Vacation: Done

Hello there! You are very welcome for leaving that post up there for the last three weeks. I just wanted to make sure you had enough time to think about it. And then I went on vacation for two weeks. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

In all seriousness, I so appreciated the comments here and on Facebook – they really meant a lot and make me so glad I shared my story/struggles here. I hope that someone else will be inspired or at least feel not so alone with their own “things.” We need each other – we all do – to talk to, to do life with and to be real with. I hope you have those people in your life and if you don’t, find them, they are out there.

In other news, my post, Working Girl, has gotten over 400 hits in the last week which made me curious as to why that would be so I took a look at my referrers/stats and found out that a Buzzfeed quiz wondering how 90s you are uses my image of Skidz pants. Thankfully it wasn’t an influx of traffic due to people looking for a “working” girl named Michelle or a sudden rebirth of hypercolor clothing. And in case you were wondering, I am a 90s expert.


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So, how about a little funny for your day?

For our vacation, like last year, we road-tripped to Texas to visit my parents and my brother and sister-in-law (with a side trip to Columbia, Missouri to visit my nephew at college). That is many, many hours in the car. Many. Here are some of the things my kids found funny during that trip:

  • Hitting each other in the face with their pillow pets, which I would totally put up with except the decided to start doing it as we were entering Houston – land of the 4+ lane expressway. They were laughing, drunk on french fries, jelly beans and twizzlers, and we (Simon and I) were not.
  • Any mention of the words fart, butt, bottom, nuts, balls (or, as Jack says, his “bulbs”), penis, wee wee, poop and the like.
  • Signs for Jack In The Box
  • Minecraft You Tube videos
  • Singing along, dramatically, to “Let It Go” from Frozen
  • Jack peeing on the side of the highway in rural Texas and again in less rural Illinois
  • Jack growling fiercely and totally ruining his voice
  • Me offering to pay them $2 if they fell asleep (for the record, in the 40+ hours we spent in the car at various hours – the only time they slept was the 15 minutes before we got to Corpus Christi at the very end of our second day of driving – my kids suck at napping)
  • Our having to use the “butt wipes” (a.k.a., Cottonelle Moist Wipes) on their hands and faces after they snacked (also, moist = worst word ever)
  • Monsters University, Scooby Doo + Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Things the grown ups laughed at:

  • Jack gleefully exclaiming after a successful round of Yahtzee: “I freaking won! See ya suckas!”
  • That was pretty much it. :)

Really, a good time was (mostly) had by all during the driving portions of our trip. You expect it to be long and tiring, you expect the kids to bug each other and you expect to question your own sanity for attempting it. But in the end, two weeks of togetherness and warm weather (not to mention good food and better company), make it all worth it. We are probably taking next year off but we’ll do it again – we’re a road tripping family. Hopefully I will have a vacation recap for you sometime soon… but in the meantime, assume we had a blast (because we did) and assume you would be jealous (because we’re awesome).

 

 

Mental health

someecards.com - It's so comforting to know I have a friend to share the same mental health issues with.
Hmmmm… back in January I shared my list of resolutions and buried in the end was a mention of going to see my doctor to figure out if perhaps my brain chemistry could use a little assistance. Two months later I have a little update for you.

Disclaimer: Every person is different. Every journey is different. This recounting is my experience thus far and I share it with you in case you are looking for answers for yourself and this could resonate with you or help you feel not so alone. We don’t always have the conversations we need to when it comes to mental health and not talking about something doesn’t make it go away. And talking about it doesn’t make it the only thing that defines you or boxes you in and it certainly doesn’t make it the thing that limits you. I am so many things, but I happen to be a person who takes Zoloft. It works for me. Maybe something else works for you. There is strength to be found in sharing our stories and our truths. This is my story – at least a chapter of it.


I don’t remember at exactly what point I started noticing a difference in myself… I think it crept up on me gradually over time as things often do. I wasn’t quite myself but then, I also had quite a bit on my plate with running a business, raising kids, volunteering, keeping up with friends and family and the parenting/work schedule we’ve been handling the last four years (oh how that number makes me laugh when I consider they initially said it would be two years until Simon moved to first shift and back then I would pass the months thinking, “Oh, we’re 1/24th of the way there and then 1/6th, etc…” and those two years have come and gone more than twice now with no end in sight). Still, if you had asked me if I was depressed, I would have told you no, absolutely not. We bought our “forever” home last year and moved into a wonderful neighborhood where our kids will grow up that is close to church, work and many, many friends. Work was the same, my business partner had named me president but it was mostly business as usual with a new title that made me feel all grown up and proud. I had started the book club and was seeing friends regularly, having semi-regular date nights with my hubby and hosting many gatherings at our new house. Who would be depressed about all that? Or how could you be depressed? Depression is a funny thing, well, mental health is a funny thing – it doesn’t care who you are, it can just show up and cause problems, sometimes you don’t even realize that your “normal” doesn’t have to be normal.

