But first how I got to this year’s intention…
She’s not the daughter I wanted.
Those words have shaped my entire life. For those who don’t know me and probably a few that do, you may be shocked to find out that those are the words that have defined my entire life. Those words were spoken by my mother. Repeatedly. My entire life. To EVERYONE. Back story. I was the 4th born child in the bumpy and ending marriage of my mother and father. After three boys my arrival was met with shock and disbelief. I was supposed to be Christopher. My mother was so convinced she was having another boy that early April morning that the midwife had to convince her I was a girl. She was very happy, she FINALLY had her girl. No more bitter disappointment. I mean she LOVES my brothers but after 15 years of “jeans and t-shirts” as she liked to say she was more than a little thrilled to finally have a much anticipated and desired daughter. And what a handful I was! I was all girly and giggly. I loved to dance and was a non stop talker. I was the apple of my brother’s eye. I was, in a word, perfect. I had all the dresses and all the shoes. My mother took her first maternity leave when I was born. She stayed home with me for a couple years. Later of course she would remind me how her pension was affected and it didn’t seem to make any difference so she probably shouldn’t have done it. But then the inevitable happened. I turned out to have my own personality. When I was about three years old I decided I didn’t like the name my parents had lovingly picked for me and I changed it. I didn’t ask, I just simply refused to respond to my first name. “Call me ‘nother name” was demanded and from then forward I was known by my middle name. Well they put up a good fight but I would just stare blankly at them as they yelled “KAREN” over and over until with a resigned sigh they would say “Allison” and I would happily answer!! That probably should have been a hint as to how the rest of my life was going to go. Anyway…. my parents split, my older brothers moved away and I was left in Saskatoon with arguably the coolest older brother ever. We were four years apart and we had a pretty damn good childhood. We lived in the best neighbourhood with a million other kids. It was a new suburban type neighbourhood with the best schools and fantastic teachers. We grew up playing Kick the Can & raiding gardens for carrots. I followed my big brother to the ice rink in the winter and rode my bike all over the place in the summer. I’m still friends with a large percentage of the kids from back in the hood. We all grew up to be pretty decent people. Saskatoon raised some spectacular kids in the 70’s & 80’s. Good, honest, decent people with dry sarcastic sense of humour or I suppose we could also be described witty smart asses. It must have been in the water. There were dips in the road along the way, I was molested by my babysitters husband and never really told anyone until years later in therapy. Keeping that secret for so many years is probably one of my only regrets from old Toon town. I have a crazy amount of guilt that my little 5 year old self suffered at this old man’s hand and I didn’t tell anyone. My mother also struggled with what I now see was depression and I wasn’t very nice to her as a child. I just didn’t understand how hard it was for her to be a divorced woman with 2 young kids in the 80’s with no real support system and so I never really tried to understand her sadness. So I think that’s why I went down such a bumpy teenagehood. My mother didn’t really appreciate that I had my own desires and dreams. She wanted me to live, act and feel what SHE wanted me to do. There was no room for what I wanted in there at all. It was stifling. Prime example….when I was young I took piano lessons. I never wanted to take piano lessons. I wanted to take Violin lessons. More than ANYTHING I wanted to take either the violin or the cello. My mother told me I was taking the piano. I took the piano because that is what she had so desperately wanted to take when she was a child. She was the poor child with a cardboard cut out piano dreaming of one day learning to play. I was the child who had to fulfill that dream. When I said I didn’t want to play anymore, I wasn’t allowed to quit. YEARS of piano lessons. I had natural talent and played beautifully and she couldn’t understand why i wouldn’t continue for ever. She was convinced that it was every child dream and as her daughter I must do it. I quit the minute I could. Ten years of piano lessons I never wanted, asked for or enjoyed. And I never once got to learn the violin. So we repeated the exact pattern she was trying to avoid. I was in my bedroom pretending to play the violin just as she had been 40 years before. Later when I was picked to play the bassoon in band she phoned the school and made them change it. Not because she had any knowledge about musical instruments or that I had been picked to play one of the most challenging but because she thought it was ridiculous. I was picked to play the bassoon because the band teacher knew I had musical talent. The bassoon is a much more difficult instrument to master and he was sure I could handle it. My mother turned up her nose and said ‘the bassoon? there’s no reason you have to play that, who plays the bassoon?”. And therefore, I played the clarinet. I mastered it in no time flat, was bored senseless and quit after 3 years. The minute I turned 18 I moved out. I gave up going to university because in order to do that I would have to stay at home and I just couldn’t. She has thrown that in my face for the last 30 years. The fact that I applied (and was accepted) into the college I wanted to go into didn’t help. It wasn’t what SHE wanted me to do and from the minute I was accepted she started telling me how it wasn’t the right choice. Look at what so and so’s daughter did! Did you know that such and such’s son is a doctor? You just left for NO reason. Well I was 18 with a 10 pm curfew…so I could vote but I couldn’t go to a late night movie. Yes I moved out, I could no longer BREATHE. My whole life I have been just a series of disappointments to her. She’s made sure to let me know that every decision I’ve ever made has been the wrong one. In her eyes I’m not a nice person. I’m not a good partner. She repeated told me that men just cheat and I should save my marriages. I’m not a good cook. When I cook dinner for her she is beyond surprised that no one gets food poisoning and repeatedly tells me (in a shocked voice) how good it is. I’m barely capable. At 30 when taking my child on a vacation she didn’t talk to me for a ages because I didn’t take her. Not that she wanted to see the destination but that she thought I shouldn’t be going alone. “what if you get lost?” “but you’ve never been there before!” “you shouldn’t travel alone”. The first house I wanted to buy was dismissed by her as being unsafe. She rescinded the offer to help with the down payment until I picked a house she deemed appropriate. I love my mother and there are a lot worse out there. I absolutely understand how she became the woman she is but being raised by her has made me doubt every single decision I’ve ever had to make. The lack of confidence I have had my entire life has been crippling. I promised myself that when I had kids I would be sure to let them know that I believe they are capable. That I don’t have to agree with their choices, but that their choices are 100% theirs. I will support them no matter what. Even if I’m sitting here wringing my hands I will support them. And I will do my best for the first years of their life and then I will back the fuck off. That I will happily give my opinion when asked but if I’m not asked, I’ll shut the hell up and let them figure it out.
So where does that leave me? As I started to try to figure out my intention for this year i was struggling. The Year of the House was a great success! The new kitchen is 90% finished (pictures in the new year) and the house is now the home of our dreams. The Year of Awesome that started it all continues to this day. That first year of making an intention was really just a dream. I was reaching out to the universe at the lowest point in my life with a hope for something better and wow…what a difference it has made in my life. The year of Style was fun and although I started out thinking it would change my outside, it in fact changed my insides more than I ever thought possible. I ended up doing a photoshoot in my UNDERWEAR?!?!?! So THAT was successful beyond anything I ever thought possible. So 2016…what to do? Where to put my focus? “She’s not the daughter I wanted”. The Year of Becoming. That is what 2016 is going to be….the year of becoming who I’ve always wanted. The year of becoming who I’ve always thought i could be but my self doubt and voices of my past held me back. To FINALLY stop playing that one sentence over and over in my head. But what does it look like? Well it’s a HUGE story. One that I’m going to tell throughout the year.
Becoming the woman I wanted. Hold on to your hats people. This is huge.
2016 The Year of Becoming.