Sleep is for the weak

•April 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment
zzzzzzz

zzzzzzz (oh and that’s totally not my bed — it’s a hotel in Marseille, France)

I’ve noticed over the past few months that sleep is becoming much harder to give in to. It’s not that I’m not tired, quite the opposite actually. In fact, I’m downright exhausted. But I can’t sleep. I can’t just close my eyes and drift.

My brain isn’t overactive. I’m not anxious. I’m not stressed. I’m not even hyper or worked up. I just don’t want to sleep because I know what it’ll mean.

Crawling into an empty bed used to be a luxury. I reveled in the space, the ability to stretch out in any direction I pleased, searching out those glorious cold spots in the sheets that offered moments of relief from the heat. I could toss and turn, bunch up the pillows, sleep perpendicular if I wanted. It was glorious, absolutely liberating.

Now it’s stifling.

I stick to my side of the bed like a wall has been erected midway through my queen mattress. The right side of my bed remains untouched. Only the cats sleep on those pillows now, and they’re obviously not upset about it. I wake up more often then not with one arm outstretched across that side of the bed, as it would be if it were stretched across a chest. I’m quick to bring it back into my space, away from the emptiness.

When I do eventually fall asleep, and lately it’s with the help of a random old movie on NetFlix murmuring from the TV in the corner of my room to squish the absolute silence, I’m happy. I have vivid memories of dreams in which I am content and sharing a bed with someone, having them participate in my life, letting them into my space willingly, sharing, conversing, being together.

Then I wake up, and I regret ever having gone to sleep.

Sometimes, falling asleep on the couch helps. A couch is hard to share, anyways, so the stark contrast of slept-on-side vs empty side is less evident, less glaring.

I know it’s all in my head. I know I’m supposed to be embracing this whole “me time” stuff, and I do. I truly do. I love my independence. I love me, and my time. But I also know I have certain needs for human interaction, to share and connect in some way, and I admit I’m starting to feel more than a little lonely.

For some reason, sleep brings about all that loneliness in a way no other daytime activity does.

I used to love going to bed. Curling up next to a strong shoulder, listening to a solid heartbeat, fingers in hair, body heat resonating. I miss it, but not to the point where I’m going to fill the void with anything that comes my way and fits the bill for that night. I have a bit more self-respect than that.

Sleep is a natural occurrence. it’s a necessity for life. We need to sleep. I need to sleep. I see the bags under my eyes getting ever larger, ever darker. But I can’t stop it. In fact, I should be asleep right now, but I don’t want to. Falling asleep means I have to wake up tomorrow and face the same demons, deal with the same insecurities all over again.

On the other hand, there is one incredible up side to falling asleep: Owen.

Every morning he pads in, sets his chin on the edge of my bed centimeters from my face

and whispers: “Mummy? Mummy, is it time to cuddle?” And of course I tell him it is, and that’s how we start ever day.

In those moments, my bed and self are so full of love and connection I feel like I might burst. It’s a different sort of connection of course, but one I am so very grateful for. On the days when Owen stays with his father, I feel the absolute most lonely because on those mornings I don’t get those moments of reprieve from the emptiness.

I hope one day Owen will be able to understand what he did for me every morning when he asked to cuddle, snuggled in close, stroked my hair, and whispered (every morning), “I love you Mummy.”

It’s human nature to want to be loved. It’s natural to want to share our lives with someone else. As I sit here in my half-empty bed, I know I’m beyond tired … but I think I might go to the living room and curl up there.

When you know you’re home

•April 25, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Home

Home

I’m extremely lucky to have travelled to some pretty amazing places over the years. Whether of my own accord or for work, I’ve been across the US, to Europe, Africa, Hawaii, and even Iceland. I’ve been in hot and cold climates, been stranded in airports, experienced “pod life” in first class, and been pushed to the back of the plane next to the washrooms. I’ve gone through countless security checks, been patted down, had my bags searched, and been through the invasive body scanner on more than one occasion.

And I love it.

Travelling fuels me. I love the newness of it, even if it’s all so very familiar. I love possibilities, the adventure, the thought that I might just discover something new about myself … about the world around me. It lifts me up. Makes me feel… whole.

