Dear Mamas…

Dear Mamas,
You are not alone. Ever.
Love,
Me, and all of Us
PostpartumProgress.org

The Anniversary, An Unexpected Adventure

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Dear Clara,

One year ago today, you were taken from my body.

One year ago today, I said the first of many goodbyes to you. I just can’t seem to stop saying goodbye to you, so often are you on my mind.

The last two weeks have been really hard. Like, trudging through quicksand, next level hard. And it’s no wonder. After all, last Labor Day weekend, we found out that you were a girl. Our first daughter, our sweet Clara. Three days later, we got the call that something appeared to be amiss. One week after that, we found ourselves in the office of a specialist, listening to a diagnosis that felt like it must surely be meant for someone else.

Five days later, you were gone.

It all happened so fast.

A fellow Warrior Mom has been reading a book called The Body Keeps the Score, by Dr.Bessel van der Kolk, which discusses the way that traumatic experiences literally reshape our brain, creating a physical record and replay function of the trauma, over which we have little control. It’s a book I intend to read very soon, but even without having read it, I am able to see just why the last couple of weeks have been so hard.

My body remembers.

My body remembers so well, that I spent the last two weeks fretting myself right into a case of bronchitis which landed me in the ER receiving a breathing treatment and a bag of fluids.

I made it to this day, though, and out of respect for the pain and my own grieving process, I decided to take today off of work. I’d be alone, well except for Milo Dog, and would be able to feel my feelings and let my heart guide me towards what activities would serve me best. Perhaps I would knit and send up a heartbeat for you with every turn of the needles. Perhaps I would take a walk in the woods and listen for you in the leaves, rustling crisply as they give over their supple green to the slowly encroaching Autumn hues and textures. Perhaps I would work on clearing the garden for Fall, pushing my hands into the earth and reminding myself of the oneness of it all, you included.

Parenthood had other ideas.

Silas was up half the night complaining of an earache and a headache. Milo needed to have a behavioral evaluation at a local boarder, so that we can board him for a wedding this weekend, and so my “Self-care Day” slowly turned into something else entirely.

First, I took Silas to the doctor this morning. Thankfully the ear ache is not an infection. Just fluid, likely caused by allergies. So we’re going to stick to the Children’s Claritin and try to make it through the rest of ragweed season without anything turning infected.

Milo’s behavioral visit was fine. We’re going to set him up to spend a full day there sometime this week, just so he can really get acquainted with the place before we leave him for an overnight.

By the time Silas and I left the dog boarder, it was lunch time. Since we had Milo with us, I decided to drive over to St. Charles (a little town on the Fox River that Daddy and I both love) and grab some lunch on a dog-friendly patio.

I ordered a beer. +5 self care points?

While we were waiting for our food, Silas informed me that he needed to pee. Just to recap, Silas is 4, cannot take himself to the bathroom, and we were on a patio with a 70lb velcro dog who does not enjoy being left alone.

I told Silas he needed to hold it. He said he could not.

I texted Daddy to see if he had any ideas. He did not.

Then Silas asked me, in the sweetest voice possible, if he could just pee in his pants.

I picked my heart back up off the pavement, slammed it back into my chest and mustered up the courage to ask our waitress if she would mind sitting with our dog for a few minutes while I took Silas to the bathroom. She very sweetly agreed, so I gave her a handful of treats for him and raced off to the bathroom, grateful for her kindness.

We returned to the table and as we waited for our order, I reflected on the way my day was turning out. Not bad, of course. It hasn’t been a bad day by any means. It’s just been so opposite the somber, introspective, grief stricken day that I had imagined it would be. By contrast, it’s been a day filled with so much life. From lingering bronchitis, to thankfully uneventful pediatrician visits, to dog boarders.  From inconvenient potty requests, to kind strangers, to a craft beer enjoyed under the shade of a towering oak tree, a dog snoozing at my feet and Silas zooming cars around the table top. It has been a wonderful, lively day.

There is, of course, a part of me who hurts immeasurably because you aren’t here to enjoy these days. However, as I sat on that patio, watching the dappled sunlight dance through the oak tree and smelling the first hint of dried leaves on the breeze, it felt as though you were telling me something about what today was really for.

Today wasn’t a day for grief. Today was a day for life. Crazy, messy, silly, happy, LIFE.

