Far from the Front Lines.

I’ve tried to write this blog a handful of times and the words just aren’t coming so easily. What do you say at a time like this? At a time that none of us have been through before? At a time when so much is unknown. It wasn’t until I was in the shower tonight that I let my emotions start to fall like the water around me and I thought – just go back to the basics. Just tell them how you feel. So here it is.

The truth is, I haven’t felt this far from the front line, ever. I have been walking alongside people in community work and social care since my school days at Ryerson – about 7 years. During this time, I have walked alongside folks experiencing homelessness, addictions, and mental health issues. I have been a food preparer, dish washer, pet sitter, patient visitor, fight breaker-upper, talk someone down-er, prayer, listener, lesson learner, court day supporter, and much more. Now I spend a lot of my days at home with Charlotte, my baby girl. While this is an important job too, that of being a mom (which tasks I won’t list because they involve butt-wiper, etc), this is not the work I am accustomed to. I mean in some ways it is… and in a lot of ways I just miss my job, my team, my people, my work.

I think there is a lot to say in all of this that I am still processing and thinking about and trying to feel. Every time I talk to my people about this I get the same response over and over: It’s complicated, messy, hard. There is no right way to go about all this motherhood/work life balance thing. Right now, I just miss my life. Plain as that. And I feel really weird saying that right now to be honest, because I think it is made all the more messy knowing that some of my friends and colleagues, and even my husband, are still out there in this pandemic fighting. They’re fighting for justice and safety and community and connection for my friends on, or close to the street who are continually pushed aside and ignored. And it’s hard to be here while they are there. Because I wish it could be both ways.

There are moments that came to be in the shower tonight like my life was flashing before my eyes or something. All are moments from my work at The Dale that I hold really close to my heart. That time that Cindy* invited us into her new apartment to pray over it (and meet her cat that she tells me every. single. time I see her that she named Meghan Markle). That time I was pregnant and every time Toby* saw me he rubbed his belly and said, “Did you have a big breakfast too” even though he knew full well I was pregnant and was mostly making fun of himself. That time that my brother sat with Tim* in the grass on outreach and talked about classic books. That time that we pet-sat Samantha’s* dog and 8 cats for months while she was in the hospital. There are a hundred more.

These are the moments I miss so dearly being away from my work and my friends and my people. And these are the moments that we MUST not lose to this virus. We need to keep going, in any way we can, so that our friends can hold onto hope and connection and community and love and joy. And so that we can hold onto these things as well. Where do you isolate when you live outside? How do you panic buy when you live less then cheque to cheque? How do you hold onto community when drop-in after drop-in and coffee shop after coffee shop are shutting down? How do you stay healthy when you live head to head in a shelter? I really don’t have all the answers.

What I do know is that my colleagues at The Dale are trying so hard right now. They are trying so hard to stay visible in Parkdale while people retreat inside, in a way that is safe, intentional, thoughtful and loving. Working without our own building has taught us a lot about resilience and staying quick on our feet, but I don’t know what this ultimate test is supposed to teach us right now. Buildings that we used to parter with are shutting their doors. We are losing space and being pushed further and further outside. We need your help.

The Dale is going to continue to meet for as long as possible in whatever way is possible and safe. We have a lot of vulnerable people in our community and in our lives and their safety is most important. The Dale is meeting outside our usual “spots” right now and staying a safe distance apart physically while trying to remain close in heart. I say “we” but I really need to hand it to Erinn, Jo, Pete and Olivia. They are heroes to me.

I am asking for your help. This is what I can do from home with a baby in one hand and a lot of hope in the other. Can you pray for my team and my community? Can you pray for safety and strength in this unknown time? I know they could really use it. I know this is a time of scarcity for a lot of people so if you have extra to give, would you consider donating to The Dale? There are a lot of things they could use, but as with the times, I’m sure that list is changing by the day. You can read some of what is needed in Erinn’s blog post here (the list of needed items can be found at the bottom of the post if you are short on time, although I encourage you to read the whole thing!). Money is such a support at a time like this – a time where our donations of food are far between since we don’t have a place to receive them, where our kitchens are closing and we aren’t sure what is next… money would help obtain whatever supplies are needed to keep food, sanitary items, and any necessities coming. Any help would be so appreciated. Please visit https://www.thedale.org/donate/.

Peace to you in these times of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. I know I always say it but I really do mean it. May you find a peace that passes all understanding.

Love, Meg.

Lessons from Mom Life, Pt. 2

Last time I wrote a blog inspired by a video I watched on YouTube called, “I don’t like being a mom.” If you haven’t read that blog yet, you can find it here. We chat about the often hard realities that come with motherhood, how I miss my “old life” but love my kid, and how both of those things can be true at the same time. This week, as promised, I am back with my own list of Ten Reasons Why Motherhood Is Great. This one is a little long. I hope you have the time to grab a snack and sit with me for a minute. As always, thanks for walking this journey with me and holding this space with me where I can be honest with you. It means a great deal to me. Here we go!

