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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

Five years ago this morning, I broke the news of my miscarriage to you in a blog post, as I was undergoing my D & E. It was the only way that I could process any of it. It was the only way that I could carry on and your support meant everything to me but every day since, I’ve had to live alone with that loss like we all do. Try to make sense of something so senseless.

Recently, I did something that surprised even me. I shouldn’t have looked. Until, I saw it, in person, in the flesh, it wasn’t “real”. It was just this terrible thing that happened to me five years ago. It was the bill I paid for what is referred to by the medical billing department as a “missed abortion”. It was a child I will never hold. It is the faint whisper of sadness that lingers forever and leaves me melancholy just around the edges. It wasn’t real in the way that you could see it with your own eyes.

But I’ve seen it now and I can’t unsee it.

Last month, we took the girls to Chicago for Spring break. It’s my hometown and the girls have been many times but they’ve never done the touristy things so we took them to some museums and the zoo. It was a fantastic trip.

Then, I saw something that I’ve seen before but with fresh eyes and a heart that’s survived a miscarriage.

As we entered the exhibit, one I’d seen before, I suddenly felt anxious. Like I needed to know. I was borderline obsessive and I couldn’t control myself. No one noticed what I was doing but I think the Big Guy caught a glimpse of the desperation in my eyes as I walked up to the dial upon entering the Your Beginning exhibit and turned it to the first trimester; I wanted to pinpoint specifically the 4th day of the 11th week. What could he do?

grief, loss, anniversary, parenting, miscarriage

 

The exhibit was different than before. It was completely in black, darkness was everywhere and only the fetuses were lit up as if my very soul had put this exhibit together. It is somber. I tried not to do it. You’re not supposed to do it. You’re supposed to carry on. Push it down and pretend it never happened. You’re supposed to move on. Go on living as if your entire life is not tinged by the hole in your heart. 

I didn’t want to make a spectacle with my mom, my sister, my daughters and my husband there. I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole of grief facing anger and sadness head on but I had to know, so I turned the dial.

Such a little thing and to anyone who didn’t know or even just wasn’t paying attention, this was naturally inquisitive behavior. Only I never twisted the dial to progress to the second trimester. Instead, I left it frozen in time, suspended in disbelief, as is my daily existence since that day 5 years ago.

I try not to overthink it or linger too long in my loss. The emotional time bombs are less and less frequent but I remember every single day. I have two children but I am the mother of three but most people don’t know that.

It’s not like I wear a t-shirt that says so. It’s not like I’m marked in any way but on the inside, I am scarred. I don’t howl like an injured animal as I did on that day or fall apart anymore; so silently I continue on, remembering but not making too big of a deal about it.

Pregnancy loss is so common that some people believe it’s almost normal. I could never subscribe to that way of thinking because for me it was profound. For me, losing my pregnancy changed me forever. But still, after a while, it feels like it happened to someone else and you learn to live with it. It feels like a wound that’s healed and the scar has faded and you hide it beneath your clothes so no one has to look at it or think about it or feel sorry for you ever again.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

But you want to feel it. The pain makes it real. It reminds you that it happened. The pain is the only thing that proves your baby was here at all. So, I looked and now, I can never forget.

The scarred wound of my miscarriage has been ripped wide open.

On the morning of my D & E, I frantically demanded that they perform another ultrasound. In complete desperation, I refused surgery without one more ultrasound. I was desperate for rescue. I needed this to all be a mistake. I needed my baby to be alive.

But when they did the ultrasound, there in black and white, the perfect baby with absolutely no heartbeat. He looked like he was sleeping. Like a little astronaut exploring the space of my uterus and that was the last thing I saw before my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. I broke, just before they wheeled me into the operating room and I’ve detached myself as much as I can since.

My heart still aches but it’s in survival mode. But on that day in April at the Museum of Science and Industry, I purposefully opened my wound. The pain makes me feel closer to my baby. I walked into the exhibit and I slowly made my way to the 11 wks. Fetus. Yes, the exhibit has fetuses from conception until 40 weeks in formaldehyde. Then, I saw it, the closest thing to my reality; 11-weks and 4 days and 11-weeks and 6-days.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

I felt the wind get knocked out of me as it has been almost every time I think of what will never be. My eyes began to go blurry and the room began to spin. It was hard to breathe. There it was; bigger than I’d thought; a fully formed person; with 10- fingers and 10-toes and ears and a tiny little mouth and eyes. It wasn’t a “pregnancy” that I lost, it was a person.

grief, loss, parenting, miscarriage, anniversary

 

I wanted to run away and howl, like I did in my car on that day 5 years ago. But I was frozen and trying to digest the truth. I couldn’t speak. I only lingered. Truthfully, part of me never wanted to leave because it was like seeing my baby for the first time. I know it wasn’t my baby but it was what my baby would have looked like could I have seen him; touched him; held him in my arms.

My miscarriage robbed me of all of that.

No one said a word. I was like thin glass in an earthquake and it was taking everything inside me to not collapse and sob like a baby on the floor. My legs were shaky. I could feel myself getting wobbly. It hurt reopening that wound but it was something I needed to do. In some small way, it gave me closure just knowing/seeing what was. It made him real and less than a memory cloaked in sadness and emptiness.

On this day, I forgive myself and give myself over to the grief. I get no birthdays to celebrate with my third baby but I will never forget he existed, if only briefly. Every year on the 1st of May, for the rest of my life, I will be alone with my grief and allow myself to remember the worst day of my life because it’s the only tangible memory I have of my third child.

Today, I am frail and vulnerable and my heart is heavy because my arms are empty and my house is filled with the laughter of one less than it is supposed to be and I can never forget any of that.

