The Gremlins Are Not Pleased

I’ve always had a fairly decent sense of self-esteem.

In general, I like who I am. I’m capable, I’m dependable, I am worthy. I am enough.

But nothing – I mean NO-THING – has tested that like motherhood. Especially being a mom to demanding toddlers.

I am not a people-pleaser, generally. Yes, I like praise and I like to be liked, but I usually don’t bend over backwards juuust so that people will like me, or to try and make people happy. But gosh-freaking-dammit, some days there is no pleasing my kids.

They’re bored at home, or they tear the house apart, and so I plan to be out of the house for hours. That requires packing lunches and snacks the night before. And then I have to pack water, hats, swim suits, towels, change of clothes, sunscreen, flares, a hunting knife, the kitchen sink, etc, etc.

It’s a struggle to even get out of the house. My kids’ bowels let loose milliseconds before I try and get them in the car. And of course when I’m trying to get them to leave, they want to stay.

We get there, and they want to play but my daughter’s poopy AGAIN and I have to literally drag them both to the bathroom. I discover I only have one wipe. I finish the job with toilet paper, assuming I’ll be ok as long as I replenish before the next outing (**foreshadowing alert**). After that ordeal, they no longer want to play. So I grudgingly give a snack (string cheese, in an effort to scare their poop back up into their intestines for several hours), even though they practically just had breakfast.

I have to convince them to go play and leave me the frick alone. By convince, I mean I yell at them and get the side-eye from a neighboring mom. Then my son is too cold, or too hot, or too wet (too wet. at the splash. pad.) or bored, or wants to go home, or wants to eat more.

I finally give in and start breaking out the lunch and they WON’T SIT TO EAT IT. Suddenly they’d rather play. Mother of god.

Then, after smearing peanut butter all over my waterproof mat and daring the nearby honey bees to sting them, they gradually eat every morsel of food I brought, while I normally have to BEG them to eat a proper meal when I feed them at home. I actually stopped eating food meant for me and gave it to them instead. And by “gave it to them,” I mean they basically intercepted it on its journey between its container and my mouth.

Of course, they want to keep playing the second I declare we’re packing up to go.

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But guess what, my kid has a poopy diaper YET FUCKING AGAIN (I swear, I’m never letting my kids go berry picking unless they’re gonna be exclusively in someone else’s care 24-48 hours afterward), so eleventy minutes later, after scraping off a layer of buttskin trying to get my daughter clean with translucent, public bathroom tissue paper, we’re trudging to the car.

My kids scream for water and snacks the entire way home. I turned up the radio and swore silently in my head.

When I asked them, they both confirm they had a marvelous time. Hello, do I know you? Were we all at the same place, having the same experience? Because days like that make me feel like I can’t do anything right, like it doesn’t matter what I do – everything still blows up in my face, like I can’t win, like I’m not enough, like parenting is a buttload of work, and why do I even put forth all that effort to leave the house? Seriously, is it even worth it?

Depends on the day.

 

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Off on the Wrong Foot

This week, I injured my foot and everything kinda came to a screeching halt.

I was making sure my fearless 1 year old didn’t kill herself on this play structure meant for older kids. I climbed up this wooden ladder whose rungs were pretty close together. My right foot got stuck between the rungs, and in my haste to protect my child, I wrenched it free and immediately felt pain across the top of my foot.

That’s gonna be a nasty bruise, I thought.

The pain subsided, I kept functioning normally for the next 2-3 hours. I drove my kids home, fed them, put my daughter down for a nap, and then relaxed on the couch with my son for 1.5 hours. Then I got up and rushed around to walk to a friend’s house.

On the walk there, my foot started bothering me. By the time we got there, I had some pain. By the time 30 minutes passed, I was limping and in serious pain. I stopped walking and texted my husband to come get me.

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I’m super stubborn and don’t really trust doctors a whole lot. (I’ve had some yucky experiences with medical professionals who think they’re hot shit.) My intuition about my body is usually right, and I was pretty sure it was just a bad sprain (spoiler alert- I was right). I toughed it out for the past 3 days by staying off my foot, icing, meds.

But uuuuugggghhhh. I’m a SAHM with a 1 and 3 year old. How in the world am I supposed to function on crutches?!? I couldn’t go anywhere, because I couldn’t chase after my kids and keep them safe. Forget parks. Even the library was out. I didn’t trust myself to drive my kid to preschool. Everything took for-ev-er. Worst of all, I couldn’t carry anything. A glass of water, a book, putting food on the table, you name it. I couldn’t carry my daughter! I had to hobble to her changing table, then stand there and beg her to come to me so I could change her diaper. You can imagine how well that went.

