Monday, December 22, 2014
Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. Apparently one that is still in use according to the CIA #TortureReport. Of course my torturer isn't doing it intentionally. She's just a two year old night owl insomniac. And I'm the co-sleeping (make that no-sleeping) attachment parent that lets her call the shots. So you could say it's my own fault. I created a monster. I never sleep trained her because I wasn't willing to let her scream. Instead I'm the one almost at the point of screaming. Some days she just doesn't sleep. It's like her mind is too active. She can't settle down. It's manageable on my days off. When she's up until 3 a.m. she might sleep in as late as 10 a.m. But when I have to work a 12 hour day (14 hours with my commute) on no sleep however, it's inhumane. At the start of November I kind of fell apart.
On one particular nightshift, I'd had no sleep at all (Michelle didn't sleep at night and I didn't get to sleep during the day. She also screamed the whole drive to my Mom's place so my nerves were shot.) I was basically hanging by a thread. I went into work hoping for an uneventful shift but instead all hell broke loose. I kind of lost it. I couldn't function. I was beyond exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed. Stress at home. Stress at work. Stress without rest and no break ever because it's all me. Single Mom with no support of any kind. I was falling apart. I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. I was afraid I was going to be fired or committed. Thankfully my boss was kind, understanding and familiar with the effects of sleep deprivation, which incidentally, can drive you batsh&% crazy! He said "I've never seen you like this. You're not yourself." I said "I hope not. Because if this is me, we're both in trouble." He suggested I see a counselor. I decided it couldn't hurt. The chaos in my life wasn't going to change but maybe I could find a way to cope with it, to find the calm within, no matter what was going on around me. I needed to find my zen again. I was stressed beyond belief. I'd been losing my hair (whether from stress or hormones, probably a bit of both, I realized I had maybe a third of the hair I used to have. When I used to put my hair in a ponytail I had to wrap the elastic around 3 times. Now I wrap it around about 6 times.) and I've had a twitch in my left eye for about a month. I looked it up online and found that it's basically harmless, just annoying and is brought on by stress, sleep deprivation and caffeine. The three main ingredients in my life at this point!
Exhausted, drained, stressed, overwhelmed, I walked into the counselor's office and gave her the Coles notes version of my life story: abandoned at 4 months pregnant, trying to raise a (sometimes terrible) two year old on my own, on no sleep, struggling financially, emotionally and just in general. She was very kind. First of all she acknowledged that I have a lot on my plate and that feeling overwhelmed is natural. I told her that Michelle was my top priority and I've made many sacrifices (physically, socially, financially etc) to put her first. The woman said "You're a good Mom. You take good care of your daughter. You should be proud of that. But don't you think you should take care of YOU?" She showed me some breathing exercises to try to reduce stress and suggested I start doing yoga again. I realized I really haven't been taking care of myself since the fall. In the summer I was counting calories, eating healthy and working out. I felt better, stronger physically and emotionally. I was also spending a lot of time outside. Once the cold weather starts I go into hibernation mode. I eat more, stop exercising and mostly stay indoors. It's no wonder I feel like crap. And getting no sleep just makes everything else seem unbearable.
As I've mentioned before I do think I have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The lack of sunlight definitely gets to me. There were a lot of cold, grey days in November. I made sure we got out for some sunshine every chance we could. Michelle loved going to the park, even in the cold.
I don't date. I don't go to movies. I'm not in any clubs, don't engage in old hobbies. I rarely if ever see old friends. I feel bad enough leaving Michelle when I have to work so I would never leave her for a day or evening just to have some "me time" (though everyone, including the counselor, says I should do this for my own sanity.) The only "me time" I get is an hour or so after Michelle goes to sleep (which proves very difficult when she's up all hours of the night, then I'm up even later.)
Michelle and I wound up celebrating my Mom's birthday a second time at her place with Uncle Chris. Michelle always enjoys seeing her Uncle Chris. He makes a fuss of her, makes her laugh and throws her in the air.
We almost celebrated Grandma's birthday a third time with Uncle Mike (I like Michelle to see her cousins James, Evie and Kayla whenever she can because they don't come to visit as often) when he finally came down to see my Mom but it wound up being a bad day for weather and I didn't want to venture out. Plus it was just becoming silly reliving the same birthday over and over! Some families don't even celebrate birthdays for adults. Maybe once in a while if it's a milestone birthday. Actually I've heard of people that don't even celebrate their KIDS' birthdays!!! No party. No cake. No presents. That's just messed up. I guess it's whatever you grow up with. Whatever is normal for you. My family is far from normal of course but I have always been accustomed to making family a priority and getting together for special occasions.
