Then I started working out in March. I decided to be ambitious and set a goal to be 135 lbs by my birthday in May. (That was even 5 lbs less than I was the summer before. But 10 lbs more than I was before I got pregnant because 125 just seemed unrealistic.) And then, a couple of weeks before my birthday I got down to 137. I was psyched. I thought "Wow! I'm so close!" so I kicked things up a notch, cut calories even further and exercised even more. I continued doing yoga & went back to doing my Tabatas as well (because I'm all about efficiency and if I can work out for 4 minutes instead of 1 hour and get the same results, I'm all for it!) I did 3 sets of Tabatas each day -- a cardio, a strength one and an ab one. But somehow I had reached a stalemate. The number on the scale wasn't budging no matter what I did. Then I even went up a bit and was close to hurling the scale out the window. So I didn't reach my goal by my birthday. But I was close.
June was a tricky month work-wise. I wound up taking a lot of extra hours. I work 12 hour shifts. With my commute this makes for a 14-15 hour day, most of it spent sitting.
By the end of June I was exhausted/depleted. After working a 15 hour day, I started feeling a little numbness in my right leg. I didn't think too much of it. My circulation isn't the best anyway and sitting/driving so much wouldn't help. Sometimes I wake up with my arm or leg a little numb and I figure I was just lying on it and it's gone to sleep. Then it goes away. This was different though. My foot and leg were numb and early the next morning I noticed a blue lump on my right foot and veins sticking out all around it. "Oh. That can't be good," I thought. My leg felt a bit numb & when I went to get up for a glass of water I got dizzy and collapsed. I worried it might be a blood clot. My Mom told me about a relative that had a blood clot in her leg and her husband massaged her leg to ease the pain. The clot traveled to her brain and she died. I thought "Well I'm for sure not going to MASSAGE it!" but I called Telehealth to see what I should do (9 times out of 10 they tell you to just go to the hospital to get checked out but I figured it can't hurt to ask.) I had to leave my number and have a nurse get back to me which she did within a few minutes. When I told her my symptoms she said "I'm going to call you an ambulance!" "No you're not!" I explained I'm a single Mom with a toddler who couldn't ride on board an ambulance. "I can drive myself to the hospital!" She asked (rather sarcastically I might add) how I could drive if my leg was "numb." "Well maybe that's a poor choice of words," I explained. "I can still WALK on it. I can still DRIVE. It's more just pins & needles/gone to sleep like I was lying on it the wrong way or something." "Well," the nurse warned me, "get yourself to the hospital RIGHT AWAY then." I called my Mom and my sister to get their take on it. They were pretty worried and wanted me to get checked out as well. I did plan to go to the hospital but Michelle was still asleep and I didn't want to drag her out of bed cranky so I waited until she got up and got her breakfast. Then I broke the news. Michelle wasn't the least bit upset. She saw it as an adventure.
"Mama has to go to the hospital so they can check out my foot..."
"Cool! Can I go too?!"
"Of course, you have to come with me. I can't leave you alone."
"This is so exciting! I've never been to the hospital before!"
(Yeah she was really worried about me!)
"Well I don't know if exciting is the right word...but it will be an adventure. Hopefully we don't have to wait too long."
I'd heard horror stories about waiting in emergency for hours on end so I was prepared for the worst. Whether I just got lucky or whether they felt sorry for me (a single Mom with child in tow, hobbling around with a blue foot/possible blood clot and I mentioned that Telehealth wanted to send me an ambulance...) I was done in about an hour. From triage to the first, second, third waiting room and then to see a doctor, all in under an hour! I was pretty worried but Michelle's cheery disposition helped me to feel a little better. I'm not a fan of hospitals on the best of days. Michelle helped them take my blood pressure, helped me follow the footprints on the floor that led to the next of a series of waiting rooms and was good as gold until we got to the last waiting room which was full and a little creepier than the previous waiting areas. This one had a man in a hospital gown with questionable wounds and tubes coming out of him. Michelle was staring. In my head I was chanting "please don't say anything, please don't say anything!" And she didn't. She did finally run out of patience however and sighed. "How long is this going to TAKE?! I don't think it could get much WORSE?!" I laughed. "Honey. It's not so bad. And it can ALWAYS be worse!" I always remember the line from Shakespeare's King Lear: "The worst is not. So long as we can say "This is the worst." As I sat there, adjusting myself in my hard plastic chair, my leg feeling increasingly numb, I glanced around at the other people, wondering what they were there for. I was trying to stay calm for Michelle's sake but I was a little nervous.