Very quickly I could feel depression start to creep in. I was a prisoner in my house with two screaming kids and I was supposed to put my feet up?! There was no way I could function like that for very long at all; I felt the walls start to close in on me after not too much time had passed.

Fast forward to today when I finally decided to go to the doctor. (My foot started to turn purple and get tingly if I was upright for too long. Yeeeah.) Just a sprain, but it was worth the trip because they gave me a boot so I have mah freeeeeeedom back (to a degree) and my mood immediately perked up.

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Earlier this week, I started thinking about what I was supposed to learn from this. Whenever I’m frustrated the answer is usually patience and acceptance. No surprise here. As always happens when I temporarily lose some kind of function, I was immediately reminded of how crazy thankful I am to be able-bodied. Also, remembering how and when to ask for help. If needing the crutches had gone on much longer, I was planning to call my mom in California to ask her to fly up here…because what else was I gonna do?!

I loathe feeling so helpless and desperate, especially caused by something so minor, so silly. Damn children’s playstructure. Curse you and the trees from which you were made.

The Tulip Fields

There was a storm brewing; they were on borrowed time.

But they were on a mission.

The troops were already fatigued and in low spirits when they arrived on the battlefield. The General and Officer oversaw the unloading and packing of gear and made sure there were enough rations on hand, then they set off.

They trudged through muddy trenches and seemingly endless fields. The icy winds whipped around them and tugged at their uniforms. It was hard to take in the natural beauty of their surroundings from under the weight of their collective burden.

Barely halfway to the rendezvous point, two of the weakest soldiers began to break down. There were flashbacks, tears, and one even collapsed in a mud puddle of despair.

There was brief talk of deserting the fallen solider. Perhaps another unit would take her on.

Enough! barked the General. We never leave a solider behind! On my count, heave!

There was no other option- she was carried by the General herself. Later, she’d receive a bronze star for her heroism (The General, not the solider).

More began to fall, and again, they were carried. It began to feel overwhelming. They didn’t think they could go on. Some were pressing to turn back, scrap the mission.

No. We’ve come too far. We’ve sacrificed too much!

Their objective was clear – keep going.

The General ordered the Officer to break out and distribute a portion of the rations, which were to be eaten during the march. There was to be no stopping. Delaying the arrival at the rendezvous point could prove a foolish mistake.

The hard tack revived the troops. They kept marching with renewed vigor, even loud, boisterous whoops of hope and joy.

And then, through the clouds, they could see it. Their destination. A warm welcome, fresh food and water awaited them.

They had made it, and they lived to fight another day. (The return journey back to their transport would be another story, of course.)

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Here I Am

This is going to be one of those stream-of-consciousness posts because I haven’t blogged in forever, I really feel the urge to write and create, but I have no idea what I want to say. So here I am, with some ALONE TIME at Starbucks, and I’m just going to write and see what comes out.

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Traditionally, this should have happened on my birthday. I usually run away on the anniversary of my birth so I can be alone and write, but this year my birthday landed on a Saturday and so my partner and I decided to take advantage and hire a babysitter (for the second time ever) to get away together and it was glorious. Seriously, the day was pretty close to perfect. A quick recap:

  • Woke up before the kids and went to yoga
  • Upon getting ready for yoga, found roses and VooDoo Donuts left out for me!!!
  • Came home from yoga, had coffee and donuts with the family
  • Got ready and gleefully left the kids with the babysitter
  • Got surprised (I knew we were going somewhere, just didn’t know where) with sushi in Portland, followed by a movie (Ladybird)
  • Yummy takeout for dinner
  • After putting the kids to bed, I watched the last episode of Handmaid’s Tale (!!!!) while soaking alone in my tub
  • The cherry on top? Anxiety did not get in the way of my enjoyment that day. Serious win for me.

So all of a sudden I’m 35.  (aaaaand made it to 15 years cancer free. Huzzah!)

I am pretty much where I thought I might be in life except that I didn’t plan on Oregon and I didn’t plan on staying home with the kids, but here I am.

I also didn’t plan on being a nervous wreck as a mom, now that I think about it.

