Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I have been astounded by how powerful having dreadlocks has been. I mean, it's hair. It's just hair. It's perpetually growing, almost infinitely why all that power in letting it knot up? It doesn't make any sense to me.

But there it is.

On July 11, 2010, I was sitting in church listening to the organ playing during the collection of the offering when, apropos of nothing, I thought, "I should dread my hair." I immediately responded to this thought by saying inwardly, "That's a crazy thing to think: where did that come from?" I kept trying to dismiss the notion.

It would not be denied.

I mentioned it to Jon and he agreed that it was a crazy thing to oh-so-suddenly think. Despite feeling that it was a ridiculous idea, despite knowing that it was a massive commitment, by the following afternoon I was sectioning my hair and backcombing it (I later learned that backcombing is essentially useless, but live and learn, right?).

It hasn't always been pretty.

It took a good six months before they started to even look like dreads: until then it just looked like I was massively neglecting my personal grooming. But as they matured and changed and shrank and shrank and shrank and eventually started to grow in length again, I found that my love for them grew. I also found that having dreads was a far more profoundly spiritual experience than I had anticipated. I initially thought that if I dreadlocked my hair I would just...have dreads. Nothing more, nothing less: just a different look.

I was so wrong.

What I discovered within days was that dreadlocks are - for me, and for many others like me - a journey. There are lessons and opportunities for growth and self-discovery to be had in the process. Lessons about self-identity. About surrender. About priorities. About beauty. About choice and self-direction. About patience - oh, so much patience - and acceptance. And along the way I have felt freer, with a fuller understanding of myself - of who I really am - than ever before. And I've felt beautiful. Truly, personally: beautiful.

Lately, though, I've been feeling a little constrained by my dreads. Washing them - or rather, drying them - takes a very, very long time. The ends of my dreads have looped back onto themselves in some strange ways, causing the tips of many of my dreads to be two or three times fatter than the rest of the dreads. It makes them hang funny, fall out of a bun easily, dry more slowly, and be far shorter than they otherwise would be. Frustration was mine. And there have been many wistful moments while brushing Peanut's hair - her hair that is so precisely like mine - when I have missed my old hair, my long curls. Those curls were so aggravating at times, but by turns so lovely.

I've felt a little trapped, truth be told. Cutting off my dreads seems so drastic and not at all a solution to my disquiet. But what else could be done?

Take a breath: I haven't cut them off.

Last night I had a dream. It was short, simple, and incredibly vivid. I stood in the bathroom, in front of the mirror, and I combed out my dreads. And I was happy. So happy. When I awoke I was almost surprised to find that I still had dreads, the dream was so real. And it occurred to me: why not? Why not try it? I know that it's possible to comb out years-old dreads: the beautiful Denise of Boho Girl recently combed her several-years-old dreads out over a period of weeks. As she describes it, it was a peaceful, calm process, one that served her need for change and a return to softness.

I'm not yet sure that I'm ready or supposed to release my dreads entirely at this point. I think I may have some more journeying to go. But while some of the greatest lessons I have gleaned from this process is surrender - surrender to the process, surrender to time, surrender to what will be - release of preconceptions - allowing things to follow the path they will, releasing my desire to control and constrain - and acceptance of what comes my way - rather than constant disappointment and critique - I've also learned a lot about my power. I have the power to defy expectations. I have the power to push my own limits. I have the power to be different and unique and noticeable and to do it without feeling afraid or constantly self-conscious. I have the power to step out of the box I built for myself all those years ago in high school and blossom into the person I truly want to be. What I'm discovering as I have meditated on this for the past few months is that my dreadlocks are merely a symbol of that, an outward representation of that power. And with that in mind, I not only have the power to surrender to my dreads, but the power to shape them if I want. It sounds pretty obvious: I control my hair, my hair does not control me.

So this morning after I ate my breakfast I rubbed some conditioner into the tip of one particularly lumpy-ended dread and started brushing it out. I brushed out a few inches of lock, which amounted to over six inches of free hair. Then I did another one. And another.


I don't know what will come of this. Maybe I'll let the free ends lock back up again but do some maintenance to keep them from lumping up the way they did the first time. Or maybe I'll gradually comb them all out. I haven't decided, and at this point I really can't. Since I seem to be getting these messages from the ether about my hair, I'm happy to continue that way. It hasn't led me wrong yet.

