Momma has lost her mind.

“Do You Love Being Home?”… Why I Struggle With This Question.

From time to time, I venture out on my own. It’s usually to fetch more food for the fam at the dreaded grocery store or something of that sort. Some call this the Mom-cation. Sad isn’t … that swaying to Dido, sipping on a Dunkin’ coffee and gazing down the aisle of the overly packaged, processed food can be equated to “taking time for herself”.

While I’m out “on vacation”, I sometimes run in to people I knew in my past life. The life that involved my brain synapses firing in directions other than figuring out how to burn off four year old energy or reminding myself, for the forth time, to take the chicken out of the freezer for dinner. I genuinely like running in to people I know, as long as it isn’t on the third day I have put off showering. The opportunity for adult conversation doesn’t come up much so when it does, even for a small talk quickie, I enjoy it.

I revel in the common, “How are the kids?”. I’m usually prepared for the, “Are you finding time for yourself?”. However, I dread hearing, “Do you love being home?” The first two can be answered simply and in truth with minimal guilt and judgement. However, “Do you love being home?” makes me want to run and find that family size bag of Doritos on sale that I am way too excited about.

Answering this question is tough. I don’t want to come across as an awful human being by admitting that some days being home with small children makes me envious of Thelma and Louise’s last road trip. I certainly do not want to sound ungrateful when the awkward pitch of my nervous laugh scares the elderly lady behind me. I stumble at best with my response to this one every time.

I find it difficult to articulate the fine line that weaves between raising your children and enjoying them. To me that line can be straight, jagged, strong and broken all within a ten minute time span and how do you communicate that without giving a bad impression. I was so tired of answering random questions from my four yr old today I found myself whispering “Please God make her stop” before I even figured out what was for lunch. I pulled so many things out of my 14mth old’s mouth and hands today that at a certain point I convinced myself that as long as it was the colored pencils, and not the crayons he was in to, he was fine.

I’ve come to realize that there is no such thing as good days and bad days. There are good moments and bad moments and each exist in EVERYDAY. I do love being home with the little tyrants. I would hate to miss that moment when little man walks up to his sister and just lays his head on her shoulder. Or when my girl busts a move with me in the kitchen and tells me, “Mom, you’re an amazing dancer”. But those moments, the ones that fill your soul and the ones that frazzle your last nerve, are hard to portray in the realms of small talk.

Is there one question you get about being a SAHM or about your kids in general, that irritates you? Am I the only one that feels like driving to the grocery store alone and the two hours away from my family is a mini vaca?

Advertisements
Life can be serious business.

Alice In Her Own Wonderland.

While searching for blogs related to mental health awareness, I stumbled upon A Canvas Of The Minds via  Twindaddy at Stuphblog.  I’m so grateful I did.  This blog is exactly what we need to see more of in our everyday lives.  Combatting the stigma in order to treat the minds of those that carry a mental health diagnosis is crucial to our society.  Especially in a time like now where random acts of violence are mistaken for an opportunity to vilify anyone with a diagnosis and attempts at suicide are  labeled “attention seeking behavior”.

I want to do my part in raising awareness so I am taking the “Blog for mental health pledge” and will continue to make my own struggles and knowledge on the matter transparent.  Here is my pledge:

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  

Here is a story I wrote just about a month ago that I will use as my introductory piece.

My mother was bi-polar. I don’t have the paper trail to prove this but I know in my heart she was. My educational background is in psychology and I started my career and continued to work with the mentally ill before resigning to stay home with my young children. I share that not as if to say I know what I know because of my educational or work history.  It’s relevant because I’m starting to understand that my focus on furthering my education and understanding of mental illness was really a quest to love my mother not a career choice.

I can’t tell you how many times I saw my Mom in the tired lines imprinted on female patient’s faces I worked with both on a mental health unit and of those I worked with in their homes. It’s like they were all pieces to the puzzle that was my Mom. She was in and out of my life so much through out her life that all I really have is pieces. I became a motherless daughter in 1997, when I was 15 years old.  The stories from my older siblings, all of whom are at least 12 years older than me, are a part of figuring it all out. Understanding where she came from, what she went through and the decisions she made is another.

It’s both a beautiful and some times disparaging thing when a daughter idolizes her Mom. Especially when, despite the mother’s best efforts, she could not be the kind of Mom that she needed to be. It’s so conflicting to want to be like your mother both because of and despite her faults.

