Relating to parents with fewer (than 9) children


I went fishing for blog topics on Facebook and as always, my friends were more than generous with their suggestions. Someone asked me two very good and related questions:

– How do you respectfully communicate with parents who are sometimes and/or all the times overwhelmed with a single child or two, when you have many (ie; not pulling the “you have it easy” card and edifying and respecting them as parents)?

– Likewise, how should those with a singleton respectfully communicate with you and your family?

I found these questions interesting because my problem is usually the opposite: people with smaller families are afraid to complain to me about their problems because they assume that I have it worst, or they apologize for feeling overwhelmed. In other words, they project their own feelings of inadequacy unto me. My challenge is not to communicate respectfully with them but to convince them that I understand.

How should people communicate with me? Respectfully is always appreciated. But if I’m allowed a second request, it would be to stop calling me (A) a Saint/Hero, or (B) Crazy. It makes me really uncomfortable to be called a saint because I’m not. I have character flaws the size of Texas, and I have been born into so much privilege I would be insufferable had I not allowed the size of my family to humble me a little. Being called crazy is just insulting. It’s probably better to err on the side of making me really uncomfortable by calling me a saint than insulting me by calling me insane. But I’m at a point where I avoid telling strangers how many children I have because intelligent conversation tends to die there. And that’s not cool because my family is my life’s work and I am immensely proud of it. Ask me anything and I’ll talk your ear off (just like I’m doing right now). Don’t just stand there with your mouth agape calling me a Saint or a Nut.

I think it’s important for everyone to know that I’ve been overwhelmed since 1996. I was struggling with two children, and with three children, and with four children… you get the idea. Nature abhors a vacuum and when given 24h, each one of us fills them to the brim. We used to wash clothes and dishes by hand and we thought that inventing the washing machine and the dishwasher would free us up. But instead of enjoying the extra time, we replaced homemaking chores with work chores. When a promotion gives us more disposable income we incur more expenses. We fill our houses with stuff and when we get a bigger house, we get more stuff. If we can’t get a bigger house, we rent a condo for our stuff (Dymon anyone?) Whether we fill the void with activities, worries or things, we take our 24h and 3 lbs of brain and use them to the max.

People feel like they have their hands full with one child because they do. It’s not my place to tell them how their hands should be full or to pass judgment on the wisdom or advisability of filling their 24h the way they do. When it comes to time in a day or in a year, we’re all dealt the same hand. Time is the great equalizer.

The truth is, I love people, and I love diversity. I love how in the words of Don Henry sung by Miranda Lambert:

Ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning
It takes all kinds of kinds.”

Listen, I have 9 children spread over 18 years. I’ve been pregnant 11 times in the last 22 years. I have been entirely focused on my family at the exclusion of everything else. If everyone was like me, the world would not be a better place. We would be missing a lot of art, a lot of excellence, a lot of invention, a lot of service and a lot of philanthropy.

Walk with me for a minute. I am a talented musician. Music comes easily to me. But I gave up honing my skills 22 years ago when I had my first child. I didn’t play any music for 12 years until I picked it up again 2 years ago. Now I dabble, I play a bit of this and a bit of that, all of it poorly. The basics still comes easy to me but I hit a wall as soon as hard work comes in the picture. Jason Isbell is almost 40. He spent the first 37 years of his life playing the guitar and getting his head and heart smashed in creative ways. He had nothing else to worry about than his own foibles before he got sober, married Amanda Shires, and had a daughter. How many hours of writing, noodling, and living went into writing Last of My Kind or Speed Trap Town? I drove 5h to upstate New-York last Summer to see Jason Isbell in concert. I have 9 children and I can tell you: outside of the four walls of my house, I never touched anyone’s life to the point where they would buy a ticket, book an Airbnb and drive 5h to watch me do my thing. Don’t try to tell me my writing is touching lives: I tried crowdfunding this blog two years ago and 7 readers committed to paying a total of $63 a month, two of them were related to me. Of the 500-ish people who read my blog, only 7 thought it was worth paying for. That did my head in for a while, that’s why I stopped writing for two years. I’m a fragile little thing that way. Jason Isbell is touching lives, including mine. The world needs him to spend a fair amount of time navel-gazing his way into thoughtful lyrics, practicing his guitar and touring the United States.

