motherhood

The Weight Of It All

Last night I dreamt I was drowning.

Standing on a branch of tree, I watched as the water grew closer and closer, first creeping over my feet, then inching up my legs. Looking out I could see people on dry land, but was afraid to step into the water because I didn’t know how deep it was, or how I would get to where they stood. Up and up, the water rose, past my knees, past my hips, up to my chin, over my head. I woke up panicked, just as the water completely submerged me.

Sitting here today, on a day that could classified as nothing other than one of those days, it’s not hard to draw meaning from my dream.

I am absolutely drowning.

I’m drowning in stuff. Toys and crayons, laundry and books – a quick survey of my floor would shock even the most tenured of Hollywood maids. I’m drowning in to-dos. Cleaning, organizing, planning, catching up. Piles of things waiting to be sorted, dealt with and filed away. I’m drowning in guilt. Guilt about my parenting failures, about how little one-on-one time I get to spend with my daughter, about the food we eat, and how much TV she’s watched lately while I find my groove as a new mom of two. Guilt about how frustrated I often feel. I’m drowning in the unknown.

With a toddler and a baby, we are at a stage where everything requires so much effort. Nothing is simple. Not a phone call, not a diaper change, not a story or a meal. I can’t take out the trash, or go to the grocery store without disrupting a nap, or sacrificing a round of much needed outdoor playtime. My attention is constantly being requested by one or both of the kids, and any free time I get is usually squeezed into the 20 minutes between when I finally get the baby down and then crawl into bed myself shortly after, completely exhausted.

Hardly enough time to find any kind of balance. Not enough time to recoup any energy.

With two young kids, everything I do requires patience and time, and I’m sad to say, I feel as though I hardly have any left of either. I spend my days in a constant state of triage, trying to judge who, or what, needs my attention the most, often discovering that I’m a day late, and a (fifteen) buck (late fee) short.

I read once that the early childhood is reportedly the most unhappy time in your life. It seems so counterintuitive. How could you be anything but happy when you are cradling your baby, gazing down into their tiny scrunched face? But in the thick of it, I can attest to its truth, and preach of how short-sighted that kind of thinking is.

Because it’s all so much – the love, the joy, the fear, the work, and it all comes on so soon. Sure, you have an idea of what you’re getting into, but much like watching an oncoming wave, you don’t know exactly just how hard it’s going to hit you until you’re actually in it.

And boy howdy, am I ever in it.

These little people, whom I love with every fiber of my entire being, they are taking it all. This beautiful, huge, all-consuming love that pours from my heart, it comes at a cost. And right now, I am paying the price.

My time, my patience, my independence, my own needs and desires – they are all being chewed up and consumed to fuel this crazy love that nurtures these incredible children. “Enjoy the moment!” People say. And I do. But that doesn’t mean I can’t also acknowledge the other side of it. The side that leaves me breathless. The side that feels like I’m drowning.

Much like my dream, I feel overwhelmed by it all. Submerged. Desperate. Unsure of what will happen next. And much like my dream, I can see people on the other side, people with kids who are just a little bit older, and a little bit more independent. “It will get better,” they say, and I know that, too, is true. Motherhood is a job, and just like with any job, adding on a new task (or a new kid) takes some time to figure out.

Sink or swim, I am in the thick of it, with only one option: Just keep going.

And it is here, in the simplicity of having no other choice, that I finally find solace. Just keep going. One step at a time, until we have once again made it through another day. And with every day that passes, we get a little better. The water gets a little more shallow, the other side a little easier to get to.

The weight of it feels unbearable at times. But I’m learning it isn’t.


Image credit: Cover image

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On Being (Super) Human

I met someone today, and my initial impression was that she is a goddamn Superhero.

Looking at her, I’d say she is very ordinary. She is of average age to have a kid or two, and wears clothes that would allow her to blend in anywhere from a snazzy cafe lunch with coworkers, to the dish soap isle at Target. She plays happily and freely with her kid, but checks her phone enough for me to know we could be friends.

