Archive for Caregiving Posts

published in Aging, Caregiving, Change, Family, Fatherhood by Maryanne | June 13, 2017 | 6 Comments

A Few Laughs for Father’s Day – Funny Sayings from the Alex Pope Quote Collection


Carleton, Dad, MA

“These hot nights cause a lot of sweat and stickiness in my unventilated areas.”

– Alex Pope

In honour of Father’s Day, I thought I’d share with you some funny sayings of my Dad’s.

Over the past few years, when my Dad lived in the care home, whenever my younger brother, Carleton, heard him make a cute (or comically inappropriate) comment, he would jot it down. Not surprisingly, Carleton collected some real gems of “Dadisms” over the years.

Although my Dad had dementia, thankfully his sense of humour, spectacular vocabulary, exquisite grammar, extensive knowledge and astute observation skills still surfaced on occasion.

In life, my Dad wasn’t a Cheerful Charlie, easy-go-lucky, go-with-the-flow, positive kind of guy.

He was more like Spock from Star Trek: logical, intelligent, rational…with an encyclopedia for a mind. In the early days of dementia, his memory loss caused him to be extremely anxious – and understandably so. And yet his wry sense of humour and unrelenting candour still shone through – often with rather comedic results 😊

Here are a few Dadisms:

“Her name is Dr Besterd? I would have changed my name.”

“The girls are REALLY nice to me in here. Probably because there’s no competition. There are a lot of really ancient people in here. They’re like statues. They just lie in bed and don’t move. I feel like I’m in a mausoleum.”

“I’m not going to see Dr Besterd anymore? But she’s gorgeous! I’m going to have to have a heart attack.”

“It’s been a pretty pulchritudinous bunch of girls who’ve been taking care of me!”

“I’m fine for the moment but I’m a walking bundle of anxieties, large and small…but strokes of genius just come to me.”

While pointing finger into empty glass of red wine at Thanksgiving in care home: “Oh, wine steward……might I have a little more?”

“All these little demons are driving me around the bend…I’m getting to the point that I don’t want to do anything. I just want to worry about it, then go to sleep, and try not to wet the bed.”

“One of the great dangers around here is getting nailed by commentarists…certain types of talkers who get hold of you and hold on indefinitely. I’m deathly afraid of these clingers.”

 “This really is a nice walk…I just hope that I don’t pass out and die on you.”

On aging: “The almighty should have thought this all out better…he’s just created a lot of shit and trouble for everyone!”

“I would prefer to live with relatives, but I’d just be a nuisance…I’m an expert at complaining.”

To a caregiver: “Sorry, I just had my pants down and was powdering my behind.”

“It appears that I’m lost…but I’ve found the bar!”

“After 8 o’clock, this place is just like a tomb!”

On a picnic day trip: “This outhouse is only suitable for corpse disposal…it has this gaping maw that is waiting to swallow you whole.”

“I feel like there’s a big black sheet of rolling doom & gloom…with superficial flashes of humour that don’t last long.”

“When you push that plate towards me, my vomit reflex starts to churn.”

Farts while walking: “That was a dry one…but I think there’s a wet one coming.”

“I think I’m going to lose consciousness…should I do it here? Or somewhere else?”

“I’ve got enough misery of my own to be able to deal with other people’s follies.”

After man finishes saying grace, Dad immediately stands up and exclaims: “I feel kind of sick!”

“It’s true…we are temporary artifacts…sometimes temporary accidents.”

“I’ve dirtied a lot of diapers this way. Sorry…Pull-Ups!”

Have a fantastic Father’s Day!

I shall be raising a glass of red in memory of my Dadio 🙂 

Related Blogs by Maryanne

Tempus Fugit – Bahamas Reflections on my Dad

My Dad is Off on his Next Big Adventure

Pussies and Erection Day – Hard of Hearing Humour

When the Engine Light is Red

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Caregiving, Change, Family, Motherhood, Mothering Matters by Maryanne | June 8, 2017 | No Comment

This is the 6th blog in the Mothering Matters 2017 Spring Blog Series:

Raising Kids Who Care – Can Compassion Be Taught?