And for all the places I’ve been in the world, one area in particular always struck me, and struck me in a way that made my heart ache, made my bones tingle, made me feel the most whole I’ve ever felt. One area in the world makes me feel like I’m home, even when I’m just visiting.

I grew up in a small logging town on the west coast called Squamish in British Columbia. Nestled halfway between Vancouver City and Whistler, Squamish is now known as the “recreational capital” of Canada. When I was there, it was just home. A small town of rundown trailer park towns, bumpy, sometimes gravel roads, epic woods to explore, deer sightings, eagles, mountain views, fresh air, and lots and lots of pickup trucks.

I left when I was about 8-9 years old. I was young. And yet, I have vivid memories of where I lived and what I did, and I’ve had them confirmed as being very much true, not just made-up childhood “memories” we create to make ourselves feel better or cooler in some way. They are etched in my brain. And they are a large part of why I am who I am today. Those years in Squamish, Britannia Beach, Howesound, Valleycliffe, they formed the Miranda I am today.

Every time I went west, even if it wasn’t to British Columbia, I felt like I was where I was meant to be. California held a special place in my heart. Something about the mountains and the pacific ocean. It just felt … right.

And so, last year, I went home for the first time in over 20 years.

It’s incredible how the mind works. I went back blind. I decided not to ask my mother for specifics like addresses or locations of places and things we used to see/visit. Instead, I let my memories guide me. And they guided me precisely where I wanted to go. As I drove the Sea to Sky for the first time myself (only ever having been a passenger until that point), I felt like I already knew every corner, every dip in the road, every jutting rock poking out into the precarious cliffside roadway.

I found my childhood trailer park, I travelled roads where my family members had lived, where I’d walked to elementary school, where I’d explored beaches and backwood streams. And I found them all because those little nuggets remain with me today, vivid, clear and real. I breathed in the fresh mountain air, took it all in, and felt like I belonged. For the first time in years, I felt like I belonged. Like I always do when I go west.

They say home is where your heart is, that it’s the people around you who make somewhere home. I don’t disagree with that statement: Where Owen is is home for me.

Yet, when I’m not at home with him or around him, I’m floundering in a city I never really felt was mine.

I’m 31 years old now. I’ve been living outside BC for long enough now and in Quebec for equally long enough that the east should be home. Yet, when someone asks me where I’m from and I say Montreal, the next statement is almost always, “Oh, but you’re not FROM there, are you?” And I don’t think it’s just because I sound extremely Anglophone.

No, I think they see something in my eyes. Something that’s always been there. A longing to go back. To go back home.

I’m currently sitting in an airport in Winnipeg on a 6-hour layover on my way back to Montreal from Vancouver. I’ve just spent the last few days there, exploring more, visiting friends and extended family, driving, and just unwinding.

BC is my safe place. BC is my escape. BC is home.

It hurts my heart every time I have to get on a plane and head back east. Physically pains me to do so. It’s not like leaving the beach after a week-long vacation or getting on a bus to go to college, it’s more than that. So much more. I often cant find the words to properly describe it, really.

British Columbia is home. It always will be. I feel like I belong there. Like I was meant to be there. Will I go back to live there? My hope is, yes. However, things are never as straightforward as that, now are they? Life has a funny way of complicating things — all the time.

Regardless, I know I’ll always have a home. No matter what. I know I can go home. I can always go home, and I’ll always feel welcome, and for that I am so very, very grateful.

The trouble with love…

•April 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Unicorn

Is that it hurts. A lot.

Not in the way you might imagine, though, but love hurts. Not always in the conventional way that pain is supposed to. Sometimes it hurts egos, hurts possibility, hurts dreams, hurts plans, hurts hopes, and hurts desires.

I’m no expert, especially not lately, but I think I’ve experienced enough love over the years to understand the pain it can cause. Everyone always talks about the good and happy side of love, and I don’t doubt that that particular side exists, but there’s more to it than that.