A nurse came and had me sit on a chair in the hallway. Then she got a stethoscope to listen to the lump on my foot. I felt awkward. I'd never had anyone listen to my foot before. Especially on a hot summer day when I was wearing sandals. The nurse explained she had to listen and make sure blood was flowing. "It's not a DVT," she told me as though hospital lingo meant anything to me. "DVT?" I asked. I thought the v might stand for vein but I was fuzzy on the rest. "Deep vein thrombosis." Next I was directed to a room where the doctor came to look at my foot and explained that it was just a small clot in a small vein in my foot. He used the metaphor of a tree to illustrate that an issue with a small branch doesn't affect the trunk. Had it been a major artery in my leg, a DVT, it would have been very serious. He suggested I keep my foot elevated for a bit. (That wasn't going to happen but I had fun daydreaming about actually putting my foot up as I lay in a hammock on the beach. The reality was I would be going home to do housework and then working nightshift that weekend so I'd be sitting and or driving for 14 hours a day.) He said I didn't really have to do anything about it. It would just work itself out. I asked if I should take aspirin. He said I could take baby aspirin if I wanted but that it wasn't really necessary. I explained that I sit A LOT when I'm working. 12 hour shifts + 2-3 hour commute. He didn't say I couldn't work or anything so I went ahead and worked that whole weekend. I did try to elevate my foot somewhat for a few minutes here and there. I'd also read online that it helps to get up and walk every hour and a half or so if you can when you have to sit for long periods. Even just a trip to the bathroom helps (and I make a lot of those anyway!) I was happy that I was going to live but I was starting to feel like an old lady with my swollen blue foot. Whether it was psychosomatic or had something to do with taking the low dose aspirin, I felt a little strange, arms and legs numb for a couple of days. Especially at night. I couldn't seem to get comfortable. And I couldn't shut my brain off. Thinking, worrying. On top of everything else my periods had stopped which don't get me wrong, I was happy about and wouldn't miss them but at the same time the prospect of going through menopause made me feel old. I felt like I was old and falling apart.
The day of the test I was a nervous wreck. I would have been anyway but now even more so going into it with a bad foot. I had to fill out questionnaires/waivers about my health before the test. "Here's where you sign your life away!" someone always jokes when you sign a waiver. It's not encouraging. I read over the questionnaire. Nothing really seemed applicable to my foot situation so I didn't mention it (plus I was worried they wouldn't let me take the test if they knew.) They took my blood pressure which was on the high side (usually my BP is on the low side of normal but I was pretty frazzled that day. I also worried if my foot could be throwing off the rest of my body. Even though the doctor's tree metaphor replayed in my head. Branch-trunk.) I figured it was just as well that my BP started out high because it was bound to be REALLY high when they took it again after the test for comparison.
Before having Michelle I had dreamed about living "a bikini life" someday -- to win the lottery, move somewhere tropical and live by the beach. I had amassed so many bikinis that I could wear a different one just about every day. Then I had a baby and wondered if I'd ever have the nerve to wear a bikini again. I still have some tightening/toning up to do but I am pleased with the progress I've made working on my abs. And when I go to the beach I'm happy to find women of all shapes and sizes wearing bikinis -- rolls, stretch marks and all. At the end of the day the important thing is that you are happy in your own skin. It's what's inside that counts anyway. It's important to be healthy but we can drive ourselves crazy trying to be perfect. No one is perfect. Not even the models in the magazines (they have photographers, makeup artists, Photoshop wizards to make them look perfect. In real life maybe they wake up with a pimple or a wrinkle or they're a little bloated from eating broccoli.)
Though I'm unfortunately unable to travel (or move) to the tropics, luckily I can pretend by going to my favourite beach right here in Ontario -- Port Dover Beach. The palm trees ARE BACK! (They plant them in late May and they remain until the Fall.) Michelle and I went several times. The beach is our happy place. I like to lie on the sand, watch Michelle playing, look at the water. Michelle likes building (and stomping on) sandcastles, chasing seagulls, being buried in the sand (being turned into a mermaid by Mama!) and sometimes playing in the water when it's not too seaweed-y. My princess simply refuses to walk through seaweed.
