Thursday, 1 November 2012

a mom who drinks and swears

I make fun of the fact that I've come to understand alcoholism since becoming a mom.

It sounds like I am disdaining motherhood. But really, I am praising alcohol.

Really, though, wow. When consumed within reason, it is really a godsend. After a long day of keeping it together (or trying to), of attempting to satisfy multiple people's needs, of fulfilling a myriad of responsibilities, wearing "the professional mask," nothing is better than a beer or a glass of wine at dinner to just unwind, and let it all go: the pretense, the effort, the mind-race, the pressure.

And when I have a drink, I laugh more, I enjoy my kids more, I am a better mom because I am more relaxed.

I do see why it is a fine line between drinking for some peace, unwinding at the end of a stressful day, and drinking to escape reality. And if it weren't for hubby who is really anal about the latter, I think I might actually have to be careful. Thankfully, though (I think), I doubt it will ever get out of hand, because hubby will be there to keep me in check.

For the time being, cheers! :)

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

teaching appreciation?

Is it possible?

My kids act like spoiled brats. They ARE spoiled brats.

And I don't know how that happened. Is it that slippery of a slope to spoildom? Most of what I put in front of them to eat, they whine.

Every night at bedtime, Sebastian has a meltdown.

If as a special treat, I get some ice cream popsicles, Sebastian complains because he wants another one.

When I re-arrange my whole day, bend over backwards to get them to a birthday party, with gift in hand, and ready to play, they come home and have meltdown after meltdown.


I do think that experience more than words is the methodology of choice when it comes to learning. But what am I supposed to do, starve them so they appreciate my meals? Throw away all their toys so that they appreciate the abundance in their life? Do nothing for them so they understand how much time and effort I expend to make them happy? Telling them that most children in the world don't have half of what they have is useless, they can't conceptualize things they've never seen. So what am I supposed to do?!

I can't wait until I can send them on a service-learning trip - send them do some hard labor in a poor country where people with a fraction of what they have are happier and more generous. But alas, they are 5 and 4 years old. It will be a few years yet.

The only thing that keeps me going is that when they are out and about, they are absolute angels - they are only spoiled brats with me. As they say, a true measure of whether a parents is doing a good job is the way they act and behave when they're out in the world.

So maybe I AM doing something right.

Crossing my fingers, that's for sure.

Monday, 29 October 2012

the joy of ironing

Alas, it has happened. I have begun ironing.

It happened suddenly, out of the blue, caught me completely off-guard. It was a combination of seeing SAHM neighbor/southern Italian mamma/friend quickly fold all my laundry on a play date one day this past May, along with a newly renovated and spacious downstairs bathroom with our washer and dryer in one convenient place...

I couldn't help it. I had visions. A long work table. A mini-closet to hang up shirts that are still a little moist. The iron always out on this table.

Now I'm hooked. I can't stand putting clothes away without giving them a quick swish with the iron. I get annoyed when hubby does the laundry (cuz he is still adamantly anti-iron), because they get put away all wrinkly.

I iron underwear. T-shirts. Bibs. Sheets. Jogging pants. Pyjamas.

And I find it calming, therapeutic. It gives me a sense of peace, when everything around me screams chaos. Incredibly, I feel like I have gained an insight into the minds and souls of millenia of mothers who have wasted - or so I thought - countless hours trying to straighten clothes for the sake of some beholder who actually gives a s**t about what our clothes look like.

And you know what the secret is?

It is the joy of seeing a wrong righted. Taking the ugly and chaos of wrinkles, and making them beautiful and orderly. Something all mothers want so desperately to do with our homes, our children, our marriages: take that one little temper tantrum, that one little refusal to eat vegetables, that one little spilled glass of water, one little misunderstanding with hubby, and with a powerful swish of our hand, make it all go away.

Once I was blind. But now I see.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Thank you, Mom, for using your hard-earned salary as a single mom to make sure that you took us on all your vacations with you. When most parents were leaving their children with family or nannies, you were taking us with you to the States, throughout South America, and Europe. Some of my fondest memories are from our annual trips to Peru to visit our family. Those relationships and traditions are still a source of immense joy and richness in my life now, even though I live so far away.

Thank you, Mom, for the stress you put on education, when you sent me to a home stay program France in 10 grade. It was probably one of the most difficult years of my youth, what with the culture shock, separation anxiety, linguistic obstacles, not to mention the usual array of adolescent angst, the things I learned about life, Europe, and my own self, set me on a different path that has made me who I am today.

