When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our 3rd child, we were surprised. We had not been planning on having anymore kids after the birth of our son a few years prior. Once we got over the initial shock, we settled in for the inevitable difficult first year that comes with having a newborn.
Here’s what we didn’t realize:
When our son was born, his sister was almost 9 years old. Only one kid was in diapers, only one kid was shoving small objects into their mouth, nose or ears at any given time, and only one kid would be screaming their head off for longer than 2 minutes.
Oh, to go back to those easy days.
Don’t get me wrong - it was definitely a big adjustment to go from one child to two. We had to learn to juggle the needs of both children at the same time. Definitely more complicated than just having one child.
When I was pregnant with #3, we really thought we had this whole “parenting” thing down. It was only 3 years before that we had done the newborn stage with our son, and everything was still fresh in our minds. We weren’t as worried about her getting sick, or getting enough sleep, or as obsessive about writing her bottle times down. We trusted our instincts with the 3rd. We assumed that after 2 kids already, we were pretty much pros.
Dear lord, were we ever wrong.
Okay, so here’s my take: being the parents of 2 kids KIND OF sets up the framework to be able to handle adding more to your brood. HOWEVER, it’s not in the way you think. Or at least not in the way I was thinking…
Bear with me here as I try to pull a coherent thought out of my head with only one cup of coffee in me and 6,000 other thoughts floating around my overloaded brain. Maybe if I make a list that will simplify things?
2. Your kid has a crisis.
3. Throwing a birthday party.
There are SO MANY other things to add to that list, but the infant just started crying, the toddler is waking up for the day, and the older child is calling saying they need you to do something for them immediately. Your lucky partner is off at work, conversing with adults and driving around in their car with the radio on and no screaming in the background. They get a lunch break. You get the half of a granola bar that your child thankfully did not finish eating the day before and you didn’t have enough hands to bring it inside and throw it in the trash.
Don’t get me wrong - I LOVE my 3 kids. They are my world. Literally. My entire world. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but it seriously is crazy. Like bat-sh*t, I couldn’t even make this sh*t up, crazy.
Don’t forget to take your pill!
Scratching and scrambling and trying desperately to get a good grip and pull myself out of this dark and lonely place, but can't find seem to gain any ground.
I am....not great. I have been "not great" for a few months now. Every day seems to be a struggle to get through. Every morning I have to force myself to sit up and climb out of bed. Getting off the couch is as daunting as going for a 10 mile run. I spend literally every single ounce of energy I manage to dredge up on our three kids. They are all at completely different stages in their lives, and they all have significant demands that must be met all day, every day. I feel like I disappear a little more each day. I'm becoming transparent. I'm not even a real person anymore - I am merely here to ensure these three children grow to be happy, healthy, strong human beings. I cook, and there's always someone who is unhappy with the food and mealtime turns into a battle we've fought so many times before. I clean, and then someone walks into the room and dumps their bag or shoes or toys all over the floor so that it looks like a frat house the morning after a party. I ask for 5 minutes of alone time, and I get 30 seconds before the kids are fighting with each other and one of them is screaming while the other one is crying. I try to read a book, but my brain isn't able to focus enough to absorb any of the words. I try to watch TV, but I zone out and end up having to rewind multiple times just to keep up with the plot line. I think of a million crafting projects I want to do, but just can't muster the strength needed to get all of the supplies together. I keep opening apps on my phone only to forget why I wanted to use them in the first place. I think of posts I want to write all day long, but never seem to find a minute to type them up. I think about making a list of all of the things I want to write about so that I can look back on it later for inspiration, but taking a second to jot things down seems like an insurmountable task.
This is depression.
I just CAN'T. I can't think, I can't do, I can't feel.
No, I don't want to talk about it. Yes, my therapist is aware of all of the issues going on. No, my antidepressants don't seem to be working even though we have me on the maximum dosage. No, I don't need any suggestions as to how I can feel better.
