The first time I met her was at a bus stop in front of Lakeport high school at night. I was headed to my first high school dance. It was grade nine, and my christian high school didn’t have dances, for whatever biblical reasons, and I was nervous.
Jen was already too cool for school dances. She was leaving the dance–she had better and more interesting things to do and cooler people to hang out with. She was dressed in all black, the jeans tight on her skinny legs, her long red hair had a slight feather to it and the wings of her eyeliner were extended further than I had ever seen on anyone since the 80s.
Her tough exterior and aloof coolness were intimidating to this square and dorky church girl. The friend I was with introduced us, and I felt lame. I was definitely not as cool as this girl and there’s no way she’d want to be friends with lame preppy little me. She was rock and roll. She was Jen Hatcher.
The following year, I transferred schools, and started attending Lakeport myself. But badass Jen had already been kicked out of Lakeport or some shit, so our paths never really crossed again, until much much later. That brief meeting must have made some impression on the both of us, though, because years later we met up again, and there was no question that we knew each other.
I was in university at the time, and had landed my then dream job, working at Scizzions as the receptionist. Jen was working as a stylist at the same salon, and was a bit standoffish at first. I’m certain she had kept her distance because of my lame quotient, but running into me at a Sick Boys rock show upped my cool factor by about a million. So then we were friends.
We worked together almost every day for 5 years, along side our other co-workers, and I often describe that time as “working with my best friends everyday”. The pranks we pulled were outrageous and often ended in uncontrollable giggle fests while clients were left waiting for their hair cuts and colours. We took liberties with each other’s personal property that no coworkers should ever take but our senses of humour made it work. The laughs and our friendship extended far beyond the walls of the salon as we often spent our free time together too…smoking cigarettes, sharing secrets and spilling drinks for hours before passing out on each other’s couches.
I learned a lot about Jen in that time, and we became very very close friends–Another unique friendship with a special soul that I have been so fortunate to collect in my lifetime. So please, let me tell you all about her. My friend, Jen.
My friend Jen was born in the 70’s and grew up in the 80’s. She’s always loved (hair) metal, which is totally weird for someone our age. I liked metal for a spell in the 80’s, when I wanted to be like my babysitter. I listened to Motley Crue’s Theatre of Pain, maybe more than most 8 year olds, but Jen loved it all. Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, even Ratt. She’s been to more Cinderella concerts than is even conceivable for someone in their 30’s and if there was a world record for use of the kyuss in everyday life, she’d own it. Jen is a skid. A rockin’ 80’s skid.
But beyond her skiddy tastes in music, is a beautiful and loving sweet soul. She is the kindest, most gentle human you’ll ever get the chance to meet. She is friendly and cheerful, and has hoards of friends. She is bright and sunny and motivated and ambitious. She’s even sensitive, though she’s not likely to admit it. She is empathetic and loving and wonderful. She is the truest of the true, the bluest of the blue and the best god damned friend you could ever ask for.
Jen Hatcher has been there for me in some of the most difficult and trying times in my life. Always offering a shoulder to cry on, a hand to lend, or pages of words encouraging me to do something with my life. Urging me to follow my dreams. Pushing me to turn my life around when there was no one else that could do that for me. She was there cheering me on and chairing my fan club when I felt alone and scared and was ready to give up.
She’s tougher than tough, stronger than strong and has endured some extremely challenging times in her life–things that could literally crush anyone’s soul. And she has lived through it all with remarkable grace and poise and patience. The world would be a better place if we would all strive to be just a little more like her.
I could go on for days, and it still wouldn’t do her justice. I am so lucky to have such a incredible and amazing friendship with Rock and Roll Jen. I never saw it coming that cool autumn some 20 years ago as Meatloaf blared from the high school gym. But beyond the eyeliner and tight jeans was an extraordinary spirit so unique and special who has come to mean so much to me. Ultimately, I’m writing because I’m inspired by her and I’m grateful every single day to have her in my corner.
My friend Jen. Keep on rockin’, you skid.
The weeks and months leading up to my maternity leave were slightly stressful. Stressful only because the pressure I put on myself of course. I love working. I love working hard–I love accomplishing things and being good at what I do. I also enjoy being a part of a growing company and building a team and providing products and services I believe in. While it sounds like a cushy deal, taking a year off for maternity leave, for me, is a lot harder than it sounds.