Thank you, mom, for giving me a sister, who was able to take care of you and accompany you in these painful last few months when I was unable to. Not only was I able to finish my pregnancy knowing that she had a daughter to help her, I have someone with whom to share the memories of you, as only a sibling can. We promise you that we will always stay united, and never let anything divide us.

Thank you, mom , for one of the most important gifts you gave me was the absolute, unconditional and very special love you showered on my children in these past five years. If I had any uninterrupted nights of sleep, or any sleep-ins at all, in the past few years, it is thanks to you. My boys would wake up at the crack of dawn, and go running to your bed to crawl in and watch cartoons snuggled up to you. Not only were you their precious abuelita, who was the source of unrivaled patience, play, toys, giggles, I could tell that in a way, you yearned to give them all the love you felt that I hadn't received enough of growing up.

Mom we love you with all our hearts. We will truly miss you.

Rest in peace, mom

Gloria Marcela Santa Maria Otoya, born in Trujillo, Peru on February 18, 1945, passed away this past Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at the Montreal General Hospital after a courageous fight against lung cancer. Marcela was an energetic, adventurous, feisty and generous woman, who knew how to throw a party, and make all the people in her life feel truly special. She touched everyone profoundly, and will be missed by communities in Canada, Peru, and Italy. She is survived by her two daughters, Christina and Natalie Philpot, her siblings, Danilo, Amalia and Betty Santa Maria, and her three beloved grandsons, Sebastian, Lucas, and Nicolas Airolo. The funeral will be held at Rideau Memorial Gardens on Sources Boulevard at 2:30pm on Friday, May 25, 2012.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

MIL dread

What an infernal 3 days I had when MIL was here. WOWZA. Never thought it could get so bad. She's always been so kind, generous, albeit half-deaf and set in her ways. She's always been a little tough to handle when it's raining - it affects her mood so completely, and she just can't overcome it. Especially during tough times (and these are tough times).

But this time ... WOWZA.

My bro-in-law is divorcing and moving into an apartment. Yes, this is a tragic life event. But my MIL's biggest concern, and one that she holds over our heads, is that there's no one to iron his shirts and prepare his meals. When she goes up to the house, all she sees is what's not done, that her other son will be living in a space that is half the size of our bedroom, etc. Bro -in-law once called her to ask her opinion about what size bed to take. And she was so upset that she couldn't be there to help him decide.

She did NOT want to be here helping us, and she even said so. She did NOT want to take the boys, and she said so.

Did I mention that bro-in-law is a 46-year-old man? That he works in construction? That he works every other day? that he makes double what hubby makes at the fire station?

She's invented excuses to make sure we pick up the boys at 9am sharp on the chosen day. And she's started, as most MILs are wont to do, to passive-aggressively criticize everything I do, say, or don't do, and don't say.

The other day, we went up to see the house, and on the way down, she insisted on stopping so she could pick up a sandwich for herself - she doesn't need anything else. Can you believe this? I was engorged, Nicolas was going to wake up any moment, Lucas is allergic, and she wants me to stop so SHE can buy herself a sandwich. Meanwhile, when I asked her what we should have for lunch, she said, 'I don't know, you didn't tell me anything!' So I had to take out a container from the freezer, when she KNEW that I was saving those for when I was alone with the boys and in a jam.

Moreover, she's started guilt-tripping, that she's not 20 yrs old anymore, that all she wants is respect, while she blatantly disrespects me. She was like this after Lucas was born, but abandoned me at 3 weeks.

Now she's gotten to that state at less than a week.

I am NEVER going to have her over again. She can go iron her 46-year-old son's shirts for the rest of her days, if helping us when it's raining is so tough on her.


third's a charm!

I am terrified of jinxing it, but I have to express my utter amazement, appreciation, gratitude, joy, incredulity at my amazing luck. Nicolas sleep 6-hour stretches at night, is calm, eats well, and doesn't need soother or overly-excessive carrying.

And I am at a complete loss of how this is possible after the hyper-stressful pregnancy I had. I have yelled bloody murder 4 days out of 7 for the past 6 months, have been in a state of intense anxiety with work, the house, Lucas's eczema, my own insomnia and the dread of taking on the challenge of a newborn in this environment. Not to mention the stress of my mom's hospitalization in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy.