I know that I should take some time to myself and get out of the house without any kids. I can never seem to find a good time to do it, and if I ever get any time without children I usually opt to take a nap because getting dressed and driving somewhere seems like a monumental task.
I know that I need to get better with my eating and stop the ED behaviors that have come back so viciously over this past winter. Please stop suggesting I eat snacks every few hours throughout the day. Please stop telling me that I need to get it together because the kids need me. Please stop telling me that I already went to treatment and now is not a good time for me to be sick. Please stop saying that "there is always something going on" with me.
I cannot "try harder" to feel better. It doesn't work like that. Not even close. Don't you think I would be doing that if I could?? Who on earth would choose to feel like this? Like a zombie. I'm just shuffling around trying to come off as put together and strong and fine. I'm not a very good actor, but I try anyway.
Being home with the kids all the time is harder than I ever thought it would be. I definitely knew it would be hard. It is just way more difficult than it looks when you are watching someone else do it. Sometimes it feels like there are 100 hours in a day. I often have 2 kids screaming at the same time, and have to figure out how to monitor the 3 year-old in his timeout while he is melting down but at the same time not be in the room because his shrieks are scaring his baby sister. I literally can't hear anything over the insane amount of noise.
I know this won't last forever.
I understand how life works. I am good at reminding myself that the bad times always come to an end eventually. This will stop. I will feel better. I will make it through.
For now, I am just tired.
Please be kind to strangers. You have no idea what kind of struggles they may be facing.
Hang in there.
So, my understanding of what it sometimes means to be a full-time mom has changed drastically over the past few months...
I had my first child when I was 21 years old, and at 33 now I really thought I was kind of a seasoned pro at this whole "parenting" thing. I've spent countless days following someone else's routine, countless nights rocking babies in an attempt to get them to sleep, countless hours worrying about how I'm messing each one of them up with whatever decision I am making at the time.
3 kids. 12 years. Nothing should surprise me at this point, right?
JesusMaryandJoseph was I ever wrong. These past 2 months have been the most TRYING, EXHAUSTING, UNRELENTING, DEPLETING, ISOLATING, ULCER-CAUSING times I have ever found myself tripping and stumbling through.
Kids are guaranteed to cause their parents stress - that's definitely a given. Literally EVERYONE knows this before they procreate. Everyone. But, what happens when the amount of stress is actually too much for a them to handle?? And I'm not talking about normal teenager hormones and toddler tantrums and baby colic. I'm referring to the EXTRA stuff. The things that you never factored in when you decided that you could handle not just ONE offspring, but THREE.
Now, I am definitely not going to go into detail about any trials and tribulations my blessed cherubs may or may not be dealing with as I firmly believe it is not fair for me to make a decision to share their private lives with the entire world without their informed consent. I'm just going to throw my personal struggle out there in hopes that it can act as a life ring for another drowning soul.
I snapped yesterday. SNAPPED. Like, trying to text my husband using the voice command button instead of typing with my fingers because I was in a rush and multitasking, and the only things my phone could pick up correctly were the numerous swears that were showing up in every single sentence. Other than that, it looked like I was using some sort of translation app that in no way, shape or form is getting the message across the way you want it to. Except the crazy angry part. That part was definitely clear.
**Also, WHY DOES MY PHONE BLEEP THE SWEARS?? It is not cool when I am losing my mind that my phone chooses this time to send "f*******" instead of the actual word that I am screaming at it. It kind of takes away some of the venom in my voice.
So, yeah. I was shrieking into my phone in an effort to get my husband to understand exactly how DONE I was. I was on the verge of tears. (I never cry.) The anxiety felt like a ball of fire right in the center of my chest. I couldn't breathe. I wanted to just TAKE A DAY OFF AND BREATHE, DAMNIT!! ...But I couldn't. My kid needed something from me at that point that could only come from ME. So, yeah. Melting down wasn't a choice because no matter how little I had left to give (see: 0) because I am a mom and that means that I literally cannot have a day off ever from that job until the end of time.
