Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Come What May...

We're halfway through July already and I'm just now finishing a post about May...It's always a challenge to find time to write but it's a labour of love and I want to keep it going. So here goes!

May is always a special month in our family for a number of reasons -- celebrating birthdays (my sister's and mine), as well as Mother's Day, and the change in weather. As they say, April showers bring May flowers! April was kind of hit and miss with a few unfortunate traces of winter (SNOW! Ugh!) but once we reached May we were certain Spring was here to stay. Some days it was almost like we had skipped straight to Summer with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius! We took advantage of it and got outside as often as we could. After being cooped up all winter we were happy (as a Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferer, I was THRILLED) to get outside in the sunshine and fresh air. It's amazing what a difference it makes getting a little bit of sun. Like flowers, we really need it for our health and well-being. Vitamin D supplements just aren't the same! Too many cold, grey winter days were getting me down. Michelle was looking forward to getting outside to play as well.

I had told Michelle that once May came we could plant some flowers outside. April was too early. It would be warm one day and snowing the next. By early May I figured we were safe. I couldn't afford too much but we made a trip to Walmart to get something cheap and cheerful for the garden. Michelle wanted to help me. She always wants to help with everything and I usually let her (even though sometimes she's more of a hindrance than a help and things take much longer when she tries to do them.) I didn't have garden gloves in her size so I put winter gloves on her to dig in the dirt. She loved helping me dig, plant and water the plants.

Michelle loves to draw and is getting better and better at writing on her own. She can write Michelle and Mama all by herself. I taught her a little song to remember how to spell her own name: To the tune of Mickey Mouse -- "M-I-C-H-E-L-L and E, Michelle!" It worked because from then on she could write her name on her own. She sounds out other words & knows the starting letter of most words.

Whenever a special occasion is coming up I ask her if she'd like to make a card for it and she's always happy to. She made me a Mother's Day card with a cute smiling flower & she wanted to write "I love you Mama. You are the sweetest!" So I showed her how to spell the words & she copied it. Michelle is so affectionate and loving. She tells me all the time how much she loves me and that I'm the "best-est, cutest, sweetiest, funniest Mama EVER!" When she's so sweet it makes it easier to forgive her for the times she's not so sweet -- like when she's being a moody monster! That still happens occasionally too. She's a strong-willed girl and she is NOT pleased when she doesn't get her way. Of course, she usually gets her way...

I love Michelle's artwork. In her happy whimsical world everyone and everything (even the sun and flowers) are always smiling. I'm glad that she's interested in art because it has always been a love of mine and it's something we can share (though admittedly I don't do a lot of drawing/painting myself anymore. I would like to start again.) Sometimes she'll ask me how to draw something so I'll sketch it quickly and she'll copy my drawing. Her drawing is usually better than mine. More raw, more fresh and expressive.

On sunny days we were always at the park. Michelle loves running around, playing with other kids, going on the slide and swings. She even started swinging by herself -- pumping her legs to keep herself going (which was a relief for my arms and back not having to push her constantly!) For a while she resisted and insisted that I push her but suddenly she decided she wanted to be a big girl and do it herself. She still likes having an initial push but she knows the pattern -- legs straight forward, bend back -- to build momentum. Michelle is at a stage where she is wanting to be more independent and do things herself -- including dressing, turning on lights, etc. She gets VERY frustrated when there are things that she can't quite do perfectly yet. I have to remind her that she is only 3 years old. She's very advanced for her age but she can't do everything. I told her that some things are tricky (even for me!) and that other things just take practice.

On rainy days we still manage to have fun inside. Michelle LOVES arts and crafts. It doesn't take much to amuse her. We even made little people out of toilet paper rolls, pipe cleaners, feathers and googly eyes. Somehow the floor always winds up covered in glitter. I picked up some finger paints and finger painting paper and Michelle was ECSTATIC. I had fun too getting a little messy and creating some finger paint masterpieces. Unfortunately Michelle didn't do the best job of washing her hands afterward and our hand towel wound up looking like a Kandinsky painting!

