Eden

“Names are a great mystery. I’ve never known whether the name is molded by the child or the child changed to fit the name. But you can be sure of this – whenever a human has a nickname it is a proof that the name given him was wrong.”

-John Steinbeck ~ East of Eden

101_0012Four years ago (June 30th, 2009) my daughter was born. Her birth was long and tedious; the most painful and harsh of all my kids. After back labour, a dry birth, and having my vagina ripped in two, I should have known something was up. But I was too deliriously happy to finally have my little girl that I ignored the ominous foreshadowing. My daughter, my angel, my princess… she’s tougher than her brothers and twice as calculating.

Nothing about raising my girl has ever come easy. Not even choosing her name. When we finally settled on Eden (whose meaning is “delight”) I knew it was hers. Her name conjured images of swaying willow trees, bright red roses, and babbling brooks. She was named after the most beautiful garden in the universe – so I expected some sweet little sprite – instead I got a mischievous Tinker Bell stand in (that asshole one from Disney’s “Peter Pan” movie). If you ever happen to fly whimsically over her head rest assured she’ll shoot you down, for no other reason than it was fun.

During the course of my daughter’s life she’s been called “Eden” less and less. Her nickname is now the most used word in our house, “EDIE!!!!” Out of curiosity I looked up the meaning of “Edie” and I had to laugh at how much better it suited her.

Edie: prosperous in war/ Providential Battle/ Happy warfare / Spoils of war.

People with this name are excited by change, adventure, and excitement. They are dynamic, visionary and versatile, able to make constructive use of freedom. They fight being restricted by rules and conventions. They tend to be optimistic, energetic, intelligent, and to make friends easily. They may be changeable, restless, untidy, and rebellious.

I’m not sure I could describe my daughter anymore accurately than the above. She is the most exhausting yet fascinating little creature you’ll ever meet. My little Edie may never be described as a “delight” but if you’re looking for an exciting adventure, she has it in spades… my life hasn’t been dull since she was born.

Happy Birthday Edie, don’t ever change.

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Sasquatch

I’m a mother of three young children. Their ages range from five to two. They are my life and the best mirror I’ve ever owned. Without my daughter’s insistence of “Drum Rolls!” on my belly (that makes my excess skin and belly fat move like Homer Simpsons)…

I may have never known my need for Yoga.

One fine morning, after avoiding Yoga, I was lounging on my couch. I lifted my arm above my head when my two year old son squealed in terror, “BUGS!”. I glanced down in alarm and saw nothing but unshaven armpit hair. Unshaven armpit hair that in a toddler’s twisted brain could pass for a nest full of baby spiders. So maybe I should shave more than “occasionally”.

My children – they are awesome at making me want to improve myself – unfortunately for them “wanting” to look better mostly translates to wearing baggy clothes.

So this morning, after skillfully neglecting yoga and forgetting to shave, I decided to get out of the house. I put on some makeup and wore clothes that were much too baggy and warm for the weather we’re having. I mean I’m unshaven and fat, I wasn’t about to wear shorts and a t-shirt!

Because I have no license I am forced to walk everywhere. No problem. Walking is exercise (yoga completed) and I’m not trying to impress anyone. On my way I decided to take a shortcut through the woods. A few meters in I saw THEM; teenage boys! I walked confidently. I let them get a load of this 30 year old gift of womanhood. When from the bush an insult was hurled at me…

Sasquatch!

Of all the unique names I’ve been called in my life, this was the most insulting.

I moved quickly, dodging the little pricks as much as possible. When I arrived at the grocery store I paused in front of the store window to get a good look at my reflection. I had to admit… there might have been a passing resemblance.

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The Yellow Bib.

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My hands fold the two seams together – the tips of my fingers glide smoothly over the fabric and the pile of laundry gradually grows smaller. I work quietly; thoughts tumble through my head, lists of things I’ve accomplished and still need to get done. I hum a tune as I work and finally I’m left with nothing but a few mismatched socks and a baby bib whose journey to the laundry hamper is a mystery. I haven’t seen this particular bib in years.

