

Let the Good Times Roll…

Thank Goodness, this week is coming to a close.


Surviving the past seven days has put into perspective any and all consecutive bad days that I might have written about in the past weeks or months.  And I refer to any and all bad days leading up to, but not including, those which occurred this past week.  Because.  It was truly a hair-raising week of GOOD TIMES.  And I do mean it was an f.u.n. week.


Just to put a spotlight on one ‘eency’ part of this fun week, let’s talk about being a mother and getting the stomach flu.  Let’s just savour how enjoyable THAT one is.  It is a joy, let me tell you.  A JOY.

The flu hit our home on Sunday evening, fast and furious.  And I don’t know about you, but in our house, as soon as someone starts throwing up, I begin monitoring what I am eating and what it might possibly look like regurgitated in another few hours.  Pause for reflection.  Anyhoo.  Child One was sick.  And sick she stayed through Sunday evening and all day Monday.  Going on false hope and a tad bit too much optimism, I got ready for work Tuesday only to hear the words, “Mom, so-and-so just threw up again,” moments before I walked out the door to work.  As I was dialing the principal with the phone in one hand, I was sopping up someone’s freshly eaten breakfast with the other.

Sub plan number two now needed.


Home we stayed Tuesday.  My little patient and I.  And I will admit.  I do love being home with a sick child.  Darling children.  They are so passive and agreeable and sweet.  Love their hearts.

By Wednesday morning, things were looking up.  I cautiously readied myself for work and ran out the door before anyone could recount any horror stories of vomiting on the living room floor.  And off we all went, kiddos and I, living in the dream world.  Fantasy land.  Carry the stomach flu virus happily around town, each and every place we went. (Sorry folks.)    But to be totally fair, we were truly ignorant to our status.  That status being that we were still contagious.  And that unfortunate fact being unbeknownst to us.  I, for one, thought we were all better.

Dim woman.

Well, if you recall.  On Wednesday evening , ‘Someone’ in our family ran into the camper with the four-wheeler.  Then, the as the evening wore on, an athletic racoon showed up in our shop, eating the cat food.  It was an eventful night.  And I don’t know if all this excitement made my stomach get a bit twirly.   Or what.   Whatever it was, it was just enough for me to wonder whether or not it was ‘me nerves’ or something more viral going through the system.  Of course.   Again.  I should have known.

About 8:30 that evening, I was putting M.A. to bed when I realized, ‘this is not the after-effects of damaging our camper’.  Nor was it the effects of putting the kiddos to bed solo.  I was indeed coming down with it.  The flu.

And rather than recount the times and places and scenes and extreme grossness of it all.  Let me leave you with this thought.  Picture a writhing animal pinned under the back tire of a truck.  That’s just about the way I remember Wednesday night.

So, needless to say, what was getting me through the horror of it all- indeed what I was clinging to like a drowning woman holding onto drift-board for dear life- was the thought: “My children will all be at school tomorrow and I will lie comatose in bed all day whilst they whittle the hours away under the watchful eyes of their teachers/substitutes.”  It was a hopeful, motivating thought that kept me from screaming out to Hubby to take me by ambulance to the nearest Emergency Room for narcotics.  Believe me…I was THIS close to that possibility.

Mixed in with those crazed thoughts and animal-like desires for something STRONGER,  was another significant moment of this most unfortunate event in my horrific week.  The tub baths.  Long ago, when I was pregnant and nauseous with any of our four children, the only thing that brought me temporary relief was soaking in the hospital Jacuzzi tub.  So, Wednesday evening (and all night long, really), in between  stuffing my head inside a garbage can and dragging myself to the bathroom, I somehow found the energy to run a hot bath and throw myself headlong into the water.   Where I lay like an albino alligator waiting for the next best thing.   These hot baths.  They worked like a charm. And I drifted in and out of consciousness until there was more water on the floor than in the tub.  Highly recommend it to anyone who happens to get sick with this measly bug next.