Yes, the kids' needs are constantly changing. Right now I have a pre-teen, a toddler, and an infant. FUN TIMES, GUYS!! It is enough to drive any parent insane. I can see why people (therapists) are always pushing parents to get together in the form of "play groups" (gatherings with wine) to offer each other support. Of course, how in the world do you have time to go to a "play group" (day drinking party) when you don't even have enough time to take a 5 minute shower in the morning??
Literally every single one of my "social" activities lately has been having a 2 minute conversation with the checkout people at the grocery store and Goodwill. I'm not joking. I speak with those people more often than I can find time to text my own sisters. Thank god for them - if I didn't have those 2 minutes, the only times I would open my mouth would be to continuously answer "yes" or "no" questions for my toddler and to yell at my pre-teen to pick up *insert item of clothing here* from *insert any random room in house here* every 5 minutes. The closest thing I have to a real conversation when I am with my kids is me, passive-aggressively speaking in baby talk to my infant about how her older siblings are making me nuts. (She just smiles at me when I do this, so I don't really think she gets what I'm saying...)
My brain has been demolished this year. I can barely form a coherent sentence because there is such a backlog of "things to remember" and "to-do" lists piled up in my head. I hear some of the things that come out of my mouth and mentally shake my head because I sound like an idiot. I've tried to take more time to think thoughts through before I translate them into words to be shared, but then I just look like it takes me a long time to sound like an idiot. I can't win.
My husband has been my saving grace. The poor guy wants to help out so bad. He literally asks me to tell him what to do to help me AND I. CAN'T. EVEN.
After I had finished doing what only *I* could do for one of the children, I went home and basically fell apart at my husband's feet. He swooped in and offered to give me a few blessed hours off from being Mom. I wasn't even "on-call Mom". I was "stretched beyond capacity, numb to the world, I'm taking a 3 hour nap with the sound machine on full-blast next to my head so that I cannot hear anything you people are saying" Mom.
I have never slept so hard.
I woke up and was able to rescue my husband from the toddler who is going through the stage where he has turned whining into an art form and manages to find a reason to do it in response to any and everything that is said to him.
And the beat goes on, da da dum da dum dum......
Hang in there, moms and dads. I know the demands will keep up until the last day of your life, but at least we're all in this together #amIright??
Sending so much love (and sanity),
My husband went back to work this week, and on my first day alone with the 3 kids I totally rocked it. Seriously. By the time Earl came home that night, the house was clean, the kids were bathed, and dinner was in the oven. I was all, "LOOK AT ME! MOMMING ISN'T SO HARD! WOO HOO!!"
And then the next day happened.
Why I decided to try to start potty training my 3 year-old when I have a brand new infant in the house is beyond me. I knew that it was going to be hard, but I also thought that eventually it would get better.
IT DID NOT GET BETTER.
Not only was I cleaning up random puddles of urine all around our house (after stepping in them and soaking a sock each time, of course), I was also trying to calm a fussy baby AND monitor the toddler while he spent 90% of the morning in the bathroom.
I should have known this would all backfire.
After lunch, my son was sitting on his little throne for the millionth time and I thought it was safe for me to run downstairs and throw the laundry from the washer into the dryer so that his baby sister may have some clothes that were not covered in spit up. I was down there for less than 20 seconds when I heard the telltale sound of a toilet flushing.
No. Nonononononoooooooooooo WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!!!
See, I had left him sitting on his tiny potty that does not involve him having any control over our septic system. But, he can walk, so of course he hopped right off of that mini seat and ran for the real deal when I left the room.
I high-tailed it back upstairs as fast as my neuropathy riddled legs would carry me and crossed my fingers as I entered the bathroom. There was my little cherub, standing next to the toilet with his hand poised over to the handle, ready to try to flush Buzz Lightyear "DOWN THE HOLE! THE HOLE MOWWWMMMM!!"
