Friday, 30 November 2012

...and Clap!

Divorce Sex.
Would you do it?
I consider myself to be fairly open-minded, and anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am very comfortable with my sexuality. It seems to frighten a few people, actually. It seems not everyone is comfortable with a woman taking ownership of her own sexuality... which really sucks for them! I am comfortable discussing sex, I feel better naked than clothed and I genuinely enjoy sex, although it's been so long I can't really say I remember it.
Even in the aftermath of our separation, I am lucky enough (or something like that) to be able to joke about and approach the subject of sex and dating with my ex. While we hadn't seen eachother since July, he's been here for me more in the past month than he has all year and I can give credit where credit is due - especially when there is so little! When I discovered my car tires were looking low, I called him up. He agreed to help me fill them, and so he dropped by yesterday evening to pick up my car. Instead we sat down and talked. I let my emotions overflow in relation to being away from F, and he promised me I was doing the right thing. He's made me feel really bad in the past, but damnit if he can't make me feel a million times better.
Somehow, the conversation moved on to dating. I boldly went where no ex-wife really wants to go when I asked if he was seeing anyone. He said no. I said no, but asked for some mild dating advice. He gave it, and we both laughed. As I went into the bathroom to check my hair, he called down the hall "So, when is the last time you got laid?". I dramatically walked into the hall and snarkily replied "Probably longer than you!", and the jokes started flying. "I'm almost desperate enough to sleep with you," I called down the hallway, and he laughed and said "Yeah, why not? We should have some divorce sex. Like one last hurrah!".
I stood in the bathroom staring at myself in the mirror. Could I do that? Would I do that? Break-up sex and make-up sex always seem to fall into the "super-hot" category, don't they?To me, the facts are pretty simple. We're not together, and that is for a reason. While I can't say with absolute certainty that I am or am not OK with casual sex, I can confidently say that I could not possibly have sex with him without having some form of emotional hysteria to follow. You know the kind of frenzy that leads you to believe you're certifiably crazy-pants? That. I don't look good like that.
Don't you love my dress?
The other rather ugly fact is that while I love J (and likely always will), I know that things will never get better. They never have. I can't live my life in that cycle - and he shouldn't either. So, while I can honestly say that I had a really great time coming into my sexuality with him... I can most definitely say that I don't need to revisit that ever again.
Vibrators, duh.


It's amazing to me how the simple things can have such great impacts in our lives.

It's everything from the extra five minutes of sleep to a secret shared with a friend. It's a hug, a kiss, or even a text that warms your heart when you're feeling terrible. These tiny gestures, simple moments can refuel us in a heartbeat when we're running completely on empty.

This past month has been unbelievable. If I put it all on paper, I find it hard to comprehend that it could have happened: apartment was left unlocked, found a new apartment, gave notice at old apartment, had old apartment stripped of all my belongings. It's not the kind of shit that happens in my life. I'm supposed to read it in the newspaper and feel sorry for the person who lost it all, not be picking up the pieces myself. I've also uprooted my life, said goodbye to my dreams, and am yo-yoing in and out of my son's life until I get my life back on track. It's been exhilarating and exhausting, infurating and uplifting all at the same time.

Earlier this week, I was completely wiped out. Empty. Zonked. It's no surprise: I can count on one hand the number of days I've laid low in the past three weeks. It's been running out for coffee, grabbing drinks, hanging out on my couch, meeting up for a walk, Wii golf competitions and everything in between. I've bounced from distraction to distraction, driven myself until I completely ran out of fuel. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling miserable: I just had nothing left. I didn't even feel like myself, so I stayed home and I laid on the couch all day. At 7:00, I went for a tea with my best friend and I enjoyed some downtime with her, when in fact... I should have enjoyed some downtime alone. The kind where you just stay in your pyjamas with unwashed hair and relax. On Wednesday, I decided to leave my comfort zone altogether. It was fun and mindblowing, and I found myself in bed by 9:00pm - an hour earlier than my usual!

It was a simple text message that refueled me this week. It spiralled into a marathon Skype call that kept me up past midnight and still managed to be energizing. It was laughing, open and shockingly refreshing. I woke up this morning on five hours of sleep, and in spite of being hungry and tired, I felt like a million bucks. I spent almost three hours talking to someone who gets it. Someone who could pull me out of my shell and get me out of my own head. Someone who could laugh both with me and at me.

It really is the little things in life.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


I finally ran out of steam today.

This month has been one of the most emotionally draining I've ever experienced, falling only behind the month that I lost two family members and welcomed F to our lives. The move to Halifax would have been anxiety-ridden enough, but the series of upsets, next-to-impossible events that have occured and the absence of F has weighed heavily on me. In the past eight weeks, I have made seven round-trip drives between Cape Breton and Halifax. I've moved into an apartment, and then into another. I've had my life stolen from me, lived in a hotel for a week and managed to get to school every day. I have met about fifty new people, thirty dogs, walked all around the city, been out on dates, drank too much, slept too little, been up at 5:00am and spent hours on the phone with F, the police, my family, friends, lawyers and everyone in between. I even spent a week sitting on the floor watching my television, using my iPhone data plan for internet and drinking out of paper cups because I had nothing else. It was an experience, and instead of sitting down and relaxing for a little while, I pushed on through.

I forget to settle down, sometimes. I stretch myself too thin, sign up for everything and forget to take care of myself. I'll skip meals, skimp on sleep, try to carry more than I can physically lift and ultimately, I crash and burn. The worst part? I know it's coming. I know I need to slow down and sometimes, I even need to stop. I need to eat, sleep and relax here and there. I can't fuel my body on coffee alone, or run on four hours of sleep a night. I have sat in my classroom feeling shaky and foggy. I have spent afternoons curled up on my sofa watching a movie, unable to keep my eyes open and yet I'll go out for a glass of wine or meet a friend for coffee at 7:00pm. Don't stop. Keep going. Keep up the pace.

It has become a compulsion, an addiction and I fear the fall out I may face if I do slow down. What if I stop and can't start again? What if I slow down and fall behind? What if I sit, and can't stand up again? It's not even logical and it's driving me crazy. It's sucking the life out of me, and I can't possibly keep it up. I'm empty.

