Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


In the realness of being an imperfectly perfect mother – life is possible.

Almost thirty-two years ago, when I first became a mother, I remember wanting to be perfect. To do it right. To not make any mistakes. To be in control. To define every moment. Control every outcome.

And then reality set in.

I was the guide to another human being. They had their own voice. Own ‘being’. Own desires and ideas, thoughts and needs and while I could guide, I could not control them or ultimately, prescribe or design their path through life.

I had to give up my desire to be ‘the perfect mother’ for being real.

It was a wonderful awakening, albeit hard at times to live within the realization that being ‘real’ also meant making mistakes. Lots of them.

I have been blessed with forgiveness, acceptance and gratitude. I have been blessed with two amazing daughters who love me, beauty and the beast. Flaws and facets. Wounds and wisdom.

Watching my eldest daughter step into the role of motherhood this past week has been a gift beyond measure.

To witness her gentleness, her patience, her Love has given my heart reason to soar, to beat wildly, to murmur in quiet assent.

And, it has reminded me that in all things, no matter how dark the night or dreary the day, Love casts a light that makes even the dimmest moments shine. Love illuminates fear and uncertainty, making the road ahead less daunting, more easy to navigate.

When my daughters were born I wanted to give them the world. A world where their mother was always perfect, always wise, always there.

To have continued to want to give them all of that would have set them up for a life of disappointment. Because no matter how hard I tried to be perfect, being myself is fraught with  moments of uncertainty, confusion, even fear. Being myself means not always knowing the answers. Not always being sure of the path.

And being myself means always standing in Love, in spite of and because of my imperfections. It means loving the imperfectness of me so that they would be free to be themselves.

Eleven days ago my eldest daughter became a mother. As I watch her grow more confident in the role, I am blessed to see her letting go of ‘perfection’ so that she stands only in the realness of Love.

In that place, all things are possible. In that place my grandson will have everything he needs to grow up to become himself.

There is no perfect road to becoming a parent. There is only the road we take. And when we take it in Love, trusting in its capacity to light up even the darkest night, the only thing not possible is, perfection.




Starry, Starry Dreams (a story)

Once upon a time there was a little boy who believed he could touch the stars. If only…

Every night he would climb out his bedroom window and crawl up onto the roof of his house. While the world slept below him, he would lie on his back and gaze up into the night time sky, memorizing the positions of all the stars, dreaming of one day flying to the moon, of soaring amongst the celestial beauty above.

One night, his mother came to his room and found him missing from his bed. Not realizing he was on the roof, she became frantic. She woke up his father, crying fearfully. They called the police. They called their neighbours. A search party was organized.

Meanwhile, the little boy lay on the roof, lost in wonder of the stars above. He didn’t hear their frantic calls. Didn’t know that they were searching for him. He knew only that he was safe amongst the wonder of the nighttime sky, dreaming of one day building a space ship and flying beyond his wildest imaginings of life here on earth.

As he always did after an hour of star-gazing, the little boy climbed quietly back down from the roof into his room to go back to bed. But this night, he found his mother sitting on his bed, clutching his teddy bear. Tears streamed down her face. Her body shook with sobs.

The little boy saw his mother and did not understand why she was crying. He ran to her, touched her arm and asked, “Mummy, what’s wrong?”

The mother, stunned to hear her son’s voice, opened her eyes and saw him standing before her. Relief washed over her. He was safe. She grabbed him and pulled him to her breast, holding him tightly. She called out to her husband who was downstairs talking to the police who were in charge of the search party. “He’s here. He’s here.”

Everyone raced up the stairs. The little boy heard the pounding of their footsteps, felt the tremor of the floor as they raced into the room.

His father burst through the door, strode over to him and angrily demanded, “Where were you? Don’t you know you frightened your mother almost to death?”

The little boy was confused. What were the police doing there? Why were they all standing in front of him, arms crossed against their chests?

In a tiny voice he replied, “I was on the roof.” He hesitated and then whispered tentatively. “Counting stars.”

His father was angry. “You’re a bad boy,” he yelled. “How dare you cause such terror in our hearts. You will never go on the roof again.”

The little boy stood his ground. “I’m going to be an astronaut. I’m going to fly amongst the stars.”

The father shouted back. “Quit your foolish dreaming. You can’t eat stardust. You will be a coal miner, just like me. Just like my father before me.”

