Monday, June 18, 2018

Happy Father's Day To My Deadbeat Dad




Thank you for being selfish.
It has shown me the importance of a generous spirit.

Thank you for teaching me about rejection.
I have learned that my worth is not determined by other people.

Thank you for showing me the hurt that comes from abandonment.
It has taught me the value of loyalty and fostered a spirit of empathy to care for others who hurt.

Thank you for displaying the ugliness of arrogance.
I now see the beauty in selflessness.

Thank you for your demonstration of betrayal. 
It has helped me to be discerning and recognize that trust is to be earned.

Thank you for struggle and hardship.
I now have great endurance and comprehend the resiliency of the human heart.

Thank you for being a coward.
It has encouraged me to always do the right thing even if it's terrifying.

Thank you for being a bad father.
It has shown me the immeasurable value and strength of a good mother.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

An Excerpt From My Mother's Memoir: Boot Camp



I would like to share an excerpt from my mother's memoir. She has always been a story teller and has recently taken to writing her own life story. 

As a single parent with little education she had to struggle and endure many hardships in life. In an effort to bring us out of poverty she made an extremely bold and selfless decision; 
she enlisted in the Canadian Forces Army.

At the time, I was 12 years old and had very little understanding of the sacrifices and challenges we would come to endure as a family. As I write this I am currently the mother of a toddler and 8 months pregnant with our second child, and her words inspire and ignite a new spirit of gratitude with in me. 

Mom, thank you for all you've done for our family, and for your country.


Boot Camp

"l was already sweating profusely and very uncomfortable when l got off the bus. It was a hot, suffocating August day in 1992. 
Dressed in a long sleeve white, cotton blouse, black pants and the most unsuitable dress shoes for walking, l began the awkward hike up a steep hill to the guard house at CFB Cornwallis in Nova Scotia. After identifying myself to the officer on duty, he called for the appropriate personal to escort me to the barracks. Unknown to me at that particular time the base was getting ready to be closed within the year and there were no platoons training. That day of my arrival the camp stood in solemn silence.

l had to wait for some time so l looked out over the base at the numerous old H-buildings built in 1942. The deteriorated wooden barracks sat in peaceful tranquility that ruminated of a time long ago. I imagined back in the 1940‘s when you could smell the recent cut timber of the newly built constructions mingling with the odour of fresh paint. Clamorous noises of sergeants yelling orders and the pounding thump of marching platoons. The passionate recruits filled with fear and excitement, training to fight to their inconceivable death, serving their country in World War II. 

Such was the purity of their hearts, unaware of the horror of war and the ultimate price that they would pay in order to defeat the horrific Nazi’s.  If they lived there would be a deeper sacrifice, the loss of innocence and the loss of the person they once were. They would suffer beyond imagination and be changed forever. I can’t imagine the horror of having to kill my fellow human brothers and sisters. I can’t imagine living with the guilt and regret always trying to believe that it was a necessary evil.

As l reflected on the past in the hushed quietness of the camp my present day snapped back as a military vehicle pulled up beside me. From the driver’s seat the Master Corporal sat staring at me with a scowl on his face. 

I said, “Hi!”
The Master Corporal said is a gruff voice, “Do not speak until spoken to. Are you Private Boutilier?”
I gave a sharp confident, “Yes”.
He barked back at me, “Yes, Master Corporal.” Emphasizing the Master Corporal and that l was to address him as such.
I raised my voice a little, “Yes, Master Corporal.” 

I figured the message was pretty clear, I’m in the army now. No more polite, ‘How do you do?’. It was straight to the boot camp. I was now a recruit in the army, and all the pleasantries of civilian life flew out the window. Time to cast off the polite sensibilities of civilian society and assume the tough, hard core military association.

At that time in the 1990’s the military environment was still struggling to overcome gender, age and ethnic prejudices. When I entered the armed forces I had three strikes against me: female, thirty-five years of age, indigenous heritage.

You may ask, why was l doing this? Why would l put myself through all this? My answer is that l was a single parent and this was a chance at a better life for me and my twelve-year-old daughter. I was willing to face combat training with a ‘do or die’ attitude. They’d have to kick me out or fail me because I wasn’t quitting, no matter what! I was determined to give it my all. I had to leave my daughter behind with my sister, which was heartbreaking, but this was an opportunity of a lifetime. 