I know I'm not alone in this. We are all guilty of forgetting about our wellbeing. We get busy as parents, take our work home and push through our exhaustion for a bigger or better paycheque. We spread ourselves so thin that we lose our zest, our flavour as individuals. It all goes back to an inability to say "no", a fear of being inadequate and a sense of needing more for me.

My challenge is simple, and I hope you will join me:

Choose one day a week as your day. Do the bare minimum that day. If it's work, go to work. If it's school, go to school. Make simple meals: take something out of the freezer, or make it leftover day. Stay in. Set your bedtime one hour earlier. If possible, turn off your mobile phone - even if only for one hour. Take a bath, read for pleasure or meditate. Do a quick, simple yoga practice if you can. Light candles. Rest, recover, rejuvenate. It does not make you a failure. It doesn't make you selfish, lazy or weak. It makes you aware of your limits and gives you the opportunity to heal.

Stay strong and be positive!


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Big Girl Bed

In under three hours, I'll be saying those little big words that break my heart and kissing F goodbye. Just the though of saying those words so soon after arriving home makes my heart ache and my nose tingle in the way only noses can tingle before you cry. I'll see him again in a few days - a week at most - but I'll miss him dearly until I see that big smile and bounds of energy running towards me for a hug.

I can still remember the first time I held F - he was twelve minutes old before he was laid in my arms. I held him for less than ten minutes before he was whisked away to the nursery for his first bath, J and both of our mothers in tow. It had been a long day, spent walking around the hospital and anxiously waiting to become parents and grandparents. My own wellbeing was in question, and so I spent over an hour hooked up to monitors waiting [im]patiently for my blood pressure to return to normal. I wasn't even allowed to stand up, much less walk to my room so I sat anxiously in the wheelchair as a nurse pushed me through the hallways to the Mother-Baby unit.

I can still see him wrapped in soft, white flannel looking absolutely perfect and knowing he was mine. I sat on my hospital bed, still hooked up to this monitor and that monitor, watching everyone else hold my baby. We took photos, I ate my first meal of the day, and we laughed and cried together while my heart burst with love and pride. Within a day or two of my return home, after J had gone back to work in the city, I gave up on F's bassinet: he hated it. We set up his crib, and he hated that too. Finally, after making several trips between my bed and his crib and bassinet, I stripped my bed of pillows and blankets and I laid him next to me. He was asleep within minutes, and our co-sleeping arrangement was born.

I was on the receiving end of a lot of flak over my decision to co-sleep. I had never realized the way my sleeping habits affected those of others (nor did I or do I care). F rarely has nightmares, and has never been afraid of the dark. When he turned two and we had our own home, I bought him a toddler bed and hoped he would sleep in his own room. Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't. While I enjoyed having the bed to myself, I always missed him and from time to time I slept in the toddler bed with him. Sharing my bed with him this weekend, after a week of sleeping my my new queen-sized bed alone, was wonderful. My own "big girl" bed will be extra lonely tonight.

The moment of "good-bye" is anxiety-ridden and downright frightening. My heart will break into a million pieces when I put my car in drive and knowing that doesn't make it any easier. But, it's not just leaving that scares me. It's coming home, too. Two weeks ago, F saw his father for the first time in months and referred to him first as "man" and then as "guy". He eventually settled on calling him Smokey, the nickname all of J's friends and family members refer to him by. My son didn't even know his father. What if I come home one day and he doesn't know me? I don't think I could possibly cope.

What if the hurtful words slung at me earlier this year are right: what if I'm a bad mom for going back to school? As much as I've missed F, I've also enjoyed time on my own. I've enjoyed meeting new people and - dare I say it - going out and having fun. For the first time in 4 years, I have been able to explore myself and grow as a person. In spite of missing F every minute of every day, I'm enjoying myself: I love my class, my apartment and my new friends. Even though I miss him, I'm the happiest I have been in years, and as much as I decided to go back to school for me, I'm back in school for him.

When all is said and done, I hope F realizes that I had to go to make his life better and I hope that one day, he will be half as proud of me as I am of him.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Little Words

I love words.

Big words, little words, strong words and dirty words.

I just love them all. I love writing them and speaking them, learning them and teaching them - well, some of them. I consider words to be my playground, my medium with which to create. Like many people, I've been both empowered by and crushed beneath a word. As a parent, I've spent the last two and a half years choosing words carefully, waiting anxiously to hear a certain four words that every Mother can't wait to hear: I love you, Mommy.

I remember the first time I heard it. F was in the bathtub, and I had been sitting on the floor of the bathroom while he played. I had told him I loved him, and a moment or two later he looked at me and said it back. I was so excited I started to cry and laugh all at once. I even managed to get it on video with my iPhone. Since that day back in April, F has learned many words, some of which I wish he would unlearn. He has learned how to use his words to convey his feelings, his wants and create play stories for himself and his toys. Since that first "I love you, Mommy", there have been thousands of those perfect moments, from the impromtu hugs to the tearful learning of lessons.

There are two words that I dread hearing now, two words I never thought could possibly hold so much heartache: Good-bye. No amout of "I love you" or hugs can dull the pain my Mommy heart feels when F leaves and we have to say "good-bye". I always try to tell him I'll see him soon, or "Peace Out" to lighten my heavy heart, but it's impossible to lie to yourself in that moment. I stood outside in the cold today watching my parents driving away with F, and I felt tears drip off my cheeks and onto my jacket. I could still hear his cries for Mommy broken by his sobbing as the truck pulled out of the parking spot. In all my life, I've never felt so helpless.

The rest of my evening will be spent inside with the dog. I finally have couches and I can catch up on some reading and TV. We'll go for a walk at bedtime, and I'll climb into a big empty bed and think of him. He'll have forgotten about his sadness when we said goodbye and be excited to see his toys and be back in his home with Grammy and Grampy.  I'll ride out my week away puttering at odd jobs at the apartment, hanging out with my classmates and friends new and old, and I'll anxiously wait for Friday night when I get home and hear "Mommy, I'm happy to see you!".

Those little words will make every heartache and tear worth it.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


I've got this friend.

She's pretty much the best thing to ever happen to me.