“Caring is something that needs to be taught by example. Words are easily forgotten. Actions are not. Actions leaves a lasting impression.”

– Anon mother of three

For this Mothering Matters blog, I interviewed a mom of three children who has requested we keep her name anonymous.

Question #1. What do you mean by raising kids who care? Care for what? Someone or something other than themselves? Compassionate? Volunteering? To be kind & considerate? To give back?

What I mean by raising kids who care is raising them to be thoughtful and caring…that means raising kids to think about others before always thinking, doing and wanting everything for themselves. I believe that will create compassion, which leads to volunteering, giving back and enriching someone else’s life, whether that be a human or animal life.

Question #2: Why is it important to you to raise kids who care?

It is important to me because it’s my job. I brought children into this world. The world suffers a great deal of pain and suffering. Only kindness and compassion can heal this. I want to do my part to ensure my children contribute to the kindness and compassion – not the pain and suffering.

Question #3: Tell me about your experience with your daughter and volunteering in an orphanage? How did that impact her?

When I was a single mom, I took my 6-year old daughter to South America to volunteer in an orphanage for 5 weeks. Our job as volunteers was to just provide some love and interaction with the children. The government-paid workers provided their basic needs – food, clothing, shelter – but they never had an adult that truly cared for them. My daughter loved to hold and cuddle those babies.

Even as a young child, my daughter understood the need for social interaction for those babies…their need to be loved by strangers because they didn’t have any one person who loved and truly cared for them.

I had always felt a bit badly for my daughter because she didn’t have a father. He died when she was a baby. But when I got to the orphanage, I realized those kids had NOBODY. Whereas my daughter had me and grandparents and aunts and uncles and lots of family to love her.

As a six-year-old, she saw that and realized how fortunate she was.

She was very compassionate with those babies because she could see those children didn’t have anyone. Those babies just had their diapers changed and then were put back into their cribs. The babies wouldn’t even be held when they were being fed. They would just get a towel rolled up under them, to prop them up, and given a bottle.

We would take those babies out of the cribs and give them their bottle. The nurses didn’t like that because it would spoil the babies and they would want more cuddling. But we did it anyway and I explained to my daughter why: because those babies needed the physical love and touch.

Scientific studies have shown that infants benefit significantly from human touch and cuddling. So although those babies wouldn’t remember being held, they would still be the better for it. My daughter understood that.

Question #4: How is this showing up in her life now, as a teenager?

Now that she is a teenager, at times it appears to me – as the parent – that it is all about her. She is not motivated to help out at home and just wants to be with her friends. And yet she IS very compassionate with her friends. Many of her peers come to her when they are distressed. She has the compassionate ear they confide in.

So even though she’s not volunteering right now, I think that will change. I think her early childhood experiences of volunteering has stuck with her and when she passes through the teenage years, she will do more of that.

Question #5: How old are your sons? What are you doing with them to try and make them learn compassion?

My sons are 7 and 9.

Right now, with the boys we have sold some children’s books at trade shows and are donating all the profits to a charity. This was their idea. It came into discussion after reading a bedtime story about a child’s experience in a developing country who didn’t have food or parents. My sons felt badly about that, so we brainstormed a way to earn some money and then donating it.

When we were at the trade show, we told people we were donating money to charity and the reasons why. Ronald McDonald House is our first charity – we chose that so that I can physically take the boys there and they can actually see the impact this has on the kids staying there. I also want my kids to see that it’s not just in developing countries where children need help.

My heartstrings have always been pulled that way – to children in developing countries. But I want to show my kids the direct impact of their charity. By taking them to Ronald McDonald House, my kids will see children who have significant health issues – and I think that will help create compassion and gratitude for their healthy bodies and lifestyles.

On that note, my mom always taught me she was thankful she had a capable and able body to DO work. It’s human nature for kids to complain because they have to do chores. And yet, I think it is important that my kids learn how lucky they are that they can physically do chores. Because a lot of children aren’t blessed with good health.