As I lay soaking in the tub, for the second time through that unfortunate night, the thought occurred to me, “I must get out of this tub before the children awake to find their naked mother asleep in the bathtub.”  And as I was just barely wrapping the towel around my shaking white legs- instantly freezing in the night air, I heard the pitter-patter of little feet outside the door.

M.A: “Mommy?”

Me: (…and then…

“Just a minute, just a minute…what is it, M.A.?”

M.A.: “I just threw up.”



7:30 a.m., as I am writing up my substitute plan in a haze of muddled thoughts and achy limbs, Hubbie says to me, “And…another one just threw up.”

Sleep, rest, recovery.  So much for that.

And that, folks, is just a eency, tiny portion of my lovely, F.U.N. week.  Let the good times keep rollin’.

‘Ya know yer a hill-billy when…’

So.  Son thinks his folks are hill-billies (which he equates with being cheap, I might add).  And he calls [one of us in particular, and it’s not me…] this over and over.  And as a dear friend said to me tonight, I guess we could be called worse names.  However, I guess the jokes on him.

Two times over, I might add.

This morning, he decided that he was NOT taking/eating the gross and extremely cheap Hot Stuff pepperoni pizza pockets for school lunch that I had bought (for the bargain basement price of one dollar…cha-ching, baby!).  So he then took it upon himself to look up his junior high school’s website to peruse the lunch menu plan for the week.  He ‘googled’ it and waited for results.  Then he started to shout out to his ‘hill-billy daddy’ in the kitchen that the website had changed.  The mascot was different.  The school looked different.  And the lunch menu prices were exorbitant  (That last one was my word, not his.  But still…)  Anyhoo, he was going on and on and on about all the changes to the school website when ‘my hill-billy hubby Brian’ decided to take it upon himself to adopt a country twang and saunter on off to the computer room to see what all the fuss was ABOUT.”

Come to find out Son had looked up a Hernewood Junior High School in some far off place in the United States, and it was his own MIS-SPELLING that caused the error.  ‘Pays to listen to yer elders, sonny.  Especially when thur’ learning ya somethin’ in school there about spellins’ and words and such’.

Then, Son showed his true country charm when at supper time, and again AFTER HAVING CALLED US HILL-BILLIES THIS MORNING, he came out to the kitchen and asked his DAD, “Why do people buy wood-splitting machines when they can just chop the tree down themselves?  Are they lazy or what?”

To which I say, ‘ya know yer a red-neck when…’ you care enough to form an opinion about wood-splitting machines.

I rest my case.  I still love ‘im.  He’s the apple of my eye.  But if I’m a hill-billy…so is he!

On appreciation…

How to teach appreciation?  I am at a loss, by times…

Second-Youngest Daughter came home from school today and mentioned, in an off-hand way, that she had shared her lunch with one of the boys in her Grade 3 class who had only had a bag of Cheesies stashed away inside his lunchbag.  When Husband inquired for further information, she filled him in on the rest of the story.  It appears that this particular boy packs his own lunch in the mornings.  And as he had woken up later than usual on this Monday morning, he scrambled at the last minute to put together a decent lunch.  All he could come up with at the last minute was a half-eaten bag of Cheesies that had been there in his lunch bag  since Friday.  So that was what he packed for himself to eat for lunch.

This story is a banner child in support of the school breakfast program, if I might say so myself.  It is also a case for mild neglect- although we don’t know the rest of the story.  One can only guess.  And it is certainly a case for much needed nutrition education, both for parents and children.

But even more compelling than this heart-breaking story of Cheesies for lunch is the flip side to the coin.  Our own children within the four walls of our home have never had to feel the pain of an empty stomach.  Youngest Daughter showed up this morning in my class complaining of being hungry.  I asked if she had eaten her breakfast, as Husband is the one who feeds everyone for the first meal of the day, and she replied that “no” she hadn’t had anything to eat.  Being her teacher and her parent, I was shocked, embarrassed and a wee bit curious how our youngest had been overlooked for breakfast.  So, I asked her again if she truly had not eaten breakfast this morning.

To which she replied sadly, “I had no breakfast.”  Awk!  Embarrassing!

