Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Long Haul

I realize that there are many women who do this alone, either some or all of the time. Around here, their partners work at remote mine sites. They fight wildfires, stationed in the bush in the territory or flown out to help in other provinces, sometimes gone for weeks. 

Women's partners are long-haul truckers, or in the military, or just not there at all, ever. So many women do this all alone, all of the time.

After a day like yesterday, where P is out the door at 7:30 a.m. and doesn't pull into the driveway until 7 p.m., I find myself wondering how these women do it. How do they go for days, or weeks, or years as the primary caregiver? As the only adult in the house, all day long? How do they make time for that mythical beast called self-care? How do they fill the well? How do they not lose their minds? 

Or maybe they do. 

Lose their minds, that is. I know I feel close to it on these particular days. I find myself resenting being stuck out here alone for such long stretches of time. I pace within these log walls, or without, in the clearing around the house, swatting at mosquitoes and wishing someone would pull into the driveway, anyone, and not just to turn around and drive back to the gas station at the corner. I'm armed with tea and a wild 3 year old and a sweet baby. I'll invite you in, I swear!

In the absence of (grown) human contact, I find myself spending too much time on the internet, never really making much of a connection there, either. I sing "Mr. Lonely" in my head and feel sorry for myself and then tell myself to cut it out, shake it off. I wash the dishes, I build a block tower and watch the baby knock it over. I count the minutes until. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Tiny Guru

I recently read somewhere on the internet that "mothering is the shortest and steepest path to enlightenment."

I've been trying to keep that in mind lately as I navigate this sometimes maddening world of life with an almost three year old. Because there is no sense to those little people.

For example, Aedan has recently decided that spitting is really hilarious. Especially spitting on me. And there is nothing that enrages me quite like that. The anger is instant, and intense, and I just don't know what to do with it sometimes.

Last night, on my own because P had to work late, I cycled through all of my "tools". I told him sternly that we don't spit at people, that it is disrespectful. He laughed gleefully and spat upon me again. 

I told him again, with the same result. 

I tried ignoring him for awhile (which is really hard to do). No dice. 

Then I wanted to smack him, but I'm pretty sure that's not allowed, so instead I put myself on time out. I told him that Mama was really angry, and she was going to sit upstairs for a minute.

As I sat on our bed in the loft--with Aedan crying and banging on the gate across the bottom of the stairs--I wondered: what would the Buddha do if his almost three year old wouldn't stop spitting on him? What would Jesus do? Would they be calm and peaceful? Would they not react at all? I started to calm down a bit.

And then I realized that if the Buddha or Jesus ever had a child, it was likely home spitting on its mother while the enlightened ones were out meditating under a tree somewhere.

In the end, I declared bed-time. As Aedan flopped around in the bed, not at all tired or ready to sleep, I lay beside him, thinking about enlightenment and hoping that that anonymous person on the internet is right, and that I am on that path right now, my little guru cracking the whip over my shoulder, and spitting on the back of my head for good measure.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Just doing something...

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

DCMF 2014

Oh, Music Fest. The weekend I've loved to hate since my first summer in Dawson, when my boss offered me a pass to the entire festival, and then asked me to work double shifts all weekend. Maybe my dislike of the festival is really just me being crabby that I can't just relax and enjoy it.


"Kid's Fest" happens on Saturday, from 11-2 or something like that, in the main tent. Tante Cat wanted to come with me and the boys this year. At 9 am Saturday morning, I receive the following message from her:

"I'm just going to bed now. Should be good to go for noon."

Tante Cat is a bartender at the Pit. She also loves to party. And she loves my boys.

After some back and forth about meeting at the tent vs picking her up at her house, she finally writes:

"Let's be honest here. Can you just pick me up at the Pit?"

So with that determined, I commence operation Prepare Aedan to Leave the House. It takes a lot of warning and discussion to get an almost 3 year old ready to leave. I had to make promises of balloons and a "treat" at the festival grounds. But it worked, and we were on the road by 11.

We hadn't been on the road for more than 5 minutes when Aedan said: "Uh oh. He's scratching his face!"  A moment later, Collie began to wail. I pulled over, jumped out of car to assess the damage, and began to wail myself. The whole side of Colm's face was covered in blood. His hand was covered in blood. His shirt collar: covered in blood.

We turned around, got him cleaned up at home, put on the sock mitts for the first time in a long time, and then got back into the car, headed to town for the second time. I was dreading the festival now, because taking a baby with a severe eczema flare out into public means you either get lots of unsolicited advice, or people awkwardly not mentioning it at all.

However. The balloons. And the treat.