Don’t be mistaken, I love my family, and I love being a mummy to Marigold and a wife to Martin, but it really doesn’t define me as a person. It’s not the be all, end all of me. Neither is my job. I am the sum of these things and many others–all of which make me who I am.
While my current job isn’t exactly my dream job, it’s still awesome and I like the company and love my boss and the people I work with. The hardest part is the timing, of course. Putting my career on hold when things are positioned for growth in a major way isn’t the ideal scenario I had imagined when I first found myself with child. I hadn’t expected that I would be getting a new boss, and that I would need to make a new and lasting impression on someone when I was tired, bloated and irritable. I didn’t think that I was about to miss out on something really rad for the next year. I hate to miss out on things–I love to be right in the action!
I’m sure tons of other women and men go through the same thing when they take their respective parental leaves. I truly am grateful for the opportunity to take the full 50 weeks to spend time focusing on my new baby and growing family.
The last time I went on mat leave, I was literally counting the minutes before I could walk out the door and not return for several months, even though I was still there late on my last day. This time I was really sad to go. I was having sleepless nights thinking about the many projects I had on the go just before clocking out for the next year, and as my last day crept closer, I had expected my stress level to spike, but it slowly dissipated. I was ready to go, and I know that I’m not in any real danger of being left behind at work. I’m confident that I’ll be able to return and pick up where I left off and just spend this year focusing on real life–and my family. What a treasure.
Almost three years ago now, I revived my blog because of this overwhelming need to write it all down. I needed to tell everyone how I had never loved as much as I loved right then. With hormones running rampant, I’m sure, I was plagued with so many feelings and emotions, but it was the love that overflowed.
When I first discovered I was pregnant with my second child, of course I was thrilled, but there were hesitations that I hadn’t expected. I was worried about how I could possibly have TWO children (people survive with many more, I know I’m ridiculous) and look after them successfully. I was worried about our finances, and the size of our apartment. I was worried how Marigold will adapt. But most of all I was worried that I couldn’t possibly have any more love to give to another child. I just loved my little Marigold so much that I didn’t think it possible to have the capacity to love a new addition to our little family.
Martin gently reminded me that love multiplies as a family grows–and we have a never ending supply! We have found love in places that we never even knew existed.
The hardest part has definitely been dealing with my feelings for Marigold. It’s weird, but I miss her. I still spend time with her everyday, but she’s no longer my one and only, and I feel bad that my attention is divided. This has been the greatest source of postpartum tears. She is the most amazing big sister in all of the land, and I’m so proud with how she is handling it all. She is a huge help with Baby Alice, and I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard her say “Don’t worry, Baby Alice. Big sister’s right here” in the last 10 days. And it melts my heart every time.
One night I went to lay in Marigold’s bed with her before she went to sleep because I just missed her so. I couldn’t stop the tears from coming, as they so often do these days. I talked it over with Marigold, and for a not yet three year old, I’m impressed with her understanding. I apologized for not spending as much time with her as I used to. I got up to let her fall asleep, she said to me as I was leaving “Baby Alice needs you, Mummy.” She totally gets it, and it just made me cry harder. I’m so proud of her and I’m amazed at how awesome she is every single day.
Baby Alice is just perfect from head to toe and I loved her just as much as I did Marigold when she was placed in my arms. It’s like there’s a love explosion in your heart when you give birth–I would do it over and over again because the feeling is incredible. And the results–well, they’re incomparable.
So our love has grown. Martin was right–I didn’t have anything to worry about. We’re a family of four now. I’m truly grateful for all the things that I have in this life, and I honestly don’t take it for granted. I came from nothing, and now– I have everything. And it’s definitely not lost on me, this extraordinary life of love.
I don’t really believe in astrology, but historically I’ve found myself to be more friendly with capricorns, aquarius’ and tauruses. Never really found myself close to an Aries, and as such I think of her as quite the an unlikely friend. Not only is she an Aries, but she’s also 9 years my junior and I met her only because I hired her way back in 2010. Unlikely a friendship as it may seem, she’s pretty much been by my side since then.