I now find myself on a precipice of sorts, in a liminal state of self-imagery. Am I a dreadie? Am I not? It's a strange mental space to occupy and I'm finding it challenging and more than a little anxious, but also rather exciting. However I proceed, I've seized a little more power for myself, from myself. That can't possibly be anything other than a good thing.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

just a mom looking out for another mom

It's hot 'round here. Like, currently 26C and expected to hit 28C. Like, it currently feels like 33C with the humidity and we can expect it to increase through the afternoon. And there's very little breeze and what breeze there is is easterly, as are all our windows, meaning we get essentially no air moving through our apartment. Ever.

But we suffer on, without turning on the A/C. We have an air conditioner, but it's off. And why? Frugality? In part. Some form of asceticism? Hardly.


See that? That's the space behind our A/C unit. Here's a close-up:


Call her an urban winged rat if you like, but I see a mom. Just another mom trying to take care of her babies. You can see in the photo that one of her eggs has been broken, that future nestling lost. So we'll suffer on for a while yet. Hopefully her remaining eggs will hatch soon and we can gently encourage her to find someplace else to nest after they have matured and fledged.

In the meantime, it sure is hot.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


There is a certain way that people look at a young couple expecting their first child. I remember walking around town with Jon, belly round and obvious, and seeing the subtle smiles of the people who would pass us, a young couple about to embark on a new stage of life, about to experience a monumental paradigm shift.

birthday 10

Four years later, it's hard to believe that so much time has passed. Wasn't she just born? Didn't we only just become parents?


And yet, it feels very much as though she has always been here, that she has always been part of our family. I remember the time before her, the time before we were parents, but it feels like another lifetime. That couldn't possibly have been us, not really: we've always had this little firecracker in our midst, surely.

birthday 3

The past four years have had more than their share of drama. Pre-term birth. Nursing struggles. House fire. Oral aversion and weight loss. Mild speech and motor delays. Apartment mold. "Spiritedness" (read: epic tantrums). Food allergies. But they've also held so much joy, so many moments of grace and blessing and love. Always love.

birthday 5

The past year have witnessed Peanut shake off the last vestiges of babyhood and blossom into a real girl. We've seen her blossom as a sibling. She'll often tell us, "I'm a big girl now. I'm a very good sister." And it's true, so true.


She's a vibrant little person. Paradoxically, she manages to be both adventurous and timid. When she is happy her laughter bubbles up and overflows and when she is sad her sorrow spills out in torrents, her anger explodes. She's a girl of many extremes, and Jon and I are still learning that her extreme joy comes with extreme opposites. We cannot have one without the other with our Peanut, it would seem, and so we learn as we journey through her life with her how best to work with her as she learns and grows.


She is very loving, easily hurt and offended, makes friends easily and enthusiastically, loves to learn and is proud of new achievements. She often tells me she wants to have a baby. Now. She tells me she is going to be as tall as Daddy (which, at 6 feet tall, would be somewhat unexpected). One of her favourites lines is "When I grow up...", used as an excuse to try and get out of anything. "When I grow up I'll eat vegetables." "When I grow up I'll have a hair cut." "When I grow up I'll cut my fingernails." It's one of the most frustrating things we hear on a daily basis, though I do admire her ingenuity and persistence.


She loves music and dancing and has developed a fantastically varied taste in music. She'll watch classic Disney princess movies with the same enthusiasm as old musicals. She requests Funny Girl and knows all the words to Don't Rain on My Parade and My Man. She asks to listen to Florence and the Machine. Her movement is nearly constant and so joyful.

birthday 9

It is such a wonder to watch her grow into a complex person. Discovering, uncovering the many facets of her personality, witnessing her learn and change and mature, we are both able to see how the roots of who she is were present in her infancy as well as appreciate all the ways in which she is evolving through her days and years.

birthday 1

Four years. Such a short time, and yet so long. We are so blessed - I am so blessed - to have her in our family, the first child of our hearts. Happy birthday, dearest Glynis!

birthday 11

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Tuesday's child

Is full of grace. An old Oxford Dictionary of my mother's defines grace thusly: That power which comes from God given to man that he may withstand all things.

may hospital

If my Tuesday child was full of grace, she was generous with me and shared it.

june sleeping

It should not have happened the way that it did. By rights it should have been fear and technology, not laughing and swaying, moving and breathing and napping and joking. It should have ended in surgery or tragedy, not roaring power and my baby in my two hands. I knew that it couldn't, that it could not end the way I wanted. That it would end badly.