My point is not that you should be Jason Isbell or make a ton of money blogging if you have only one child. My point is that everyone leaves their fingerprint on the world and every fingerprint is different. I’m volunteering at my children’s school for the first time in 18 years! Who do you think raised funds for activities, helped with field trips, decorated the school and organized the movie nights my children have enjoyed since my oldest started school in 2000? People with two kids and a job, that’s who.

One of my parents’ dearest friends is helping Syrian refugees settle in Canada, accompanying them to the grocery store, acting as a cultural translator, teaching them how to access the services they need, finding volunteers to fix bicycles for their children, and businesses to donate food and clothing. How many children of her own does she have? None. Do you think people like me are doing what she’s doing? No, they’re not.

Sometimes getting up in the morning is heroic. Some of my friends do not volunteer. They do not run successful businesses. Some of them have grown up in dysfunctional families, some of them have suffered abuse, some of them have overcome physical and/or mental health challenges. And every day they get up and they do their level best to give their children a kind of love they have never received. I watch in awe as some of my friends create happy families out of thin air, having never been in one. They are studying and learning through trial and error the fundamentals of loving, of being patient, of being self-sacrificing, all things that I learned from my parents like my first language. Some people work way harder at normal life than I do. Raising one child is as hard for them as raising 9 is for me because I received so much from life.

And some people are just selfish. Some people are jerks. Some people roll their eyes and tell me “I don’t know how you can have 9, I only have two and it’s too much” *in front of their children*. Some people are just clueless. Last week I was volunteering at our school’s book sale during the parent-teacher meetings and the children had written lists of book suggestions to help their parents in their shopping. One mother picked up her grade 5 daughter’s list and seeing with horror that it had been written in script rather than cursives, called home to tear a strip off the kid for writing like a baby. Told her she was personally insulted by it. Asked her why she would embarrass her that way. Said she was going to buy her the books but since she had written like a grade 1 kid, wasn’t going to reward that. Her sister would get books but not her. Told her never to insult her like that again. Repeated everything twice to drive it in. I felt so bad I wanted to drive to her house, find her daughter and give her a hug. I’m sure this mom loves her daughter and wants what’s best for her. I’m sure this mom thinks her brand of tough love is how you raise competent, well-rounded adults. I’m sure this woman doesn’t have 9 children and probably shouldn’t have 9 children. It’s ok not to have too many children when your parenting toolbox includes shaming and belittling.

When people tell me they are overwhelmed with 1 or 2 or 3 children, I simply say “I was overwhelmed with 3 too!” Which is 100% the honest-to-goodness truth. I remind them what is difficult about their lives. Your children are all under 4. Or you have 3 active boys. Or your husband works two jobs. Or you suffer from anxiety and depression. Or you had fertility struggles. Or you live with your aging parents. Or you are a single parent. Don’t look at me and feel bad. Look at where you are. If you feel like you can stretch a little more, stretch a little more. If you can’t, don’t injure yourself. Accept the pace. Try to finish a little ahead of where you started, try to leave the world a little better than how you found it. If everyone reaches just a little farther, we’ll come out ahead in the end.

How do I respectfully communicate with people who only have one child? I just assume that their lives are as full as mine, just with different things. I don’t need to know everyone’s story to assume they have one.

 

 

MEDS: How I got to work on the first day


MEDS: Minimally Edited Daily Stuff

I bet you are all dying to know how my first few days of work went. Now that my work at City Hall reflects on other people, I have to be more circumspect in what I share on the Internet. I thought I might be expected to stop blogging but then decided that millions (billions even!) of readers would not tolerate the absence of my writing and that it would be political suicide to cancel me. Of course, my boss was not consulted on any of this but he’s a sensible man. He hired me after all.

On my first day of work, I headed out in pitch darkness to the bus stop beside my house. The bus stop beside my house is so dark at 6:45 am that I can’t even see my Presto card in my wallet. Which is probably why there is a Braille end to the card: it’s cheaper than a street light. Since a street light in that location would shine right in my bedroom, I’m happy to stumble a little on my way to the bus stop.

