Tag Archives: postaweek2011

2011 – My Year In A Nutshell

27 Dec

January 2011

I start off the year on a good note. Tired and slightly hungover, I take part in the Resolution Run on New Years Day. With my wedding just four months away, I start to stress about the little details, like where to get married and where to hold the reception.

This month, I also donate blood for the first time  – at least, the first successful time. My inspiration is baby David, affectionately known as Captain Snuggles. Sadly, David dies just days later, at just 8 months old.

 

February 2011

We have a wedding venue and a minister! I will be getting married in the same church where both of my children were baptized into the Christian cult fellowship. My running has slowed down a little, because the stress of wedding planning has made me sick.

March 2011

We have a venue for our wedding reception! We almost booked the first place we looked at, but then we went to see the hall at the Royal Canadian Legion. They initially had the hall booked for our wedding day, but the other people have graciously agreed to move their event to the previous weekend. This means two things. First, we get to have our reception in a place that supports the veterans. And second, we now have all of the information we need to send out our wedding invitations.

This month is frantically busy. We have left most of our wedding planning to the last minute, so we have to book our DJ, our flowers, get a cake sorted, find someone to do my hair and makeup, and so much more.

April 2011

My wedding is on the last day of this month! Most things are organized, but my hairdresser and my makeup person have both bailed on me. While I dissolve into tears, my fiancé gets into the car and goes out for a drive. When he comes back, he tells me that the hair and makeup problem is all sorted out.

My soon-to-be brother-in-law introduces me to a wonderful lady, who agrees to be in charge of both of my boys for the day of the wedding. This is a very big deal for me. I worry about how my son with autism will cope with such a big day.

The big day arrives, and it goes perfectly! My hair and makeup look lovely, and the dress – made by my mother-in-law – is perfect. I marry the man I love, and everyone has a lovely time, including the kids.

May 2011

I spend time with my Mom, who has come for the wedding. We go shopping, we go for drives, we spend time with the kids, we chat and drink wine. It’s wonderful to have her with me.

One of the lowest lows of the year happens this month, with the unexpected death of our friend Ken, just days after our wedding. It is an honour to have had Ken and his wife at the wedding. It is good that we got to see him one last time. He will always be missed.

June 2011

My younger son James graduates from Kindergarten. I have a surreal kind of feeling as I watch my baby up there on stage, wearing his construction paper graduation cap, receiving his Kindergarten diploma. When he and his classmates start singing their songs, I just about die from the cuteness.

 

July 2011

I am having difficulty with my running. I struggle to find time, I am lacking motivation, and I am injured. I have missed the last two races I was registered for. On the plus side, the sporadic nature of my recent training does not appear to have affected my speed. There has not been any improvement in my performance, but there hasn’t been a noticeable decline either. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re struggling with something you usually love, you have to take what you can get.

August 2011

2011-08-25 11.19.19This month turns out to be unexpectedly busy. The big news is that my older son George graduates from his provincially funded autism intervention program. He has had two years of IBI followed by a year of the school stream program. His progress has been off the charts. He is ready for this graduation. I, on the other hand, am not. It represents a growing-up that I am just not ready for.

Things seem to be looking up with my running! I run two races this month, just a couple of weeks apart. My performance in the first isn’t great, but in the second, I do a lot better than expected.

September 2011

George turns 8, and I’m not really sure how this has happened. It seems like just yesterday that I held my tiny baby in my arms for the first time, and now he’s this long lanky boy who keeps growing out of his shoes.

My 2011 Run for Autism is three weeks away. I run a 10km race at the zoo and make a personal best time. The following morning, I go out for a long run in foul weather, and the day after that, I can barely walk. I feel good, though. I feel ready for the half-marathon.

October 2011

75738-1975-025f[1]The day has finally arrived: the race I have been training for all year. This is the reason I run – to raise funds for autism services, to make the world a better place for children and youth with autism and their families. I dedicate this race to my son George: my joy and my inspiration. If he can live every day with the challenges of autism, I can run a two-hour race.

It goes really, really well. I get a personal best time for the half-marathon and beat the 2:20:00 target that I’ve set for myself. What makes this day even more amazing is that I have done really well with my fundraising for this race, surpassing my combined total for the previous two years.

November 2011

I am insanely busy at work. I am on four projects, and I am also in charge of the month-end reporting for all of the projects in my department’s portfolio. I am enjoying the additional challenge that this gives me, and every month I am getting better at it.