And so, a dream was lost. The father put bars on the boy’s window. The boy put his dream of one day being an astronaut away.

Years passed. The little boy became a man. He worked in the coalmine. Just like his father. He had a wife. A little cottage and a family of his own. A son and a daughter.

Like his father, he was stern. Distant. Uncompromisable. Like his father, he loved his wife and children but never told them. When asked if he had dreams, he would reply, “Dreaming doesn’t put food on the table. Dreams are as impossible as flying amongst the stars. It will never happen.”

They were happy, in a strict kind of way. There was food on the table, clothes on their backs and a roof over their heads. No one spoke of love. No one spoke of the stars above.

One night, the father walked past his son’s room on his way to bed. Out of the corner of his eye, through the open door, he saw the tiny figure of his son slipping out the bedroom window. Fearful that his son might be hurt, he raced across the room, and grabbed his son just as he was about to slip over the sill and onto the roof.

“What are you doing?” he bellowed as he pulled his son back into the safety of the room.

The little boy, not used to being held in his father’s arms, burrowed into his chest, snuggled his head against his shoulder and whispered, “Counting stars.”

The father stood still. He felt his son’s heart beating against his chest. Felt the softness of his arms around his neck. With his son in his arms, he looked out the bedroom window to the darkness of night. Stars glittered in the sky above. The world slept below.

“Counting stars.” he whispered. And then he repeated it. “Counting stars.”

The little boy nodded his head. “I do it every night,” he said proudly. “One day I’m going to be an astronaut. I’m going to build a spaceship and fly to the moon!”

“No you’re not,” the father began and stopped. As he reached out to close the window, he caught a glimpse of himself holding his son in the reflection of the glass. His eyes misted up at the sight of the tiny figure held in his massive arms.

His son, squirmed in his arms and leaned his body towards the window. “Look dad!” he exclaimed. “A comet.”

The father turned his head and looked up into the stars above as a streak of light flared across the inky black sky. He closed his eyes and took a breath. When he opened them, he looked down into his son’s eyes and saw the starry wonder of his dream reflected back at him.

His heart softened. He smiled. And pushed the window open. “I don’t want you to get hurt son. It’s okay to go on the roof at night as long as you promise to take me with you.”

The boy’s blue eyes opened wide. “Really?” he asked in a tiny whisper. “You’ll go with me?”

Holding his son safely in his arms, the father stepped through the window onto the roof. “When I was a little boy, I used to climb out my bedroom window so I could count stars,” he said. He looked up into the night sky. “I forgot how many stars there are,” he whispered his son clutched tightly in his arms. “Can you tell me how many you’ve counted?”

The boy pointed up and started to count. “Two thousand and twenty-three. Two thousand and twenty-four. Two….” and his father’s voice joined in. “thousand and twenty-five…”

Together, father and son lay on their backs on the roof gazing up at the starry night blanket spread out before them.

And the stars shone brighter than they had ever shone before.


I wrote this story many years ago before I even know I was dreaming of Thurlow James’ arrival.


My actions matter.

I almost jay-walked this morning.


I was standing at the corner. The walk sign red. A one way street. No on-coming traffic. I had breakfast and coffees in my hands. Why not?

And then I remembered.

My actions matter. So do my choices.

Even when no one’s watching.

And now, I’m a YiaYa to a six-day old grandson, my actions, words, everything feels like it matters even more.

As I said to my daughter and son-in-love the other day, one of the blessings, gifts and curses of becoming parents is… everything you do and say matters. And your child is always watching. Always soaking it up. Processing and making it part of their world.

You are their world.

Especially in these first formative days and months and years.

And in that world. You are what matters most. Who you are. How you are. The choices you make – even when no one’s watching.

I almost jay-walked this morning.

I chose not to.

I want everything about me to matter in a way that makes the world a better place. Not just for my grandson, but for all of us.




Newborn Life. Infinite Love.

There is resistance in this place.

Resistance because I fear the surrender.

To surrender is to give in completely. It is to fall into that thing called Love fearlessly.

I write ‘that’ and realize, no, it is not ‘that’. It is ‘this’.

This thing called Love.

This thing where fear has no voice. No place. No need to be present.

I surrender.

I fall.

And find myself in the infinity of Love.

Totally. Completely. Fearlessly.

On February 8, at 8:27am all 5lb 1 ounces of Thurlow James Alexander came into this world via emergency c-section.

