Gus, Motherhood, Olive

Dragons and darkness


A dragon and I went walking one day…

A photo posted by Sweet Madeleine (@sweet.madeleine) on

Life has been strange and other-worldly lately.

On Wednesday, I found myself lying in my backyard watching a meteor shower. I squinted my eyes against the dark grey of the sky – it was so lit up from the street lights and overflowing city brights that in some places it was tough to make out the stars at all. I lay there in the quiet of the dark and just as I was losing hope I saw a bright flash of light streak swiftly across the sky, disappearing as quickly as it emerged.

It was so bright and fleeting. Something beyond me. I needed that reassurance – that reminder to look up.

Olive is becoming a threenager. This is a thing. And suddenly she is sassy as all hell.  And she is SMART. This is not a good combination. In the upcoming months please expect to see me eat my words on the subject of exactly every smug parenting proclamation I have ever made. Oh! Is your child having tantrums? Just ask them to take a deep breath!


If, as Olive lay prone on floor of Safeway today (grocery stores. WHY is it always at grocery stores?), I had asked her to take a deep breath, I think she would have summoned the strength of a thousand men and thrown an entire artisanal cheese display at my head.

When did she get so lippy? I am terrified of her! She’s not even tantruming over anything, I think she’s just overcome by a fierce lust for power and she wants to RUN this show and I am standing there exhausted, half-heartedly arguing like, “Um, no, actually that’s my job…as…your mom…sooo..” and then she casts me this glare and I am like fuck…Madeleine, get it together! 

I am going to need to take some time to reevaluate how I deal with these shenanigans, because right now I am defaulting to stress eating twizzlers in grocery store parking lots and some sort of ineffectual sitcom-style parenting. I am saying things like “Oh, I don’t THINK so. You do NOT take that tone with me!”

She’s not even  THREE. Kid doesn’t even know what “tone” is.

Plus, I sent her to her room the other day and then she asked what she was supposed to be doing in there, and I got all flustered and said something like, “You THINK about what you’ve done”, and I realized at that moment that sending kids to their room isn’t a punishment for them, it ‘s a reprieve for the parents. Jesus christ, being on the other side of this thing is a trip.

Don’t worry, I’ll get my mothering mojo back. I’ve just been temporarily thrown off course and in the meantime, things like this are happening:

(Please, laugh as I get owned by a tiny human being who wears dragon slippers to the playground.)

I sat with Olive at breakfast this morning after she was demanding a drink and toast quite rudely, and I explained tone of voice. I demonstrated a “rude voice” and a “kind voice” and she seemed to understand it, and rephrased her demands as requests, in a softer voice. I chalked it up as a win.


Tonight, she was wired AF and resisting bedtime (perhaps as a result of me making energy balls and then storing them at toddler height in the fridge? I mean, I don’t want to point fingers, but there are THREE left out of two dozen, OLIVE.)

Anyway, she comes out of her room for the umpteenth time as I am trying to find my writing groove for a rather important project, and she asks me if I want her to sing me the song she made up. I know this seems cute but please note that it was a good hour past her bedtime at this point. I said, with no small amount of exasperation in my voice, “No, Olive, I don’t. Go to bed. Now.”

At which point she replied, in an affronted huff, “You can’t talk to ME in a rude voice, Mummy! Use a KIND voice.”

Ahgnamsjdhsma,ajssn! You win! All the swears. ALL THE SWEARS.

Bring able to drink coffee OR alcohol on a daily basis would REALLY  come in handy these days.


On a more somber note, Gus isn’t doing so well these days. That’s a big understatement.

He has a large tumour which has taken up residence on his shoulder, making him look like a canine Quasimodo. He has lived with Olive’s dad since we separated, and I went up to Edmonton to see him last weekend after hearing how poorly he was doing. I cut his nails and cleaned his ears, washed his bed and collar, gave him a lavender washcloth bath. Doggie spa. As I ran the washcloth down his back I could feel dozens of other pea-sized growths passing under my fingertips, like braille telling an ominous story with an obvious ending.

He has trouble breathing, and sores crowd his mouth and make eating difficult. He is back and forth to the vet.  He is just over 7, which is old for an English Mastiff. Now the talks are circling around when to put him down. I wish it was an if, instead.

Gustopher. I don’t know what to say. It’s a heartbreaking way to go. This big giant reduced to a shuffling shadow.


I don’t quite know how to gracefully wrap up a strange mash-up of a post like this. My apologies. If you are the praying type, prayers of comfort for the big guy would be really appreciated.


Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Kassey August 16, 2015 at 2:46 AM

    I’d offer a helpful suggestion but all I’ve got is wine and/or beer

  • Reply Natasha August 16, 2015 at 4:02 AM

    Aw, poor Gus. When that day comes, may he rest peacefully in doggy heaven, chewing bones to his heart’s content.

  • Reply tara August 16, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    true story spent the evening stress eating twizzlers as well. hang in xo

  • Reply Tina August 16, 2015 at 1:52 PM

    My heart aches when I hear about Gus..I can’t imagine even with my two girls, what I’ll be like when that day comes…sending you hugs!

    You’re not alone! I also have a sassy threenager who suddenly took over Autumn’s body a few weeks ago and hasn’t left!! When you figure how to deal with them please share the wisdom. I feel like a newborn would be easy-peasy compared to what this toddler is throwing at me!

  • Reply Sam Pereira August 16, 2015 at 4:35 PM

    Oh poor Gus! He’s so beautiful, and even in pictures I can see what a sweetheart is. My love to you all… saying goodbye to a pet is just awful. xx

  • Reply Grace August 16, 2015 at 7:20 PM

    Sorry to hear about Gus. I had been wondering about him. Turmeric!!! My old buddy Spike had those lumps all over too including a huge one on his elbow which was obviously uncomfortable but he was too old to operate on. A little turmeric on each meal made the lumps soften and thus were easier to deal with. It is a natural anti-inflamatory and works over time. Could be worth a shot to make him more comfortable while he is shuffling about. It also comes in capsules. Oh to love a doggie…

  • Reply littleonemp August 17, 2015 at 3:22 AM

    So Sorry to hear about Gus. Seeing the furry members of your family decline is always rough. Sending virtual hugs from a stranger 🙂

    Olive’s sass cracks me up, and scares me… I hope since I have a boy, we might avoid the worst of it. But I doubt I am that lucky.

  • Reply KL August 17, 2015 at 10:27 AM

    Our English Mastiffs will be 7 this month. Makes me sad thinking about them aging :-/ thankfully Gus has had a wonderful life full of love.

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.