Most people would think I'm nuts taking so many pictures -- not only on special occasions but EVERY DAY. Every trip to the park. Even at home. I can't help it. It's become such a habit that it's like breathing to me. I can't stop. And I wouldn't want to. Time is going by SO quickly. Michelle was a baby, like yesterday. Now she's 3 and turning 4 years old soon! Photos are my way of holding on, of capturing every precious, beautiful, funny, fleeting moment. And I love it. I had one boyfriend accuse me of not being "in the moment" because I was experiencing the world from behind a camera lens. I argued that I'm even MORE in the moment because I'm appreciating and capturing it. I also get to relive it over and over when I look at the photos. That is more priceless to me than anything. It seems that the world is starting to agree with me. It's the Instagram generation. More and more people are snapping photos not just of special events but even the minutiae of their daily lives -- because it's fun to capture and share your moments. Life goes so quickly. Photos are forever.

My sister May graciously offered to host Mother's Day. (She gets roped into hosting most events because her house is the biggest and in the most central location.) Unfortunately I could only make a brief appearance because I had to work night shift. No rest for this Mama! I was grateful to have some time with my family before I had to go. My Mom and my sister mean the world to me. I don't know what I'd do without them. I talk to my Mom every day and May has always been more than a sister to me -- my best friend and confidante, the one who makes me laugh more than anyone. The one who gets me and always knows just what to say when I'm having a bad day.

My niece Shannon gave me a very special gift after Mother's Day. I didn't realize that after I had left the party Michelle was composing a Mother's Day song for me and Shannon was sweet enough to record it to show me! Michelle is so creative. She loves to sing and will make up her own little songs. she's made up several improvised songs. I can't believe the things she comes up with off the top of her head. (It must be in her blood, as a songwriter I've written close to 1000 original songs.) I was so touched to see the video. What a perfect Mother's Day gift! Michelle is always telling me she loves me but somehow hearing her say it/sing about it when I wasn't even there made it more touching. I posted the video on Youtube:


I really do have the sweetest girl in the world. I couldn't have asked for a more affectionate, sweet, loving little girl. She's always hugging and kissing me, telling me she loves me and what an amazing Mama I am. It makes all the work and all the sacrifices of being a single Mom more than worth it. Michelle is my life. She's my heart and soul. The love and the joy that she's brought to my life is unlike anything else I've ever experienced. Maybe that's why I haven't felt the need to have a romantic relationship. My heart is full. Michelle takes all my time, energy and love.

Michelle is growing up so fast. I still can't believe she's starting school in September. We went to the school for an orientation. The principal gave a presentation in the gymnasium and suddenly dropped a bombshell -- not only did I have to part with Michelle in September, I had to do it already THAT DAY! "Ok now the teachers will come and take your kids to the classrooms while I talk to you about the school." I got a lump in my throat. It was unnerving to watch Michelle walk off, smiling, with a complete stranger, holding her hand with no hesitation. She wasn't worried at all. I was a basket case. Michelle is excited to go to school. I'm the one who's a nervous wreck. I don't want to let go.

When the parents were allowed to go to the classrooms and find their kids I was pleasantly surprised (and proud) to find Michelle exploring and playing so nicely with the other kids. I knew she would do just fine when she went to school. She had a ball. She didn't want to leave.

One of the classrooms had a make believe airport and airplane complete with a pilot's outfit. Michelle was all over that. It seemed that the uniform went to her head when she announced "I am the pilot! You are just a passenger, Mama!" I told her that she was coming across as somewhat elitist and I would never fly that airline again. "The seats are too cramped anyway!" The teacher overheard us and laughed. One of the teachers told me that Michelle was very good at recognizing letters. (They had letters drawn on leaves and Michelle knew all of them.) I told the teacher Michelle can write and recognize the whole alphabet and even some words. Michelle was in her glory in the classrooms. She made some crafts, played with water, sand, play doh. She enjoyed seeing the other kids. She was eager to play and learn. Some kids have to be dragged to school kicking and screaming. Michelle is raring to go. I on the other hand will be bawling my eyes out having to let her go! I'll hold it together long enough to drop her off and then go back home and cry!

