Friday, November 4, 2011

What to Say. What to Say.

I was asked to speak at my son's wedding. He asked about 3 weeks before the event. So I laid in bed, night after night, and wrote script after script in my head of what I'd say, how I'd say it, how everyone would laugh and cry, how fabulous I was, and how great I'd look. Then, I wouldn't write it. I wouldn't commit anything to paper because it all sounded wrong. It sounded tinny and insincere. It all sounded wrong, and tinny, and insincere, and I'd put on 3 pounds since I bought my dress for the wedding.

So I did what I always do. Nothing. I avoided thinking about it, and I secretly worried (about the speech, and my growing Buddha-belly--egads!).

But the day of the wedding came, as they inevitably do, and I sat through the service alternately crying and laughing and clenching my butt chakra. Afterwards, with a glass of champagne, a full heart, and a mouthful of cheesecake, I asked him, "Do you still want me to say something?"

"Yes. I do. You are going to say something, aren't you?" He sounded trepidatious, like I might let him down.

"Of course!!" I say, full of conviction and terror. But now what? What now? What was I to say?

There was nothing for it but to write. So I slipped off my shoes, found a quiet spot, and on the back of the wedding program I wrote my speech. Here it is:

What is a mother to say on her son's wedding day? I've thought and struggled to find the words, and as many times as I've put pen to paper, I've tossed it aside--unsatisfied and unsure. So I've decided to do two things: share the wisdom of another and speak from my heart. 

When Jonah told us he was marrying Richelle we were overwhelmed. We were surprised: what should we think? what should we do? what should we say? We didn't know. 

Then we met Richelle--and as a family, fell madly in love. But it was our 7-year old, Bronwyn, that said it best when she said to me, "Mom, you know what I think? I think Jonah is too young to get married, but he sure picked a beautiful, pretty girl to marry." And Bronwyn was right--Jonah picked the most beautiful, pretty girl to marry--inside and out. 

But it's a strange thing seeing your child in love. A strange thing knowing the scraped knees I bandaged when he fell off his bike, the sweet green eyes I dried when he was hurt or overlooked, and the small, cute bum I wiped when he......well.....when he.........are another woman's to care for.

So I stand here feeling strange, proud, emotional, and a little lost--but happy. Happy to know that there is such a woman. Such a Richelle. That she loves my boy, and will love him as long, and longer, than I will.

I love you Jonah--with my heart and soul. And Richelle--you are part of us now. Our big, mad, crazy crowd, and we love you too.

So, to Jonah and Richelle.

In the end, I think I did okay. And it probably helped that most of the audience was Dutch and didn't understand half of it. What I learned was that it doesn't really matter what you say, just that you say it, whether you look like a sausage in your too-tight dress or not. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Today's Grade: F-

Ahhhhh. Today: another stunningly spectacularly beautiful day in Naramata (our favourite family vacation spot). The weather is perfect, the fine, white sand squishes through our toes as we run down the beach to get ice cream, the bottle of Pinot Gris that we bought right from the vintner is tart and bright.

The kids splash and swim; we read and talk and smile at our children. Then we laugh and run and dive in to the cool, refreshing water.

The ideal family vacation.

Except that we forgot the sunscreen back at the house and our sparkling 7-year old is a fine shade of crisp. We cooked our daughter. Currently she's a perfect mid-rare.

Today, as parents, we fail--epic fail. Oh, the shame.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's Good

“Mutlulugun Resmi”, which translates into “The Portrait of Happiness”,
is the work of a famous Turkish artist, Abidin Dino
I think, most times, as a parent we're so mired in the chaos and clutter of everyday we don't see the forest for the trees, the house for the stucco, the head for the hair, the cake for the icing, the cow for the milk, or even the thought for the metaphor (I hope I'm being clear. I always struggle with getting my point across.)

Today though, I had a moment of clarity--the veil was lifted from my eyes (it'll drop back in place soon enough I expect). Today I saw my life and my family through someone else's eyes and to my surprise, it looked pretty good.

It was happy. It was loving. It was successful.