I honestly felt like a neglectful mother at this point, even though it was not “my bad”.  (And I also was feeling a wee bit annoyed at Husband- because it certainly was “his bad”.)  But, we carried on and she had her snacks at 10:00 a.m. and all was well.  When I got home this evening, I (nicely) asked Husband why she had not eaten any breakfast this morning.  He said that she had indeed eaten breakfast- she had a bowl of Cheerios.  To which statement Youngest responded, “Well, it was not a very big bowl!”

How to teach appreciation?  When others have so little.  So little in the way of parental support, financial resources, time.  So little in the way of proper information, education and understanding.  So little in the way of tender, loving care, amongst so many other missing things, both great and small.

One must never take for granted the gift it is to have food on the table, a roof over the head, clean drinking water, a warm bed on which to rest at day’s end.  These are assumed basic needs. And they are blessings for those of us fortunate enough to have in our possession when so many do not share this great wealth.  So this is what I think.  Teaching appreciation must be done bit by bit, little by little, conversation by conversation.  Imparting the wealth of gratitude one utterance at a time.   One gift at a time.  Sharing a lunch is appreciating its value. For to truly understand the riches of wealth, one must understand the grace that is Gratitude.

For gratitude and appreciation are blessings all of their own.

On being forgiven (or subtitled: ‘Second chances’)…

I am ashamed to say it.  I became “that” mother today.  That mother that yells at her children, that puts the house ahead of her child, that cares more about shoes than her crying preschooler- and that finally strips her child down to her birthday suit on the front door step and carries her screaming to the waiting shower (that looming cavern of fear for most preschoolers I have encountered).  That mom who then slams shower doors and later on leaves the house in her husband’s care, all while muttering under her breath that “she is going to lose her mind” as she runs toward the doorstep.  Yup.   That was sadly me today.  I became that mother I despise- the one that is a basket-case and has one precious nerve left.   Of which, it just so happens that last nerve just got stepped on.  And so now she has none.

That woman, dear reader, is me.  I am sadly “that” mother.

I am standing beside the downstairs bathroom sink, watching a cleaning bucket fill up with sudsy soap bubbles.   The bucket has been prepared for the express purpose of keeping my floors free of the muddy river clay stuck to the bottom of my son and husband’s feet, by which they will wash off their feet in the warm water and then dry off with a towel.  The boys are just getting in from a boat ride up river, and have now towed the vehicle out of the water and into our driveway for safekeeping overnight.  Boating adventures are over for another day.  The pending rain has so far been kept at bay, but the sky looks ominous.  We had planned to go for an evening boat ride to cool off, but perhaps the rain will take the humidity away for us instead.  Here’s hoping…

As I watch the water rising in my red utility bucket, my youngest daughter slips into the house and calls me from the doorway. “I have to use the washroom,” she states matter-of-factly.  I hear no urgency in her voice, so I allow myself the second or two that it takes me to turn around and walk from the bathroom to the entryway where she stands.  As I walk out of the washroom and toward her, I see between us the six or seven bags of groceries I still have not put away, along with the four pairs of soccer cleats, the various shin pads, jerseys and soccer shorts lying helter skelter everywhere, and I silently remind myself that this room is next on the list for a complete end-of-the-day overhaul.

In that ten second interlude in which I walk from the bathroom to my daughter, she has decided she cannot hold it for one second longer, and when I reach her, she is peeing on the shoes.


All over her soccer cleats, my son’s Adidas sneakers that he bought with his own money in North Carolina (won’t he be impressed), and over top the various sandals and shoes that happen to be strewn everywhere.  I feel like things are moving in slow motion, and I yell at her to ‘stooopppp’ all while making a gigantic lunge toward her small frame.  She is in no condition to stop the process that is already underway, so instead I scoop her up, all while insisting that she stop in the name of time this poor decision to pee anywhere other than the toilet (or in dire situations, outside under the tree…which is what she should have done, come to think of it), and then we two proceed out the front door.