Lately it seems like more women are wearing bikinis. Or maybe I just never paid attention before. And there is a wide range of body types sporting them. I remember seeing instructions on the internet: "How to get a bikini body: Put a bikini on your body!" And it was a good point. Why should you feel like you have to be a supermodel/athlete to wear a bikini? Of course you get the teens who are a size zero but even older and larger women, unconcerned about their rolls, strut around in a two-piece and I think "You go girl!" It's beautiful and inspiring. Months ago I was happy to see gorgeous Ashley Graham, making history as the first plus size model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Some of the sexiest women I've seen were the ones with curves and so-called imperfections. Their confidence was sexy and it made me realize I shouldn't be quite so hard on myself because really, who cares?! We're human. I should wear my stretch marks with pride! The important thing is to be HAPPY and HEALTHY. Not what size you are. To be too thin can be as unhealthy as being too heavy. Somewhere in the middle is ideal.
Michelle's joy is infectious. Even when I'm not in the best mood she can usually pick me up. Life is a magical adventure to her. Don't get me wrong, she still has her moments/bad days where she can be a little cranky/overtired/moody but overall she's happy, excited, ready to take on the world. I wish I had even a fraction of her energy and enthusiasm for anything. At least it keeps me young trying to keep up with her. She challenges me to races. I still let her win but she gives me a good run for my money! Sometimes she almost wins FOR REAL, which considering her legs are half the size of mine, is quite a feat! She gets a lot of practice though. She rarely sits still she's running CONSTANTLY. At the beach, at the park, at home (back and forth in the hallway.) Unfortunately she winds up wiping out sometimes and gets a few scrapes and bruises her and there. I'm grateful at least her boo-boos are never too serious. Our only trip to the hospital was for me.
June was a hectic month. There was so much going on it's no wonder that it flew by in the blink of an eye. Even when we don't go anywhere, Michelle can have fun in her own backyard. We found a toad (or a frog? I think toads are brown and frogs are green so likely a toad but Michelle called it a frog) and Michelle named him Mr. Hoppity. She wanted to keep him but I said no we'd let him live in the yard and we could visit him when we're outside. We have seen him a few times since then (or maybe there are just a few of them living in the yard. They're still all "Mr. Hoppity" to Michelle.) As a kid I used to catch frogs & tadpoles and keep them as pets for a while. As an adult I'm less inclined to want random creatures in the house (I'm surprised my Mom wasn't worried about it). Plus I know it's better for them to live in their own natural habitat. Michelle has asked about having another pet. I told her maybe a kitten someday but our cat Ali is all we need for now. (And she weighs almost as much as Michelle!)
Michelle loves birthday parties. She loves dressing up, playing with balloons, spending time with family, the cake, the whole thing. So far she's only been to family parties. From what I've heard once your child starts school there is an onslaught of birthday parties. I'm sort of dreading it. I know Michelle is eager to play with other kids her age but just the thought of parties and play dates and meeting strangers makes me apprehensive. I'll do anything to make Michelle happy though so I know it's unavoidable. I'm not the social type but Michelle is so I'll have to put up with it for her sake.
Working a lot of extra hours in June and July, I felt guilty leaving Michelle more and made sure to spend quality time with her on my days off. I usually let her call the shots (within reason) as far as what she wanted to do: go to the beach etc. One day she wanted to wear her vampire dress from last Halloween... Sure, why not?! Yes she's already thinking about Halloween (she wants to be a werewolf this time) in the middle of summer. My girl is a goth, what can I say? She still proudly displays her vampire fangs. I warned her not to do that at school or she may scare some of the kids. (She's half vampire on her dad's side. I'm sort of kidding.) Not everyone would appreciate her passion for monsters/Halloween etc. Again, it is probably in her blood because I was a goth back in the day and her father was a horror movie fanatic. I have never let her watch anything too scary so what she considers monsters are the cute animated ones from films like Monsters INC or Hotel Transylvania or pretty ones like the ones in Monster High.
