Friday, April 19, 2013

What if I don't want to let go?

I suppose since the entire blog is about letting go, this seems a bit silly/weird/antithetical...but so what?

My theme this week seems to be anger and rage. Therapist said that there's no way around it, just gotta go through it. And until I am in a safe place to "go through it" the anger kinda hangs in the air. Yuck.

The more I think about how angry I am, the more anger I find. Who wants that?

No one, really. But let's look at it this way. There is dust in my house. In fact, some might call it dirt, not just dust. And it's everywhere. And I don't like it and don't want to deal with it. But it's seemingly small, compared to the furniture. Furniture is lovely, it holds things I love, furniture has stories to tell, etc. But no matter how much I love my furniture, the dust is still there. No amount of focusing on the furniture deals with the dust.

It feels the same way with anger. As much as I want to not focus on what's making me angry, changing focus is not "going through" the anger. Grr! So going through it for me is about recognizing it (I have a tendency to dissipate things that make me angry in many ways--a good coping mechanism at times), feeling it (trying not to deny that I am upset), stating/sharing it (appropriately, in safe ways preferably), and THEN (and only then), letting it go.

So, for now, I am watching the anger come up, sometimes multiply, and hang around (recognize). Soon I will be able to try the feeling of it and then the sharing and then the letting go. Stay tuned. This is good stuff.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Letting go...of anger

Well, to be honest, I'm not actually letting go of anger. But I'm willing to write about it for now and then maybe in the future, talk about it and THEN perhaps let it go. I don't want you to think that just because I'm blogging about it, that I can *poof* let it go. It's not THAT easy.

There's not a lot of talk about mamas and anger. And when we do talk about it, we also lump in postpartum depression, sarcasm, sleep deprivation, etc. Anger gets dissipated and diluted.  It feels weird for me to feel anger when this amazing little person is casting so much amazing light on the why am I so angry?

Before I can let things go, I have to recognize that I feel them first. Feeling anger isn't applauded or accepted or supported. In fact, I feel embarrassed right now even writing about it. Especially, if you were to see me, you wouldn't see a scowl on my face or hear me banging my fists...because it's not cool to show anger either. Now that I am a mom, that shit has to be kept wrapped up TIGHT.

I don't know where I learned that.
It doesn't work, if you're wondering.
I got nothin' under any kind of wrap.

Things have changed. Another person's life is in my/our hands. Priorities are just different. Not that different, but the intensity has changed. The urgency has changed. The tolerance has changed. The deep desire has changed. So when I am "upset," it feels more real. It feels poisonous. It's quick and damaging and disconnecting. A few affirmations and a good cry do not dowse the anger flames with any sort of dampening affect. Anger is bigger than a feeling, it's a living demon, camping out in my heart, mind, body and soul.

Truth be told, I want to go back to the old tolerant, "water off a duck's back" Me. I was more easy-going then...but I can't. Looking at K, creating the surroundings he's in, and seeing that my stressed out, angry self has to be in close proximity to him, makes a mama want faster action. No, I'm not as tolerant, because K can't go to therapy or talk with a friend and work through it. That's an adult concept. So he's looking to me to mitigate the craziness. And when shit goes wrong, I'm useless in the mitigation sense. I can't protect, correct, mitigate, or filter for him. When I'm tired, hungry, lonely, out of shape, dehydrated, stressed out, worrying, etc. I am of no help. So it makes me angry.

My therapist said that anger is trying to tell me something. It's signaling me to get help, to express my feelings, to NOT push it under the rug.

I don't have a lot of positive experience with anger. It usually shows up like a drunk ex-boyfriend, banging on my front door to let him in, so that we can "work it out" (this is a metaphor, not a real-life example). So I'm scared to look at anger in the face. I'm scared to admit I even feel anger. When I told my therapist that I wanted to figure out a way around it, she lovingly told me that I just need to go through it. Ugh.

Stay tuned. I have no idea how this will turn out. But I do know, that if I am to help K with his eventual anger , then I better start working on mine. And fast. That will get me through. I want to be available and even be helpful so that K and his eventual sibling won't have to learn about anger all alone. Because that's no way to live.