When we were kids, we loved a lot of things. I loved my stuffed rabbit, Lil’ Furs. I loved my bike. I loved unicorns. I loved to drink Shirley Temples. I loved to read. I loved nature and being with animals. I loved horses. I loved to collect water boatmen bugs in a jar from the stream in our backyard. (I’m beginning to see why I might be alone right now…)

I say I loved all of those things because I truly believe I did. They brought me joy. They were things I looked forward to interacting with, experiencing, doing. They made me smile, laugh, feel good. I was happy in those moments with the things I loved most.

Preteen me was absolutely obsessed with unicorns. Stories about them, pictures, poetry, figurines, stuffed animals. I loved them with every fibre of my being. I had to be near them. I had to have them. I had to be learning about them, know everything about them.

And then it stopped.

I stopped loving unicorns so intently.

I’m not sure when it happened or how. I’m not even sure why. I do know that 31-year-old me doesn’t dislike unicorns, in fact I find them quite whimsical, and oddly calming, but I know I don’t love them.

If unicorns were a person, what would that mean for them? If for so many years it had been doted on, fawned after, showered with attention and held in the highest regard, then dumped. How could they recover from something like that?

That’s how love hurts. We change. As humans, we change. We grow. We evolve. It’s natural, it’s normal. We should evolve, we should grow. In fact, I love that about people, about myself. The possibilities are endless as to what we can become, who we can be. But what happens when we don’t do that together? What happens to the love then?

That’s when it hurts most.

Falling “out” of love is horrible. I know, it’s happened to me. And I don’t just mean the unicorns and collecting water boatmen on the stream. I’ve fallen out of love with a person, and him with me. I was no longer his obsession. I was no longer what made him happy. He no longer brought me joy. He no longer made me feel good.

It’s awful.

How could something so amazing go so sour? I’ve thought a lot about love and its intricacies as of late. I’m watching all kinds of couples around me struggle and suffer. I’m watching as they hurt one another over and over again. As they fall apart, despite admitting they’re in love. And it makes my own heart hurt. I don’t want them to feel that fall-out-of-love feeling I have. I don’t want either one of them to feel like a unicorn.

I hated feeling like a unicorn. No one should ever have to feel like a unicorn.

And so, I’m reluctant. I’m hesitant. The idea of love hurting again, the idea of going through all I already have or what other couples are going through right now… I’m not sure I could do it again. I’m not sure I could morph into that unicorn again. And I know I wouldn’t want to make anyone else into that mythical creature either.

Love can be a beautiful thing. I forget that. I forget what it’s like to be adored, what it’s like to be looked at and really seen. I forget what it’s like to be a unit, to be team. I forget what it’s like to have someone want me to be happy, to want to make me smile and laugh. And perhaps I forget because I never really had that, truthfully.

The trouble with love is that it hurts. A lot.

The Cone of Shame

•March 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Our new kitten, Biscuit (name by Owen), was recently fixed. She’s about 8 months old and the time for the removal of her ability to reproduce was upon us. With the surgery complete and her in good health, I broke out the Cone of Shame and installed it around her wee neck with minimal struggle.

The vet’s promise that she was an angel in her cage at the clinic, not once touching or licking her stitches, wreaked of BS when I picked her up and so the Cone of Shame was purchased. And rightfully so; the moment she was out of the box her tongue couldn’t have hit the wiry stitches fast enough. Bugger.

She’s been wearing the Cone of Shame for a over a week now. I’ve watched her with it on. Her movements. Her gestures. Her overall demeanor in the Cone of Shame. She’s not herself. She’s not the Biscuit we’ve come to know and love, but a parody of a cat we sometimes recognize, but who’s personality has been stunted and contained. She’s clumsy. She’s annoyed. She’s not able to express herself properly, and she smells (her wet food gets lodged in the Cone and I have to wiper her down with baby wipes after each meal, and she licks at it so much that her saliva coats the inside most of the time).

I wear my own Cone of Shame.

There are moments in my days where I most definitely experience the Cone of Shame tunnel vision, the inability to fully see everything, I can’t properly touch everything. I strain to reach outside the cone to make a connection to feel some sort of physical sign that I’m communicating properly. I like to think I overcome it, but I’m not entirely sure I do. And so I lick, I pull at the Cone, I struggle against its constraints of shame, fear and uncertainty. I try not to let it win, but sometimes all I can do is heave a huge sigh and sink further into it, finding comfort in its shelter and familiarity.

