Mother of All Mavens

A whole lot o' nothing. And then some…


A trusted expert, or connoisseur, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. From the Hebrew word (via Yiddish) meaning “to understand”.

Find Print


NOT Mother’s Day

I hate Mother’s Day. Like, really, really hate it. I always have. I hated it when I was young and childless and I truly abhorred it once I became a mother. I thought it was a fake holiday made for people who didn’t have a great relationship with their mothers. It felt like an excuse for the kid to acknowledge the mother “for a change”. But, for me, someone who spoke to her mom multiple times a day, hung out with her all the time, and – as an adult – made dinners/brunches for her on a regular basis, it was ridiculous. 

When my kids were little, I couldn’t understand why I, in the midst of “actively mothering” had to run around making plans/meals/reservations for the grandmothers. Shouldn’t Mother’s Day – if you had to celebrate it – be for the young moms in the trenches with their kids? Shouldn’t it be a day where we could NOT mother and just take some time for ourselves? I figured Mother’s Day should be for moms with kids 0-13 and then it should be over. 

My own mother, however, was obsessed with Mother’s Day. She claimed it was her most favourite day of the year. I think she preferred her birthday, but she insisted it was Mother’s Day: “because nothing was more important than being a mother”. She even bought me a gift on Mother’s Day – for making her a mother. 

Eventually, we found a happy medium: I’d be with my kids in the morning, we’d do one meal with the kids with her, one meal with my mother-in-law, and my mom and I would go and spend some time together on our own somewhere in between. More often than not, I’d take her to a movie. In the years when nothing was playing, we’d walk the streets or hang out in her apartment. While I still loathed the “holiday”, I knew how much it meant to her, and thus an uneasy peace was established. 

And then my mom died, suddenly, in January. There were no goodbyes, no last minute wishes. I FaceTimed her on a Friday night, and she fell and never recovered on the Saturday morning. Make no mistake, it has been extremely, overwhelmingly, difficult. I look for her everywhere and miss her terribly. She was one-in-a-million, and yes, I know everyone says that about their own moms, but everyone says that TO me about MY mom. I won’t rehash the eulogies from her funeral (which was apparently “fabulous” – for a funeral – and can be watched here) but she was something else. She was Rosemary, which says it all for those who knew her.

Since January 24th, there have been a handful of “firsts” that have been horrible: first Valentine’s Day (she loved that holiday too), first time landing after a flight and not calling her to say I’d arrived safely, first vacation in her condo without her there, first Passover. Each was more emotionally hideous than the next. And with each “first” I found myself in touch with other members of the 2024 freshman cohort of the Dead Parent’s Club: a truly vile club in which we all, eventually, become members. We were all going through it. And it sucked.

As Mother’s Day loomed, I prepared for the worst of the firsts. I knew it would suck, I knew I’d be devastated. I knew if would be terrible.

I posted a picture of my mom and my kids on social media, and braced myself. 

And then something funny happened… I received the most amazing gifts: a ton of notes and texts and calls. Some made me laugh, some made me cry. Hard. Because they were so moving, so loving, and so wonderful. I cried tears of joy, not because I missed my mom on Mother’s Day. Hell, I miss my mom every day! In fact, I hate to say it, but yesterday was one of the best Mother’s Days I’ve ever had. There was no pressure, my kids and husband were total superstars, and my friends – and my mother’s friends – all showed up in the most meaningful ways.

In the end, I finally got the Mother’s Day I’d always wished for – and the one I never, ever wanted. 

Sponsorship Scandal

I’m just a girl who can’t say no.

Got your attention, didn’t I? Well get your pervy minds outta the gutter. We’re not going there. Not today anyway.

