Monday, 29 August 2016

Motherhood - Be Quiet

This was posted by Meg on Facebook a while ago and it really hit home. The things that people have said to me when I mention wanting to only have one child are frequently appaling and often hurtful, and my plans are all in the hypothetical. It would be so much worse if any of the situations below were my current reality.

With our wedding approaching I thought it was a good time to post this - these types of events tend to lend themselves to people asking invasive questions and sharing upsetting comments (with good intentions but hurtful just the same.)

The original piece is entitled Mind Your Own Womb and was written by Nadirah Angail. I have adapted it considerably so please go read her version as well. The main thing that neither address is the possibility that the women doesn't want children at all. Both versions are based around a female experience but this isn't a gender thing, it is a family thing. Man can hurt just as much from inappropriate questions about parenthood.

Be Quiet

Somewhere there is a woman: 36, no children. 
People ask her, “Still no kids?” Her response varies from day to day, but it usually includes forced smiles and restraint. “Nope, not yet,” she says with a chuckle, muffling her frustration. “Well, don’t wait forever. That clock is ticking, ya know,” they say before departing, happy for imparting such erudite wisdom. They leave and the woman stops holding her smile. Why couldn't they be quiet. They don't know her pain, they don't understand her reality. She is hurt and frustrated and this conversation doesn't address the truth that...
- she’s been pregnant 4 times and miscarried every one
- she started trying for a baby on her wedding night, and that was 5 years ago
- her husband has an ex-wife and she has given him children
- she wants desperately to try invitro but can’t even afford the deposit
- she’s done multiple types of fertility testing and treatments and still has no children
- this issue causes friction in her marriage
- all her sisters have children and one of them didn’t even want children
- her best friend is pregnant and she just got invited to another baby shower
- her mother keeps asking
- her in-laws want to be grandparents
- her neighbor has twins and treats them like shit
- 16-year-olds get pregnant without trying
- she’s already picked out names
- there’s an empty room in her house
- there is an empty space in her body
- she has so much to offer
- her husband would be a great dad
- she would be a great mother, but isn’t. 

Somewhere else is another woman: 35, one child. 
People say to her, “Only one? You never wanted any more?” “I’m happy with my one,” she says calmly, a rehearsed response she’s given more times than she can count. Quite believable but she wishes they had just stayed quiet. No one would ever suspect that the question cuts through her normally happy life. That just a simple comment can bring back the dark reality that this is the very thing keeping her up at night. It is difficult reminder because...
- her one pregnancy was a miracle
- her son still asks for a brother or sister
- she always wanted at least three
- her second pregnancy had to be terminated to save her life 
- her doctor says it would be “high-risk” 
- she’s struggling to care for the one she has
- sometimes one feels like two
- her husband won’t even entertain the thought of another
- her family thinks one is enough and wouldn't support more 
- she’s deep into her career and can’t step away
- she feels selfish
- her postpartum depression was so intense
- she can’t imagine going through everything again
- she has body issues and pregnancy only exacerbates it
- she had to have a hysterectomy
- she wants another baby, but can’t have it.

Another woman: 34, five children. 
People say to her, “Five? Good lord, I hope you’re done!” And then they laugh… because those types of comments are funny. The woman laughs too, but not in earnest. She would have preferred them to be quiet. She changes the subject, as she always does, and gives the disrespect a pass. Just another encounter with this frustrating attitude towards her family. It hurts her because...
- she’s pregnant with another and feels like she has to hide the joy
- she always wanted a big family and doesn’t see why people seem so disturbed by it
- she has no siblings and felt profoundly lonely as a child
- her Granny had 12 and she’d love to be just like her
- she couldn’t imagine life without her children, but people treat her like they’re a punishment
- she doesn’t want to be pitied
- people assume this isn’t what she wanted
- they assume she’s just irresponsible
- they believe she has no say
- she feels misunderstood
- she’s tired of defending her private choices
- she and her husband are perfectly capable of supporting their family but that doesn’t seem to matter
- she’s tired of the “funny” comments
- she minds her own business and wishes others would mind theirs
- sometimes she doubts herself and wonders if she should have stopped two kids ago
- others are quick to offer criticism and slow to offer help
- she’s sick of the scrutiny
- she’s not a side show
- people are rude and so many seem to have opinions on her private life
- all she wants to do is live in peace

