Tag Archives: parenting

Contemplating My Irrelevance

It’s been a while. Yes, I’ve popped in now and then with a rant, but I’ve basically been absent.

What have I been up to?

Being a dad, mostly, and working my way through my marriage and trying not to fuck either up too badly. I’m not sure if I’m succeeding yet. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know.

But my littlest angel is starting to figure out bedtime, so I hope to return to you, my dear reader(s)(?) more frequently. I suppose my kids will tell me if I live long enough to see them become adults (don’t worry – I’m not hinting at a scary diagnosis or anything) and if I’m still married in 20 years, I will have done something right, I hope.

Except a lot has happened in the three years since I stepped away to focus on my kids.

Mainly, I have become irrelevant.

Maybe I never was relevant. I was certainly never cool, and am not about to start being a cool kid now.

But really, who am I? I am a fortyish, straight, white male who holds a comfortable position in one of the bastions of privilege – high tech. And my time has passed. History has moved on.

Nowadays the old, straight, white males getting attention are an embarrassment to humanity. They’re the Steve Bannons and Donald Trumps, out there bloviating about how the world isn’t so white anymore, and damn it, women want power and equality and they’re mad as hell and can’t take it anymore!

I mean, what are you going to do when you can’t even use your power to sexually harass and even assault a woman anymore without there being some kind of blowback, public humiliation and possibly the loss of your job and lifestyle, a la Harvey Weinstein and the fallen leader of Ontario’s PC Party? Could the old, straight, white male be any more put upon?

So you see my predicament.  Why should you even want to listen to my voice? What do I even matter anymore, if I ever mattered before?

And the truth is, I do not. In my one rant last year, I said that when justice for women is called for, it’s not going to come from men and it’s not going to come from the church. It’s going to come from women.

And it is. In North America, the #MeToo movement is forcing men to wake up to the fact that it’s not ok to slap a co-worker on the ass as she walks by, or to demand sexual favours for a promotion, or any number of violations and exploitation of the feminine that we men have taken advantage of and taken for granted for far too long.

And it’s happening in the Middle East, too. In Iran, the #WhiteWednesdays movement is women rising up and pushing back against their oppression and abuse. Anna Maria Tremonti had a great piece on it on The Current this week.

So we should listen. It’s the women’s voices that matter and should dominate the conversation for the next millennium or so. Maybe, if we men are smart and listen enough, we may be found worthwhile of conversation. Then no-one needs to dominate. Then we can can engage, and not in an annoying, creepy, marketing kind of way, but in a real, communicative, connecting kind of way.

So where to start? I’m still learning myself, but here’s a few ideas.

Full disclosure: These are friends of mine.

  1. Eating Dirt, by Leah Morningstar. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s brutally honest, and she’s a single mom of 3. Based out of Thunder Bay, she hurtles through life like a star about to go supernova and attracts an army of artists and local businesses  around her.  If this is the future, bring it on!
Leah Morningstar – Eating Dirt

2. Eryn’s Yoga, by Eryn Kirkwood. Eryn is reaching beyond materialism for a deeper, more balanced, inner strength. She is a teacher and a small business owner, and she will help you find your own balance, just by paying attention. (Full Disclosure: I took the cover photo for her book, but I would not be drawing attention to it if Eryn did not speak in a way which rings true to me.) Update: Coincidentally, she wrote a post on #MeToo a few days after I wrote this post. Read it here.

Strong Body, Calm Mind – Worth reading for the philosophy and the humour

3. a little nest of girls, by Cristina Bianchi. To quote Cristina when I told her I want to link to her in this post:

It was always meant as a place to think about my momming (originally as a recently-separated single mom). Rage, of course, comes very quickly when parenting girls and wanting to keep them safe from this horrifying world. But also teaching them to be warriors in their own right.

4. Dawn Xanklin Comedy. She has toiled in the Communications trenches of the government for years, and now she has focused those skills into something a lot more fun and close to her heart – speaking her truth through comedy! This is something I tried to do once, but Dawn’s only been doing this for a short time and she’s already doing it far better than I ever was, and probably would be now, more than a decade later. Note: You will have to log into Facebook to see this video:

Yuk Yuks New Talent Showcase, December 6 2017

It’s a small list, I know, but that says more about my own lack of knowledge than about the lack of women we should be paying attention to. They’re out there, and they’re speaking now, and it is time to listen. So listen up, guys! The times they are a changing, but this is a good change, a positive change.

As for me, despite everything I said above, I am going to keep writing (provided I can maintain the discipline and energy required to do a passable job at it).