No, today I’m talking about thons. That’s right, thons. No, not tuna in French (thon), but ‘a-thons’. You know the ones: walk-a-thons, bike-a-thons, spin-a-thons. As much as all the charities bombard us with gift of giving guilt around Christmas time, I always succumb to the old fashioned sponsorship request. Biking for breast cancer? I’ll give. Dance-off for diabetes? Sign me up. Golfing for gout? Here’s a twenty.
I’ve been known to toss many a charity-by-mail request. Sometimes unopened. That’s because I know that if read about the starvation in Sudan or the plight of puppies I’ll immediately get out my Visa. No cause is too small – I always get suckered in. But if I can resist opening these letters, I can assuage my guilt for not giving. So sometimes, I admit it, I dump ‘em.
Phone requests? Never. In this, the age of call display, I don’t answer unless I know who it is. Usually. If I see the name of an organization, no matter how noble the cause it’s pretty much a given that I won’t pick up. Again, the guilt factor. It’s easy to hang up on a telemarketer with a quick “sorry-no-time-thanks-bye”. But when someone asks you directly to give to leukemia? How can you say no without sounding like a selfish ass? You can’t.
I hate having to call up and – gasp – speak to someone. It makes me feel like my donation, while big for me, is a paltry drop in the bucket. And it’s not the kind soul on the other end of the phone’s fault either. It’s my own guilt talking. My personal preference is the email request. Always personal, but not too personal. And it’s convenient too. Just click and pay. No talking.
Actually, I did have one friend who sent me an email request that I deleted (the email, grammar police, not the friend). And I still feel badly about it. OK, not so bad that I’ve retrieved the email and sent something. I didn’t. ‘Cuz while obviously important to my friend, this cause was, for me, simply too small a fish in a vast ocean of deserving causes. But I feel kinda guilty. And of course every time I see that friend I wonder if they’re on to me. Or if they think I’m a miser. Or a tightwad. Maybe now they’ll bust me and start. But I hope not.
That one blip aside, chez moi if you’re a friend, and you ask, you’ll get lucky. How could it be any other way? Forget about the guilt of not giving, I can’t leave a friend high ‘n dry. Fact is, no matter how broke you are, someone else has got it worse. Waaaaay worse.
Excuse me while I hop off my high horse here.
I’m not saying you’ve got to drop a hunny every time someone asks. Let’s face it, that gets expensive. And while your friends are getting fit and having a grand ole time, you’re going broke. And that’s no fun at all. But a little something, no matter how tiny, does go a long way. Yeah, I know you’re not supposed to judge what someone gives. I’m not. I’m judging what they don’t give.
Whoa Trigger…looks like I’m still riding that horse.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m hardly the most generous of souls. I’m neither the gal who’s volunteering nor the hard-core crusader. My spare change, and anything I can scrounge, is usually spent on clothing – for me or my kiddies (after all, charity begins at home). But I still try to do my part – in a lazy, sit-back-and-sponsor kinda way. Yep, that’s me, saving the world one tiny tax-deductible donation at a time.
If you’re one of my regular readers – or shall I say, one of my regular, local, readers – you’ve probably been hit up by me in recent days. Possibly even twice. Hey – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And yes, you’re absolutely correct if, as you read, you’re thinking “hey wait, this is more of a guilt trip than a guilty pleasure”. But before you close me down and go back to work or whatever it is you’re really supposed to be doing, give yourself a little pat on the back. You’ve just completed a guilt-a-thon!
Congratulations! Now open your wallet….

For All Your Insurance Needs

Did you know that Canadians are the most insured people on the planet? It’s true! From government required UI and car insurance, to home, health and life insurance. You name it, we insure it. The insurance companies prey on our nerves. We wonder if it’s worth paying a couple hundred dollars extra each month…just in case.

Going away? Get travel insurance. We’ve all heard the one about the guy who went to Buffalo and got in a car accident…Tens of thousands of (US) dollars later, his family faced bankruptcy… Faced with that fear, we always make sure to buy travel/health insurance. In Mexico, we took our son to the doctor with sun poisoning. A few ‘scripts and visits later, we were out of pocket. Did the insurance cover it? Um, no. Our deductible was too high.

Have a pet? Don’t forget pet insurance. I know someone who had a dud of a dog – divine little fella, but a dud in the health department. Two hip replacements, several tumors and many dental issues made this guy the poster pup for PetPlan. Our Labrador’s been known to eat anything from socks to picture frames (including the glass) (don’t ask). We’re quite smug about having pet insurance. Make that, we were. Every time I send in a claim, there’s a catch. Routine shots aren’t covered. I owe $0.41 on the deductible before I can start being reimbursed etc. In some warped way, I‘m kinda wishing the dog’s thyroid condition would worsen, just so the insurance company will have to pay.

If you live in a country with public healthcare, like we supposedly do, you might be safe in the knowledge that your health is covered. Um, not quite. But I can’t really complain, because I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m on my husband’s health insurance policy. Suddenly, the dentist doesn’t seem as scary. Let’s face it, it’s not the cleaning that hurts, it’s the bills. Optional immunizations? Covered. Chiropractic visits and therapeutic massage? Covered. I love my health insurance! Until I need to go the eye doctor. Which I do, annually. Then I’m S.O.L.

I don’t know why lawyers get such bad raps, when it’s the insurance companies who are the real leeches. They blame insurance fraudsters. Who? How? Maybe these scammers can give us all pointers so we could at least break even. I knew this one guy who had real entitlement issues. He believed it was his god-given right to defraud the insurance companies. So he “lost” his camera, filed the requisite police report, and sat back smugly and waited. When his cheque finally came, it was made out to the store where he bought the cameras. Since he already had a camera, he cashed in his “claim” and bought an engagement ring for his then-girlfriend. He proposed, Lloyd’s of London paid, she said no.