I feel like I am starting to gain some traction in my writing. It is hard work, building up a blog following, and it’s an ongoing process. I am becoming quite prolific, though. I have my blog, I write for an ezine, I write for a project called World Moms Blog, that is growing very fast. I have been voted as one of the top 25 Canadian mom blogs, and people are starting to ask me to guest post for them. I have also resurrected the novel I started working on a couple of years ago.

I run another race at the end of the month, and demolish my previous personal best time. If I can do this after the difficult season I’ve had, what will I be capable of if I actually train? I ask my running friend Phaedra to be my coach for next year, and she agrees.

December 2011

As usual, my Christmas preparations are a last-minute frantic rush. Somehow, I get my shopping done on time and the day is a big success. We all weather the festive season with life and limb intact. It is a hard time for George, with all of the sounds and lights and people and busy-ness, but he gets through it.

On Christmas Day, James turns six. I feel a little weepy over the fact that my baby is no longer a baby. There is just something about the transition from 5 to 6.

Also on Christmas Day, I somehow manage to pinch a nerve in my back. It’s eerily reminiscent of 2 years ago, when the same thing happened. The incident in 2009 puts me out of action for two months, and I really hope this does not happen again.

The story continues in 2012. What script will I write for my life in the coming year?

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Twitter Tuesday: #IStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen

20 Dec

Welcome to today’s edition of Twitter Tuesday! Before we get started: anyone who believes that it’s a fat dude in a red suit who delivers your Christmas presents every year, please leave the room. If you stay, you might just get the shock of your life.

OK, now that we only have those who believe that the whole Santa story was cooked up by someone who was drinking (because what other explanation is there, really?) today’s trending topic is about the man himself.

Many of us believed in Santa at some point during our younger years. Some of us grew out of the belief as we got older and realized that laws of physics would make it impossible for a man of his girth to fit down a chimney. Others had a jolt of realization after some specific incident. For me, I had my first clue when I noticed one year that Santa was wearing Grandpa’s boots.  When I blurted out something about it, the grown-ups quickly made up a story about how Grandpa had merely lent his boots to Santa. We all accepted it, without even questioning why Grandpa wasn’t present.

A couple of years later, we were living in Connecticut, and went to Times Square on Christmas Eve. There, I saw Santa Claus ringing his bell, and I went up to say hi. To my utter consternation – bear in mind that I was seven – Santa asked me for money. That was the deal-breaker for me, the moment of my tearful realization.

Today, the folks over in Twitterland are sharing their own experiences with the hashtag #IStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen. Here’s what some of them have to say:

#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen when i noticed i was circumcised (@ImHiRez)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I realised that a man who breaks into my home & eats my cookies has no right to judge whether I’m good or bad (@jdizzaymusic)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I knew I didn’t have a chimney (@_kingsasha)
#IStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I noticed he and my mother had similar penmanship. (@owlcity)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen OMG SANTA DOESNT EXIST?!?!? 😦 (@kissingjonas)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen? This shouldn’t be trending. I am real. (@thesantaclaus)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I saw this trending 😥 thanks for crushing my dreams twitter. (@jackw25)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I realised it was just Dumbledore in a Santa suit. (@_loony_lovegood)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I saw him ringing a bell in front of Target asking for spare change (@allancozart)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I realised that a man who breaks into my home & eats my cookies has no right to judge whether I’m good or bad (@anonupdate)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I didn’t find Justin Bieber under my Christmas tree. (@selgomezbieber)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen i walked in on him having an affair with the tooth fairy (@will_beckman)
#IStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen my parents started saying he was on a budget. (@valbadassaldua)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen i got a Sega Saturn and it said made in japan (@phantom_sparx)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen No One Ate My Milk & Cookies (; (@x3singerx3)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I analyzed the shit out of it… At 7 years old. (@thebestperson)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen when I recognized the paunch of my uncle. (@berepg80)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen i found the presents under piles of laundry when i was 8… #AwfulHidingSkillsMom @lexxjelmm21)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen When My Kindergarten BestFriend Told Me Mrs.Clause Hit Him With a Chu Chu Train (@allegiantme_)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen my teacher said he blow up in the sky cuz the reindeer were moving really fast ._. (@rhiforeverreal)
#iStoppedBelievingInSantaWhen I had a bar mitzvah (@not_owen_levy)

What’s your story? What was that moment at which you stopped believing in Santa?

Christmas Trees, Snow And My Middle Finger

19 Dec

Ladies and gents, listen up! I have an announcement!

