random thoughts for a Monday

False friends.
so tired of false friends.

So tired of feeling like I want to bolt when I see them.
Try to avoid.

Being in your 40s is amazing.  Somehow you really don’t give a shit anymore and what really matters comes in to focus.

But some days I am still in grade six overhearing the girls in the bathroom plotting the sleepover I never got invited to.

I know better to ignore and to rise above.

I know who I am and who my friends are.

But it still hurts when friends drop you for no apparent reason, and it hurts to realize you’ve been used.

Because even though I’m older (and wiser?), I’m still that little girl crying when I got off the bus because mean girls excluded me.

I’m human.

I’m tired.

Some days my anxiety gets the best of me.

Some days I feel so disappointed at the thoughtlessness of people because it feels like I go out of my way to pay attention and be a good friend.

I guess I’m stupid for expecting people to be nice in return.  Somewhere I learned the “Golden Rule” but apparently most of it was a lie.

I miss my dad.

I cry a lot.

I wish he didn’t leave us.

Some days it feels as though no one else has experienced tragedy and some days, most days, I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I have to start a job I am disillusioned with tomorrow.

I worry if I will be good enough.

Some how I still have enough fight in me to care.

I know to count blessings.

I know to keep my chin up.

But some days its just hard to be a human.




the stark realization that I am who I am

It always happens this time of year.  Always.  It’s about a week away from me starting back at school (I’m a teacher).  I start questioning every choice I’ve ever made in my life. Like clockwork.  Seriously.  I wish I could be like all the other million and a half teachers on Pinterest pinning super cutesy ideas and chomping at the bit to decorate their classrooms.

Each year about this time my husband and I sit down and have “the talk”.  “The Talk” consists of reviewing my retirement options.  Long story short, I have been teaching almost two decades but have lost a few years of retirement savings due to life circumstances.  Each year about this time I start questioning how many more years I can keep doing this to myself; engaging myself in a career that drains me.

Before you tell me to shut up, count my blessings or find another job… trust me…. I know. I know, I know, I know.

So at this time each and every year, my husband and I have “the talk”.  He is a finance person, great with numbers and practical planning.  He makes a graph, busies himself on his calculator, crunches numbers and patiently explains to me that I will be teaching until I’m about 90 in order to receive full retirement benefits.  I cry, pop a Xanax and drink some wine and eventually sob myself to sleep all the while contemplating how I can find my “dream” job (although I don’t really know what that is yet)

Every. Year.

Every. Year.

It’s not that I don’t want to work.  I’m not lazy.  I like teaching but I have lost my passion.  But,  children deserve to have a caring, present teacher. So I manage.  I work at a spectacular school with outstanding teammates and staff.  Nevertheless,  this time every year I reevaluate my life choices and wonder why the hell I ever took this path.

“Oh, they need teachers everywhere” I convinced myself.   “Oh, you’ll get your summers off” I lied to my twenty something self more concerned about paying down a student loan and getting a killer tan.   “Oh, it’s a safe bet” I rationalized.

Dear. God.

A safe bet.

Sure, I’m gainfully employed and I’m on a beautiful schedule for my son (logistically speaking).  But I have lost my spark, my zeal, my passion.  It’s been stamped out with constant testing and demands from law makers who have never set foot in a classroom.

So every time this year I have a little come to Jesus with myself.  And I wish and pray for a time machine to transport me back to my university years and the day I decided to attend teacher’s college.  I have a better chance of winning the Powerball.

But I digress.

I try to give myself a pep talk that I am who I am and my choice of career is a noble one.  That maybe, in some small way I will make a difference this year, and maybe in some small way I won’t have missed out on any other spectacular career choices.

If only there was a way to make a living from drinking wine and beachcombing.


So this year, like every year, I realize who I am.  A mother.  A child advocate.  A dreamer who wishes she could teach kids ‘real life’ stuff instead of the common core mandated stuff.  A teacher who wants to teach, not jump through hoops to achieve scores.