I feel so grateful. As if I've been given a gift I didn't expect, and it was a good gift to boot. So, today, for the first time in a very long time, I appreciate what I have. Through someone else's eyes I see that I'm content with who I am, what I've done, and the uniquely remarkable children I've raised.

I don't know whether to thank the Goddesses (as one friend would do) or pat myself on the back (as another friend would), all I know is I'm grateful. My children are healthy, kind, smart, loving people, and whether I actually had anything to do with that or not, I'm thankful.

Today, as a woman and a mother, it's good.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Why Love is a Sickness

Another day. Another day as a woman. Another day as a mother. Another Mother's Day.

When I started blogging about my life as a woman in the deep, dark throws of parenthood, my first post about this Hallmark holiday was--dare I say--kinda dark (I was just entering into my angry phase, again--read all about it).

Then I posted about finding a moment of simple joy in the chaos of my life and the swirling, whirling dervish of my family around me on "my" day (check it out). And again, I posted about another Mother's day--that time in reflection, about my own wonderful, entirely flawed Mom (read that one here).

But today, when another Mother's Day winds down, and I'm weighed down with homemade cards, paper flowers, sweet, slightly self-centric 7-year old poetry, and a belly full of cheese fondue, I'm happy (and not just because I have a belly full of cheese).

I love my insane, irritating, nose-picking, bum-scratching children. I love them all. With all their faults, and complaints, and dirt, and noise, and sticky-fingeredness, and rather individually annoying peccadillos. I love them.

How can I explain the kind of love a mother feels for her children? The kind of love I feel for my children (you know I'm going to try to explain, don't you?)

My love is like this overwhelming, overheated, slightly nauseating feeling--like the feeling you get, just before you throw up. You know, when your body is hot all over and you're so full you're sure you're going to burst. You're sure you're skin is stretched so thin it simply can't contain that much of any one thing--you're just going to explode. Explode with white-light-blinding love.

Now, I fully understand that comparing the intense love I have for my children to vomiting is perhaps not the most elegant analogy, but, please, try to be kind--2 pounds of swiss cheese in my stomach is bloating me like a bloody life raft and clouding my thinking (and I'd bet, dollars to donuts--of God, don't mention food--that I won't poop for a week, bloody, bowel-binding, delicious, delicious cheese). But, for today, I'll lick my fingers, and fork, and plate, and the pot, and kiss my kids, and be glad I know what it feels like to be filled up with love (and dairy). 

Good night my darlings. Sleep well. I love you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

And She Snaps (and Snips)

Painting by Frans Hal 
When did I become a joke? I mean, I'm just askin'. When did I become the source of family entertainment? This mixed-blended-multi-surnamed-upside-down family's skull-juggling Yorick?

I just, and here I mean just--like, 10 minutes ago--entirely snapped (a full-fledged eye-bulging throat-vein-pumping melt down) at my entire family, including my 21-year old brother-in-law, and ever one, EVERYONE, laughed.

Now, I have to grant, they laughed quietly. Into their cups of tea and glasses of wine, for fear of pissing me off more, but laughed nonetheless.

So I'm sitting here wondering how, behind my back, or really, in front of me, while I wasn't paying attention, I've become the butt of jokes. They find me funny!!  Funny? ME?! Give over you pissants!!!! There's nothing funny here. Move along!

And upon reflection, it's occurred to me that this just might be a "laughing at me" scenario rather than a "laughing with me." In fact, maybe there's been a lot of that in my life and I've failed to notice it (something I should definitely think about, or not, which entirely depends on how difficult I find thinking tomorrow).

So what to do? How to proceed?

I feel I have two reasonable choices: take the high road and ignore the bastards, or brow-beat them all to within an inch of their lives and strike the Fear of Mom into them.

And while I feel my beneficence bubbling up (no, wait, that's just gas), I am inclined to act completely old-school-burning-bush and rain down my wrath. But, alas and alack, they'll just laugh!

So I need to concoct another plan and since I can't actually smite anyone, I'll look to good old Godfather-style retribution. To keep them complacent, I'll pretend to ignore the snickering and sniggering (at my delicate, sensitive expense). Then, while they're not looking, I'll get my own back and I'll leave them a message (and since I don't have access to any horses or newly severed horse heads,  I'll leave the next best thing: toe nail clippings. Toe nail clippings in their beds. That'll teach 'em!

