When he sleeps

Un tout tit tit chou-fleur!

It’s been over seven months since I have taken the time to sit down and reflect, write, read… Time is monopolized by the little man in my life and it’s not until I take the moment to pause and look back that I realize how rapidly time is passing. Interestingly, evaluating such speed becomes more striking when observing a life unfolding, a tiny creature blooming into une toute petite personne, or perhaps more relevantly, a life that you hold ever so preciously in your heart.¬†Thus it is when le petit prince sleeps that I steal a minute or two to myself, and today, I would like to revisit and explore some of the thoughts that I have visited with in the last few months.

I had promised not to start yet another ‘mummy blog,’ but I do think that it would be rather frigid of me not to mention the new citizen of my heart… and it would hardly be natural to delve into soul politics without repainting my new landscape. It has changed; and dramatically, at that! Becoming a mother is a transformative process; most fascinatingly, you believe to be surrounded by a world of change, but the most significant change comes from within you.

Matei is oblivious to all this. He just knows that I’ve always been around, and when I’m not, I will always be back. He has never known differently, and has already developed that sense of trust from which his love for me has grown. It’s incredible how differently we feel love for one another, and what dumbfounds me even more is that he may not ever understand that difference. Mothers make that sacrifice, of giving away their hearts… and with time we learn that the gift may not always be returned. Yet it doesn’t matter, because giving that love becomes like breathing, living, existing.

In some ways, I think we deify our mothers. We forget they are humans, or perhaps simply don’t realize that they are. I will never forget the day it had finally dawned on me that my mother is not just ‘mama,’ that she is a woman, a person, like myself. I once found her sitting in an armchair, crying after an argument we had. I don’t know if it was her vulnerability at that moment, or simply the way the pink sun had set around her that made her seem so small in that armchair, but there she was. A person. And even more astonishing was that this person had a life, that is, a life with aspects that I wasn’t a part of. Her life was not just me. It overwhelmed me to a sudden instant of breathlessness. In that brief hiatus, everything changed. My mother became mortal, wrought with emotions, feelings, desires, dreams, disappointments…. my cheeks flushed at my newly discovered selfishness. I was seventeen.

Like every mother, I catch myself staring at Matei and wondering… the questions and the dreams and the fears are endless. To a certain extent, I worry about my own vulnerability. Can life ever become too precious? Having experienced loss and witnessed the pain it puts those closest to me through, I question my own strength as a mother now. We learn to keep ourselves grounded from the material things in life, but what about the intangible aspects that give us purpose and meaning? These aspects nurture us as people and foster the love and bonds in human relationships; but, is there a point at which we should be stepping back and shielding our selves? How does one differentiate between that which will break us, and that which will strengthen us as humankind?

He is sleeping as I write this, with dreams that I can only imagine to be sweet and innocent as his life has not yet been tainted with any heartfelt pain, fear or sorrow…, which makes me wonder how there could ever be any resistance to such a delicious nap?!

I can hear him stirring, which means my post must now come to a regretful end. I will surely make time to write again, when he sleeps.

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A Happy Exhaustion

My house sleeps.

M is curled up under the fleecy cloud of his down duvet, printed in trains and train tracks and railroad crossing signs while wooden blocks, rejected clothes and crayons litter his bedroom floor.

Our colossal bed with wings like arms embraces little Lev in his sleep, his mouth still motioning in sucking rhythms while the agony of his piercing molars is drawn in his furrowed eyebrows and intermittent whimpering.

And next to him, sleeps husband, making his presence known with deep intakes of breath let out by ironclad snores.

The night ahead will undoubtedly be interrupted. Sleep is no longer understood as slumber that stretches throughout the lion’s share of the night, but rather, brief segments of shut-eye frequently disrupted with cries for milk, cuddles or other mysterious night-waking habits.

