Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This

I can’t resist.  There’s a song for literally everything.  (Literally.)  You can quote me on that.

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I am so glad Noa wasn’t my firstborn.  Not that the boys were perfect angels, and not that she’s a colicky mess, but she has definitely been the fussiest, most sensitive, and trickiest to figure out.  To balance that out, she’s also very social and loves face-to-face interaction (although she prefers the face to be that of her bearded father), and when I get rewarded with a giant gummy smile it makes everything else fade into the background.

I’m 90% sure she’s teething right now (it’s a bit early, but Tesla got teeth around 4 months and she’s 10 days shy of that milestone).  For the most part, the boys didn’t really display any teething symptoms (at least, none that I picked up on)–teeth just suddenly appeared.  I knew from the beginning that Noa would absolutely have a different reaction to the process, and I was right.  Extreme fussiness, slight fever, drooling, decreased appetite, needing to chew on something constantly (often her hands but I started keeping all of her pacifiers in a cup in the freezer and the cold rubber is also highly favored)–she’s displaying all the classic signs.  (I have a degree from the University of WebMD so I’m a pretty legit source.)

Hopefully a wee incisor breaks through in the next few days.  If not, may God have mercy on my soul.

 

——–

It’s the freakin’ weekend!  I hope you have fun plans.  My brothers are coming over tonight to play games and drink adult beverages (no one around me seems to like games as much as I do but I force them to play with me).  Adult sibling bonding is the best.

 

 

Guess Who’s Back (Back Again)

Just so you know, it takes real restraint not to title every single post with song lyrics.

So…Silas is in town!  (For those who don’t know, he’s a 4th year podiatry student and has been doing rotations in different states since last May.  So we’ve seen him a total of 2-ish weeks since then.  Just to give some context.)

The boys are, of course, absolutely ecstatic.  Because dad is cool and fun and takes them places.

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But let the record show that I also climbed up (not all the way, though–it’s a 50-foot ascent to the tippy top) and, although I hyperventilated and had to use my freeway-driving pep talk (“You got this.  You’re doing it.  You’re not going to die.”), I did not have a crippling panic attack.

Look at me, bitches.  Conquering fears like a boss.

Or at least approaching them timidly.

Let the record also show that Noa likes Silas much, much more than she likes me.  I’ve gotten a total of two laughs out of her, yet every time she even sees her father’s face she breaks into the biggest, cheesiest grin I’ve ever seen.

It’s no big deal really–it’s not like I gave birth to her and have spent every day and night of the last 3.5 months slaving to meet her every need or anything.

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(In truth, I’m thrilled that she’s bonded with him–she’s a little stingy with her bonding and I was afraid she’d give him the stranger treatment.)

And for the first time in years, Silas doesn’t have to do anything.  No homework.  No shifts at the hospital.  No hours of studying. Boards are over.  Interviews are done.  Until his next rotation in February, we have his undivided time.

It’s a weird and foreign thing.  But also kind of awesome.

So in spite of my big “I’m taking 2015 by the horns and writing EVERY DAY” talk, posting will be sporadic over the next week or two.

Try to contain your despair.

Love to you all and hope you’re surviving and thriving in the month of bitter cold and high expectations.

 

(It’s our last few months in the land of heat heat heat so I’m trying to roll with the forecasted 80-degree temps.  This time next year I might be freezing my lamentably flat ass off…)

 

Inside Hypomania

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[creepy grainy photo courtesy of my 4 year old]

It’s a Tuesday and I’m knee deep in the contents of the closet I have just emptied.  Everything is wrong.  The entire apartment is out of order, disorganized, a complete mess.  I have to redo everything.

I’m mentally cataloguing everything, sorting, sorting, sorting.  I need more bins, I think.  A trip to Target.  Everything in its place.

I walk–although, in reality, I’m practically jogging around the apartment from room to room, mess to mess–to place the blankets I’ve refolded into the other linen closet.  They need to go there.  But what are these doing in here?  I pull out two swimsuits that have been shoved in, refold them, take them to the boys’ rooms.

This closet is a disaster.  I drop to my knees and empty the drawers, sorting, folding, putting everything right.  I hang up the shirts and start to rearrange all the toys.  What was I thinking, putting the train tracks in this bin?  Where is the lid for the blocks?

Two little people come bounding in.  “Mom, can we watch another show?”  It takes a minute for their words to penetrate the ceaseless, racing thoughts that have overtaken my mind.