Admittedly, I’ve seen her a number of times before and never did much more than offer a smile. But for whatever reason today is different, and I finally take the time to say, “Hi.”

Our conversation starts normally, with stats exchanged in moments squeezed between acknowledging, encouraging, and parenting our kids as they ping pong around the room. Ages of children are offered, current employment statuses discussed, and of course comments about the weather are made because this is what adults talk about (right?).

And then a bomb is dropped: Her kid is sick. Like, really sick.

An instant weight falls upon my shoulders as I hear her talk openly about almost losing a child. A tightness in my heart, squeezing, squeezing, as she discusses an unknown future. I stumble with my words, an apology, a well wish, a heavy silence while my brain spins with horrible Hallmark-worthy phrases to offer up.

And all the while, she remains standing. Shoulders back, head up, strong as hell, she talks about what might come, and she remains standing.

Driving home from our brief encounter, I find myself wondering how she can be so strong? How can she wake up every day, look down at the tiny broken body of her child, and wonder if today is the day something changes? How can she stomach the rage, stop the questions, or breathe through the panic? How can she live her life normally when something so abnormal and horrible stands in the way?

My initial answer is that she must be a Superhero, as certainly no human is capable of soldiering on with the heavy burden of knowing at any moment, for reasons entirely out of your control, your kid could die.

But then reality sets in, and a string of painful of memories parade across my eyes. Miscarriages, cancers, suicides, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and more – all of these tragedies suffered by people within my immediate circle of friends.

Yet through all of this death, loss, and pain, through all of this suffering and struggling, perhaps the most important memory of all is the one where I remember that like her, these people remain standing.

Just like the woman I met, these people are living their lives as normally as possible not because they have super human powers, but because they they don’t. They have no other choice but to get up each day, put one foot in front of the other, and get through it. So they do. And yet, by surviving by doing exactly what you and I do every day without remark, they appear remarkable. Extraordinary. Super human, even.

By taking a second and recognizing their humanity, their normalcy, I find myself overcome with emotion. The strength, grace and perseverance they show every single day as they carry around their bleeding hearts and half-healed scars is not only inspiring, but a reminder of a very important lesson for even the most normal of everyday people: We are strong.

I am strong. You are strong. We are so capable, but more often than not we forget that until we are blindsided by tragedy, staggering through the darkness of depression and loss. This woman, this lovely, incredibly normal human woman, jolted me awake with what I wrongly attributed to be Superhero strength, but now recognize as something we all carry around in our core. We are strong. Let this be a reminder for anyone who one day wakes up and finds they need it, that incredible super human strength is in you too.

wondermum_by_andry_shango-d65npre

 

 

(Originally posted on BLUNT Moms, cover image by Andry Shango)

 

 

Dear Brain: Thanks, But You’re Not The Boss Of Us

Dear Brain,

Ovaries here! You will be happy to know we received your cease and desist notice. We must say, it felt good to be acknowledged by you, even if at times you came off a little snippy about our contributions, as well as notably edgy with your comparisons. Flesh raisins? Has it ever occurred to you, with your oblong shape and abundance of crevices and folds, that you look like a large gray testicle? Moving on.

After much thought we felt it only fair for us to share our side of the story, before we retreat into the abyss of the lower abdomen, and silently watch as our supply of genetic gold is quite literally flushed down the toilet.

First of all, let us ask you a question. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Being ovaries, we are biased to believe it was the egg, which leads us to think perhaps you have taken on the role of master of this ship without merit. Now, this isn’t to say you aren’t important or without talents. We applaud you and your fine ability to quote every line from Ace Ventura, Twister and Jurassic Park, though we are unsure if all the time you spent -or spend- watching these movies couldn’t have been spent on better subjects. Like math, or say, following a basic recipe.

But onto more serious matters.

