Tag Archives: anxiety

The Kids Are Alright. . . I Just Have a Lot of Feelings

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It has been a few since I posted.  Days?  Weeks?  Months?  Who know?  I lost track.

I guess the typical myriad of reasons is to blame.  Life is busy.  I’m a mom.  I work.  You can only post so many times about the frustrations of your messy house and kids’ behavior in the summer before you start to hate the sound of your own voice.  Blah, blah, blah.

There was something else. . .

My last post was about depression and frustration with life as a mom trying to balance work and parenting and the ongoing grief of losing a close friend.  I was responding to one of the WordPress daily prompts, and I allowed myself to get pretty far out with my metaphors.  I do that sometimes.  It’s part of my process as a writer, and it also helps me deal with my feelings.

Cuz you guys, I have a lot of feelings.

Like, all the feelings.  All of them.  And lots of all of the feelings.

It’s just how I live.  And it’s why I write.

Anyhoo, a very well-meaning reader commented that she felt bad for my kids because I was so depressed and maybe it was hard for them.  She went on to make a bunch of heart felt suggestions about maybe I should join a group or try feeling better, etc.

I get where she was coming from, and I genuinely appreciated her kindness and concern.

But there was another part of me that felt incredibly vulnerable and frightened.  Like, do people think I’m crazy?  Do people think I’m a bad mom?  Am I a bad mom?  Am I screwing up my kids?  

For a few hours I contemplated taking the post down, hiding it in the stack of posts that feel too raw, real, and close to share with the general public.

But then I pulled the brake on the run away mine cart in twisty recesses of my brain.

No.  I’m not a bad mom.

And my kids are fine.

My kids don’t see me as depressed or damaged or screwed up.  My kids see me as a human with human emotions.  My kids see me as a person with big feels who channels those feels into poetry and art and silliness around the house.

Life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, and I do not think we should pretend it is for our children.  That is not reality and it doesn’t prepare or teach kids for what they need to deal with the complexities of the world in which we live, or their own emotional landscapes.

This is not to say that children who live with caretakers with severe and persistent mental health issues don’t suffer profound consequences if the adult does not seek help.  That situation is no joke, and I am not writing to minimize it.  But that situation is not me or mine.

I’ve cried in front of my kids.  I’ve yelled and screamed in front of my kids.  I’ve slammed a door once or twice.  I admit I’m not perfect.  But I’ve also taken loads of deep breaths.  I’ve talked about my feelings.  I’ve taken space and counted to ten.  I’ve modeled healthy coping skills for them right along with being my own human self.

Am I screwing up my kids?  Yes.  Of course I am.  We all screw up our kids in one way or another.  And if you think you don’t, then you are living among the rainbows and unicorns and more power to you.

So I left the post up, because here is the other thing:

As moms with mental health issues and needs, we absolutely have to have safe and open space to address these topics.  For me, my blog is my space.  I’ve had decades of therapy and it has helped.  I know the things and the skills.  At this point in my life, writing is the way I process and what I need to do to take care of myself.

Feeling judged and crazy because we are anxious or depressed is a huge barrier for women in admitting and addressing their needs for support and treatment.  Too long have we been told we are hysterical and maligned for simply feeling the pressure of this impossible life.

And oh my goodness, it really is impossible.  Being a mom, let alone a working mom, is the hardest thing I can imagine.  Add into that the facets of anxiety or depression and you have something so real.

So, despite my fear and vulnerability, I left the post up.  I’m no heroine, but if my words resonated with even one other mom, then I feel like it was worth it to put myself out there.

Look.  If you had a cold or a toothache, it would be excruciating to deal with life, to work, to mom, to cook and clean and do all the things you have to do to be responsible.  But would you feel ashamed to say, “Whoa, it’s really difficult to mom and adult today because of this cold?”  Probably not.

I don’t really think it should be any different with anxiety and depression.  Our feelings can get big and become sort of like emotional toothaches.  That isn’t something to feel shame about.