I left the waitress a hefty tip, along with a note, explaining how her small kindness had meant the world to a random Mom on a sad day. I then threw nap time windows to the wind, and we decided to visit Daddy at work, since it was just down the street. Why the heck not. Silas is napping now (late, and probably not for very long), and I’m sitting in the library, the room that was to be yours. Really, it is yours, I think it might always be. I’m overcome with the kind of peace and relaxation that only seems to find me in this room, and I’m finally doing something I had planned to do today. I’m writing. The words are just very different than what I expected them to be.

On a day which I expected to think only of death, you filled my heart and mind with appreciation for life, be it mundane or exemplary, or some spectacular mix of both.

Thank you for still teaching me, my Little Moon. I hope you always will.

We are all thinking of you, today and every day, and Mommy loves you, my darling girl.

I love you so very, very much.

Mommy

Warrior Mom Conference, 2016 – Atlanta, Georgia

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Alrighty, it’s been made public by Postpartum Progress now, so I am finally free to announce what I have been positively giddy to announce to you guys – I AM SPEAKING AT THE WARRIOR MOM CONFERENCE!!!!!!!

Remember waaaayyyy back in December when I announced my not-so-secret Secret Wish for 2016? It was then that I shared that I was applying for a speaker slot at Postpartum Progress’ 2nd Annual Warrior Mom Conference. It was a total whim, to be honest. It’s no secret that I am a total Postpartum Progress fan-girl, and I wanted to attend the conference no matter what, but I love speaking to moms. I really do. That might sound strange coming from someone who battles an anxiety disorder, but I feel at home on a stage talking to my tribe, and Mothers, well… they are my tribe. Especially Warrior Moms. I had an idea to explore and give a talk about the unique way that Mothers experience the Impostor Phenomenon (something I’m calling being a Mompostor), and I’m thrilled to be getting to do just that. I’ll be discussing what it feels like to be a Mompostor, what contributes to and perpetuates the phenomenon, and how to stop questioning your authenticity and worth, both as a mother and as a person.

So, my not-so-secret Secret Wish for 2016, is happening and I am beyond excited for the opportunity!

The conference is already sold out, BUT there is a waiting list if you’re interested in attending! If you’ve already snagged a ticket and you’re going, let me know! I’d love to look out for you there!

As we march towards the second half of 2016, I hope that your own secret wishes are being fulfilled, but most of all I just hope that you are wishing, because dreams and wishes are the ether into which our lives take flight.

Love to you all.

Appreciating A Rainstorm

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Today is a wet day. A rainy, misty, soggy, wet day, and I’m thrilled about it. I am not generally someone who likes rainstorms. Unless it’s night time and then I love them because I sleep like a baby.

Wait. Sidebar, you guys. Whoever came up with that saying “sleep like a baby”? Clearly that person never actually MET a baby, amiright?!

Anyways-rain. Like I was saying, I’m not someone who generally likes the rain, but I am a gardener. This is my second year with a vegetable garden and when you have a vegetable garden planted, a rainstorm is like Mother Nature taking over part of your to-do list. I worked today, so it’s not like the rain was impeding any outdoor activity I had planned or anything like that. Instead, it was simply a favor from Mama Nature. No watering can for me tonight!

This morning, as I walked into the office with a co-worker/friend, he was grumbling about the rain. I explained all of this to him and finished by saying “It’s funny how having a garden changes the way you see a rainstorm.” before promptly entering a full on introspective zone out. You see, as these words were escaping my mouth, it occurred to me that the same principle could be applied to how we feel about our mental health and personal growth.

If your mind is your garden, what then would it mean to appreciate a rainstorm?

Just sit with that for a little bit. I have been sitting with it all day and it’s still unfolding for me.

I honestly don’t have anything else to say today. I’m just going to continue meditating on this idea while I cook dinner and then take my family out to the pet store to buy dog supplies because, oh yeah – we adopted a dog and he comes home on Friday!!! (Pictures, I promise.)

So, there you have it friends. A short little post today with some food for thought. Let’s think about it together. I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections on this idea. Hit me up either here or over on Facebook!

If your mind is your garden, what then would it mean to appreciate a rainstorm?