Michelle is a Princess. Some people use that word as a derogatory term referring to someone who's a little spoiled or high maintenance. From me, it's a compliment. I mean it in the Disney sense of the word: A princess is a girlie girl who loves to dress up and be beautiful. She's also unique, creative, clever, kind, loves animals, likes to dance and sing, create art, be in nature. Whether she's royal or not, she carries herself with grace and elegance, has a sense of magic, adventure and makes the world a better place. That's my girl! Michelle would be at home in a Disney film. She loves dressing up in fancy gowns, twirling around and singing. And admittedly she is also a teensy bit spoiled and high maintenance too! LOL. She's used to getting her way. I want her to be happy and try to give her everything she wants (to the best of my ability.)

On my birthday Michelle and I both dressed up for my party. I like dressing up now and then. There's still a little Princess in me!

I used to worry about getting older. These days I'm not as concerned about the number on the cake. I'm more concerned with the number on the scale. I've been working out and counting calories for months. I had a goal weight in mind and I was getting closer. Then, the week of my birthday I was only 2 POUNDS AWAY from my goal! So I kicked it up a notch -- eating less and exercising more. But the goal still eluded me and I was stuck. (In June I did wind up meeting my goal but I'll save June for my next post. It has been a challenge exercising and dieting but I'm motivated and I've been doing it long enough that it's become a habit. Of course all bets were off on my birthday. With BBQ burgers and cake on the menu, it was DEFINITELY going to be my cheat day!

I don't really have a social life anymore. I don't go out. I don't date. Michelle and my family are my social life. Both Michelle and I look forward to getting together with the whole gang. It's always a great time. I'm glad that we're a close knit family. I know that some families rarely, if ever, get together for special occasions. It's always been a tradition that we celebrate birthdays as a family. My Mom was going to host my birthday but May generously offered to have it at her house where there is a lot more room.

At home it's just the two of us so it's always a nice treat for Michelle (and me) to be surrounded by our big crazy family. It's like we have two families. Our little family of two and our big family of 16! She may not have a dad but she has two uncles & Grampa. And while she doesn't have siblings she has a lot of cousins to play with when we get together.

It was a beautiful day so we headed outside. I always insist on getting the obligatory group photo. Usually it's the kids you have to worry about not looking but this time it was actually my Mom who turned back to look at Chris. It is pretty hard to get several people to look and smile at the same time. Michelle is becoming a pro at posing for pictures. She doesn't mind having her photo taken. She even told me she wants to be famous and "on newspapers." I thought about getting her into acting/modelling but I'm reluctant because it's a tough business to break into and child stars often wind up troubled.

My girl will always be a star to me. May got some photos of us by her blossoming trees. I love these snaps with Michelle, especially the one of her holding my face which was a really sweet pose.

My Mom always says how much Michelle is like me, both in her looks (blue eyed redhead), interests and temperament. She is very different from me however. She is stronger and more self-assured than I ever was. Some of it may be because she's a Leo, a natural born leader. Some may be because she's an only child and always had 100% of my attention (while I always had to compete with other siblings and felt like the least noticed/appreciated in the family as a child.) Fear and self-doubt always held me back from fully pursuing my dreams but I believe Michelle will accomplish anything she sets her mind to. I admire her confidence. I want great things for her. She keeps changing her mind what she'd like to do and to be but she has a lot of time to decide!

When we were getting ready to leave my sister's place I couldn't resist one last photo of Michelle in her pretty dress next to the flowers. I left the trunk open with my purse in it as I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture of Michelle. Suddenly I heard a slam. The sound of my dad slamming the trunk closed. On my purse. With the keys in it.
"NOOOOOOO! Dad! You didn't just do that!"
I hadn't even unlocked the car doors yet. All I had done was open the trunk to put my gifts in when I saw Michelle by the flowers and couldn't resist a photo. I was just going to snap a picture, grab my purse and keys, open the doors and drive my parents back home and then head home with Michelle.
Now my dad had locked my keys in my car. "Oh MAAAAN!" I exclaimed, like Swiper the Fox. I'd managed to never lock my keys in the car but now my dad had done it. Now I'd have to call (and pay for) a tow truck to attend with a slim jim. Happy Birthday to me! Shane said that he used a hanger once to unlock a car door but I didn't want to damage/scrape the car doing that. I called for a tow and they were there pretty quickly. They put a special tool in the door which blew some air in to create a bit of space so that a hook could slide in without scraping the car. It only took a minute but cost me $60. My Mom said Dad would pay for it but I said no it's OK. "Just please NEVER close the trunk of my car! Let me do it." He'd asked my Mom if she needed to put anything else in the trunk and then closed it without asking me. Sh*& happens. Especially on your birthday. Michelle was happy to have a few extra minutes at Auntie May's.