I’ve also seen Biscuit do this. Give a final large lick, sigh forlornly and collapse. Exhausted from the struggle. Spent from the effort.

I see the way Biscuit looks at me from her Cone of Shame. Resting her plastic-sheathed chin on my arm or thigh she stares at me, willing me to reach out, longing for me to scratch her head, rub her belly or remove the Cone entirely; free her from the shackles that are holding her back from showing me the love and affection she wants to and also desiring the full potential of adoration I could bestow upon her.

I know I’ve had that look before; that desperate need for my Cone to be removed. I’ve needed and desired that chin scratch, that reassuring hand on my back, and desperately longed for the Cone removal. It’s agonizing. Even if the plastic is clear, see-thru, it’s utterly blinding.

Often she licks frantically. Over and over and over and over again. She knows the result. She knows the outcome. It’s been 9 days now. She’s not dumb. She’s licking the same spot in her Cone, yet she’s going through the motions as if she were cleaning herself, doing what comes naturally.

That’s what my life feels like at times; licking the same spot on my Cone over and over again with no actual results, never actually accomplishing what it is I set out to do, yet I continue to go through the motions because that’s what you do. Because that’s normal. Because that’s right. And maybe, just maybe, if I keep licking, keep moving my head and I stretch far enough, I’ll make contact. I’ll reach that patch and actually fulfill that need.

Biscuit’s Cone of Shame comes off on Tuesday when her stitches come out.

My broken bits, all the little pieces of me that broke and those that fell off and left holes to be filled in, are still healing. My stitches still exposed. And if I scratch at them, pick at them, keep disturbing them, they’ll never fully heal. I’ll never be the full, complete person I know I can be. The one I want to be. So I keep my Cone in place. I’m the one who put it there, for my own well-being, for my own safety.

I know it’ll be a while yet before my Cone comes off, and I’m not entirely sure I’ll be the one to remove it. In fact, I hope I’m not.

Coned

Coned

Your Own Space

•March 5, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Adjusting to life alone was harder than I thought.

Adjusting to life alone was harder than I thought.

I’ve been living alone for the first time in my life for nearly a year now. I’m 31 years old. I’d never had my own place before. Never signed official papers by myself. Never paid a bill on my own (on time). Never made decorative decisions with just me and no one else’s tastes to consider. Never hogged the remote all night and watched sappy hospital dramas till it was much too late and I should have gone to bed hours before. Never had my own space.

But now I have that. And I’ve had it for a year.

Let me clarify something first; It’s not entirely “my” space, in reality. My son lives with me 80% of the time, his room is down the hall from mine and this is as much his place as it is mine. But he’s also only 3 years old, so all the stuff I just mentioned above, he has very little input or say about it (save for the sappy hospital dramas which I am already banned from putting on while he’s awake… he’s very opinionated on such things already — I’m in trouble).

This space that’s my own, I love it more than I thought I would and hate it in a way that makes me wonder if maybe I’m just not meant to be on my own. Now, that’s not to say I’m about to shack up with anyone or make sure someone is here to keep me company at all times because God forbid I be alone — no, I’ve come to embrace my solitude and all the things that make me uncomfortable about it so that when I am in someone’s company I truly appreciate it that much more, but it doesn’t mean I have to love every moment.

This is my space, my condo, my dwelling; and I still get scared. A few moments before sitting down to write this piece I was making my final rounds, turning off lights, checking on cats, stepping on random Hot Wheels left in the hallway and simultaneously cursing and smiling, and I accidentally shut off a light that plunged me in near darkness and a millisecond of panic ensued.

I’m a massive chicken. I scare incredibly easily. I believe in a lot of sh*t I shouldn’t, and my imagination murders my sensibility — always. I grew up reading every gory, horror-ridden, thriller book I could get my hands on (much to my mother’s horror and frustration). I love reading all of that stuff. But put me in a real-life situation akin to those books? Um, no. My absolute nightmare.

And so, standing in a nearly pitch-black hallway in my own place of residence where I know full well nothing is lurking to kill or maim me and I still freak out. Every. Single. Time. My finger couldn’t get back to the light switch fast enough, and I very audibly let out a sigh of relief once the light was back on.