It’s a plain pale yellow. It was one of the first things I bought when I discovered I was pregnant. I didn’t know then that I was having a boy, or that he would arrive earlier than expected. I had no idea the challenge he would be or how my life would change. I didn’t know that I could love someone so much.

It’s been five years since I stuck a package of bibs in my Wal-Mart shopping cart. For five years I’ve lived with a heart so full it aches with every beat.

How can I ever explain how much you mean to me, Gabriel? How do I sum up five years of terrifying beauty?

There are things about you that have changed radically. You no longer harbour any baby chub; and it physically hurts to receive your ferocious bear hugs. That smooth and soft being you once were has evolved. You are now sharply defined; a foreshadow of the man you will become, more so, than a shadow of the baby you were.

When your first true milestone unceremoniously fell from your mouth and was placed in my upturned palm I wanted to weep. I was full of joy at the idea of your first tooth fairy visit, but I could also no longer deny your metamorphosis. The roots of adulthood grow unimpeded through the gummy remains of your infancy, and maybe I mourned a little.

But there are things that remain the same. From the moment you were a minute old emotions were never hidden. I believed, at first, that you would outgrow this trait; instead its the foundation of who you are. You are not ashamed to express how you feel or afraid of the repercussions it could produce. You are brave and lovely and I wish I could be more like you.

As I finished folding that tiny bib and placed it upon your pile, you flew around the corner. You stopped short as you took in the scene before you. Your smile was radiant and so full of gratitude.

“Wow Mom” you murmured, “You did such a good job. Look! You cleaned up all the clothes!”

Tears threatened to cascade down your cheeks as you stood praising my efforts.

“Well thank you for noticing” I replied.

I pulled you into my arms. Your bony shoulder dug painfully into my hip but I just squeezed harder.

“Thanks Mom, for everything you do”

“You’re worth it, Kiddo” I whispered.

And you are. You really are.

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Blue Crayon

“I’m no more a wonder than anyone. And that’s what makes the world magical. Every baby’s a seed of wonder – that gets watered or it doesn’t.
― Dean Koontz

I defaced a piece of art today. Blue crayon scribbled onto walls the color of cream; drawn in slow circles, not unlike that of a snail’s shell. I didn’t ask about the offending marks. I didn’t question my three suspects or punish the likely perpetrator. I merely picked up a cloth and got to work.

As a mother I didn’t wonder why it was done, no more than I would question the logic of pouring the dog shampoo into the baby shampoo. Sometimes with children there are no answers that satisfy, no reason that can be sought. I just have to accept that the damage has been done and move on. It also helps to remember I was a kid once too. And although my memory isn’t perfect I do recall that there was no consideration of the future, nothing was premeditated – I lived in the moment.

Oh to do that again… To really live without grasping the meaning of time.

It’s easy for me to get lost in the mundane, routines of life. I am a mother. Mundane, routine is a prerequisite when you push a living being out of your vajayjay. There isn’t time to seek adventure when dinner has to be on the table by 5:30. So sometimes I get bogged down, weighted with the awareness that I no longer have the luxury of spontaneity. Every day is the same. Every day with small and sometimes imperceptible variations… Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

And while I kneeled on the carpet, making slow progress on the stubborn crayon it dawned on me… I want to write on the walls. I want to take a crayon and scribble to my hearts content – or I would if I had an ounce of artistic talent.

Instead I put down my cloth and left the graffiti – their art – for another day and I began to type. I guess I needed this. I needed to express myself somehow… This blog, it is my blue crayon.

They are amazing. My three beautiful perpetrators. I wonder if they’ll ever know how much they impact my world…

I want better

I haven’t written for a long time. Words just seem so damn trite lately. There’s always so much to say when you have nothing to talk about, but not a word gets written when the issues are too big…

This world is not good enough.