The first week of training we were still wearing our civilian clothing. My white cotton blouse turned yellow with sweat stains and had chaffed my arm pit’s raw. Finally we received our proper military attire.

I remember one time we were out on a very long run, my body ached all over and my lungs felt like they were going to collapse. I was in pain, panting hard, trying to catch my breath and l thought for sure l was going to pass out.

The master corporal, a large, fit man, ran up along-side of me with a sneer on his face yelling, “HEY! YOU! Do you want to quit? Come on, you know you want to quit. Look at you, you’re the slowest moving slug l ever saw, my five-year-old son could run faster than you! You’re pathetic! You don‘t belong here!” I glanced at him with a frown knowing full well he was trying to push my buttons and see if l would give up. Supposedly this was a method to weed out the weak and feeble. Also the military believe that yelling and using deprecating language was an efficient way to teach recruits to deal with stress and not complain. I had already learned that from my mother, thank you very much.

I entered boot camp wearing a white blouse, black pants with dress shoes and left donning a camouflaged Canadian armed forces uniform and combat boots. All the training and all the soul searching had brought me to another place in my mind. I learned so much more than l had imagined. Joining the military meant signing away a big part of my individual freedoms but, in turn, l had joined the company of all those self sacrificing people that had stood and are today standing on guard for our country, for us, Canada."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Contrary To Popular Belief: Being A Stay-At-Home Mom Is Not A Vacation





There are a lot of opinions and misconceptions about what being stay-at-home parent is all about. Surprisingly, some individuals see it as a sort of glamorous vacation filled with constant shopping sprees, Starbucks lattes, pajamas and pedicures. Others see it as being a lazy, noncontributing member of society. 

Seriously people???

I am currently a stay at home mother of a 2.5 year old and (because life wasn't interesting enough) I'm also 33 weeks pregnant.  
Is my life a non-stop holiday? I can safely answer, "No."


Before becoming a mother I worked as a nurse for many years in various areas of Health Care (i.e. Geriatrics, Psychiatric Health, Medical/Surgical Care, Neurology, Transport Nursing, Complex Care) and had recently completed my certification in advanced foot care.  Throughout high school and my years studying in college and university I have worked many odd jobs to pay the bills.  Everything from casual, part time, full time, over time, day shifts, night shifts, minimum wage, less than minimum wage and at one point (when I was a full time university student), I had 3 part time jobs.  I've had so many different jobs it's a bit crazy: fast food cashier/drive thru attendant, waitress, educator assistant, car sales person, bar tender, tanning salon laundry attendant/tanning bed wiper, actress, grocery store cashier, personal support worker, health educator and stock checker. 

Soooo... speaking from a little bit of worldly, life experience I can honestly say that being a stay at home mom is the most challenging, exhausting, all-encompassing, mentally/emotionally/physically draining job I've ever had. (Not to mention the most fulfilling, wonderful, meaningful, joyous one too!)  :D 




That's why it really burns my biscuits when I hear super ignorant comments from people who obviously don't have the first sweet clue about what it means to raise humans.

"What do you do to keep busy all day?"

"It must be great to stay at home all day in your pajamas!"

"I could never stay at home with my kids... my job gives me a sense of purpose in life."

"Owning dogs is harder than raising children." 

"You are so lucky you don't have to work."

"You're at home all day so you should have time to _______ (insert random activity that you have no time for)." 


Give me a break!

Here's a newsflash... If you think that being a stay-at-home parent is some sort of lazy holiday then you've obviously never done it before OR you've just done a crappy job of it.

In a 2011 article by Forbes magazine the value of a stay-at-home mother was estimated at around $115,000 per year (most of that coming from overtime). The researchers also calculated that these moms worked, on average, a 100 hour work week (I knew I felt tired for a reason). Most of their pay came from working overtime hours. 


Just in case you were wondering what a stay-at-home parent does all day...  I'll tell you!