“Mhmm,” I say distantly, already onto the next task.  I have a growing pile of things to throw away or donate near the front door–I’ve filled three kitchen-sized trash bags already.  Every time I drop something into one of those bags, a little tension is relieved.  I get a momentary high, a thrill–I’m casting off the unnecessary, freeing myself.  I feel a pull, a compulsion, a need to keep going.  There’s more to do.  Always more.

I’ve felt this before; I should recognize it. And I do–vaguely, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, behind all the thoughts that are swirling around right now.  But I’m obsessed, my focus is laser-like and cannot be broken.  I can’t just snap out of it.

The baby starts to cry, but I don’t react immediately.  In fact, it takes almost fifteen minutes for me to really hear her, for the programmed mom response to kick in.  I pick her up, comfort her, but I’m distracted.  There’s so much to do.

I keep going, wee one on hip, singly focused on my mission.  Later that evening, I make dinner, read stories, get all three kids to bed, but it’s as though I’m in a fog–everything is muted, a little vague.

I stay up late that night.  By the next day, it’s gone.

——-

My “ups” don’t typically last very long; maybe a day or so.  And they’re not always like this–although the compulsive cleaning definitely crops up more often than anything else.  I once organized an entire year-long homeschool science curriculum from scratch–twelve months of units broken down into weekly topics complete with lesson plans, book lists, and activities–in one day.  I never ended up using it.

Sometimes it manifests as boundless optimism, trips to the park and days filled with clever activities–I have so many ideas!–and really engaging with the boys like the mom I wish I could be.  It’s lists, categorized sheets of goals and plans and a perfect life in bullet points.

I remember searching websites, blogs, forums for accounts of hypomania.  Personal anecdotes, not the dry list of symptoms on WebMD or psych websites.  It’s different from the intense mania of Bipolar Type 1, and a little harder to find information on.  I’ve written on depression before; but today I wanted to touch on the other side of Bipolar Type 2.  If you stumble on this blog looking for something to validate this aspect of your recent diagnosis, or in a desperate search for someone else who gets it, I hope you find it.

As always, I welcome emails and comments.  Connecting with you guys makes my day.

 

Love: You First

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I’m fifteen, standing on a scale.  I’m at the house of the two little girls I babysit at the end of every summer, but they’re absorbed in play, prancing around their My Little Ponies, so I take a moment to escape. I’ve ducked into the master bathroom so I can weigh myself.  Just as I do every day, multiple times a day.

I’ve gained three more pounds.  That’s it, I think.  I will not let this number increase.  I decide to skip eating for the rest of the day.  My body doesn’t deserve calories.

—–

I’m sixteen, staring into the mirror, analyzing every inch of my face and finding fault with all of it.  My cheeks are too plump.  My eyes are too small and my lips are too thin.  I’m generic, forgettable.  I wish I were more exotic looking, beautiful in the way the models that grace the covers of magazines at the grocery store are.  I want darker hair.  Greener eyes.  Fuller lips.  I’m not enough.

—–

I’m seventeen, driving home from a sleepover where my friends and I, despite being seniors in high school, spent the night giggling and bingeing on Doritos with sour cream and frosting straight out of the can while watching our favorite movie, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton.  I feel a little sick and my stomach bulges out uncomfortably.  I am fat.  I feel miserable.  The rest of my day is ruined as I am consumed with thoughts on how to fix myself.

—–

I am in the bathroom of our favorite Mexican restaurant, emptying the contents of my stomach.  I feel guilty and ashamed and terrified that someone will walk in and discover my secret.

—–

 

It’s hard to share this.  As I type this, the feelings come back–raw and real.  I’m that teenage girl again, full of self-hatred as I analyze myself through the lens of what I didn’t realize was Body Dysmorphic Disorder–an incredibly common affliction among women (and men).  I never, ever thought I could like myself–much less love myself.

But I do.

I never thought I could be satisfied with who I am–my flaws and foibles, my strengths and weaknesses, my talents (or lack thereof).

But I can honestly say that I am.  And I am so proud of that.

As of this moment, I can truly say that I like myself.  I like who I am, I like the way I look, I like the direction my life is heading.  I’m okay with my stretch marks and wrinkly stomach skin.  I’m okay that my now-deflated breasts are past their glory days.  I love my hair and my eyes.  I spent years comparing myself to other women, anguished that I didn’t look like them, wasn’t as beautiful as they are.  But–as trite as it sounds–I don’t need to be look like someone else to be pretty.  I am me, and that is enough.

