Part Two: The Night Of The Living Helicopter Parents

This post continues where my previous one left off. If you do not share a minimum of 25% of either my DNA or aren’t a close family friend, you’re probably going to find this as boring as watching competitive cross stitch competitions. I suggest you bail now. Unless you have insomnia in which case- you’re welcome. Now you can save that Xanax for a night when you truly need it.

After the mall, we quickly hopped back into the bike to go see all of our three year old’s favourite decorations. In addition to hugging the blow up cats, monkeys and Halloween dogs, Mini-Tex of course had to tell each inflatable a story, and ask them questions. Thus started the routine of the evening, where the homeowner would come to the door after hearing voices, then stand and watch as our son mauled their decorations with hugs. The candy bearers were quite patient- they’d stand there for five minutes.

Mini-Tex, having finished his job of hugging the inflatable decorations, would head back to the bike to be ferried onto the next set of blow up decorations to be hugged, leaving the puzzled homeowner to wave their candy at him from the door. One woman even chucked a bag of chips at our bike when she realized that we weren’t going to come to her door. Mini-Tex’s entire raison d’etre was the decorations. The candy was a nice but completely unnecessary addition.

There were at least a dozen houses that we visited where we didn’t even bother ringing the doorbell. We just left. So this totally solidified our son’s assumption that Halloween was all about kissing and making friends with inflatable lawn ornaments.

Something you’ve undoubtedly realized is- I love Halloween. I don’t love getting dressed up. I don’t love decorating my house but I adore watching a parade of little people live out their dreams for one night. I’ve spent many years living in accommodations that children would never visit; above a doctor’s office, in apartment buildings, the list goes on. In the past, I’ve found friends who were willing to host me for the night. “I’ll bring the candy and dinner, you just have to let me squat in your front entrance for the evening” was always my agreement.

In the absence of trick or treaters, I’ve even been the creepy lady sticking her head out the front door when a group appears down the street, yelling at the children “I have candy! Lots of candy!” And it’s true, I heap the sugar upon the little people, like I’m at a costumed strip club and making it rain Hersheys. Wow. I just took an already awkward interaction and made it worse.

I ask every little person, “And what are you?” with all of the earnestness of Mr. Rogers. I fawn, I high five, I tell the trick or treaters how pretty/spooky/imaginative they are. Heck, I even like the sullen teenagers in plain clothes who show up at ten o’clock at night. The point is: I truly love Halloween.

Having now taken an adorable little person around for all Hallows Eve, it turns out- I’m not the only one.

Tex and I came up with a game plan while our son was napping. Start at the mall, bike to the opposite side of the city and make our way back to our house stopping at only the high yield houses. Meaning the houses with either three blow up decorations or more, or the ones with super neat decorations. For example the house with what looked like an ordinary inflatable giant pumpkin but actually played Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and had lights on the inside so the face of the Jack-o-lantern changed making it appear that the pumpkin was singing the music. That was cool. We spent ten minutes camped out on that person’s lawn dancing and whooping it up. We wanted to see every one of those places in town.

This meant that there was a little old lady who watched our trio go from well decorated house to well decorated house on her street. She had gotten into the spirit, but her decorations were small and dated. Also it was getting late. Abruptly, as we were about to walk up her driveway, I insisted we return to our bike and head to a warm place to give Mini-Tex dinner. My husband agreed and we turned around. The lady watched forlornly from her window as we walked away. Once it became clear that we were about to leave, she ran out onto her porch waving a giant bag of candy. “Don’t I get to see the little one?” she cried.

I felt awful. Not just because I had now seen myself in thirty years’ time, but because I was disappointing a woman who was the spitting image of a grandmother stereotype; the kind of lumpy figure that gives out amazing hugs, short cut hair curled perfectly with rollers that she sleeps in and wire frame spectacles. She was even wearing a grandma style sweatshirt.

The problem with driving a bike is that you can’t roll up your windows or make a fast getaway. “Get pedaling” I hissed at Tex as the septuagenarian contemplated whether she was going to run down the street after us. We waved jauntily as we cycled away, watching the poor old lady deflate like a balloon after a birthday party in the bike’s rearview mirror. Apparently there are people who love this holiday as much as I do.

Luckily the hospital where Tex works is halfway in between our house and the opposite side of the city. I was on the verge of hypothermia while Tex was on the verge of a meltdown from too many layers. He quickly shucked a shirt and long johns so I could put them on. In the meantime, Mini-Tex was having the dinner of his life, sausage pieces with a side of Smarties and juice to wash it down.

Juice is not a beverage that makes an appearance in our household. Ever. It is also heavy, relative to chips. It was decided, in the interest of storage space and weight, that we would open every juice box that Mini-Tex had been given up to that point. So for dinner he had a smorgasbord of juice. Between that and the dual parent dressing moment earlier, Tex and I should get an award. I’m not sure which one- whatever the parenting version of a Razzie is likely.

By the time we finished our dinner, it was seven. Reasonable, good parents would have recognized that the evening had been sufficiently fun and called it a night. But as established by our actions, we are not those people. So back into the bike we went, to hug the mummy blow up and shake the hand of the baby monster. Tex wins an additional award for not tripping over the thousands of guide wires securing the nine blow up decorations at the mummy house as he lifted our son from one decoration to another in the pitch black garden.

It was shortly after that when I realize that although we had put out a giant bowl of candy next to our three pumpkins for trick-or-treaters, I had neglected to turn on the porch light because it was four o’clock in the afternoon when we left. Meaning that, at the end of the night, we would return to a giant bowl of candy.

After a quick stop to hug the moving, fake fire breathing dragon, we headed home. Oh sorry, dragon-food eating dragon. Weeks ago, while I was strapping my three year old into the bike after visiting the library across the street from the dragon, Mini-Tex asked me “What is the dragon eating?” not realizing that there was something in the dragon’s mouth, I gave him what seemed like an obvious answer- dragon-food. Then of course we rode by the house and I realized that the dragon was breathing fire. But by then the damage had be done and the fire was henceforth known as “dragon-food”. No amount of correcting could convince our son otherwise.

Tex pedaled us quickly across town and I ran into our house to refill the candy bowl a bit and turn on the light.

OK, rant. What happened to all the greedy little miscreants who empty candy bowls? I was depending on them! Otherwise I wouldn’t have purchased three boxes of treats. I swear every single kid must have respectfully taken one lone piece and left the rest. Who raised these excessively polite children with endless reserves of willpower?  What is our world coming to when we can’t rely on the candy grubbing nature of the youth?

