Reflections

Today I decided to ride home in the train car where the seats face backward. When I stare out the window, all the world zips past me, racing from my peripheral into my primary field of vision. It’s like being sucked backward in time. I imagine that some invisible force has hooked me round the middle with a shepherd’s hook and is drawing me swiftly through time and space to review some moment of my past. Fields of snow race by. Sometimes I lock eyes with a pedestrian, or the driver of a car on the street which runs parallel to the tracks, impatiently stopped at a light. They are not used to making eye contact with train passengers, these drivers. We are supposed to be racing past the world, not reviewing it as it races past us.

It’s no surprise that I should be feeling reflective. Today, had she been born on her due date, my daughter would be three years old. I was thinking earlier today, about how different I am from who I was one year ago, two years ago… three. My mental health is better than it has ever been. Better than from before I became “mentally ill.” Does that mean I’m “recovered”? *shrug* I stopped caring about that label. I stopped caring about a lot of labels. Refusing to file myself away has been instrumental to my ability to thrive. More on that in the future.

I haven’t written much here because I’m writing a book. Not exactly a super exciting bombshell announcement, and yet – there it is. I’m writing a book. I’m not abandoning my blog, but I am being mindful of what I share here, and what I save for the book.

Anyways, back to Clara. It’s no revelation that grief evolves with time, though I would argue that it isn’t the grief that’s doing the evolving. It is us. It is the way we approach and process our grief. It is the way we push it away or welcome it in. It’s in how we honor our feelings and give up resisting because in resistance we only find struggle. It is in the way we allow our loss to define us, and then it’s in the way we stop doing that. This is where the shift happened for me. 2018 was all about dropping the things I clung to because they defined me. Loss, grief, OCD, mental illness, the need to be “recovered”, health I couldn’t control, anxiety, etc. The list goes on.

Let’s play a game. Find a sheet of paper and a pencil. Now, I want you to list out the personality traits or qualities that would describe the Best Version of You. Not a person you idolize. Not a made up person. If you could still be you, but like a totally evolved and ideal version of you – who is that person?

Okay, now look at your paper – is this how you currently identify and describe yourself?

Why not?

It’s you. That’s who you are. There is no this you and that you. They are all you. Drop the labels you’ve been using and pick up the ones you actually want. Pick up the labels that serve you. Not everyone will like this. I clung to my labels like life preservers in open water. Who would I be if I wasn’t a Mom with OCD? Who would I be if I wasn’t Someone With Mental Illness or A Mom Who Has Lost A Baby? Don’t get me wrong, those are still part of my story. I’m still that person. But I realized that those weren’t the stories I wanted to tell myself every day. I was ready for the next god damn chapter! I want to tell myself about a woman who nurtures positive mental health practices, who knits as a creative expression of love, who takes care of her body and then gets to go off adventuring in it. I want to hear about a mom who is present with her family, who feels tuned in to her children, who enjoys a deep and fulfilling connection with her husband, who spends time building friendships that are deep and lasting. I know that we all have shit days, but I want to be the ideal me who sometimes has a shit day and not the shit me who sometimes has an ideal day.

So, in the year that has passed between when Clara would have turned 2 and then 3, I have evolved around my grief. Some things will never change, of course. Today will always be a day that I feel longing for her. Today will always be a day that feels just a little too empty. There will never be a day that doesn’t hurt a little for her absence. But I have let go of the need for my grief. I welcome it when it needs to be seen, but I don’t seek it when I need something to blame.

Most of all, I know that Clara is watching, and I know that she is proud of her Mommy. I know she always saw past the story I told myself about who I was. I just needed to see it for myself.

Happy Day, my darling girl. Mommy loves you to the moon and back, and no matter what chapter I’m on, I will always be grateful for the parts of my story that include you.

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Forward

The last few days have rocked the Maternal Mental Health community. The dissolution of Postpartum Progress came as a shock, even to many of us who were calling for change. I’m not going to get into the story behind what happened. If you do not already know, it is all there, mostly in public forums of Facebook, for you to piece together.

That said, I want to make sure my position on the matter is clear.

I stand with people of color. I stand behind them when they say they have been harmed. I stand behind them when they tell me what they need, and I add the volume of my voice to their own. I am learning every day about the ways in which my own whiteness,  privilege and utilization of systems of oppression, even when done so unintentionally, harms people of color. I am learning because I am listening and researching and being curious. We are not perfect. I am certainly not perfect, but if I screw up the roof when I’m building a house, I fix the roof… not burn the whole thing down.

It was not my house, though.

So, now we are here and the best thing we can do is look forward. Many of us used PPI as our primary resource, both in our own battles with PPMDs and in the support we offered to people who crossed our paths. As I understand it, the blog and resources online will remain. The online peer support forum Facebook groups are being retained, but will be re-named/re-branded. Really, the community under the PPI name is what has been dissolved.

What I want you to know, more than anything, is this-

WE are not going anywhere.

