So here’s how our week started: I signed my kids up for swim lessons at the wrong pool, failing to notice my error until two of the kids were stranded at the wrong pool, all by themselves, having biked over with their dad who then went on to work. I was to join them with the younger kids awhile later, and we’d all bike home together. I was in the kitchen packing my backpack when the phone rang. Daughter at pool. “Why are you calling?!” (This can’t be good!) “Mom, you signed us up for the Swimplex!” “What?! Oh no!”
And they were right. I had. There’s a first time for everything, this not being a mistake I’ve made ever before.
They missed their lesson. Instead, they biked safely home together, despite having to manage a detour around construction on their route. (I only heard about this long after the fact.) I biked with the little kids to the Swimplex (they did not miss their lesson). All was well.
Conclusion: My children seem to know how to manage. This is good.
That’s what we’re up to this week: swim lessons in the morning, big kids babysitting in the afternoon. I’ve been working on revisions on the novel and prepping for my teaching gig this fall.
Canada Day was weirdly productive. I sat down and read through the entire novel manuscript, which really needed to be done. I hadn’t touched it since February, so my editing eyes were very clear, and I’m positively teeming with solutions. I starting backwards, and just letting myself take whatever route feels right. Writing new scenes seems to be what’s coming first.
I also gave both boys a haircut. And vacuumed.
We’ve been biking everywhere. It’s hot.
I’m back to running again, tentatively testing out the ankle with short, slow runs aided by an ankle brace. I’ll test it further during a soccer game tonight. Wish me luck. I’ve taken a risk and signed up for the Run for the Toad this fall (25km trail run I’ve done the past two years).
We stayed up awfully late at my brother’s birthday party last night, enjoying pizza, cake, and feats of strength by both my daughters. (The eldest picked up pretty much every party guest, I kid you not. I’m talking adults here. She went around the room.) So that was fun. And we could sleep in this morning, at least somewhat. I could hardly open my eyes, however. I think I ate too many spicy dill pickles yesterday. Puffy. Salt-retention. Too much information.
Our mint is growing wild. I need to get more time in the pool. I coached Fooey’s soccer team on Tuesday evening.
I’m just listing things off here, can you tell? The minutiae. It’s all I’ve got.
the bonfire of the schoolwork
beach bound with dogs, who behave superbly–guess we can take them anywhere!; water’s cold, and wind’s chilly, but you’d never know
hosted by my bro and sis-in-law, we all play “Pit” late at night and mid-morning (no photos); and I lounge half the day reading Agatha Christie (also no photos)
Here’s where the swim girl and I are spending many humid hours of our weekend. This particular meet is being held in what just might be the world’s largest sauna. Perhaps my skin will thank me for it, and I’ll emerge from the heavy chlorinated air looking years younger, or perhaps I’ll just emerge with a sweat-spotted tank top, but either way, I will emerge. We both will.
This meet was added into our June schedule unexpectedly when the coach told us that AppleApple had met qualifying times for a number of events at the regional meet. “Well, that just happens to be our one free weekend,” I replied, with what I hope was a touch of excitement rather than bitterness. No, I’m just kidding. I’ve gained a certain fondness over this year for the atmosphere of the swim meet. It’s become familiar, and known, and happy, much like the atmosphere of the soccer tournament.
I didn’t get any glowing photos of my girl. That’s because immediately after watching her race I am a bundle of nervous energy exploding and cannot steady my hands to hold the camera. So these are all befores, when she’s going through whatever emotions a kid goes through while waiting for a race.
This is how I captured her, waiting with her teammates for, quite literally, the last race of the day: 4×100 freestyle relay. She is the newest and least experienced member of the tight-knit team and a couple of these girls are the fastest in the region, so when her coach placed her on the last leg of the race, I almost couldn’t bear to watch. But I watched. How could I not? There’s my baby, all those hours of practice and hard work adding up to this moment, throwing herself in and swimming for the wall with intense determination. “How were you feeling?” I asked afterward. “Terrified!” she said, although her tone suggested that the sensation was not entirely unpleasant. In the race, she took two seconds off the time she’d swum earlier in the day, which was already two seconds faster than her personal best. Her team won gold.
She also won individual bronze in the 200 metre breaststroke, and placed strongly in her other two events.
“How do you feel?” “I’ve never felt this way before, so I don’t really know.”
Meanwhile, in the non-swimming-related portions of life, Kevin and I went to a party last night, which reminded me that we haven’t been out socially for ages. Where has my social life gone? It’s gotten lost in the swim meets and soccer tournaments, I’m pretty sure. Also, I haven’t found a replacement for playgroup, a social event that sustained me for years, friends gathered weekly in each other’s homes to drink coffee and hold babies and send our preschool-aged children off to play together (mostly, that happened). This past year was the first without playgroup. And I miss people, specific people, because our paths don’t seem to cross in the same way anymore. I don’t mean to end this post on a melancholy note. I’m coming to accept that there’s no balance possible in life, only the enjoyment of and engagement with what’s right before us, but I keep my eyes peeled for certain omissions in the every day, so as to make changes, if needed or wanted. Any advice for post-playgroup-every-day-socializing?
This morning I got on my bike and went to the “county” track meet (ie. a bunch of schools competing, including both of my two older children’s).
The 800 metre start, girls, ages 9-12.
She ran most of the race in lane two. Oops. “Did you know it’s shorter if you run on the inside lane?” “What? Really?!” A real-life math problem.
A hard-run race. I think she was a little disappointed with her end result, but every race is a learning experience. And she ran her heart out! Proud mama.
