Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mia famiglia

Had the whole gang over to my place for Mother's Day on Sunday. I always love having them over. It's a bit sad when they have to leave. I've gotten used to having the place to myself but it's nice to have company. There are a lot of them and they are quite boisterous so it almost seems too quiet after they're gone.

Showed them my newly painted nursery and the mermaid painting I've done so far. My sister said her hubby can come with the crib and change table any time which is good to hear. I'm excited to get the nursery set up. Even though there are still months to go and I wouldn't even be using the crib right away. (Baby will be in the bassinett right in my room next to me for the first couple of months or so.)

Thankfully it was a beautiful day on Sunday and we wound up spending most of it in my backyard. I even got a bit of a sunburn. Mom had gotten me a garden swing as an early birthday/Mom-to-be present. She, my dad, my brother and nephew all helped put it together for me. I was very grateful because if I had to try to figure it out on my own it would have taken me days! Actually you need at least two people to hold the parts so I probably couldn't have done it on my own. It would have been quite a sight watching a 7 month pregnant woman struggle with poles and canvas and a screwdriver by herself! I did manage to construct the bassinett by myself but it was a little smaller to deal with (and it was a struggle. I've never liked reading instructions! The only thing I ever really liked putting together were bookcases. Very straightforward. Hard to mess them up!)

I am so happy to have the love and support of my family so I'm not going through my journey alone. Being a single Mom wasn't something I planned on or ever thought possible. For the most part I feel strong and capable. Most days I feel good, confident and I think "I've got this! It's going to be OK!" I do however have moments of weakness, self-doubt and sometimes just sheer exhaustion. Sometimes it's tough when you don't have a partner to help out with anything. I work long hours at my job which takes a toll. Twelve hour shifts are rough at the best of times. When you're 7 months pregnant, on no sleep, with heartburn, indigestion, sore ribs, swollen legs & feet, it's really rough. Even on my days off I don't really get to relax because there's so much that needs to be done. Cleaning. Shopping. Taking care of the house inside and out. I was mowing the front lawn one day and I was tired. My back was aching, I was having trouble breathing, the extension cord kept getting caught. It was so frustrating I almost started to cry. I just felt overwhelmed. Every other house on the street, the husband cuts the lawn. For a moment I wished there was someone here to help me out. "You put your feet up honey. I'll do the lawn. I'll vacuum. I'll clean the bathroom. I'll get the groceries. I'll make dinner." Of course, as I mentioned in a previous post, not all boyfriends/hubbies are that helpful anyway. (Even when Mike was here he said he wouldn't mow the lawn because he "didn't know how." He'd never had a lawn before. Yeah. And he couldn't have gone for groceries because he didn't even have a driver's license. At 32. I know, right? He tried to help a little with dishes but I still did the cooking and everything else. With Mike and his pets here it just meant more work for me.) Some men are helpful though. One boyfriend that I dated years ago was a godsend. I didn't have to lift a finger around the house. Anything that needed fixing or doing, he was on it. He put up all my ceiling fans, installed all my blinds, kept the lawn pristine, made me a delicious dinner each night, washed the floors. I'll always be in his debt because he's also the one who taught me my first guitar chords and inspired my first songs. And he gave the best massages EVER. Of course he was unemployed. You can't have everything. (Does a man exist who is actually sweet, sensitive, strong, sincere, smart, sexy, successful, with a sense of humour? Not that I've found anyway. Usually you have to settle for 4 or 5 out of 8. Some qualities appear to cancel each other out. I can't settle anymore so I guess I'll be single for a while!) Of course having any help at all is nice rather than having to do everything on your own. I should mention that my Mom told me my dad would mow the lawn for me when they came over but I wasn't going to make him do it. He already mows the lawn at their place which is 10 times the size of mine. With the garden at the front, there's really only a small area I have to do anyway. It's just that when you're carrying so much weight up front (new boobs and belly bigger by the minute), everything is more difficult. And sometimes I have a little pity party. Luckily it doesn't last long and I snap out of it and realize how lucky I am.

