"Who are you?" the therapist asked one day near the end of our session. Before I could answer her question with a question or say something facetious she added, "I mean who are you when you're NOT a Mom, sister, daughter, employee etc... Who are you REALLY, inside? That's your homework." My homework so far had mostly been reading, filling out Thought Records, exercises for challenging intrusive and unhelpful thought patterns (which I had a LOT of!), deep breathing and meditation exercises, exploring my values etc. This was the most deep and philosophical question so far. Who am I? Did I even know? When people ask who you are your reflex is usually to answer with your given name and your occupation. But is the name someone else gave you and what you do for a living really the sum of who you are? What else defines you? Gender, marital status, citizenship, culture, religion? Categories and groups you fit into? Now that I'm a Mom it's the first thing I would say. I'm a Mom. I'm a Single Mom. But she asked who I was OTHER than being a Mom etc.
We play so many roles and may define ourselves by them but who are we, independent of our external definitions or our relationships to others? What is the spirit, the essence of you? I thought about it. First I made a list of all the external I ams... a Mom (daughter, sister and all my other relationships to others), a woman, Canadian, Catholic, etc. I filled two pages double sided with all of the roles I play, categories I fit into. They were all me but not me. Who I am, the spirit inside exists independent of anything else. When all else falls away I am the spirit. I am my character, my personality, my unique collection of quirks and emotions and abilities, my experiences, my passions.
Then I realized I don't even have to add to "I am" -- it stands on its own. Who am I? I AM! It was an epiphany. We put ourselves in these boxes. We categorize. We label. We think so small. But who we REALLY are is limitless and eternal. So I made a list of who I am in spirit. My qualities, character, essential being. Instead of just writing it out I made a watercolour painting of it. I used the four elements and the seven chakras. I am a child of God. I am an eternal spirit. I AM. There was so much peace and freedom in that because if I just AM, if who I truly am doesn't depend on any individual role it takes the pressure off. I don't have to feel bad or feel like I'm not good enough or that I'm failing at anything. If you are more than just these roles and you don't have to define yourself by them then you can feel free and powerful and know that any problems you face are just temporary. You are eternal. You are the spirit inside. No matter what I've been through and mistakes I've made; no matter if I feel broken and uncertain; any problems that I face are TEMPORARY. I am eternal. I AM. And no one and nothing can take that from me. It was a powerful realization. If only I could hang on to it.
At this point as far as my career was concerned, I felt like a total failure. I had tried. I struggled. I couldn't handle it. The job was pushing me over the edge for a long time and finally broke me. Now I was in therapy, trying to heal. If you are your job/occupation, if that's all you are then what was I now? Not. A failure. Broken. Stressed. On pause. But what if who I am is not dependent on my job? I thought about who I want to be: the person I am when I'm sharing time with Michelle, when I'm doing yoga, when I'm creating art. The happy me. The creative me. The zen me. I didn't like who I was when I was stressed out and angry and anxious, worrying about everything. I didn't like who I had become in my job. Of course we are not one dimensional. There are many sides to us and we need to accept all of them. I am the sum of my feelings and thoughts and actions. I am good and bad, yin and yang.
My therapist loved my painting. Whenever she gave me homework I tried to do it to the best of my ability (the student in me coming out!) She said some clients/patients don't even do their homework. It never occurred to me that that was an option. The homework was part of my therapy and I wanted to do everything I could to get better. I usually found a creative way to do it (the artist in me coming out!) Painting again felt good. For so long I hadn't done anything creative. There simply wasn't time. Art can be a form of therapy. It was relaxing. I started to use it as a sort of meditation and did a series of zen lotus paintings -- Yoga, Namaste, I am. I felt calm while I was doing them and when I looked at them. Unfortunately the rest of the time life was still there to stress me out. Picasso said "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." But sometimes there is a LOT of dust!
An old boyfriend that I hadn't heard from in a year or so randomly called me up. He asked how I was doing. "Uhhhh...Well. Not very good actually. I had a breakdown and I'm on stress leave from work." There was a long silence. He wasn't expecting that! I'm an open book. I wasn't going to pretend everything was OK just to impress an old flame. Finally he replied "I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you're OK." Apparently he was going to be in town later that day and he asked if he could pop by for a visit. TODAY? OMG. The house was like a bomb hit it. I certainly hadn't been expecting company. I never have company. But somehow I couldn't say no. He said he'd be there in a couple of hours. I had two hours to transform the house from the apocalyptic state it was in to an actual presentable livable home. I didn't know if it could be done. I was almost going to say I'd changed my mind and it was a monumentally bad idea when he said: "I'll stop at a Tims on the way. Do you want an iced capp?" OMG. Suddenly I got a chill down my back. Seriously?! What were the odds?! Someone was suddenly BRINGING ME AN ICED CAPP just like I'd said! So weird! The Secret was working. That was FAST! Now I was wishing I'd asked for a lottery win!
He was going to be there in a couple of hours. I raced around like a maniac to clean and tidy the house. I got a wicked headache on the left side of my head. It was blinding. I wondered if it was a migraine. What the hell was I doing? I spent most of my days trying to avoid stress and now I was inviting it. Literally. Stress (in the form of an ex boyfriend) was coming to my friggin house. This was ridiculous. Why didn't I say no? No would have been so much easier! I didn't want to see him. The last time I'd seen him was at my Mom's one day when he was in town and called me up. He popped by for a visit. It was after I'd worked a 16 hour dayshift on no sleep and I looked and felt like Hell. He told me I looked "tired." A-hole! Do not tell a woman she looks tired, even if she does! He told me to call him sometime to go for a coffee (or iced capp.) I decided it would be a cold day in Hell before I ever called him. And I didn't. Now he was calling me. Out of the blue. Because I said to the universe "Someone will bring me an iced capp." And the universe responded. He just happened to be heading to my neighbourhood that day. Maybe he wouldn't have called me but the universe nudged him. "Hey that's Ann Marie's neck of the woods. You could drop by and see her. Maybe she won't look so tired this time. Bring her an iced capp."
I wish I could be the Zen version of me. I want to be the person I am when I'm doing yoga. Calm, strong, balanced. If only I could hold onto that feeling. But of course you can't do a headstand or a lotus when you're stuck in traffic. In the rest of my life I don't feel calm or strong or balanced. I often feel like a mess. I'm working on it. You can't always find your zen. Things go wrong. Even though I go out of my way to avoid stressful situations and to do the things that make me happy, life happens. You can't avoid all stress. I don't watch the news but I still hear things. I spend most of my time at home but even there things go wrong. And I worry. What am I doing? What does the future hold? I want to be the best Mom for Michelle. Can I do that? Can I be strong for her even when it feels like I'm falling apart?
