Farewell

So I lived, until recently, 2 and ½ hours away.

The decision to move back was not under any circumstances an easy one. We made a life there; we met new people who became like family, made new friends, reconnected with some of Joe’s old ones, and grew stronger as a couple through all the ups and downs. We built a small, but meaningful life. One that we already miss and will always miss, and this is my goodbye, for now.
We will always go back and visit, and we will keep the ties there as strong as possible. Here are the things I am going to miss:

1. The shop.
It was an amazing opportunity for Joe, following his dream, and a new start. The people we met there are a large eclectic group of people from all walks of life, and each and every one of them taught us something, and helped us grow in new and interesting ways. I will miss them all so much.

2. Joe’s family.
Joe’s family helped us so much while we were getting our life going, always there when we needed them, and even when I tried to do it all myself, they were there helping and pushing us to get on our feet. They love us unconditionally, and I know, even though we are far away, they still support and love us.

3. Our crapartment.

Our little livingroom

Our little living room

It was small, had leaky pipes, broken tiles, and the hallway always smelled of smoke from our across-the-way neighbour. It was our first place, our first home that we built and made ours.

Our little Kitchen

Our little kitchen

It will always be our first home, and a wonderful and cozy one. We got luckier than most with this one, but I will always miss it, and wish we could go back.

4. The scenery.
Where we lived was beautiful, or at least the country was. Big full rolling hills, the colours in the fall, the beautiful lakes, and the almost untouched forests. I know we will see it again, but I will definitely miss it.
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I know we will visit, but as with any change this one was and is hard. I wish we could go back, but I know that with Joe by my side where ever we go will be home, and whatever we do will be where we are supposed to be.

~ Andreah

I have a dream

It’s a silly thing. A frivolous thing. A thing that’s for no one else but me.

A dream that is selfish, self-indulgent, navel-gazey, and nonsensical at the best of times.

A dream that I’ve said out loud so many times, but don’t really believe, don’t really believe in.

A dream that looks darn right ridiculous next to the poop, the demands, the finances, the stay-at-home-momness, the small life I live, the dishes, the piles of laundry to be folded, the minivan I drive.

A dream bigger than myself, yet one that I just can’t shake.

The dream of being a novelist.

Sure, sure.

Sure, sure.

I have been dreaming this dream since grade 4. And I know it’s been since grade 4, because that was the year I got to go to an enrichment course away from regular school and write stories.

I didn’t even know people did that.

I mean, I read books (lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of books…too many, according to our Dad), but the idea of the person writing the books, the man (or woman) behind the curtain, if you will, was brand new.

I wrote this really sweet (read: juvenile) story about flowers that could talk. They lived in a garden and each flower had her own personality. I’m pretty sure the rose was the most popular, most beautiful, most snobby flower. Poor, Rose.

Writing, after that three-day enrichment experience, became part of my life.

It became the thing that made sense, the thing my brain just naturally put together, the thing that I feel the most comfortable doing.

Ask me to add up a bunch of numbers, complete mathematical problems, figure out complicated equations and my stomach knots and I get nervous and have zero confidence. I can do it, but I’d really rather not.

This sounds about right. Trouble with math? Wait until your father gets home, kids.

This sounds about right. Having trouble with math? Wait until your father gets home, kids.

Ask me to complete the last line of a poem that has cadence and rhyme, ask me to spell something, ask me to come up with a slogan, ask me to sell a portable coffee mug (this actually happened in an interview), ask me to proofread something, ask me to dream up a story…I CAN DO IT. My brain whirs nicely, the words flow easily, and there are very few knots. Some nerves (I hate disappointing people), but generally, this is where I shine.

The novelist dream, though? Really? Who the heck am I to think I can do what this incredible woman does, or this talented fella, or this hero of mine?

A dreamer. A dreamer who is not afraid of hard work.

So, I’m working on it.

When I was pregnant with Lillian, I took a six-month writing course with Miriam Toews, the brilliant writer behind A Complicated Kindness, and more recently the Giller-short-listed novel, All My Puny Sorrows, which was just a thought, a question, a need she had to fulfill during the course, and now it’s a bestselling, award-nominated book.

Read it. LOVED it. Aspire to something that won't entirely wilt in its presence.

