Offbeat Legacy

We all want to feel that we have left a legacy for our kids – something of value that can be passed down through the generations.

I like to feel that I’m leaving my children with a strong sense of family; teaching them compassion and humour … and who knows what other wonderful things people might think to make up about me when I’m gone.

An inability to clap wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

For a recent university project, Roxy was instructed to describe what she learned during her first clapping-handsyear of Musical Theatre; focusing on how she did in achieving her goals, and what she learned both about the art and herself.

Among other things, she said she learned that she has no sense of rhythm – due, she assures us, to a genetic predisposition which she identified during an unfortunate episode in which I was discovered clapping on the offbeat.

It only happened once … will I be haunted by it forever?

I can assure you that I have busted some pretty complicated moves in my time.  During a recent choir show we had to sing, sway and clap to one particular song … all at the same time!  And if that wasn’t bad enough, as we swayed one way we clapped once and as we swayed the other way we clapped twice.  Clearly a feat of incredible coordination and (dare I say it) rhythm.  It took a great deal of concentration and practice, but I mastered it.  To the point where Roxy even complimented me on the timeliness of my clapping.

Perhaps the message she should be taking from this is about having the tenacity to soldier on against crushing challenges – to clap in the face of ineptitude.  Yes, that I like the sound of.


Filling The Void

I Screamed “Give Me Some Space”.  I Should Have Been Careful What I Wished For.

This post is written in response to The Weekly Writing Challenge – Playing with Space.  It gives me an opportunity to stray from my usual style and discuss my Empty Nesting Project in a slightly different light.

Three years ago it hit me that life as I knew it was going to change dramatically in the near future.  My children would be moving on, leaving me with a preoccupied husband and an empty house.  Something had to be done, and I embarked on a quest to rediscover and reinvent myself.

The first one has already skipped joyfully off into her future
The first one has already skipped joyfully off into her future

Not a problem, I thought.  I will throw myself into my freelance copywriting business, take up some hobbies and reconnect with old friends.  The children won’t recognize this fascinating creature and it will be good for them to learn that the washing machine works for anyone.

What I wasn’t expecting was the whining and resistance I encountered with every move.  I’d like to tell you it was from the children, but I was the one having trouble adjusting, not them.

Even while I broaden my horizons and try new things I find myself glued to my cellphone – just in case one of the children needs me.  They don’t of course, they’re teenagers, but it always hurts my feelings a little when they manage without me.

I’m brutally aware how outdated and unemancipated it is to admit that I threw myself into the business of raising children and lost myself in the process.  I have created the perfect co-dependent relationship – one where they need me to do everything for them, and I need them to need me.  What’s wrong with me?  Is it possible that there are others out there who can only be defined by the people they take care of?

Of course it hasn’t been all contented domesticity.  I’ve had plenty of those days when I just wanted to scream and swear and lock myself in my bedroom; plenty of those days when I ended up screaming and swearing and locking myself in my bedroom.

There were so many times when I dreamed of a quiet, uncluttered house with everything put away in its allotted place and an absence of finger marks on the walls.  Now that the vision is just around the corner it’s starting to look like rather a soulless place.

I worked hard to raise them to be independent and adventurous, but now that they’re spreading their wings it’s a type of bereavement.  In fact, it occurs to me that the whole process has been akin to the five stages of grief:

  1. Denial.  When they’re little it’s hard to imagine they’ll ever be old enough to leave home.
  2. Anger.  I’ve been through my share of anger at having no career, no life and no end to the mess.
  3. Bargaining.  I’m not above offering pizza or chocolate almonds if only someone will spend an evening with their poor lonely mother.
  4. Depression.  I’ve tried to stay positive through all this, and my blog is my way of forcing myself to look for the funny side of life.  But in the spirit of keeping it real here, I will admit that I have sometimes typed through the tears and that I do occasionally give in to feelings of hopelessness, uselessness and isolation.
  5. Acceptance.  I’m not sure I’ve reached peace yet, but I’m trying to see the Empty Nesting Project as an adventure rather than just a way to fill the endless, gaping void.

So here’s how I’m playing with the space; learning to appreciate it as it opens up before me…

I’ve joined a choir, which is officially now one of my favourite things (yes, we’re singing songs from The Sound of Music this year).  I love it and while it irks me to be surrounded by people infinitely more talented than I, I find that if I sing quietly whenever the choir director walks by I can retain my place and enjoy the opportunity to sing my heart out without anyone telling me to shut up.