Ten Reasons Why Motherhood is Great:

  1. Her cutie baby laughs and how hard you have to work for them. Charlotte learned to smile at Christmas. Most recently she has been practicing the art of laughing. I could sit all day and try a hundred ways to make Charlie laugh and it won’t come… but then it will! After 8 hours of acting like a complete dork trying to make her laugh, one stupid thing finally pushes her over the edge. And it keeps me humble. It reminds me that sometimes, happiness doesn’t come easily. Sometimes you gotta work really hard at it, and when you do it can truly begin to feel like a gift.
  2. Family cuddles in bed. Ian and I love waking Charlie up on weekends from a long nap, and bringing her into bed with us for a family cuddle. We take turns tickling her, making her smile, watching her stare at the marks on our ceiling, and chatting about how cool she is. I love this bonding time we have together as a family.
  3. Being a team with Ian. One thing I found about motherhood is that it is really hard for me to do alone. Props to all the single parents out there doing motherhood alone, whether you’re a mom or dad. I feel like I can truly be my best mom self when I have Ian there to tag team with and it helps me appreciate how great of a dad he is. After all, I wouldn’t be a mom without him being a dad right alongside me.
  4. Mom Friends. I don’t know if I will ever be the type to go to a “mom group” with Charlotte, but I am slowly coming to appreciate how great it is to have friends who are also moms, especially of young babies. Whether we see each other or just interact online, I love being able to relate and feel seen. “My hair just started to fall out and it’s really hard. I love my long hair,” I said to my mom friend the other day. “Oh me too! That happened to me too!” That’s all it took. I was seen. And it was really nice.
  5. Having a village. Did you ever hear that phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child”? Well it’s true. From people offering to watch Charlie to people bringing dinner to us, to people asking how we are… these are the things that help raise a baby and I am so grateful for these people who have become my village. Motherhood wouldn’t be the same without the many hands reaching in to help me and us. I don’t think I would be a good mom without these hands!
  6. The satisfaction of putting your baby to sleep. Charlotte is just starting to get the hang of falling asleep independently. All those long hours of rocking, putting down and picking back up, scheduling naps, and finding routines that work are all starting to pay off. And while I know she isn’t perfect and there will still be bumps in the road, it is really satisfying to walk slowly out of her room, close the door, and see her fall asleep on the monitor. One small step for Charlotte, and one giant step for mom-kind.
  7. Physical pain doesn’t seem as bad. I pushed a baby out of me. And it hurt. A lot! And I had an epidural! That was just my experience. There are so many ways to bring a baby into this world, and so many ways that can be painful. So now when I sit in the doctors office and they have to do a little procedure and they say, this may hurt – I saw, “Nah! I’m good!” And for that I am really grateful. Pain reminds us how strong we really are. Well let me say I am stronger than I ever thought I could be.
  8. Leaving parties early. Most of those who know me know that I am an introvert. I can appreciate a good outing, but I also love to go home, get in bed, and relax in my happy place. It can be hard to keep coming up with excuses for why you have to bounce early when you’re single or when you’re married and your husband is veeeeery extroverted. Now? “Sorry! Gotta get home to the kid! You know how it is…” Maybe you don’t know how it is, but I do! And I am happy to have an introvert pass for life!
  9. Small talk subject. Part of being an introvert for me is being not great at small talk. “Oh man, the weather lately eh?” “Oh yeah… totally.” That’s pretty much as far as I can get before I slowly back away. Now ask me about my kid and I can go on and on. Yes I am one of those people! And I don’t mind if it saves me from talking about the weather for 30 minutes.
  10. Permanent company. Now this is a love/hate thing from my perspective. Remember that introvert thing I was talking about? Loving my alone time? Yeah, some days I really look forward to nap time. But motherhood can also be really isolating. Going from working, even being on public transit, engaging in a city that’s so full of people to being in a baby bubble at home can be a tricky thing to navigate. I think these days I am trying to learn to embrace the balance of things that life offers to me. On those days where I feel lonely, I am so grateful for my best bud Charlotte, and soon she will be able to talk back to me and I won’t feel so odd about talking to a baby who says nothing (although that gets easier with practice, as do most things motherhood throws your way).

I hope this list provides some encouragement to you, especially if you are mom (new, experienced, about to be…). In writing this list, I was pleased in taking time to reflect on how this season has been for me. I know that I can forget to do this, especially in the daily grind of being a parent. What season of life are you walking through? Whether it be easy or hard, can you take some time to reflect on how it has been for you? I found that it was nice to reflect and think about the good things that have come from motherhood. It can be hard, yes. And it can be good. In doing this exercise, I didn’t want to let the hard things go. Pain is apart of life. I am learning that all emotions fall on a spectrum and it is okay to feel all the things you feel. Let us learn to hold both good and hard lightly and learn as we go. That’s what I will be practicing this week. Hope you join me.

Peace to you.

Charlotte, wearing a reminder to me of all that I am as a Mother.