The Family Bed

Though sleep can get scarce, we have become the home of a ‘family bed.’ M comes and goes, most often starting out in his own bed, but recently, more often than not we all wake together in the morning, sheets in disarray, limbs entangled, warm, cozy and happy. Despite the sometimes rude awakenings of foot in jaw, or elbow in chest, I long for those periods when the rhythm of sleep befalls our bed and tiny hands unconsciously explore my face, tugging at my hair for the reassurance of my presence. It most certainly won’t last forever.

And for that same reason, I know my exhaustion won’t, either. ūüôā

photo copy 3

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It’s been a little hectic…

It's been a little hectic...

I’ve been away… but my return is near! Working on a piece now, and child-permitting, I will post very very soon. Xoxo

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Hail to the Humble Gooseberry

Physalis peruviana

Image via Wikipedia

No one seems to sing praise to the gooseberry. Though perhaps humbled by its drab attire, it is, in fact, a preciously wrapped little treasure that bursts in a golden flavour once undressed from its modest papery coat. It offers a divine blend of sweet, sour and tart Рjust enough of each to entice your taste buds into an exuberant dance.

Also known as the cape gooseberry, the goldenberry, husk cherry, Peruvian ground cherry, poha or poha berry Рthe physalis peruviana is native to Brazil. Here, in Canada, one will only find this tasty little treat in select grocery stores, carefully packaged in plastic one-pint baskets among other berries, when available. Whereas the popular strawberry will be enjoyed in sundaes, in a bowl to accompany one’s read, or lost into a smoothie, the gooseberry aesthetically adorns a lavish dessert, often dismissed in the competition, untouched, unrecognized, unappreciated.

What more, this berry will give your body a nutritional tickle! The gooseberry is known to be one among the three super berries (the other two being goji and acai) as it is high in protein as well as in vitamins A, C and B12. Studies have also shown that it may help protect against cancer and heart disease. It really makes one wonder how certain fruits have come to dominate our menus with such little nutritional value when others, such as the gooseberry, have so much more to offer.

So, perhaps the next time your gastronomical journey happens to chance upon the golden gooseberry, enrich your palate with this elegant little fruit. You will surely not regret the experience!

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On Grief – A Dedication To Today’s Rainfall

Waking up to raindrops tapping on the window panes, the sun nowhere in sight, I knew today was going to be a writing day. And for this I am glad, because I have been waiting for a good day to write about the melancholia that has been overshadowing my mood in the last week or so. It’s a day dedicated to the rainfall.

Normally, rain days evoke sadness and fatigue, and as a result, I spend my time miserably excusing myself from all tasks and responsibilities, (a silent yet complex justification process that occurs in my head, though to an outsider, appears as though I were sitting and staring at a wall). Today, however,  I feel a sort of excitement to enclose myself in a gloomy room with the reverberating tapping rain rhythm.  My lemon tea is comforting and I am glad to feel sad Рor perhaps glad to feel sad with someone, even if that someone is the weather.

Sadness has been a common theme in the last year. Cancer had stolen away a very dear family member, the sort of loving familial figure rarely met with contempt, conflict or even indifference. Hers was a role of peace in the family; in some ways, she brought us all together.

Grieving has put a strain on our relationships. What no one expected was the sort of shapes and forms grief could manifest itself in. Sadness seems to be such a universal emotion, one doesn’t realize how it can express itself so differently from person to person. In a family as dynamic as ours, this has caused enough pain and misunderstanding to sever our bonds forever. Some of us have shut out all associated with the loss, others have fallen into manic depression, and then some have sought change that has turned them into sudden strangers. Some have been angry, others expect more than can be given, and in turn, some feel unappreciated.

