Category Archives: parenting

Strep Throat…A Small Price To Pay To Have My Darkness Fade Away

What do you do when you want to write…but your mind feels blank…yet your heart feels weighted and heavy in a way that it needs emptying? I don’t know what to do with my feelings tonight…I am dealing with an illness (lupus) that has managed to completely wreak unexpected havoc on my body and mind, on my spirit and even on my home for that matter. And tonight (and many other nights, days, afternoons, mornings…I AM THOROUGHLY PISSED OFF! ) I am also confused and sad and honestly,  I simply and sadly feel as a person I am CHANGED.

I have always been an emotional person…a “feeling a lot”,  (perhaps too much) type of person. My ability to tune into my own feelings and as well as deeply empathize with the feelings of others has pretty much guided the course of my life. I am a psychotherapist by profession and I truly love my job, it is sacred and beautiful to travel with others on their own inner journeys.  However, right now,  I am definitely in the midst of some deeply painful shit…and though I have an abundance of dear friends, parents that love me beyond words, a husband who has been by my side for almost 20 years, two beautiful boys…tonight and so many nights as of late, I feel so completely and utterly alone.

I know, at least I hope, that  I will be able to  find ways to integrate these dark feelings in with the light…I will have to find ways to weave the painful shredded fibers in with the hopefully stronger, fabrics that make up relief and healing. I pray I find ways to ease the relentless questions of my mind, find a way to  stop the unending search for answers, the hows, the whys, the what the hells?  The what if’s?  Yes, those, “when the fuck did this happen?”  type of questions, the ones that I am sure may never be answered nor would they be particularly useful if even if they were. I mean do I really need to know…”Yes…it was that bug spray, that spray paint, that north wind that caused this disease to activate.”  I can’t turn back time and undo any particular event that may have contributed to this process…so it is just toxic to live there.

I have been having terrible nightmares as well…a side effect of some medication, in my opinion. So,  I feel infinitely more apprehensive this evening, in these late hours of the night.  Yet, as I nod off to sleep, quite literally, falling in and out of consciousness while writing this…I realize that my 13-year-old son has snuggled up next to me, his head leaning on my hip, his size 10 man feet dangling from my bed. (Now…this is not great since he has strep throat and a 101 fever) however, just for tonight,  I am willing to risk just about anything to steal what is sadly becoming…a more limited number of tender moments, the one’s that he used to offer up so freely and abundantly . Yet, tonight …on his own thirteen year old terms (which apparently could be a side effect of him being kind of sick and weak? HEY…I’ll take what I can get! ) Tonight…he is being generous with his snuggles. When he came in to say goodnight, he actually took my arm and said “mommy…I love you so, so much”…This unsolicited declaration is not common place anymore, so if that was the only moment, I would have savored it.

I am also realizing… just as I write this…that some of my heavy heart is also entangled in the thirteenth birthday of this beautiful boy. He is a May baby…just like his mamma. He is dancing on the cusp of crazy adolescence, while still hanging on a bit longer (thank God) to the threads that keep him my sweet little boy.

So, just for tonight,  I worry and grieve and choke back what feels like an endless supply of tears because it feels this sickness is stealing away parts of my life. The parts of me, that at no point and time, and I mean NEVER, NOT EVER… not one damn time, have I offered up for the taking!  These dark feelings try to grip me and drown me in sorrow, they try to take hostage my sleep and my inner peace. But on this night….I lay here in bed, with my laptop humming, my husband sound asleep to my right and my son somehow fitting perfectly into the small space that is left on my other side. All of a sudden, I feel acutely aware of the abundance of gifts in my life.

I am not as alone as I thought just a mere 20 minutes ago. How can I not  cherish the beauty of what I DO have? Pain and fear are making it all too easy to focus on what I don’t have.  While I fight and battle with this pain, this disease and all its unknowns, I begin to realize that there are a few things that I do know and I know them with absolute certainty!

My thirteen year old, the tough guy, the one who  drives me to the brink of insanity almost daily…the one who pushes every damn button I have and laughs as he get’s the crazy to come dancing and jumping right the hell out of me! My boy…the one who gets the reactions he had hoped as he encourages his younger brother to join in the game of  “let’s drive mommy to the brink and watch the show!” Yeah…that’s my boy.  However, for now… he remains snuggled up, sound asleep by my side. His breathing is a steady rhythm bringing unexpected reassurance about mostly everything in the whole world right now. You know what? I am thinking these days may be numbered and that kind of makes me cry even as I type this…Tears. So in this moment, I will simply cherish his sleepy, fevered head by my side, cherish it with every ounce of my being.

