Three Years Later

On Tuesday my partner and I celebrate three years of marriage.

I want to say it’s been all rainbows and unicorn farts, but it hasn’t.  Well, there have been farts, but not those of the unicorn variety.  It’s been…loving and supportive and stable and hilarious and the kind of tenderness that brings one to tears.  But it’s also been the biggest challenge in our relationship since moving out of state and having a kid and basically having our whole world flipped upside down.  And now we’re about to flip it once again with baby number two.  Woo-boy.  I’m sure glad I have him by my side for all this.

But enough about our marriage.  The anniversary gets us thinking about our wedding and all the bittersweet feelings that go with it.  I blogged about it (read it here) to help me cope at the time and then the post got Freshly Pressed, which I initially had mixed feelings about.  On one hand, getting recognized for my writing is always nice, but I was worried that the feedback I got would just make me feel worse.

Overall, the good outweighed the bad and I felt so validated knowing that many, many other people felt similar letdowns as a result of their weddings.  My comment section became a big virtual group therapy session.  We shared horror stories and shared what helped make us feel better.  I thanked people for reading and supporting and commenting.  People thanked me for writing because it made them feel less invalidated, less sad, less alone.  I am glad that I wrote what I wrote.

What interests me now, and what prompted me to write about this again, is that that blog post has been by far my most popular post.  To this day – almost three full years later – it still gets about 3-10 hits a day, on average.  Every day.  And occasionally, people still comment with their own stories.

It makes me feel so sad when I read what people have Googled to get themselves to my wedding blog post.  Things like, “my wedding was a disaster,” and “I can’t get over how my wedding went,” or “I’m depressed about my wedding.”  This sucks!  Part of me feels validated because, again, I am definitely not alone in how I feel about my wedding.  However, part of me feels like a sucker.  I fell for the whole wedding-industrial complex.  I got wrapped up around expectations that were handed to me (and that I readily accepted) by society, spent a hell of a lot of money, put tons of eggs into the basket of one blissful day, only to have it crash down all around me. What does this say about our society that this post-wedding blues phenomenon is so common?!

Would I do things differently?  A few, but not many.  I admit, even now, I still just wanted the fun, expensive party that I could enjoy with all my friends and family.

In the months following my wedding, I responded to the many comments readers posted.  Some were unsolicited advice (one of my least favorite kinds of feedback), others were words of sympathy and encouragement, and many were similar horror stories.  Because I was going through my own grieving process, I found it difficult to respond to others who were suffering as I was. Reading those comments brought up my own yucky feelings that I was still wading through (or trying to forget – depending on the day) and it was uncomfortable.  It stung.  Each new story was a reminder that I’d always look back on that day with some amount of sadness, grief, regret.  Even today, a random comment that gets posted brings it all back, just a little bit.

While responding to these comments, I found myself wanting to slip into a therapist role as I typed.  Of course, that role feels natural to me, and it also protected me because it created distance between myself and my feelings.  Now that I am much more at peace with how my wedding went and how I feel about it, reading and answering the comments is easier.  Easier, but not pain-free.

My brother made us a wonderful video from the raw footage a relative took at our wedding, and only recently did my husband and I muster up enough courage to actually watch it, almost three years after the day.  Of course it brought back some of the yucky feelings.  The grief.  But.  It also reminded me that I actually managed to have fun that day.  And the ceremony was wonderfully moving.  And I looked beautiful.  And we were so in love.  I couldn’t deny it – the proof was right there on camera!  Whew.

In all the discussion with readers about how to heal and move on from these experiences, we often talked about having a do-over.  A “corrective experience” as therapists put it.  I pictured the two of us on a beach in Hawaii with an officiant and a photographer.  No one else.  I have flowers in my hair.  The wind is whipping my white cotton sundress around.  The sun is setting.  We’re laughing and holding hands.  And no one can take away our joy.

Maybe someday.  I say maybe, because I don’t want to get too hung up on expectations.

 

What to Expect When You’re Exhausted

I’m going to need some seriously awesome suggestions for family Halloween costumes, you guys.