-Make meals and snacks, pack snacks for outings
-play with my child (toys, building blocks, musical instruments, hide and seek), dance, sing
-supervise independent play (which never lasts very long lol)
-go on outings to the park or play groups
-(if it's winter) spend 20 mins getting my kid into her snow gear
-walk the dogs
-read stories, go over the alphabet, word recognition, practice counting
-color, paint, make crafts, bake together
-visit with family
-constant general hygiene: face/hand washing, clothing/diaper changes
-potty training currently
-going to random appointments (doctor, midwife, dentist, vet clinic)
-picking up groceries when needed/running errands
-explain/teach things, talk to my child about her emotions, encourage positive behaviors/discourage negative ones, help her identify how she's feeling, encourage helpful coping mechanisms 
-settle/cuddle for naps/bedtime
-pick up toys (which is getting harder by the day lol), encourage my child to help pick up toys (which actually takes longer than just picking them up myself)
-package up left over food
-general house cleaning/tidying up
-bath in the evening before bed





Let's compare my typical stay-at-home mom "work day" with the average person's work day (8 or 12 hour shift). I'm usually up at 6 am with our daughter when she wakes up, and she normally doesn't go to bed until 9 pm.  That adds up to a 15 hour work day. My daughter normally naps 1-1.5 hours every afternoon, which gives me a break (I always try to lay down and rest when she naps... the dirty dishes can wait! lol).  Once she goes to bed I'm not technically done my "shift".  Bedtime is when I start my overnight "ON CALL" duty!  

My husband works alternating 12 hr Day and Night shifts, so there are sometimes long stretches where I'm 'flying solo' as a parent while he's either working or sleeping. Although the demands can be overwhelming at times, I am very blessed with help.  When my husband isn't working he is very helpful with our daughter and house hold chores/errands.  He's a very supportive, hands-on-father and can do everything I do to care for our child.  My mother also lives nearby and is a constant source of support for our family.  
I consider myself very fortunate! 





When it comes to time for myself, it's limited (as it should be... I'm a mom right? lol).  I have moments of down time here and there where I can check my Facebook or email, but I have no designated "coffee" or "lunch" break.  I have to take the moments as they come to sit, rest, eat, and use the bathroom. It's like an endurance run, I have to pace myself. 

Don't get me wrong though, I have my "lazy mom" moments too.  My daughter only sleeps through the night 50% of the time, so there are many mornings where I'm really exhausted.  Sometimes I just plunk my kid down on the couch and let her watch 'Ready Steady Wiggle' for longer than she should while I drink strong coffee and wish I were laying on a beach somewhere. You can't be 'Mom of the Year' everyday! lol






Another aspect that makes stay-at-home parenting so difficult is the isolation.  You're by yourself most of the time and 'adult' interaction is rare.  I don't think I realized how much of my 'social life' was actually based around my career.  Since leaving my position at the local hospital, I've pretty much lost contact with most of my co-worker 'friends'.  There are no after work 'get-together's' anymore, no Christmas parties; and when I do meet up with my old co-workers, I am so out of the loop that I can't really keep up with the conversation.  It's not like there's zero social life for me now, but I definitely have to make more of an effort to get that time in with friends.

Raising kids at home isn't for everyone.  For our family, it was a decision my husband and I made together based on two major factors: 

#1. Finances. We are able to live comfortably on one income. (Sure it means we do without some extra luxuries, but luckily, we're not really into mass consumerism and accumulating "stuff" anyway.)

And

#2. I really want to take care of my own children and have this precious time with them.



Being a full time, stay-at-home mom isn't some sort of holiday filled with endless amounts of free time and facials.  Let's not devalue one of the most important and valuable jobs a parent can undertake.


Cheers!
Bootsy

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Can We Stop Over Praising Dads For Just Being Decent Parents?



Whenever I hear a woman start bragging about what a great dad her husband is, I inevitably brace myself for all of the stupid things that are about to come out of her mouth.


Here are some of the reasons why men are getting the prestigious title of  #bestdadever:

"Whenever I need him to watch the kids he never complains."

"He doesn't mind helping out with changing diapers."

"My hubby takes one night time feed with the baby so that I can get an extra hour or two of sleep. He's one in a million!"

"(insert random douche bag male name) is such a great dad! Just yesterday he put a ponytail in (insert random silly girl name)'s hair!"