I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I realized Buzz was still sitting in the bottom of the bowl and I donned my gloves and scooped him out, vowing to never leave my son in the bathroom by himself ever ever EVER again. Crisis averted! I turned around to take "Mr. Buzz Lightyear" to the sink to get a proper wash-down when my son said, "MOW-OM! R-D-D-D-OH" went down the hollllle!!"
Stop. Slowly turn back around to look at child.
(Forced calm voice): "What did you say, Buddy?"
(Mournful toddler voice): "R-D-D-D-OH went down the hooooooole....get R-D-D-D-OH!"
Crisis NOT averted.
R-D-D-D-OH is our son's way of saying R2-D2. It is his favorite toy that he stole from his Auntie's house on Thanksgiving and he hasn't gone a day without playing with him since. Apparently R-D-D-D-OH had been specially chosen for the maiden voyage through our pipes.
I would like to give myself kudos here, as I did NOT scream. (Except for in my own head.) In the beginning of this ordeal, I remained perfectly calm, cool and collected. I did what any sane parent does these days. I Googled things like, "what to do when toddler flushes toy down toilet" and "will toilet be okay when kid flushes toy?" and "how to take apart toilet."
4 hours later....
I had most definitely LOST my cool at this point. The bathroom had tools and kitchen utensils (because I thought a butter knife might work when a flathead screwdriver did not???) and books strewn all about the floor. My 3 year-old was still perched on his little potty, only now he was decked out in my loafers and a plastic headband with a watermelon card stuck to it ("Headbands" for those of you who are not up on the most recent games for children.) His crazy mother was sprawled across the closed toilet lid, frantically trying to get behind it to unscrew the entire contraption from the floor because THIS IS WHAT ONE OF THE WEBSITES SAID I NEED TO DO AND IT TOTALLY SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING I CAN HANDLE TAKING APART AND THEN RE-INSTALLING, RIGHT?!!?!?!
When the toilet ultimately refused to budge from it's spot on the floor (I would be very thankful for this later), I loaded all 3 kids into the minivan for a last-minute trip to Lowe's to get a new toilet snake. Earl was due home from work in an hour and I could NOT tell him that our son had f*ed up our septic system.
Long story cut short, the snake did nothing to help us retrieve the toy.
R-D-D-D-OH was gone for good. (Unless my prayers are eventually answered and he will just show up back in the toilet bowl on his own one day.)
Earl came home to a very different house on day 2 of us being on our own. There was NO dinner cooking in the oven. The children were NOT bathed. The house was most decidely NOT CLEAN.
I am pretty sure when the toddler was the first and only one of us to go to the door to greet him, and he did this without pants on but with the headband and the boat shoes, my husband decided right then and there that he was the chosen parent not to lose their sh*t that night.
Good job, Earl.
Basically my expectations for my parenting dropped from "being Susie Homemaker" to "keeping all three children mostly alive until Dad gets home" over the course of 24 hours.
Self compassion, people. It is necessary for survival!
Keep hanging in there. Each day is a new day!
Chaos is about to reign.
Calm down - this is not a political post. (I have yet to be able to put my thoughts on this election into coherent words and am instead just finding solace in all of the #Jobama memes that have been going around. I'm really going to miss those guys...)
No, I am referring to the fact that we are about to go from 2 children to 3 very shortly. VERY shortly. Less than a month away. This is terrifying to me. I am pretty sure my husband is still in denial about all of this because he is a lot calmer than I am and THAT IS NOT THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS IN OUR HOME!!
It just hit me a few days ago.
I have also been in denial. My stomach has been growing larger and larger, but there is still that moment where I still wonder why I am having so much trouble standing up from the couch. (I have to do the whole roly-poly bug thing a few times in order to launch myself up from a sitting position.) I have painted the nursery and emptied it of everything that did not have to do with a newborn. I have slowwwwwwly been accumulating baby things that we will definitely need within the first few weeks of her birth.
