Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Time of My Life

Recently someone told me that I was "in a rut" and "needed to get out more." "Why don't you go out to the mall or something?" the person (who shall remain nameless) suggested. Perhaps they meant well but it bothered me. I wish I could just let things roll off my back. Maybe it's the breastfeeding hormones that make me extra sensitive. Anyway, I found the comments insulting and for the record, completely inaccurate. I am not in a rut. In fact Michelle has forced me out of the rut that I was in for at least two decades. Thanks to my baby I have quit both of my addictions (shopping and men) cold turkey and I'm happier than I've ever been.

If you've read posts like "Hibernation" and "Homebody" then you know that I have been spending A LOT of time at home with the baby, often for several days and often in my pjs. I've even started ordering my groceries in from (I've ordered from them a couple of times so far. It is such a treat to have groceries brought to my door and just be able to put them away in minutes, avoiding the stress of shopping, loading and unloading the car etc.) I don't consider staying home with my baby being in a rut. To me it's a blessing. I've found a contentment that I never had before. Spending time with my baby means more to me than anything. I don't see anything wrong with staying in my pjs if I'm not going anywhere and no one is seeing me. It's comfortable. I've even seen people wearing pajama pants out as casual wear. So there! I'm not a fan of the winter and when it's snowing I am not going anywhere if I don't have to. I was nervous driving in the snow even before I had Michelle so I certainly wouldn't take any chances now. Slipping and sliding on the ice and snow with bald tires isn't my idea of fun and Michelle is too precious to me to take the risk. Besides saving money on gas by making fewer trips is a necessity these days anyway. As far as shopping goes, it holds no appeal for me anymore. Michelle doesn't like it (and she is the boss after all) and usually complains which makes it stressful (hence the online grocery shopping). Above all, staying home most of the time has become a necessity. As I've mentioned several times as a single Mom on maternity leave I have to be REALLY careful with money these days so recreational shopping isn't a possibility anymore.

I found it judgmental and condescending for someone to look at my life and find fault, to tell me that what I'm doing is wrong. The truth is that my life was wrong for a long time and it's finally right. By definition a rut is getting stuck in a habitual pattern, as a groove or track is formed in a dirt road after the wheels have gone over the same path over and over. I was stuck in the same pattern for a very long time. For most of my adult life I felt like something was missing. I was a shopoholic, trying to fill the void with "things." Most people have their addictions. Some people drink, do drugs or overeat. I shopped. As you can guess with any addiction, no amount of stuff can fill the void. What I really longed for in my life was true love, which leads me to my other favourite addiction -- men. In 20 years I barely went more than 5 minutes without a boyfriend. I dated all the wrong men. I stayed in dead-end relationships far too long. Sometimes I would want to leave one guy and didn't have the courage because I was afraid to be alone, then the universe would put his replacement in my path (usually the complete opposite of the man I was dating because the contrast would be attractive) and I'd jump from one to the other (often from the frying pan to the fire) with no break in between. Of course the pattern was unhealthy. I never really recovered from one relationship because I would dive into the next. I never got to discover who I was. I was afraid to find out. My friend told me to take some time, at least a year, to be on my own. I laughed. "I'd never last!" I said. Finally fed up with the bar scene I decided to try online dating. One day my friend and I were having brunch and she sat and made a list of all the guys I had dated in just a few months and we laughed. It was pretty ridiculous. I kept looking for my one true love, Mr. Right, my soulmate but he never showed up. Sometimes a guy would seem perfect in the beginning and then the illusion would shatter. Sometimes he looked like a mess but I thought I could "save" him. Of course you can't save anyone. Of all the men that I dated, Mike (Michelle's father) was the most messed up of all (and that's really saying something because I dated an alcoholic on and off for 3 years and he died of an overdose). For all of his faults (which were many) Mike did bless me with two incredible gifts that would change my life forever -- the first was my baby. My little Michelle was the biggest and best surprise of my life. His second gift to me was his absence. He left us while I was four months pregnant and as painful as that was at the time, it was a blessing because we are far better off without him.