In other words, I want my children to be thankful they have a healthy body to do the chores and jobs around our home and farm. I want to continue the valuable lesson that my mom taught me.

Down the road, we’ll see how these book sales go. At some point, we also want to raise money for kids in a developing country then go there and donate those funds, so they can see that impact as well.

Question #6: Do you think “caring” is something that can be taught? Or shown by example?

Caring is something that needs to be taught by example. Words are easily forgotten. Actions are not. Actions leaves a lasting impression.

Question #7: I know you are concerned about kids/young people these days having a real sense of entitlement…

a) what does this mean to you?

To me, a sense of entitlement refers to when kids just expect everything to be done for them – and they don’t have to do anything in return. It’s the “me, me, me,” thinking.

b) Why do you think this is?

I think it is because as parents, we all want the best for our children. But I think that sometimes parents don’t realize that what is actually best for children is not giving them what they want. Sometimes saying no to kids is the best thing for them.

I read the book, Me to We, by Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger, and it really resonated with me. I agree we need to change a lot in our society to make that shift from me to we. It starts in our small communities and in our homes.

I’ve heard so many people say something to the effect of, “My Dad was too hard on me, so if my kid doesn’t want to do something, I don’t want to make them.” So then they go and do the exact opposite! But I don’t think that’s the answer. It doesn’t make sense because spoiling kids by giving them everything and not teaching them how to do chores, etc doesn’t work in terms of raising kids to be responsible adults.

c) Why do you think it is a negative thing?

Because teaching kids a sense of entitlement is not making our kids compassionate. It is not raising children to think of others and help others. It becomes more about wanting more for themselves.

d) What are you doing as a parent to try and ensure your kids don’t have that sense of entitlement?

We are not giving them everything they want. We say no to them sometimes. And we get them to do age-appropriate chores. We are teaching them the value of earning the right to their privileges.

It concerns me there are so many parents working insanely hard to provide for their kids – and yet the kids don’t have to do anything in return. I’ve spent a lot of quality time with my kids and sometimes chores can be really fun! We’ve had some wonderful bonding moments teaching them how to do chores.

And I spend a great deal of my time taking my kids to sports, so I feel they can help me with the household chores. To be honest, I find it difficult that some other parents aren’t doing that – because then my kids turn around and tell me, “Well so and so doesn’t have to help out with this and this.”

This is especially true in the teen years.

I have always wanted to be that fun parent that has a close relationship with my kids – and I do – but I feel frustrated because I’ve fought an awful lot with my teenager. She thinks we are strict, unreasonable parents for wanting her to help out at home. It’s made us not close in some ways…and I think part of that has come from her watching other kids not having to do any chores.

I think if she’d been surrounded by kids who did have to help out, she wouldn’t have been so angry at us.

Mind you, I do get compliments from my daughter’s supervisor on what a hard worker she is! So she does work hard…just not at home.

And we get lots of compliments from people about how nice and polite and hard-working our children are. For example, at a recent work-session on our farm, all our kids were out there working their butts off and people were really impressed at the work our kids could do!

I feel proud about that…and the kids do, too.

e) So are you succeeding in helping ensure your kids don’t have a sense of entitlement?

Yes, I hope so.

Like that old saying, I feel there are two gifts I can give to my children: one is roots and the other is wings. By teaching them compassion, saying no to them at times and having them help out with chores, we are showing them the value of earning their privileges…those are the roots.

Then when they leave the house, those are their wings…what they do after that is out of my control. But if I have given them their roots, I know it will help them become kinder, more responsible people.

Question #8: Anything else you would like to add?

 Yes. I just want to mention that I think we appreciate something more when we have done without it for a period of time. That’s partly why I think it is so important to say no to our kids sometimes. It is human nature to want more, more, more. So it is our job as parents to teach kids to appreciate what they already have….and that there is always something to be thankful for.