I’ve been meaning to blog about my continued adventures with anxiety and my efforts to prevent it and treat it. About 4 weeks ago I went in for my medication evaluation and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was already nervous, because 1) new experience, 2) driving to a new place, and 3) psych meds kinda freak me out.

First off, I didn’t like the Psych Nurse Practitioner much. She seemed dismissive, she lectured me, and she wasn’t all that sensitive or empathetic. Ugh.

She asked me to go over the history of my presenting issues, and I did so very briefly. She then started to problem solve at me: “Have you tried this? Or This?”

I bristled. I explained that I had a therapist, I’ve talked about my anxiety ad nauseum, that I’ve been dealing with this for an entire year, and that medication was my very last resort. Yes, I’ve tried everything. I could go on for hours about all the things I’ve tried. Now I’m here for meds.

I understand she needed to make sure I wasn’t just med-seeking, but I really didn’t feel like wasting time going over every little detail of my coping regimen, let alone with someone with whom I wasn’t really jiving.

After a lecture about how important sleep is (yes, honey, that’s why I’m here), she went over some med options and I was surprised when she recommended a beta blocker. Her logic was that since anxiety really is my primary issue, let’s make my autonomic nervous system calm the fuck down by lowering my blood pressure. She also chose this med because I mentioned having fairly frequent migraines and it’s supposed to prevent those. Ok, sounds good.

And then I started having anxiety about taking the damn meds.

I worried about how they’d make me feel. How bad were the side effects? Would I have to try something else? How long and arduous would this journey through the medication worm hole be?

Enough time has gone by, that I can confidently say…there are mixed results. I definitely feel a decrease in my daily anxiety. My quality of sleep has gone up.

But. I’ve been dizzy. Nauseated. I’ve had 4 migraines in 4 weeks, waaaay more than normal (W.T.F.). I’ve been so.COLD. And sometimes I just feel…off. Like my heart is beating too slow. I dunno.

At the moment the NP and I have agreed to try a half dose before moving on to something else. So far, that seems better, but not all the way better. Better enough? I don’t know. And don’t worry, my BP continues to be normal.

Trying another tactic, I’ve also made an appointment with a Naturopath to see about preventing my anxiety, headaches, fatigue, etc. I bet you all these things might – just might – be connected, since they all live inside my one body and all.

So I feel like I’m trying all the things.

What surprised me is that I seem to be having a hard time celebrating the small victories, or even recognizing them at all.  I was bitching to a friend about the side effects I was experiencing that I had completely forgotten that my anxiety had indeed significantly decreased until she asked me.

I had to think about it. “Yeah…it’s better. Huh.”

“That’s great!”

“Yeah, I guess it is.”

Ugh. What is this?! It just feels like I’m always fighting some battle. Something’s always in the way. My therapist reminded me that not all of my anxiety is going to evaporate. That some anxiety, some of the time, is normal.

Oh yeah.

Seriously, I forgot.

I’ve been trying hard to turn my negative thought processes around. I’ve been paying extra attention to those professional mom bloggers we see in our Facebook feeds that post stuff about giving ourselves a break and cutting out the mom-shaming bullshit. All of that is so much easier said than done, but I’m working on it.

One example that really spoke to me: we can be hot messes and be good moms. That they exist together. Because boy howdy, I feel like both. I can be both.

I fear this post has gone on too long. It’s meandering, but it’s where I am.

 

Reclaiming My 2017

2017 has been a tough year.

I feel like I’ve been saying that every year since…2013, which…sucks. It makes me feel bad. It worries me, along the lines of, Is this my life now? (meaning: life=tough)

I want to talk about my challenges here, partly so I can continue to process them, and also so I can let people know about what’s been going on in my internal world all this time. I’d like to be able to talk about the hard stuff with people I see in person on a regular basis, but having screaming kids running around is not the easiest way to begin the conversation.

I’ve always been a fairly anxious person. I’ve inherited it, I’ve found ways to cope with it, I’ve found ways to power through it, and I’ve accepted it as a part of my life (but not who I am).

But.

This year, I’ve been the most anxious (and occasionally depressed) I’ve ever been and it’s been largely unbearable.

As I look back through pictures that were taken of me over the past year, many of my smiles have been pasted on over massive amounts of anxiety, worry, and irritability. A general inability to calm the fuck down and enjoy any moment of what is happening in front of me.

The tulip festival. A Mother’s Day tea. Playdates. Storytimes. Trips to California.

