One day while I was at work and my Mom was watching Michelle, my brother Chris was going to my Mom's house for dinner. Michelle hadn't seen Uncle Chris, her godfather, in a while -- the last time would have been at cousin Evie's birthday party when we all went to Wasaga and then back to Uncle Mike's house for dinner. She was a little shy around him at first that day but then warmed up to him and was smiling while he held her. I got pictures of them smiling together.
Before Chris arrived, my Mom was showing Michelle pictures of my brother. "Remember Uncle Chris? He's coming to Grandma's house for dinner tonight." Michelle didn't show any recognition but was just mildly curious about the pictures. Then Chris came to the door. I guess he looked a little different than the last time she saw him and from his photographs. He hadn't been shaving and had a bit of a scruffy beard. Maybe he'd had a long day at work and looked tired. Whatever it was, Michelle apparently went BALLISTIC. She screamed in horror when she saw him and didn't stop screaming the whole time he was there. My Mom finally had to just put her in the playpen in the family room while they tried to eat their dinner, Michelle shrieking all the while. Chris said he would never come over again when my Mom was watching Michelle. I felt terrible about it.
I couldn't understand what would make her so upset. She'd seen Chris before and even if he was a stranger she doesn't react that way around strange men when we're out places. She was smiling and friendly to men when we were at the zoo, the beach, the park. She smiles at men when we're shopping. I didn't know what had gotten into her but then I thought the only explanation must be that I wasn't there when Chris came over. Any other time that there has been a man around, I've been with her. I am Michelle's safe place. Without me there I guess she was feeling vulnerable. My Mom had to get the dinner and probably wasn't comforting Michelle the way she would have liked. She was scared and there was no one to hold her and reassure her that it was OK.
After that incident I was worried how she would be around Uncle Chris and Uncle Mike at Mike's birthday party. My Mom warned Chris he better shave this time. He said he would just steer clear of Michelle. It made me sad considering that he's her godfather and he always makes such a fuss of his nieces and nephews. I didn't want him to avoid her from now on. Luckily she was fine. She didn't seem to mind Uncle Chris or Mike or even Mike's friends who were strangers. Of course she had me there, her safe place and she did cling to me most of the time.
It was a dreary rainy day so we were all stuck inside most of the time and it was pretty crowded and chaotic with the whole gang there. When the weather cleared up a bit we headed out to the yard for the obligatory "group photo." One of Mike's friends, Ryan, commented on all the noise when the kids were screaming. "I don't know how you do it!" he said candidly, "I couldn't stand it!" I told him that I used to think that too when I'd hear kids screaming. I didn't think I could handle having kids. "It's different when you have your own," I explained to him, "You love them so much. More than you ever thought you could love a person. Even when it's difficult. They're worth it." He didn't seem convinced. I could understand because I used to be one of those people who didn't think they wanted children. I obviously didn't know myself. I couldn't have imagined that a baby would be the best thing that ever happened to me.
Not having a father around I want Michelle to at least have positive male role models in her life. She's very fond of her Grandpa. Of course she's used to him because she sees him so often when I'm at work. He watches her in the wee hours of the morning when I'm heading out (because my Mom has a hard time getting up that early.) He takes her for walks and plays ball with her in the backyard. She calls him "Pop!" She loves running around outside with him and going for walks in the stroller. My Dad scared her one day though when he came up with shaving cream on his face. She screamed. Maybe she just doesn't like beards. I have a feeling that a trip to see Santa Claus at Christmastime is going to go over like a lead balloon! My Mom said I was scared of Santa as a child too.
I'm so grateful to have my Mom and Dad to watch Michelle for me. There's no way I could imagine leaving her with a stranger. It's hard enough leaving her with family. I'm relieved that things have gone as well as they have. Sometimes Michelle gives them a hard time but for the most part she's pretty good. Once in a while she says "Mama" and cries but she seems content most of the day. In some ways she behaves better for them than she does for me which doesn't seem fair! My Mom said that sometimes when Michelle is acting up and my Dad enters the room, she stops crying. She's on her best behavior for him. I wish she'd show me the same courtesy! Lately she does this thing where she twists around on the change table and screams when I try to change her. She's so strong it's hard to keep her on the table. I have to wrestle with her. It's very frustrating. Then all of a sudden she's happy and laughing. Her mood turns on a dime. You just never know what she'll do.
There was one day that my Mom said Michelle was a perfect angel. She played nicely on her own, didn't fuss at all, had a nice long nap, ate her meals well, gave hugs. If only she could be like that every day! She is a model child when she's well-rested. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen!
I love when I come home from work and my Mom or Dad are out front with Michelle pointing at my car as I pull up. "Mama's home!" Michelle gets so excited she clenches her fists and shakes and points. I run over to her and hug her and she hugs me so tight. My Mom said she always seems to know when I'm about to get home and goes to the door saying "Mama vroom vroom!" It's my favourite part of the day. I don't feel so guilty about leaving her anymore. I think it's good for her to have different experiences and to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa without me there. It also makes us appreciate each other more when we have a break from each other.
This may be the last one for a while...
As much as I've loved keeping this blog, my life is becoming so busy that it's close to impossible. I've decided I can't continue it at least not right now. I may write a post once in a while (maybe one for Christmas) but for the most part I think it's time to give it a rest. This started as a baby blog anyway and I guess she's technically not a baby anymore, though she'll always be my baby.
I want to thank readers for following my blog and especially thanks to those who offered support and encouragement. When I started this in March 2012 I needed an outlet. Pregnant and alone I didn't know how I would get through. Writing was therapeutic and hearing from compassionate people really helped. I've enjoyed sharing my journey through pregnancy and during Michelle's first year. Being a Mom is an adventure, one I never would have imagined for myself. I feel very blessed. It isn't always easy but I've never experienced so much love or so much joy.
I look forward to the next stage in our journey. I'll be going "off the grid" for a while -- taking a break from the computer. I had become addicted to sites like Twitter and this blog as a kind of online diary. I think it's time to live offline for a while. Life has gotten so hectic that it's hard to find time for this anyway.
Thank you again for reading!