I also feel that my job as a parent is to teach my children that helping others will help bring them happiness. In the Me to We book, they really touched on that message: that true happiness is helping others. Teaching kids how to be kind and compassionate helps makes the world a better place and creates a more meaningful life for them.

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.

This is the 5th blog in the Mothering Matters Spring 2017 Blog Series:

Single Mom Candour – Sage Insights into the Challenges of Raising Children after a Divorce


“It’s hard enough parenting children when there are two parents in the picture. It’s even tougher when you don’t. Let people help you.”

– Anon single mom

This Mothering Matters blog is an interview with a single mom who has requested to remain anonymous.

Question #1: Thanks for being interviewed for Mothering Matters! How old are your boys now?

My eldest son is 12 and my youngest is 10.

Question #2: How old were they were you got divorced?

They were 5 and 3.

Question #3: How old were you?

I was 41.

Question #4: How many years were you married?

We were married for almost 7 years and together for 10.

Question #5: Can you tell me a bit about why you got divorced?

I was married to someone who, I believe, had some undiagnosed mental health issues that led to pretty disruptive levels of anger and paranoia. While we were married, we met with multiple counsellors and it became apparent the situation was not going to change.

I was faced with two crappy decisions: 1) stay in a dysfunctional home or 2) break up my kids’ family.

I took a long time to make the decision to leave, but finally was pushed to make it when I saw that my kids were starting to be affected by the dynamic in our house – in all sorts of really crappy ways. I knew it would only get worse as they got older.

I realize that marriages break up all the time but in my experience/observation, it is rarely the woman who leaves when there are kids involved. They suck up all manner of terrible things to make it work. So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that there was a big reaction from my friends and even from total strangers when they found out that I was the one who initiated the separation.

Many of my friends only saw the side of him that I fell in love with…the fun guy, etc. I had kept much of our marriage reality hidden so it was a huge surprise when it fell apart. I think there were some who thought that I should have stayed, whatever the cost. I don’t think people realize exactly how bad things have to be to leave your spouse and the father of your children.

Question #6: What is your current living situation in regards to when the boys live with you and when they live with their father?

During the school year, the boys spend 60% of their time with me and 40% with their dad. In the summer, it’s 50/50.

Question #7: In addition to raising your sons, I know you also work full time. Do you work from home? How do you handle all the responsibilities that come with juggling a full time career and raising kids?

I do work from home and I work for myself. I think it’s the only way I could do it. Last year was a huge year for my business and I felt like I had absolutely no down time. When I had my kids, it was too much, trying to juggle it all. I was driving them everywhere and taking conference calls all the time – and often international ones at weird times.

The upside was that I cleared the debt that had built up since the divorce. But the flip side was that my stress levels were through the roof and I wasn’t really present when I was with my boys – I was always thinking about the email that needed answering or the deadline that needed meeting. It made me wonder why I was working so hard – what was the point if I couldn’t enjoy being a parent?

This year, I am trying to find more balance. Because I work for myself, I don’t like to turn down work contracts. So I have had to ask myself, “What is enough for us to survive and thrive – but that also allows me to be mindful and present when I am with the kids?”

This shift was partly inspired by going to a 3-day Money Mindfulness course with Tracy Theemes at Hollyhock last summer. She is amazing…the whole experience was a game-changer.

Yes, it was about money, but it also helped me figure out my core values. One of my most central values is freedom. Yet my life was bananas! I was either working all hours of the day and night or running around trying to do everything with my kids to compensate for working so much.

An eye-opener was when my kids started to wake up in the morning and ask, “What are we going to do today? Let’s get going!” They were picking up the need to be busy from me.

I finally realized that work is never over. It never ends…so I had to create boundaries.

I also realized I was living in a prison entirely of my own making. Now I am finally learning to relax and spend some time at home. It sounds dumb but that’s really tough for me to do.

But I know now that I don’t need to take every trip, go to every show, be with friends all the time, etc. to live a peak life. Just being home and baking and reading and recharging is SO important – it helps me do better work and be a better parent.

Question #8: Can you tell me some of the challenges you face being a single mom with the dad still in the picture?