I remember what she wore for her interview–it was quite formal, a white blouse and a high waisted black skirt. I don’t think she was wearing heels though–she wasn’t able to really pull off heels until about 2012. I was looking for someone at the time to be part of the department I was building in my previous company, and between her, and one other girl, I knew I had found the right people to take on the job.
Both girls were cheery, with great personalities and teachable spirits. Their experience was limited, but I knew I had found a couple of gems, so I snatched them up, not a moment too soon. When I changed jobs in 2012, I had stumbled on a company primed for growth, and I felt like a mountain of work was just around the corner and I could never face it alone. So I called on Smash.
She had kept the ship a-sail for me while I was maternity leave the first time–she is smart, dependable, reliable, creative with a lot of really great, though sometimes zany, ideas. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, since she came to work with me again, more ups than downs though. We’ve had a lot of laughs and good times, but the work pace was much slower than what we were used to, and sometimes our frustrations with work and our desires to move more quickly drove distance between us.
There were times where I felt like she was judging me. There were times where I felt like she hated me. There were times I felt utterly, totally and weirdly responsible for any unhappiness she felt in life. And I can only begin to imagine what she felt about me–Picky, bossy, fussy, know it all Peattie. I am fairly certain she wanted to tear my head off at times, but fortunately we got through it….all body parts in tact. While it sounds crazy, it might do you some good to understand that we literally spend at least 40 hours a week together, face to face, less than three feet apart–and have for close to two straight years.
We were open with each other on almost every subject and we trusted each other in more ways that we had trusted other friends in our lives. And now as I start my maternity leave, I am trusting her again–with my job. Finally, after waiting patiently, things are starting to happen. She’s been promoted into the role she came on board to do–at a critical time in the company’s history. She’s taking on significant projects and has some key objectives she’ll have to deliver on this year. And it’s a lot. It’s a lot for anyone. But I know she can handle it. I am excited to see what this year brings for her because I know it’s going to be amazing. She’s surrounded by some really awesome people at the office, who I know she can count on to make things happen. She’s gonna do great!
On Friday night, after my last day of work, she helped me carry my things to my car and what we thought was going to be an emotional goodbye, didn’t really turn in that direction at all. I had cried earlier saying goodbye to even the most pesky co-workers, and there wasn’t a tear in my eyes saying farewell to my long time side kick, pal and protege. She made a joke about me missing her the least, but the reality is–I will miss her the least. Because I’m not going to miss her. Sure I’ll miss seeing her beautiful face every day, I’ll miss the sound of her laughter, and I will definitely miss the poor nutritional choices we made on a daily basis (guilt free). But I’m not going to miss her. She will continue to be a huge part of my life, filling up a special place in my heart while I’m at home with my babies–our relationship runs much deeper than 9-5, Monday to Friday. We don’t need to be three feet apart to maintain our friendship–it’s going to last for a long, long time…no matter our proximity.
I certainly got a lot more than I had ever bargained for the day I hired that brown-eyed ram, Smash. I thought I was simply getting a recent graduate for a product specialist. Instead, I got a life long friend. A lady who is truly awesome in every way.
I love you, chum.
Somehow, I managed to get evicted. Again. I have never been behind in rent, never damaged an apartment, and never, well mostly never, have I ever been loud to the point of disrupting the neighbours. And that one time the neighbours were really pissed doesn’t actually count since they were a bunch dicks anyways.
At the end of the day, none of the good tenant qualities matter in a situation where your domicile is the preferred unit of residence by the owner of the property, or one of their immediate family members. You may recall, the same thing happened when I lived with Gord on Spencer, but the landlord, who turned out to be this incredible artist, wasn’t such a jerk about it. He gave us a discount on our rent, and he was, in fact moving in to our place. He fixed it up real nice and is still happily living at 104.
This last experience we were not as fortunate, but it just wasn’t a good fit for us all around in the first place. The apartment was too small, it had bad energy, zero privacy, and I really wasn’t all that crazy about the neighbourhood. We had moved there to save money, as the place was a real steal, but it just really wasn’t going to work out for us in the long term. And thus, getting kicked out was a blessing in disguise. A huge blessing.
I’m back in Parkdale We’re all in Parkdale. Living in my Parkdale House of Dreams. And while, frankly my life isn’t even remotely as romantic as that sounds, it really doesn’t matter because I am home. I knew one day I’d find my way back here. And it is a beautiful apartment. I could live here for the rest of my life.