Read it. LOVED it. Aspiring to something that won’t entirely wilt in its presence.

During that course I started the novel that has been bouncing around in my head for YEARS. A book about people who are connected in a seemingly inconsequential way. The book will be made up of 4-5 stories of 4-5 people. I’m on story number 3, and I can’t believe that I’ve written so many pages and so many words and that this idea, this simple idea, has bloomed into characters that have been living in my head for 4 years now. Seriously. It’s a little wild.

Me reading an excerpt from my BOOK on my due date with Lillian...she was kind enough to wait another week and day so I could finish the course.

Me reading an excerpt from my BOOK on my due date with Lillian…she was kind enough to wait another week and a day so I could finish the course. Ben was my devoted chauffeur. Something about not wanting me to go into labour in Toronto alone. Weirdo. (Handsome, knight-in-shining-armour weirdo.)

That course gave me a huge confidence boost towards my lofty, lofty dream.

First, I had to be accepted into the course, which was advertised in the Globe and Mail, tweeted about by Margaret Atwood…

…and applied to by dozens. There were 15 spots. Eleven were filled. I was one of them. Seriously.

Second, during that course I got actual feedback on my writing, including a comparison to Alice Munro, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature last year.

And third, I know of two giant successes of those 10 classmates that I spent 6 months with, every Wednesday night, and one Saturday a month.

Meet Shawn Syms:

Me and Shawn Syms, PUBLISHED author

Me, the belly, and Shawn Syms, PUBLISHED author

He just got his first collection of short stories published, Nothing Looks Familiar, in September, although he has been published widely in his 25 years of writing.

Nothing Looks Familiar

 

I’ve just finished reading the collection. It’s amazing. It’s incredible. It’s…inspiring. Seriously. I knew him when.

Meet Pam Smith:

Me, Pam (WONDER WOMAN), and Shelley (OTHER WONDER WOMAN)

Me, Pam (WONDER WOMAN), and Shelley (OTHER WONDER WOMAN)

Mother of FOUR with a full-time job outside the home, Pam is now hobnobbing with the likes of Sarah Selecky, Giller-nominated short story genius of This Cake Is for the Party, writing teacher, and writing prompt guru. Pam has since launched her own writing business on the SIDE of her life, and when I’m done my book, I’m definitely going to try to get her eyes on it.

justwrite-pam

Dear Pam, I want to be you when I grow up. Love, Me

So, this is THE dream. And it’s huge, yet not impossible. And it’s what sits in my head, pushing buttons and demanding attention all. day. long. but at this point in my life, in this season of mothering littles, it’s not something that I can give a lot of consistent time and energy to. But I am working towards it.

I’m going to enter an excerpt of my book as a short story in this competition, all the while dreaming of the prize, which not only includes money, but a 10-day stay in The Banff Centre, “the largest art and creativity incubator on the planet,” as it shyly admits on its web page. SERIOUSLY?! Ten days away in Banff to do nothing but WRITE? Sign me up. Please. Now.

And I’m going to keep sneaking in writing whenever I can (currently, I have a dog-eared print out of the bare bones of the competition piece that tags along with me, my tiny laptop that I use to write on while getting slept on, and the “Writing” folder on our BlackBerry for any thoughts that pop into my head wherever I am). One day, when more babies are in school and more babies are sleeping through the night, I’ll add writing to my daily schedule, but today, in this time, the hodge podge method is what I can handle.

And this dream? This unwieldy, giant, larger-than-my-life dream?

Well, as my good friend J.R.R. Tolkien says, “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”

Who can argue with that?

~ Julia

PS. Buy Shawn’s book here or here!

One day

One day I’ll go to the bathroom without Sophie running to say she has to pee too, or hearing fighting from the other room the moment I sit down, or having someone sit on the floor to ‘wait’ for me, or someone wanting to ‘help’ me with toilet paper and then have a tantrum if I don’t let them help the right way, or even…and this one is RADICAL…with the door CLOSED.

Mom bathroom

One day I’ll walk out the door at the time I absolutely have to leave with just my purse and keys and I’ll drive away without a fifteen minute process to get out the door and into the van.

