Whose Day is it Anyway? Mother’s Day or Grandmother’s Day?

Here in North America, the second Sunday of May is called Mother’s Day, a day set aside to recognize and celebrate mothers and maternal figures. However, I’ve noticed that in the last several years, a significant number of my mum friends and acquaintances are busy making reservations for brunch, purchasing groceries and tidying their houses in preparation for a dinner…if this day is supposed to be about the mothers, why are they spending so much time and preparation to celebrate themselves? And if they aren’t planning elaborate celebrations for themselves on Mother’s Day, then for whom are they planning?

The answer, perhaps not surprisingly is grandmothers. To those of us who are mothers of young children now, we have a greater respect and perhaps understanding of what our mothers did (or did not) do for us, and we’d like to show our appreciation. In a society where it is extremely difficult to find reliable, affordable, and secure childcare, many families turn to grandparents as the best (and often only) solution. So it’s great that today’s mums want to honour their mums on this special day, but somehow I feel that it loses some of the meaning for them–the mums who are doing their best each and every day to care for their children–who are just that, children–not grown adults with families of their own.

Wikipedia states that Mother’s Day “is the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States and Americans spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—and another $68 million on greeting cards.” How much of this money is being spent on “mums only” as opposed to “mums/grandmums”? Social media like Pinterest and Facebook often seems to promote the idea that mums need to make Mother’s Day special and better…for their own mums and in many cases, mother-in-laws, and in some cases their grandmothers as well. I had one friend tell me that she wasn’t sure how she would be able to organize Mother’s Day this year in order to see her mother, her step-mother, her partner’s mother, and 3 grandmothers! I wonder how long my friend will have to wait for her turn to catch her breath on Mother’s Day.

I don’t think we should forget about or discount the impact of grandmothers. They are also mothers and have been lucky enough to live long enough to see their children become parents. It’s important to celebrate and acknowledge them. But…I really feel that today’s mothers who are tired of doing load after load of laundry, tired of rushing home straight from work to soccer practice, tired of making meals that are criticized and rejected–tired of being tired, who need that break the most.

Mother's Day 2012. Photo by T. Wilkie

Mom and Baby. Photo Credit: T. Wilkie

So to all mums out at a Mother’s Day brunch who are trying to keep their kids from spilling chocolate milk all over the table while Grandma sips her tea, to all mums who have pleaded and cajoled with their kids to “please wear the dress Grandma gave you so we can finish tidying the house and get the turkey in the oven so that we’re ready for when she arrives”–try to find a moment today to celebrate you. This is your day. Our day. Mother’s Day. You are worth it. If you are unable to find a moment this afternoon because you are busy dividing your time between grandmas and great-grandmas, please take a moment either tonight before bed or first thing tomorrow morning  (I realize that you will have to get up extra early because you have to make lunches for daycare and get the kids ready for school but this is worth it) to sit down at your calendar and turn to May 13, 2018 and write: MY DAY! I AM WORTH IT! Then turn back to April 13, 2018 (since lots of mums plan ahead) and write: MOTHER’S DAY! DON’T MAKE BRUNCH RESOS! Underline the word Mother!

And next year, take those mothers who are now grandmothers out for lunch on a Thursday in May. Send them some flowers. Have your kids make cards and crafts for them. Give them a call and tell them you love them. But on May 13, 2018, do what you want to do. No excuses. It’s YOUR day. You are worthy of it. You have earned it and by god(s), you deserve it.

P.S. Both my mother and my partner’s mother are very gracious in acknowledging and recognizing that today is Mother’s Day and for this, I love and appreciate them even more. And I will wish them both a Happy Mother’s Day, but only after I’ve enjoyed some well deserved time for me.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Encyclopedia Brown, 2017

My son, aged 8,
Began reading Donald J. Sobol’s
Encyclopedia Brown
Books today.

Books that I loved
When I was eight.
Always trying but never quite able
To solve the mysteries.

My son’s first question
To me about the books
Is not in relation to the mysteries,
But about the character’s name:

“Why do they call him Encyclopedia?”