I haven’t been writing mostly because I don’t have time, but I really don’t even feel inspired to write anything. And such is the course of my life, there are big gaps in my diaries for years that I went without writing, and then something would just eat at me until I had to write about it.
I used to write about boys. I used to write about how disappointed I was in my appearance, and how I wanted to be cooler. I used to write about what I was watching on television and what my friends were doing. I used to write about my relationships, and their challenges. The regretful choices and decisions I had made.
I later turned to writing in celebration of the choices I had made, the relationships I maintained, and the joy that permiated through every waking and semi waking, moment of my life. Those times were a very happy time for everyone, to be sure.
A few weeks ago, someone said to me “you really have a hard time accepting where you’re at in life”. It may have been more of a question than a statement, I guess, but not exactly the comforting words you were expecting to hear from your friend and confidant, who obviously didn’t quite grasp the weight those words could carry.
There’s always this constant struggle where my lazy, complacent side manages somehow to win the war of sitting on the couch versus doing something to make things better. The just-get-by-at-work-because-I-don’t-have-the-energy attitude is fighting a battle against my once overwhelming desire to be the employee of the minute every gd minute of the gd day.
Yes, I am sad from time to time because I’ve gained 70+ pounds that cannot be construed as “baby weight” (the poundage came along long before Marigold did). I am sad because it’s hard to kick ass at my new-ish job, because I am not a subject matter expert, and of course the job is still new-ish. I am frustrated about relationships that used to be easy and fluid, which now, are basically non existent or strained because circumstances have changed and/or the common ground has dissipated.
Trust me, I’m not about to wake up tomorrow, start a fucking smoothie diet, quit smoking and have that first day of the rest of my life moment or anything, but I still want to keep trying to choose the better, the good, the more. I want to feel the sadness and the pain too, of the things that I struggle with and know that even though I may not have the time to accomplish the good the better the more, that it’s ok to miss it.
The distractions, and I use that term most affectionately, are temporary, but the rewards are invaluable. The external demands on my life have a profound impact on who I am and how I spend my time. And it will change me and strengthen me in ways I can’t even imagine. So, those words were heavy. Heavy enough to stop me in my tracks. Heavy enough to keep me replaying the conversation in my head over and over. But, only in such a way that brings me to the conclusion that, no, it’s not that I have a hard time accepting where I’m at in life, I just want more.
I greatly admire those women who have incredibly successful careers running interesting businesses, doing what they’re passionate about, having all their shit together, children on top of it all, and seemingly still time to spare. And I hope that one day, driven by my desire to live an extraordinary life, I’ll be able to accomplish a fraction of what I want to do in my heart of hearts and modestly fulfill the better portion of my purpose here on earth.
And, I’m exhausted.
Over the last few months, I have been spending my days watching Marigold learn to grab things with her hands, learn to roll over, and learn to stick out her tongue. Not high in stress levels to be sure. Don’t get me wrong, staying at home and looking after a baby is very tough, but not incredibly challenging. At least not for me. I love my little baby so much and think she is the most amazing thing in the world, but spending every day all day with her (at this age at least) probably just wasn’t in the cards for me.
Leaving her to go back to work was heartbreaking, because I knew I’d miss her. I’ve spent 24 hours a day for the last 150 days with her, save for a few hours here and there. She’s my best friend. I’m her best friend, of course it was going to be hard. Fortunately, she’s staying home with her other best friend, her daddy, who loves her just as much as I do. Thank god.
The transition for all of us wasn’t as difficult as I thought, or at least not in the way I anticipated it to be. I thought I would spend the first day crying in my office because I missed her so much, and that she would be wailing and whining all day waiting for me to come home. Not so much.
I was also worried (and I can say this, because I know Martin doesn’t read my blog) that I would come home to a disaster house everyday. That I would be the one to walk in the door, clean the house, make dinner, do the laundry, look after the baby etc etc and then fall into a nervous exhausted mess and end up locked up somewhere. I have been surprised everyday, that this has not been the case in the slightest. And in reality, it would’ve been impossible, because I just don’t have the energy.