One month early.

We knew he would be early for the past 2 months. A liver disease that can present itself during pregnancy had precipitated the doctors telling my daughter and son-in-love that their son would be born sometime around Feb 19.

Thurlow liked the idea of Feb 8.

It is a wise choice my grandson has made. He has chosen two parents who in the brief five days since his arrival have surrounded him and embraced him and swaddled him in infinite Love.

According to Angel Guide Doreen Virtue, the Number 8 represents complete and unending abundance without any lack. It represents infinity and everything good in the universe which is infinite; infinite supply, infinite energy, infinite time, infinite Love.

He is infinite Love. Precious. Divine. Magical. Miraculous.

I am infinitely in Love with this tiny precious being. He is my grandson and I feel my entire being falling helplessly into infinite Love.

And it is good. Infinitely good.

Infinitely Divine.

I am in Love.



Conquering The Great Divide

I had steeled myself for the shock of arrival. I had mentally prepared myself for the cold.

And it still hit me!

After three days in the moist, relatively warm air of the coast, coming home felt like a rude awakening — even though it was after midnight.

My plane was a couple of hours late. C.C., who was originally going to pick me up at 10, had long gone to bed. I walked out of the terminal, grabbed a cab and then proceeded to say a whole bunch of prayers as we slipped and slid our way down the Deerfoot, navigating icy patches and drifted snow until climbing up Bow Trail towards the condo in which we’re temporarily living while the renovations on our new home are underway.

The cab driver’s car had really bad tires.

Note to self, before climbing into a cab, check to ensure its tires have appropriate tread to navigate snowy roads!

And now I’m home.

Back from a delightful weekend with my sisters and daughters.

On Saturday night, my youngest daughter who had flown out Thursday to spend a week with her sister, organized a ‘baby soiree’ at the home of Alexis’ husband’s mother and stepdad. With the help of Alexis’ dear friend VW and her mother and father-in-law, they created a sense of ‘one big family’ coming together to celebrate the imminent arrival of baby bean, or as he’s affectionately known in utero, Garfield.

There was laughter and teasing, friendly games of pool in the basement and lots of good food and wine upstairs.

One of the hardest things about Garfield’s pending arrival is the distance between us. Alexis and her husband live in Vancouver, on the other side of The Great Divide, almost a thousand kilometers away.

And while between our hearts there is no distance too far to travel, in physical space we are an 11 hour drive (not always advisable in the winter) or a 1 and a half hour flight.

Knowing she is surrounded by a family who loves her, knowing her friends are supportive and caring and kind, and that many of them are just a short drive away and some are also in the ‘family way’, helps ease my heart’s yearning to be closer.

As we stood and chatted at the party on Saturday night, someone suggested guessing the actual date of baby Garfield’s arrival. I laughingly told the story of Alexis’ 19 days of holding out on coming into this world beyond her due date. “I used to think it was because she knew it was the last and only time she would be 100% in control,” I said.

Truth is, I actually think it was because I didn’t want to share her with the world yet. I knew it was the last time it would be 100% just her and me.

I’ve grown since June 19th, 1986 when she came into this world.

I’ve learned to share her. To be supportive and happy in knowing she has created a world around her filled with people who love her and want the best for her in her life. People who care deeply about her well-being. Who want to share their stories with her, and share in her stories too.

As I watched both my daughters at the party on Saturday night I was reminded once again, of how incredibly loving and kind they both are. I was struck by not just their physical beauty, but the beauty of their hearts. The aura of kindness that surrounds them both.

I am so incredibly blessed. And grateful.

I may have been the carrier of the miracle that became their lives, but it is the incredible support of family and friends that have helped shape and guide and form them into the truly magnificent young women they are today.

Baby Garfield is set to arrive within the next two weeks.

In the world around us there is much happening that does not make sense, that causes me distress and unease.

But here, no matter which side of the Great Divide I stand, no matter how icy the roads or far the distance, there is only one truth to hold onto, one prayer to repeat, “May Love surround us always.”

In Love’s embrace, I know Baby Garfield will be safe, no matter how fiercely the winds may blow around him.

In Love, he and his parents are immersed in beauty, kindness, joy, harmony. And though there may be moments of tears, of strife, of discomfort, Love will carry them through.

For this grandmother’s heart to conquer The Great Divide, the only place I need to stand is In Love.