I am who I am and I need to realize that maybe that is ok, that I’ll be ok… for another year anyway.



what I did on my summer vacation

I have spent the better part of the past month and a half on summer vacation.  It is the one job perk of teaching.  It is the only time of year I can justify my career choice.  Well, not the ONLY time, but that sounded more dramatic so I will go with it.

I’ve spent the better part of the past month and a half being home with my six year old son.  I have cherished every moment, and have given silent kudos to stay at home parents many times over in my head.

It’s been wonderful not being slotted and scheduled and on someone else’s time table.  I’m pretty sure I am starting to fall into a deep depression at the thought of having to get up at an ungodly hour just to go to a job I will be in until my mortgage is paid off.  Sigh.

For the most part we’ve had a great vacation.  My son attended a few week long camps here and there. I’ve tried really hard not to give him too much screen or device time on ipads and the television.  It’s pretty hard when you live in the equivalent of a burning furnace in the summer and going outside gives you heat stroke.  Considering that, an Ipad is the lesser of two evils.

Today we attempted to get out of the house and go to our local library for story time.  I got a very real glimpse at what goes on in the world while I’m at work.  And in a sad way, I’m kind of glad I’m employed.  Let me explain….

Story time was filled with desperate housewives hungry for human interaction.  They toted their children, all ages and sizes into the library.  Most kids were so little they just ran around and screamed while their mothers aimlessly looked on, occasionally rising to corral them.   I was exhausted just watching the whole scene unfold.

One mother in particular caught my attention.  She breezed in dramatically late about a good ten minutes into story time.  It was hard to miss her.  Her bronzed rake thin frame was covered with a flowing white hippie dress with spaghetti straps.  Her dirty bare feet lacked shoes and her shell jewelry clattered while she drank some unidentifiable, not to mention unappealing earthy green liquid from a filthy glass jar.  Her kid (insert trendy name here, and I learned it because she said it about a billion times) had obviously never seen a barber, let alone a comb.  Tattooed and dreadlocked I couldn’t take my eyes off this aging surfer dude turned mother.

Also in the crowd was a preppy, coifed my-husband-makes-six-figures-so-I-can-stay-at-home younger mom, totally oblivious to the fact that her precious cherub (insert trendy name here) was trying to poke his eye out with a straw.  She was too busy chatting next to the granola crunching hipster with more trendy named kids.  They were lamenting about some other mother who clearly had pissed them off in playgroup.

Sitting next to them was another mom who very loudly disciplined her kids… we all gleaned that her eight year old told some horrific lie and was in for it when she got home.  She attempted to use the 1,2,3 Magic discipline method on her kids, but a)she did it wrong, (and I know because I studied this and I’m a teacher)  and b) her kids pretty much ignored her and started licking chairs.  Oh, and by the way, they too had never seen the backside of a comb.

I was totally surprised no one whipped out a boob to start breast feeding their school aged kids.

It was like I was in some granola tree hugging home school parallel universe.  (no offense to granola eaters, tree huggers or home schoolers)

My own kid at one point even looked at me as if to say “what the f-ck are we doing here?”… but they were serving ice cream for snack so we HAD to stay.  Who says no to free ice cream in August?

Seeing all these stay at home moms so desperate to impress each other with their holier than thou Pinterest-a-thon conversations made me glad I have a job to go to.  Story time today made me feel rather normal, and on a good day that is not easy to achieve.

So what did I do on my summer vacation?  I decided to enjoy time off and realize that my life really ain’t half bad.  Neither is free ice cream.



Mars and the infinite universe

Tonight was a typical Monday night.  Laundry, packing lunches for school tomorrow, bath time, story time, bed time and so it went.

Before going to bed I usually do a check of doors and lights.  When I checked the garage, I noticed the door was open.  Curious, I ventured into the garage to close it and noticed my husband standing in the driveway, his iPhone poised and pointed to the sky.