But at least he broke even. And he had a spare diamond ring. Just in case.


Anonymous said…

Ir is a pleasure to read your thoughts and to share them with???????

4:10 PM

Anonymous said…

It is a pleasure to read your thoughts. keep it up.. it is a great cleasing and a way to be HEARD

The Art of Re-Gifting

I just opened my gift cupboard, and it’s almost bare. That’s right, my gift cupboard. Actually, it’s more like my re-gift cupboard. What? I’m no Candy Spelling, it’s not a room, just a small cupboard, full of unwanted gifts that may be better off with someone else. In their house. Don’t raise your eyebrows, everybody re-gifts. And if you don’t, you should start.

I pride myself on being a great re-gifter. Not every bad gift makes a good re-gift. You need to put some thought into it. The unwanted religious paraphernalia? Not great candidates for re-gifting. Anyone who knows me, knows I would never buy the stuff. That special framed prayer or ceremonial plate would scream re-gift. But a lovely frame or photo album? BINGO! And therein lies the art – the item in question may not be to your taste, but it can’t be so hideous that you’d never be caught dead buying it.

I myself have been the victim of re-gifting gone wrong. We’ve received stuff for our kids that has so obviously been passed along that I am tempted to call the giver and out them. We’re talking mismatched outfits from different stores on the same hangers, toys that are clearly gender-specific (and not specific for the gender we have), or shoes that are several sizes too small. A weird part of me wants to pawn these suckers off on someone else – like a broken telephone of presents – just to see if I’ll get busted!

One time, I received a used candle. USED!!! Another time, I unwrapped a lovely leather notebook. Turns out it was a freebie, a gift-with-purchase. I have to admit, the only reason I found out about that one was when I tried to return it and the saleswoman looked at me as though I had stolen the thing. So not only was the gift completely lame, but I was humiliated! After slinking out of the store, I had to confront the giver – how can someone pass off a promo item as a present? The giver didn’t even bat an eye, explaining they had to spend over $400 to get it. Umm, does that make it OK to pass it off as a gift? I don’t think so.

Unfortunately, it looks as though my re-gifting days are coming to an end. First off, it’s hard to re-gift someone you genuinely like, let alone love. I’ve been on the receiving end of lame, obvious re-gifts from a loved one and let me tell you – it hurts. And secondly, I’m running out of acceptable re-gifts. Either people are getting smarter with what they’re choosing, or maybe we’re just not getting as many gifts. The ones that never make it out of my cupboard are stuck in present purgatory for a reason – they suck. How can I give away an itchy, ugly, baby blanket? Or jewellery that’s far more garage sale than estate sale? No one deserves a stinky perfume set (with matching faux crystal tray) or painted rock people. No one.

A last resort is the charity box. But be careful – not only might you get busted by the giver, but someone may spot some of the duds and think they’re actually yours! Fact is, everyone thinks they have great taste. They don’t. And that’s why, sometimes, it really is better to give than to receive.


Anonymous said…

Aint it the truth.. But i still have so much stuff and it never is quite right..

6:34 PM

Anonymous said…

Ahh yes, re-gifting. Does a wall-mounted brushed-silver-fronted wine rack housewarming present ring a bell? Obviously, a re-gift (I believe I’ve already busted you on it) but an excellent re-gift– it looked great in my old place and will look even better in my new one. So thanks, to you… and whoever gave it to you in the first place 🙂

Friends with Money

Yesterday I skipped off on life and went to see an afternooner: Friends with Money. Apparently, everyone’s talking about it. I only know a couple of friends who’ve even mentioned it – one loved it, one did not – but I’m a fan of writer/director Nicole Holofwhatever so I went to check it out. I also have tendencies to over-identify with her characters, so I couldn’t really miss it.

Maybe I should have. Not missed it entirely, but maybe waited for dvd. You see, it was all rather… ish. Performances? Mostly good. Dialogue? Lovely and amazing (yep, that’s me throwing a bone to one of her other flicks. Cheesy, I know. But too bad. It’s my blog.) Each individual scene worked. But the movie as a whole? Not really. Not for me anyway. In fact, it kinda left me cold.

Open-ended structure and wispy storylines aside, there’s the Aniston problem. Let’s face it, this isn’t just another indie chick flick, it’s Janiston’s new movie. The One where she looks like a tranny, has no self-esteem, the worst taste in men, – oh and is broke. Sounds like art imitating life, doesn’t it? Sure, she could do much worse than shack up with Vinnie Vaughan. Personally, I’d take VV over Pitt any day of the week. No comparison. But for the Gen Pop it’s all about Brad.) Here’s what I find most interesting: in the movie she leaves her well paid, highly respectable teaching job to clean houses. And in real life she leaves her highly respectable TV job to make bad movies. Geddit? Same same!