WE, the advocates, the survivors, the volunteers, the fighters, WE are still here. WE are more than our formal affiliations. WE are more than a name, a brand, an umbrella. WE were here before PPI and WE are going no where.

I am still here for you, Mamas. I am still a resource, a source of support, an advocate, a safe place. I am still loving on you and cheering for you. Do not flee back into the darkness simply because an organization is bowing out. The light is still here, and we are all still in it.

I have been working hard the last few days to determine where to align my work and volunteerism so that it can best support you and the Mamas who haven’t found us yet. Several of us, who met through PPI, have been putting our heads together on this. We are working while we grieve. We are working hard.

On a personal level, I am ramping up my live storytelling. Many of you first connected with me through that space, and so, as I sit here thinking about how I can be of service to a community who now feels abandoned, I hear that call once again. I will tell you when/where as shows are scheduled. My plan is to get back on stage as soon and as frequently as possible in order to continue the stigma smashing, encouragement giving and community creating work that I love. A work which I do best by standing in front of a room full of strangers, baring my soul and giving them space to say, “Me Too.”

WE are going to be just fine.

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What We Keep In The Corners

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Tonight my oldest son and my husband went to the Bull’s game, so I did what any person with an ill-formed sense of judgment would do, and took my four-year-old to Chuck E Cheese’s.

In all seriousness, we had a lovely time. I watched Silas kick a much older child’s ass at a snowmobile racing game. The older boy spent the first half of the race taunting my sweet-hearted 4-year-old… and the second half of the game chewing through his bottom lip as my angel formed the older child’s taunts into a laser beam of drive and ambition with which he would calmly destroy all that the older child had ever held dear.

When he emerged, victorious, he simply looked at his nemesis the older child, pure innocence beaming from his little aura, and said “Fanks! That was fun!

Oh yes, he is my child. *evil grin*

ANYWAYS. Before we went to Chuck E Cheese, I took my little date out for dinner to Noodles and Company (his fave). Over pasta, we discussed the various ways that apples can be sliced and the way we like them best (thin slices, but not too thin). We discussed the many merits of Chapstick. We talked about Super Why and Eye of the Tiger. It was during a short discourse on Survivor that he, rather loudly and distinctly, interrupted me by saying, “Mom, it’s sad that my baby sister died.”

You could have heard a noodle drop.

I recovered myself from the land of montage music and replied that yes, it was sad and that it’s okay to feel sad about it. I wasn’t sure what else to say. It isn’t the first time that he has randomly brought up Clara, and it’s evident to me that he’s still working it all out. What struck me, though, was his okayness with the topic. Of course, he is simply too young to know that it is taboo. Too young to consider that talking about it might upset me, but I don’t see this as problematic. Instead, I am in awe of the way he lives his life completely out in the open. There are no dark corners where he hides things deemed too painful to discuss.

I love this about him. I am certainly not known for my lack of candor, but even I have a tendency to hold things close when I think they’re too messy for the world to see. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this and people should never disclose more than makes them comfortable, but I’ve always found comfort in communicating pretty much all. Once you learn to live with the vulnerability which is inevitable with this way of being, it’s pretty damn freeing.

What’s more, I’m proud AF of the fact that we have handled Clara’s loss in a way that Silas feels comfortable bringing it up over buttered noodles in a very public forum. That tells me that despite our unimaginable grief, we have kept our experience with losing Clara from being pushed into the corners. It is not a taboo subject in our home. This not only feels like the healthiest way to handle it with our children, but it feels like the best way to honor her.

We will talk about her. She is part of our family. And, just like I told Silas tonight, it’s totally normal to feel sad about her not being here.

I feel sad about it every day.

But, I also feel happy every single day about having him, and Daddy, and Caiden in my life.

Life is dark and light. It is gains and losses, gratitude and regret.

And while tact and timing are social lessons that he will need to learn, I hope that he can continue to live a life with no dark and dusty corners.

…I also hope he continues to sweetly destroy anyone who tries to knock him down.

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December Reflections Day 17 – Five Years Ago

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Silas,

Five years ago you were just where you are this morning, albeit a good deal smaller, and on the inside of me, instead of the outside.
As we approach your 5th birthday, only 4 months away, with your first year of school following quickly behind, I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately on just how much you’ve grown. I am proud of you every day. Proud of your inquisitive spirit and your kind and thoughtful heart. Proud of your impeccable sense of humor and your willingness to learn when you make a mistake.

I know that you won’t always want to snuggle in my lap, occupying that same space, relative to my body, that I will always identify as belonging to you. So, I do my best to soak in these moments, and mark them on my heart. I love you, my precious boy. ❤
Love,
Mommy

A Brief Update, Bloom Beautifully, and a discount code FOR YOU!

HELLO my sweet friends! Apologies for the prolonged absence from this space. Hopefully you are following me on Facebook and Twitter, where I have not been absent.

*evil grin*

If not, join the fun!