If she's reading this, I hope she knows who she is. She's the kind of friend who - in spite of not seeing eachother for weeks or months - can immediately pick up on a hint of sadness in my voice within 2 minutes of a phone conversation. She's the kind of friend who lets you cry on her shoulder, helps you verbally assault the person who has done you wrong and encourages you to spend money you really don't have on clothes you don't need - and then shares Old Cheddar Kraft Dinner with you because you can't afford anything better. Everyone should have at least one of these friends - and I'm fortunate enough to have three.

Growing up, my Mom always warned me against some types of friends - you know the ones who are toxic and make you miserable? Sadly, it would seem, only women have those traits. Have you ever noticed that a lot of guys are friends with the same group of people they were friends with as children? Guys are straightforward. When they don't like something, they say it. They (usually) confront the situation and leave it all on the court. Women, on the other hand, we're nasty. We talk behind backs and we are the masters of the Backhanded Compliment - don't act innocent, you've done it.

There are five friends every girl should have. Here's the list:

1. The friend who knows you better than you. She's the one who can spot your meltdown before you feel it coming on. She's the friend who sees something on a hanger and knows you'd look great in it, or meets someone and thinks you would love them. She's the friend who gives you that special insight into situations that you're too wrapped up in to see clearly and she's the single friend you should never be without. Cherish her.

2. The friend who is louder and more outgoing than you are. She can break the ice, help you storm a castle and take charge of the room. She's the girl who sets you at ease and - if you're me - gives you the opportunity to take a step back. I'm usually this friend, and it is such a pleasure to have someone else be this person. Let her take charge of the party, bask in her glow and enjoy yourself. It's awesome.

3. The super serious friend. She's the friend who tells you it's time to put your Visa away (No, seriously... stop online shopping!), to reconsider that job-change or relationship. She's the girl who makes sure you get home safely from a night out and whips your ass into shape in more ways than one.

4. The "no cares" friend. Be warned: this is the friend with whom you will always have a love-hate relationship. Nothing bothers her, and that kills you. She takes everything as it comes and can always hit you up with some "just chill" when you most need it. Take her advice sometime, go to a yoga class or take a walk with her and soak up her aura. It will help.

5. The Non-Stopper. She's the friend who drags you out of the house when you want to skip the shower and lay on your couch. She's involved in 98 things at once and seems to have endless bounds of energy. She'll help you get involved, turn you on to new things and give you a new perspective on life. You'll want to be her and you'll respect the Hell out of her for all she's up to (even if it's just party rockin' 7 nights a week).

For all the great friends you have and the wonderful people you meet, there are going to be these four that you don't need:

1. The Negative Nancy. You know the one. She's complaining about everything from the weather to her chipped nailpolish (which, might I add you can totally complain about because that shit takes time). She's perpetually miserable and she's going to bring her rainy attitude into your life, too. Don't let her. Try to make her positive, or make a B-line for the door. You don't need that negativity.

2. The Mooch. "Hey, I know we haven't talked for a while but I was wondering..." is one of my least favourite lines coming through my phone's earpiece. (Bonus points when you get it via text.) Yes, sometimes you or your friend is going through a tough time, but this the chick who only contacts you when she needs something, like your favourite dress or a reference. If she can't be your friend all the time, don't be her friend some of the time. She'll either shape up or ship out.

3. The Attention Whore - you know, the one who shows up all dressed up for you casual brunch or flirts her face off with your new boyfriend.  Her. Stomp that out before it's too late, because that shit grows like wildfire. Tell her how you feel. ALSO: Boyfriend-flirting is so offlimits.

4. The Backhanded Complimenter - she's the girl who rains on your parade and takes the wind out of your sails, all while smiling and making you *almost* feel good. I think the best one I ever heard was, "Oh, wow... those jeans actually make you look really thin" as if I was fat and it was a miracle I could look otherwise. It's the compliment that's hiding a stab, and you don't need to hear that. Come right back at her with a true insult and see how she likes it, but you should probably explain the reasoning so you don't come across as a total bitch.

May I take your order?

Dining Outiquette

Long before I was a Mommy – and also while I was becoming and being a Mommy – I worked as a waitress at popular tourist destinations on the World-Famous Cabot Trail. Over the nine years I have worked in customer service and the food and beverage industry, I have seen everything from adults who don’t like their peas to touch their carrots and kids who throw their peas and carrots. It’s an occupation that can be positively grating on your nerves and sanity, but I mostly enjoyed it and know many people for whom it is a lifelong career. While I always really loved the opportunity to interact with people, I used to have a difficult time connecting with kids at the table and since becoming a Mom (and after eating almost every meal in a hotel for a whole week), I’ve learned that a lot of servers are super uncomfortable with kids so I’d like to present you with a list of Do’s and Don’ts when eating out with your kids.

1.       Do at least try to clean up their mess. I know you’re out to eat and the server is getting paid, but that server also has other tables, other meals and other people who need his or her attention. No, you don’t have to wipe the table, but at least try to pick up some of the stuff your kid threw all over the floor. They're cursing you as you leave.

2.       If your child is hungry or impatient (as if there was ever a kid who could wait for food in a restaurant), DO tell the server up front that you’d like your child’s meal immediately. While some servers (read: experienced ones or parents themselves) do this as a precaution, it is so easily overlooked and most kitchens don’t automatically get a child’s food ready right away. Be proactive. Bonus if you bring a snack to keep ‘em happy.

3.       Don’t force the awkward “Suzie, say hello to the nice lady” bit between the kid and the server. It’s not OK and it’s really, really uncomfortable. If your child is shy or doesn’t feel like being social, let them be quiet and just order the damn meal. Your waitress probably has other things to do, and you should be drinking some wine by now.

4.       Do ask the server about alternatives for kids’ meals: the last restaurant I worked in didn’t even have a children’s menu – but we did half orders of almost everything. My son would rather eat a salad than eat fries, so I often ask if it would be possible for him to have a half order of salad. Sometimes I get funny looks and the worst they can say is no! Trust me – they’d rather be asked than have you be complaining about the “limited options” or leaving unhappy.

5.       Do keep your kid in their seat, or get out. This might seem harsh, but there are two outcomes to your child getting “loose”, and neither is pretty. One outcome involves the server tripping over them and dropping food – the table waiting for that food is going to be pissed, and the server is going to be irate and unable to say anything. The second is that your child could get really badly hurt – hot tea and coffee is a real danger, folks. When I was dining room manager, I had no problem asking guests to please not have their children running around. I’ve also seen other tables get up and leave, and that is totally unacceptable.

