On mornings, bears, and husbands

This morning was most definitely a Monday morning. One seventh of my time here on earth has been occupied by Monday mornings and I have to say, after all this time, I still don’t mind them.

Mondays mark a return to school after two days off. Ditto for work for The Man We Call Dad. As for me, I work Tuesdays through Saturdays most weeks, so technically for me, Tuesday is Monday.

Though Tuesday mornings don’t bother me either.

Maybe I’m a bit of an odd duck (and those of you who know me well can stop laughing now), but I’ve never minded Mondays (even when they are really Tuesdays).  I’ve never minded birthdays, either. They are, like every other day, an opportunity to do something fun. Or something hard. Or something incredibly worthwhile.

And we only get some 30 000 of them in our lives, if we are lucky. Why on earth would I spend 4 285 of them being miserable by choice?

Every so often though, there comes a Monday (or Tuesday) that just needs a little extra grit to get through. Take this morning, for example. It began with a little bit of alarm ignoring after a busy weekend, was followed by the discovery that a thermos one was planning to use for lunch was not, in fact, as clean as it should be, and was topped off by the sudden and smelly discovery that the child on kitchen duty last night failed to take the compost out, much to the delight of the fruit flies that seemingly appear from nowhere overnight.

(The fruitflies, on the other hand, are most certainly having the sort of Monday morning that lottery ticket holders have when they discover upon checking the news one Monday morning that their ticket is worth 9 million dollars, or some other such staggering sum of joyful incredulity followed by much whooping and hollering and jumping up and down.)

After an emergency compost evacuation followed by thermos washing and fruit fly chasing, I plopped myself down on the couch and must have let out a sigh for the girl we call B gave me an empathetic look and told me I looked tired. Not as tired as a girl who spent the weekend travelling to Jouvence to perform with the band and then run obstacle courses, go kayaking, and participate in a kid-sized version of the lumberjack olympics, but Monday-Morning-Mama tired.

And so she gave me a bear.

Well actually, it was a stuffed cat which was then followed by a bear, but you get the idea.

The bear is a small one, white and fluffy (though it’s fur is now rather more well-loved and fuzzy than downy soft, and its colour is no longer pristine and snowy), and its legs have the most adorable curve to them that give the impression that the bear has knees.

I love that bear.

B handed me the bear in all seriousness, telling me how good the bear was at cuddling, and how the thing she loved most about that particular bear was how it was such a good cuddle bear, but not too big, and not too small.

I smiled, cuddled the bear, and told her that the thing I had always loved most about that particular bear was the fact that it had knees.

“I know, right?!” came the answer, followed by a frown and a puzzled “But I don’t remember when I got the bear or who bought it for me.”

I couldn’t help but smile.

I just might have hugged the bear a little closer, too.

For you see, our little Miss B did not get that bear at all. That particular bear is mine, and I have had it for a very long time.

Way back in the middle ages (or perhaps even before the age of the dinosaurs, it’s hard to remember exactly), when The Man We Call Dad and I were only 3 or 4 years older than our oldest child is now, he gave me that bear. We were walking down the street one warm summer evening, hand in hand, when he stopped and dug something out of his backpack and held it behind his back for a moment before presenting it to me.

“She’s got knees!” I exclaimed then, delighted. He smiled at me, that funny little crooked smile he gets when he’s feeling particularly vulnerable, and I kissed him, the bear crushed between us, before we continued down the street.

That moment, in the peculiar way certain moments do, engraved itself in my memory, though it wasn’t particularly significant in any way at all. I can still see the shine of the streetlights against the dark sky and feel the humidity in the air and the way my hair tickled the back of my neck, pulled up in a ponytail as it was, though I can’t remember if he said anything, or what else we might have talked about that night.

That bear has seen me through a quarter century of adventures… my first night away at university, my first time stuck in an airport in a foreign country trying to get home, my first apartment. It has seen me through some sad times, too, like losing our first baby, losing family members, losing friends. More often than not, it sat on a bookshelf in my bedroom rather than on my bed, but every so often as I passed by I would stroke those adorable little knees, or take the bear down and give it a squeeze.

And then my kids were born, first K and then B, and somewhere, somewhen, the bear stopped living on my bookshelf and started living in a child’s bed.

This morning, when B couldn’t remember where she got the bear, I told her the truth of where the bear came from. She had the funniest look on her face as I told her, half wondering and awe-struck, half highly amused.

“That bear is more than twice as old as you are,” I informed her.

“You’re so lucky,” was her reply.

“I am?”

“You are.” A firm nod of her head let me know she was serious. And then a hand went on her hip and her head tilted sideways.

Very serious.

And then came the Grand Pronouncement:

“When I grow up, I want to be lucky enough to have a husband who gives me teddy bears. Teddy bears with knees. A man who gives you bears is one worth keeping, I think. You’re very lucky, you know.”

There are moments in parenthood when it is extraordinarily difficult to keep a straight face.

Especially when I agree so wholeheartedly.

And lest you think the bear from our teenaged years was a one-time event, you should know that last weekend on our way home from camping, we stopped in at Mastermind Toys and spent fully 10 minutes debating whether or not it would be reasonable to acquire a gorgeous, soft, cuddly stuffed elephant for our family room. The softness definitely counted in its favour. The fact that it is life-sized and would most definitely block our view of the TV was a point against, but what can you do?

(Buy your wife a Metal Earth R2D2 model to build, that’s what. And a millenium falcon, too. And yes, he smiled that smile I love so much as he dragged me over to see R2D2 in all his shiny glory. And yes, I may have kissed him just a little.)




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