Here I go...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sometimes strength means holding on and sometimes it means letting go

I love that on my FB page I can find things like the above quote.

I rarely think of myself as strong. I might use other words like resilient and adaptable or understanding. I'm a visual person so I know it seems ridiculous but strong conjures up firefighters and athletes. I look at my body, chuckle about the President's Challenge Fitness test (remember those?), and lament the huffing and puffing I do when I climb stairs. 'Me' does not equal strong.

After being pregnant and certainly after giving birth, I need to update my "strong" definition. Strength isn't just about physical fitness (although, even though they don't have an Olympic sport called "Motherhood" they should seriously consider it and then I will enter). It has become something completely invisible but ever-present. When I don't know what other people do in my circumstances, I think I carry on longer than I should.

When I had hyperemesis gravidarum (HG)  for nine months (some people call this morning sickness, but in reality, it's basically constant nausea, which usually needs medication and mediation), I did a lot of "sucking it up" and actually a bunch of holding on, literally. I had never seen the intensity of HG before, so I didn't know that my herculean efforts were anything noteworthy. I just did what I could. I kept going to work (insanely difficult), I kept trying different foods (to no avail, none would stay down), I drank gatorade, coke, water, smoothies, anything that ANYONE would recommend and it all came back up. I craved water like Luis, in the Sesame Street episode barely whispering "agua" and crawling across the desert. I was desperately trying to stay natural and drug free (although I was seriously considering recreational help as well) because I didn't want to harm the baby with any unnecessary chemicals (and actually, the harm was the severe dehydration and lack of food, not so much the drugs). I incorrectly thought that a stronger person would be able to endure this. A stronger person wouldn't have gotten sick in the first place. A stronger person would have prepared better, eaten better, conceived better, endured better...

But it turns out that a strong person also needs to know when to ask for help, when to listen to their gut, when to let go. And so my letting go Masters program went into full effect. When my midwife strongly recommended going to the ER because of my 3-4 week stretch of not being able to drink or eat, I felt so defeated and so relieved. The paradox was incredible. I wanted help because I felt insanely weak and irritable (I was carrying around plastic bags in cars, in my bags, to appointments, etc. because I would "let go" any place, any time, with anything). But I also didn't want people to think I wasn't able to handle pregnancy. I didn't want to whine or complain too much (after all, I WANTED this!)

But letting go, and accepting that HG is not simply "morning sickness," was the beginning of realizing that strength can also mean letting go. Asking for help, letting others support me, looking at what's actually happening to me (rather than constantly comparing myself to other pregnant people) and dealing with my actual circumstances meant letting go of what I wanted it (and me) to look like.

I wanted to be the graceful, glowing, vibrant mama that I'd be dreaming about (sometimes, literally, my dreams would depict this amazing woman, enjoying, relishing, and basking in pregnancy!). And throwing up, hating food, not being able to open the fridge or deal with dishes was a far cry from my image of myself. In addition to not being the poster child for amazing pregnancy, I also *felt* beautiful in a way that goes beyond physicality and it was again paradoxical to feel shame for throwing up while at the same time loving the idea of carrying a little baby was enough to make me crazy.

People would ask me "How's pregnancy?" and I wanted to 1) puke on their shoes (nothing personal) 2) strangle them 3) fall apart in hysterics 4) offer to trade places with them and 5) sit them down very gently and patiently and let them know that asking a pregnant woman how pregnancy is, is like asking how it is to be in prison (sure, it keeps you safe, you sober up, you have time to read and think, BUT YOU'RE IN PRISON!!!).

All this is to say that I started to talk to K about what he was showing me of myself. He was showing me that I was able to take this (ALL this), and still show love, feel warmth, connect with people (HG, at the very worse can cause women to feel so depressed that they commit suicide...which is so horrible, but I can totally understand that now). And through the entire experience, including a labor that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy (to be written about later), he was FINE. He was thriving. He was loving life, keeping his Heart Rate the SAME, and growing to be quite big and strong. K showed me that despite his lack of time in this physical manifestation in the world, that he had a plan all his own, and that included helping me see how letting go (and allowing him to lead in many respects) wouldn't kill me or him. That not knowing how to do something didn't mean I would never learn or that I needed to know at all.