Also, I forgot the part when we stopped at the local nursing home. When my grandmother was alive, despite how desperately painful and embarrassing the experience was due to my toddler’s behaviour, I would always bring Mini-Tex to visit her. Little kids bring old people joy. Small children dressed up for any reason bring lots of joy. So we stopped at the local nursing home. As it turned out, we entered through the dementia wing just as they were sitting down to dinner. Mini-Tex wandered around and said “Hello” to all of the residents. They were delighted. One of them was blind so the nurse described all of our costumes to him.

Then we went and knocked on the individual doors of people still living independently in the home. Tragically most of the residents were verging on deaf and didn’t hear us. (Or didn’t want a visit.) But the couple elderly people we saw were happy. Though they felt guilty about not having candy which we reassured them wasn’t the purpose of our visit.

By this point in the evening, Mini-Tex was still excited but wilting. All the other little people and their responsible parents had returned home. But we continued to cycle around the city because gosh darn it, I was going to get my money’s worth out of that fifteen dollar Olaf costume from Kjiji. Also we had yet to visit the street with the ghost that jumps out of the pumpkin or the house with the spider on the roof.

It was around this time that Tex and I decided to forgo the candy part entirely. People had once again filled our son’s decorative pumpkin basket to the brim and we were running short on toddler energy. After terrifying our offspring by holding him up to touch the peekaboo ghost, we headed for the house with the giant tarantula.

Mini-Tex was beginning to look like Olaf in summer; he became a puddle of costume and snowsuit. “Do you want to see the spider on the roof?” I asked. “No” came his terse, small reply. That was it; we had maxed out our toddler’s love of inflatable decorations. Tex and I concluded that it was time to go home. The problem was that we had agreed to visit friends of ours.

As quickly as he could, Tex cycled past the spider house. In spite of his exhaustion, our son did get out and hug both Jack Skellington and Darth Vader along the way. We quickly popped by our friends’ homes and headed home.

Then on our way home it happened. The event we had been dreading. We live in a small town. Meaning there is a small police force so we NEVER see the police. While we wear our helmets religiously, much to our son’s chagrin, on this night none of us wore one. Wearing a helmet would have mussed my do, prevented Tex from wearing his Kristoff hat and wouldn’t have fit under Mini-Tex’s Olaf costume. Even still, during the afternoon, Tex had placed our son’s helmet in the bike because it is the law for children to wear head protection while cycling.

As we were pulling away from our friend’s house, coming in the opposite direction was an RCMP vehicle. All the colour drained from my face. There was no way with all our lights that he wouldn’t notice our bike. We were going to cap off our perfect night with a ticket. A ticket that was well deserved, but a ticket nonetheless.

The Mountie rolled down his passenger window and I broke into a flop sweat. “Did you get a lot of candy?” the officer asked Mini-Tex. Our toddler had transformed into a catatonic mess so Tex answered for him because I was suffering from the worst case of dry mouth I’d ever had in my life. “Lots.” The officer gave us a wave, “You folks have a good night then” before he continued on his way. It was only when the vehicle’s lights became pinpricks in the bike’s rearview mirror that I could exhale.

Happily, when we arrived home, the candy bowl was empty. I had instructed a group of teenagers that we passed to visit our house and take everything they found there. Old people who complain that kids these days don’t listen have clearly never offered two kilograms of sugar in exchange for walking four streets over.

Unfortunately there was still a full box of treats in the house. Furthermore it was open, so I couldn’t return it even if I did do responsible adult things like save receipts, which I don’t. But, as I went to unplug our inflatable Paw Patrol decoration, I heard voices down the street. “Oi!” I yelled in the direction of the youths. “Trick-or-treaters! Come clear out our candy bowl!”

Then I went back inside, without much hope because you know, kids these days. Likely they were angel children who only took one piece from the bowl. Then, as I was stripping off layer after chilly layer, I heard voices approaching. “Take everything!” I said.

“Everything?” the kids asked incredulously.

“Well divide it fairly amongst yourselves obviously but yes, everything.”

And that was the end of our Halloween. Well sort of. Turns out eating five packages of Swedish Fish will give a toddler a second wind. So Mini-Tex was up for another hour. I am an amazing parent, for serious, where is my Razzie?

Also, I welcome all hate mail about my bike safety decisions or lack thereof on all Hallows Eve. If you’re feeling lazy, you can just put them in the comments.

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Don’t Read This. Seriously, Stop Right Here. Just Keep Scrolling.

I bet you don’t respect authority either. Oh well, your funeral. That’s if you die of boredom. Or banal cuteness. You might actually enjoy this post if you have a subscription to Reader’s Digest. So this blog belongs to me. Most of the time I make funny with the haha. On occasion, I write endearing things about my beloveds on it. But that’s rare. Most often I use it to gently insult my mother. Because she’s the one who taught me how to laugh at myself.

Anyway, the primary readers of this blog are – my parents, my grandparents, and my son’s Godparents. All of them asked about our Halloween. So as a show of how much I love them, here is our Halloween in full. (Oh also Sula and her Mom read this blog. They would also want to know about our Halloween.)

Last year we had a German au pair who had never trick or treated before. Hence why for the first time ever, I went all out with family costumes. Tex paid a Kijiji seller fifteen dollars and in exchange we got our son an Olaf costume. Janey went as Elsa and I made myself an Anna costume. It was fabulous. It was the most elaborate costume I had ever created. Which is to say not elaborate at all but I put in effort so that was a change. I offered to make Tex a Kristoff costume at the same time, because we were in a city so I could buy items like costume materials. He declined.

This year, with only two and a half weeks until Halloween, Tex comes up to me and says “I want to be Kristoff”. People, we have lived three months without a bathmat because you can’t buy them here. The likelihood of me being able to procure the materials for a Kristoff costume without making a four hour round trip to the next large city over, (Well largeish. Ok small, it’s a small city.) was next to zero. However Tex never asks for things and he really wanted to participate in Halloween. So I sent him to the mall with a list. He returned without fake fur. Not surprising.

Two days and two dollars later, after a visit to the local second hand store, I found a teddy bear. (The secondhand store is only open certain days of the week hence the wait.) I gutted that stuffed animal like a fish. I chopped it into pieces and sewed the bits as fur trim to a jacket Tex had bought when we were first dating. Then I added piping, and made him boot covers so he’d have the requisite pointy ice seller toes. Also, I made a lantern that actually lit up for our “sleigh” which was our bike.

Tex looked awesome. Mini-Tex looked adorable. I looked well, Ok. And we borrowed a stuffed reindeer toy from my in-laws to act as Sven.