I was wrong.

july floor photo

I was gloriously, wondrously, incredibly wrong. And now, a year later, she lies on the couch beside me, sleeping. She walks across the living room, grinning. She dances, clapping. She plays with her sister, laughing. She leans in and presses wet lips against my cheek, kissing.

august sisters

She is a wonder. She astonishes me. A year into knowing her I can truly say I don't know her well enough. I continue to be surprised by her, astounded by the very way of her. She is so unlike her sister, so perfectly blessedly unique, that I am constantly taken aback. I am always saying, "She is so different." And I couldn't be happier, not because we do not love her sister, but because she is delightfully herself. Fearfully and wonderfully made, one star among millions.

september symphuo carry

october sisters

I wish I could describe what she's like. I would so like to paint her portrait in words that could properly express her. How she crawls at top speed down the hall after her sister. How she will look at me, and then bob her head as she looks away, silly. Her two-week period of licking everything in the kitchen. Her high-pitched shriek - fit to shatter glass - that is both an exclamation of delight and of moral outrage. How she crams her mouth with frozen peas, growling like a mountain cat. How as soon as she could move across the floor and pull up to stand she has stood next to her sister at the play kitchen, playing along, insistent that she will be included. How she will always tunnel under furniture or people, even detouring to do so. How, before she was crawling on hands and knees, she would creep along on her belly at an astonishingly quick pace, taking excited breaks to stop, look up at me, push up with her hands, and then drop down to her belly while kicking her arms and legs out repeatedly, only to start creeping again.

november hat

december portrait

She is so ludicrously funny.

january hummus photo

february floor

february shades

I wish there were words to adequately depict the round curve of her cheek, the softness of her skin, the precise shade of pink glow of her face, the downy fluff of her white-blond hair. Her cupid's bow mouth. Her crystal blue eyes. The utter desolation of her sad faces. The hilariously heartbreaking power of her pout.

She is so undeniably beautiful.

march park

Life is not all rainbows and lollipops. Our former morning person has awoken shrieking and angry at the crack of dawn for the past two weeks, ramming her skull into my face in her inexplicable rage. She shows righteous indignation - loudly - when things do not go quite as she'd like. She can unshelve a load of books faster than I can tidy them. She is rapidly demonstrating the vital importance of baby-proofing. She's a hair-puller. She bites a little. She's possessive and fickle and moody and demanding. She's just normal.

april hall

march high chair

But her joy is infectious, her love unmistakable. She is loved and loving, opening her arms wide for Mommy, weeping when Daddy leaves for work, sits at the bedroom door asking for her sister at bedtime. Her sister is her hero and her greatest friend. She looks for her upon waking and lights up upon seeing her. Her first laughs were for her only, and her sister's silliness is still the guaranteed to draw a smile in even her saddest moments. Their mutual adoration is compelling. It is inspiring and heart-rendingly beautiful.

april walking

She is in a hurry to grow up, taking her first steps last Friday, saying "Dis" and "Dat" and - I think - "Dance". And with each day that passes, some things pass into history, things I must remember and cherish in my heart, things which - once gone - we will never see again. Her six-toothed grin. The perfect swirl of fine blonde hair on the crown of her head. The creases in her chubby thighs. The darling curve of her fan of eyelashes, laid across her cheeks as she sleeps, reposing in my arms; once a round, neat bundle, now a leggy lapful.

may nest

But hers is a future of possibility to be embraced. And we are blessed to be her family, growing her in love and grace and joy.

may nursing

Happy birthday, darling Scarlet. My first words to you were, "You're real!" an exclamation of delight and disbelief. Now, a year later, I can still scarcely believe that you are here, that you are real. What a year it has been for us, and what more there is to come. Thank you for being all that you are.

Thank you for being ours.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

this is who I married

Here's a little insight into the nature of my husband. Yes, I did know what I was getting into when I married him. And I'm still glad that I did.

This is the email he sent to family about the upcoming celebration for Bubby's birthday:

Ahoy ahoy,
Thursday will be the one year anniversary of Scarlet almost killing Darlene. Naturally, this calls for cake.
Non-death cake will be served in ****** at Chez Gran & Lew on Saturday May 4 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm (no Dad, I'm not promising two straight hours of cake).
I assume everyone has directions, if not, let me know.
He's kinda weird, but I love him lots.


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