Gahhhhhh I just remembered we need tiny socks. SOCKS!!!!! Her feet are going to get frostbite and fall off WHATKINDOFPARENTSAREWETOFORGETSOCKS?!?!!?!?!?!
I was sitting in said nursery the other day, folding all of the tiny little outfits that look like they were made for dolls and it hit me.
THERE IS GOING TO BE A BABY IN THIS ROOM VERY SOON.
So, panic ensued. We have this whole parents-of-two-kids thing down to a science these days. We are so familiar with the routine and who gets assigned which gross jobs that my husband and I could go without speaking to each other for days and nothing would be thrown off track.
Come to think of it, sometimes we do forget to speak, unless it is in the voices we are using to convey what we think is running through his little mind at that very moment.
I am exhausted already. With the preteen and the toddler who is going through a very rebellious phase, I am sure we are stretched as far as we can go sanity-wise.
WHY DID WE THINK THIS 3RD CHILD WAS A GOOD IDEA!?!!
In my defense, I blame my husband. (This is only because he tells everyone he blames me.)
I know that we will adapt, and I know that a year down the road it will be as though she has always been there and we won't be able to imagine life without her. I'm just worried about that first month. Or two, or three. The great unknown where we could be dealing with anything from weird reflux issues or colic or her being a total nightowl who refuses to so much as blink after the sun goes down.
Terrified, people. I am terrified.
I am still doing the stay at home mom thing and dealing with the neuropathy in my feet. So, YAY! Figuring out this new schedule will very much be lying on my shoulders. My lovely husband gets to flee the house for hours and hours at a time and speak to other ADULTS and DO THINGS and get a LUNCH BREAK!
(I know you work very hard when you are not at home, dear. I'm just very jealous of those small perks you get...)
So, here we are. Add to all of that the apprehension of the post-baby body and how my ED is going to deal with it. It's sucked enough being pregnant and having the compulsions to use behaviors, but at least I've had another child being affected by all of my choices. This body will be mine and mine alone again in less than a month. .....yay??.....
I'm sure it will all settle down very soon.
Fingers crossed for no colic, reflux, or insomniac tendencies!
Stay well. Hang in there. I know it's been a rough week all around. Everything will right itself soon enough.
Lately, I have caught myself staring out the window and just reveling in the sense of peace I have found here. Home. My home. Where I have kids, a husband, a dog....big windows, sunshine coming in from all around. Rooms filled with things we have picked out, things I have made.
This is ours. Literally ours. Our little piece of earth.
I am appreciating every minute I have here.
I fully understand that this sense of calm will not last forever. I know that there will be many times in the future where I will be unable to see the beauty and wonder filtering through the glass. I am hoping that if I fully immerse myself in this current feeling of tranquility, I will be able to recall and revisit it when my mind locks me away again. These past few months have been the best that I can remember ever having. I have had difficult days, and I have definitely struggled throughout. But I am almost always able to see beyond the fog when it swirls around me.
So, I am basking in it. I am not taking it for granted. I am looking and seeing the world around me. I am not allowing myself to rush though. I am not letting my mind twist my nerves so tight that I can't even get off the couch. I am living as much as I can in the moment.
We have no control over when the floor drops out from beneath us. It will come as a surprise, and it will be awful.
But, I still had this minute of peace. It is imprinted on my mind. It cannot be taken away and I will marvel in every color, every scent, every single bit of wonderment that my soul is able to absorb.
My home. My family. My life.
There is peace here.
I'm about to write about a taboo topic.
Eating disorders and pregnancy.
A lot of people seem to think that if you suffer from an eating disorder it magically fades into the background when you get pregnant. Maybe that's true for some people?? If it is, I wish I were that lucky.
It doesn't disappear. It does, in fact, get louder.