I went out to see what he was doing.  He was using an app on his phone to identify constellations and planets. It’s actually pretty cool.

I looked up into the inky black night sky and had to catch my breath.  A zillion stars twinkled back at me.  My husband pointed out Mars and Jupiter.  Mars! Can you believe it? I read somewhere that Mars is the closest to Earth its been in eleven years.  I felt like a little kid, gazing in awe and wonderment up at the sky.

As corny as it sounds, the incredibleness of our universe hit me.  I felt so incredibly small and so incredibly blessed all at the same time.  I often forget to look up at the sky, especially at night, and send a small thank you to the universe for allowing me to be here, enjoying another day.

You should try it.



under pressure

I don’t know what it is lately.  Maybe it’s the full moon.  Maybe it’s the end of the school year and all the pressure it brings with it (testing, cramming in everything, keeping one’s composure after dealing with the same behaviors for close to 180 days)

I don’t know.

All I do know is that I’m out of sorts.  Physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally… out of whack.  Crying at the drop of a hat, mind ruminating over things I can’t control.  I feel like an elastic about to snap.

And the worst feeling of all is that I feel like I’m the only one in this boat.  As I look around everyone else seems to be enjoying the crap out of their lives… excited for holiday barbeques, vacations,  happy for the arrival of summer.

I’m happy summer is almost here too, but I feel added pressure.  The added pressure of being a stay at home mom for 2 months.  I’ve said it before.  I’m not really sure how these amazing people do their job day in and day out.   Parenting is hard.  Period.  And to do it all day long with few to no breaks is beyond my comprehension.

I’m happy summer is almost here but I feel the pressure of standardized tests and being held accountable for all that is dysfunctional in my students’ lives.  Sigh.  I know I’ve taught the crap out of the curriculum, but the fancy computer program that crunches numbers doesn’t know that, nor does it see the horrible home lives some of my children cope with and who are still expected to come to school and behave and learn.   It’s a lot to take in.

I’m happy summer is almost here but with it comes Father’s Day (we won’t go there) and going home to visit family.  Bittersweet occasions.  Every time I travel home I wonder if this will be the last of something.  I’ve learned you can’t go around thinking like that, but I’ve also learned life can change in the blink of an eye.  It’s hard to strike a balance between the two.

I have a few personal goals for summer. None of which I’m ready or willing to proclaim publically.  Right now it’s all I can do to keep my head above water, let alone put more added pressure on myself by blabbing my personal expectations to the world and then having to live up to them.

Some times I just want to be the elastic that snaps.  I’m sure people who have breakdowns, in some small way, feel slightly better after.

I sit here wanting to sleep. Knowing I have to sleep.  Realizing I have to get up early tomorrow and do the grind all over again.  Sigh.

I need a vacation from thinking.




a four year degree in grief

We are approaching the four year anniversary of my father’s passing.  I haven’t posted here in a while because, well, life has gotten in the way.  Weeks have been filled with life; karate practices, meetings, laundry, mowing lawns.  You know… life.  I rightfully should have been on here posting about all my parenting (mis)adventures, but I haven’t.

I intended for this blog to be an outlet for my observations about life and motherhood.  In a way it still is, but it really became a major outlet for me as I navigate(d) my way through the grieving process.

In a nutshell, I’m a bummer and this blog is depressing.  There, I said it.   The wonderful thing about cyberspace is you can simply click the x in the right upper corner and be done with me… OR you can continue reading.

Usually we associate a four-year period with some sort of graduation.  We spend four years in high school and then we graduate.  Four years in college and then we graduate.   On April 24, it will be four years since we lost my dad.   I feel as though I’ve been attending a very depressing school on grief for the past four years, and I’ve completed a graduate degree on how sudden loss changes you.

Since our world, as we knew it, stopped around 3:00pm, Tuesday, April 24, 2012, life has not been the same.  That was the day I began my navigating my way through Grief 101.

