Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Eighteen Socks

With the exception of the clothing currently being worn by my family, ALL of the laundry is clean. It's the first time in months and months that this has been true, and it feels wonderful. Bedding is fresh, Ben's collared shirts have been ironed, everything is folded in drawers and on shelves with KonMari levels of perfection. It only took three full days and the neglect of all other housework to accomplish this feat, but it's done.

In a regular laundry week when I'm just doing a load or two at a time, I throw any unmatched socks back into the dryer when I'm done folding. I assume they will tumble around until their mates catch up in the next (or the next) basket from upstairs. I've been assuming for this a long time -- it's a barely-conscious decision these days -- but now, with all my laundry clean, I'm starting to doubt my theory.

I just threw eighteen lonely socks back into the dryer.

Maybe when I eventually drag the vacuum upstairs and tackle the under-bed dust bunnies I'll find one or two of their companions. Maybe I've lost a couple to the car, or I'll discover that there are single socks stuck in an off-season clothing box or something? Eighteen socks is a pretty tall order, but hunting them down is a job for Future Nicole.

But you know what? Future Nicole is tired too.

One of the hardest things in motherhood has been redefining what a successful day looks like. What is good enough? What is excellence? While Liam's growth and development feel like they are going well, I feel like my body and mind are simultaneously breaking down in every way. Baby's growing; Mommy's ageing. My own depleted energy resources and lowered capacity for task-fulfilment are gutting to the "Miss Independent, Miss Self-Sufficient" part of my brain that ran things for so long. It's hard to accept that today's laundry triumph isn't just the first of many checkmarks on my list, but is likely to prove grand total of things I get done. Other items on my to-do list: scrub the stove and toaster oven, meal planning for the week and related grocery run, sew crib bumper pads, clean main floor... and laundry, now complete, is likely the only one I'll be able to completely mark off.

Right before Liam was born, I was given the best ever new-mom to-do list: "Feed the baby, feed yourself, occasionally bathe one of you." I held onto those three tasks like a liferaft for the first two-ish months, but eventually, inevitably, the list had to expand. We're eight months in now, and although my reasons are different there are many days I can't do much more in a day than my one-month-in self.

I need a new liferaft line. Send me your suggestions.

In the meantime, I'm going to instruct my heart to celebrate the laundry, and to count it a success. And tomorrow, when we go for a walk, to count that a success too. I've been trying to more actively practice the discipline of counting my blessings, maybe it's time to actively count moments of success along with the groceries lists and bottles of formula, and lonely leftover socks.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Tummy Time

I'm currently lying on my kitchen floor. I got down here a half hour ago, to sit and chat with my little jolly-jumping goblin at his level and at some point I dragged my laptop from the counter, flipped over onto my belly and continued watching my YouTube show. Liam is behind me, bouncing between / on my calves, growling merrily to himself. Another load of laundry is in the dryer, the dishwasher is half loaded, and I'm just about ready for another run of Tylenol and a time-out with a heating pad against my back while the baby (hopefully) sleeps.

My kitchen floor, from this view, is disgusting. I'm glad Liam can't crawl yet.

But the reality is that my floor will occasionally look at least this bad long after we have a walker on our hands. The list of things that need to be addressed in order to maintain a clean house... it's long, guys. And most of the list is not fun. I am so grateful for visits from my mother and mother-in-law because I know that they will not only hold my baby and change some diapers, but they are also likely to give my windows / stovetop a scrub before they go home. Last week I caught one friend wiping sludge off the front of my counters.

This was not embarrassing -- it was love. These quiet acts of service fill up my heart as a mom. I love our boisterous little energy-sucking fart monster, and also I don't want to be the only one who loves him. He's almost eight months old. We have started a hope-you-go-away-to-college fund. Probably in seventeen years I'll be regretting the away part of that plan, but for now, just sometimes, I need that future, imaginary empty nest as a goal to focus on while we are still working on getting in enough tummy time:

Raise our son to be an independent, kind and thoughtful adult human.

Who will occasionally come home and sweep our floors.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Civic Duty (Part One)


I arrived at the courthouse half an hour ago, after dropping the baby to a friend for safekeeping and finding myself a parking spot downtown. I don't know how long I'll be waiting. The smartly-dressed and uncommonly tall lawyer I've been speaking to doesn't know either, but it could be a while -- the judge is working to resolve a case that rolled over from yesterday. I wonder how many cases roll over like this? I hope for the sake of my child-minding friend that this won't be an all-day affair.

I've been in a courtroom a hundred times through the rectangular box of a television set, but only once before in real life. Then I was a passive civic observer, curious about the process and atmosphere of Canadian justice in action. I was encouraged by a then-clerk friend of mine to sit in on part of a case, and she escorted me to the doors of a trial she thought was interesting. I'm still interested in the process of law. I am a person who holds police officers in high regard for the work they do, and I've seen a glimpse into the personal world of people who face trouble and danger on the regular. It's a societal role that requires a great deal of courage and compassion. Policing is important and difficult work, and I do not in any way want to diminish the stresses and responsibilities of the job.

I am in court today as a witness to minor violence and major disrespect, on the part of the officers that responded to a medical emergency in my neighbourhood. I haven't been warned not to talk about it publically, but I'll leave things vague for the moment.

When Ben and I moved into our house three years ago, we knew our neighbourhood had a rough reputation in the city. While we have seen brokenness, we have experienced much more hospitality and love in the generally stigmatized communities of our city than anywhere else. In my admittedly limited experience, poverty tends to unite people, and wealth can be isolating. The number of conversations we naturally have now that we live in a house is a fraction of the interactions that I had with neighbours when we lived in the apartment building at John and Barton. When you share space with others, you share life with them. I miss a great many things about living there, actually.


I have never seen so many rolling suitcases anywhere outside of an airport, and never more formal suits and high heels anywhere but a funeral. I'm still waiting for my case to be heard. Sitting on these metal benches is rather uncomfortable, but it's nice to at least be inside on such a blustery winter-again day, and my view of the city is a unique one: Looking down over Main Street from street-light height, watching a busy bus stop. There's a man in the park carrying four of those big, reusable grocery bags, stuffed full. There's a pick-up truck waiting at the light with several bags of soil in the bed. A father walking with his little tyke in a bright red coat, holding hands as they cross at the intersection.

I love people-watching, especially from such private perch. Humans are fascinating.


Well, the previous case took a lunch break, and I was instructed to stretch my legs and be back for 2PM. They also asked me to prepare a list of holidays coming up, in case they need to reschedule our trial entirely, which is somewhat less than encouraging. I took a walk to Tim Hortons and got myself a weather-appropriate soup for lunch, and I'm back in the waiting-waiting-waiting room, though now taking up a little floor space to give my back a break from the benches. One other person is sitting here with me -- facing towards the far wall, staring up at the clock. The second hand is red and has a nice, firm tick to its movements. I've just noticed that there are actually two analogue wall clocks in this tiny space. No need to turn your head to discover exactly how much time you are wasting. How considerate.


My trial has been postponed. I've been asked to wait ten more minutes until they can settle a new date, factoring everyone's upcoming schedules. So now I have a month and a half to stew until I can (hopefully) give my testimony. Stay tuned for Part Two, I guess!