Thursday, July 17, 2014

You are not super mom. (And that's a really good thing.)

I am not super mom.

I am not super mom.

I am not super mom.

Not that I've been accused lately of actually BEING super mom. Ummm . . . I don't think that's ever happened. Or is ever likely to happen.

But more often than I can count, there has been a voice telling me I am NOT super mom . . . not like I should be.

It is a familiar voice. Someone that I respect, I love and I hold dear. Someone I hold to be a voice of wisdom. Someone who has a close relationship with God. Someone who knows what it's like to be a good mom. Someone who loves my family dearly, and wants to see me succeed.

Today when I had friends over for a play date, and my sink was full of dirty dishes and margarita glasses from last night's Arbonne event, that voice gently prodded at me. "You are not super mom . . . "

When my mini-guests discovered my room (aka, The Place of Utter Disaster), and their moms had to go in and retrieve them, I heard it a little more forcefully . .  "You are not super mom . . ."

When the friend I had invited to dinner at 5 had to wait until 6:30 to actually eat said dinner, I remember "I am not super mom . . ."

At 3 am this morning, when my daughter came in multiple times -- afraid of bugs, monsters and lights through her window, and I respond much more grumpily than I would have at a more decent hour (10 am would have been amazing), it chirps up. "You are not super mom . . . "

When I am late to an appointment.

When I realize that the cup half-full of smoothie is STILL in the cupholder in the car (from a few days ago) and has now crusted over (ewww).

When I cringe at someone looking in my minivan simply because I cannot keep it clear of toys, food crumbs, mismatched shoes and socks, and apparently, 2 pair of Maddy's panties. (??!?!?) 

When my kids are driving me nuts, and are willfully disobedient, and the feelings I have at that moment more closely resemble feelings of hate than feelings of love. 

When I raise my voice, threaten to spank (or actually do spank), and discipline in anger.

When I remember that I still haven't given little B's foster mom his jacket back -- 2 weeks late.

When I am short with Leyla after constant screaming and sibling bickering. (Her screaming of course. Not mine. Although I'm seriously thinking of starting.)

When I remember that one special parenting tip the social worker (or behavior specialist or viral blog) gave me that would have been PERFECT for the situation at hand --- but I remember 10 minutes too late.

When I take some time to myself and mommy guilt sets in because I'm not being productive.

The voice is relentless . . . "I am not super mom . . . not like I should be."

In short . . . I fail. A lot. Like really a lot.

I yell more than I should. My house gets messier than I think it should, for longer than I thought we could ever live like that.

 If I plan a fun activity for the kids, I think I should be home cleaning. And vice versa. 

There are days where my priorities are crap. I'll get a whole bunch of Facebook posts in, but miss out on personal development, reading my Bible, or even just spending 15 minutes of face time in with my hubby.

For everything I do -- something else goes undone.

If you see my house clean, it probably means that I procrastinated all day on cleaning it, and had a crazy flurry of activity literally counting the minutes till you arrive. It also means that some part of my house is terribly NOT clean, because I can't get it all together. One room goes to pot, always. It's not a matter of if -- just which room I can afford to have go to pot.

If one bathroom is clean, chances are the other is not.

If my laundry room is clear, then my room is overflowing with clean laundry I'll affectionately refer to as "Mt. Washmore."

If I look cute and ready for an Arbonne event, chances are my kids watched WAAAAY too much TV that day. (Oh, hello Dora. Again. I'm so glad you are considered "educational." Maybe if my kids start walking around saying "hola" and "gracias" I'll feel so much better about the inordinate amount of time my kids spend with you.)

Either I let my kids watch cartoons every morning with breakfast so I can get a workout in. Or I sit with them and try to have an intellectual conversation (ha!) over the first of our three meals together. (Which, to be honest, usually results in me fixing them first, then seconds, then thirds before I even have a chance to get a bite in. So much for eating together.)

Either I spend time working my Arbonne business and contribute to our family income, or I organize a craft for my kids that I learned about on Pintrest.

