The Hamster Wheel of Corona Delirium

I’ve had this conversation with many people this week…the current phase of quarantine that has us spinning the wheels, going effectively nowhere, the never ending daily nothing.

The covid novelty has worn off, weeks have passed, some have gone back to work, some are still stuck home, but we are all tired of the groundhog day life we have succumb to.

I know we have to stay home, stay focused on the end goal, but it’s getting HARD. The wake up, lather, rinse, repeat of the days are leaving us unsettled and squirrelly. We know we need to cut ourselves some slack, we have to be gentle, but the thought that every single event of 2020 being effectively cancelled is weighing on our mental capacity for positivity.

I’ve watched enough Netflix and I’ve baked enough dessert. My kids now groan at the idea of another ‘family stroll’. Our ability to look at the situation as a bonding agent for us has started to wane. I don’t want to eat shitty anymore, I don’t want to listen to the news, I don’t want to shop online. I want to put on some god damn high heels and sit in a room FULL of my friends. I want to reminisce with equal horror and laughter about that crappy weird time that corona had us holed up in a state of unrest, ordering fashion forward PPE masks by the boatload.

I want to get to the conversations that start with ‘hey remember when people went nuts and bought all the toilet paper?’ and then we laugh and tell our own stories with equal fondness and horror that thank god it has ended.

I dream of a time when I won’t worry that hanging out in a friends backyard might land them with a fat social distance fine. I also don’t want to hear the words social distance EVER FECKING AGAIN. I don’t want to be scared to walk into the wrong entrance at the grocery store. I want to hug and euro kiss my friends anytime I want to.

I don’t want to think about ways to turn my life into something meaningful during ‘this time of reflection’. I want to experience that mundane boring life of walking to get a coffee, not avoiding fellow pedestrians with a wide 6 ft berth or maybe just jumping in the car to eat outside of our own house – gasp – the luxury with which we now view those things.

We are turning on each other, kids to parents, partner to partner, it’s becoming a thing and sadly I think it’s unavoidable. I woke up today thinking I would start a Wacky Wednesday tradition in which we do something we don’t normally do each week but I’m lacking the creativity to come up with an idea.

Maybe something will hit me, maybe I will continue to sit and stare at my online shopping cart wasting another hour of the day. Who knows. I do know that in a couple hours I will go to bed and have to get up and do it all over again. I lift a non-alcoholic glass to all of you who are still thriving in quarantine, but also to tell you to stop posting it on social media, NO ONE wants to see your fancy bread anymore. NO ONE.

Xoxo

am I really a piece of garbage? all signs point to yes.

Let me elaborate.

Finn had a homework assignment: Ask your parents how they helped someone with bullying or in general when they were his age – so like 11-14 years of age.

Well I had to think.

A lot.

So did Troy.

Like I thought for almost an hour and came up utterly blank.

As parents we ingrain in our kids so many life affirmations with such strong conviction to be the best version of themselves. We preach:

No bullying! 
Be inclusive! 
Wear pink! 
Volunteer! 
Give blood! 
Be better, do better!

But when was the last time we looked back from when we were their age and how we acted?

At Finn’s age I was bullied all the time so I kept my fucking head down and went about my day. Now, when my kids come home from school and tell me someone was a jerk my first reaction is yup, kids suck, get used to it. Then I sort of come around and tell them to make sure you help out other kids who are bullied or to get involved if you see something not quite right. But when I was a kid, did I do that? Fuck no. I kept my head down, I went to class, I got teased, told I was the ugliest human in the world, my clothes were ridiculed, my obsession with boy bands was pathetic ( I mean, fair ) but my parents never were involved, at least I don’t think so, and nothing in school was EVER done. You ignored it and carried on.

Then Finn asks again: Did I help anyone else out who was bullied? Truth be told I have no idea. I mean, maybe I did but I can’t think of a single instance in which I intervened or remembered someone being bullied in front of me.

Did I do anything essentially good like volunteering? And I’m like uh nope, sorry Finn, turns out I was a piece of shit. I couldn’t think of one selfless thing I did as a kid. I volunteered once for the Canada Games, but only because my friend forced me to. My one act of service was to parade around the mall as the mascot but I was the WORST at it and they made me take the suit off in like 2 minutes. Basically I was fired from volunteer duty.

Troy retold his charitable experience of doing a bottle drive for his soccer team, but under his breath he also told me that the day after he donated the money, him and his friends did an extra bottle drive for a fake chairty to buy beer. So while we laughed hysterically to our piece of shit stories, it rang a bell in me how much we expect our kids to be better, be smarter, be more helpful, be the best version of themselves.