The day of, Tex had the afternoon off, so we spent our son’s nap rushing around, filling water bottles, preparing dinner for the road, affixing reindeer to the front of our bike, changing bike lights over so that we would be more visible and so forth. It took two and a half hours, but eventually we were all dressed and ready. I had four layers of long underwear up top and three layers on the bottom. I was plump. But warm.

We had everything together; we were all set for the best Halloween ever. All we needed was our Olaf. But he was sleeping. So Tex and I busied ourselves with filling the candy bowl, tidying up the house and looking at the clock going “How is he still sleeping?”

Readers, until that day, I didn’t know someone could sleep belligerently; it was like Mini-Tex was trying to miss out on Halloween. Finally, it got to the point where we were going to be late for trick or treating at the mall, so Tex and I did the unthinkable- we woke a sleeping child.

Because we’re obsessive parents who both need to bear witness to our offspring’s joy, we woke him up together. “It’s Halloween! It’s time to go trick or treating! It’s time to hug the blow ups!” Mini-Tex had been waiting A MONTH AND A HALF to hug all the inflatable decorations around town. Over the past month, we had put 200 kilometers on our bike and spent countless hours pedaling out of our way so he could see the blow up monkey, the blow up dragon, the blow up Jack Skellington. And every single time we saw them, our almost three year old asked “Can I hug them?” at which point we’d answer “On Halloween.”

To say Mini-Tex was excited was an understatement. But he was also very very sleepy. He stood straight up and then promptly did a face plant back into the bed. Tex grabbed him and popped him on the potty. We started both dressing him and undressing him together. It was like an instructional video on tandem helicopter parenting.

Within three minutes our Olaf was dressed and in the sled. Despite still waking up, he would yell “Jump Sven!” at random intervals. He would only call me “Anna” and his dad was “Kristoff”. It was quite possibly the best day of his life.

While riding to the mall to trick or treat with the other little people who go to bed before seven pm, we became aware that there were houses that had waited until the last possible moment to put up their decorations. Meaning that we hadn’t seen their magnificent inflatable decoration arrangements.

“Do we want to stop?” asked Tex. And so the blow up decoration love fest began. Mini-Tex was elated, he finally got to hug every pumpkin bearing Minion, every giant cat, every spooky ghost. The first house we stopped at had four blow up decorations. We stopped at two more houses before the mall until I got panicky that we would miss seeing all of our friends whom I had made arrangements with to meet.

Of course when we got to the mall, I didn’t recognize any of Mini-Tex’s friends and we just wandered around hugging the decorations. Tex took Mini-Tex to exactly one store to trick or treat and there was an over eager salesperson who jumped in our path so she could place candy into our son’s decorative pumpkin basket.

Then, on our way out, one of the best moments of the night happened; Mini-Tex’s best friend’s family appeared. His best friend was dressed as a ninja turtle. However the friend’s little brother who Mini-Tex also plays with, was also dressed as Olaf. The kids were delighted. Mini-Tex was over the moon. The eighteen month old who was also dressed as Olaf was vaguely confused and overwhelmed. It was fantastic.

Because all of you are gluttons for punishment, I’m going to continue writing about our Halloween. But in another post, because even my family and dearest friends can only take so much banal storytelling.

Horrible Thigh Discoveries, Cut Backs and Pride

We’re two months into our family’s Paris Accord. In June, my husband and I pledged to reduce our family’s carbon footprint by putting more kilometers on our bikes, fewer on our car and changing our consumption habits. Those were some pretty big promises, so let’s see how we’re doing.

On the bike odometer front everything is fantastic. When we initially purchased our Nihola Family bike, given how late in the season it arrived, we thought that 500 kilometers was an ambitious number. Just before I sat down to pen this post, the odometer read 633, based on our current usage of our cargo trike, we estimate that we’ll hit 1500 kilometers before the snow flies. Mini-Tex has actually started referring to the Nihola as a “car” because he’s in it so often, whereas our actual car sits ignored on our driveway. Funny enough, Mini-Tex recognizes the other cars on the road as cars though too.

As a mode of transportation, I LOVE the Nihola. For me, being able to lean over the handlebars and check in with Mini-Tex while riding is worth the extra money we paid over getting a cheaper cargo attachment for the back of the bike. The front holds at least a week’s worth of groceries in addition to our son. My personal favourite moment was when Tex arrived home with the bike packed to the gills with food. “Don’t worry” he assured me “I belted in the milk”. Tex had used the extra seat and Y-belt attachment to secure the 4 litre jug so it wouldn’t bounce around, hitting our son during the ride home.

There is one drawback to all the biking we’ve been doing. I was settling myself in for a relaxing hot bath when I looked down and realized there was more of me. I wasn’t pregnant, I hadn’t gained weight, but my thighs were HUUUUUUGE. “Tex!” I called from the bathtub, my voice panicked. My husband burst into the bathroom, shoe in hand, poised to obliterate the offending spider that had caused my scream. Upon a negative inspection for any insects he looked at me questioningly. “Are my thighs bigger?” I asked hoping for a no or at least a lie. “Ummmm, you could use a lower gear” my husband kindly suggested. So if you hear a giant rip tearing through cyberspace, don’t worry, your computer is fine, it’s just the sound of my shorts giving way. Aside from that, I’m enjoying our new lifestyle.

Onto the next bike; Tex pledged to ride 400 kilometers. This is the part of our accord that makes my heart swell with pride. As an avid pedestrian and experienced cyclist myself, I knew eschewing the car for other modes of transportation would be a breeze, but for my “man-van” loving husband, the dramatic change in lifestyle could be viewed as an inconvenient hurdle added to both sides of his long work day. True to his nature, when Tex decides to commit to an idea, he jumps in with both feet. The last I checked, his odometer read 196 kilometers, well on the way to 400 before the end of October, and this is in addition to the 30 kilometers my husband put on my bike, riding back and forth to work while he was servicing his ride. At his job, he’s being called “The New Alex”, a former coworker who rode through rain, sleet and snow. Tex loves the recognition and the extra workout as he’s dropped ten pounds in a month. In summary, the biking aspect of our agreement is going swimmingly… er bikingly?

Cutting down our usage of the van was another section of the accord that I anticipated being a challenge for Tex. Often for our jobs, especially Tex’s, we are required to make the 700 kilometer round trip commute from our town in the middle of nowhere, to the nearest metropolis. With a goal of driving only 15,000 kilometers in a year, those types of trips add up fast. Tex quickly recognized this and started investigating opportunities to carpool. In addition to already carpooling to the metropolis twice, Tex took the bus when he was in the big city. His enthusiasm and willingness to search for alternatives means of transportation have impressed me immensely and made my heart swell with pride. It makes me feel hopeful for what our family will accomplish in the coming months and hopefully years.

