Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Funny Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's been a year since I had a boyfriend (my last one was obviously Michelle's father who abandoned me when I was four months pregnant). That's a record for me. For more than two decades I never went more than a few weeks without a boyfriend. I was always dating someone. I'd go from one to the next often with no break. I always felt like I needed a man in my life. Michelle cured me of that. I couldn't very well date while pregnant (that would just be messed up!) and since she's been born I haven't had the time, energy or inclination to meet anyone. This winter I've been in hibernation mode a lot anyway. So the only way I could meet a man these days would be if it literally started raining men and one of them fell through my skylight. We did get some freezing rain the other night. Just hail. No males.

Born a hopeless romantic, I always celebrated Valentine's Day when I had a boyfriend. Some treated me to dinner and a movie or a show. Some boyfriends would take me away somewhere to celebrate (from Niagara Falls to the Dominican Republic.) At the very least they'd give me chocolates, flowers, a card, a stuffed animal. Once in a blue moon, jewellery. Or my favourite -- a love letter or poem. I remember speaking to married women who rolled their eyes at me and scoffed that they didn't bother celebrating Valentine's Day and had never even gotten so much as A CARD from their husbands! This could be why I never married! Most of the married people I spoke to (aside from the divorced ones) were not romantic. I said I couldn't be in a relationship with someone who had no sense of romance. Now although I don't have a boyfriend this year I am spending Valentine's Day with the love of my life: My little girl.

Strangely enough she's as intense and unpredictable as some of the men I loved. I never know what she's going to do from one day (or even one minute) to the next. Baby girls in general are more demanding than boys. A redhaired girl, a little moody headstrong spitfire of a girl is even more so. Sometimes she is my Hallmark card baby -- Life is beautiful, she's my perfect little angel, smiling, giggling, a sweet, precious delight. Other times life is like a horror movie and she's a little demon (in retrospect her father may have been the Prince of Darkness so maybe there's a bit of him in her) -- screaming, impossible, a nightmare. Lately she's on this kick where she falls asleep at a decent hour, say 11 p.m. or so, but then awakens at 3 a.m. screaming and almost inconsolable. The way she screams it's like she's had a nightmare or night terror and I can't calm her down. It's unnerving to me because I always heard that 3 a.m. is the witching hour. I didn't think babies had nightmares yet. Her mind is so active though. She's so hyper while she's awake and usually fights sleep so maybe her mind is racing in her sleep as well and she's freaking herself out. I finally found a trick to calm her down -- lifting her up and making a loud shushing noise like I did when she was a newborn. The constant shushing seems to help. She's so intense when she screams it's like she's auditioning for a thriller. She clenches her fists and stiffens herself out. I worried if she was teething or something but it doesn't appear to be anything physical. She has also started screaming every time she's on the change table now. She just doesn't like lying on her back. I explained to her that I can't change her on her tummy. She's so defiant that the second I turn to throw the diaper away she flips onto her tummy, stops crying instantly, looks back and me and grins mischievously. This is a girl that wants her own way. The scary thing is she usually gets it. I don't want to spoil her but I can't bear for her to cry. She has me wrapped around her finger and she knows it. Some of my boyfriends were like that too...

Sometimes it's not easy, especially on my own, to take care of such a demanding child. Of all the relationships I've had in my life, she is by far the most challenging but also the most rewarding. She really has taught me what love is. In other relationships when the going got rough, I got going, or they did. Though some of my relationships lasted several years, somehow I was never completely committed. I always had an escape hatch, one foot out the door. I had no patience. No tolerance. They would do something wrong and I'd be gone. I was always just an excuse away from leaving. Or I'd push them away. I guess I was afraid of commitment. Now with Michelle, there is no escape hatch. No matter how hard it gets, I'm in this for the rest of our lives. I will never stop being her Mom. It's so new to me. I've never loved someone this much and this deeply, especially someone who can make my life so difficult sometimes. I can be on no sleep, exhausted, depleted, in pain and carrying her in my arms for hours and I still love her. I get frustrated at times. But I get through it. Because I have to. Sometimes I break down and cry. I do it quietly so she won't hear and I hide my face so she won't see my tears. I try to be strong for her but sometimes I crack. I don't want her to see me upset. But then the next day she'll be so good, she'll play nicely, nap peacefully, chatter adorably and make me think how lucky I am. I know that I just have to take the good with the bad. For better or for worse. That's what commitment, what love really is. It's easy to love someone when they're perfect. The real test is if you can love them even when they are DRIVING YOU CRAZY!

As my Mom pointed out, it's just as well that there isn't a man in my life because there wouldn't be room for him. Michelle takes all my time and energy. I'm also co-sleeping with her. I always wanted love in my life, a lasting love, a partner. I have it in Michelle. It's a different kind of love of course. I used to think Romantic Love was what I needed. I was a Romance junkie from birth. As a child I dreamed of a fairytale Prince Charming that I'd meet someday. As a teen I loved "Wuthering Heights" and had "Romeo and Juliet" committed to memory (somehow impossible, tragic, ill-fated love was the most romantic of all to me. Probably why I spent years in love with an alcoholic.) I wanted to meet my soulmate, "the one," but my Mr. Right didn't seem to be out there. I wanted to find a good man but I kept attracting and falling for broken boys instead. You'd think that I would have given up on dating at all after such a horrendous track record but old habits are hard to break. If it hadn't been for Michelle I might have kept that pattern (jumping from one bad relationship to another) going indefinitely. The closest I get to romance these days is watching The Bachelor on Monday nights. Incidentally Sean Lowe is probably my favourite Bachelor ever. I liked him when he came in third on Emily Maynard's season of The Bachelorette and was thrilled that he was the new Bachelor. He's the total package. Beautiful inside and out. Sweet, sincere, sexy, with a sense of humour. There aren't too many like him out there. But if he exists there may be others. Of course the odds of such a man being single are probably about the same as the odds of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning. I'm not completely ruling out the possibility that I could find one someday but I'm certainly not looking right now. If and when the time is right, he'll find me. If he doesn't, Michelle and I will still be just fine on our own.

I love my little ginger girl. She's the only Valentine I need. I couldn't ask for a sweeter, funnier, more amazing partner to share today and every day for the rest of my life. No matter what she puts me through (stress, exhaustion, sleepless nights, back aches, sore wrists) she is worth it. I went four decades without understanding what love is. She taught me from the moment I found out I was pregnant. She continues to teach me every day. She is the best thing that ever happened to me. I would do anything for her. She means more to me than anyone or anything, even my own life. She makes me smile and laugh every day. She brings out the best in me. She tests me to strengthen me. She challenges me like no one ever has. She helps me to be who I'm meant to be. The Bible says "Love is patient. Love is kind. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never dies." I never had a love like that until now. Michelle, I love you! xo

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