6.       Don’t over complicate the order, especially in a busy dining room. Allergies are one thing, but your picky eater is going to starve to death if you don’t try to curb that now. If you know your kid won’t eat ¾ of the ingredients in a meal you should choose something else rather than asking the server to have the kitchen pick things out or swap. Save that for homecooked meals.

7.       Do try to give the server the benefit of the doubt: he or she may be totally uncomfortable with kids, and while the dining room might not look busy that server has a ton of other work to be done. BUT, if the service is bad, ask for a manager.
In general - just a few things you might want to keep in mind for eating out:

1. DO NOT snap your fingers at your server. Raising your hand or saying a simple (and polite) "excuse me" is more than enough. I hated the finger snap, and chances are your server does too. We are not dogs. We are not your maid.

2. If your server asks if you'd like anything else... that would be the best time to tell her. Don't ask her for ketchup, only to ask for water once that arrives, and then for an extra napkin when she comes back again. It is tireseome and no one wants to make eleven trips to the same table!

3. Don't treat your server like an idiot. I'm a (fairly) smart individual, and nothing irked me more than when people talked to me like a total dork. Don't assume your server is just working for the summer, or while he or she studies either: there are a lot of people who choose to make a career out of the service industry, and they do damn well for themselves.

4. Last, but definitely not least, tip on service not on food. I have no control over how quickly food comes out of the kitchen or whether or not the chef got your steak just right. If I did, I wouldn't have been taking your order - I would have been cooking it. If you're unhappy with your meal, tell the server. He or she can probably comp it and will more than likely try to make it up to you. Don't cut the tip in half because the food was awesome.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Beneath the Big Top

My life is a Circus.

The only things missing are the elephant, abundance of candy and of course, a tent. I haven’t quite decided if I’m the clown or a part of the freak-show. Probably the freak-show, ‘cause clowns are just creepy even if the name Bozo does apply to me from time to time.

I’d like to think myself to be fairly imaginative and I’ve been known to fabricate a story to pacify the parents and, OK, sometimes the public, but there is no way that I could possibly make up the shit-storm that has been my life for the past month (or year, if we’re being real here). This is the stuff of bad soap operas and made-for-TV film – bad plot, great shoes. I’m sitting on the cold, hardwood floor of my new apartment typing this because I have no furniture – a tidbit you would know if you follow me on Twitter (@finnsnbranches). If you don’t, shame on you. But, I digress… No furniture.

Sadly, it doesn’t end there: I am also without all 32 pieces of my Corelle Hearthstone dishes, 12 wine glasses, 16 drinking glasses, 16 piece Corningware set, towels, toiletries, personal items, antique dishes, Paderno pot sets, dressers, tables, dining room set and a whole slew of other things I’m too angry and too tired to type. Remember when I said I had a bad feeling about coming back to school? It turns out the bad feeling had nothing to do with school – it was just that [enter descriptive profanity here] apartment building. *Sigh*

My LIFE was in that unit. Without the contents of the apartment – the contents I went to get on Monday evening only to find them missing – I can’t even make myself a cup of tea, because I don’t actually have a cup to drink from. I couldn’t make my son the egg he wanted for breakfast because I don’t have a frying pan. (Interjection: my bony ass hurts from sitting on the hardwood floor.) Needless to say, the beginning of my first week in regular classes was not off to a good start. I spent Monday night with the police officer, and most of Tuesday yawning, trying to joke about it, meeting my instructor and classmates and then on the phone with everyone from the head of the rental company to lawyers, the police and residential tenancies reps.
 Ya just can’t make this stuff up, kids.
If you’ve never experienced a “robbery”, you’re very lucky and I pray you never do. It’s the stuff that we read about in the news, but doesn’t actually happen to people like us, right? WRONG. It does happen, and it leaves you with an empty feeling, and it’s not just your belongings that you are robbed of in that moment. No, it’s more than that. You are robbed of your sense of security and your ability to trust. That and your sanity (which can be restored through the consumption of a good wine and lots of dry humour). It’s hard to believe that these things can really happen – and while the rental company has tried to twist it into a “miscommunication”, the fact is that my apartment was entered into and the contents removed with no legal basis, no permission and without any logical reason. Oh, did I mention that they were kind enough to lock the door this time? You might remember my concern at having found the door left unlocked two weeks ago. Ironic, no? They were also kind enough to turn every bloody light on and then leave them on. Thanks for wasting power and driving up my energy bill, assholes. (End rant)

While it’s been an awful experience, filled with sadness and a lot of anger, I know I’m going to come through stronger on the other end. It’s pretty incredible, and no amount of compensation is going to replace my trust, sense of security or the personal items and antique bowls that belonged to my Great Aunt. Those things are gone forever. It’s like being cheated on, only with less sex and absolutely no furniture. For the first time in my life, I was a complete bitch to the customer service reps and while I feel bad for taking my anger out on the people who weren’t responsible, I’m not a bit sorry for standing up for myself. At the end of the day, I’m pretty sorry that I didn’t follow my gut and remove my things sooner.

But I’m totally not sorry about laying eyes on that officer. Eye candy almost makes it easier to take.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


...To the Moon & Back

My son and I regularly ask eachother "Do you love me?", and the answer is always the same.

"Yes, I do love you."

I tell him over and over that I love him, and that I always will. I tell him how special he is and how lucky I am to be his Mom. I shower him with hugs and kisses, playful tickles and the occasional scolding. My heart bursts with love and pride every time I look at him. Even now, as I type this, he has kissed both of my arms and my back through the chair. When I thanked him for the kisses, he looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes and said "Thank-you for love, Mommy".

It just doesn't get any better than that.

I have vowed to always tell F how much I love him - and I hope he will always feel secure saying "I love you, Mom". If he doesn't say it, will he still love me? Of course, but there's something dangerous about the implied love. My parents love me very much - I know this because they have shown me what unconditional love is for the last twenty-four years, but it's not something we say very often. Infact, when I think about the times my parents have looked at me and said "I love you", I really have to dig deep. It was after a blow-out fight when I was a pre-teen, at graduation, when I left for University, when I was devastated after my break-up last winter. The love has always been there - we just don't say it, and I'm as guilty as they are.