Okay, maybe that's just gross. But at least I'll be laughing at them, and not with them!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Love is The Answer

You know how, when you expect something to happen, you gird your loins, and mentally and emotionally prepare for it? Like, you've applied for a job and gone for the interview. You figure it went pretty well: you were delightful, engaging, gave bright, erudite slightly self-deprecating answers, and looked like you knew how to balance in heels while carrying a brief case. You even managed to notice, and spit-wipe, the dried toothpaste stain off your blouse before the interview started.

Then you go home and pour yourself a big glass of wine and tell yourself and everyone, that while the interview went well, you probably won't get it (though secretly you think you might and you go to bed at night and whisper little prayers to the universe, "Please, just let me get the job. Just let me get the job and I'll never blog bad things again, and I'll lose 15 pounds, and I won't stay up until every one's asleep and eat all the chocolate chip cookies, and I won't drink too much at my husband's Christmas party and fall on my ass on the dance floor (again), and I'll even invite my mother over for dinner more often. Jut let me get the job. Thank you Universe. Amen.")

You think you're prepared for the news either way, but every time the phone rings or you get a new email your heart flutters and skips a beat (taking minutes off your life every damn time).

Eventually, you're able to go your way, not spending every other moment in diarrhea-inducing anxiety and life carries on. Then. Then, the phone rings. You casually pick it up while your shouting down the house for the ankle-biters to turn down the T.V. while wiping something suspicious out of the inside of your left slipper, and it's The Call.

All the days, nights, weeks, and heartbeats of steeling yourself for the news is wasted. You're a puddle, and there is nothing you can (or could have) done about it.

Well. That's what I became this week. A quivering, quavering puddle.

After months of hints and speculation, I picked up the phone, in the middle of a glass of wine, while reheating Chinese food, while entertaining my oldest daughter's boyfriend, while she ran out to pick up the nose-miners from a play-date. It was my oldest son on the other end. My 23-year old son, whom I still see as the clumsy, sweet, gentle, messy-haired, funny little man terrified of going to play school. He was calling from Asia to tell me he's engaged.

My child. My child is engaged. Engaged to be MARRIED!

I don't know whether to sit, stand, cheer, poop, celebrate, or throw up. I'm a messy, messy puddle of motherhood.

It didn't matter how many times he told me he loved this girl. Or how many times he told me she was the one. Or even, how many times I responded to these statements with class and aplomb (not many, but I do my best), I was totally unprepared.

Ten million things ran through my brain, including:

  • What!? 
  • You're too young!! 
  • That's bloody amazing!
  • I love you!
  • I love you and I'm so glad there is someone else who loves you as much as I do!
  • How did this happen?
  • Are you happy?
  • Am I happy?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why? 
  • How? 
  • Now what?
  • Wait. What?
  • How the Hell did I get old enough to have a child getting married?
  • Can you repeat that last statement? Because I thought I just heard you say you're engaged and I know you can't be engaged because last time I looked you were still too young to have pubic hair.
My son and his beautiful bride-to-be
So here I am, at last, the mother of a soon to be married young man and I'm a little scared. I'm scared about what this means for him, and frankly, I'm scared about what this means for me. Did I raise him right? Will he make a good husband? Will he respect himself, his new wife, and their relationship? Will he pick up his socks? Will he forever fry his eggs on High and burn the Teflon off of every pan? Will I have to wear an unflattering pastel coloured mother-of-the-groom dress to the wedding?

I'm a full basket load of sheer nerves. But as I calm myself and breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth (after swallowing my Scotch, of course) it occurs to me that I do know one thing. I know that all I know for sure is that my son is in love, and if love is the answer, who cares about the question. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Other Passion

So I indulged my other passion this week--my other passion besides Scotch, the Real Housewives of NYC, bi-daily naps, and writing: I spent the week designing and creating hats (if you love hats you can see some of my work at Then, I attended the Fabricated fashion show to show and sell my wares!

