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.

 

 

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Delay of Gratification

I have tremendous amounts of willpower.  Clinicians and researchers call this “delay of gratification,” and it has been studied in young folks and correlated to certain behaviors as adolescents and adults.

When I was little, I remember being given Oreo cookies and eating them the same way every time.  You can tell a lot about a person by the way they eat their Oreos.  For me, I would twist the two cookies apart and then look to see which cookie had more frosting on it.  Then, I would eat the cookie with the least amount of frosting on it, saving the delicious frosting-covered deliciousness for last.

As a child, my Halloween candy would last until Christmas.  My Christmas candy would last until Valentine’s Day.  Hell, I still have some Valentine’s candy from this year in my pantry that I haven’t yet eaten.

These behaviors just came naturally to me.  As soon as I could understand the concept of “saving the best for last,” I did just that.  Somehow, I also correlate my wanting to clean up and liking rules and structure with being able to wait for things I really wanted, or even making myself wait for them.  In other words, I think my ability to delay gratification was helped by me being (and continuing to be) a little OCD.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to get dirty when the time is right, but after playing in the mud with my brother in the backyard, I would come inside and hold out my hands to my mother: “Need da wag, Mommy, need da wag!”  Translation: I needed a rag.  Out, out damn spot!

I still do these behaviors to this day, and I probably won’t ever stop.

I think about coffee and sugary drinks on a daily basis.  I fantasize about them.  Usually when I am trapped at work and want to leave, my fantasy includes sitting on a magical beach where sand can’t get in my crack and sun can’t harm my skin cells, and in one hand is a good book, and in the other is a bottomless grande caramel frappuccino from Starbucks.

But do I drink Starbucks everyday?  No, despite passing one every single time I drive to and from work.

Last story before the fun research part: My clinical internship during my master’s program was in a rural area and I worked with survivors of trauma.  Every day, I had to drive past a Dairy Queen that was within walking distance of my office.  Like I said before, I crave sugar on a daily basis, and I often turn to sweets when I am stressed.  For 9 long months I forced myself to not stop at that Dairy Queen.  It haunted me.  It called to me.

Finally, on the last day of my internship, I walked to DQ and got a blizzard.  Man, did that taste goooood.  Delay of gratification, FTW!!

So how do they test kids to see if they naturally perform this behavior?  It’s quite hilarious to watch.  First, they sit the kid down at a table in a room where they are being secretly videotaped.  The researcher puts a marshmallow down on the table and explains that the researcher is going to leave for a few minutes, and that the kid can have the marshmallow now, but that if the kid wants to wait to eat the marshmallow, and if the marshmallow is still there when the researcher gets back, then the kid can then have TWO marshmallows!

So then the researcher leaves the room and we watch.

Some kids eat that marshmallow so fast and never look back.  Some kids sit and wait patiently for the researcher to get back, because damnit, they want TWO marshmallows!  The interesting ones to watch are the kids who desperately want to wait and get their two marshmallows, and so they employ every tactic they can think of to cheat, avoid, or distract themselves.

Cheat – some kids will take tiny pieces off the marshmallow, or lick it, in hopes the researcher won’t notice and they can get their cake and eat it, too.

Avoid – some kids will turn their back on the marshmallow, or some even played under the table.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Distract themselves – some would use the marshmallow as a toy and play with it.  Some even tortured themselves by pretending to eat it…poor souls.

So what does this mean for behavior later in life?

Well, studies have shown that kids with an ability to delay gratification (meaning they have ‘impulse control’) are less likely to use drugs and break the law as adolescents and adults.  In my case, I wonder if it’s positively correlated with being crazy OCD?

Check out two videos I found and watch the kids squirm….

This last video also had some hilarious kid-coping-skills-moments, but I stopped watching after the speaker went in a religious direction with the analysis.  To each his own.

So, my Psychos, which kind of kid were you?!  Would you have eaten the marshmallow right away?  Would you have cheated?  Would you have waited patiently?

Say yes to the OCD

I tend to obsess over things.

Indeed, I diagnosed myself with a minor case of OCD after obsessing and compulsing over the criteria in my Intro To Messed Up People textbook that was required reading in undergrad.

Wedding planning has proved to be no different.  In fact, it has proven to be worse.
As a result of looking through countless wedding venue websites, calling venue people to leave messages and asking questions in emails, visiting lots of venues in person and being told all their frickin rules and restrictions and through-the-roof prices, I now have new obsessions and compulsions to add to my list.

1.  When I enter a large space, I immediately size it up and start calculating how many round tables could fit in this space, seating 10 people each, and where the dance floor could be.

Doesn’t matter where I am: the conference room at work, a park on the way home, a wide aisle in the grocery store.

2.  When I watch a movie with a wedding in it, I find myself noticing details about the wedding I didn’t give a fondant about 6 months ago: the kind of chairs they have, how many people are seated at a table, the kind of fabric draped as decoration.  Yesterday I paused Wedding Crashers several times to drool at all the gorgeous tents and chairs.

If only my Hollywood dad were Christopher Walken.

3.  I’ve started to have the freaky everything-that-can-go-wrong-will dreams that make me feel the opposite of rested in the morning.  What’s the most maddening is that, in these dreams, I end up obsessing over weird things that I would never do in real life.

For instance, last night I dreamed that I was practicing my wedding dance moves in this big class of women who were all getting married at this same venue in the coming year.  Not only was this class a requirement for getting married at that venue, but the dance moves they wanted us to know were horrible 80s hip-hop moves.  No, kind sir, it is most definitely not hammer time.  And I was dressed in what I was going to get married in, which was these grey leggings under my wedding dress, and on my feet were these clunky, slip-on clogs that I couldn’t dance in, and ankle socks that matched the bridesmaids dresses.  I remember that I kept tugging on the leggings to keep them down, and on the socks so they’d stay up. *shudder*

The good news, after all this searching and obsessing and our refusal to settle, Brian and I have found a wedding venue that WE LOVE and we have set a motherfucking date!

Brian flew us over the venue to get a bird’s eye view

Not only that, but we’ve also found a partial wedding coordinator which makes me feel sooo much better when I look forward to the next 10 months.

I can’t wait to get to what I call the fun stuff, which is mainly dress shopping and renting several chocolate fountains.  Not at the same time, though.