And for right now, either I get up and clean the dinner dishes NOW so I don't have to do them tomorrow -- or I sit, and take 30 minutes for my blog to honor my children gone too soon.

I chose to blog. 

And my very worst critic sees it all.

She questions my decisions, as though they were easy to make. She compares my actions against the actions of my friends, or worse, those of my own mom. She is kind enough to recognize when I get it right. But even as I hear her extend grace upon grace to friends, acquaintances and even strangers -- she is stingy with that grace toward me.  

She is so quick to remind me that I am not the mom I wanted to be. That I am not super mom.

She --  is me.

I can't get away from me. I see it all. Where I get it right. And where I get it horribly, horribly wrong. I have a crap memory of the times I get it right, and a fantastic, picture-perfect memory of the times I've gotten it wrong.

I want to say it's just me that struggles with this. I want to be alone in this. 

But in these days of Facebook, Pintrest and Twitter -- where it seems everyone is changing the world, perfectly coiffed, with well-behaved children and a designer house -- chances are I'm not alone.

Maybe you keep hearing your own voice. Maybe you are quick to notice your mistakes, quick to give others grace but dole out only small parts of grace for yourself. Maybe what you look like, feel like, and act like doesn't always match up with how you feel you SHOULD look like, feel like and act like. Maybe you struggle second-guessing yourself after you make choice after choice for your family.

I'm calling it. I'm calling it for me. And calling it for you.

I am not super mom. You are not super mom.

And you know what?

We were never meant to be.

We have the privilege of being moms. Some of us have living children. Some of us are mothering our children gone too soon. And some of us are doing both.

Every day we have a million choices set in front of us. 

Sometimes I make choices and I feel like I totally made the right one.

But most choices fall into the gray area. Each option is a good option. Or both choices are bad options. Or -- MOST LIKELY -- each choice has some good and some bad in it.

And so you, and me, us normal, totally NOT-SUPER MOMS, do our best to navigate our days. We do our best to honor our kids, our families, our priorities and even ourselves.

But we don't always get it right. We are reminded daily of just how normal we are. Sometimes that pesky voice comes chirping up reminding us of our shortcomings.

Today, I'm talking right back to her. I'm tired of listening to the should haves, and would haves, and if onlys.  I'm tired of pretending that I've got all my stuff together.

Hear me on this. I do NOT have all my stuff together.

But here's what I have right. And trust me on this: You do too.

You love your kid. You love your family. And you love yourself, even if it's hard for you to show it sometimes.

You are doing way better than any of us had expected of you. And even if you feel like you are failing, we are all looking to you with admiration for your many, many strengths. We secretly want to be a little more like you in good ways. We learn from you, learn how to love, or organize, or run a business, or make cute crafts, or coordinate a fancy party, or plant a garden, or write a blog, or take photos, or wow our in-laws with a delicious meal.

You bring something to the table NO ONE ELSE COULD.

You are fantastic gift to your kids. To your husband. And to yourself.

The truth is, even though you're not a super mom -- you sure are amazing.

And in case you were still wondering, there's this really amazing part to not being a super mom.

When your daughter grows up, she won't have to be a super mom either.

She will know the gift of accepting her beautiful, amazing, un-super self . . . because you gave yourself the gift of accepting your own beautiful, amazing and un-super self.

Today, momma, LOVE ON YOU.

It's the best gift you could give your family.

And if you WERE super mom, it's the gift she'd give them too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I bit the bullet

I read from the fabulous Mel at Stirrup Queens that you should finish a draft before you start another post.

As I have about 5 drafts recently started (in addition to the 20 someodd that have accumulated through the years) ... And about 50 more stories to edit and post ...

I'm blatantly ignoring her advice.

(Although, Mel, it really IS good writing advice. I promise I do take you up on it most days.)

So you might be thinking there must be some news, or something blatantly pressing on my heart that I'm writing on my phone while I should be sleeping. 

And the answer is No. Or, at least, not really. 

I started a pill. Actually, make that 2 pills.

