Some days, with a neuro-diverse kid, this is the scenario – you never know which one you’re going to get. This morning was very apparent we had Mr. Hyde here for a visit. And how did he come into being? Apparently the secret formula was a mix of about 1 litre of Root Beer and an entire sleeve of graham crackers at 5 am. Days like this are really tough.

It’s almost noon now and Sully is currently sleeping off his transformation into the “evil” Mr. Hyde. He was absolutely wild and erratic for this holiday Monday morning when all I wanted to do was sleep in. There were words – bad words, loud words, regrettable words. And then, silence.

Parenting a neuro-diverse kid is challenging on most days and on days like today, they’re downright exhausting. They make you question every decision you’ve ever made – am I giving him too much screen time, am I getting him enough exercise, am I giving him enough individual attention, am I giving him too much attention?? Every single day I wonder if I have made the right decision and the real shitty part is that I will never know if I’ve royally screwed up or not until it’s too late.

Her name was foreign

Upon the tip of my pen

Where once it had been fluid.

It wasn’t that I had forgotten her, but that I had forgotten to remember her.

His voice carries an authority,

An air of confidence spiced with pipe tobacco

These days life itself can be a little overwhelming and now, particularly at this time of year (I can’t believe I’m saying this), Christmas can be a little much. All the incessant cheerful music and sparkly decorations and gooey commercials can sometimes leave you feeling like you have been beaten over the head with a candy cane. So, to cleanse your palate of the sugar high let us take a glimpse into the not-so-sweet side of Christmas legends and lore.

We begin right here within Canada. Although we may not hold the same kind of ancient history as other parts of the world we can look back to our Nation’s roots and thank the Inuit for this first contribution of Christmas creepiness.

It is the eve of Old Christmas day in Labrador, January 6th. Nalujuk Night. It’s very cold and dark and the community gathers anxiously to await the arrival of The Nalujuk. A Nalujuk or many Nalujuit, arrive from the eastern coast on the sea ice carrying crude handmade weapons, are clad from head to toe in traditional furs and seal skin boots, and their faces are covered with masks made from animals skins, cloth, or more modernly – store bought masks. Through the town they chase the children, moving quickly and quietly on snow covered streets in their seal skin boots. Shrieks of terror, singing and laughter echo through the cold of the night as children, once caught by the Nalujuk, must sing a song to be freed  and are often given candy to quash the trauma .

Well that sounds like fun and not terrifying at all.

Singing is an integral part of our Christmas traditions. We have carollers and choirs belting out the same joyful tunes we know and love. Songs of peace, joy, and happiness. It is said music will calm even the savage beast but will it be enough to make a zombie horse leave your house? Next time we pop on over to Wales and see what the Welsh are up to – and *spoiler* it’s weird.

I woke up late to a confusing sound. My alarm radio was set but it’s usual music didn’t wake me, there was just a lot of talk. I was camping out on my sister’s living room floor as I waited for residence to open up at my first year experience at the University of Guelph. An impulsive and regretful decision brought on by the death of my father the previous year.

On the radio I heard words of disbelief and anger and confusion but no one was saying what actually happened. I was scared. I didn’t know what was going on and I couldn’t get anyone on the phone to explain it to me.

It was all over the news when I got to school. In the cafeteria I stood numb, crying unabashedly at the scenes that unfolded over and over again. The plane crashes, the fires, and the collapse of the towers that took my breath away. I was left hollow. I have never felt so alone and I was terrified.

I had a class that evening, philosophy, and I could not understand how everyone could continue on about their lives like this was no big deal. Sure, we were far enough away from the States, but this act of terrorism affected everyone. We should be talking about it. We should be crying about it. We should be acknowledging it. But no. This class didn’t matter. Not today. However, that feeling remained and I feel into a deep depression that semester. The only semester I would attend. It didn’t matter.

Still, the memories of 9/11 haunt me and I was never directly affected by the tragedy. I didn’t lose a family member or friend. But I do feel we all lost a little bit of innocence that day, and that is trauma.

If this year has taught me anything it has been humility. Time and time again I’ve been proven wrong. Wrong about what could happen. Wrong about the possibilities in my life. Wrong about my capabilities and wrong about my limitations. Everything I have thought to be true, etched in stone and unwaverable has been shown to be inaccurate.

If I could take away anything from this experience I’ll take away this – anything can happen. And that, that is both exciting and terrifying.

I have always hated the word “normal” and now this term has become ever more cringeworthy. In the news we are inundated with the turn of phrase “the new normal” and you cannot have a conversation without saying “when things get back to normal” in an effort to make future plans. But here’s the thing, normal was never and should never be the desired state of outcome for our lives. Normal is a sad excuse of maintaining a status quo, without making any trouble. Well look around, we finally got into trouble. Big trouble. And the beloved normal is to blame. Normal is lazy. Normal is boring and stagnant. Normal is devoid of creativity, progress, and evolution.

We need to move forward with the idea of being better, so let’s strive towards not getting back to normal life, but moving ahead to an exceptional everyday life. Throw away the outdated and dusty ideals associated with normal. We are better than that. We have to be.

