The guilty days of motherhood

Do you ever have a day that is so hectic, you are not sure when (or if) you had a chance to breathe? A day in which you have 100 things to get done and 20 more pile up? A day that just as the dishwasher breaks down, you get a call with something that has to be done rightthatminute, followed by a phone call of crappy news?

Then, adding to the stress, your kids have been fighting all day, trying to get and keep your attention, and just generally being insane.

These days? Can come far too often. So do the days where you’re just attempting to navigate your norm, like balancing work and the kids, errands and playtime, and anything else that flies your way.

Recently, I had a day like this (okay, we’ll pretend it was only one). By early afternoon, I was close to tears, in a panic that my children have barely seen me throughout the day beyond me telling them to go play, stop fighting or to generally be quiet. Add on that I’m over five months pregnant, and it was a pretty moment.

Or not so much.

The days of feeling overwhelmed are sometimes… well, overwhelming. I wonder how on earth I can balance everything that needs to be done around the house, get all the work done, and still spend time with my kids.

Sometimes, something just has to give.

When it’s the mountain of laundry that still has to be done, that’s one thing. If it’s the trip to the grocery store that gets skipped so we end up with takeout or leftovers, I can deal. Even if I’m not a far ahead on a work project, I can usually manage.

But what about when it comes to my kids?

Some days, I feel like I’m existing around them. Between everything that needs to be done, the work that piles up, and the chaos that ensues, they are off playing by themselves or doing something while I’m nearby- but not actively doing it with them. There are also times that they wheedle and beg me to be involved in every.little.thing that they do, and that’s just not humanly possible. Even still. The guilt. It weighs me down and makes me worry that I am not there enough.

Despite the days we spend four or five hours at the pool.

Despite the days we go to the movies or out to lunch or to the museum or storytime.

Despite the snuggles and board games and wii games we get to sometimes play.

The times when this is not possible? Seem to take away all the times it is. And we’re right back to square one: that darn guilt.Throw in a third baby on the way, a traveling husband, and summer vacation? This work-from-home mom is a hormonal, stressed out, guilt-ridden basket case. Even though, I am putting most of it on myself.

At least until they drive me crazy…

How do you handle those guilty-feeling days of motherhood?

Space to Breathe

We have just returned from a family trip. We were celebrating a unique family occasion, and so traveled the thousand plus miles to see everyone.

We do not live near our families. My husband’s job keeps us in certain locations, none of which are close by family. Many people would not like being so far away from extended family. For me, someone who not only enjoys personal space, but needs it to thrive, it’s a little different.

It’s almost a bit of a relief.

My family is one of togetherness. Growing up, there were regular gatherings of as many family members that could make it, often some coming and going in overlapping patterns. Everyone likes to know what everyone else is doing, and when someone is about to make a decision, they get every single person’s opinion on the subject. This often leads to disagreements, sides being taken, and all out battles. At the end of the day, everyone will always make up- eventually.

While many, including my sister for an example, thrive on this family togetherness and involvement, it has never been something I particularly enjoyed. Oh, I love having a chance to get together with and visit my family, and I love to get a chance to see everyone.

But for me, that much involvement and scrutiny on your every day life has never been something I’m terribly comfortable with. As a result, I’ve always held back, just a bit.

I hold my opinions on many matters.

I don’t express my thoughts on family disagreements.

I don’t voice irritation, or hurt, or any other emotions for that matter.

I sit there, and I try to focus on what is good. I try to stay in the moment and enjoy the sense of family togetherness that we only experience every so often. I wonder what is wrong with me that I feel so, so differently.

Each time, when we step away and head towards the comfort of home, I breathe a little easier.

And wonder what that says about me.

 

Hoping against fears

If you missed the first part of this very long story, you can read Looking for Answers and Struggling through the Questions.

After months of aggravation and testing, the level of defeat I felt was nothing short of debilitating. At this point, I barely had the energy to lift my head at the end of the day, let alone continue on this never-ending quest to figure out what exactly was so wrong. I figured that since they had ruled out so many things, how much worse could it be?

Foolish question- isn’t it always? My doctor sat me down and asked me to stay calm. They had ruled out many things, and though some of my tests were improving, they were quite concerned that it was one certain possibility. Though there were inconsistencies, they feared I was facing either a rare, problematic blood disorder or cancer of the bone marrow. I needed to be scheduled for a bone marrow biopsy and ct scan immediately.

