Sunday, September 13, 2015

An Open Letter to a mom coming out of rehab:

Dear mama,

I’m writing to you because I know you exist. I see you. I’ve seen you there for a while, but I’ve never said anything in passing...until now.

I was there the day you decided suicide was the only way out. It had to be, you thought, because if you died young, you wouldn’t be around to fuck up your children even worse. Because things like active addiction, post-partum depression, and childbirth don’t exist in the real world, all jumbled together in this great big mess that you don’t even notice until you’re so deep in it you can’t dig yourself out.

I don’t have any tips to give you about re-entering the world. If I did, I would follow them, myself. There was no way for me to prepare to walk back into the crime scene, sick with withdrawls, feeling how beyond repair my life had become. I mostly sat on the couch and stared at the wall a lot while my babies bounced around me and the movie Frozen ran in a constant loop. I won’t lie, I even got a little emotional every time Elsa let it go.

When you’re in rehab, you are completely isolated from the real world. You get used to that, after a while. Your old life starts to feel like some kind of dream, one you can talk to for ten minutes over the phone at night, when nobody is crying on it. And when you get home, everything is just as you left it, in some ways. But mostly, it’s not. And I think that’s OK, because it reminds me a lot of when I brought my second child home from the hospital, a squinting newborn, and I had a similar feeling. Like, the terrain is familiar, but everything has changed somehow, and I knew it would never be the same again. And yet, I survived. There was a new normal.

I should also mention something else I wish I had been told: You will be a completely different person when you get out of rehab. Stop and re-read that sentence for a minute. Get it? You will be DIFFERENT and feel different and everything around you will be different. I think that’s OK. Usually, it’s a good thing. It means you’re changing for the better, waking up, coming to, looking around. There may or may not be a lot of rubble around. Just step over it as best you can, and maybe think about getting a broom.

Get used to humility, because there’s a lot of that coming. Also, get used to accepting help. But, I think the most important thing to remember is, to get used to not being alone anymore. Because you’re not. There are so many of us, all over the world, going through the same thing. That, I do know.

Best of luck,


Sunday, January 18, 2015

An Open Letter to Chanel West Coast, from a mother with feminist inclinations.

I don't have cable, because hello, it's the 21st century. I have the internet. And also, I'm broke. That being said, it took a while for me to find out about a show on MTV called Rediculousness. Over at my neighbors house, it came on. I watched a few episodes.

Now, I can talk about this show all day. But I'm not here to talk about the show, itself. I'm here to talk to Chanel West Coast, the beautiful young woman dubbed the "Female Voice" of the show, who rarely does any actual talking.

Dear Chanel West Coast,

I saw you on TV the other day. You were the only female on stage, and you were asked to make some commentary on a video that had just been played. It seemed everyone expected you to say something dumb, because they all acted surprised when you said something intelligent. You were badass about it, and told them that you were actually pretty smart. I openly cheered when I heard you say this.

Look, you are young, and pretty. I get it. I used to be that way, too. I used to buy into the belief that my value as a person coincided with my physical appearance, namely, my sex appeal. I used to think my body was more important than my mind and opinions. I was raised that way, and you were raised that way, and we were all raised that way through marketing, through advertising, through our western culture and its value on the physical body. I used to torture and starve my body so that I could feel relief from the pressure to be 'ideal'. To be worthwhile. To matter.

Now, I have a daughter. Her name is Story, and she's ten months old. She's just a baby. I control her entire world at this time in her life, but one day, I won't. One day, she'll turn on a TV and find a show like Rediculousness, see the only female onstage portrayed as beautiful but nothing else, and feel like her place in life is first and foremost to be pretty. This is not any one person's fault. This is the fault of our culture. By the  very first time she turns on a show that stereotypes women, she will have already been exposed to thousands, probably millions, of versions of that same message: Pretty matters. I see these messages on every "Pink and pretty" piece of shit I come across in a toy store, and in the cartoons kids today are watching. In the clothes they are wearing. In the advertising they are saturated in from birth.

Story, and plenty of other little girls like her, will learn that how much her voice is listened to is related to how much skin she shows. She'll learn that the only way to make the world around her to her advantage is by being 'beautiful.' That beauty is the golden ticket.