I have had my own bouts with clinically diagnosed depression.  At times, I have questioned whether it is actually the uncompromising pulls of high and low that strangle me and not just the low.  Either way, the force that is my entangled brain has, at times, left me fighting the urge to run away.  To escape and embark on an anonymous life.  A life free of my current self.  In a sense, a life void of authenticity that allows more choice in how I can be perceived.  My mother did this.

According to my sister, Mom would sometimes be gone for weeks at a time only to return wearing a waitress uniform adorned with a name tag that read Alice.  My mom’s name was Connie.

A few years ago, I googled my Mom’s name because I was that desperate to find clues about who she was.  I surprisingly stumbled upon an arrest record in North Carolina from January of 1985.  At that time, Mom lived in Florida and my oldest sister was due to give birth to her first child.  My Mom had been arrested for larceny, impersonating someone else and somehow ensued a police car chase.

I was conflicted with anger and jealousy.  Her choices hurt her family.  Still somehow I craved to go on my own “adventure”.  That is the problem with glorifying someone.  Their actions are excused.  Especially when that person is your Mom and part of you is her.  I know that it was her untreated illness that helped fuel her disappearances.  I just wish I knew where she was on that polar line that ran through her mind when she would choose to leave.  And just how much of it was a choice.

When I first considered starting a blog, I thought about using an alias. I finally decided it would defeat my purpose. Writing is a cathartic experience for me and I no longer want to experience that in hiding or alone or in search of answers I have no real way of knowing.  I can’t keep chasing the missing pieces of the puzzle.  It’s best left unfinished but placed in a frame and hung to be honored anyway.  The whole picture isn’t really necessary to me anymore.  The love is in the pieces that are connected.

I am finally seeing Connie for who she was – the un-romanticized version of her life as a child, a daughter, a sister, a woman, my Mom.

http://acanvasoftheminds.com/2014/01/07/blog-for-mental-health-2014/

Life can be serious business.

A Distorted Mind.

I was hit last night.  I didn’t know where it came from or the cause but it was a blow that shook me.  I’m still shaking.

8

I can’t understand why depression seems to creep in and take such an oppressive hold, at times that seem so incongruously wrong.  It feels like years worth of building myself up has crumbled down today and it has left me desperate.  Desperate for an air I can breathe back in to my usual full of life mind and body.  I’m running on discouraged fumes today.

I am reaching for a layer of strength so that I can mother my children through this somber day.  My arsenal for hiding my broken pieces is running frustratingly low.  The art of distraction, for both them and myself, is vital today.  I need room to decipher how to react to them when I feel like this.  It’s difficult to recognize.  It’s hazy at best.

Just as the energy to find humor has completely left me today, so has my relationship to any familiar emotion.  I am indifferent to all of it.  Love is there.  I can feel it.  I just can’t access it.

This is my truth.  I have these days.  I have variations of these days.  I have no way of knowing when this particular occurrence will lift or at least ease.  My body usually recognizes the break before my mind does.  I’ll be in motion again.  I’ll move forward and up word in thought.  My brain will react less critically.

Time is the only prescription that works.  Time and the will and ability to connect my flesh to the moment.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/daily-prompt-forward/

Life can be serious business.

Motherless Mom.