I didn't have a birth plan (gasp!) because I had learned that K would ultimately dictate how it would all go down. I made some requests and offered suggestions, but really, he did what he needed and wanted to do. I couldn't see him as willful. I needed to see us as collaborators and not opponents. When it was time for the c-section, the decision wasn't really made by me, or the hospital, or the midwives, or hubby. K, in all his spirit-ful glory, just had a few quick words to *tell* me. This of course is all "in my head" or really, "in my heart." But it felt something like this:

"Mama, you've done all the things, tried all the ways, listened to all the people. I know you have more "energy" in you to keep going and keep pushing, and I know that having a c-section *means* something (bad, wrong, incomplete), like you didn't do it right, but really, everyone has said that you've done all you can do. And I'm just not coming out the way you planned/wanted. I'm ready to meet you and I know you're ready to meet me, and a c-section is just a c-section. It's not about us, or you, or me, or right or wrong. It's just a way for us to meet."

Okay, so the conversation was shorter back then, and involved me asking a lot of questions "Did I do everything in power to push this baby out? Am I giving up? Is there ANYTHING else I can do?" To which EVERYONE (I think I polled the guy taking out the garbage in the hospital room, too) responded, "You've done it all, this is the last thing we can do." I also recall that I wanted to lock a doctor out of the room in case I just needed more time, but that wasn't it either.
And the point is that IT TOOK STRENGTH to surrender. It took strength to let go of what it looked like, the judgments I had, my expectations, all of it. And K showed me I had that strength.

I finally told the doctor, "I am at peace with a c-section"

And that peace came with letting go. There was no fan fare, no sobbing in failure...just prepping to meet my person. My little K. Who was really my big K. What made it magical is the peace, the letting go, and finally the meeting of my son. I felt instant relief, threw up one last time for good measure, and heard the cry of my baby boy. It wasn't the end of letting go...(ha! I wish!), but that moment showed me that I knew nothing about strength before this...and that if anything was going to transpire between K and I, it would be this lesson, over and over and over (and over) again.

With all the sincerity and enthusiasm I can muster for a thing I think I really don't enjoy, I say, "Bring. It. On." I am strong enough to let go. As many times as it takes.

Truth is, I don't live in Africa

I'm writing this more for myself than anyone else, to be honest. I know it's news to you (and me), but I don't live (and have never lived) in Africa. My village lives in single family homes, scattered in a 30 mile radius (but also includes a few close friends in other states), and communicates more by computer/FB/text than by meeting down by the river to do our laundry (can you even imagine that? With a new baby, no way!).

My love of music is less about animal skin drums and handmade string instruments, and more about iPods, cellphones, and iTunes.

Despite my travels to many a culture where village life is a reality, it has taken me a LONG time to realize, I actually don't live in the type of villages I have visited. It's a "duh" for all of you, but a "huh" for me. "Huh, I guess sleeping when it's dark and waking when it's light is really not how my life goes here." "Huh, carrying my baby to work in the office is not the same as carrying my baby to work in the fields." "Eating the food I grow limits my diet to potatoes, apples and kale for 9 months a year." And so on.

I'm not being stereotypical, I am actually recounting the awesome sight of a Senegalese village I visited, in all its glory and how I longed to live like that. At 19, I was able to wear a small baby on my back, while pounding millet, and feeling not only large and awkward (an 8 year old was better able to do this than I was, including wearing the 3 week old baby on HER back), but insanely uncoordinated. Everyone sat around shelling peanuts (an export crop in Senegal) from 5 year old to 85 year old. Entertainment was a nightly (weekly?) drum and dance circle of about 75-100 people (seriously, this was an amazing experience). Food was made in one big bowl, eaten with hands (no high chairs, no separate meals, no separate eating times). The reverse culture shock of coming home to our house boxes and glass cars and mediated communication of email, phone calls, television, movies, etc., was intense. I hated being here for about 3 months. Every time I left the country to go to another developing country, I lamented my return. I wanted no electricity, wooden spoons, three outfits total, 75 people in a drum and dance circle, and to sit around shelling peanuts everyday before I did my laundry down by the river with my family and close friends. I know, I know. You can smell the privilege coming off of me...