Being single is actually easier in many ways. I'd rather be on my own than with someone who adds more stress to my life, which my ex did, to a great extent. I was driving home from the grocery store the other day, singing along with the radio, feeling baby boogie in my tummy when I suddenly saw a couple having an argument in the car ahead of me. The male who was driving was wildly gesturing his hands, flailing about. The female next to him was yelling back. I could see their angry faces, their mouths gaping like fish. I wondered what could make anyone that angry on such a beautiful sunny day? Those are things that I don't miss. Car rides from hell. Arguing about directions. Arguing about the destination, the day's events, anything. Blaming, name-calling. It is hard for a man and woman to spend an extended period of time together without arguing about something. You just start to get on each other's nerves. There will always be differences of opinion, different goals. If you happen to be two people that need control and always need to be right, it's really a struggle. Money is a big argument for almost any couple. Sometimes you argue over the silliest things. You're just stressed and tired and irritable and wind up taking it out on each other. And some people just push your buttons. Mike and I could be pretty volatile. He had a short fuse and if I happened to say the wrong thing to set him off, it wasn't pretty. I was hormonal and moody in my first trimester so I was quite the powder keg myself. At least not having a man there, there isn't someone to argue with. No one to disappoint you. No one to disagree with. No one to battle for control. But I miss the good things. The companionship, laughter, love, support. I still get that from friends and family, though it is different of course. I do hope to find romantic love with someone again one day perhaps. But my child will be my world, especially in the beginning, and I definitely need a long break from dating. For decades I jumped from one relationship to another without a break. This long hiatus from (bad) romances is long overdue!

I admire strong single Moms who manage on their own. My sister was a single Mom for a while after her divorce. She just did what she had to do. She is a strong, loving mother and has three fabulous kids. The reality is that even now, when her husband is working out of town etc, she is alone to care for the kids and the house. Even married women often end up doing most of the work when it comes to the children and the home. One woman I knew had a husband who was away travelling on business all the time. Everyone said she was practically a single Mom because Dad was just never there. But at least her hubby earned a good living so she had help financially. It's tough when it's all you. I know single Moms who have to fight with their exes for child support payments, battle over custody papers etc. I have people trying to convince me to seek out a lawyer about my ex saying that he should be giving me something. I'd rather not go through that. Mike wouldn't have had much to give anyway. I'd rather just not have him in the picture at all. Of course if he did win the lottery or something it would be nice if he'd send me a cheque with no strings attached, just to assuage his guilt for abandoning the baby and me in the cruel, cowardly way that he did. Heck, even if he just sent me the money that he owed me it would be a help. But I'm not holding my breath on that one. It would be nice to win the lottery myself. $50 million would sure come in handy! They say money can't buy happiness, but I'm pretty happy already and not having to worry about money would make everything a lot easier!

It still freaks me out that I'm actually going to be a Mom. An Aunt to three nieces and three nephews, I never dreamed that one day someone would actually be calling ME Mom! My Mom pointed out that this will be her lucky 7th grandchild and will be the tie-breaker. We are still operating under the assumption that it's a girl, so now Mom will have more grand-daughters than grand-sons. But it's not 100% official until I have the 32 week ultrasound. (Coming up soon! And it better be definitive this time!) As you know if you've read my previous blogs, I really am counting on a girl. I'm a girlie girl myself. I already have her name picked out, have a bunch of pink outfits, the whole bit. I imagine us making sandcastles on the beach (my backyard beach and others) as Shannon was doing here on Sunday. I'm so close to my Mom, sister and niece. I really hope that my child will stay that close with me as she grows up. Not just a daughter, but a companion, confidante and friend. A close bond for a lifetime.

The whole gang on my little beach
I'm so grateful for my beautiful family. They mean the world to me. Especially now. I know that I can count on them. They make me laugh. They're a little crazy. I've shared so many memories with them over the years. There's comfort in being with people who have known you forever. You can completely be yourself. They know you inside out and accept you. You may not always get along, but you always love each other. From talking with other people I realized that not all families get together so often. Some don't even get together for special occasions. They go their separate ways, can't be bothered or have a falling out and stop speaking, move too far away, etc. It was always just a given in our family that you spend birthdays and holidays together and have visits for no occasion. Mikey (that's my brother not my ex!) is a bit further away so he can't always make it (he wasn't here on the weekend but is coming next weekend.) A lot of it is at my Mom's insistence. She can be very persuasive. It's just not worth the guilt of not giving her her way! It's good though. It kept us coming together even when it was difficult. There is no bond like that between family members and it's a shame that some people let that go. 
My brother Chris and I certainly had our moments of conflict over the years. In some ways we were too opposite, in others too similar. Living with our parents as adults definitely put a strain on the relationship. Even silly things like fighting over the bathroom. We were both stubborn and locked horns on numerous occasions. But the love was always there, even underneath the arguments. Since living apart it's much easier to get along. Sometimes you just need space. We're the two middle kids and we were the two siblings who never married and didn't plan to have kids. Chris joked that the pressure was off of us because our eldest and youngest siblings, May and Mikey, kept having children so we didn't have to. I guess I unintentionally broke our unspoken pact. No one EVER expected me to have kids (least of all me!) and here I am due in July, so never say never! Chris is actually wonderful with kids. If anyone should have them, it's him. But he and his girlfriend don't intend to. They've gone on a few trips recently, including a trip to Cuba. Chris is even learning to speak Spanish. They seem to be enjoying their freedom. Still, I see how his eyes light up when he plays with his nieces and nephews. He's a natural. A big-hearted kid himself, with so much energy. He would be a great father. Who knows? Maybe one day he'll be a parent too. For now he can be a loving Uncle to six (and soon to be seven!) kids.