The week, and the show, were both a complete panic, utter mayhem, and blindingly fun.

I met some fantastic, incredibly fashionable people. Got to hang out with my oldest daughter Emma, as well as a good friend, Dale, who came to drink wine and people-watch. And I sold some hats.

There was one woman I'll never forget. She was about 60 years old, absolutely beautiful, and impeccably dressed. She approached my table with the excitement and conviction of a woman who knows who she is and what she wants (the woman I hope to be someday!).

She went like a radar-guided missile to a chocolate brown pill box with tulle and feathers. She picked it up. She tried it on. And she started to glow.

She literally beamed. She beamed at me. She beamed at her reflection. She beamed at her friend. It was a pretty special moment.

She bought the hat and wore it.

My gorgeous girls wearing my glamorous hats
I saw her, later that night, sitting across the runway from me, and she was still beaming.

I struggle with who I am and what I'm suppose to be (besides a occasionally reluctant mom and difficult wife). I make hats, I illustrate, paint, and write poems for a children's book (my own vanity project), I fiendishly style my husband and kids, and I design, redesign our house regularly (which seldom gets done owing to the fact that my husband refuses to live without a roof for 6 months), so I decorate and redecorate, and I write, and edit, and write, and edit.

I'm sure there's an artist in me somewhere, and frankly, I'm a little afraid to let her out, but Saturday night, when that beautiful woman put on the hat I'd made, and felt even more beautiful, I knew who I was--if only for a moment--and it felt good. Almost as good as a new hat.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Love a Good Reprobate

I love trouble. No. Let me rephrase: I love causing trouble.

I hate being in trouble, dealing with trouble, or sorting out kids in trouble. But, alas, as is inevitably the case, my trouble-lovin' is catching up with me.

I've just been roundly scolded, by one of my kids, for something I wrote**. Something racy, outrageous, salacious, tasteless, and highly unseemly for a person in my position (which is a person who's squeezed an even handful of individuals out of this now flabby vagina--too much information, right? Probably. If you can erase that image from your mind, you undoubtedly should.)

But in my defence, what I wrote wasn't even my line! I stole it from my Mom*. It was something I heard regularly growing up, along with, Ahhhh, go play in the traffic; the ever popular, You little twat!; and the never to be forgotten family classic, Be quiet or I'll drop kick you in the crotch!

Yet, my line or not, I've been held accountable for my glib fingers and taken firmly to task.

I am, without reservation, always sorry and occasionally devastated when I hurt someone's (anyone's) feelings. I don't ever want to intentionally cause another person pain (unless they're willing, of course!), yet I find myself back here blogging and walking that razor's edge between saying too much and saying waaayyyyyy too much.

What can I say? Simply this: I am, alas and alack, an unreformed trouble-making reprobate.

Not an easy mom to have certainly, but, well, at least I'm never boring!

* The offending sentence, makes an appearance courtesy of K.J. (my mom).
** Said offending sentence can be viewed on my twitter account at undonemom

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Great Toothless One


March 31st.

1:47 P.M.

Spring Break 2011.

My fabulous, glorious, smart, sweet, gigantic-toothed 9-year old son smacked his face on a water slide and knocked out his front tooth.

His permanent front tooth.

Poor little poop-shitz.

I cried (when he went to bed). His dad cried, his two older sisters cried, his Grannie cried, his older brother Skyped from China and kindly, warmly, and lovingly told Toothless he looked good. And his younger sister, well, she was at a play-date and became wickedly jealous that he got 2 milkshakes for supper. Life's hard when your 7 and your brother is getting all the attention.

But Himself, the ferocious toothless one had only one concern: that he not get the replacement tooth they bond to the other teeth. No. He wants the "flipper tooth," so he can pop it out and scare the little kids.

Me? I want to have a ceremony (though we have nothing to bury--the tooth itself being somewhere in the drainage system of the wave-pool). I want to host a wake to say goodbye to "the tooth." A wake where we sing laments to the tooth's courage, encourage spontaneous eulogies from tipsy cousins, and drink copious toasts to the lost money we were going to use for a holiday that's now in the hands of our dentist.

