Andrea Lynn

Little Kids, Big Summer

Andrea Lynn's kidsSummer beckons, and it feels like we are making the great leap this year from the familiar to the unknown. Claire’s leaving kindergarten behind and heading to Grade 1 in September, and Anna is leaving preschool and heading for kindergarten. The summer represents the gulf between the old and the new, the last vestige of Little Kid Land before they are in school every day all day for, oh, the rest of their lives.

I suppose I’m nostalgic, but right now it feels great. Leaving the daycare (and the fees, oh the fees!) behind. Good-bye to the arcane rules of preschool, the push-pull of teachers who reject last season’s sunscreen and Anna’s favourite crocs, who dictate which cupcakes are acceptable and what toys are not allowed at Show and Tell. I know one day I’ll look back with great fondness and nostalgia, but right now I’m ready for it all to be done. I’m eager to ease up a little on the very cautious approach to early childhood education and embrace the chaos that is elementary school. [Read More…]

Breakfast in Bed

breakfast in bedWeeks before Mother’s Day, it became clear that six-year-old Claire had absorbed the importance of the day and had big plans to check off every box a child could check to mark the occasion. Bags of artwork would come home from daycare and school, but I was not allowed to look — it’s a surprise, she’d say. Pockets were filled with pebbles one day and pine cones the next, but if I even asked about their purpose, I was met with a plea not to look, not to ask, not to wonder. It’s a surprise.

She fretted that her oven mitts were at school (for the class pizzeria — don’t even ask): how was she going to bake? She needed a recipe for chocolate cake, but I was not to inquire why. She needed to know how much something would cost, but she wouldn’t tell me what, or where, or how. [Read More…]

Easter on Bikes

Easter-Bunny-Bicycle-DeliveryUnlike Christmas, I’ve yet to really formally lay claim to our family traditions for Easter. So far, they’ve changed every year. Some years we travel to my parents’ house — about 6 hours away by car. We still dye eggs and hunt for candy, but my parents are not religious so there is no church.

Some years we stay home, and do a neighbourhood egg hunt, plus a hunt for chocolate on Easter morning at home, PLUS a hunt for chocolate at church on Easter morning.

I haven’t even quite managed to figure out who brings the eggs and candy and Easter basket filled with chocolate and books, new swim goggles, a fairy wand, and a plush bunny. I think the Easter Bunny brings the chocolate eggs around the house, and a hollow chocolate bunny, just as he did for me when I was a child. But I give the basket with the books and other little trinkets. No big toys — this is not going to be a second Christmas. [Read More…]

The Next Stage

schoolI just registered my youngest for kindergarten, and I’m almost positive that means life is getting easier. If nothing else, I’m counting on lower daycare costs, but people insist I’ll soon be spending that money on ukelele lessons, lunchboxes and gym clothes. We’ll have to see.

Having both my girls in full-time, full-day elementary school come September means I’m no longer in charge of the educational aspect of their lives. I’ve turned that all over to the school. Now, when they ask questions, I can refer them back to their teachers. I can also stop feeling guilty about not doing educational things with them, like “Sight Words Bingo” and “Zingo Math,” which we really only got around to once and afterwards just felt guilty about the neglected box sitting on our games shelf.

Now the guilt can rest; someone else can teach my girls math. My job can be reduced to food preparation, laundry, and refereeing fights over whose turn it is to choose the DVD. I have to say, I’m ready for a reduced role around here. Elementary school, I give you my children. [Read More…]

Doing a Little Less, Imperfectly, At Midlife

My friend’s mother just had a heart attack. A small one, and she’s recovering well. But besides the shock and concern my friend has for her mother, she’s lost her mother’s help with her two children, and her life has quickly become that much harder.

Like me, my friend is a Single Mother by Choice, having arrived late to motherhood without a partner. She had two children using an anonymous donor, and her parents have been supportive in both emotional and practical ways. Until the heart attack, her mother drove her children to many after school and weekend activities, enjoying the time with her grandchildren and helping close that gap all working parents feel between the end of the school day and the end of the work day two hours later. [Read More…]

Old Enough for Gratitude

gratitudeMy mother just dodged a cancer scare. My uncle is in the middle of one. My brother is having heart problems, and on Sunday I rushed my 2-year-old into the ER with an allergic reaction, that, thank God, resolved itself in a few hours without much medical intervention. So far, fingers crossed, everyone is fine. But it is that time of life when I’m feeling like we’re living on very shaky foundations, and no one should be taking anything for granted. [Read More…]

Motherhood, with Gratitude

I finally saw the NURTURE: Stories of New Midlife Mothers* photo exhibit. I’ve seen many of the photos on the website, of course, and knew about the project before I started blogging here. I consider the creator of this whole Midlife Mothering project an old friend, though I suppose it has only been a few years. But, seeing the photos in real life, and reading the stories of the mothers and their children in black and white, was different.

We read so much online now, it seems rare to be standing before a real photo, much larger than my computer screen, and reading the stories in person, as others shuffled around me, sharing the exhibit space in downtown Toronto. [Read More…]

The Childcare Dilemma

childcareThe one clear benefit of being late to motherhood is that many of my friends have older children, and I have a glimpse of the future.

This week is March Break here – the kids out of school and the parents on vacation or scrambling for childcare. The morning subway was emptier than usual all week so it was a bit of a surprise to run into a friend on the dawn run downtown. She was heading to the gym before work, I was on the early shift. And her two girls? Edging into their teens, they had March-break jobs – providing before-and-after care at a dance camp for kids. Instead of having to find someone – a camp, a babysitter, a grandparent, a neighbour – to watch her girls during the week’s break from school, my friend for the first time could just relax and go to work, unhassled by the relentless school calendar, with its PA Days and Snow Days, holiday and vacation weeks, early dismissals and shortened weeks. [Read More…]

South for the Winter – Or Just a Week…

floridaThe girls and I are just back from Florida, where my mom and dad live three months of the year. Nowhere else are so many generations from so many cultures on display than Florida in wintertime. Our flights were full of families heading south to see Grandma and Grandpa. A few adolescents traveling alone, plenty of babies and toddlers, and in one case three generations visiting the fourth – great-grandma – in West Palm Beach. Everywhere I looked there were bulky boat-like vehicles, often American-made, with out-of-state plates and drivers who fail to signal. [Read More…]

Best Wishes

birthdaycakeWe are decorating the house for the birthday party. With my two girls, I’ve done seven parties, and the formula is nearly the same every time. Balloons, blown up by me and tied and taped to the ceiling in bunches, no matter what house we’ve been in. Streamers from corner to corner. Then comes the cake. A different one every year. A butterfly banana cake for Claire’s first birthday, a safari diorama for her second, a pink strawberry for her third, a round (!) chocolate cake with pink roses for her fourth. [Read More…]

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