Take this from someone who has spent the better part of the last month grasping for any minutiae of information regarding Covid-19 and I can tell you this, it doesn’t matter how much we read or listen to the news we, as a collective layman society, know nothing more about Covid-19 and can offer no new insights to the scientific experts and decision makers leading us through this pandemic. This is NOT the DaVinci Code that, only by watching ALL the news and Tweets and Facebook stories and Instagram posts, you’ll amazingly figure it all out. You, me, and my neighbour Walter are not going to solve the puzzle of this disease. Why, because we are irrelevant. Unless my buddy Walter here was an infectious disease expert but alas, he is not.

We have been told repeatedly the job we have to do and it’s quite simple – Stay home. When you absolutely have to go out, you keep at least 2 metres of distance between your own germ carrying vessel and others.

Any other time I would be tooting the horn of civil liberties for the populace but right now I’m with the government in releasing only “need to know” information. I don’t feel we’re owed all the transparency that’s being called for. Why? Because our collective working class opinion doesn’t matter right now. And, we have displayed that even with all the harrowing information out there about the disease and the simple rules to stay home, we still don’t listen. There are still people gathering in groups, hanging out at Walmart and the grocery stores. So no, I don’t think the government is obligated at all to release the projections they have been given to guide their decision making during this situation. If I thought it would solidify the degree of seriousness in those people that weren’t already abiding by the rules to stay at home then yes, by all means release the data. But I don’t think that. The same people who aren’t taking this seriously are going to take that information and look for loopholes, and the other spectrum of individuals are going to use that information as a means of placing the blame from here on out upon those that delivered that information. Because it is SO much easier to place blame, then take on the responsibility yourself. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly, the magnitude of impact the pandemic will have on our country and the lives of it’s citizens depends on YOU and YOUR BEHAVIOUR.

So, I’ll put this simply: I don’t care about your “need to know”. I don’t care if you think it is within your rights to have transparency. What you need to do now is listen to the rules given to you by the big brains in our country and worldwide to STAY HOME. Wash your hands. Distance yourself from other Germbags.

Let the government with all their advisers do their job and you do yours. Trust that everyone wants the best case scenario for all of us. Trust and have faith that once this storm passes, and it will, what’s left over will show how well we pulled together or how horrible we fell apart.

I have spent this last week in grief. Grieving the loss of what life was, what life is, and what I thought life would be. We’ve lost huge, massive foundations of our life – security and safety. We’ve witnessed the fragility of humankind and the environment, but we’ve seen the absolute persistence of both as well.

So yes, I’m sad. I’m sad to hear of all those people that have lost family and friends.

I’m mad. I’m mad at all those fucking idiots that don’t listen to reason and warnings to stay inside.

I’m anxious as all get out, because that’s really my default setting. I’m worried about someone I know getting sick or myself getting sick. I’m worried about the unknown – where do we go from here??? I’m worried that my children will be afraid. I’m worried for friends with small businesses, friends that have been laid off, friends that are alone, friends that are immune compromised or have children that are.

But, as with everything in this diametric universe there is the flip side. I am relieved to slow down. I am thankful for a job that has supported it’s employees through this time. I am grateful that my friends and family are in the good health. And I am beyond thankful to all those first responders, hospital staff, and essential services workers who still do a job every single day for the benefit of all of us.

I’m still a hot mess, and I can pretty much guarantee I’ll be like this for awhile. But in the meantime I’m keeping my eyes wide open to see those small glimmers of hope, those moments where memories are made and miracles happen.

I thought I had long ago dealt with the trauma I experienced with Fitz’s birth. It’s not something I need to explain, it was personal and subjective and I don’t need that experience validated by anyone. I realized today, though, that that fear, which I thought was gone, is actually very much still here. It had disguised itself so well as a rationality that I didn’t even realize it had been a major player in my life for the past 4 years.

I realized it through a conversation. Through noticing my choice of words. I used the words ‘pain’ and ‘hurt’ more than once along with ‘afraid’. Even though I was saying, “I like and expect a challenge when pushing my physical limits”. I was even confusing myself.

It wasn’t until I was back in my car, obsessing over what I said when I realized “holy shit, I’ve been avoiding any physical challenges for the past 4 years because of my child birth trauma.”

For the past 4 years I’ve let a few hours experience determine how I live my life, or don’t live in this case. I gave up on things that were huge parts of me. I gave up on trying, experiencing, and even just showing up. Because I was afraid – afraid that what happened before, would definitely happen again.

All this from one conversation.

Take the time to not only listen to others’ stories, but also, really take the time to listen to your own. Your version. Your words. Your story. You just might learn something about yourself.

If I could give you all the answers,

I would.

If I could save you from all the hurt,

I would.

But if I keep you from all that the world has to give,

Then I’d be denying you the chance that you have to live.

If I save you from your very first heartbreak,

You will never know True Love.

If I gave you a reason for every little thing,

You will never know everyday magic.

And if I shelter you from all the Hate,

You will never know the need to stand up against it.

You must live little darling,

And that can sometimes feel like too much.

But you must live little darling,

Because otherwise, you’ll miss out on all the fun.

If you never fall,

You won’t know how great it is to fly.

If you never fail,

You won’t know how to get up again and try.

If you never hurt,

You won’t know what it means to heal.

And if you never cry,

You won’t ever know what it means to feel.

You must live little darling,

But know – you’re not alone here.

We’re all just living little darling,

And with that, there will be nothing to fear.

I can’t do it all for you, my little one,

But I can teach you what you need to know.

I can’t do it all for you – I’m sorry,

Because you and I, we both need to grow.