I’m sure we all have some similar family rituals. You must have experienced or at least heard of someone who has taken a road trip that included a parental threat of ‘don’t make me come back there’. Then there are the traditional family celebrations, sometimes with a twist; a favourite dish passed on through generations (I’ll give a shout out to Nana Ana’s fried cauliflower; I never met her but she must have been a good woman if not for anything else but passing this recipe forward). But I don’t want to talk about these ones.
There are also the family rituals we’ve been told by the experts that will contribute to our well being as a family unit. You know, the ones we try really hard to do consistently and then feel really guilty about when we fall behind?
- Dinners at the table together;
- Reading stories before bedtime;
- Board game nights.
I don’t want to take away from the importance of these because of their contribution to learning on a whole other level beyond just encouraging healthy family functioning (i.e. helping your kids develop language, communication and social skills, although for the record, you will likely experience some set back once the teen years set in, trust me). But I don’t want to talk about these ones either.
I’m digging deeper, for the ones that really connect us as families. The ones that no one but your family will understand or put up with for that matter, like a secret code. These are usually manifested by a particular family member’s ridiculous need and then take off from there. For example, your kids will likely start some funky ritual that will eventually morph into something considered perfectly acceptable. Case in point, every night for years I insisted my dad sing the Canadian national anthem before bedtime. The man obliged and so did everyone else in the house who had to listen to him. Totally normal.
Then there were the fire drills. Being the fire chief he was, my dad insisted we needed to have drills on a fairly regular basis. Personally, I’d like to think all families conduct them but I’m thinking probably not (but you probably should so you’re kids don’t just associate the sound of the fire alarm going off with dinner being ready). Sure, normal.
Fast forward to when my husband and I first moved in together. We would race to the mail box. If you reached it first then you won and it felt good to be the winner. If there was mail addressed to the loser? Awesome. If it happened to be personal mail? Mind blowing. I have no idea how this ritual actually started but I can tell you that it got to the point where we were trying to take each other out on the lawn. Two grown adults jumping over flower beds, tripping and hanging off each other to GET THE MAIL! Uh, yeah, normal.
After having our son, we added to our repertoire. Like my father, I too have belted out my fair share of song at bed time. While it’s freelance it must include lyrics pertaining to all the people and animals in this house (I must say it really is quite the laundry list for a small family). I thought our son would outgrow the need for this (did I mention he’s a teenager?) and I can generally get away with no tunes for lengthy periods of time but every now and again I am sucked into doing it out of sheer necessity to keep the ritual alive. Funny how payback is a bitch like that. OK, normal.
Add to the list:
- playing ‘boop boop’ with the dogs (don’t ask, but I can tell you it’s a totally legit game, that is for us);
- eating pretzels with hot sauce…and a side of water;
- arguing about the difference between a ‘California roll’ and a ‘complete stop’ on a fairly frequent basis;
- doing under cover agent voice overs for crows (aka-men in black);
- pouring cold water over the shower curtain
I’m sure this list goes on but sometimes it’s hard to identify those things that underneath it all, keep us connected. Rituals are signs of comfort and security. They are integral to our childhood memories and motivation to pass onto the next generation, even if they are just in the form of storytelling (because goodness knows I do not insist anyone in this house sing me the Canadian national anthem before bed. Just for the record.).
Summer is finally here! There is one more week of school left which means I am wondering how on earth we will entertain our son for 2 whole months. Sometimes, I feel like a cruise director:
“on the Lido deck, heaps of cereal will be served in the morning followed by grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and something easy to make for dinner, followed by pretzels and water before bed; we will be offloading from time to time at various ports of call and remember there IS a CURFEW; yes you can sleep in but not for the entire day!”
I don’t recall my parents ever doing that much to entertain us. Basically, it was “go outside and play and make sure you’re home for dinner”. Then of course there was the ice cream man. As soon as we heard that ridiculous music we’d run as fast as we could to make it home in enough time to beg for money and plead a case for why we deserved the ice cream before dinner. Generally, as the music got closer, my bartering skills went out the window and by the time I was on the front stoop with ice cream dripping down my hand I would realize I had agreed to clean my room, fold laundry and empty the dishwasher. Damn.