I’m planning to take vocal coaching and piano lessons in the hope that I will spend less time at choir cluelessly trying to mimic the harmonies coming from my neighbour.  It would be lovely to understand those pages of squiggles they give us.  And one of these days I’m going to sing a solo.

I’m exercising and eating well because my plans for the next 40 years involve me being active, mobile and in great shape … and I want to age like Diane Keaton.

I plan to hike across England, backpack across India and volunteer overseas.  I will be an inspiration to all those over 50s wondering about throwing the meds and the muscle rub into a backpack and heading into the wilderness in search of adventure.

I’m writing fiction and articles again, and hatching plans to become a prolific and incredibly well paid travel writer.

I’m becoming more involved in my husband’s business which has brought us closer together and given us something to talk about other than how dreadful the children are.

That’s about it so far.  It’s baby steps, but I’m starting to enjoy the journey.  Now I just have to make sure they do all actually move out, and stay moved out!

Marvin The Terrible

My home is being terrorized by a creature so awful that it even strikes fear into the heart of our intrepid guard dog, Megs.

We’ve been plagued by this horror, intermittently, for years now.

It might stay awake for weeks at a time, but its return always presages a day of cowering and abuse for poor Megs.  The abuse, I might add, is accidental and if she’d spend less time glued to my legs she’d also spend less time getting tripped over and shut in doors.

The beast is called Marvin.  He’s a woodpecker.

woodpecker pic

Marvin sits on our roof pecking all day on the metal chimney flue.  Goodness knows what Megs thinks it is, but the sound of beak on metal reverberating through the house leaves her paralyzed with terror.

Why does Marvin do this?  Can he honestly think our chimney is a tree?  We’re not sure, but I’m fairly certain he can’t still be expecting a bug.  I suppose it could be some sort of amplified mating ritual, but I have a strong suspicion that tormenting Megs is how the local woodpecker delinquents get their kicks.

I like to feel that Megs would rush fearlessly to my defense against intruders, marauders or even a zombie apocalypse.  But everyone has their limits and arboreally challenged woodpeckers, apparently, is hers.

Thank Goodness It’s Not Just Me

There’s an optometrist’s ad running on the TV right now which starts with the statement that (wait for it)…

“Raising is a family is wonderful, but it can be time-consuming”.

You can only imagine my relief!  All this time I thought it was just my poor time management skills, but it turns out that other people find it time-consuming too.

Actually, it took me a while to work out that the ad is for an optometrist because for the first dozen or so viewings I was so distracted rolling on the floor laughing that I forgot to watch the rest of the ad.

Thanks for the laugh, Hakim!

Easter Light

We went to Red Deer yesterday for Easter dinner with the family.  As always it was a lovely chance to get the family together and overeat.

We had a nice day, but it just wasn’t quite right; there were two very important components missing – specifically the one away at school in Vancouver and the one we had to leave home working.

I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but there was not nearly enough chaos to the day.  Here’s how it’s supposed to go…

Hubby and I get up and shower and gather together whatever we need to take with us.  Then we spend an hour or so trying to coax life out of three piles of groaning duvet.  When eventually we are able to unearth some form of sentient lifeforce we are in for an hour or two of unproductive crashing around mixed with a distressing amount of colourful language, much of which comes from Hubby who is, by this time, fit to explode.

Eventually all three will be in a sufficient state of dress to be herded out to the car, where they are piled in with Roxy, the family peace-keeper, inevitably in the middle.

Once the engine is started we have to reopen the house at least three times so that someone can rush in for forgotten necessities.  Then, before we are fully off the drive our ears will be assailed with a series of incomprehensible grunts which, from prior experience, we are able to translate as “I’m hungry.  You made me leave before I had any breakfast”.

After we’ve stopped for a disgustingly greasy fast food breakfast we are able to hit the highway, just hoping we can avoid any juice/ketchup related accidents serious enough to force us to stop.

Thanks to the miracle of personal technology, once the meal is dispatched, all three children plug themselves in and Hubby and I are free to talk about them without any fear of being overheard.

Ah good times!

As a side note, this year of course, there was also no Easter Bunny.  A sad omission as I’m not sure where my April chocolate fix is going to come from.  It’s a scientific fact that chocolate has no calories when it’s consumed for the altruistic purpose of saving your beloved offspring from the toxic effects of processed sugar.

My next project is going to be perfecting the kind of guilt-inducing maternal martyrdom required to ensure filial presence at the holidays.