Time was flying. Even on the stressful days. I couldn't believe it was May already. It was insane. Almost half a year had gone by. I would have thought I'd be "better" by now, have things figured out by now, be settled by now. Not so much. I was still a work in progress and taking it one day at a time. Michelle was what kept me going. I was so grateful to have time with her.
This is a little late. Yes this post is about May and June. I started it in July. I was hoping to finish it before the end of August but here we are in mid-SEPTEMBER and I'm still working on it!) Part of me thinks I should just stop writing this blog because I reveal too much and it's hard to find the time but then this is so therapeutic for me and my way of working through things. I need it. Even if no one reads it (thank you to those who do!) it is for me. It is my diary/record of my experiences. Socrates said "the unexamined life is not worth living." I find it rewarding to examine my life. To relive it in this way. It helps me to look back and see the positive instead of focusing on the negative. I have so many photos and they are always my happy moments. I don't take pictures of my bad moments. As part of my therapy I was trying to have as many happy moments as possible. To literally and figuratively "Go to my happy place." To stay distracted from the distressing and uncomfortable aspects of my life. At least now that the weather was good we could get out and breathe fresh air again. Spring had barely started but Michelle and me were already dreaming of Summer. We went to the beach. We were just about the only ones there. The palm trees weren't there yet. They usually arrive at the end of May. There were just the stumps of last year's trees. I was trying to find my zen -- doing yoga every day, going for massages, learning relaxation techniques. Going to the beach was another way to find peace. The beach is my happy place. Michelle loves it too.
It's amazing how the world renews itself. After the dead of Winter, everything buried under the snow, somehow life finds a way, they push through the darkness and bloom.
I had been through a very dark period. Maybe I could find my way out of it too and blossom someday. Some days it's easier to believe than others.
It always amazes me how Michelle can make friends absolutely everywhere we go. Of course she's a child and it's easier than it is for adults but even as a child I was shy. I never made friends so easily. Michelle can talk to anyone. She's so confident, extroverted, the opposite of an insecure introvert like me. I'm glad she's different. I'm glad that she won't have to go through a lot of the struggles that I went through. It will hopefully be much easier for her in school, in life, in relationships and work.
Michelle wanted to "save the worms." We'd seen worms on the sidewalk. Sometimes she'd see dead ones dried out in the sun and I'd explain that they come out of the ground in the rain then some of them get stuck on the sidewalk and dry out when the sun is out again. So she decided to save the worms on the sidewalk by picking them up and putting them back on the grass. It was cute (and sort of disgusting.) I thought it was sweet of her and let her do it for a while but after being in the rain a while I said OK that's more than enough worm saving for one day! I'm glad that she's a sweet, caring girl with such a big heart. Gentle even to the smallest of creatures. And as much as she is a Princess she is still down to earth enough to like digging in the dirt and touching worms!
I was thrilled to see the tulips growing! Of course I had chosen pink. After months of grey, seeing a hint of green and pink was soothing to the soul. I remembered the Hans Christian Andersen quote: "Just living is not enough... One must have freedom, sunshine and a little flower." There is something so comforting about flowers. They are magical, otherworldly, perfect. It's no wonder that people give them for gifts or send them to you to get well. They give you hope. They remind you that life is beautiful, even on the most difficult of days. You have to look for the beauty. Sometimes it's hard to find. The world has gone to Hell in many ways. It's relentless. Fires, floods, disasters, violence, pain, despair. You can't focus on that. That is the dark side of humanity. The bright side is when we focus on the beauty of Nature. When we find what is good within us. When we find our oneness, compassion, joy, love.
The world Michelle created was beautiful -- all smiles and sunshine and rainbows. Full of love and hope and magic. We should all get to live in that world. I am grateful that I get to live in it, at least some of the time, with her. Seeing the world through Michelle's eyes helped to counteract the dark and hopeless view I sometimes had. Work had been such a dark place. Now with some time away from it I could try to see the bright side of life again.
"If other people can do it, I can do it." he reasoned, "I'm at least as smart as everyone else." It was the opposite of me. He was confident and an optimist. I was insecure and pessimistic. I felt incompetent and doubted myself. I always assumed I couldn't do things. Even successes (in school etc) didn't eliminate the self-doubt.
Michelle loved piano. I was happy to be able to get her piano lessons. It was something I'd always wanted as a child and never had. It was exciting to see her start to read music, recognizing notes on the staff. Even though I'd been playing guitar for years I never learned to read music. I just learned the basic chords and never really progressed from there. Michelle was excited that she knew something I didn't. She knew a lot of things I didn't of course. Like how to be happy, enthusiastic and resilient all the time. She was my inspiration. Of course she didn't have the stresses and responsibilities I had.
I wish I lived closer to my Mom and Dad and my sister. They are my lifeline and I feel pretty isolated where I am. Unfortunately (barring a lottery win or something!) I can't afford to live in that neck of the woods.
It's tough being on my own without a partner, without my family in town, without a social network. It's one of the reasons I go online, on Twitter and on my blog. It's a small way that I can sort of connect with people around the world briefly. As alone as I may be or feel sometimes, it helps to know that there are people out there who can relate to me in little ways.
I was happy to see the daffodils coming up. I'd never had daffodils before. I wasn't sure if I'd planted them right. It's weird to be sticking this onion-looking thing in the ground in the Fall and just trusting that it's going to grow in the Spring. But somehow it does. Daffodils are flashy. Such a showy, extravagant flower. I can almost hear them say "TA-DAH!" like they are the show-stoppers of any garden. Of course in mythology the daffodil is Narcissus -- the god so in love with his own reflection that he couldn't love anyone else and died to be reborn as this beautiful flower. I would love to have a big garden like I used to. Of course it's a lot of work and expense but it is so soothing to be around flowers.
One day her school was having an open house. There was a big school assembly earlier in the day but Michelle said that she wasn't part of it or anything so we agreed I didn't need to come for that. I also told her I had errands to run that day so I would just come to her class for a few minutes at the end of the day to visit with her for a bit before the bell went.
Unfortunately Michelle didn't remember that. Apparently other parents had gone to the assembly because they had older kids involved in it. Michelle was upset that other parents were there and I wasn't. She kept watching for me and being disappointed I wasn't there. So when I finally showed up at the end of the day, instead of being glad to see me she was pouting and angry.
"You weren't here!" she accused, exasperated, "I thought you weren't coming!" Her eyes were welling up with tears. I felt awful. "But I'm HERE NOW!" I reminded her, "and instead of being happy to see me you're complaining? I told you I was just coming for a few minutes before the bell!" "I forgot!" she told me. I finally managed to calm her down and she hugged me and was glad I was there. Some parents weren't able to go at all. Michelle was disappointed that I'd missed her singing a song with her class so the teacher had them perform it again. I held it together while I was at the school but after we got home I went off for a minute to cry. I try to do everything for Michelle but sometimes it feels like it's never enough. I want to be the perfect Mom and to make her happy, to be strong for her and someone she can look up to. And lately it just seemed like I was a failure. And being a Mom is more important to me than anything. No matter what else I may have done wrong in my life. I HAVE to get this right.