Over the past 4 years, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my family and people in general. Please note, the following epiphanies will be rather cliché.

I’ve learned I’m stronger than I ever knew.  I’ve learned about the power of prayer.  I’ve learned how precious life is. I’ve learned how to be gracious, grateful and compassionate. I’ve learned people are assholes.  (well, to be fair, I always knew that, but I really saw the backside of some people over the past four years).   I’ve learned how to explain (albeit not very well) death to a very young child.   I’ve learned to wonder and appreciate.  In essence, I’ve learned a lifetime of lessons over a short period of time I’m grateful for… but I just really wish it didn’t come at the price we paid.

It’s really hard to ignore my dad’s absence at family functions.  It’s hard to ignore him not being there to delight in watching his grandson achieve milestones.  It’s really hard to watch other people essentially waste opportunities (their choice) knowing how fleeting life is and how, in an instant your world can be turned upside down.

It’s really hard to have sudden waves of sadness and gut wrenching grief wash over you (sometimes in the wee hours of the morning for no reason, or while you’re in the hot dog aisle at the grocery store…weird, I know).

It’s really hard to explain to your spouse, who has never lost a parent that somedays you’re just sad, and that it will pass, but that he really needs to call his parents because, well, he can.

It’s really hard to put on a brave face for your kid when you’re choking back tears knowing his grandfather will never ever see his next big achievement.  It’s really hard explaining to that same kid who his grandfather was, because he was so little his only memories are those we’ve planted in his brain.

It’s just really hard.

And what is really hard is letting it all out.  After the sympathy cards are sent, no one wants to hear this crap anymore.  Sadness makes people uncomfortable.  It’s not polite workplace or dinner conversation to talk about how your father had a heart attack and drowned and your poor mother found him and dragged him ashore while trying to revive him.   No, that’s not really good party conversation.

It’s hard to pull yourself out of the spiraling hole of grief.  I vaguely remember the days and weeks after my dad died.  I had a two year old to take care of.  I had a job.  A house, a husband.  I could barely shave my own legs let alone pull myself together to be ‘on’ for other people; but somehow I managed.  I’m not sure how.  I’m pretty sure it was by the grace of a higher power.

A line from James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” became (and still is) my daily mantra.
“Won’t you look down upon me Jesus, you gotta help me take a stand.  You just gotta see me through another day….”

I still cry in the shower.  I still get up at 3am and pound out my grief on the keys of my computer writing a post, much like the one you are reading. Those days are fewer and further between, but they’re still there.

The waves still come, but not as frequently.   Usually they come around holidays and anniversaries.  You know, the typical stuff when families gather.  But sometimes they just come.

I delight in getting small signs from the universe that my dad is actually still with us in spirit.

My anger has subsided and I think I’ve moved on to acceptance. But, to be honest, somedays I still get angry.  Very angry.

I haven’t ‘finished’ grieving.  You never do.  But four years ago when people told me it would get easier, it felt like an impossible far away place I would never get to.

I may not be completely there, (and I doubt I will ever be) but I think my point is that things are a little more manageable now.  And that, is something I never thought would happen.

Yes, I’m still sad.  I still have breakdowns.  I still worry about my only living parent.  But the past four years have changed me for the better too.

I work harder to appreciate, notice, validate and be kind.  I work harder to notice what I’m ‘putting out there’ to the universe.  I am gentler in my views, more accepting of what doesn’t agree with me.  I am more compassionate toward people who have started on their grief journey and feel compelled to reach out to them, to let them know that yes, they will be ok and yes, it’s ok to cry.

It’s a work in progress. I’m not perfect.  My life is not perfect.  But I’ve survived four years of life ripping changes.

And for that, I deserve a diploma.



saved by construction paper

We had an intruder drill at school today. Having watched the interview with Dylan Klebold’s (one of the Columbine shooters) mother on 20/20 last week, it was hard to not imagine what today would have been like if this was real.