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Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

Tuesday was a somber day and Wednesday was even worse, the world lost two amazing, strong women who happen to be mother and daughter, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. It has me doing a lot of thinking about my relationship with my own daughters. It has me assessing just how much I truly love them. Sometimes we take it for granted because they are always there, under our feet, popping into the loo while we’re trying to take a wee or telling us the same story 7 million times but every moment, they add up to our lives and memories and without them what would be?

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

I’ve seen all the photos circulating of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher from throughout the years and through it all, it seems like they had each other, in the way only a mother and daughter can.

There are mothers and daughters who are completely different and drift apart but there are others who grow together and even through the hard times become inseparable. This is what I’ve always wanted my relationship with my daughters to be. This is what I work towards.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

You want to be their mother first and you love them always but someday, secretly, you hope they’ll consider you their very best friend above all else because in the end when they are adults and you are equals, that is what we really want…the humans we love the most to like us; to choose us.

That seems to be the relationship Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher had in the end. You can see the mutual adoration and love in those old black and white photos.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

When I think of one of my children dying before me, I’d like to believe that I would die on the spot. Unfortunately, I know that’s not necessarily true. The thing is, I had a very small taste of what it might feel like when I lost my third child in pregnancy. Truly, the only thing that kept me going was my living children because they were small and they needed me but even then, I spent a good month in bed wanting to not exist, willing myself not to die. The pain was so immeasurable; I have never quite recovered.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

It still hurts daily knowing that I am here and he is not. Some things just change you forever. It’s not natural for a parent to outlive their child and there is a special kind of pain and guilt that accompanies surviving your child. But you go on because they cannot. But if my other children were grown and didn’t need me so much, if I was given the choice, I can’t say that I wouldn’t gladly follow my deceased child. I’d follow them because quite frankly, life would be just too fucking painful to survive again. I’ve had my one stay of execution and I hope I never need another one. It takes a lot of strength to survive that kind of loss.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

So when I heard the tragic news about Debbie Reynolds having a stroke and dying the day after her baby girl (because they are always our babies, right?) I was sad but not shocked. In fact, I almost expected it because stress, sadness and shock can physically destroy you. She lived a fantastically full life and I think she just gave in to her grief.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

Believe me, sometimes it just feels better to give in than to fight. We fight when we have something better to live for but losing a child, it takes better out of the equation. I’m not saying she willfully dropped dead and that she loved her son any less than Carrie, I just think she wasn’t in perfect health and she was devastated by the loss and maybe she did just want some relief from the pain and she didn’t have the will or want to fight.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

Anyways, as sad as I am that two strong-willed, strong-minded, outspoken women who lived out loud and on their terms are gone from this world, I am happy that they are together because that’s what I choose to believe. This life is not “it”. This is part of “it” and now they get to be together for the rest of whatever “it” is because when you live your life loving someone so much that you don’t know where you end and they begin, even a day is too long to be apart from them.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

Hug your children, folks, because nothing in life is guaranteed and every moment is a chance to love.

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grief,loss, parenting, miscarriage

Last night, I dreamt about a baby. A tiny, baby boy who perched his little bobbling head atop my shoulder right in that perfect cradle made just for babies between my collar bone and my ear. Then his tiny head would wobble and bob and little lips would fall on my flesh like kisses from heaven.

I woke up this morning feeling happy with my visitation from the sweet baby boy in my dreams. Then, I realized that it’s November 24th and it wasn’t just any baby, it was our baby. The one who should be turning 4-years-old today. Instead of celebrating together, I’ll be choking down tears and turkey while he (that pregnancy just felt completely different than either pregnancy with my girls so I assume it was a boy), my sweet Declan Wayne (that would have been his name…in my heart it already was) will be missing from our table and our lives.

It’s been 4 years and I still can’t feel the loss any less. Only now, it seems my sadness is turning to bitterness and anger. It took 4 years but all I keep asking God is why? Why did you take my baby? Why must I survive this?

There are so many unwanted pregnancies and babies, so many children born into families where they are mistreated and unloved and all we wanted to do was love our baby. All I wanted to do was hold him in my arms, even just once. It wouldn’t have been enough but it would have given me closure. Instead, I live my life like an open wound that never closes; vulnerable to all of existence. I need some kind of closure, some tangible marking that you were here, so I am writing you this letter.

Dear Declan,

I wish you were here. More than anything in this world, I wish that I could hold you in my arms and feel your little heart beat against mine. I wish I could see your sisters love on you and fawn over you like big sisters do. I wish I could see the pride in your dad’s eyes when you two connected over something boys do. I wish there was a little Big Guy in the world.

I wish you were here to have booboos kissed and tears wiped. I wish you were here to smile lovingly at your sisters when they had a long day at ballet or a hard day at school. I wish you were here to make us smile and giggle as only little boys can do. I wish you were here for me to see grow up.

I wish you were here to love because you see each time I got pregnant, I fell deep in love and my heart grew to accommodate that enormous love. Only now, who am I supposed to give all that extra love to? You made me better before you were ever here.

I won’t talk about the day I lost you or how my entire world crashed down on me. I won’t talk about how all I wanted to do was be with you, to stay with you forever because if I do, I’ll start to cry. I’ll never forget you, my sweet boy, and you will always be in my heart. That’s where I carry you. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it once more and every single day for the rest of my life, I wish you were here.

Forever yours, Mommy

I know it’s Thanksgiving and I am thankful for all that I have but it’s also what should have been the 4th birthday of the baby that I’ll never get to hold. So while I am thankful for all that I have, including those few short precious months of pregnancy with my third baby, I am still sad beyond belief that I will never get to celebrate his life with cake and ice cream surrounded by family and friends.