I’ve been movin’ and shakin’ since returning from the Warrior Mom Conference, and I am SO FREAKING EXCITED about some of the things I have planned for you. I’ve got posts queued up (ones that will get you all in your feels and some that will get you all in your giggles). I’ve got some new series’ that are going to start soon (monthly or bi-monthly posts on the same topic/idea). AND, I’ve got some in-person stuff in the pipeline for you locals who want to come hang out with me in real life! 2017 is shaping up to be a big year here at Motherhood Misfit, and I’m so glad you’re along for the ride!

Now, the elephant in the room – The Election. Let’s just get this out of the way so that we can move on. Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter already know this, but I want to set some expectations for those of you who follow me only here.

I am an unapologetic liberal. I am an unapologetic fighter for justice, equality, and safety for marginalized groups of people. I am a middle-class white woman who recognizes her privilege and platform and will use both vehemently to amplify the voices of people of color and to attempt to right the many, many things currently wrong with this world. I will not shy from my beliefs because they make you uncomfortable. I will not keep my political opinions out of my blog. My space – my voice – my responsibility.

We cool? Good.

I have been HARD at work since November 9th, doing my part to effect change, both socially and within the inter-workings of my party, which failed so hard to inspire and represent the very people they claim as a voter base.

If you are interested in finding ways to get involved or learn more about my opinions, please use the links previously posted to find me on Facebook where I am frequently posting opportunities and am more than happy to chat about the work we have to do.

NOW, on to the fun stuff!

I had the opportunity, after Warrior Mom Con, to try out Bloom Beautifully, a monthly subscription box dedicated entirely to Self Care.

I know. So awesome.

Bloom Beautifully is run by Tara Pringle Jefferson, who is not only a woman entrepreneur herself, but sources many of the products in her boxes from fellow female-owned small businesses. How cool is that?

I tried out the November box and am excited to share with you what was inside! Even better, Tara has very kindly provided a discount code JUST for Motherhood Misfit readers! Keep reading to get the skinny on my November box, and to receive your special discount code.

INSIDE THE NOVEMBER BOX

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Lavender Chai Soap Bar by Zandra Beauty 
Y’all, this soap is gorgeous. Handcrafted by owner, 16-year-old Zandra, this soap is plant-based, cruelty-free, paraben free, all-natural and free of icky ingredients. As if it wasn’t cool enough that Zandra Beauty is owned and operated by a 16-year-old girl, 10% of its profits support girls’ education. Basically, throw all your credit cards at her because she is doing some amazing stuff.

Beautiful & Brave Coffee Mug by Rachel Allene Lettering 
True- I have only owned this mug for about seven days.
Also True- I have used this mug for seven days.
So basically, I’m in love.

Cafe Latte Coffee Candy by Fusion Gourmet
These are dangerous and would make a fantastic stocking stuffer for you to give yourself because you’re not going to want to share them.

Cocoa Butter Massage Bar by The Good Stuff Naturals
You GUYS. This bar smells like heaven. Cedar and Saffron?! It’s like Tara knew me already. I like anything that smells like a tree. No sarcasm. If anyone knows how to make perfume out of tree bark, hit me up. That said, when I saw that this soap had Cedar in its scent profile, I shed a single tear, turned, and went immediately to turn on my shower.

Peppermint Mocha Hand Cream by Strange Charm Design
This smells exactly like a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks, which happens to be my second holiday drink of choice. My first choice is a Brandy Alexander, but for some reason, it is frowned upon to drink those during the daytime. So, Starbucks it is. YOU GUYS, I just realized that I could put this hand cream on and then drink a Brandy Alexander and it will kind of be like having BOTH of my favorite holiday drinks at the same time. *runs off to find martini shaker*

Mini Bonus: Inspirational Art Print by Bloom Beautifully 
“I am leaving every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.” – Tracee Ellis Ross
This little art card was so perfect for where I am right now. I have been swimming in plans and ideas since October and was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with all the work to be done. Then the election happened. Having this little card on my altar (YES, I’m going to post about it) has been a wonderful way to remind me to get excited about the road ahead, instead of scared of it.

SO, there you have it! I’m obsessed with my Bloom Beautifully box. It would make a wonderful holiday gift (full disclosure: I am REALLY hoping that someone *ahem Hubby/Mom* will sign me up for a subscription this Christmas!) Even better; Tara has very graciously offered readers of Motherhood Misfit a special discount code to receive $5 off your first box. Just use the code MISFIT at checkout!

With that, I am off to begin the marathon cooking for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Sending you all love, gratitude, and peace as we roll into the holiday season.

See you back here soon!

 

 

 

The New Family – When Your Mom Comes Out

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I had the GREAT pleasure to spend some time chatting with Brandie Weikle over at The New Family, and my episode went live today! Have a listen on your commute home tonight and remember

YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Listen to the podcast directly on the site, or find them on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and various other platforms!

Dear Mamas…

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