Friday, 19 April 2013

Moving On

You know the scene at the end of Superbad, when Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are going in opposite directions on the escalator accompanied by their respective dream girls? It's kind of sad, right? Throughout the whole movie people have been pointing out that these two best friends won't be going off to college together, but instead will be forging new lives, separately. Evan will go off to Dartmouth to fulfill his potential and Seth will figure out who he is. In that final scene you know that it's a happy ending, these two getting a shot with interesting and beautiful young women. But there's something so bittersweet about their parting, because you know that, of all the adventures ahead of them, there will never be another friendship like theirs.

This week has kind of been like that for me. My son started his introduction to daycare and next week he will be there full-time and I'll be back to my day job. Although I know those first few weeks I will miss him like crazy, I know that this is for the best, that he will have lots of fun with the other kids and learn more than I could ever teach him. And he won't be the only one benefitting from this.

My son may be the one moving on to bigger and better things (just realized that I'm Jonah Hill in this scenario) but there is a lot to be gained for me, too. I get to go back to a job that I like, a job that I'm good at. I have missed the company of adults and the satisfaction that comes with having a life outside of the family home. It's not always easy being home alone with a baby, and the experience can be quite isolating.

I never saw myself as a stay-at-home parent. I have invested quite a bit in my education, and although I have enough life experience now to appreciate that education is more than just a line on a resume, it has always been my intention to support myself and my family. I had pretty realistic expectations about what life at home with a baby would be like. I knew that it could be monotonous, lonely and definitely not glamourous. Still I signed up for it, because I couldn't imagine passing up on the chance to watch my child grow up. The past year has been amazing, exhausting and so rewarding. Now it's time to move on.

I am happy to report that we haven't had any teary goodbyes. If anything, they have been awkward and clumsy, because we never really had to say goodbye to each other before. Regardless of my feelings about returning to work, I know that these goodbyes are only going to make the hellos all the more special.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Your first dance partner

Dear Baby,

Maybe it's because we're in the midst of making a final decision on which daycare you will attend when I go back to work, or because you are just one month and one week shy of your first birthday, or because you no longer nurse yourself to sleep and you can now fall asleep on your own. I'm not sure what it is. But it's becoming very apparent to me that our special year together is almost over.

In a few weeks, I will be returning to work, a life that is very familiar to me even though it's not a role you've ever known me to play. While it's a return to the ordinary for me, this time marks the beginning of a great adventure for you as you start your own life outside of our family home. There will be new friends and new toys. At this moment, I have no doubt that you will be much better off there, that you will learn more, have more fun and probably even be safer than you have been with me. You see, I've been stumbling through the last year, not really knowing what I'm doing. But sometimes, while I was stumbling along, struggling to figure you out, we had moments when I realized that even if I was doing a lousy job, I still had the incredible privilege of sharing so many special moments with you, and being so much to you.

In the afternoon when you needed a distraction, or we just ran out of things to talk about, I would turn on some music and we would move around to the beat. You would laugh as I swung us around the room. When you were strong enough, I would  hold your hands while you stood facing me and move your arms to the music. You might not remember, but I was your first dance partner.

We read books everyday. I talked to you about numbers and letters and colours. I wanted you to start learning about music as soon as you could, so I would do silly things like drumming on a pot with a wooden spoon in time with David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" and encourage you to do the same. When I was getting desperate for you to learn to drink from a cup, I watched a webinar that suggested you fill a straw with water and then feed your baby like a little bird to teach them to suck on a straw. I think we both immediately knew that it was ridiculous and we just got water all over the place. But I was trying. You might not remember, but I was your first teacher.

Sometimes we got along better than other times, but we were always there for each other. You never had to wonder who you were going to have lunch with or who would laugh at your jokes, because I was always there. When we got bored of each other's company we went to play groups or Chapters (you usually fell asleep) or the art gallery (I think you fell asleep every time) or just roamed around the city. I was your sidekick, and you didn't go anywhere without me. You might not remember, but I was your first friend.

So for the next few weeks, I'll nurse you a little longer, read new and old books, hug you a little tighter and dance just a few more songs. Eventhough we both need to move on, it was still such a special time that I will hold in my heart forever.

You might not remember, but I always will. Because you were my first baby.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Not a Country Girl anymore, apparently

Last week my downtown baby and I spent a week with my parents in the place where I grew up, in rural New Brunswick. Since our moving day was quickly approaching, it seemed like a good time to get out of town and give my partner some space to get ready for the move. Also, my mother is basically addicted to my son and hadn't seen him since November.

I lived in that house for 18 years, and although I always looked forward to the day when I would move out, it was my "normal" for a long time. Eventually I moved to Halifax for school, then to Fredericton for more school, then to Moncton for a job, then to Calgary, and finally to Ottawa, where I still live. With all the moving around, I came to realize that I like living in more urban settings, and I liked the freedom of not having a car. And every time I visit my childhood home it seems to fit me a little less.

On the first full day of our visit, my parents had to be away from the house, with their vehicle, so the baby and I were home alone without a car. I had never noticed the isolation before, but I felt it then and it made me anxious. Nothing around but houses and farms. I realized then, that at some point I had converted. I was not a country girl anymore. Maybe I never was. 

It was a great time for a epiphany, considering what's going on in my life this week. For, by my quick count the 13th time in 15 years, I am moving. (And before you feel desperately sorry for my parents, they were only enlisted to help with 5 of those moves.) This is my first real house with a front door and a back door and a driveway. It is my first home that doesn't just fit the life I have now, but fits the life I could I have for the next 15 years. 

It was a big leap buying this place and not everyone has supported our decision to buy a smaller home in urban neighbourhood. We're a family now, and to a lot of people, families belong in the suburbs. Buying in our new neighbourhood meant we couldn't really afford much of a back yard and a car won't be in the budget for at least a few more years. But it fits us and the life we want for our family. Ultimately that's what growing up is about; discovering what is right for you, even if it is different from the way you grew up or different from what other people think.  

For the first time in my life, I really feel like I have room to grow. Unfortunately there is no real space for a garden, though. Maybe in the next place.