And while I agree with this in theory, I feel like an utter hypocrite. Maybe it was my narcissistic generation but everyone sort of did their own thing and moved on. I transferred schools every 3 years so being bullied was second nature to me. I was either too fat, too ugly, terribly boring, or simply NOT considered. I was exponentially shy but was also not encouraged by my parents or teachers to be better or do more. I was told to get my ass to school, get good grades, do homework and watch tv. 

So no fecking wonder our kids are suffering terrible mental health, poor self esteem and the trillion other emotions they get thrown in their faces 24 hours a day. We are giving them the world to pop on their wee shoulders and brave it selflessly, with conviction and also while helping everyone out along the way. 

That’s a lot.

I have no real solutions to this issue other than my own self reflection and realization that I was a piece of garbage kid which is fine because a. I can’t do anything about it now and b. I think most of my peers were also pieces of shit. 

But I want to sign off with an addendum to Finn’s failed school question… perhaps next time we should weave a heartwarming life experience from our vast knowledge of 80’s movies he will never watch. Maybe next time when asked whether Troy was bullied we will say, YES he was, by a gang of guys called the Cobra Kai, but he never gave up, he befriended an unlikely elderly neighbour who taught him the value of hard work and perseverance and ended up defeating those bullies at the world championship Karate competition.

And me, well, I was so selfless, I once spent my entire vacation slaving away to learn the Mambo with an underprivileged tough guy so that I could fill in for my good friend Penny so she could get an abortion and have a chance in this world. I mean, SELFLESS.

Homework aka the single worst thing I can ask my 8yo to do

So let me start by saying that I am not a therapist, I have zero idea what I am doing. 

Hard stop.

Obviously I’m making a shit ton of mistakes (like most parents, even though most loathe to admit it) so by no means am I advocating what to do. That being said, this might resonate with some and if anything give you a laugh at what a shit show it has become.

Back story:

So 5 months ago we decided to put our 8yo daughter in Kumon – the reading program. We were like, so obvs she needs help to read because she would sit there and stare at the wall making up words and then when calling out her mistakes, she would scream and throw her book down telling us she IS READING. Riiiiight. 

We made the decision, signed her up and thought we are the best parents in the world – she is going to rock grade 3! We were WINNING…

Except we weren’t.

Kumon is a daily assignment that never ends. They teach self regulation and ‘go at your own pace’ learning which is cool…unless you have a Wren. I mean, let’s be real, most kids would think holy fuck I don’t get any days off of homework? This blows! But what choices did we have? We were positive this would help and she would be like – wow all that hard work paid off, thanks mom and dad! HA HA HA HA that still makes me laugh.

My daughter does NOT like to be told what to do, but also has trouble focusing. She will sharpen a pencil for 12 minutes and then throw that lovely sharp pencil to the floor when you ask her to focus and keep going. When she is frustrated she will say she’s stuck even before opening a book. When you politely tell her she hasn’t tried, that book is thrown to join the floor pencil.

She also does NOT like to be doing homework every day when her brother does fuck all after school, I mean, fair, I don’t blame her on that one. I’ve learned through many years of struggle that she needs a choice system. She requires a certain level of control over her life or she implodes in frustration.

This is true in all aspects in her life. When getting ready for school she would physically slow down if I told her to hurry up. If I told her to brush her teeth 75 million times she probably heard me say it once. But if I said, ‘ok, if you brush your teeth then I will help you with one extra task before school’, that would get her going. If there is choice, she assumes some power, all is happy.

When faced with her resistance over Kumon we would bargain, reward with weekly prizes, coerce, beg, play music, eventually we would yell (sometimes a lot), and some days when she felt like doing it, she could be done a 10 page booklet in 12 minutes. Yes, TWELVE FUCKING MINUTES…but sometimes, well perhaps 50% of the time, she sat there with one booklet for 2 hours. I knew she knew what to do. I KNEW it. But since it wasn’t a choice for her, she fought tooth and nail. She would focus on what she didn’t get or what she could be doing and no amount of reasoning would work.

She would throw fits. Break pencils in half, chuck her booklet in the air. Scratch her paper so hard it would be ripped to shreds. Oh hey Kumon teacher, wrens book looks like a tiger attacked it, yes we know…

I would sit with her, sometimes for hours to complete one book. It was painful for us as parents, but also for her brother who NEVER has homework and would have to sit there while she hated her life, taking the stress on himself by begging her to complete the damn book so that they both could watch TV. If I let him watch TV in another room while she was trying to do Kumon, well, it would be akin to asking her to sit still while I peeled her finger nails off.

I tried to draw with Finn while she did her work so he could be amused, no dice, she wanted to draw with us. I switched to making him do math or spelling but then she constantly asked for my help even when she knew the answer just to get my attention. She was dictating our whole family dynamic and that made me furious. And yes I know that you can’t do that, that you have to be the parent but let me tell you that unless you have dealt with this type of child before, you have no idea what a 4 hour tantrum looks like, and what it does mentally to a family. 