I'm sure they said it all the time when I was a little girl, and I am equally certain that I said it to them all the time as a girl. Why did we stop? Maybe it wasn't cool, or maybe I was embarassed and asked them - I'm not sure. What I do know is that I was positively shocked when I first heard J tell his mom and dad he loved them, and then he kissed them. That doesn't happen at my house - and it hurt a little bit.

It's not just "I love you's" that we skip here. It's the "I'm proud of you" or the "I think you're specials" that we've left unspoken. I can't comprehend a day where I stop telling F those things, because he will always be special and I will always be proud of him. He'll make me furious and I'm sure he'll embarass the Hell out of me more than once, but that's OK. In fact, he's already done both. I believe that's called "payback" (or so my Dad tells me).

I look foward to those big blue eyes looking at me tomorrow, next week and ten years down the road and asking "Do you love me?". We're both going to change a lot, but our answers never will.


"Are you seeing anyone yet?"

I hate this question with the burning heat of a thousand suns.

While I fight back the urge to ask people if they've broken up with their jackass SO's or tell them I'm more interested in a relationship with my right hand, I usually smile politely and answer a simple "No,". I know that most of the people who ask me about my dating life mean well, but it's really none of their business. How do you politely say that? How do you kindly tell your grandmother's friend that she's overstepped the boundaries?

The facts are this: I'm an almost-25-year-old single Mom to a beautiful little boy. I'm also enrolled in an advanced diploma program in Public Relations. I've just completely uprooted my life in an effort to make it better after separating from my husband - six months after we were married. It's been almost ten months since we split up and I am not seeing anyone, nor am I in any rush to. Firstly, can we go back to the beginning? I'm twenty-four years old. I have been pregnant or a parent for almost all of my twenties. I've been in a committed, long-term relationship for all of my twenties until now. Can't I just figure myself out - is that so much to ask?

Some people ask out of concern for my son - "he needs a father, dear". Had my wonderful parents not raised me so well, I would turn around and tell these people (in no uncertain terms) where they can stick that idea. Am I sad that F doesn't have his dad in his life? Yes, I am. It hurts more that my son doesn't have his father around than the breakup ever could have. A big part of the reason J and I were still together was my own narrow-minded idea that he "needed his Dad".  The truth is that F has a lot of wonderful male role-models, like my Dad and my many uncles, cousins and my brother. I always point that out. To me, that's like saying that a same-sex couple can't raise a happy, well-adjusted child or that single-parent households are no more than a breeding ground for would-be criminals. J sends me the odd text saying how much he misses F, but the reality is that he has made no effort to be in his life.

When the timing is right, F and I will be ready to welcome someone into our lives: someone who is going to love us unconditionally, support us emotionally and be involved in our lives. I'm not going to rush it or jump in - it's not just my heart on the line. F has suffered enough loss in his life, he doesn't need someone else to let him down. I remain to believe that his dad can still change, but only J can do that. Only J can decide that he wants to be here for our son. I tried to make that decision for him, and it blew up in my face. I was barely twenty when J and I began dating, and I was 23 walking down the aisle. The last five years of my life have been a mix of joy and despair, but I wouldn't change them. They were spent concentrating on J, and then on our child. It's time for me to spend a little time on me.

I've learned that there are times to leap and times to stay still in life. I am taking a GIANT leap of faith in going back to school - I've put everything on the line. Less than week after school started, the sale of the home F and I have lived in is due to close and my life is up in the air. It's scary knowing that I might not land in my feet, but it's the good scary - like when you're about to go on a first date. The idea of dating someone new is terrifying - like when you're being chased by Zombies. Until I have the good-scary feeling about someone, I'll be rocking it solo.

And who knows: maybe that special person will be waiting to catch me.


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Hanging On

How do you let go?

I struggle with letting things go. I always have, and I probably always will. I struggle with letting go of hair or body products I don't use, clothes that don't fit and emotions and memories that bring me down. In the end, it leaves me with clutter and baggage.

 I try my best to let things go, from the clothes that no longer fit to the emotions that are eating me alive. I try to push forward and press on but it's hard sometimes. Sometimes, I just give in. Give up. I go back to my habit of holding on, clinging to the things that weigh me down and suck the light out of my life. I let these painful memories and aching emotions drain the happiness from my new life, and it's slowly going to drain my spark from me.

When the realtor called to say there was an offer on my house - the house my parents inherited and helped me fix up - I felt an odd mixture of joy and fear. When my parents came back from their meeting and said they'd made their counter-offer, I selfishly hoped the other person would turn it down. He didn't. Within minutes, the phone was ringing with the good news. I stood in the kitchen shocked, a wave of cold fear washing over me. It's really good that it's selling. It means my parents will be able to do the things they've wanted to do. It means I won't need to take out the second instalment of my loan, and that my baby brother will have his car on the road soon. It means my parents no longer have the burden of a second home, but it also means that someone else is going to live in the home that I worked so hard to create. They will sit in the living room I painted, cook on the stove I cooked on and their child will sleep in F's bedroom and it hurts.

I sit here staring through watery eyes as I imagine this young family living out my dream in my home and it's all I can do to not cry out. I sit here, my face awash with silent tears knowing that I need to just let it go, that I need to start over. I shouldn't be sad, but I am. I should be leaping for joy but I'm not. I'm hanging on to something that isn't even there any more.
I'm hanging on to the memory of a dream I didn't get to hold.


Skinny or Happy: Pick One.

This was the beginning of a shocking conversation between a good friend and I.

She chose skinny.

I stared at her completely incredulous. Really? I couldn't even believe it, so I asked her to explain her reasoning and warned her that she'd be finding our conversation anonymously written on my blog. "Well, I really want to lose twenty pounds, and I know I'll be happy once I do." Have I thought that in the past? Yes. Yes, I have. The reality is this: The size of my jeans doesn't make me any happier. It doesn't make me a better person, make my problems go away or pay my bills. All that being skinnier means is that I'm smaller.

Just last week, I victory danced in the Gap fitting room hallway infront of my Mom, my son and two complete strangers because the size 2 pants were too big. As I strutted out of the fitting room in the size 0's, I felt like a million bucks. "This is better than winning the lottery", I joked. Am I proud of my new physique? Of course I am - it took a lot of discipline and hardwork, (although, admittedly some of the weightloss came from an inability to eat thanks to grief and stress) and those pants made me feel really great. I joyously wore them to school on Wednesday, and excitedly told my uninterested encouraging father about the whole size zero amazingness. Only four days later, I looked in the mirror today and told myself I looked fat.

