Taking off the Mask

I love to play with my kids. I could paint, color, read, play games, do puzzles, build forts, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, build legos….you get the point. I love to engage an interact with my kids at their level.

But I have to confess: I hate playing pretend.

GASP! How dare I admit such a calamity? Ok, but really, I do feel guilty about it. Pretend play is how children learn to interact with others and the world. It is essential to their development and esteem.

So why do I not like doing it? Michael’s version of playing pretend involves him directing me what to say with his superheroes. He also pretends to be a ninja turtle, I am assigned the role of April, the reporter (Ninja Turtles are making a huge comeback). There are a myriad of other “identity” assignments and I am under the direction of Michael’s script.

There are several definitions for the word “pretend”. Besides “make believe”, dictionary.com provides these two definitions that prompted a whole series of thoughts on my life:

1. to cause or attempt to cause (what is not so) to seem so: to pretend illness; to pretend that nothing is wrong.

2. to appear falsely, as to deceive; feign: to pretend to go to sleep.

Am I pretending with my God? My husband? My family & friends? Do I pretend that everything is ok when it is not? Do I pretend to know God and not spend time in His word and in prayer with Him? Do I sin willingly and pretend it’s no big deal?

Do I pretend with my friends? Am I transparent and authentic in my conversations with them? Do I hide behind a facade of false reality so others can’t see me?

What makes us want to cover up? Are we afraid of rejection? Of being unloved? That if others knew the truth about us, we would be laughed at or scoffed?

One thing I do know, is that when I am transparent about my struggles, my triumphs, my passions and joys, life is better. Relationships are authentic. It requires less effort to admit my weaknesses and openly embrace them (with the hopes of strengthening them) then to cover them up. Trust is built quicker. People are more at ease when they see the struggle in others and that they are not ashamed or embarrassed.

I am convinced that God’s love is displayed best when we admit to our shortcomings and place them at his feet. He knows when we are pretending, we cannot fool Him. We can try, or trick ourselves into believing that we can figure out this life on our own.

But we can’t. Not for a single second.

“Oh Lord, you have searched and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, you know it all together. You hem me in, behind and before me, and lay your hand upon me. “
Psalm 139: 1-5

Who does she think she is?

All throughout the day I get these urges to write. I have a running dialogue in my head narrating what is going on around me or re-framing thoughts I have into clever little quips that I just KNOW would be amazing on paper.

Yet, they never get written.

There are a lot of things in my life that I would like to be more disciplined about. Spending time in God’s word and time in prayer is one of them. Getting back on the exercise train would be great. Coming up with a consistent cleaning routine so I don’t look around and become surprised that my house has imploded on itself. Writing when the mood strikes. Keeping in touch with far away friends on a regular basis. The list goes on…
But I digress….as a mother of two young boys, I am lucky to get a shower in. Yet, I see these other moms dressed to the nines, smile plastered on their face, calmly de-escalating a toddler tantrum, nails painted….you get the point.

But I have a secret that I am going to share with you. They don’t have it all together either. Not even close.  Whether dressed in Banana Republic (I realize there are more elite designers/boutiques) or Faded Glory (hey, don’t knock Wal-mart) we are the same underneath. We all share the common struggle of being a mommy and being a woman. Of being a wife and being a friend.

That pretty momma you envy when you drop off your little one for a playdate, daycare, or whatever? She might just have had an argument with her husband. Or they may have financial issues. She may need a friend just as much as you do.

Some of us might do a better job of covering up what is really going on, but rest assured that every mom you see needs something; be it a hug, babysitter, grocery money, a girl’s night out, or some time to herself.

Most days I drop Michael off dressed in some sort of workout clothing or ratty sweatshirt that I can’t seem to part with. Sometimes I pick him up that way. I used to feel insecure about the other moms with their make up on and hair did (sorry I had to) and the fact that they had obviously showered. I don’t anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should shower for the benefit of the community, and I I don’t enjoy being a “dragon muffin” (aka Michael’s name for a ragamuffin) but I know that it really is ok that I barely managed to brush my teeth before heading out the door…and sometimes Sam’s teeth don’t get brushed until lunch time. Some days are better then others. Today I am going to actually get out of my dragon muffin routine.

If you find yourself having a dragon muffin day or a hot momma day, be kind in your thoughts to the opposite moms you see. Avoid the urge to play the comparison game and have love for the mommas on their dragon muffin days an don’t judge the put-together-momma.

