The more things change…

Today Emma showed me how loose one of her lower front teeth is — and I’m embarrassed to admit that I cried a little bit.

Maybe it was because today has been a pretty crummy day, maybe it was because I didn’t have much sleep last night, maybe it’s because I’m getting sick and I’m feeling sorry for myself, maybe it’s because of the sentimental time of the year … regardless, I felt sad at the fact that my little girl is growing up. Fast.

Thing is, I remember when she first had that particular loose tooth of her’s pop up. In fact, I can still remember all of the toothless grins and giggles that she had for the first 13 months of her life. And now — she’s on the verge of losing that tooth, to be replaced by a permanent adult tooth. It’s a noteworthy milestone, and one that I need to stop and reflect on.

I know that everyday Emma is changing — whether it’s her newfound love of reading and math, her conversation skills (oh that girl can talk), or her ever-growing-out-of-her-clothes stage (how did I produce such a tall child?!) — but lately it’s been difficult for me to keep up with who Emma is becoming. It seems like just when I think I’ve got her figured out, something new enters into the equation, and I’m left having to adjust my understanding of the person she is becoming.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is a bad thing! Change is important. But change can be difficult, too.

I suppose what I want the most for myself is to be the kind of mama who is open to accepting all the changes Emmalee will go through — physical, mental, and even spiritual. I don’t ever want her to feel trapped thinking she needs to be who the person her mom thinks she should be (or thinks she is).

It’s funny, I often tease her at times by pleading with her “stop growing!” She usually responds to me: “no, mama. I’m growing!”  Yet the other day after I teased her about how fast she’s growing, she got all reflective and philosophical on me (those traits come from her daddy).  After I play-pleaded with her to stop growing, she looked at me and said: “No, mama. If I stop growing, I’ll die.

Of course, following that moment she giggled and went onto being her usual playful 5-year-old self, but what she said has stayed with me.

There are ways of dying on the inside, especially when people don’t accept you for who you are or the choices you make.  I hope that I can have the kind of relationship with my daughter where she will never feel like she’s stuck living up to who I had gotten used to her being. Not only that, but I also hope to be just as flexible and accepting of my friends and colleagues, as they change to become more of who they really are.


Around here

Emma decided to label our pumpkins (from our garden!) so we’ll know which one is who’s — I love how she spells my name ‘Rebeky’:

And, it looks like our little grrrl is much more into math than her mama! Here she is showing off her 100’s activity from her Montessori school:

We’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web at bedtime, and it’s like visiting an old friend. It’s quite something to share with my little girl a book that meant so much to me when I was her age! Reading EB White’s words is an adventure in itself — I love how he writes, and how respectful he is to kids. He really doesn’t hold many punches back in tackling some of the more difficult parts of being alive. I’m already stocking up on tissues for when we get to the end of the book.

So I’m giving a ‘sermon’ next week …

‘cept I’m not calling it a a sermon.

this is the stepping stone project I made for our VVBM community garden art project

I’ve been asked to lead a talk at the Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon next Sunday.  I’m recasting the talk I gave in Regina in February, “Growing up Godless: Strategies for the 21st Century Family.”  This time around I’m hoping to make the service a little less-traditional, working in some music and group activities. Jerry has agreed to sing “The Circle Game” during the service, and I’m hoping to get people talking about ways to *make meaning* in their families through ceremony and ritual.

One part of the service I struggled with was finding hymns to accompany what I wanted to talk about and do. Thankfully there’s quite a range of songs to pick from, and I came across the song “Everything Possible” by Fred Small.  I judged the song primarily by its lyrics, and even now I have a hard time reading them aloud without getting a bit choked up.  Here they are:

Everything Possible

We have cleared off the table, the leftovers saved,
Washed the dishes and put them away
I have told you a story and tucked you in tight
At the end of your knockabout day
As the moon sets its sails to carry you to sleep
Over the midnight sea
I will sing you a song no one sang to me
May it keep you good company.

You can be anybody you want to be,
You can love whomever you will
You can travel any country where your heart leads
And know I will love you still
You can live by yourself, you can gather friends around,
You can choose one special one
And the only measure of your words and your deeds
Will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.

There are girls who grow up strong and bold
There are boys quiet and kind
Some race on ahead, some follow behind
Some go in their own way and time
Some women love women, some men love men
Some raise children, some never do
You can dream all the day never reaching the end
Of everything possible for you.