Peace and love (and vegetables) to you,

Kelly

Something is coming…

I’m gearing up for Spring, lovelies, with a new prompted writing series! I’m going to participate in Susannah Conway’s April Love series, and I couldn’t be more excited. Beginning tomorrow, and continuing each day in April, I’ll be writing a love letter to  an aspect of myself or my life. This series is all about exploring your gratitude and opening to your vulnerability. I need it. I’ve been rushed and overwhelmed lately. I have a lot of things going on. A lot of WONDERFUL things going on, but a lot, nonetheless.

I’m excited for an opportunity to notice and appreciate.

Full disclosure, I may not write every day. I’ve decided that the best way for me to approach daily prompts is to look at the prompt, and write the ones that make my soul sing. So, if I’m not feeling a prompt, I’m not going to beat myself up about not writing for it. Cool? Cool.

And with that, I’ll see ya tomorrow!

I Accidentally Sleep Trained My Son… and He’s Fine.

One night, when my youngest son was around 6 months old, I sat down on the couch and sobbed. I actually did that a lot, but I want to talk about one time in particular. On this specific night, I was white-knuckle-gripping a baby monitor, as it vibrated in my hand with the grating sound of my baby crying. Don’t worry, my baby was fine. It wasn’t a distressed cry. It was a defiant cry. A cry with a tone that said, “COME BACK HERE, WOMAN, AND BRING THINE BOOBIES!!” You see, we were accidentally sleep training.

Accidentally sleep training?

Yep, accidentally sleep training.

I never wanted to sleep train. I was going to attachment parent. I was going to baby wear, breastfeed, gentle parent, make my own baby food, and teach my baby to read auras. Just kidding, well… sort of. None of those things are bad or silly (except the infant aura reading, obviously), but what most new mothers don’t take into account is that we can’t do it all, and we can’t anticipate it all. New moms don’t say, “When I have my baby, I am going to ask for help, so that I can get a full night’s sleep at every opportunity. I am going to communicate my needs, so that my support network knows how to best help me. Most importantly though, when I have my baby, I’m going to be fluid in my expectations, because I don’t want to over-burden myself during a time that I already know will be overwhelming.” Ahhhh, if only.  One of the first lessons that new parents are forced to learn, is the subtle art of letting go of expectations.

We hadn’t planned to sleep train. Unfortunately, my son was developing a flat spot on the back of his head, due to the fact that he had been sleeping exclusively in his Rock N’ Play sleeper. That thing was a lifesaver, until the flat spot, that is. Our son hated sleeping flat on his back from the moment he was born, so the gentle incline of the Rock N’ Play was perfect. However, it didn’t allow him to turn his head, so after several months of sleeping  in it, and despite the fact that we were doing regular tummy time, he started to develop a flat spot on the back of his head. On top of that, I was nursing my son to sleep every night, which was, unbeknownst to me, creating a tiny, little boob monster who could not fall asleep without nursing. I loved nursing him to sleep, though. It was comforting for us both. I would cradle him in my arms and feed him, riding that oxytocin highway, until his long, beautiful eyelashes would slowly begin to flutter and close. His sucking would become irregular, and eventually, full bellied and safe in my arms, he would fall asleep. This was our nightly ritual and I was loathe to let it go, however, when our doctor directed us to start putting our son to sleep in a crib, in order to correct his flat spot, I also mentioned that he couldn’t fall asleep unless I nursed him. Our pediatrician replied, with only a gentle hint of accusation in his tone, “Well, that’s because you don’t let him go to sleep without nursing him.”

Touché, doc

Our doctor recommended that, since our son was already going to have to learn to sleep in a crib, we might as well teach him to fall asleep without nursing while we were at it. So basically – sleep training. It was either that, or allow him to develop a flat spot on the back of his head and require a corrective helmet.

