As anyone with kids knows, every kid wants a pet. My eldest has been asking for a pet since he could say dog. I am allergic to cats and dogs, but that doesn’t bother him in the least. We gave him a goldfish when he was four and that appeased him for awhile. Until one morning a few months later, when he was found swimming sideways with just one slow moving fin. There my husband and I got a crash course in bereavement in children – they become inconsolable, wailing, flailing creatures that shed rivers of snot all over your new Lululemon hoodie. And we learned that this is definitely not the time to ask when he was last fed.
When it became clear that Fishy could not be resuscitated, we told CJ it was time to send Fishy off to Fish Heaven, but he started shrieking when we started to tip Fishy’s odorous bowl contents into the toilet. Pierced eardrums notwithstanding, we quickly agreed more decorum was needed to properly say good-bye to CJ’s beloved 2 month old pet fish. We drove to the beach, with CJ cradling Fishy’s bowl and floating remains on his lap, giant tears periodically plopping into the cloudy water. We parked and our little procession marched sombrely out to the pier. It was a suitably overcast day, Stan said a few lovely words about Fishy’s short but beautiful life and on CJ’s command, hurled him out to the sea (where he quickly became a snack for a Seagull but I digress). My normally stoic, rough and tumble boy lived on the edge of tears for the next week or so and most definitely did not want another fish to replace Fishy.
Now CJ’s two younger brothers have joined in on the fight – they are all begging/ demanding/ cajoling/ whining/ petitioning me for a dog. Or a cat. Something they can cuddle, which eliminates snakes, birds and all rodents (thank GOD!) from the running. They don’t care that CJ and I are allergic. It seems that every other day a different kid proudly struts around the schoolyard with the cutest puppy in his arms, while the other kids go green with envy. My kids want to strut like those kids. I want my kids to be those kids too, but I can’t be that mother. I can’t. My days of handling excrement are over. Plus those puppies get big in a matter of months and they really do get less cute. Every day I see hapless moms being dragged up and down these North Shore hills, yelling at their clearly hearing-impaired doggy to “stay.” I can see that dogs are just clumsy, rambunctious, adorable, loving toddlers that never grow up. So why would I voluntarily go back to sleepless nights, toilet training, having to hurry home to let the dog out, organizing dog-sitters and a daily crotch-sniff?
Call me selfish, call me mean (my kids do) but I’ve heard enough about Marley & Me to know that your giant, drooling, hairy toddler-esque dog shouldn’t predecease you. After Fishy, I know I just couldn’t handle it.
Growing up a Roman Catholic, I’ve always loved that feeling you get right after you step out of the confessional. 3 Our Fathers and 3 Hail Mary’s away from free at last, free at last, free at last! With my past transgressions absolved, I love that feeling of weightless and beginning anew.
New Years Eve has always had the same effect on me. New calendars, new resolutions, and a new leaf with limitless potential. Now at 41, I should know that there is no new me, just the old me, the same-old swearing, grumpy, disappointed in others me, who’s always trying to squeeze herself into a smaller jean size. But every December 31st, like Pavlov’s dogs, I wipe the skid-marks clean.
This annual cleansing comes with it, a self-imposed pressure to introduce the New Year with a BANG, to give the new me at TA-DA(!) debutante-style welcome. But ever since that New Year’s Eve in Grade 12 when my parents wouldn’t let me go out to unveil the new me, a decree that unravelled the new nicer, happier me in about 10 minutes, I have felt enormous pressure to have a picture perfect New Years Eve.
Totally hot outfit? Check.
Totally hot someone to kiss at the stroke of midnight? Check.
Clear view of Dick Clark/Ryan Seacrest/that Big Apple for the countdown? Check. But even with all the boxes checked, the new me always fizzles out by Valentines Day.
To combat this, this year my lovely husband and I thought we’d try something we’ve only done 3 years in our entire adult lives (the years our children were born), and that is, stay home on New Years Eve. I actually think it was my idea, as the new “I want to be a better mommy” me was percolating in my head. But as the countdown approaches, I’m freaking out a little. All my friends are going out on the town, smelling and looking delicious, ready to ring in the new year! As such, my grumpy, disappointed self has reappeared in Lululemon sweats and has no intention of leaving before midnight. I hope my family understands. At least they’ll be able to recognize me tomorrow morning!
Happy New Year everyone!
The record-breaking sunny weather of late has reminded me of Mary Schmich’s (Chicago Tribune) 1997 essay on “advice, like youth, is probably just wasted on the young” which was popularized when Baz Luhrmann set the words to the funky “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” by Rozalla. Which, incidentally, is NOT available on iTunes in Canada. ARRRRRGH! But, I digress.
10 years older than when I first heard it, and nearly 20 years older than the audience it was intended for (an imaginary commencement ceremony), I am still awed by the power and simplicity of these words. No truer words were ever said. It’s no wonder Lululemon chooses put many of these golden nuggets onto their reusable bags. I had forgotten that Chip Wilson didn’t invent them. (For full text and video click here.)
As I peruse the words again and nod my head to the hypnotic beat, I am struck by the phrase “DO NOT READ BEAUTY MAGAZINES. THEY WILL ONLY MAKE YOU FEEL UGLY.” Having just spent 2 weeks on holiday, I spent some beach time reading magazines – People, In Style, Vanity Fair, Hello!, Shape, etc. – and I felt self conscious in my 40 year old body and felt I should be prettier, thinner, taller, with fantastic hair, a great booty, fully accessorized outfits, armed with the newest eyeshadow application techniques designed to camouflage my wrinkles and wow my man in bed! Everyone in those magazines is younger than me (mostly by a wide margin!) but why on earth am I still drawn to them? Is it because those shots of Britney Spears in a cellulite-baring bikini, make me feel better about how I look in mine? Or do I find it fun to watch young stars like Mischa Barton fizzle out while the world is watching? Or did I need to know that Scary Spice (Mel B) got those six-pack abs by working out with a trainer 6 times a week?
Don’t buy beauty magazines. They not only make you feel ugly, but also stupid, for wasting your time, money and brain energy on them!
In the floating years of high school, I regularly raided my mother’s closet to expand my meagre wardrobe, trying to impress the cool girls with something other than everygirl’s Mariposa. The result however, was that I dressed like a 40 year old virgin – color block dresses, sensible pumps and thick shoulder pads sewn into those blousy, angora-blend sweaters. At university not much later, I explored biker-chic with abandon, and could be found toting a studded black leather jacket and spiral-permed hair at all times. Upon entering the working world in the early 90’s, short tight skirts a la Ally McBeal ruled my day. Once I changed firms and got promoted, “take me seriously” black pantsuits made sure I got the job done.
Looking back, I have to admit that these clothes served as my suits of armor. They costumed and protected me from my developing sense of self. Emulating others, whether they be Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl or Tila Tequila, a different kind of working girl, gave me modus operandi, even if it was not my own.
Three kids later, my new best friend is Lululemon. My body has metamorphosed and I no longer fit my armor. And I no longer have anyone to impress except my kids and my Facebook friends. So, I have finally accepted the fact that I only need to impress myself. Even though skinny jeans are impossible because of them, I love my giant thighs and butt when I’m training for a half-marathon. I love how bouncy my hair gets after sleeping on it wet. I love my biceps (Thunder and Lightening, named after Michelle Obama’s) more every day. Thighs, butt, hair, biceps, and not a stitch of armor anywhere. That’s impressive.