My black and white romance

I am sorry, lovers of The Notebook, The Vow and any other romantic movie that has come out of late and was once a novel, but nothing beats a classic. Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday, Some Like It Hot…the list could go on!

It could be the unfurling of an intense love affair, or the turmoil and drama that each character was written to work through. It could be the epic lines that make me swoon and go weak in the knees, or it may just be the monochromatic colour scheme – either way they are drool-worthy.

Today when you walk into most home décor stores you are bombarded with mass-produced wall art of Audrey Hepburn and lines that were pulled from interviews that women idealize. There is also the new telling of the late great Elizabeth Taylor’s life – it seems to me that the leading ladies are who everyone remembers. From their perfectly placed hair, to their healthy and natural curves, we place them on a pedestal. I, however, play over and over Humphrey Bogart’s intense stare into Ingrid Bergman’s eyes as he delivers his infamous line…

That is enough to make your foot pop! The leading men is who we fantasize about.

There is a rumour going around that chivalry is dead – but we need to update our fairy tale! In the days of black and white, men and women’s roles were exactly that – black and white! The woman was docile, timid, and picture-perfect and the man was rugged, manly, strong and always the dominant one.

Now to bring you into this decade … These past couple of weeks have been pretty insane, my hours at work have gone up and my hours with Cody have gone down. I am finding it pretty hard to balance all aspects of my life, family, fitness, friends –  but I would be lost if I didn’t have Cody. He is running our house, cleaning the kitchen, taking care of the dogs, making dinner, and making sure I am staying sane. He tells me constantly that he is proud of me, and thanks me for taking on the extra hours to help with saving for our wedding and preparing for the many repairs and updates our house needs this coming spring.

He is my Humphrey Bogart – every time I come home from a long day at work and I find the kitchen clean and the smell of dinner on, I want to jump his bones! It means more than any diamond or present, it’s better than flowers, and it is the biggest way he can show me that he loves me.

Cody is a general labourer, so he is on his feet for his entire shift, it’s hard on his body and it can be even harder on our relationship if he has had a bad day at work. Being together 7 years, you pick up on each other’s cues and signs that a day has been bad. I couldn’t tell you what my particular cues are, but Cody’s are very apparent to me. However even after a hard day at work, he still finds a way to tell me that he loves me. This is my black and white romance.

We are not the perfect couple – in no way. We argue – we are both very stubborn – extremely stubborn. I am right when I am right and he is right when he is right. We have our dark times, but it’s the bright moments that matter. It’s those times that still give me butterflies when he grabs my hand in a crowd, or pulls me in unexpectedly to lay a wet one on me.  My black and white romance is full of colour, thanks to my leading man!

~ Jacqui (a.k.a. Soon-to-be Mrs. Wright)

Advertisements

Surprises of a stay-at-home mom

Before I had children, and knew everything (ha!), I had ideas about what stay-at-home parents did, what their houses looked like, and what their lives looked like. I also knew (ha!) that I’d never, ever become one. Ever. Never.

I went to a fancy university. I got a fancy (read: expensive) degree. I was a smart cookie. I had plans. I had ambitions. I had ideas. And I was stupid.

Fast forward through four pregnancies, three children, and years of being a stay-at-home mom to today, and let me tell you: I knew nothing. And I still know nothing.

I had some surprises when I became a stay-at-home parent and I thought I’d share them with you. So here, without further ado, are the 10 things that shocked the crap out of me when I became a stay-at-home mom:

1. My house will always be messy. If you do some quick math, I’m home from 10 until 3 every day. That’s five hours of prime cleaning time, you would think. But in reality, I do not have ‘free’ time from 10 until 3. I might have maybe 30 minutes of free time, maybe, and those minutes may not come all at once. They might come scattered throughout the day. So, while one would suppose (like I did before I took this gig) that I would have a magazine-worthy house, the fact of the matter is that there will always be floors to sweep, dishes to wash, toys to tidy, furniture to dust, windows to clean, toilets to scrub, and mirrors to shine. Always. It’s a horrible, self-perpetuating system that never ends.