Click here for my review of Emotional Agility on Amazon
Michelle and me LOVED the movie "Ferdinand." We'd seen it in the theatre and got it on DVD. It's about a bull who doesn't want to fight. He wants to stop and smell the flowers. It's adorable and has a beautiful message: to be who you are, instead of being forced to be what you're expected to be. Among the bonus features on the DVD there were instructions for creating your own garden from an egg carton. You used the egg shells as planters and can actually put them into the ground like that. Michelle wanted to try it, so I boiled some eggs (I had a LOT of egg salad!), filled the shells with soil, planted the seeds, watered them and waited. And waited. It seemed like nothing would ever grow. Then finally we started to see a few little sprouts. When they were big enough we planted them outside. Again I was reminded of the metaphor not to give up. Even when it seems like there's no growth, no hope, you just give it time and nurturing and eventually out of the dark soil, a final hint of green...
"The what now?"
Her teacher apologized. She said the class had created this castle wall. Then to get rid of it they had a contest/raffle for someone to take it home and Michelle was the winner. Whoopee. So now I was stuck with this MASSIVE grey painted roll of paper.
"OK...um...thanks." I said.
Her teacher told me "I told Michelle that maybe you'd have it for a few days and then have to 'put it away.'"
Put it away was a euphemism for throwing it away. I had a friend once who threw out all of her children's artwork, almost immediately after them bringing it home. She didn't like clutter. I couldn't fathom it. I had a sentimental attachment to nearly everything Michelle created. Even this large group project castle wall in a way. Even though she'd only had a small part in creating it. How could I throw it out? I decided it actually wasn't so bad. It made a good backdrop for photos. I could always put it in the basement which wasn't finished anyway and anything would be an improvement over bare insulated walls and boards. Dear Teachers: PLEASE don't give me large craft projects or I will feel compelled to keep them and then I will have even more clutter to make room for!
The Butterfly Conservatory is one of my happy places. If I ever just want to forget my worries and become immersed in another world, it's the place to go. You walk in and no matter what it's like outside, inside it is HOT. It's like walking into a tropical jungle, literally. You're surrounded by palms, hibiscus, all varieties of beautiful plants and flowers, a waterfall and of course butterflies flitting around you everywhere. It is PARADISE!
I need beauty. As humans we need certain things to survive: air, water, food, shelter. But living is more than just survival. We need love. We need beauty. We need creativity and laughter and fun. I spent so long in a dark and ugly place and it broke me. My soul was starving for light and beauty, for the brighter side of life. Beauty nourishes the soul. It makes you feel close to God.
The staff will tell you not to touch the butterflies. You can't touch their wings or you could damage them. Also, butterflies taste with their feet. So if they're willing to sit on you they must find you sweet. They could always fly away if they weren't happy.
Michelle takes it personally when butterflies fly away from her. With something as elusive as the butterfly, I remind her how amazing it is to get their attention at all.
There were many occasions coming up -- birthdays, Mother's Day. I was grateful to have this time to share with Michelle. Since she's been in my life she has become my life and I don't know how I ever lived without her.
Yes Michelle is obviously far more courageous than me. She's far more resilient than me. I wish I was more like her. She is always filled with energy and enthusiasm. She sees the beauty and magic of life. Her imagination is limitless. She's happy and confident. She believes in herself. Then there's Mama. Tired much of the time and tenuous. Scared. Plagued with self-doubt. I want to see life's magic and beauty and sometimes I do, but I'm often dragged down by disillusionment and ugliness. I'm broken. The world is broken. And sometimes I don't know how to keep it together. But these happy times, these fun adventures help to distract me from my issues. Distraction and avoidance were my main survival tools these days.
Michelle is the best gift I could ever receive. She did make a few things for me, at school and on her own. Little love flags, cards and pictures. And wrapped up there was a board with a heart made of buttons: "Moms are like buttons. They hold everything together." It made me cry. Am I holding it together? I can barely hold myself together. But I try.
Of course we're in matching outfits again as you can see. I'd gone to Superstore with my Mom before Mother's Day. She had told me that they had matching mother and daughter outfits for Mother's Day. I looked around the store and wasn't able to find anything so I asked someone in the store who didn't know either. Then my Mom showed me the flyer and I saw this matching pattern. So I looked for it in women's wear and children's. Failing to dress up matching Mom and daughter mannequins seemed like a missed marketing opportunity to me but maybe most people aren't like me. I was thrilled to find us matching outfits. Especially for Mother's Day. So I got Michelle the dress and myself the shirt. They're not identical but close enough. I love dressing Michelle and me alike. Mom and daughter squad.
I've had my Nikon for years now and I'm attached to it but it is getting more and more distressing to see blurs across the photos where the lens is scratched. Sometimes I luck out and the blur is in a spot that doesn't matter -- just a blurry bit of background. But sometimes it's like a ghost over people's faces. It drives me crazy. Still I don't get a new camera. I'm resistant to change. Most people just use their phone as a camera. My cell is old and I can't even take photos with it anymore.
Having time off to heal and care for myself was making a difference. My focus now was on self-care. I was doing yoga every day, writing and painting, doing things to help me relax and nourish my soul. I went for massages and the massage therapist was very kind and a good listener (it was like another psychotherapy session!) It's amazing how much stress we hold in our muscles. Having those knots worked out helped more than I could have imagined.
My Mom stresses me out a lot of the time. She is very negative. It's who she is. She catastrophizes (a habit I unfortunately picked up too!) But I still love her and I can't imagine life without her. She looks so cute here with the little bear ears and nose!
My Mom was going through health issues as well and I worried about her. It made me more compassionate toward her. She looks so good for her age that sometimes I forget that she's elderly. As much as she does drive me crazy sometimes I love her so much and I'm grateful to have her in my life.
Being a Mom myself helps me to appreciate my own Mom more. Yes she made a lot of mistakes but she was trying to do what she believed was right. No one has all the answers. There are conflicting schools of thought/research on how to be the perfect parent. The bottom line is that no one is perfect. You just do the best you can. You love your child. I try to learn from my Mom's mistakes and often do the opposite, trying to give Michelle everything I didn't have. My Mom did one thing right: when she was pregnant she read to me. I believe it helped me develop a lifelong love of words and reading and I did the same with Michelle. I read and sang to her in utero and she loves reading as much as I do.
I felt like I was starting to find my way. I didn't know what the future held but I was hopeful.
Unfortunately it didn't quite work the way I expected. I expected to "get better" or "be cured." To be fixed/done. Instead it's a journey of ups and downs. I would have good days and bad. Sometimes it felt like I took one step forward and two steps back. Bad days really knocked the wind out of my sails. I would become discouraged. I just wanted to be OK. I had to be OK for Michelle.