I tend to express more grief on the day my
mother was born than the day that she died.  A little
baby girl entered the world as innocent as my own,  and then
endured four lifetimes worth of struggle in 46 short years. 
That’s a tough pill for me to swallow.  Even harder because
I am her baby girl.  Having said that,
today marks the eve of her death 17 years ago and I am missing her
terribly.  It’s always the days leading up to anniversaries
and holidays that are the hardest for me.  In honor of her,
myself and other Motherless Moms, I wanted
to share this post I wrote early on.  I tried
to capture the essence of losing her and what it means to me at
this point in my life. 6455_1190790687614_1163766376_30564651_1135391_n For me, it’s hard to find
the words to convey what it is like to be a Motherless
daughter.  It means something different at every stage in my
life.  Hope Edelman wrote in her book “Motherless
Daughters”
about wanting to shout
to everyone that her mom died
because it sums up so much of who she is.  I get
that. The only thing that has impacted me greater than losing
my Mom at the age of 15 has been becoming a Mom myself. Not all of
thsadness comes from not having that
person who you know above all would answer your call or would
have a piece of advice whether or not you want it.  My
sadness has morphed in to comprehending the absence of time
needed to know your mom beyond being your Mom.  My
Mother was a beautiful kind of chaos.  A kind of chaos
that rears it’s fury all over my own thoughts, reactions and
emotions.   I know it’s there…I can feel the
connection.  I just wish I could
see it in her eyes these days. 
That my daughter could see the common
fragile thread that exists between me and the woman that
created me so that when she gets older, she’ll be able to not
only see but understand and embrace
the kind
of crazy
we share. My Mother’s battle with mental
illness and addictions prevented her version of mothering to be
found in any how-to book; however, I still crave to know what her
answers would have been to the questions I need to ask her about
how I am suppose to mother. 
It’s unsettling that no matter how dysfunctional
or even neglectful your Mother may be, you still
love her and want her in your life.  She is the first
piece of my story and it is the piece I know the least about
because of the point in my, and her ,life when I lost her. No
body goes to a school and learns the tricks of the trade on
parenting but most have that go-to professor she calls
Mom.  That’s the void that I live with in my heart. 
However, I have been blessed with women landing in my life for
reasons I am just now starting to really understand.  Women
that if were asked to gather in a small space, would form
a shape that fits perfectly inside the void in my heart left
when my Mom died.   These women have molded me by
offering divinely designed doses of lessons my Mom may or may not
have been able to teach me… had she had enough time. These
women, have taken many forms.  A sister that cared for me (and
still does) when there was no body left to do the job and
that understood that her sheer presence in my life was a
matter of tipping the scales towards history NOT repeating
itself.  A teacher who created lesson plans out of thin
air just so she could carry me under her wing for a little
while longer.  A co-worker and friend that gave me a
glimpse of what recovery could have looked like for my own Mother
and shared her many lessons learned along the way.  A coach
that hugged me and then told me to get up when I fell and try
harder.  A friend that no matter how dark or mundane it gets,
has the power to raise me up and keep me laughing.  A boss
that didn’t accept my judgments of people presenting weaker than me
and pointed my heart in the right direction to help instead of
judge.  A college professor that supported my quest to
identify a diagnosis that best suited my Mother’s actions and
personality.  Not one but two single Moms who
opened their doors to me when I rebelled the hardest and
needed love the most.  A soul sister’s Mother who embodied
what a Mother should look like and taught me the power of
prayer.  And a woman, my Mother’s,
brother’s daughter, who by no coincidence, I connected
with to ensure that I knew I was not alone. So Mom…I say
this to you with a broken but healing heart.  I
understand why you couldn’t be the one to parent and/or, in
the flesh, support me in parenting my own.  The only
beauty in your departure has been the grace in which these other
Moms have and continue to imprint my life.  I have grown
from a Mother-less daughter to a daughter or many Mothers.

Don't take life too serious., Life can be serious business.

Santa’s Elves Arrived via Hospice That Year.

Hospice had been called in a few weeks before Christmas.  Mom’s body and mind was in and out of tune depending on which medications had been fetched from her four by seven pill box.  I would lie with her as soon as I got home from school whether she was sleeping or watching her Jesus shows.  She was quite drawn to him towards the end.

That Christmas, my sister and I put the tree in the kitchen so my Mom could see it from her hospital bed in her room.  It was more of a demand than a kind gesture if I’m being honest.  We soon realized it was really just so she could tell us that the garland was too much and the balls weren’t spaced enough apart.  It made for some good laughs, some eye rolls and a picture perfect Christmas tree when the boss said we were done.

I really can’t tell you much more about that Christmas other than it was the last one I got to spend with my Mom.  It’s very blurry; however, one particular day before the holiday has stayed as vivid in my mind as the day my children were born.

We weren’t expecting any visitors that I knew of so I was surprised when I heard the knock on the door.  I was even more confused when I saw a small group of adults wearing santa hats with arm loads of pristinely wrapped Christmas presents in their arms.  I was greeted by “Merry Christmas” in unison and in they walked.

I quickly learned that these were Hospice volunteers.  They took time out of their lives to come help me, a 15 year old girl, and her mother who’s life so savagely riddled her with cancer celebrate Christmas.   They even brought gifts for my five year old niece who lived to laugh with her Grandma.  It was love and selflessness in it’s purest form.

I honestly cannot tell you what any of those gifts were except one teddy bear that I strangely named Psycho.  It doesn’t matter really.  It was a moment of joy in the midst of the most heartbreaking time in my life that I will never forget.

As an adult, I have come to appreciate it even more.  As a mother myself now, I can imagine how grateful my Mother must have been.  It was a moment that I associate with learning the true meaning of Christmas.