Cuz my seriously knocked-up self is going to be pretty huge by then, so I gotta take full advantage of this costume-wearing opportunity.

Yup, you heard me.  I’m preggers again and it hardly feels real.

Well, so far it just feels exhausting and I doubt that will change for a very, very long time.  I wish I could go back to my pregnant-for-the-first-time-self and tell her how easy she had it.  She could rest and nap whenever she wanted.  She could eat whenever she wanted.  She could watch whatever she wanted on TV, whenever.  And she didn’t have a demanding, energetic toddler to waddle after.  Ugh, this is hard.

And the scary thing is, I only see it getting harder.  How do SAHMs take care of a toddler and a newborn?  I don’t see how it’s possible, and I have no idea how I’m going to do it.

I worry about my mental health.  It’ll be winter, it’ll be cold and rainy.  I’m not going to want to go anywhere, and I’ll feel alone.

I have hope in knowing that this phase will be temporary.  That I got through it before, and I’ll get through it again.  That I have some good mommy instincts and that I have some great tools and experience under my belt that I didn’t have the first time.  That the kids will grow and change and gradually become more independent from me.  And at the same time, I don’t want to already be wishing away all the cuddly newborn snuggle time.

So there you have it- exciting and terrifying all intertwined.

But seriously – ideas for Halloween???

 

My Little Yeah Man

Some phases you never expect.

I expected that my kid would go through a hitting phase, a running-away-from-me phase, a picky eater phase…you know, the normal stuff.

And I fully expect my kid to, someday in the near future, figure out how fabulous the word “no” is.

But today isn’t that day.

Lately, my kid has been saying “yeah” to everything, and it’s the flippin cutest phase ever.

“Hey Dylan, do you want to go to the park?” (It’s pouring rain outside)

“Yeah.”

“Dudeman, do you want more veggies?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you want to take a dump in Mother Maggie’s shoes?” (Google it.  Better yet- YouTube it.)

“Yeah!”

He also agrees with many statements I make throughout the day.

“Man, you made quite a mess.”   Yeah.

“Boy, you’re cute!”  Yeah!

Sigh.  I love you, buddy.

Some phases you can’t wait for them to be over, but this one, this one I am very thankful for.  Especially since a part of me is bracing for the “no” phase that most likely is yet to come.

And it’s not only that my kid is particularly agreeable most of the time.  He’s also friggin’ polite and I have no idea where it came from.  Seriously, we’ve taught him here and there to either say or sign “please” and “thank you” (he’ll only sign “please” and he’ll do a combo of signing “thank you” and/or saying “da-gu!” *melt my heart*), but he spontaneously says da-gu, like, all the time. And when he asks for something and we hesitate to say yes for whatever reason, he’ll often follow up with an adorably placed “please” sign and an expectant smile.  We’re in big trouble.

One time, he thanked me for changing his diaper.  I cried.  It’s so charming that it’s scary.  He could ask for a flame thrower, sign please and say da-gu and I’d hand one right over without a second thought.  Sure, my love.  Whatever you want!

So forgive me for gushing about my baby.  He’s not perfect, and I know phases are temporary, which is partly why I think I am drawn to blog about this particular phase.  I want to remember this one.  I want to remember how, for a few months (maybe longer??? please??), my kid acted like a charming angel some of the time.

Da-gu for this phase, little man.

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Down with the Sickness

The hubs and I are sick.

And, man, it sucks.

Being sick on a regular day sucks, but it sucks harder when you’re a parent.  And even harder when both parents are sick at the same time.  It’s the suckiest.

Both of us have been coughing and sneezing and hacking and gagging that my toddler thinks this is a new game.  Even though he’s still healthy (I have no idea how he hasn’t gotten our viral plague as of yet), he’s started fake coughing because he thinks it’s now the cool thing to do.  If this goes on much longer, we’ll have given our son some sort of complex.

We’ve been cooped up for several days now, and I’m not sure how much longer we can hold out.  Our produce is almost gone, we’ve dipped into my NyQuil reserves (this is not a joke), and we might be sick of each other.