We, as women, are the only ones who can put an end to this cycle. Not advertisers. Not MTV. Us. Women. It starts with women like you, Chanel West Coast. I know MTV is not paying you to do anything beyond fill the role of stage eye candy, and I understand and respect your desire to fill that role. but you've been given a platform. You can show that you are smart and that your opinions do matter. Instead of being another blow of the hammer to the nail that is the pretty female stereotype, you can be an inspiration to a young girl with a remote in her hand. By refusing to fill the role society and the entertainment business hands you, you can claim your own life. Be your own master. Show girls like Story that being smart and strong are essential to being beautiful.



Friday, November 21, 2014

Loving it. Hating it. Loving it.

Are you ready, world, for my big revelation? I now know what being a parent of two is about. The first year of babyhood, revisited, but still going by so fast. The sleepless nights, again, and the budding of a relationship between the two beings you created. And they have relationships with you, and with everyone in their lives, whether or not you control it. They are growing up. And you just hold on, as best you can.

What do our days look like lately? A lot of sweeping of the floors as Story makes her way around, completely by herself, looking for people. When she sees Collin, she cries "Bra Bra!" (which we assume means 'brother'). She does these adorably weird crawls, the crawl of a baby who has recently discovered independent movement, and would rather just be walking. She scoots on one leg, or sprints in a bear crawl. When she sees Husband, she absolutely must be held RIGHT NOW by him, and then she absolutely must be held RIGHT NOW by me, then back to him, and so on. We did this, and finally, she sat between us and just grinned her drooly grin, her chubby cheeks threatening to pop right off from sheer excertion, and she signs her first baby sign: "More."

 More? More of what? More of us? Does she really want more of us? Could it be?

Now that Story is nearing the end of her first year on Earth, I feel like I know her a little better. Story is becoming less the complacent baby she was, and showing us her new layers, as they develop. She loves to eat. I mean, that girl LOVES to eat, and how do i nurture her passion for food in a society that shames women who look like they love food? It starts with me. I am her mother: her first role model for what women think and do. It starts with me.

I have been so very busy lately becoming a completely different person: A mother of two, that I've failed quite miserably to blog about things. So, to make up for lost time, I will just list you some names of would-be blog titles from the past nine months:

Collin's Great Escape
The Poop Volcano
That Time I Thought I'd Accidentally Broken My Child's Arm
Eating Cheddar Bunnies on the Freeway
My House Is Decorated For Every Holiday Because Preschoolers Are Crazy
Getting Everything I've Ever Wanted
Hating Everything I've Ever Wanted
How Can A Baby's Butt Grow So Fast?
That Time I Woke Up With Anonymous  Boogers In My Hair and I Almost Re-thought Co-Sleeping
Collin's Brief Love Affair With Conventional Preschool
Our Brush With Scabies
Feeling Like I Might Be Finally Getting Somewhere
Feeling Like I have A Long Way To Go
Feeling Like Everything Is Crazy, But Everything Is Going To Be Okay.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Life, and then some.

I know its been a few minutes since I've blogged last, and I guess that's because I've had to get a few things sorted out. Namely, the big elephant in the room, my diagnosis of postpartum depression.

Yes, let's talk about that.

I was on fire, but I didn't know I was on fire, until my relatives came to town and put it out. Suddenly, there were enough hands to take care of everybody. The whole weekend they were here, I kept thinking about how they were going to leave, and I would have to light myself on fire again trying to take care of everybody. And I just couldn't do it. I didn't have the energy. I cried, when I was alone with the baby. Then, I got help.

I'm not alone. Postpartum depression is not rare. If you have experience with it, I would be glad to talk to you about it. I am so grateful to everyone who has come out of the woodwork to support me through this. And now, as Story nears four months old, I can say that I'm starting to feel better. I'm happy that I didn't wait to get help. I'm happy that I took care of myself before it affected my children. Through this experience, I am learning and growing.

One day at a time.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Happy birthday, Collin.

Dear Collin,

Holding you while you fall asleep is a gift I have never taken for granted. You made me a mother, you brought me to my place in this world.

I love when you dramatically sing songs from your favorite movies, and the way  you pronounce chocolate (sockwit) makes me want to give you every piece of my secret stash. One day, you will probably be a parent. You will know what it feels like to hold a brand new life in your arms and love so completely, it makes every wound in your soul heal, and you will understand what unconditional love really means. I hope you have a baby like you. I hope you have a child who snuggles like you do, with a sense of humor as sharp as yours, a light as bright as yours.

