Forget the cute stereotypes…this is what being a mother(ofason) looks like these days

 Hearts and flowers will always be a part of my world, but as the motherofason (and a human being who happens to be a woman) I know that mothers are comprised of many things. I think we’d all be healthier and happier if we’d give ourselves, the mothers in our lives and the others too…just a little slack, and realize that being human is a complex state of being; nothing less than amazing and nothing more than human.

An English poet, one of many who have tried to put human beings in tidy boxes , coined this ryhme in 1820:  almost 200 years ago, and for some reason, we still cling to the sentiments.  Truth is girls aren’t always:  “Sugar and spice and all things nice…” And really?  “Snips and snails and puppy dog tails…that’s what little boys are made of…”

This Mother’s Day, feeling sentimental and tired yet hopeful and happy, I suggest we give our mothers a break and our kids too.  I will always miss my Mother on Mother’s Day, and my French Nana too.  Neither were perfect moms.  I adore (and like and love my son) yet sometimes I feel disappointed.  And that’s useless and unfair.  I am getting smarter, however.   If there is something I really, really want, I just tell him.  If I don’t tell him, I don’t expect it.  Amazing how well that works.  (Women, try it with all the men in your life!)

This year on Mother’s Day, I miss a dear, dear friend who came into being a mother the same time as I, and we travelled that amazing, beautiful and sometimes hellish road together until just months ago.   When our kids were babes, I remember her confiding that on the commute from New Market to Toronto (where she was completing another degree) she felt so conflicted about pursuing her own interests while wanting to be a “good” mom.   It wasn’t just the idea of putting her son in child care so she could go to classes that made her question her mothering ability.  With her baby son content in the car seat behind her, she simply wanted an hour of quiet thought. But, shouldn’t she be engaging her child with clever rythming learning games and song instead?  Was she a bad mother?  That’s just what an amazing mother she was.  

This Mother’s Day, I salute all mothers, wishing you a day that is just right for you.  As for me, I’m sorting through old photographs, going to the gym and doing my taxes.  This year, due to scheduling conflicts, my Mother’s Day is being postponed until tomorrow.  That’s imperfect perhaps, but perfectly fine with me.  

   
         

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Better to begin badly with an honest exchange

It’s officially spring- whether it looks like it or not in your neighbourhood.  The snow is gone in these parts (it’s not quite April, so there is plenty of time for a good blizzard, however) my spring and summer conference and engagement calendar is filling up ( please come and see me at the CPRS Impact + Engagement conference in Montreal May 31 to June 2:  more about that later) and my son, you may remember- the one with the oft severely cropped hair- has grown a stallion.  It’s the man-version of a ponytail, but you didn’t hear that from me.  I love it; but it’s strangely close to the “long-hair” man looks that were so in style when I was young, and that’s a little unsettling. 

The formerly cropped hair was the catalyst for an incident I wrote about a number of years ago about my  teenaged son going out looking a little like a hood…okay, a lot like a hood.  It started out with the hair, and then the tough looking clothes (a fashion statement-  we’ve all been there at one time) and ended with the mother’s real concern:  I was afraid to see him looking tough.  I was afraid that something bad might happen to him.  But that’s not what I talked about- at least not at the start.  I started talking about the very cropped hair and the very tough looking sleeveless shirt…and well, before  I realized what I was really concerned about, I’d pretty much fallen into the “you’re not going out looking like that” mother speak. Happily we worked through the tough:  your point of view v my point of view part to the reconciliation of we are looking at this from different POVs, and we are okay.  Perhaps you’ll adjust your thoughts and actions a little and I will as well.  

How often that happens in other communication and engagement!   I’ve seen many companies (in the news or up close) batton down and lay low when there is any controversy.  When a company withdraws from the discussion – whatever it is- the public-  from concerned neighbours to agitated stakeholders to uninvolved bystanders does what human beings always do in the  absence of information:  they make up their own stories.  And made -up stories do nothing to foster good relations- of any sort.

 I’ve learned that the tough exchanges often bring us to a better relationship:  personal or professional.  This authenticity is important in the public relations and communications world, and it’s often avoided.  That doesn’t serve anyone.  

When PR and Community Engagement really works is when it’s entered into with a real desire to connectd.  When that happens…great relationships can happen.  If you’ve worked through the tough parts of communication- of any sort-  I’d love to hear from you.  In the meanwhile… Happy Spring!

 

The Holiday Hangover is not about the wine. An overabundance of joy.

The glow of holiday bliss starts to fade the day after Boxing Day, when the tree tinsel droops and the pine needles sprinkle down. Perhaps, though, it is the happiest time of the year.

Christmas advent is less than peaceful, what with the shopping and parties and preparation. Christmas eve– for many families, like mine for example– is the start of the celebration. And in my family, that celebration lasts for three days. It’s the day after Boxing Day when things begin to settle: the wrapping paper is picked up and the visiting subsides. It’s a couch and TV or book kind of day, with a nap or two in between.

