Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Before you're a mom...

Before you're a mom, people (usually older people) will say something like... " You've never known love until you've held your child."

And those of us who maybe had loved before being a mom would maybe snort (or plaster on a less-than-genuine smile) and think... "well, I sure didn't marry my husband because I hated him."

But then we become moms. And at some point, we stare at our child's eyes and know that they -- those people we don't want to admit that they -- were right.

That crazy eye-opening love moment may happen right after birth when your newborn is still covered in blood and vernix... But you're convinced you didn't really come alive until that moment. (Not the case with me by the way.)

Or maybe it's the first time your child catches a cold and suddenly mama bear comes out and you realize your heart would be decimated if anything serious happened to your kid.

Or maybe it's the first time that little person actually reciprocates the doting affection you've been slathering on since birth. The first kiss... Or the first "wuv you" they utter, gazing at your face with the deepest eyes you've ever seen.

(And for those of us who didn't get to hold all our babies, it might happen at the first pee stick that says, "Congrats -- you're a momma." Or the first kick. Or the first ultrasound.)

And it's in those moments, we concede to the all-wise, all- knowing "told-ya-so-but-I-love-you-too-much-to-rub-it-in" people.

We really hadn't understood love. But now we do.

(For those of you who are not moms yet, and think I might just be rubbing this in... Please hold on a bit, indulge me for a moment if you will, and read on. Please.)

But here's the thing they don't tell you. (i think it must be an accidental oversight or a true forgetfulness on their part. Or at least I like to believe so.)

The dirty, shameful secret that goes right along with the truth that so perfectly dripped from their nostalgic lips...

You've never really known frustration till you're a mom. Or anger. Or hurt. Or sadness. Or embarrassment (HELLO embarrassment!)

The thing is... Loving and parenting a tiny little person somehow magnifies EVERYTHING in your heart. NOT JUST LOVE.

It's not that you've never known love, or shame, or sadness, or joy. It's just that you've yet to experience it under the grandiose magnifying lens known as parenting.

For example, frustration takes on a whole new meaning when you are fighting with your husband (after all, we don't parent in a vaccuum) ... And then you throw in a screaming toddler, just for fun.

Maybe screaming toddler isn't just making a ear-piercing howl. Perhaps she's flinging the nutritious meal you've so carefully thought through and prepared violently on to the floor---while continuing her soul-defying shrieks.

Perhaps said baby hasn't napped in hours that day. Or weeks. Or worse (in my opinion) you FINALLY get her down, and she FINALLY falls asleep ... And then some contractors outside start drilling a hole outside your baby's window... and it's rattling the entire house. And the screaming starts. Oh, the frustration.

And so it goes.

I'm sure I could come up with examples for every emotion... But I'll spare you. (Besides, I don't feel that creative right now.)

I have to say, the strong emotions (not just the lovey kind) have completely thrown me into a self- deprecating woman at times.

I was not prepared to ever feel something akin to hatred (even if just for a moment) toward my OWN kids. I had I had no idea that I (sweet little Rachel) was capable of such anger. Let me be clear ... This is not anger directed at other's kids on the playground for rejecting my daughter's attempts to be friends. Or at other adults for giving me a dirty look when our little one throws a fit in public.

This is anger I feel at MY OWN KIDS.

It'a kind where wisdom finally pipes up and says, "hey lady. You need to put those kids in their rooms, and go take a breather before you say or do something you will regret." the kind that reminds me "But for the grace of God, there go I."

Maybe this is all too much to post considering I'm a foster parent in the middle of an adoption.

Maybe I keep referring to this as a universal problem because I so desperately want to know it's. Not. Just. Me.

Maybe it is just me, and you all are wondering if I should up the dosage to my anti-depressant. (Maybe.)

But for me, I'm tired of pretending.

Pretending that little miss fills the hole in my heart that was left when my 3 other babies were gone too soon.

She doesn't. That hole is still there. And to be honest, I've come to realize that filling my heart is a ridiculous expectation to put on a BABY. She can't even fill up her own sippy cup. Why would I expect her to be able to satisfy the crazy longing in my soul?

I'm tired of pretending that I love my kids every second of every day. I'm tired of giving glowing reports to the social worker. I'm tired of pretending that being a mom fills me up ... Because most days, it does the opposite.

I'm tired of pretending that I don't mind listening to screaming and crying a few hours every day. Yes. I said hours. When little miss cries about something (being put down to walk, not getting food fast enough, etc.) she often chooses to continue to cry even when the need is met.

She will start crying for food... I'll give her bite after bite... And she will sometimes cry through the entire meal.

She will follow behind me crying.cying.cying.crying all day some days.

And I'm done pretending. I really mind. I'm really feeling burned out.

Yesterday was one of those days. She just kept crying. Finally I sat her on the bed, which finally got her to be quiet. I know I shouldn't have turned away to pull a sweater out of the closet... But I did.

And of course, she fell.

