Swirling Hot Mess of Emotions

My heart is just so bursting full…of everything.  Love, gratitude, depression, exhaustion, sadness, grief, body image issues, joy.

My mood swings are controlling me.  I feel like my whole life is out of control, and rightly so…because was it ever within my control to begin with?  Like when my son was born, this out of control feeling lit a fire under my usually only moderately crazy OCD tendencies.  I go nuke if something goes missing.  I clean even when I’m supposed to be doing something else.  I try and control the things in my house because I can’t control any. thing. else.

Being alone with my two kids often terrifies me.

The things my body is capable of continue to astound me.

Breastfeeding is a beast.  I’m having PTSD flashbacks around what it was like to breastfeed my son two years ago.  I hate how my entire outlook on life depends on how well our last breastfeeding session went. And they are hit or miss.  At least she’s latching better than my son did and I am very thankful to report that, for whatever reason, I am actually making more milk than I did after my first pregnancy.  Huzzzzzzah.

I hate talking to lactation consultants. They mean well, but man they hit me squarely on my breastfeeding shame trigger. On one hand, it’s my fault that I can’t feed my kid. The simplest thing ever, just feeding her so she doesn’t die. I’m not doing the right position, or I’m not making enough milk, or I’m not pumping enough, not getting enough sleep.  Take your pick.  On the other, it’s her behavior that’s getting in the way because she pushes and claws and bites and thrashes around and screams.  And I resent her for it. Damnit. Either way, horrible mother. And in suggesting I try something different, like massage the breast, use a hot compress, nipple shield, football hold, pump, pump, PUMP – the lactation consultants just seem to highlight the fact that IT’S NOT WORKING and somehow it’s all my fault. You see the spiral.

In order to get through days without falling apart, I’ve had to work hard to disconnect myself from my feelings. It feels so yucky to just numb out like that, but the alternative is to burst into tears while listening to a voice in my head that is wailing, “It’s noon and we just finished breakfast! We can’t do this! How are we supposed to be able to get outside today? Or brush your teeth? Or put on pants?!”

Instead, I have to force myself to listen to the other voice, the emotionally sterile voice saying, “Hey. Now we need to feed the baby. Your toddler can wait to eat, but she’s screaming. Go on now, first things first.”  It’s a constant struggle, but it works.  And some days are easier than others.

When I look back, I realize that 2015 was the year when nothing happened.  I know I blogged about how it was the year a grew into being a mom, and I am so glad that I had that time with my son.  That year, we didn’t change marital status.  We didn’t move.  We didn’t change jobs.  We didn’t get pregnant or have any babies.  Things were stable and boring.  Yay for boring!

My hope is that 2017 is like that, too.  I’d like the time and space to develop a routine with my kids, a relationship with my daughter, and a new relationship with myself as a mom of two.  As for 2016…that was the year when things got progressively harder.  I got pregnant, I got tired, then I got huge and tired.  I slowed down while my toddler sped the fuck up.  I had daily pain for a while and I could barely bend over to pick up things my toddler had dropped…or thrown.  We still managed to have a lot of fun in 2016, though.  We went camping and (barely) survived.  I applied for a job I didn’t end up taking, but it was nice to put on professional clothes again.  We took our son trick-or-treating and he loved it.  We took him to the snow and had mixed results.  We took a trip to California and had fun seeing family.  We took our first family road trip and D danced at his first wedding.  We successfully became DAYTIME POTTY TRAINED, people!  We went to the zoo and hunted for Easter eggs and went on a train and picked strawberries and saw a parade and ate ice cream and played in the water features and went to the planetarium and went to the pumpkin patch and toured a cheese factory.  Whew.

I’m glad I just typed all of that out because, according to that list, 2016 wasn’t all that bad.  We were a family!  We really got to enjoy my son being a fun age.  My hope for 2017 is that things just get better from here on out.

Even though my current days are often dark, I can totally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Part of it is because I’ve been through this once before.  I know a little better what to expect, and we’ve already adjusted how we’re dealing with raising a newborn since the first time.  Another part is that I’m done making babies.  This is it; this is my family, and it’s beautiful!  I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted, and I feel so amazingly (hashtag) blessed, as cliche as that sounds.  But it’s true.

And with that, this blog post has come full circle.  It’s a swirling hot mess of emotions: welcome to my life.  My beautiful, imperfect, perfect life.

 

 

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.

IMG_1756

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.

50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

We are flooding the interwebs with positivity and gratitude today, Psychos!  After reading this, I hope you feel inspired to do the same.

I’m about to start a timer for 10 minutes (with a 2 minute grace period in case I am in the middle of an amazing thought when the first buzzer sounds) to list 50 things I am thankful for.  Let’s see how I do.

Ready, set, GO!