My eight year old tried to wrangle his way into our bed earlier and we had the “NO WAY” discussion because he is “too accustomed” to his sleepy mommy and daddy just caving and saying… “sure…come child, disrupt our sleep…because we are too tired and old to fight you off.”  So,  tonight…he stays tucked under his Spider Man Comforter, head nestled in Avengers pillows. The night is young at 12:19 am, so he may still find his way in, during the wee morning hours. But for now, it seems my heaviness, my darkness, is unexpectedly lifted.  I think it’s by this writing, it is by this process of letting my thoughts flow out into words, however poorly written, I just don’t care. Really, I don’t…They are out of my head and on the screen and I can’t help but feel a bit lighter.

I also feel lucky…or is it grateful? Yes, It is Grateful. Tonight I recognize that I have my struggles, my pain, my illness…but it is certainly not all that I have and is most definitely NOT all that I am. Chronic pain can try to steal the brightness from my life…but there is no possible way that it can know this secret…the secret that deep, pure and unconditional love is simply and fully immune to being stolen! It just can NOT be stolen by a thief and his cruel and stealthy ways. For it seems that tonight, I am veiled in protection, I am cloaked in peace. All by this little man who drives me to unimaginable levels of frustration by day…but on this particular night, he is the sweetest of lights. He is the thread weaving together the good and the bad. He is the integration between pain and freedom.

He may likely never know, how on this night…when I felt like all of my chips had been cashed in and the cruel “thief” known as pain tried to steal all of my good…that he was my protector…and that was just from being by my side, his unexpected snuggles and his drifting off to sleep. I listen to him breathe and I feel grateful and I feel blessed. I feel honored by his presence tonight.

I also feel like within 24 hours I will likely be infected with Strep Throat…which can’t be good when dealing with an f’d up immune system, but I feel like this…what’s a bacterial infection if not just a tiny price to pay? Payment for the precious snuggle and sweet, sleepy, unconditional love that is being so freely offered tonight. I don’t know if it’s the fever or the antibiotics or genuinely a boy just needing his mom…honestly, it doesn’t much matter, I’ll take it.

So thank you my boy…thank you for getting me out of my funk…and most likely giving me yours.

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He Is My Husband Now…We Are Gay

We all gauge the multitude of so-called successes and failures of parenting moments by different variables. We (us parents) each have a different set of lenses in which we view our children, how we may “think” they are doing. Whether we are talking in general, like their grades, behavior or  mood or  we are looking at more of the minutia. Little snapshots in time, that sort of show you something unique in your child’s development or personality. It can simply be a look, a statement, a small conversation…watching them play, when they don’t know you are looking…those tiny moments that go on, but often are a reflection of who they are “right now” and even perhaps a foreshadowing of who they may  become.

Now…I have two boys. They are both vastly different in both looks and personality alike. They are five years apart. Despite their differences, I try to raise them in quite the same manner, with the same fibers of morals and values being loosely woven through our years together.

O.K…I will cut to the chase. One is a teen and one is in second grade…I am, what one might describe as a bleeding heart liberal. A heart on my sleeve kind of girl. I am a social worker by trade and by human make-up. For as long as I can remember, I have tried to be the voice for the voiceless. The cheerleader for the underdog. The advocate for the marginalized and oppressed…YOU GET IT.  My husband, is also a mental health professional  and is a Latino male, who despite his best efforts, still carries with him what I might describe as this  “semi” machismo  perspective. He has come a long way and is also himself, incredibly liberal but let’s just say when my boys were little and I bought them baby dolls and a stroller to push them in (which they did often and around the neighborhood) …he seemed kind of was perplexed, he “sort of”  tried to discourage me from letting them… (I wasn’t having it).  I would have to say that his reaction was rooted not only in his cultural roots and norms and gender and social norms but also…rooted in FEAR. ( we all know, having a baby doll turns you gay right? )

“Not my boys…not baby dolls? They are not GIRLS!”  As the years have gone by…he has softened a lot… has a greater understanding of why I would encourage that … and as for my boys, despite my best efforts…they don’t seem to really embrace there feminine side right now, and that is o.k. It seems, at least right now, they are kind of these brutish, loud, wrestle each other to the ground primate type of kids. (which does not mean they are not sensitive emotionally) But they are rough, crazy, sports nuts who are dirty and what societal/gender stereotypes may reference as or  consider “All Boy”. Whatever… I still send the message that it is o.k to cry, to openly talk about feelings, to be sensitive and most importantly to not feel pressured to conform to social norms “just because”.