Naturally, she screamed bloody murder and I felt so guilty for turning away when I knew I shouldn't have. (btw--you've never known guilt till you're a mom.)

And so after assessing the damage (none) and calming her down, I placed her back on the floor to her chagrin. And so she starting screaming.

To which Maddy started screaming over her to get my attention. I told Maddy many times to stop. But she just kelt getting louder so I covered Maddy's hand with my mouth, for which she kicked me.

Instant time out.

I rock little miss to sleep while maddy rages in the room next door.

One screaming child traded in for another.

Later in the day, I feel myself start to get frustrated and angry. I'm not sure when it started, or even why, but I became uptight mom who just wanted to yell at her kids for everything. I'd like to tell you I held back... But I didn't always. And all day long I felt like a terrible, mean mom.

It takes me an hour and a half to corral the kids and everything we need to run all our errands (during which time I discover my adventurer crawling around on my dinner table.)

I finally had a chance to leave the house for an Arbonne party. Thank goodness for some adult time.

And shortly after getting home, I hear little miss screaming. (no, I want to revolt, "you are supposed to be asleep and NOT screaming!! I just want a minute to myself!!")

I go into the dark room to pat her bottom to see if she was wet.. Yep... She was wet. And butt-naked. She managed to get out of her pantsuit and her diaper and pee all over the bed.

I cried.

I cried when I rocked my freshly dressed baby and told her she deserved more. She deserved a mom that didn't get so angry and resentful. She deserved someone who had more compassion. She deserved more love than I had in me to give.

And so we rocked that way for a long time. And then I cried the rest of the night.

For the first-time ever, it occurred to me that I don't like this stage of life. That I'm ready for grown up kids, and I'm done with the whole baby/toddler/preschool thing.

And realizing that made me cry even harder.

The truth is...

You've never known shame till you're a mom.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

19 days

"I celebrated Avery’s last birthday ever on October 5, 2012. Except I didn’t know it was her last. Our last. Nineteen days later, on October 24, 2012, Avery died instantly as a result of a single car accident . . ."

This is how AVERYday Ministries' blog begins. And yet, the end is not something you might expect
 . . .

". . . if  there’s one thing I learned from Avery it’s that it doesn’t take much to make a HUGE, POSITIVE difference in the world!

"So it only seemed fitting what to do with The 19 Days: we would share the joy. We would BE the joy. We would BE the kindness! We would BE the compassion that someone else desperately needs and equally deserves, even if we don’t know their story.

"And so, we challenge you to the greatest kindness and compassion campaign you’ve ever been a part of. One random act of kindness, every day, for 19 days. Post it, share it, take a photo and tag it using the hashtag #the19days. Let your neighbors know, your friends know, your Twitter feed and your Facebook know, that for #the19days change is coming. We are that change. "

Check out this blog.

What a wonderful legacy to leave for your child who had to leave this earth too soon.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Poop is still poop. No matter how you fling it.

That's it.

I'm changing my name.

I'm no longer "Rachel." Or "Mom."

I'm "woman who chases tornado baby around the house picking crap off the floor in a far less efficient manner than tornado baby can scatter it."

Or maybe "woman who not only cleans poop off baby bottom many times a day, but must also now clean it off of the floor from poop-flinging-ninja baby."

Or maybe, "woman who fishes Maddy's items that said tornado-ninja baby has deposited into a toilet full of poop that sweet-but-forgetful 4-year-old has forgotten to flush . . .again."

Or maybe, "woman who must make breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, bottle, snack, dinner, snack, bottle . . . then clean it all up . . . only to be ready to make another snack as soon as she's done cleaning."

Or maybe, "woman who let my little girl watch 2 hours of TV from my phone so I could get a little more (fitful) sleep in, and who accidentally slept too deep and woke to screaming ninja-poop-flinging baby way later than she planned."

 And, right now, you could call me "woman who is surrounded by an office of clutter, a kitchen that needs cleaning -- again -- a floor that has peas and watermelon sprayed after snack time all over the floor by tornado-ninja baby, laundry that needs folding . . . but who just needs a moment to herself to stop DOING -- and instead write about DOING."

Just keepin' it real.

And while I'm at it, I think I'll change my girls' names too.

Little miss is no longer little miss, or just tornado baby, or ninja baby. She is Master Screamer. Expert Food and Poop Flinger. She is Little Miss Poops-a-Lot. Sweet Snuggler. Crazy Wriggler. She is The Never-Ending Food Eater. She is the Melt-My-Heart-er.

And Maddy is Mom-Waker at 5:30 Morning-er. She is TV Craver. Sugar Inhaler. Expert in Manipulating Treats Out of Mom. She is Fit-Thrower. Sweet Snuggler. Funniest Things Ever Sayer.

And the crazy part of all of this is that as much as days like this drive me nutso -- I still melt when they snuggle me. Or tell me cute things. Or say they love me. And somehow, I ALMOST forget.

I know I wouldn't trade this stay-at-home gig for a plush office with a plush paycheck if my life depended on it. (Ok, maybe if my life depended on it -- I would at least consider.)