I will never see him play soccer or go to prom, get married and have children of his own and every November 24th, I will be just a little melancholy around the edges knowing that one child is missing from our table and from our life. I don’t think that sad emptiness ever goes away and to tell the truth, I’m not sure that I want it to because it is the one reminder that I have that he was ever here.

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mommy coma,motherhood, coma, parenting

I feel like I’ve been in a mommy coma for the past 10 years. While all of you are trying to find your way back to who you were before you had your kids, I think I’ve spent so much time putting out fires that I forgot to enjoy the last 10 years of motherhood. I know I was there, I saw the photos and I have the wrinkles to prove it. I just wish that I could have actually been in the moment more.

There’s been so much “getting by” that I completely forgot to be present. I’m not sure what suddenly jarred me awake this week. I think it was the funeral Tuesday that reminded me of how temporary life is. Nothing is forever and time is ticking away whether we’re enjoying it or not. I know I can’t be present for every single thing but I want to at least be mentally present for those things I am there for because if not, what’s the point of any of it?

Why am I wasting my time putting out fires and worrying about what other people think my life should look like? I should be having tea parties and soaking in every single second that I am privileged enough to have with these amazing people I get to call my daughters and my husband. I should be creating experiences not worrying about having all the things or capturing the perfect photo. I just want the perfect moment of being there. Life is messy and beautiful and not always picture perfect.

motherhood, coma, parenting, mommy coma

I should be writing from my heart not overthinking things? When did this all happen? Sometime in my coma, I became someone I don’t even recognize. I’ve put myself into a prison cell made up of what I thought my life should look like instead of following my heart and making this life of mine, this world I live in look and feel the way I want it to; the way my daughters deserve. I’m a grown up, I can choose my own way; my own happiness. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to but for some reason, I’ve put these rules and expectations in place of what I think I should be by other people’s standards and not meeting those standards means failure and, anyone who knows me, knows I hate failure.

I’ve been angry disguised as disgruntled by the status quo when really I could just choose to be happy doing more to be the change and talking less; being less filled with angst. Who am I tantruming for anyways? Certainly not my children.

They need me to be their champion not a martyr. I’ve spent so much time trying to teach them to become who I think they should be that I forgot to just listen and appreciate them for exactly who they are because really, they’re pretty fucking great.

I’ve spent years telling them to be who they are and to never let anyone make them into someone else when all the while they were, only I didn’t see it. I was blind in my mom coma trying to make this picture perfect childhood and life, when there is no such thing. There is only happiness. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for them.

Once again in motherhood, as in the rest of my life, I’ve found myself in my own way. I’m the one stopping me. So, I’m reprioritizing. There’s going to be more listening, more laughing and more doing and a lot less talking, and less yelling and being frustrated. I’m letting go a little bit.

The goal is happiness. Period.

How do you avoid the mommy coma and find your happiness?

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parenting, gun control, hiding in a bathroom, attack

Ever think about what it really means that we are parenting in a world where it’s completely necessary to teach our children what to do in case someone enters the the building with a gun? Something happened last week that left me more than a little freaked out. I haven’t talked about it on here because I didn’t know where to start. I wasn’t sure that I even wanted to talk about it because then I had to admit that it was real.

But then in the news I read that a couple people had been shot and murdered at our local Texas Roadhouse. It was a Sunday night. It’s a family restaurant. Can you imagine going out for dinner with your family and being caught in crossfire? Can imagine what you would do if you were sitting there with your child?

We’d all like to think that it would never happen to us. That mass shootings, or a madman on the loose with a firearm, happens someplace else; anywhere else. It just doesn’t happen here because then we would have to face our greatest fear every single time we walked out of the door. We’d have to accept that every moment outside the bubble of our home puts those we love most at risk. So we push it down, way down. We throw caution to the win and we don’t let the “terrorists” win (the terrorists being crazies with guns). But sometimes, it does happen here. There. To you. It can happen to any of us.

Last week, I was at the mall with my daughters and my mother-in-law school shopping. The sun was shining. The guys were at a thing and us girls, we were just having a relaxing day of buying things we needed to back-to-school and “mannequin shopping” (as my youngest refers to window shopping) for those things on our wish list. It was a day like so many others but not quite. We had no idea what was about to transpire.

We had hit all the stores we needed to hit and were hitting Sears as a last ditch effort to find the correct size in uniform shirts and shorts for my tall and thin children before we were going to let the girls go someplace they actually wanted to go…Claire’s and Justice. After much searching, we finally found some uniform polos that would work.  As we neared the register, the littlest one tells me that she needs to go to the restroom. Of course she does, she always has to go to the restroom. I think she is secretly surveying all the bathrooms in the world. She’ll probably start some amazing yelp like service for toilets when she’s a tween but I digress. This is serious shit and I’m getting off track.

My mother-in-law stays in line with my oldest to pay and the little one and I go to the restroom. In case you were wondering, my girls are 9 and 11-years-old and, no, I still don’t let them go to the restroom unaccompanied because I simply don’t trust people. She went to one stall, while I went to another (hey, that’s progress) and then it happened.

I was washing my hands while she was still in the stall. I was chatting to her, letting her know that I was waiting outside the stall door. She was cracking jokes and laughing, as she is known to do. She is a really silly kid. I love that about her.  Then we heard it, something off in the distance outside the women’s restroom door. Something like I’ve never heard before. It sounded like a child tantruming and very agitated but it was clearly an adult man. I could hear the tension escalation and nearing us.

I was really confused because when we had walked into the restroom, through the furniture section, there were three seemingly normal grown men sitting there. Yet, this howling, agitated screaming and shouting was getting louder and louder and I could hear arguing. My heart was racing. Oh my God, what’s about to happen?

These are the moments in parenting where you find out who you really are.