One of the other things we do together, though I watch next to no television, is watch several weekly sitcoms. One is Modern Family…think what you may about the show, but it has allowed us to crack up together, to explore a vast range of family issues and also to have on-going dialogue with my kids about homosexuality. Questions come in many forms like…”why are those guys married mom AND they have a baby?”  Just one of the questions my younger one has asked. My teen…he kind of  get’s it already and knows I am open about  whomever people love they just  love. My little one has asked questions over the past year, and more recently, he seems to “get it” a little more. (not sex…he does not know what that is yet, outside of kissing) But he knows a girl can love and marry another girl…a man can love and marry another man. That God made us all different and amazing and that is o.k.

In a world where gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual youth have so many struggles, higher rates of clinical depression/ anxiety  and a significantly higher suicide rate, I feel it is my job as a parent to keep an open dialogue with my kids. To send the message that no matter who they are, whom they love or even if they were confused….they will always be accepted, loved and supported, at least in our home. Now, obviously my son is in second grade, so I don’t go into great detail. I just answer what he asks and try to communicate that however you are, it’s o.k and you will be loved.

It’s kind of hard to gauge how they are doing on that. My older son had a sleep-over…with a diverse group of boys. He mentioned one would be pretty late because he has dance. (now being most of his friends are on sports with him…I talked to him about this… just out of curiosity because I never met this boy…what kind of dance, how late will he be?) He answered without much thought…” he’ll be pretty late and he will be hungry…and ummm, I don’t know, he does ballet, jazz, hip-hop…yeah…he is  kind of feminine, but I don’t think he’s gay, but honestly…who really care’s anyway?” (For a seventh grade boy…to me this signals, he is getting it!)

Now, my younger son…was snuggling with his big, muscular, Latino father (otherwise known as my husband) I walked in to his room and said jokingly “Hey you…You are always snuggling with my husband…you better give him back to me !”  He glanced up at me, with wild and sleepy eyes, as my hubby lye half asleep and boldly said “HE IS MY HUSBAND NOW…WE ARE GAY!”

Let’s just say my husband was no longer asleep…He gave me the look of “You did this” but then smiled… and I thought to myself:

“YES…PARENTING WIN!!!”  (yeah…I know…I may have clarify a few things as time goes on) but he was being silly and I thought to myself…So far, So Good!

Claiming Your Inner Peace…

So…I don’t know if I would call this an “ah-ha” moment or a tiny epiphany, but recently…and by recently I mean just a few minutes ago, I made a discovery.

I sort of calculated, albeit loosely, the amount of “alone time” time I actually require/need to feel some semblance of inner-peace. Then I started looking at the amount of “quiet time” I might need each day or even each week to maintain a somewhat reasonable state of homeostasis. To be clear, quiet time does not have to actually be spent ALONE, it just needs to be, well ya know…quiet. Next, I figured sleep into the equation as well, which surprisingly enough falls on the shorter end of what I should refer to as my “Peaceful Enough” spectrum.

Perhaps, I should give you a brief description of what constitutes each of the above variables for ME, because obviously my definition of alone-time and your definition, by all accounts, may be vastly different. Same applies for “‘quiet-time” and “sleep”. So here ya go:

1. Alone-Time: For me to feel like I am having alone time, a few criteria must be met. First and foremost, although I dearly love and cherish my children…they must never, ever, NEVER EVER be present during alone-time or else it becomes 100% null and void, no matter the level of quiet, peace or sleep I may have experienced during that time, it does NOT count. There is not much more criteria…except maybe that NOBODY’S children can be present. (an exception might be a newborn, who is adorable and sleepy and I can snuggle in my arms until it starts to stir) This also affords me the added “bonus peace” that is achieved by secretly basking in the glory of NOT having a newborn!  **If newborn is screaming, this “exception” is now also null and void. So, yeah…I can be around adults (certain ones) but must still have the ability to kick back, relax and do whatever the flippity fuck I want, or else it is not considered ALONE TIME.