 I always say I was born into the wrong culture, and definitely the wrong country. I love me some community. Not the contrived US versions (I have tried, Lord, I have tried!), but the kinds where it's no big deal to share cars, live with your parents, and raise each other's kids (complete with discipline and lessons). But I live here. And try as I may, US culture, in many respects, cannot jive with village life I've witnessed. I know people do it, they give up a lot, move away from family and friends, etc., but I cannot live away from my family for long, and when I say I have roots in Seattle, I mean blackberry or bamboo roots...the kind you can't get out even with maximum effort.

And in living in the US, we're used to US-style culture. I wanted to pick and choose what parts of African and Latin American culture would work for me. I wanted to leave the gender craziness behind (men do this and women do that), but adopt the whole "village raising a child" concept (which is really about other women helping me raise my kids). I wanted to work 4 hour days, but didn't need the 12 mile walk to the well (and the insane hunger, poverty, extortion, rolling blackouts, and poor health care). Sigh. There's that privilege of mine...picking and choosing..."Well isn't this whole baby carrying thing too cute?") I know that technically, I CAN choose...well, sort of. Baby carrying is totally possible. Instead of the 12 mile well walk, I can go to the zoo. Instead of doing laundry by the river, I can set up playdates. I have to adapt to a completely different context, but I could attempt some village ideas.

But I had to look myself in the mirror and start owning that I like living here now. I'm not 19 anymore and yes, I really do enjoy a nice hot bath and a good book (two things I totally take for granted). What I love about community is changing...what I know of my family now kinda limits the type of village we can live in. We bought a house outside of Seattle so we could have a big garden. Which is now just a big, unmanageable lot of land, to my embarrassing dismay. We drive one car to cut down on emissions, but we've increased my loneliness, captivity, and poor social skills. My family feels far apart (only a 20 minute drive to each household), but we all have different values about where and how we we are not really intent on living closer to each other. Reality has set in.

And for a while I was sad. Really sad. I wanted to be a hippy mama, with an abundant garden, a diaperless kid, several passive income businesses that paid for our private schools and charitable donations to the villages I visited in Africa.

But it's time to own our ACTUAL life and to respect that we created this life to be this way and until we create it otherwise, this is how we live. We own a B&B to increase our community, without traveling as much. We eat out sometimes because we'd rather eat better and look into each other's eyes, than throw canned soup on and fall asleep while going over our calendars. We don't socialize as much because we are overstimulated more often and need more downtime. It just is. It might change one day, but for now, we're working on it and trying to keep what we like and let go of the rest.

It's not Africa, but this is where and how we live. K doesn't know what it's like in Africa. He only knows what it's like with us. So I'm starting to focus on creating a village that works for us, and being okay that our life, while nothing like that of a village family, is still full of values, intention, vision, and love. And it's pretty awesome, considering.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Everything I let go of has claw marks on it

Ain't that the truth? A friend made this comment about a Zen proverb that states, " Let go or be dragged." Got me two times in one facebook post. Amen.

This also points to the previous entry "Mama, let's go!". I hate to be dragged (drug? drugged? Ah, the lovely forgetting of the English language...). And certainly, I totally identify with claw marks on everything that I need to let go of, as it's being ripped from me.

Come to think of it (and I really don't like to, honestly), I hold on to a LOT. Someone commented on one of my posts something like, "There's a lot to be said about trauma and parenting..." and I don't know what they have to say about it, but I sure have a lot to say about it. Trauma brings with it a lot of drags behind it things that I never thought had anything to do with it. Now I know it just drags everything behind it. Good stuff, too.

So what of holding on? Why do things have to be ripped from me? Well, trauma, whenever it happens and each time it happens creates a freeze frame effect. I always go back in time to the "right before" a trauma happens and if I can't do that, I play the trauma itself over and over, like an emotional forensic investigator, looking for clues, hidden crevices where things get stuck, and any proof that could a) save me from my endless berating or b) prove my innocence (if I'm innocent, then it wouldn't be my fault and I am released). And I hold the fuck on. To the scene, to the emotions, to the judgments, and most of all, to the fear. It's sometimes comforting to hold on, because then I can keep examining it and maybe it becomes a badge or proof that I am alive.