Nothing embodies selflessness quite like Hospice does.  Caring for not only a dying patient but their family as well is honorable.  And these individuals that showed up at our door were their volunteers.  This wasn’t a job that was assigned to them…they signed up to do it.  I wish I knew who they were so I could tell them how much that meant to me and my family.

After Mom past away in early January, we received one more gift from Hospice.  A stuffed bear adorned with skin sewn from my Mom’s favorite flannel shirt.  The bears button eyes sparkle with her spirit…even at 32 I still see it.  I cherish this bear and where it comes from.

Most cherished bear.
Most cherished bear.

Joy and sorrow comes in many forms and are often intertwined.  For me, that Christmas, it was joy in the form of unfamiliar faces that came at a time when my spirit needed it the most.

 

Don't take life too serious., Momma has lost her mind.

A Year in the Trenches of Being Momma.

1452347_10151735667451231_612983827_n
The bosses.

It was early December, last year, that I lost my mind and resigned from my job, jumping blindly in to a gig that has consumed me, taught me, challenged me, permitted me and in a way saved me.  It wasn’t the wrong path I was headed down, just a path fueled by the wrong part of my body – my brain.  Stepping out of the working world and in to a world that revolves around raising my children has taught my brain to co-exist with my heart.  Life has started to raise me.

Sugar and Spice.
Sugar and Spice.

My daughter is a very inquisitive and compassionate four year old and is starting to notice how many layers there are to life.  She is starting to dabble in the grey.  It’s a beautiful and frightening thing to witness.  The mere minutes it takes to sit down and have a conversation with her about whatever is tugging at her brain that moment is what I have come to understand is the good stuff.  Checking stuff off my lists may ease my anxiety but it doesn’t fill my heart.  Those conversations have become my reality check lists.

1377003_10151642843696231_849764242_n
A hold on my heart.

My little guy is working his way towards figuring out the basics.  His curiosity and determined personality keeps him exploring and moving most of the day now.  I’ve learned to never trust that a quiet one year old is a safe, behaving child.  At his quietest moments, my little guy has been found sitting under an entire bag of opened sugar, sharing a jar of peanut butter with the dog, tasting chap stick, snacking on dog food, testing gravity at the top of the stairs, challenging death with a sharp object in his mouth, filling the toilet bowl with toys and that was just last week.   Silence is the enemy unless they are sleeping.

I’m so blessed, however, to have a Momma’s boy that at random times just wants to sit on my lap and lie his head on my chest.  Maybe he’ll look at me and start singing a song or have a discussion in that incredibly adorable, foreign language that only toddlers speak.  Those sweet, quiet, still moments were forced on me.  I had to learn to just STOP and have them.  Those moments when I’m snuggling with my kids has taught me that God is love.  It’s the first time in my life I have ever been able to define God in any way.

Nap time has become sacred time.  Especially since I started writing.  It’s the only time in the day I get to turn everything off – my listening ears, my kissing boo boo lips, my hands that seem to always be sanitizing or holding something, my I see everything eyes including the moments of which I wish I didn’t, my poopy diaper detector a.k.a. my nose and my mouth that just tries to keep up with questions and never ending “NO’s”.  Chores will still be there but my string of sanity may not if I don’t put myself first at some point in the day.

I’ve learned to let go in the realm of hard times.  In every avenue of my life this past year, as a woman, wife and Mom, I have come out wiser on the other side of a struggle.  Financial hardship has forced me to pay more attention to what I have and make the best of it.  I have had to better understand the difference between a want and a need.  I’ve learned to trade convenience for creativity.  I’ve learned to build more on the basics.  I’ve grown to appreciate the things that take more time instead of speed up the process of living.

I have recognized that I do have the ability to play and laugh like a child.  In my adult life, that has been absent until now.  Being in the trenches of stay at home Mom-ville lends itself to self reflection.  It has put forth opportunities to forgive my flaws and grow in areas I didn’t know needed attention.  This past year, because of all that has challenged me, I am more confident in my own skin.

wish I had an end of the year performance review coming up to be nervous about.  A stamp of approval with a visual list of things to work on is not something that comes with this job.  However, as this year comes to an end, my two new bosses seem to be pretty happy with my performance.  And NOTHING beats that!

Life can be serious business.

Alice In Her Own Wonderland.