2. QUIET TIME: Unlike alone time, the criteria for quiet time allows for the occasional  presence of children. However, and I am sure you can see where I am going with this, they have to be QUIET!! Now to be clear, a mere few minutes of quiet does NOT count on my peaceful enough scale. I am referencing a particular kind of extended quiet; for example, this may look like, my children are given new video games and they become so sucked into the process, so engrossed in the lights and the sensory assault, that they are rendered speechless for a solid three hour minimum. That counts. Also, not to be confusing but “Quiet time” can also be during an alone time period…but NEVER EVER NEVER shall we consider sleep as part of “quiet time” or “alone time” for that matter, ya know, as it applies to this scale.
Of course, I am well aware that it is traditionally quiet when you are asleep, but in this instance, if I am unconscious, than I can’t appreciate the quiet and therefore…it simply does not count!

3. Sleep: Sleep is… when I am asleep. NOW, That sleep shall be uninterrupted, pain-free, nightmare free and the bed in which it is occurring shall be free of all children. So…if I have a bad dream, I am achy, somebody wakes me up or there is a kid in my bed, then that does not get counted on my peace, calm enough, scale spectrum thingy. Calculated sleep MUST BE the type where I am relatively cozy and wake up refreshed, the actual hours slept don’t matter so  much as the above variables do.

Ostrich-Nap-Pillow-1 **an option I suppose…

O.k, so you get it…those are the specific things I was considering when pondering the calm/peace question. Just exactly how much of all of those things do I need to feel a decent level of inner-peace, calm and homeostasis in my daily life?

Well, to be completely honest, I don’t think I can actually calculate that shit. I can tell you this…My baseline…which is sort of like my absolute bare minimum amount of alone-time, quiet-time and sleep needed for optimal mental functioning, is (I think) on the higher end of the “normal” spectrum. I can’t tell you that for sure, since I haven’t asked anybody else this exact question. So, in all reality I suppose it could be on the lower end of the spectrum.

Here is what I know for sure…I have kids. They are the greatest loves I have ever known. (insert great things about kids here if you are sensitive to speaking the TRUTH challenges of children) So yeah, kids… they are the loudest creatures I have ever known. They are messy and needy…VERY VERY NEEDY. (I can not over-emphasize this!) Alone time? It does not seem this is a  priority for my children. Unless of course, I actually need them to do something WITH me…then they suddenly NEED ALONE TIME. Children are infamous for sleep issues and mine are no different.  Now infants, of course they don’t sleep for extended hours. But as time goes by…they tend to  sleep more, yet I can’t help but notice, it still it seems that they want to disrupt your sleep.

Now…This can take on many forms…it may be bloody noses, coughing, vomiting, bad dreams, good dreams, fevers, scared of the dark, scared of the light, that scary movie, that scary commercial for that scary movie, that… (insert pretty much anything here) and the infamous, “your bed is just more cozy and I want to snuggle.”  (added guilt layer) There are more ways the sleep issue can play out, but you get it and perhaps your living it, so no need to elaborate further. Children, bless their beautiful hearts, have a very high probability of fucking up a perfectly good sleep for a ridiculously extended amount of years. (we are not even going to touch on the sex factor…that is an all together different  shit show  subject .)

dylandme   LOOK…Here’s me with one of my beautiful peace disturbers…

So yeah…the answer to where do I fall on my  “peaceful enough” scale? What is the answer?  Ummm… FUCK that nonsense…after just writing this post, it has become abundantly clear to me, that YES, perhaps my need for quiet, alone, and sleep time is higher than the average human…or not. BUT, I think I can infer from my hastily collected data…that as a mom, a full-time parent (and yes I have a husband who helps, but he is not the mamma)  My data shows…an incredibly high probability that I will be in the negative for those  experiences for an unknown and extended period of time. Some nights…that simply feels intolerable, I fantasize about running away to a hotel room, by MYSELF, with magazines and coffee and laying in the bed for days and nights on end, ordering room service, eating it bed and answering to no one!

I fantasize for a moment about flying off to a tiny cottage in Europe, with a cobble stone walk way, a small garden and tea, a cozy simple bed and bistro table for one…I wander about the countryside picking berries and going back to my cottage to plant my flowers (because they’re not going to plant themselves!) and then off to paint in my court-yard that is overlooking the sea.

sleep4

Ahhhh….as I am alone, in a quiet room, writing this…I feel a sense of peacefulness wash over me. The only thing I hear is the whirring of the ceiling fan and the strokes of the keyboard. I can see the sun peeking through the clouds, as I look out the window from my favorite, most cozy recliner.  It’s not Europe, I am not wandering the country side…but it’s a moment damn it… and I’ll take it. So…my reality is this, as a parent, I think it’s safe to say, at least in my case (not speaking for you) I will not be getting my “ideal” levels of peace ,calm or sleep met anytime soon, however, I literally have to work on CLAIMING THE SHIT out of the moments I do find. (which just so happens to be this very second…so, ta ta for now… and may you find and claim some peaceful moments of your own)

Final Disclaimer: I ACTUALLY PUT A REAL PICTURE OF MYSELF ON HERE…SO IF MY THERAPY PRACTICE GOES IN THE SHITTER… I BETTER BE ABLE TO WRITE A BOOK ABOUT THIS.