Come on people!!!  It's not like these guys just discovered the cure for cancer. If women are truly seeking gender equality these days we need to stop praising fathers for doing the everyday, mundane tasks that moms do all the time.






Can you imagine how absurd it would sound if we bragged about mothers in the same way?

"She's such a great mom... she dressed the kids for school this morning!"

"Every night after I bath the kids and get them ready for bed, my wife comes in and gives each one of them a hug and a kiss goodnight! It just melts my heart!"

"My wife is such a champ... she'll actually change poopy diapers!"

"The other day, my wife came home from work and took the kids out to the park for an hour just so that I could finish doing the laundry! She's a real doll!"


It sounds ridiculous! We'd all be secretly thinking that this woman sounds like an awful mother.






So, why is it that when a father is seen holding his baby he gets revered like a superhero?  

Well, I'll tell you.

Men get overly flattered for basic parenting tasks because there is a huge underlying fear that the father of your children won't stick around (and it's not without good reason!).  Since the mid 1970's, there has been a staggering incline of single mothers in Canada (Stats Canada); and 'Dead Beat Dads' are so common place nowadays that you could literally throw a dart out your window and hit one. 

The vast majority of today's single parents are made up of women.  So if your baby daddy is actually present in your everyday life, as a mom, you sort of (secretly) consider yourself "lucky".  I know I do.

Obviously it's great to get credibility for being just a plain ole, decent parent.  I love hearing compliments about being a good mother, even if it's just for doing the everyday basics like keeping my kid alive and not going crazy.  

But when it comes to the constant, gratuitous adoration that fathers receive for doing routine, parenting chores... I have a problem.





The only thing worse than a woman bragging about what a great dad her husband is, is a man bragging about what a great dad HE is.  

I see this type of self-adulation mostly in form of "selfies" on Instagram or Facebook.  Imagine this: a selfie of a dad with his baby. His morning coffee mug says "Best Dad Ever".  The bags under his eyes are black. The baby he is holding has a bottle of milk.  The dad has the proud yet tired smile of a Greek God who has just won a great battle that lasted a 1000 years.  The caption says, "It was a really rough night, but I'm so lucky to have this daddy-daughter time with my little baby so that my wife can have her 'Mommy Time' #dadsofinstagram #bestdadever #guilttrip #imadouchebag "

Excuse me for a minute while I 'eye-roll' myself into a full blown seizure.

The only thing worse than a dad bragging about what a great dad he is, is all the people who leave comments, feeding the fire, saying, "Oh my goodness, you're such a great dad!!"  Does anyone care that the mother of the baby has a rough night with this kid... EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. ????

No.





Don't get me wrong... this isn't male bashing. This is about giving credit where credit is due and  reserving excessive praise for things that are truly worthy of it.  My husband is a great father to our child, but my reasons for saying that aren't just because he takes part in normal, parenting duties.  He's a great dad for all of the same reasons I think he's a great husband and person.  He's kind, generous, hard-working, funny, patient, respectful, fair and sometimes he laughs at my jokes.

It's great to build up our partners with compliments and appreciation, all I'm saying is, let's just keep it equal between moms and dads. :)

Cheers!
Bootsy


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Top Ten Women's Costumes for 2017: Congratulations 'Halloween' on Throat-Punching Feminism



Just when you're starting to think that the Feminist Movement is really starting to make some huge strides in the world... Halloween rolls around!


Here's a quick Top Ten List of some of the most popular Halloween costumes that make me embarrassed to be a WOMAN!




Number 10!

Slutty NURSE!






Number 9!


Slutty COP!






Number 8!

Slutty NUN!





Number 7!

Slutty PUMPKIN!






Number 6!

Slutty KILLER DOLL!





Number 5!

Slutty DISNEY PRINCESS!






Number 4!

Slutty VIKING!






Number 3!

Slutty NATIVE AMERICAN!





Number 2!

Slutty MERMAID!





AND....


Number 1 is....



The entire SLUTTY cast of STAR WARS!!





Happy Halloween!
Bootsy

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Divorced at 25: My "Starter Marriage" Story





On a cold, crisp Winter's evening, many moons ago, I married the wrong person.


Of course, I didn't know it was the wrong person at the time.  In that moment, I was marrying my true Love.  My soul mate.  My best friend.  If there were any red flags waving violently in my face, then I was kindly looking the other way.