She is crying at this point, but I am in no mood to simmer down. I keep up the tirade.  I am merciless.  I strip her down to her birthday suit, carry her back into the house, over top the puddle that has formed on my entryway floor and on into the bathroom, where I shove her into the shower and turn on the water, full blast.

I move away from the scene to collect myself.  I am still fuming.  Not only has this little inconvenience added another job to my ever-growing list, but there is the small matter of my daughter to deal with.  And she is currently screaming at me from the shower.

“Mommy, mommy, mommy?” she yells out.   I assure her I am right here in the room next to her, but she is not appeased by the sound of my voice.  I start to sift through the various grocery bags with melting ice cream and other perishables within, and as I am trotting downstairs to the freezer, I hear my daughter calling me again.  She is no longer in the shower but running naked and dripping wet through the entryway looking for me.

I think I am about to lose my mind.

I am “that” mother, at this point.  It is not pretty, nor am I proud of my decision.  In fact, I will wear my shame like a trophy all evening and into the night, when I confess my sins to my husband and later still, to God.  And the next morning, I will try to make up for my grievances by cooking a big breakfast for everyone, complete with bacon and eggs,  which I will bravely endure even though I hate the smell of bacon in my hair for the rest of the day.   And as I calmly sip my coffee and survey the peaceful faces of my family, this is what my precious daughter will say:  “That’s funny!  Last night was the worst night ever and this morning is the best day ever,” as she happily eats her scrambled eggs on toast.  She will beam at me, and I will be unable to help but say thank-you to God for inventing forgiveness.  For Father, I have sinned and been forgiven all in one short stroke of life’s paint brush.  And for that I am grateful, oh so grateful.

And my daughter, the clearest example I have of how sweet forgiveness really can be, is the one I have to thank for that.

The Joy of Being Present…

A dear ‘stay-at-home mama’ friend of mine wrote her Facebook status today on ‘being present’.  She briefly addressed the fact that she is with her children daily, but she is not always present with them.  In this update, she vowed to be more present and ‘in the moment’ than she had failed to be in days previous.

Which got me thinking.  Is that really necessary?  To be present?  And so I challenged myself to be present all day and aware of my children and their importance to me.  And, in even a greater way, to be more aware of everything around me.  So as to be present in this day I am in.  In the moment.  And in so doing, I would know whether or not there is validity in being such and if it is a worthwhile task.

I’m always up for a challenge.

And so, I tried to be very present as the sun came up.  I was present when I woke up to the chortle of nearby campers enjoying their breakfast and having a jolly good time about it all.  I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but who wants to sleep through a party?  So I dragged my haggard self out of bed and tried to sneak out the side door without starting my own party here in our little ‘still-sleeping’ haven of rest.

I was present during my shower in the communal bathroom here on the campground, particularly when I forgot my shampoo.  Thank heavens for that sample I swiped from the hotel during March Break.   I was present when I returned to our camper and my daughter was hopping around in desperation/fear she would again pee her pants because I was her one ‘pass’ to the washroom, and she had to wait my return from the shower so as to GO. Present when I dropped the coffee grounds all over the camper floor.  Present again, when I zipped up my favorite Jacob top in my suitcase zipper, and even more present when I had to borrow scissors from a fellow camper to cut it out.  I was present.  In the moment, baby.

Still not convinced of its validity, I pressed on.

I was present throughout mid-morning activities.  Present when I found an earwig floating in my dishwater and then when the fridge leaked water all over the camper floor.   Present when a prospective buyer showed up to look at our camper this morning just after breakfast and before I had a chance to clean/de-clutter and again present when my daughter had a meltdown because she was hungry and a roll would not appease, coincidentally timed at just the moment this same family were traipsing through our dirty, unclean camper (leaving me no choice but to buckle her in her car seat in our van until the showing was over); present when thunder clouds rolled in right at dinner time forcing us whom are ‘picnic-ers’ by force, to come sheepishly to my parent’s door, food and laundry in hand.  I was present even then.

