Posts Tagged ‘feelings’

This Christmas I Am Spoiling My Kids Rotten

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Hello Internet.

Thank you for all the wonderfully written, thoughtful posts about how kids these days are too focused on things and not on the true meaning of Christmas. It’s so important to remember that giving is far superior to receiving, just as God gave his love to all of us. I also read your advice on how experiences make better gifts than giant hunks of plastic. It’s true! You made some excellent points. Then there were the 4 Things devotees: Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. It rhymes! So adorable and minimalist and a great way to cut down on junk! And finally, there are the hardcore anti-stuff people who object to basically all of it and make their opinions loudly known. Thank you for your input, I appreciate the time you took to explain it.

This year, I am flat out ignoring ALL OF YOU.

wrapping presents




And I’m doing it 100% on purpose. I haven’t accidentally bought too much. I am not pretending to purchase only hand-crafted, heirloom quality, Waldolf-inspired toys. I am not claiming to be a minimalist while buying piles of presents. This is intentional, planned, thoughtful spoiling.

Our December has been full of both experiences and things. This year, we are seeing Santa no less than 5 separate times. We have five sets of matching Christmas pajamas, including two sets for me and one for the dog. Caroline has a special dress for The Nutcracker, a different special dress for our photo session with Santa, and another special dress for Christmas Eve. Oh and one more to wear on Christmas day after taking off her matching Christmas pajamas. We are opening seven advent calendars every morning. There are custom printed Santa bags for each child and fancy gourmet chocolates for their stockings. They are getting everything they asked for and then some. There is a giant Batman robot, thousands of Legos, and a stupid Baby Alive that pees. There are sleds and ride on toys and loud beeping things. ALL FOUR KIDS get their own Fingerling monkey, even the baby, who definitely does not need a Fingerling monkey. When they come down the stairs on Christmas morning, they’re going to freak out and scream their little heads off with joy.

Do you know what won’t be around our tree on Christmas morning? Their father.

I realize things don’t make up for your dad being deployed during Christmas. There is no present in the world I can give them that will stop them from saying “I wish Daddy was here”. My heart breaks a little more every time they say it – which is often. This isn’t their fault. They didn’t ask to be born into a military family. And until this year we’ve been able to shield them quite a bit from true Navy life – no moving, no long separations, no new schools. I grew up with that lifestyle and although I enjoyed it for the most part, not having “a” home or long-term friendships or a sense of being FROM somewhere can be hard sometimes. We’ve been very lucky that we can do this a little differently than most military families. But our luck ran out now that E is very fancy and important; his skills and expertise are needed on actual working submarines, and actual working submarines deploy.

It’s hard. Being the only parent means I am responsible for all the Christmas, for everyone. I don’t mind, really, because I love Christmas. But trying to buy stocking candy when I am never without at least one child is hard. Wrapping gifts at midnight is hard. Trying to decide if it’s time to tell the big kids about Santa is hard. I’m still part of a partnership as far as parenting goes but my partner is unavailable (most of the time he is 100% unavailable, not reachable by any means).

My choice to go completely overboard and ignore what other people are doing is in no way meant to be a reflection on others. This doesn’t just apply to our specific situation regarding Christmas presents or even just the holidays. As I am very fond of telling my children, different families make different choices. Some do small Christmases, some do big Christmases, some go to great lengths to be with as much family as possible, some want to stay home. Some people step away from Facebook and social media to stay focused on family, but I couldn’t imagine doing that when I spend so much time as the only adult in the room. Some find that taking photos helps keep them connected and in the moment (me, 100%), others find that putting away the camera makes them happier. It is a difficult time of year for so many people for so many reasons, finding joy however you want should be allowed. And this year, my joy is in distracting my kids from things that make them sad with things that make them happy.

Come January 2nd when everyone goes back to school, I am going to be cursing all this STUFF that will have taken over my house. There’s nothing more #firstworldproblem than buying too many toys and then being annoyed by too many toys. I’ll remind myself of that as many times as is necessary during the long, cold, dark months between the end of the holidays and the end of deployment. But right now, I am SO EXCITED about Christmas magic and that is just what our family needs.