I’m not trying to be philosophical or revelatory. It’s just the truth. I’m raising children in a society that believes life is about credit and advances. That always hopes for a better future while destroying the present. It’s a world filled-up with throw-aways; nothing lasts forever, so nothings built to last. My children live in a world of new decay.

Should I teach them to change the world? I’m not convinced it’s possible. I think it has always been like this. I’m just no longer filled with the ignorance of youth. But goddamned. I want better for my kids. I want a world without environmental destruction and a place they can be safe. I want a world without violent corruption and a life that, above all, is filled with happiness. I want what any parent wants. I want better for my children.

This world is not good enough for them and it pisses me off.

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Two years old.

A repost from my old blog. A letter to my son who was born with a congenital heart defect. It’s his birthday today. Happy Birthday baby boy. I love you so much!

I haven’t talked about him. He’s here of course, spread extensively throughout my blog but my words barely scratch the surface of who he is. My fingers drum across the keys and speak in foreign tongues. Lasics, congenital, ventricular septal defects; over and over I have labelled him. But there isn’t truth here, not really. Nothing that speaks to who he is.

I love him so much this boy of mine. He alone has the ability to coax me out of a mood that’s dark and deep and so damn awful. He holds my stare until I acknowledge him, and then he smiles as if to say “there you are”. He makes me want this world. He makes it beautiful. He glows. I can’t explain it, there’s just something about him.

He demands attention even while not actively searching for it; and people want to touch him, ache to hold him, long to tease that smile from his somber face, but he’s not easily enamoured by anyone. He’s vibrant like a sunbeam you can feel, but he’ll skirt your hand and flee your touch if you move too quick or demand too much.

He dances too. This crazy, goofy dance. He uses his whole body and moves expertly to the music. No matter what I’m doing I have to stop and watch. Occasionally he’ll toddle over to me and grunt. His arms raised above his head, his eyes pleading. We’ll move together – swaying like a willow tree caught in the winds gentle caress. And I’ll live there for a beat or two – perfectly content.

Mischief is his creed. His siblings aren’t interested in him. They refuse to call him by name and instead refer to him merely as “Little Guy”. They push him from their games and ignore his pleas to play. When the rejection becomes too much he’ll steal a crayon or toss a toy across the room, and then giggle excitedly when his name is finally screamed. “PRESTON!” Their faces red and spittle flies and I have to stop them before accusations turn violent.

Without a doubt, they also love him. I’m not sure they have much of a choice. He’s enigmatic and full of character and not one person can deny what shines beneath his surface. He’s brilliant and like a shooting star I have nothing but wishes when I look upon him.

And my wish is simply this. That I have not jinxed him. Here now, before me, is proof of his brilliance. No more foreign tongues, no more medical lingo. He is not his defect. He is so much more and I’ve seen it since the day he was born. But I
could not write it. I could not put it down in words. I could not testify to his impact. In truth, I refused to make it real.

When I faced the possibility of burying him I did what any practical person might do. I listened to the doctors, I followed all their orders, and then I practised the impractical. I called him Puck for the longest time, his true name never
crossing my lips. I refused to mail off his birth information, fearful I might have to eventually apply for a death certificate. And I never wrote a single word that spoke about the enormousness of his being because what he is  – is a
love I cannot touch with all the breadth of my words.

I live my life in moments now, but it doesn’t negate my ache to live a million or more with the boy who changed my life.

I love you Preston

Thunder and Lightning

This song was written by my father when I was about eight years old. He used to sing us his songs at bedtime. It is some of my best childhood memories and I wish I could sing this song to all of you. I would butcher it though! It is my favourite, enjoy.

She was sitting alone by the fire at night,
Lonely and feeling so blue.
She dreamed of her prince in a far away land,
She was hoping her dreams would come true.
The full moon hung low and all was so still
An eerie silence enveloped her heart
She was empty inside and not knowing why,
But the feeling just tore her apart.

