Sunday, July 20, 2014

A letter I can't send

Growing up, I idolized you.  Even though our official relationship is uncle and niece, the fact that you are only 10 years older than me made us more like cousins, or sometimes you even seemed like my older brother.  When I was little, you were the big kid that I could follow around.  When I was a teenager, you were the cool 20 something year old, living on his own, and as I entered adulthood, you were someone to talk to who had been there and done that.

We spent every holiday and family birthday together.  Every meal that I remember eating at Grandma and Grandpa's house has you sitting beside me.  I tasted caviar for the first time when you graduated from college (and promptly threw it up because you had been slipping me champagne all afternoon and had gotten me drunk).

You took me to Gay bars in Toronto long before I came out.  You were the first family member that I came out to.  I knew you would be fine with it, after all, you had already walked down that same path years before.  I watched you mourn your friends and lovers during the Aids epidemic and I feared for your health and safety.

When I first moved to Halifax, ours was the one relationship that I knew I would miss the most.  We kept in touch at first, by phone and email.  But then something started changing.  You started changing.  While it had never been a secret that you disliked my father, you become more and more vocal about it and you started including my mother in your diatribes.  That was around the time that my own shaky relationship with my Mom was starting to mend, so I found this hard to handle.

Then the lies and secrets slowly started.  You would tell me something that you swore no one else knew, but then I would hear a different version from someone else.  And after you got caught in a couple of these, you stopped calling me all together, blaming me for your lies and accusing me of betraying you.

I mourned the loss of our relationship then.  I knew that my son would never know you as a member of his family.  It hurt, but I learned to move on.  I would still ask after you when I spoke to family, happy to hear that you were well, as I never wished you any ill will.

Then things got worse.

I don't know what caused you to do the things you have done.  Perhaps you are in a bad financial situation that you see no way out of.  Not much else can explain why you would coerce your elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer's into changing her will, cutting out my mother, and giving yourself a bigger share.  While I don't condone this in any way, I can at least see how money may have motivated this.  The other things you have done have no explanation other then you simply being an evil and cruel person.

I have heard the voice mails you have left my mother in the middle of the night.  I have been known to swear like a sailor at times, but the words you used and the names you called your own sister left me slack jawed.  You really know how to hit a person where it hurts, with awful references to my father, who had recently passed away.  You even went for the low blow of bringing up my mother's infertility.   I'm glad Mom had the courage to go to the police and register a formal complaint of harassment against you.  Having them show up at your apartment on your birthday seems to be the only thing that has stopped you from continuing this horrific habit.

But it didn't stop you from continuing your cruel attacks on your own mother.

Once you were the Mama's boy who called your mother everyday, checking in on her, sharing the details of your life.  She looked forward to those calls, telling everyone that you cared about her so much that you took time out every single day to make sure she was okay.  It's now been more then two years since you've called her and she doesn't understand why.

Reporting her for animal cruelty to the SPCA. She loved her cats and took such good care of them.  Luckily the dementia kept her from truly understanding what she had been accused of.  The woman from the SPCA only had to take one look at them to realize that she had been set on a wild goose chase.

Calling in a social worker saying that your mother was being neglected and forcing your 90 year old mother to go through that type of investigation when her Alzheimer's already makes life so confusing for her.

Feeding her lies about my mother, digging a chasm of mistrust that has taken my mother 2 years to over come and that may never be completely healed due to Grandma's mental deterioration.

The tales of your antics have lessened of late.  I don't know if these means you have decided to stop completely and let your mother live out the rest of her life in peace or if it's just a matter of waiting for something to trigger you before you start up again.

I often wonder what I would do or say to you if I were to run into you on the street.  Fortunately the odds of that happening are very slim given that I live in Nova Scotia and you are still in Toronto.  I wonder too if you will show your face at Grandma's funeral when that sad day comes to pass.  Would you dare?  Or do you believe yourself to be so right, so above contempt that you don't think you have done any wrong?

I will always mourn the loss of the person you once were, but I do not mourn for the person you have become.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Anatomy of a birthday party


What happens when you get four 11-12 year old boys together for a 3 hour birthday party?

  • One kid will get dropped off early, before you are set up and ready to go
  • One kid will be late, causing a delay in activities and making the other kids squirrelly
  • One kid will get hurt within 5 minutes of arriving, and will then whine about it till they leave
  • One kid will not listen to any direction you give them
  • One kid will be mean to at least one other kid
  • One kid will refuse to participate in anything
  • Four kids will cry "we're bored" half way through
  • One kid will be mouthy
  • One kid will be polite
  • One kid will not like any of the snacks you offer
  • One kid will plant them-self at the snack table and scarf down everything in sight
  • One kid will use inappropriate language
  • One kid will constantly bring up inappropriate topics, like flavoured tampons (I didn't ask)
  • One kid will keep coming in the house, even though they've been told to stay outside (they are wet)
  • One kid will keep holding the screen door wide open, even though they can see the cat plotting its escape
  • One kid will be picked up late
  • One Mother will enjoy quiet time at the mall while the party is going on
  • One Mother will enjoy quiet time with an alcoholic beverage after they all leave
What do your children's birthday parties look like?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cats

Top row:  Buster, Montry
Middle row: Boston, Oscar, Edgar
Bottom Row: Hazel, Alice


Boston and Montry have been with us for 2 weeks now and have settled in like troopers.  They still hiss occasionally if one of the big cats startles them, but for the most part everyone gets along. There hasn't been a lot of playing between the old guard and the new, but then again the old guard range in age from 6-18.  Buster and Edgar are the playing fools of the group, being the youngest at 6 and 14, and they are tentatively considering it with the kittens.