It’s Pregnancy Season And I’m Not Pregnant

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

I’m at Target to pick up diapers and I’m pretty sure every other woman in the store is pregnant. I pass them everywhere: in the grocery aisle, in the baby clothes, wandering home decor. It’s 87 degrees with 95% humidity outside and all the pregnant women are wearing tank tops and pushing toddlers in their carts stocked with goldfish crackers and beach buckets and ice cream. To me, they are all glowing and adorable and lucky to have so much to look forward to. But I know they probably feel enormous and uncomfortable, cursing themselves for a summer pregnancy, crossing their fingers that their toddler will take a nap later (or at least eat their goldfish for lunch while zoned out in front of Disney Jr so mama can lie on the couch under a fan).

My last baby is almost a year old now. I am far enough removed from being a pregnant woman at Target that I silently think “enjoy those moments” but still close enough that I know better than to say it out loud. A woman is not going to suddenly realize being hot and swollen and sore and tired and nauseous are all such blessings just because a stranger says “it goes so fast” or “I miss those days”. I am close enough to being a pregnant woman at Target that I know that is not entirely true. I do not miss those days. I do not miss being hot and swollen and sore and tired and nauseous and wondering how, exactly, I was ever going to manage a newborn when I couldn’t manage to put on pants every day. Not only do I not want to a pregnant woman at Target, don’t actually want to be pregnant at all.

And I’m not. I will most likely never be pregnant again. (I would say NEVER with 100% certainty but I know better than to tempt fate like that.)

What I do miss is being in that season of life. It doesn’t matter if those pregnant women at Target are technically older or younger than I am in years. They’re still at the stage where they will have a newborn. That’s a stage before the one I am in. New life is in their future, the moment when they meet a new little human they created. I don’t long to be pregnant again, but I do feel nostalgic for that particular flavor of joy. It’s not baby fever – I am thoroughly immunized against that particular strain by four children who all insisted on growing up – but it’s like a bruise. You don’t really notice it until you bump into it by accident, in the checkout at Target, and then it’s a dull ache that says “you’re not in this club anymore”.

I suspect these feelings are just biology, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling them. So this is me acknowledging it, writing it down in words, trying to explain it to you so I can explain it to me. Instead of being sad, I will let myself drift further towards the stage of life where I become the person who says “Oh it goes by so fast, treasure these moments” to pregnant women in Target. I will recount stories about my newborns in absolutes: “Oh my baby was such a good sleeper” “oh my baby loved being swaddled “oh my baby hated tummy time”. I will forget how much being pregnant sucks and only think of it fondly. And when gray-haired grandmas at Target look at my four not-babies and say “Enjoy these moments, it goes so fast”, I will smile and nod and say “It sure does.”

Sunshiny Days

Friday, September 7th, 2012

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I stopped taking my Zoloft back in June simply because I ran out. I kept meaning to make a follow up appointment to talk to my doctor about a refill, but as each day went by I felt better and warmer and happier and decided it was as good a time as any to stop. It wasn’t necessarily a smart, well thought out, medically advised decision. There was just so much going on – so many adventures, so many trips, so much SUNSHINE – that I forgot to make the appointment and before I knew it I was too busy to feel sad and frustrated and angry all the time.

It wasn’t an act of God or a miracle that I felt better. My anxiety reached an all-time high when Caroline was about 15 months old, which was exactly when we began weaning. A few people reached out to tell me they had experienced the same crazy hormone fluctuations and depression when they had stopped breastfeeding. It turns out it’s an actual thing, although not something that’s extremely well known.

The Zoloft got me through weaning and over that hormonal bump that made me feel like I was losing my mind. It was like a key and a sliver of light under the door I was banging my head against, trying to figure out how to escape my frustration.