It was a sloppy rainy day, with freezing drizzle alternating with floppy wet snow. I had taken the children to the pool the day before, which was — as I texted my friend Holly — a rookie move, hair-wise. At this point, I told her, my hair couldn’t get much worst. Spoiler Alert: It Could.

I also had to wear something that would carry me from work to the new city council’s inaugural ceremony in the evening, not knowing what the dress code was for either event. I picked a long pleated skirt from Clara’s closet — Clara is my eldest daughter, not the name of an upscale dress store — the same one she had worn at her graduation last June, incidentally held at the same  Convention centre. Basically: one skirt, worn twice, at the same place.

Who wore it best? She obviously got her legs from me…

So I took the bus worrying about mucking up my skirt but who said I had a clue?

That’s when things got interesting.

I remember listening to my mother — who was born and raised in France — tell me that even after 25 years in North America, she still found it confusing to have the Atlantic ocean to the East. In France, the Atlantic ocean is to the West. I remember wondering why on earth was this information relevant to someone living in the (landlocked) Gatineau area. On my first morning of work, I understood what she meant.

I lived most of my life in the East end of Ottawa, where buses cross the Mackenzie bridge first, before proceeding downtown. Now I live in the West end and it turns out that West end buses cross downtown before finishing their routes on the Mackenzie bridge. My workplace sits near the Mackenzie bridge side of the downtown core. Like a good little bus minion, I quietly read my book until I knew the bus was approaching downtown and when I looked up, I noticed with horror that I was at Slater and Bay, on the opposite side of downtown from the Mackenzie bridge. Are you still following me?

In a split second, my East-end brain had a conniption fit and assumed that it had missed the stop. I jumped out of the bus in a panic and found myself standing confused in a puddle. But that’s not all. At this point, my brain — who was born and raised in this city — has not yet remembered that West-end buses start their downtown crawl at Slater and Bay. When you miss your stop, you start walking in the direction your bus cam from. Right? So I started walking away from where I was supposed to go.

At this point, my brain’s throbber is in a death spin. It knows it’s not going the right way but it doesn’t know why. So I whip out the Google, ashamed that I would need Google’s assistance getting to my first day of work for the City where I was born and have hardly ever left! But thankfully, the Google made it worst, at least giving the cold comfort of not really needing it (… with friends like these…)

What Google did was give me the driving directions to my work. And if you have ever been so blessed as to drive through Ottawa’s downtown core you know that it features a nightmare of one way streets, blocked streets and roads to nowhere. In the immortal words of Doc “The Hornet” Hudson: you need to turn right to go left, or at least drive around a block or two to properly align your car with your destination without driving down a one-way street. So the Google, in good Doc Hudson fashion, sent me West up Albert street towards Lebreton Flats in order to properly align me with Slater street heading East, as if I was limited by the shackles of traffic rules.

By the time I realized what was going on, I was about 1.5km away from my work and soaked to the bone. I turned around and walked 25 minutes down Laurier street to City Hall, where I arrived fashionably late with my hair in two giant icicles and my bangs dripping down my face.

Later that day, I was tasked with urban planning and roads related issues in the Ward, which invovles — I found out — a lot of reading maps upside down. Don’t worry, you’re in good hands.

Parenting Quotes I’m Eating Back Today


This post was first published on Vie de Cirque in September 2014. I was having coffee yesterday morning and overheard a young woman talk about how having children wouldn’t change her routine, that it was all a matter of making the right choices. It reminded me of a blog post I wrote 4 years ago.

I once read a quote. It went a little like this:

“at the beginning of my career I had no kids and 12 principles; today I have 12 kids and no principle.”

I was blessed with 4 relatively compliant children before I gave birth to 5 more. When I was having children in my 20s, I believed <clears throat with embarrassment> that my success in raising easygoing children was no-doubt related to my stellar parenting skills. What I lacked in skills, I made-up in youthful exuberance. Now that I have experience and some skills, I will readily admit that I have no clue. It’s true. My experience parenting is like the used children’s shoes in my basement: no matter how many I keep, I can never find a pair of the right size, at the right time, for the right season.