“Sorrow makes us all children again – destroys all differences of intellect.¬† The wisest know nothing.” ¬†~Ralph Waldo Emerson

In many ways, some of us have been behaving, what appears to be, childishly. Society seems to expect families to “stick together” in such times, to support each other and mourn together. Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt makes the distinction “grief is the internal thoughts and feelings we experience when someone we love dies.¬†Mourning, on the other hand, is taking the internal experience of grief and expressing it outside ourselves.”¬†This has proved to be most difficult as there is no predictable and orderly progression to the experience of grief – it is a process unique to each individual. ¬†Each of us have struck our own personal chord of pain throughout this long, dark hour, and as a result, our mourning has created a great dissonance that resonates at each moment our family comes together.

Would it be too harsh to say that we lack respect or patience for each other’s experiences? Or perhaps the issue, really, is “sharing.” Grief has not been ‘shareable’ the way we had expected it would be, which has made mourning together nearly impossible. As unique individuals, we have taken our own unique paths to cope, and these paths often diverge. We often find each other misunderstood or disregarded. Our roles in our relationships have also erected barriers – the responsibility of providing strength and a shoulder for another only further inhibits ‘sharing,’ thus creating distance.

In the end, ¬†most of us have learned that grief can be a solitary affair, though not voluntarily so. It is not something that is overcome with time, for it changes us. A year has gone by since my aunt’s passing and most of our family can again share in laughter, in our traditions and celebrations – but we are different. Sometimes it is the undertone in one’s voice, sometimes it is the eluding eye contact, sometimes it is just silence or tension. ¬†These are the small yet hardly subtle moments of grief that we share. As for the personal grieving journey – that I have learned to share with the rain.

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Romance Isn’t Always A Romeo

‚ÄúAnd what’s romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything as you like it, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose, and it’s always daisy-time.‚ÄĚ – D.H. Lawrence

Three years, three beating hearts – that is what my husband and I¬†celebrated yesterday afternoon. Was it romantic? Well, I did not follow a path of rose petals to a candlelit bedroom, I wasn’t greeted with an anniversary poem written with the blunt end of my husband’s construction pencil, nor did we visit the closest honeymooning destination and drink champagne in a heart-shaped tub. But, was it romantic..?


What is romance? Somewhere, in some distant past, we had let someone decide that for us. Perhaps the rules of Cappellanus, coding chivalry and courtly love during the medieval period, continue to haunt our perceptions of what romantic love is today. The romance protocol is so firmly entrenched in our society that we have lost all sense of what truly warms our hearts, what illuminates our souls. Our moments of happiness are contaminated by the social expectations of what happiness is, what romance is, what love is.

Husband and I had been discussing this third anniversary for quite some time before the actual day. We realized that this would be our last before we became three and were trying to decide how to make the day most memorable. In the past, we had taken trips down south or planned weekend getaways to wine country, or headed north to the serenity of a cabin in the woods. 8.5 months pregnant, flying was out of the question and longer road trips were also questionable. Anything that suggested a possible abundance of mosquitoes instantly made me itch and as I have been suffering from a maddening insomnia over the past month, I wasn’t even sure that I cared to sleep anywhere where I wasn’t guaranteed a pillow-laden bed fit for a sultan. The day finally arrived and with plans still tentative, husband decided to go to work in the morning and reserve the afternoon for our celebration of ‘threes’ over dinner. ¬†I spent my morning shopping with a close friend and it was there that the conversation of romance arose. She was sighing over the ¬†romance deficiency in her relationship, the absence of flowers, the last-minute gift purchases, the lack of thoughtfulness… I responded by admitting a decline in the same department soon after P and I had married. On our first Valentine’s Day, only boyfriend-girlfriend, I told her about how he sent me a hundred roses to the office that I had to wheel to my car on a dolly. For our second, already engaged, he surprised me by obtaining the keys to our new condo before our move-in date and led me in to our empty candle-lit apartment and cooked dinner. “And for the third?” my friend asked. “We were already married.” I responded.

Some would say – well, the prize is already in the bag.