He said he didn't mind but I was embarrassed by her grabbing him, hanging off of him, pestering him. Everyone else has a dad. It's hard for her sometimes. I remind her that she has a Mama who loves her VERY much. More than any other TWO parents could. But I know she'd like to have a man around. And sometimes I wish I did too. Unfortunately I feel like everyone around me is married. I seem to be the only single parent in the world (or at least my neighbourhood.)
It was good exercise and fun to walk around with her. Michelle is so full of energy she wanted to run a lot of the time. I would have been content just to walk. I was getting winded.
The walk-a-thon ended in time for recess. Michelle didn't want me to leave so I hung out with her for a while. The kids gathered around us in a circle. It was cute. It was cool to be able to hang out with Michelle at school for a while. I often wonder how she's doing throughout the day when I'm not with her.
My birthday was coming up. For the last several years I haven't really been a fan of birthdays because it's a reminder that you're getting older. I actually can't even believe how old I am! It's crazy! Happily people who don't know me still guess me to be 10-20 years younger than I am, which is nice. It's strange how your perspective changes. When you're young, 30, 40 and especially 50 SOUND SO OLD! Then once you reach each milestone you feel like, OK I'm not so old, there are other celebrities my age and they don't seem old (then again they may have plastic surgery etc to keep looking young!) I kept waiting for the day when I'd feel like a "grown up" but I still feel like basically the same person inside. My responsibilities change, life changes but I'm still me, at any age. Michelle made me this adorable birthday card. I love her cards and pictures. At least she only put 4 candles on the cake! My Mom used to put one candle for each year but after a certain age there just isn't room on the cake for that many candles and you might start a fire!
Michelle was excited to dress alike too. I even put a little shell necklace on her to match Mama's. I know the day will come (when she's a teen) when she'll likely just be embarrassed by me so I'm going to enjoy this stage as long as it lasts -- when she still thinks Mama is cool and wants to dress like her! She is a little mini-me in some ways but I'm glad that she's different from me in many ways too so she won't have to go through a lot of the struggles that I did. I'm grateful that she's confident, outgoing and socializes easily, the opposite of her insecure, shy and solitary Mama!
The white blur is unfortunately across half the family here. I really do have to get a new camera! I have problems off and on with my old laptop as well. And I can only use my old phone for basics. I'm resistant to technology...does it show?! I also try to avoid the expense and make do. Actually my vacuum is broken too. It still works (sort of) but shakes and makes a lot of noise. Sigh. I need to win a lottery and replace everything!
Shannon drew this adorable portrait of Michelle and me. I love it! So cute! With our matching hair, blue eyes, dresses and necklaces.
Shannon makes amazing animation videos and I'm so proud of her. Art is something that Shannon, Michelle and me all share. I had forgotten how much I loved creating art. Now that I had time I was drawing and painting more and more. Art really does heal the soul.
Michelle and me heard about an exhibit at the AGO that we really wanted to see: Yayoi Kusama's "Infinity Mirrors." They talked about it on YTV. It looked so cool. All these strange and magical rooms looked like "Selfie" Heaven! Unfortunately when I looked it up online the tickets were all sold out. Then I found out that they were releasing a small number of daily tickets but you had to line up for them. It seemed impossible. Weekends would be too busy and I wasn't taking Michelle out of school just to line up for the chance of seeing the show during the week. I really wanted to see it though and I thought it would be a nice birthday present to myself to go so we gave it a shot. I got up SUPER early and made the very long drive there. Driving in Toronto is a challenge. Finding parking when you're not used to it is more of a challenge. I managed to find an underground lot but it was quite far away.
We made the long walk (run) to AGO only to find that there was a lineup all down the street. My heart started to sink. Would we even GET tickets? Then I saw someone walking with a clipboard. She was apologizing to people at the end of the line saying "There are 113 people in line for 102 tickets." I couldn't understand why they were still standing there. She was pretty much telling them to get lost. There is NO HOPE. GO HOME. Still they were waiting. In case there was a miscount? I wasn't going to wait for the impossible. I talked to the staff and told her our situation -- that we'd come from far out of town, traveled all this way, really wanted to see the show and this was the only day we could possibly see it. I asked her if there was anything she could do. She apologized. "I don't want to break my daughter's heart," I pleaded. "Sorry. We've broken a lot of hearts today," she said coldly. My only hope would be if someone was willing to give us a spot in line.
I didn't want to give up. I remembered when we'd gone to the Safari show at the library and I'd been told there were no tickets but I wouldn't take no for an answer and we wound up getting in. I didn't want to give up yet. Michelle was pouting. I felt like I'd failed her. I was crushed. Swallowing my pride I approached a couple of people in the middle of the line and appealed to their sympathy. Michelle was the only child there. They were all adults and mostly younger (teens and twenties) people. No one had children. Because these people had been lined up since the wee hours and you wouldn't do that with kids. Sometimes teens/young adults will camp out overnight for concert tickets. My sister did that once to see the Rolling Stones. But I'm a single Mom. Single Moms don't camp out in line with their kids because that would be really bad parenting. So I guess AGO didn't want single Mom's at the show. They made it impossible for anyone with children or anyone out of town to go. The only people that could line up would be youth or adults without families who lived in town and could just sit there for hours. It seemed like a long shot but I decided to appeal to human kindness. How could someone say no to a 5 year old girl's pouty face? I asked one couple if they'd consider letting us in line. I told them about the long drive and how disappointed my daughter was. They looked at me like I was from outer space. Like I had three heads. Like I was a raving lunatic. (And maybe I was!) They just stared at me like deer in the headlights. They didn't even answer. They just had this look of horror/disgust in their faces like they couldn't even respond. Or maybe they didn't speak English? I approached another woman who looked nice and she was. She smiled at Michelle. "She's adorable," she said. She did sympathize and said she would like to let us in but she'd be afraid that the other people in line would be angry because of course they would. I thanked her anyway. Then someone close to the front of the line, clearly annoyed with me called out "Hey! Just so you know we've been here since 4 a.m!" "Yeah. But you're not a single Mom with a 5 year old who made a 3 hour drive. Thanks." That shut him up.
Michelle and me started to walk away. Defeated, heads hanging. I was fighting back tears. "Well this SUCKS!" I said. I felt like I'd been sucker punched. I wished I hadn't even tried. Why did I even put myself through this? I wasn't in the best place to start with. Feeling broken, going through therapy, trying to feel better. The last thing I needed was to put myself through this stress and disappointment and feel like a big huge failure. My own disappointment was bad enough. Michelle's disappointment was UNBEARABLE to me. I had let her down. Mom fail. It was crushing.