Don’t be rattled by names, by taunts, by games
But seek out spirits true
If you give your friends the best part of yourself
They will give the same back to you.



I love it. And I love that my little girl will hear these words from her mama, her whole life.

Here’s what the song sounds like (it’s worth the 99 cents on iTunes!)– on Sunday two of my friends are going to sing it for us.  If you’re around on Sunday, come check it out!

Let’s go fly a kite

Emma’s new favorite songs to sing are from Mary Poppins (which I love *so much* more than the princess collections) — what’s funny is that she usually only sings one line, over and over again. So for the closing song, she just sings, over and over again, “Let’s go fly a kite! Let’s go fly a kite!”

So today we went out and flew a kite.

my kind of princess

Today we picked up a book I ordered a few weeks ago for Emma: Not all Princesses Dress in Pink. (perfect timing, no? especially after my recent “pretty” rant)

I’m happily surprised with how much fun this book was to read to Em.  Here’s a cute little excerpt of the book, regarding princesses who work with power tools:

There’s another set of lines that read:

Some princesses roll around,
wrestling on the muddy ground,
then get right up to skip and dance
in tattered, stained and muddy pants,
and a sparkly crown.

Now these are princesses that I can dig.  There’s even a page that talks about a princess putting aside her fancy shoes for shingards and cleats!  If you’re a little overwhelmed by all the “happily ever after” tales on your daughter’s shelf, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this book to counterbalance the ominous Sleeping Beauty effect.

That said, I think I may have a new tact to try whenever Emma wants to watch/read princess crap stories.  Rather than dwelling on the beauty of Cinderella or the naiveté of Snow White, I want to emphasize the other, more compelling qualities of the princess characters.  So I can point out how Cinderella is kind to animals, and is able to find contentment, whether she’s in rags or riches. Snow White is giving and unselfish.  Ariel is independent.  Belle loves to read, and learn about the world around her.

Here’s hoping that by focusing on these other attributes of the princesses, I can more happily survive this particular preschool stage.

Merely “pretty”

Pretty by Katie Makkai

This is about the self-mutilating circus we have painted ourselves clowns in. About women who will prowl 30 stores in 6 malls to find the right cocktail dress, but haven’t a clue where to find fulfillment or how wear joy, wandering through life shackled to a shopping bag, beneath those 2 pretty syllables.

About men wallowing on bar stools, drearily practicing attraction and everyone who will drift home tonight, crest-fallen because not enough strangers found you suitably fuckable.

This, this is about my own some-day daughter. When you approach me, already stung-stayed with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty? Will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer, “No! The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.

“You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing. But you, will never be merely ‘pretty’.”

[transcript here]

I’ve always had a love-hate (read: mostly hate) relationship with “pretty.”

Maybe it was because I was always the funny one in the group, the girl who had the “good personality.”  And most of the time, I was (and am) okay with that.  I don’t like the conventional and media-driven definitions of “pretty,” and maybe it’s my own bias, but many of the individuals who are considered “pretty” aren’t usually the types of people I want to be around.

Is it because we have different priorities and interests? Or is it more of my own insecure self-esteem? Who knows. Usually I just avoid the topic of “pretty” and focus on other issues that interest me.

Yet these days I have a daughter who loves to be pink and “princess pretty,” and once again I find myself confronting that word and that ideal.  How do I sate Emma’s interests in the princess culture but not reinforce that superficial ideal of ‘pretty?’ It’s hard, especially when it feels like it’s me versus the “princess industrial complex.”

There was an article a few weeks ago in the HuffPost that has given me some perspective in this fight of honoring the whole girl: How to Talk to Little Girls by Lisa Bloom. A snip:

Teaching girls that their appearance is the first thing you notice tells them that looks are more important than anything. It sets them up for dieting at age 5 and foundation at age 11 and boob jobs at 17 and Botox at 23. As our cultural imperative for girls to be hot 24/7 has become the new normal, American women have become increasingly unhappy. What’s missing? A life of meaning, a life of ideas and reading books and being valued for our thoughts and accomplishments.


It’s so easy for me to compliment Emma on her incredible cuteness (and yes, beauty), or comment on her choice of (often wacky) outfit — but as her mama, I want her to aspire to be commended on more than just these surface qualities.

As much as I can, it’s my job to help her navigate the rough waters surrounding the word/ideals of “pretty,” and help get her to the other side of the contentious issue as a contented young woman.

Ultimately I hope she’s never afraid of being pretty, but also understands there’s so much more to life than being someone who can turn heads.