Here is my new nightly cocktail:

It's somewhat humbling to even post this, or acknowledge that I'm back on all this medicine after weaning myself off all meds for so long. 
First, it was the anti-depressant. 

Then, it was the baby aspirin. 

Last week, I bit the bullet and started birth control. 

And tonight, I add anti-nausea pills to the mix.

So far, birth control has been OK in every other area except one really really big one.... Nausea. 

The first time I took it, I woke up halfway through the night and I couldn't sleep because I felt so bad. 

The other days I managed to sleep in at least till 6 before getting up feeling sick. Saturday, I laid in bed till 2 pm. (Thank you Ryan!) This morning, I was up at 4:30, ready to hurl, trying to munch down some ginger cookies in case they'll help. They did, or something worked, and I fell back asleep at 7. 

Thank goodness for Maddy who got herself and Leyla cereal and turned on the TV. (Well, a few min later she came running in telling me that Leyla was sitting ON the table. Of course, that got me up for a bit.)

In spite of her help (and Trader Joe's ginger cat cookies -- which really is people food), we missed Leyla's play group. I MADE myself exercise, but had to stop a lot to make sure I kept everything down. 

I decided today that this nausea was interfering with life enough. Time to call the doctor.

The nurse said that the nausea should go away in a month. I asked for tips coping with the unhappy side effect, and she one-upped me: got me a prescription for anti-nausea meds. When I was preggers with Maddy, I lived off this stuff. Literally.

So tonight, I start. And hope I sleep in till at least 7. And hopefully, I am not super sick. But in case I am ... The bucket and ginger crackers are conveniently an arm's reach away. 

As for other things ... Life in blogging has been interesting since my blog went viral. 

And here's what I mean by that. 

First, when your stats start going crazy, you kinda freak out ... In a good way. Then you get overwhelmed (over 1,000 comments in a few days' time will do that. And that's a 1,000 very personal stories of peoples' babies.)

Then you start getting some recognition, people start liking you on Facebook, and then you (ok, really me) start to feel like , YES -- I am a writer and I could totally write a book. 

Except, even during that time, I had to remind myself that the slump was coming. 

You see, viral isn't sustainable. I don't want to be a one-post wonder. 
I want to have content that is readable, thought-provoking, tear-producing, straight-from-my-heart share-worthy stuff. 

But here's the thing. Blogging is really a partnership. I write for me and for you. I hope you like what you read. And I hope you share. 

Sometimes it's hard to see numbers dwindle. It's hard to come off that high.  I have to make myself remember that every single one of you are NOT a number -- even though that's all the comes on my dashboard. It's so much better when I make myself remember that you are a NAME, a person, a friend, a loved one, someone I haven't met yet but I have the privilege of sharing with.

Honestly, YOU reading my blog is super cool. Thanks so much for taking some of your precious time to care about me, my words, my thoughts, and my family. I super appreciate you.

If you take time to comment -- extra super cool. I feel so loved by a thoughtful comment. Or even just one that acknowledges, "hey, I read your stuff."

If you take time to share my blog -- that is like the biggest, biggest hug ever. I think for anyone who is an artist of any kind (music, words, painting, etc), the biggest compliment you could ever give them is to share their work.

So for all of you who have shared whenever a post speaks to you, thanks from the bottom of my heart. And for all of you for whom I see a number, and not a name, know that I really appreciate you sticking around. <3


Sunday, July 6, 2014

If I could say one thing

If I could say one thing to a health care worker,
it would be this:

Just because a loss before 12 weeks is common in your experience, it doesn't mean it is common in mine. This was my baby, my once-in-a-lifetime baby that I loved. Please stop treating me as though my loss is no-big-deal. Do not "save" the grief support and pregnancy loss resources for women who have lost a child later in gestation. They need support, absolutely. But so do I. Treat me as though I have lost a child. Because I have.