Michelle was upset. "I really wanted to go," she muttered sadly. "I know, baby. Me too. There's nothing I can do. I tried..." She looked like she was going to cry. I felt like I was going to throw up. I felt like a failure. We got up so early and came all this way and ran there for NOTHING. Part of me just wanted to go home and cry. But that would be stupid. "No damn it!" I thought. This was TORONTO. There are MILLIONS of things to do. AGO could suck it! I would give my daughter a fun and memorable day. I asked her what she'd like to do and gave her several options. She chose the CN Tower. That tall tower that she'd seen in the distance, one of the tallest buildings in the world (at 1820 feet/553 meters at one time it WAS the tallest but of course someone had to outdo it. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is 2720 feet/830 meter.) Michelle thought that would be cool. So it was settled. We would go to the CN Tower. She wasn't afraid of heights. I told her there's even a glass floor you can step on. I hadn't been there in years so I was kind of excited to go too. So that's what we did. It was a lesson in resilience -- sometimes in life things don't work out like you want/expect. You can curl into a ball and cry or you can pick yourself up and make a plan: OK so that didn't work, what now?
Obviously (on top of the all the photos I took myself) I couldn't resist purchasing the souvenir CN Tower shots they do for you even though we look super cheesy raising our arms up like that!
I always want to get a souvenir self-timed shot so that I can get in it. I was struggling to find a spot to sit the camera when a kind staff member offered to take our photo. And it turned out great with no blurry spot on our faces! Michelle loved the CN tower. She loved every part of it. The elevator up, the view of the city out of the windows, the glass floor. I'm glad that she's not afraid of heights. Sometimes she seems fearless. I was glad that she cheered up and got over her disappointment about AGO. I did too. This was just as fun as an art exhibition. Maybe even more fun.
I LOVE THESE PHOTOS! This is freedom. Bliss. To think she'd been sulking and I almost thought of just heading home and crying and now here she was smiling and laughing and literally jumping for joy. It was a good lesson for me to learn too. Don't give up. Things will go wrong. Things beyond your control. You do your best and then you just change your plans as necessary. It can still be OK. You can't always get what you want but you can still make the most of the day and enjoy yourself despite setbacks.
We looked around the gift shop and picked up a couple of souvenirs. I was so glad we'd gone to the CN Tower. I was bitter about AGO. I couldn't understand why they wanted to limit tickets and keep people from seeing the show. Later online a very kind woman told me that she'd gone to the show and found it rather disappointing/overhyped anyway. On top of the long line outside there were long lines to see each individual piece. You'd wait 20 minutes to see the art for 20 seconds then wait another 20 minutes. Maybe she was exaggerating to make me feel better but it did help me to feel better! Michelle would have lost patience with that. The woman said not too many people brought kids. Kids would be bored to death. She said the CN Tower was 1000% a better choice. So maybe it was meant to be. Sometimes you're disappointed you lose out on something but you're far better off without it anyway.
"No," I told her, "there's no going back. Once I take the training wheels off I am NOT putting them back on. So then you'll just have to learn to ride a two-wheeler."
That made her a little nervous. I told her that once you learn to ride a bike, you never forget. Once you get it, you've got it for life but learning can be a struggle because it's about balance and strength and steering and several things at once. It becomes second nature but when you're first learning it is unnatural and it's tough and you could get hurt. It sounded stressful and I was not looking forward to it. Potty training was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Teaching her to ride a bike might be another.
I thought about taking Michelle to see fireworks sometime. I didn't know if it would be a good idea because anywhere you go is so crowded and they never start them until late at night because the sky has to be dark. Keeping her out til after 10 pm sounded like a bad idea but maybe for Canada Day?
We heard fireworks while we were in bed. I always loved fireworks. Like most things in life however you wait hours for something that lasts a few minutes. It is sometimes worth the wait though. Fireworks are magical and beautiful. I was sure Michelle would love them too.
I hate when people ask "What do you DO all day?" as if you have so much time. It's really only a few hours during the day. By the time you try to get some housework done and run a few errands the day is already over and it's time to pick her up from school again. Most people have a partner. When you're on your own and you have to do everything yourself -- mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, taking the car in for an oil change etc -- your to do list is much longer and never ending. I was also trying to make time for healing -- yoga, art, reading, writing -- all the things that helped me to relax and feel stronger.
Kids love Chris. Michelle and Reggie adore him. He's so good with kids. He's so natural with them. So lively and animated. He's like a big Disney character. He would be a great dad. It's kind of sad that he's never having kids. I get it though. I hadn't planned to have kids myself. But Michelle is by far the best thing that ever happened to me. I didn't know I could love another human this much.
It's nice to have company once in a while. It doesn't happen too often. I put up the pop up gazebo for the party. Luckily it was a nice day weather wise so we could hang out outside. I put up some tropical decorations.
I cherish these moments with my little girl. One day when she doesn't have time for me and thinks she's just too cool to even be around me I will still have these photos and be able to show her how much she loved her Mama. And how she even liked dressing like me. Or maybe she will always be my sweet girl, even when she's a teenager?
I can dream!
I'm so proud of May. She had some issues with her health and her doctor made her go on a strict diet. She stuck to it and has lost so much weight and improved her health.
May didn't want a cake because she can't eat it anyway so I did a fruit platter for her instead and stuck candles in a pineapple in lieu of a cake. I thought it was kind of pretty.
I wish there wasn't a blur over Michelle's face! I really do need a new camera! Man, I keep saying it!
I read recently that more and more people are getting plastic surgery so they can take better selfies. But why even bother when you can just take pictures with a filter that makes you look more perfect?!
It's sad that people feel they aren't good enough. I know I'm not perfect but I would never want to get plastic surgery, even if I could afford it. I think you need to just be who you are. We are all unique. We're not all meant to look the same. We're not meant to meet some abstract ideal. Just be who you are. But filters are nice to play with!
Michelle has fun no matter where we are and she seems to make friends everywhere we go. I wish I was more like her in that way but I've got to be me. I am by nature mostly solitary. I am not a social person. I feel uncomfortable around strangers. There aren't many people that I'm close to. I don't have a lot of confidence and I would NEVER DREAM of just approaching someone and striking up a conversation like Michelle will do. She will literally go up to anyone and say "Hi! I'm Michelle! What's your name? Want to play?" 99.9% of the time, it WORKS. Oh to be a kid. But even as a kid I was NEVER like that.
We just have to get ice cream at the beach. It's non-negotiable. Every time. I always ask Michelle, as if I don't already know the answer: "Do you want to get ice cream?"
It's always an emphatic "YES!"
This time Michelle got cookie dough and I got strawberry. It's hard to take a selfie while you're eating ice cream but I like to capture the happy moments and this is one of them. Like ice cream, the moments don't last. They are sweet and brief and they melt away so you have to savour them. And if you're lucky and you pay attention then you can enjoy them forever. Photos are magic. They make the temporary permanent. They let you hold on. #Photoholic #ControlFreak #IGottaBeMe!
