Archive for the ‘marriage’ Tag

Miles still to go

So, we went to Toronto for the weekend.

Partly to celebrate our umpteenth anniversary, partly to practice traveling with a baby again (prior to our upcoming trip to Iqaluit for Christmas, where pharmacies and Tim Hortons’ are not just around the corner), and partly to get Bonhomme up the CN Tower.

We’ve come back aged.

How is it that our 6-and-a-half-year-old was at least 3 times harder than our 8-month-old? With the baby, we had disrupted naps to contend with, strange hotel sounds at night, a playpen that barely got slept in, hunting for solid foods that she could eat, hours stuck in a car seat, poopy bums, soaked bibs and constant overstimulation. And yet, she was easy. Our angel child. Happy to go with the flow, smiling at every stranger she met, ready for anything. With the big kid, everything was a battle. He’d argue over whether or not he needed to blow his nose.

Bonhomme couldn’t, and can’t, listen to a single instruction or thoughtfully worded request without questioning it, complaining about it, redefining it, arguing about it, whining about it, interrupting AND then either forgetting or ignoring to actually do it. Like going potty before leaving the hotel room. Washing his hands after going potty. Washing his face after getting half his meal all over it. Putting his socks on. Picking up his towel. Not letting go of the stroller. Not getting into an elevator without a parent. Holding hands on unfamiliar streets. Telling us he had to go potty when we were in the car BEFORE it became an emergency. Using his quiet voice in restaurants. When playing in the pool, he had to dictate, and then control every aspect of his complicated little game – plain old tag would never do. Everything was to be discussed, denied, explained, described, by Bonhomme. Out. Loud.

Stopping to get a small snack to tide us over until dinnertime was a scene. Tossing a ball about was a disaster. Waiting for ANYTHING was torture.

With Hibou, everything is simple. With Bonhomme, nothing is.

I am becoming resigned to simply waiting until age 6 is over. Maximizing our son’s time spent with other people, activities outside of home, away from we parents – since we have somehow, mysteriously, become The Enemy. Nasty, boring, endlessly repetitive Enforcers Of Doom.

This morning, chatting with Grampa about his weekend, Bonhomme excitedly described how the wind almost pushed him over at the almost top of the CN Tower, and then gleefully explained that he hadn’t gone higher to do the Edge Walk harnessed like a rock climber hundreds of meters above the ground because his dad was too scared.

Was it worth it? Will he remember the whining, and the yelling, and the crying? Or playing with gravity at the Science Center? The nagging, or the endless watersliding at the hotel? Will he remember the dozens of train tracks and the skyscrapers, or just that his little sister chewed on his stuffed penguin?

As I puzzle over why I feel not just exhausted and disappointed, but saddened by our adventurous weekend, I realize that it’s that my daughter makes me feel so competent, and my son makes me feel so incompetent, and I fear that it will always be so.

We’ve proven that we can travel with a baby just fine. It’s the big kids you have to watch out for – and each other, when your kids have eaten, and eaten, and eaten away at you. When we are not our best selves as parents, we are most definitely not our best selves as spouses.

This is why we celebrate anniversaries (although preferably without the children along). Not to acknowledge where we are, but to acknowledge where we’ve come from. Years and years of living life together.

We’ll remember the whining. And the cost. And the traffic, and the emergency potty breaks, and the poor sleep. But I’ll also remember my first cup of hot, strong coffee at the breakfast buffet, and the sight of Hibou bonelessly passed out on the bed as we pack later that morning, and both Dearest and I nauseated as both kids sprawled on their stomachs looking down through the glass floor of the CN Tower. This is certainly one anniversary we won’t forget. One more reason to toast “We did it!”.

Today, the morning after the anniversary trip, home, sitting in a cozy chair sipping tea and listening to CBC Radio while the rest of my family is either napping, at school or at work, I can appreciate this. I can appreciate the years that have come and gone, and the years that await. Like Hibou, who cooed in delight in rediscovering HER toys, and HER high chair, and HER change table and kitchen floor and crib, I too can most appreciate the presence of familiarity, of home, from its absence. Memories are always better when you’re not in the midst of making them.

I’m left with a small bit of hard-earned wisdom from this grueling weekend: when going on a road trip, like it or not, the whining comes with you.

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It starts.

There’s drywall dust on the TV remote, on the stacks of DVDs that do nothing but grow.
There’s a fine white coating on each and every ladle, spatula and pan.
Bonhomme’s cheery blue play kitchen is grey.
The couch puffs as I sit on it, defeated.
It’s a house, it’s a house. It’s just a house.

Dearest staplegunned the plastic sheeting to the beautifully hand-sponge-painted livingroom walls. He didn’t want to make too many holes, so he only attached the sheet in about three spots, leaving about six meter-long gaps fluttering.
There’s dust on and around every single round protusion on Bonhomme’s lego, which had been left out in all its hundreds of pieces.
The diningroom ceiling is nice and smooth now, stucco all gone, matching the kitchen ceiling.
It’s dust, it’s dust. It’s only dust.

The kitchen reno hasn’t officially started, but Dearest wanted to be in a good position when it does, so he thought he could sand about twelve square meters of ceiling without too much fuss.
Nothing has been packed. Crumpled cereal bags lay heaped on the top of the fridge. Bonhomme’s sippycup lids are jumbled on their drip-dry rack.
Because the reno has not yet begun.
Just, apparently, the pre-reno.
Breathe in, Grace. Breathe out.

Get the banker’s boxes out.
Pack the non-essential cookware.
Donate the cans you haven’t touched in months, the lentils, the pasta, the older extra pots and pans.
Make Rice Krispies squares. Make a big batch of pea soup, and chili in the slowcooker (after you give it a good rinse).
Tell Bonhomme’s friends that we’ll do park playdates for the summer.
Don’t kill your husband, don’t kill your husband. He was trying to be helpful. Really. Don’t kill him.

The air sparkles in the thousands of dancing motes as the evening sun slants in.
I mow the lawn, determined that the outside of the house will be neat and tidy, because God knows no person, thing or room inside is.
I send Dearest off with some kitchenware donations and instructions to take a break.
I take a break.
It’s the last major reno, it’s the last reno. It’s the very last major reno.