Santa on Speed Dial

T’was a month before Christmas and all through our home
came the whining and arguing from each of my spawn.

They fought over books. They fought over toys.
I could not hear myself think over their noise noise noise noise!

The blowing cold wind had kept us inside
until finally I held up my cell phone and cried,

“You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why.
I have Santa’s phone number on speed dial.”

They both went as silent as a holy night.
Until one of them whispered, ‘do you think she’s alright?’

I stood with my phone in my outstretched palm
Their worried eyes stared at me; could I really go on?

But today I was feeling so smart and so slick,
That I thought up a lie and I thought it up quick.

“Yes, of course I have Santa’s phone number, my dears.
He gave it to all parents at the mall last year.”

And this snowball kept growing, not quite according to plan
until suddenly it was larger than Frosty the Snowman.

I led them down a tale of homes where Santa’s sleigh won’t drop.
And I only paused a moment when I heard someone holler, “Stop!”

“Enough! Enough! No need for alarm.
We’ll play nicely. Please! Put down that phone!”

And what happened next? Well my children might say
That they watched my heart grow 3 sizes that day.

Will I really stop Christmas from coming this year?
Let’s just see how things look as we get even nearer.

We will still hang our stockings by the chimney with care
with almost full certainty Santa will be there.

And they heard me repeat as I walked out of sight,
“Peaceful Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Erica Richmond
@pixiepaperdoll7

Advertisements

THIS is why it’s important – Speak your truth.

I’ve discovered, the hard way (as most important lessons are learned), that developing a thick skin is critical to writing.

“To write is to bleed words onto the page – to be entirely vulnerable – the surest way to criticism and the clearest path to metamorphic transformation.” -AmyJalapeño.com

So why do it?  Why I share my life so intimately in such a public forum – I mean let’s face it – the web is world-wide! (people might see it!)

The other day, my amazing cousin (who graciously shares much of my writing on her own website) sent me this text:

From my client:

Please thank Erica for me for sharing intimate details about herself and her life. It really was those articles that impacted me wanting to change.
I have two incredible children that need me, full on everyday. Living in a place of love and gratitude is sooo much nicer xx

That. 
That is why I speak my truth.  

Because someone out there (in that wide world) might read it and feel like my words were written specifically for them.  

Because not speaking the truth can create shame and guilt and tragedy.

And because it just feels good. dammit.

Speak your truth.  In your head. In a whisper. or on the world wide web.  Because the truth; Your truth, is powerful.

xo,
e

@pixiepaperdoll7

Support the Arts (Inclusive arts, that is)

My very dear friend, Danielle Strnad has this amazing company called DramaWay DramaWay is the leading provider of fine arts programming in the Greater Toronto Area for people of all abilities, specializing in modifying programming for individuals with special needs. For the last 12 years I have watched her in awe as she transforms children into stars. I’ve watched countless performances and each one brings tears to my eyes (and I am SO not a crier!!). Danielle has such a talent for helping kids (and adults) with special needs find their voice, their inner strength and their passion. Anyone who lives in or near the GTA should, without a doubt, attend one of her performances. Contact me or her directly for showtimes. Rain and Moxie love these performances and an amazing thing happens when I bring them… I realize that kids don’t notice the disability… they only notice their extreme and amazing abilities! (we should all be so lucky). But DramaWay needs our support to continue doing all of the amazing things they do. Please consider supporting DramaWay via:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/dramaway-s-year-end-showcase#home

PS…Jessi Cruickshank was a DramaWay volunteer and continues to be a huge supporter: “Two of our talented DramaWay participants are featured on MTV, in an interview with Jessi Cruickshank, host of The CW’s OhSit!, MTV’s The Hills,The City and the Daily After Show, and Dan Levy. Jessi invited us to film this with her at MTV when she was co-hosting The Hills Aftershow on MTV. Our participants loved being featured on live television while also taking part in the live audience. This collaborative script was improvised with hosts in support of DramaWay’s Annual Multi Arts Showcase DramaWorks. The original production was a variety show entitled “The Awaited Arrival.”
This is one of the many examples of success of our participants and another reason for you to donate to our campaign today!”