So we, the wanna-be Attachment Parents, “Ferberized” our baby. In case you are unfamiliar, “ferberization” is a sleep training technique developed by Dr. Richard Ferber. It is a version of “cry it out”, but one that does not, despite common misconception, just encourage you to abandon your baby to cry themselves to sleep or cry until they make themselves sick (cuz seriously – no). I’m not going to explain it in detail here, but I do want to take a moment to say that you should discuss all choices like this with your pediatrician and make an informed decision which is in the best interest of your child, and you. For us, a version of the Ferber method was it (I say a version, because I don’t think we followed his recommendations to a T). It took us about 1 week, and I don’t think we ever had to let our son cry for more than 5 minutes, if even that. But, those tiny accumulations of seconds, were the most awful, most excruciating minutes of my life, at the time. I felt like my heart was being crushed, slowly. A battle waged in my mind between my motherly instincts and the advice of our pediatrician. My mind screamed “Go to him, GO TO HIM!”, while the advice of our doctor rang counter-point in my head, “Failing to correct his sleeping position will result in a flat head, he is old enough to fall asleep on his own and you will BOTH be better off, and more rested, by teaching him to do so.” That last point was perhaps the most important, and one that I did not realize the gravity of until much later. At the time, my Postpartum Anxiety was un-diagnosed, but running full throttle. I wasn’t sleeping well, or occasionally, at all. I was having panic attacks. I was barely functioning. Having a 6 month old baby who was incapable of even the tiniest nap without first using me as a pacifier, did not help matters. While our pediatrician did not realize it at the time, he was actually giving me some of the most helpful advice I had received to date, in terms of prioritizing my self-care as a tool to manage my anxiety disorder. Teach him to sleep, so you can sleep.

Thanks, doc.

This accidental sleep training was my first lesson in making decisions that benefited my son in an indirect manner. Our decision to sleep train not only allowed his flat head to correct itself, but it made way for me to get more rest, which meant I was more stable and available to mother him. It was also my first lesson in expectation adjustment. I did not set out to be a parent that sleep-trains. I never judged parents who chose that path, I just didn’t feel like it fit with the parental identity that I had designed for myself. What I’m learning though, as I get further along in my parenting journey, is that my identity as a parent is not so much a precise recipe that I’m following, with exact measurements and temperature settings. Instead, it’s more like a blank coloring page. The lines are there, but I’m choosing the colors as I go. So far, it’s turning out beautifully.

Peace, love, and vibrant color choices to you, friends.

 

Resources Super Post!

Hi, friends. I hope you’re doing super excellent today. But in case you’re not, I wanted to compile some resources that you might find helpful. I am initially writing this as a blog post, but a less wordy version of this list will have a permanent home on the blog, in the main navigation menu (the teal bar under the header). So, you can come back to it anytime.

Postpartum Mood Disorders/Maternal Mental Illness

Here is a very comprehensive list of Postpartum Depression, Anxiety & OCD Symptoms, brought to you by the AMAZING people at Postpartum Progress.

I want to just take a moment to talk to you about that link, and what it means to me. I owe my life to the people at Postpartum Progress, because of that list. No joke. There were moments, before I entered therapy for PPA, when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have the words to express what I was experiencing. I was ashamed. I was terrified. I thought I was alone. All I knew was that I could not go on living like that. In the worst of it, I was barely sleeping, having panic attacks regularly, and only barely functioning as a real life adult woman. I was sure that I was a burden to my husband. I was sure that I was a terrible mother. I was sure that I would somehow lose my youngest son, and I was so afraid of experiencing that loss, and exhausted from living in (and carefully hiding) a constant state of terror, that I thought it might be easier if I just ended my own life. It was that bad.

One day, in a desperate attempt to find an explanation, I stumbled across that link, and it was like it was written about me. A sampling of the symptoms that I experienced, which are also on the Postpartum Progress list:

  • Racing mind. Unable to relax.
  • Always have to be doing something. Cleaning, knitting, washing, working. Doing. Doing. Doing.
  • Always worried. Will the baby wake up? Will the baby grow up? Will the baby get sick? Will the baby be safe?
  • Disturbing thoughts.  I started crying when I read that one. I had been struggling so hard with the horror movies that played in my head every time I walked my baby over a concrete surface, reading that this was a symptom of anxiety was life changing.
  • Pacing. I used to pace in the living room in the middle of the night, like a caged animal, while trying to stave off a panic attack.
  • Insomnia
  • Dread. The constant feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. The nonstop sensation that something horrible is just around the bend.
  • Having to do or say certain things, for fear that if I don’t, something bad will happen.

I had been screened for PPD at our Well Baby check ups, and had passed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale every single time, because I didn’t have PPD. I had PPA, and they can look very different. Consistently passing the PPD screenings only reinforced the notion that I was alone, and just sucking at being a mom, rather than experiencing a nearly textbook manifestation of a widely documented mental illness.