Besides the medication, I think the light (sunshine, brightness, longer days) made a huge difference. I used to roll my eyes at people who claimed Seasonal Affective Disorder with their sunlamps and their dread of winter. How can that be a real thing?

My apologies to everyone who I ever secretly thought was making it up, since there is no doubt in my mind that the short dark days played a huge part in my anxiety.

Maybe it’s an actual vitamin D deficiency or maybe it’s a feeling-the-sunshine-on-my-skin-makes-me-happy deficiency, but when the days warm up and we spend more time outside I am always better. A better mom, a better wife, a better person. The lightness makes me lighter.

With Labor Day weekend behind us the evenings getting shorter by the day and I’m starting to worry a little bit. September and October are beautiful, fun-filled months for us in New England. There’s still plenty of time to spend outside, plenty of apples to be picked, the perfect pumpkins to find for jack-o-lanterns, hay mazes to explore.

But beyond that, there’s winter. Cold. Dark. The stress of the holidays. Although December might be my very favorite month now (Caroline’s birthday AND Christmas!) there’s no doubt trying to split up family time and E’s crazy work schedule and weather-related delays and cancellations and ruined travel plans can crush my festive spirit pretty quickly. I’m feeling a little stressed just thinking about it. And the heating bill. And the snow. And now my eye is twitching.

I’m thinking I should probably go ahead and make an appointment now to talk to my doctor, rather than waiting until I get overwhelmed and the thought of adding one more thing to my plate makes me want to just curl up under the covers and cry. I don’t necessarily want to restart the Zoloft (or anything else) now. I’d like to be prescription free when we start trying for baby #3 if possible, although I’m also a little worried pregnancy could do what weaning did and things might get out of control again quickly. But I think it’s a good door to have open.

So for now I’m floating through the end of summer, mindful of what’s coming but not letting it overshadow these beautiful days. This weekend is the best weekend of the year around here (Greek Festival and Italian Food Festival within walking distance, town fair in our old town) and my biggest problem is we have too many friends to hang out with. It’s a pleasant kind of busy-ness, rather than the overwhelming kind. Let’s hope I can recognize the difference if and when it comes and know enough to ask for help.

I feel like this cat knows everything I wish I did about life.

Privilege and Guilt and Tomatoes

Friday, May 11th, 2012

I’m writing this while willfully ignoring my children, who are running in circles throwing raisins at each other and vying for the title of “Loudest Noise Ever Made By Someone Who Weighs Less Than 35 Pounds”.  I am torn between feeling extremely guilty for not being a more active parent at this moment and knowing my sanity cannot take another minute of being used as a human jungle gym.

Evan and Caroline are going through a phase in their relationship – God, I HOPE it’s only a phase – where they are constantly trying to kill each other. Evan sits on Caroline’s head, Caroline shoves Evan off the couch, they both attempt to stand up on the ride-on fire truck. And when I shout at them to KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY they hug and make up…although the hug turns into a squeeze and then into a pushing match and then they’re rolling on the floor squealing again. I don’t think any of it is meant with malice, but damn is it exhausting. I need to record myself saying “Use your words” and “Hands are for hugs and high fives” and “Be gentle” and “Make wise choices!” so I can just play it on an endless loop.

It’s been one of those weeks where being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t really feel like a privilege anymore. It feels like an endless, hopeless, pointless chore that is destined to drive me over the edge long before these kids become fully self-sufficient. We had an incredibly fun playdate on Monday with one of my very favorite mom friends and we started talking about preschools. We got a little giddy thinking about how next year we could both be child-free a few hours a week if we sent our youngest to under-2 programs, but then she said “I kind of feel bad though. I mean, this is why I stayed home – to be home with them.” And that is SO TRUE – although slightly less true for me (who quit working in a real estate office) than her (who had a really fancy job working to cure cancer). But I am home because I want to spend these years with the kids. Evan is more than half way to kindergarten. Kindergarten is full time school! He will take a bus! I will have hours and hours five days a week without him! And Caroline is only 20 months behind him. I’ll have 13 years of free time during the day to go to Target or unload the dishwasher or weed the garden or eat bonbons and read blogs.