On a rainy day we decided to head to the Butterfly Conservatory. We've been a couple of times. It's one of my most favourite places. You basically feel like you're in a jungle (and you have to dress accordingly because you're going to sweat, no matter what time of year it is!) As photo ops go, you really can't beat it: Beautiful tropical plants, butterflies and Michelle. So basically Heaven. The problem is trying to capture butterflies and my girl in one shot. I even managed to do that! We were lucky and some actually landed on her. So I was snapping away like a fiend. This shot of Michelle with a couple of butterflies on her butterfly dress and a big smile on her face was almost like winning the lottery for me! This was the money shot I was aiming for. The only way it could have been better would have been if a Blue Morpho landed on her head (but they are the fastest, most elusive of the bunch so that probably won't ever happen!) Michelle is so used to me snapping photos now that she doesn't mind and actually enjoys posing for me.
I don't remember a lot from my early childhood. My Mom tells me Michelle likely won't remember a lot of what I do for her -- the places I take her etc in these early years. I told Mom it doesn't matter. On some level she will know that I lavished her in attention and loved her and took her fun places. Plus I have the photographic evidence to prove it! So when she's a teenager and giving me a hard time I can show her -- look at all I did for you! Look how happy you were! But hopefully she won't give me too hard of a time as a teen. (Sure. She's already getting an attitude and she's only 4.)
We hadn't been to the zoo in a while and it wasn't too scorching hot of a day so we decided to go. I say we because I usually leave it up to Michelle what we do each day. I give her options -- within reason -- and let her decide. Or she comes up with ideas on her own. I remember as a kid I rarely, if ever, got to go where I wanted to go or do what I wanted to do, so I try to do the opposite for Michelle and grant her every wish, to the best of my ability. Of course the trip to Egypt to the see pyramids is a bit out of reach, for now. But at least we can visit lions and zebras and monkeys if we want to.
It's nice that Michelle can appreciate the simple things like a water slide in the backyard because on my budget, trips to Great Wolf Lodge etc are out of the question. Maybe one day. For now, I'm happy with playing with sprinklers and water slides in the yard or going to the beach. Sunshine, running and splashing around in the water, what more do you need? The thing about the water slide is it seems to take twice (or three times) as long to dismantle it as it does to blow it up and fill it with water. It's still worth it though. I've thought about getting a blow up pool but I wouldn't want to have to flood the yard with water afterward. The water slide is bad enough.
One day Michelle said she wanted to go to the water park. I was surprised she would think of it/remember it because we hadn't been in a while. I reminded her that when we went in the past she didn't like the pool or the sprinklers and needed to be coaxed to go in the lazy river. Of course now that she's older she's more flexible/open to things and she loved everything. The lazy river was her favourite and she insisted we go around several times. I can never get a photo of it because we're IN the water and I can't bring my camera with me (which is torture for me! LOL Especially when Michelle is smiling and laughing and it would make such a cute photo.)
I absolutely LOVE Michelle's artwork. It gives me life! It always makes me smile. Sometimes it makes me laugh out loud but I have to make sure I don't offend Michelle because she's very sensitive and can be a little hard on herself. Sometimes she'll say "This isn't any good!" and I'll tell her it's excellent, that she's an amazing artist for her age. Sometimes she'll ask me how to draw something so she can copy mine and hers turns out better than mine! She did a portrait of Grandma and Grampa, herself and me. I love that she even included Grampa's awkward old man black socks. Though I hope he's actually wearing pants. It's kind of hard to tell. I love that everyone smiles in her pictures. Even the sun.
I never get tired of heading to Port Dover. I'm addicted to the palm trees. Each time we go it's a slightly different adventure. Sometimes we mostly play in the sand and she doesn't even want to go in the water. Other times she wants to be in the water for ages. Sometimes we walk around the little shops, other times we just chill on the beach. Sometimes we walk down the length of the beach (or in her case, run to chase the seagulls.) It feels like our second home now we've been so often.
Some people go away on vacation once or twice a year. We never get to go but at least our day trips to Dover feel like an exotic get away when we sit under the palms...