These women are everywhere. They are our neighbors, our friends, our sisters, our co-workers, our cousins. They have no use for our advice or opinions. Their reproductive lives are their own. You probably don't know the truth behind the simple reality of 5 or 4 or 3 or 2 or 1 or no children in someone's life. Let them share if they want to. Don't ask, don't comment. Just. Be. Quiet.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Rusty On Caturday

Looking Magnificent
Rusty on a suitcase - 2016
Photo by Aunty Laura

Friday, 26 August 2016

Biking Photos

It seems like I can take good photos while biking! Check this out from this past weekend's triathlon:
Me Biking - 2016 Toronto Island Try-Tri
Multisport Canada Toronto Island Triathlon
August 20, 2016
Photo by ZoomPhoto

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Bag Boy

Sunday Mornin' Coming Down - A post about my Dad each Sunday, named after a song that he loved.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have now done the Toronto Island Try-Tri three times. The first time in 2013 was only a few months before my dad's unexpected death. He had accompanied Mom, Jason, Teri, K, and I to the island to cheer us on and watch our stuff while we competed. When writing yesterday I came across the fact that Dad's last comment on Always Standing had been about my race that year.

Doing the race for the second time in 2015 was really difficult, I remember getting emotional on the last stretch of the run. I hoped he was proud that I was still doing this type of thing. I was sad that he missed the chance to hang out with a bigger group since more people came last year. I missed seeing his smiling face in the crowd. I think I held it together for the most part after the race.

This year was different. I was a mess after I finished running. I actually hadn't thought about it until I crossed the finish line and then it was a rush of emotion. Three years ago he had been there; now I picture his face but can't hear his voice in my head anymore. I know he is cheering me on but I forget what that sounds like. I miss his support and his energy. I cried for a long long time as I sat in the shade after I finished this year.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Third Time Today

I don't know how I missed blogging about it last year, but I did the Toronto Island Triathlon for a second time and today I did it again for a third.

In 2013, Mom, Jason, Teri, K, and I went to the island for our first triathlon. The event is in August, but I didn't end up blogging about it until October.

Then in 2014, I had planned to do it. Jason and I actually signed up even though it would mean returning early from our Killbear camping trip. Then Jason hurt his ankle, and I was having such a nice time up north we decided to skip it.

Last year, a bunch of us did it again. We launched what I anticipate to be Meg's illustrious triathlon career, Teri and Jason joined me in doing it a second time, and we convinced Matty to come out at the last minute. It turns out I never posted about this, even though we had done a fun training session at the cottage, and I improved my times in almost all the areas, and there was a great picture of me biking!

Me Biking - 2015 Toronto Island Try-Tri
Multisport Canada Toronto Island Triathalon
August 22, 2015
Photo by ZoomPhoto

Friday, 19 August 2016

Motherhood - What I Would Not Be Doing

Excerpts from Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid by Rufi Thorpe:

"I am proud of being a mother. I love my two children. I love them so much that it hurts to look at them and I am pretty sure they are the best, smartest, scrappiest, funniest boys in the world, and having them changed my life. My life before children was selfish and bland, all feelings and no grit, just a drifting miasma of mood. To go back to living like that seems like hell."

"I have tried to say it to my husband; I have tried to say, 'I hate my life.' I have tried to say, 'I need help.' I have tried to explain why I am finding being a mother so difficult, but in the face of his questions, my explanations collapse. It isn’t exactly that spending time with the children is so horrible. I mean, sometimes it is, sometimes we have a bad day, but most of the time it is relatively pleasant: we go to the store, we go to the park, everyone is well behaved, the three-year-old says something cute, the baby does something new. The problem is not in what I am doing. The problem is in what I am not doing, which is writing every day, but which is also leading a life of the mind."

"I recognize the leveraging power of ineptitude. My husband can’t cook well; I do the cooking. My husband accidentally shrinks a few sweaters; I do the laundry. My husband can’t lactate; the baby comes to New York. In his inability to do things, he is excused from labor. In my rush to excel, to shine, to be a good wife and mother, I have done nothing but ensure my labor will be lengthy and unpaid."

"The conflict is between the selfishness of the artist and the selflessness of a mother."