My poor, sweet little man. His poor, huge lost tooth. Life will never be the same.

But, it could have been worse, I suppose. He might have lost one of his permanent teeth--oh shit! wait. It was a permanent tooth. Alright, it couldn't have been much worse.

Poor little poop-shitz.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Barbies and Boogers

I'm up to my boobs in Barbie's and boogers. I thought I'd gotten through the worst, most exhausting part of parenting (and if such a magical place existed it would be populated with rainbow unicorns and tinklingly sweet apple juice rivers) but, alas, I hoped in vain.

No such luck. I am mired in demanding, nose-picking, genital scratching, MOM!-I'm thirsty-get-me-a-drink (at 4 AM) people who live on nothing but Cheerios and Cheese-String. And to add insult to injury, I have a MOM!-I-need-a-big-envelope-RIGHT-NOW-and-we-only-have-small-ones (at 11 PM) stropy teenager on my hands.

But I suppose it could be worse.

Somebody could have diarrhea.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dear Sirs/Madams,

March 17th, 2011 

Dear Sirs/Madams,

While I fully appreciate the great distinctions you have bestowed upon me in these last 23 years of life-consuming and life-altering employment, I would like to officially tender my resignation from the positions of:

Chief Decision-Maker (CDM),
Chief Lunch-Packer (CLP),
Chief Cheerleader (CC),
Chief Getter-Upper-In-The-Nighter (CGUITN),
and finally, but not exclusively, Chief Head Whine Reducer, General Referee, and occasional Short-Order Cook (CHWR, GR, and SOC). 

While I have been thoroughly honored to have possessed the positions of CDM, CLP, CC, CGUITN,  CHWR, GR, and SOC, simultaneously I might add, I feel, Sirs and Madams, that to preserve my sanity, sense of self, libido, and baby-soft hands (earned from years of dishwashing in Palmolive),  I must humbly and immediately relinquish my positions.

I wish to thank you for the years and years and years of experience I've gained, and, while feeling somewhat maudlin at our parting, I feel confident that I have given my all, and that you have, without reservation, taken it (leaving me bereft of taut skin, a sense of humour, my finely ground-down back molars, and/or any or all sex appeal).

Finally, upon my leave taking, I would like to wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and leave you with some small pieces of wisdom I have gained over the years:

Wash up as far as possible. Wash down as far as possible. And then.......... wash possible.

Your ever devoted, simply sapped Mother.

P.S.  See you in the morning you little buggers!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What You Get is What You Get

“What you get is what you get. What you do with what you get is what’s important.”
I just heard this statement as I stood at the stove making my umpteenth box of macaroni, for the umpteenth time, in my umpteenth year as a parent. I don’t know why now, why today, or why this box of macaroni but this statement meant something. It rang my proverbial bell and as little stars and cartoon birds circled my head like a halo, my own little life and all it’s possible lives flashed before me. 
Who might I have been if I hadn’t been blessed and burdened with my kids? 
I’d have traveled certainly. My feet constantly itch to move and be away. To just pick up and leave, it doesn’t matter where. Well, with the exception of Wal-Mart, Ikea, or the neighborhood bouncy house. 
I’d have been an artist. Immersing myself in the deep and soul-enriching joy of creation. With the exception of creating anything with macaroni, pudding, white glue, or small cut-up pieces of drinking straws. 
I’d have engaged the world as a woman, rather than a mother. A being whole and entire unto myself without additional human appendages--including any and all waste those appendages create, expel, and talk about, loudly, at random and inconvenient moments. 
I’d have aged more gracefully, or maybe less--probably less, knowing me, but it would have been way more fun than the slow mudslide into this bi-monthly-at-home-hair-colouring-mustache-waxing-whisker-plucking-sexless-middle-agedness.  
I’d have been a bad-ass anarchist. Wait, I am a semi-bad-ass anarchist (I occasionally park in the Teacher parking when I drop my kids off at school). I’d have drank more, smoked more, had more crazy, borderline illegal sex with more partners, had more tattoos, driven faster, taken more risks, and lived louder. And I’d certainly have eaten better. Rich, delicious, exotic, wild food--if I have to have one more pot of spaghetti with Prego, or smell one more over-boiled Maple Leaf weiner, I might actually eviscerate someone (and gleefully see if Gordon Ramsay can make me a tasty dish of adolescent entrails). 
But, I got this life. I got two marriages, one good. I got 5 kids. I got gray hair, wrinkles, stretch marks, and a bad attitude. I got what I got. Now, have I done enough with it?
I’m not sure. There’s no threat of me winning Mother of the Year (you might already have sussed that out for yourself). And there’s absolutely no danger of me ever being nominated for Wife of the Year. But as I sit here, in the indoor playground from Hell, and watch my kids play, smile, laugh and wipe boogers on the  obnoxious little bugger pushing past, I can’t help but think that if I haven’t made my life into everything it could or ought to have been, at least I have my teeth, I love my family, I can still laugh, even at 5-year old creeps with snot encrusted hair, and best of all, in Canada alcohol is completely legal. 

