Hawaii honeymoon

In response to Jian Ghomeshi

This letter was written by my husband and he has agreed to let me share it here. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspires me.

Connor,

You’re six years old. You’re in grade one. You’re sitting at the breakfast table eating Nutella on toast. You’re fidgety because you want to play with your Lego before you go to school and I’m making you finish your breakfast and get dressed before you do.

I’m reading a news article about a man named Jian Ghomeshi, a radio host that I admired and who we’ve listened to together in the car. He has been accused of violently assaulting women he dates. The article says that many of the women he assaulted didn’t speak up for fear that they wouldn’t be believed or that they would be blamed or that their careers or personal lives would be ruined. The article goes on to say that people acquainted with him may have known how he treated women and that one woman who did complain was largely ignored.

I can’t help but think of you.

Like every parent I’ve wondered about your future and what kind of person you will turn out to be. Will you be academic? Artistic? Athletic? What kind of friends will you make? Will you be happy?

Like every parent, I’ve thought about my role helping you become the person you are to be. I’ve thought about what I’d tell you about doing your best, about standing up to peer pressure, and about taking responsibility for your actions.

And, as the parent of two boys, I’ve thought about what I’d talk to you about before you started dating.

One of the first girls I dated had been raped by a past boyfriend. She went to court and wasn’t able to prove that he did anything they hadn’t consented to, so he wasn’t punished. At the time, she lived in a small town and the gossip forced her family to move away. Before her, I don’t think I was really that aware of rape or consent. I’m sure that I’d had the “no means no” conversation in health class but until her it didn’t really mean that much to me.

After university I worked for a year at a women’s sexual assault centre. It was a place where women who’d been assaulted could receive support and counselling. I was the first male who’d ever worked there and I worked on a project that taught teenagers that “no means no” wasn’t enough; that consent isn’t just about stopping when someone says no, but it’s about discussing your boundaries beforehand.

These experiences have been foremost in my mind as I’ve considered what you and I might talk about regarding dating and sex. I know that I want you to treat girls with respect. That, no matter what, she feels safe in your company and that whatever behaviour you engage in is something you both want.

And for the longest time that, plus a healthy dose of biological information, seemed to be good enough. But not anymore. I see now that it’s not enough to hope you don’t grow up to be a rapist. My vision for your future needs to be bigger. I want you to grow up to be a boy who stands up when someone makes a demeaning comment about a girl. I want you to be a man who speaks up when you see sexual harassment at work. I want you to be an example of how men are supposed to treat women. That you become part of the solution to violence against women and not sit silently by and be part of the problem.

Love,

Dad

 

 

Now You Are One

Dear Ethan,

A year ago today, just before we left for the hospital and about three hours before you were born, it snowed. It was the first snow of the year and it came down lightly, the snowflakes glinting in the street lights on the side of the road.

It was a sign of a new season, both literally and metaphorically.

There is so much about you that I didn’t anticipate. You were wanted and planned for, but I didn’t expect you to enter our lives a month after I started a new job in a new city. But we were ready, and I guess you knew that.

I spent the next months trying to imagine you – who you would be and what you would look like, but I couldn’t. At the time I couldn’t even begin to picture a child different than the one I already had.

But you are so very much your own person. When you decided you were ready to enter the world, you did so determinedly, and a couple of weeks early. When you were born you were so small we had to borrow preemie clothes from your cousins because everything we had left you buried in rolls of soft cotton.

Ethan-newborn

I looked at you and wondered how you could possibly be so small and quiet when everything about your brother was big and loud.

My first few days with you, in the hospital and then at home, were filled with nothing but awe. But it was a different sort of awe than I felt as a new mom the first time. It was a feeling of calm, a feeling of peace. It was us settling in to one another.

mom-kissing-newborn

That settling has let me observe you and see things I want to capture in the palm of my hand and never let go of.

You are joy and happiness and laughter. You have a huge smile. You give really, really good hugs.

smiling-highchair

Everywhere we go someone comments on how happy or easygoing you are. You are both of those things, and blissfully so, except if someone takes away something you’re playing with and then WATCH OUT.

I’m used to your brother’s big personality and sometimes I have to remind myself of you because, truly, you are quiet enough that people come into the room and don’t know you’re there.

And then, suddenly, you will light up. You’re a talker and you wave your arms wildly and repeat sounds and mimic us. You want to be involved and you make sure that you are. When you start to talk or laugh you become the centre of all things, because how can we not listen to and look at you?

Ethan-airplanes

A year into this journey I’m not sure I know what it is to be your mother. You are my little babe, my duck, my blondie. I want so badly to stop time and stay with you a while, just as you are. I want to hold your soft hands and watch you sit on the floor and kick your legs in excitement. I want to watch you dance.

But just as the seasons change, so must you. And I must let you.

I see amazing things for you but sense that my role is simply to guide you and watch you soar.

So do that. Dance on, darling.

I will love you always and forever,
Mama xx

 

Awakening Wonder

Wonder. Delight. Joy. Someone asked me to contribute to something involving those concepts and of course I said yes.

prairie-wonder-cropped

It’s a inspirational and free ebook for moms (or anyone, I’d argue), and as part of its release into the world I’ve contributed something at Raising Loveliness (and the slice of image above is part of it). I’d love for you to come and read.

More wonder. More delight. More joy. All good things. Come and get some.

First Day of Kindergarten

Connor had kindergarten orientation yesterday, just half an hour with three other kids. Parents stayed, they did a scavenger hunt to learn about their classroom, and his teacher gave the parents a gift – a Kleenex (to dry our tears) and a tea bag (to have a calm cup of tea after dropping them off for their first day), along with a lovely note about entrusting our kids to her for the year.

Connor loved it. He was excited about school and he really likes his teacher.

Today was the first official day – the day he got dropped off and changed his shoes and then hung his own backpack and sweater on his hook. The day he went to sit at his desk, in a group with three other kids, and got to see what school will be like for the coming year.

This morning he went in happily but came out a little overwhelmed. I can imagine; I don’t think I was especially keen on throwing myself into a classroom with a bunch of other five-year-olds either. (I was shy but cute.)

But he will be fine. He’ll be great, actually. And us? We probably won’t need the Kleenex (though certainly have an appreciation for a calming cup of tea).

Kindergarten has begun.

first day of kindergarten picture

The Wishing Tree

He wanted to go to the Science Centre, he said. So we went.

He played with light and did experiments with air and built things with colourful pieces made from all kinds of things.

I read wishes.

The papers were green that time. They hang from string all over the wishing tree, and if you stand here and duck there and peer through you can immerse yourself in wishes.

Some are simple, yet wise beyond the years of those who wrote them.

I wish to be joyful always.

Some are fanciful.

I wish to be Mario to save Peach.

Some made me wonder. (Why can’t you?)

I wish I could see butterflies in the sky.

Some are grandiose. All-encompassing. World-changing.

I wish for all children to be happy, carefree and well-educated.

Some aren’t.

I wish Pokemon were real.

For some I’d wave my wand and grant them right now. If only I had one.

I wish I will live long enough to see my grandkids grow up.

Sometimes the things we wish for are simple.

My wish is to have a pogostick.

Sometimes they’re simply beautiful.

I wish for everyone to be kind.

Some wishes seem to be connected to each other.

I wish I can skate/I wish my knees would stop hurting.

And some connect us to everyone.

World of peace/a journey to the first star I see.

What would you wish for?