*Tapping foot while the drone of multiple conversations gradually dies down and people look in my direction*

OK, now that I have your attention – ex­cuse me, you at the back of the room, I need undivided attention here, because this is a momentous occasion. Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you that this year I got my Christmas decorations up a full week before Christmas!

This is unprecedented. Every other year, I’ll be commuting home from work, and I’ll suddenly look up from the book I’m reading with a jolt, thinking, “Holy crap! Christmas is three days away and I don’t have my decorations up yet!” I’ll arrive home, and in a whirlwind of activity that startles my family, I’ll hunt down the decorations and then flit about putting them up.

To be fair, I compensate for my tardiness by leaving the decorations up until mid-February.

This year I decided to do it differently. I would do my decorating on a Sunday, when things are a bit less chaotic, and when I can bully sweet-talk my children into helping. Apart from everything else, my almost-six-year-old son James gave me a reason for getting my decorating done: he wanted to go to school and tell his friend Ciara that he had the best Christmas tree in the world. This would be the same kid who featured in a note James wrote that declared, “Ciara is skeery.”

In order to decorate, I first had to go shopping. My Christmas tree tinsel is a gazillion years old, and is 45% shiny tinsel, 55% tatty string. I also got some oversized baubles and a small disco ball (James’ idea) to hang from the ceiling, and some new stuff for my ceramic Christmas village. I was about to go in search of some cotton wool to make Christmas village snow out of, when I saw some “instant snow” mix. The instructions seemed straightforward enough: just mix with water and viola! You have snow!

Well, this looked nice! My village could have actual snow – or something that looks like actual snow!

I paid for my purchases, wrestled my children back into the car, and drove home. I was unaccountably excited about putting up the decorations, so I hustled my family through dinner, and with a decisive clap of my hands, I said, “Right! Time to tackle the decorations!” The husband helped with the heavy lifting, then he dove for cover, having learned from previous years that the living room turns into a hazardous obstacle course during decorating time.

I got the tree up and decorated. I perched the angel on top, plugged it in, and switched on the lights. Immediately my living room looked like a family was actually celebrating Christmas in it. Next stop was the Christmas village. I dug out all of the pieces, arranged them on the mantle, and strung lights through the buildings so they could glow from the inside. Now all I needed was snow! I grabbed my packet of instant snow. One tablespoon of powder in 32 ounces of water, said the instructions. I measured out precisely 32 ounces of water, added precisely one tablespoon of powder, and stirred.

Hmmm. Didn’t seem to be working out too well. Apart from a few sorry-looking flakes in my water jug, I wasn’t getting anything. I threw in some more powder. Now the consistency of the water was starting to change, which was promising. For good measure, I added a bit more powder.

Thirty seconds later, I was staring in astonishment as fake snow spilled out my water jug and into the kitchen sink. This stuff was unreal. It was expanding like crazy and just wouldn’t stop. It reminded me of the time I used my breadmaker with a tablespoon of yeast instead of a teaspoon of yeast, resulting in the Great Bread Explosion Of 2009.

Well, I had enough snow for my village. In fact, I had enough snow for my village to be buried in an avalanche. I gave my village snow for a pretty snowfall, and then tried to wash the rest of the snow down the sink.

Big mistake. I only got more snow. What the hell is this stuff, and why can’t my money do that?

I abandoned the snow and turned to the big baubles and the disco ball. Hanging them from the ceiling would be simple enough. All I had to do for each one was raise two adjoining ceiling tiles, tie the string onto the metal strat between the tiles, and then lower the tiles. Not a problem – I’ve done this many times. I hung the first bauble, but only one of the ceiling tiles would go back into place. I raised it up a little higher, and then let it go so it could drop. Unfortunately, I neglected to first move my finger out of the way, and the tile came crashing down right on my fingernail.

I am not proud of the language that came out of my mouth. My husband came rushing in to see what I was swearing about. He asked me why my face had turned white, but before I could answer, James started dancing around me chanting, “Mommy said a bad word! Mommy said a bad word!” James’ older brother George, the eight-year-old with autism, was cheerfully repeating the said bad word over and over. My finger had already started sprouting a colourful bruise. I held it up to show my husband, who was tickled pink over the fact that it happened to be my middle finger. I ran into the kitchen and shoved my hand into the sinkful of fake snow. To my surprise, it actually did soothe the pain a little.

I pulled myself together enough to hang the rest of the baubles (without incident) and the disco ball (also without incident). Now all I had to do was get rid of the excess fake snow. My husband suggested flushing it down the loo, but I had a feeling that if we did that, we’d have to wear snowshoes every time we needed to pee. In the end, I just scooped it up and threw it into the garbage can.