As a SAHM and an introvert who is prone to self-isolation, the social commitments I make for my son and I each week are crucial to my sanity, and when one of us is sick, we can’t go talk to the other humans.  And that makes mommy something-something.  So the only silver lining is that, this week, my husband is home sick too.  WOO!  PLAGUE PARTY!!  We can sneeze the Overture of 1812 better than Ferris Bueller’s keyboard.  Seriously, it has been nice to have him home with us, because at least I don’t have to sick-parent a well-kid all by me onesie.

However, this situation has also given way to arguments over who is sicker, and thus who gets a free pass from parenting the not-sick, full-energy child.  My partner may or may not have said that he’s so sick that he’s not at work and deserves a break.  And I may or may not have said that I AM STILL AT WORK EVEN THOUGH I AM SICK AND I DESERVE TO POOP ALONE.  And then we agreed to disagree after the argument devolved into a mutual coughing fit.

In related illness news: I discovered that I can now hit Adele’s sexy, sexy low notes. I’d better get this down in the studio before my immune system decides to wake the fuck up.  Also, after visually confirming that my voice wasn’t coming from a would-be creepy male kidnapper, the hubs told me that I should start a late night sexy-talk line (that’s what they’re called, right?) and use the alias Bernice in order to earn a little extra cash.  You know, for our kid’s college fund.  Or so I can buy some more NyQuil.

To the Moon and Back

“Mummmm!”

To an untrained ear, you might think that my toddler was addressing me using a sweet accent he picked up from overhearing Downton Abbey.

Now that I think about it, that would be pretty sweet.  But what he’s referring to is something even sweeter in my opinion.

He’s actually saying, “Moon!!  Look at the moon!”

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Source: GeniusQuotes.net (duh)

Lately, my kid has become obsessed with everything moon-like, which developed quite randomly and unexpectedly.  My husband and I, before we were parents, used to think it was weird and quirky when we saw kids being obsessed with seemingly random objects.  Of course, we now realize that, with toddlers, random is the norm.  Case in point – I once babysat for a sweet 4 year old boy.  On one of our first meetings, I asked him to go get his favorite book and we’d read together.  He brought out a ceiling fan catalog.  I glanced at his mom, who happened to still be in the room, and she smiled and nodded.  Unsure of how to read this book, I asked the kid to read to me and he proceeded to point out particular fans and explained to me exactly why they were his favorite.  Yuup.

My son’s obsession with moons began innocently enough through reading his growing collection of books.  I never realized how many kid books have moons in them or reference moons – there are a lot.  There’s Goodnight Moon, for starters, and on the very first page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar there is a large moon.  We started pointing these out, among other objects in the pictures, to Dylan when we read to him every night.  And then one night, he started saying it back to us.  He’d point at the yellow crescent and coo, Mumm!

I remember the first time Dylan pointed and named the real moon.  We were coming out of the library and it was just starting to get dark.  The lights in the parking lot had come on already, and since my kid loves lights, I figured he was pointing to a light, thinking it was the moon.  But nope, he knew the difference and he had also made the connection between the yellow crescents on paper with the glowing crescent in the sky.  What an amazing moment.

Since then, he works hard to seek out the moon wherever he can.  If he spots a yellow circle, it’s the moon.  Even pictures of the sun are, in fact, the moon. (Duh, mama!)  He’ll sit in his room and page through books he knows have moon pictures in them just to point them out to us (or to confirm they are still there).

More recently still, Dylan has started searching the sky looking for the moon.  He asks us to take him outside or to a window so he can see it.  (Points to window/door and shouts MUMMM!)  If it’s the wrong time of day, or if it’s overcast (welcome to the pacific northwest, moonlovers!), we explain to him that we can’t see it right now, and he gets so very frustrated and upset.