Though I had to work on Canada Day Michelle and I still had a little time together before I had to go in for nightshift and I made sure we dressed in red and got a couple of pictures. I even found a little red dress with maple leaves on it for Michelle. She picked a maple leaf at Grandma's house as well. She actually recognized it as a maple leaf like the one on the flag. All the way to Grandma's she was pointing out Canada flags and maple trees. It's amazing how many places you see our flag -- on businesses, homes, even on people's cars. Though we may be a little more laid back/less aggressive about it than our American neighbours, we are still patriotic, eh?
I'm also glad that I get to see my sister May so often. She's my best friend in the world. Michelle looks forward to us all going on outings together. We went to Bronte Pool on a really hot day. I got Michelle a life jacket to help her float. I really want her to learn to swim. I've never been a strong swimmer and I'm still nervous of deep water (I can't be in over my head literally or figuratively or it freaks me out! I have to be able to touch bottom.) My sister had swimming lessons in school when she was younger so she's a good swimmer. My Mom is a nervous swimmer too (and also doesn't like getting her face wet/smearing her makeup!) My dad can't swim at all and is afraid of the water (which is understandable since he drowned when he was 12 years old.)
I LOVE this photo of Michelle, her impish grin as she sits on a log. She dressed herself entirely that day, grabbing clothes out of the drawer. I tried to explain that the lace pants didn't really go with the colourful print shirt and that usually you'd pair a print with a solid rather than mix two clashing prints but she was proud of herself and I figured her sense of independence was far more important than her fashion sense. I have to pick my battles. So if you ever see pictures of Michelle dressed a little wonky, just assume she probably dressed herself. (She dresses herself most days but I usually put the outfits out for her so she doesn't have to choose.)
We'd seen the trailer for "The Secret Life of Pets" several times and it looked AWESOME. We were very excited to go see it. We were NOT disappointed! It was very funny and sweet and surprisingly action packed and we both adored it. I've always loved animated films and now being able to share them with Michelle is amazing. They usually have plenty of visual interest, cute and silly parts to keep kids entertained and enough adult humour to keep parents chuckling as well. Kevin Hart was HYSTERICAL as psycho bunny Snowball! I loved all the characters. Of course, sap that I am, I still managed to find touching moments that made me cry. Thank God for 3D glasses. This time I even managed to hide my tears from Michelle.
One of the best things about the beach is that it helps you sleep a little better. Something about being in the sun all day just makes you feel peaceful and exhausted. On non-beach days though, sometimes it's a struggle to fall asleep at all.
In varying degrees insomnia has been an issue for me my whole life. It's like my brain won't shut off. Thinking, worrying, making to do lists, reliving the past, wondering about the future. I wrote a song once called "Think Too Much." Some people have a drinking problem. I have a thinking problem. Being pregnant (and alone) and raising a child on my own made it that much worse. Breastfeeding. A screaming newborn. A night owl toddler. Co-sleeping with a restless girl that flips and flops and inadvertently clocks you a few times a night. I got used to never getting more than a couple of hours sleep. If that. It's even worse if there's something specific to worry about -- health, money issues etc.
Then in July I got involved in a fender bender. It was so stupid and random. I still can't understand how it happened. I was backing out, the other driver was backing in. Thankfully no one was hurt and the damage was minor (little if any damage to my rear bumper, just a scratch you wouldn't even notice. A dent to the other's driver's front bumper though unfortunately they had to replace the whole bumper.) I called my insurance company in tears. The girl tried to comfort me. "Don't worry. They're called 'accidents' not 'on purposes.'" I wasn't even making a claim for my vehicle but the other driver was and I was concerned it may affect my rates. I couldn't seem to get a straight answer about whether it would. Something about it was up to the "underwriters" and I wouldn't know until next year when my policy is renewed. She said the good news was there was going to be a rate decrease next year anyway and hopefully that would offset any possible increase as a result of my minor mishap.
So, it wasn't so bad. It could have been much worse. I should have been able to get over it. For whatever reason though, the incident haunted me. I lay awake at night and couldn't sleep. It was insane. I mean, someone involved in a 20 car pile-up probably wouldn't be this upset. It's like I had PTSD over such a minor occurrence. It just drove me nuts. I kept thinking it just shouldn't have happened. I kept thinking if I'd only left the house one minute earlier (or one minute later.) I couldn't understand it. I drive ALL THE TIME. I drive all over hell's half acre and don't have accidents. I commute for 2-3 hours when I work. I've made road trips to Algonquin, New York, Daytona Beach, Florida and nothing. Then I get into a stupid accident so close to home. Of course they say most accidents happen at home but I figured they meant slipping in the bathtub or falling off a ladder.