Before we knew it, it was JUNE. Time was flying by. That's the thing. It flies regardless. You think time just flies when you're having fun but I think back even to some of the toughest times in my life and time FLEW BY. It's hard while you're in it, while you're having a bad day an hour can seem like an eternity, or when you have insomnia it can feel like a million years until morning but then you look back and a month has passed, or a year. Or seven years. It's crazy.
So yeah, apparently it was June already.
The lawn needed a drink. We hadn't had rain in a while. Michelle asked if she could play in the sprinkler. I couldn't say no. I even got in it myself for a bit. It was refreshing after working out in the heat, mowing the lawn, pulling weeds etc. Sometimes I really do wish I had help. I know that in a lot of couples the yard work is the man's job. I see other guys out mowing the lawn. Maybe I should've lived in a condo. But then you're too close to other people. I really don't want to hear strangers through the walls. I'd live out in the country without neighbours if I could. Of course then I'd have even MORE lawn to mow. I'd have to have a riding one I guess.
One day I was out pulling weeds and I could hear tweeting coming from the long grass in the backyard by the fence. I left some long grass to grow really long because I thought it looked like bamboo and I liked it. I looked and found the source of the tweeting: a nest of baby birds. It was SO CUTE! I could see a worried looking Mama bird on the fence waiting for me to leave so I made myself scarce. I watched her getting worms for her babies. It made me happy to think that I could host a family of birds in the yard. Naturally I had to get a photo!
She was trying to fly a kite that she made at school. The kite wasn't really flying but she had fun trying anyway. It had been a rainy day in the morning but turned sunny by the afternoon.
Michelle has so much boundless energy that she can never seem to burn it all off. She's in perpetual motion. Running, jumping, dancing, twirling. I'm usually the opposite. I wish I had even one tenth of Michelle's energy. She's never still. I'm glad she's so active because I know these days a lot of kids are hooked on their devices and video games and what not and don't get any exercise. I'm a bit of a technophobe and in no hurry to get Michelle her own tablet or whatever. I think kids should be kids. Run around and play while you still can. You have the rest of your life to sit and look at a screen.
Experiencing the beauty of nature is good for the soul. Seeing these adorable baby birds warmed my heart and gave me hope.
Birds in the backyard and mice in the front!
I was pulling weeds in front of the house and caught a glimpse of this little guy. Some people are afraid of mice but I think they're adorable. Don't get me wrong, I don't want them IN the house but I'm fine with him living outside (under my front steps apparently.) He was so cute. He moved pretty fast but I did manage to get a picture of him before he scurried away.
Work had been so stressful for such a long time and it was more than just the job itself. The long hours and commute, the sleep deprivation, it all broke me down. I became so drained and depleted that there was almost nothing left of me. I was a shell. There wasn't any time for self care or to take a breath or to do any of the things I enjoy.
Looking back I can't believe what I went through and how long I lasted. I realize what a blessing it is to have this time to heal, to go through therapy and to get back to all the things that nourish my soul. Art has always been and will always be a part of my life. Art and writing help me to express myself. When I stop creating I start to lose myself. I was so grateful to be finding myself again through drawing and painting. Walking around Michaels, looking through Jane Davenport's book, painting again reminded me how important it is to look for the beauty in life. Beauty is good for the soul. Too much ugliness (darkness and chaos and despair -- everything I had to face in my career) destroys the soul.
My little fairy Princess! I was always finding new headbands for Michelle. I couldn't resist them. Michelle is my little Princess and it's always fun dressing her up in cute accessories. I almost wish I could wear them! (Yeah I would probably look pretty silly! I just wish they'd had things like that when I was young. Not that my Mom would have gotten them for me anyway.) Girls have it made now. There are SO many ADORB accessories! Michelle has it all -- Princess tiaras in pink, silver and gold, unicorn horns, cat ears. This one had turquoise wisps of hair which I thought was really fun. Michelle looks like a little fairy in it. It's fun being a girl, especially a girly girl, so why not enjoy it?! That's how I feel anyway.
We got a few pictures in my Mom's backyard before heading over to May's for Shannon and Reggie's birthday party.
Of course I ran with my camera for a better look. I couldn't believe my luck when he LOOKED RIGHT AT ME. I was trying to get his attention in the usual way (making a loud kissing noise which I usually do to attract an animal's attention but sometimes backfires and scares them away.)
It's hard to fit everyone in but we did it. Unfortunately the blurry spots are blocking a few faces but most of us are in there at least!
It's impossible to get everyone looking and smiling perfectly. It's impossible even to keep them out of the white cloud/ghost of a scratched lens but you press the button count to 10 and hope for the best.
Another shot of Michelle and me in May's yard. We're not matching this time but both in shades of blue.
I like dressing us alike. We're a team. Mom and daughter squad. My Mom says Michelle is so much like me as a child. She's a mini-me. When we dress alike it's even more obvious how similar we are. My little ginger girl. I am so grateful for her. I don't know what I'd do without her. She is like me but not like me, so much better than me. Stronger than me. It's like she's the new and improved me. And she can do things I was never able to do. She won't let fear hold her back. And she will live a life filled with joy because she'll believe in herself and go after what she wants instead of sabotaging herself.
I remember as a kid my Mom never let us have McDonalds. I always felt so jealous of other kids who got to go. I try not to have it TOO often with Michelle but we do go at least a few times a month.
You know you're in Oakville when... At the mall there was an orange Lamborghini in the parking lot. It was too cool not to get a picture. No one was around so Michelle and me posed with it. This is as close as I get to a Lamborghini. I've only ever seen a few in my entire life. I explained to Michelle how rare they are and how expensive they are, so it is a treat to see one every now and then.
I was partly right. Some of the tanks and fish are extremely expensive. The store owner tried to tell me that they're not that hard to care for however. Filters do most of the work keeping it clean. Also, there are cheaper options (just getting a little bowl with Beta fish) but it still didn't seem like a good idea. So we settled for a fish puppet and a shell souvenir of our visit. It was a perfect outing on our way to Michelle's piano lesson.
It amazes me how Michelle almost never gets tired. She could run all day long and not wear herself out. I have a hard time keeping up with her. Most of the time I don't even try. I just watch her in awe from the sidelines. And snap as many action shots as I can. A lot of them were blurry but I managed to capture a few moments. I love this one of her smiling and running in her little seashell dress and Princess tiara.
The only downside to my little ball of energy is that it is hard to get her to settle down at night. It's like she doesn't want to sleep because she doesn't want to miss anything.
My Mom has been going through a few health issues and said that she didn't know how she would have been able to watch Michelle all the time if I'd still been working full time. She did say it was good for them to spend time with Michelle and helped to keep them strong and active but sometimes it was too much for them. I don't like leaving Michelle with anyone. No one will ever love her as much as I do. My parents are the next best thing. Of course over time I have been able to let go somewhat. I have to leave her at school. I've left her at friend's houses for birthday parties and play dates. Baby steps. It's tough for me.
