I was cooking dinner when I realized it – with my mother gone and my son gone, I feel untethered.

I am not actually untethered. I have a spouse, a house, bills, a job, friends, family. I am very much connected to my world.


My past and my future. My history and what I should have left behind.

I’ve been thinking of this since Mother’s Day.

There is no place to send a card for your dead mother. There is no one who sends you a card when your child is dead.

There is only me, cooking ground beef, slicing vegetables. Making a life out of the here and now.

Posted in Learning Life, Life After Children | 1 Comment


The interval on my run increased again. By more than a factor of 2. I was supposed to go from 8 minutes of running to 20. I looked at the app on my phone at 7:15 am and I swear to you, I actually gagged a bit.

That’s a big – BIG – increase.

I couldn’t manage it. Half way through I gave myself a 2 minute walk break.

This is one of those days that I think planning to run a half marathon is absolutely crazy and I will never, ever be able to manage it.

Posted in Running | 3 Comments

A Slightly Different Approach

Last night’s run was a big increase in interval time. The last interval was rough. Long. Tough. Grind doesn’t seem quite the word. Brutal is more accurate.

Perhaps some of you came from families where kindness was a way of life. Where encouragement was a feature of daily life. At best, during my childhood, encouragement was arbitrary. Sometimes – under a set of circumstances I could never predict, it was offered. More often was the toughness. More often was “suck it up”. More often was being told that I was not entitled to care and concern. It wasn’t all bad, learning grit and drive and resilience, but I did not ever learn to be gentle with myself. I will be far kinder to you, have far more realistic expectations of you in a time of trial than I would ever be to myself.

I discovered when everything fell apart in January, I need to be kinder to myself. More than vague ambitions, I need to carry this out in concrete ways. I need to eat and sleep and drink more water and less coffee. I need to do things that make me happy only because they make me happy, and get rid of relationships that hurt me. I learned that I am not impervious to pain.

I did something different on the treadmill last night.  I didn’t tell myself to suck it up, I didn’t minimize the pain. I didn’t chastise myself for whinging and I didn’t tell myself I was a wimp.

I treated myself exactly the way I would treat someone I loved. I treated myself the way I would treat you.

“I know it hurts. It hurts a lot. That pain is real, and you can stop any time you need to. I give you that permission. If you want to keep going, you can still do this. Look, you already are doing it. You are so close to being done honey. This is going to feel amazing when you are done. You are such a rock star” 

Today it hurts. Walking hurts. Sitting hurts. I will get up tonight and I will do it all over again. And when my muscles twinge (or scream) I say:

“I’m so proud of you.” 


Posted in Learning Life | 1 Comment

Free Puppies

I read a blog post a week ago about children in restaurants – more specifically about a restaurant that doesn’t allow children under the age of 13. Effectively the post was a “how dare anyone tell me where I can’t bring my child.”

I never quite know how to answer these things. I always feel like I should start any discussion about this saying “I like kids.” Mostly I feel this way because I am trying to avoid the appearance of being someone who doesn’t like children and doesn’t ever want to see them.

The problem is, however much I like kids, I’m not a parent, and so it’s easier to assume that I don’t like kids.

I like kids. I don’t think they belong everywhere.

There – I have said it. I think there are times and places that children don’t belong. I don’t think they belong at the theater or the symphony. I don’t think they belong at expensive restaurants. I don’t think they belong at the movies at 10 at night. I don’t think they belong in high end china stores.

I guess I should preface this – I don’t think toddlers belong at those places. I’m sorry, but I just don’t. I would have kept silent, but I was at the local theater website and they have a note at the bottom of the page that babes in arms or children not being permitted into the theater. At the least, this tells me it has been an issue.

The problem is, of course, not the children. I doubt it ever was. A three year old is just a three year old. The problem is the parents and the location.

Let me put it another way – I don’t mind at my local, a casual sort of place, when there is a child. I don’t mind when they are very unhappy. Every child has moments of unhappiness. Moments when they are unable to regulate their emotions because they are a child and part of the work of childhood is learning to do this so that you can do it when you are an adult.

I do mind – at least a bit – the parents who let their kids scream for 10 minutes, run around the restaurant where people are trying to eat and servers are carrying hot food, and disturb everyone else’s meal. People come along and they say “well, why should their meal be disrupted because their kid is having a bad day?”

Well. Because you are a parent. That’s part of what you signed up for.

So, thinking back to the restaurant that banned children. We go there when we want a quiet meal. I suspect a lot of people do, and I suspect a great many of them are parents.

Posted in Life After Children | 5 Comments

Evening Sun

Some days you grind through the run. You start, you do it, and you finish and every last foot of it is a grind. You do it anyway because you need to, because you know you should, because even the fun things in life aren’t always completely fun. You look at the mileage on the half marathon training app, and you decide that’s what you are doing, and you go and do it. It’s good when it’s a nice time or you feel strong while you run, but even when it sucks, you run anyway.

I have gotten better at listening to my body. I feel thirst now. I can tell hungry and tired, I know what too much caffeine feels like. I know what done feels like. I have a much better idea of my limits now.

It’s a struggle with the MS. When something hurts, when I’m particularly tired or feeling weak, I have to carefully analyze if this is just a rough day, a day when I have to tell my body that it doesn’t get to make all of the decisions and we are running whether we want to or not, or if this is more serious. Am I in the middle of a fatigue based relapse, am I getting sick, am I overheating?