2. The laundry will never be done. In therapy this week I was lamenting about the fact that my house is in constant chaos (see number 1) and that my laundry is never, ever ‘caught up’. One of the therapists (I had the pleasure of two at my last session!) said, “Unless you become nudists, that’s just the way it is.” She’s right. Even while I’m washing clothes, four other people besides myself are wearing clothes. Dirtying clothes is happening while I’m cleaning clothes. It’s just not fair. And it’s my reality.

3. I will not have a plan for every day. Somewhere in my ridiculous head I thought stay-at-home parents had some sort of social engagement calendar, filled with play dates, book clubs, leisurely coffees in shops, walks in the park pushing a  pram, library visits for grown-up books, or trips to the zoo, beach, fill-in-the-name-of-a-cool-place-here. So not the case. In fact, when we have a day where there isn’t a doctor’s appointment, a speech therapy appointment, groceries to fetch or errands to run, it’s blissful. It’s relaxing. It’s so much better than transporting all of the children with all of the things to the place that they’ll most likely destroy.

4. My kids will not do elaborate crafts every day. Or be enrolled in every play group or activity available to little people who aren’t in school. In fact, the moments where these things happen will be magic and the exception, and will be incredible and awesome, but will also be exhausting to coordinate, too expensive if they’re not free, and will wipe out any energy for anything else that week, making us yearn for days of nothing again (see number 3).

5. I will miss going to work. Before my last maternity leave from my last job, I couldn’t wait to stop working. To be at home and not have to get up with an alarm, or get dressed in fancy clothes and wear uncomfortable shoes, and eat lunch at a desk, and deal with the office politics that float in every workplace. But the reality of my day, complete with God-knows-what on my clothes, my hair looking like I’ve been run over by a tornado, and screaming children bouncing on me at 5:30 every. morning. there are some days, shockingly, that I dream of showering, brushing my teeth, going into work with clean, respectable clothing on, having structure to my day, performance reviews that don’t involve shrieking or temper tantrums, and a lunch where no one touches me. Some days having an out-of-the-house job sounds downright dreamy.

6. I will feel trapped sometimes. There seems to be such freedom for people who don’t have to work. But that’s just the thing: even though I don’t go anywhere, I still have to work. And my bosses don’t quit at 5 p.m. or stop sending demands outside of work hours. There are no such things as work hours. And so, some days, when my Monday looks like my Wednesday, which looks like my Saturday, it feels like I’m on a continuous loop with no end and no reprieve. Some days, there is nothing but boundary and restriction in my seemingly freedom-filled day.

7. I will wonder if I made the right decision. It’s a big decision to not return to work, to stay at home, and yet, for us, it was such a short conversation and it was made with very little debate or fuss. Ben and I talked about a few things: money that we would otherwise make, money we’d save if one of us stayed home, his career trajectory being able to recover in his industry versus mine after an extended absence, Lillian’s needs in terms of appointments at the children’s hospital an hour away, speech therapy weekly (at that time), and hearing aid/implant upkeep, and it just made sense: we needed someone to stay home and the person that it would work best for was me. Although logical, some days I wonder if everyone wouldn’t be happier, better off, our bank account less stressed out, if I were to just return to work. Some days.

8. I believe stay-at-home parents should be paid. I didn’t before. Because I didn’t recognize the magnitude of what they were doing and the positive effect they were having on their families by staying home. It’s a luxury in this day to stay home with your children. It shouldn’t have to be. It should be an option every family, whether single-parented or blended or couple-parented should have. It should be something that everyone has access too, not just the very rich. And let me say, we are not the very rich. I don’t know if we should get paid what people think we’re worth (like the infographic below argues), but I do think we should get something to make ends meet a little bit easier.

SAHM salary

No one is paying me this, let me tell you.