My Mom was quite happy with her special day and the day before (I decided to take her out for a day of shopping, her favourite pasttime, on Saturday as a pre-Mother's Day celebration.) She was thrilled with that. After reading my Mother's Day blog she said that that was her greatest gift. (I printed it out for her. She's not on the internet. She doesn't even have a computer! Seriously. She's even more old-fashioned than I am!) She's loved all my blog posts but was especially moved by my mother's day one and was so proud of me. Most of my life I was trying to win her approval, to make her proud and often felt like nothing I did was good enough. My perception of a lot of things has changed these days. I'm realizing how much she did love me all along. She just pushed me when she thought I could do better. She wanted me to succeed and she was behind me every step of the way. She was proud of my academic success (awards and medals, graduating university at the top of my class) and my talents (singing, writing, art etc). I often focused on the criticisms and the negatives (she has always been a worrier and she can be negative) instead of the praise and the positives. I was my own harshest critic for most of my life and it affected my perceptions of others as well. Anything that reinforced my negative self-image was what I responded to. I could get 10 compliments and 1 criticism and guess what I dwelled on? Over the years I've mellowed out, become much more positive and learned to like myself. For a long while I felt as though I wasn't loved (by family, partners etc) but the truth was I didn't love myself. Why couldn't I have figured all of this out a few decades ago?!  

You go through phases. At the time you think that your perception is the reality and it's hard for anyone to convince you otherwise. Starting in our teens, we naturally start to rebel a little. We don't feel like our parents understand us. We can be hostile. We see them as the enemy. I suppose I'll go through some of those growing pains with my own daughter. (That's the really rough part I think! More so than the tantrums of the terrible twos or the sleepless nights and diaper changes of a newborn.) Maybe I'll get lucky though. My oldest nephew was a dream child. He never gave May a hard time. So you never know. Raise a child with love and open communication and hope for the best.

My sister loved my blog as well. She thinks I'll be a great Mom. I hope so. It's such a huge responsibility. And it's a different world now. Kids today are scary! When I was a kid we didn't even have the internet. Now it's everywhere and kids at such a young age have so many high tech gadgets -- cellphones or blackberries, tablets, kobos, ipods and apps and I don't know what all. I don't even own a cellphone! I think I may be the only one in North America over the age of 12 that can say that! I refuse to get one. I think they're evil. They turn people into zombies, mindlessly texting all the time. Once you get one, you can never go back. You're never really free. Sure there are times I'd like to have one in an emergency but I make do. I can always get to a phone. I can use a payphone if I have to, mind you they are harder to find and because they're not used very much, they're not maintained terribly well. The way I look at it, I'm not a Hollywood actress or a real estate agent. I'm not so important that someone has to be able to get a hold of me every minute of the day. Even when I'm in line at Walmart. One single father that I dated had kids with little computer games (Nintendo DS or something) and they would play with it during long car rides. I found it kind of sad. As a kid, I loved road trips. I loved looking out the window at the countryside, watching other cars, fields, scenes whizzing past me. Window rolled down. Wind in my hair. Daydreaming. That was part of the adventure for me. Now kids are so focused on their gadgets that they miss the world around them. They lose the simple pleasures. When I was a kid I loved playing double dutch. I don't know if kids even do that anymore. I never see skipping ropes. Now half the time kids are playing on their computers rather than being outside enjoying nature, the fresh air, chasing frogs, doing somersaults on the grass, being kids. Now they're like little adults in training. Well maybe I'll raise an old-fashioned girl like me. Though I suppose at a certain age they start to realize that "all the other kids have one!" and then what do you do? Hopefully I have the determination to be firm but fair. People are hooked on their gadgets. Whether it's kids with games or adults with cells or blackberries. I'll see people out for lunch together and they're not even talking! They're each texting on their cellphones! Why are the people who aren't even there more important than the one you're actually with?! (Mind you they were probably texting friends who were meeting up with them. But I just find it strange. I see it all the time.) Technology is supposed to make life easier. But in some ways it seems to make it more complicated. You start to lose your freedom, your imagination, your peace. Don't get me wrong. I use my computer. I go on the internet. But I can walk away from it. And when I'm out, no one can get me. They can leave me a message. I need my space, my zen. Sometimes you need to just do nothing. "La dolce di far niente" as the saying goes (they mention it in "Eat, Pray, Love.") North Americans are obsessed with work and often don't know how to relax. Europeans understand that there's more to life than work. There's love. Family. Food. Art. Music. The simple pleasures. I need that myself. Maybe it's the Italian in me.