I walked away from a run on Sunday. I was sick, I felt particularly weak, my gait was off and I could feel myself stumbling. This was more than the sore hip.

Last night I tried again in the evening sun. It was everything that Sunday wasn’t. I feel like after a year of hard things, I am coming back to my own. In other words, it was 500 kinds of awesome.


Posted in Running | 1 Comment

Monday Miscellany

  • I survived mother’s day. That’s about the best we can say about that.
  • Studiously avoiding any form of Social Media helped.
  • The run helped.
  • The nap helped.
  • It astonishes me, that my twitter feed – which is mostly political – was filled with politicians saying happy Mother’s Day. Maybe you’d like to follow that up with a national childcare program or legislation about employment and pension equality gents?
  • As it turns out – in spite of my protestations on Friday, when push came to shove, I did the right thing, even though I didn’t want to. I’m glad I did, more or less.
Posted in Salmagundi: A collection of various things | 1 Comment

The Sort of Person you Want to Be

Sometimes it’s easy. You go to the elementary school play (which was pretty good, all things considering) because a niece you loved asked you to go the day she found out she got the lead role. You go and you sit in a crowded, hot auditorium, on uncomfortable chairs because it’s an important thing.

Long have I maintained that if there is any sin in the world, anything we can identify as wrong, it is the failure to give help, mercy, assistance when it is within your power to do so. That, in my books, is sin. To see someone in need or in want and have within your power the ability to help, and to look the other way.

If you were interested, the text is written. Because I over think things, I have written the text to a former friend, for mother’s day, which is not the best day for him. A simple “I’m thinking of you. Hope the day isn’t utterly wretched”

I’m not going to send it.

I could spend virtual ink telling you why, but I don’t think it matters. Let this be my confession. I had within my power the ability to send care and concern to someone, and I haven’t. I won’t.

I am sorry. Just not so sorry that I’m willing to change my mind.

Posted in Interruption. | Leave a comment

The Voice of My Mother

Once upon a time, I was 20 and I really wanted into a class taught by a Professor at University, who was also a Senator in the Canadian Senate. The class was full, I moaned to my mother, and I couldn’t get in.

“Cheryl-Nancy”, she said. “You walk into his office and you tell him who you are!” 

I was no one special – save for this. When I was 4, I had helped deliver campaign flyers for his re-election. That was my first election. I cut my teeth on politics.

I volunteered on campaigns before I could vote. I volunteered after. I have delivered flyers, phoned, door knocked, organized get out the vote. I have cleaned bathrooms and stuffed envelopes. Participated in rallies. Organized lawn signs. Donated to parties.

Last night the political landscape in my province changed for the first time in 44 years. Massively changed. We went from fairly hard right to centrist-left.  I have joked that the snow we are having today is my mother’s way of expressing displeasure.

But there’s this – my mother believed in politics. The elbows in the corner were a rush to her. 28 days of an election writ period energized her. It was simple for her.

She, like me, believed in the power of the government to transform lives, make things better.

She likely would not have voted for this party. She likely would have been appalled – save this:

Last night we elected 27 women to take their seats. A woman will swear the oath of office, she will become our Premier. Women will surround her. Childcare, employment equity, education – what are always women’s issues will become everyone’s issues this time.

My mother who took me to vote and deliver campaign flyers, who impressed on me that politics and voting are not a right, they are a privilege, the cost of admission into a civilized society, the way you articulate your hopes and dreams for your community –  last night in heaven there must have been election returns she could see.

And even still – from so far away I could hear her say

“Yes. We did it. We showed people that there is more to politicking than old white men in suits. We stood up to be counted”. 

It took more time than you had Mumsy. I thought of you when I saw children in a polling station, watching their parents vote. I thought of you when I saw lawn signs. I thought of you as I watched a victory speech, tears in the corner of my eyes.

I wish you could have been here for this. You would have loved every moment of it.

Posted in Feminism | 2 Comments


I have an ophthalmology appointment today, which is no big deal, except that they are going to dilate my eyes and I won’t be able to see to drive myself home after. Mr. Spit is out of town, so I had to call a friend.

I called Whytelash, because it was likely that she was going to be able to come and rescue me – dump me off and pick me up blinking at the light like a mole exposed to sunlight. She’ll only laugh at me a bit.

This is the stuff of life – knowing who you can call on. Knowing who knows what matters to you and holds your hand when it gets tough. Knowing, when you have to climb a mountain, who you call.

And this has me thinking about the concept of tribes – about the moment when you find your people. It seems to me that this is the truest and most profound thing we do as humans – we spend our lives looking for those like us. When we find them we are wise to hold on to them.

Tonight, after I go and run, I will come home, shower and settle in with some friends to watch the polls in our provincial election. We’ll eat pizza and make toasts to the candidates that run in impossible ridings. The 20 year olds that run under the banner of a party that will never get elected in a particular riding, because they believe most purely and truly in democracy. We’ll see some upsets, some surprises.

Over food and alcohol, amidst the upsets and surprises, we will do what we always do – look at the future, safe among our loved ones.

From there we will think about the next mountain we wish to climb.

Posted in The language of families, Tiny Points of Light | Leave a comment

Monday Miscellany

  • May the 4th be with you.
  • Everyone else gets to wear their Star Wars T-shirts. I have a client meeting, so I get to wear a suit.
  • Everyone else, in this case, is defined as Mr. Spit.
  • I have literally nothing else to say here.
  • Happy Monday?
Posted in Salmagundi: A collection of various things | Leave a comment