Monthly Archives: August 2010

Only child is some proud mama over musical son

Only child and son, Martin, also an only child

No folks.  I didn’t have a baby – way too old for that.  It’s all about my one and only son, Martin. He and his country music group the Sure Things <; just launched their second CD  last Wednesday evening at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern. Proud Mama here met a couple of friends there – Bob and Carolyn – but I also learned another lesson in being friendly as well as some tolerance.

This club isn’t the greatest for size, layout and stage (more on the latter in a minute as the Sure Things expanded their members, temporarily last Wednesday). This group attracts large crowds and many of them have to stand; some choose to stand near the stage and you can guess what that does to those of us sitting. We can’t see the singers. At one point Bob seemed a bit perturbed about this until I suggested he move. Then he also did what he usually does – started talking to everybody else, like those young people dancing. I stayed seated but quickly got over the crowds dancing around in front of the stage. Hey, we were all having fun and enjoying the music. No point getting all hot and bothered about not being able to see.

I also noticed others came over to our table, sat down and started to chat – at one point my son was the attraction when he was sitting with us before the Sure Things were on. And Carolyn had a synchronicity when the opening band played – all horns and saxes with one on drums and they improvised based on words thrown at them from the audience. Carolyn shouted out a place in British Columbia where her daughter is working. One of the backup fiddlers for The Sure Things came over afterwards and told Carolyn,  “I come from there.”

Later as we “olders” left after my son’s first set (just after midnight), we chatted with some of the “dancers” outside the club. One even said, “oh good, your friend is driving you home.” The atmosphere was certainly friendly and that is the best way to go.

As for the music – with some of the horns and sax of the previous group joining in it was an interesting combination even though the “extras” had to stand beside the stage. My son now plays two different types of lap steel guitars (one resembles a large fiddle) which produce different sounds. When he reels his fingers along the strings it is amazing and he produces an original sound. He also has started singing background vocals with the group – something he didn’t when he first started playing with them a few years ago.

So where does all this creativity come from? I’ve covered this before – the music and playing “by ear” comes from his dad but I think there’s a little creativity on my side of the family, too…especially when your ancestors have the name of  “Strauss.” And one of my older Strauss cousins plays the guitar, sings and writes poetry.

I think creativity is a mixture of what’s bred in the family bones – that kicks it off. But what the individual does with it – how they explore and expand it – I think that goes beyond heredity. If you have the talent, don’t sit on it – develop it.

And enjoy listening to the Sure Things. Besides their website above, you can also listen to them on CBC Radio 3 at



Only child writes

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Filed under Maturity, Only child, Prayer, Time management, Uncategorized

Only Child grateful for responses

Only child (on right) and friend Barb who is not her next door friend

Last week’s posting (and an earlier one) seemed to resonate with a few people – but some of us (myself included) got waylaid by my flakey friends and their bad manners. The varying responses are interesting – from a zen-like one of acceptance to someone else running into similar situations as me. I guess it is all  in how the situation affects you and what you can do about it. When you have no brothers or sisters and your parents are dead, you look elsewhere for family. Besides my son, Martin and his girlfriend, Alison, I look to my cousins  – and I have a lot of cousins-  and, of course, my friends. Contrary to what I posted last week, I do have reliable friends. And I do realize that their lives are not mainly to do my bidding – so to speak.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that reading the comments from last week’s post helped me realize a few things: how much to depend on friendship and how much to depend on me. Being alone I have learned to rely on myself for many things but there is the other side of this fence. Someone once wrote that no man (person) is an island and that means we shouldn’t shut ourselves away from others. The trick is to find the delicate balance between aloneness and connecting with people on a personal level. The other point that clicked in after much ruminating was that as a friend, I, too, have to do some giving. And so I have.

My friends next door are building an upper extension on their house. Although the husband works in construction and is one of the three fellows doing most of the work (excluding electrical and plumbing), it is going slower than expected. They got the use of another house a few miles away but have to get out by next week. There was a basement flat that came available across the street from them and me. The “For rent” sign sat on the lawn for about a month. My neighbour and I talked about it last week and finally they decided to go for it. I passed along the agent’s name and phone number when my neighbour called from their current rental digs and provided her with some background information on the place as well as talking to the fellow in the upstairs unit of that house. I left it at that. Yesterday I received a call from my next door neightbour friend that they have the basement apartment and would I like to see it before they move in? She also thanked me for my help. So, this give-and-take-gratitude thing goes both ways. I knew that but I needed reminding.