That link saved my life. After finding it, I immediately used Postpartum Progress’ list of therapists who specialize in the treatment of postpartum mood disorders, to connect with the therapists that I have now been seeing for the past 2 years. So, when I say that I owe Postpartum Progress my life, I mean it. They made it possible for me to not only understand that my symptoms meant something, but they connected me with the women who have brought me back from the brink. Thank you will never be enough, but it will have to do.

Also from Postpartum Progress, an equally comprehensive description of the symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis.

Please keep in mind that you may not experience all of the symptoms on any of these lists, or you may experience some from each of them. Anxiety and Depression look different for everyone. Also, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms while pregnant, you may have antenatal/pregnancy depression or anxiety. This is also common, and also treatable!

General Depression and Anxiety 

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety and are not a parent, or you just do not feel like the PPD or PPA symptoms resonate with you quite accurately, you may have a more generalized depression or anxiety disorder. There are a ton of resources out there for you to also connect with a therapist.

Does your employer offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? An EAP is not related to medical insurance, and if it is a part of your benefits package, you might be eligible for some free counseling through that program. Most EAPs don’t offer unlimited sessions, but this is a great way to try out therapists for free, while you try to find someone who will be a good long-term fit. Talk with your Human Resources department to ask if this is available to you. If it is, I recommend getting a list of therapists from your EAP and then cross-referencing it with In-Network providers on your health insurance plan (you can get this list from your health insurance company). Use your free EAP appointments only for therapists who are also covered under your medical plan, guaranteeing that if you find someone you like, you’ll be able to stick with them after your EAP benefits run out.

Lastly, there are a ton of resources online that can help you connect with therapists in your area. Spend some time searching and meeting with therapists until you find the right fit for you!

Self-Care

Here are some of my favorite resources for self-care ideas and tips. I will add to this list as I find new things to share, and feel free to share your favorites, too, either in the comments or by sending me a note!

Ellen Bard’s Super Comprehensive Compilation of Self Care Wonderfulness (that’s not her title, but it’s what I have come to call this mammoth piece in my head) I keep coming back to this, and find something new every time.

Mindful.org Learn the ins and outs of Mindfulness and begin a journey towards a more present You.

Stop, Breathe & Think I use this app on my phone almost every day.

Susannah Conway Susannah has a variety of e-courses and workshops that I love. She has such a knack for opening up the connection with oneself through her writing and thoughtful photography. So, rather than link to any of her specific offerings, I’ll just send you right to her homepage – enjoy!

ASMR I’ve talked about ASMR before, so I’m not going to go into a ton of detail explaining just what it is. But I am including it here, because it is a big part of my self-care.  I’m just linking to my favorite ASMR content creator, but a quick YouTube search for ASMR will open up a strange corner of the internet that you never knew existed! Enjoy!

Community

Besides therapy, one of the most helpful things that I have done is to seek out community. Surrounding myself with people who understand maternal mental illness, or who simply share interests similar to my own, has been pivotal in erasing the isolation of Motherhood. Because if we’re all Misfits, no one is. With that in mind, here are a few of the communities of which I am a part. I recommend you seek out Facebook groups which mirror your own interests and hobbies, as well as seek out support groups for people experiencing PPD, PPA, grief, or generalized depression and anxiety disorders.

Motherhood Misfit on Facebook

Postpartum Progress Warrior Moms

The Offbeat Empire

Failure:Lab See the Failure:Lab talk I did here!

Ravelry All my fellow knitters and crocheters – If you’re not already on Ravelry, get signed up, post haste!  Then add me so I can creep on your projects!

You may notice that there are no grief support or parental bereavement communities listed here. I think they can be a wonderful source of comfort for many, but my anxiety disorder and the fact that I am intensely triggered by the loss of children, means that those communities tend to be more upsetting for me than they are helpful. So, I know there are some great resources out there for parents who have experienced loss, but my own anxiety boundaries keep me from being a part of them.

Okay, friends, that’s it for now. Thanks for sticking with me if you made it this far!  As I mentioned 10 years ago, when you started reading this post, a condensed version of it will have a permanent home in the main navigation menu (right below the header), which I will add to as I find new and helpful resources to share!

Don’t Touch Butts.

Over the course of the last few months or so, I have noticed my youngest son beginning to develop an alarming habit.

He’s a butt slapper.

It started as a silly game. I’m not sure where he picked it up *insert raised eyebrow in husband’s direction*, but he would occasionally do a fly by, giggling, butt smack. In the beginning, I was his only victim, but eventually he moved on and began to target the rear ends of his older brother and my husband. Butt smacks were infrequent, innocent and generally met with laughter on our end.