I get to know that fear like I was born with it and sometimes I even try to convince myself I was. Because I believe (wrongly) that the fear will help me again in the future, like a bodyguard on the playground. I believe that if I know that fear, inside and out, that it will prevent ALL future traumas (whether similar or not). We'll have a special signal, and I will be free and right and safe. And let me tell you, I know my fears pretty well. But sadly, guess what? There are still traumas...and maybe they are less "traumatic" now, or I have more tools now or I can see myself as adult, able to deal with shit easier than when I was a kid (thanks, therapy!). But the "bad things" still go on...and none of us are immune.
And letting go is one of the tools.

Back to parenting...what better way to continue the fear investigation than watching another person begin their life and learn to navigate similar issues...or any issues...The fact is, trauma is relative. I had a friend who I thought had a pretty rough life and I felt for her every time she told me a tragic story...and strangely, she felt the exact same way about MY life, which I thought was pretty good, considering.

Watching K, and constantly reflecting on what I could possibly be messing up in his life, is amazing. In a way, my emotional investigator is looking for things that I couldn't see in my own infancy. Ugh. Exhausting. And frankly, a waste of time.What I do not look for, and maybe I should, is how resilient he is, or how he looks at us to see if we freak out (we don't, really, to my amazement) and when we don't, he knows he doesn't have to.
An interesting example: We have an intense blender and we use it all the time. It's loud. And when I am holding K, sometimes I use it (there's a multi-tasking mama for ya). I say, "Here comes the blender, and it's loud, and we use this all the time." I turn it on, and slowly ramp up the speed. Inevitably, K gets a bit freaked, but I hold him tight and say, "I have you, you're safe, it's just the blender." He usually calms down but keeps his eyes on it, because even though it's loud, it's also super cool. I don't walk away from it, I don't keep him from hearing/seeing it, because it's a part of our life and if he freaked EVERY time we used it, we'd never be able to use it.That's not the same as a really intense trauma/experience, but it's a good metaphor, at least. We don't/can't protect K from all the stuff (and we may not even think twice about something that he finds anxiety-producing, like the blender, for instance), but rather we name it, check-in to see if he's okay, and then we just move on. Sure, he falls, bonks his head on mine, gets scared, but I like to think that he's also learning that he can survive tough stuff and we can/and are there to help.

I'm not saying that simply by writing it down, sharing it, laughing about it, etc., that I will let go better, sooner, with more grace or anything of the kind. In fact, I'm cool if the claw marks are just a thing for me...but it's important that K (and I, frankly) see(s) that I DO let go eventually, and that I am still a happy, adjusted, resilient and social person, even if it takes some time. I'm not trying to raise a perfect kid (this is what I have to keep telling myself), I'm just trying to raise/guide my kid through the inevitable stuff of life. Because in all my traumas and even in the reflection of not letting go before the inevitable letting go, there are so many awesome gifts, lessons, and markers of strength. I can only hope he sees those too.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Who am I now?

Hubby said the other night, in response to me letting K eat some refried beans at the local Mexican restaurant, "I like the new relaxed Becca." Of course, inside I was totally calculating all the things that could go wrong and all the things that "eating beans" meant for K's little/short life.
They probably had lard in them (we're Jewish and primarily eating a plant-based diet), there was stuff in there that I didn't know about (because I didn't hover over the chef while he was cooking them), and beans are hard to digest for us, and probably a lot of people in general.
But K was making grunt noises (which, at the table, means he's ready to eat), we didn't bring his organic, parent-made, non-blended food with his special spoon, and both of us were tired and hungry and come hell or high water, we were going to sit down and eat.
Meanwhile, as K was happily eating and grunting, I was flogging myself for my "relaxed" attitude which might result in allergies, gas, finger-wagging, and whatever unforeseen stuff I'll read about afterward (so far, every time I have given K something on the fly, I have read exactly the NEXT day that I should NOT be giving him that). But I was also high-five-ing myself for listening to K's cues, giving him the least of possible offenders, and getting on with my life (and then getting a pat on the back for being relaxed---which is very hard for me to do).
What did I learn about this? Oh crap, I was supposed to learn something? I just thought the aim was getting food from the table into our mouths...