But it’s hard to see beyond the next day of full time momming when my kids are hungry and cranky and sunburned and screaming and my husband calls to say he won’t be home before 9 pm. And it’s hard to stay positive when it rains for four days straight and I go to bed and wake up with a headache. And it’s hard to remember how lucky I am when Caroline smashes me in the face so hard with her head I see stars. And it’s really really hard not to beat myself up when I use my shouty voice practically every time I open my mouth even though I KNOW I’m using my shouty voice and I hate my shouty voice. I bet good moms who really appreciate how privileged they are to be home with their kids don’t even HAVE a shouty voice. I feel even though I recognized I was struggling and did what I was supposed to do and got help and I take my pill like a good 1950’s housewife I still fail, daily, to be the mother my kids deserve.

I know I am not the only mom who feels like this. Probably. I just have to remember that one bad afternoon (or day or week) doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be better. Or hell, today can be better. After nap time we braved the crazy New England weather – rain! sunshine! wind! heat! cold! all at once! – and worked in the garden. Evan thought planting seeds was the most amazing thing ever and he can’t wait until we have a bean stalk that goes all the way up to the sky. Caroline carried her little pink watering can around like a baby. We talked about how our tomatoes need sun and water and food so they can grow and I forced the metaphor down my own throat so hard I practically choked. But I needed that moment in the dirt to remind me WHY I am so lucky to be here, even if Caroline did just throw a plastic cell phone at her brother’s head while he tried to ride the cat.

Much Better

Friday, April 13th, 2012

My blog has a serious case of whiplash this week, with the insane direction changing – epic party with professional photos! sponsored post! deep feelings! – but my LIFE feels like it has a serious case of whiplash recently so it makes sense. To me, anyways. I probably owe you some extra strength Motrin and a glass of wine.

It’s been a while now since I decided leaving supportive comments on blog posts about depression and anxiety was nice and all, but wasn’t really the same as doing something about my own anxiety. Then I did something, and IMMEDIATELY felt better. So immediately better, in fact, that I started to doubt the medication had anything to do with my feelings and maybe I was placebo-ing myself into believing all my brain-crazy was fixed. Which made me feel even crazier, so then I felt like the medication wasn’t helping AT ALL. Good times!

My doctor made me schedule a follow up when she wrote my first prescription, and when I went back in I tried to explain my worries. She told me I was probably right about BOTH things – Zoloft doesn’t usually work quite so fast, but it could be helping enough that I had noticed, but it probably wasn’t a good idea to stop, but we could always switch to something else if I wanted. We decided since I was almost done breastfeeding we would try a slightly higher dose of Zoloft and I could come back in either when I felt I needed a change or I ran out of pills.

And then I sort of…forgot about it. Life kept happening and I kept dealing with it, only with less screaming and fewer moments where I felt like I was the worst mother in the world. Caroline weaned (which I think had a LOT to do with reaching my absolute worst point). I got a lot more sleep. I managed to go on vacation and truly enjoy myself (besides one teeny tiny panic attack) and came back feeling like a totally new person. And then yesterday, despite a really challenging day with Evan (man, 3 year olds have a LOT of emotions), I got to 7 pm without even once considering getting in my car and driving away. I joked with E about doing shots after bedtime but didn’t really mean it. And after both kids fell asleep I snuck into their rooms to kiss them one more time because I missed them.

My friend Brandy wrote about her experience with PPD this week and although my experience isn’t exactly the same, the way she writes – so straight forward and matter of fact – REALLY resonated with me. Because even as I was reacting in totally irrational ways I could SEE myself being totally irrational and recognized it wasn’t normal. I just couldn’t STOP it. Now I feel less overwhelmed by all the things I haven’t done and more like I am CHOOSING not to bother with those dishes in the sink. But now it’s because I’m too busy playing trains or having tea parties, instead of because I feel like nothing matters. It’s much, much better.

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