Going to go have a put together day…..

Little things…..

That have brought me joy this week….

Sitting outside at dawn or dusk on the back porch
Reading summer fiction
The first wonderful eye opening sip of coffee in the morning
The endorphin high after a great run
Buying shorts in a smaller size
The first breath inhaled when stepping outside
Smelling someone grilling out
Hearing my boys make each other laugh
New pj shorts
Going to the library and checking out books for me
Learning something new from bible study
Sloppy wet kisses from Sammy

Keeping it simple allows me to feel like each day has its own place…..

Thank you Lord for the ability to appreciate all the little things…help me not to lose sight of them when hard days come…

I am such a Loser!

I don’t even want to look at the date of my last post. I am a blogging failure! Secret: I wanted so desperately to keep up with the minimum of a posting a week for 3 consecutive months so I could potentially be featured at blogher.com

Where have I been you may be thinking? Or, you may not care. Have I no loyalty to you all, my readership? Is readership a word?

I know it’s been a good two months. I have missed you blinking cursor! Shame on me!

You know how you intend to do something and a certain amount of time passes and you don’t accomplish it and you keep putting it off because when you do think about it it makes you feel yuck that you haven’t done it? I did that once (or maybe twice or more). I actually packed a cover for a blow up mattress into our moving shipment from Sicily that belonged to a friend who graciously provided me and Michael with a bed when we had none in transition. “Send me your address! I’ll send it back ASAP! So sorry it was packed in the big shipment!”

It sat in my closet for 2 years before I finally threw it away.

Ok, enough of the guilt trip. I carry enough guilt for probably, um, all of North America as a Mommy. Let’s not add to it.

In my absence my husband made it back from a month long stint to a not so fun faraway place. Wonderful family has visited, including my cousin, his wife (my secret sister), and their three children. My mom came and spent a fly by week with me and a short two weeks after that he was home. My in laws came for a fun visit. All these visits were a surprise to Michael who probably expects someone famous to stop by soon…..Michael started his soccer season and has scored multiple goals every game (Yay! This was with me coaching the first 2 weeks of the season since my husband was not available).

I also lost some weight. A significant amount. On purpose. With Shaun T from the Insanity workouts. And some healthful eating. I completed the “Insanity Challenge” and am smaller now then I was in high school. My arms look amazing. Though, the jiggle is still there, you know the one your peripheral vision never fails to catch while waving to someone with a sleeveless shirt on? I figured out if you wave slowly, like a princess wave, it doesn’t jiggle as much. I went down 6 clothing sizes. I love to run again. Am I bragging? Yep. But I won’t mention it again.

Except to say that it is a huge element in healthy thinking and mental well-being (duh).

Most recently and probably the most difficult was the privilege of sharing my journey through and out of postpartum OCD with my MOPS mommas. Twice. (Two separate groups….unfortunately my delivery was not so great the second time around….) I tried to be like a speaker who spoke to us during the year about parenting and raising three boys. So calm. So clearly well-spoken and purposeful. Stood next to but not behind the podium. Captured my attention. Elegant and graceful. Yeah, you know who you are, K. (My writing muse, whom I aspire to be anything like).

Not me.  No…. I bop up there and spoke for 40 minutes the first time (whoa….) and packed a lot into it. I tripped over the podium, in both sharing times, I think. When I stood away from the podium I lost all ability to control my arms and hands. I am not quite sure what I did with them. I could have been picking my nose….

But God’s grace was shown and He used me to reach mommas who needed to hear a scary story to know that you know what happens and He is the Only One who can pull you out of it and make you better for it.

Noooo…Sammy is rolling around in his crib….don’t wake up….I am going to sign off now, and sit in my mother’s day gift, my fabulous anti-gravity chair that is on our deck and watch the sunrise. Pray he gives me 30 (60?) good minutes.

Glad to be back. :)

Eeeek!

FYI BEFORE READING…MAJOR ISSUES WITH FORMATTING ON THIS BLOG..MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS TO FIX…UNSUCCESSFUL…WILL TRY AGAIN LATER…. :)

I am still here. :)

The writing bug has bitten me, however the all-consuming position of motherhood has left me drained!

I am full of words.

I look over at the computer at night and think, “I just need to move to the chair from the couch and start typing”. Then I go back to watching TV with my hubby. Or fall asleep. Whatever.

This blogging pressure is self-induced and totally unnecessary. Just another way to feel guilty as a woman!