What DID I learn...I'm afraid to even say it...
I think I learned that listening to K (rather than trying to be perfect) is really important.
I'm pretty sure that if he liked it, and he was happy, that it was okay. BUT I project 15 years into the future at a therapy session (yes, I'm always thinking he's in therapy complaining about how I ruined some aspect of his life with my careless behavior) where he's upset about the fact that instead of bringing along his food (the proper food, of course), that I basically just let him eat Mexican food beans because I was too tired/lazy to provide anything better/more nutritious.
This pattern of thought runs rampant in my life. Sometimes, I wish K could talk not just because I want to hear his amazing thoughts, but would rather he say to me "Look, mom, I get it. You're living your life while trying to manage mine. No sweat. I'm flex. Thanks for the beans, they were yummy and worth the gas, and I just really appreciate that you didn't let me go hungry, or resent me for having to leave the restaurant because I was screaming, and you kept the family in good spirits." If he could just skip the mamamama dadada and jump right to that, then all would be good. :)
But that's not his job, right? He's new around here, and he doesn't need to get wrapped up in my insecurities. Technically, I shouldn't either.

I think I confuse how I act with who I am...if I give beans to my hungry child, that now I'm a Bean Giver, not a mama who knows her kid is hungry and beans would be okay. Or if I let him cry ever, I'm a Mom Who Lets Her Kid Cry. As someone who had a c-section, I hear and see the unspoken responses (that are just my projections, right?), "Oh, you're a c-section mama." But that's totally not true. I just tried all the other ways and c-section was the final method. When I married my hubby, it was me marrying him, not Previously Single for Too Long, Obsessed with Health, Reads Too Many Books, lady...I was just Becca. So Who am I now?

Well, for one, I'm just Becca who is K's mama, listening to him, watching, and hopefully sharing with him a relaxed version of me sometimes. I'm also not relaxed and protective of him sometimes so he'll know that part of me too, that likes to pay attention (sometimes too much). He'll also know that I am intuitive, that I listen to his sounds/words, and that I see our family as a unit (and not mom and dad vs. kid or mom and kid vs. dad) and try to work from that place.
The labeling, judging, and comparing is exhausting and THAT'S getting in the way of my relationship with K, not a bowl of refried beans. He won't remember the beans. He'll just know the mama that can't wait to kiss, hug and cuddle him when she gets home from work. And that's a pretty awesome mama, if I say so myself.

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Mama, Let's Go!"

The double entendre was on purpose, but even though I named the blog myself, I still read it as "Mama, let's go!!" There's something in there about letting go being able to help me get up and go...I feel lighter, more relaxed, less mean and judgmental (if I let it go, that means I don't have to worry about it, or what "other people" say about it). So I read it as if K is prompting me to drop the crap and get a move on...which is relieving. Because when he tells me stuff, I'm more apt to listen.

Something to complain about

A long time ago, when I was a Virgo, and did my Virgo things, I "planned" to have a baby. I planned the conversations hubby and I would have about planning. I planned the gender of the child, the activities, the languages he/she would speak. I planned the names, the toys, the family trips. I wanted to be a mom since I was introduced to my little brother. I've been planning for a while.
I have books, I grilled moms, I went to baby stores and first dates included phrases like "If I get pregnant, I am keeping the baby." I tried not to be angry at moms who complained they were tired, hungry, covered in goo, ignored, taken for granted and all the other stuff I heard those moms (and dads) say.

And after all that planning, which went out the window when I first got pregnant (and miscarried), I am a mom. At last!

It's been nothing short of the craziest ride imaginable. And if you know me (or worse, if you live with me), I have been complaining a lot. Like a lot, a lot. I became one of those moms! If you isolated my history and all it took to get me HERE, then you MIGHT want to say (but really, don't say it), "Hey, you got your baby, quit complaining!"

And here's my's in the complaining that I am grateful.