Over the years, I have developed an expertise in each one of my children but here’s the catch: no matter how many children I have, they all come out as unique individuals. Never seen before and never to be repeated again. Isn’t human reproduction amazing that way? If 18 years of parenting has taught me anything, this is it: the lessons learned from raising this child are rarely applicable to raising that child. I still don’t know what I’m doing but I am more “zen” about it. Instead of seeing children as problems to solve, I see them as a puzzles to complete. I did not draw the picture, but with careful dedication I can help it come together.

When I think about my early years as a parent, it is often to eat back some pearl of wisdom with a generous serving of Humble Sauce. Gulp. Here are some of my gems.

“Children won’t draw on walls if they have access to paper.” Did you know that I spent the first 8 years of my life-with-children without a single drawing-on-walls incident? Then we sold a house and shortly before we moved my 3 year-old decorated a wall with black Sharpie. Now I have children who won’t draw on paper if they have access to a wall.

“I will never buy size 6 diapers.” Seems simple enough: if a child is big enough to wear size 6 diapers, he’s old enough to potty train. Right? Guess who just purchased a Costco-sized box of size 6 diapers for her 3-year-old child? Take heart, all you parents of late potty-trainers for it turns out that potty-readiness is completely out of your hands! The good news is that accepting this simple fact will make potty-training a lot easier for everyone involved.

“I won’t let myself get fat.” When I was dating my now-husband, he came to visit me at my parents’ house on his motorcycle wearing his full-leather gear. I was in the pool at the time and we couldn’t resist the temptation of taking a biker chick picture, him in his leather chaps, me in my bathing suit. I found out that I was pregnant shortly after and upon seeing the picture, my aunt – who had 4 children – said “Keep that picture because you’ll never look like this again.” I declared that I would not let maternity ruin my body. Well guess what?? Maternity never asked my opinion. Maternity took my body and turned it upside down. It moved my organs around and re-shaped my pelvis to its liking. It not only packed-on pounds as it was growing 9 healthy humans, it refused to lose even one as it was busy feeding them. I ran and I dieted and I ran some more. I stretched and planked and even starved myself at some point. It never went down. I got sick, I de-calcified my teeth, but I never lost a single breastfeeding pound. Today, after my easiest pregnancy and a beautiful home birth, I am breastfeeding a 4 month-old and a 3 year-old and I weight as much as I did during my last week of twin pregnancy. I am 60 lbs heavier than I was on that infamous picture 18 years ago and my dress size has more than doubled, going from 6 to 14. I’m definitely bringing booty back. And boobs. And legs.

“If your child is old enough to ask for breast milk, he is too old to nurse.” Refer to previous paragraph about nursing a 3 year-old. She’s been old enough to ask for milk for almost 2 years. She can explain the difference between cow’s milk (milk in a cup) and breast milk (milk in the mouth). Heck, she can ask for milk in both official languages.

What about you? Did you know everything about parenting until you had kids? What pearls of wisdom are you eating back today? Share in the humble pie!

MEDS: In which I write about undergarments and what fits in my old bras


MEDS: Minimally Edited Daily Stuff

When you go back to work in an office after 5 years of working from home, the first thing you realize is that your wardrobe is vastly inadequate.

You start shopping for clothes, then realize that your Converse flats won’t cut it. You go shopping for shoes, then learn that there is no such thing as a truly all-purpose women’ shoe. You buy two or three pairs — the black ones, the flat ones and the cool ones. You wargame your outfits and you imagine going out to a professional lunch or coffee meeting. In your mind’s eye, it works until you see yourself putting your winter jacket and boots to go outside. That’s when you realize that the slightly-too-small puffy jacket from the thrift store and the Sorel boots your daughter outgrew in grade 8 are ruining your professional vibe. Buy boots and a jacket, think you’re done bleeding money until you receive the blouse you ordered online and realize in horror that it doesn’t fasten at the front. And the part of your blouse that doesn’t fasten is not the third button that sits across your chest but the one right above the navel, where your chest currently sags. So you decide to see what all the hype is about and get a proper bra fitting. That’s how I ended-up at Bra Chic.