Reason not meant to be alone #65: Check.

Dark hallways and never hanging my foot over the edge of the bed while I sleep aside, dealing with all the responsibilities of living alone are almost as scary. From overdue bills to groceries, endless laundry (thank-you 3-year-old boy who seems to wear more than he eats/plays with), taking out the trash/recycling, washing floors, cleaning the toilet; it never ends. Ever. And while Owen is helpful on occasion, that helpfulness is limited to carrying a lough of bread up four flights of stairs to our condo or perhaps (finally) picking up all his cars from the hallway before bed.

And while I may have taken on the brunt of most of what I mentioned above when I was actually living with someone (and married to that someone), I never felt the way I did about it now. There was always the chance that if I didn’t do something, he would. If I forgot something for a few days or straight up told him I didn’t want to do something (which I never did, but that’s a topic for another blog) then it would eventually get done. But now? If I don’t feel like doing the dishes now or for the next 10-12 days then they are still going to be there 10-12 days down the road. Trust me.

Living alone is scary on a number of levels, and I’m aware of that every single day I’m by myself.

I tip my hat (if I were ever to wear one, which is a horrible sight to see… trust me) to all of you who do it in your 20s or even earlier. You are all rock stars in my mind. You’re strong. Courageous. Adventurous, and driven. Sure, it might not work out but you did it. You ventured out. You took that leap and did your best to land on your feet. And you did it without the experience, knowledge or past experiences of those older than you. I am in awe.

I’m in my 30s now, and living in my own place for the first time, ever. I feel like I should be 21. I have all the angst and uncertainty of someone much younger coupled with a resounding sense of actually knowing what’s right and wrong (because I’ve been there, done that). It’s an odd place to find myself. I fee like I should know better when I actually know absolutely nothing at all. It’s a mixed bag of everything good and bad. It’s liberating and encapsulating all at once.

But I’m happy.

I wouldn’t change my living situation (at the moment) for anything. I love my condo. I love the colours I chose, the furniture I have, the wall decals, the pillows, the pictures my father hung (because, let’s be honest, living on my own for the first time at 31, you think I can hang a picture solo?), even my towels and placemats. They’re me. They represent who I am. This is truly my space.

Finding your own space, even if it’s just a corner in a room, is so important. Over the past year or so I’ve come to learn a lot about myself, and this has been a significant discovery. When I lived in the house with my ex-husband, I never had my own space. Eventually, he ended up having the basement as we converted it to a gym. He’d spend a great deal of time down there. I had nothing. I had no specific area that was mine, nothing that was “Miranda.” I’d waffle and wain between the living room and the bedroom when I was relaxing or in a bad mood, but no space was every truly mine. I think that had a huge impact on how I evolved in our relationship, and even how I evolved as a person.

When I do live with someone again (and I’m fully confident I will), I will make sure I have my own space, and my own voice in everything we do regarding the place of dwelling. Where we live is about more than a bed and a toilet. Where we live is about our personal relationships, our connections, our down time, our comfort zones.

Don’t ever give up your own personal comfort zone just because you think it will make the other person uncomfortable. It should, it’s not their personal space.

What my 3-year-old has taught me, so far

•February 10, 2015 • 2 Comments
The family that smiles together...

The family that smiles together…

As a parent there’s this universal assumption that you’re supposed to be the teacher. You’re the one with all the answers, the reasons why. You guide the way, shine the light, make those everlasting impressions.

Well, over the past three years — most notably the last year or so — I’ve come to realize my toddler has just as much (if not more) to teach me about life and myself than I’ve yet to bestow upon him. And so, I’ve decided to gather a few of the top lessons he’s taught me together in one place, so he has something to use against me later on in life, of course.

I am not that smart.

It turns out 3-year-olds ask a lot of questions. And most of those questions consist of two words: “But why?” From questioning the night’s dinner choice to the reason why it’s two piece of wood and not two pieces of woods, Owen can question everything and anything with, “But why?” And he does. I was sure I had all the answers or at least a good portion of them. Turns out I don’t.