But I did.  And I do.  And part of me still wants to take that post down so that you’ll all think I have my shit together and that I’m a super great mom and that I’m doing okay.

Truth is, I am a super great mom and I’m doing okay.  And my kids are okay.  No need to worry about my kids.  We are all going to make it.

What are your thoughts?  What are your struggles?  I’d love to hear from you!  

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Adrift In The Space of The Hardest Year

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The thought occurs to me I’m broken.

It’s still a little dusky light out, and I’m lying in bed with my daughter, who’s already asleep.  Tears slide down my cheeks as they usually do at this time of day.  It’s become somewhat of a ritual. My crepuscular cry. 

It pisses me the fuck off.

I’ve never cried so much in my life.  It’s dumb.  It feels shitty.  Crying is supposed to make you feel better.  It’s science. It releases good chemicals in your brain. I tell my clients all the time about the beautiful and sacred purpose of tears. All. The. Freaking. Time. But it never fails to make me feel like a failure and a fraud and just so fatigued.

It’s been a hard year.  Probably the hardest.

I feel I have some sort of obligation to buy space in a newspaper and print a public apology to anyone who has known me over the past year.  I’ve been a horrible train wreck of a human.  I’ve been messy and loud and weird.

If you all could have known me a couple years ago, I want to say.  If you had known me then.  Those were the good days.  Those were the times I bore some semblance to normal, when I could contain my Self better.

That was when I was at my old job.  With E. just two doors down from me every day for years and years.

Those were the days when E. would leave me random clippings from the New York Times Sunday paper on my desk at work.  She’d cut out stuff she thought I’d find interesting.  I remember one about the healing power of fairy tales.  

The memory of these flimsy papers brings a fresh wave of grief crashing down over my head.  I’d read them and think of something pithy to say in return, then travel the five paces to her door to chat with her.

Those were the days when I was witty and reformed.  If you had only known me then. Sure, I had my rough times, plenty of them.  But I wasn’t broken.  Not like I am now.

Changing jobs was really difficult in ways I never could have predicted, but I think I could have adapted a hell of a lot better if I hadn’t had the sudden trauma of E. up and dying on me last October.

It’s not just work and death. It’s motherhood and marriage and financial instability. It’s never having enough time or energy to brush my children’s hair and feed them breakfast. It’s all the piles of things that make me want to curl up in bed and daydream for three hours. 

All the things. They have broken me. 

The thought occurs to me that I might not ever get fixed again.

I blame a lot on E. and maybe that’s not fair. But seriously…  

E.’s death changed me.  I kept thinking I would trudge through the grief and get to the other side and things would “get back to normal” and I would “feel like myself again.”  That doesn’t seem to be the case.  I think E.’s death altered me at a molecular level, shifted my DNA in ways I won’t be able to figure out how to switch back.

The light is fading and I’m so tired.  I consider falling asleep next to my daughter, but there is still a lot of laundry to do, coffee to set up for the morning, and messages to return to friends.  

I think about going to work this week and my heart starts to race.  I think about the stack of bills lying in wait on my desk and my stomach lurches. I’m no longer sleepy.

I try to think about how my five year old daughter rode her bike with no training wheels for the first time this weekend, and how my nine year old has his first band concert this week in which he will play the trumpet.  What brilliant triumphs!  

You see, I’m not a total Debbie Downer.  I still get blissed out by these every day miracles.  Life still has color and flavor and lots of sound.  I take every opportunity I can to indulge in rampant laughter.

But mostly I’m adrift inside myself, lost in the space within me.  I’m like an astronaut, untethered from her rocket and running low on oxygen, uncertain what will happen next. 

It’s a scary image.  I think of calling someone up and telling someone about it, but I can’t reach out because that is even scarier.

I’d like to go and sit in the grass with E. and talk to her. It is one of the only places where I feel at peace these days, and sometimes I feel frustrated when I can’t get there, but the thought occurs to me that you can’t live your life in a cemetery.

I roll onto my back and look up into the darkness of my daughter’s room.

