Made for each other.

Normally, a February visit to the playground wouldn’t be my idea of a good time. But with record-breaking mild temperatures this week in southern Ontario, it seemed wrong not to go.

True, things were a bit soggy. But pools of melted snow, evidently, are even more fun than the swings and slides. In fact, when they’re located directly beneath the swings and slides, they improve the experience.

The best is when there’s a lake underneath the park bench.

*(Note: check boots for holes before visiting the soggy playground).

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Rubber boots and muddy puddles are a naturally perfect pairing for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge (A Good Match).

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Simple pleasures.

In my opinion, 8 degrees Celsius isn’t really a warm enough outdoor temperature in which to remove one’s winter gear and fling it onto the pavement in sad, crumpled heaps. Apparently, my kids disagree.

I let it go. We were all just happy to feel the sunlight on our faces.

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My space.

Dear, sweet children:

I adore you with all my heart, but please, please, please: I prefer to go to the bathroom all by myself. Now that you’re a little older, no longer is it required that you accompany me out of safety, and accompanying me because you’re bored is just not a good enough reason, in my opinion.

At times you’ve observed that I spend “a long time” in there. This may or may not be due to the fact that I’m hiding from you.

Please understand that your mother is an introvert, and as such, enjoys and requires a certain amount of space and absence of noise in order to function properly. Failure in this regard will almost certainly result in the loss of my marbles.

I assure you that while I often need a few moments of solitude, you remain, forever and always, my truest loves.

Even if I lock you out of the bathroom while I’m in there, doing nothing but staring off into space, with my hands over my ears.

Affectionately yours,

Mom

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(Inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitude)

Ruffled.

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Having kids means having no shortage of random items to photograph on lousy winter days.

I’ve started a list of examples:

 

P.S.
Thanks to Narami for hosting Tuesdays of Texture.

A.K.A.

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For the past decade or so, I’ve been known by another name.

Mom.

At our house, this name has been whispered softly and yelled in frustration. It’s been called out at 3 a.m. when there’s been a nightmare, mumbled through tears when there’s been a boo-boo, and shouted in excitement when I’ve returned home from being away.

Sometimes I’ll be downstairs, busy with something, and I’ll hear this name hollered from the second floor. If I take too long (i.e., more than a millisecond) to answer, I’ll be called again. Again. And again. With barely a breath in between.

If I’m sure that no one is seriously hurt and the house isn’t on fire, I’ll pretend that I can’t hear, because I prefer to be spoken to instead of hollered at. Then I’ll remember (too late) that a. I can hear; and b. the sound of “Mom” 100 times in a row is likely a proven cause of insanity. (Later, I’ll learn that the urgency was something like this: “I can’t find my green marker.”)

I’ve learned to recognize different tones. Certain situations, for example, call for “Mom” to be extended into a two-syllable word. A meek “Maw-awm?”means the children are about to ask for something like a treat or extra screen-time. “Maw-awm?” also comes in a more assertive and inquisitive version when they’re looking for information, like the meaning of a word.

And there’s the exasperated “Maw-awm!” (accompanied by an eye-roll) when I’ve provided a directive that is, apparently, just ridiculous – like this one: “It’s -15 degrees out, please wear your hat.”

Okay, so “Mom” isn’t always music to my ears. But when it is… it really is.

There are mornings I gently wake my kids in their beds, when they’re relaxed and unself-conscious, their eyes still closed because they’re only halfway out of dreamland. They raise their arms for a hug, and their skin is warm and their hair smells like lavender shampoo, and their breath is sour but it doesn’t matter, because in their sleepiness they greet me by murmuring the sweetest variation of my other name: “Mama.”

I make an effort – when life is busy and stressful, I don’t always succeed – to hold on to these moments. Tightly. Even if we’ve slept in and we’re running late, even (especially) if we had a fight the day before about chores, or behaviour, or winter hats.

I want to etch these moments into my brain, into my heart; preserve them so I can call them forth for comfort later, during my inevitable moments of doubt and anxiety. Savour them down the road, when my nest is empty and there are no longer any mornings quite like these.

Mother is more than a name. It’s a noun, an adjective, and a verb. It’s a role, a responsibility, a relationship. It’s a way of being, an identity.

I’ve learned that Mom is a pretty powerful word, even if it’s uttered only once.

 

(Inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Names)

Bling, p. 2.

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You may remember that my kids were allowed to rummage through the clearance shelf to choose a Christmas stocking for next year, and that my daughter made sure she picked the sparkliest of the bunch.

This isn’t surprising. She likes frills, hot pink, and leopard-skin print. She’s the “fancy” one. (Interestingly, she declared that she inherited her “fancy” style from her Grandma – my mom – and that it must have skipped a generation).

Her brother generally prefers sweatpants and hoodies, in grey, black, or – when he’s in the mood for a splash of colour – dark blue. He refers to his style as “casual.”

Before we packed up Christmas, I zoomed in for an abstract shot of my son’s new stocking – a red one with a woven satin weave. Understated, but classy. Simple, but festive. Somewhere in between casual and fancy.

I think his sister was impressed.

 

(Thanks to Narami for collecting textures each Tuesday)

A room of one’s own.

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Originally, the tiny cardboard home pictured was designed, built, and decorated for our household population of stuffies.

They hung out in there for a while. A unicorn and a hippo and one of Santa’s elves, among others, cohabited peacefully in somewhat cramped conditions. Eventually, they seemed to find their way back to other, more conspicuous locations (sprawled on beds, stairs, dining room tables, etc.). Still, the kids didn’t want to part with this box.

Then, we got kittens. Sometimes, they pretend some small prey has scurried into the box. There’ll be a lot of commotion coming from inside, and when we peek in the door, a cat will glare back at us, looking annoyed at having been disturbed, but also slightly embarrassed about having been caught pouncing on a non-existent enemy.

Anyway, this cardboard box got me thinking about space. Our personal space, our longing for a place of our own.

As kids, we were forever building blanket/snow/cardboard forts, or climbing into tents or closets or other household nooks and crannies. A kid with a treehouse was the envy of the neighbourhood. Even our dolls had miniature houses.

My kids, too, are charmed by tiny spaces. They’re getting pretty creative with their blanket forts – now they’re being designed with multiple rooms and entrances.

I wonder if the childlike attraction to small spaces has something to do with our innate desire for security, for protection. For privacy – to have a warm, secluded place to be alone with our books or our Ninja Turtles or our Pokémon cards. Where we can be ourselves, separate from the real world, which is filled with boring things like adults and chores and vegetables.

Other times, when we share these special spaces, maybe it’s a means of bonding with our selected siblings or friends – a restricted turf that’s ours, and only ours. We’re part of something. We belong.

Maybe our makeshift rooms are just safe places where we can pretend we’re bears, or astronauts, or dragon-slayers.

Or wild cats, hunting our prey.

 

(A rather unusual submission for Norm’s Thursday Doors)