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Wednesday’s Wonder Women: Eleanor Roosevelt

A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Every time I go to work, I feel my heart rip out of my chest.

No, not really. But the thundering thump-thump-thump of my girls feet on the stairs, racing to give me a goodbye hug as I head out the door, always makes me feel conflicted.

I love my job. I love how much it connects to what I do at home: at work, I help women become mothers; at home, I try not to lose it with my own children.

Some days are more successful than others. Some days, I’m relieved to head out the door and deal with something else’s issues rather than my own. Other days, I wish I could curl up on the couch and read Biscuit books with my kids.

Some of my stay-at-home-mom friends tell me how they can’t believe I work outside the home. Others wish they had that outlet. Others (genuinely) wonder if I’m doing the right thing by working.

Sometimes I wonder the same thing.

And, other times, often only five minutes after I wonder if  I should still be doing this, I’m so glad I do what I do. Read more

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Wednesday’s Wonder Women: You. Yes, You. All of You.

I know what you’re thinking: Oh my word, she’s done it. She’s run out of inspiring women to write about.

Not true. In the slightest.

In fact, it’s just the opposite. There’s so many I could write about that today, I got overwhelmed. I was reading about all these amazing women and couldn’t choose.

So I decided to write about all of you.

Hang on. Let me explain.

One of the groups of women I thought about today were my co-workers. I don’t say this enough, but each of you have my deep respect. There is a lot of room for talent in our job, and even though that means many of us are vastly different from each other, it means there’s a lot of room to respect each other, too.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of you, its that – more often than not – vulnerability invites respect.

Even in those people we really don’t think will understand. Read more

To a Greater Abnormal

Many of you know that earlier this year my hairdresser of 17 years announced she was moving. I didn’t think much of it, assuming it would be only a few minutes away.

Then she told me it was actually a few hours and a couple ferry rides away.

I admit, the word that came out of my mouth was… ahem, not so graceful. Not very PG. 

She laughed at my response. I’ll miss you too, she said.

It’s not just that, I countered. I can’t find another you!

Some of you women may understand me: haircuts, dyes, and styles involve a lot of trust between you the person doing them. You have to believe they aren’t going to make you look ugly, homeless, fatter, or older than you are.

And after awhile, the trust becomes personal. They get you through things. Events, birthdays, banquets, weddings, funerals, holidays, family gatherings… even illnesses (though I haven’t lost my hair from chemo, it’s composition has definitely changed and my hairdresser has helped me adapt).

Even if you don’t know your hairdresser that well, per se, you often leave them (at least a good one) with the sense that they saved your life in a way, and you can relax a little more the next time you go there. Read more

Wednesday’s Wonder Woman: Jackie Kennedy

Whoever said that life gets easier when your kids are in school lied.

No, no, they did. And you, whoever you are, well, I will never believe anything you say, ever again.

Because this is not easier. It is busier than ever. I sleep less, I have less time to myself. I am slowly going insane. Each day another miniscule piece of my brain is falling off and being replaced by mush. And that mush cries, ‘you will never have another sane moment as long as you’re alive.’

Which, of course, with me, may not be so long.

I’m just kidding about that last part. Well, sort of. That kind of joke has become common in our house. Sometimes it makes me laugh when nothing else will.

But, if I’m being really honest, I spend lots of time flirting with exhaustion. It’s not the volume of tasks that overwhelm, but how each of those tasks – or roles – conflict with each other. Wife vs. Mother, Mother vs. Nurse, Nurse vs. Writer, Writer vs. Cancer-patient, Daughter vs. Sister, Taxi-driver vs. Peace-maker, Encourager vs. Disciplinarian, Caretaker vs. Housekeeper, Housekeeper vs. Social Secretary, and of course my favourite role: remember everything for everyone else and make sure each of them is reminded of that thing to remember every two minutes.

Women tend to have role confusion. We sometimes call it ‘juggling.’

I think its more like flame-throwing. Read more

Back to the Future: A History of Thanksgiving

On my counter sits two bags of delicious homemade bread. My fridge boasts a beautiful display of homemade roasted pepper soup made by one of the very talented local authors of Mennonite Girls Can Cook. Last night we devoured plates of roasted potatoes, walnut chocolate chip cookies, and ‘easy lasagna’ casserole, all cooked fresh by a very dear friend of our family.

And right now I’m lightly cleaning up for the arrival of some of our favorite people ever – whom we also happen to be related to. These amazing friends and relatives are bringing every last inch of Thanksgiving dinner to us.

Wow.

All of this comes on the heels of the best news I’ve heard in the last few months: my prolactin levels were normal.

That means, no tumor.

At least, not in my pituitary gland.

It wouldn’t technically have been cancer, and it wouldn’t technically have been in my brain, but the thought of operating inside my skull – and the thought of something growing inside my skull, affecting how I thought, saw, and did things – really shook me.

The thought of another cancer or almost cancer made my brain – and heart – hurt.

David texted me the news on Thursday morning: I called the doctor. Pit levels are good.  Read more

Wednesday’s Wonder Woman: Elliana Meredith

So, last weekend the thought occurred to me that this ‘prolactinoma’ they’re wondering if I have – which would be evidenced by high prolactin levels – could actually be something else. Something very different. Something very happy.

There was a simple way to find out.

I took a test.

And, for a moment, it looked positive.  Then, I noticed something else.

Must have been a false positive. Because I was definitely NOT pregnant.

But when I told all this to David, I paused in between the false positive and the NOT pregnant part. His face contorted in a mixture of horror and humor.

‘Well, our babies have never really been, um… planned.’ he said.

He’s right.

Noelle was a pleasant surprise. Elliana was a whirlwind of, oh, this again, already?

And when I look back on it, Elliana may have been the trigger that made me really sick. Read more

Puddlejumping

Every autumn I think, let’s skip family pictures this year.

They’re a lot of work. And do I really need to see how many wrinkles and cellulite I’ve gained in the past twelve months?

Yeah, not so much.

But then I look at my giggling girls on the wall of our entryway. I think about how different they look this year.

And I remember how much fun we have with this great lady, someone I don’t see nearly often enough, who also happens to be a fantastic photographer.

Somehow Joanne can get my girls to do anything. And even when they don’t do what she asks, she accommodates her shots to fit their moods. She brings props, ladders, and toys. She hauls said props up and down ditches, hills, and playgrounds.

Then she says she loves it. That’s talent.

A couple of years ago we had almost postponed our shoot because of rain. I remember Joanne said to me, I have lots of umbrellas. We could just use the setting. It’d look great!

And I – the wuss that I am – said, No, I don’t want to get my hair wet. Read more

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