In terms of our consumption of goods and foods, publishing the post “Trump is Not Your Tragedy: Make Your Own Paris Accord”, expressed my thoughts and feelings about the environment and my personal goals to my extended family. It’s opened up discussions and I feel like my choices are better understood and respected, whereas before my family might have brushed them off as “Unwashed’s silly hippie-isms”.

Personally, I’ve been searching for ways to use more local products and to cut down on packaged goods. Unfortunately most of our packaged food comes from Mini-Tex’s snacks. So I’ve been baking up a storm, and then watching as Mini-Tex crumbles the healthy mini muffins in his toddler fist, throws the crumbs on the floor and then asks earnestly for “fish, fish”. As I have no interest in watching my son starve to death or return to exclusively breastfeeding (an option he would love), so I cave and hand him some of Pepperidge Farm’s best.

We still have a number of changes on our radar. Tex discovered a local flour mill, so we’ll be biking there in the near future. I heard through the grape vine that a farmer around here has local eggs so I’ll be following that trail as well. Tex is also contemplating applying for an elk tag, which would provide us with lots of local red meat that has a significantly lower carbon footprint than cattle because the animals exist naturally in the wild.

So that’s where we are. Do any of those points inspire ideas in your family? Are you enjoying biking or walking in this beautiful summer weather? Do you have any green suggestions for us?

Finding Inner Peace with Children: Namest-Hey Put That Down!

Once a week, I attend a class where women stand on mats, jiggle babies and talk about Namaste. It’s called “Baby Yoga”. Because babies need to do yoga because life is hard. Or maybe because moms need yoga, to find inner peace. Regardless, here are instructions on how best to discover calm with a small child.

10:14 – Arrive for the 10:15 baby yoga class. Do a small victory dance over not being late then sprint up the stairs because still need to roll out mat, set up “nest” for Mini-Tex that he won’t use and lay out range of toys for him to ignore.

10:15-10:18 – Shuck off layers and layers and layers of clothing because only crazy people decide to walk in the frigid cold with their babies. Run on tiptoe to not disturb other women who are supposed to be focusing on their breathing but are nursing or swaddling their babies.

10:19- Lie on mat with eyes closed, pretending to focus on breathing but actually listening to Mini-Tex crawl towards a group of unsuspecting three month olds.

10:20- Cock open an eye only to see Mini-Tex playing three month old’s head like a set of bongos. Forget all intentions of inner peace and sprint to move Mini-Tex away from bewildered three month old.

10:21- Am instructed to sit Mini-Tex on lap and do sitting version of cat and cow. The three month olds sit placidly in other mother’s laps. Mini-Tex wiggles his way out of my arms and takes off. Continue doing cat and cow.

10:22 – Inhale, am cat. Exhale, release all tension associated with carrying small person everywhere. Inhale am cat again. Exhale, am cow. Inhale, cat. Exha-where is Mini-Tex? Out of corner of my eye spot him ripping toy out of smaller baby’s hands. Jump up to return stolen plaything.

10:23 – Other moms are windshield wiper-ing knees back and forth. Attempt to convince Mini-Tex to play with toys from home. Mini-Tex has seen said toys and prefers other babies’ toys.

10:24 – Mini Tex takes off, invariably to steal someone’s rattle. Lay back into butterfly pose.

10:25- Feel tension releasing from lower back. Hear noise. Is sound of Mini-Tex climbing all over woman on next mat over. Leap up to move him, feel tension returning as apologize profusely to woman.

10:26 – Carry Mini-Tex to far side of room to area with lots of toys and blankets. Lay back down on mat and lift rear end into bridge pose.

10:27 – Breathe in bridge pose. Close eyes, love bridge pose.

10:28 – Breathe in. Fill self with air. Breathe out, remember how calm feels. Realize Mini-Tex is uncharacteristically silent. Open eyes to see Mini-Tex once more using woman on next mat as jungle gym.

10:29 – Grab Mini-Tex while repeating “Sorry. So sorry” over and over while transporting him back to “nest” next to mat.

10:30- Being in tree pose gives excellent bird’s eye view of Mini-Tex pulling leaves off of nearby decorative tree. Dash to relocate Mini-Tex and save greenery.

10:31 – Lug surprisingly heavy tree into yoga studio bathroom and close door. Mini-Tex has made his way across room and is yanking lamp cord out of wall. Rush to prevent damage to lamp and store it with tree in bathroom.

10:32 – Instructor picks up Mini-Tex and carries him to demonstrate warrior one.

10:33 – Am strong warrior, focus on breathing and keeping knees over big toes.

10:34- Instructor continues to hold Mini-Tex to demonstrate warrior two. Am composed of straight, relaxed lines. Am zen.

10:35 – Mountain pose to chaturanga. Feel peaceful intention slowly returning while instructor wrangles squiggling Mini-Tex.

10:36 – Instructor lets Mini-Tex down to show class proper downward dog. Class follows along. Hear surprised yelp from instructor, look up to see Mini-Tex pulling on her bun as instructor tries to lower to child’s pose. Race to remove tiny baby fingers from instructor’s hair.

10:37 – Place Mini-Tex back in play area at far side of studio. Sit back on mat and rock foot like baby with fingers interlaced between toes.

10:38 – Switch sides to rock other foot and open up other toes. Mini-Tex crawls across room at top speed and grabs hold of curtains to closet, then yanks with all his might. Drop foot baby to catch actual baby.

10:39- 10:47 – Accept defeat and play with Mini-Tex quietly in corner while other women with docile babies in adjacent “nests” do yoga poses.

10:47 – Shavasna.

10:48 – 10:50 – Decide to attempt shavasna pose. Stretch out on mat while Mini-Tex blows raspberries on all available patches of skin.

10: 51- 11:05 – Visit with ladies and well behaved babies. Intercept Mini-Tex’s attempts at toy thievery. Apologize profusely.

11:06 – 11:10 – Layer up. Feeling surprisingly exhausted despite not having done any poses.

11:15 – Find inner peace as Mini-Tex falls asleep in carrier during walk home.

Speaking Farsi and Interpretive Dancing With Engineers

My husband Tex makes my life nice. He’s an engineer, meaning he loves science, understands math and his entire life is organized by a series of intricate but straight forward systems. I, on the other hand am a failed scientist turned artist whose life contains no obvious organizational systems, however I cook so this arrangement works for us. I joke that he lives to solve problems and I create them by virtue of existing.

For the most part, that last statement is true. Broken door? Tex is on it. Excessively complicated taxes? Put away the calculator, the engineer is here. Hosting family Christmas on the same day a drop shipment of furniture is set to arrive to fill three empty rooms of the house? Let the organizational pro through, he’ll schedule this day into submission.