My son, who is five and also attends my school, was very upset at the prospect of having an intruder drill.  Despite having prepped him, reassured him,  and calming him the best way I could, nothing helped.  His teacher is fabulous and was very helpful.  It breaks my heart that at the tender age of five, he has to learn the reality of how to hide in a cupboard if a crazy person with a gun comes to school.

As I sat in my classroom with my own students huddled on the floor out of sight of the windows and doors (not an easy feat in an ancient school built pre-crazed gunman shooter days) I couldn’t help but think that if this was real, my very life, and the lives of my students depended on a flimsy lock and a single strip of black construction paper I was instructed to hang in the window of my door in order to block an intruder’s view.

A single strip of black construction paper.

If this was a real drill, I tried to calculate how long it would take us to pile desks in front of our one and only exit.   I mentally pictured using the hammer I keep in my desk to break a window (none of my windows open) and how exactly I would usher  20 some kids to safety through shards of glass.

The day went on, the drill was over and life returned to normal.  It was a pretty routine day until I got reamed by a parent because I dared speak to her precious snowflake about an incident where he/she was clearly in the wrong.  HOW.  DARE.  I.

I was then forced to listen to what a crappy teacher I am, how her ten year old thinks I have an “attitude” with him/her (not that it needs justifying, but I have never had an incident until yesterday with student X).  I was basically handed my ass on a plate by a woman whom social services and local law enforcement is familiar with.

I stood protecting her child from a possible intruder, yet my ass gets handed to me on a plate because dear precious broke a rule.

The conversation went on.  I won’t bore you with the details.  In fact, if I complain too loud, or with too many specific details, I will be fired from my job as countless teachers have before me when they turned to a public forum to express their frustrations.

I don’t blame anyone but myself for my career choice.  I try hard to remember that possibly in some small way, when I’m buying school supplies parents neglect to provide, bribing my kids with treats I purchased from my own pocket, or when I’m keeping my cool for the 65th time in a day that maybe I’m a good teacher.

It’s hard to tell and it’s getting harder.   20 years is approaching fast and my fight is gone.
I won’t lament about my lack of options.   It’s not worth it.  Everyone knows the shitty deal educators get dealt and everyone knows I asked for it.  I got myself into this profession.   Now it’s time to get out.

Lately it is taking all I have to remain positive.  I look at my son and relish the opportunity I have to work in his school.  I love the fact that I seem him during the day and I’m in the “know” about what is going on.  It is that small blessing that keeps me going.

I do this for him.  Not for me.

So tomorrow I will put on a happy face, choose my words carefully and readjust the black strip of construction paper hanging perilously by the classroom door.   I wish there was more than a single piece of kid’s art paper to keep me safe from the thoughts of ditching it all, grabbing my son and homeschooling him.


new year, old habits

Happy New Year.  Here we go again. I hate this time of year. There. I said it.   I’m tired, worn out, and I don’t want to go back to work.

I’m tired of everyone telling the world what they resolve to do this new year.

Shut up.

You and I both know promises will be broken by about mid February.

I’m grumpy.

I look at the new year with anxiety and dread, not hopefulness.  I lost my innocence a long time ago.

A long time ago I believed anything was possible in the 365 days that lay ahead.

A long time ago I believed my world would never be rocked by anything bad, and that bad things only happened to other people.

A long time ago.

A long time ago I had energy to care.  Energy to want better, to do better.

Now I’m just faced with a whole shit load of reality.

Bad things happen when you least expect it.  Unexplained.  And it’s up to us to pick up the pieces, cling to hope and move on.

It’s up to us to figure out how to navigate through the muck and mire and trudge on like good soliders.

I don’t have energy to do that anymore.   Bad things just happen and no matter how much hope I hold out and positivity I exude, I am not immune to bad things happening.