Wait a minute - my reasonable self knows that I am not fat. I've had a baby and wearing smaller pants now than I did in high school. I should be patting myself on the back and shouting it from the rooftops, but instead I berate myself and momentarily obsess over what I've eaten. My time, energy and certainly my sanity would be better spent on something productive, like cleaning my house or saving the world. As I tried to explain my stupidity to my friend she looked at me with what I imagine is the same dumb face I had on mine only moments before. No way, she swore. Not her. If she was twenty pounds smaller, all of her problems would be smaller too.

Finally, I gave up. She's sure that being skinny will make her happier. She also [hopefully jokingly] told me she'd be happier if I got "fat" again. I was never actually fat. I was 147 pounds standing at five feet four inches. I was hardly overweight. I think her saying that was twice as startling as her revelation that she'd rather be skinny than happy. Is that what we've come to as society? As women?

Am I happier now at my current weight than I was before? Yes - but it's not related to the size of my pants at all. I'm proud of the accomplishment, but it hasn't made me a better person. It hasn't changed who I am or made my problems go away. Truthfully, losing the weight has only gone to show me that if I set my mind to something and work consistently at it, I can accomplish whatever I'm faced with - but reasonably, I knew that before.

Friday, 9 November 2012


Christmas: it's right around the corner.


Please don't get me wrong, I love the holidays and I love my family even more. I truly enjoy shopping for their gifts, wrapping them with care and seeing their happiness and excitement as they open gifts on Christmas morning. I love feeling near to them, sitting around the table laughing and sharing stories with wine pouring and food in adundance. It's a happy, joyous time and yet it makes me incredibly sad.
Ever since my breakup, I hate being around couples... including my own family. At my Grandma's birthday party in the summer, I stood out like a sore thumb. Not only was I going through a lot emotionally, but I had lost the spark of myself. I hung out along the periphery, weaving in to talk to cousins and aunts for a moment only to weave back out and sit on my own. I didn't eat because I was so anxious around my own family that I was afraid I'd throw up. The occasion reminded me of how sad I was, how alone I felt. Even though I'm very happy with my life right now, it made me miss having someone special in my life. It was magnified again at Thanksgiving, and I know Christmas will be doubly tough. It will be the first Christmas without him.
I know I'm not alone in my post-split avoidance of couples, partially because I've been the friend in a happy relationship wondering where my newly single friend is hiding out. We all do it - we keep to ourselves because we don't want the reminder that our relationship just went down the drain. But, it's not a one way street. A lot of my coupled-up friends were unavailable or unwilling (I'm not able to say which) to help me through that time. Some had a lot going on in their own lives, but some of them didn't. They just checked out, and they might be surprised to learn that I have the lock on my door now.
When we're in a happy relationship, do we avoid our friends who are coping with a breakup because we're afraid of catching the "break up bug"? FYI, it's not contagious. While your friend might be miserable and devastated at her own relationship coming to an end, she almost definitely doesn't want to see yours crumble too. If she does, you need a new friend. But if you're ignoring her because you don't want to deal with her pain, she needs a new friend.
The hurt of losing your relationhip is magnified by the friend who is blissfully in love, finding excuses to pull her significant other into conversations over coffee ("Dan hates pumpkin spice lattes, how cute is that?" *puke*). In the back of your mind, you hope your friend is being lovesick and completely unaware that the mention is a mini-stab to your broken heart. If she's not, you really need to find a new friend. Tell her how you feel, or avoid more hurt feelings and try to change the subject.
To all of the friends I avoided: I'm sorry I couldn't be happy for you while I was feeling sorry for myself. To my best friend: the person I couldn't be a friend to because I was too wrapped up in my own sadness to realize that you were having a hard time coping with stress in your life: I'm really, really sorry. I love you, and I hope we never come to that again.
To all of the friends who were coping with a breakup while I was falling in love, I'm sorry that I was the girl who couldn't discuss tampons without bringing my new love interest in the conversation. I know I've done it, and I know now how much it hurts. I'm more sorry than you'll ever know. I would also love to shoot tampons at all the guys who've broken our hearts in the past, so call me with your availability for that. I'll bring the wine.
To the "friends" who have walked out of my life when I most needed them and waltzed back in when it was convenient: I hope you never experience that kind of cruelty, even if it's no more than you deserve. Friendship isn't about getting together when the sun is shining: it's about making fun of how terrible you both look when your hair is plastered to your face in the rain and snow, while wearing Santa Claus hats and singing Chipmunks songs.

Oh, and forgiving one another for those "nights that don't exist".
End Rant.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Meltdown: Accomplished

Unless your kid is perfect - which I highly friggin' doubt - you've had to deal with your fair share of the dreaded middle-of-store-meltdown.

Usually toy-related, but not always, the MOSM is loud, ugly and makes you wish you could evaporate or pretend the child belongs to someone else. Neither of which really works, believe me I've tried. Evaporation is just physically impossible, no matter how much you pray to the temper-tantrum gods and kids have this nasty habit of swinging at you or latching onto your legs screaming "NO, MOMMY!!" and it kind of spoils the "who's kid is that?" act, does it not?

I love F to pieces. 99.7 per cent of the time he is the sweetest little boy any Mommy could ever wish for. He's full to the brim with unexpected bursts of love, surprise kisses and snuggles, not to mention he's so damn cute it hurts. He is shockingly caring, unbelievably smart and he never shuts up (which I take full responsibility for). But then there's the 0.3 per cent of the time that I wish I could pretend he's not mine, and he decided to use all of that today. One melt-down was bad enough, but he didn't stop there. That would be too easy. No, we laid on the floor in three different locations and kicked, screamed and acted generally nasty. Super duper.

I hate seeing the MOSM. I can usually sense it coming and try to escape to higher ground before the tears drown me, kind of like when you see rats right before a major disaster. I'm the rat, only less germy and hopefully more attractive, but I have been known to wiggle my nose and give stink-eyes. Sometimes, we escape to a less populous spot, but mostly not. Today, I managed to miss the signs altogether.

