Thursday, January 5, 2017



The year all the celebrities died and Donald Trump was elected President.

2016 was a year I was glad to see go. It was a year full of stress and grudges and breakdowns.
Every year I write a Christmas letter that gets sent to a few friends and family, and I sometimes find it hard to bridge the gap between honesty and good impressions.
If you read our Christmas letter you will see that the store is doing well, Anthony is done school, I made a ton of costumes, we took a few trips and Toby continues to enjoy homeschooling.
If you look at my Facebook over the last year you will see beach trips and birthdays and smiles.

But Facebook and Christmas letters only give you a split second out of a bigger reality.

This photo, for example, wasn't taken because we were having a great time outside. it was taken because Toby hadn't set foot outside in months because of his anxiety of how bulky his outdoor clothes feel, and wonder of wonders one day he decided we'd try the new coat. This was documenting that we made it outside but it was amid complaints and whining, which consumed my winter.

In February I started seeing a councillor for my still un-officially-diagnosed depression. I was hoping to find an 'in' somewhere so I could bring Toby with me to begin the process of trying to get him assessed for Aspergers and SPD. Instead I spent months going by myself and venting about the violent dreams/daydreams I was having towards family members and how miserable I was as a parent.
This photo was taken on a miserable day for both Toby and I, where I somehow convinced him to come outside with me, and we just sat on the bridge doing nothing for a long time.

This video that Shannon and I made was filmed on Mother's Day. Two days prior to that Anthony and I nearly ended our relationship and at this point we were still discussing the logistics of him moving out.
This video took my mind off of it for a few hours.

This was a summer project that made me almost want to quit the theatre industry.
This prop making project was rewarding, but being asked to do several other jobs beyond my expertise on top of this made for some very late, very teary nights.
This particular night involved an exploding champagne bottle, an emergency cleaning of my kitchen, a complete mental breakdown, and needing to be bailed out by friends and family.

Yes, 2016 was a year that I would like to put behind me.

But on December 31st at 9:25 pm I heard uncontrollable sobbing coming from Toby's room.
I went in and asked what was wrong and got a muffled scream of "I don't WANT it to be 2017! I want it to stay 2016 forever!"
My first reaction was to come back with how awful 2016 was, but quickly caught myself.
I wanted to say how silly that was, but caught myself again.
In Toby's world, none of the news media or my personal problems existed.

In Toby's world this was a year where:

He got to go to the Aquarium and finally see the sea turtle. It didn't matter that Anthony and I were dancing around each other the whole time, unsure of whether our relationship existed or not.

He got a new bike. It didn't matter that it was at the end of a very stressful week of sewing for me.

We spent more days at the beach this summer than usual. It didn't matter that I was often sick or tired when we went.

We got to see Joseph twice. It didn't matter that the previous 6 months had been a nightmare of costume deadlines and ignoring Toby because of this very thing.

We visited Stratford, Toronto, and Sudbury.
We had Birthdays.
We had just come to the end of a week of Christmases, food, and friends.

And so how could I just tell Toby, who has always had a hard time with transitions, that this year was finally due to be gone.

I rubbed his back and told him that we didn't have to call it 2017, we could call it 2016.1.
I told him that it was just like a Minecraft update, you get some fixes and surprises, but the previous edition doesn't change.
I asked him if he felt any different when he turned 8, and that this is the same - it's just another day.
I asked him what his favourite parts of 2016 were.
Even though he didn't want to answer me I asked what he was looking forward to about 2017.
I told him I was most looking forward to the spring thaw so then the squirrels would finally move out of the attic. He laughed at that and we talked about some Lego sets he was looking forward to seeing the release of.

2017 is going to be a year of just taking an extra breath.
I want to pay more attention to myself.
I don't want to be afraid to say no to people.
I want to minimize the chaos on my house, both visually and emotionally.
I want to assert my needs more than I've been accustomed to.
I want to re-build.

I hope everyone has a good 2017.
Take too many pictures.
Have too much fun.
And take time for one extra breath.

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