If I could say one thing to family:

Please don't try to fix me. This is an unfixable situation. My baby died, and she isn't coming back. The old me is gone, and I'm trying to find the new me. Love me right where I am. Be patient with me. Let me find my way through grief in my own way, but not alone. Know that right now, I need your full support more than ever. I need to know that you will help me, nurture me and love on me, right where I am. Just please, don't try to fix me. I'm hurting, not broken.

If I could say one thing to strangers:

I know my actions don't always make sense right now. I know I seem a bit off, or angry or snippy or sad. I know that I'm not measuring up to what "normal" people do. If we had time, and we were both so inclined, I might sit you down and tell you a story. I'd tell you about my baby. My dreams, hopes and plans. I'd tell you how he died. I'd tell you of the emptiness I feel in my heart every day since then. And then, you would know exactly why I behave as though I do. But we will never have that conversation. So please, excuse my attitude or behavior, even if it doesn't make sense to you. And if you are so generous -- say a little prayer for me.

If I could say one thing to medical billers:

I know this is just your job. Your work revolves around codes for this and insurance plans for that. I understand that maybe, right now, I may just be a number to you. My emergency surgery for you is wrapped up in a series of codes you have to go through and charge: Anesthesia, sutures, laparoscopy, surgeon fees, etc. My emergency surgery for me is wrapped up in a series of traumatic memories: wondering if I will wake up after surgery, knowing my baby died in the onslaught of blood, getting wheeled helplessly into a sterile room. As you talk codes with me, and explain bills, please know that I don't speak your lingo. Remember that I am living through grief, and my head can barely wrap around life without my child -- let alone why you are billing separately for this or that. Please, be gracious with me. Take lots of time, and be compassionate in your response. Please remember that I, nor my baby, are just a number.

If I could say one thing to my pregnant friends:

I am happy for you. I really, really, really am. Even if I burst into tears when you tell me you're pregnant. Even if I go on a 9-month hiatus. Even if I never ask you how your pregnancy is progressing. I am STILL happy for you. But I hurt for me. Sometimes, I don't know how to handle two feelings that seem so at odds with each other. Sometimes I do it well, and others times -- well, other times, I just plain suck at it. But no matter how things go from here -- please know that I know every baby is a blessing. Your baby is a blessing. And I really, really am happy. Even if I don't know how to show it.

If I could say one thing to my nurses:

Please read my chart. And by that, I don't just mean read it. I mean study it as though your life depended on it. Please don't come in to my room chipper and happy, talking about the weather, when it's clearly written on my chart that this is a post-miscarriage follow-up. Don't ask about nursing when in fact my baby has died. Please don't ask me to go through my losses all over again when it is clearly written in the chart. Sitting in your office is full of grief triggers and traumatic memories. Please show kindness and compassion by understanding my history before entering my room. Your few minutes of preparation can make this already difficult visit for me go by more smoothly.

If I could say one thing to my friends:

Thank you for being my friend. Please know I need YOU now, more than any other time. I don't need your answers, I don't need your ideas, and I don't need your platitudes. I just need you, and your very real, very tangible love. I need your arms around me, holding me up. I need your help getting my bathroom cleaned when I can barely get out of bed. I need you to take me to coffee (or bring it to me), and let me tell you every single thing about my baby. Or I need you just to sit as I stare into the swirling creamy blackness as I am so overcome by emotion that I can't utter a single word.  Even though you may not recognize me these days, please don't leave me. I really, really, really need you.

If I could say one thing to my husband:

I'm so sorry. I know you know that. We both know it wasn't my fault. And yet the guilt just keeps eating at me. I'm sorry our baby died. I'm sorry I'm no longer the wife you recognize, and you are no longer the husband I've grown to love. We both changed, so quickly, in just that one instant. Sometimes it is easiest to talk with others. It is hardest to talk with you. To tell you how much I hurt. How much I regret. How much I wish things were different. Because I know you are there, too, in your own way. Hurting so much, but trying to carry me as well. Things may be different now. Maybe they always will be. But I love you. I need you. And I'm committed to finding the "new us" in the midst of the loss of our beloved child.

This is what I would say -- if I could just say one thing.

What would you say?