  1. My cute, sweet son.  He brings me joy.
  2. My husband.  He supports me unlike any other.
  3. My health, my health, my health.
  4. That we have a cozy roof over our heads this winter season.
  5. My education.
  6. Cookies.  My mom just sent my favorite kind in the mail!
  7. My mom!
  8. The rest of my family of origin.
  9. Books.  They take me to another place when I feel crappy in the place where I’m at.
  10. Movies, especially gooey Christmas ones at the moment.  Just watched Love Actually…squee!
  11. Socks.  My feet are always cold.
  12. Modern medicine.  Because illness sucks.
  13. My ability to learn new things.
  14. My husband’s patience with me…because being a SAHM is hard, and too often I take my frustrations out on him.
  15. Presents!
  16. String cheese.  Well, all kinds of cheese for that matter.
  17. Friends, especially the kind who tell you that you’re just as messed up as everyone else.
  18. My cat, even though she barfs on the floor.
  19. Jokes and humor and laughing.  Because I’d die otherwise.
  20. Coffee.  Like, good coffee.  Not coffee I make myself.
  21. (shit, I am halfway through my time limit!) Common sense people.  Like, non-cray peeps.
  22. Sunny days!  MY GOD, THE SUN!
  23. Swear words.  They are always funny.  Fuck.
  24. Having the means to travel.  Going to new places renews me.
  25. Cutting down our own Christmas tree, and how it smells.
  26. Ice cream. (How did I not write this yet?!)
  27. Moisturizer.
  28. Chapstick.
  29. Clean water coming out of the tap.
  30. Living in America.
  31. Indoor plumbing.
  32. Cereal!  I eat it everyday.
  33. Orgasms.
  34. The fact that I got through school before the time of social media.
  35. People who go out of their way to be kind.
  36. The Daily Show.
  37. Music that makes me wanna sing and dance – like Bruno Mars.
  38. Having dance parties with my son.
  39. Making my son laugh.
  40. A warm, comfy bed.
  41. (Ok, so my 10 minutes just ran out….time to start the 2 minute grace period.) Farts.  They be funny.
  42. Old people.
  43. Blankets.
  44. Cherry coke.
  45. Brownies.
  46. Vivid dreams.
  47. Peace.
  48. Being privileged enough so I am able to help others.
  49. Grapes.
  50. Frosting.  (Whew!)

IMG_2274


NOW YOU! – What are you thankful for?

If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.
To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.
Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise.

Strike Three

I just had a lovely phone conversation that I’d like to share with y’all.  Details may have been embellished because funny.

The setup:  After unsuccessfully trying to update my profile info on the pet microchip website (strike one), I looked for an email address to seek help.  There was none (strike two).  I was forced to make a phone call and wait on hold for several minutes.  The following conversation was the strike three.

Lady:  Hello, how may I help you?

Me: Hi, I tried to update my profile info on your website but couldn’t.  Can you please help?

Lady:  Sure, just let me get some info from you. (She gets it from me.) Ok, so for this you’ll have to fax in a copy of your change-of-name document and we’ll get that changed for you.

Me: Fax?!  Really?  What year is this?

Lady: 2015, ma’am.

Me:  Exactly.  Fax machines should have all self-destructed by now.  Can’t I just email you a picture of it?

Lady:  Oh…sure, I guess you could do that.  Send it to: wereidiots@stoopidville.com

Me:  Why couldn’t you have just put this information on your website instead of making me call and wait on hold?

Lady:  Oh that would be too easy.  See, we need to be sure that our customers are worthy of our services and love their pets enough to call and wait on hold.

Me:  —-

Lady:  Also, I see here that you owe a balance on your account.  The first year of this service was free, but every year after that there’s a fee.  You could either pay $20 to secure your membership for the next year or just pay $283655673 for a lifetime membership.  Since your precious little kitty is so young, I recommend the lifetime membership.  Would you like to take care of that today?

Me:  Uh, what?  We’ve never paid membership fees.

Lady:  Oh, well we don’t send out bills.

Me:  Then how do you collect fees?  Via carrier pigeon?  Telepathically?  Or maybe the lost animals do it!!!

Lady: We send you a reminder email, or when you call us we remind you.

Me:  Wow, so you do try to use email?  Why wouldn’t you try and fax me first?  I never once got an email or fax from you.  Or a carrier pigeon.

Lady:  Maybe it went to your spam folder or you deleted it since you hate the animals.

Me: Yeah, no.  Unlike you, I actually understand how emailing works.  And billing, for that matter.  So why isn’t my online account closed since we’ve never paid you a dime?

Lady:  I can’t answer that question because I am incompetent.

Me:  Ok, so…if my cat had gone missing one year ago and someone found her, would you still have called me even though we’ve never paid?

Lady:  Oh yes.  We would never not reunite you with your animal.  We love an-

Me: You love animals, yes.  I get it.  So what you’re telling me is that this is a free service.

Lady:  No, it’s not.  You have a balance due.  Would you like to take care of this today?

Me:  No.  No, I would not.  You just go take care of those animals while I go all Office Space on my fax machine.  Oh wait.  That’s right.