All of this is incredibly exciting for me to watch.  First, it’s evidence that my son is learning, growing, and showing preferences and making connections.  How freaking cool is that?!  Second, I love astronomy and space travel and…the moon.  When I took the PSATs, they had you list your projected career choice.  As a Junior in high school, I chose astronomer (this was while I was still in denial about my abilities in physics and quantum mechanics).  I can quote Apollo 13 in its entirety.  The Air and Space Museum is one of my all-time favorites.  I just watched a documentary about Scott Kelly’s historic year spent on the space station.  One of my favorite movies – Contact – speaks to me on so many levels.  I even insisted we visit Arecibo while Brian and I were in Puerto Rico a few years ago.  It was my nerdy pilgrimage of joy!

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So anyways, I am so excited to be able to share my love of space science with my son!  I told Brian that it’s only a matter of time until we have to get Dylan a telescope.  (And by Dylan, I mean me, because I was the kid who asked for a telescope and instead got a pair of high-powered binoculars.  So much for getting to be Ellie Arroway.)  I can’t wait to explain to Dylan why the moon is always in a new place in the sky and why it looks like it keeps changing shape.  And why we have seasons and about retrograde planetary motion and red shift and blue shift!!  So far, we’ve introduced Dylan to Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s reboot of Cosmos (which is a really cool program, I might add).  And while Dylan largely ignores it to play with his toys, he always comes back to pictures of the moon.

 

Maybe Spring Will Come Early

About every 6 months or so I find myself rewatching Eat, Pray, Love.

It’s a story that really speaks to me.  It’s about a woman traveling physically, but also emotionally and spiritually, to find herself.  To reinvent herself.  To heal herself.  I find that message incredibly inspiring and hopeful.  So I watch it when I feel myself needing an extra injection of hope.  The book is better, of course, but I am a slow reader and I need the injection to be quick and effective.

I recently watched it again.

This time of year is hard for me because the holidays are over, my birthday is over, and I am ready for winter to be OVER.  Every spring, I feel myself reawaken with increased energy, hope, possibility.  And I just can’t wait for the spring, so I suppose watching the movie was my way of trying to tide myself over.

One aspect of the storyline is comparing Americans to Europeans in certain ways.  An Italian gentleman says that Americans know entertainment, but they don’t know pleasure.  Then he explains an Italian concept he calls the pleasure of doing nothing.  The main character then interprets this in her own way and makes a simple meal (boiled egg, asparagus, pasta, etc.) and eats it on the floor while reading the paper and wearing a lovely nighty.  In my own attempt to stretch the power of this movie as far as it will go, I made my own pleasure of doing nothing meal.  I rarely cook, so this was special and made me feel domestic and feminine.

At the risk of rambling, this movie also brings up a lot for me.  They talk about weddings.  Love.  Faith.  Travel.  Life.  Food.  I suppose each one of those could be its own post.

Lately, I’ve felt a growing urge to create and write, but I have all these half-posts in my head.  Today I sat down and just forced myself to start writing the first half in hopes that the second half would just manifest itself, as has happened in the past.  And as you can read, that didn’t happen today.  But I’m about to hit Publish because at this point I just want to put something out there.

Maybe this will get the juices flowing.  Maybe I’ll write more about Eat, Pray, Love.  Maybe spring will come early.

Birthday Blog

I’ve made it a tradition to blog on my birthday.

Birthdays make me even more introspective than usual, and I often feel compelled to write around this time of year.  This year is no exception, except…I don’t know what to write about exactly.

(and now I sit here watching the cursor blink for about 5 minutes, give or take)

I just got a massage (another birthday tradition of mine) and now I am sitting in a Starbucks (Tradition #3) feeling my caffeinated blood ooze past my loopy muscles and greased-up skin.  I suspect my brain has been turned to mush as a result.

During my massage, I desperately tried to stay in the moment and focus on how my body felt.  Part of this is because I want to get my money’s worth.  To me, massages are expensive and I usually only get them once a year.  But I also just want to be able to quiet my mind and get my body to freaking relax, or more accurately,  to allow my body to surrender to the relaxation that is happening to it.