At this point, I went numb. I spent the next few weeks terrified and once I recovered from the anesthesia and procedure itself, stayed in a dulled sense of worry. As someone who has suffered medical anxiety for years, my threshold had long been crossed. Each day of waiting was more painful than the day before. I would burst into tears checking on my kids at night and brush away tears while watching them play. I tended to work and projects in a hazy cloud of fear, numbly wondering if it was even worthwhile.

My days were full of anguish, and I barely knew how to breathe anymore. My husband stood by side as I went through so many ups and downs, angry at the most irrational of things, often taking it out on him. He would try to reassure me and tell me everything was alright, and it made me so.damn.angry. He was so sure that it was going to be okay, so confident in the outcome, and all I could think of was how I was going to let him down and abandon him.

Nothing made any sense. There was no way to explain away the panic or the fear that consumed my every waking moment- and some of the asleep ones too. I either made inappropriate death jokes, lashed out, or completely withdrew.  I wish I had been able to approach the situation with the same grace a friend later showed me, but it took a very long time until I could even function as a normal human being.

Finally, my results came. Walking into the office with such trepidation my hands were icy with fear, I stared at the doctor long after she told me the results were negative. I was clear.

I did not have cancer.

As I left the office with the most baffling of explanations, I thought it would be nearly an eternity until I returned. But not that much longer later, I found myself heading right back in…

Struggling through the questions

(The first installment of this was posted last week if you’re new here- and welcome!)

Walking into the cancer center with my then 2 year old daughter clinging to me was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Just the words “cancer center” are enough to evoke more fear than I’d ever like to feel again in a lifetime. Meeting with an oncologist and a hematologist were not on my list of things to do this year…

As I nervously settled in with a medical bracelet on my wrist, I fought the urge to flee. At that moment in time, I had no desire to know what they had to say or what this visit would reveal. As each minute ticked on by, I just kept hoping I wasn’t about to die.

Following what seemed like an eternity later, I went into the room. After multiple visits with the Endocrinologist, I figured this would be a breeze. Until we went over every.single.detail. about my body. Every possibility was discussed, every symptom examined. The tremor in my hands was watched for what seemed like hours, the continuous weight loss was discussed extensively, my hair was looked at with sympathy and concern. My heart rate was checked, the racing from far more than my nervousness at the situation. More blood than I believed should ever leave my body was taken, off for more evaluations.

The next week, I returned. They thought it was one situation, then another, and then another still. They thought I had a rare blood disease, issues with my kidneys, problems with my liver. Test after test after test… after test… was ordered. I went in and out of labs and doctor offices in a daze, wondering when this would all be figured out and resolved. I really didn’t think it could get any worse.

Until I returned several months after the onset of all of this and was told that I needed a bone marrow biopsy and ct scans done immediately. After months of tests and questions, I thought we had been getting somewhere. Things were not looking good..

Looking for answers

A while back, I shared my frustration with waiting. One of the things I have learned about myself in the past year is that I truly do not do “waiting” well- at all. The journey I went on was something so nerve-wracking, intense, and terrifying that it shaped every aspect of my life- and the way I approach things now.

In August, I decided to dye my hair. And when I say decided, I mean had to because with day after day at the pool, I had put it off too long. I had noticed more hair in my brush as of late, but we also were at our neighborhood pool on a daily basis- I was thinking I needed a good day at the salon. However, after I dyed my hair at home (the lazy fix), clumps of hair started falling out. I had used this same brand since I was a teenager when I didn’t have a chance to get into the salon, I wasn’t bleaching it, and it made no sense. In a panic, I called my friend over to take a look. Luckily, she had been through thyroid issues her entire life and had me convinced that’s what we were dealing with.

If only.

Now, at this point, people who saw me commented on how much weight I lost. At the beginning of the summer, this was great- by the end of the summer, I was starting to worry. While I had plenty of extra to lose in January, by August I weighed less than I had as a college freshman. (Tough problem, right?) So, as I headed in to see my ob/gyn, I knew there was a problem. She quickly suggested removing my mirena (which was something we were going to do anyway) and did some bloodwork.

This set off my tour of Atlanta doctors. After a month spent with an endocrinologist, who was convinced I had Grave’s disease (a common cause of hyperthyroidsim), he started more involved testing, baffled at my results. Week in and week out, I had no answers, for nearly a month. I thought that was unbearable.

Until he referred me to the cancer center…

To be continued… 

(*Note- this story has a unique- but not devastating- ending. Just so I don’t panic y’all). 

