Canadian Mom Writer

Thoughts and Opinions on the writing life, working from home, and mothering.

Location: St Marys, Ontario, Canada

I am a work at home mom of 3 living in the country just outside of St Marys, Ontario. I am a freelance writer and copywriter just finally getting going on my business after baby #3. I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland and have called Canada home for 16 years now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ponderings on recent trip to Ireland

1. This is not the country of my childhood anymore. The modern Dublin is losing it's uniqueness. Is this a result of 'selling out', of becoming more European? The history is still there and always will be, but there is something about the present state of things that has me a little on edge. I noticed that some areas are now well built up, take the Ballymun flats for instance, the first huge change I noticed when coming out of the airport. The eyesore on the horizon that welcomed me home all these years is now gone, replaced by modern office blocks and new condos. Yet turn a corner and the poverty and despair are still plain to see in the remaining smaller flats left behind to be demolished another day.

Having said that, I noticed other areas that have been redeveloped in the 16 years I've been out of Ireland that are now falling into decay. Finglas village for example. I didn't feel safe walking down to the village myself, and I was dismayed to see Superquinn going under, fallen victim to the influx of English stores. Don't even get me started on my Bewleys' experience.....

2. On the up side (depends which side you're on, I guess) I did notice that Dubliners have a lot more money these days. Jobs are easy to come by, pay is good and the economy is booming. Everyone and their little brother have cell phones (or mobiles) and I had huge trouble trying to find a payphone on a number of occasions, not to mention the outrageous amount of money I pumped into it to make a 2 minute phone call. The downside to this 'nouveau riche' is that everyone is trying harder than ever to keep up with the Joneses. House prices are ridiculous and banks are more than willing to give out 100% mortgages to young people eager for a bite of real estate. Materialism was a term I was never aware of as a teenager, it wasn't until I came to Canada that I saw it rear it's ugly head. Now it's alive and well in Ireland, which it probably always was, just that I notice it more now. The class distinctions are ever more apparent.

3. And now to say something good or my family will never want me back again! I guess I am glad to see the country pull itself up like this, the people are more educated and better paid than ever before. There are many students from other countries working there. It is cosmopolitan, a major European centre of history and culture. Dublin Castle, a place that holds a ton of significance to me, has seen a revival. The Dubhlinn Gardens, the centre of it all, have been redesigned with 4 contemplative gardens in each corner. However a new office block has gone up to the south of the castle, finally, after the developers came across some viking graves that halted construction for a while.

However, my Dublin will always be the same underneath it all, the sense of being home, of truly 'belonging' somewhere will always be there to greet me when I get off the plane and the guy who looks at my passport says in a flat Dublin accent; "Welcome Home".

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My son has Laptop envy.

Ever since he was 7 months old, my son has had to compete with the new 'baby' around here...yes, I consider my laptop to be a huge part of me, in fact, I may even go so far as to call it my 4th child..... I cannot remember what life was like before my laptop, I used to have an office here in my house, now the desktop is gathering dust and the office has become a repository for 'everything that can't make it upstairs because I'm too lazy'. My productivity has increased dramatically, as now I can reach for the laptop whenever inspiration strikes (usually in the form of something to look up on Ebay) instead of having to go and draw paintings of cows on my office wall. Speaking of pens, I don't remember the last time I had one in my possession that has stayed by me for longer than 2 seconds. *Sigh*, such is life with a little one. Which leads me to my next 'thought''.

Working with a baby underfoot

I'd like to represent mothers of young children to a future think tank of laptop computer designers. I think we as a demographic would have some pretty interesting ideas for these people. Come to think of it, do any mothers work in the design area of Microsoft? If so, come on ladies, we're waiting!

Here goes:
1. Must have smudge proof screen to prevent sticky fingerprints, and a very durable screen when said sticky fingers go pointing at the 'baby' on the wallpaper.

2. Must have a mini "Mommy and Me" tandem laptop designed to keep toddlers interested with moveable joysticks, flashing lights and sounds, and clicky buttons just like the real thing. This younger model can be sold as an added feature and must be portable, waterproof, breakproof, and pretty well perfect.

3. Must have detachable side 'blinders' for moms when they want some privacy and someone else is watching the kids (doesn't happen very often) and when we need to FOCUS on what is on the screen before us.

4. Must be small enough to allow a toddler to fall asleep in your arms while you can still balance the laptop on your knees, and be durable enough in the likely event that it falls off your knees when you try to put the kid down for a nap.

5. Must have voice recognition software built in for when we are nursing or otherwise tied up with a child in our arms, as most of us can't type with our toes. Although there are those out there who have tried, I am sure.

6. Must have strong password controlled adaptor plugs to prevent little fingers from pulling them out. Again, no flashing or pretty lights to get their attention.

7. Waterproof, dent resistant work pad for when those sippy cups decide to leak

8. Must have an alarm defence system built in, so that whenever said toddler decides to bang his hands on the closed laptop, or throw his little dinky cars at it, it will emit harsh piercing beeps. Alarm system can be operated by remote control by mother if desired. This must-have add-on could also be useful for when hubby decides to take your laptop and mess it up...I mean, play with it.