I'm not saying that I am over here using behaviors. What I am saying is that the fight has been constant and exhausting since I found out about this new baby. There are so many (SO MANY!!) misconceptions about eating disorders. The majority of the population who do not battle with one can't even begin to understand what it is like.
Let me enlighten you.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was shocked. Not too far behind that followed elation. Of COURSE I want to be a mom to 3 kids! I love being a mom. I love the snuggles and the hugs and the good days and the bad. I love the constant challenges and the insane problem solving that comes with trying to help to shape what starts as a tiny blob on a screen into a happy, functional adult.
I LOVE IT.
What I DON'T love is the barrage of disordered thoughts that come along with pregnancy symptoms. Hormones go crazy, hunger increases (as does nausea for those of us lucky bastards who suffer from "morning" (aka ALL DAY LONG) sickness.) and clothing sizes go up. None of these things are avoidable. All of these can trigger ED thoughts.
So now you have all of these things making you feel mentally and physically worn out. Add to that the shame of having ED urges in the first place.
What kind of sicko would still feel temptation from their ED when they are supposed to be growing another human being in their belly??
The disorder doesn't just go away. What actually happens is the level of guilt increases exponentially. More triggers, more urges, more of all of the negative aspects of the ED continue to attack.
So, it's extremely tiring. And depressing.
I wish I could just enjoy being pregnant without having to worry about the monster that attacks my brain and seems hell-bent on grinding my soul to dust.
I'm not going to let it win.
So I keep fighting. I keep screaming back at the voice in my head trying to get me to do awful, disgraceful things.
The urges may still be there, but that doesn't mean I have to follow through on them.
Go away, you fool. You're not welcome here.
I'll never give up.
The past month has been very busy/hectic/crazy/overwhelming. I didn't even realize it had been so long since my last post. Now that I think about it, the past few weeks probably would have been a little easier/happier/warmer had I used this outlet to empty my brain.
Writing that makes me anxious, which then makes me angry.
I'm not anxious about having another baby (this will be #3), or at least not more anxious than I can cope with. I'm anxious because I know what people's reactions to that will be.
Seriously? Another one?
Do you really think this is the best time?
How are you going to be able to manage??
Is this really fair to the 2 kids you already have??
How can you possibly afford this??
Great. Just typing those out made me furious again.
I pride myself on minding my own business (most of the time) and tend to get really perturbed when I see a person being judged by someone who only knows the absolute basics of the situation.
YES, ANOTHER ONE. Of course this is not the best time, but when would have been? We will manage the same way we always have - we do what we need to do to deal with any problems that arise. Um, I'm pretty sure that giving our first 2 kids another sibling is just adding to the list of people they will have to love and support them throughout life. And as for the last question - I would never, EVER assume to know everything about your financial situation and it is COMPLETELY inappropriate to comment on mine. Nobody is going to be wanting for anything, and there will be plenty of food for all of our mouths. Just stop talking.
Why does everyone doubt me so much?
Yes, I've had more than my fair share of problems throughout my life - I'm certainly not the only one who has had to deal with setbacks. I'd like to think that I've shown time and time again that whatever I am up against I am able to overcome.
What I'm trying to say is....keep your opinions to yourself. You are not the one having this baby, you are not going to raise this baby, you are not going to be financially funding this baby.
So, unless you plan on being a positive part of our family's life, turn around and walk away.
I don't have time to worry about someone else's ideas on how we should be living our lives.
We like our life just the way it is.
A HUGE, HEARTFELT THANKS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHO HAVE DONE NOTHING BUT SUPPORT US AND REMIND US THAT IT IS JUST FINE TO BE HAPPY ABOUT HAVING ANOTHER CHILD.
There is more than enough love to go around.
For anybody who has a mental health diagnosis, or a history of addiction, or has just plain done something that still makes them cringe when they think back on it....this one is for you.
We had a situation with our 10 year-old daughter this week that threw us into through a loop as parents. I'm not going to go into detail about what went on because it is her situation to share with other people and not mine. I will, however, be sharing what I learned as a parent who has always worried that choices I made in the past would end up being detrimental to my children's growth and development.