My mother was bipolar. I don’t have the paper trail to prove this, but know in my heart she was. My educational background is in psychology and I started my career and continued to work with the mentally ill before resigning to stay home with my young children. I share that not as if to say I know what I know because of my educational or work history.  It’s relevant because I’m starting to understand that my focus on furthering my education and understanding of mental illness was really a quest to love my mother, not a career choice.

I can’t tell you how many times I saw my Mom in the tired lines imprinted on the female patient’s faces I worked with, both on a mental health unit and of those I worked with in their homes. It’s like they were all pieces to the puzzle that was my Mom. She was in and out of my life so much through out her life that all I really have is pieces. I became a motherless daughter in 1997, when I was 15 years old.  The stories from my older siblings, all of whom are at least 10 years older than me, are a part of figuring it all out. Understanding where she came from, what she went through and the decisions she made is another.

It’s both a beautiful and some times disparaging thing when a daughter idolizes her Mom. Especially when, despite the mother’s best efforts, she could not be the kind of Mom that she needed to be. It’s so conflicting to want to be like your mother both because of and despite her faults.

I have had my own bouts with clinically diagnosed depression.  At times, I have questioned whether it is actually the uncompromising pulls of high and low that strangle me and not just the low.  Either way, the force that is my entangled brain has, at times, left me fighting the urge to run away.  To escape and embark on an anonymous life.  A life free of my current self.  In a sense, a life void of authenticity that allows more choice in how I can be perceived.  My mother did this.

According to my sister, Mom would sometimes be gone for weeks at a time only to return wearing a waitress uniform adorned with a name tag that read Alice.  My mom’s name was Connie.

A few years ago, I googled my Mom’s name because I was that desperate to find clues about who she was.  I surprisingly stumbled upon an arrest record in North Carolina from January of 1985.  At that time, Mom lived in Florida and my oldest sister was due to give birth to her first child.  My Mom had been arrested for larceny, impersonating someone else and somehow ensued a police car chase.

I was conflicted with anger and jealousy.  Her choices hurt her family.  Still somehow I craved to go on my own “adventure”.  That is the problem with glorifying someone.  Their actions are excused.  Especially when that person is your Mom and part of you is her.  I know that it was her untreated illness that helped fuel her disappearances.  I just wish I knew where she was on that polar line that ran through her mind, when she would choose to leave.  And just how much of it was a choice.

When I first considered starting a blog, I thought about using an alias. I finally decided it would defeat my purpose. Writing is a cathartic experience for me and I no longer want to experience that in hiding or alone or in search of answers I have no real way of knowing.  I can’t keep chasing the missing pieces of the puzzle.  It’s best left unfinished but placed in a frame and hung to be honored anyway.  The whole picture isn’t really necessary to me anymore.  The love is in the pieces that are connected.

I am finally seeing Connie for who she was – the un-romanticized version of her life as a child, a daughter, a sister, a woman, my Mom.

Momma has lost her mind.

Feminism and Cookie Dough.

“I have to get dinner started because daddy will be home soon”.

I have said this to the kids before but something about the way I said it this time hung in the air and I can’t seem to shoo it away.  It made me chuckle.  I suddenly had a vision of me in a pristine housewife dress draped with a wrinkle free apron, perfectly shaped hair, standing next to a vacuum cleaner with a slightly over-medicated smile on my face.  What led me to write about this, is the surprising attraction to and immediate revulsion of what just occurred in my head.

I’m no June Clever.  My version of being a wife and Mother more resemble what an offspring of Danny Tanner and Peg Bundy would look like.  Literally speaking anyway.  I love my family and will tackle any issue (cue cheesy 80’s tv background music) that life throws at us but I’m not winning any mother of the year awards either.

I’m a clean up after your self, unless there is blood I don’t want to hear whining, give a spanking when necessary because time out is usually a joke kind of Momma.  And as far as a wife…well I married the man I did for a reason.  There is no hierarchy in my marriage.  My inner angry Lilith Fair groupie wants to jump start a riot every time I’m at a wedding and the words “to obey” are still left in the woman’s part of the vows.

I’m usually back in sweats by the time hubby gets home.  I’ve never worn an apron and the only time I’m smiling while vacuuming is if I’m goosing my son and daughter with the vacuum hose to keep them laughing and out of my way.

However, I did choose to be a SAHM so I do feel somewhat responsible for the day to day chores in the house. Yes, I just dry heaved gagged a little.  I never, ever thought I would be a SAHM and I NEVER thought I would “conform” to the roles a woman is “suppose” to take on but here I am.  This is where life, in all its humorous irony, has led me.  And I’m happy to be here.