And now, we can sit back and relax – actually, that’s a lie. I still have to do my Christmas shopping. But I can at least go home at the end of the day and drink a well-deserved glass of wine in the warm glow of the Christmas lights.

Campbell: A Story Of Kindness

15 Dec

Tazz and Campbell

Once upon a time, I had a child and called him George. I had all kinds of hopes and dreams for that child. We were going to  take him on the kinds of outings kids love, and for his birthdays, we’d invite his friends to come too. We would delight in watching him grow from babyhood to childhood as he ran and jumped and played with his peers; we would laugh at the funny things he said as he was learning to talk; he would make cookies with me and we’d go for picnics at the zoo. When he became a big brother he would take pride in helping with the baby.

One day, when George was almost four, the hopes and dreams crumbled as a doctor gave me the news that George had autism. As I sat there in shock (strange really, since I’d known for a year that something was wrong) I did not yet know that at some point in the future, I would come to accept a new kind of “normal”, that my hopes and dreams would take on a different, but still meaningful form, and that while the journey would take us on the scenic route, we would still see many wonderful things along the way.

It hasn’t all been a cakewalk. There have been hard times. I have had to learn how to restrain my son with my bodyweight to stop him from hurting himself. Speech is still sporadic enough that we celebrate every single word, every single sentence. It saddens us that George does not have friends, preferring to play by himself.

One of the hardest things to deal with has been the reactions of other people. We get rude stares in grocery stores, and complete strangers tell us that what our child needs is “a good hiding”. When people see George having difficulty in a public place, they jump to the immediate conclusion that he is misbehaving. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes he is. He may have autism, but let’s face it – an eight-year-old boy is an eight-year-old boy. Most times, though, George is having trouble with the brightness of the florescent lighting, or the overabundance of sounds, or all of the conversations going on around him that he does not know how to filter.

I sometimes wish for a magical potion, a Perfume of Arabia that I could sprinkle onto people to open their eyes and help them understand.

In the absence of a Perfume of Arabia, the best I can do is write about my experiences and hope that it will make a difference to someone’s life. Like it did to a reader, Tazz, who along with her dog Campbell, had an incredible encounter with a special needs child. With Tazz’s permission, I am sharing the story here. I’m not even going to bother rewording it. Tazz’s words can speak very well for themselves.

“One thing I learned is to never ever judge what I see a child doing, because for all I know there may be a problem I do not know about. Turns out this info came in very handy for me not long ago. There is a family who are members of the church I am currently attending part time. Their son has some kind of a problem that they have not quite diagnosed yet. However, it causes him to sometimes have horrible meltdowns. I was walking down the hall one day during Sunday School time going back to class from the bathroom when from a room down the hall a ways I heard the most heartbreaking crying I ever heard, and knew it was this little boy having another hard time. His mother was doing all she could to calm the child. I followed my heart and took a chance. I softly knocked on the door, and asked if I could help. She had come to the door with the melting down child in her arms, and when he saw Campbell his screaming stopped. I mean like turning off a switch. I asked if I could bring Campbell in and visit for a minute. She agreed and we all sat on the floor with the little boy calming down and petting Campbell. They are now looking in to the possibility of getting a therapy dog for this child. Campbell has come to rescue this child a couple more times since that day. Because now if we are there, and this child starts to have a problem they come and get me from where ever I am and I happily go and help. Well, Campbell helps.

Is this not the most amazing story? Tazz had an instinct and she followed it. She and her dog were exactly what that little boy and his Mom needed. We special needs parents all need people like this – people who don’t necessarily know the circumstances, but who open their hearts to people who really need it.

To Tazz and all of the people like her, thank you. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being you. You restore my faith in the goodness of human nature.

This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Head Ant, who gave me this prompt: What would your proverbial “perfumes of Arabia” take care of? Fiction or non-fiction.
I challenged lisa with the prompt: Write about anything you like, but include the following: cotton candy, a dog, and a broken-down taxi.

Photo credit to Tazz. This picture was taken at an event to remember the victims of domestic violence.

Twitter Tuesday: #WorstHolidayStory

13 Dec

Today is Twitter Tuesday. This means I look for an interesting hashtag on Twitter and find some interesting tweets to go with that hashtag.

For the Twitter virgins out there, “hashtag” is really a fancy word for “conversation”. If you’re tweeting about, say, green bug-eyed monsters, you would include this in your tweet: #greenbugeyedmonsters.