My brother's girlfriend Christina was kind enough to give me a i-phone for my birthday! She had just upgraded hers and gave me her old one which was an upgrade for me. Shannon put a couple of games on it. Michelle was happy to be able to play "Angry Birds." She figured out how to use it almost instinctively. I'm not a fan of technology and have avoided most of the modern gadgets that people use. I use a cellphone for emergencies only. It is nice however to have a phone now that I can text on without having to scroll letter by letter on each number key. I just had to get a new SIM card and set the phone up (even this was a daunting process for me. I had no idea what I was doing but somehow managed it.) My outdated Nokia phone (which someone else had kindly given me) seemed to sense it was being replaced and died entirely! I was disappointed I didn't get to extract the numbers/messages I had stored on it.

Michelle is excited that she can swing on her own now. "Look how high I can go Mama! I'm FLYING!" She still likes me to push her to get her started. But then she tells me "Go sit down! I can do it myself!" It's a relief for me not to have to push her constantly. It was tough on my arms sometimes. There are more and more things that Michelle likes to do on her own to prove that she can. "I'm a big girl now!" she tells me "I'm almost a TEENAGER!" "Well, not quite," I tell her "Still another 10 years for that." She is growing so fast though and she's always been tall for her age. When people ask me how old she is they're always taken aback that she's not even 4 years old yet. I usually look at hair to tell age. If a girl looks half Michelle's size but her hair is twice as long I figure either she's Rapunzel or she's 5-6 years old. (9 times out of 10 the girl is 6.) Then again, some parents actually cut their kids' hair. I don't have the heart to cut Michelle's. Though she did her bangs herself! (See last blog post for that horrifying tale!)

Michelle is not shy about having her photo taken. I ask her to pose and she's like "TADAAAA!" Sometimes I worry that I've created a monster! It was inevitable though. I'm a complete photoholic. I have my camera with me ALL THE TIME and I can't resist taking a hundred photos of Michelle. Not just when we got somewhere special but EVERYWHERE. Even at the park. Even at home. To me it's necessary, as natural as breathing. The moment is fleeting and I'm determined to capture it. Time is going by so quickly. Photos are the only way I know of holding on. So I can't stop! I won't stop! People used to look at me strangely but now most people have a camera phone on them at all times and they're snapping pictures of everything too. (Of course, trendsetter that I am I was doing it long before it was cool!)

Toward the end of May, we headed to Port Dover Beach. I was a little disappointed the palm trees hadn't arrived yet. They are usually planted in late May. We still had a great time at the beach. It was a little cool with the breeze at first but then warmed up. Michelle had a blast playing in the sand, chasing seagulls, dancing around. The water was ice cold of course. We just dipped our feet in.

The beach is my happy place. I love relaxing on the sand, watching Michelle play, looking at and listening to the water, the sound of seagulls flying overhead, enjoying the warmth of the sand and the sun. A day at the beach is the closest I come to a vacation. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine I'm somewhere tropical (the illusion is even easier when I can look up at palm trees!)

Michelle doesn't take anything for granted. Even something as simple as going to the park, which we do so often, is an adventure for her. She gets so excited every time we go. She usually winds up making a new friend, this time it was a caterpillar. She found a fuzzy little black and yellow one crossing her path. She wanted to bring him back home but I told her we'd just visit him when we came back to the park. I remember as a kid having jam jars with holes poked in the top & grass and leaves to keep caterpillars as pets. As an adult I'm less keen on having insects in the house. Plus I don't even have any jelly jars. Maybe one day. I used to collect tadpoles and frogs as well. I usually tell Michelle to leave creatures where she finds them (unless they seem like they need help.)