LOVE TO ALL THE MAMMALS

AS I tweeted about Mother’s day…and lupus…and brain tumors and the plethora of things I live with (in under, I might add, twitters allotted character #) I ended my tweet with “love to all the mammas!!” Which, then in the total fashion of my life, posted as ‘LOVE TO ALL THE MAMMALS’.  By all accounts this kind of applies, but I suppose was not exactly how I wanted to “tweet” my mothers day story on perseverance and love. I Mean the struggle is real for the blue whale, the giant panda and even the common vampire bat. I can’t however forget the love for the sweet little snakes and mamma birds…I mean DAMN, they fly and vomit food to their babies. BUT. I sort  of just wanted to say “LOVE TO ALL THE MAMMA’S”.

In reality, I suppose my original statement was far more inclusive and I am just trying to support as many beings as possible…so yeah. Love to all my mammals (and reptiles, amphibians, birds…and the whole damn lot of ya).

Motherhood…it does stuff to your brain. (and I am not talking about my brain tumor…that shit’s benign…Motherhood, is most certainly NOT!!!)

Bottlenose-Dolphins

Coaching: DON’T DO THAT!!

verbal_bullying_mean_teacher_coach

DEAR COACH,

I get it…you are the coach of a middle school sports team. You are important. You have the ability to create amazing, positive experiences for 12 year old boys who are LOOKING UP TO YOU. I also understand that your team is losing every single game and that must be super fucking frustrating for you. Do you know who else feels frustrated??? YUP. The little dudes on your team!! Do you even see their sweaty, out of breath faces? Do you watch their heads gazing down at there filthy cleats as they walk off the field at the end of the game that they lost 14-0?

Do you see their eyes looking to you for guidance, acceptance, or a “Hey…you lost, but you guys played with all your heart and you practice 7 days per week and you have endurance and we will get better as times goes on…chin up boys!” Nope, You don’t see them looking and waiting and wondering what the feedback will be and what words you will choose and how it may build them up or simply crush them down.iStock_000002351658Small-700x200

They wait…They get back on that bus…those dirty, defeated, exhausted 7th grade boys and they talk and try to laugh and you tell them…NO!! They should not laugh, they should not feel happy…They should sit and “think about why they lost?” REALLY DUDE? I am pretty sure they are already thinking about that and they’re laughing and playing around and talking to one another is their way of trying to reclaim some piece of their fractured and still developing egos.

I know my boy…this week alone he has had between two teams, collectively 14 Games. So far he has lost every single one of those games. For that matter Coach, YOU ACTUALLY KNOW THIS…yet, you have your “team” run sprints for making SIMPLE mistakes in practice. DON’T DO THAT.

YOU sit boys out for an entire game for having to go to A MANDATORY religious ceremony to practice for an upcoming HIGH HOLY DAY… He is your starting player and shows up for every SINGLE practice, you don’t let him play. DON’T DO THAT.

In your huddle, when you could be building these boys up, with tough YET inspiring words…instead you choose to call several children on the team ‘TRADERS’ AND BENEDICT ARNOLD…for playing on another team that is not their own town (no matter the circumstances) DON’T DO THAT. That sucks. (and pits kids against their own team members. you should know that. Or is that your goal?

You have decided, after I chose to keep my child home from school with a back injury after being hurt in a GAME…That you should tell him in front of his ENTIRE team…”OH, SO NOW YOU’RE GONNA BE THE GUY WHO JUST SHOWS UP FOR GAMES?” DON’T DO THAT.

The kid who was 12 minutes late for class that day…and you have the whole team RUN twelve sets of sprints because “somebody” was late for class and school is important? Don’t DO THAT.

THESE are all of our children, these are your children…you have in your hands a FUCKING GOLDEN opportunity to fill these kids UP…with spirit and pride and the idea that winning is awesome but it’s not the whole damn package.

You Coach…have been given a gift…You are abusing that gift…you are perpetuating the kind of old school coaching that now falls under that perhaps sometimes overused (but not in this case) word of BULLYING.