I’m not wholly convinced by our Rachel…I mean, Jennifer. It’s not that she’s that bad. She’s just, not that good. Remember The Good Girl? I liked that movie despite her performance – everybody else was terrific. Yet she’s the marquee name, the one who’s meant to be carrying the film. And she’s just not strong enough In that one and this she relied on a bad dye job, vacant staring, and being thin-lipped. NOT ENOUGH.

Personally, I’m a huge Kitty Keener fan – and I think La Aniston is too. They’re pal-o-rinis of the highest order. It seems to me she (Jenny) has even borrowed a page or two (or three) from Kate’s book of acting. Here’s a tip: it works on Ms Keener, not so much on Ms. Aniston. Overall, however, the (other) performances were pretty damn good. And I loved all scenes with or about the gay-straight guy. Or straight-gay guy. Or whoever the hell he was. Whatever. He was the best girlfriend any of them could’ve wished for. For therein lies my real problem with this movie: I didn’t believe these chicitas were friends in the first place.

Friends don’t let friends go without washing their hair. They just don’t. And friends don’t let friends obsess over a fling – without them, that is. Friends whose friends have smashed their noses into glass plate windows might be a little more concerned about those friends. And above all, friends tell their friends that Lancome Resolution D anti-wrinkle skin care, practically a character in the movie, sucks. Honestly, friends, it’s a really mediocre cream. Talk about product placement!

One of my friends thinks this movie is about money making you happy. I pointed out that all these characters seemed pretty miserable. But she disagreed. See? Friends tell friends when they’re wrong. ‘Cuz guess what? She was right: the only happy people weren’t the ones “with money”. They were the ones with more money than they knew what to do with. The one who we saw the least of. The ridiculously loaded ones. Who wouldn’t share. And with friends like those…


Anonymous said…

Friends don’t let friends pay to see “friends” in movies– unless they’re Lisa Kudrow. Why buy the cow when you can get the (syndicated) milk for free?

9:17 AM

Anonymous said…

…I don’t get the Jennifer thing. What’s that all about??? I also don’t get the Jennifer Lopez thing. The Jennifers seem to be batting 0. But they are like a bad meal in a greasy spoon. They keep on comming back.

Bat Boy

Aaaah, childhood. First steps, first words, first teeth…
When those first teeth appear it’s a relief for everyone – that’s why my angel baby has become the devil. That explains the runny nose/rash/fever and combo platter that medically has nothing to do with teething yet coincidentally always accompanies the cutting of new teeth. And that’s for sure the explanation for the drool fest. We often ask about other babies’ teeth to confirm that our toothless wonders aren’t the only freaks in town. Or, if we’re breastfeeding, to commiserate. Most babes follow the same pattern – a couple bottom teeth, followed by the top two and then, well, who really notices? It’s all about the initial front teeth. And then suddenly the gaps are filled, the bites are real and they’re poppin’ cheerios like nobody’s business.

But something different happened at our house.

Our child grew fangs.

That’s right, fangs. At 6 months, he got his first teeth – two on the bottom. A week later they were bracketed by two more. No top teeth in sight. But still – they were obviously en route. Then he went through hell. Fever. Drool. Rash. Drool. Pain. Drool. More pain. More drool. And then one morning, I spotted them. Full on fangs. Who ever heard of such a thing? Fangs first? I had a nine month old Dracula. A Draculito.

A couple of days passed, and I became obsessed with these little teeth (and lack of more). I’d look at my laughing Bat Boy and think it’s hilarious. I snap pictures, as proof, but the fangs never come out. Maybe he really is a vampire. He’s up at night. Sometimes. And he doesn’t like the sun… We have no crosses to hold up, but he does get a real charge out of his own reflection, so it’s more likely he’s a werewolf. Or maybe he’s just a bit of an oddity. I’m sure the other teeth are coming, but for now, it’s all about those fangs. I show them to everybody. I am constantly trying to make him smile – not because it’s fun for him, but because I want others to see these crazy canines. It’s like the anti-competition: your child walks and talks? Mine has fangs!

We went to see the doctor the other day, nothing dental-related. She noticed his teeth and laughed. It seems I’m not the only mother-of-fang in town. Two of her kids had fangs first too. Dammit. We’re not as special as we thought. See? Try as you might, it’s hard not to compare and contrast your kids with everybody else’s.

They don’t last long, these days of early childhood. Or fangdom. I just spotted a top tooth making it’s way south. Harumph.