Michelle was ready. She wanted to learn to ride her bike, without training wheels. I was nervous because I was the one who would have to teach her. I knew it would be hard. I had no idea how hard it would be.
I couldn't remember learning to ride a bike. I know that I did. I just don't know how or when it happened. I think my Dad taught me but I don't actually remember. It's pretty fuzzy but it seems to me that I learned in one day and that dad just let go and I went ahead. But I'm probably just misremembering it. I'm probably blocking out the times I fell and scraped my knees and cried and got discouraged.
So we went out one day to start bike riding lessons. After a bit of a struggle with the wrench (thank goodness I had one!) I had the training wheels off her little bike. There was no going back now. Michelle's bike looked so small for her. It was good in a way because she could almost put her feet flat on the ground beside her. I still worried that she was going to fall and get hurt.
I am a control freak. I am admittedly a helicopter/bubble wrap parent and if I had my way I would protect Michelle from EVER being hurt. Unfortunately that would also prevent her from living her life. Teaching her to ride a bike would be one of the hardest (if not THE hardest) thing I'd ever done. It was hard on her and even harder on me. It was, in a word, a NIGHTMARE!
Nervously I ran alongside Michelle, holding on to the bike, coaching her ("Steer straight, look straight ahead, just keep pedaling as if the training wheels are there.") and letting go to let her try. It was so hard. I kept wanting to grab her to stop her from falling. I couldn't win. If I held on too long she was frustrated that I wasn't giving her room to learn. If I let go for longer she fell and got hurt and blamed me for not grabbing her in time. I reminded her that she could step down on the ground if she lost her balance. She didn't like the little bike. She found it uncomfortable and thought a bigger bike would be better. We went to Toys R Us to look at bikes. Maybe they would have one on sale. Or maybe we'd just look and I could let her ride one around the store rather than on the pavement outside. Not that it wouldn't still hurt to fall on the hard floor but at least it was a change of scenery.
We got her a new bike. It was on sale. It was a Monster High bike and looked the right size for her, even though she could only touch the ground on her tiptoes.
The only problem was I wasn't sure how I was going to fit it in the car. One of the store staff came out with me to try to put it in the trunk. It didn't fit. Close but no cigar. She suggested I could take the tire off. "Oh HELL no!" I protested. I had a hard enough time getting training wheels off. I sure as heck didn't need the stress or work of taking off a tire and putting it back on. After a few minutes of futile struggling the woman suggested "If only you had a bungee cord or something to secure it."
"You are a PRINCE!" I told him, "Thank you SO MUCH!" And I hugged him. I was tempted to ask "What are you doing for the rest of the day?" (or the rest of my LIFE!) but thought better of it because for one he was much too young for me and for another, I can't/don't date anyone and as if someone that nice and that cute would be single anyway.
The lady from the store joked about chivalry not being dead and wondering if that guy was single and I was like "RIGHT?!" It was so random. Sometimes you ask for something and the universe just says "HERE YOU GO! Hey girl, hang in there!" I managed to get home with the bike. We struggled with bike riding lessons for a while. Michelle got her balance for a few seconds and lost it. After a fall and a few tears we called it a day. We tried a couple more times and then gave it a rest. I wasn't going to push. I was in no hurry. I had planned to teach her AFTER she turned 6 anyway. She hadn't even had her birthday yet. The weather was so hot too -- like 40 degrees Celsius every day. It was too hot to be running up and down the street beside a bike. Plus my butt needed a break!
Being with Michelle is like living in a world of unicorns, rainbows, hearts and magic. And that is not a bad thing. Of course the real world can be a very dark and troubling place. I try not to watch the news but I hear things. It's disturbing when you feel like the world is falling apart. It makes you feel helpless. I'd rather focus on the happy things. The beautiful things.
Michelle's world is beautiful. I love her artwork. Her innocence. Her optimism. I need that.
I love this adorable portrait on carboard of a blonde in a blue gown with enormous hands. For a long time Michelle didn't draw hands. They've never been my favourite either. Michelle used to just draw little stick hands. A three pronged fork at the end of the arm. Like snowman twig arms. Now she was at a stage where she drew arms, hands and fingers, but as you can see they weren't exactly proportionate.
I love kids artwork. I could look at it all day. It's just so funny and sweet to see their imperfect, whimsical version of the world. It's even better when they include funny little misspelled captions as well.
Mom-daughter squad! I can't even tell you how excited I was to find these shirts in our sizes. I decided it would be perfect to wear matching outfits for the annual Teddy Bear Picnic at Michelle's school.
I asked Michelle what she wanted for lunch. Her answer was the same as last year -- grilled cheese sandwiches and brownies. So that's what I brought. And of course I brought along a handful of stuffed bears to join us.
I looked around at some of the other families. People must have taken time off work to be there. There were mothers and fathers and siblings. Then there was Michelle and me and our bears. Michelle didn't have a daddy or a brother or sister to join us but we had more bears than anyone. Maybe that's why I buy so many toys for her. To make up for the things I can't give her: namely a bigger family.
A few people commented on our
#MomDaughterSquad shirts. One mom said how much she loved them and how much she wished she had a daughter. She only had sons. I am so glad I had a girl. Of course I would have loved a son too but there are so many girly girl things I can share with Michelle and it would have been different with a boy. Pink bears and purple bunnies probably wouldn't have been the first choice. I am happy to share days like this with my girl.
The Incredibles II was hilarious, heart-warming and absolutely action-packed. I was impressed also that they let the Mom be the hero. She's the one going out and saving the world while Dad stayed home with the kids (and learned how difficult THAT actually is!) It was very empowering for women to show just how hard we work, in the home and outside of it. While some men take an active role in raising the kids, the lion's share of it falls on Mom's shoulders. And it's tough. For single Moms, it's all you with no help at all. I was glad that they were acknowledging and showcasing the power of women. It's a far cry from the old Disney movies where the hero was male and rescued the damsel in distress. Now it's the women who do the rescuing. I loved the movie. Michelle loved it too. She was happy with a wonderful day spent with Mama. "I love you Mama! You're the BEST MAMA IN THE WORLD!"
"And you're the best girl!" I told her.
I can't help it. I get a kick out of dressing us alike. I'm not sure at what age Michelle will put her foot down and say "Heck no" but for now I'm enjoying it. Of course there will come a point, in her teens or later when we may almost wear the same size. Maybe she'll be raiding my closet. Or maybe her taste will be completely different. At this point she seems to love everything that I do. We are girly girls.
Father's Day is a strange day when you're a single Mom. I'll never forget one year someone from work surprised me with a Father's Day card because as a single Mom you are both mother and father. You play all the roles. It's all you. It was very thoughtful and made me cry. A small act of kindness is welcome when you struggle so much. No one really understands how hard it is to be a single Mom unless she is one herself.