But I digress and give you instead some highlights of what I’m thankful for from last week:
Impromptu drinks with friends. I was walking to the bus after work and bumped into a friend who managed to convince me in about 3 seconds flat to go for a drink. It was great to hang out with a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a long time. Just another reason moving to the city was a good idea.
Help. If you knew me well you’d probably think there’s a lot of ways I need help and you’re glad I found some. You really are thoughtful. I am actually talking about my husband helping me haul home more used stuff I’ve found. A really nice glass table and side table for the living room for only $60 (cdn). Yes, I have become addicted to looking at used items for sale.
A ‘Home’. Months ago we moved to this small quaint heritage home in the city. We’ve taken a long time to unpack and make the place feel like a home. This weekend, ‘we’ (I mean my husband) spent time hanging pictures and unpacking things we’ve not seen for awhile. See, if it was me hanging the pics, they’d all be at my 5’3 eye level and crooked. This is the first weekend I can honestly say that it’s feeling like a home to me.
Have a good week.
I hope everyone had a great father’s day spending time with the ones they love. Mine started out with the dogs barking their faces off at 6 a.m. to alert me of the murder of crows on the back deck. Seems that someone had taken the compost bag from the kitchen and placed it on the back deck overnight as opposed to placing it into a secure container thereby leaving it for the birds to spread all over. How fitting is it that they call a group of crows a murder? All I can say is that Father’s day around here = immunity from what would otherwise be, well? let’s just leave it at that. Oh, then there were hamburgers and cheesecake later in the day.
So apart from patience, gloves for garbage picking and love for my husband, here are some other awesome things I’m thankful for:
- Used goods. I am slowly but surely decorating our humble little home in a French country style. The boys simply roll their eyes at me but my husband had some choice words when I hauled this thing home and asked him to hook it up:
This gorgeous thing weighs a ton! I say it’s a great find.
Now, you are probably wondering why half the shades are missing. Personally, I like it without the shades. My husband likes it with the shades. This is called compromise. It will last until someone concedes. Which do you prefer-please do tell!
- Flowers. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this countless times. I am so amazed at where they can grow and how they can look. I love that they are used as a way to communicate among people. They are like fireworks; refreshing, exciting, colourful. Ok, I’ve gone on too long but I will say this, I am going to be adding a section to my blog called ‘Bouquet of the Day’. Please stop by for a look and enjoy! I hope they will fit whatever mood you’re in and make your day.
These are beautiful silk flowers-don’t they look real?
Cheers to the week!
For no other reason than being random, I wanted to take a moment to share how I’m feeling about the topic of body image these days:
Generally, I make a conscious effort not to mention how I feel about my body to others; let me confess, ‘it’s complicated’. During my 42 years here on this earth, I have been held captive by my fluctuating sense of body image for at least 32 of them. Excuse me while I take a moment to mourn the time I’ve lost thinking about how my weight, height and shape defines me. It’s like a merry-go-round. What I wouldn’t give to get off.
How I see myself is my business, or is it? Doesn’t my personal sense of body image affect how other people view me, themselves and others? Thinking of the people who are near and dear to my heart, I’ve ripped them off somewhat. I haven’t been 100% ‘present’ in our experiences together because there’s a part of me that’s distracted with my sense of body image. Cases in point:
- Getting ready to go out for dinner and changing a few times over because I ‘look fat in that dress’ followed by asking my husband and son how I look (followed by telling them they don’t know what they’re talking about);
- Chastising myself for eating something ‘bad’ and proceeding to ruminate about all the exercising I will need to do in order to rid myself of the potential consequences;
- Feeling awkward in social settings when I am feeling less than stellar about how I look.
- Letting my body image even be a part of how I define myself.
What do these actions tell the people I love?
- I don’t trust their opinions;
- They should be worrying about their body image and everyone else’s for that matter;
- Who I am depends on the way I look;
- The time we spend together isn’t enough to fulfil me.
I’m sad that I’ve wasted so much time. I’m worried my actions have impacted how my son views himself and others. I’m confused because I don’t agree with using body image as a source of judgement but then use it to self judge. Frankly, I’m rather exhausted of the whole idea that body image is even part of what defines me or anyone else. Of course, I think overall health includes exercise and healthy eating but I need that mental picture I have to move beyond the physical and include way more focus on soul.
Now, go outside and play with all abandon