Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yesterday, today, tomorrow

Yesterday was
  Picking sand out of my suitcase from a trip to Galveston
  Comforting my boy, who is still quite anxious about school
  An evening glass of wine that tastes like peaches

Today is
  Still drying tears of anxiety
  Welcoming back our nanny/therapist after a long summer without her
  Getting to dig in my purse for my sunglasses after the fog burned off

Tomorrow will be
  A new tradition of pizza to celebrate the end of the school week
  Remembering where I stashed my fall and winter clothes (thanks, Indian summer!)
  Movie night at home--definitely a comedy for this week.

What do your yesterday, today, and tomorrow look like?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I have loved the stars too fondly

"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night"

--Sarah Williams, "The Old Astronomer"

This quote jumped out at me (if you must know, via a Pinterest pin from Etsy). I know that it's meant to be about an astronomer talking to his pupil (and often wrongly attributed to Galileo, it seems), but it resonates with me in a different way. In the midst of fears about the future for our child and our family ("what will happen if..."  kind of worries), this quote reminds me that the scariest imagined future will still involve this very loved child, the brightest star we know. 

Not so dark, I see.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What I've learned since my twenties

1. You are not your job. Even when you work into the night and on evenings. You are more.

2.  You can learn new stuff. Knitting, dragonboating, pilates, half-marathon running. Breastfeeding. Ikea furniture construction.

3. Wine tastes good.

4. You can rely on your parents and family for the hard stuff. You can be vulnerable and flawed, and they will still be your biggest cheerleaders.

5. Marriage doesn't solve everything. Either do the perfect job, pregnancy, childbirth, parenting, quitting your job, losing five pounds, and having a clean house.

6. Long car rides are the best therapy.

7. Most arguments, hang-ups, and worries will indeed fade in time.

8. These things are worth it: hiring out housecleaning, prewashed lettuce, any kind of travel, really good olive oil, getting up early (unfortunately), pedicures.

9. A little lipstick improves your day by 25 percent.

10. Life is holy. And hard. And lovely. And sometimes just is.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ugly thoughts

I had postpartum depression (PPD) starting when Soren was about 3 weeks old. (Side note: Did you know 10-15% of women self-report experiencing PPD yet only 15% of those are treated?*) Luckily I recognized almost right away that the horrible feelings--deep sadness, anxiety, inability to concentrate, lack of bonding--were indeed PPD, and I had lots of help getting better.

One of the ugliest parts of the experience, other than the complete lack of joy at having a new, adorable baby, was the jarring, often violent thoughts of harm coming to my child. I had clear visions of Erik dropping the baby over cement and the aftermath. I dreamed repeatedly that I forgot my child--in the car, or even that I had a child at all. But the worst was the thought that I had when I plummeted to my lowest: it was of my hurling my own baby over our porch railing like a football.

Shocking and unpleasant, I know. Thankfully, I had a therapist who helped me see that these thoughts did not mean that I was actually going to follow through on these actions. (Doctors and therapists had ruled out the more serious and very rare postpartum psychosis, in which case these images would have been alarming indeed.) She explained that our minds know the most horrible thought that we can think, and when our defenses are down when we have PPD and crazy hormones and exhaustion, we go there.

We know exactly how to torment ourselves best.

What's more, the very fact that I was and am horrified by these thoughts is reassuring; it means that I know these images are vile. I feel guilty and sickened when I think them because they are not who I am or what I intend to do.

I'm thinking of this truth lately as I've had some difficult feelings and thoughts about Soren. Nothing like violent images or impulses this time, but just ugly feelings and words that my mind uses to describe or think about Soren and his disability. I won't spell out what those are; they are horrifying and embarrassing, and I'd kick your butt if I ever heard you say them about my child. But I know that in the midst of stress and confusion, my mind is choosing the nastiest way it knows to question my ability and character as a mom. (I'm pretty clever that way.)

I am horrified, to be sure. But I'm not panicking. I'm giving myself a wide berth because right now, parenting feels hard and I'm pretty drained and emotional. I am oddly reassured that I am so embarrassed by these nasty thoughts because it shows these thoughts are incongruous with who I am as a parent. It's almost like my mind brings out these zingers just to keep me on my toes and see if I will fold under the embarrassment and self-disgust.

But today, dear mind of mine, I have your number. You're right--you've found the most shocking and nastiest images for me to stew over.  But I'm not taking the bait. This child of mine is loved, loved, loved. And I am a good mom.

* Please seek help right away if you are experiencing any symptoms of postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. A great starting point for identifying symptoms and making a plan to get help is the site Postpartum Progress.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ten happy things

  • This new mug:

  • Walking around Greenlake at 7 pm, and still light (for a few more weeks).
  • This new bike trailer for Soren:

  • Upcoming family reunion in Galveston, including a solo plane trip for me and a fully loaded Kindle.
  • Trader Joe's chocolate-covered ginger.
  • New school clothes and shoes (OK, fine, there were a few for me, too).
  • Upcoming backyard remodel, including a play space for Soren. 
  • First leaves turning. 
  • Last-minute visits from moms and mothers-in-law. 
  • Ketchup. 
What about you? What big and small things are making you smile?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Last days of summer

We've spent the last few weeks soaking up the very last of summer. Soren starts school (kindergarten!) tomorrow, but for today, we are remembering relaxing at the cabin, spending time at the grandparents' in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and all the swimming, biking, kayaking, and lazing we fit in. I don't remember when I've enjoyed this season so much.


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