“Good question,” I say, not sure how to answer;

For the days of Encyclopedia Britannicas
Lined up A to Z on the library shelves,
Heavy and somber with knowledge
Are long, long gone.

Photo Credit: Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Notes: If you (or your 8 year old) haven’t had the pleasure of reading Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown series, I highly recommend them. First published in 1963, they are one part Sherlock Holmes, one part brain teaser, and one part old-fashioned fun.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Holiday Book List 2016: The First Book

This is the third year that we’ve done a Book Advent Calendar, where the kids open a holiday book for us to read aloud. Each year, I add a few new books, and take a few out of the rotation. This is the first year that Chanukah hasn’t happened in the middle of December (it starts on December 24th) since I’ve been doing the calendar, so this year’s selection will only contain Christmas books. My children are 8, 5 and 5 this Christmas, so it’s always an interesting and enjoyable selection process to find books that appeal to both ages.

A couple of years ago, a friend asked me to share the books we read during this time. Here’s a quick summary of today’s book, Merry Christmas, Strega Nona written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola. I highly recommend it for children of all ages, both for the charming story (although not as good as the original Caldecott winning Strega Nona) and the wonderful pictures.

Advent 2016 The first five books.

Advent 2016
The first five books.

Strega Nona and Big Anthony are getting ready for Christmas and Strega Nona’s legendary Christmas Eve feast. Big Anthony wants Strega Nona to use her magic to help speed things along, but Strega Nona insists that “Christmas has a magic of its own”. With the help of Bambolona and other villagers, Big Anthony manages to find some Christmas magic of his own to share with Strega Nona.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Moments in a Day: October 1st

It’s been 23 years today since my dad died. Grief is such a strange, personal thing. Some years on this day I feel just a whisper of sadness and other years my grief is loud and long. Some years I relive the entire day as it played out so many years ago, and other years I merely glance at the clock and recognize that yes, this was that moment–the moment my brother came in to my place of employment to tell me that it was time to go to the hospital, the moment when I called my friend to tell her I couldn’t go out with her that night because my dad had died, the moment when the doctors brought me a tiny pill to try to stop the wailing and hyperventilating that was coming from me–so many moments in an ordinary (to everyone else) day.

This year is one of the in between years of grief for me. It helps that I had to shuttle the twins to a birthday party this morning, and then return to collect our oldest, pack a lunch and head to the RWB Studio for dance classes. Keeping busy helps. But it doesn’t stop me from pausing and recognizing the moments. And realizing (or re-realizing) that my dad will never be at one of my children’s ballet recitals. Or Holiday concerts. Or anything at all. And then my heart begins to really hurt and long for what is lost.

Autumn Scene

Autumn Scene Photo by unsplash http://www.pixabay.com

Sitting in the Starbucks
Across the street from the dance studio
Waiting for the kids to finish
Ballet class,
I glance up at the clock.
It is 11:35.

Ten minutes until ballet class is over.

Ten minutes until I first knew that today was the day you would die.

In a few moments I will walk back and collect two kids from ballet
And send another one in to the next class.

In a few moments I will dash from the table I am serving,
Nodding at my boss that I need to leave.

I’ve been waiting for this moment.

There will be so many
more moments today

At a certain point this afternoon I will pick up a book from the library
That’s been on hold for me.

At a certain point this afternoon I will call my friend and cancel
Our evening plans.

At 8:00 this evening I will tuck my children in to bed
And tell them how dear they are to me.
‘I love you’ I will say.

At 8:00 this evening I will stand by your bedside
And tell you how dear you are to me.
‘I love you’ I will say.

And the words will seem inadequate
And they are.
Yet they are
All I have to offer.

October 1.
A day made up of moments.
Moments to remember.

 If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

On Coughs, Colds, and Carrying On

My head is aching from
This lousy sinus cold that’s been going around.
The Tylenol I’m popping just isn’t cutting it.
As soon as one cough drop is finished I start
Another one although the soothing action promised
On the wrapper is limited at best.