Again, I was present when the kids were fighting intermittently throughout the day, when the rush for supper was in full swing and we were rushing, rushing, rushing (so that we might not miss our evening’s entertainment).   When Gatorade spilled and kiddos were not hungry, and present still when we made a mad dash to the movie theatre: sweaty, tired and unkempt- brushing hair even in the parking lot.  Only to find out that we still had another twenty minutes until the movie would begin to play.

I was present at the theatres when we played musical chairs, when popcorn spilled, when Little Ones thought the movie was too scary, and then again when everyone had different ideas about which store in which to shop in after the show ended.  Present when we arrived back home to our camper, and as we were pulling in to the campground, Youngest issued disparaging remarks to the Oldest, upon which Oldest proceeded to lecture his father on how lax we are in disciplining the Youngest.  Thus, putting a damper on an otherwise pleasant evening.

And I am currently present in this moment.  Whilst Youngest cries and sobs for water at one hour to midnight and all the while, Older Ones complain about her crying.  Oh, I am present.  And then some.

Contemplating going it solo in the backseat of the van, but still present indeed.

And I have come to this conclusion: I think being present in all these moments has just about killed me.  I’m not that strong.  And I just want to be detached in a few of them.  Rather, a lot of them.  So, here I sit, even whilst the youngest cries and screams and her father is forced to get up out of bed and deal with the discipline.

And I meanwhile just tap, tap, tap the keys of this laptop while balancing it on my lap as I sit on the edge of a lumpy camper mattress.  Only ten feet away from my screaming child.  And I must say, I have reached a verdict.  I am no longer in the moment.  Rather, I am feeling very detached and working on being oblivious to all the chaos going on around me.

And it is a very good place to be.  In this moment.

The Joy of Being Mean (seriously….)

Not long ago, a friend mailed me a letter that contained two sheets of paper.    On one sheet, was an article titled The Meanest Mother in the World, and on the other was the letter writer’s note to me which can be summarized with this one sentence: “Nice to know that being ‘mean’ is not all bad.”  As I read through the words of the article, originally written by Bobbie Pingaro (  in 1967, I thought to myself that mean mothers have been in existence for a long time.  In honor of all the mean mothers that are still around in the year 2012, perhaps we should revive this little mantra for the 21st century, complete with re-vamped demands that all mean mothers are prone to request in our present day world.  Here are a few thoughts that I came up with.

I am the meanest mother in the whole wide world.  While some kids don’t get on the bus with breakfast in their bellies, my kids are forced to have a muffin, bowl of cereal or a piece of toast.  At the very least, an over-ripe banana.  And I have been known to pack up an unfinished waffle or bag up a bowl of dry cereal and send it along for the ride.  All because mean mothers know that kids hate eating breakfast and we live to bring torture to their lives.

I also force my children to fold their pajamas, neatly, and while I include them in making their bed, I insist they learn how to do it the right way, not just any old way they please.  Since I am a stickler for neatness, I assist them in learning how to smooth back the covers, and I show them how to make it actually look presentable rather than as if a dead man is lying underneath the covers.  Cruel, I know.

I force my kids to shower every second day whether they stink or not.  They have to use soap and shampoo, and I often stand there outside the shower until I know they have rinsed all the shampoo out of their silky locks.  They often cry because they hate getting water in their eyes, but since I am mean, I insist that they do it the right way.  They’ll thank me later when they don’t have dandruff to deal with.

They also always have to wear clean undies after bathing. Cruel and unusual punishment.

Mean mothers always overdress their children, and I am no exception.  My kids are usually a slight bit over the average internal temperature for a normal child.  They always have a hat, mittens, sweatshirt, coat and wind pants on their person until about June 15th when I officially break out the summer wear.  I have a history of being mean in this way that dates back to the moment I became a mother.  True story.  After my first child was born, I took him to the doctor because he was running a slight fever.  Come to find out he was overdressed.  Who knew that a knitted sweater set in August could do that to a child?