It all started with the fact that we're living in a hotel room and F hasn't seen his own toys, slept in his own bed or been in his routine for the past four days. We've been eating in restaurants or ordering in at weird hours, and spending a lot of time in malls and stores because you can only sit in a hotel room for so long. He hadn't eaten a proper lunch, mostly because it's generally frowned upon to stuff food down an unwilling child's throat and I was tired of arguing with him to eat his sandwich. Finally, it was the three-year-old "everything is mine" mentality that did us in.

We went into Chapters partially because I wanted a Caramel Macchiato at Starbs and Mom wanted to get some books for the little monster himself. In we went, walking hand-in-hand (F and I, not Mom and I - although that would have been significantly less embarassing), through the Best Sellers and into the Kid's Section. Four other kids happily played around the Thomas and Friends train table. F tried to fit in with their dynamic, but they were not having it: I'm talking absolutely no sharing. He was hurt, but he handled it pretty well (read: no tears) and we decided to go look for books he might like and check out the different toys. When the mean kids had finally left, I let him go back to the train table and he was stoked.

He played there alone for about five minutes before the next kid came along. F asked him to play with him, and they drove little Edwards along the track and flew Harold over the Island of Sodor. Then, kid number three came along and it all went to shit.

"Get Mater off the track. You must put him back on the road" F said, getting increasingly emotional. He reached over and put his hand on the other kid's hand. I semi-intervened, knowing that F was just trying to maintain control over his game. "We don't put our hands on other people, sweetie", I said gently. Realizing we were about to open a can of worms, I suggested we go get a treat. F got agitated, spit at me, and then started screaming. I picked him up and started carrying him out of the store. Having skipped breakfast and lunch, I was absolutely starving and desperately in need of caffeine. "Let me take him, he's just angry with you right now" my Mom suggested.

She's pretty well always right, so I left him sobbing onto her shoulder. I figured by the time I got him a juice and myself a large, hot, caffeinated, delicious soy caramel macchiato (excuse me while I drool on myself) he would be totally calm. SO WRONG. He was worse than when I had left him. He was screaming, hitting, kicking, flailing on the floor, spitting and screaming some more. Aaaaaaaaaaand, MORTIFIED. He eventually calmed down, but we had two repeats of this before the day was out.

The reality is that toddlers have meltdowns. Every parent or caregiver has dealt with it, and we all feel like shit when it happens. The looks of pity, disgust and utter fear we get from the other shoppers don't help, and that sense of "how can my kid be acting this way?" just seals the FML deal. Learning that you can't always have what you want is a hard lesson - especially for a spoiled kid like F. I know he's spoiled - he's my only child and I want him to have the things he wants whenever I can make that possible. My parents absolutely dote on him. But F has also had a little life filled with unease and change - he's been shuffled around with me for the past three years, from my return to school when he was an infant, into our new home, back to my mom's and now on this new journey. He's not old enough to process it and he's not old enough to understand that wanting something doesn't make it his, and we both survived the meltdowns - even if just barely.

And I love him too much to really pretend he's not mine anyway.

Road Closed

Do you ever feel like something is holding you back?

Is it you?

We all have barriers in our lives. It's an ugly, unfortunate and downright maddening fact for many of us. The barriers we face are as diverse as the people facing them: from money and social status to family responsibility and our age, we perceive these sets of circumstance to be roadblocks for which there is no detour - just a closed road. But, are they really that bad, or are we letting them stop us in our tracks? Are they keeping us from achieving our goals, realizing our dreams and reaching the level of success we want for ourselves? Are you letting something hold you back?


Yep. I said it: don't let whatever is holding you back stunt your success. Turn that shit around, or better yet, don't let it get to that point. Don't spend all your money on shoes and bags you can't afford and then bitch and complain that you live in a crappy apartment or you have an unreliable car. Have I done that? Yes, I have. I know that and I've learned from it. Don't treat your body like trash and whine about having acne and a spare tire rocking out above the waistband of your favourite jeans. Be proactive. Don't treat your friends and loved ones like they're unimportant and then cry about not having a support system. We're our own worst enemies, you know.

And we shouldn't be: we shouldn't diminish our abilities and knock our confidence to the ground. Do you know why we shouldn't? It's not because we are probably definitely being too hard on ourselves. It's not even because we're forgetting to give ourselves a little bit of credit. It's because there are a million other people out there who are totally happy to tell you how shitty you are.  And I'd be willing to bet they're wrong.

I was told, flat out, that I shouldn't advertise my singlemodom. Why, you're probably asking? Because it apparently makes me less hireable. It means I'm going to miss a lot of work and that work will never be my priority. Do you know what sucks the most about hearing that from an instructor's mouth? I've let being a single Mom hold me back. I've used it as an excuse for everything from giving up on my dreams to not having a social life for the last year. Not anymore.

Whatever this self-imposed barrier you're facing is, cut it down to size. It doesn't define you. How you turn it into a strength - into a propellor - is what defines you. Cut the power to those flashing caution lights and bowl that blockade over like it's your job. Oh, wait. It is.

Reopen that road, or better yet - Build a new one.

Monday, 5 November 2012



They happen at the least convenient times, don't they?

Not just the "hic-cup!" ones either, the ones that you can't stifle no matter how hard you try when you're sitting in an exam or church. I mean the kind that throw your entire system out of whack, like when your apartment isn't ready and you can't move in. That kind. You spill coffee on yourself the one time you wore a white top (am I right?), or got mud on your nice, clean pants. The phone cuts out just at the moment you finally got through the 20-minute wait with Bell custome service. It rains and your hair looks like more poodle than volumous the day of your interview or hot date. They happen to us all, some more easily straightened out than others.

My Mom is the ultimate in straightening-out of things. From stained shirts to ripped pants, the woman can fix pretty well anything except a broken heart, but she's pretty good at helping you put the pieces back together. I'm not even half the Mom she is, and I mean that in the least self-depracating way possible. I've got 21 years to go before I can truly compare myself, but if nothing else, I hope F thinks I'm as great as I think my Mom is. She is funny, kind, intelligent, able, and down-to-earth. She has bent over backwards for my brother and I a gazillion times, loved us when we were hard to like and stood up for us when she probably should have knocked us on our asses. She's that kind of Mom. The kind of Mom that every child should have.

