As time goes by …

You guys, kids make me feel so old … Kids I babysat have reached their thirties. Most of them now have kids, themselves, and they’re looking for babysitters. Kids I am too old to have babysat because I was making real money by the time their parents were looking for a sitter are in their twenties, and embarking on relationships and careers and life. Kids in university look like … well, kids, to me. Kids I gave birth to (ok, that makes it sound like there are alot of them – there are actually only two) are slightly taller than me, have shot past my shoe size, and are raiding my closet and make-up stash on a daily basis. Having big kids is awesome – but, again. So. Old.

It never fails to annoy and amuse me, in equal parts, to hear a question that starts with “Mom, when you were young …”  It blows my daughters’ fresh, young minds that there was a time when a personal computer took up a whole room, when a household contained only one phone (and it was tethered to the wall), when if you missed a TV show, you missed it, because there was no way of delaying or even recording them. When many people didn’t have any typing experience because typists typed on typewriters and sold their services to those who needed something typed. When penmanship mattered. When you had to wait a while to see the pictures you took. When you kept those pictures in an album, and shared them only when someone asked to see them – rather than making them public property, and flashing them in the face of anyone even remotely connected with you. I could go on and on – but I think that will make me sound like a grizzled grouch, so I won’t.

While I am well aware of how things have changed since I was a child, the changes that have occurred during my adult life seem a little more sneaky. My father-in-law, a wise and lovely man in many ways, says that time moves faster the older you get, comparing age with speed. I often feel like my twenties and thirties have been fairly steady, but then I see a cube-shaped TV. Or a flip-phone. Or a butterfly tramp stamp. I also think I look just like I always did, and so do all the people around me. Then I flip through a ten-year-old photo album, and I’m shocked by the glossy young faces beaming at me. That glossy young thing is still in there somewhere, I swear, but perhaps deeper beneath the surface than I care to think.

One of those times-have-changed moments came to me recently in the form of a newspaper. Ryan and I celebrated our fifteenth anniversary this past summer. Fifteen years of marriage! It’s been lovely, for the most part (no marriage is perfect, and anyone who acts like theirs is – well, that person’s a dirty liar complete with pants on fire). Tying the knot was a leap of faith that has led to this beautiful life. Our anniversary celebrations are pretty simple. Dinner out, glasses raised and clinked, an exchange of cards.

This year, though, I did a little something extra – I dug out the Ottawa Citizen (another thing that wasn’t there when I first subscribed – the Ottawa Citizen online) from August 2, 2003 (our wedding day) out of our closet. Right away, I noticed the very different logo and font. They’ve changed so subtly over the years that I didn’t notice until now, seeing old and new side-by-side. The paper was so much thicker, too, since readers couldn’t be pawned off to the website for “additional content” – and there were far fewer ads. The newspaper didn’t have to sell itself to sell itself, if you will. I’ll try not to bore you (perhaps I already have, but if you’re still here, it can’t be that bad) – but here are a few tidbits from that yellowed, dusty, fifteen-year-old treasure:

Mars came closer to Earth than it had in 60,000 years. 55,760,000 km, to be exact. How this was determined, I have no idea. Now, we’re talking about living there!


A hadrosaur skeleton was found in northern Alberta. Until then, these duck-billed dinos were thought to live south of Edmonton only. This has not changed anyone’s life. But everyone loves dinosaurs, right?


The legalization of gay marriage was being debated. Now, it’s a fact of life in Canada.


Omar Khadr’s saga was just beginning. He was captured and sent to Guantanamo Bay to be tortured and rot in 2002. However, he was interviewed by RCMP and CSIS investigators in 2003. Since then, he’s been recognized as Canada’s child soldier, and therefore Canada’s responsibility – and, against all odds, seems to be doing well these days.


America was still seeking Saddam Hussein. By the end of the year, they would capture him in his “spider hole”. The next three years would see him charged with, tried for, found guilty of, and executed for crimes against humanity in general, and war crimes specifically.

Mideast Saudi US Arab Reaction

An editorial extolled the virtues of the Yellow Pages. Remember them? I flipped through those highly organized grainy pages many times, in search of a roofer or a plumber or a piano tuner or a furniture store. They also made a good booster seat, and a fine prop for wobbly furniture.