My transformation from self-loathing to self-love wasn’t swift.  It didn’t happen over the course of a couple months or even a couple years. It took a while.  Of course I still have insecurities–it’s part of being human.  But I can finally be alone with myself and not feel like I’m abiding with the enemy.

We’ve all heard that you can’t really love anyone else until you love yourself.  Maybe it’s because when you are dissatisfied with yourself,  your love comes from a place of insecurity, of need–the need for someone to complete you, to validate you.  The need to be saved.  And that’s a heavy burden to place on someone else.

Or maybe you put up walls, protecting yourself, never allowing yourself to be really open or vulnerable.  You can’t give your whole self to someone else–after all, if you can find all of these inadequacies, how could someone else possibly overlook them?  How could anyone else really love you?

But when you can be completely comfortable on your own, and like what you see in the mirror, you’re in a place where you can let someone else in.  Let’s be real–vulnerability is hard no matter how self-assured you are.  It’s scary, terrifying even–but also necessary if you want to form deeper connections.

And interestingly, I’ve found that only after I decided to just accept myself as I am, right now–not thinner or stronger or smarter or more disciplined–only after I could do that could I start to make lasting changes.

And sometimes, I’ve found, you don’t need to change at all.

 

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My Children Are Ruining My Life [And Other Stories I Tell Myself]

I have a five year old, a four year old, and a three month old.

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They are ruining my life and slowly but steadily driving me toward complete insanity.

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(It is also impossible to take a decent picture of the three of them together. But that is beside the point right now.)

I am a highly sensitive person. It’s taken me a few years to figure that out. I’ve learned that I’m easily overwhelmed by too much visual clutter and triggered by too much noise.

This is a problem, because I live in an apartment with three loud little people who have made it their personal mission to embody entropy; every day in every way.

However, even for a relatively patient and well-adjusted person, children are still a challenge.

Lately, it has felt like everything is falling apart and life within these four walls is spiraling out of control.

The other day, I woke up and was greeted by the joyous sight of an entire bag of Cheerios that had been dumped out and then spread to completely cover our living room carpet.

This morning, I walked into one of the boys’ rooms to find this:

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Why, children?  Just…why?

The stains on the carpet.  The three different sets of broken blinds.  The chipped electrical outlets and wall dents and broken doorknobs and carpet stains and that chunk from our dining table surface that mysteriously came off and went missing.  (I have come to terms with the fact that there is no way in hell we are getting our deposit back when we move out.)

And then there are the accidents.  The brand new gallon of milk that was dropped and split open, all over the floor.  The nearly-full jar of jelly that was also dropped and shattered into a billion pieces.  (Cleaning up glass is one thing.  Cleaning up shards of glass mixed with sixteen ounces of sticky jelly, however…you can’t just sweep that shit up.)

The five loads of laundry that I had to do this morning in spite of the fact that I do laundry every day–including two sets of sheets and twin-sized comforters because little bladders don’t always make it through the night.

Accidents are accidents.  I don’t get angry over them.  I’ve learned to accept that they happen, even though sometimes when I see the mess that needs to be cleaned up, I just want to say, SOMEONE ELSE COME DO THIS.  ANYONE ELSE.  I JUST DON’T EVEN WANT TO LOOK AT IT RIGHT NOW.

I’m not trying to elicit pity.  Everyone has daily battles and frustrations.

It’s just a lot sometimes.

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But I’ve realized I often make situations much worse because I have an inner narrator who never shuts up and is prone to histrionics.

Why are they always fighting?  I am so sick of this.  They break everything!  EVERYTHING!  They never listen.  They are so destructive.  I am so done.  I don’t even want to deal with this.  I cannot handle this right now.  I am not enough for them–they have SO MANY needs and they are all different and I just can’t do it.  He is so demanding!  Stop asking me questions!  Stop following me around!  Why won’t they just leave me alone?  I TOLD them to stop splashing everywhere!  It’s going to take forever to get this cleaned up.  I’m sick of doing this alone–I’ve been doing it on my own for five years!  They have so much energy and we are stuck in this damn apartment with no backyard and Noa is not napping well and I just CAN’T take you to the park right now so stop asking and stop breaking things and damn it everything is out of control and everything is falling apart and the apartment is a disaster and STOP HITTING EACH OTHER.  Fine.  Fight all you want.  I don’t even care anymore.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the constant loop of mental negativity is contributing to the problem.

