St Valentine’s Day

St Valentine’s Day.

If there’s any day of the year to be suspicious, this literally should be the day. With the exception of days like Friday the 13th or April fools, maybe even the Ides of March, no other day of the year carries such a heavy burden.

The burden of love and romance.

This is a day people dread, both as a single person or as part of a couplet.

Men generally dread it far more as half of a significant other, or so I understand,

aware that their performance on this day can haunt them until the following year.

Women often dread it as a singleton, the weight of other people’s expectations or comments an irritating reminder of society’s failings.

I have spent many years as a single woman, far more than I’ve spent in the couple format, and I fondly remember anti-valentines bowling parties,

Holly driving the wrong way down a one-way street in Winnipeg,

Glow bowling with beers and pizza.

Drinks at a pub with Rachel and her vodka-with-a-spoon.

For many years, my friends helped me enjoy V-Day in truly memorable ways, and now my husband has taken up the gauntlet.

I’m sitting on a small break from our impromptu date, stomach full of amazing Italian food from our local resto,

smiling.

I truly expected nothing today.

Our 8th valentines together, recently suffering through virus after virus, children vomiting, coughing, home from school and miserable.

So far, 2018 has been a blur of illness, so the shock of a date today, the day of all expectations and societal pressure, was something I wasn’t expecting at all.

That made it all the sweeter.

We may not be starcrossed lovers married under stealth by a priest, or movie stars that can jet off to Rome,

But a little Italian restaurant a mile from my house is a little slice of romance that I can get behind.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there, whatever you’re choosing to do this year.

Heavy

My stomach feels as though it’s lined with a weight.

Loaded up with rocks and set adrift in the ocean.

I could lecture myself all day about the need to breathe and stay positive, but today just isn’t one of those days.

Something in the air, perhaps.

Or maybe it’s the number 13.

I’ve always felt thirteen was a good number for me, as I’ve never been associated with the Templar knights, and my superstitions don’t extend that way.

I’m wallowing through the day with my lead shoes, wondering what exactly I’ve done to have such a heavy load.

I know that this feeling is temporary, but oh, it’s enormous, and as hard to scale as the mountains that are outside my window.

I look at them, snow covered and majestic, and remind myself that this is all so temporary in comparison.

And suddenly I can breathe again,

For a little while, at least.

Everyday magic

Why do I love writing?

For the same reason that I love to read.

In only seconds, I can fall through into a new world, far from whatever is going on around me.

In a flash, I can be sailing on the ocean,

Fighting pirates for the gold.

I can be feeling the absolute devastation

Of love’s labour lost

Or I can conjure a spell of such power

That no one can defeat me.

Ever since I was a small child, words have enthralled me,

called me,

soothed me,

enlightened me,

Fulfilled me.

I couldn’t live a life without stories.

If there is one thing that I need to live outside of the basics of food, shelter, water,

it is the magic within a good story.

Winter Sunday dreaming

The weekend blurred again, far too short to accomplish everything in my list.

Some things have to be done, like laundry and dishes, but all the others were once again relegated to the pile of

“when I get around to it”

As much as I love to make lists, the best mneumonic I’ve ever found is caffeine. Somehow, it allows me to focus on the list and actually accomplish a few of the many tasks ahead.

But this Sunday wasn’t one of accomplishment or list completion.

Instead, it was a quiet day where I spent time with the kids and tidied, ran on the treadmill and read a book while my little guy had a nap,

content in the knowledge that I was close by.

Where I had Chinese food with friends and dreamed about vacations in the winter. We finished the night off with chocolate cake and ice cream and I put my children to bed,

dreaming of beaches and sunny days.

The eyes of my child

My little one was sad today.

He missed me, and didn’t want me to go. So, instead of having a date of running errands with my husband, I was greeted with my two men when I came out of the dealership.

I’d dropped off the car for routine oil change and work, and came to the van to find a face as bright as the sun smiling back at me.

“Mommy!”

One word conveyed everything. His joy, his utter love and devotion. I felt overjoyed that he’d insisted on coming with daddy to pick me up.

He was a little gentleman the entire time. Holding my hand, hugging my leg.

He ate my sausages at breakfast, calling them hot dogs, lost his mind over a strawberry milkshake, and colored on the kids menu.

He was ecstatic to shop with me at Walmart, and sat proudly upright in the cart, asking to help and paying with the “green button”.

He helped me pump gas, with another giant smile.

We watched a movie at home, and he buzzed around, dancing at the end to the credits,

“Bin me mommy! Bin me!

We spun around to Bad to the Bone, and it was the best Saturday ever.