As I acknowledge my own irrelevance, I must also acknowledge that I’m a dad to two wonderful, awesome little girls. And while they are not yet ready to make their own artistic and intellectual pursuits public, the least I can do for them is try to clear a space where they feel comfortable expressing themselves and being who they are.

So is that how this blog becomes relevant again? I don’t know. Probably not. It is just the blatherings of a white, middle-aged, straight male. But, at least I can leave something behind for them so they know who I am, who I was, how I evolved (or devolved) over time, even while I was parenting them.

OK OK, I’m done. See you later.

Update: OK. This woman needs no introduction, but I will introduce her anyways. How did Samantha Bee not even get asked to take over The Daily Show? She is so smart, so sharp, and so funny that it’s downright criminal that they didn’t even consider her.  I mean, come on guys, she was right there! I mean, at the least, the execs at the top who ultimately made the decision should have considered her.  That they didn’t – well, what does that say about them, us, our whole culture? Thankfully, PBS saw what Comedy Central so obviously missed, and the world is much, much better off for their forward thinking.

Christie Lake Kids’ heart of gold counters the suckitude of humanity

“People suck.”

That’s what a friend of mine and I used to say to each other when we (yet again) were disappointed by the words and actions of our peers when we were growing up.

As you grow older, you move away from those people who disappointed you, you educate yourself, you hope that the world you encounter is better than the one that turned you off. But sometimes, humanity’s suckitude can be overwhelming.

Telecoms who own a significant chunk of the available Canadian spectrum whine about how they will be unable to compete if the last remaining available bandwidth is tipped a little bit more towards newcomers rather than incumbents while gouging you for unbelievable prices for your cellphone, cable television and internet.  Pipelines spill, polluting once pristine environments and endangering lives and habitats of plants, animals, and humans.

And children living in poverty and abusive environments, unable to participate in activities and receive positive feedback like some of the middle-class kids they go to school with just because they can’t afford to live like they do. Sometimes these kids just barely survive, with parents spending any money they have on drug and alcohol instead of food and clothing and possibly abusing their own kids while they are at it. Put yourself in the shoes of those kids, and you can understand how it can take all of their processing power just to get through a day, nevermind worrying about doing their math and reading homework.

When you grow up in a world like this, it’s hard not to think that the world sucks.  It’s easy to fall off the path and into despair, addiction, and crime.

So it’s heartening to see a charity like Christie Lake Kids in action. It identifies and reaches out to at-risk kids growing up in rough neighborhoods and provides them with a summer camp experience which includes swimming lessons, canoeing, camping, arts and crafts, rock-climbing, a variety of sports, and general overall self-esteem and confidence building.

Full disclosure

One of my aunts is a board member of Christie Lake Kids and she invited me out on August 7th to participate in a donor’s tour of the camp. I brought along my camera and voluntarily took pictures that will likely end up on their website, put into newsletters, and boost their presentations.

Continue reading Christie Lake Kids’ heart of gold counters the suckitude of humanity

Embracing the feminine with my baby girl

The first year my wife and I began dating we attended a work event that had hired two psychics for a laugh.

I sat down with one of them, not expecting much, but he was able to detect the issues I was feeling over my ex and how she had treated me and whether or not my current girlfriend was the right person for me.

He didn’t come right out and say those things, but ultimately what he did say was, “You are in a very masculine stage right now. What you have to do is embrace the feminine.”

That hit home to me, as my girlfriend was very much a girly-girl, in the sense that she loved her shoes and her makeup and her purses and loved to be very well-dressed all the time, no occasion necessary.

She is now my wife and has been since 2009 (and unofficially in 2007, depending on which ring you look at) and in 2010 we brought a beautiful baby girl into this world.

And boy oh boy did that change my perception. It’s one thing to be exposed to feminism growing up and in University. It’s another to consider its practical application to this tiny little girl and what kind of world she will grow up in and how will the world treat her.

Continue reading Embracing the feminine with my baby girl

Dear friends: I’m not ignoring you, I’m being there for her

Dear friends:

I know I haven’t been around a lot the last couple of years. I know I made you promises that I would be there for you and help you through every little thing. I know I promised that I would work my ass off to guarantee your success and help you navigate unfamiliar business and technical worlds leaving you to focus on your art.

But something happened.

I bought a house. I got a car. I built a family. We adopted dogs. We had a baby. We moved out of the city.

And then I wasn’t there anymore. There, as in, mentally present and willing to go down the road of learning and applying all that technical knowledge to ensuring your success.  There, as in finding the time to meet you downtown to catch up and look at girls. There, as in shooting you regular emails about my life. Facebook updates became a substitute for all of that.

Instead, I was busy 24/7 with other things. Mainly, my little girl.

Continue reading Dear friends: I’m not ignoring you, I’m being there for her