I’m lying if I deny that there is something very satisfying and somewhat sexy about having dinner smelling up the house and a somewhat clean house ready when the hubby gets home.  Having him walk in the door, hug the kids who have run up to him, give me a kiss on the cheek and maybe a little squeeze of the ass puts a smile on my face.  I feel very strange admitting that though…like I just sold myself out.  A little piece of my old 20 something self just died a little if I want to be melodramatic about it.

It’s comical really…five yrs of marriage, two kids and a surprising decision to trade my 9 to 5 for raising babies (and a slightly increased wine and coffee addiction), half my days are spent preparing or planning to prepare meals.  This coming from the girl that said something like “Just because I have boobs doesn’t mean I have to cook dinner every night!” shortly after getting married.  Once again, I find myself in a place I swore I would never be.  Consumed with wearing hats I tried so hard in my 20’s to avoid even touching.

Back then, I was so hell bent on NOT conforming that it never occurred to me that I might actually enjoy activities that fit the standard mold like baking.  I can bake the shit out of some cookies now and I enjoy the hell out of it.  It blows my mind that I bake, that I have any desire at all to make home made cleaning products, that I attempted to make homemade Halloween costumes this year, that at least once a week I even think about trying to be in something other than sweats when my husband gets home because I want him to see me without boogers, oatmeal and flour streaked across my clothes and hair.

To say people don’t change is just plain naïve.  Not that people always change for the better but they always change…it’s called growing.  Life has forced me to change and add to my own perspective and thank God for that.  I can own my views and not feel like I have to present my self in any one sort of way in order to be true to them.

I carry feminism and cookie dough in my arsenal now.  Imagine that.

Momma has lost her mind.

Nat Geo Boobs: A “Perk” of Being Momma.

Underwire. Push up bras. They not only hold the girls up but have become my last line of defense in the war against saggy booby syndrome. I have nursed two kids. Throw in entering my 30’s and I am definitely losing the war.

Darling D's.
Delicious D’s

I loved my boobs. A perfect B. Added a little junk in my trunk after getting married and guess what? I loved them even more. I had the perfect C. Then, I got pregnant. My lovely C’s turned in to vuluptous D’s. It was a miracle. The girl that couldn’t tell her back from her chest as a blossoming teenager has managed to pull off two fun-filled, fabulous D’s.

Looking at my boobs now, I see a whole new meaning to the expression “sucking the life out of you”. I pumped primarily for my first child for six months. Nursing went a little smoother with my son, who latched his perfect little lips around my now affectionately dubbed “Nat Geo nips”, every chance he got, for nine exhausting months. These deflated balloons no longer bring the boys to yard is all I’m saying.

These new larger than life nipples have decided they prefer originality, ultimately refusing to be like the other. My nips are as indecisive as I am. One choosing to invert just to make that very clear. Neither prefer to rest politely in the middle of my breasts anymore. They seem to migrate these days, one north and one south.

There are no more sexy, slow-mo bouncing boobies that I once had and loved. The girls are more swaying than bouncing these days. And don’t even get me started on lying down. Looks like I got two medium sized tumors creeping in to my arm pits. My cleavage is now a tunnel of darkness between two rained on ant hills.

boobs ant hills
Are these ants mocking me?
I had no idea that my perfect D’s would morph in to shriveled up itty bitty A titties. No one told me that there would come a day when I would have to roll these bitches up to put them away. Someone failed to mention And that trips to the bathroom would now and forever involve a reach down to put the girls back in their place.
A lot of attention is put on the Freddy Kruger marks left on our bellies after cooking our babies. Our once perky and full of life breasts seem to be the invisible heros of developing and nourishing our spawns. I’ve had this conversation with other moms before and it always requires a slightly twisted sense of humor. Those with out kids will laugh, but it’s usually one of those nervous “come on guys, it’s not really that bad, is it?” kind of laughs.
I put out a request for women to share how they really feel about their post-baby boobs on my Facebook page. I can’t say I’m surprised at my followers sense of humor.

 “I have always called them my 2 sunny side up boobs.”blog pic2

 “I think of clown shoes. A little long, but still fat on the end.”

blog pics1

 “Long orangutan boobs! Or water balloons, slightly filled.”

blog pics

Many other women described their boobs as “saggy”, “long”, “less perky”. “Stretched out, heavy, floppy sandbags”, said a Mom of three, who is expecting her forth soon (as well as her boobs to touch her belly button afterwards). One that I could totally relate to was “flat as pancakes”. We’re talking late night, half-assed Denny’s pancakes, at best.