One day I won’t have to do the mom math on when the last feed was, when the last pee was, when the last meal was, when the last snack was, when we gave Sophie, the puker, Gravol, how long it’s been since they had naps.

One day I won’t be well-versed in the delicate negotiation tactics required for getting shoes on feet (never mind the right feet), pants on bottoms, and appropriate wear on little bodies who will complain if they are too hot or too cold, but will make sure it’s the end of the world to get them to wear the correct number of layers for the current weather.

One day it will be quiet in our house, with no one screaming for food, or crying because they pooped themselves, or singing at the top of their lungs, or growling incessantly for NO DAMN GOOD REASON, or squealing because they can, or squabbling.

One day I’ll wear my hair in a style other than Messy-Mom-Bun.

One day I’ll stay clean for longer than five seconds because people who are eating with me won’t demand to cuddle, be on my lap, ask to go pee five times, or suck on my knee while eating a banana.

One day I won’t be asked to put shoes back on, look behind me, or retrieve various items from the van floor WHILE I’M DRIVING.

One day I’ll be the sole backseat driver in our family and I’ll treat the position with the respect it deserves, unlike the five-year old who asks, “Mom, are you sure this is the place?” every time we go somewhere new.

One day I’ll sleep in.

One day I’ll be able to drink my coffee hot, from first sip to last drop, in one go, no microwaving.

One day I’ll be able to watch whatever I want whenever I want on TV (apparently Orange is the New Black is not suitable for children, go figure).

OITNB

Pornstache is completely G-rated

One day songs from incredibly awful children’s shows won’t be playing on a loop in my head…at 3 a.m.

One day I won’t have to worry about my necklace or my earrings or my bracelets or my watch getting stolen/broken/tugged at/yanked off/eaten.

One day I won’t have to calculate the mess-factor of foods before we take them on a picnic or eat them in the van or eat them in the living room vs. the kitchen table.

One day I won’t get yelled at for stopping someone from running into the street, or for making someone poop in the toilet instead of their pants, or asking them not to rock in their chair, or for stealing their boogers, or for telling someone that we have no plans for the day, or for reminding someone that no, Grammie or Nana or Daddy or any of the Aunts can’t come play because they have to work.

One day my shirt/pants/arms/legs/neck/face won’t be used as a booger catcher.

One day “This is disgusting. I’m not eating this. I hate this family.” won’t be the first reaction to the dinner I made.

One day carrying a baby on my hip while hauling a giant basket of laundry up the stairs won’t be the norm.

One day I won’t get bitten or pinched or head-butted or collar-bone slammed or smacked or have my hair pulled WHILE HOLDING SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO BE HELD.

One day my hands won’t go to sleep because I’ve been carrying a baby around the house.

One day the quietest moment in my day won’t be the time I spend walking around the van to my seat while all the babies are locked inside.

One day I’ll never have to potty train again…EVER.

One day I won’t be asked to push people on the swing only to have them yell at me, THEY CAN DO IT.

stuart

One day I won’t have to be super stealthy at night, dodging creaking floorboards, refusing to flush toilets that share a wall with a bedroom, and not breathing while checking on sleeping babies.

One day I won’t wonder where the day went because nothing has been accomplished and I’ve failed at housekeeping again.

One day I won’t wonder when the day will end because nothing has been accomplished and I’ve failed at housekeeping again.

One day I will miss little hands grabbing my pant legs to pull themselves up while I stand still as a statue and make dinner.

One day I won’t be the first line of defense against the owies or the bad days or the bullies or the crappiness that is life for my babies.

One day I won’t feel the tightest hugs, the biggest love, the most hero-worship of my babies every day.

One day I’ll have to call them or text them or email them or Facebook them to find out how their day was, how they are, if they’re eating vegetables, if they’re sharing nicely, if they’re okay, if they’re happy.

One day the trip to bed won’t include retucking and reblanketing and kissing and listening for breathing of my babies.

One day I won’t be given dandelions on every walk, pictures made just for me after every craft time, and birthday cakes made out of Lego and random toys just because.

One day our morning won’t begin with everyone snuggled in our bed until it becomes too chaotic and we’re forced to get up.

One day I’ll miss all of these days and wonder where the time went.

One day.

~ Julia