My Mom always puts her Christmas tree up early (in mid-November). It used to be a tradition to put it up during the Santa Claus parade or to put it up before her birthday. Ever since I had my own house and my own tree I got into the habit too. I figure when you have an artificial tree you might as well enjoy it as long as possible. I love my white tree. It was a gift from my sister years ago. And I love the silver and turquoise decorations. Last year Michelle was too young but this year she was excited to help me decorate the tree. She did pretty well though I did have to change a couple of her placements. As soon as the tree is up I start to get into the Christmas spirit. There's something so cozy about sitting under the tree with the lights on and the ornaments glistening. My Mom was afraid that Michelle would be pulling the ornaments down but she pretty much leaves them alone. Ali knocks them down when she tries to lie under the tree though.
www.elfyourself.com and made an elf video of Michelle and I, May, Reggie and Shannon. Michelle did get a kick out of it and asked to see it over and over a few times but it didn't stop her from asking about the zombie babies EVERY SINGLE DAY (even now and we're into December!) She is excited about Christmas but Halloween just won't go away! I figure if it makes her happy what's the harm? I did think she'd tire of it eventually though.
Here's a link to the Elf Yourself video:
The debate went on for days. It became a hobby for me. At first I found it mildly entertaining. Arguing with strangers on the internet was at least a change of pace from my life playing with a two year old most of the time but it became tiresome. I felt ganged up on with about 25 of them pestering me with nasty replies. The irony is the atheists actually got me digging out my Bible again. (Some of them were misquoting Jesus & I had to look it up -- I'm still not entirely clear on whether atheists don't "believe" in God or just don't "like" Him because a lot of them quote the Bible a whole bunch which is strange if they think it's all made up anyway.) When it became obvious that I would never convert an atheist nor would they shake my faith (if anything they strengthened it) I tried to end the debate with #agreetodisagree but when the harassment continued I just blocked most of them. For fun I did some research and learned that science actually helps to prove God/Intelligent Design -- irreducible complexity, limits of variation, RNA, orphan genes, functional complex specified info. I also found that there are a thousand scientists -- from microbiologists to physicists, biochemists, zoologists, geneticists, who question Darwin and have signed a list saying so: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life." You can download the list here: http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/ Even Darwin doubted himself. He said "if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications my theory would absolutely break down." Science has since discovered that even a simple cell is unimaginably complex and could not possibly have happened by accident. The Big Bang does not, can not possibly explain the origin of all life forms. Intelligent Design is the only explanation that makes sense. We are works of art made by a creator. Anyway, enough of this tangent! This is supposed to be a blog about Michelle!
Just for fun I asked Michelle how the world was created. She said, quite matter of factly, "I created it. I made it to add to my collection." So Michelle is God. And she collects universes. Cool. Well she might as well be a deity. She certainly rules my life! I am in awe of her. Some days she's a loving, benevolent Creator. Other days she's the wrathful, fire and brimstone God. She definitely makes life an adventure!
Time is going by way too quickly (I keep saying it but it really just blows me away.) It seems like only yesterday she was a baby. Now she's a little girl, becoming a bigger girl all the time.
Letting the high chair go felt like another milestone -- like weaning, going from bottle to sippy cup, going from baby food to solid food. My little girl is growing up. Not that she eats very well outside of the high chair, mind you. She takes a few nibbles and then I basically have to chase her around with a fork to get her to eat the rest. Of course she didn't eat much better in the high chair either. She'd eat a few bites and scream to get out of the thing. My dream is that one day she'll actually sit at the table and eat an entire meal like a normal human. But then I've heard that toddlers are infamous for not eating much. It's a wonder they survive. Actually even beyond toddlerdom kids can be picky eaters. I've never seen my nephew James eat anything more than a piece of bread when we're visiting with my brother Mike and his kids.
We got a fair bit of snow in November (not nearly as much as the U.S. did though. Poor Buffalo got hammered with like 8 feet of snow! Some of them had their houses buried! They couldn't even open their front doors!) Then we would get milder days. You just never knew what to expect until you stepped outside. Some days it looked bright and sunny and I'd think maybe we'll go for a walk, then I tried to step onto the porch and an arctic wind took my breath away and almost knocked me over. I try to avoid taking Michelle out in strong winds because she gasps and screams.
One day arctic sub-zero winds, the next day, mild temperatures again. Welcome to Canada! Before we knew it, the snow had melted. Our snowman lost his head, his body and then was reduced to just a lump. Michelle looked disappointed.
"Don't worry," I assured her."It'll snow again. We'll build another one."
"I want to build one NOW Mama!" Michelle insisted.
"Well we can't. You have to wait sweetheart. We can't MAKE it snow."
Then again, she created the world. So maybe she can...