What's Bred in the Bone

What separates me from other parents? What makes me unique, special, individual, memorable to my children? If I die, Heaven forbid, what part of me will be left in my children's memories and hearts? I know what I hope it will be--my tenderness, my thoughtfulness, my joyousness, my epic love for them.  In reality, it'll probably be my bloody, horrid, foul trucker-mouth. And friends, that memory will be well earned: my cursing vocabulary is immense--think one-eyed, drunken sailor on shore-leave at last call in a whore house--and that's before my morning coffee. When I really get warmed up I take swearing to heights entirely unequaled. I am, though I say it myself, a bloody prodigy.

It's shameful. I know. I should hang my head, wash my mouth with soap, be a better role model. My poor, poor husband, who wouldn't say shit if he had a mouthful, is often aghast and horrified, yet at the same time salaciously intrigued. My trouble is simple, and here I am admitting it--"Hi my name is Danielle and I'm a swearaholic"--I love to swear. I love the explosive use of language. I love the reaction, the jaw-drop or the ever-so-slight-eye-narrow or the shocked guffaw, (and here's the truth, ugly as it is) I am what I am, and I love being crass.

It's a horrible affliction of having grown up on the wrong side of the wrong side of the tracks--I struggled to make good, make nice, fit in and climb the social ladder, then having mastered the art of social elegance and been granted the secret handshake to the Mid-to-Upper Echelon Club, I find my mouth overflowing with profane obscenities. What can I say? "What's bred in the bone, will come out in the flesh," and man, when it comes out, it comes out in spades.

"But what about your sweet innocent children?! How dare you expose them to bad language! For shame," you say.

What can I say, except your right. It's all around indecent parenting. I know it is. And, for what it's worth, I curb my vicious tongue when I'm volunteering at the school tea party.  But....well....frankly....for the rest of it, I simply say, "Fuck yes, I want a hamburger."

Every parent has to leave a legacy, right? I mean some of you might leave your kids distinguished blood lines. Some of you might leave them a rich tapestry of faith and traditions. Some of you might even leave the family hardware store. Me, I'm leaving my kids a dying language. The fine, well honed, and underused art of swearing.

I mean, what the cuss, it could be worse. I could swear like a drunken sailor and smell like the back seat of a taxi. At least I wash my armpits, if not my mouth, with soap, and, well, it is still the mouth I kiss them goodnight with. And so far, the little shits still kiss me back.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Good Parent

Do you ever wonder if your parents did a good job? Parenting, I mean. Now that you're an adult, a parent yourself, do you ever look back, at your childhood as a whole, not just pieces or incidents, but transposing yourself as an educated observer, and examine how you were raised and how (if you support the nurture vs. nature argument) the way you were raised affected, affects you as a person, a parent, a partner?

God! Such a huge question for a Sunday morning! But as I find myself in my personal confessional (the ever anonymous and shriving blogosphere) it feels right to ask.