Artistic problems are a horse of a different colour though. Having dabbled in the arts throughout my life, I’m experienced at collaborating with other like-minded artsy people. In those circumstances, I will explain my vision for a project, listen to my partner’s ideas and together we’ll come up with a product that is infinitely better had I just worked on my own.

For the No Excuses November post, I wanted to recreate the John Snow “Winter is coming” meme.

brace-yourself-winter

Only with my name because I am equally powerful as a season of course. Modified from makeameme.org

It was going to look like the original but with curly hair.

brace-yourself-winterhair

It’s like John Snow is wearing a wig. Modified from makeameme.org

And of course Mini Tex would be incorporated.

brace-yourself-winterhairminitex

Because who doesn’t love babies with preternaturally long fingers on their left hands? Modified from makeameme.org

In his ridiculous bird/dragon/fish costume, because there is no point in purchasing a costume for your child unless you force them to wear it in all manner of situations. Admittedly, bringing a fish/bird child to that funeral was not the most popular decision but I stand by it.

brace-yourself-winterhairminitexfinal

You can properly appreciate the randomness of the fin/wing/foreshortened arms of the costume at this angle. Modified from makeameme.org

But no matter how many images Tex and I took, or alterations that I made to the poses or suggestions for framing, the photos all looked completely awkward and not even remotely like the meme. And it wasn’t even like I was unprepared! I had fur! I had a giant heavy dark coat! I even had a giant sword-like thing! All of the elements were there but the fairies of luck and creativity refused to smile on us that day.

I concluded it was a one-off, that there was all the possibility in the world that Tex would suddenly morph into a free love spouting, organic eating, Burning Man attending, artsy hippie. I mean, I’m becoming like him after having lived together- just last week I used the words “anaerobic reaction” in a sentence and it wasn’t just an example of my mommy brain substituting words while trying to describe a new fitness class.

Only time will tell though. In his words, I’ll continue asking him to “take weird pictures of me” and hope that in the future we’ll be able to artistically trouble shoot together. In the meantime, my readers can enjoy my Microsoft Paint photos.

Five Things Friday- The Insults Just Keep Coming

  1. Remember when your mom would subtly leave deodorant on your night stand when you were twelve?

My husband totally did that. Only not with deodorant. He arrived home yesterday and brandished a drugstore bag at me. “Look what I bought” he proudly proclaimed, first pulling out the items he had purchased for himself before getting to the real purpose of his visit to the mall; “I bought you razors and soap.” Essentially my hubby just called me hairy and dirty. Point taken Tex, I won’t wait for an instructional tutorial on how to use both, I promise.

 

  1. My new spa routine

I thought Mini-Tex’s bum being infested by ferrets was bad until this week when he learned how to whistle. Well, not whistle exactly, but exhale using his mouth. He likes to practice this trick while we are feeding him. So not only is everything in the kitchen and living area covered with spatters of breastmilk mixed with apple from when Mini-Tex creates an impromptu catapult using his spoon, but now every time we put some food in his mouth, he reacts by creating a fine spray of baby slobber mixed with gruel. It’s making me consider bathing more than twice a week.

 

  1. The Canadian version of “A Dingo took my baby!”

Much like his parents, Mini-Tex loves the great outdoors. So every day, I haul him, his toys, his jolly jumper and his ring of neglect outside. He loves it, I love it, and the mosquitos love it too. I thought it was bad when at his six month checkup, I had to explain that Mini-Tex didn’t have chicken pox, those were bug bites.

That was nothing compared to watching a small bird half hop, half fly off with a part of my son. Initially it was a small mosquito, but after feeding on Mini-Tex’s chubby little leg while he played in his exersaucer until the tiny pest was actually full to bursting, it morphed from insect into small avian species. Honest to goodness, when I finally spotted the bloodsucker all but draining my son’s little calf, it had the mosquito version of a pot belly. It was so bloated when it tried to take off, it dipped back down to the ground. The mosquito had fed on my baby for so long that it was too fat to fly. I’m pretty sure I’m sucking at this parenting gig.

 

  1. I’m moving to a trailer park

Not really, but I might as well given that I’ve started answering the door topless and if one is going to be super classy, it’s best just to rent the mobile home too. This event caused me to question our neighbourhood as well because the mailman didn’t bat an eye. This may in part be due to the fact that I was wearing a baby and a brassiere at the time, so there was a lot to distract from the nudity.

 

  1. I’ve started an anti-Post Secret blog

That sounded way more negative than it meant to. What I meant was that instead of the world sending me their secrets, I’m sending mine to the world. Only they’re not secrets, it’s mostly nonsense or manatees with facial hair Sharpie-d on. Also the entire world isn’t receiving them. Currently I’ve contained my weirdness to North America and people I know, but I might start looking up either politicians or business executives to infuse their life with random anecdotes about whales.

What It’s ACTUALLY Like To Have A Baby, Including All The Gory Details Your Mother Wouldn’t Tell You

A couple of months ago, I transformed from this

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Two days before Mini Tex arrived.

 

into this

 

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You can’t see it from this angle but I have in essence created a Mini Tex, the only way you’d know for sure that my baby is related to me is if you watched him emerge from my junk.

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Sometimes I can’t even tell them apart.

What happened in between was kind of like when a butterfly emerges from a cocoon. That is if butterflies screamed at the top of their lungs and covered the space around them in blood like something out of a B grade horror movie.

Until Mini Tex actually came into the world, I had no idea how it was going to happen, I mean obviously I had a rough idea of which people were going to come out where but Moms and surprisingly the internet have a way of keeping the whole process hush hush. Something I discovered before Mini Tex’s arrival while researching online. My friend Sula also commented on this fact after she asked her mother to elaborate about having children. So strap on your helmet interwebs, I’m going to give you a crash course in the birthing process. SPOILER ALERT – It’s going to be terrifying and also possibly a little gross.

 

Early Labour

Babies like to inconvenience people. Hence they choose to start their entry into the world at inopportune times like 2 am. You can lie in bed during this time but good luck sleeping because contractions hurt, not bad enough to take your breath away but just enough so that you can’t have sweet sweet dreams about former Playboy bunnies or whatever it is you like to dream about.

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Don’t judge me, their ditzy mannerisms and way of deeming everything “Super fun!” bring me joy. (Photo Credit: fanpop.com)

This continues for a while. Like a long while. Such a long while in fact, that you decide that your baby’s arrival should inconvenience your partner too, so at 4 am you wake him up. At this point you’re both stoked because your baby is almost here! All you have to do is walk forever to get him out faster. So even though it’s the middle of the night, even though it’s minus twenty-five out, even though you’re both a little drunk on sleep deprivation, you start walking. And walking, and walking. For Pete’s sake where is this baby? Does he need you to march an actual marathon with kilometer markers and race officials before he will come out?