For me, everything should have added up to being all right, and yet… I felt it, that niggling feeling that something wasn’t right. That I was drowning in my life but I didn’t have a clue what could be changed or done differently. My kids were just kids, a little hyper at times, not always the best listeners but still just kids and pretty darn good ones at that and yet I was short tempered and sometimes downright mean to them, quick to yell and frustrated as all get out. My husband has his annoying habits as all husbands do – the joy of marriage and living with someone day-in-day out is that you learn all their little “things” and you love them because of and in spite of those things – and yet EVERYTHING he did drove me crazy, made me annoyed and made me so I was constantly reminding myself that marriage is work and that it is a choice to be made daily because divorce isn’t an option – I would find myself muttering with scary regularity, “I’ve had enough, I’m done.” I’m sure I was a real joy to live with. And the new title at work didn’t change my responsibilities or add more stress to my life – and yet if I thought about work in the evenings I would feel my pulse start to race and the anxiety rise to where I couldn’t breathe – 13 years in the business and I was unsure of everything, kept awake at night with thoughts of what the next day held in store (this anxiety was what finally made me realize something wasn’t right). I felt loved, knew I was loved, was actually usually happy and not mopey or depressed feeling and yet I found myself after MOPS one Thursday morning wrapped up in the arms of a wonderful mentor mom, sobbing and feeling so very tired, so very much at the end of my rope.

So I asked for help. I met with two women from church – the mentor mom who first comforted me and another woman who is on staff at church who had led my calm parenting class last spring – I talked, they listened and shared their own experiences, asking questions and giving advice. I prayed, I read and I talked with others about what was going on. I made an appointment with my doctor and after explaining to her how I had been feeling, she asked, “Have you heard of Zoloft?” Her question made me laugh because after talking to other friends who had been on it, it was exactly what I thought I would be asking for, the mommy’s drug of choice.

I started it two months ago and I feel like myself again. I didn’t even realize how “down” I was until I started waking up in the morning, feeling like I wanted to jump out of bed, instead of only wanting to roll over and go back to sleep. I still feel frustrated and annoyed by my children and husband at times (not all the time) but I can react more appropriately and with grace and love instead of anger and desperation. Instead of being my worst self and feeling guilty and anxious, I feel like a better version, I feel like me. I feel like telling everyone that they, too, should be on Zoloft. I don’t know that I will always need it but for where I am right now, it’s exactly what I needed to help get me through. I also need to to keep talking, to keep praying and to keep reading things that help give me insight into my marriage, my children and my life.

The funny thing is, now that my mental health is more stable, I can see how out of whack it was, how I was in a constant state of extreme PMS. Three weeks in to taking my little blue pill, I started feeling that anger boiling up and threatening to overflow, I thought that perhaps I needed to up my Zoloft dosage or worse, that it had stopped working but that time happened to coincide with a little hormonal imbalance that happens monthly in all women (if you catch my drift). It hit me, for the last year what I had been experiencing as my normal baseline emotional state on a day-to-day basis, was the same as what should happen only a few days a month and I had just come to accept it, to think that was just how life was.

I’m very thankful that so far, Zoloft has worked for me without any horrible side effects – I have found that I think I might be allergic to it as the skin on my arms started itching horribly after I started it but after adding a daily allergy tablet to my pill popping, the itching has gone away. And I am so appreciative of the people in my life who have supported me and been praying for me. Special thanks to my husband but just being himself – our marriage certainly isn’t perfect, but at least again I know it is good and worth it.

It scares me a little to be honest about all this for fear that someone will think I can’t do something because I’m unstable or that it will add stress to my life that I don’t need and that simply isn’t the case. I think you could make my life absolutely stress free and I would still have the brain that I have and need some readjusting. If anything, I’m more stable on Zoloft with the knowledge that I’m not perfect or able to do it all on my own. We all need help of some kind and we’re all on the journey of life together. God puts people in our lives to help us, God gives us his word to guide us and God made people smart enough to invent drugs to rewire us in a way that makes us shine more true to ourselves.

Tuesday Grace Letters: You Are Beautiful

Mundane Faithfulness

The assignment: Next weeks grace letter is a free week. Share your heart. Write a love letter of grace of your choosing.

I wrote this letter in response to the assignment from Kara at Mundane Faithfulness… click the image or the link to read more letters from other bloggers and to learn more about Kara and her heartbreakingly amazing story.


“God doesn’t make mistakes.”

We say it. We hear it. We know it. But do we believe it deep down in our hearts? Do we believe it applies to us? Or that it applies ALL of the time? Do we give ourselves that much grace?