Yes, shit happens.  But shit doesn’t always happen.  Let’s have a little reality check.

Yes, the boys are fighting and not listening and bouncing off the walls (or couch) right now.  But they also love to play together and read with me and often get lost in playing machines or construction site or LEGO.  I get a lot of free time some days because they are so busy and engaged in their ‘important work’ .  I am so lucky that they have each other.

Yes, Noa is having issues with naps right now and it’s frustrating and tiring.  But she is sleeping well at night and she is generally a happy and sweet and very interactive baby.  Yes, she has been my most difficult newborn to date, but telling myself that over and over doesn’t help.  Reminding myself how sweet and lovely she is helps overshadow the difficulties.

Yes, I have been on my own most of the past several years because Silas has been so insanely busy with school.  Yes, we’ve only seen him for a total of two or three weeks since last May as he travels around the country for rotations.  But I have grown immensely as a person and have become very independent.  I am good at being alone, which is a valuable quality. I have matured so much that I barely recognize that 19 year-old girl who jumped into marriage and motherhood nearly 7 years ago.

Yes, we are having issues with talking back and not listening and lying right now.  But I have gotten compliments from strangers on how well-behaved and polite my children are.  I’m doing a good job.  They may not always be sweet and polite, but they’re not always defiant little monsters either.  (Okay, monsters is a little strong.)

And on those days when it’s all just piling up, I repeat my favorite refrain: it won’t be like this forever.

Because really…it won’t.

And there are so many good moments with these little people.

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I don’t want to miss them because I’m so focused on the crappy ones.

 

 

—————-

What are some of the stories you tell yourself?

 

 

Hello…Is There Anybody In There?

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In case you didn’t get the reference.

So what have you missed while this blog has been gathering dust?

Well, firstly…I’m not pregnant anymore! (contain your shock)

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Noa Margret was born October 2, twenty-fourteen.

This is what she looks like now, three months later.

(Actually I just checked and I can’t find any up-to-the-moment pictures of her.) So here she is at two months. She looks mostly the same. Perhaps a little chubbier now.

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I didn’t make any official resolutions this year, but after I had a complete breakdown a couple weeks ago I snapped into Get Shit Done mode with a side of Sunshine and Positivity and Goals (although it sounds cooler if I call them intentions).

At the top of my list, as always, is to write more–specifically to blog more.  I’ve missed blogging.  I’ve missed having an opportunity to get some of these words out of my brain and onto paper (or rather, screen).  THERE ARE SO MANY WORDS.  So many.  And without regular adult company, I am lonely.  Very lonely.

Perhaps it’s pathetic to admit that, but damn it if it isn’t true.

So, invisible internet friends, I’m shoving my pessimism aside and ignoring the adage about the best-laid plans.

I’M BACK, Y’ALL.

Here’s to goals and to writing and positivity and shit.

Happy 2015.

 

 

 

Mama Bird Checking In

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Hello from 32 weeks!

I have to admit, I totally thought “nesting” was a myth.  I don’t remember having any nesting tendencies with my other two pregnancies, but this time?  Affirmative.

In the last couple of days, I’ve scrubbed the carpet, swept/mopped/vacuumed all floors, cleaned mirrors, done about 11 loads of laundry (including towels, sheets, comforters, shower curtains, pillows…), cleaned both bathrooms (even scrubbed the bathtubs, which I often skip in favor of a quick wipe-down), reorganized and decluttered and rearranged all the toys and closets and bookshelves, and set up the pack and play and carried it around to all of the different places I might want to use it to make sure it fits. I have a (small) list of things I need to acquire before bebe is born, and I’ve had to talk myself out of multiple Amazon purchases (because really…there’s plenty of time). And last night, as I was going to bed I was suddenly struck with the thought that I really should get my hospital bag packed.  (8 weeks early….?)

So I suppose that’s nesting–for me, at least.  I’m sure to some of you, that looks like a normal week, but my bar of productivity is set pretty low.  ;)

Mentally, I’ve been doing really, really well for a couple of months.  I’ve been able to be a lot more involved with the boys, and I’m enjoying them so much more lately.

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That doesn’t mean that they don’t still make me crazy sometimes (like when I’m trying to clean up after dinner and have to keep breaking up naked wrestling matches and snapping go get your pajamas on right now or I’m not reading any stories tonight!! while the natives run screaming around the apartment like gleeful little banshee nudists).