10 am – Still walking. The good news is your labor is progressing; the bad news is that means during every contraction you have to lean a little on your partner, also you aren’t getting very far very fast. Please note labour is not the time to do sightseeing.

11 am – You walk past the hospital where your partner proclaims that it’s time to see a doctor. Having seen the birthing “suites” you are reluctant to check into the hospital; it appears the people who designed the rooms have never visited an actual hotel and didn’t understand the meaning of the word “suite”. Just outside the doors, you realize you need to pee NOW. However your body needs to contract this baby out of you. It’s a dramatic fight to see whether your bladder sphincters triumph over your slow pace to the washroom. After dragging yourself up a flight of stairs you make it to the loo just in the nick of time.

12 pm – You arrive at the maternity ward where there are wheelchairs everywhere as if women just randomly lose the use of their legs and drop to the floor. After checking in the receptionist asks you if you can walk the five feet to the next window. Clearly she hasn’t looked at the steps on your Fitbit that day.

12:30 pm – You are directed to a room with another woman in it who is either dying or about to have her baby right then and there based on the pained groans coming from behind the curtain. Her husband runs frantically in and out of the room crying “Epidural! Epidural!”

Get ready my Unwashed public, you’re about to get the Coles Notes version of how labour progresses. Standing between you and your beautiful newborn is your cervix. You’d call it an asshole for keeping your baby from you but your cervix has kindly been holding the little bugger in for nine months, so you forgive it. In order for the baby to emerge, your cervix both has to thin out (efface) and dilate 10 cm (Make a hole 10 cm in diameter for the baby to come out of. Also, does that seem like a really small opening to anyone else? After all, you’re having a human baby not a ferret. )

The doctor comes in to check your roommate, it isn’t polite to eavesdrop but you and your partner do anyway because in all likelihood the father of the child is going to be running down the halls shouting for pain meds rather than in the room to catch the baby who is certain to come flying out any moment now if the woman’s cries are any indication.

It turns out your fellow labourer is three centimetres dilated, just like you and a long way from having her baby. Score one for yoga breathing to reduce pain and relax your contracting muscles. You ask to go home so you can continue the world’s slowest walking tour of your city.

4:00 pm – You lie down to rest because you are not the Proclaimers walking five hundred miles and then five hundred more because you can’t fall down at the door at the end as directly after all that endless marching about, you have to push.

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That’s great that you guys want to keep going- I’m going to take a nap. (Photo Credit : citylab.com)

 

However, sleeping is a bad decision because between this bout of inactivity and the bath you take immediately afterwards, your baby takes the opportunity to turn and you have back labour.

7:00 pm – If given the choice between pushing another human being out of me and back labour, I would happily squeeze another person out of my lady garden. Back labour is painful, for the first and only time, yoga breathing fails you; there is nothing aside from loud sobbing which can contend with this pain.

Funny side note about back labour and marriage – One of the many aspects I found sexy about Tex was this sprinkling of salt by the temples in his dark coloured hair. The day after Mini Tex was born, I noticed a new patch of grey by his ear, it’s hard to say whether it was caused by watching me scream in agony while his son was coming into this world or watching me rock back and forth while sobbing because of back labour.

8:00 pm – After watching you rock back and forth sobbing for an hour, your partner insists that you return to the hospital. Existing is uncomfortable, breathing is uncomfortable, so walking back to the hospital is definitely out of the question. Also when I say “uncomfortable”, I actually mean excruciating.

9:00 pm – After all of that laboring, the doctor checks and deems that you are fully effaced but still only 3 cm dilated. Being fully effaced is a good thing but you don’t hear that part through your pain, all you hear is that you’re in the same place as ten hours ago and conclude this labor is going to continue forever. Then you think of the video from birthing class of the woman who had to have a C-section after her labor failed to progress. You dissolve into exhausted tears.

Baby birthing side note – While caesarian sections make for cuter infants right out of the womb; Mini Tex came out puffy eyed, bruised and looking like he’d been on the losing end of a baby bar fight. I don’t know what babies would come to fisticuffs over. Who gets dibs on the breast with the tastier milk first?

I digress, C-sections are actual SURGERIES. Meaning there are stitches and a much longer recovery process. Having had six stitches in my leg this past year which hurt like the dickens, I can’t imagine enduring a surgery and then caring for a small person while I recovered. Also you stay in the hospital for longer which is zero fun. Picture traveling on an uncomfortable bus for four days, that’s what the hospital is like; there is a lack of fun and it smells funny.

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If you add an IV to this image, the experience is identical, right down to the person next to you who gives WAAAAY too much information. (Yes I recognize the hypocrisy of this comment as I am in the process of sharing my birthing story with the greater electronic world.) (Photo Credit: yelp.com)

10:00 pm – Given that you’ve been up for twenty hours, are in pain and exhausted, you decide to try some morphine. There’s a catch though, morphine makes people puke so the doctors administer Gravol along with it.

There were a couple of reasons I decided that I didn’t want an epidural. The first is that pain evolved for a reason; people without pain receptors don’t live as long. Those little jabs are your body’s way of communicating what’s going on. Also, it’s my completely unfounded belief that epidurals mean more tearing. So in my mind, an epidural was like trading short term pain for long term recovery pain. Lastly and most importantly, I’m built small and metabolize pain medications poorly. Cold medication leaves me a stoned wobbly mess. This was why when I was given a normal adult dose of Gravol and morphine during my labor, my pupils shrunk to pinpoints and I passed out. It was so bad that Tex had to lift me into my preferred position during a contraction and then lay me back down after it was done so I didn’t topple off the bed.

12 am – You walk around the hospital, still wobbly from the Gravol and morphine. You swear off drugs, green fairies and rainbows for the rest of your life.

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Except for you my delicious morning friend. (Photo Credit : fakefoodwatch.com)

12:30 am – Having spent the past five months practicing squatting because it shortens labor and helps get the baby into position, you decide to squat.

12:31 am – You scream bloody murder for your partner to help get you out of a squat because it makes the contractions so intense you can’t bear it. There goes five months of doing the malasana yoga pose for zip.

2 am – You get moved to a delivery suite. Again don’t let the second word deceive you, unless this is some sort of private American hospital for millionaires, there is nothing swanky about this hospital room. By contrast, the staff are amazing. I’m not saying the labor nurse was an angel, but if she had pulled out a harp and sprouted wings, I wouldn’t have been surprised. The nurse spoke in soft soothing tones, anticipated all of my needs and was wonderful.