Of course I have high expectations for my home, and men often just don’t get it when it comes to having a tidy house. But that’s ok…I knew I couldn’t expect things to be done my way any more than I could expect Margiold to be dressed clothes that match. Let’s be serious.
He’s doing an excellent job. Accomplishing more than I thought any stay-at-home-dude ever could! And she loves being with her daddy, and he’s great with her. The dishes might not always be done, and she might be wearing a yellow striped onesie with pink polkadot pants, but the house is still standing. And frankly, I’m so happy to walk in the door when I get home, that I really don’t care that much that things are not done the way I would do them.
You see, this is a really big step. I am a boss, a manager, a director. Not just in my job, but in my home life too. To let this go is an amazing accomplishment for me.
So that being said, the whole transition was more difficult for me than I thought be in a way that’s different than I thought it would be. Does that even make sense? Let me explain.
My day goes like this…times are approximate
630-wake up feed the baby from one side, then pump the other
7-745 shower and get ready
745-8:30 Drive to Richmond Hill
830-12ish go go go go work work work work
1230-4 go go go go go work work work work
430-5 clean up any last bit of work before I leave
5-6 Drive home
6-7 Feed the baby and spend time with her while Martin preps dinner
7-8 have dinner and mind the baby
8-10 try to relax and spend time with Marigold and Martin
10-1030 Nurse the baby to bed
Sometime after 1030–go to bed.
There is not one second in my day that is for me, except for maybe when I go to the bathroom. And before you jump on me and tell me to get used to it, fuck you. I’m sick of people telling me it’s only going to get worse. I know this is the way it is when you have kids, but I’m just telling you how it has been for me, ok?
Furthermore, my maternity leave Employment Insurance deposits were screwed up, so I haven’t received the proper payment in close to a month, and we made an error in budgeting for Martin’s last pay, so we are incredibly broke. Which, if you’ve been broke before, know that it’s one of the most stressful things in life. I don’t know how people do it regularly. We’ll be fine and it will all work out, but it’s just one more thing to add to the list.
On top of that, my job is pretty demanding, so when I’m not working or doing anything, I’m thinking about work. The problems, the solutions and how we’re all going to get through all the bullshit that goes on are always on my mind. My day is filled to the brim with things that need attention immediately, which leaves little time for planning, evaluation and staff development….and in my opinion, these should be the key functions of my position. So, that is how I spend my free time. Thinking about work.
I was anticipating that I was coming back to a changed workplace–that things were different now. This is what I was told. Unfortunately, the differences are small and the issues that I felt needed to be addressed, hadn’t in my departure. In fact, in some ways, things are worse, since neither of the two people that were hired to replace me, worked out.
That being said, I have a team of 5. Three of those teammates were there prior to my departure, and have made me very proud. They have worked so hard in the face of adversity, surrounded by crazies and lazies and have managed to come out on top. The amount of effort, time and dedication that I see in my employees, I think, is unparalleled. This is the most rewarding part of any job that I have ever had, and this is why I am a boss. Seeing people change and grow with my guidance is more pleasing than any other accomplishment in my life and it is so worth the investment of my effort and time. And the fact that they were able to keep the ship afloat in my absence is thoroughly impressive. More than anyone else could ever know.
I find it difficult to leave the office every night. I am almost exasperated because in order for the necessary changes to take place to improve our workplace, I feel as though I need to put in the hours like I used to. I can’t do that anymore. I have a life, in fact, an excellent one. And I need to enjoy it…and staying at work till all hours of the night will not allow me to do that.
I’m not bragging here, but I have a fucking awesome position at a rapidly growing company, I have a nice home, and I have a handsome soul mate who is perfect for me in every way who loves me and our little family more than anything. He is faithful and loyal and committed to me and our family in a way I’ve never seen from a man in my life ever. I have a beautiful, healthy and hilarious daughter with a super rad name. I have my health, and I am pretty and sexy (though, a little flabby), and I’m funny, nice and generous and smart and successful and people like me (I think). I have what so many people want in life. I am so lucky. And I don’t take it for granted.