Link to the video:

Animal Jam by Moxie Hooper

{Rain is playing on the computer while Moxie sneaks a peak over his shoulder… This is the play by play of what she saw.  Who needs parental controls when you have little sisters!}

VVC66 (Rain’s Animal Jam name) has a buddy/girlfriend!  She is a wolf like him!

[Turn to the next page to find out how they meet]

Buddy/girlfriend said …. um….

VC66 said hi.

She said hi.

VC66 asked if she wants to be his buddy.

She said yes!

They went to her house.

Animal Jam (1)

Animal Jam (1)

Animal Jam (2)

Animal Jam (2)

Stigma Fighters

Last week I was approached by Stigma Fighters: a blog series about real people living with mental illness. Sarah Fader, the founder asked if I would write an article about my own experience. I submitted this piece about Jason’s death, in particular the first 24 hours after getting the news. Stigma Fighters is about to become a non-profit organization aiming to increase awareness and thus reduce the stigma of mental illness. I’m honoured to have been asked to help support their (and ultimately the collective ‘our’) cause. We are only one story but not alone.

http://stigmafighters.com/stigma-fighters-erica-r/

Dear Jerk (6 months later)

Yes. You’re still a jerk.

The kids and I had a soul-satisfying summer. We went on a 3-week road trip/pilgrimage across Western Canada. It was an amazing journey of healing for all of us. We grieved for you daily but felt strong and connected.

“Look at us. We’ve got our shit together!”

Then September bitch slapped us in the face.

As Rain said, “I didn’t know what it would be like at first. Now I do.”

Agreed.

I wasn’t ready to start getting phone calls from the school with a teary voice asking if I can pick them up early because they’re just too sad to stay.

I wasn’t ready for suicide to be a catch phrase in our house. Moxie’s doll has done suicide, fyi.

I wasn’t prepared for how exhausted I would be and how very little free-time I would have.

I wasn’t ready for the consistently impossible questions: “Did Daddy have a happy death or a sad death?”

I wasn’t ready to find letters they’d written to their Daddy asking why….?

But the professionals have assured me that both Rain and Moxie are processing in a very normal and positive way, remarkable even.

Yup.

You’re WELCOME.

We joined a bereavement group. The kids LOVE going. Yes, in hindsight I wish that I had noticed Rain was wearing that grim reaper outfit last week (He was wearing a coat over it when we left!). And fine, I admit that I dressed ‘up’ the first week – Hey, it is really hard to meet people these days!

The kids and I continue to talk about you every day. Usually in passing:

“We’ve had a lot of changes around here: Daddy’s gone, we got new bread.”

“I know who’s phone number I WON’T be putting on my emergency contact list. Well I can put it on, but he’s NOT going to answer.”

“I guess I can tell you what I wished for; it can’t come true anyway.”

“Wow – that Dad is so cool. I wish I had a Dad that could do that…Well I wish I had a Dad.”

JERK!!

We have an ongoing list of all the *ahem vocabulary you introduced them to: junk, twig and berries, big fella… (And that’s just ONE body part!)

Rain and Moxie made a Lego man after you, and named him “Lego Dad”. I can’t decide if this is good-weird or we need to seek (more) professional help-weird. We all laugh about it, and no we don’t set a place for you it at the dinner table, so I think we’re okay.

Lego Dad

Lego Dad

Rain moved up to the red level in hockey. You would have known what that meant without having to ask someone, like I did. I’m trying harder than ever to be excited about hockey this year. I’ve even learned what icing means. Sort of. But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how much I support Rain. It doesn’t matter how many friends or family come to cheer him on. You’re not there. And your absence echoes in every cold arena in the city.

You stupid son-of-a-bitch.

I’ve spent hours poring through boxes of pictures you had kept from our life together: pre and post children.  Thank you for keeping them.

Hating you is easy.

Missing you is really fucking hard.

But I watched you struggle with your demons for thirteen years up close and personal. And then from afar for six more years once we separated. I know you tried. So did I.