I wasn't sure why it bothered me so much until I realized that I expect life to be perfect and when it isn't (which is pretty much all the time!) I can't deal with it. In school, a desire for perfection was a good thing. I got straight As and won awards (though I often nearly gave myself a nervous breakdown doing it.) In life, there are no As and gold stars. There's no reward for doing things right, though there's usually a punishment for messing things up. And it's bound to happen. We're all flawed humans after all. And when you're sleep deprived and not all there, it's even worse. Not to mention there is so much that you can't control: the weather, other people, etc. Random things can go wrong at any time and there's nothing you can do but deal with it. You can't control it. All you can control is your reaction and apparently I can't even do that. I lack resilience. I am the opposite of resilient, whatever that is... Brittle, maybe? Some people are so laid back, they just go with the flow. When bad things happen they shrug their shoulders and say "Oh well." I wish I was like that. I wish I was the "happy go lucky" "lack-a-daisical type." But I'm not. I'm a neurotic mess. I torture myself with over-thinking, analyzing and worrying and replaying things in my mind and wishing they were different. I've had people tell me that I'm "strong" and "brave" to have survived the things I've been through -- being abandoned while pregnant and raising Michelle on my own. But I don't feel strong or brave. It's just that I had no choice but to deal with the hand I was dealt. I love Michelle more than my own life so I've had to keep going for her sake. Sometimes though, I'm overwhelmed. And somehow this stupid accident was like the last straw after a lot of straws and stress and days of running on empty. I don't get enough sleep. I work at a stressful job with long hours (14-15 hrs with the commute.) It's like I'm hanging by a thread half the time and as long as nothing goes too wrong I can manage but it doesn't take much for the thread to break.
Negativity is a tough habit to break. It comes as naturally as breathing. The positive always takes more effort. Once the negative gains a hold of me, it's insidious. It feeds on itself. It magnifies and multiplies and becomes a soul-swallowing black cloud of fear, doubt, despair, you name it. Once I'm upset about something, my mind starts replaying the greatest hits of all the other things I have to worry/be upset about. It's like my brain is throwing a pity party and all my demons are invited. I beat myself up. The latent anxiety and depression that I've fought with on and off since my teens comes bubbling to the surface. Everything seems bleak, unbearable. I'll try to be reasonable. It could be worse. I should be grateful. I'll try to think about how there are people in the world going through so much worse. But even that doesn't help because I feel sad for all the people suffering in the world and I start to think the world is so f*&ed up it's like this is the Apocalypse and why even bother? When I lie awake at night and the negativity takes over, I'm SCREWED. I can't seem to relax or calm myself down and then I can't sleep a wink and I feel even worse.
Insomnia is the worst when I have to work because I get up at 4 a.m. for dayshift and sometimes I'm on no sleep at all. Then have to drive for an hour, work 12 hours and drive another hour back home. There are days I'm so completely drained physically and emotionally I don't know how I survive. Sometimes I lay there for hours staring at the clock. Other times I get up and cry. Or I read or watch TV. One night I got interested in a French movie that didn't even have subtitles. I was pretty lost but trying to figure out what was going on even though I only understood a few words here and there. From what I gathered the guy was depressed and felt cut off from the rest of the world and then commits suicide by overdosing. Yeah, not exactly a cheerful, feel good film to soothe you to sleep.
Insomnia wasn't always so bad. When I was on my own it used to be a more constructive time -- I'd get up and play guitar, write a song or paint, do something creative during the wee hours. Now if I'm home I sometimes go on Twitter but usually just lay there and suffer, looking at the clock thinking "Ok if I fall asleep now I'll get 2 hours sleep...Now I'll get 1 hour..." It doesn't help that Michelle wakes me up in the middle of the night either by accidentally punching or kicking me (she's a restless sleeper and though I've tried to get her into her own room but it didn't take so I'm still co-sleeping with her) or asking for a drink, telling me she needs to go potty (even though she goes on her own now. It still wakes me up.) And once awakened, I have a hard time getting back to sleep.