I had forgotten how much fun kittens are.  The leaping, the scampering, the playing.  I had also forgotten how sharp and nocturnal kittens can be too!  They love to play together, but surprisingly don't sleep together or cuddle.  They have very different personalities, with Montry being a lap-cat who loves to snuggle, and Boston being more stand-offish.  Though if I do find a kitten in my bed at 4:00 am, it is almost always Boston.  I think she wants to cuddle, she just doesn't want anyone to know it.

Life with 7 cats is full of fun and I recommend it for everyone!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Double Bronze




I had a fantastic time at the tournament today.  Even though I didn't win my sparring match, I felt that it was one of my best bouts yet.  It does make me realize that I need to practice a lot more with other adults, and not just the little kids in the family class.


I'm sore and tired, but very glad that I went.  This is so far out of what I used to consider my comfort zone, that I still shake my head in wonder that I really did this.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Comments

People blog for all sorts of reason - a place to work through their stuff, to share what their family is doing with friends who are far away, to educate others, to promote their own business or to share their views on current events.  There is no right or wrong reason, or way to blog.  But one thing that most blogs have in common is comments.  Melissa from Stirrup Queens says it so well "commenting is the "Polo" to blogging's "Marco" (you can check out her full post here)

I love getting comments, so I make the effort to leave comments.  That's how it works in conversations, so why not in blogs.  You say something and I respond.  And like conversations, you and I may not always agree with what is being said.  For most grown ups, that can lead to great discussions or debates and can help to open up each other's understanding to a view point that is drastically different from their own.

For some grown ups though, it can lead to childish reactions.  "I don't agree with what you say, so I'm going-to stick my fingers in my ears and shout NANANANA-BOOP BOO till you go away".  It's rarer that you see this in real life conversations (though I have encountered it) but it happens a lot with blog comments.  It's all thanks to the wonderful MODERATE button.  Comments that need to be pro-actively approved before they can be seen by other people reading the blog.  It gives the blog writer the ability to pick and choose which comments they publish.  It's great if you have trolls or spammers.  It's not so great when people use it to censor ideas that do match their own.  It shuts down the opportunity for ongoing discussion and learning.  It limits their readers to only hearing one opinion on a subject.

I encountered this situation this week.  A group of adoptive parents where discussing a blog post that shared an adoption story.  The main point of this blog post was that the adoptive parents re-created a water birth situation with their newborn adoptee and had it captured in pictures.  All of the adoptive parents in the discussion agreed that this was odd, strange, unsettling and done by people who may not be well educated in adoption.

As an adoptive parent, but more so as an adoptee, I too had many thoughts and feelings on this blog post and the idea of re-creating a birth session.  So I left this comment:
The photos are stunning and beautiful and on their own they would be a wonderful way to celebrate any family. BUT..... 
I am both an adoptee and and adoptive mother. One thing that people often forget is that the cute little babies grow up. What seems like a wonderful idea through the rose coloured glasses of new adoptive parents, or the Hallmark version of adoption that people not connected to adoption believe, are not always wonderful ideas to people on the other side of the adoption triad. 
I love both the first pictures my parents have of me and the first pictures I have of my son. They celebrate the milestone of each of us joining our family. None of these pictures try to react the pieces and moments of our lives that do not belong with the families we now live with, but belonged to our first families. 
I showed these pictures to my (adopted) 11 year old son and explained what they were. His response was "that's kinda dumb, there's nothing wrong with adopting." And that is how these types of photos can make adoptees, like baby Sebastian who will one day grow up, feel - adoption must not be good enough for you if you needed to stage a pretend birth and bonding moment.

As soon as I saw "Your comments are awaiting moderation" pop-up, I knew that my comments would never make it on this blog.  The other comments all left there are telling the blogger/photographer how wonderful and beautiful this is.  Not a negative thought among them.

It's been 3 days now since I left my comments.  I'm drawn back to the post throughout the day to see if maybe, just maybe the will post my comments.  But I'm not holding my breath.

You can check out the post, and it's happy comments here:  Birth without fear

UPDATED JUNE 6, 2014 - I have just found out that my comments have indeed been published.  I'm glad that my voice and that of others has been heard.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Green


Someone else got their Green belt tonight too but doesn't want to be in pictures anymore.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Books

I love books.  I learned to read at an early age so that I could escape the alone-ness of growing up as an only child in the country with no one else to play with.  Hilary is also a voracious reader and as such our house is filled with books.

Liam struggled early on with reading and we feared that he would never find the same joy that we do in losing yourself to a great story.  There is nothing better then curling up on the couch on a raining day with a good book where you find yourself swept off to far away lands.

Our fear has proven unfounded.  Liam has developed a love for books and stories.  It could be listening to me read out loud to him before bed, carrying his Ipod and speakers from room to room so that he can follow his current audio book, or the best one, him choosing to read a book over any other activity.  He now reads above grade level and enjoys books of all styles and ranges.  From Divergent to Stephen King's IT to his currently love of Warriors.

I'm so glad that we are raising a reader.