"I am profoundly unfree."

For me, the haunting quote is: The problem is in what I am not doing.

I never thought I would be the type of person to have FOMO but I fear that having children wouldn't mean just be missing out on an event or two it would be missing out on who I could be. Sacrificing not just part of life but choosing to walk away from whole lives I could be living, other things I could be doing,

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Motherhood - A New Series

I am going to start a new series of posts on Always Standing related to having children. I wanted to first make a general disclaimer that (unless explicitly stated) these are just rants and thoughts and general writing from my perspective at this moment in time. They are not reflections of my own childhood. These posts are also not connected to anyone I know, who may or may not have kids. Please remember that these are posts about me while I consider this interesting aspect of my possible future. Just like my posts about getting married and having an engagement ring were not related to the choices people have made or thoughts others have on the same topics. So stay tuned for this minefield of a topic.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016


Fog over everyone's eyes
The silence of morning 
Droplets join streams, always flowing
Sway and flow, move as one

Each day we turn away from the stairs
Water must be carried up hill
Smoothly, quietly
Splitting apart to join others
I watched a woman disappear
Absorbed into the heat and crowd
Is it a monster? A beast to be sated
Drinking us, eating us
Symbiotic, parasitic
The smell and warmth of its stomach
The feel of being digested
Acid in my eyes

Or is a canal more fitting?
Man-made walls containing chaos
Water moving towards a goal
Guided by sharp walls and a dictated path
More gentle to be a puddle

--- C. Sweeton 2016

Monday, 15 August 2016

Two Is 5

On her birthday, let's look back almost five years to a November 2011 photoshoot that Two and I did with Steph. She used to be a kitten but today Two is 5, which the internet tells me is approximately the equivalent of 32.

By Stephanie Beach Photography
November 2011

I still love the photo on the bottom right, she is showing so much attitude. We both look very 'gangster.' Wow, was she ever tiny.

Saturday, 13 August 2016


Keeping up with tradition, Jeska and I went to Canada's Wonderland today and rocked the park! Even though there was a midday thunderstorm we didn't let that deter us from sticking around, waiting it out, and continuing with our plans to do every ride in the park

Jeska and I
Swing of the Century - Canada's Wonderland
Photo by Andrea

Breaking with tradition, we brought other people. Both Andrea and Joe turned out to be true 'ride warriors' as Jes would say. It was so much fun, always an amazing day.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

We Are All Addicted

"He now realized, the principle of progress was always at work, in acquiring of houses, possessions, cars, the drive towards higher social status, more travel, a wider circle of friends, even the production of children felt like an obligatory calling point on the mad journey; and it was inevitable, he now saw, that once there were no more things to add or improve on, no more goals to achieve or stages to pass through, the journey would seem to have run its course, and he and his wife would be beset by a great feeling of stillness after a life of too much motion, such as sailors experience when they walk on dry land after too long at sea but which to both of them signified that they were no longer in love."

--- from Outline, by Rachel Cusk

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

45 Days

I am awake at 5am because I am somehow very aware of the fact that it is only 45 days until Jason and my wedding. Suddenly all the recent questions and concerns from friends and family - about timelines, what to wear, hotels, where to go - make sense. It isn't that far away anymore! Luckily most of our weekends are less busy now so hopefully all the remaining planning will start coming together quickly (and smoothly).

Sunday, 7 August 2016

An Epic Party

My Bachelorette Party was this weekend, a three day event planned by Teri and flawlessly put together for me by 11 amazing friends. This has brightened my summer into the phosphorescent. There are no words so how loved I feel, how grateful I am to have these beautiful, inspiring, women in my life, how much fun I had, how touched I was by each thoughtful gesture. My abs hurt from laughing, my face aches from smiling, and these are the greatest pains to have.

Thank you so much to Teri, Steph, Kristen, Tessa, Andrea, Erin, Jenn, Jen, Maria, Meghan, and Taylor.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Panda Wants Tessa To Stay Home

It is so hard to take a good photo of a black cat, I remember the challenge from the years of having Binx. Tessa got a beautiful one of Panda yesterday as she packed for the weekend Bachelorette (mine!) trip up to Collingwood.
Please Don't Go Mommy
Panda Prevents Packing 
Photo by Tessa