Taking a break from “busy”

enjoying the moment

“Wait a minute!” “I’m almost done!” “Just one more sec”.  These are often common refrains I give to my kids on a particularly busy day, especially when the work is piling up, there are errands to be run, and there is just so much to do.

Do you ever feel like you are just so darn busy? Entrenched so deeply in the mundane details required of every day life, tasks that are necessary but nonetheless inherently dull?  There are so many errands to run, things to clean, work to finish, practices to attend, homework to do… the list goes on and on. And on.

The requirements of everyday can make it so hard to remember to take moments. To appreciate the time we can spend with our kids, whether it’s in the evenings before bed, some fun on the weekends, or a trip to the playground you take even as emails sit unanswered and your work at home tasks continue piling up.

Luckily, my kids coerced me into just that. One of my favorite characteristics of Georgia is how early spring arrived. Just last week we had such an amazing day- gorgeous  spring weather greeted our morning with joy, gleefully announcing its presence with gorgeous, clear blue skies and warm weather that begged you to come outside and stay awhile.  So when I awoke to a house flooded with sunlight, my daughter still peacefully asleep and my son at school, I started my day in peace and quiet- and getting things done. As a work at home mom, these moments can be few and far between.

By the time my son came home from school and my daughter had finished her day at preschool, they were as deeply influenced by the gorgeous weather as I was. There was no room for naps or indoor coloring or crafts; this was no day to sit still indoors. No, this was a day that demanded our undivided attention and enjoyment, whether mommy had scheduled it or not, and they were sure to let me know it.

As I gave in and closed down my laptop, we headed towards the playground. As we journeyed on, I observed the other people who also sought to experience the beauty of this amazing spring day, a smile on everyone’s face, as no one dared cloudy up the sunshine with a frown. Watching my kids run just a bit ahead in pure delight at the unexpected trip to the park, I couldn’t help but smile.

Chasing my daughter around the corner of the slide, my son came flying down with glee. Catching them both at the bottom of the slide, I flopped down to enjoy hugs and tickles with my kids. Glancing up again at the clear skies above, I took a deep breath and soaked it all in.

Yes, sometimes life is insane. Yes, deadlines are waiting and there is work to be done. But sometimes? You have to take a break from busy. My kids sure reminded me of that. And I remember how much I can really learn from them.

Traveling the long road from Nothing to Everything

A couple of months ago, I enjoyed some time out with a good friend. We went to a restaurant, ordered a couple of glasses of wine and began to talk. We talked about life, we talked about work, we talked about kids. We went through the typical complaints, the common bemoaning typical of a busy mom, reciting the expected phrases. These times out are typically just the thing to help reduce the stress of everything life has to bring.

But this time? I had nothing left.

I had spent months visiting doctors, undergoing test after test.. after test. Instead of rejoicing each time something came back negative, I furthered into a hole of anxiety of how much worse it must actually be. One by one they ruled out this type of cancer, this type of disease, this type of infection. One by one they added in additional tests, each for something more horrible than the last.

Sitting in the waiting rooms week after week, I became numb. Sarcastic comments about the end of my life, jokes about being dead sometime soon and lack of interest in anything around me became the norm. It was hard for me to concentrate on anything except the seemingly unending rounds of testing, bloodwork, scans, procedures. It took every ounce of everything I had to function normally for my children- a task so daunting, that by their bed time I simply had nothing left.

Scratch that. By the end of breakfast, I felt as if I simply had nothing left.

On that night, in that restaurant, I had hit such a low. I sat there and said I just wasn’t sure how to put one foot in front of the other anymore. I shook my head, stared deeply into my wine glass and wondered what was the point. My friend sat quietly, listening as I carried on (because let’s face it- at this point, I was indulging in good ol’ fashioned self-pity). She nodded along, vehemently disagreed when I voiced my worst fears and told me that it would be okay.

I would like to say I had a great realization at that moment, but I did not. In fact, I went a few more weeks (months was it?) until the tests and doctors finally came to a conclusion- one that, thankfully, did not include my imminent demise. But as I sat there listening to what steps we would have to take, things we would have to monitor in the future, and the warnings of how long certain other things could take, I was reminded of that meal.

My friend? Had battled cancer. Had faced treatment and surgery and leaving her husband and kids behind. She had been in an impossible situation and has faced a health issue for as far back as she can remember. She handled it calmly and bravely, even with the inevitable fears that came along with it.

It was time I took a page from her book. I had the advantage of leaving with some better news than I had started with that day, but my outlook vastly changed. Throughout the last few months, many things have happened, many things have changed, and many more are still to come.

