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.

 

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.

 

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.

Don’t Be So Scared

I wrote the following post as a guest post on another person’s blog a few years ago, and I liked it so much that I am reposting it here as a way of reclaiming it, and to see how far I’ve come.

That, and I am way too busy packing for our trip to California for Thanksgiving, so I am phoning it in today.

It’s weird reading it now, because I am not working at the moment, and now I’m a mom.  But one thing hasn’t changed – imposter syndrome still creeps up…just for different reasons.

Enjoy.


 

It was the fall of 2007.  I lived in Boston, was halfway through my master’s degree and I had just started my internship seeing therapy clients for the first time.

I felt like the biggest fraud in the world.

You know when you’re about six years old and you put on mom’s heels and pearls and lipstick and then go prancing about the house, hoping you don’t trip and fall and give yourself away?  That’s about how I felt.

They all say you’ll never forget your first client, and while I can’t remember her name, I do remember what she told me when we sat down across from each other for the first time:  “Don’t be so scared, honey!”  But I was, and what terrified me the most was that my fear was apparently obvious.

I inherited the tendency to suffer from general and social anxiety, and over time I have learned that if I just push through my discomfort, I usually come out on the other side having learned something about myself, having grown as a person, and feeling proud of myself.  As I made my way through high school and college, I slowly realized that 1) I wanted to be a therapist, of all things, 2) I thought I’d be good at it, and 3) It scared the shit out of me.  That settled it – I sent out applications to counseling master’s programs.

It’s weird that I am a therapist.  No one in my family has been one; I didn’t go to therapy as a child.  Therapists (and people who have been through the process as a client) use this language, this psychobabble, as if it were normal, but when terms like unconditional positive regard and attachment figure slip out of my mouth in front of friends and family, the looks on their faces highlight a distance I sometimes feel from the general population.

What I do during the day is odd.  I get paid to listen to perfect strangers tell me their deepest, darkest secrets, and I am expected to say brilliant things to make those people feel better and think about their problems in different ways. An added layer for me is that I work at an agency where we serve survivors of domestic and sexual violence – talk about alienating people at cocktail parties.  While I feel comfortable talking about abuse (with both my clients and the general population), most people don’t, and I completely understand that, but it’s tough when some people ask what I do or where I work, and the conversation basically ends after I give my answer.

For the above reasons, being a therapist can be an ironically isolating career to have.  Yes, I get to listen and work with people in such an intimate way, but that intimacy has to stay private…confidential…sacred.

Another side effect of shrinkdom that I have to actively reframe is my distorted perception that the world is a very, very dangerous place.  Every single one of my clients comes to see me because they have been victimized in some way, often by more than one person.  If I’m having a bad day, I think about all those perpetrators running around and it makes me terrified at the thought of one day having children and sending them out into the world.  I’ve noticed that I do little things to make myself feel safer: I always lock the door when I am home.  I carry my bike up to my second story apartment because it’s just too easy to steal.  If I am in my car, it’s locked, no exceptions.  The trick is to not let these little things turn into big things that get in the way of me living my life, hence the reframing.  I’ll hang out with healthy friends and remind myself that not everyone abuses others.  That may sound ridiculous, but for me, it’s essential to my sanity.

Another thing that adds to my therapeutic performance anxiety is this notion that therapists are held to a higher standard as humans, as if our training gave us mystical powers to analyze others and cultivate perfectly healthy relationships with loved ones.  As an example, a former boss of mine, who didn’t have a clinical background, once commented to me when several therapists at our agency were having a dispute, “You’d think that with all your training, you guys would know better how to get along.”  Yeah, thanks for that added pressure to be perfect, but it doesn’t really work that way.  Sure, we have mad skillz, but we also have baggage just like anyone else.

One of the ways us therapists get a handle on our issues and biases is through getting our own therapy.  My first experience of being a therapy client didn’t happen until after I realized I wanted to be a therapist.  Some therapy degree programs actually require that the students get into counseling, and while mine didn’t require it, I still wanted the experience.  I wanted to see what being a client felt like because I knew that it would later help me connect with clients, but more importantly I needed to deal with my own junk and gain some personal insight.

Let me just say that therapists make the worst therapy clients.  We analyze, we second guess, and we try to usurp the process- Oh no! I know what you’re trying to do!  You’re trying to get me to FEEL THINGS!  Well it won’t work!  Nonetheless, my first therapist’s name was Rebecca, she was a godsend, and I miss her.  I was able to unload and process all the crap that was happening in my life: moving across the country away from my family, moving in with my partner for the first time, and starting this crazy master’s degree.  She laughed at my jokes, she was there when I cried, and she didn’t judge me.  It was life changing.