 Oh, I miss the girls. I miss the days when I was more concerned with the color of my bra, and not whether the Nat Geo nips would steal the spotlight. I wish someone would have shown me a picture of post nursing boobs, before I decided to let the monsters latch on. It wouldn’t have persuaded me to feed them any other way. Perhaps though, I would have given the girls the front line more often, before they melted, developed protruding, wondering eye balls where my delicate nipples used to be and made me ask myself…Is muffin-boob a thing?

Life can be serious business.

Depression and Motherhood: This is My Truth.

Tom Gauld
Tom Gauld

My truth about struggling with depression and being a mom is not pretty.  It’s not a feel good story. It’s a story that continues to evolve.

My depression started at a young age.  As a child, I was exposed to a type of environment where my predisposed genes didn’t have a fighting chance to stay hidden.  I was never put in treatment and I don’t believe it was even recognized by the adults around me.  It wasn’t until I was in my late teens/early 20’s that even I recognized it.

My depression was masked a lot in my 20’s by numbing myself with alcohol.  A shitty day just meant I really needed to get drunk.  If I look back at my 20’s, I was a damn good functioning alcoholic that balanced school, work and partying quite well.  Until I didn’t.

Around my mid to late 20’s, the effects of the depression became harder and harder to bury or ignore.  It was like anything in life, you can only bury your demons for so long and then boom.  I started to have bad weeks instead of days.  I wanted nothing to do with anyone, including myself.  I finally gave in and began taking an anti-depressant in conjunction with psychotherapy.  It worked for the time being.

I began working in the field of mental health after graduating college.  Do what you know right?  Being the one who evaluated countless people in the ER, I knew the lingo and the symptoms that usually led to an admission on the mental health unit, a place where I also worked.  This created so much internal conflict for me.  I loved what I did and was good at it because I could truly empathize.  But it also created a lot of fear in regards to dealing with my own struggles.  I couldn’t even be completely honest with my therapist because I was scared that if I admitted to certain things such as having suicidal thoughts and any sort of plan, I would be seen as a safety risk.  I couldn’t let myself fall in to the broken mental health system, even as broken as I was.  So I continued to work harder at dancing around my symptoms instead of trudging through the heartache of admitting to myself or even a professional what was really going on in my own head.

I was so angry.  I lashed out at complete strangers.  I fell apart over spilled milk.  My work became impossible because everything triggered me.  The individual’s stories became too difficult to hear and I was no longer helping anyone, especially myself.  I literally fell to pieces.  I thankfully had a primary care doctor at the time that was more than just a normal doctor.  I trusted her so I went to her office in the middle of the day during work.  I could not pull myself together and I didn’t really have an explanation as to why.  She took me out of work for the next few days.  I called my husband, scared to death what he would think and say.  He, being the man that he is, told me not to worry about anything and to just take care of myself.  I went home and went to bed.  I didn’t get up for three days.  When I did I felt better but knew I was right back where I had been before.  It was time to start taking medication again and get back in to therapy.

Shortly after that, at the age of 27, I got pregnant.  Although I wasn’t a lover of being pregnant, I have to say I was never happier.  The boost of hormones were fabulous and I felt great.  And then the third trimester happened.  I plummeted.  I hated myself because how could I be so awfully sad about and ungrateful for the life inside me.  I hated that I hated myself.  I felt bad for feeling bad.

After my daughter was born, I had the normal baby blues but thankfully it passed and within a few weeks I had fallen in love with my little girl.  But then something flipped that switch.  The switch that I have learned I have no control over.  I became numb, her needs became overwhelming.  I became an auto pilot mom.  I did what I needed to do but that was about it.  This wasn’t the normal, over tired, overwhelmed, new mom effect.  This was joyless motions.  It was feeling like a failure with every action.  This was irrational.  I can remember thinking what a piece of shit I was that I wasn’t happy about my beautiful life.  To me, at that time, nothing was beautiful.

I reached a point where suicide seemed like a valid solution.  I was just existing anyway.  I wasn’t bringing anything good to the world around me, including the people in it, so what was the fucking point.  I cried so hard when no one was looking.  I couldn’t look in mirrors because I hated what I saw.  It is a scary and very lonely place to be. I felt like I was different than every person/woman/mom around me.  I didn’t dare admit to having suicidal thoughts to anyone, even my husband. What kind of mother or wife am I if I admit to feeling like I need to leave him and my children.