I implore you Coach…think before you speak…look into the eyes of those young men, who look up to you with every ounce of their being. THINK!!! DO YOU WANT TO BUILD UP? OR IS YOUR MISSION TO TEAR DOWN?

LOOK at the heads staring at their worn out cleats…try telling them to “Pick up their heads…hold them high and understand the character and dedication it takes to stay on team that loses every damn game”…Tell them to be PROUD OF WHAT THEY DID RIGHT instead of “think about what they did wrong”.

And so, a team that loses every game and practices every single day…hmmm, dear COACH…perhaps you should think about what YOU are doing wrong.I MEAN YOU ARE THE COACH..and one more thing… at night when you go home and laugh with your wife or your buddies or kick back and grab a cold beer…
DON’T DO THAT.

SIT THERE AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING WRONG. Then why not hit the back yard and run some sprints for being such a DICK.

Sincerely, Every Boy’s MOM

The Self-Esteem Dream and Other Perfect Rhymes…

noonecanmakeyou

Wow…It is my first ever end of the week blog. It is Friday and I did not deactivate my blog due to the burden of poor grammar, no followers or the gross overuse of phrases and words I happen to love. *see the abuse of “Reckless Abandon” in ALL of my posts this week.

As I reflect on this huge accomplishment, and bathe in the glory of achieving my own personal best, by which I mean…living the dream of SELF-ESTEEM. YES. That rhymes and feel free to use that because I, for sure won’t use it again. “Living the dream of self-esteem”…what might I mean by that? Listen here…

I didn’t delete, deactivate or give up on writing. I hit publish with ya know (reck—-Ab–don) I’m done with that. I used poor grammar, foul language and really did not know what I was doing with this whole publish, draft, save…add media, visual etc. I still don’t know how to use the little boxes on top of this “writing square.” Yes…the one with the b. the I. the link, the b-quote, the del, the ins.

Those buttons seem important and one day I will know them and own them and they will know me, but not today because I DON’T HAVE TO KNOW EVERYTHING TO START SOMETHING!!!!

RIGHT? This is genius and as a mental health professional and consumer of mental health stuff (by “stuff” I mean years of being therapized), I think it is the freakin’ most important idea!!

You Don’t Have To Know Everything To Start Something.

I want to write…so I am writing. Embracing the mistakes and all. Loving my three followers and knowing they can leave or more can come and I AM STILL WHOLE and important and lovable.

MY Goal is to stick and stay and see what happens while I accept it all.

MY Anti-Goal (meaning what i hope i won’t do) is to start writing and feel crappy about it and leave and say…”Well that sucked and I should never put myself out there again, because me and actually, everyone, just blows.” Yeah, I don’t want to do that.

I am practicing the art of good enough in all things. Enough of the bullshit. I am learning what I so easily can teach and that is to TOLERATE WHAT FEELS INTOLERABLE. Yes people (or person) Distress Tolerance, Radical Acceptance…the whole lot of it!

I have moved through (yes through, not over or around, actually through) anxiety and depression and trauma. And it sucked and was scary but I did it. (with support of professionals and other stuff) And I struggle sometimes but most days are better, because I took the risks, I did the hard, painful work, processed the hell out of stuff and worked (and continue to work) my shit out. It doesn’t go away but it gets so much better and you learn crap about yourself that you never thought you would. And you use it and much of it helps.

So on to my new chapter and that is writing about being a therapist, being a mom, a wife, a human among humans…in the middle of the herd. Packed in tight but not afraid to stand out.

Risking my professional reputation and putting my human condition out there for the world to see. (sort of, I mean..I haven’t really linked my name to this blog yet for fear of my professional life going in the shitter) but wait for it. Till then I am o.k with “Pixiedust72 or therapyontherun or watchmewait…or no matter my screen name. I am human. I assure you that.

So seriously…Happy Friday Bloggers…Go do stuff that scares you and you think you suck at- because ultimately it helps you to LIVE your truth. That kind of matters.

OH…and Also, celebrate little victories…like eating one slice of cake instead of the whole cake. Or successfully sleeping on your left more than your right. OR…not deleting your blog.

Carry on friend. (friends?) I don’t want to seem cocky…

JUNE CLEAVER HAS NOTHING ON ME…

Right before I gave birth to my first child…I had just finished a thirty page research paper on Infant Mental Health. I got an A PLUS. Outstanding.
While I lie in my bed, in the hospital, staring at this little guy, all seven pound of him…I thought about that paper. I thought about the nurses trying to help me breast feed, I thought about the way they just expected me to know what to do. Cleaning his umbilical cord…diapering…listening to his what sounded to me like erratic and shaky breathing.(I was pretty sure he was in heart failure…i was wrong) YEAH, The knowledge I had so recently wrote about was simply put, not applicable to this child, in this moment. The information was just not accessible to me in any way that felt like it would help me be able to keep this little creature ALIVE.