In the recent months however, he has expanded his butt smacking portfolio, by smacking the butts of 2 grandmas, 1 grandpa, and the odd aunt and uncle. Each time, I experienced a momentary flicker of embarrassment, but it disappeared quickly when our laid back family members laughed and rolled with the innocent silliness of it all. If they weren’t bothered by it, it didn’t seem like a problem. However, what started out as the adorable shenanigans of a lovable rascal, had begun to morph into something which merits a conversation.

One afternoon, I was standing at the kitchen counter, working on my laptop, when I heard the familiar pitter-patter of tiny, mischievous feet. Before I knew it, a tiny hand smacked my butt and quickly ran away. This singular drive-by attack was apparently not enough though, because he soon returned and smacked once more, before again retreating down the hallway in a fit of giggles.

I chuckled to myself and then, looking up, met the eyes of my oldest son’s friend. The older boys had had a sleepover the night before, and were sitting at the dining room table, finishing their lunch. In an instant, I realized the error of our ways. If our butts were fair game, and grandmotherly butts were fair game, and the butts of grandpas, aunts and uncles were fair game, it would only be a matter of time before my oldest son’s friends’ butts were fair game, too. Really, who knows how ambitious his butt-smacking goals may be. For all we know, he has plans to expand his territory to strangers in stores, classmates, teachers. Perhaps I’ll take him to the grocery store one day, and he will catch sight of the friendly sample lady at the cheese counter. His already underdeveloped toddler judgement will be further clouded by a heavenly sample of cubed Havarti, gobbled greedily from the end of a toothpick. The friendly sample lady will turn to retrieve another package of water crackers and he will see it, her rear end, bedecked in uniform black Dockers and perfectly topped by the bow of her black, linen apron strings, like a gift under a Gouda wheel Christmas Tree.

No. The butt smacking had to stop.

However, I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his brother’s guest. So, I resolved to wait just a little bit longer, until the next incident, to have the all-important Hands To Ourselves conversation. I did not have to wait long.

Later that same afternoon, while my husband and oldest son were off at basketball, it happened again. This time, I was ready. My youngest son had been up from his nap for only a short amount of time, before the familiar pitter-patter came through the kitchen. He attacked and ran, as I turned and called him back.

Laughing hysterically, his mischievous blue eyes flashed at me, while I tried to settle him down so that he would listen.

“Silas”, I said, “You have to stop smacking people on the butts.”

With a bemused look, he said “But, I wike yo butt.”

Now, I am a 30 year old woman who has been pregnant twice, and I’ll take a rear-end compliment from pretty much anyone these days, but, resolved to my original purpose, I replied “Well, thank you, but you can’t just smack peoples’ butts. Sometimes, people don’t want you to touch their butt.”

This was getting awkward, fast.

“But, it’s funny.”

“Well, you might think it’s funny, but they might not. So it is important for you to keep your hands to yourself, particularly when it comes to butts and penises, and stuff like that.”

Shit. Shit. I said penis. Now we are going to talk about penises, and I am so not ready for that. I am not cut out for this. Where is my husband?!

As I mentally panicked and tried to prepare my next statement, my son seemed to reflect on the word “penis”. Suddenly, as if he was just remembering that he, himself, had a penis, he took the opportunity to pull down his pajama bottoms, whip it out and with a huge grin on his face, say “Like THIS?!”

How did this go so wrong? All I was doing was trying to have a simple Hands To Yourself conversation! These sorts of things weren’t supposed to end with your toddler waving their privates around.  I mean, that’s pretty much the opposite effect that this conversation is meant to have.

It took me a moment of stunned reflection before I realized, he was surveying me. He was measuring my reaction. He had sensed my weakness and he was playing me like a damn fiddle! He knew exactly what I had been trying to explain to him about not touching butts, but rather than acquiesce, he was trying to get a rise out of me by flashing his ding-dong!

Enough is enough. 

Remembering myself, I put on my best Mom Face, adopted my best Mom Voice and sternly said, “Silas, put your penis in your pants. And Don’t. Touch. Butts.

Without looking back, I walked out of the room and breathed a sigh of relief. He got it. He totally got it. I think the lady at the cheese counter is safe.

Boys.