But perhaps it’s something else… perhaps it’s simply that we have come to know¬†each other at a more genuine level and the romance routine is no longer necessary. Perhaps the universal code for romance is merely the pair of training wheels applied to the real thing – once we’re comfortable with the ride and have gained stability in our relationships, ¬†we are ready to take control of the handlebars without the aid to freely take whichever turn, at whichever speed makes us happy.

As my friend and I were finishing up our shopping, I get a phone call from P asking me how old the pineapple in the fridge was. I had cut it up that morning and assured him there was nothing wrong with it (husband has a bit of a bacteria phobia). He told me he had dropped in at home for a couple minutes and was feeling sick after snacking on it. I was to check if it didn’t perhaps have a funny stench once I got home. Upon my return, I went to the fridge and opened the container with the suspicious pineapple, expecting a miasma to invade my nostrils in the next few seconds. There, between the chunks of lush, perfectly fragrant fruit, sat a white ring box, stained in the sweet yellow juices of its unnatural habitat. Wide-eyed, I held my breath as I opened the box to find the most beautiful ring – a smoky topaz – my birth stone encrusted with diamonds. I called husband right away – “Happy Anniversary!” he answered.

That evening, we spent our anniversary with a visit to the neighborhood of our first home together, a real stroll down memory lane. We retraced the paths of the walks we used to take together when we were engaged, reliving the excited conversations about our future wedding, our goals, our first baby. Hand in hand, with the Toronto skyline adorning the horizon on the lake, we made it from our most frequented resto in the area to the white bridge and back – about a 20 minute waddle before I started hearing pregnancy bells and husband was out of breath. Sometimes a visit to happy memories can be more charming than making new ones.

‚ÄúRomance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.‚ÄĚ – Amanda Cross

With all the scripts available to us on how to recreate the perfect Romeo and Juliet scene, and with all the occasions to which Hallmark so kindly reminds us to apply those “chocolate and roses” scenarios, romance soon begins to lose its luster. Usually it’s those unplanned, unexpected moments that are not marked on our calendars that enchant us the most. And even when they are rare, the instances that we should treasure, that adorn our memories the most, are those that are unique to our relationships, those that remind us why we are with whom we are. Husband may rarely be a Romeo… but I would not trade anyone for the man who calls me once every two hours since we started dating just to hear my voice; who upon learning that we were expecting, popped two skylights into our kitchen during the severe winter to bring more sunlight into the house and thaw my blue moods; ¬†whose smile, reflecting his kindness and affection, is sweeter than a midnight serenade.

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It feels rather peculiar to start writing on this particular day. I imagined that there would be a real beginning or a real end to something that would finally incline me to sit down and begin this blog… it would definitely suit my propensity to follow a certain order for things; however, waiting has amounted to wasting – that of time, of passing moments, of brilliant ideas. I do not intend to waste anymore.

Photographer: Christina KogutI am not sure where this blog will carry my thoughts to, except that I only have a month and a half left before it unfolds into a story about a boy who has stolen my heart. I have not met him yet, his debut into this world is scheduled for October 21st. Until then, his presence is felt by flutters, kicks and jolts inside of me, by an uncompromising insomnia, and by a sudden sweep of maternal instincts that brew a love unimaginable for someone who is as much a stranger as he is the keeper of my heart.

Photographer: Christina KogutI expect my Self to be redefined over the next few months; as an extremist, I rarely allow any certain change to pass by me without my full attention and dedication. I feel uneasy about this, as I had recently thought to have attained a certain peace with myself, an acceptance and contentment with who I was and who I aspired to become… but perhaps no such state is ever permanent. The Self is as fluid as the course our lives take, and happiness depends on the compatibility between the two…

…just a thought…

In the event that I develop the ‘Mother Goose” syndrome, or even blindly start embracing Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique,” and this blog begins to reveal blatant evidence of an abandonment of all my dreams and endeavors, I beg you – those who come to know me – to drop me a comment and remind me of that one Self I used to enjoy and aspire to.

Photographer: Christina Kogut

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