So, I started rapping on my daughter’s stall but I wasn’t saying anything because I didn’t want anyone outside the bathroom to know we were in there. I didn’t want to call attention to our location. Then in a panic, I whisper shouted, “Gabi, let me in. It’s mommy.” She did. I could see on her face that she was terrified. I tried to calm her with my eyes but I knew the voices were getting closer and louder and even more agitated with each step.

I pushed her to the back of the stall. I told her to be quiet and make herself small. Hide as best you can in a stall. I had no idea what was coming through that door. I feared it could be a man with a gun. I was terrified but not for me or my safety, but for my daughter; my littlest girl. All I could think of was those poor men trapped in the bathroom at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

I readied myself for the worst. I positioned myself in between the door and my child and I braced it with all of my weight. I was looking through the crack in the stall when a huge, mentally challenged man came bursting through the door. He was pacing back and forth and hitting himself in the head; clearly agitated. He was hitting the stall door next to me. No one else was in there except for him and us. I wanted to cry and scream for help but I had to stay silent and keep my composure. He was out of control and not in his right mind.

Then, an elderly woman, I’m assuming his mother, burst into the bathroom. She grabbed him and tried to subdue him. Her eye caught mine looking through the slit in the stall. I’m sur she could see the terror in my eyes. She was tiny and he was massive. I wanted to help her but he was twice my size and while her concern was her child, mine was my own child. We stayed in there, silently hiding from this man for what seemed like forever. I’m sure it was only a few minutes.

I heard her talking to him with a mother’s love and trying to calm him down. She pulled him into the handicapped stall next to us. He was still screaming and howling and I could hear him hitting himself. I couldn’t even breathe but I had to stay strong for my daughter. Then, I heard the mom shut the stall door and tell him, “just stay here with me and breathe for a minute,” and I knew it was our chance.

I quietly opened the stall door, checked to make sure it was safe and slipped out with my daughter safely tucked behind me. I was a human shield, just in case, he flew back out of the stall agitated. My daughter was trembling, as I held her close to me. We got outside of the door and finally exhaled.

And there sitting, laughing, were the three grown men. The same men who watched me walk into the restroom with my little girl. The same men who saw this mentally deficient, unstable man flipping out and proceeded to watch him enter the restroom where my daughter and I were at, all the while doing nothing. The same men who watched as a frail, tiny elderly woman went in to face a huge, agitated and angry man. They laughed. My daughter was trembling and they laughed. The only reason I didn’t stop and say something to them was because I didn’t know if that man was going to come running out of the bathroom, still unstable. My priority was getting my daughter to safety. Instead, I went to the cashier and they sent security.

This is the world we live in. The world where grown man do nothing while a child is in danger.  A world where no one, other than this man’s mother, thought it was enough to check on him, even though he was screaming, yelling and hitting himself. A world where my little girl cried when we got home because she was too scared to answer the door at first and she felt guilty. A world where my first thought was that someone was coming in to shoot us.

The sad reality is we’re parenting in a world where any of us can become a victim of gun violence at any time.

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back to school, first day of school, parenting, girls, letting go

Back to school was not Xanax inducing here. Not this year anyways. Today was the first day of school for my girls. It feels much too early in the summer. It’s the first summer that I wasn’t either ecstatic or sobbing to be left alone. This morning was a peaceful, easy morning.

The girls are at the age where they can do things on their own. They were up and ready before me. They were excited. I was thrilled. Morning drop off went off without a hitch. Completely different from last year’s back to school mental breakdowns.

I walked them in, dropped off supplies and introduced myself to their teachers and left with a kiss goodbye and a hug of appreciation instead of desperation. It was bitter sweet.On one hand, my oldest “baby” is in 6th grade. That’s middle school? How did this happen? I swear I just dropped her off in the kindergarten hallway of death.

I returned home with hot coffee in hand and sat in peaceful quietness in a clean house. Then it happened. I missed my children. As much as we’ve been inseparable this summer, I didn’t think it was even possible.

Back to school is getting easier for them and harder for me.

I missed my tween sleepily walking into the room midmorning only to collapse by my side and snuggle into me as she did all summer. I missed my little one sauntering in with her bedhead and sidling up on the other side of me, kissing me good morning and laying with her feet under my hip as she read a book or watched a show on her iPod. I missed it all. I even missed the tiny voices constantly asking to go to the pool. I just need a few more days; a few more years. 18 years can’t hold all of this love.

Mostly, I missed the fact that those moments are gone for another summer and every summer is one summer closer to no more summers under the same roof. That rips my heart out. I don’t know how to not hate that. I want to consume and digest every moment in tiny bits so that it doesn’t overwhelm me but motherhood is all consuming and, for me, completely overwhelming in the best possible ways.

back to school, first day of school, parenting, girls, letting go

At pick up the car was filled with excited voices telling me how excited they were about the upcoming school year. They were thrilled to connect with old friends and excitedly told me of new ones. Both proclaiming that this is going to be the best school year ever. Both thrilled with their assigned teachers. These moments make my heart happy but I feel the pull away like the slow separation of a Band-Aid from a forgotten wound. It aches beneath the surface like a fresh bruise to my heart.

Our schedule is hectic and crazy and heads into full force next Monday so I plan to wring every single ounce of freedom and togetherness out of our last weekend before the obligatory chaos takes over. I have to believe every second counts and every day is a chance for a new beginning. That has to get me through the letting go.

As we head into this new year of school, I am full of pride. My babies are becoming such phenomenal young ladies. This only makes me want to cleave to them tighter but I loosen my grip because they are not mine at all. They are their own. I am just the blessed woman who got to bring them into the world and gets to spend a little time showing them the way to live in this crazy world. I just hope that I’m doing it right.

How do you deal with the quiet moments of letting go that come with back to school?