I JUST KEPT THINKING; HOLY CRAP IT IS MY JOB TO KEEP YOU FROM DYING!!! I felt love that was deep and wide and unexplainable. I felt fear that I never knew existed. The research paper and seminars and my clinical background offered about as much comfort as soaking wet jeans on a freezing and rainy day. My love for him felt GIGANTIC..but this little being seemed so incredibly and unbelievably “breakable”. So Fragile. Like he could just stop breathing or choke or come undone just as easing as a pair of frayed, thread bare shoelaces.

Again the two prominent thoughts that took up residence in my brain were… GOD, THIS LOVE IS UNREAl,I AM SO HAPPY YOU ARE HERE and HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO KEEP YOU ALIVE. It was a loop that repeated every four minutes for years…I kept it to myself. At least for a while.

So it goes…baby goes home, we adapt the best we can to this amazing little dude and BOOM; fast forward… I have NOW spent the better part of 13 years PERFECTING the art mothering. I am a psychotherapist…I specialize in women, children and adolescents. I am a freaking expert people! An EXPERT on the human condition and our emotional health. Right?

When raising a child…and experiencing a newborn, an infant, a toddler for the first time. Do you know how much comfort my knowledge base has brought? I will answer…sometimes (a tiny bit) but most of the times…it would be none. In fact, I think it made me feel worse because there was the whole “you should be fine with this, you should know this ” thought process that was incorporated into my thinking…and that just added to the baffling nature of becoming a parent.

NOW,Let me enlighten you further (and by you…I mean ME) enlighten by way of brief,(doubtful) yet salient list of my…(Cue Leave it To Beaver Music)

TOP MOTHERING TIPS I WISH SOMEONE GAVE ME 13 YEARS AGO… BUT DIDN’T. SO I AM GIVING THEM TO MYSELF NOW, IN THE FORM OF A LETTER TO MY PAST SELF FROM THE CURRENT AND FAR MORE SELF-AWARE AND SEASONED MOTHER OF TWO. (clears throat and read’s aloud to invisible self of the past) Feel free to read aloud with me…

1. Dear YOU, you ROCK STAR of a brand new mommy…first of All. Let me start with this, congrats on that childbirth thing. First order of business, that no one is going to let you know…your lady parts are going to hurt like a motherfucker for way longer than anyone prepared you for. Bring home that foam donut thing to sit on. You won’t be sorry. And ice packs . And Tucks pads. And the water squirt bottle in the bathroom. And don’t feel bad about “borrowing” changing pads and baby supplies from the hospital. You know…that thing they have that is all filled with supplies for the baby? They have a ton of that shit, you don’t… and you are kind of on the brink of crazy. take it. (turns out they want you to have it anyway and it is not STEALING)

2. I know you are terrified and think your baby will DIE. Babies can and do die and it is heart-wrenching, mind-blowing and horrendous. However…You will spend the better part of the first five years worrying in excess about the possible impending death of your child. Here’s the Good news…thirteen years later…that fragile, tiny, breakable baby is still alive and doing kind of remarkable. (not that there haven’t been challenges, but nothing to the extreme you have imagined) IN FACT…he did so well you even did it again! The really important message I want you to hear is this; even though bad things do happen…BABIES AND CHILDREN TURN OUT TO BE WAY MORE RESILIENT THAN YOU THINK. THEY ACTUALLY DON’T DIE AS EASILY AS YOU HAD IMAGINED…

3. PARENTING is hard. Parenting with postpartum anxiety and depression is even harder. Good for you for getting help. Managing your own anxiety and depression turn out to be one of the most important parts of being able to take care of these crazy little men who are living in your home, sleeping in your bed, eating all your freaking food, messing up your shit and stealing your heart. (side note…don’t go off your MEDS even if you feel a “little” better) As it turns out, Serotonin is something you can’t simply “imagine” or “will” into your brain, but I digress…

4. You will not be the BEST MOTHER…You will make mistakes. Your kids will fall out the crib, get stung by bees, fall off chairs and need x-rays. They may even suck the helium out of a balloon and “kind of” faint, they might tear their cornea, fall on the steps and need more x-rays. of their face. OH BOY…a lot more unexpected and terrifying shit happens. But: SPOILER ALERT…They SURVIVE. YOU are not going to be the “best mother!! “WHY?”…Because it does not exist! Even if you buy organic food and read every parenting book or have “Waldorf style” wooden toys that you can’t afford. Even if you commit to a certain “style” of parenting…family bed, cry it out, Ferber, attachment, helicopter, tiger-mom, WHO GIVE A #$%@!!!!! FYI. For your sanity and self-esteem and quality of life, it simply does not matter what “parenting theory” you cling too…You will still fuck stuff up. And your kids will still be awesome and think you are awesome and will love you.