Bra Chic’s sales model is inspired by the home real estate market before MLS became available to everyone. They keep all the bras in the back of the store and let you try what they think you need. Right between the $90 bras, they’ll make you try a $200 bra and your boobs will sing for joy! Here’s my friendly advice: tell the girl who is fitting you how much you want to spend on a bra. If you don’t give the ladies a price range, they will bring you the best bra for your type and it will probably be somewhere in the vicinity of $200. And just like real estate, you think you’re fine in your 3-bedroom townhome with your 4 kids and your dog until you visit the new 4-bedroom single family home on a corner lot. It’s really hard to unsee your rack in a $200 bra so don’t even try one.

That said, after buying a really expensive bra from Bra Chic, I took my new knowledge of bra fitting to Victoria’s Secret and got me 3 more bras and a pair of leggings in their Buy 2 Get 2 special. Wanna know what? A perfectly fitted $60 Victoria’s Secret bra does not make your boobs look half as good as a perfectly fitted $120 bra from Bra Chic. Wanna know what else? Buying a good bra will make you lose 10, possibly 20, pounds.

Still on the topic of my chest… I nursed Ève until she was 4 and Damien until he was 2.5… that’s years, not months. Damien still has the habit of tucking his hand between my boobs, and — if I don’t give him hoof right away — under it. Yesterday I was wearing my car-payment-sized new bra and he was unable to tuck his hand between my boobs, even less underneath it. That’s when I realized that my previous bras were so poorly fitted that my 4 year-old son could put a hole hand in them. That’s not good ladies (Gosh I sure hope there are not gentlemen still reading this…)

I spent good money on oversized clothes to cover what 20 years of pregnancy and nursing did to my silhouette. But they always ended-up looking frumpy. Lesson: spend less on clothes and more on a good bra. Now: is there a similar option for the muffin top that won’t make you feel like you’re on the menu for Oktoberfest? I await your suggestions.

What everything is about.


This is a post about sex. There are no details but if the thought of a married couple having sex is making you cringe, consider this is your warning.

This post is about intimacy in a long-term, committed, monogamous relationship. I don’t think it will resonate or be relevant to people in casual relationships or people with multiple partners. You’re welcome to read it anyway but don’t @ me if it doesn’t apply to your situation: I know!

There is a quote about sex attributed to Oscar Wilde:

“Everything in the word is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.”

When sex is bad or not happening, it’s rarely about sex. Many people believe that bad (or absent) sex causes relationships to wilt and die. I think people have it backward: sex is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. It gets weird long before your relationship expires. It’s a sensitive little thing that can tell you a lot about the state of your marriage if you care to listen.

Let me tell you a story and see what wisdom I can squeeze out of it. As a young adult, I went on the pill and it was not good. I had a horrible reaction to it: heavy periods, weight gain, mood swings. I had morning sickness, throwing up like clockwork after breakfast. I went off the pill, ended-up having to take the morning-after pill once, was so violently ill, I thought I would die. Went on/off the pill again.  I met Paul and we had two children in close succession. I was 22 years old, halfway through my law degree and considering a lifetime of getting pregnant every nine months until my late fifties. It was a little scary.

My understanding of sex within marriage had been learned from culture: a healthy marriage hinged on having a lot of sex all the time. Having to worry about anything — fertility, inhibitions, morals — led to bad sex. Hormonal birth control had liberated women from all that worry and seemed to me like a good thing. It had brought fairness to relationships, giving women the opportunity to have sex without the looming threat of pregnancy. Except that for me, it came down to a choice between being healthy and being a loving partner. It made me feel broken, not liberated.

The worst thing is, I didn’t feel like having sex all the time. I was a full time student, I had two children in diapers, one nursing around the clock as it was. But when my husband and I heard people talk about sex, it was always about how much everyone was having. It really made me feel like I was failing at life and marriage. Sex was never bad, I simply didn’t have a sex drive like the movies.

