Paradise and Parenting

Leza Warkentin

There are big doings this week in our family! We have Halloween, of course, which involves parties, trick or treating, and creative costuming. I always thought it was hard to be a Canadian kid, trying to think up an original idea while dealing with three layers of clothing. Eventually you just join the rest of our practical population and throw a sheet over your parka.
But Halloween in this climate means that your daughter’s kitty face is going to melt off and drip onto her lollipop and possibly poison her. It means you will have to continuously watch your son for signs of dehydration in that nylon (NYLON) mummy costume.
So there’s that. But there’s also a Big Deal that I am trying to wrap my head and my heart around: this week marks my tenth anniversary as a mother. Ten years of being fully responsible for someone else’s life. Ten years of candy stuck to the bottom of my purse. Ten years of worrying about fevers, rashes, friendships, my sanity. But just look over there at my son: happy, healthy, and somewhat concerned about the zombie apocalypse, just like his mama.
My child’s tenth birthday is his milestone, I fully acknowledge that. We will do the party and we will celebrate as a family that he has moved from single to double digits. We will all eat some of the cake, and I will eat the rest in front of the fridge over the next five days.
But this is also MY milestone. Ten years ago I began a new life that I love, but a life for which I now know you can never fully prepare. It’s been ten years full of moments of my worst failures and moments of my greatest success. It’s been ten years of realizing that I am learning as I go. It’s been ten years of just hoping to get it right when it really counts.
What have I learned that I can share with you? I have learned that some nights you are going to stay awake and wonder how you could have handled things differently. I’ve learned that a good recipe for homemade cheese sauce is worth its weight in broccoli. I’ve learned that every kink in every stage seems like the end of the world but it never is.
And that the stage after that is much more like Armageddon than the one before.
I’ve learned that losing at checkers is a wonderful thing when it’s your seven-year-old son who is beating you. I’ve learned to let my daughter choose her own color combinations, because she’s got the sass to pull it off.
I’ve learned that it’s the little things that make a family life. They will remember that you made them use a British accent to say “You sank my battleship!” on game night. They will remember the night you all slept in the living room just because. They will remember that you looked in their eyes when they told you what happened at school.
But my most important lesson, one that I have to learn again every day, is that each moment is ours to keep. Run too fast and you won’t be able to scoop them all up. Today I’m going to savor this milestone with the people who began my schooling just ten years ago.

One comment

  1. Liza, this is an interesting self assessment of yourself on Halloween and your boys 10 birthday. It got me thinking of when I was 10 years old and on Halloween in San Francisco.

    Actually it could be about my father, myself, sister, my children and grandchildren when they were 10 years old and how they celebrated Halloween, for most of us at that age were living in my present residence, and all went trick-or -treating in the neighborhood. Back then, there were not so many children that came from all around the city and across the bay to trick-or-treat. This year we ran out of the two giant size bags of candy bars by 8:00 pm. My oldest grandson handed out most of the candy this year, just as he did at 10 and later, when he got back from trick-or-treating with his mother.

    At 10 years of age, I was in the 4th or 5th grade in the grammar school just up the street. Same as my dad, sister, 3 daughters , and one of my grandsons. However the difference was, 10 was just two years before I meet and selected my wife to be in Junior High School. My dad, sister three daughters who went to the same Junior High School … were not in such a rush to either select a lifetime partner , or even think of marriage.

    I have to agree, and am likely a good example, of the good old times of growing up in a family, that stays together, or is always supportive of siblings, children and parents. Always consider the example a parent provides for their children and grandchildren to be extremely important in their development.. .

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