I had my daughter when I was 21 years old and I have worried about her since she was the size of a kidney bean. I've worried that I would do something to screw her up, I've worried that I wouldn't be the perfect parent, and I've worried that I would make every wrong decision possible and she would end up in juvie by the age of 12 with tattoos all over her face and piercings from head to toe. (I may have been indulging in some catastrophic thinking...)
Fast forward to 2016.
My baby girl is about to turn 11 in a month. 11!! Two more years and she will be a teenager. She has been referring to herself as a "preteen" since last year with such pride and insistence that I want to pack her in a box with a bunch of barbies and tell her to SLOW DOWN! I don't know about you, but I am not ready for her to be a teenager yet.
I'm not ready, but it's coming anyway.
On Tuesday, we were in that position where as parents you immediately question how you got there. What did you do wrong that got you to this place? You are going back in your mind and thinking of the millions of mistakes you have made since you were 5, desperately trying to find that exact moment that decided this fate. You are the adult. You are the mom. These two things make it YOUR fault. Right?
That is not how it automatically works, my friend! Pull yourself out of your puddle of misery and listen to me. Think about all of the people you know. Your friends, your family, your neighbors, that familiar stranger you always run into at Dunkin' Donuts on your morning commute and the "perfect" mom you see at the bus stop. (You know the one I am talking about - her hair is always straightened by 7:00am with no frizz in sight. She's dressed all business casual even though you know for a fact that she is a stay-at-home-mom who is going to be sitting on her floor playing with Mickey and Thomas toys with her 9 month-old in less than 10 minutes. She even bakes. WHO HAS TIME FOR ALL OF THIS?!!) Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent. (Honestly, we don't even GO to a bus stop in the morning...but I know that woman exists somewhere!) You may think about how they all have it together while you are fumbling through life trying to keep your kids alive and fed and not forget to let the dog out before he pees on the floor. It's a lot of stuff. It may sound easy when you say it like that, but life throws you curve balls. Usually these come in the shape of a tiny Lego your toddler decides to put in their mouth and swallow before you even saw that your older kid had dropped it on the floor, or the broken elbow your 8 year-old got from falling off of the swing because they decided to let go mid-air to try to catch a falling leaf.
I don't care how much you plan ahead, there will always be a crisis that hits that smacks you in the face and pulls the rug out from under you all in one fell swoop.
When it happens, your brain is going to go into that mode where you are berating yourself for being such a bad parent. It is telling you that because you have children, there is no room for accidents or mistakes - you were supposed to become a superhuman the second you decided to procreate.
I'm sorry, but that's not how it works. You are not given a magic wand, or a cape, or even a Ninja Turtles face mask on the day your child is born. (Which would be AWESOME!) You are still you. Please don't spend all of your time trying to undo all of those moments that you have stuffed back into a closet, desperately trying to hide them from your child and the rest of the world so that they won't judge your parenting abilities.
Take them out and look through them. Organize them in a way that you will be able to use them.
That time that you got caught smoking weed and got suspended from high school? Use it. That night when you were stupid enough to drive drunk in college and thankyoubabyjesus didn't hurt anybody, but DID acquire a DUI that will forever be on your record? Use it. That time you followed an old boyfriend across the country only to have your heart broken and your entire world come crashing down and spent the next 6 months in a deep, deep depression where you hated the world and hated yourself even more? Use it.
You cannot change your past. You cannot change the things that make you you. The only thing you have control over is what you are doing in this exact moment on this exact day. All of those yucky things that make your stomach sick and your head hurt when you look back on them....sorry to tell you, but no matter how much you hate them they are NEVER GOING AWAY. Everyone has them. Nobody likes them. But your mistakes mean that you have already gone down the wrong path at some point in time, and that you have the ability to steer your kid away from it before they land in the same place! You have inside information. You know exactly what it feels like to be there, which makes you kind of an expert in that area. Not only did YOU learn from your mistakes - you can pass those lessons onto your kids before they even make them. Stop punishing yourself for being human and start putting your experiences to good use.