5. About that sanity thing…You could seriously CLAIM the shit out of some peace of mind, IF AND ONLY IF you remember the following…even when the house is a mess, the sink is full, there is dog hair everywhere, the kids are SCREAMING…YOU ARE SCREAMING…YOUR HUSBAND IS “NAPPING” THROUGH IT… You are still a good mother. Your children feel inherently safe and loved. NOT Because you didn’t yell or you bought gluten free, organic pumpkin bread or you had “family game night” or “taco freakin’tuesday”. Your children feel safe and loved because you LOVE THEM. As it turns out…kids really don’t care if the house is messy or their bed has no top sheet or if they have frozen waffles for dinner sometimes…they DO care that you go to their Lacrosse games and get snacks for the team. They care that you read books at school and show up for “MY FIVE SENSES” THE MUSICAL! They care when you let them snuggle with you at night, even though you honestly don’t want anyone in your “personal space” (about that…you won’t have that for awhile)

They forgive you more than you can imagine. They don’t hold grudges like grown ups. They mess up. They are loud and wild and wrestle and break your furniture. They GET SICK, SCARY SICK AND THEN…THEY GET BETTER. THEY ARE RESILIENT. So don’t spend too much time doubting, second guessing and emotionally beating the crap out of yourself down that long road of parenthood.

6. I must reiterate to you the capacity that these little dudes have to show you forgiveness and how they will crack you freakin’ heart wide open to be able to LOVE WITHOUT CONDITIONS. Mamma…being a mom is so incredibly hard and that is something no one person could possibly prepare you for. You are terrified…I know. BUT I want you to understand, that 13 years out…I think you are a rock star and you are doing a bang up job. NOW, LISTEN UP. THERE is a thought that you seem to have that will continually haunt you for the better part of this journey…it is this: ” IF I AM A GOOD MOTHER I WILL DO__________FILL IN THE BLANK” AND you fear that if you don’t do _____________, you may fundamentally fuck up your kids and they will spend 15 years in therapy talking about the suck-fest known as “MOM”. HERE IS THE TRUTH, AS YOUR 42 YEAR OLD WISER SELF BELIEVES. (see NOW..#7)

7. No matter how “good” you do, Someday’s your children think you suck. No matter how bad you do, your children still love and want to snuggle with you. No matter what “approach” to parenting you take or how infrequently you change the sheets or wash the floors, at the end of the day…if you have loved your kids (despite them being a huge pain in the ass sometimes), IF you have shown up despite being bone crushing exhausted and tucked them in at night even though you wanted to hide under the covers and look at Facebook…If you have made the frozen waffles for dinner and somehow convinced them this is an incredible dinner; well it seems that all of the mistakes seem to gently fall away. THEY LOVE YOU WITH THE SAME RECKLESS ABANDON THAT YOU LOVE THEM AND THAT IS SOMETHING YOU CAN’T IMAGINE. Not when you first see those little eyes of a seven pound newborn staring up at you. It is something that permeates your soul over time. They love you in spite of yourself. They accept your hugs AND your apologies. They mess up, they scare you…you mess up and scare them and at the end of the day…even on the worst, the messiest, the sickest, the scariest, the busiest, the WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING HAVING KIDS’ kind of days (yes those exist), you still all end up being each others favorite people in the whole freakin’ UNIVERSE.

8. AND Lastly…carry on sweet mamma. It’s all a series of learning and there is no “figuring it out”…Just hang on, reach out, don’t judge yourself, other parents, your husband or your kids…and you will be FUCKING FINE. YOU will be GOOD ENOUGH…you are not a perfect mother, but you are THE PERFECT MOTHER FOR YOUR CHILDREN. CLAIM THAT SHIT AND WEAR IT WELL. (and tell some other parents along the way what an awesome job they are doing, because you would be surprised how many feel just as shitty or terrified as you do)

xoxoxox