I feel miserable
And long to crawl under the covers to sleep it off
But I continue to carry on,
With a pocketful of cough drops and Kleenexes–
some used, some new.
At this point, I don’t really care.

Chugging from a bottle of Sudafed,
I sign the field trip consent form,
RSVP to a birthday party,
Search for a missing rubber boot
And listen to my eldest
Do his daily Home Reading.

Woman Blowing Nose (Mojpe, Pixabay)

Woman Blowing Nose (Mojpe, Pixabay)

I’m a mom.
There’s no time for me
To have a cough or a cold or
God forbid,
a combination of the two.

There is only cough syrup,
Kleenex, and
Carrying on.

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

 

On Facebook, Losing Touch, and Grieving: Remembering Carole

On Tuesday morning, I did as I usually do: went to the bathroom, swallowed some Wellbutrin, and grabbed my phone to check my email and Facebook. I don’t expect to find anything earth shattering when doing either of these things. Mostly, my mailbox is filled with Gap discount codes, the latest issue of Lenny and reminders from my child’s school. Facebook is even less eventful–people sharing articles that rage against Donald Trump and parents worrying about over scheduling their kids while simultaneously complaining about the city’s swimming lesson registration system.  My Facebook page is pretty benign and for the most part, pretty boring, although there are lots of cute baby pictures at the moment. (Thanks M & T!)

Tuesday was different. As I was scrolling down, I saw the notice “C.H. was mentioned in a post.” Someone that I didn’t know, and who I wasn’t friends with (Facebook or otherwise) had written: You will be in our hearts forever Carole. You left us way too early. This made absolutely no sense to me. C.H. was around my age and had kids my age.

That’s actually how I met her: She was one of the first people I met at a mom’s group I went to for first time moms. Her daughter was about three weeks older than my son. I remember Carole as being kind, loving to laugh, and full of life. Could this be the same woman?

It was. Googling her name brought me to the page with her obituary. She was just shy of 43, had a seven year-old daughter and a six year-old son. Her daughter was in Grade 2, her son in Grade 1.  I hadn’t seen Carole in a few years–we had both moved out of the old neighbourhood where we had met, and life got busy. The last time I saw her was just before our kids started Kindergarten. We stayed in touch via Facebook through likes and comments, but I’m not sure I would have used the term “friends” to describe us, more like “good acquaintances.”

When I scrolled through Carole’s Facebook page looking for clues, I found none. She had kept her illness private, away from the public eye of Facebook. I reached out to another mutual friend who told me that Carole had been diagnosed with a tumour in the fall and that the doctors were confident following the removal of it. Unfortunately, the cancer had spread to her liver and she went into palliative care at the beginning of February, but was able to return home for her last weeks.

This death has hit me really hard. I’ve been crying on and off for the past few days. Although we had drifted apart, I was still interested in Carole’s Facebook anecdotes about her son’s allergies and the pictures of the cakes she had made for her children’s birthdays. Facebook filled me in on Carole’s life when she was alive and this time it filled me in on Carole’s death.

I cried because in many ways it took Carole’s death to remind me that I am alive. I am alive with my children. She is not. And that’s a really hard thing to come to terms with, regardless of how close we had been.

Having children the same age is what makes it the hardest. I remember sitting beside Carole at the Mom’s Group, holding our brand new babies and learning how to keep them safe, when and how to feed them healthy foods, and how to deal with teething. I remember one time feeling extremely overwhelmed and discouraged. Carole was so reassuring that we could do this–be good mothers to our children.  And then immediately after, telling me that she was expecting again, wanting her children to be close in age. I was still struggling being a mom to one, and I admired her confidence and strength to do it all over again so soon. But Carole knew what she wanted and she was ready to love another.

Today I sat with my oldest, who brought me into Carole’s life and held him tightly when he asked me if I had been crying. Yes, I said. Because I love you so very much. I thought of Carole’s oldest child, who used to play with my oldest. Carole is no longer there to hold her or her brother tightly. Carole is not with her children that she loved so much.  And I am. And my tears return. And that’s okay. Strindberg wrote: Why do people cry when they’re sad?” I continued . . . “Well,” he said, “because sometimes you have to wash the windows of your eyes to see more clearly!”