Thunder and lightning out in the night-time,
the two never seem far apart.
Lightning they say is the magic of love.
Thunder’s the beat of two hearts.

She’d been hurt before by the men in her life,
Yet she still had the strength to go on.
Was she a fool to cling to the hopes
of what would be brought by the dawn?
She gazed at the stars through her window pane,
As slowly the tears filled her eyes.
Placed a log on the fire she curled up to sleep,
Awaiting a cold sun to rise.

Thunder and lightning out in the night-time,
the two never seem far apart.
Lightning they say is the magic of love.
Thunder’s the beat of two hearts.

The firelight dimmed and slowly went out,
A thunder was all to be heard.
Was this her prince on his mighty stead?
She wondered without speaking a word.
The thunder drew near as she rose from her bed
Was she dreaming or was this all so
Were they hooves on the ground or just in her mind
Was her white shining knight going to show

Thunder and lightning out in the night-time,
the two never seem far apart.
Lightning they say is the magic of love.
Thunder’s the beat of two hearts.

Out by her door in the mist of the night
she saw by the moons’ silhouette,
The man of her dreams beckoning her
Come ride where the sun never sets.
She opened the door, he reached out his hand,
To his mount she was raised to his side,
They smiled and kissed and she seemed to know,
That together forever they’d ride.

Thunder and lightning out in the night-time,
the two never seem far apart.
Lightning they say is the magic of love.
Thunder’s the beat of two hearts.

With a crack of his whip the horse bolted forth
And rose to the clouds up above
Thunder and lightning out in the night-time
The two stay together in love.
Now lightning they say is them as they kiss
and at night as you look to the sky
The mist is the mane of the mighty stead
So listen

….as they thunder on by….

-Kevin Middleton

Pure Mathematics

I’m not here to save humanity despite what many will come to believe. I work in research. My research may end the War but it’s not going to save anyone. If people could see half of what I know they wouldn’t want my proposal. Of course humanity has never been known for the long-term rational choice, only short-term mediocre solutions. I’m sure you’re asking why I continue with my work if such catastrophe could result – will result. As a scientist it’s not my position to determine what’s ethical only what’s possible; but more so, I am driven to develop the weapon before our enemy. If they were to gain this power – it would be used in unthinkable ways. So I will not falter. I will write my letters and guide the project from afar. I do all this despite knowing that this weapon will surely kill hundreds of thousands of civilians; men, women and children will suffer, but it will effectively end the War.  The end of the War… it’s what we all want. Indeed, that’s what we told ourselves.

Now who’s to say how the idea came to me. If I ponder long enough the mathematical equation presents itself like the cadence of a poem. In fact, I have always believed that ‘pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas’. The numbers guide me to my answers and offer me glimpses of a world that is beyond beautiful – it is intricate and miraculous. My theories, although vested in the quest to understand God’s greatest creations (energy, mass and speed of light) was the first paved stone on the path to hell. I learned what the enemy intended to do with my own damned work and I was livid. Although I pride myself on being a pacifist, their actions were so repellant that I could not allow them to come to the weapon before us. I did not consider that we would then be just as guilty of atrocity, and please believe me – despite what you may think – my intentions were good or at the very least not evil.

The phone call came on a beautiful summer day in August. I will never forget that call. The information that I provided to our allies ultimately became a weapon of mass destruction and resulted in the first of two devastating attacks upon our enemy. My scientific endeavour was considered a success and although my allies assumed I would rejoice, I mourned. This was not the reason I had come to love science and mathematics. I had never intended on being the principal reason why suffering should occur in this world.

I knew my weapon was death personified but I could not predict its results. People were vaporized or left horribly disfigured, others suffered for years with a deterioration of their internal organs. Some suffered with loss of hair, anemia, and the destruction of their white blood cells. There was bleeding and diarrhea, sterility and multiple types of cancer. I had helped to create a weapon so brutally fantastic that nearly every horrific way to die was encompassed within its awards. The government assured me that never again would the weapon be used. This did not assuage the guilt I carried, if anything, it made me fear the future like never before.