Last night was spent just sitting on the couch. We (my son and his girlfriend and I) filled the entire evening with just three things: Jet’s hockey, Food Channel marathon and tea. After feasting, entertaining and visiting for three days, it was a delight to tuck into sweats and a blanket and settle in for a night of no obligation and no expectations. Just the warmth of people who are dear and who understand that you– as required only, of course–talk back to the television set while reading a book.

“Ma, you are not allowed to comment if you’re not paying attention,” my son might say.

Oh, please. Of course I am.

I was shuffling around in my beautiful new slippers this morning when my son climbed down the stairs from the guest room.

“Pancakes! But Ma, I have to go to work in ten minutes.”

“That’s cutting it a little fine. Poor planning are your part,” I replied.

Pancakes were easily wrapped up to go. Fruit salad fits into a mason jar nicely and just before he walked out the door, I tucked Japanese oranges into the son’s parka pocket.

“Have a good day.” I said as he bent down for a kiss.

Then I watched him walk across the front yard, his track shoes sinking into the snow.

“Why aren’t you wearing your boots?” I called, noticing them sitting in the hallway.

“These are fine.”

“And where are your gloves?”

The son turned just briefly and responded the way children have responded to this perennial mother’s question with the response of children since the creation of the civilized world.

“They’re in my pocket.”

I paddled back into the kitchen and poured a cuppa tea. Then I settled on the sofa to to savour the warmth of being truly loved and my abundance. Continue reading

The Annual Christmas Stocking Challenge. 1985-2014.

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My late Mother created this gorgeous Christmas stocking (now officially vintage) for my son Brett for his first Christmas. This year, Santa will fill it for the 29th time.

It’s a large stocking- over a meter long, made of felt, and lots of love, with added sparkles and a pop up Santa in the chimney.

It would house a litter of puppies, three crates of Japanese oranges, a small Norfolk Pine. For the first few years, it was fun. Mostly, I suppose, it was fun because I didn’t need to fill it all. I could put…I mean Santa could put a few toys in it…chocolate and a few oranges. That worked- for the first few years.

The trick, Santa soon found, was to fill it with large things…useful things… things like a six pack of socks.

Sox in sox? Might feel a little Grinchy, but it works.

November 11, 2014

Across the country we paused today to reflect on 100 years since the beginning of The Great War, the War to End All Wars, and the wars and sacrifice of those who have served- so many times- since then. On a sad and solemn day, let us hope for peace.

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The true heart of football

You don’t don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate this amazing story of two brothers who love the game, and the one who loves his brother even more.

This reaffirms and celebrates the heart in our men: sons, brothers, partners and others, including the tough looking and tough acting men who play football. Under the pads and bravado, inside the sinew and muscle and beyond the athleticism, you’ll find some very wonderful and very caring human beings.

From TSN, and through the NFL…Here’s the story. http://www.tsn.ca/video/tsn-original-my-brother-s-keeper-1.121989

Making your own sunshine on a pre fall back day

imageSomedays, when the temperatures dip and the sun doesn’t come up until 8 a.m. (and disappears before you’ve had supper) it just makes sense to create your own light.  We each do that in our own way; my ways range from uber activity to quiet simple things.  Today, still waiting for the sun to shine, I believe the simplier things last the longest.

In Winnipeg, the city I call home, fall brings an abundance of arts/culture riches.  There are book launches, art gallery openings, lectures, theatre, film and fundraisers galore this time of year.  Some weeks, it seems, I try to do it all.  It’s fun for a while.

Last night, a simple evening where my sun – Freudian slip– my sOn — came over- forewarned that he was welcome as always but not to expect a lot of cooking from the ma.  We cooked together, he in charge of the grilling, and then just hung out.  I picked up a book: My Year in Provence to relive my trip to France (albeit not Provence- that’s on my list for next year).  He settled into Fantasy Football draft night on the other side of the living room, and we watched NFL.  He replayed the plays- especially defensive wins and losses (former UM linebacker- you can take the lad out of university, but you can’t take the football out of the lad.) and brought my attention to the missed tackles, the lack of wrapping up and the atheletic excellence,  We talked about the events of the week, I picked up my phone to check out my Twitter feed and realized the last thing in the world I needed yesterday was more information about the disappointments and heartache gong on in the world.  I decided to look for cute videos.  And found none.

Here ma, do you have Instagram ?  And that’s how I found my own sunshine last night.  Sharing cute cat/kitten/goat/pet photos and video with my son.

And this weekend we “gain” an hour?  What a great world this is.  Salut!  Here’s to your own kind of sunshine.  Cue:  You are my sunshine…my only sunshine…