My Father's Daughter

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photo source: Wikipedia

There is a small rabbit dying outside my office window today. It is breaking my heart – open wounds, broken bones surrounded by delicate fur. We debated trying to save it but can see the futility of that course of action. My father would shoot it, but as my husband is not a hunter or gun person (thank you, God) we are letting nature take its course.

It is agonizing to watch the life ebb out of the glassy eyes of this beautiful creature. It is a fragile, tender, precious thing, and it is dying.

I wish I could do more – offer comfort, provide healing, take it in my hands and stroke away fear.

I wish I could feel less. Somewhere inside me echos the words of my farming ancestors that this is only a rabbit. My husband pointed out that it is rabbits who cut into the bounty from our garden. I hear words from my childhood – that I am too sensitive.

Maybe I am.

Or maybe it is not a shameful thing to be open to the suffering of even a small rabbit. There is so much pain and suffering in this world – so many things that I can’t imagine, that people must endure. I fear knowing about it because I fear that once I tip into it I will drown.

But people do endure. And when we are tender toward the suffering, when we acknowledge it and sit with it and identify it’s profoundness and beauty, we are the better for having known it.

I am sensitive. I am tender-hearted. It is how I see the world, and it is how I know that the world my Father created and the people he made in his image are awe-inspiring, delicate, beautiful and precious.


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How Sarah helped me blog anew

I haven’t posted on this blog since September 2008. My eldest daughter was born in early October of 2008. Coincidence? I think not. After baby number two I started a new blog called Tales of the Reluctant Mother in order to navigate the murky waters of motherhood and my place in it.

But sometimes I want to blog about other things. I have other journeys, other battles to fight, and other issues to shed light on (and clearly far too many metaphors for just one blog). I’ve been toying with returning to this, my humble blogging beginning. And then, then I read Sarah Bessey’s blog post In which we are saved, right now and it set my heart a-hummin. I wander over to Sarah’s blog periodically without following her formally as I covet her writing talent. But I will take up her challenge to share a post on the same theme. So, here I go.

What is saving my life right now.

What is saving my life right now is the need my babies have of me. Not because I am a good parent, or a better parent than their Dad (I give them too much sugar, allow too much TV and don’t get on the floor to be their human jungle gym). They need me because I am Mom and I am THEIR Mom. I see into their little hearts and know the tenderness there; I hear their laughter and know the wisdom there; I feel their little arms around my neck and know their love – that precious, precious love of a child for her mother.

What is saving my life right now is my parents. The tearful pride in my Dad’s eyes when he thinks of his kids – of me. He’s proud of me. And the pride I have for my mother who at age 66 started a new job and found passion – and because she was passionate about it and because she was perfect for it she excelled at it. This gives me hope for my own career search and dissatisfaction.

What is saving my life right now is my husband. Through 8 years we have navigated (read: fought) our way through the difficult times of work frustrations, personal heartaches, loss, grief, painful growth, and our individual selfishness and are now coming through it to finally start to see each other, know each other, love each other (you know, what we should have done from day one).

What is saving my life right now is finally, finally, finally, understanding at a heart level things I should already know about my God – how he values me, THAT he values me, how wide and deep his compassion is and how amazing is his love. Why don’t I know these things yet? Where have I been? Oh, yeah, lost in fear and doubt.

What is saving my life right now is the big things in my life – the big loves, the big relationships, the big reasons to be alive. I would love it if I was noticing the little things in life to counter-balance the little irritations, but right now my problems feel big, and I need the big things to save me. And I will cling to the big things until I can see clearly enough to notice the little joys in life. I know they are many, and I know they are just out of my sight, I can feel them like a childhood memory that is close to being remembered but still hazy. I will find my balance and breath in crisp air and be happy, see flowers and be peaceful, hear the wind and be relaxed. Someday.

Until then, coffee is saving me too.

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Father Knows Best

I may have jinxed myself. I have been telling people that I have had a textbook pregnancy and have had nothing more to deal with than the expected ‘joys’ of pregnancy. Enter PUPPPS. PUPPPS is the cute name for Pruritic Uticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (see the reason for the acronym). What it really means is extreme itchiness – ALL OVER.

I have tried a number of different things for itch relief – oatmeal baths, calamine, baking soda paste, Aveeno anti-itch lotion, aloe vera gel, Benadryl (on my midwife’s advice) – basically my poor husband has been to the 24-hour Shopper’s to assist his desperate wife on more than one occasion. Some of these things provided some relief. Enter Rawleigh Salve.