Great buzz was being generated by a new product: the Biniki. This is a sort of bra for your ass. It promises to “lift and define the derriere, smooth out the backs of the thighs and, in general, beautify the backside.” It works like this: “Biniki consists of two leg loops that are attached at very specific points along the waist-hip band. The leg loops are designed to perfectly encircle the bottom. Once Biniki’s waist-hip bands are in place and the leg loops are self-adjusted to fit the individual, the skin on the backs of the thighs will lift up, the bottom will be raised and Biniki is guaranteed to stay in place.” Sounds so comfy! Can’t imagine why everyone’s not wearing one … Before, and after:


Men with saggy asses could wear a Maniki. I couldn’t find a picture, mercifully.

Housing prices were soaring. The ever-present, always-consulted, generally vaguely-referenced “experts” were warning of a bust to follow the boom. You know what they say: the more things change, the more they stay the same …


I can’t stop time – and, mainly, I don’t want to stop progress. However, I can – and must – deliver on the implied promise of the title of this post. Sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of this beautiful song




I wear an awful lot of hats. Possibly, the weightiest one is that of mother. It’s a huge part of my life, so it’s not surprising that I’ve written a great deal about motherhood. It is joy and pride, as well as sorrow. It is hard work, and incredible reward. Mothering small children is simple. Not easy, but fairly basic. You make sure they are nourished and clothed, and you start to teach them skills like sleeping through the night on their own, expressing themselves in socially acceptable ways, and treating other people decently. You work out household rules and discipline tactics. You try not to lose yourself in the process – you want to be more than just Mommy.

In terms of the daily grind, big kids win – no contest. They bathe and dress themselves, and do their own hair. They get their own snacks – and even their own meals (though not every day, unless you don’t mind them coming down with scurvy). They do their own laundry. They can manage most of their homework on their own. I have not encountered many people who hate homework more than me. Your kindergartener is adorable, believe me – but I’m done coaxing kids to sound out words, pushing them to read and write in french, and proofing penmanship, and I like it that way. When I am rushing to slap some dinner down in front of my hungry family at the end of a long day, I can ask Fiona or Bridget to set the table, take and fill drink orders, chop veggies and meat, throw a salad together. They empty the dishwasher. They mop and vacuum. We don’t have to pay for daycare. We can play board games more complicated than Chutes & Ladders and Hungry Hungry Hippos. We appreciate many of the same foods, songs and movies. They have a wicked sense of humour, strong opinions, interesting takes on the world. The pleasure of their company outweighs the work and fuss.

All that being said, sometimes I feel like time is moving too fast … For one thing, people love to tell me how awful my life will be once I have two older kids. Just wait, they say. You’ll be nothing to them. They will ignore everything you say and do until they’re about 25. Though there have been challenges, neither girl has been as horrible as these assholes seem to hope they’ll be. Turning 30 didn’t bother me. Pretty sure 40 won’t phase me, either. But Fiona turning 13 this summer? That has hit me hard. I have a teenager. Yesterday, Fiona and Bridget returned to school after a long, lovely summer break (yes, I know, I owe everyone a blow-by-blow of our road trip – I’ll get to that). Grade 8 and grade 6! Back-to-school is bittersweet for me. I’ve never been one of those parents who can’t wait for September. But I am very excited for the girls. They’ve been planning their look and their moves and their whole damn school year for days. They woke up like firecrackers, and they couldn’t stop grinning and giggling. But I am also sad. Each school year brings challenges and opportunities that will change them utterly. I will never see these kids, as they are right now, again. They’re gone the moment they set foot in the classroom on the first day, and they’re never coming back.

Yet, when we hang out together, watching TV or reading, they both want to sit next to me. One on either side. They lean heads on my shoulder, they sneakily sniff my hair. Their hands creep their way into mine. They need just a few minutes, talking to me about their dreams and joys and frustrations, before we say goodnight. Every morning, they come find me, still warm from the bed, for a welcome-to-the-new-day hug. I have not lost two cuddlers – I have gained two young ladies, self-sufficient and smart and sarcastic, who still need my hugs. They may be as big as me, but they still need me. Everything’s still coming up aces for this mother.