9. I don’t eat bon-bons and watch my stories. A little bit of me (okay, a lot a-bit-of-me) thought that stay-at-home parents had days like working people have when they call in sick – daytime TV, naps, lounging around in your pyjamas, eating because you’re bored, reading, playing video games, taking hot baths and going to bed early. Just like people who think having children is like having pets, I was mega-wrong. Even on days that Ben is home or someone is here helping me, my day doesn’t look anything like the sick days I had when I was in school or when we were just married.

10. I will work hard every day to stay present. It sounds like a fantasy, especially to a new mom or dad facing having to return to work: you get to stay home and watch your children grow up. You won’t miss the firsts that working parents might. You won’t miss out on milestones and you’ll have all the answers and know everything about your baby at appointments or when people ask. You’ll know you are your baby’s everything. The hard truth for me is that some days I want to be anywhere but here. That not every day is a monumental day that I give thanks for because I got to witness the first crawl, the first step, the first word, the first poop in the potty. That some days are bad or boring. Some days nothing happens at all, the minutes crawl by, and there is no end to the poop in the potty. Some days suck. But I know that this gift, this luxury, is a once-in-a-lifetime. That our babies will never be this age again, that I will never have this much access again. That I have a gift that Ben does not. That being home is a blessing. And I will work every day, even those crappy ones, to remember that. And I will accept that some days it will be impossible to remember. But most days it will be the thing that gets us through.

~ Julia

Sisterly similarities

I like thinking about similarities. Things that are the same in every family, things that are the same in friendships, finding the lines that run parallel with each other throughout everyone and everything. Some similarities I have stored and keep with me. They are the similarities that run between me and my sisters. I have noticed that we have small traits that are very similar; they are the things that keep them close in my heart when I’m having a long day, or when I’m sick and need to remember connections to home.

Jacqui and I grew up at the end, so when we were little we spent a fair bit of time together. Whether or not that was because we wanted to actually spend that time together is uncertain, especially when you have a strange younger sister like me (I am an odd one), but we have some similarities that I think are strange. We both wash dishes in the same stance. One foot is curled up and resting against the other leg in a strange way, but I noticed it at Lillian’s birthday party. It made me smile quite a bit, cause I thought I was the only one. Another one is our need to change things around – we both like reorganizing and moving our furniture around. To the outside world it may seem like we are not happy with the placement of things, but for me I just like a fresh start every once in a while, and it gives me a new timeline of memories when the furniture is placed in a certain way.

Now Toni and I have something very similar within each of us, but we deal with it in very different ways. We both have the same anger and frustration that brews inside. Toni has a better grasp on hers, and I can’t seem to actually construct coherent thoughts with mine, but sometimes when I am seething angry I think of Toni, what she would do, what I would do, and then I find a middle. Toni and I also love music. Every chance I get I listen to music, whether it is kitchen dance parties, or writing the blog post for the week, designing things or editing photos. It helps set the pace and rhythm of whatever I am doing. That and dancing is just plain fun, even if I do look ridiculous.

Julia and I have very few similarities in the way we act, and our personalities, although I looked up to Julia constantly in my formative years as a role model. A couple things I have noticed are small things. We both curl the same leg up first when we sit, and we both have a crazy array of facial expressions. That and we have been mistaken for twins, which I think is awesome.

I like keeping these small traits I share with my sisters close to me. When I’m doing my dishes, I hear Jacqui’s laugh, her amazing full-bellied laugh. When I’m dancing around, I can see Toni’s cheeky smile. When I’m reading or watching a movie or playing a video game with Joe, and I curl my leg in, I think of the movie nights past where Julia has done the same thing, squishing into the couch to get comfy.

We all have different lives, and different things that make us so wonderfully unique, but I like having the little things that remind me of my sisters, and remind me that even though we are different there are hundreds of ways we are always connected.

I love you guys, and I am missing you terribly!

~ Andreah