I remember talking to a friend in early summer and telling her how I had experienced some depression after having my first kid, but that it started to get better after about six months (as did the weather). At that point, it was passed the six month mark (which I realize is totally arbitrary) after having my second kid, and I told her that my symptoms weren’t going away- they were getting worse. It worried me. Actually, it scared the hell outta me.

I remember coming home from a Mother’s Day tea, where my kids were just in the other room from me, being cared for by teenagers I had just met. I sat there rigid, sweating, mind racing. I ate and drank and made conversation and tried SO HARD to enjoy the kid-free time. But it was too much (what was it, I ask myself). I burst into uncontrollable sobs to my husband when I got home. It was all just too hard. Everything felt wrong.

I knew I needed to get back into therapy, but I felt so overwhelmed on a daily basis that I didn’t have the time or the energy to start looking for a therapist. I emailed one of my therapist friends who lives clear across the country late one night to confess to her exactly how much of a shit time I was having. She did an amazing thing and researched therapists in my area and sent me a list of three to check out. It was a godsend.

I started therapy in June, and it was slow-going at first. Of course, therapists make THE WORST clients and I imagine I’m no exception. I want therapy to work and I want it to work YESTERDAY. I overthink everything. I start critiquing her choice of decor and start mentally taking notes for when I eventually go back to work. Mainly, I just wanted to dive in and get to the hard stuff asap so I could feel some freaking relief.

Since then, my anxiety has ebbed and flowed. For a few weeks in September, right after my oldest started going to school for the first time, I thought I had this beat. And then it came back full force for no apparent reason and it’s interfering with my sleep, which has been devastating. For the longest time, I blamed it on the cat and her early morning howling. Everyone around me heard about it. Well, we worked around the cat issue, and wouldn’t you know, it’s not the damn cat. It’s just plain irrational, raging-fire-in-my-chest anxiety. How mortifying.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for me, at least recently, was that I had a panic attack. And it was in front of my kids. It scared me to death and I just can’t live like that. I won’t have my kids growing up being worried about their mom falling apart like that. What a horribly embarrassing and terrifying experience, as any of you who have had one surely knows.

I have held out this long against trying medication as an option, but after that, I swallowed what little pride I had left and called my health insurance and made an appointment for a med eval for January. I surrender.

I read some research that said if people are given some sort of escape button that promises a bad experience will immediately end if pushed, they are more likely and able to endure said experience. Case in point, I’ve had clients before who got anti-anxiety meds only to carry them around in their purses and never actually take them. Maybe an escape button is all I need? We’ll see…

I feel held captive by this monster, this thing. I’m desperately trying not to be in constant fear of it, nor constantly battling it. I’m exhausted. I don’t have time for this shit. What saddens me most – THE MOST – is the thought that I’m so incredibly preoccupied, terrified, irritable, utterly exhausted, that I’ll look back on my kids’ young lives and realize…I missed it.

Somehow, I must reclaim my life. (Ugh, that sounds so dramatic, written with tears rolling down my face.) Because this isn’t me, and this isn’t how I want to live. It’s not the mother I want to be, or the wife, or the friend, etc. This motherfucker is trying to rob me blind and I won’t let him. Kicking and screaming.

Me writing this, and putting this out there for people to read, is partly how I fight. Because anxiety wants me to stay silent. Anxiety wants me to shut myself in and cower in fear. Anxiety doesn’t want me to feel joy.

Well…fuck you.

Get me through this flight

You know how when you’re traveling with kids on a plane your only goal, besides getting to your destination, is that your kid not be the worst-behaved child on the plane?

Not the loudest? Not the most screamy?

Well, today we failed.

We tried and we failed.

We had a great vacation, and now it’s over. On one hand, I’m really happy to be home and have my own space and privacy. But on the other, all our support is gone and now we have to go back to doing everything ourselves.

And oh my GLOB, Oregon is freaking cold.


In closing, a haiku:

Get me through this flight

Crying, screaming, thrashing, sigh

I am so tired


NaBloPoMo Day 28

Like Nothing Had Ever Happened

This post was after a particularly shitty day, told in the third person. I’m sure many parents can relate.


NaBloPoMo Day 25

Psychobabble

It started like any ordinary day.

And that’s the thing – these days, most days were just that – ordinary.  Sure, some moments stuck out for better or for worse, but they were mostly spent in the monotony of keeping her kid safe, clothed, fed, occupied.

