Tag Archives: childhood

Frolicking in the Autumn Mist

I brought them strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff

I have no doubt that if I was called to anything in this life, it was to motherhood. There isn’t a moment that I don’t count myself lucky to be blessed with my four kids.  I cherish the memories we have created together.

Being a relatively young mom, and having a clear connection to my inner child, we created together, we played and learned together and we grew up together. If I allow myself, I can put myself back in the red glow of sitting cross-legged in their play tent on the front porch of our Victorian home. We would take turns making up and telling stories and the tent was filled with a very special magic. Even in those moments of story-telling there was the realization that this unique experience between the five of us was such a small snapshot of time that would soon be outgrown. But I loved that red glow on their faces, how their eyes were alive with imagination and how they giggled and went along with my silly ideas.

We ate egg salad sandwich picnics on a blanket spread on the living room floor. I introduced them to dirt bombs and when we couldn’t afford a kiddie pool or air conditioning I filled the bathtub with cool water transformed with food colouring. In winter I put Red River Cereal in boxes and found their sandbox toys. We painted and did crafts, we cooked and created. Once I even hung donuts with strings from the clothesline. Blindfolded, they laughed as they took bites.  We played princess, Barbies and trucks, Ninja Turtles and hide and seek.  We invented our own games and with my husband introduced them to camping.  We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner on a picnic tables under a canopy of amber leaves at Awenda Provincial Park. We roasted spider dogs and snake bread. We joined Cubs and had adventures, explored and learned. We sang campfire songs, the silly songs of childhood, and nursery rhymes. We learned the ones sang by Fred Penner, Eric Nagler and Sharon, Lois and Bram and some mornings I woke them up for school by blaring Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf.

overlapping hands of childhood
all for one

I often think those days, like the ones in Puff the Magic Dragon, were destined to cease. They were magical days limited only by our imagination. We were free to be ourselves. I think I knew we were frolicking in the autumn mist as eventually those activities became no longer cool and could not compete with the bonds of friendship as children grow into teens and adults. Like little Jackie Paper I no longer bring them strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. Still, I hold so dear and treasure in my heart and memories of the days we ran barefoot in the grass, had adventures and scheduled ‘unprofessional development days’ where we played hooky from school and work.

Those moments have enriched my life and allowed me to love beyond anything I could have imagined. My kids were my purpose. But even as I call them mine, I wonder, did they ever really belong to me? I aspired to raise children who were individuals and I can say I’ve achieved that. When I remember their childhoods I feel like those days of wonder were a gift and the child-version of them that I adored were on loan to me. Parenthood is not ownership. I no more take credit for their successes than I accept blame for their mistakes. It is my phenomenal pleasure to have lived alongside these children who have taught, loved, entertained, tolerated, frustrated, frightened, challenged and propelled me to become a better version of myself.

It’s fun to visit memories and spend a little time immersed in the magic and joy and it’s a privilege to witness the adults they have become.  Peter Pan said, “To die would be an awfully big adventure.” But parenthood is a bigger adventure still. Every now and then, there’s a glimmer, a spark, a twinkle of the magic that connects us still.

I am Blessed to be their Mother.

Finding my voice

As far back as I can remember I loved stories. Before I could read or write I memorized story books to pretend that I could read the words on the pages. Perhaps it was grade two or three when the teacher would take pictures from magazines, glue them onto construction paper and set them along the dusty ledge of the chalkboard along the front of the classroom. I liked the way she spaced them evenly along as she slowly set them down. My eyes would dart across them quickly at first and more slowly. A nervous energy would tighten my stomach. After a few minutes I’d settle on one of the pictures. The idea was to write a story about what was happening in the picture. What an adventure! Often I’d get lost in my story and my hands wouldn’t print out the story as fast as my brain wanted them to. I had a vivid imagination but would sometimes simplify my ideas to avoid the pains of printing it all out. My printing and handwriting was always scrutinized and criticized by teachers for being messy. However, I loved writing those stories. Again I’d become nervous waiting for the teacher to call me up to her desk and give me the corrections. I’d stand beside her and look down at my paper with the red-ink evidence of my mistakes. My letters didn’t fit the red, blue, blue line format like her samples on the board. I’d forget some punctuation and in my hurry to get my thoughts down, I’d sometimes miss bits here and there and would often have the dreaded offense of including a run-on-sentence! Even with all that, I knew, I had the ability to tell a story. I also remember in grade one my best friend, Debbie Humble, and I would make up stories as we walked to and from school.  These stories may have looked like lies but both of us knew they weren’t true.

My childhood involved keeping secrets, things you just didn’t talk about outside of the home, things related to my father’s alcoholism. It’s almost as if there were so many things I wasn’t to talk about that I was bursting to talk about anything else. I was a very talkative child and I remember, as the youngest, often being given tasks to distract me from bothering my siblings or parents with my chatter. We had a green Pontiac car that was parked in the carport and as a child on a tricycle I’d go out and talk to that car. It listened to me without sending me away. Our poor neighbor was building a fence once and I talked with him hour after hour – like it or not! I often was disciplined at school for talking when I shouldn’t. One teacher even sat me with the ‘bad’ boys at the back of the classroom thinking that would stop me from talking, but it didn’t. Once, my brother put me in his closet with his tape recorder and told me to pretend I was on the radio. I did a whole show! Amid the “don’t you ever shut up” and “don’t you ever think before you speak” criticisms from my dad, I somehow managed to retain some shred of confidence in myself.

Even though I’d be sick to my stomach before public speaking I did well and enjoyed winning several school competitions. I looked forward to presentations knowing that once I began speaking the nervousness would melt away.

Later, in high school English, I began to learn to write how particular teachers wanted to receive the work. By the time I got to Journalism, I learned to take editing – even when it was brutal. In my career I learned to write for particular audiences, adjusting content and tone and using the colloquial words or expressions of specific groups, industries or workplaces. While I enjoy using my communication skills in my employment I felt I was missing the freedom of just writing in my own style about things that are important or meaningful to me.

This blog is my attempt to free my own voice and to write from my heart. It’s funny though many of the things I’ve written I hesitate to post for fear of offending family members. Hurting people’s feelings is the last thing I’d want to do. Someone once told me that I have the ability to teach others through my writing so I’m meditating and opening my heart to that. I’m not sure where exactly it will take me but if along the way I write something that is painful to someone, I can only hope they will forgive and understand, and maybe someone else will also learn or be inspired by those same words.