It was through my time with Rebecca that I began to integrate these seemingly polar opposite sides of myself- the competent therapist and the anxiety-ridden fraud.  At first, the competent therapist in me felt guilty for getting my own therapy, because I was functional, healthy, I was taking a time slot from someone who probably needed it more than I…and I should know how to get by on my own, right?  I was supposed to have all the answers.  On the other hand, the anxious pretender in me felt so relieved, because I didn’t have to pretend in therapy.  Oh, it felt so amazingly good to admit how fucking scared I was and how I had no idea what I was doing.

Rebecca thought this was bullshit.  She didn’t think I was supposed to have all the answers.  She didn’t think I had no idea what I was doing, either.  And she was right.  Looking back, I think I knew this about myself all along, but just needed someone to say it to me.  There is room for both parts of me, and they aren’t opposing forces.  They’re just me.

So where does this leave me?  I still worry.  I worry that my older clients won’t take me seriously as a young professional.  I worry that my non-white clients won’t take me seriously.  I worry that my low socioeconomic clients will see me as a spoiled brat.  I worry that clients who are parents will reject my feedback because I am childless.  I worry that I won’t be able to help people.

And then I remember what it was like to be a client myself.  I remember that I was terrified of crying in front of a stranger, terrified that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, terrified of being judged.  I remember that all I wanted as a client was to be heard and understood.

And I think to myself, I can do that.


nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 20

Fish Out of Water

I never thought I’d be a stay at home mom.

And actually, I still don’t really feel like one.  I feel like a working mom who just isn’t working right now.  (WMWJIWRN?)  For the time being, I know that this is where I am meant to be, and knowing that brings me peace.  Do I want to be a stay at home mom forever?  No.  Do I want to work full time?  No.  Ideally, I’d like to work part time and be home part time.  We’ll see how all that pans out.

As an introvert and a homebody who moved to a brand new state while pregnant and unemployed, making social connections has been a challenge.  When left to my own devices, I will stay at home and watch TV, read, blog, clean, do projects around the house (in addition to parenting duties, of course)…and to get out with the kid, we’ll go to story time at the library, grocery shop (which I generally hate doing), walk/run (hate running, but it’s free), or try to arrange a play date with another mom (Which is SO MUCH HARDER than one might think.  Babies, and their weird, ever-changing schedules never sync up when you want them to).  That’s about it.

When Dylan was 8 weeks old, we started going to story time at our local library.  That has been our saving grace, pretty much.  For a long time, it was Dylan’s only social interaction with other kids, and it was/is my way of trying to awkwardly make new mom friends in the area.

And I’m not kidding about the awkward part.  It makes me feel like I’m still in grade school, cuz all I wanna do is raise my hand during a lul in the action and quietly ask if anyone wants to be my friend and come over to play.  Pretty please with a cherry on top.

And then a lovely fellow mom lady came in to story time and announced she was starting a support group for moms.  It was during a time I could make (which was practically any time, honestly) and kids could come along.  Oh thank goodness.

Note: I wrote the following two paragraphs several months ago, but wanted to keep them in here as I edit and add to this for posting.

I’ve been going now for 4 weeks and, while we haven’t really talked about anything deep or mind blowing…it’s been SO NICE.  I’ve left each time feeling so much calmer and more connected than before, and I find myself looking forward to it all week.

And it just hit me today that I’ve never actually been in a support group that wasn’t being run by me.  Come to think of it, I’ve led or co-led a good number of support groups and it’s a lot of work.  It’s draining and takes up a lot of my energy and concentration.  To be on the receiving end of a support group feels…incredibly comforting.

Sometimes I wonder about getting back into therapy for myself.  Like, as a client.  Goodness knows I could benefit from it.  The first time I ever went to therapy was precipitated by being in my therapy master’s program – I figured that I should know what it’s like to be in therapy as a client if I planned to actually do it.  So that got me into therapy, but the main issues we talked about swirled around the fact that I, like now, felt like a fish out of water.

I had just moved across the country, living outside of California for the first extended time, Brian and I had just moved in together, and I was working on launching from my family of origin in what felt like slow motion.  Everything was new, and adjusting was hard.

The feeling is familiar, but with one difference.  I knew that living in Boston was temporary.  Now, living in Oregon, we’re here to stay for the foreseeable future.  I didn’t see my life ending up here.  I didn’t see being a stay at home mom, either.  And that’s okay.  I mean, how can I possibly be expected, or want, to predict how my life will go?  I’m just dealing with all these changes the best way I know how.


nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 17

My Six Books

I was challenged by a friend – well, I begged her for a blog post idea and she came through like…someone who’s really dependable – to come up with three books that are “a snapshot of me.”