My friend had always told me I needed a year alone to find myself. Thanks to Michelle I finally got it. I couldn't very well date while I was pregnant (that would just be weird.) And since Michelle has been born I haven't had the time or the inclination to meet anyone. Besides after what I've been through it will be hard for me to trust a man again. There is so much more at stake now. I would be so much more careful if and when I date again because now he would not only have to be a good partner for me he'd have to be a great father to Michelle. I don't know if that man exists.

Michelle is what was missing from my life. She is my true love. There is no void anymore. My life has more joy and more purpose than ever before. Being home with Michelle isn't being in a rut. It is the best time of my life. I am grateful for all my life's adventures -- falling in love, travel, climbing a mountain, swimming in the ocean, being published, writing thousands of poems, helping to set a Guinness World Record, being on the front of the newspaper, acting, being on TV and in film, winning academic awards, art shows, creating hundreds of paintings, playing in concerts, writing hundreds of songs, sculpting, having my own business -- to name a few. I feel blessed that I got to dabble in so many things and have a taste of my dreams. A lot of people "settle down" and have kids in their 20s or 30s. I am settling down later than most. For a long time I was never home. I always had to be out doing something, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. In my 20s I was hitting the clubs 4-5 nights a week dancing, going to concerts. In my 30s and even past 40 I was still out more than I was home. I loved staying out late and sleeping in. I never planned to have children. I couldn't see myself as a Mom and yet it has been the most rewarding role of my life. When I look back at my past I realize that all the things that seemed so important pale in comparison to being a Mom. Being with Michelle is the time of my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Yes it's tough to live on maternity leave (especially without a partner to help pay the bills) but I'm willing to make sacrifices and live on a tight budget because Michelle is more precious to me than anything. I wouldn't miss my daughter's first year for a million dollars. No amount of money would be worth missing her first word. Her first step. The first year in a child's development is so crucial and these days are so precious that I will do whatever it takes to stay with her. I'm not leaving her with someone else. If that means I can't go shopping and have to stick to just the necessities to get by, then so be it. I'm pretty sure at the end of my life I will never say "Gee, I wish I'd spent more time at the mall." There is nowhere on earth I'd rather be than with my baby. Home sweet home has never been sweeter. I will not apologize for that.

Yes someday when Michelle is older and if our financial situation is different, I would love to travel again. I would love to share many adventures with her. But for now I'm happy just to be home with her. We do still go out sometimes of course. We visit my Mom and my sister often. Lately the weather has been warmer. The snow melted and the sidewalks were clear so Michelle and I went for walks with the stroller. It did feel good to get some fresh air and sunshine again. Michelle seemed to enjoy it too and fell asleep. She's been having more naps during the day and staying up late at night. A night owl like her Mama.

Michelle is five months old now. Every day she amazes me and makes me laugh. I love watching her discover things. She's always enjoyed storytime but she keeps letting me read for longer intervals and now she puts her hand on the pages trying to grab the pictures. Sometimes she stares at me while I'm talking, hanging on my every word. She has really found her own voice and babbles long conversations consisting of gurgles, coos, squeals and screams. Sometimes when I'm on the phone with Mom she'll ask "Is that Michelle?!" because she sounds like a doll or a bird. When I've been out with her people comment on how vocal she is and say she'll be talking in no time because she's so eager to communicate. She keeps trying to crawl and I'm pretty sure she'll have it figured out in a couple of months (which is scary because she's so hyper I bet she'll be zooming across the floor). I love her smile and her laugh is the sweetest sound on earth.

Her new favourite word is "cozy." Everytime I say it (which is often!) she giggles. I even managed to get a video of her giggling at it. (See link above.) I think cozy is my new favourite word too. On a cold, snowy winter's day, I can't think of a better way to spend it than wearing my pajamas, comfy, cozy and snuggling with my little girl.


  1. I love this post & relate in so many ways. Well said!

    1. Thank you so much! Glad to hear that someone can relate. Sometimes it feels like no one quite "gets" me. It is tough as a single Mom but I wouldn't trade it for the world. When I think back to the best times in my life they can't compare to my moments with Michelle. She is the best!