And for the times when your kid makes their own mistakes? Stop standing in front of that vicious mirror and blaming yourself. Ain't nobody got time for that! Swallow your pride and just be there for your child. You were in this same place (probably many, many moons ago), so you know how horrible they are feeling right now. They aren't sitting there focusing on your past. They are worried about their own present. Your stupid mistakes aren't even crossing their mind right now. They are busy focusing on their own negative thoughts and feelings about themselves, and that is something you can do something about.
Give them a hug. Tell them it's okay. Tell them everybody screws up. Nobody's perfect. The world feels like it is ending right this moment, but tomorrow the sun is still going to rise and things are going to be a little better and no matter what, YOU ARE GOING TO BE THERE FOR THEM.
That is what matters.
You need to let go of your mistakes and forgive yourself so that you can teach your kids how to do that, too.
Give them a lollipop and snuggle up on the couch in front of a good movie. Hell, get yourself a lollipop as well! Lean on each other and use that love and compassion to get through it. You've totally got this. It's a piece of cake. Don't overthink things. Just do what you feel is right.
You're an expert, remember?
Smile, my friends, and be kind to yourself.
Anna and Nell at your house, circa 2007. Nell always was good at trying to grab a bite of food. (It helped that she was, like, 5 feet tall!)
It's that day again. The one we hate. The one where you were taken from us so suddenly and unfairly. The one where I wake up and see the calendar and the back of my neck starts to burn while I feel like a swarm of bees has taken over my stomach.
I miss you.
My brain still doesn't understand you are gone. There are so many days where something will happen and I will automatically think, "I can't wait to tell her!" And then I immediately remember and it feels like someone just knocked the wind out of me.
I still tell you, but it's a silent, one-way conversation inside of my head.
There are so many things going on this year that would have made epic talks between us! Donald Trump is running for president. PRESIDENT. OF THE UNITED STATES. I am sure this would have been discussed on a regular basis as he is constantly making a fool of himself with the racist comments and the impulsive Twitter rants. OH MY GOD, I WANT SO BADLY FOR YOU TO COME BACK SO THAT WE CAN HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS.
Did I mention we are moving?
I finally convinced My Michael (not to be confused with yours, as usual!) to move up north. I would have brought him over to talk to you at least a few times so that you could help me to build up his excitement about this. It's hard doing it on my own, and nobody could do it better than you. He thought you were pretty damn awesome. (Because you were pretty damn awesome.) And this whole online house search is for the birds, Carol. I have a list of at least 30 houses to check out that I need to whittle down. I just can't choose!! You would have helped me to talk through it and knock a bunch off of the list so that it is more do-able.
Graham really grew up this year.
I know that kids are like weeds with the whole growing thing, but Graham has made so many exciting strides! He went from not being able to chew ANYTHING to having an entire bowl of Rice Chex cereal yesterday. A WHOLE BOWL! This was such a giant leap from where he was just a month ago. And he talks so much now! I would have brought him with me sometimes, just like I did with Anna when she was his age. We would have laughed at all of the words he comes up with. (Laughing was kind of our thing. Nobody was funnier than the two of us when we got together.)
Last, and not quite least there's the whole crocheting thing I've gotten into this year.
I would have made you a scarf. It would be warm and fuzzy, and most importantly IT WOULD NOT BE GREEN! (You know, that color you hate?) I would have picked a nice blue, and I think you would have really liked it.
Another year and I still miss you like you were here just yesterday.
I'm still waiting for the year where I wake up and it is less of a shock to my system when I remember.
After 8 years, I don't think that day is ever going to come.
I really, really miss you.
Mother and wife by day, psych RN by night. So many different ways to view life. I try to take everything in and be very slow to judge.