I am so hateful.  I insist on regular contact with my children’s classroom teachers.  If I hear that they have not done an assignment, I am mean enough to actually contact the teacher to get the assignment right from the horse’s mouth.  And I insist on respect and courteous behaviour from my kids toward their teachers and other responsible adults in their life.  I have been known to insist on my children apologizing to an adult that they have not acknowledged or spoken to in a courteous way when they have been politely addressed by that same adult in public.  The nerve of me, I know.  But you’ll have to excuse me for this poor behaviour.   I learned it honestly.  My own father once drove me to an elderly lady’s house to apologize for rudely not acknowledging her when she kindly spoke to me at church.  Some lessons are learned the hard way.

I insist on my children adhering to a code of conduct that includes an innate understanding of the word responsibility.  I have been known to torture my children by actually requesting that they read a book, do their homework, walk the dog and sometimes (gasp, I know!) even do a chore or two as a means of earning X-box, computer, ipod or television.  Furthermore, I insist that my children do some of those same forms of human torture (a.k.a. chores) on the weekend.  Meanie that I am, I force my children to get up at a half decent hour of the day and then play outside, using their God-given imaginations to create and generate storylines for their play time.  And since we bought them a dog for Christmas, they have now been shackled with the added torture of playing with and exercising the dog.

Mean mothers, like myself, actually brush our children’s teeth for them because we are so suspicious that they might have simply held the toothbrush under the water, sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and then  called it a night.  We also, on occasion, ask out children to wash their hands and face before heading to bed because as we all known, cleanliness is next to godliness.

Probably the meanest thing I currently do is insist that my children wait.  They have to wait until after they have eaten their healthy food before they eat dessert.  They have to wait until Christmas to open their presents.  They have to wait until summer to wear their shorts outside.  They seemingly have to wait for everything and they have to do so with such unreasonable time constraints.  For instance, if my husband and I are talking, we insist that our children not interrupt us while we are in mid-sentence. We then spitefully request that they wait until we are finished our thought until they interject.   As well, we ask them to wait until they have saved up their own money to buy desired toys and goodies that are outside the reasonable expenditure of our weekly allowance.  We even ask them to wait until they are 13 to get a Facebook account. 


I could go on about so many other mean things I do, like insisting that my children eat the food I have served up on the table, saying please when asking for something and thank you when they have been given something or the most detestable of all, apologizing for things that were just mere accidents (as in, “I am sorry I sideswiped you on the way through the door and knocked that huge pile of towels you were holding out of your arms.”)  If I was even half-ways nice, I am sure I would not care.

I realize that being a mean mother has a slew of secondary repercussions.  As a result, my children, although not perfect, have sometimes complained about the undue hardship their mean mother inflicts on them.  As a result of being mean, I have also had to deal with my children being singled out by other responsible adults in their life for being polite and respectful citizens of the groups in which they participate. 

But I can deal with it.  Because mean mothers have a tough skin.  And we come by our meanness honestly.  Our own mothers, bless their nasty little hearts, were mean too.  


J.O.Y. of the top ten list…

The Top Ten Highlights of My Monday (in no order of importance…)

1.)    Getting up only 10 minutes late in spite of the fact that Husband forgot to set the alarm.

2.)    Finishing half of my cold toast and carrying in the other half to school (to hopefully finish at recess) concealed inside an empty cookie container that happened to be kicking around our van.

3.)    Having enough time prior to the bus arriving (exactly 8 minutes to spare) so that it looked like I was well-prepared for the day.

4.)    Being told flat-out in a staff meeting that my alto voice (a.k.a. big mouth) completely dominated the choral group I sang in last Friday.

5.)    Being told that same embarrassing scenario was captured on video tape.

6.)    Arriving home from work to find out there are exactly enough hamburgers left over from Sunday’s bar-b-q that I don’t have to cook supper.

7.)    And for whoever is still hungry, there is greasy Greco tonight at piano lessons for an after-dinner snack.

8.)    Finding out that what I thought was a criminal breaking into the school tonight (as I worked after hours), was only a stray cat.

9.)    Having just enough time to sneak in some surf-time on the Internet before cleaning the bathroom.

10.) Sleeping children, snoring husband and a pillow-top mattress.