But this time? I have everything left.

This post is linked up to Pour Your Heart Out with Things I Can’t Say. In addition to celebrating the 2 year anniversary of PYHO, Shell is my other half and business partner. We are excited to be launching How to Rock Your Blog, an online resource for bloggers. To promote this launch, we are offering a Kindle Fire Giveaway as part of the PYHO prizes! Don’t miss all the other great prizes too!

Hard Lessons: Learning how to not disappoint… me

Blogging is a world that has given so much to me. When I first hit publish a few years ago, I had no idea what kind of world I had just entered. I had no sense of the way things were about to become, the fulfillment I would find or the challenges I would face. I had no idea how much I would have to learn, or lessons I would encounter (or how many more I still have to go…)

I had no idea how much my life would change.

Projects have always spoken to me. Beginning one task has always led to at least a hundred more, a skill that has equally been beneficial and a burden to me over time. This became apparent as I started blogging, learned that my html knowledge could actually begin to transfer quite well to learning WordPress, and that my years of studying concise writing could be beneficial and a hindrance as I re-edited everything I wrote a hundred times. What’s a few more details when you’re doing something fun?

This same mindset continued as I started trying to grow my blog (which had an awful name, I feel compelled to admit; um, oops). What was wrong with staying up an extra hour or two to read a few more blogs, answer a few more emails, do a few more favors?

Then, I started working in this space. And social media? Never stops. It never sleeps. Never mind New York City, Twitter is where you can find a party at any hour, Facebook the hangout for the latest developments, instagr.am the hotspot for sharing nightlife memories.

I’m sure you can see where this is going. The more you give, the more they take, and the more time you spend running in circles.

Then, I attended Blissdom. Oh, I had gone last year, and attended other conferences as well. But this year, some key points kept popping up, from the opening keynote to the sessions, to the discussions at dinner and beyond.

You can’t do everything. Who are you going to disappoint? You will disappoint someone- who will it be?

I have an entire post composed about this. I have ideas on how I want to prioritize, how much my family means to me, how important it is for my husband and my kids to know that they are the most important part of my life. I know where things need to stand.

Except, I forgot something. In the midst of my honorable intentions, my goal to ensure my family never feels like less than my top priority, my desire to get things on the right track… I left something out. Or, rather, someone.

Me.

While trying to balance the world, I forgot to take a minute and remember that *I* matter. That my family will always be the people I don’t want to disappoint- and that I will forever aim not to disappoint- but I cannot forgot that I am someone not to disappoint either. Sometimes, we become so wrapped up in what we want to accomplish, responsibilities we undertake, and things we want to do that at the end of the day, we forget to take a moment and simply breathe. I know I can lose sight of what is really at the core of things for me. I’m lucky to have had my family, my kids, inspire me & remind me.

And remember that this? This amazing world of social media? While providing great professional opportunities, amazing connections, and that whole world I never knew existed..

Is still supposed to be a space for me.

I have to face something I don’t always do well and focus on the hard stuff. So now? My goal is to reclaim that. One prioritized step at a time.

(Thanks to the fabulous speakers, particularly @jonacuff  & @tamiheim for their inspiration)

This post is linked up to the fabulous Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can’t Say.

Memories Captured: Christmastime 2011

I am so excited to join in the sweet linkup hosted by Galit from These Little Waves and Alison from Mama Wants This.. Memories Captured. Since I adore Christmas time, and especially being back in Georgia, our Christmas Festival seemed the perfect memories to capture..

From pigtails and pony rides…

 

To big smiles and huge slides...

From hot apple cider and lots of sibling fun…

To visits with Santa showing the holiday’s begun.

From sibling bickering and fights to exciting outings and events, my children’s unique personalities shine through. 

My 6 year old son, filled with compassion and support, conviction and a penchant for argument,

My 2 year old daughter, loving as always, sweet as can be when not full of sass and attitude.

For all the blessings my husband and I get to enjoy this holiday season, nothing compares to these amazing creatures we get to call our own.

Participating in two excellent links!


Things You Won’t Remember ~ A Letter For You

Life is full of things we can’t understand. We don’t know why things happen, how they will turn out, or even what we can do about them. Despite trying times and stressful situations, it is so important we recognize the blessings we have and take the time to appreciate them. I’m doing just that today with a guest post at Tonya’s of Letters For Lucas for her fabulous feature, Letters for You. Check out my post, Things You Won’t Remember.


(yes, I’m a guest posting nut this week. sorry.)