It’s horrifying.

All this being said, Kumon fucking works. She went from basically a kindergarten level of reading (at the beginning of grade 3) to chapter books in just 5 months. It’s fantastic….for a lot of kids. Not for mine.

So as I sat (hid) in my room this past weekend, after a 4 hour power struggle/fight over Kumon…I frantically googled WHAT THE FUCK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WHEN YOUR KID HATES HOMEWORK.

I expected a bunch of ‘they have to to suck it up’, ‘sit until it’s done’, ‘they don’t get privileges until it’s done’ type advice because that’s what I heard as a kid and it fucking worked. Instead I got some tidbits of incite that resonated…

Kids are born with free will

HELLO, sort of a simple statement but honestly as a parent sometimes you forget that YOU DON’T CONTROL YOUR KIDS. I mean you can direct them not to touch a hot stove or stick a penny up their nose but kids don’t learn free will, they are born with it and some kids want it immediately. Other kids, like my 11yo, could happily give up their free will, live at home in a trailer in our back yard to get mommy cuddles until he is 50…yes, this is his life plan to date.

So as much as I want Wren to understand how important homework is, I can’t make her want to do it. I mean, crossing fingers, but they say that if she starts to fail, she will recognize on her own that she is fucking it up and will make that ultimate decision to be better. I mean, in theory right? But it makes sense. If I don’t let her choose to want to learn, she may end up living with her brother in that trailer in the back yard, not by choice, but as an effect of her never choosing to learn.

Parents have got to stop placing the kids success on their shoulders. 

We felt massive guilt over her reading issues even though we read to her all the time. We did all the steps you are supposed to do to get them to read but somewhere along the way she fell through the school cracks and reading turned into a punishment for her. We pushed her into Kumon thinking it would solve the issue and while it forced her to learn to read, she now hates to learn…see the problem I’m getting at?

I felt this same anxiety this year with my 11yo’s class speech. Normally I sit with him, help him craft the right words, insert timely jokes, and really enjoy the time I get to spend wordsmithing with my kid. This year he wanted to do it all on his own and I had to step off and let it go.

It was fecking hard.

Especially when his speech turned into a Ted Talk/Improv comedy act with some sort of Geronimo exit/tumble back to his seat at the end. But his success has to be because he wants it. I will not always be there telling him to re-write that part or to do a little bit more work on XYZ. I need to step back and let him reap the rewards for good work he is solely responsible for but also process the disappointment from a shit mark if he cuts corners. He needs to learn what failure feels like to crave success.

I can’t force Wren to love reading. She may or may not ever love it. I can’t control her, I never could and that is a hard pill to swallow. So with a cringe in my jaw, and a forced pleasantness I went to ask my daughter whether she wants to continue with Kumon as we were finally going to give her that choice. Of corse she emphatically leaped with joy and quit immediately. 

I shared a pained and furious look with Troy but we both zipped our lips and contained our disdain. We are angry but we are also recognizing that this pattern can’t continue. It hasn’t gotten better, but feels like it’s gotten worse. Instead we gave her the choice to quit, but to gain an hour of daily study time each day to work on anything she likes. She can chose whatever she wants to do in that hour, but all electronics are off and both kids have to work on something. Once that hour is up they can do whatever they want, and I can finally go and finish The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel.

I have no idea if this is the right thing to do, but fuck it, it can’t be worse then listening to a 4 hour tantrum over how her life is ruined because of a 10 page booklet. You’re 8, life is about to get a whole lot fucking harder little kid so buckle up and choose your battles.

Quote Schmote

Shitballs, not another facebook quote

I saw a pic today with a quote on it. I know. Gagging a little but hear me out.

I am the one who cringes the moment I open facebook and see 7,000 quotes in my timeline. Quotes about parenting, eating cake for dinner, pumpkin spiced lattes being like air or some chick exclaiming in glee that sweater weather is here! And I’m like I’ve been wearing a sweater all summer so fuck off. So while some might be lovely, or funny, or relevant or whatever the crap you’re feeling, it comes across like facebook is yelling at me to get my life together and frankly I don’t need the reminder.

But yesterday was a bad day. I could barely drag myself around the house. I took a nap and felt like I should just stay in bed for the next 4 months. I felt worthless in my job, shitty as a parent, fat for eating all the left over cream cheese bake, I had a terrible hair day and looked in the mirror thinking what the feck are you contributing to this world.

I was also like SO angry about the chatelaine article claiming that 86% of female MPs have experienced sexism in politics (read it, you will want to barf too but it’s important so read it).

So then I started to just hate men in general.