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Gwen Stefani, 1st concert, this is what the truth feels like, parenting, girls, milestones

I learned something life altering at the Gwen Stefani concert last Sunday.Raising girls has taught me to be a better woman. My little girls are no longer little girls. . It is beautiful and sad at the same time. On one hand, they amaze me by the young ladies they are becoming but on the other hand, to be honest, I am nostalgic for the babies who so desperately needed me. I’m torn. Happy for this new phase of real closeness that’s replacing the relationship where I got to be the hero. But, on the other hand, I do miss being the hero. Being human in your child’s eyes is both humbling and liberating but absolutely equalizing. Everybody who has ever had a child that’s grown into an adult knows this. I’m still figuring this all out.

Something strange is happening in our house, the girls are growing up and turning into actual human beings that I love spending time with. The thing  is that this is not what I expected. I based my parenting beliefs on one untruth that my daughters would naturally separate from me as they grew older. I was dreading it but this is something I was counting on saving me from dying from a broken heart when they leave for college. But, contrary to my experience with my own mother, we seem to be growing even closer as they enter these years and this scares the hell out of me. How am I to survive the pending separation in a few years?

Gwen Stefani, 1st concert, this is what the truth feels like, parenting, girls, milestones

I’m not the kind of mom who would ever keep her kids close for her own satisfaction. I had that done to me and, honestly, I think it truly altered the course of my life. No, I believe that if you love something you have to set it free. I have to give my children wings to fly, no matter how much my selfish heart wants to clip them and keep them with me forever.  The thought of not seeing their faces every single day breaks my heart. I try not to think about it too much.

Lately, I find myself catching my breath at the realization that I made this. When they were newborns, I used to be in awe of their sheer perfection. How could someone so imperfect give life to something so amazing and unscathed? But now, I sometimes watch them while they sleep and stand in silence and awe because I can’t believe these amazing humans they are becoming. It’s more than just cute and smart and funny, it’s big hearts with passionate minds and an openness that blows my heart wide open. They’ve been living in this world and they actively pursue goodness. They strive to love in a world filled with so much hate. They inspire me to be better. Then I’m stopped in my tracks when I realize they are reflections of their father and I and that’s wow. HUGE!

Gwen Stefani, 1st concert, this is what the truth feels like, parenting, girls, milestones

I remember being thrilled with each passing milestone; each defiant act of independence made my heart explode a little bit. The thing is this summer, there has been a huge shift happening, one I never anticipated…my girls are becoming human beings that I really enjoy being around. I thought I’d never be able to love them more than when they were sweet little newborns and toddlers and depended on me for survival but there is certainly something to be said for your children choosing to be around you rather than just needing to for survival.

This summer has brought some slight physical changes in my girls, things I won’t talk about because it’s my blog and not my story to tell, but I will say at a time when most girls begin to shut their mom’s out, my girls seem to be turning to me for guidance. Yep, I am as baffled by this as you because when I was a tween and I started “changing” I shut my mom out, first thing. But instead, they’re coming to me with questions, and for hugs and guidance.

Somewhere between the last day of school, all of these little changes have been happening very subtly. My cute little caterpillars are changing like whispers into butterflies. We have real conversations about real things and they listen and want my advice. It’s almost overwhelming because I was prepared for battle and instead, I’ve found allies. I didn’t think it was possible to love them any more than I already did but I was wrong. The bond is getting deeper.

Gwen Stefani, 1st concert, this is what the truth feels like, parenting, girls, milestones

The changes are small, minute almost, but they are definite. Suddenly, my baby is almost as tall as me and her feet are only a size smaller than mine. We can shop from the same stores and in the same departments but the thing that surprised me the most is that instead of wanting to be nothing like me, they want to be exactly like me. I don’t deny them this because they could definitely have worse role models. Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed when the oldest wants to dress alike because I’m sure the perception by strangers is that I’m trying to look younger by dressing like my daughter. That’s definitely not the case. I think, in her way, she uses it as a way to pull closer to me at a time when she feels herself naturally pulling away.

It’s a whole host of moments that have happened this summer. The kind that you’d miss if you weren’t paying attention. Moving into the juniors department and leaving the kid’s department behind. A new perspective and dedication to the things they love, not that of a fickle child but of a determined young lady. Suddenly, they are spending more time at the side of the pool talking to me on a lounge chair than cannon balling. Then there are the glances from boys that I don’t think they even notice, but I see it happening.

They are finally cool enough to enjoy Gwen Stefani in concert!

Their taste in music has improved drastically. We’ve long been past the days of the Wiggles and YoGabbaGabba (well, not too long they will still listen if a CD finds its way into the cd player) but they have been comfortably smack dab in Radio Disney land and that’s ok. They love pop music but suddenly they are developing a taste for alternative and rock and and an openness to all kinds of music (like myself). In fact, we took them to their first ever concert (that wasn’t a kid’s group) to see Gwen Stefani and her This is what the truth feels like tour and they loved it and we loved seeing them love it. It was definitely a moment that I will never forget.

School starts back next week and I’m honestly sad to see our summer together over. The school year brings with it obligations, rehearsals and a full schedule. We literally have one free day a week. I only have 7 more years, 7 more summers with my oldest in my house before she leaves for college and I can tell you definitely, it is not even near enough.

They say childhood goes by fast but in those first few days holding your newborn, you can never imagine just how fast. It’s a flash and I think if you do it right, when the time comes to send your child out into the world, it will break your heart into a million pieces but you will be able to take peace in the fact that they know you will always be their home and you are always there if they need to come home. At least that is what I’m believing from my short 11 years of parenting.

What was  your Gwen Stefani moment this summer with your kids?