I felt an obligation to have sex more often than I wanted. Everyone said that sex begets sex: the more you have it, the more you want it. So I tried to force myself and that made me feel used. I went off the pill and promptly got pregnant with my third child. Tried the hormonal IUD, bled myself stupid. Got it removed. Asked for a new pill prescription and while reading the fine print on the drug information sheet realized that I was only in my mid-twenties and already knew two women who had had a stroke.

Meanwhile, my husband wasn’t feeling all that loved. He also believed that married couples should be having tons of intimacy and here he was stuck with a woman who was starting to feel like sex wasn’t worth the hassle. He felt like the hassle.

After having my third child, people started asking if my husband would get “fixed” and it dawned on me that only when it came to sex did we take medications, use devices  and have surgery to take our bodies from a healthy state to a broken one. Vasectomy doesn’t “fix” anything, it takes a healthy organ and it breaks it. Nothing made sense to me anymore.

The thought of having to go on hormonal birth control or have a foreign object stuck up my uterus for the purpose of making me sexually available at any time made me feel disrespected in my own marriage. I wanted to be loved for who I was: someone who could not take hormonal contraceptives and, therefore, would not be sexually available whenever the mood struck. I felt unloved. My husband felt unloved.

Once I started feeling like pills and devices were a violation of my integrity as a woman all intimacy started feeling tainted. I couldn’t shake off the feeling of being objectified, of being something to have sex with. I remember holding the pack of pills and telling Paul: “Please tell me you don’t want me on that bullshit anymore.” And he said it was ok, we’ll figure it out.

It took a long time to figure it out. We tried learning different methods of Natural Family Planning and most worked fine with a ton of discipline. But when you are in your mid-twenties and at peak (male) libido and (female) fertility, the amount of abstinence required to practice NFP successfully is not all that jazz. As a result, we were very disciplined during the year-and-a-half following the birth of a child, and when the urgency of not getting pregnant receded, so would the discipline and self-control, and I would get pregnant again. We never planned how many children we would have, they just arrived when our life was settled enough to allow for strict discipline to relax somehow. To this day, our level of discipline with NFP still follows the curve of how much we don’t want to get pregnant again.

Why am I writing all this? 

When I was asked to write about sex in marriage, I thought that people would want to know how to keep the flame alive, to use a common trope. How to keep the desire going. How to keep things interesting. And I honestly don’t know what to write. We never really had to worry about desire, our struggle is still to find enough days in the month when I’m not fertile. When you factor in sick children, sick adults, work trips, and the general ups-and-downs of family life like falling asleep before your mate, a 28-day cycle goes by pretty fast. When we have time together, it’s great and we don’t need to be inventive. It just happens. I don’t have to contend with hormonal birth control messing-up my libido: we don’t need toys, movies, or different partners.

This is not a blog post trying to sell you on NFP. NFP is like democracy: it’s the worst form of birth control except for all those other forms (sorry Churchill…) But when I look back on 22 years of marriage, I see that turning to NFP has made our sex life an integral part of our day-to-day life. And that’s the wisdom I’m trying to share in this post.

In our marriage, sex exists alongside other ways of showing love and respect, because there are periods of feast and periods of famine. Sex lives and dies with the dishes, the way we speak to each other, the way we help each other, the way we make raising a family and living in the same house bearable day-to-day. If one partner is terrified of having another baby and the other is throwing all caution to the wind, conversations have to happen. Not about sex but about everything that surrounds it: why can’t we get pregnant right now? Does anything need to change so you are not living with this weight on your shoulders? These conversations are not always easy and we don’t always see eye-to-eye, but having them regularly as we adjust the throttle on the NFP discipline has allowed us to keep a finger on the pulse of our marriage in ways that weren’t obvious before NFP.

So there you have it. I wrote about sex in marriage. The ice is now broken. If you have more specific questions, I can address them anonymously in a post. Feel free to send me a message on Facebook. My blog page can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

Tweeted movie reviews: Raazi


Here is a cross-post of my movie review for “Raazi”. I use Twitter for movie reviews because I use Twitter for Bollywood chatter. You can find me @veroniqueberg

 

Daily MEDS: Looking for work and finding it


I skipped a few days in my daily blogging this week. My husband was out of town and, well, life happened.