Today I saw myself through the eyes of my biggest fan, and my heart was full.

Goodnight

She said her goodbyes today

Her

“I’ve had a great life,

and oh, the times I’ve had”

I smiled and tried to brush

the implications aside,

said

“I’ll see you next week.”

She smiled,

closed her eyes,

but didn’t respond.

Suddenly,

just when I thought she’d fallen asleep,

her eyes opened,

sharpened,

“Look after him for me,”

she said.

Angelic were her eyelids,

with snow capped lashes

under diamond white hair.

I was in the presence of peace,

A soul at rest,

ready to leave

on it’s next journey.

I smiled,

and said I’d see her soon.

And yes, I would take care of him.

I walked away,

holding back my tears

Realizing that if I could simplify my life

to that state of grace,

allow her to go

with joy in my heart,

We’d both be able to smile

at the goodbye.

But instead I’m left hollow,

feeling the dimming

of one more star

In the beautiful night.

So what I’m still a rock star

I’ve figured out that February is a hard month for my hair.

Looking back every year around this time, I am overwhelmed with the need for change- but change is hard when you have responsibilities and people you care about sometimes.

So, I’ve apparently been taking it out on my hair for many years.

Usually going short, or red, occasionally blonder.

I tend to keep it close to nature, never quite getting to the secret punk rocker I’ve always wanted to be, but

have always been too practical to actually be.

Today, I took it to a place I’ve never been.

I finally did it!

I feel like I could get up on stage and belt out a song by Pink.

But it’s 8:30 and I’m tired.

So, maybe I’ll save that for tomorrow.

The night shift

The longest day in the calendar is the one where you didn’t sleep the night before. It appears the gastro has descended on the house of Gooden.

It made its appearance with the sounds of my toddler throwing up at midnight. And one am, two am, three am, four am, and then it was time to go to work again.

I felt as if I’d been on call for the entire night on peds ward during rotavirus season, but without the option of going home at the end of the shift.

Instead, I woke up with sandpapered eyes and the tired taste in my mouth, which reminded me of far too many late nights at the hospital.

Through some miracle of caffeine, I powered myself through until five pm.

Luckily, there were no giant struggles, no life or death moments that I had to be at my peak to deal with.

But by the time I returned home, I was spent. Completely and utterly ready for bed at 5 pm.

I remember how exhausted I’d be when I came home after a 36 hour shift, how grateful to fall into my bed at two pm and sleep until six the next morning to do it all over again.

How sometimes I didn’t see the sun for weeks at a time, working from dark until dark until dark.

And how much more exhausting it is now to have children and work and adult responsibilities.

Now I look back on those shifts, 1-in-3 or 4, missing every third or fourth night of sleep for work, and think how lovely it was to the post-call sleep.

I can’t remember when I slept through the night last. I’m bewildered by the idea that I used to need eight to ten hours of sleep to function.

Now I glory in six full hours in a row.

Maybe I’m getting tougher with time?

Or maybe it’s being a mother that has tempered me.

Forged in the heat of sleepless nights, I am now able to function with so much less rest than I would have dreamed at twenty,

When I still had dreams at night.

Let sleeping toddlers lie

My little man is growing up.

I’m watching him with mixed feelings as he snores on my lap.

Having refused a nap earlier, he’s already passed out, an hour before his regular bedtime.

He’s getting so big.

Talking and telling funny stories (well, he thinks they are at least. I usually have no idea why he’s laughing)

He’s now enrolled in preschool.

For September, but that will come fast. He’s learning all kinds of things,

Far faster than I can handle.

My baby isn’t a baby.

Oh sure, he still loves snuggles,

but now he says yes and no,

and they are all on his terms.

He makes the rules, he throws tantrums and whatever he gets his hands on.

And he loves kisses and chocolate and cashews.

Heaven help me if I wake him up trying to put him into bed.

Wish me luck and all the angels to keep him asleep.

Citizen’s arrest

Do you have a permit for that anxiety?

Sometimes it would be nice if a police officer could stop you for thinking nonsense.

Someone to hold up their hand and blow a whistle,

flag you down and give you a ticket.

Say “back off, get your own sandwich”, or something similar.

A thought blocker like that would be handy the minute you start to spiral,

Into whatever ninth circle of hell your thoughts take you to.

Whether it’s finances, relationships, time.

Whatever causes the stress, or maybe all of them together in one giant ball,

A spirally swirl of mocha coloured madness,

Roll it up and throw it in the garbage,

And walk away whistling

While the cop keeps the bad thoughts under arrest on the next street over.