It’s humbling and embarrassing, but it also helps me learn more. I find myself looking things up so I can get back to him later on in the day. When he asked me why you couldn’t eat the road, I didn’t want to just tell him, “Because you can’t.” I instead looked up the ingredients and told him what was in concrete. He didn’t like the sound of aggregate and so declared then and there that he would never eat road. Glad we dodged that one early.

I love that he asks questions, but it’s also tiring. I’m thankful he’ll often relinquish the barrage of whys when mummy says, “It just is, OK?” He’ll think for a moment then sigh and say, “Oh, OK.”

The funny thing is, I want to have all the answers for him, but I’m also learning I won’t be the one who has them nor will I be able to provide them all for him. He’s going to have to discover some of those (if not most) on his own from other people, experiences, places, things. As he grows his answers will come from all around. It’s hard to give up that power of knowledge and impressionability as a mother. This is something else he’s taught me about myself.

Messy is all in how you look at it.

From toys on the ground to various stages of a meal on one’s face; a mess is all in how you look at it. I have had full discussions with Owen about picking up his toys because he made a mess wherein he insists they need to be where they are for later use and/or because they are happy there.

Well, perhaps he’s on to something there. Maybe the laundry in the corner of my room is happier there. Maybe it’s easier for me to grab a clean glass from the pile of washed dishes beside the sink than to open the cupboard and get it from there. And maybe leaving my makeup out on the counter at all times actually saves me time in the morning instead of having to dig it out of a makeup bag…

Maybe this is something I’m willing him to teach me. Nah, can’t be.

Mornings aren’t stressful.

Unless you let them be. I used to let them be, but not anymore.

My alarm clock is my son. Sometimes I’ll set one if I know I am scheduled somewhere specific, but 95% of the time I’m woken up by the shuffling of pajama-bottomed feet in my bedroom and a gentle, “Mummy?” as he approaches my side. He never wants me to get up right away, nope. Mornings are our cuddle time. He slides into bed with me and snuggles right up. Sure he’s twitchy as hell and I get kneed in the uterus, kicked in the thigh and head-butted every now and then, but these are the moments I live for and they are the prefect way to start the day.

I used to drag myself outta bed, dreading the day before it had even begun, thinking of a million things at once. My brain was awake before my body, and everything was reluctant to start and function properly. Now, I spend the first moments of each day discussing odd tidbits of dreams, questions and comments about life (“But mummy, why does the wind sound like that? Biscuit is hungry mummy, we have to feed her. Check the weather, mummy.”)

Owen greets each day with such joy, such anticipation, I can’t help but feel the same way. Of course, there are the odd off mornings that are stressful and bad for us both, but we’re only human and those are bound to happen. Otherwise, it’s a joy to be around him to start the day. From his over-the-moon excitement about eating (once again) a breakfast bar with his milk while he watches “Dinosaur Train” to him gleefully shouting out the species names to me while I get dressed down the hall, it all brings a huge grin to my face and I’ve learned to appreciate mornings in a way I never, ever did before.

Honesty and humility are key.

If nothing else, I’ve learned that honesty and humility are always the answer. Owen will be the first to tell me I look like a princess in a dress (Every. Single. Time. Be still my heart.) while simultaneously telling me I’m too old to do something (which he believed was the reason I couldn’t stay up on a surf board on a lake at one point in time…).

That’s where the humility comes in to play. I’ve accepted a lot about myself over the past few years, and while much of it was brought on by myself and things I’d done or said, a lot of it was also thanks to my toddler pointing it out to me.

Owen likes to recount a story about the time he was stung on the toe by a wasp at the park. He was in a great deal of pain the afternoon it happened and it was heartbreaking to see. In my infinite mummy wisdom (read: I frantically searched online for a way to stop him from being in so much pain) I made a baking soda paste and he calmed down. However, he remembers it now and speaks about how much it hurt. I don’t try and make him remember otherwise, but instead remind him that the pain stopped and he was very brave about it. And he agrees and says he wants to run in the grass barefoot again.

Owen also often asks where daddy is. I’m upfront about it and tell him daddy is at his place because mummy and daddy don’t live together anymore. This inevitably leads to a, “But why?” To which I respond, because we didn’t want to live together anymore. And for the time being he’s satisfied with that. He’ll then launch into a series of statements about each location and the things he likes and dislikes at each.