Tug-of-war. Not so many photos of this child. I was picking up a please-don’t-embarrass-me-mom vibe. Which I get. I’m so sympathetic and can totally feel it, too. Of course I’m going to say something dorky in front of his friends! I remember this age so clearly myself and instinctively want to give him space. Then I wonder: am I giving him too much space and he won’t know that I care? You know?
Then I got on my bike and went to the kindergarten picnic.
We shared our sandwiches (his idea).
The kids performed songs. When it was time to say goodbye, I got so many kisses, so many hugs; it was hard parting. Such a different stage.
And I got on my bike and went back to the track. (My ankle doesn’t hurt on my bike. Yay! Plus I’d forgotten how fun it is to cycle around the city.) Kevin had arrived in my absence, live-texting me results of events I was missing. We both got to watch the relays.
Then I got on my bike and went home.
Found, yesterday, amongst the masses of work brought home from school.
“Who? Carrie Snyder: Author of the GG nominated Juliet Stories and, my mom.
“What? I can learn alot from mom including work hard and you can acheive anything, follow your dreams, or whims depending on which you have. Nothing is really that impossible if you really want it. And are willing to pour your life into it.
“Where/when? At the book launch in 2012, when the story became a book.
“Why? Writing a book with four kids is not easy. The Juliet Stories took seven years to write. It takes an amazing woman with great patience to do that. She sets goals and acheives them. Aside from that she is a very happy person with a big family and a big heart. She is also a runner and marathonist and triathlete. If you don’t think she is successful, I would like to hear what is.”
I don’t know what life is all about, except that it’s for living. Yesterday was a down day. The puffy ankle wasn’t helping. I was feeling pessimistic. I was remembering that the nature of being a writer is being dissatisfied. That’s what gives you the push to keep creating. It’s a sense of needing to do more. I was remembering that I write out of a painful mixture of confidence and doubt, and that it never seems to become easy (not the writing itself, which is frequently joyful, but everything surrounding it). And then I found this. My child was mirroring back to me things I couldn’t see or appreciate for myself. I hope to mirror to my children the same: love and belief and admiration.
We’ve entered end-of-school-year madness. I added to the madness by turning my ankle in Sunday evening’s soccer game, which we won short-handed, and so it was worth it. Right? Priorities, Carrie, priorities. I actually heard my ankle make a snapping sound as I landed on the grass, and so did the woman with whom I’d collided, and she looked at me, lying in the grass, and said, “Um, are you okay?” and I said, “Yeah, I don’t know.” In fact, it didn’t hurt, and still doesn’t, just feels stiff and is swollen. I’m taking a few days off to see how it heals, but so far my body seems to know what it’s doing. I’m icing it, resting it, and I promise not to play on it until it’s healed. Promise. Okay? Because I’d like to play all summer, please.
Yesterday morning, bum ankle and all, I headed off to Toronto to meet with a new editor. We got to work in a pleasant coffee shop and ran all the way through my new novel. I’ve now got tentative deadlines toward which to work on both of my new book projects. Woot, woot! The first of the picture book revisions are due at the end of this week (this will go back and forth a few more times: a couple hundred words is harder to perfect than you might think), and I’ll be revising the novel over the summer. My older kids have been officially hired to babysit their younger siblings, for a fair whack of cash, and both are treating the project with respect. Hopes are high, all around.
Now I’m between appointments: allergist this morning with my asthmatic athlete, and grade six graduation ceremony in a few minutes, for which I volunteered to stay afterward and clean up (why???). And then I’m praying for a few hours in which to work. Please.
I love to sit and work. And be quiet.
I must add a P.S.
No one told me to bring tissues to the graduation ceremony. I mean, it’s just grade six, right? Sure, he’s going to a new school next year, and he’s been here for EIGHT YEARS, and oh, wait, this is a big deal. One of the teachers put together a video that had me wiping away tears from the get-go. The grade six graduates were shown in side by side photos, as kindergartners, and as they are now, young people on the cusp of teenage-hood. Something about witnessing their changes turned me wobbly inside, and it wasn’t even about looking at my own kid, or at kids I’ve known all these years — it was all of them, all of these precious lives blooming in what seems like fast-forward. We don’t get to stay the same. We don’t get to keep these kids, either. How caught we are in time.
Sunday at the farm
My Monday contains an early morning yoga class, the coordinating of this week’s many details, a really good bowl of soup for lunch, a finalized book contract to sign and send (details coming, I promise), and eight loads of laundry (no exaggeration).
This past weekend we travelled north of Kingston on Saturday, home again on Sunday, to visit with Kevin’s family, some of whom had come all the way from Scotland.
Badminton was the popular sport, with soccer coming a close second.
There was even a baby to hold.
Our visit was preceeded by a minor home renovation. On Friday, I realized that our front hall reeked. The smell was distinctly dog, and I don’t know how to describe it other than to say, come smell our carpet, which, trust me, you really don’t want to do. In any case, you can’t. Friday afternoon, tormented by the smell, I abandoned my office to scrub the carpet before leaping to the sudden conclusion that the carpet had to go. Like, now. I vacuumed the rest of the house in an attempt to bring order to the chaos that had become instantly apparent to me, everywhere, not just in the front hall. And on Friday night, after we’d packed and the kids were all in bed, and we should have been too, Kevin and I ripped up the carpet. Lo and behold, the wood floor beneath was pristine, and after a late-night scrubbing, reeked of nothing at all. I find it funny how often Kevin and I make snap decisions, together, that feel absolutely right. It seems to be how we operate.
Let me ask you a question about cleanliness. Would you agree that women are still judged on the cleanliness of their homes, while men (even those who participate fully in household chores) are not? I think it’s true. I would like it not to be. (She says, heading down to the basement to deal with laundry load number 6. Only two more to go!)