We've had some rough times, she and I. I've loved her and been royally pissed at her a million times over growing up, and we still argue. We're really different. She is reserved and neat, and she's almost never on time - early isn't in her vocabulary, but I adore her. I have pushed her patience, let her down, made her angry and probably made her question her own sanity about four hundred times in the past year alone. Throughout every up and down, she's been right next to me. Even though I can't imagine how I've done it, I've somehow managed to make her proud twice that many times in the past year. She listens to me rant and cry and laugh and pretends my (not so funny) jokes are funny. She is my fashion consultant, voice of reason and biggest cheerleader and I sure hope that she knows she's my best friend. If she doesn't, she'll know soon when I approach her with the usual, "Hey, want to hear the blog post I just wrote?".

She's not alone in her awesomeness, though. My Dad is pretty awesome too. The pair of them have bailed me out more times than any of us can remember, and I pretty much owe them an Island or something to that extent. They have moved me to and from the city, into new apartments and back into my bedroom at their house. They've let me sit and feel sorry for myself, dragged me out when I least felt like it and held my hand through the storm. They've changed F's diapers and cleaned up Daisy's messes. I'd be totally lost without them, and the most amazing part?

They didn't have to do a single bit of it. They didn't have to be my parents. They wanted to.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

"Speak Now..."

"...Or forever hold your peace"

I wonder how many brides and grooms have held their breath as the pastor spoke those lines at the beginning of the marriage.

I remember hearing those words at my own wedding, wondering if any of my friends would speak up. The friends whom I had told I was unsure, the friends who promised it was just cold feet. I knew my parents wouldn't, they had voiced their doubts and feelings as to "why this couple should not be wed" privately. I needed a friend to say it, someone other than my parents to hit me with a dose of reality. "Something's missing, there's just something not right here". Would I have called it all off? I don't know.

I can still hear my Mom saying those words, looking at me with pleading eyes - begging me to see what was in front of me. I wasn't really happy - did I love him? Yes. I still do, but we weren't right together. The painful truth is this: had we not shared a child together, we would have long since been absent from one another's lives. Our split took a toll on me. I'm sure it took a toll on him too, but I don't know his side of the story. What I do know is I spent the next six months waiting for him to come around, to tell me he was sorry and he wanted to make it work. To be the person I always dreamed he would be: F's father. A true Dad. I'm still waiting for that.

I was mad at him for not fighting for us, I was pissed off at his ability to go drinking and partying while I sat at home crying into a glass of wine over reruns of Law & Order: SVU. I picked him apart, as if pointing out his flaws was going to make it any easier. It never did. I magnified all of the things he did that I hated, the things that annoyed the Hell out of me. I left the house with my brave face and my big girl underpants on. As angry as I was with the breakup, I was more angry with the friends who - months after my breakup - dared look me in the eyes and say "I always had a feeling", or my absolute favourite: "I saw this coming a mile away."


My heart was broken, my life thrown upside down and you felt now was the time to tell me about your feeling? Your premonition? Super duper. Thanks. If you felt that way, why the Hell didn't you intervene and tell me? Didn't I deserve to know? All that those words have done in the months since my breakup is hurt me more. Remember that integral part of the paragraph the minister read? "Speak now, or FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE." As in shut your piehole and keep that little gem of 20/20 hindsight to yourself. I don't need to hear it now.

If you love your friend, tell her now. Don't let her make a mistake. If you're not going to tell her now, keep you damn mouth shut two miles down the road when the inevitable finally comes to a head because it's too little too late. It doesn't help to hear about your feeling when her heart is broken.

Oh, and don't bash the other person because they just might get back together, and then shit will be super awkward.



There's a job that's full of surprises, mostly good but let's be real: There's a few doozies in there, too.

Like the explosive poo's that come from a breastfed baby. No amount of What to Expect literature can prepare you for that one. I learned pretty quickly that two changes of clothes for baby and at least one extra, clean shirt for me was a necessity. I won't go into detail on how that lesson was learned, but honey, it ain't pretty.

Another thing I wasn't entirely prepared for was how grating a baby crying can be on your nerves, especially when you don't understand what the problem is. It takes time, practice and a lot of patience (and, OK... some Mommy time-outs) to figure out what every cry means. I was lucky in that F usually only cried because he was hungry, and if he had a dirty diaper I could usually smell him from the next county over anyway. It is heart-breaking and mind-boggling that a parent or caregiver could hurt an inccocent, helpless child but if you've ever spent three hours listening to a screaming baby, you can almost see how it gets to that point.

I'm sure that there are plenty of women who popped out a kid and just knew what to do. I had an alright idea, I knew how to hold a baby and change diapers and F knew how to grab a boob. All good, right? Yes and no. Like any skilled trade, parenthood takes practice. It's a learning experience, and the learning curve is a little different for all of us. Every bone in my body was aching to be a Mom, and while the timing and circumstances weren't exactly what I was dreaming of, I ran with it. Every day has been an experience, to say the least. I was ready for breastfeeding and being tired, but nobody prepared me for the emotional exhaustion. I was prepared to have a baby, but toddlerhood was on us before I knew it.

I imagine taming a lion would be easier than parenting a toddler sometimes. Have you ever seen a three-year-old pitch a fit? Aye-yi-yi. Did you know that just one little indiscretion can undo months of work in less time than it takes to utter the swear-word your kid just picked up? It's not all bad, though, I promise... it's just that I don't feel the need to try to gloss it all over and pretend I have it all figured out. I don't even have 1/1000th of it figured out and I think that's wonderful! I've learned more in the almost three years I've been blessed with the role of Mommy than I did in the twenty-two years that led up to F's arrival. And guess what? I don't ever want to know it all. Some of that shit (literally and figuratively) is too frightening for me.

I have learned patience and perseverance, how to be stand up when I want to lay down and how to ask for help when I need it. I've learned how to enjoy the little things, and how to laugh at the things that make me want to cry. I have learned to appreciate my body, apologize to myself and to stand up for what I want. I've also learned that I have a lot to improve on and how to go about doing so.

Parenting is an awesome thing. The moment you become a parent you are responsible for the health, happiness and care of another human being. You spend every minute of everything shaping that little person into the type of person you want in the world. You are able to sculpt a personality, mold a character and guide an indivual down their path in life. Just make sure you have a strong stomach and access to wine.