One sleepless night I just started to cry and couldn't stop. I wondered if I was having a nervous breakdown. How do you know? How can you tell the difference between just being sad or having a really bad day and completely losing your mind? Then I went to the bathroom and realized it was hormonal: My monthly visitor, which I mistakenly thought may be gone for good had apparently just taken a brief holiday. The b&*%$ was back, with a vengeance. So it was PMS rearing its ugly head. And aside from the flood of emotions, the blood flow was back and making up for lost time. The Red Sea. Borderline hemorrhaging. Good times. So I wasn't in menopause after all. Lucky me.
Thankfully I did eventually get over the accident (and on-again off-again menopause and everything else...) Luckily there are more good days than bad and overall I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. Of course most of that is thanks to Michelle.
Michelle is my inspiration and my teacher. She doesn't worry about things. Now, it helps that she's a kid and doesn't have responsibilities/worries, and that life is just play to her. She sees life as a fun adventure. I envy her energy, enthusiasm and excitement. And when I see how happy she is, how confident and strong and bright it makes me feel a little better because even if I feel like a mess, I did something right. She's OK. I've helped her to feel safe and loved even when I felt scared and alone and falling apart. Her happiness is more important to me than anything and if she's happy, I'm happy.
Michelle's pictures are whimsical and expressive and really advanced for a (just turned) 4 year old girl!
"You're my best friend Mama!" she told me.
"You're mine too sweetheart."
"I love you."
"I love you too. More than I can possibly tell you."
"I love you most and best for always and forever!"
"I love you most and best, so much, too much, for always and forever, more than anyone or anything in the whole world. To infinity and beyond."
Yeah, we're saps.
Every year the whole family gets together at Wasaga Beach to celebrate Evie's birthday, Michelle's birthday, as well as celebrating summer and having an excuse to go to Wasaga Beach! It's always a blast having everyone together and Michelle loves it too. She had a ball playing in the water with me, riding on a raft with her cousins, playing in the sand with Reggie, playing catch with Uncle Mikey. This year we even had a BBQ right by the beach. Of course I always have to get the group photo and it was a REAL CHALLENGE getting the whole group together!
I love my girls. I try to get a photo of us as a "family" every week, if not every day. Ali usually joins us when we sit on the stairs. Or sometimes we have to call her over, or "Meow" at her so she'll join us. Not that Ali looks at the camera anyway, but hey, you can't tell a cat what to do! She has to want to. It always makes Michelle smile/laugh when Ali comes over at our "Meow-ing" so at least I get Michelle smiling if nothing else.
It's been quite a summer. Thankfully there have been more good days than bad. It's gone by so fast. I'm grateful for all the happy days at the beach with my girl. It makes up for the bad days.
I read a quote by Gretchen Rubin recently: "The days are long but the years are short." It's so true. There are days that are so exhausting and stressful you don't know how you'll get through. You look at the clock and an hour (when you're in pain or have insomnia or are just in the throes of a bad day) seems to last forever. But those bad days don't stick out in your mind. Overall when you look back at your life, you see the happy times and somehow they seem to speed by in the blink of an eye. I can't believe Michelle is 4 already and starting school next week (I'll save that for the next blog). She's excited. I'm heartbroken. It's hard to let go. The last 5 years have been very short. My baby is growing up. She's a little girl and soon will be going out into the world, without me. It goes too fast. I'll keep taking a million pictures to slow it down.
Michelle picked out this outfit herself. I told her it might be overkill on the printed shirt and pants (I try to stick to the "pair a print with a solid" rule) but she loved it. It was like an explosion of summer -- flowers and flamingoes, all pink and purple. Michelle wants to do things herself. She may not do them perfectly or the way I would do them but she's learning to accomplish things and make decisions on her own. That's a milestone. School will be another milestone and she's eager for it. I wish I could say the same but I'm dreading it. I'm glad that she wants to go to school because if she was scared and didn't want to go it would be even harder for me.
As much as I've tried to teach Michelle, she has just as much to teach me. I'm proud of my independent girl. I admire her confidence, her energy and enthusiasm. I wish I had her sunny view of life, all the time, even when the sun isn't shining. She doesn't worry about things, doesn't doubt herself. She loves who she is, a strong girl, inside and out and she knows the world is her oyster. I wish I was more like her...