Looking back on the last week or so of my absence, I can share with you:

My littlest got his first haircut. He is no longer my wild thing look-a-like but now a handsome little boy. I do miss that crazy hair, though!

Image

That would be munchkin glaze on his face prior to the haircut.

Baby to little boy in a matter of minutes...made a sign for my 4 year old's roomImage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also got crafty with decoupage. Yes, that is his name. I am tired of referring to my kiddos as oldest and youngest. It’s not like I am sharing social security numbers…..so there you have it. I guess I could call them Thing 1 and Thing 2. But really, more people see my Facebook account with all their pictures and names. So, the little guy, yeah, that’s Sam. Or Sammy. Or Sam-Sam. And he is now awake. :)

To be continued…

In another “life” (indulge me)…I would…

Work for National Geographic as e a travel photographer and writer, able to drop and go at a moment’s notice and embrace the beauty, sorrow, and wonder of this world that God has so majestically hand-crafted.

Live in a loft apartment in Boston and live the “city life”. I would bring my non-existent iPad to the local Starbucks and “work” while enjoying my COC (coffee of choice).

Live on the beach in the Caribbean performing some inane job, like hair braiding, henna tattooing, or some other meaningless task. But I would be one of the locals. I would only wear flip flops. Or be bare foot.

Backpack the world on foot (with the exception of Antarctica or anywhere else cold on a continual basis. I despise winter).  (Maybe this is the same as my traveling photographer life?)

Begin surfing at a very young age and be good enough to enter professional competitions.

Take ballet lessons. (What?! I know…)

Be a nature expert in the Amazon and hang out with the tribes….though I would probably stay clothed. Maybe not. It would depend on whether or not this particular life included post childbirth body.

Serve as a missionary nurse to third world countries and administer the gift of compassion that God has bestowed upon me to the hurting and ill.

Meet my sponsored Compassion child, Dallana.

Be an astronaut and explore the mystery of the heavens from above our atmosphere.

I acknowledge that a lot of my “would be’s” are totally pointless and selfish.  These other “lives” aren’t to say that I am not content with the one I have now.  I am grateful for my God, my family, my friends, and the opportunities and experiences He has allowed into my life. He gave us imaginations for a reason. There is a longing for something inside of all of us, for something more, something different, something better. It’s gotta be heaven.

Despite the abundance of lie we have on this Earth with Christ as our Living God, we know deep down inside of us that it will not be completely filled until we see Him and are with Him for eternity.

From the lyrics of Matt Redman (and others who have sang this song of Praise:

“Take the world, but give me Jesus
You’re the treasure in this life
Take the world, but give me Jesus
Is my cry”

 

 

 

 

Three things….

1. Katherine Stone from http://www.postpartumprogress.com asked if she could post my letter to ACOG on the site. I am stoked. Excited is an understatement. Thank You, Jesus. Keep me humble.

2. Yesterday I purchased:

  • 4 boxes of cereal
  • 3 packages of whole grain english muffins
  • 2 packages of whole wheat bagel thins
  • 3 individual containers of greek yogurt
  • 1 box of WhuNus? (A “nutrtional” cookie…..if there is such a thing….?)

for a grand total of:

$23.10

I was pretty proud. Maybe not an extreme couponer’s result, yet I was on a post shopping savings high afterwards. And also noted that Honey Nut Cheerios has approximately the same amount of sugar as Fruit Loops.

3. My husband and I have begun “Insanity”. You know, with Shaun T? The guy who screams “Let’s GO!” into the camera and you want to run in the opposite direction.  You have to be a little off to do this exercise program. Day one of the Fit Test, my right quad gave out and I fell oh so gracefully onto the living room floor. It’s Day 5 and there are 55 more to go….and we get up together at 430 in the morning to do this. He says we should take before and after pictures. I don’t know if I can stomach looking at a picture of well…my stomach at it’s current state.

I’m ready for a nap by 10 am. Ok, I’m ready for a nap now, at 6:27 am.

But I feel…..awesome.

“I’m gonna write a letter” (ever seen the movie White Chicks? :)

I sent this to ACOG today via snail mail. It speaks for itself. Pray that it makes a difference for future women who will battle postpartum illness.

To The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

On February 22, 2011, I developed significant postpartum mood disorder symptoms.

At 3 months postpartum with my second child, I sought care from my OB/GYN office immediately. As a registered nurse, I have a moderate knowledge base of postpartum illness and knew what was happening.

