the ordinary life of a {closet} loner

This is what I love doing. I am sitting alone at one end of a dining room table that can easily sit 10-12 people. A cup of tea to my right and the Tar Beach Lullabies playlist from Songza playing on my iPad to my left and my sleeping pup at my feet (keeping them warm). The lights are mostly off and I am writing by the glow of my laptop and the still light dusk of a Northern Alberta spring night.

Today, I took my children to a birthday party at one of those jumpy castle play place establishments that are all the rage these days. I knew most of the parents and kids at the party and while it was nice to visit with everyone, I felt this strange urge to escape from this social situation. I wanted to hightail it out of there and run off for the two hours of the party, or at least plunk myself down in a corner and read a book, or pull out my iPad and get lost in the long list of Favourited links from my Twitter stream. I did manage to escape for about 45 minutes and ran a few errands (ie, went to Anthropologie and bought a new top. Shopping, also something that I love to do by myself.)

I know this is going to sound a bit crazy to those of you who know me, but I think I am a bit of a loner.

I sometimes dream of being that woman who hosts perfect big dinner parties or the one who has that group of Ya-Ya Sisterhood friends that meet on a regular basis and tell each other everything and know all of each others secrets - the good, the bad and the ugly. I dream of going on holidays with another family (or families) that we are so close to, our kids are more like brothers and sisters than friends. I think that these are the things that I should be dreaming about.

I just don't know if I am that person.

In one week, we will have been in our Natural Urban Home for exactly one year and we have yet to have an official house warming party. To be perfectly honest, I have only had a handful of friends over and never all at once. I am not ashamed of my house at all, it's just the opposite. I love this place so much and we worked so hard to make it 100% us and ours, that sometimes it feels strange to have other people here. And it's not just me, my husband has always been one to consider his home his sanctuary from the world and on any given day, my kids are usually 70/30 when it comes to going home to play or going out. This is our centre, our starting point and our end every day and walking through our door often feels like exhaling after having held one's breath for a long time.

Now, I know what you are all thinking, "Natasha, you are not a loner. We've seen you work a room! Your the most social of the social butterflies!" I won't deny that I feed off of the energy in a room and yes, I do like to be social, but at most events that I attend I am just that, a butterfly, flitting from one conversation to another, stopping in for a sip of the nectar from this group and then flying off to the next.  I know why I seem like the social, extroverted one. I know the reason behind my flitting about and social insect behaviours.

I fear depth.

I fear that if I spend too much time with people, that they will see deeper into the real me and then not really want to be around me. And I can feel it. I can physically feel the wall that I put up when things get serious. It's both a defence mechanism and a protective shield. I am defending myself from the inside out and protecting myself from any {perceived} attack from afar. If she could, my therapist would tell you that this all goes back to my very early childhood and my feelings of never being good enough, of always being an outsider, of always dealing better with other people's feelings and problems than facing my own. This all makes me think that perhaps then my home, my concrete walled home, and the sense of relief I feel when I walk through it's doors, is a physical manifestation of this fear.

Commander Chris Hadfield of the Iternational Space Station, tweeted this photo and caption today.

That is how I feel some days, like mostly liquid rock covered by a thin crust. For the most part I can control the hot spots and keep everyone {including myself} safe and sound on the surface. If anyone tries to crack that surface though, my biggest fear it that it is gonna get really ugly. Everyone will see the messy, not so pretty parts of me, and will head off running in the other direction. I know that this is not likely true of most people and that I should give folks more credit, but hey, it's fear! It messes with our minds!

I also saw this tweet from Maria at @boredmommy earlier tonight. It is what sparked this rambling train of thought and post.



I thought about this and then came to the realization that I wouldn't change anything. I have a really wonderful life. One that I am incredibly grateful for. I don't want to go back to the career that I had pre-children, it just wouldn't work for our family and I don't foresee myself getting back into the 9-5 workforce anytime soon. I made a choice to be the at-home parent for my children, not just for when they were babies and in the safety of my arms, but for when they are leaving them and beginning to navigate the world beyond the walls of our home. This is when I think they are going to need me the most. I believe that part of my fear in the aforementioned social situations is that someone is going to ask me the dreaded "What do you DO?" question. I am afraid that I won't have an answer that is good enough for them. That me being a stay at home mom and yes, a sometimes blogger/writer too, will not be interesting or extraordinary enough for them.

As it happens when I am tackling issues of fear and vulnerability, I defer to the expert on these things, the wonderful Brene Brown. Please watch this 2010 TEDx talk she gave. At 6:34 she kind of blows my mind (as she has a tendency to do to a lot of people I am sure) and takes ALL THE WORDS FROM MY HEAD and puts them up on her screen!


I am an ordinary woman, living an ordinary life, loving my ordinary husband and raising my ordinary kids. And I like to write alone, at the end of my huge table, in my big beautiful sanctuary of a home.

And I am trying not to be afraid of scarcity anymore.


Maybe one day you can come over for coffee and we can talk about ordinary things together.