And yet, Nicolas is serene, and he emanates tranquility. Hubby and MIL also notice it.

Please, please, please, please, please let this be true and not some oasis of peace before some storm hits!!!

Monday, 16 April 2012

The joys of engorgement

Not. Am sitting here waiting for newborn Nick to wake up so I can get some relief for Right Boob. I am trying to be as happy as I can be that he's eating every 3.5 hours and sleeping well, but if he goes a minute past 3.5 hours, I start to get antsy. Do I go to the trouble of hot pads? How long can this boob withstand engorgement before I end up with mastitis? Should I wake him up? What can I do that can be stopped in an instant cuz he'll surely wake up any second now. And when he does, he'll be screaming high murder from hunger!

Thankfully, I am on day 2 of the Milk Coming In. And Left Boob is almost synchronized with Nick. Pebble-like engorgments are evenly distributed throughout Boob, instead of being a uniform slab of porn-star-dimension granite. Unfortunately, he nursed heavily on Right Boob so it's always engorged and painful.

As engorgement fades, then arrives the agony of severely aggravated cracks and bleeding. Yeah!!!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

stress-free week

... relatively speaking.

I am sleeping at work for the 5 days leading up to big departure day. This is an effort to attenuate the stress in my life in this last month before baby no. 3. I am terrified that if I get too agitated, that Nicolas (yes, we've chosen his name) will be colicky or hyper, or overly excited, etc. Plus, he's going to be an Aries. (yikes!!!!) All I have to think about is work while I'm here: no commute, no shopping, no meal prep, no disciplining, kitchen clean-up. Plus the big bonus of sleeping through the night (!!!!!). I am lightheaded with all this freedom. I can go read, I can blog, I can go for a walk, I can go grab a "drink" with a friend, or I can work, sigh....

I am going to call home and see how the boys are doing.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

to religion or not to religion

Alas, I am about to sign the consent to teach Catholic religion to my son at his elementary school next year. Yes, you can call me a sell-out, or you can call me wise, both are correct.

But to be perfectly honest, I am completely sure of my decision. And this decision is based on two priorities: the desire that my children have a sense of community and belonging; and the important cultural heritage that Catholicism provides. How many nuances and references do I understand thanks to the religious instruction I received growing up? It's certainly given me an advantage, especially in snooty circles.

Now the important thing is they understand it's all bullsh**. That they understand the difference between spirituality and religion; that the two are not one and the same. They will be "allowed" to believe in "God", but they will have to truly understand that all the rituals/sacraments/rules/mythology are human constructions created to comfort humanity. They are allowed to choose to play the game, but they must understand it is a game.

Nam myoho renge kyo.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

childhood forgiveness

Had another lose-my-sh** moment this morning. Completely lost it on Sebastian. I started out patient, reasonable, explanatory, respectful. It soon became threatening, then a time-out, then a spanking on the bum, then a complete breakdown. I told him he could live with us until he's 18, then he's out of here. He can go find a new mommy. Basta, I'm done catering to this spoiled brat. Bla, bla, bla, bla. Then I left the house with Lucas as he cried for me to wait for him (even though I had been asking him for 20 minutes to put on his running shoes that he begged me to buy a few weeks back but that now he H*A*T*E*S and refuses to wear...).

I ALMOST told him I didn't love him anymore. Yup. I was that close. I held back, I have no idea, but somewhere in the back of my head I knew I couldn't do that.

We got to pre-school, and I was still feeling physically ill from all the anger and frustration mixed in with a wee bit of guilt, but still mostly fuming with frustration. I wanted not even to kiss him good-bye and "punish" him. There again, I did not give in to my basic, cruel, animal instincts. When we got into school, it was as if nothing had happened. He completely forgot. He was back to his usual shy, sweet, self, and covered me with kisses as I left.

Yeah, I know. Crazy, eh?

Tonight, when we were getting ready for bed, he randomly said, with a big smile on his face, that now he likes his shoes.

Go figure.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

my big, fat, pregnant body

I have, once again, gained too much weight during pregnancy. But this time, it isn't only because of overeating, but because I never move! I am always sitting, and have no time or place to actually move. The week that I was at ski week, where I snowshoed or moved every day, I didn't gain a gram. I got back to work, 1.5 kg in a week. There is little I can do about it. We are in the apartment, with no garden so I can't just take walks in circles. I have to drive the kids to school, drive to work, sit at my desk and work furiously (i.e., stressed) for a few hours, drive back to pick up the kids, and then go home. Hubby is up at the house all day every day.