Only a year after my weapon was unleashed on the world the allies formed a committee that would oversee my creation as way to create energy for the industrialized nations. I was relieved to learn that the thing that had destroyed so many lives was to make amends and enrich the lives of millions more; but I have concerns and I wish to caution the world as to the detrimental effects of this creation should there be an accident…

This is not a power we should wield easily, nor should we come to believe in our own infallibility. This is a science that has not been thoroughly tested and we cannot possibly know the devastation it may reap.  I speak up now because I know from experience that ‘the world is a dangerous place. Not because of those who do terrible things. But because of those who let them do it’.

I let them do this. I let them corrupt my research and I encouraged us to walk the path of the unknown so as to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands. Of course the wrong hands would turn out to be ours. ‘The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking…the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker’.

For all that I have done, I am sorry.

Sincerely,

Albert Einstein.

Old Man

Old Man

I’m just an old man
Living by the sea
There’s a shadow hanging over me,
There’s a cold wind blowin
can you feel the chill
oh my lord
Nothin left to kill

We made a living
Earth and sea and sky
We had our plenty
lord there’s no deny
We had the birds and trees
and mountains we could mine
We took it all lord
said it’s your design

I’m just an old man
Living by the sea
There’s a shadow hanging over me,
There’s a cold wind blowin
can you feel the chill
oh my lord
Nothin left to kill.

You gave us oceans
We crossed them all
We took the harvest
creatures great and small
We had a one time, good time,
Lord we had our way
Who’d be thinking
it wasn’t meant to stay.

I’m just an old man
Living by the sea
There’s a shadow hanging over me,
There’s a cold wind blowin
can you feel the chill
oh my lord
Nothin left to kill.

We took our ozone,
Will you fancy that
We did it all and
not an eye to bat
we did it all and
wasn’t it a thrill
I’m just an old man
there’s nothin left to kill.

-Kevin Middleton

Multiverse

This is a continuation of my story “What If.”

I lumbered up the steps of the oak porch, waddling back and forth, my pregnant belly threatening to tip me over like some damned teapot. I put my brass key in the lock and set the tumblers free – the door swung open with a signature squeal, announcing my presence. My husband looked up from the magazine he was reading, and smiled.

“Hey babe” I said cheerily while dumping the insane amount of baby clothes I had just purchased on the leather ottoman beside him.

“This baby’s wardrobe is better than mine…” he teased.

“That’s not difficult” I replied with a wink, “Your sense of style suggests you’re a colorblind hobo”.

He laughed out loud and the sound of his soft melodious voice immediately set me at ease. I plopped myself next to him and snatched the magazine from his hands. I glanced at it quickly and rolled my eyes.

“I thought I married someone interesting!”

“What? You’re not a fan of science?”

“Not when we could be discussing baby fashion”

He leaned over suddenly making choking sounds and feigned noises of disgust while snatching back his reading material.

“Please, string theory is much more interesting than what diapers you purchased or what burp cloths you got on sale”

“Well I think the diapers and burp cloths will be more relevant to your life than any theory some lonely physicists concocts”

“I think I’ll need proof of that” he stated.

“Well I’ll let you change the first diaper” I replied with a wink. I somehow managed to pull myself upright and started to sift through everything I had purchased. I removed all the tags in preparation for washing  when my husband suddenly took my hand in his, startling me from my fantasies of motherhood.

“Uh oh, I know that look!”

“You do?” His eyebrow raised and I pushed it back down with my finger.

“Yes” I said with a smile, “What’s wrong?”

I studied his body language as he slowly leaned back in our well used microfiber sectional. He then shifted and leaned forward again. I blinked in anticipation as he cleared his throat and once more settled into the sofa.

“Before the baby comes, Drew!”