I don’t know how I got through that particular rough patch if I am being honest.  But time went on and I survived.  My relationship had good days and bad days.  On the bad days, I just knew my husband was going to leave me and I didn’t blame him.  Who wants to live with someone that can’t seem to get her shit together and falls apart or blows up when the wind blows to the east.  I tried so hard.  I would take medicine for a while, stabilize and then go off of it because I felt like I had it under control.  Which is madness in itself.  I was the one encouraging people to take their meds with over used scripts like “if you had diabetes you wouldn’t not take your meds, well depression is no different”.  I was actually fighting everyone elses battles, with a vengeance, to help erase their pain and the stigma of living with a mental illness, but yet couldn’t take my own advice.

After my second child was born, I was on a high fueled with love and what felt like a completion of my family.  I chose not to take medicine with both of my pregnancies and have yet to go back on them since having my son, who is now 15 mths old.  I’m starting to feel the need and see the signs again.  I hate it.  I hate that I need a pill to be of sound mind but I’ve ridden this roller coaster long enough to know how dangerous it can be with out it.

It seems like my depression has gotten more intense after each of my children have been born.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it is the added stress or the changes to my body’s chemistry.  Even though I am able to recognize that funk that seems to cling to me when I am sliding down hill, I can’t prevent it.  I have days where I busy the kids with some sort of something so that I can cry in another room where they don’t see me and ask questions.  I feel so unworthy of my children’s forgiving love some days.

It’s not everyday or even every other week but I still have times when I question why I should continue with this misery.  It is insanely disabling to be in a place where you believe in your heart that a life without a Mom is better than a life with a Mom like me.  I say that with tears in my eyes because I know the damage of both.  My Mom was in and out of my life because of her mental illness and when she finally got on a healthier path mentally, she died of a physical illness.

People that say suicide is selfish are right.  It is.  However, for the person contemplating it or living with pain so great that it is seen as a reasonal option, it feels as if it is more of a gift.  A blessing to others.  Because now the people surrounding you no longer have to feel the effects of your broken being.  This has been my truth for so long.

I would like to say that I have overcome and gotten through the worst of it, but I know better now.  I have; however, come to terms with what this debilitating disease is capable of and am much more likely to ask for help when I need it.  One of the best things a therapist ever said to me was to question whether or not how I am feeling is rational.  If I can’t explain why I am feeling so sad or angry or worthless then it’s time to take better care of myself.  And that doesn’t mean a day at the spa.  I fucking hate it when people say “well make sure you are taking time for yourself.  Go get a massage”.  That is a band aid and if you suggest it you need to better educate yourself.  Taking better care of myself really means to admit to myself and those closest around me that I need an ear, support, a break, compassion and/or a shoulder.

There are all these stigmas attached to women with children that admit to having depression.  A big part of that is because of what is portrayed in the media but also because of the lack of education around mental illness as a whole.  So here, let me clear up a few.  No, I have never had thoughts to hurt my children (in a psychosis kind of way).  Yes, I am fit to raise my children, even on a bad day.  Yes, my kids friends are safe at my house, I have depression, I’m not neglectful.  Please don’t ask me how I am doing with a sad, overly concerned look on your face.  I know what you are really asking and it’s condescending and annoying.  No I don’t “check out” on my kids.  I may not be the lively, playful mother every day of the week but I’m not hiding in my room while they run loose and mold themselves in to psychopaths either.  Yes, I have bad days that are just that – a bad day.  And guess what, I am entitled to those.  If I flip someone off or cry over a commercial, it’s more than likely due to my hot head or exceptionally thin skin, not my diagnosis.  Yes, I have good days and no, I’m not pretending to be happy.  I am a genuinely happy person by nature.  And here is a big one.  Please take note of this one because it is the worst thing you could ever say to someone like me.  Don’t ever assume that a person can “snap out of it”.  It’s impossible and you’re being naïve and downright hateful if you think ANYONE would choose to feel the way I have attempted to describe.

Depression looks different to everyone that suffers from it.  However, I have learned through personal and professional experience that those that live with it have one thing in common – loneliness.  I wish people talked candidly about it.  I wish women felt more comfortable and less shame about admitting these type of thoughts and feelings.  I just hope that by sharing my story, someone will feel less alone and less shameful.