As she lied in bed, she could hear her son happily babbling over the baby monitor.  He rarely woke up in a bad mood.  She got up and started her usual routine of making the bed, getting dressed, dragging a brush through her hair, and then she went to go get her son.

As soon as she opened his bedroom door, the stale odor of his poopy diaper floated out to greet her.  And then she could see, under her smiling, blond baby boy, that his crib sheet was quite soiled.

She sighed.

First things first, she thought, Diaper change, then strip the…

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Cancer, Yoga, and Becoming a Parent

I wrote this guest post on a friend’s blog in 2014 when I was pregnant with my first kiddo. It serves as a good reminder about how mindfulness and physical activity remain crucial elements of my mental health and self-care regimen.


NaBloPoMo Day 24

Crazy Good Parent

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I started practicing yoga soon after I had surgery to treat ovarian cancer. The surgery was my only treatment, as my kind of cancer wouldn’t respond to chemo or radiation. The cancer had fully engulfed my left ovary, which they removed, and my right ovary remained, although my surgeon said they scraped cancerous growths off its surface.

“We can’t promise anything,” was the answer I got when I asked about my fertility status. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom, in this passive way of knowing – I didn’t have to think about it, I just knew. Well, nothing made me realize just how badly I wanted to be a mom until there was a distinct possibility that I couldn’t.

That was 11 years ago; I was 20 years old.

Now, at age 31, I am happily pregnant with my first child, and I am counting…

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Snacks on a Plane

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We’re going home to California for the week of Thanksgiving and I’m all excited to BE there, but I am not at all excited to GET there.

Here’s how it’s gonna play out. I pack and worry and scream to try and make everyone be on time. Then I’ll worry some more about what we forgot and being on time. Dylan will break down in the security line and go to his dark place where he goes limp on the floor. Audrey will thrash so hard in the Ergo that she’ll ram her head on my sternum and make several bruises. And that’s all before we get on the plane.

On the plane there will be more thrashing and seat kicking and trying to reach buttons and wanting to crawl down the aisle. And the kids will act up too. (See what I did there? I’ll be here all week.)

Once we touch down in the land of milk and honey, we’ll be greeted by loving, rested grandparents ready to whisk our children away for stimulating play and healthy snacks while Brian and I fall asleep pass out for 5 days. Then we’ll wake up and eat turkey and mashed potatoes and go comatose for another 3.

Too soon it will be time to get on another plane and head back to Waterworld Oregon, where hopefully our cat hasn’t resentfully pooped on our pillows and vomited in our shoes. All the dirty laundry will steep in a small, smelly mountain in the hallway where I hope it will get so rank it’ll one day grow legs and walk itself into the washing machine.

I’ve decided that I’d actually like to enjoy our trip, so I plan to re-blog some of my favorite old posts while I’m gone, especially since I have some new readers and I’d like to share some pieces of which I’m rather proud.

Stay tuned, dear Psychos.


NaBloPoMo Day 16

My mood swings have mood swings

I got nothin today, folks. Not a real post, at least. (I often start out a post saying this, and then end up writing a post. This is now a post.)

Sometimes (most of the time) I feel like my husband and I are just scrambling to try and keep this household and our family running somewhat smoothly. We are stretched, our energy is so limited, and if something goes wrong – speaking for myself – I get overwhelmed very, very quickly. Today was one of those days where shit went wrong, but, miraculously, quality good times were also had. No wonder I feel like I have mood swings. My mood swings have mood swings.

The lows:

  • The weather suuuuucked today. Non-stop rain made me want to stay in bed.
  • Our furnace broke today, so our house is effing cold. I can’t stand being cold.
  • I want to strangle my cat, or at least forcibly remove her vocal chords. She wakes me up, wakes our kids up, and anyone who disturbs my sleep who is not one of my kids is DEAD TO ME.

The highs:

  • Met a friend for breakfast and found THREE friends waiting for me at breakfast. It was a very lovely time out.
  • Snotty wet kisses from mah babes.
  • The boyman coming home from work in the middle of the day to troubleshoot the furnace issue.
  • Laughed til I peed borrowed diet coke about bible references and street names for drugs. (You had to be there.) We got matching shirts, we’re gonna study, and we’ll be back next time to kick ass and take names, PDX Trivia! Should my callsign be Turnip or Scalene?

Tomorrow is a new day, with its own highs and lows.


NaBloPoMo Day 15