Because I spend most of my time with a screaming, whining, giggling toddler, my adult mind is often off in left field having some imaginary conversation with an adult – any adult – I wish were there with me.  It’s hard to stay in the present, and I feel disappointed in myself that I often seem to be wishing away the present and fantasizing about being somewhere else, some time else.  Because I feel bad about this, I try very hard to highlight the times when I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else – when I want to be right here, right now.

One example of me wanting to be here now pops up from my past life as a therapist.  I was with a client I had seen longer than any other and to whom I felt particularly dedicated.  She was chronically depressed and wouldn’t admit to having many strengths.  In my office, this client picked up a broken kids’ toy – I think it was trying to be a toy ukulele or something, but it was missing strings – and she made music with it.  It was incredible.  I remember thinking to myself, This is why I do therapy.  This, right here.

Another example from the recent past: my kid is just starting to say Mama and Dada in context and with meaning.  Oh man, how amazingly wonderful it is to hear my boy call out my name.  Recently, we’ve been playing this game where I ask Dylan what my name is.  It goes like this:

Me:  Hey Dylan, can you say Mama?

D:  …Ma-ma!

Me:  Yay!  Now what’s my name?

D:  DADA!! (we both laugh)

Me:  Noooo, Daddy’s at work!….Can you say Mama?

D:  Mama!

Me:  What’s my name?

D:  DADA!!

We collapse in giggles, and I savor the moment.  I don’t want to be anywhere else.

So, mindfulness.  I had to reel my mind back in several times during today’s massage, and I did my very best to enjoy the time, to enjoy the feeling, and to enjoy my body.

That’s the other thing, is that during the massage I found myself thinking about how in awe of my body I am.  The last time I got a massage, I was about 8 months pregnant with Dylan.  I was hot and sweaty and swollen and in pain and huge.  A lot has changed since then.  My body has morphed.  Transformed.  Been made new.  And so I found myself saying thank you to my body through the massage, as the therapist moved her hands over my body that felt like waves gently lapping on my fleshy shores.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

My mind wandered again—>  The first time I ever got a massage was after my cancer surgery.  My roommate heard me complain (a lot) about how sore and broken I felt, and she got my friends together and they all gave me a gift certificate for one.  I want to make a joke and say that she got it for me just so she wouldn’t have to hear me bitch about it anymore, but she just wanted me to feel better and I think she knew I’d never go and get one for myself.  Another thank you is in order.

So, on the anniversary of my body becoming my own, here’s to loving my body and thanking it for the places it’s taken me and all it’s given to me.

And here’s to celebrating the here-and-nows that make the time in between well worth it.

 

Glowsticks and Pacifiers

So, for Christmas, Brian and I were given a fabulous sound system for our living room TV setup.  We’re very excited about it.

Picture us with our toddler having our nightly pants-off dance-off in the living room, this time with better quality music.

Begin scene.

Brian: (breathless) Man, it’s so great to have some bass in here!

Me: (equally breathless) …My butt has always been this big.  And you’re welcome.

B: …

M:  (seriously) Yes, I know!  The sound quality is great!  We should share this with the world!

B: You want me to turn it up?

M: No…we should do one better.  We should throw a rave!!!!!!

B: (doing the running man) We totally should!  We have those glowsticks left over from Halloween!

M: (doing the mashed potato) …AND WE HAVE PACIFIERS!!

My kid: (flailing wildly)  YAAAAAA-YAAAAAAAA!!!!!

M:  See?!  Dylan thinks this is a rad idea and will have no trouble sharing his pacis.

B:  But what can we offer our guests in terms of herbal refreshment?

M:  Ummm…I still have a bottle of max-strength ibuprofen left over from delivering Dylan!  Sure to give a medium-sized person some moderate anti-inflammatory action!

B:  (doing the sprinkler) Cat tranquilizers!

M:  (doing the roger rabbit) From our move up here!  YEEEESSSS!  Damn cat wouldn’t eat them, so it’s her loss!!  And speaking of loss, everyone will have to surrender their pants at the door, in keeping with tradition.

B:  We can throw in some Children’s Tylenol for good measure.  I think we have the makings for a great party.