But on days like today, I do wonder what I've gotten myself into. I do wonder where "Rachel" went -- and will she ever emerge again?

For those of you who aren't parenting a child yet (by choice or not), I sincerely want to tell you it's all "snuggles and snails and puppy dog tails" or "sugar and spice and everything nice." I want to say that once you hold your child in your arms, you'll be so in love and so grateful that you will NEVER mind changing a poopy diaper. You'll just be so grateful they pooped!

I want to tell you that you'll only feel mushy love, and gratitude, and a heart that's overflowing.

But the truth is -- for every sweet caress -- there's a boob bite, or an arm pinch, or an accidental head butt while baby throws a fit that she cannot eat that poisonous berry. (How dare you mom!)

For every exciting milestone reached -- there's a feeling of "oh my gosh, haven't we gotten past this phase yet?!!?"

For every hug and snuggle -- there's defiance itself screaming no at your face, and you wonder how in the world you created this monster.

For every high, there is a low.

And no one feeling can capture it all. Gratitude can't cover it. Neither can anger or sadness. Or just feeling lost in all of it.

When I was engaged, I ashamedly admitted to a friend that I wasn't feeling particularly excited at the moment about our upcoming marriage. I was overwhelmed.

She simply, but wisely told me -- "Rachel, 9 months is a long time to let yourself feel only ONE thing."

And isn't that so true with motherhood? Even motherhood (or pregnancy) after loss?

You can't just feel one thing. Because there's so much more than one thing going on at the time -- both in your heart and in your world.

For those of us who cannot take our children for granted, absolutely there's gratitude. Absolutely there is a feeling that, "yes, this is a hard day -- but it sure beats burying a baby, or miscarrying, or struggling with infertility."

But that gratitude just isn't enough to cover all the hard days -- and all those emotions you'll likely feel when they come.

And they WILL come.

Just ask ninja baby. She'll tell you. (And then she'll fling some poop your way, just for emphasis.)

After all -- poop is still poop. No matter how you feel.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Still good in the world

Recently I had blogged about the hard stuff in life. It's still there. And I hadn't wanted to post about all the good things because I felt like that was ignoring the bad.

But isn't the opposite equally true? Only posting the bad ignores all the good?

So ... Here are a few good things in my life.

1) My marriage with Ryan has never been better.

I feel very much in love with him. I enjoy his company, his friendship, and his goofiness. He works hard for our family, and he loves us well. We still get annoyed with each other sometimes (especially him at me when I'm in my ridiculously goofy mood when I'm overtired...). BUT, in all, we are doing really well and I am happily married.

2) My sister and nephews just came for a visit. I didn't take many pictures, so when I get some from the picture-taking folk in my family... I will post them!

We went to the zoo. We also went to my cousin's on the water for a BBQ on the beach. We headed to Seattle (and I was sans kids!) for an all-you-can-order free food and coffee at Storyville coffee at Pike's place. (you should go... It's yummy! Get the salted caramel roll -- and, you're welcome, in advance.)

We celebrated my brother's birthday with a steak and veggie grill-out on my parent's deck. We celebrated my nephew G's birthday, then my nephew T's first birthday ... All of course with delicious food, good company, and chocolate zucchini cake and Tillamook ice cream.

I saw my sister and the boys every day. They just left yesterday, and I already miss them.

We also got to hang out quite a bit with my other sister and her family. It was such fun to have all the siblings and cousins together.

4) Maddy started preschool. Her teacher's name is Ms. rachel :) she loves her school. I think there are 10 girls in her class and only 1 boy. Poor guy.

5) Business is going well. This is my favorite time of year for working. Which reminds me of how lucky I am to be doing what I do.

6) Little misses' adoption is going slower than I hoped, and has been pushed back to jan/feb. :( but, all our paperwork is done and in, and there's nothing we can do to speed up the process. At least we will get our next (7th) social worker this month.

Little miss is feeling more and more like mine. I thought my heart might burst today she was so cute! She has these darling pigtails that are like these tiny curly-ques. She's adorable.

7) last but not least, God and I are making amends. Not thatI was fighting with Him per se... But it feels like my time in the desert is coming to a close for now at least. Recent happenings have helped me realize I don't ever want to be in the place where I don't need Jesus.

So there you go. There is still a lot of good in my world.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Neither here, nor there

Lately I haven't been much up for blogging. Or for posting on facebook.

I want to write about some stuff that's going on, but this is neither the time, nor the place (nor am I the person) for it. And I want to share the good... But that feels dishonest because it's not acknowledging the crap this life sometimes throws our way. The hurt, and pain, the grief.

It's not just old grief. It's new grief. A pain I've not yet known. And it's adding to all my experience. I'm tired of hurting. Hurting for me. Hurting for those I love.

And yet, I know this is not about me in the slightest way.

Sorry, I know this post doesn't make much sense. But neither does life.

Sometimes the curve ball really sucks.