Your strong feelings about not reproducing further are both hasty and ill-timed. It comes as no surprise you and the body felt that way while nearly 10 months pregnant. Being pregnant sucks! But banning babies while pregnant seems a bit like a conflict of interest, no?

Look, we are going to be honest with you: The Nose is a liar. Sure, sure, it claimed it wouldn’t participate in any baby sniffing, but we know we aren’t alone in noticing how at every opportunity The Nose is breathing in the sweet sweet smell of baby breath. The Ears report that each time this happens, something charming, yet inherently stupid, flies out of The Mouth about how the baby smells like cupcakes, sunshine, and love. We both know once Baby 2.0 no longer smells like a combination of deserts, weather, and emotions, The Nose will lead The Body on a wild goose chase to find other babies to sniff, turning The Body into some kind of out of control baby-huffing human Bloodhound. We feel it is pertinent to point out this might actually get the body arrested, which would affect all of us.

The Nose isn’t the only problem. The Hands and Arms have both made it clear that nothing makes them happier than holding both of the offspring, though enjoyment is particularly high with the newborn. Cradling little Baby 2.0, feeling the warmth of his tiny squishy body, while The Fingers trace the cowlick on his tiny perfect head – this is hard, nay, impossible to beat. The Eyes, as if you haven’t noticed, can barely look away from his big brown peepers, and have been quoted daily stating “Eye can’t even HANDLE how tiny he is!” And The Heart? Exploding. With. Love. It’s equal parts admirable and scary, as there are only so many heart palpitations someone should have before contacting a cardiologist.

But you’re not alone in your quest for a Baby-Free future. The Bellybutton is absolutely devastated about her new look. We’ve tried to raise her spirits by telling her she doesn’t really look like the butthole of the neighborhood feral cat, but then again, we’ve never been good at lying. Similarly, The Uterus is on your side, and wants absolutely nothing to do with housing another child ever again. But she’s always had a flare for the dramatic, so we don’t feel her vote should be counted until we can be certain she’s not making a decision based off emotions.

We know receiving this letter will upset you, but before you direct The Mouth to start stress-eating dry cereal while you wait on hold to find out if insurance will cover an oophorectomy, hear this: We don’t want another baby either. At least not right now, and maybe never. But if you could stop being such a dick about enforcing your will, at least while we all come to terms with this *probably* being our last baby, that would great.

In the words of your good pal, Ace Ventura, we will sign off this letter with a mighty Alllllrighty then! We hope we are on the same page.

Best,

The Ovaries

ovary 2

Now who’s ovary acting?


This post has been written in response to a post I wrote a few months ago, from my brain to my ovaries, requiring them to go into retirement. Be sure to check it out if you haven’t already! You can find it here.

 

On Heavy Boots and the Dangers of Being Small-Minded

To borrow a saying from a book I recently read, lately I’ve been stuck wearing my heavy boots.

The rash of terror attacks that rocked numerous cities over the last month. The Syrian refugee crisis. The assault at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado. The hateful, reckless, utter stupidity that is Donald Trump. It all weighs heavy on me, and I find my funny is harder and harder to access. I try to force it out, but it feels insincere because more important things need to be said. (more…)

Surprise: You’re Doing Everything Right (Probably)

Last week I shared an emotional and moving guest post by a friend of mine who’s story really got me thinking. Her journey has been a long one, and having arrived at the shared destination of “motherhood,” it struck me that her challenges aren’t over. Far from it, they now look a lot like mine. These shared post-mother struggles are something I not only live out on a daily basis, but are something I see playing out on Facebook feeds and blog posts across the world, as I watch friends navigating the tricky waters of parenthood. The baby isn’t sleeping. The baby isn’t eating. The baby might be possessed. The baby bites the cat. The cat bites the baby. The baby locked me in the bathroom and I said shit approximately 1,000 times. I LOVE THE BABY! The baby the baby the baby. (more…)