I can't WAIT to do a spinning class again. To go anaerobic! To huff and puff and feel that runner's high after. To sleep well because I moved. To lose all these pregnancy reserves.

Unfortunately, I will be having a c-section, which makes me mostly immobile for at least 2 weeks, and unable to do any real exercise for at least a month.

Yuck yuck yuck.

scratch, scratch, itch, itch

Lucas every night scratches his eczema as a way to post-pone bedtime. He hasn't had an actual allergic outbreak in weeks. But he is carrying these terrible scars/scabs for months now. The ones that started soon after his last cortisone/antibiotics/antihistamine dose. Every time I think it's about to go away (after applying cortisone cream multiple times a day and hydrating him non-stop), bed time comes along. It is exasperating and driving both hubby and I completely bonkers. And I can't get a friggin appointment with another allergist pediatrician. Ugh.

He's supposed to outgrow it.

Yeah, but when? At what cost? Will I be able to sleep at any point before then? Will he be permanently scarred, literally?

Then I am told to give him small doses of parmesan to get his immune system used to it. Yeah, but if he's scratching without an outbreak, imagine what disaster could happen if I start this home-diagnosis. I want him all cleaned up before I start that.




pre-schooler anger

I have a 5-year-old teenager. Yup. Thought it was a phase, but I have a feeling phases don't last years... Unless it's adolescence!

Sebastian spends most of his days complaining, whining, crying, calling me mean, telling me to go away, and giving me dirty looks. The catalysts? Telling him it's bedtime, it's mealtime, it's time to go to school, it's time to go home, it's time to go out and play, it's Lucas's turn to choose the book first, Lucas won the race this time, no, it's not your turn again. The list goes on. I've tried all the tricks: countdown time (i.e., ten minutes to bedtime! the logic being that it doesn't just pop up on him out of nowhere!); choices (i.e., we are going to play outside today - do you want to take your bike or go for a walk by the lake? the logic being he's in control); reasoning with him (i.e., explaining WHY we have to eat, and sleep, and put our running shoes on the day they have gym at pre-K); setting alarms (i.e., "when the alarm goes off, it means we have to put our jackets on..." the logic being that he doesn't feel like mommy is controlling everything); routine (i.e., our days don't change that much on a daily basis, apparently children thrive on that). And it often ends up with my losing my sh** and doing precisely what my mother used to do: guilt him or shame him or force him with threats to do what he needs to do.

What is in store for me when the hormones start flowing?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

stress and adrenaline, oh yeah!

I chose my job mostly because it is very stimulating and gives me a regular rush of adrenaline. I have a chronic case get-bored-quickitis) , and so I need a job that keeps me on my toes. The only problem is that I am now preggers, and that stuff ain't no good for baby!

With Sebastian, my water broke a month early probably due to intense stress (first year hazing in my new job, buying a house, moving, etc.). With Lucas, I spent most of the last trimester lounging at the lake. With Nicolas, I will have spent most of the second and third trimester working hard, taking care of two pre-schoolers, and dealing with the renovations on the house. Granted, I have a great work environment (I passed that toxic initiation from when I first started!), and I work part-time, and I can mostly do my job blind-folded...

BUT, I am really noticing the Braxton-Hicks contractions, my sensitivity to stress, and the flow of adrenaline through my body was almost palpable on departure day last October. I am entering into one of my busiest month of the year, as well as one of my last months of pregnancy.

And I need to stay calm.


Exactly. It's like telling the blind man to watch where he's going.

Apparently, stress and depression on pregnant women has a lasting effect on their babies in utero. In fact, doctors often think the damage of depression on the fetus far outweighs the potential side effects of anti-depressants. I am convinced that part of my high-strung, high-anxiety tendencies are due to the miserable time my mom had when preggers with me. It was aggravated by a messy divorce and lots of instability in early childhood, but it started in the womb.


Basically, I don't want to pump Nicolas with stress hormones and adrenaline just weeks before he's born. Who knows what nightmare of a colicky baby I'll end up with!


Breathe in, breathe out.... breathe in, breathe out....

the most awesomest blogpost!

WOWZA! I could have written the article myself that's how identical the author's feelings and thoughts are to my own!