We laugh at ourselves, a lot. I don’t think I ever did this before. Owen will opening fart and giggle like he’s just told the funniest joke. Falling over by accident? Hilarious! Pants on backwards; like the best joke you’ve heard in years. Mummy’s hair messier than usual? Gigglefest ensues. If we can’t laugh at ourselves, we’ll drown in our own self-pity and that’s no way to live.

Patience isn’t enough, you need understanding.

They say that patience is a virtue, but I’ve come to believe that understanding is an even bigger virtue and a necessity as a parent. Sure, I can be patient with Owen until the cows come home, but I’ll not get anywhere with him until I understand him and he me.

To me, patience builds frustration, for both. I don’t want to wait for Owen to do or not do something, I want to and need to understand the issues about why something is working or not. And the same goes for him. I see his mind working when he doesn’t get his way or he asks for something and doesn’t get the response he wants. He’s trying to understand me as much as I am him.

It’s a process I believe we’ll continue to be in and develop throughout his childhood and maybe even into adulthood.

Tickling is the best thing ever.

As an only child, I’m not an expert at play-fighting, teasing or anything of the sort. I grew up with a lot of books, a few cats, and my mother who was more content to sit and colour/draw than she was to chase me around the house as the “Tickle Monster” which was fine with me.

Well, now that I have a boy I’ve learned that tickling is a massive part of parenthood. It’s a great way to start the day, break up a mundane moment, change a bad mood, and even as a bedtime routine.

To tickle is to bond, and my God is there anything better than a full belly laugh from a toddler? I really, really don’t think so.

Life is what you make of it.

Winter has been horrendous here: cold, snowy and just downright depressing. Most days it’s been too cold to go out and play, build snowmen, sled, or even skate with temperatures dropping well into the -30C zone. However, no matter how cold it is and how much I tell Owen how cold it’s going to be when we get outside, he’s always fascinated with the fresh snow/weather status. He’ll want to touch the snow, he’ll question why there’s ice, where it comes from and why he has to be careful. He’s genuinely interested in everything around him. And it makes me stop and take notice, appreciate the world around me and take it all in. In those moments, I don’t hate winter as much.

We often get stuck in traffic together, Owen and I, and no matter what the journey always ends in smiles. From questions about the cars around us to spotting airplanes and listening to music he likes (he makes me stop the radio on songs that have pianos because according to him he likes pianos), there’s no built up anger at our situation, no annoyance. Even if he announces he has to go to the washroom, a simple, “Can you hold it bud? We’re not there yet,” is enough to satisfy him and divert his attention back to better subjects, like why the lights on the back of the car in front of us keep lighting up.

Being a mother has taught me so much about myself, both good and bad. It’s brought me to new lows and incredible highs. It’s never easy, but it has fantastic upsides. I wake up every day proud to be Owen’s mother, and satisfied with the job I’m doing (because any mother will tell you she could always be doing better, and I know I could). I’m not perfect, nor do I strive to be. Owen will continue to teach me every single day we’re together, and I only hope I can bestow upon him as much wisdom as he’s already passed on to me.

That time I had an affair…

•January 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment
I'm THAT girl now.

I’m THAT girl now.

And if you hadn’t already figured it out or heard some rumour about it (for those who know me personally), let me lay it all out for you. Yes, I had an affair. I cheated on the man I vowed myself to. I ran away from my problems and straight to another man, behind my husband’s back. I turned away from a relationship that had crumbled and broken years before I took that final step — not that it makes it any better or justifies anything, really.

It happened. I can’t change or undo any of it. I can’t go back in time and in those moments know what they would do to the future, because in those moments I believe I wasn’t really all there — and I didn’t care. About anything. In a way, I didn’t even really care about myself.

Let me rewind a bit here to about 3 years ago. Owen had just been born, I was emotionally, physically, mentally drained of everything. I had a newborn baby who required everything of me and a husband who already did very little (not entirely his fault as I took it upon myself to do it all without asking for any help at all … yet he never offered either…). That was the beginning of my real breakdown. The beginning of the end of me.