We went to see Angry Birds. Animated movies are basically all I get to see with Michelle. I really enjoy them though. I've never played the video game (and wasn't too impressed with what I saw of it) but the movie was very cute and funny. I sympathized with the hero, Red, who is made out to be a villain but is really just angry because he's gotten a raw deal and is the outcast in town. It turns out that anger is the appropriate response to a real threat (the pigs who come to steal the birds' eggs) and Red winds up being a hero. Michelle loved the movie too.

It's a treat to be able to take Michelle to the theatre and not worry about her acting up (like she did when she was younger). She is transfixed by the movie, swept into the magical world on the screen and mostly stays quiet through the entire thing. She loves sharing popcorn too.

One of the things I love about Michelle is her enthusiasm. She has so much energy and zest for life and it doesn't take much to please her. I would love to have a swimming pool but on my budget it's an impossibility. Still, Michelle can have fun right in our backyard with a simple little sprinkler. Toys R Us had an octopus one on sale for $7. I was a little disappointed in it. I expected the tentacles to flail around but they didn't. Michelle had a ball anyway and even I had fun running around in it. I blew some bubbles too (bubbles are always a hit!) My favourite part of course was snapping pictures of Michelle having fun. It was a challenge not to the get the camera wet as I chased her around. Even more of a challenge to hold a bottle of bubbles and the camera in one hand, the wand in the other to capture her chasing bubbles. (This is what I do! Total #photoholic!) Sometimes I get lucky and catch a couple of good shots.


I love Michelle's excitement. It's infectious. Often tired and running on empty my energy is low but being around Michelle helps to perk me up a little. I envy her that joy for life. Of course it helps when you're a kid and have no worries or responsibilities. Michelle doesn't understand why I'm not bouncing-off-the-walls happy and why I can't play all the time. I try to explain that I have a lot of things to do -- taking care of a child and a house on my own is difficult. I remind her that most families have TWO parents to share the work/burden of running a household. As a single Mom, it's all you. I do make some time to play though. I feel bad that Michelle doesn't have other siblings to play with though she is getting better and better at entertaining herself. She has an extraordinary imagination. She loves creating art, singing, playing with clay and Lego and dolls. She looks forward to visits with family so she can play with her cousins though. 

And then it was Auntie May's birthday... Of course she was named after the month of May. I'll always sort of wish I'd been born in April so I could have been April (Surely my Mom would have named us April and May because how cute would THAT have been?!)

Michelle and I dressed up for the party which was being held at Grandma's house but Uncle Chris & Auntie Christina set things up in the backyard with a tent, BBQ and even a water slide for the kids! It was a beautiful day to be outside! Michelle was thrilled to see the water slide (which Uncle Chris was kind enough to give to us after the party so we could use it at home in our backyard!) The guest of honour ironically was the last person to arrive because she had to take Reggie to a friend's birthday party first. (Too many birthdays in May!)

The kids LOVED the water slide! Some were better at it than others. Michelle never quite got the hang of it. Kayla tried to teach her how to drop and slide but Michelle preferred to crawl through. I even tried it. My attempt was a bit of an epic fail but it was very refreshing at least! At one point Chris and Mike even swung the kids and threw them on the slide. It made me a little nervous but they loved it. Even Michelle went flying and laughed.

May is more than a sister to me. She is my best friend in the world. She has always been there to share, to listen, to make me laugh like no one else does. She understands me like no one else can. I'm so grateful for her. I don't know what I would have done without her and my Mom to support me through my pregnancy and raising a child on my own. Any time something would go wrong, I had a question or needed advice I'd turn to May. (I talk to my Mom too but my Mom is a bit of a catastrophist and when I'm already worried about something I don't want to hear about the worst possible outcome. Like when Michelle had a fever and my Mom suggested "Maybe it's MENINGITIS!" May is usually the sweet, sane, calm, wise voice of reason. She has talked me through more catastrophes than I care to remember. And when she's having a bad day I'm glad that she can confide in me too. Life happens. Sometimes you just need a sympathetic ear. Someone who gets you. Someone who can make you laugh in spite of it all.