I already failed, since I came up with six and couldn’t whittle the list down any further.  They are listed in the order in which they were read…because that’s the order in which I grew.

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling

This book captures my whimsical childhood imagination.  If I had three wishes, I’d wish to go to Hogwarts for a year.  I’d date Ron and be besties with Hermione and go on adventures with Harry.  And I would steal some lemon drops from Dumbledore.  Why this HP book specifically?  Because they form The Order!  The kids become more rebellious and independent and help each other out and fall in love…sigh.  Deep down, I really do believe in magic.

2. Letters to a Young Therapist – Mary Pipher

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I read this book in my Master’s program when I had no idea how to help my clients and I had a shitty supervisor who wouldn’t help me.  This book became my virtual supervisor and gave me space me to begin to figure out what kind of therapist I wanted to be.

3. The Gift of Therapy – Irvin Yalom

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Like the previous book, this one gently taught me to figure out what therapy was and how I could use time, space, and words to help people help themselves.  Most of all, Yalom urged me to use myself- that, through authentic relationships between therapist and client, meaningful change could happen.  Such a simple, powerful message that has stayed with me.

4. Quiet – Susan Cain

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THIS.  I never fully understood my introvertism, or that all those weird things I do even had a name, until I read this book.  I am drained and exhausted after interviews.  In college, I avoided small talk with drunk dudes in bars by asking a real question, like When you die, what do you want to be remembered for?  I can be alone and happy, reading for hours.  One time in grad school, I wanted to go home and get in jammies but my friends wanted to stay out.  While we were discussing it, the last bus of the night drove by.  I left mid-sentence and RAN to that bus stop.  I didn’t look back.  Reading this book felt beyond validating.  Having the additional insight into my personality and disposition will prove invaluable as I navigate interpersonal relationships (including the one I have with myself).

5. All Joy and No Fun – Jennifer Senior

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This non-fiction book is about how children affect their parents, and woo-boy, it describes my first year of being a parent like SHE’S IN MY HEAD.  I spend a good chunk of my days doing work, a lot of thankless work, to keep my child alive and healthy.  It’s no fun.  And every once in a while, I get a moment, one moment of sheer, complete divine JOY when my boy belly-laughs or snuggles with me.  Aaah, that’s why people birth small humans.

6. In the Body of the World – Eve Ensler

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Eve is best known for writing The Vagina Monologues, and recently she fought and won her battle with uterine cancer and wrote about it in this book.  While no cancer story will ever be the same as my own, there were many times where her experiences mirrored mine, and her ability to eloquently wade through grief and words and symbolism brought out all my feels.  We’ve both worked to help women survive violence, we lost parts of our female reproductive systems, and struggled not to feel like less of a woman because of it.  I was honored to meet her in 2008.  This book spoke to me on a level that few books can.


nanopoblano2015lightNaBloPoMo Day 16

The Brats

I babysat on and off from age 12 to 25, and those experiences helped me to figure out what kind of parent I might want to become someday.

When I was in grad school in the Boston area, I babysat for two lovely children, ages 2 and 4, whom I lovingly call The Brats.

They were impulsive, they didn’t listen to me (or their parents), they threw tantrums, they fought, etc., etc.  Part of that was because they’re kids.  Kids are impulsive because their brains lack the capacity for impulse control and planning ahead, and they’re just learning how to be people and being a person is hard.  But a huge part of that, I quickly learned, was the way they were being parented.

I remember the first time I sat for these kids in the evening when part of my job was to put them to bed.  I got instructions from the parents on what the kids usually do for their bedtime routine, and then they said goodnight to The Brats and were off.  The Brats got to watch TV before doing things like jammies, brushing teeth, stories, and bed.  I turned on a half hour show (about a half hour before bedtime) and told the kids that right after the show, it was time to get ready for bed.  They had no response to this.  None.  I wonder if I should have been clued in at that point, but the TV was already on and their eyes were glued to it, so I let the moment pass.

As soon as the show was over, I got up and turned the TV off and announced it was time for jammies.  They erupted in wailing sobs and started thrashing in their dark places on the floor.

Holy crap, I thought.  At first, I was shocked.  And then I realized…Oh.  They didn’t believe me.  Their parents must set flimsy boundaries with them and break them all the time (this suspicion was later confirmed).  I tried to tell them that I mean what I say, but I seriously doubt they could hear me over their very loud display of despair.

As I got to know the family more, I found that the parents let the kids run the show (and then the parents would complain to me, a therapy student, about not having control over their kids).  As the babysitter (and NOT their therapist), it was very hard for me to walk the line that was being scribbled out in front of me.  Since the parents had no authority, they didn’t have any to give to me while they were gone.  And what was worse, the majority of the sitting I did for them was during the day while the mom was home, which meant that anytime I said no to the kids, they’d go running to mom and instead of backing up my supposed authority as their caregiver, she’d say yes.  I started to wonder why they hired me at all, but I kept that thought to myself.