M:  Not great.  THE GREATEST.

Dylan:  (still flailing) YAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

M:  I’ll have my assistant draw up some plans in the morning.


Who wants to come to our rave, y’all?!?!

My 2015: Wading through the shit

My 2015 was tough.

I feel like I’ve been saying that about every year for a while now.  2012 was probably my most recent “comfortable” year, even though that was the year I studied my butt off for the two hardest exams I’ll ever take in my entire life and became a licensed therapist as a result.  I say “comfortable” because I was still in my comfort zone, both professionally and personally.

In 2012 I was cohabitating with my long-term partner.   At that time we’d both been in the same location, same apartment, same jobs for the previous 4 years.  We were growing, just slowly, and it was nice.  We were growing towards making the commitment to get married.  We were both approaching a point at our jobs where we felt competent, yes, but we also increasingly felt like we had outgrown them.

I didn’t know it at the time, but 2012 catapulted me into a whirlwind of change where I’m still feeling the effects.

I got licensed and promoted at work.  Brian and I got engaged, then married, then pregnant.  We quit our jobs and moved out of state for Brian’s dream job (!), bought our first house, had a baby (which was my dream job) and I ended up being a stay at home mom.  Whew.

Scaling back to just the last year: my kid grew from 4 months old to 16 months old and changed every day.  He started sleeping through the night.  Like, 10-12 hours at a time sleeping through the night.  It was glorious!  He started solids, we made the difficult decision to stop breastfeeding.  He sat up, he crawled, he walked.  He fell down.  A lot.  He’s signed over 15 signs to us, and he’s said 3 words.  He’s shown us delicious bits of his glowing, giddy personality and I can’t wait to see more.

As for me, in 2015 I started to feel like a mom.  I started to feel competent, which goes a long way in preserving my day-to-day sanity.  I was able to meet my kid’s needs.  We developed a schedule, and I learned to be flexible with it.  I got us out of the house, even forced us out, when I knew we/I needed it.  We stayed in when I didn’t feel like forcing it.  I fought my mom guilt.  I did projects around the house.  I actually kept an exercise schedule!  I made an effort to make friends – this was huge for me.

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In many ways, I feel like 2015 was a rebirth year for me.  Sure, I gave birth to a human the previous year, but this year I was getting to know a new me as well as my newborn son.  Everything about me felt different, and it was incredibly disorienting.  At the beginning of the year, I was still struggling to find my way out of the fog that is new motherhood.  And make no mistake- that fog is all-encompassing.  Physically, mentally, spiritually.  I didn’t recognize my body.  None of my clothes fit right.  I physically didn’t feel like myself.  The emotional highs were very high and the lows were scary low.  I was moody, frustrated, irritable.  I often felt lost and alone.  I isolated, because that’s easy to do.  And spiritually, I questioned if being a mother was going to feel fulfilling for me and my life.  Everything had changed, my world was rocked, and I was wading through all the shit (literally) as best I could.

So, slowly, slowly I found my way out of this.  And of course I had to mourn the fact that there was no turning back the way I came to reclaim the person I once was and the life I once had.  I had to make a new way.  I had to reinvent myself.  I basically went through a puberty and coming-of-age stage all over again, and I am still getting to know the new me.

I remember, soon after Dylan was born, a neighbor commented to me in passing about how he couldn’t imagine his life without his kids, who were something like 2 and 4.  At that time, I could totally imagine my life without a screaming poop machine.  I wished for that life back on a daily basis!  I rolled my eyes at his cliche and moved on with my day.

So the big deal is that at one point later on this year I remember indulging in my daily wish of going back to our old apartment in California, to our old jobs and our old town where we felt happy and competent and young and free.  And then I realized – we couldn’t do that.  Because I would miss him.  I would miss Dylan!  Everyone talks crap about love at first sight with their babies, and while that may be true for some, I had to get there in my own good time, and this was one moment for me.  I would miss my son too much.  My gooey, giggly, blue-eyed little boyman.

There you have it, my meandering year in review.  It was a tough one, but transformation is rarely easy.