We falter. We are human after all, so far short of God’s perfection. And yet… yet, made in His image. His children. Beloved and wonderfully made. We are are precious and loved. We ARE beautiful. We are short, tall, skinny and fat. We have bad haircuts, shiny foreheads, adult acne, unflattering fashion choices, unwanted moles, gray hairs, hangnails, stubborn hearts, bad attitudes and mean spirits. We ARE beautiful.  No matter what our perceived imperfections or shortfalls, God doesn’t make mistakes, we are His workmanship. We need to feel that and believe it. We are His.

Let yourself feel it. Believe it. Know it. You are beautiful.

ememby_youarebeautiful
Click on the image above for a downloadable (and printable) PDF.

You are loved.

For many reasons I find it easy to forget that Easter is about love. The love that God had for us – how deep, wide and vast it was – and how that love prompted Him to sacrifice His one and only son for us. There is so much more that can be said, has been said, but I will leave it at that. Remember you are loved. We know this because of Easter.
ememby_youareloved


Click on the above to download a printable PDF (8″x10″).

Tuesday Grace Letters: To the future fathers of my grandchildren

Mundane Faithfulness

The assignment: Write a love letter to your children as parents. Write them a letter a grace for their future days of parenting. Send them your best love for the moment they become parents or the moment in which they currently live as parents. Share your love, your joy, your heart, and certainly grace.

I wrote this letter in response to the assignment from Kara at Mundane Faithfulness… click the image or the link to read more letters from other bloggers and to learn more about Kara and her heartbreakingly amazing story.


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Dear Liam and Jack: Now you know. You are each parents and now you know (nearly) how much I love you. Or at least you know a measure of the love I have for you, because I believe the quantity of a parent’s love for their children is infinite and grows each minute that child is known by that parent’s heart. It is true, a parent doesn’t always like their child (frankly, sometimes your kids can be jerks and it’s normal not to like a jerk – it’s a sign of common sense) but a true parent always loves their children – no matter what. So now you know.

True, you are both fathers and I am a mother and therefore different in a way -  certainly our perspective of parenthood may be different due to the inherent differences of the sexes and the changes in the times that we are parenting – but parenthood is, at is essence, universal. God entrusted you to my care, just as He entrusted your offspring to your care – it is one of the most important things you will ever do. You are perfectly suited to parent your children – make no mistake about it.

And it is all the wonderful things you can imagine BUT (yes, as is often the case with the BIG LIFE things, there is a BUT…) it is also the most challenging and frustrating, it is exhausting, often not rewarding and it battles for your attention when you know other things need your focus – it can wreck havoc on your relationship with your spouse and negatively impact your career. Do not be fooled… it is not a walk in the park, it is not for the faint of heart and it can take you down. The worst thing you could ever do is assume it will not take work and that it will be easy, if you do that, you will fail yourself and you will fail your kids.

I realize that this sounds defeatist and all a little scary but it is not… (well, it is scary because it is a big task). I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you of the pitfalls and instead just sang the wonders of the beauty of parenthood – I would fail you as a parent. But trust that as hard as it can be, God will carry you through when you ask for His help – He will guide you to answers, bring people alongside you to shoulder the burden and give you grace in the very moments when you need it most. You will love and you will love and you will love. And when it is hard, all that love will shore you up and you will carry on through… you will laugh in the middle of the night when your baby just won’t stop crying (you may also scream and/or cry – that’s okay), your world will not end when your toddler pulls all the stuffing out of the couch cushions or douses the the living room with chocolate sauce or punches his brother square in the face in the middle of the grocery store (Jack, those were all you), you will get creative with your consequences when faced with a stubborn, hard-headed child and teen, and someday you will come to cherish every minute spent waiting, transporting and worrying (more in retrospect than in the moment, because in the moment it kind of sucks). Because all of that – and so, so much more – adds up to parenthood.

It is a gift to be a parent, a gift that doesn’t always feel like a blessing. You can go through life without being a parent and I think that your life would be fine because that was the plan God laid out for you – but once you are a parent, that’s it – you are always a parent. No matter how old your child is or what happens to them – you are always a parent. Parenthood is forever. It starts in an instant but it is no tiny thing.

Know this: I may love God and your father more than both of you – as it should be – but you are the only two beings I ever loved from the very instant I knew of you. And you will feel the same way about your own kids… it so makes all the rest of it not really matter, because you would do it all again, in a heartbeat to know your children and love them. But knowing you’d do it all over again doesn’t mean you’ll always enjoy it, just as something being hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. You guys are so worth it and your kids are so worth it.

May you go on the journey full of grace and peace and the knowledge that God prepared you for this. And don’t forget the secret weapon that is known as Grandparents Camp – the magical place you can ship your kids off to in order to get a much-needed break from your little cherubs. Your dad and I will welcome them with open arms – we love them nearly as much as we love you both!