3 am – Not everyone’s water breaks in a grand and embarrassing splash in the middle of a grocery store. Some must have their water broken during labor. The doctor will apologize for the discomfort while they do this, I’m assuming because they’re under the impression that every other part of this process has been like a day at the spa.

4 AM – The heavenly nurse decides to leave her harp in the closet for the time being, but offers you something even better -gas. You remember from birthing class that if laughing gas is used for longer than an hour that you get a wicked bad hangover. You make a mental note to check the time and then realize that time and your ability to tell it, has lost all meaning.

5 AM – You’ve now been up for twenty-seven hours, niceties are no longer necessary, you yell at your caring husband when he doesn’t move his chair right away. You bellow at the doctor that you are ready to push. Perhaps it’s because you seem rude and unreasonable that the bad cop physician is called in.

When I was young, thin and believed that short shorts were appropriate attire in February, I ran marathons. My mother who has run the Boston marathon five times ran my races alongside me. She would yell when I walked, urging me back into a run then run circles around me singing and taunting me when I slowed my pace and once, my mother threatened to leave me in the middle of nowhere if I didn’t run faster. That last story may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight, all I remember were chasing her heels for five kilometers as I tried not to lose my ride back to the hotel. Anyways, it seems that all of this loud, determined coaching was preparation for the consultant who bellowed a baby out of me.

Nowadays doctors are taught empathy and to think about patients’ feelings. This woman must have been trained before this era. She was merciless. During every contraction she yelled “PUSH GIRL PUSH!” at the top of her lungs as if she was on a distant mountaintop, instructing me from afar. Her insistent instructions were contrasted against the soft, angelic tones of the labor nurse who whispered into my ear “You’re doing great Unwashed” in between the drill sergeant’s shouts. When this forceful woman wasn’t roaring instructions at me, she would critique my efforts to the resident who was sitting in the hot seat, silently waiting to catch Mini Tex; “she’s not using the full contraction, she could be pushing longer; she’s barely doing anything.”

This is the part that some women dread, that you’re told about beforehand. You poop in front of God and everyone. But it’s a bit like being the kid in line for a carnival ride. You’re just so damn excited and caught up in what’s about to occur that you mess your pants then keep going because – what the hell? It’s the tilt-a-whirl.

The part that is not mentioned is that all the signals for your bladder get kind of scrambled, so if it’s full, which it probably is, it will make pushing a baby out harder but more on that later.

So you keep pushing, and the bad cop doctor keeps shouting instructions and you can feel your baby’s head almost coming out of your kootch. You change positions, ostensibly to make pushing easier, but in reality because you’re more likely to be able to kick the vocal doctor-cop while sitting up. The bad cop tells you to feel your son’s head as a way to try and encourage you to keep pushing. This is a bit like someone saying at mile 25 of a marathon “Look! You’re almost there! You just have to run for fifteen more minutes!” Instead of being invigorated, you want to slap them and then lie down and die from exhaustion.

The only tidbit I could find which described the actual birthing process said that when the baby crowned (laymen’s terms for when the largest part of the baby comes out) it felt like someone taking a blow torch to your crotch. Having received a small terrible burn on my hand once, I kept waiting for the blowtorch. It didn’t arrive. I will admit that it hurt, and you definitely feel your skin stretching and tearing. If your husband is watching, he might be horrified. Those who didn’t grow up on a farm should likely stand near your head around about this time. Although that puts them in closer proximity to your mouth which at this point is emitting a lot of sound because you’re yelling so loudly that your voice will hurt for two days.True story.

But then you have a baby. Which is awesome for the twenty minutes you hold him for before you pass out from exhaustion.

 

Afterwards

Remember the spoiler alert that it was going to be gross? And the part about the bloody butterfly and everything looking like a B horror movie? We’re totally at that part. You might want to stop reading. Or at least put down your sandwich.

Birthing is a messy business. I feel badly for the custodial staff of the hospital, because despite my attempts to clean up, after I used the bathroom, it looked like the set of “The Shining”. There was blood EVERYWHERE. The poor sod would have needed three mops to deal with that floor.

Also recall my statement about the wiring from your brain to your bladder being scrambled? Basically there’s so much going on in that area that your brain is all “Bladder, shut the hell up, we’ve got bigger issues than the need to evacuate your contents” this lack of communication continues even after you’ve had the baby. Luckily the nurse who took care of me in the maternity wing knew this. She carefully explained this fact, then turned on a faucet full blast, told me to sing in to help me relax and basically did everything short of sticking my hand in a bowl of hot water while showing a slideshow of Niagara Falls.

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“What does this make you think of?” (Photo Credit : youtube.com)

 

Have you ever gotten a paper cut? On a joint? It’s super painful and keeps opening up right? That’s exactly what peeing after having a baby is like. Only there are a thousand paper cuts. On your kootch. And some jerk keeps smearing hot sauce on them.

This sounds awful but urinating is a picnic compared to your first bowel movement after having a baby. Nic Sheff, author and drug addict, described in his book “Tweak” having to pick pieces of granite-like stool out of his butt after going on a month long meth bender. This experience seems preferable and significantly less painful than pooping after having a baby, an event which happens multiple days after the birth. My advice? Take the stool softener they give you at the hospital, and then steal your neighbour’s supply of stool softener too, consider it their comeuppance for not having read The Great Unwashed’s cautionary tale of birthing before creating a person.

So that’s a true life birth story. If I had a larger audience I would expect the birth rate to drop significantly but as it is, I think I’ve probably just traumatized my uncles and grandfather. Sorry, but I did warn you to stop reading multiple times.

Also, I should probably add that even though my doctor missed her calling as the furious head of a military operative, I only pushed for forty-five minutes. The average amount  of time is two and a half hours. The take home point here is that if you want to get the job done, choose a physician with anger management issues who really wants their coffee break NOW.

This post is dedicated to Sula who asked all of the best questions and was appropriately horrified by my responses.

 

Cowboy Quotables: The Parenting Edition

Although parenting Mini Tex is becoming easier, and for all those who I scared with my description of nursing, allow me to assure you, that element is becoming significantly more enjoyable and comfortable. However there were still a couple of weeks where it was quite painful. While my mother was visiting, my breasts became engorged and took on a pebbled, rock like appearance and feel. I approached Tex with my arms extended, expecting him to hug me, as my mother was RIGHT THERE and said “feel my boobs, they’re like stones”. Instead of wrapping me in a hug to appreciate my rocky mammaries, Tex reaches out and honks my boobs right in front of my mother.