Which is a bit of a blanket statement but when I open twitter, it’s just bad shitty gross guys getting AWAY WITH EVERYTHING. Like they are competing to be the worst human being on the planet. It felt bleak and yuck and I wasn’t sure if I was slipping back into another terrible depression or whether it was a one off but those days scare me.

This morning didn’t start great. Wren was sick which means the hellmouth has erupted underneath our house and we couldn’t do anything but tip toe around her and make bets on who was going to get yelled at next. I bet on Finn FOR SURE. 

But once I corralled (pushed) them onto the bus I saw a little sunlight. It can be that literal when you have a mental illness you struggle with. I threw out the rest of the cream cheese bake (YAY), I signed up for a writers group which is so FAR OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE, and I took a walk. I went to the library and then I signed up for a cross stitch class in which I will be learning to cross stitch a beer can. I know…WINNING.

I also brought over Piper from next door. Dogs are key right? Dogs are perfect specimens on this earth and they will bring forth my happiness and squash all my evil man thoughts for another day because Piper is a girl and we’ve got to stick together.

So while I am indeed feeling better, I did just have a wasp fly into my head as I typed this indicating what every September brings which is a fecking nest in my walls. Maybe it was a one off, maybe it will signal the next hornet-apocalypse. We shall see.

So in all my ramblings I go back to the quote I saw today that resonated with me and perhaps won’t make you barf either. Happy Wednesday folks :)

Wake The Feck Up

Hello gorgeous peeps out there, it’s been 5 months since my last confession which is insane. I say confession because sometimes it truly feels like that and honestly I need to get back to my roots, my writing religion. I titled this blog in order to get a fire rolling in me, maybe in you (if it’s needed), in life in general which I feel I need a heavy slap in the keister over. You see, I realize I have not been myself, not in a very long time. I’ve lived under a thick heavy blanket of depression, anxiety, panic, fear, sadness, I mean if it’s a thing, I’ve probably gone through it. I’m the walking definition of mental illness and I’m quite adept at hiding it…well most days.

It seems most likely to have flourished from my mothers illness and dealing with it for about 5 years now, a constant reminder of death which never ever came even though I’ve expected it, thought about it and now that it is actually happening I’m probably dealing with it the most healthily. Instead of burying myself in books, housework, party planning, drinking, shopping or really anything I could think of to avoid thinking of the future, I’m trying to be an adult. GASP NO!

My husband, very poignantly I might add, stated yesterday that I have to keep moving because even when my mom eventually passes, someone else will get sick, someone else might die so there really is no point in waiting for it to happen just so I can go back to living. Kablam Troy Hogan on that juicy Ted talks!

It’s a tough mask to wear, this anticipatory grief that has been up and down for so long, and I am so tired of it. I’m tired that I’ve pushed friends away thinking I’m just not happy enough to hang around them. I’ve avoided many gatherings and weekend trips out of town preferring to stay home in my safe environment. I’m tired that I’ve put every goal, dream, wish I’ve had for my career into the ‘maybe later’ box. 

I’m SUPER tired thinking about starting any new dreams/work adventures at the age of 44, I mean fuck my life right? Some of my friends are planning retirement and I said to my 10 year old last night ‘What should I be when I grow up?’. His answer was simple and to the point – I want you to be exactly what you are now. No change, always home when I need you. Which is sweet and lovely and exactly Finn.

Wrens answer was way more interesting. She said: An astronaut! A dancer! A fashion designer! A singer! But then she looked at me and told me she was proud of the cool mom she had now which I of corse RELISHED…and realized she must be buttering me up for something. But I took it regardless because anyone who has gotten a Wren compliment had better see it for the lottery it is.

So bleech, this post isn’t supposed to be depressing, or self help-y, but rather a first step to wake the fuck up. Again, my Ted talks husband sent me a link this morning which was pretty great. Who is this guy I married?

It was an excerpt from Atomic Habits by James Clear (https://jamesclear.com/goals-systems) which in a nut shell says to forget about goals and instead fall in love with the systems and processes we make to achieve things. Sure I’d love to win a book deal but if I don’t will I still be happy writing? I mean I hope so, who the fuck knows but it’s worth a try. I’d love to be that fashion designer Wren wished for me, but maybe selling some t-shirts that I’ve been thinking of designing is the perfect process. 

There was another sweet article retweeted by The Rock no less which I read yesterday and I thought it pretty great too. ‘Why I’m holding off on success to live a life of varied experiences’ by Farah Brook.

I can 100% say that I must be pretty remarkable with my many failings and for SURE having 4.3 million dollars is too overwhelming to manage. So on that note, happy Wednesday folks whilst I go off, follow my process and fail some more but in the same breath nab some pretty sweet character building qualities. Shazam.