Til next time,

xo

e

(@pixiepaperdoll7)

Confessions of a Reluctant Hockey Mom

I was sitting at the table tonight, coordinating upcoming hockey games, goalie clinics, tournaments and training when it dawned on me… I am officially a hockey mom! (*wince!)

Here is a flashback to something I wrote last year that was previously published here: http://bunchfamily.ca/reluctant-hockey-mom/

Last year my son Rain said the unthinkable. “Mom, I want to play hockey.” I tried bribing him with drum lessons instead.

I’ve heard horror stories of minor league hockey taking over people’s lives. Winter weekends suddenly spent watching their breath in freezing arenas rather than curled in front of a fireplace. Family vacations morphed into tournaments. Family dinners scheduled around game times and consisting of nothing more than hotdogs and takeout. Determined to stop this from happening, I started looking for a low-key hockey league — preferably one ice-time per week at a convenient, consistent time. This does not exist. It’s either a full-on school year of erratically scheduled practices, games and tournaments or nothing.

When I called the local league to get the dreaded details, the woman on the phone tried to reassure me. “Don’t worry. You’ll love hockey! Before you know it, the hockey team will become your whole life. You’ll do everything together and they will soon be your new best friends.”

Please. Stop.

I like my life. I like my friends.

The registration deadline was fast approaching and my son was patiently awaiting the referee’s decision. I decided to let him try it for a year. Of course, I secretly hoped he would hate it.

He didn’t hate it. And then he was elected team goalie and he liked it even more. Being a goalie meant more expensive equipment, more practices and the necessity of being at every game. (People tend to notice an empty net.) But his enthusiasm was obvious and hey, being a goalie is almost the same as being a drummer.

After the first couple of practices I discovered I was horrible at sitting still. I started power walking the neighbourhoods during practices and I took up knitting during the games. I knit lopsided scarves while keeping one eye on the game. I never quite knew why the whistle was being blown, but I always held my breath when the other teams took shots on my son.

His sister Moxie was just as natural in her newfound designation of rink-rat. She learned her way around every arena in the city. We passed the time trying to solve the mystery of why Rink One smells like 100-year-old sweat but Rink Two just smells like plain air. We drew hearts in the phone books by our address and she would often search for them. Does anyone use phone books anymore?

The season ended with our team making a giant comeback from last to second place. Rain won a trophy and I was incredibly proud of his dedication. I was also incredibly happy to switch to watching him play soccer in the sunshine.

This September another hockey season began. It was at least familiar territory. I felt prepared and knew I could manage it just as well as Dave Nonis (okay, I Googled that).

But suddenly I was crosschecked with the announcement of Saturday morning 6:30 a.m. practices. What? The only reason anyone should ever wake up at 5:15 a.m. in the morning on a Saturday is to catch a flight, preferably to somewhere warm.

And so Rain, Moxie and I now play the ‘Where do you wish you were flying to?’ game on our way to the practice Saturday mornings. The kids choose China almost without fail. I choose scuba diving trips in Bali and the Italian countryside.

We have made a family tradition of going for breakfast after practice. This helps numb the pain, since coffee can solve almost anything. I still grumbled about the unthinkable early mornings until I had a moment of realization: “I wouldn’t be as bothered about driving him to rock band practice on Saturday mornings.” I hung my head sheepishly at my own selfishness.

My colleague overheard and smiled in reassurance, “Rock bands would never practice at 6:30 in the morning.”

And so through wins, losses, hotdogs and a lot of coffee, hockey is here to stay — and I’m trying to be a good sport. But just when I think might deserve a Hockey Mom coffee mug, I spend an hour at Rain’s goalie clinic cheering on the wrong goalie. I wasn’t even close.

Erica Richmond,

@pixiepaperdoll7

Silver medal - go ErinDale!

Silver medal – go ErinDale!

Goalie Lives Here

Goalie Lives Here

Goalie Clinic (C'mon they ALL look the same!)

Goalie Clinic (C’mon they ALL look the same!)

Amazing painting created by: Alison Clarke (http://www.theartfulclarke.com/)

Amazing painting created by: Alison Clarke (http://www.theartfulclarke.com/)