I attended a parenting talk and in the process of catching up with people I only see once a year, I mentioned that I was getting up at 4:45 am to make lunches and she noted that it was a whole 3 hours before walking the children to school at 7:45 am. It’s been bugging me ever since. It takes 2h to make lunches, until 6:45 am, then I feed, dress and sanitize the children. I don’t have breakfast and I don’t get dressed. I just work flat out and I simply don’t understand why it takes so long. Does it make sense to you that it takes 2h to make 6 lunches? Then a full hour to get 5 children fed, dressed, brushed and winter-geared? It behooves me. But so it is.

I’m going back to work in 10 days (more on that later) and I’m going to have to shave 30 minutes off my lunch-making or wake-up at 4:00 am, which is getting uncomfortably close to “middle-of-the-night” territory. I will need to be done making lunches at 6:00 am to have time to get dressed in grown-up clothes, put my face on and catch the bus at 6:46.

I’m sure that at this point you are throwing shoes at your screen wondering why (A) I make lunches in the morning, and (B) make lunches at all. There’s a reason for both and maybe I could be convinced to write about it.

With Paul gone for the week, I had to wake up at 4:30 am to walk the children to school (late) at 8:00. Before running out of daylight hours to write things, I started writing a series on marriage and several friends asked me to write about sex and marriage, which I know something about. I mean… we did it 9 times, which is more than the average Canadian who only does it 1.6 times. But there’s knowing about it and knowing what to write about it. On a blog. That might be read by my kids, my parents and my boss. It was ok last week when I was still sleeping with my boss but that all changed when my contract ended and I found a new job.

I bet you’re dying to know about my new job.

The long story started 6 months (or maybe a year?) before we moved to Stittsville. I was having a coffee at Quitters with my bottle of Advil when a charming young lady approached me and said she had peppermint oil and it might help with my headache. We hit it off, met a few times for coffee, I made her pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. I fed her, she was mine.

Fast forward 6 months and we were moving to Stittsville, a community in the west end of the City of Ottawa, just as the municipal election campaign was gearing up. As a former political aide and campaign manager, I noticed that a candidate in my neighbourhood was challenging the incumbent and running a remarkable campaign. I thought “I should probably volunteer,” but my husband was in Latvia, we were selling our house and we had 6 children starting in 3 new schools so it wasn’t looking good. I stopped for coffee at Quitters — it’s a theme — and found myself standing in line right behind the candidate in question. First I thought “this is uncanny” and then I thought “How weird would it be to ask him if he’ll need staff once he gets elected?” I decided “Probably too weird” and let the poor man buy his coffee in peace.

As predicted, he won. Deservedly.

Then I wrote a blog post about looking for work with a resume that screams “I PUT FAMILY FIRST!” You can read it here.

Then my friend (see above) read the post and sent me a Facebook message saying: “Our new Councillor just published a Facebook post about looking for staff, maybe you should apply.” And she added: “By the way, I applied too.” I laughed and told her he was probably hiring more than one person so we could both be hired and we har-har’d, ok bye.

He received 100 resumes, from which he and his campaign volunteers culled 15. The volunteers called 5 people each — including me — and came down with a short list of candidates that he would interview in person. I got a giant pimple on my face, so of course, I was invited to have an interview in person. That apparently went well because he asked me for references. I gave him three names, including one person I was married to and one person who used to be an elected official. Wisely, he called the one I wasn’t married to and made me a job offer as his Committee Lead.

(As I was writing this — I swear this is true — I got a call from my former boss, which gave me an opportunity to thank him for the good reference and he joked “I told him you were a bit scary but as long as he didn’t ask you to work on this or that he should be safe.” )

So there you have it. I’m heading to Ottawa City Hall in 10 days to work as the committee/policy assistant to Glen Gower, the new Ward Councillor for Stittsville. I sent a message to the friend who had tipped me off about the job to say thank you and she said “Guess what??” and I said “Noooooo…” and she said she’s been hired as his ward assistant, and now we’re like two 8 year-olds who just found out they were in the same grade 3 class.

Life. It’s been good to me lately.