The other comment, a “ping” to some of my earlier posts dealt with when are you ever ready for marriage, etc. And it made me think, too. I know I wasn’t ready to get married when I did in that I wasn’t mature enough, but I took that step – whether foolish or not. At that time I didn’t even consider if I was taking a risk, but I guess I was. Maybe that is what it comes down to with some of the life decisions we make. Are we willing to take the risk? Should we take this risk at this time? I’d like to hear from more readers what you think on this.

As for my deciding to get married when I did – it was a bad and a good decision – bad because it did end in divorce, but good because I got a great and talented son from it. But if I dig deeper, the split from my husband may have had a sliver lining (well, somewhat). I finally had to get off my ass and learn to grow up. Today, too many years later I’m still learning. And I still sit on my ass. Well, it is more comfortable than standing up when I’m at my computer.



Only child writes


Filed under Cousins, Family Size, Gratitude, Marriage and Divorce, Maturity, Only child, Risk taking, Siblings and friends, Trust

Only Child still time starved

Only child with another editing job

Time is my big bad four-letter word. Lately I seem to be running on a combination of excess energy and empty – if that is possible. It’s the “too much to do too little time to do it” syndrome, exascerbated by being an only child. No brothers, no sisters to help. I’ve already mentioned the flakey friends, the ones who can’t keep promises. Now another one just pulled the same stunt and it was so avoidable. I get it and I understand if you can’t do something because you already have something planned for that time. What I have trouble with is if I ask a friend if she or he wants to go somewhere with me and they agree; then a few days later I get the call. They had already booked something else for that time. Well, what’s the problem with saying “no” to my request in the first place? I can’t understand this.

Are we all so overbooked and overworked in time that we double-book ourselves and then forget about it? I say look at your Blackberry, Daytimer or whatever you use to keep track of  your appointments and other doings.

As for my time problems, I’m grateful for all the writing and editing and teaching writing work coming my way. Now I just have to make the time to do it. And I do refer work when I really can’t handle another job at the time. Which brings me to another sore point – people who want something yesterday or tomorrow. I get that a lot in my editing. Some people think you can turn around editing a whole book in a week. I don’t think so. I do admit I am still fine-tuning managing my time – I tend to prioritize things and that means some of my e-mails sit in pending unless it is urgent business or urgent personal. Heck I know of someone (a publisher) who only deals with e-mail once a week. That’s going to the opposite end and doesn’t work with me.

I would be interested in knowing how others who are basically alone deal with this time issue. Any words of wisdom here?



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Only child tries to learn trust lessons

Mom and Dad together

I’ve learned that trust is elusive and well, not to be trusted. I’m not sure where the exact origin of this is but I know that finding out the hard way that my Dad had cancer had a lot to do with it. In my memoir I write:

Two months after his 59th birthday, Dad goes for his annual chest x-ray. A few weeks later I hear my parents whispering outside the closed doors of my bedroom and the hallway.

“Your Dad has tuberculosis,” mother tells me the next day. “He has to go into the hospital, probably for an operation. But he’ll be fine. TB is curable.”

She’s my mother, so I believe her…

“He’ll be ok,” Mom says. “They removed half a lung.”

“The good news,” Dad later says as he recuperates in the hospital, “is I can still drink. The bad news is I can’t smoke anymore.”

But bad news spreads like locusts, especially inaccurate stories told to me by my mother and which comfort me, only to be crushed by the Bully. Soon after Dad returns home and to work, the Bully chases me out of the schoolyard.

“Your Dad has cancer.” She taunts me between huffs and puffs. She waddles onto the sidewalk and tries to catch up to me.

“No, it was TB. You’re lying.” I glance at her over my shoulder, then my feet pick up the pace.

“Nah, your parents lied. My Mom said your Dad has cancer.”

She’s lying. She’s got to be lying. She seems closer to my back, so I detour into Holy Cross Church for solace.

“My mother said it was TB. My mother doesn’t lie. Please God.” I kneel on the wood-hard kneelers and hang onto the pew in front of me. “Please God. He had TB. My mother said so.”