A Grandmother’s Code for her Grandchild

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

In September of last year, I wrote about the Fierce Love that consumed me when I learned that I would be becoming a grandmother this March.

Our grandson’s arrival is fast approaching.

And my fierce love grows stronger.

I know that there is nothing I can do to alter the course of her pregnancy. I know that the medical team guiding her through this last trimester is competent and professional. And, I know that along with their midwife, Dula and Obstetrician, my daughter, son-in-love and grandson are in excellent hands and are well-cared-for on this journey.

But it doesn’t change my desire to do something to make a difference.

Which is why I awoke early this morning thinking about what I could do.

“Get conscious of what it is you want to teach your grandson and how you plan on going about doing it,” the quiet voice within whispered.

What do I want to teach my grandson?

I want to teach him that who and how he is in the world makes a difference because his being in this world makes a difference.

I want him to know that this world is a place of awe and wonder. That amidst the turmoil, pain and chaos, that kindness, beauty, creativity, compassion are essential. And that in all things, all places, all situations, Love is always the answer.

And I can only do that by showing him through everything I do and say and am:

The power of kindness.

The beauty of honesty.

The gift of creativity.

The exquisiteness of compassion.

The grace of Love.

By living through these tenets, I want him to know that he doesn’t have to do anything to make a difference because his presence in this world makes our world so exquisitely and lovingly different.




What will I tell my grandson?

It is a scene I still see clearly in my mind.

My mother is in the kitchen, standing over the ironing board. With one hand, she holds the hot iron and moves it back and forth, back and forth across a small square of white linen. She is pressing one of my father’s handkerchiefs. She folds it in half, presses it, folds it in half again and presses the small square piece of fabric flat, before placing it atop a growing pile of white linen squares on the table behind her.

She reaches down into the  basket full of clean laundry by her feet and pulls out another square of fabric. She repeats the process.

When the handkerchiefs are pressed, she moves on to press the dish towels, pillow cases, the sheets, shirts, blouses, underwear. All the family laundry.

As I get older, I will take over the chore of ironing.

As I get even older and leave home to live on my own, I give up on ironing and employ it only under duress when I need to take the creases out of a blouse or pair of pants or skirt that I didn’t hang properly or take out of the dryer quickly enough before wrinkles appeared.

I do not iron handkerchiefs, or  dishtowels.

I do not press my husbands shirts or underwear.

As my eldest daughter moves more deeply into pending motherhood I think about the stories of his great-grandmother I will pass on to my grandson one day.

At four months, he is the size of a large lemon. “I think I felt a tiny flutter,” my daughter tells me on the phone last night. “Or maybe it was just gas.”

I didn’t speak with my mother about my pregnancies. I didn’t share the tiny flutters, the big moves, the moments of fear or doubt, the moments of elation.

I didn’t share.

I am grateful my daughter shares with me. I am grateful she calls and tells me of her tiny belly expanding with the life she is carrying. I am grateful we talk.

Sharing the stories of our lives was not something my mother and I did.

Perhaps it is in never having felt at ease to share the stories of my life with my mother, I learned to value and treasure that which my heart yearned for.

To fully share heart to heart, we must iron out our differences and honour one another’s stories.

I never truly valued my mother’s stories. I knew her story. But I seldom honoured it. Her journey from India to this far side of the globe. Her tearing away from family, friends and a life she’d always known, a language she’d always spoken, to marry a man she barely knew, but who captivated her heart the moment they met during WW2 at a dance.

I always wanted my mother to be different. To be more like the other mom’s. The one’s who did tea and smoked cigarettes and played bridge in the afternoon and drank Martini’s at six when their husbands came home from work.

My father was away a lot when I was young. From the time I was five years old, my mother always worked. She wanted a career. Was proud of her contributions in the world. And, from the moment she walked in the door at the end of the day, she was busy taking care of four children, making dinner, cleaning house, doing the ironing.

It has been many years since my mother ironed my father’s handkerchiefs. He passed away many years ago and her tiny, arthritic hands are not strong enough to handle an iron any more.

My sister does my mother’s ironing now. She presses her nighties, her blouses, her camisoles too.

It is an act of service.

The expression of a heart full of love which she shares freely.

The expression of my mother’s love moving forward across time and generations.

I think of the stories I’ll share with my grandson about his great-grandmother one day.

Perhaps, I’ll teach him how to iron.


Photo credit: Filip Mroz