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parenting, how to survive parenting, mom mantra, exhausted mom

Ever find yourself Googling how to survive parenting? My girls are past the toddler years and we even lived through the threenager years…twice! We’ve survived the first days of school and those first years of the insecurity of the early years of elementary school and learning to coexist with others. We are falling fast, headlong into prepubescence and the tween years, which as far as I can decipher is basically a much taller, more vocal threenager who has perfected the eye roll so well that she just may injure herself doing so. It nearly gave me whip lash just being on the receiving end of one earlier this weekend. Yet, at the same time, they are my most favorite people.

It seems like forever ago that we were worrying ourselves silly about every single choice we made when they were newborns and even longer since bringing them home that first day and sleeping with the lights on so that we could watch every breath she took to make sure that she was still alive. I remember the overwhelming fear that I was going to somehow break this precious piece of perfection the minute those insane doctors allowed me to leave the hospital with this brand spanking new perfect newborn.

The point is that parenting is overwhelming at every age. It never gets easier it only gets different. That’s why we mothers have this mantra, and you might not even realize that it is yours, “Can’t stop, Won’t Stop.” I wish there was some sort of mom bat signal that we could shine out to other mothers in the dead of night like a bat mom rescue signal, or there was some sort of letter we could pin on our chest to signal to other mothers that we are exhausted and overwhelmed and in desperate need of a moment of silence, a nap, a hug or just an ear to listen. Instead, we’re all like the little mom that could…just chugging along, praying, “I think I can, I think I can” hoping to survive until our partner gets home from work. We mark our days by putting out metaphorical fires and surviving one catastrophe to the next. It’s not really living so much as its survival.

I’ve been a mom for 11 years now and I can tell you, if it gets easier, it’s not in those first 11 years but I’ve picked up some pointers along the way. Being a parent is hard work, especially when you consider what’s at stake; your sanity, your children’s lives and your quality of life. Oh and your partner, can’t forget about him or her because even if you’re in this shit show together, you’re not really. One of you is doing more work. But who’s keeping score?

How to survive parenting?

When the girls were littler, back in the days when I had a 2 and 4-year-old (and honestly, for a few years after that) every 3 months I’d have a meltdown. I needed the release. Those were my limitations; 3 solids months of non-stop doing my best parenting and then I needed a good cry (a sobbing your face off ugly cry.) In retrospect, I’m not sure if I was crying from feeling like a failure to my children, sucking at making time for my husband, the catastrophic state of what was my home or mourning for my life, the one I knew I would never have again.

I know it had a lot to do with being left on my own to figure it out while my husband worked out of state. I never felt so lonely and overwhelmed as I did in those days even though I was never technically alone (little people had attached themselves to me like barnacles and for 97% if the time I loved it but for the other 3% I felt like I was that guy in the Scream painting by Edvard Munch.) I wasn’t even allowed time alone to hear myself think. Not sure if it was from missing someone to help with the parenting, having someone to talk to about it or the feeling like when he came home on the weekends the Big Guy was secretly thinking to himself, what the hell has she been doing all week…this house looks like a tornado hit it. All I know is that I spent a lot of the early years of parenting feeling buried inside myself; unseen, unheard and invisible (well, unless you consider being a human feed machine, booger and ass wiper and always eating cold food while tiny people asked me a zillion questions being visible…ironically, those were the moments when I really wished I could be invisible.)

The thing is I loved every single moment of it and I hated it too. I loved (still do) my children more than anything else but I put myself on the back burner. I lost myself to a mom uniform (mine was yoga pants and t-shirts, for some it’s a pair of jeans and a sweater or a comfy maxi-dress) and a soft body (because who the hell has the time or the energy to work out when they have little kids). I became unrecognizable on the outside, even to myself. I was in survival mode or maybe it was beast mode, “Can’t stop. Won’t stop!” Because when little people’s lives are depending on you, there is no option even when you want to collapse and say you quit (and we’ve all wanted to. You beautiful exhausted mom reading this, you’re not alone and I see you.) It’s okay. We’ve all wanted to tell the boss to take this job and shove it at one point or another.

The thing is, like I said, it doesn’t get any easier but it gets better. My theory is that babies are born so freakishly cute to us so that when they keep us up all night and take us to the brink of insanity we can be soothed by a coo or a smile. As they get a little older, they get even cuter and that is because those are the real butthole years. Oh if those adorable little smiles didn’t melt our hearts, parents would probably be abandoning threenagers on the carousel at the mall at an alarming rate. Then, they settle in at absolutely freaking adorable from the ages of 4- about 10ish; everything they do is sunshine and out mommy/ daddy hearts almost explode. Then one day, we wake up and they are tweens and they are kind of smelly and starting to perfect that whip lash inducing eye roll that I was warning you about. I hear that over the next few years they become heinous back talkers who know everything and go through a rough patch physically, I think this is nature’ way of making sure our parent hearts survive their departure to college. Otherwise we’d all die or follow them. At this juncture, I can’t guarantee I won’t do both.

The secret to surviving these early years is acceptance. Accept that it really does go by at lightning speed and accept that you love them more than you really want to admit so much so that you worry at night that it might kill you dead if they ever leave you or God forbid, something terrible happens to them. The bottom line is that parenthood is minutia peppered with misery and profound moments of bliss and it’s the most amazing, wonderful thing that any of us will ever be a part of but it also kind of sucks and that’s okay too.

Let it go. Perfection is not attainable in parenting. In fact, it’s a moving target. Do your best, love your children, love yourself and love your partner. Don’t worry so much about the house and laundry, they will still be there tomorrow (unfortunately, I know this first hand). Don’t be afraid to share your struggles with other moms, think of it as your own personal bat mom signal. Talking about it really does help. Why do you think I started this blog in the first place? Believe me, your kids are not the only ones bickering constantly, talking back, not sleeping and living on chicken nuggets and good looks. You are not alone!