“Right, sorry Carly. I was thinking that I might change careers…”

*                                                   *                                            *

I could see the room as though it were yesterday; large picture windows cast all the hues of the sun into my small but cozy living room area; and the dining room backed into glass french doors that led onto a beautiful wrap around deck. The dark hardwood floors, soon to be marred by the merciless acts of a rambunctious toddler, added to the mystique of the home’s heritage based architecture. The walls were painted an off white,and proudly displayed pictures of our wedding day and soon to be son. Our kitchens red stained oak cabinets and floating island was set upon natural stone tile. All of the finishing touches were perfect for us. It had been the house of our dreams, only affordable because of the drastic down turn in the housing market.

I traced the lines I had scratched into my jail cell wall, 32 tiny scratches, representing each year of my life before it had ended so abruptly.

I thought back to the conversation my husband and I had carried on that day and wondered what might have been different…if only I had supported him in his desire to switch careers. Would we have been diverted from the hell we found ourselves in less than a decade later? If Marie, my inquiring roomate, is right that multiverses exist, then is there another me out there? A happier me? A me with a child who lived and a husband I never stopped loving?

*                                                        *                                                *

My first instinct was to denounce this suggestion out of hand, but a look in his eye stopped me in my tracks.

“Alright, why now?”

” I think the economy is possibly heading for a recession. I don’t want to be an investment banker if that happens. I love you, and our baby, and I want not just a good life, but a stable one”.

“So what’s the alternative?”

“Cop”

I almost laughed out loud because the idea of my investment banker husband taking on such a job was..well quite frankly… laughable. Instead I decided that perhaps the best way to serve my husband at this time would be to indulge his little fantasy.

“Well, if that’s what you want…” I said noncommitally

“Really?!” He replied with a sigh of relief, “You won’t regret this, I promise”

He swept me up in a hug and swung me around our living room while grunting like an Olympic hammer thrower.

“Phew” he proclaimed loudly and I responded with a playful punch on the arm.

“Shut up!” I replied with a chuckle. I shook my head and couldn’t help imagining what it would be like to be married to a man in uniform. Maybe if wouldn’t be all bad…

I fingered the photograph of my husband’s police graduation and felt the same pride I did the day it was taken. Ten wonderful years later my husband turned out to be eerily correct and thanks to his new career path we weathered the economic storm better than most folks. Our beautiful green eyed boy, Benjamin, had also gained a sister in this time, something that could not have happened if Drew had lost his job. I couldn’t help but smile at my good fortune. How can some people not believe in fate? Everything I have is a testament to it.

“Mom!” Ben screamed at me from the top of the stairs shattering my train of thought into tiny  unrecognizable pieces, “Do you know where my favourite shirt is?”

“Nope, because I haven’t a clue as to what your favourite shirt looks like!”

“It’s the green one, with the skateboard on it”

“Did you check your bedroom floor?” I screamed back at him.

“Why would it be – OH – Here it is! Thanks mom.” I heard him slam his door as he settled in for a weekend of video games and movies with his sister and their friends.

The smile on my face faded as reality began to sink in. I gathered up the photo albums and slid a few meaningful pictures into the inside lining of my purse. I could only hope my belongings would not be searched thoroughly. I sighed and looked around one last time. I had everything I could ever want and hope for, and I was about to leave it all behind. Every second I stood undecided in my kitchen was a second that put my family, and all their lives at risk. I placed the note on the counter, a pathetic excuse of my need for space and absence, and stepped outside where a black, non descript car was idling in my driveway.

“Hello Carly” the driver said as I settled into the passenger seat, “did you say goodbye?”

“In my own way, yes.”

“Good, let’s get back to the lab, there’s no telling what kind of damage has been done to your DNA while you foolishly wasted time with trivialities”.

“My family is not trivial” I said between clenched teeth.

“Of course not…” he murmured as he pulled away from the curb and drove towards a life full of immense possibility.