Growing up my Dad, in a strangely similar way to the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, believed any ailment could be cured with one of two remedies: either hot water and salt, or ‘Rawleigh Salve’. I believe these are remedies from HIS childhood (I envision Granddad putting Rawleigh Salve on work-worn, cracked hands). My siblings and I have both mocked and made use of these remedies throughout our lives. Phil now uses Rawleigh Salve for his nose at nights – and a family tradition is carried on. One itchy day I spied it on his bedside table and wondered about the possibility that it might provide comfort for a rashy existence. It has some of the same ingredients found in some of the other creams I’d tried and some of the stuff I’d read about online. Sure enough, it has provided the most relief of anything I’ve tried. I immediately sensed my father, and his father before him, gloating. Right again.

So, I’m a believer. When my child gets a cold, the Rawleigh Salve will come out. He or she will hear how Granddad and Great-Granddad always used this stuff and how it helped Mommy when she was pregnant. He or she will tire of this and will roll his or her eyes and mock me. Then, one day, he or she  will discover the miracle that is Rawleigh Salve and the tradition will continue to the next generation (this post would have been so much easier if Phil hadn’t been against finding out the gender of our little one – saving me all this he/she business).

Side note 1: The container that ‘Rawleigh Salve’ comes in is actually labeled “Rawleigh’s Medicated Ointment” but the company also makes a “Rawleigh’s Salve”, so my assumption is that is what was in my Dad’s home growing up and the name has stuck. An early argument in my marriage was resolved when Phil finally gave up saying “Rawleigh’s Medicated Ointment” just to bug me and found that family names for things from ones childhood should be respected.

Side note 2: For anyone who has, is, will, or knows someone who is, has, or will suffer from PUPPPS, I have also found that “Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap” is helping – and may even be clearing up the rash. Either it is the soap or a combination of the soap and the Rawleigh’s. Either way I’m grateful to grandfathers for their wisdom on salves and soaps.

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Tips for living alone

I think that the longest that Phil has been away from home is 5 days (on a few occasions). But I think if you eliminate the “nights” he’s come home to sleep for 1-4 hours we may have gone longer. How can you REALLY say I’ve ‘seen’ him when he’s just this man who crawled into my bed at 1am only to crawl out at 4am – leaving me feeling a bit like a mistress? Actually, I shouldn’t complain – I get to sleep with him without having to feed him and clean up after him, and it’s perfectly moral. In any case, I’m logging a lot of hours living alone (excluding cats and mice). In a desire to be helpful to others, I present the following tips:

  • check to make sure there is enough toilet paper on the roll BEFORE you sit down.
  • make sure you’ve removed the keys from the front door BEFORE closing and locking it.
  • make sure the cat has nothing in its mouth BEFORE letting it in.
  • if you find yourself talking aloud or carrying on conversations with the cats, it is time to call a friend.
  • that is YOUR dirty glass. You do have to clean it up.
  • yes, staying up late with no one to tell you to go to bed is fun, but you will pay for it the next day at work.

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Mousecapades (or The Mouse v. Heather, or Why I Wish My Husband Wasn’t On The Road)

Saturday night our male cat, Mason, emphatically demanded to be let back into the house. As he zipped past me I didn’t notice that he had something in his mouth. He was across the main floor and into the front entryway before I saw it — a mouse. Initially I thought it was dead and he was bringing it in to display his hunting prowess (boys are such braggarts). But when he put it down it squeaked and ran away. Dead mice don’t do that. Before I knew it, I was standing on my couch, my back against the wall. I should mention that Phil was on the road. I was alone. With the romping cat and his tiny prey.

Relevant background: My dear mother and dear sister are TERRIFIED of mice. I was in the kitchen with these strong women one day in my childhood when a squeak sent them into the hallway — literally dragging me with them. Turns out it was the new-to-us fridge we had just gotten, but before they accepted that answer they sent me – young, defenseless, little ole’ me – back into the kitchen to lift a garbage bag in the corner to ensure no rodents lurked beneath it. I have tried not to be so held by this same fear with only minimal success. I’m not as sensitive as my familial female examples are, but one thought of little feet crawling on me and I can get a good jolt of the willies too (in my defense I’ve tried to conquer this fear – I once tried to empty a mouse trap at my parents house but it freaked me right out).