“Tex!” I exclaimed. “You weren’t supposed to do that; you were supposed to hug me!” Luckily my mom found the whole scene amusing and dissolved into laughter. “You asked me to feel them” he responded “Was I supposed to rub my nipples against you to determine their firmness?” He then demonstrated by rubbing his chest against mine. “Yes the test is sensitive but is it specific?”

The nursing related antics didn’t stop there, of course. Throughout the first month of Mini Tex’s life, his Dad and I would trade off having the same nightmare- that Mini Tex was in the bed and encased in blankets despite the fact that Mini Tex had never slept in the bed with us. One night my breasts were particularly large and painful to the point that I couldn’t stand to have fabric against them. Tex woke up panicked and thrashing “Mini Tex is in the bed!” he yelled throwing covers this way and that, accidently brushing one of my painful boobs in the process which were so engorged that they were the size of our son’s head. “No he isn’t” I tried to calmly assure my husband. Still flailing madly trying to find his son in a sea of covers Tex brushed one of my boobs again, “I can feel his head” Tex cried now in a full scale panic. I winced as Tex grabbed my swollen mammary and tried to extricate it from the covers. “That’s my boob” I replied, trying to stay calm as my husband slowly exited his dreamy state.

Having jumped out of the bed to confirm that Mini Tex was in fact asleep in his Moses basket next to the bed, Tex was somewhat calmer but still on edge. “Why would you have your boobs in the bed like that?” The words “because the cupboard seemed like an inconvenient place” seemed mean given how frantic my husband was, so I just apologized.

Aside from the occasional nightmare, Tex is loving parenthood; he plays with Mini Tex, singing songs and saying rhymes although my funny cowboy puts his own spin on the words. “This little piggy went to the market and this little piggy stayed home. This little piggy was very long so he was an urologist.” I find Tex’s versions of nursery rhymes almost as amusing as his thoughts on breast milk.

One night while I was cooking, Tex set the table. “What would you like to drink?” he asked. “Milk” I replied mid stir. “What kind? Human or cow?” Tex asked, then after a moment he paused, “Probably cow, I think the other would be akin to eating your toenails.”

This Post Is Late But Ten Months Ago So Was My Period and Those Two Events Are Kind Of Interconnected (Apologies to my Uncles and Granddad for referencing menses in the title) Geez this is getting long

 

SPOILER ALERT: I had a baby. Or at least I think I had a baby, it’s hard to tell because I have essentially made a tiny carbon copy of Tex. In my sister’s words “If he hadn’t come out of your va-jay there might be some questions.” Thus I have dubbed my newborn “Mini Tex*”. At any rate babies are super time consuming, thus any posts published in the past six weeks were scheduled posts that I wrote before our new person arrived so this post is late but I like to think of February as the “Love Month” so as long as there are still discounted chocolate hearts in stores, I figure I’m within the acceptable range for sending out valentines. This is why many of you receive “Happy Easter” cards in July.

Before I got pregnant and had Mini Tex, I was all “pregnancy and breast feeding are just another physical feat that one does with their body; I rock at physical feats”. I’m not sure whether to laugh at my pre-pregnancy and motherhood self or slap her for being foolish. I was far from a glowy pregnant lady. I was a nauseous, vomit fountain who was exhausted all of the time, yet despite all of that I enjoyed being pregnant. This was entirely due to how hard my husband worked.

Initially our household arrangement was that I cooked and did dishes while Tex cleaned and did laundry. Early on, it became apparent that cooking was no longer possible because I was too tired when I got home from work and also too ravenous. Tex might have lost an arm if he had asked me to keep to our agreement when I arrived home starving and foul tempered from hunger.

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Tell me there’s leftover lasagna! (Photo Credit: news.nationalgeographic.com)

Gradually even the dishes became impossible, as did my walks home from work. I never heard Tex complain, he merely picked up the slack silently, doing yesterday’s dishes while he prepared today’s dinner, texting me to see when I would need a ride home. He was amazing. The only reason I didn’t receive rides to work was because the lack of exercise would lead to restless leg syndrome and me becoming an antsy anti-Christ in the evenings if I missed my morning walk. But even on those days Tex would massage my legs and bundle himself up to walk with me in the cold winter air of the evening.

Relationship experts advise couples to continue to try new activities together. Until recently, I thought that was all hooey because how could I possibly love my husband more than I already did? I mean he checked all the boxes: Hottie- check, Super Hottie – check, Nice – check, Has a job that isn’t playing the accordion outside the liquor store- check. (For the record musical liquor store Abe, I am not judging you; I merely feel we would make a poor couple.) Pregnancy allowed me to love my husband as someone who I had no choice but to rely on. I pride myself in being independent; carrying Mini Tex around for nine months rendered me the opposite of that.

At nine months pregnant, I thought I couldn’t love Tex any more than I already did. Then I went into labor, and the only time he left my side was when I went into the women’s washroom. Labor is a lot like running a marathon only better because they give you a baby at the end rather than some bling and a bagel.

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I’m sorry cheesy multi-grain, as delicious as you are, if given the choice between your bready goodness and a newborn, you are not even the short straw. Photo Credit: blog.foodfacts.com)

Mini Tex was our marathon, and my husband was my coach who spurred me onward even when I was tired and couldn’t see the end. While I suspected that he could be patient and caring even under duress and fear, he shone brighter than I expected during those long twenty eight hours.

People don’t really talk about it, but breast feeding hurts. Like a lot. Possibly more than the actual birthing process if one were to add up the time and pain and lump it all together into one horrible day of bloody, painful nipples and engorged breasts. Again Tex showed his devotion to both me and his newborn son by placing boiling hot compresses on my giant, painful mammaries multiple evenings in a row. Watching the steam rise from the cloths, I worried for his hands (No amount of heat would ever be enough to hurt boobs with blocked ducts). “Unwashed, I was a blacksmith” he reminded me, replacing the lukewarm cloth with a hot one. I’m sure that devotion was there all along but during those early week when Mini Tex and I were still figuring out how to breastfeed, it wrapped itself around us like a comforting blanket.

I’ve learned to love my husband as a father. Coming from a farm, where from an early age, boys learn how to take care of not just animals but plants and the land, I had high expectations of Tex as a parent. Seeing our little boy listen with all his might to his Dad’s voice as he plays with him and tells nonsensical stories has given me another way to love this man. So for all of these reasons and for all of the ones we will discover together in the future, Happy Valentine’s Day Tex. I’m very glad I said vows with you on Lightninghill last August. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

*Please note, I didn’t actually name my newborn “Mini Tex”, I feel his life will be embarrassing enough with me as his Mom.