The point to all of this is that getting to see how other kids are parented really helped me to see what worked and what didn’t, and also what I liked and what I didn’t.

I realized that I wanted to have authority over my kids – not to feel all-powerful, but to give my kids structure and predictability and security.  I wanted my kids to get used to dealing with their feelings after hearing ‘no,’ and I hoped to have the courage to tell them ‘no’ when it really matters.  I also wanted to continue telling kids- well, everyone really- exactly what I meant.  I feel that setting a well-meaning boundary that never gets enforced is doing kids a disservice, and I wanted to make sure my kids could take me at my word.

Hopefully, I’m doing an okay job of meeting these goals.  I’m glad I got to spend time with The Brats and their family; they taught me a lot about myself.


nanopoblano2015light

Read about me

I’ve been meaning to update the About Me section of this blog for forever and a day (read: it hadn’t been updated since before I became a mom some 14 months ago)…and I finally went and did it.

That counts as my post for today – Day 5 of NaBloPoMo.  Please go and check it out.

And now this calls for some celebratory homemade pop-tart ice cream sandwiches!

Excuse me.

nanopoblano2015light

Sexiest Treatment Goals Ever

I had to share this gem since I’ve never seen a “Hey, girl…” meme that’s mental health themed before.

You can lie on my couch any time, Mr. Gosling.

Relax Says Frankie

Before becoming a mom, I used to know how to relax.

I was good at it.

I could curl up with a book for hours on the weekends.  I could go to Starbucks and lose myself in sugary caffeinated heaven.  We took vacations and unplugged and were carefree.  At work, when things got particularly stressful or when I was getting a headache, I would carve out 10 minutes, set the alarm on my phone, shut my office door, and I’d lay on my therapy couch (and even on the floor before I had a couch) and just focus on my breath.  It did wonders for me, some days, or at the very least it allowed me to get through the day.

And now…

Even when I get a break, it doesn’t feel like a break.  My kid takes one nap a day now, maaaaaybe two.  Maybe.  And I don’t know when the nap is coming.  Today, it came early.  Tomorrow will be different.  I also never know how long it’s going to last.  19.5 minutes?  30 minutes?  Once in a blue moon, it’s been 1.5 hours.  And each time he goes down, I ask myself, How do I want to spend this time?

Sometimes I clean, do laundry, or otherwise get stuff done.  Other times I try to relax – watch TV, drink iced coffee, read my book, write a blog post, garden, etc.  Note the word try in that last sentence.

I’ve noticed that even when I try to relax, I just can’t.  My posture is rigid, my breathing is shallow, my ears are perked.  My son might wake up at any moment.  Right now, my son is doubled over in the most uncomfortable yoga sleeping position not 10 feet away and I am trying to type as quietly and as quickly as I can and I am trying to pull words out of me even though I don’t feel totally motivated to write in this moment.  But right now, this moment is all I have.

Let me be clear that, for me, this is not a guilt thing.  I do not feel guilty for wanting to relax or for trying.  And when I am successful at shutting the world out for a bit (including my son) I give myself a little pat on the back.  Because everyone needs that, especially moms.  And as an introvert mom, I need quiet shut-out time to recharge my batteries so I can be a better mom to my little snot machine when he wakes up, whenever he wakes up.  At least I know guilt isn’t getting in my way.

It’s very tempting to use things to induce relaxation.  I know it’s cool for moms to joke about wine and coffee, but I can totally see the dangerously slippery slope that is self-medicating when one is no longer in charge of one’s daily schedule.  Ugh, I have to wake up now?!  Better use some coffee.  Poopsticks, today was tough and I only have two hours before I crash in bed, so if I want to relax RIGHT NOW, I’d better use some wine, because wine.  Amirite?!

Sometimes I do this.  Sometimes it’s TV or food.  But I try not to.  And I am also trying to feel okay knowing that I can’t just magically make myself feel relaxed when I want to feel that way, especially when someone else is calling the shots.

I want to remind myself that, sometimes, I end up feeling relaxed when I hadn’t planned on it, and wasn’t even trying.  Which means…I don’t want to keep feeling like I am chasing relaxation, some feeling of peace that I may or may not get from a barista or a bottle of pinot.  Chasing things always takes me out of the present, where I’m more likely able to create peace for myself.  And that it’s okay when I can’t hurry up and settle down RIGHT NOW and for exactly 19.5 minutes.

With that said, he’s awake and screaming.  This time I was given about 45 minutes.

Time’s up.