Back to my exciting Saturday night (see, this is why you shouldn’t be home alone on a Saturday night – bad things happen). I was now faced with two options – rid my house of a live mouse (eek) or wait until my cat killed the cute little thing and then remove a dead mouse from my house (eww). Problems with option one were: I didn’t know how to capture a live mouse, I didn’t want to touch a live mouse, I didn’t want to be touched by a live mouse. Problems with option two were: I didn’t know if Mason would ever get around to killing it, I didn’t want to touch a dead mouse, I didn’t want it to die somewhere beyond my reach and/or sight. Then the mouse disappeared. Mason couldn’t find it. Now I had a mouse loose in my house (this story would be so much more dramatic if mouse and house didn’t rhyme in such a Seussian way). So, I did what any rationale grown woman home alone with a rodent running amok in her home would do – I called my Daddy. He suggested, quite calmly and unsympathetically, I thought, that I scoop the mouse up in the dustpan. Now, why didn’t I think of that?

While I was on the phone with my brilliant but bewildered-by-feminine-fear Father the mouse re-emerged and the chase was on again. Then he/she disappeared again. While our quarry was safely hidden I actually worked up the nerve to get off the couch and go into the entryway. Thankfully I’d been puttering about the house in clogs and they were with me – can you imagine barefeet or sandals in such a scenario – shudder! When the mouse came back out for more, I was ready – dustpan in hand, door slightly open. Mason and I cornered the poor thing and I was able to scoop it up. Now I had to get it out the door. Here is where it got a bit dicey – the mouse started crawling up the handle toward my hand. Thankfully I was able to reposition and keep a hold of the dustpan and keep the mouse IN the dustpan and get them both out the door (with only the very minimum of girlish squeals). My adventures were over. I had defeated the mouse. And maybe a little bit of fear.

My mother, sister and a female co-worker have all stated that they would not be able to do what I did. So I guess I am encouraged that my fear isn’t SO great as to be completely immobilizing. And I guess it is kind of interesting to experience that kind of fear – it is so visceral. I really don’t like being scared (HATE scary movies), but on the other hand, if I’m going to experience fear, I’d rather it be at the cold, icky little paws of an itty-bitty mouse than a number of other scenarios I can imagine (great, now I’m going to be paranoid about being home alone without Phil – mouse-catcher and defender).

My only big question about all of this is: How was Mason able to meow at the door if he had a mouse in his mouth?


McGrath’s Top Ten List

I teased a friend a few weeks ago that her upset tummy might indicate that she is pregnant. She was not amused. However, I thought it might be useful for her and others to know the Top Ten Signs You Might Be Pregnant. (Note: this list does not take the place of medical advice or pregnancy tests. If you suspect that you might be pregnant, please pee on a stick and/or see your doctor for confirmation. Note: The stick in the previous note does not mean ANY stick — it refers to an actual pharmaceutical-grade pregnancy test).

#10 – You can’t remember a morning that didn’t start with you seeing the inside of a toilet bowl hoping that death would come quickly.

#9 – You can’t hear as well, but you can smell a whole lot better (and there’s the inside of that toilet bowl again).

#8 – Your skin changes, your hair changes, your nails change, your joints change, your ability to think and remember changes, your level of energy changes, your appetite changes…

#7 – You REALLY wish your office was closer to the women’s washroom.

#6 – You ask your husband to shave your armpits because trying to look at them makes you dizzy.

#5 – You ask your husband to shave your legs and cut your toenails because you can’t reach them anymore.

#4 – Your body becomes public interest.

#3 – You actually don’t mind going to the washroom 3 times in a 45 minute span as it gives you a moment to lay your head against the toilet paper roll and close your eyes.

#2 – Your husband gives up more traditional terms of endearment, such as Sweetheart or Love for nicknames capturing your new stature, such as, Tubby, Chubby, and Fatso.

#1 – Your contractions are 5 minutes apart (incidentally, you should go to the hospital at this point).

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Yes they do.

A few months ago I stated that Phil and I would learn whether or not dreams do come true. Turns out they do.

Phil called me this morning to breathlessly tell me that he was standing on the basketball court at Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana. Where the Hoosiers play. (This after dropping a wad of cash on Hoosier-wear). This was a dream come true for him. He’s longed to see the campus, to see the court. I think he might spontaneously combust if he were to go to a game.

And, while I did make fun of him (make every opportunity count I always say), I do know how he feels. I got all tingly and excited when I walked through the “Haunted Wood” of Lucy Maud Montgomery lore. I walked trails she would have walked, where she would have thought up stories, and dreamed dreams. That was pretty meaningful to me – my love of the woods, and my love of Lucy and her Anne-stories combined in one lovely package.

Where would you stand? What hallowed ground do your feet long to touch? (FYI – it has to be somewhere you can realistically get to — no foot of the cross for those who want to be clever and very righteous).