I have, so far, raised three nose-picking-bum-scratching-screeching-whiny people to adulthood. Two of them are off, away, experimenting with who they are and who they want to be, and lurching toward autonomy. And one of them, my small sweet middle child, my own Mikey, is bursting at the seams to join them. She's counting down the months until she can escape her mother's clutches (and continual harping about doing the dishes and picking up her shoes).

I've always smugly congratulated myself on what lovely people I created. How my hard work and investment in them is paying off with people who care about others, have a voice, and choose lives that make them happy. But last night, when all was quiet, and I went searching for a book to read to my 6 year old, I found something else instead, I found an old diary. And yes, shockingly, I broke the cardinal rule of parenting: I read it.

Actually, I only read some of it, a few paragraphs here and there, but enough to know that the glorious, near angelic mother-image I had created in my brain, is, frankly, rather tarnished.

After a solid 15 minutes of utter, miserable self-indulgence I began to wonder about my parenting. To wonder what my actions and inactions have really done to affect my kids. To wonder how I might have lifted them up, and how I might have hobbled them. I know I'm human. I won't ever be perfect, but mostly I go blithely through my days and weeks and years as a mother thinking and believing that I'm doing a good job. I never (or very rarely) take my parenting out and look at it, thoroughly. Perhaps it's too dangerous to look that closely, it might result in spontaneous combustion, or maybe it's just easier to tell myself I'm doing the best I possibly can, patting myself on the back, and then firmly assisting the little blighters out of the nest as soon as is socially acceptable.

So I'm left with the big question, dangling over my head, like a finely honed guillotine (rather than the finely honed halo I'd imagined)--Am I a Good Parent?

The only way I can think to begin to answer this question is go to the source of all wisdom, the modern day guru on the mountain, the Library of Everything: I will consult the Internet.

Let me tell you--and please my friends, I beg you, implore you, heed this advice--don't Google "How to be a good parent." Just don't do it. There are more than 50 pages of links (I stopped looking after page 57, but I suspect it goes on indefinitely) of everything from What's The Secret to Being a Good Parent by William Shatner, no less, to The 10 Commandments for Good Parenting, to How to be a Good Parent to Young Cricketers. Yikes. Who knew I had to even consider what type of cricketing parent I was?

Some sites recommend a return to traditional "authoritative" parenting--firm boundaries, physical closeness (such as extended breastfeeding), and high expectations (think 1950s dad). Some sites recommend traditional, biblically sanctioned parenting (or in other words), spare the rod, spoil the child (think 1650s dad).

Other sites recommend attachment parenting, which suggests that if your baby wants it, your baby gets it, regardless of your need to sleep, pee, take a shower, drink a bottle of wine, or have sex with your husband (think 1050s mom--no wet nurse for you!)

And the list, advice, suggestions, thoughts, insights, scientific studies, religious arguments, and seditious suggestions go on and on and on.

Thus, my friends, after hours of research, reading, weighing this advice against that, and learning more about what makes a good cricketing parent than I ever hoped to, or thought I'd know, I feel compelled to reduce the chatter. I feel moved to create a simple, 5 question quiz for you to discern whether you qualify as a Good Parent. So here goes:

  1. Do you love your children?
  2. Do you tell them and show them you love them?
  3. Do you do what you can to keep them safe and teach them to keep themselves safe?
  4. Do you go to bed at night knowing that you might have screwed up a few times during the day, but that you did your best by them and yourself (a little insight is the key import here)? 
  5. Do you find a way to love yourself, even a little, and forgive your parenting muck-ups? (nothing better than some good modelling to teach 'do what I do', right)?

Well? How'd ya do? Pretty good, I'd bet. And so did I.

So, I'm not perfect. I'm flawed actually, burnished to a high gloss patina, in fact. But I love my kids and I want them to have a life filled with glorious adventures,  high highs (not too high, and low lows, but not too low), and the good sense to be themselves and know their entirely fallible mother loves them.

Some would say it's not enough, that I'm failing my kids, that I'm failing as a parent. But screw 'em. Here I make a nod to my own mother's parenting wisdom, "If ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise." Just good solid advice.

That and, "Dani, for Christ's sake, stay off that InterWeb, it's nothing but trouble!"

Love ya Mom!