My pleading does not carve consolation into my heart. Instead, betrayal is born, and it grows up as offshoots that make no sense to anyone at the time.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home, Part 1, copyright 2010 Sharon Crawford)

When the second round of cancer occurred two years later, Mom didn’t hide anything. But there are other mitigating factors.

I mentioned in my previous post about friends not being supportive. Of course, not every friend is like that and some of the non-supporters aren’t that way consistently. We all have issues and problems to deal with and I try to consider this – but not always, not when I seem to be boxed in a corner with a dilemma. The phrase from the old Ghosbuster movie comes to mind. “Who do you call?”

Maybe I need a problem-buster.

Then there’s this God-religion thing. Perhaps some of it has to do with being brainwashed growing up Catholic back in the 1950s and 1960s when the Baltimore Catechism reigned supreme (pun intended) and everything was in black and white.   Then reality hit and from my late teens I started questioning things. And continue to do so. But now I have more opinions.

Although no longer a Catholic, I make a point of daily giving gratitude for my blessings and also mentioning what has happened that I’m not grateful for (some of my illnesses come under this heading). I also still pray to God, but I seem to be stuck in “ask and you shall receive.” I don’t expect to get everything I ask for, but some things are very important and when things get messed up here, I get upset. A friend has an explanation for this type of scenario. She says “God is busy with other things.”


So, I keep relearning that it is me I have to trust and count on. That’s where it starts. How can you trust others if you can’t trust yourself?

What do others say?



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Filed under Betrayal, Maturity, Only child, Parenting, Prayer, Siblings and friends, Trust

Only child – only the lonely?

Mom, Dad and onlychild age 13

Are only children lonely? Do we crave siblings?


But one thing I’ve learned as an only child – at some point in your life, being an only helps teach you to be independent. Unfortunately with me, that happened later rather than sooner. After Dad died, I lived with Mom for six years until she died. And then, instead of going out on my own and getting some experience coping on my own, I got married – three months after Mom’s death. Although I was already engaged when Mom died, I wasn’t ready for marriage – it was like a child getting married – not age-wise (I was 22) but in maturity. Of course, I didn’t realize it then.

So, after splitting up with my husband at age 30, it was a long, long journey to get myself into dealing independently with life. Much of the time I felt I didn’t have a support system – no brothers, no sisters, just a few friends.  Working from home as a freelance writer provided some predicaments when my son was small, including getting and keeping babysitters. As I write in Part 2 of my memoir, You Can Go Home,

Babysitters were foreign to me. As a teenager I never babysat. The only time I remember my parents ever farming me off was one Saturday at the Bully’s. While Mom and Dad attended a wedding or a funeral, I spent the day with the Bully and her three sisters; their mother, of course, supervised.

So I begin the sitter hunt by answering ads posted at the local IGA. One sitter, the aforementioned Tina, a single mother of three girls, lives in the social housing complex on the other side of Wellington Street West. I wheel Martin in his stroller – the latter and my arms loaded down with his toys, change of clothes, and snacks – along the winding sidewalk and steps around the complex until I arrive at Tina’s door. Then I return home to my office to make phone calls for my newspaper column, write the column or go out to interview a subject for a story. But I soon learn that my writing often depends on the babysitter’s reliability. On one occasion I have to postpone the interview. I’ve wheeled my son down to Tina’s but when I bang and bang on her door, the answer is a big fat nothing.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home, Part 2 – Reconstruct, Copyright 2010 Sharon Crawford)

My son, also an only child, is now 32, and he managed to reach maturity – some of it in his teens. At that time a friend told me my son was “old” for his age. I don’t know if it was because he is an only child; he spent time with both parents and both had a say in his growing-up, plus his own inner strength. I suspect a combination of all three.

Meantime, mother here took years to hit her independent stride. Now my inner battle is how much support I need from others and how much I prefer to do things and solve problems on my own. My decisions are based on several factors: the logistics of time, personal preference, and the biggie – trust. I’ve had friends let me down a lot over the years. No one is perfect but the one thing that really bugs me is when friends make promises they can’t keep. So, sometimes, I just say, “I’ll do it myself,” which often has me trying to fix broken items, such as blinds, which I know nothing about and moving heavy items around (try me with a big stove when I’m angry). Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not. Every time it is a learning experience. Now, I have to “train” myself to learn the correct lesson, which isn’t always don’t trust so-and-so.

But that is the subject for another posting.



Only child writes


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