9. The person who invented my laptop didn't account for the fact that there may be a very small child sharing my lap, and seeing as very small children are attracted to coloured lights and buttons, then why put 2 of them right out in the open for little hands to find and press and repeatedly knock me off the wireless?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dr Ferber's new statement proves what Moms have always known....

I watched the news last night with a mix of dismay and disgust. Dr Ferber, one of the leading experts on children's sleeping issues, is now saying that his method may not be as effective as he once thought. Now, for those of you not familiar with "Ferberizing", just watch Meet the Parents 2. After having 3 children of my own, and going through the myriad nighttime battles, I have heard many comments from people about how I should 'train' my child to go to sleep. Usually it's older people, so people that would have been new parents in the 80's when his book came out. Most people of this generation will swear by the 'let them cry it out' method, and are quick to pass judgement on my current style of 'ahem' sleep training.

My first daughter slept through the night at about 4 months, and then from 7 months until almost 2 years, she had night wakings. At the later stage I was at my wits end, pregnant with baby #2 and getting up frequently during the night to use the bathroom anyway. I remember one particular harrowing night when I almost screamed at my husband; "Am I ever going to get a night's sleep before this baby comes?" Thankfully, daughter #2 was the best sleeper, from 5 weeks on she slept through the night, and only woke up if she wasn't feeling well. She also had help in the form of a digit on her left hand. Now, at almost 6 years of age, she still sucks that poor thumb. Our dentist asked her to stop by Christmas.... I foresee orthodontics in her future, damn it all.

So I guess what I'm saying is, you're damned if you do get to sleep, as a parent, and then you're also damned if you don't. Our, or I should say My (he has to work in the morning and doesn't have boobs) nights of blissful sleep after daughter #2 has come at a price.

Fast Forward to baby #3, the Boy. We thought this time around that we knew all the tricks, that our form of 'laissez-faire' parenting would work with this laid back little boy. But this little blighter knew what he wanted from the beginning. Mommy. He slept with us for the better part of his first year, and then as I was going away for a week I had to wean him and try to get him to sleep in his crib all at once. We gave up on the letting him cry, my husband chickening out before me. I stumbled into his room one night with him screaming with the indignance of it all, and when I picked him up and took him into bed with us, the little fart actually clapped and smiled in all his baby glory. "I WON!!!"

So, in response to the Ferber topic, I think that mothers and fathers should listen to their instincts. If you have a will of iron and can stand listening to those cries, then go for it. We prefer to spare the rod and spoil the child, they aren't babies for long, after all. And years from now I will remember the feel of my son next to me, lulled to sleep by the rhythm of my breathing, and not the countless nights he woke me up.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Late at night now, so just some ramblings before I go to bed. I am trying to work on getting my website up and running, but it's so hard to promote yourself, you know? I have no problem promoting other people's work and business, but when it comes to myself, yeah... Funny occupation I've chosen if I can't even coax the word fairy to come out and inspire me. So much for self promotion.

I am knee deep in editing right now, and today I printed off what I needed to edit so that I could present it to my husband and ask, "What do you think?". But thankfully this month's edition of Writer's Digest arrived in the mail before I cornered him. Inside was an article about choosing the first reader of your work, it's like it was written for me. The author, Kevin Alexander, brought up an interesting point about getting our significant others to edit our work; "They love you, so they don't want to tell you that most of your work is terrible", or "they love you, so they think all of your work is good". I feel like I'm trying to pull teeth when I ask my husband to read something I've written. Most of the time, if the Simpson's are on tv, then he's not even listening to me. He groans now when I ask him to read something, so I've stopped. I married a non-reader!! Other than the LOTR trilogy and the odd Maxim magazine, I don't think I've seen him read much in the 12 years we've been together.

Thankfully I have one single friend who has offered to give her two cents on my work.... What would I do without her? Why is it so hard to get an honest opinion around here??!!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Power of Words

Today my daughter was playing with the words (like Magnetic Poetry only homemade) I had created for my writing class, and it amazed me what she came up with. This from a 7 1/2 year old!

A pregnant red cloud is never hot
Woman always imagine feeling like silhouettes forever
His fat swear creates a fluid perfume
His sweat may be ugly he said very loud
It's the loom midnight fluid day
That world occasion on shadow is gone free to despair
Picture yesterday feeling open with lots of questions
Please scream mother, that new star shadow is free!
Never ever despair ugly pregnant skies
My beautiful paper presence never ever go flying free

Last week she made a list of her own words, cut them out and took them to class the next day. Her teacher was very impressed with this little exercise, I guess she had the class try to come up with parts of a sentence (hey, grammar was never this fun when I was in school) and after a while they just gave up and just made nonsense sentences. What excited me about this little exercise is that it was meant for adults, and here I have a 2nd grader getting her classmates excited about words and poetry, and creating something. How cool is that?

I was feeling sorry for myself last week, here I had spent the better part of the afternoon printing and cutting out words that I had just brainstormed that morning to use in my creative writing class that I was teaching at our local senior's centre. I ended up canceling the class due to low enrolment, kicking myself for 'wasting' my time cutting up these stupid words when no one was going to see them. What I didn't account for was the creativity of a 7 year old. I have now challenged her to come up with a second verse, better than the first, for her weird and wonderful poem.

Here is what I came up with.

You know that young woman
Silhouette too surreal
Raw masterpiece it soon will break
Too rigid waste away
Never Free
We scream at the world.