And now there are 363 empty days to fill.  Who knows what will happen.

Many readers will tell me to stop being so negative and to kick myself in the ass and move on and up with life.

Yes, I need to. I need to do that.

And I will. I will squelch my anxiety about the unwritten 363 pages that lay ahead because it makes others feel uncomfortable.  I will pretend that everything is peachy.  I will overlook the fact that a new year brings no new changes, only more and more opportunities for people I love to have bad things happen to them.

Yes, you can’t walk around your whole life under a dark cloud worrying about what might happen.

I get it. I do.

But anxiety riddled people don’t want to hear that.  To us it doesn’t make sense in our brains.  We can’t live a carefree life.  We pick up the pieces, plan ahead and are the dependable ones.  We are the thinkers who crave the known, want everything in its place and want routine and order.

But that makes others uncomfortable.  It appears to be a tragic human flaw.

So I will hide my anxiety of the unknown.  I will move on and move forward, living each day, doing the best I can.

It’s hard to be grateful and thankful when you feel like the boogeyman is about to jump out from the next corner.  Everyday.

It’s hard to be grateful when people assume you will always pick up the pieces and clean up their messes.

It’s hard.

Happy New Year.


Thanksgiving and all that jazz

Another Thanksgiving is in the can. Thank God.  I’m Canadian. Though I’ve lived in America for almost 17 years, I have never fully understood the importance of an American Thanksgiving.  Don’t get me wrong. I respect the ways of your land.   I just don’t get it.

I don’t get why I have to drive 10 hours one way after working half a day to visit relatives out of state, sleep on an air mattress and suffer through four straight days of Fox News and football.  It’s cultural overload.

En route to the Thanksgiving spectacle my child barfed twice.  In a moving car. In the dark.  Armed with wipes and an empty Burger King cup I managed to straddle the front and back seats and clean up my wailing child.

After barfing in one state, he managed to barf in another.  I think it was somewhere around West Virginia my husband and I stopped speaking to each other.

We pulled into a gas station where a very sympathetic cashier and I bonded over plastic bags and to-go cups (for my child to barf in). I felt like a homeless person depending on the kindness of others outside a gas station.    The absolute worst moment was when my child was actually holding a cup of his own vomit as we drove on with nary a rest stop in sight.

All for Thanksgiving.


After four days of non stop eating, children screaming, visiting a zoo in the dark to see the light show (did I mention it rained?) we got up at the crack of dawn to do it all again.  Drive home that is. Ten hours.

We drove home ten hours just to get home to find our heating and air system has conked out.


I guess I should be thankful for first world problems… barfing and the like.

And that was Thanksgiving. And all that jazz.


carving, pounding, rocking

Carving, pounding, rocking.  All verbs.  All super important verbs.  All verbs I managed to incorporate into my life today.

Let me explain…

My doctor told me my stress level is sky high.  My cholesterol is sky high.  I lost six pounds and my cholesterol went up.  Go figure.  I started thyroid medicine.  My numbers went out of whack.  Go figure.

But enough of the technical stuff…

My doctor basically told me I need to exercise, and I know that I do.  That is not news.  My problem is WHEN do I fit it in?  I am busy with work, saddled (and I mean that affectionately) with a five year old after work.  I do what most working mothers do… I put everyone ahead of myself. I fix dinner. I help with homework.  I sort laundry.  I grocery shop.  I make sure everyone’s life is running smoothly. AND I hold a full time job.

But today I carved out a few minutes for myself.  I pounded the pavement.  In my head I was my 19 year old self jogging.  I used to run. USED to.  I rocked out to a playlist of favorite high school songs as I walked.   It was dark (evening) so it was even better.  I wasn’t visible enough for anyone to see me look stupid as I lip synched my way through my neighborhood.  I didn’t have to stop and wave at neighbors.  Complete solitude.  Complete bliss.

Today I carved, pounded and rocked.

And it felt good.