I'm grateful to have my Mom and Dad to watch Michelle as well. And my Mom is happy to have those visits to look forward to. Even though Michelle can be exhausting. As she gets older my Mom said it's easier and easier to watch her because she will play nicely on her own. She's fully potty trained (and for a while she was asking for help but I want her to be able to do all the steps on her own so she's prepared for school). She likes to dress herself. It's hard to believe she was a helpless little baby just a few years ago and now she's growing into a sweet little girl who wants to be more and more independent. The only problem is she can be very strong willed and wants to get her way. She even tries to boss my Mom and Dad and I around. And sometimes gets away with it! Here she was trying to tell Grandma "That's MY chair!" but Mom stood her ground. Then she suggested that they both share it. (It was the most comfortable chair! I tried it when they weren't around!)

One of Michelle's favourite expressions is "BEST. DAY. EVER!" I think she picked it up from Rapunzel in "Tangled." She's said it many times when we've been at family events, gone to the beach etc. Seeing her happy brings me more joy than anything ever has. That's partly why I spoil her a little too. I want her to be happy. And she's so appreciative of every little thing I give her or do for her. So I can't resist giving her little presents and surprises even when there's no occasion. Just because.

I'm always glad when the whole gang can get together. It's tough when we live in different cities. My Mom has a dream that one day she'll win the lottery and buy a "street of houses" so we could all live together on the same street. My siblings always roll their eyes like they wouldn't want to live quite that close to Mom, even for a million dollars but I'd be thrilled if we were all that close together. I talk to my Mom every day (she calls me every day to make sure Michelle and I are OK.) And we usually visit May at least a couple of times a month.

My brother Mike lives the farthest away so he doesn't always make it to family events but it's great to have everyone together a few times a year at least. We're a big, boisterous family and it's always a blast. The kids running amok, my brothers cracking jokes, catching up with the girls on what's new. Family. Fun. Food. What more could you want? And Michelle is always excited about cake. She even manages to eat it without being covered in it now. (I've seen kids twice her age that aren't that careful.)

While we were outside a nice couple were heading to the park with their kids. Michelle wound up making a new friend. Immy's Mom invited us over to play on their swingset in the backyard. I was happy for Michelle to have a friend nearby when she's staying with Grandma and Grandpa (on the days when I have to work.) She's a little younger than Michelle but they got along great. Michelle loves to make new friends. She'll love going to school in September and meeting so many kids. She's the opposite of me in that way. I was always a shy one. Michelle is outgoing, a social butterfly.

Though I spend most of my time with Michelle it's still hard for me when I have to leave her. The best part of the day is coming back to my Mom's and having Michelle run toward me so excited. "Mama!" she squeals with arms flung open. "I love you! I MISSED YOU!" as if I've been gone for a month when it's only been a day. I could never leave her for very long. I know some people go on vacations without their kids. I couldn't do it. I'd have to take her with me. Though a vacation isn't really in the budget/plans right now. Until/unless we win the lottery. Or maybe if I win enough I can buy Mom her "street of houses" and I can live next door to her at least. Maybe I could twist May's arm to move there too...

Being a Mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I'm extremely grateful for it. Though it's not always easy (and some days it's hell on wheels!) it's more than worth it. I've never felt so loved, never felt so much joy and purpose to my life. I never tire of Michelle's sweet smile or of hearing her say "I love you Mama!" I spend most of my time with her and the brief times that we're apart I miss her.

I heard someone say that having a child is like "having your heart forever walking around outside of your body." And I agree. Michelle is my heart. She's my everything. I never could have imagined I'd feel this way. People told me that having a child changes you but I didn't really understand until I experienced it myself. Whatever else I may have hoped to do or to be in this life, nothing comes close to being a Mom. This is as good as it gets. Come what may, I'm excited to see what new adventures await us...