When I am upset about being thrown up on three times (which includes three changes of clothes, of course), I am grateful that my kid has an appetite, that we can feed him as much as he wants/needs, that I have clothes to change into, and a washing machine to wash the dirty ones.
When my baby can't (won't?) sleep, I am grateful that I am loved so much that this person doesn't want to close his eyes, for fear of missing me, the world, or learning something new.
When I can't get Mr. Wiggly Pants to sit still for a diaper change, I am grateful that Mr. Wiggly Pants wiggles, that he is active, engaged, and has the use of his limbs...even if I have to literally hold him down multiple times a day.
When my hubby and I exchange glazed over looks (it's not much of an exchange, I think we're just sleeping with our eyes open), I am grateful that there is a hubby to look at, that said hubby shares the ups and downs of parenthood, and that K has two crazy people to come to when he's had a rough day.

So I won't quit my complaining...because in that complaining hides this awesome life, that didn't turn out how I planned, but has awakened more inside of me than I thought was there...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Difference in the Night

One night I am tired, spent, reeling from the day
The next night I am calm, ready, excited to see your face
One night I am stressed out, afraid to hear your call
The next night, I leap at every sound you make, impatient to snuggle you
One night I am using all the 3am strength I have to calm you down, like a mental patient
The next night I am barely holding you, rocking you, singing your song softly to you as we drift to sleep
One night I am plotting the sale of our house, the abandonment of all that's good, and my escape
The next night I pull you into bed, to savor our embrace, knowing they are numbered
One night you struggle against me
The next night you only sleep by being near me
One night I am crying, pleading, angered
The next night I am grateful, pensive, accepting.

It's hard to believe that the difference is just 24 hours. That I feel like a monster one night, and the luckiest mama alive the next. One night every sacrifice is worse than torture and the next night I don't remember the word sacrifice...I only know the word grateful.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Darkest Hour

I didn't see it coming. I went to bed like I do every night. In fact, K was sleeping longer than normal and soundly. At 12am he woke up and because I thought it'd be easy to get him back to sleep (I have a few regular things I do), I was just gonna go in and 1,2,3 him back to sleep. But he didn't go back to sleep. So I gave him a bottle (it was already prepared, so I could just offer it and he'd roll over when done and go back to sleep with little crying). Then he kept crying. Louder and louder. And I went to give him another bottle because I didn't really know what else to do. He finished that and kept crying! And honestly, there's something in that wail that when it gets into my brain, I lose all hope, perspective, and skills for problem solving.
And I lost it. Like crazy lost it. Like only a few times in therapy have I ever lost it like that. But once it started I couldn't stop it.
It wasn't even about K after a while. It was about everything. All the stuff that I had been letting me get stressed out. It was all waiting for an opening and a few tears into it, it all came tumbling out. And furiously fast. I didn't recognize myself. I couldn't bring myself back. I was making the third bottle (the only barely sane activity I could do at the time) when the papa came down (it was his night to get sleep) to catch me before I fell all the way apart. Thank goodness for the papa.
I was shuttled off to bed to breathe and try to calm down while papa calmed K. And then he came back to calm me. I couldn't even sleep for the next hour because I was so consumed with shame, anger, frustration, sleeplessness, overwhelm, hopelessness, etc.
No one told me about this. Hell, I couldn't even have told myself about this. I've never been to this place fact, I didn't know this place existed. I've endured some dark stuff. Nothing too crazy, but damn, this wasn't like that at all. At least, not that I remember. Maybe a few summers after my dad died I felt like I was being pushed underwater by an unknown force, but this felt like I tied on cement blocks...
And then after some time to calm down, some loves from papa, and my mind being able to run its crazy course, I slept. It wasn't a magical sleep, but in that sleep I found some light. And that light brought me back to the morning. And I was able to talk about the night like it happened to someone else...and I wanted to help that "someone else" and get her some professional help.
I wanted to put it in writing that I came back. That I survived. That I got help. It may not help me next time either...I'm prepared for that, but in case it helps someone else, I want it to be here. Even when it feels like no one is around, someone always has your back.

Just another mama blog?