A part of me didn't want to see the reasons why it was a bad idea.  I wanted my feelings of love and devotion to prevail and conquer over all of my silent, inner hesitations and the naysayers that surrounded me.

On the outside, my husband seemed like a really great guy.  He had a very well respected career working for the government; he was handsome and strong.  He was really positive and optimistic about life. Every day he told me he loved me with a sweet kiss, and warm embrace.  There were even times he cried at sappy, Hallmark commercials and I would just melt inside because I was so touched by his huge, caring heart. 
(WARNING: Here comes the big 'but'.)


BUT...


Perhaps, the first big red flag was that none of my family or friends really liked him.

These people knew me the best, truly loved me and cared for me the most, so was it possible that they could see something that I didn't???  In my mind, they just wouldn't take the time to look at all of the 'hidden' good in this person... they couldn't see all the potential.  The diamond in the rough.

My friends and family just didn't "get" him.  They didn't understand all the reasons why my partner was complicated.  He came from an abusive childhood.  He had bad relationships in the past. He had trust issues.  He had anger issues. BUT, as I saw it, he had all valid reasons for being so.

He was just... misunderstood.  And I was determined that was going to be the one who accepted and loved him despite it all.  Love means suffering right?



Second Red Flag:  My husband had a temper.

Back in those days, I would simply chalk it up to him being a 'passionate person'.  If he was mad at me it was usually my fault because of something I did that made him feel that way.
"I wouldn't be so mad if you weren't driving me crazy!", "You're the one making me like this!"

Any bad behavior on his part always had a valid reason.  My ex-husband was the King of Excuses. He was always the victim of something and felt very entitled to his reclusive, yet explosive conduct.



Third Red Flag:   Were there ever times he was abusive towards me?

Yes.




At the time I told myself that he was 'working through' his issues.  If I had backed out of the relationship I would just be another person in his life 'abandoning' him.  And the word 'abusive' is subjective, right???  It's not like he was Ike Turner or anything... just little stuff.

He slapped me once.  But it was my arm.

One time he picked up a chair and threw it.  When he was angry he would typically bang objects around and throw stuff.  That's not abuse.

He charged at me once to psych me out, running towards me as if he were going to pound me.
But, he didn't.

That's not abuse... right???



Forth Red Flag:    I think his favorite thing to do was name call.

My husband loved calling me a 'cry baby'.  I did cry a lot though... so, maybe the name was a good fit.  The more I'd cry the more angry he would get.

"You're just doing that on purpose to make me feel guilty", is what he would say.  As if I could just cry on demand.

Calling my Mother for help and support was almost a daily routine, to which my loving partner would say, "Go cry to your Mom... maybe she'll feel sorry for you."  

I was made to believe that seeking advice and love from anyone but him, was somehow a betrayal.
If I was going to cry and be 'hysterical', I was expected to do it alone.



I'll just sum up 'Red Flags #5 - 10' real quick and dirty here: 

Cheater, drug addict, smoker, high-school drop out, lying gambler.
(Man.. I really know how to pick'em!)




As I write this, edit, re-read and continue to write, I find that I am overwhelmed with an overall feeling of sadness and embarrassment. 

But mostly, embarrassment.


What happened???  I was always a very strong, independent and confident young woman.  In my group of friends, I was known as the level headed, straight-shooter, tough as bricks, sassy girl.  I was always calling bullsh*t on other people's relationships and giving advice to my girlfriends when THEY were dating total douche-bags.

I had my act together.

So, how did I end up being the one in such an unhealthy relationship? (and eventually marriage). How could it be ME that fell victim to this kind of abuse?

The answer is...

I don't know.

My Father took off when my Mother was still pregnant with me... surely, that could be a reason... abandonment/self worth issues???  But then again, I've met lots of women who had a "Daddy-stick-around", and they still end up with a total loser.


I honestly don't know why it happened to me.

But, what I DO KNOW is that by sharing my story, maybe, I can help someone else out there.


Maybe there is a person out there reading this who can identify with my experience and perhaps... hopefully... see something I didn't see.  Make better choices than I made.  Or maybe just feel that they're not alone in what they're going through.





