[Cringeworthy title courtesy of my sister, Hilary.]
On the 22nd, The Anarchy arrived.
Three separate arrivals spaced several hours apart, each necessitating its own trip to the airport. Why? Because this is the way of my people, that’s why.
By that evening, we had crammed my sister Claire and her husband Darryl, my mom, and my sister Hilary into Lizzie and my tiny house. On the 26th, my brother Liam and his wife Kate and their adorably angelic daughter, Ada, drove down from Edmonton to complete the chaos. We were missing the baby of the family, Mawney, but save your pity. She’s busy gallivanting around Guatemala and posting gorgeous pictures like this to taunt us.
You may address your rage to her in the comments.
Christmas itself was a huge happy blur. Olive slept in until 9am, when my siblings, tired of waiting, started stomping on the floor upstairs. She opened her eyes, then rolled over with this huge sleepy grin and asked me to go check if Santa came. Her face when I said yes was absolutely the best thing ever.
She was so funny to watch while she opened her stocking and with each new little present she pulled out she’d exclaim, “Whaaaaat?” in this incredulous tone, as though she just couldn’t believe there was another one! For anyone wondering what my child gets from Santa, her stocking was filled with things from a little book/toy store around the corner: little two-sided puzzles, a top, a metal mini-slinky, a new toothbrush and floss, an orange, chocolate coins, a book, etc.
Throughout December, she’d been playing “Santa” with me, wrapping up various items from around the house and giving them to me with stern instructions that I was not to open them until Christmas.
I was reflecting on this and thought it might be nice to include her in the gift giving this year, not just the gift receiving. She participates in making gifts for grandparents, but beyond that her experience has been pretty one-sided. She doesn’t get an allowance yet, so a few days before Christmas I put ten loonies [one dollar coins] into her purse and sent her off with her Nana to find a present to give to me on Christmas.
I’d told my mom to let her pick whatever she wanted, and I was so interested to see what she’d choose. It wasn’t about the gift so much as the process of thinking about someone else, what they like, what they’re interested in, and being able to understand how much something cost, too.
On Christmas morning, she handed me a small gift bag. This was inside:
She said that she picked it, “Because you always like pink, and you do sewing and you like buttons, don’t you?”
It was one of the sweetest moments. She’d put so much thought into it, and was so excited to be part of giving a gift. I absolutely loved it.
She left early on the morning of the 26th. It’s the first year where I’ve had to wrap my head and my heart around losing her for half of the holidays. It never seems to get easier when I have to say goodbye. I typically give myself a specific amount of time to feel sad and angry and emotional about the situation, this year I allowed myself until noon, and then I move on.
I take a deep breath and try to spend the next few days doing all the things I can’t do when she’s around. Yoga classes, deep uninterrupted sleeps, fun date nights, long phone conversations, writing. I have to be really conscious about enjoying the temporary liberty instead of focusing solely on the loss. I feel things so deeply that it’s too easy to get dragged down by it otherwise, it requires a deliberate effort to counteract that tendency.
I turned 32 on Sunday, waking up to the gurgling smiles of my niece, a hot cappuccino delivered in bed, and the crush of almost everyone I love most in this world. We enjoyed a big brunch with the family of my sister’s fiance, did some secondhand shopping and then headed out to a feast of Ethiopian food.
The timing of my birthday so close to the end of the year offers so much opportunity for reflection, and I always try to take advantage of it, getting into full on hippie mode, hauling out the tarot cards, thinking about the past year, making vision boards, and spending time thinking about what life will look like in 2016, at 32.
The peak of this hippie nonsense this year? Get ready. We have tickets for a New Year’s eve yoga class. Yes. YES. 10:30-12:00. Yoga, meditation, intention-setting, glitter (? I don’t know) and – best of all – a midnight kombucha toast.
A kombucha toast!!! I’ve really fucking done it! This is it! I will never hippie more than I will hippie at midnight on December 31, 2015, sipping kombucha, dressed in a sweaty tank top and leggings, all hopped up on INTENTIONS. And ZEN. And GLITTER! And #BLESSED!
I can’t fucking wait.
Everyone’s gone and it’s quiet now. On Jan 1, Olive comes home and life as I know it resumes – loud, messy, chaotic, full.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying the quiet and the late nights. Being Madeleine instead of mummy. Seeing the other side of this fine balance.
I hope you all have a Happy New Year! 2015 was a wild, wonderful and strength making. There’s been some definite bullshit, some sadness, incredible new experiences, loads of love, and I’m going to spend the next few days sifting through and trying to learn from all of it.
See you soon, 2016. I can’t wait to meet you.
Love it all! We collapsed into Christmas at home in Calgary this year after an exhausting fall. No chaos for us this year, even with three small kids. Next year… Maybe traveling to the cabin in northern Saskatchewan, to cram in with my family. The drive alone…
May 2016 bring joy!
That sounds wonderful – Calgary was gorgeous this year for Christmas! And um…isn’t there ALWAYS chaos with three small kids? You give me hope! 😉
Happy New Year!
Hi Madeleine, thank you for sharing your stories of the crazy busy and never ending fun life of a single mom. As a fellow single mommy, I couldn’t imagine not being with my baby and You are so strong in many ways. I recently started reading your blog and love all your ideas, thoughts and stories. Even got this mommy to get a good laugh which has been nonexistence during my difficult time. But your blog has definitely helped me and I’m sure many others. Keep up the great job mummy. Happy new year 2016!
Thanks so much Debby, wishing you a happy 2016 🙂
Sounds like fun, I love Olive’s presents. Yoga new year? Wow, that’s a new one. We’ll be having home-made pizza with (some of the) family and then walking down to the beach for the 9.30pm kiddie fireworks. We might well be in bed by midnight. I have to save my strength for next year – building a house in the country and my first grandchild!
Your New Year sounds perfect!
It was THE BEST! Thank you all!