“I need to go
pee pee,” Sebastian called out. I responded, as any mother would have done, briskly,
instinctively: dumped the muffin and the coffee on Lance’s lap and ran. As I
ushered Sebastian to the women’s washroom, he stalled. I turned to him with a
wave of urgency and then it happened: the moment. “I’ll go in here,” he said,
turning to the adjacent door. “Oh ok so… I’ll just wait right out here for
you?” Words I had heretofore never uttered. So I stood there: outside the men’s
washroom, feeling helpless, awkward, strange. The butterflies that by and large
lie dormant in my belly fluttered into my throat as my eyes moistened. The
tears didn’t fall. I was too busy, I suppose, puzzling over the novelty of the
experience, assimilating it. The dewy droplets hung suspended, then settled,
dropping inward as I just. stood there.
When I turned
to Lance, beaming that I’d had a “moment”, he replied casually, “oh yeah, he
does that.” And that’s when I wanted to cry. And scream. When the fuck? Where
the fuck? What the fuck – did I miss all these last four months while I was
consumed with intensive studies?
Four terrible
horrible no good very bad months, is what this past semester was. Sure I
garnered invaluable literary wisdom, insights, and analytical tools, but for
all this sophisticated theoretical flair, bloody nothing that was social media
worthy, nothing to post on facebook, nothing to blog about. It was a time of
imbalance, of sleep deprivation, of grey rainy days. Time management was a
bitch; it eschewed family and individual wellness. Sebastian said to me one
night, as I was tucking him in, that he wishes I would get up “early” one
morning so that we could work on the book he was writing. And I went to bed, as
I routinely did, at around 2 am, after hours of reading, with bloodshot  eyes and a pinch in my heart, knowing
that I would wake up just as foggy and hazy, and that the morning would be as
always, harried and frantic.
I know that gratitude
is the key to happiness blah blah blah. And I can certainly talk about the rarified
joy and freedom I discovered when after hours upon hours of studying I stepped
outside into the crisp air, and on a rare occasion, picked up Sebastian from
school and went grocery shopping with him; about the mundane acts of dishwashing
and laundry that became delightfully heightened and served a welcome respite;
about the time I took a study break and spent the day blissfully organizing
closets while dancing to Cabaret music, marveling at the marvelous sense of
freedom I was experiencing.  
But for these
heightened moments of the mundane, there was also the pleasure of lying with a
cool pillow pressed to the face, feeling glum and despondent. Yes I did plenty
of wallowing, plenty of cursing and self-indulgent pitying. And there’s a “key”
in there too: to feeling “terribly horribly no good very bad,” and to wishing that
your happy friend’s ice cream will fall and land – in Australia. W.B. Yeats
said: “Being Irish, he had an
abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”
I do believe there’s a measure of happiness to be had in wallowing moments too.
Think sad melancholic music. Think angry white woman music. Think a cozy throw
and a tub of chocolate chip cookie ice cream.
things just don’t mix. Or maybe it’s that they flow – from one to another —
rather than mix. Gratitude has a flow to it. As does wallowing. Each discrete,
each its own sort of good. But the edges are permeable and the distance between
the two is wispy. Kinda like that space between a child’s fit of tears and fit
of laughter. Maybe they all share similar “patterings”; the need to be in it, whatever
it is, in the moment, and to move away from it, in a moment.  
Sebastian is teaching me the
importance of “patterings”, or what the rest of us would call patterns. 
are the color patterings on his coloring sheet, the patterings that he forms
for his special objects on top of the bookshelf, the patterings that he wondrously
detects on the little stones that he finds in the school playground. I like
that in his word “pattering” we hear patter, tiny tappings that insinuate a
certain rhythm, a certain cadence. They are small and many, like the
rain in many places /from many clouds to be absorbed, to be drunk
Amichai, “Not Like a Cypress”)
In Vancouver, the
rain is certainly absorbed. But I only know one person who will drink it, who
will get drunk on it, who exclaims, “I like this day” as we walk outside
towards her daycare, rain or shine: for Liliana, everything is a laughing
matter.  There’s something about this
child that makes me laugh, makes me happy. Something, I suppose, that emanates
from her laugh, her happiness.
At the dinner
table she makes faces, throws back that boisterous laugh, and performs flippant
mimics of me, repeating my words with the same (only augmented) intonation and air:
“Mamamushka” – big and oozing… 
“What happened to my baby? Where’d she go?” affected and teasing.
Hearing your
words echoed does something to you. It makes you laugh at yourself. It makes
you reflect. It makes you feel a little silly. It makes you realize,
ultimately, how much and how little it really matters: all of it. This is
perhaps the biggest challenge: to be able to care vigorously about things. And
to let things go. To let them go so that you can let them in; this is the
I’ve noticed
that when I get angry and frustrated, when the kids drive me fucking crazy, when
a baking endeavor turns into a messy fiasco, 
or when a nightly bath turns into
a torrential flood, 
and the inevitable primal scream issues forth from inside
me, they laugh. And I follow. They have a way of lightening things, these darn
kids, of clearing the space, allowing things to burst and to dock.
Now I’m writing
books with Sebastian and waiting outside washrooms while he goes pee. Letting
it go — and letting it in.