Make time to hear yourself think because your thoughts are important. Steal moments to catch your breath and every once in a while, lock the door when you go pee, drive alone with the music you like to hear cranked up 10 decibels too loud for your toddler’s ears and just try to remember that you are still a person and you are not alone. We (the other moms) see you. I promise you, one-day sooner than you think, you will be alone with your thoughts again and you’ll be able to take the time to shower, shave and dress like an adult.  You’ll even get to eat warm food and talk to adults again and you will most definitely miss these exhausted, overwhelming moments of now. Did I mention that I cried like a baby the first day that both girls were in school all day long?

Of course, that’s about the same time your “babies” will start throwing you major shade and rolling their eyes at you like it was their job but it’s also about the time you can have real, meaningful conversations with them because they are becoming adults. There’s that damn misery profound bliss thing again.

I see you. What’s the one moment in parenting that you really wished you could send out a bat mom signal and have someone come to your rescue? Let’s have a conversation, share it in the comments.

What’s your one tip you’d give another mom for how to survive parenting?

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how to deal with kids being home all summer, parenting, the truth about parenting, life, truth, suummer

I need your advice on how to deal with kids being home all summer? Yesterday, I was having a “poppin Xanax like they’re tic tacs” sort of day. Not really, but that’s definitely how I’ve been feeling. You know when you just feel like things are too much and swallowing you whole? Not in a depressed sort of a way. For me it’s a wheels spinning, engine stuck in neutral sort of feeling. It’s frustrating and emotionally exhausting. It makes me feel out of control and anyone who knows me, knows that I do not do well with feeling out of control. I’m like a heat seeking missile when it comes to this sort of situation, I will seek out control to the detriment of all else. Thankfully, I can feel myself amping up; the crazy has been kicked up a notch.

I’ve been “on” for about 2 weeks straight and I am in desperate need of some quiet alone time. Quick, someone send me to a corner for a timeout. We’ve been constantly busy this summer and I’ve been sandwiched in between my mom and my children, all three talking incessantly about nothing at all while I try to squeeze in deadlines around the fringes by waking up at the ass crack of dawn (I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning) and staying up way past midnight. The pretzels are making me thirsty!!!

I just want to be alone with my thoughts and get a furlough from this insanity that is my life. I’m feeling on edge and increasingly annoyed by things like loose hairs and the sound of people chewing their food. Is it wrong to want some peace? Just five minutes to myself or alone time with the Big Guy.

how to deal with kids being home all summer, parenting, the truth about parenting, life, truth, suummer

The constant chatter is waning on my nerves. I want to yell, blow shit up and go away but I can’t because that’s just not what one’s supposed to do (after the age of 2) in these situations plus where would I go? Everywhere I turn, there I am right smack dab in the middle of a shit sandwich with nowhere to go. I feel like I’m about to be eaten alive by it all.

I can’t even tune out mindlessly to television because inevitably someone will want to “talk”. For some reason, they feel the need to fill every second of silence with words. I just want to hear my own thoughts. The long sighs and exasperation in their breathing is becoming more than I can take. I’m beginning to feel like I’m failing every expectation and being rushed to nowhere. Case in point, yesterday afternoon they got ready to go someplace and decided to go wait in the car for me before I was even dressed. No pressure there.

I just need someone to tell me how to deal with kids being home all summer.

I realize that it sounds like I’m complaining when I should just be enjoying the summer with my family but the point is that even though they are “off”, I am not. I love them and I love seeing their beautiful little faces every day but they are making the mom guilt hit me hard. Inferiority is creeping it’s ugly little head into my mothering gig.

But then there are other moments when I hear my girls laughing hysterically as they jump on the trampoline with their friends, or we’re lying on the grass reading the BFG together under the summer trees or I get to enjoy wine slushies with my mom at a baseball game on a perfect June afternoon.

how to deal with kids being home all summer, parenting, the truth about parenting, life, truth, suummer

I still have work to be done and deadlines to be met. I need to find a balance. The only thing summer break means for me is that I’m working double time and a half with no sleep and my house is always full of extra people and if it isn’t I have two children on repeat telling me how bored they are and asking when can we go to the pool. Never, I want to yell. We can never go to the pool. I can’t tell you how excited I was to get the neighborhood email about the pool closure due to a “fecal accident” because I knew the kids wouldn’t touch that pool with a ten foot pole for at least a week. I was wrong, it was only a day and they were ready to wade in shit just to get to the clubhouse.

To make life even more strenuous, my youngest has a raging case of hypochondria. We know that we can’t watch movies where people or pets die but I made the mistake of forgetting that every sickness or health crisis she hears about or sees in a movie or reads in a book, she immediately believes that she has. This child doesn’t even know what WebMD is, heaven help us all when she finds out.

Last week, we watched Miracles from Heaven. I thought, happy ending and miracles should be fine. I loved it even though I sobbed through most of it because as a mother, I know the unrecoverable kick to the gut that watching a child you love suffer delivers. Unfortunately, my 9-year-old took away not the miracle of God’s healing powers as the moral of the story but instead, got it into her mind that she too must have a motility issue and it could be fatal, or maybe she’d get it later, or maybe one day, her child would be born and develop it.

It might sound funny. You might be chuckling. But I assure you, when your child is that sure that they are dying it is simultaneously heartbreaking and infuriating, when nothing is wrong. I’ve been trying to comfort her and assuage her fears. I tell her nothing is wrong but I understand her fears, then I assure her that I am taking note of how she is feeling and I will always take care of her. Then, I feel guilty for not taking her to the hospital immediately but we’ve been here before so I do my best. My nights are sleepless, my mom brain and heart are at battle and I’m torn between wanting to coddle her and wanting to shake her. In the end, I usually end up biting my tongue and just cuddling with her until she falls asleep. It might not be the best answer but it comforts her and eventually, her little mind lets go of the idea that people die.