I realize now that I’d been losing “me” for years in our relationship. In fact, we’d been losing each other. Ever so slowly masking our true selves to save face and maintain this horrendous evenness in our relationship. This steady water of nothingness that just ensured peace and “happiness” between us. That wasn’t a relationship. It was an arrangement. A quiet way of living life in a ritual of mundane blah. Awful.

And so I disappeared.

I shut down from everyone: my parents, my friends, my colleagues. I stopped communicating entirely. I wasn’t even writing, really. No journal, no blog. Just shut in myself. The only one I opened up to, eventually, was the man I thought could make me feel like me, make me feel whole. The other guy.

I’d spent years feeling like I was never a priority. Like I didn’t matter. Zero support, no enthusiasm for me as a person, no joy in my presence. Sure, I knew on some level that I was loved, but it was never shown to me.

Then, suddenly it was.

And after all the love had been sucked and drained outta me with the arrival of this new little life that took absolutely every single ounce of everything I had left, it was so glorious to have some of that given back to me. How was I supposed to say no?

So I didn’t.

I’m not proud of the hurt I caused when it was all said and done. I am, however, grateful for what it’s done for me as an individual. I’m not sure I’d be where I am now (as the real me, the open me, the Miranda I never knew the world could ever accept or would want to accept) without that affair. It taught me an enormous amount about myself, about my now ex-husband, about my mother/father, and even my friends (and those who I thought were friends).

I am the reason my marriage physically and openly came to an end. While we are both to blame for the breakdown, I am the one that hammered the last nail in the coffin, so to speak.

It’s changed me. Hardened me in some respects, but also made me feel so much more. I spent years hiding my emotions, saving face and not rocking the boat to keep things neutral. Now? Not so much.

I’m also the Miranda that has to live with the knowledge that, yes, I cheated. I have to wear that “label” forever, rather like a scarlet letter I suppose. I’ll always be THAT girl. And as silly as that sounds, it’s not easy to deal with. I never wanted to be THAT girl. Never in a million years. I didn’t ever dream I would be. It wasn’t my intention, wasn’t my plan. Hurting people is the last thing I’d ever want to do, ask anyone I know they’ll tell you the same (but not my ex-husband, please).

I’ve noticed that an immediate reaction to my infidelity is usually, “But what about Owen?!” Well, what about him? He was being cared for in the best way possible. I never once neglected him or pushed him aside. I was the best mother I knew how to be to him in those moments — he was always a priority for me, despite the selfish nature of my actions. What I did neglect was an already failing marriage, an already on-the-rocks relationship with next to no communication and a daily ritual that was beginning to feel like nails on a chalkboard sound.

I think back on it now and I’m not even really sure how I did it, lead that double life. Because you really are leading two lives — I’m not sure anyone else would admit to cheating or having an affair, but if you do you’ll agree it’s not simple. At home I was this mundane, closed off, depressed, exhausted mother. Out in the world with the man I felt could “save” me I was open, lighthearted, and happy. But it wasn’t sustainable. It was taxing in its own way, draining me of whatever humanity I had left, really.

I only woke up to the reality of it all when it was all said and done, when it was all out, when everyone involved knew the truth and all was out in the open. Then my emotions came crashing down, then my humanity came rushing back, then the real me looked at the monster I was and simply mouthed, “What. The. Fuck.”

So, why bring all this up? Because we all have demons. We all have things we wish people didn’t know, but they are the things that make us who we are (even if they aren’t the nicest to talk about). What I did is a part of me. It will always be a part of me, and if I don’t accept that and embrace it then I can never grow from it. I can never move on fully because that tinge of guilt and shame will always be there. That secret skeleton in the closet that will always be on the tip of my tongue, willing me to say, “I had an affair once…”

Also, I bring this up as a bit of a reminder to all mothers/wives/girlfriends: Don’t lose yourself. Don’t let yourself be forgotten in your relationships. Remember you ARE important. And if your partner isn’t making you feel that way then say something. Don’t let it linger, don’t let it drag on. I did. I let myself fade away into oblivion, and at the slightest glimmer of recognition, I jumped. And I jumped in with both feet without ever considering my landing options.

Don’t be THAT girl. It’s a heavy sign to hold. Trust me.

 
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