Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Son and Husband are in our living room. I’m just across from them, in our kitchen. Son holds a wooden green onion in one hand, Husband holds a stone obelisk. They are grinning at each other. Son shouts, “one, two, three, ready!”. They both turn to me, point the onion and the obelisk and shout, “Shazam!”. I laugh. A big laugh, a hearty laugh, and bounce up and down.

You see, a while ago, Son had a tantrum and he was feeling so sad. Son has big feelings and they linger a long time. He didn’t know how to feel better again, so I told him I had a magic wand that would make him feel happy. I took a stone obelisk off our mantle, pointed it at him and shouted, “Shazam!”. It perked him up a bit, then he immediately wanted to try it out too. I hadn’t thought of this. The stone was too heavy for him, so I told him the wooden green onion in his kitchen was magic too. He tried it on Husband first, then me, and we did our best to become instantly happy when he shouted, “Shazam!”. From that day on, Son used it on us more than we ever used it on him. Today is the first time both Son and Husband joined forces to magic me happy. Two magicians in shorts. The funny thing is, it actually works.

Photo: Sara Kate Gillingham

A day of sunshine, bacon and egg breakfast (made by Husband), and popsicles. We made the popsicles yesterday and Son had to wait until his snack-time today – about 24 whole hours – to finally eat one. He went to bed talking about popsicles, he woke up talking about popsicles, I’m sure he dreamed about them. (I actually did, a consequence of all the recipes I’d been reading.) Son’s Long Wait reminded me how slowly time seems to move when we’re young. (“Is it snack time, now, Mama?”) I felt such sympathy for him – I know today felt like an eternity for him, while it felt like ten minutes for me.

I didn’t actually get to see him take his first bites, I was napping, gloriously with Daughter, but his excitement met me on my way down the stairs, “Look Mama! Popsicles!” His arm waving a mostly empty stick, with a bit of watermelon red still clinging to it. “Want a lick?”

Oh, what joy to be four and eat your first popsicle. Oh what a gift to be a popsicle-bestowing Mama on a hot summer’s day.

Anyone else eat a popsicle today?

In Her Eyes

Daughter is lying on her changing pad, looking out the window. This is one of her favourite spots. She can happily spend thirty minutes here sometimes; just gazing. 

I kiss her cheek, then lay mine on hers so that I’m looking in the same direction she is. I feel the softness of her cheek on mine, while I see the world from her perspective. The startling blue of the sky contrasting with the vivid green of the leaves. And the sun shining through it all, painting shadows on the blinds. 

I hold my breath for a second, wanting to hold on to the beauty of it all. The surprising beauty of an ordinary day.

What are you grateful for today?


Daughter is on the examining table in Dr. K’s tiny office. She is naked except for her diaper, and is lounging like a baby Buddha. She is serene, watching Dr. K. intently. We have just weighed Daughter, and now Doctor K. is checking her hips for flexibility. Her hands are gentle. Finished the check, Dr. K. lets go of Daughter’s legs and says, “what a grace it would be if at the end of life, we could be as relaxed and trusting as we are in the beginning”. 

I look at Dr. K., into the sparkling, youthful green eyes that contrast with her long, greying hair. I wonder how she feels about getting older. A lot of her patients are probably closer to the ends of their lives than the beginning. We always need doctors more towards the end. She must see them struggle and fight, as I have seen older family members do. I think about how different it would have been for them if they had been able to go through it as serenely as Daughter. Such serenity at the end of life has never seemed like a possibility. “Getting old is not for sissies”, an uncle once told me. 

I think of myself, now in the middle of life and wonder what my walk to the end will look like. I hope I’m able to remember Dr. K.’s bit of wisdom.

Berry Picking Angel

Opa (my dad) is coming for a visit, so I tell Son we need to pick Saskatoons for Opa. I mostly just want to get him out for a walk, but I know if he has a purpose like this, he will be more willing. And I saw a couple days ago that the Saskatoons are looking ripe and perfect, and I can’t resist.

We’re at a bush and we’ve started picking berries, but not too many because they are quite high up and hard to reach. Plus Daughter is sleeping in the carrier, which makes it doubly hard. We are about to move to a second bush, farther down the path, when Son turns and sees an older Chinese man walking towards us. Son thinks it’s one of our neighbors, who is always very friendly, so he opens his arms wide and says, “Hi!”, to the man. It’s not our neighbor, but the man is delighted with Son’s greeting. He sees what we’re doing and asks us (with hand gestures because he doesn’t speak English) if the berries are ok to eat. I nod, yes. He points down the path, indicating that there’s another bush there too. I nod and say, “yes, there are more there too.” Then the man walks to the bush, grabs a branch, bends it down efficiently, and picks berries like a pro. Where I pick and choose the berries, one by one, he pulls them off in bunches, then drops them into my bucket. He keeps picking them, so Son and I join in. He has clearly decided to help us get as many berries as we can, so he keeps picking and we keep helping. We communicate simply with hand gestures, each speaking in our own language or we rest in comfortable silence. Once we’ve decided we’re finished with one bush, he rushes us to the next one. The berries here are fat and juicy. He says points to them and says what I imagine to be something like, “look at these beautiful berries. There are so many of them!” And I nod and say, “yes, so many!” Other Chinese people come walking by. He chats with them, explains what we’re doing. Those that speak some English ask about the berries. Son explains it all to them. He loves explaining. Suddenly, an ordinary morning of picking berries in the woods has turned into a party.