I love that you're the life of the party wherever we go. I love the way your heart is like a great big ocean, with room for everybody. I love that you came into this world knowing exactly who you are.

I can't wait to watch you grow up, but I hope you never change. I hope you always keep your spunky spirit. I hope you never lose your imagination, or your knack for making friends. You were born with the gift of bottomless joy, and you spread it around to everyone you meet.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mother. You are my first baby, my treasure. You are my loving, patient teacher. You are my forever friend.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

We are mothers

Even if we aren't friends, even if you don't even know me outside of the internet, I hope, through my words, you feel like you know me. Because when I tell my story, I'm telling your story. If there's one thing I've learned from motherhood, it's that we're all the same, at heart. We're all overwhelmed and maxed out and exhausted, and we get out of bed in the morning and do it all over again because we love our children. We love our children, and until the day we die, we will never stop trying to do right by them. That is the common thread that weaves us together.

This blog is like my confessional. I bare my soul to you, my reader. Why? Because ever since I started blogging, friends have told me that I put words to what they feel. How, then, could I be anything but honest? How could I hold back? I feel inspired to write candidly because I know that if just one other mom can relate to me and feel less alone, I've done a great service.

  So, for Mothers Day, here is my love letter to you:

Dear Mama,

You are doing just fine. Every time you lose your s***  after the hundredth time of repeating yourself to your toddler- you're doing just fine. Every time you pretend not to smell the poopy diaper because you just don't have the energy to wrangle a diaper change- you're doing just fine. Every time you hand your kid your cell phone/ sit your kid in front of the TV so you can catch just FIVE MINUTES of peace- you're doing just fine.

Being a mom is the best, and also the hardest, thing you will ever do. At times, you will feel inept and overwhelmed and incapable- you're not. Nobody can do a better job of raising YOUR child than you. You were made for this.

If that doesn't help, my kid actually ate cookies for dinner the other night. So, chances are, you're probably doing better than me.

Happy Mothers Day.



Saturday, May 3, 2014

The way things are.

Sometimes I think, as I haul my screaming toddler to the car with a baby strapped to my body, that people probably feel sorry for me. Maybe they even pity me. And you know what? That's ok. I would rather be pitied than judged. I would rather people recognize that I'm an insane person, just trying to control the chaos, than a bad mother with a bad child.

Because, boy, has my child been... we won't say "bad," because he's not. But he's been challenging. Like it should be when your whole world has dramatically changed.

Let me tell you how its been going since H went back to work:

The first week- it was fairly difficult, but I was filled like a balloon with false confidence. I had an activity planned for every day. I was active in Collin's homeschooling, and Upsherin planning. I felt like I had this motherhood thing DOWN.

The second week- I was flattened. Monday came around and I sort of went, "Wait, what? You mean I have to do this again? FOREVER??" I was exhausted. I was depressed. I passed out the minute the kids went to bed at night. I watched Frozen and A Bug's Life multiple times a day because it meant I could get away with sitting on the couch, and it guaranteed at least five minutes of quiet.

The third week- Sibling adjustment was in full swing. Collin went through his days with both guns drawn. It was war. He is feeling very angry right now, mostly at me, and I felt it all week. Every day was a count down until Daddy came home. But, strangely, it felt easier than the second week, and I think that has to do with me. I'm feeling a little more confident. Real confidence this time, the kind you only get from life experience. You have to fall on your face before you know what you're made of.

By the way, I'm still on my face. But, I feel like, six months from now, I'm going to be a completely different person.

I'm so humbled by the way motherhood changes you. And, I'm learning, you are changed completely the second time around, just as you were the first. You bend, you stretch, you grow. You go into your cocoon and come back again, something else. You draw strength from places you didn't know strength was hidden, so you can be strong enough for your children.

I once heard of second time motherhood described as a passage from one of my favorite children's books, The Velveteen Rabbit. It was the part that describes what "real" meant, as the Velveteen Rabbit was a toy who wanted to be real. Becoming a mother again was related to being "made real."

"Your eyes are loved until they fall out. Your fur is all loved off."

Something like that. It said that the first baby made you a mother, but the second baby made you Real. It's true. It's all true. And I feel very Real.