Today, I came across a hashtag that is appropriate for this time of year. If you have anything to add to the list, leave me a comment!

#WorstHolidayStory:

#worstholidaystory the fact we now get in trouble for saying Merry CHRISTMAS well you know what? CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS! (@gnomedruid)

Getting a planner for the year 1998 in 2007, and a “L” charm when your name begins with “A” #worstholidaystory (@alliegoedecke)

#worstholidaystory on Xmas stuck in the middle of nowhere in a broken car, in the freezing cold,no signal, parents roaring at each other (@MissDianaSongsz)

Me “I flew in this wedding ring from Paris! Merry Xmas!” Her “I’m sleeping w/your Dad. And I’m pregnant. Happy New Year!” #worstholidaystory (@ryanpaulgibson)

went to Swiss Chalet for Christmas Eve dinner. By the time they served us, it was Christmas #WorstHolidayStory #SaddestDinner (@paddyjane)

Some weird green creature waltzed into my house and took all my presents #WorstHolidayStory (@justinkase3)

1 yr got busy wrapping presents, forgot to put names on them, then couldn’t remember who they were for #WorstholidayStory (@cindylee137)

The Monopoly incident of 1989. Left a family shattered. The mear mention of the game still sends shivers down the spine. #worstholidaystory (@suckitstupid)

the year my mother-in-law broke her hip we spent Xmas day in the emergency room #WorstHolidayStory (@avalen1)

Santa isn’t real?!? :’o #worstholidaystory (@datkidbrandon)

#worstholidaystory frosty the puddle: the effects of global warming. (@afilardz)

worst thing,I got turkey all stuffed and put it in oven only to realize 3hrs later I forgot to turn oven ON #WorstHolidayStory (@cindylee137)

#worstholidaystory I accidentally got drunk before attending evening service at church! THE SHAME! (@naphtalionline)

Go to see parents up north and come to find out they came south at the same time, so we missed each other. #worstholidaystory (@thomasflorida)

Running over wrapped presents as they fell out of the back of the vehicle on Christmas Eve. #worstholidaystory (#superheroalo)

And finally, a poignant tweet that reminds us to be safe as we celebrate whatever holiday we are celebrating.

I lost my sister to a drunk driver 2 Christmas’s ago on Christmas Day, She would have been 23 this year! #worstholidaystory (@amymariesantee)

Princess

12 Dec

On Saturday night, me and my husband went to the annual Christmas gala put on by my employers. While I always get excited about the prospect of going out for a meal at a place that does not supply paper menus and crayons, there is always a bit of angst involved in the preparation.

For a start, we have to arrange childcare and hope that the almost-six-year-old drama queen won’t have a hissy fit when he discovers that we’re going out without him. When we fail to find childcare because it’s the Christmas season and apparently, baby-sitters have lives too, we have to hope that the kids won’t tie their elderly grandmother and great-aunt to a pole and dance around them waving sticks and chanting ominously.

Once the kids are sorted out, we move on to the more difficult question, one that has plagued women all over the world since the very beginning of time.

What do I wear?

Where shopping is concerned, my philosophy is this: Why put off until tomorrow what you can do the following day? In that vein, I went shopping for my dress at lunchtime on Friday, one day before the event. And yes, I had to get a new dress. No, I couldn’t wear something already in my wardrobe. My clothing size has changed so many times over the years, in both directions, that I don’t actually have anything that fits. So, off the store I went, fully expecting that as usual, I would have to settle for something I didn’t really like. The perils of being a habitual last-minute shopper. Someday I’ll learn. Maybe. Probably not.

Anyway, the shopping expedition went a lot better than expected. As soon as I walked into the store, I saw a chocolate brown creation that looked very nice. I never thought chocolate brown was really my colour, but some intuition told me to give it a try. By some miracle, they actually had the dress in my size. I picked out a couple of other dresses to try on just in case the chocolate brown one didn’t work out, and I retreated into the change room. I briefly wavered between the chocolate brown dress and a red one, but in the end I went for my initial instinct. Apart from the fact that the brown looked better, I already had shoes that would go with it. I wasn’t wild about the idea of dropping over a hundred bucks on a pair of shoes that would shred my feet by the time dessert was being served.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon, when we were getting ready to go. My makeup was applied and my hair was as done as it was ever going to be. The husband was off putting on his glad rags, and all I had to do was put the dress on. As I slipped it over my head, my eight-year-old son – so sweet and innocent in his autism – wandered in. He tentatively touched the shiny fabric and smiled. And then – to my astonishment – he started helping me accessorize. He grabbed my shoes and helped me put them on. He dug around in my dresser and came up with the necklace I wore with my wedding dress. He handed it to me and said, “Put the necklace on, Mommy.” It wasn’t the necklace I had been planning on wearing, but when your mostly non-verbal autistic child gives you a full, appropriate-to-the-circumstances sentence, you don’t sneeze at it. I put the necklace on, and would you believe it, the kid was right! The necklace looked way better than what I had been planning on.