I think I’m just tired, exhausted really. I need rest. A nap could probably do wonders for me right now. Is summer supposed to feel like a prison sentence? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all been bad. We’ve enjoyed a week of lots of fun memories being made together but yesterday just sucked. It happens.

I was looking so forward to this summer and it was going brilliantly and then it just wasn’t. The thing is I know that if it were just me and the kids, it would be awesome but as soon as you add to it any extra people, places or plans it becomes a chore. I don’t want my summers with my children to be a chore. There are so few left that they will be living here. I know the next few years will fly by, they always do. I want to soak up the goodness not want to drown my sorrows in Xanax and silence. So, I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning to get work done so that I can deliriously enjoy the rest of the day being furiously happy with the people I love most in this world, my daughters, my mother and the Big Guy. Wish me luck and health, patience and perspective.

It’s not all been bad. I’ve really enjoyed having my kids and my mom here to see the first thing in the morning and the last thing I see before I fall to sleep but every day can’t be awesome, some days just suck. But then there are moments like this when being there mom makes me happier than I deserve to be.

how to deal with kids being home all summer, parenting, the truth about parenting, life, truth, suummer

 

Don’t mom shame me, just leave a comment below and tell me how to deal with kids being home all summer.

 

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daylight savings time, kids and daylight savings time, surviving daylight savings time, DST, parenting and daylight savings time

As someone who has a broken internal clock, I never understood what the big deal about surviving daylight savings time (DST) was all about. It had no effect on me. I function on 4 hours of sleep, doesn’t matter when I get that sleep. I had myself convinced that Daylight savings time was a myth and my husband was just being dramatic. Then, I tried to get healthy.

This year, I decided that I was going to get healthy. Sitting on your rump for 4 months with a broken leg will do that to a person. I did what everyone does on the first of the year, I promised to myself that this would be the year that I got “healthy” not skinny, just healthy; no longer obese with a BMI of 33 or something like that. I’d look it up for you but, honestly, I’m just too tired today. Daylight Savings Time, you are killing me Smalls!

See, part of my get healthy scheme included seeing my physician for a physical, to rule out any medical issues, moving more, making better food choices more often and eating in appropriate quantities for my size and stature. It wasn’t a scheme at all; it was a plan to live healthier. No more putting my faith and health in the hands of a diet. I need to do this for myself, the right way.Guess what happened? I lost some weight. Not a lot but enough to get out of my dreaded fat pants and into the regular size section.

But all that working out (I enjoyed it so much that I actually developed tendonitis from working out every day and had to pull back to every other day…that hasn’t happened to me in years) and eating more conscientiously had an added benefit of me actually falling to sleep…by 11 p.m. every night, without any sleep aid. I’ve been a diagnosed insomniac for all of my adult life so this was HUGE.

So there I was thinking I was hot shit with my lower BMI, smaller pants, working out to my CIZE dvd and eating healthier; feeling like a boss with almost 8-hours of sleep every single night. OMG…it changed my life, for real. Life just seemed easier and more palatable. The stressors were not as stressful and I found myself not being a super b*tch and hangry hasn’t hit in a couple months. Then DST came and jacked me all up.

Sunday morning, I slept in until 10 a.m. and I only woke up because my mom and sister were visiting and they wanted to head home and got tired of waiting for me to wake up, but at least I slept in. By the time Monday rolled around, after staying up until midnight because I wasn’t sleepy at my regular 11 p.m. (because it was only 10 p.m.) when my alarm went off at 6 a.m. I could not move, exhaustion had set in. I literally could not wake up and neither could my kids. All bets were off and snooze was on full blast.

I had finally gotten my body to a healthy place of rest, eating and working out and now it was having none of this not enough sleep B.S.! This morning, it was even worse. I lay in bed until 7 a.m. and I still felt like I had been up drinking all night long with none of the great stories to accompany it. Is this what being a healthy grown up is all about? Because if it is, it kind of stinks.

Enough is enough already. I did some research and this is what I found.

Tips and tricks to surviving daylight savings time.

  •  Preparation is the ounce of prevention you need!

Make the time change incrementally beforehand. Set all alarm clocks in the house 15 minutes earlier and earlier for five days or so. This way by the time Monday rolls around, you and the kids can actually wake up and it avoids a lot of morning arguments because, really, who has time for that, especially during the DST transition. Not me.

Begin on Saturday:

  • Around midday, get some exercise. Exercise and sunshine helps advance the body clock, just as bright light exposure does so go outside and play with the kids, go for a walk or do some yard work. Your body will thank you on Monday.
  • Never exercise at night. Exercise raises your body temperature but people fall asleep as temperatures lower so be cool. No exercise at night.

Sunday morning:

  • Get up at your regularly scheduled time— whether you had a good night’s sleep or not. This is tough love for your body.
  • Spend some time outside, preferably in the sunshine to help advance your body clock.
  • Take a morning walk. After a short night, taking a family walk is an easy exercise to help advance your body clock. If your kids are anything like mine, they will jump at the chance because they no all walks lead to the neighborhood park.

Have a bedtime routine for everyone:

  • Don’t eat a heavy meal after 6 pm. Don’t eat more than 3 hours before your bedtime.
  • Don’t drink a lot of caffeine or alcohol.
  • Don’t nap during the day.
  • Stop working on your laptop/computer/phone an hour before bedtime to turn your brain off.
  • Make sure your sleep environment is comfortable.
  • Don’t turn bright lights on at night.
  • Take a warm, not hot, shower.
  • Turn off all electronics and read a relaxing book, no Tom Clancy books at bedtime.

What’s your tricks and tips for surviving daylight savings time?

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