I always loved visiting my Italian relatives (on my Dad's side.) They were so animated and gracious. And the food was to die for! They kept bringing one delicious dish after another -- pasta, pizza, pastries. "Mangia, mangia, Anna Maria!" I visited my Aunt in Italy many years ago with my boyfriend at the time, as part of our European backpacking adventure. It was beautiful. I felt like a celebrity as she introduced me to the locals in the little town on a mountain where my father was born. Everyone made such a fuss of me. Some were even calling me "Madonna" not because I resembled the Queen of Pop but because I looked like paintings they had of the Virgin Mary. I even played Mary once in a school play. As a Catholic, I was deeply honoured to play the Mother of God. I never could have imagined at the time that one day I would be a mother. Certainly not by immaculate conception! If anything my ex had more in common with Lucifer! But he used to call me angel and I'm hoping our child will take after me...

My sister pointed out that next year on Mother's Day I'll have my baby, close to a year old by that point. I'll be the third Mom in the family. Even Christmas this year will be so different. I'll have a baby 5 months old! Baby's first Christmas! The seventh member of the youngest generation of our family. It's all very surreal to me.

Sometimes my mind races ahead to the future. So many things to look forward to. Other things to fear/worry about. So many unknowns. Mostly I try to take things one day at a time.

Just a little over two months to go before baby makes her grand entrance! I can't believe it. My Mom and sister keep telling me how much bigger I'm still going to get. It's scary. My belly already feels like it's going to explode. I don't know how it could stretch any further. The other day I saw a girl who looked about my size, belly-wise except that her bellybutton had popped out. I could see it poking through her shirt. I asked how far along she was (it's a question that's not always prudent to ask. You just never know. Sometimes the woman isn't even pregnant!) I felt safe asking because she was a petite little thing and only had weight in her belly. "Six more weeks!" she announced proudly. Having almost double that still to go, I was starting to feel my belly had gone too far too soon. Everyone is different though. I know Jessica Simpson took a lot of flack for how much weight she gained. I still think she looked beautiful. I think that being pregnant gives you a better excuse to eat than ever so you might as well enjoy it! As long as you're having enough healthy nutrients for the baby, why not indulge now and then for yourself? I'm just hoping that I will be able to lose the weight again afterward. I look at my bikini pics from last year for inspiration. I think that between working out hardcore and getting back into my yoga I'll be able to get close to the shape I was in. I also hear that breast-feeding helps you to burn off a lot so hopefully that goes well.

All of us at Mom and Dad's Anniversary

Family has always been important to me and now more than ever I rely on them to keep me grounded. I am grateful for their love, support and friendship. I always used to say that I wanted to live on a remote tropical island but the truth is, if I moved far away from them, I would miss them too much. (Unless of course I did win that $50 million in the lottery and could afford a private jet to fly back and forth for visits every month!)

They say that home is where the heart is. My family will always be home to me. They are my people. My history. I feel closer to them than ever now that I'm starting my own little family of two. I want my baby to be close to her grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. To see how blessed we are to have such a beautiful, loving family. Ti amo, la mia famiglia!


  1. Very nice homage to your family. I know I would be lost without mine, even when they drive me nuts, lol!

  2. Thank you! :) Yes my family can drive me crazy (& we are pretty crazy!) but I love them so much.