It rained a little but it was actually preferable to have an overcast, slightly damp day than one of the unbearable 40 degree Celsius days we had been having. When you're doing a lot of walking that kind of heat and humidity would have been unbearable. The teacher pointed out that thanks to the rain we got to see more of the animals. On a hot day they would have been hiding out in the shade and we wouldn't have seen them as much. You have to look at the bright side on a rainy day!
It was a fun day with a lot of cute photo ops and I was so glad I got to be there. Day trips like this helped me to forget my own personal stress and problems. It's easier to focus on the good stuff when it's right in front of you. This was a form of therapy too. Finding my happy place(s). Nature, animals, cute photo ops, capturing it all on my camera = HAPPY PLACE!
Being around cute or beautiful things and taking photos of them is my medicine. Honestly it is the best drug. It is my happy pill. The world can be an utter mess but if there is still something cute or beautiful in this world then by God that's what I'm going to focus on!
The palm trees were back! I actually called the Beach House ahead to see if the palm trees were there yet and they said yes they'd just arrived. So we made a trip to the beach. Again, this is my medicine. To lie on the sand under a palm tree and listen to the waves and watch Michelle play is better than any drug. It is my happy place, my cure, my zen. Michelle loves it too. I needed this. What a luxury to be able to go to a beach with palm trees and not have to get on a plane to do it (because that was NOT an option.)
We always had a ball at Auntie May's. Michelle loved playing with her cousin Reggie and I loved talking and laughing with May. We also enjoyed watching Shannon's new animation videos on the big screen.
Michelle loves dressing up anyway and I wanted her to wear something special for her first recital. I was so proud of her. I wished my family could have been there to see her but it was tricky on a weeknight in the Summer. Living such a distance from everyone else in the family can be a challenge.
I managed to get a bit of a video of her playing but I was kicking myself that I didn't have the camera ready because it was over so quickly. I missed the beginning. The video is only a few seconds long. I'm glad that I got it though. I was so proud of her. Some of the kids messed up. There were kids older than her that had probably been taking lessons much longer and many of them made mistakes. She played her piece perfectly.
Here's the video of her piano recital on Youtube: Michelle playing "Ode to Joy." --
We caught some worms and other bugs to feed our little toad friends. It seemed like they were eating some of them because some of the bugs disappeared and there were little poops around the container. We kept our toads for a couple of days and let them go.
School was ending. It was crazy. Could it really be the end of June ALREADY?! The time had flown by.
The school had an assembly and parents were allowed to come so I hung out with Michelle for a bit. She was happy to have her Mama there. It was pretty crowded so I had to have her on my lap at one point to make room for others. My legs started to go numb.
They made a slideshow video of the older kids -- showing photos of them as babies then pictures of them now, in grade 6. It brought tears to my eyes and it wasn't even my kid! It does make me sentimental to think how quickly the time goes, how fast our kids grow up. They're babies, then they're in grade school, then high school, university, out in the world. I can't even think that far ahead though. I have a hard enough time dealing with a year or a few months going by. For now I'm just holding on to the moments, and holding on to my girl, as long as I can.
I tried to photograph them in their little temporary home. Most of the shots were blurry but I managed to get this one where he's actually looking. They're so cute! I was worried Ali might attack them but she couldn't have cared less about them. She was more interested in getting outside. I did let her outside in the yard with us sometimes.
Michelle's teacher made this collage of pictures of Michelle throughout the year. It made me cry. I love getting these glimpses into Michelle's day. A lot of times I'd ask her about what she did at school and it was like pulling teeth to get an answer. "I don't know..." she'd answer. I'd have to ask follow up questions: "Did you learn anything? Draw anything? Read anything? Sing any songs?" Seeing these snapshots of her school days was awesome.
This shot of Michelle was my favourite. I LOVE her expression here. The half grin, looking off to the side and holding up her story about a flying car: "I made a flying car and you just say where you want to go and it takes you there." Of course one day we may actually have that. They already have the technology for self-driving cars with GPS and everything. They are talking about flying cars. Uber has already bought the rights to it or something. The world keeps changing. I remember hearing that our kids will likely end up in jobs that DON'T EVEN EXIST YET. Because they will be in a different world. It's mind-boggling. I am not modern. I am always somewhat resistant to new technology. But the world will keep changing whether I like it or not.
And then we watched them hop away, happily into the grass.
"We may see them again," I told Michelle, "They live in our backyard. They are our little neighbours. You can visit them again."
My doctor was retiring. The news hit me hard. She was like a member of the family. She had been there for decades and had seen me through so many things. She delivered Michelle. Now she was going to be gone. She was passing her practice on to another younger doctor who she assured me was very nice but it was still going to be a stranger. The thought of starting from scratch with someone new was overwhelming. I still had ongoing issues with mental health/being on stress leave. How would I explain everything to someone new? I didn't have a choice. I would just have to. As I kept being reminded, change was a constant, whether I liked it or not. Michelle really loved our doctor and she was going to miss her too. I took Michelle to see her one last time. It was good to hear that Michelle was healthy and that I'd done a great job with her anyway. It was always nice to hear, especially from a doctor. I may have messed up when it comes to my own health but I had taken good care of Michelle anyway.
One really hot day after mowing the lawn I asked Michelle if she wanted to run through the sprinkler to cool down. I set the timer to get a photo. I even managed to catch myself mid flying leap as you can see above. Mind you this was after a couple of rather clumsy failed attempts which I won't share here! That's the thing about selfies -- no one will see the really bad ones.
Michelle caught some toads again. We weren't even sure if they were different ones or maybe the same ones we met before. We caught some worms, grasshoppers and flies for them while they stayed in our little plastic bed and breakfast.
School was over. June was over. Summer had just officially begun. I would have two months to spend with my girl, or not... I didn't know what to expect. My situation still seemed pretty precarious. I didn't have answers -- what, where, when, how? It's scary for a control freak who likes to have all their ducks in a row to not know what's going to happen or what to do. To be in this state of limbo, trying to figure things out. I decided that all I could do was take it one day at a time. Keep focusing on the good, trying to avoid stress, doing things that made me happy, going to therapy. I had good days and bad. Writing was cathartic on the bad days. Photography was a celebration on the happy days. These are the happy days. I am grateful for them. I'm happy to have this outlet to share them. Thank you for reading and sharing my journey with me. Summer would be an adventure too... I'll save that for the next blog if there is one. I think there will be but it's hard to say because I'm just taking it one day at a time. I don't know what tomorrow holds. What I'm starting to realize is that NO ONE DOES. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Even if they think they're settled in their career, relationship, home, health, sanity, situation. It can all change. In a day, in an instant. All you have is this moment. So be in it. I'm trying to remember this...