My little fashion diva stepped back to survey his handiwork. He gazed at me and said a single word: Princess.

We had a great night. The food was good, we had very nice people at our table, we danced and partied and had fun. The dress was a hit, and my some miracle, it was even comfortable. There are many moments of the evening that I smile about as I relive them. Walking into the ballroom hand-in-hand with my husband. The many laughs we shared with the people at our table. The outstanding wine and the food that was so pretty I almost didn’t want to eat it.

But in the end, there is one memory of the evening that I hold close to my heart, that warms me from the inside every time I think about it.

My beautiful son, looking at me with those big blue eyes, calling me a princess.

At moments like that, my cup overfloweth.

The Hardest Job In The World

8 Dec

Parenting is the hardest job in the world. You never get time off – not even when you’re sleeping, not even when you are at work and your children are at school. You don’t get paid – not, at least, in any financial sense. There are times when you feel overworked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated, and every single little mistake you make can come back at you like a boomerang, days or weeks or even years later. Being a mom – or indeed, a dad – can drain your emotional and physical energy. You have to be in a million places at once, do a million things at a time, be teacher, nurse, therapist, judge, and mediator – sometimes simultaneously. The job comes with huge dollops of guilt: guilt for not having the time to play with your child while the stove is boiling over and the dog is barfing; guilt for locking yourself in the bathroom for five minutes of alone-time; guilt for actually buying something for yourself instead of spending the money on your child; guilt for rushing the homework supervision because the dinner is not made and the washing machine is jammed.

To be fair, the job of parenting has the best rewards ever: the enormous, gap-toothed smiles; the giant bear-hugs; the peals of childhood laughter; the I love you Mommy’s; the chance to look at your sleeping children at night and be filled with the most profound, incredible love.

It is  hard though, and us parents should be allowed to acknowledge that without that feeling of ever-present guilt.

And yet, when I think of how tough it all is, I cannot help reflecting on what parenthood was like for my grandmother. She was born in 1903, and her third and final child – my mother – was born just a couple of years before the start of World War II. Despite being geographically remote from the events of the war, South Africa was part of the British Commonwealth, and therefore joined the Allied forces. My grandfather was one of the generation of men sent off into the front-lines of battle in North Africa.

This thrust my grandmother into the daunting and somewhat unexpected territory of single-parenting three young children in times of extreme economic hardship. Things weren’t so easy for women back then – if they wanted to work, they were teachers or nurses. The term “stay at home mom” had not even been invented because it was unspeakable that there would be any other kind of mom.

For me, as a mom raising children in 2011, I have a reasonable degree of control over my life. I can choose to work (actually, that’s a lie – I have to work if I want my kids to have shoes instead of walking barefoot in the snow). I have a wide choice of career options, I can express myself freely through my writing, and I can get out there and go running. I have the freedom – within the framework of my family life – to make my own choices and steer my life in a certain direction.

My grandmother did not have the same leeway. She was controlled in a big way by the events going on in the world at the time. She was, in many respects, a bystander in her own life. She could only watch and wait as the world went through its turmoil, and she had to raise her kids knowing that things could change at any moment, things that she had no control over. A telegram could arrive telling her that my grandfather had been killed. Supplies of something-or-other could abruptly run out, leaving her scrambling for an alternative. The war could end and my grandfather could come home. The war could continue and she might not see him for a very long time. He could come home minus a limb or suffering from severe psychological trauma. She had no way of knowing what was going to happen.

It was a day-to-day kind of existence for that generation of mothers. My grandmother, and other women in her position, did not have the luxury of making choices or setting goals for the future.

Yes, parenting is the hardest job in the world. But I think, in many ways, that it is not as hard as it used to be.

This week’s Indie Ink Challenge came from Tara Roberts, who gave me this prompt: She was a bystander in her own life.
I challenged The Drama Mama with the prompt: Tell a story about how missing a bus for a few seconds can change your life.