Eventually the passerby go on their way. We pick some more until Son and I have filled one small bucket and half of a large one. We thank him profusely, then walk together until it’s time to part ways.

Isn’t it amazing what can happen when we greet each other with kindness? 

What was the best moment of your weekend?


The ground was damp from rain when Son, Daughter and I went for a walk, so Son found a snail. He walked with it for a while, then said, “Mama, can we take it home?”.

Snails were my first pets, and they’ve held a special place in my heart ever since. I said, “ok.”

Now we are home and Son has two snails in his hands. I put Daughter in her bouncy chair, then rush to find a jar for the snails. We put them in, add some leaves for food, then I find a lid. It needs holes, though. 

The snails start climbing out of the jar, so I put a small, metal strainer on the top, hoping it’ll hold them for now. Then I find a lid and start punching holes in it with a hammer and nail. Son watches the snails for a while, then watches me.

I put the finished lid on the jar. Success. Then I look inside the jar to see one snail, not two. I open the jar, move the leaves around. Definitely only one snail.

“Son, there’s only one snail in here, have you seen the other one?” I ask, carefully.

“No”, says Son, “where is it?”. His voice trembles.

Husband, who is not wild about this project, enters the room. “What’s going on?”, he says. “Let me know if you see a snail”, I say.

I look around for the snail. It can’t have gone far, but I also don’t see it anywhere. I look around the jar, on the floor of the kitchen, under the fridge. No snail.

I decide to scan the countertop. I’m thirsty. I reach for my water bottle, then stop. The snail is perched on the sport-cap, stretching out of its shell, reaching up to me.

“Here it is!”, I say. We all laugh, and I gently return the snail to its jar, where I hope it will stay until we release them both back into the wild on Monday.


Almost at the park. On a gravel path now, feeling cool air on the sweaty skin I got pushing the stroller mostly uphill. 

The land at the edge of the path turns sharply down into a ravine here. From where I stand, I can’t see the bottom of the ravine, only the tops of the trees growing below us. 

Son is chugging along the path, pretending to be a train, stirring up dust in his wake. The afternoon light sifted through the trees is golden and the dust in the air gives a sense of magic. 

I see a butterfly, floating through the fairy dust in the air. It’s soaring. I’ve never seen a butterfly soar before. It flutters a bit, here and there, but seems to be more eagle than butterfly. 

I breathe in the moment, the light, the joy of the butterfly, then carry on.


Daughter is finally, finally tucked in her crib, her little arms spread wide, in abandon. My bed draws me to it, and I go, like a paper-clip to a magnet.

I’ll just sit here for a few minutes, I tell myself. Just to make sure Daughter is really sleeping. It’s for her sake that I sit on the bed. And it’s for her sake that I also put my head on the pillow, so I don’t make too much noise.

The bed holds me with the strength and softness of a parent carrying a sleepy child. I close my eyes, just for a second, just to pass the time, I tell myself. 

I drift happily on down clouds while the world seems to spin around me, then fall away.


Son is into Space. Ever since he got a Magic School Bus book on it. The book captured his imagination and now he wants to go to space, and see the stars. We tell him that going to space isn’t a possibility for him yet. Sadly, neither is seeing the stars since he goes to bed before the sun these days. Also, we live in a bright city that is cloudy more often than not. We decided that the planetarium would be the closest he could get to either dream for now.

Here we are at the planetarium. Son is so excited. He can’t wait to see all there is. He bolts ahead of me, Daughter, and Grandma who is with us. I catch up to him and explain that he has to stay with us. Eventually he nods. Grandma finds us and he starts running. I call him back in one of my sterner parent voices. He slows his body, but is unable to contain his dancing feet, he’s so excited. So he kind of just runs on the spot until we get closer. I can see the enthusiasm jumping around in his body and I can see him trying so hard to slow himself down. Luckily, the planetarium is small, and there aren’t many people, so once we round a corner, he’s free to go as fast as he likes, pushing every button in sight.


We signed up for some parenting help, because parenting is confusing and challenging and bewildering sometimes. We’re lucky enough to live in a place where we could ask a lovely lady to come visit us, chat with us, and give us some help; for free.

We’re sitting, the lady, Husband and I, in our living room. I ask a question, and the lady tells me exactly what to say in a specific circumstance and how to say it. It’s a little thing, but it breaks open a dam and relief floods through my body, threatening to spill out as tears. Because you can read so many books and blogs and think you’re doing what they suggest but it doesn’t always work and you don’t know why and it’s all so general, never specific and here finally is an answer. Maybe, I hope. I can see how it’s different from what I’ve been doing. Firm and kind in all the best ways and I can finally see how we can do things better.

What’s the best moment of your day so far? What are you grateful for?