My scheduled appointment was with a physician whom I preferred not to see due to a lack of bedside manner. I could have waited three weeks to see my “regular” OB/GYN for my previously scheduled annual exam, but I was desperate for help as soon as possible.

When I tearfully shared what I was going through, this physician looked at me and said, “Well, I don’t know what this is, but it’s not postpartum depression. You need to see a psychiatrist. I’ll write you a script for Prozac.”

I felt CRUSHED. I walked out of the office, script in hand, wondering why he would say such a thing. I was taught that postpartum illness could develop within the first year of birth.

The following weeks brought an appointment with a not so helpful psychiatric nurse practioner and untoward side effects from the Prozac. When I followed up with my preferred OB/GYN for my annual exam, she apologized for the comments the first physician had made and said, “This is SO postpartum related.”

After searching for more resources, I found a therapist who specializes in postpartum mood disorders. She directed me to a reproductive psychiatrist that assured me I was not going crazy, and the exact nature of my symptoms were experienced by many women. My medication regimen was adjusted, and she was astute enough to recheck my TSH after noting I was trending toward hyperthyroidism about a month before the onset of my symptoms.

I was then referred to an endocrinologist when my TSH level had swung in the opposite direction.  After a thyroid ultrasound and a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease, I began taking Synthroid.

After months of therapy, medication, and support I have been healed.

But I am angry. If I had been a patient lacking the nursing knowledge I have, I shudder to think what may have come of my situation. The first time a mom seeks help for a postpartum mental health related issue sets the tone for her entire recovery.  Encountering this particular physician’s response appalled me then, and it appalls me now. Did I mention he is the head of the practice?

My purpose in writing this letter to ACOG is to ask the following:

Why, why, why in 2012 are physicians who practice OB/GYN not all on the same proverbial page regarding the mental heath care of postpartum women?

What is ACOG doing to educate these physicians to prevent a situation such as mine from happening?

Why is it so difficult to find postpartum resources? I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person. It took me many hours of searching for the “right” people to help me.

I can tell you that at least 12 people directly contributed to my ongoing recovery. That’s not including people I encountered along the way who weren’t already directly involved in my life.

Twelve people helped me, and one physician nearly ruined me.

I literally have to fight the urge to tell my story to every pregnant woman or mom with a newborn that I see.

I truly look forward to hearing a response from ACOG and hope that my questions will not be overlooked or brushed aside as my initial road to recovery was.

Sincerely,

My Real Name Here :)

Martha vs. Mary

My friends Teri Miller and Karen Klasi, both whom have inspired me to blog and continue to blog are amazing women. Both beautiful writers and beautiful women of God.

And I am jealous. Karen’s talent with words far surpasses that of my own and I read her blog posts with joy and sinful envy. Teri is blessed with the ability to see the lessons God has for her through everyday experiences.

Today I feel stuck. Writer’s block as they say. Does that even exist? I heard somewhere at some point in time to write anyway.

So, write I will….

My oldest took the rare nap on the couch yesterday while the youngest was sleeping. He asked me to cuddle with him and if I would play some lullabies.

Of course I would.

Jewel has a lullaby CD that he and I have listened to for a looooong time. As she sang and I snuggled with my enormous 4 year old, my mind started to fill with the things I *needed* to do. Laundry. Dishes. Dust. Vacuum. Change the litter box.

No. I told my brain to shut up.

But both boys are going to sleep…..think of all you can accomplish.

Eventually the “Martha” in me lost (as in the one from the Bible who rushed around preparing and cleaning, not Stewart. Though if I had a crew of people working for me to organize, craft, and clean, I would give her a run for her money.)

I chose to be Mary (as in the one who sat at Jesus’ feet).  I wrapped my arm around my growing boy and felt his body relax and noticed when his breath steadied indicating he was indeed, sleeping. I talked with Jesus while I was there. Thanking Him, praising Him, feeling humbled by the gift of Motherhood.

Waking up 20 minutes later, glad I had chosen to be Mary for a bit, I let my boy sleep for a little longer.

I can’t recall the finest details of eventually doing the mundane household chores (which of course I always do as on to the Lord….not).  But I can vividly remember that snuggle time, adding it to the various snapshots in my mind that my brain has taken throughout this life.

Oh, and if you want, please check out my dear friends’ blogs. You will not be disappointed.

http://tuesdaywithteri.wordpress.com/

http://www.karenklasiwrites.com