 

Capture Your Grief, Day 21 – Sacred Space

When one thinks of a sacred space, the bathroom sink isn’t generally a place that comes to mind. No hymns are sung at the wash basin. Your hand towels are no ceremonial garb. It is not these things which make a space sacred, though. What makes a space sacred is what it stands for, or what happens there. With this in mind, my bathroom sink became a sacred space last night, and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve been a step-mom for almost 8 years. My oldest son had just turned 5 years old when I began dating his father. He will be 13 this spring. Time flies when you’re having fun. I won’t get into the history of his biological parents, because it’s a turbulent story and frankly, not mine to tell. I will say, however, that I like to call him The Boy Who Made Me Real, because he changed the trajectory of my life by being a part of it.

I’ve said before on this blog that I never thought much about motherhood, but when I met my husband and fell madly in love somewhere around the first 90 seconds, I had to think about motherhood, because this wonderful man was a package deal. He came with a son.

I did not take this circumstance lightly, and spent a great deal of time thinking about what it would mean if I chose to date this man, and even more about what it would mean if we were to marry. The decision I came to is obvious, but what may not be is the way that it changed me. I’m afraid my oldest son felt the turbulence of those changes, as I fumbled my way through transforming from an independent city girl in her early twenties, to somebody’s stepmother in her early twenties. The transition was not a smooth one, but we made it.

Our relationship is unique. He is my step-son, and occasionally that distinction is something I can perceive, but most of the time, he feels like mine. He feels like mine at random moments. When I am doctoring a scratch. When I used to pack his lunches. When I taught him how to pack his own lunch. When I taught him how to do laundry, or to dust. When I attend a parent-teacher conference. When I bake pie because he didn’t make the school basketball team. We have an odd sort of relationship. A blend between mother and step-mother, punctuated by these special moments.

Last night we shared another of these Mother moments, when I taught him how to wash his face. Not a quick splash of water, but a proper – Cetaphil and circular motions, focus on the T-zone- face washing. He is nearly 13, and his skin has begun to show it. It was time to teach him how to care for his teenage skin, and I gladly stepped in to do so.

This young man is a visual learner. He learns best by seeing something done. That in mind, I decided the best way to teach him how to wash his face was to simply wash mine alongside him. So, yesterday evening, while my husband was at band practice and my youngest son was playing in the living room, I could be found standing at a double sink next to an almost 13 year old, who is nearly as tall as I am, explaining about T-zones and the importance of properly washing your skin at night. For him, this was probably just another Tuesday. But, for me, it was a chance to feel like Mom.

Together, we put our hands into the warm water and dampened our faces. We each took a bit of Cetaphil and, after rubbing our hands together and paying close attention to our T-zones, used small circular movements to wash our faces. For a brief moment, we shared a symbolic acknowledgment of the dwindling pre-teen days before us, not just as teacher and pupil, but as mother and son.

All made possible by the sacred bathroom sink.

We’re Gonna Laugh About This Someday…

20160209_192846-02So, I changed the name of my blog, again. Just a teeny tiny tweak. I’m going to take this moment to just apologize for my novice status in all of this stuff. I’m a storyteller, guys. I’m a knitter. I’m a writer, but I’m not technologically inclined. It’s the simple truth. You’re going to see evidence of it sometimes, so I might as well just own it.

I write with a pencil, because I have a tendency to erase.

So, I started to have second thoughts about Misfit Mothering, and then Motherhood Misfit presented itself and I had a major face-palm moment. OF COURSE it’s better. It’s so clearly better. It flows better. It represents me better. My parents say it’s better. It’s just… better. Thankfully, the domain was available (a fact that I’m still rather surprised about), so I snatched it up and the rest is history.

The only thing left is to change my Facebook page, which they aren’t letting me do right away since I already changed it to the old new name, um, this morning. Oops. So, I’ll wait the designated delay period and then get Facebook up to speed, too.

Thanks for bearing with me as the foundation of this blog settles. I’m new to all of this, and I appreciate that you don’t make me feel bad about that fact.

In fact, I noticed that we have several new readers as of the last couple days. WELCOME!! I promise I’m not always this wishy-washy. You just caught me at a weird time. I have a great post scheduled for tomorrow, so hopefully I can redeem all this name changing with some solid blogging. After all, that’s why you’re here isn’t it?!

Thanks again to all of you, I LOVE YA!