After a quick stop at the farmer's market, I swung by the Pit, making my way past the gauntlet of drunk people from Whitehorse to find my friend and drag her out to the car. We headed over to the festival grounds.

As soon as we set foot in the tent, full of little kids and their parents and face paint and balloons and a woman playing a ukelele, I panicked. I froze.

"Okay," I said to Cat. "I'm good. Let's go."

But the balloons! The treat!

The look of joy on Aedan's face as he ran into the fray and stole a red balloon from some kid was enough to make me choke back my panic and relax and even enjoy myself a little bit.

I chatted with other moms (and eczema only came up twice, not bad) and nursed my baby and watched Tante Cat enjoy her buddy and then we got Aedan some mini pancakes all covered in maple syrup because he loves maple syrup. Then I took Cat home so she could sleep, and we all drove home again. Both boys passed out before we were even out of city limits.

Maybe after 9 years and 2 kids, I'm finally getting the hang of this music festival business. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Learning to accept where I'm at

While I was recently back in Ontario for a visit, I flipped through a few of my old journals. The ones from high school were just plain embarrassing. So much angst! But most interesting was the journal from 2005/06. That was the year I first came to Dawson--and then went back to Ontario with my tail between my legs.

That first summer was a confusion of emotion. I was exhilerated by making such a huge change in my life. I was also incredibly lonely. In reading through that journal, I was struck by how badly I wanted to go "home". I stuck it out because I felt like I had to. I was also under the infamous "spell of the Yukon". That fall, when I went back to London, all I wrote about was...wanting to be back in Dawson.

Since then, I've alternately felt completely at home here, and like I can't get out fast enough. And here I am again, dissatisfied with what I've got, yearning for something else. It seems to me I've spent much of the last 10 years in this mental state. What an exhausting waste of my energy!

I've said it once before here: I'm not happy on the Dempster. I know there are people who thrive on this kind of lifestyle, who would give anything to live exactly where I do. But it turns out I am not one of those people. I long to go for a walk and pass people on the street. To take the kids to the park when we're all losing it, without having to pack the car for a "town day". I miss friends dropping by for tea. It makes fir a great story to see a wolf in the yard, but I miss having human neighbours. I want to live in town again.

That being said, I don't live in town. Moving to town is not  going to happen any time soon. So, for myself and also for my kids, I must choose to accept what we've got here, and to thrive where I've been planted. It's okay to feel how I do, it's okay to want something different, but it's not okay to react with sadness and anger.. It's not okay to feel "stuck" here. This is where we are right now, but I need to remember that all things are in constant flux. Nothing is fixed; not one single thing about life is permanent and unchanging. Even the mountains around me are very slowly changing, worn by wind and rain and freezing and thawing, by the slow and subtle shifts we can't see. 

For now I must try to relish this unique life I'm living, these moments that will never exist again. To focus my energy on embracing each day, accepting it as it comes, no matter how it comes, and seeing the beauty in that. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Super powers

Some time ago, while trying to get Aedan moving, I said something like: "Do you want me to carry you or are you going to move under your own power?"

In his head, that has somehow become his "super powers".

So, for example, if we're crossing the street and I try to hold his hand, he'll exclaim: "I just want to do it under my super powers!" 

It's pretty funny. I didn't want to forget it, so now here it is, forever remembered on the internet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

9 months

Oh my little Collie-saur, you have been on this earth 9 months now.

You love to eat dirt and you try to eat rocks but I generally discourage you because your teeth! You have four, almost five, teeth. They all seemed to come in at once around 7 months, and it didn't seem to bother you at all.

You've started to crawl, inspired, I think, by spending time with your slightly older cousin, Hunter, who is a very adept crawler, indeed. When you crawl, you sort of have one leg up like you're going to walk on it, bent at the knee, foot on the floor. It's really cute. You love to stand and you're finally pulling yourself up on furniture. It gives my arms a break.

Your eyes are still blue, though sometimes they look green-grey. Your eyelashes are crazy long, and they curl! You're finally getting more hair, and it seems to be darkening a bit.

Your eczema is mostly under control these days, as long as I keep my diet clean. We've discovered that eggs, dairy and wheat all cause it to flare. I miss cheese the most, and milk chocolate...and bread. But I look at pictures of you at your worst, your whole head inflamed, skin weeping, and it's worth it. You're slowly exploring foods yourself: carrots, broccoli, sweet potato and blueberries so far. Mama's milk is still definitely your favourite.

You laugh easy, especially at your big brother.

You have dimples on the backs of your hands.

You love the water, and the swings.

We are so grateful to have you in our lives. Thanks for joining us!