The babysitter conundrum

Ah, the babysitter, that coveted being that you can trust with your kids, that will play with them, feed them, care for them, and keep them alive long enough for you to sneak in a date night here and there, or get to a spin class or do those errands that take 1.5 hours when you are alone, but at least 4 hours when the kids are with you. For some of us the babysitter is a family member. Grandma and Grandpa or the aunties and uncles. But what happens when no family is around to help out? When you live far away from your family or caring for your kids regularly is a bit much for the grandparents?

Besides our family members, my kids have had three babysitters. One is the teenage daughter of my former La Leche League leader and has known my kids since they were teeny tiny and has loved them ever since, one is a wonderful woman that I met at a Modern Mama babysitter mixer and has been our regular day-time sitter for the past 18 months and the third is a new girl that also sits for one of my best friends.

The problem is that two of them are heading back to school in the fall and our regular sitter had the nerve to go off and get married and is starting a family of her own (Sheesh!). So I am now without a regular sitter for any or all of the above reasons that I would need one!

And being as we just moved into a new neighbourhood, I have been keeping my eyes open and ears to the ground for any leads close by. It just so happens that our immediate neighbours across the alley are a lovely family with two teenage boys (14 and 16) and my first thought moving in was, "I wonder if either of them would want to babysit for us?".

I am bringing this up, because the topic of babysitters came up today with the kids while out for a family walk. Little C asked me if our new babysitter was going to be a boy. Up to now and before we moved, I had not really contemplated the idea, mainly because we did not have any boys of the babysitting age around us or available and I already had the best sitters around!

One of my kids favourite story books is a Fancy Nancy one called, "Fancy Nancy & the Sensational Babysitter".  In it Nancy is anxiously awaiting her new babysitter 'Alex' and is bitterly disappointed when HE shows up! In the end Alex turns out to be quite good at this babysitting thing and Nancy gives him a big thumbs up and hopes he comes again soon. The concept of a boy being a babysitter is not a big deal to my children.

But it seems that for others, this is not the case. Tonight just before dinner, I posed this question on both Twitter and Facebook.

"Have you or would you hire a teenage boy to babysit your kids?"

The responses have ranged from a straight up "Hell, no!" to "I have, I do and I would gladly sing his praises. He's an excellent kid and is a fabulous sitter for my 2 year old daughter!".  A few have said that they wouldn't want to 'take the risk' with a boy sitter.  Most comments say that yes, they would and that choosing a sitter is about knowing the person, regardless of gender. A lot of comments have been about fabulous memories of the boy babysitters people had as kids and the common thread is that they often tend to play more with kids than the girls do.

But the two comments that have stood out the most for me are from my friend Farren and from the husband of another friend.

Farren said, "We limit boys and men as nurturers simply by entertaining this idea. Trust people, not genders."

And Doug said, "...Boundaries are defined not only by what they contain, but by what's outside them. It's not about the teenage boy, it's about those who question the teenage boy... and why. It all comes down to individual trust, and I don't see what gender has to do with that."

While the majority of the comments have been that yes, most would or have had a boy babysitter, the ones that won't even consider it an option because of the potential risk that is perceived when a teenage boy is alone with kids and left to his own devices are the ones that are burning a hole in my gut tonight.

I can understand the need to protect our children from any and all potential harm, but what I can't understand is the blatant sexism and prejudice that exists in our world. Yes, there are bad men out there and they do some very bad things {trust me people, THIS I know}, but to paint all boys with a blatant "never gonna happen" paintbrush, just doesn't sit well with me. My 17-year old nephew is a huge kid, he is 6'2" already, has a deep man's voice and is a guy's guy. He is also the most gentle and patient kid I have ever seen. He is an amazing big brother to his 2.5 year old sister and a super fun cousin for my little ones. That someone would think that because he is a boy, this makes him any less caring or potentially more 'dangerous' than say, his 14-year old sister, makes me shake my head.

These boys are the future fathers of our world and like Farren says, why would we want to limit their potential for nurturing? Why not give them a chance to care for small people, to learn these life skills and be better MEN for it? How many of us are married to men who never spent much time with kids before they had their own? Why would we want to perpetuate this cycle?  How can we even start to contemplate a world in which we are all equal when we can't even see a teenage girl and a teenage boy as having equal merit as a babysitter?

I have a lot of questions tonight and not a lot of answers. Doug's comment has me thinking and thinking. About the boundaries that we put up around our children and ourselves. About what we are trying to contain (innocence? theirs? ours?) and what we are trying to keep out. About my own prejudices and fears and from that {not yet talked about} place from which they stem...

The reality is, that I am still in need of a few good babysitters for my roster. If the boys across the alley are game, are good kids (as I suspect they are) and have some basic babysitting skills (IE, can make a mean PB&J sandwich, know a few things about LEGO building and can muddle through a tea party), then I'm pretty sure I am too.

Wish me luck!



What about you? Would you or have you had a boy babysitter care for your kids? Why or why not?


This is Post 25 of the 31 Days of Summer Blog Challenge

There are some good ones today from my co-bloggers, please check them out.

Zita at The Dulock Diaries.

Meaghan at MagzD Life

April at This Mom’s Got Something to Say

Aramelle at One Wheeler’s World

 Jessica at 2plus2X2

and Liam at In the Now