{WARNING: ANGRY VENT APPROACHING!}

Sometimes I wish I had the Delorean from the movie 'Back to the Future' so I could go back in time (with a baseball bat) to some random, awful life moment with my prick ex-husband, and teach him a lesson.

Maybe... let's see... go back to February 29th, 2004.  The night of the 76th Academy Awards (my most favorite show of the year!  Especially the red carpet interviews!) 

With my darling hubby no where in sight (probably at the gym in his "too tight-look at my nipples-aren't I built AF" t-shirt, or downstairs snorting cocaine in the basement).  I had made an evening of the occasion!  I made myself a 100 cal bag of microwave popcorn, a hot cup of cocoa (made from scratch!), had the TV set on the right channel and excitedly awaited the Red Carpet event to start. 

Well... guess who shows up, out of no where, demanding to watch his, 'all of a sudden', favorite TV show 'The Simpson's'?? You guessed it...  Mr. Husband of the Year!

Long story short, I tried to be fair and rationalize with his completely irrational temper, and I didn't go down with out a fight.  But he made me suffer for it. 

It was such a stupid argument to begin with... but man, did he ever cut me up into a thousand little pieces about it.  How "selfish" I was... how "silly" I was... how "inconsiderate" of me. 

He lost his temper, and I (naturally) cried my little heart out and tried to plead with him.  In the end, I gave in.  I tried to let him watch his show but, by then he was too hurt and refused.  He proceeded to banish himself to the bedroom and refused to talk to me for the remainder of the night.

My popcorn went stale. My hot cocoa became cold.  And I didn't watch my favorite show that night.  Instead, I just cried by myself. 


It makes me so angry to recall these moments. 

I just want to go back in time, stand beside the 'old me' who's crumpled up lying on the floor crying, while he's yelling at me, and finally meet him on a level playing field. "Mono e mono".
Where we could finally have a fair 'go at it'; equally not giving a sh*t about the other one.

I'd sort him out fast.

What a look of shock there would have been on his face too, if I had stood up for myself and dished out what he deserved.



Alas, (deep breath)

I choose to believe all these things have happened for a reason.  I am a wiser, better person now. (I hope!)


Ultimately, my hope is to encourage and inspire others who may be in the same situation, to examine their relationships.  Listen to your gut.  Or as I like to say to myself, "What would Oprah do?"





We were married just over 3 years when my husband came home one day, and completely blindsided me with what he said.
 (Stay tuned for Part 2!)


Cheers,
Bootsy

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The New Year's Resolution DELUSION



There's nothing quite like a million Facebook posts about New Year's Resolutions to piss me off, just enough, to get me out of my 'blog writing coma'.

So here it is...

**Disclaimer: This blog opinion is not a popular one. Chances are if you're a 'normal person' reading this, you subscribe to the said 'normal person belief' that one must make resolutions at New Years in order to be a 'better person'. HOWEVER, it has been my experience that if 'everyone else is doing it', then you probably SHOULDN'T 
(given that the average person typically doesn't have their shit together and therefore, most likely, doesn't have the first sweet clue HOW to get their shit together  {let alone give YOU advice on how to get YOUR shit together}. Did I say 'shit' too many times?
ALSO, if resolutions actually worked people wouldn't have to make the same ones year after year. Just sayin)**


Soooooo, needless to say... but I'll say it anyway...

It really annoys me when people think that the first day of a new year is the most important time of the year to make healthy life changes.




Just because the calendar turns another page, the transgressions and mistakes you've made over the past year are not magically whooshed away like some sort of Cinderella spell disintegrating at the stroke of midnight. 

Personal redemption and opportunity aren't suddenly available just because you managed to live another consecutive stretch of 365 days.  People say that New Years day is a blank page in a new book, and the pen is in your hands, waiting for you to make a fresh, new start. That's bollocks.
Every moment, every passing decision, and every day is another chance for you to get things right.

If your ability to have a modicum of self control over your finances, diet, exercise or being nice, ONLY comes around once a year... then I hate to break it to you, but that's just not going to cut it.

I'm not here to discourage anyone but to remind you that there is HOPE for change in EVERY MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE. Every day is a new day that you are alive and capable. You don't have to wait till January 1st to live a better life. 

Cheers,
Bootsy