One challenge is that my ex-husband and I still do not have a great relationship. When you divorce someone and don’t have kids, you can walk away. But when you have children, that relationship has to continue – potentially for a very long time.

You have to communicate with each other to make important decisions about their schooling, activities, health, etc. That can be torturous if the relationship isn’t great – and that’s typically the case if you’ve broken up (although I personally know of a handful of amicable and mature co-parenting exes).

If there’s one benefit to this, it’s that I’m reminded every week, if not every day, that leaving that relationship was the right decision.

Obviously my biggest worry is about the impact that the divorce has and will continue to have on my sons. The boys have heard and seen things between my ex and I – and between him and my family and friends – that I wish they hadn’t.

My eldest son used to feel stuck in the middle and he has gotten counselling for it, which really helped. I also get anxious thinking about their future relationships with women. If they see their father treat their mother with disrespect, what does that teach them? That is a big worry for me.

And financially, I totally underestimated how hard it would be to be a single mom. Especially starting my business, which took a while to build momentum. I have a master’s degree and tons of work experience, and yet I still find it is a very precarious financial situation to be in. I can only imagine that, for many women, divorce is completely financially devastating.

Another challenge is that when the kids are under my roof, they are under my rules. But then these rules change when they go stay with their dad. It takes a good couple of days to re-establish a routine every time they transition back to my house.

And single parenting is really difficult. When the boys are with me, I have to be good cop and bad cop. It would be so nice to have another parent there as back up, especially as they get older. It’s harder to deal with the boys now than when they were kids because they have way more tools in their toolbox!

I can see why the two-parent model exists, it makes a lot of sense. That’s what I had as a kid and still have with my parents, but unfortunately that’s just not how it worked out for me and my kids.

Question #9: What are some of the benefits?

Well, there was a huge amount of relief when I left the marriage because I was no longer in a really crappy domestic situation 24-7. To finally leave that environment was a huge relief. But other than that, no. I don’t see many other benefits. Maybe a sense of strength from having to do it all on my own?

Question #10: Do you have any concerns about yourself and/or your boys – either now or in the future – about being a single mom? I know your life is exhausting at times.

As I mentioned before, I do worry about the long-term impacts of their father and I not having a good relationship. This is a relationship they are learning from – and it’s not one I want them to learn from. So yeah, I do have many concerns about the long-term impacts. I just try to be honest with them – and not throw their dad under the bus.

Thankfully, my boys do have other healthy relationships in their lives to observe and learn from. My parents have a really stable relationship. Plus I have friends who are in healthy marriages. And my brother is as well. So all these people – and lots of others – are good role models.

And I try to be a good role model for them, too.

Question #11: Do you have any words of wisdom/suggestions/insights for other single parents?

Yes. I have advice for women who may be where I was, back when I got married. I had concerns about the man I was marrying. But I was 31 and wanted to have kids – and I think that fed in to my decision to marry him. Even though there were huge red flags, I still went ahead.

So my advice to other women is this: don’t do it. I’m not saying that I have any regrets – I am so grateful that I have my two boys and can’t imagine my life without them. But for those who haven’t yet gone down the path of having kids with someone who is raising red flags, trust me: you’re saving yourself a whole world of pain and suffering if you listen to your intuition.

Don’t ignore the red flags. There are other ways to have kids.

In regards to advice to single parents, in my observation there are two types of single parents: 1) the ones who will take advantage of help being offered to them and; 2) the ones who won’t accept help or ask for help. I fell into the second camp. And it doesn’t work.

It’s hard enough parenting children when there are two parents in the picture. It’s even tougher when you don’t. Let people help you! Let people pick up your kids from school or sports. Accept help and be okay with asking for help. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. People won’t think any less of you.

We’re all sitting alone in our own little homes, trying to do it all. But we need to help each other out – it truly does take a village. Sometimes we’re in a position to help others and sometimes we need the help ourselves. It all works out in the end….as they said in the film, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “If it’s not all right, it’s not the end.”

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.