That was going to be my title for the blog. But more than blending in with the other mom blogs, I wanted to be honest about what I'm doing here. And so far, for the last 16+ months (actually ever since we embarked on the family-making), I've just been given opportunity after opportunity to learn about how to let go. Like I'm doing an internship. A really hard one where I feel constantly alone and overworked and I can't see the payoff and there's no financial bonus check so I can take a vacay to Mexico every year.
Nope, what happens is that I find something to hold onto, I do it too tightly, and the exact experience comes into my life to help me let go. What it feels like is that I am barely hanging on, day after day, and just when I feel somewhat okay, I am forced to let go of something else. Everything from expectations to food to visions to stuff I don't even know about yet (ack!).
And I didn't think I had a problem letting go. Honestly.

Letting Go Doesn't Mean Giving Up

That's about all the wisdom I have on the subject. Just the aphorism. The rest is experience and sometimes, shameful experience at that. I honestly don't know how to let go. I really don't know how to give up. Surrendering (like letting go, but I don't imagine a god-like presence prying things out of my metaphorical hands, rather a reluctant offering up) is not easy either. I couldn't have been warned enough about this. In fact, people DID warn me. Numerous times. But how could I know how to do it, without learning how to do it? 

My kid has to learn some (all?) things by experiencing them. But I do too, right? I mean, how am I supposed to know "mom things" when I have only been a mom for 7+ months? Why did I think that I'd know it all by now? Or that reading a book would mean I'd "know" it? Even seeing other moms that I think are "just like me" or who have similar backgrounds, values, parenting styles, etc. aren't me and won't always do it how I do it. In fact, I won't always do it predictably the same. Argh. 

But it's scary. Really scary. When things don't come to me at 3am (like easy ways to solve crying jags or restlessness or even my own insomnia), I get so bent out of shape. It's like I think that it should be OBVIOUS how to fix something or take a break or just let go. But it's not! Scarily so! Even with two sane (okay, maybe not sane, but functional) parents, I think between us there should be some tactics...but really, it's not even that easy.

There are books and books on PTSD and surviving trauma and coping...and yet, parenthood, as Billions (okay more than that since it's been going on since people were around) can testify, is just parenthood. No one (okay, not NO ONE, but it seems rare) talks about parenthood like they talk about war, trauma, etc. But I can't help but compare some of the things I've experienced post-trauma to my current life (no, I'm not really saying that my parenting life can be compared to anything like torture or murder, etc., but the brain doesn't know what it doesn't know, so everything is subjectively relative).

Sound melodramatic? I wish. I wish I could "overcome" parenting, like I overcame a lot of traumatic stuff growing up. But here I am, an ADULT, with resources and education and friends and family and literacy....and this is the hardest thing I have EVER done. Times a million. Because on the good days, it's still hard. The "good" things involve watching my kid grow up and change and need me differently (sometimes less!---heartbreaking!). The good things aren't just categorically good. They come with grief and loss and not enough time to capture and appreciate...and the bad things...well, I don't want to go there, here. 

So I'm not learning to let go very easily. In fact, it's the hardest part. I can't let go of the good or the bad...and holding on blows too. I don't have an easy, proverbial lesson to share or offer to myself when it gets hard again. I just have the telling the truth part. And the living in the reality of how it feels. And the sharing with others in hopes of getting support and a few "we've been there"s. I want to hug all the parents. Even the ones that aren't "good" parents. Cause I know some of those parents didn't make it out...some of those parents turned to drugs, alcohol, suicide, mental institutions, self-hatred, murder, prison, and much more (and even worse stuff I can't imagine). And some of those kids got the short end...and I ache for them too...

This note hasn't stayed true to its title...maybe just the fact that I'm not giving up...but I'm admittedly doing a crap job of letting go too. Everyone says that loving my kid is the most important thing. Thank God for that. Seriously. Because even when it's hard at 3am, it's never about not loving my kid. In fact, that's the one tether I have. I love the shit out of Kalev (sometimes, literally). He's awesome. I can let go into that. I can trust that. Even if I never said it to his face again (an impossibility), I love him so hard my guts ache. So there's that. There's that. For now, that's gotta be enough.


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