But overall, and in spite of some personal shit that I’m dealing with right now (and trying, unsuccessfully as always, not to obsess about–my brain just loves a good obsession) things are good.

Really good.

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I Went On Vacation And This Picture Is The Only Proof I Have

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But it’s a good one, am I right?

Nightly facials and plenty of Starbucks and talking and laughing and venting and crying and seeing Wicked for the first time (!) and having no responsibilities and gorging on Indian food and lots of cake and new tattoos and piercings (but not for me…boo pregnancy restrictions) and watching SO MANY vines and listening to Fall Out Boy and Evanescence and amazing 90s pop and being chauffeured around (we have an understanding…no matter whose car we take, I occupy the passenger seat) and escaping the AZ heat for a couple of days…

Good for the soul.  All of it.

While it’s so nice to be back with my boys now (I never thought I’d be “that mom” but I admit now that it is hard for me to be away from them), vacations are always a good thing.

 

 

P.S. I went into Sephora and spent less than $7.  I was able to talk myself out of so many “necessary” purchases.  ALL THE PRIZES, PLEASE.

 

 

Things You Aren’t “Supposed” to Have When You’re Pregnant

20140717_153649[First order of pregnancy: make sure to take lots of precious “hand framing the bump” shots.  The classics never go out of style.  ;)]

So you’ve peed on that little magic wand and it told you you’re gestating a small human.  Congratulations!  Your next step is to stalk babycenter, babble, and other pregnancy websites (you know, the ones you’ve been secretly reading anyway while you’ve been TTC) for the next several months and throw yourself into a panic.

It’s okay, we’ve all been there.

As a seasoned pro (chortle chortle), let me assure you that it is very important to follow all of the rules.

Let’s begin.

You should never eat sushi.

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Ever.

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Or soft, unpasteurized cheeses.

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[Brie on toast, get in my belly.]

Don’t take hot baths.

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Or eat raw eggs.

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[If you’re going for the boxed stuff, I highly recommend Ghirardelli.]

And sorry, but you’re going to have to give up your daily coffee.

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And that nightly giant mug of beer.

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[Kidding. That one, at least, wasn’t mine.  I may be a rule breaker but I have managed to abstain from imbibing.]

And get rid of your cats.  They’re just disease incubators waiting to infect you.

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 The face of illness.

During the coming months, you will be bombarded with advice from all sides.  It is very important to follow all of it, all the time.  Especially when it comes from random strangers.

Good luck, mama-to-be.  May your sense of humor be with you.

Potential

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There’s nothing quite as intoxicating as potential.

Whether it’s the heady excitement of a new relationship, or the mind-spinning birth of a new idea, that hinted-at potential draws us in, hooks us, and keeps us coming back for more.

When I ended my unproductive writing session the other day, I knew nothing had come of it.  Radiohead had failed me.

And yet, for the rest of the evening and during the next day, a single phrase I had written kept popping into my head.  “I can’t do anything with this,” I thought, and pushed it aside, but it was doggedly persistent.  Just that one phrase, repeating in my mind, over and over until–

IDEA.

I was stunned into disbelief at first.  Plot ideas are few and far between for me, and I hoard them like precious gems.  This new story idea seemed almost completely unrelated to the random phrase that had been circling my thoughts for two days, but I’ve learned not to question the strange paths my mind sometimes takes to get to its destination.

So now I have it.  A lovely, shiny idea of my very own.  The inspiration I’ve been wanting, needing.  These early stages are always so exciting–the possibilities seem endless, and your new, tiny bud of a story has so much potential contained within it.  Anything could happen!

But I know that potential can only take you so far.  Eventually the glitter begins to flake off, and the shiny thrill of it grows dull and stained.  What was once a retreat into a paradise of possibility begins to feel a whole lot like work.  And it’s at this point that you can either give up and move on, eyes wide and on alert for the next fresh start; or you can take a deep breath, narrow your focus, and push through the ennui.

I’ll admit that I’m not such a pro at powering through the tough stuff.  Master of half-baked ideas and brilliant plans and unfinished projects, it’s the seeing-it-through that always gets me in the end.

I’ll have to scrape together some of this ‘discipline’ everyone is always talking about and see if I can actually realize some of this bottled-up potential after all.  That’s the key, isn’t it?  Discipline.

Well, discipline and caffeine.

 

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