I see clearly now how very fortunate I am to be alive.

P.S. Cancer sucks. If you feel so inclined, here’s a link to honour Carole: http://www.cancercare.mb.ca

March 19 Addendum: Today’s Facebook Memory from 5 years ago was a note from Carole saying: Hey thanks for the great visit yesterday! It was nice to catch up. C. spent most of the afternoon asking ” where MooMoos” aka Harris…. Bittersweet. They say only the good die young. In Carole’s case, this is 100% true.


Strindberg, A., & Carlson, H.G. (1983) Strindberg: Five Plays. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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And the first shall be last: A is for Amy.

Note: This is a post I wrote a couple of years ago about my name, but I’ve revisited and reworked it. Today’s Daily Prompt from WordPress, which I like to use when I am short on time and inspiration, is about names. This is one story about my (somewhat confusing) name.

Letters of Latvian (Latin based) alphabet in h...

Letters of Latvian (Latin based) alphabet in handwriting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of you who know me in person, or if you have read the About part of this blog, know that my last name is the same as my middle name. My name is Judy Amy Amy. Technically, it’s Judy Amy Amy-Something, but usually I just go by Judy (Amy) Amy to avoid confusion. Here’s a bit of background regarding my name.

Amy is my mother’s maiden name, and there are not many of us left. My cousin is the last of the direct line.  Like every girl in my mom’s family, I too was given the name Amy as a middle name. The difference is that I also have it as part of my last name. My mom’s family hails from the  Island of Jersey a small British ruled island off the coast of France, although the Amys have lived in Canada for several generations.

My father’s last name (the Something) is easily identified as a religious/cultural indicator of sorts in Canada. And my father experienced none of that–when his parents emigrated from the Old Country, they abandoned their religion, their culture, and their language. When my grandparents immigrated to Canada in the 1920s and decided to raise a family, they became (in their words) Canadian. No more, no less. A loss of culture, religion, and language for sure, but this was their choice of how they would adapt and embrace their new country.

It has always been really frustrating for me to have people assume untrue things about me and my family based solely on a name that has absolutely no deeper meaning to me, except for the fact that it belonged to my father. All this does is cause me to groan in irritation as I try to explain once again that I am not a part of this group, and have no knowledge of the language, traditions, or culture.  In this way, I’m happy for the Amy (even if it’s confusing) because it helps denote that I am not merely my father’s daughter, but also my mother’s. I am a sum of the parts. (Which is also why I would like to legally change my children’s last names to include my name, as well as my partner’s, but that would mean cursing my daughter with the First Name Amy Amy-Something, since like all Amy girls, she also has Amy as her middle name. Am I willing to do that? I’m not quite sure.)

If it weren’t for the fact that my father died, and that I feel keeping his name is respectful, I’d probably take a big black marker and cross the Something off my name. Why? I’ve touched on this above with the assumptions, but also because when people see a girl’s name in front of a hyphen, they automatically register it as my first name, with Something being my last name. I guess hyphenated names still aren’t as common as I think they should be. I often hear “Amy Something” called out at Doctor’s offices, as though my first name, Judy, has disappeared. Sometimes it’s the Judy that remains and the Amy that disappears, so that I am Judy Something on letters. Rarely am I Judy Amy-Something. Which is why I introduce myself as just Judy Amy, and leave the Something for the legal stuff. It avoids a lot of the confusion.

So here I am. A is for Amy. I am proud to be Judy Amy Amy. (and legally hyphen Something) I own it. It’s mine. And, for the most part, it’s really not that big a deal. Except when I’m at the doctor’s office, or god forbid, crossing borders:
“Your middle name is the same as your last name?”
“Yes, yes it is.”

Have you ever encountered difficulties or misconceptions about your name? Names are a funny thing–they are one of the first identifiers of who we are, but how representative are they?

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

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