But I am a workaholic. And fighting that addiction is pretty tough. It’s not like heroin or anything, like I’m not going to die from shooting some bad dope into my veins, and the risks are not nearly as bad. But, hurting my little family is too high of a price to pay to see someone else’s company succeed. I’m not giving up on my job by any means, I’m just working at making work priority #2. Martin and Marigold need to be #1. And that’s the part that I’m struggling with inside. My job defined me. My success and dedication have been who I am for the last 10 years, and especially the last 3. The party Peattie that everyone knew and loved in my personal life is gone now too.
The hardest part of any of this is figuring out who I am now and who I want to be. The non stop party days are over. The work till you drop days are over. I have to find the right life/work/party balance that works for my new life….a balance that Marigold will love, admire and respect when she’s old enough to figure it out.
As Marigold continues to grow, I have less and less time to write. She’s requiring more attention to keep her amused each day, which means, less time for me to do the things I want. That on top of household chores that are mostly getting done at the bare minimum leaves me with only a few minutes to surf the internet, and play video games. And I’m going to learn to knit plus I want to learn to sew. God, if only I was one of those people that could get by on 4 or 5 hours sleep then I might be able to do the things I want.
I keep being faced with decisions that I really don’t want to make. We are constantly making easy choices from the minute we wake up in the morning and often we don’t even give it a second thought that we have a choice. Getting out of bed, brushing our teeth, what to eat for breakfast, what to wear for the day and the list goes on. And on and on and on. Then there are the larger life decisions: who you are going to marry, where you are going to live, what you are going to do for a career. But sometimes, an unexpected quandary presents itself before you and suddenly you have to make a decision about a situation you have no prior experience with. Or sometimes you are faced with a decision you have made many times before, and you need to be reminded that you’ve done it before on blind faith, and it’s worked out in the end…hasn’t it?
It would be great if every time you had to make a decision that the only person affected would be you, and you alone. I think this is the reason why decisions become so difficult–the outcome has a great impact on someone around you. And it’s typically someone close to you. Someone who you love very much. I always think back to moving to Toronto, the biggest decision of my life thus far. Again–my decision to move meant leaving Matt (and dumping his sorry ass–I can say that now, it’s been long enough) and hurting someone I loved very much. I was leaving behind my friends and family and the only life I had ever known, but on the other side of that decision was tremendous opportunity which I would not have had otherwise, and I’ve been reaping the rewards ever since.
The last unexpected quandary I faced was a high impact/low return type of decision. My decision, in fact, has permanently damaged a friendship, and hopefully most of that damage will be repaired, though I’m sure some scars will remain.
Sometimes you just need to stand up for what you believe in regardless of how much it might hurt someone and regardless of how supportive you really want to be. It makes me sad to think that I had to choose at all let alone make the choice I made. And though my decision is hurtful, I hope it makes a strong statement. Because after this, I’m not going to beat the dead horse, because the horse is already dead, there’s no sense in that. And beating dead horses just makes a bloody mess that becomes pretty impossible to clean up. I’ve said my piece and voiced my concern. I’m going to let the issue die and rest in peace. At the very least I can show my support for moving forward.
God, disappointing people sucks so bad. And I really fucking hate letting people down. I want to make everyone happy all the time, which is probably why I’m so great with customer service. But, I know deep down that making EVERYONE happy is an impossibility. I have to think now of how my decisions–high impact/low return, or high impact/huge opportunity will affect Martin and Marigold first and foremost. I have to do what is best for our family, even if that means letting other people down that I care about very much. I have to make sure that the choices I make are ones that Marigold will admire once she’s older.
You can’t take a mulligan. There are no do-overs. Life was so much easier when it was just me. I don’t mean because of the extra work of taking care of a family. I mean that if I fucked up, the only person that faced the consequences was me. Gone are the days of risking my job with people calling in sick for me because I was passed out on a toilet in the bar’s basement bathroom the night before (Thanks Peter Peattie). Gone are the days of complete and utter irresponsibility. Now MG and MM are in the line of fire, and I just want to do what’s best for all of us, even if it means moving to Scarborough**.
I want to be someone she is proud to call her mother. And sometimes that means closing some doors and opening some windows. Right now I’ll just wait for the window to open, and decide whether or not it’s time to close the door, and try not to get black out drunk while I’m waiting.
**For the record we are not now, nor ever moving to Scarborough, it’s just a phrase I use now to demonstrate just how much I’m willing to sacrifice for my family.