I’ve stopped crying.

I know I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and panic at the brackish taste in my mouth. My mind will race back over all the things I said throughout the previous day and will try to remember if I said anything gravely wrong or damning to anyone. 

I’ll get up and brush my teeth. I’ll look at my reflection and think it’s so weird to be up brushing my teeth at three in the morning, but it’ll ground me enough to go back to bed for a couple more hours. 

I’m sorry I’m such a mess. I’m sorry I’m so much. I’m sorry I’m so disorganized and self absorbed. I’m sorry. 

I think that’s why I tend to drift away. I get big and crazy and too intense and then feel the need to take myself somewhere else. 

It’s been a hard year and I’m broken and I might not be fixable as I drift farther and farther away from things I thought I knew. 

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2017/05/22/adrift/

Mother’s Day, Depression, and Chosing Your Own Adventure 

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Mother’s Day.

What a fucking crock of shit.  

Do you remember those “Chose Your Own Adventure” books from when we were in fourth or fifth grade?

They were these young reader books where you’d get to the end of a chapter and if you wanted to take the character to a cave to fight a dragon it would tell you to flip to a certain page, and if you wanted the character to get in a boat and sail off someplace, you’d be instructed to go to a different page.

As I got in the shower, and reflected on Mother’s Day, I  thought how motherhood is sort of like a Chose Your Own Adventure book.

I thought this because I thought “Mother’s Day; what a fucking crock of shit.”

And then the guilty little people pleaser in me poked me in the ribs and said meekly, “But you should be so grateful!  It really wasn’t all bad!  Why don’t you just chose to think it was nice?”

It’s true.  Overall it was a nice day.  I felt loved and cared for, managed to please my own mother and my mother in law (nailed it!), and had good laughs among family.  My children made me gifts and delighted me by creating beautiful cards for their grandmothers.

I got sweet, supportive texts from dear friends.  I felt recognized by my husband who pulled out all the stops with four bottles of incredible wine, flowers, and a balloon.  A balloon you guys!  I got a freaking balloon!!  I mean, how does life get any better than that?

If you want your character to chose gratitude and happiness, and to enjoy and be thankful for what she has, please turn to page 42 where she lives happily after.  

Learning to chose the way you think about things is an important step in recovery from anxiety and depression.  I know this as both a mental health professional, and as someone who has experienced anxiety and depression.  When we are able to recognize our negative thoughts and rework them into something more positive and helpful, it often creates a more positive and helpful feeling space in us.

And when we feel better, we behave better.  We get along better with our spouses and friends.  We have more energy for negotiating with the little people in our lives.

So, as I lathered my hair with amazing-smelling coconut shampoo, I tried out some different thoughts about Mother’s Day and I wondered why my initial impulse was to be so negative about it.

Why am I always so negative anyway?  I must really suck at life.  I’m probably going to be rejected by all my friends and family because I’m such a Debbie Downer.  Why can’t I ever just be joyful and super positive about stuff?  What the hell is wrong with me?  Oh.  My.  Gee.

It’s cuz I’m depressed you guys.  That’s why.

I have been for a while.  I’ve been ignoring it and working around the super high anxiety that makes me feel like I’m crawling out of my skin one moment and paralyzed with fear the next.  I’ve been isolating and only talking to a few people in my life.  I’ve had minimal energy to be with friends and family.  

I’ve written almost nothing in the past few months because I’ve had so little energy and almost no joy.

Some of it, I suppose, is chemical- my genetic lot in life.  

A lot of it is situational.

Work has been super stressful for me.  I’m burnt out and experiencing a fairly intense compassion fatigue which doesn’t leave me with much of an empathy cushion for family or social life.

My son’s behavioral issues have been amped up lately and this creates exhaustion and a keen sense of failure as a parent which plays into my depression like a lyrical melody.

I’m also preparing for my daughter to graduate from preschool.  While this is a joyful and exciting time and we are so proud, it also brings into focus a new era for which I am simply not feeling prepared.

Then there is preparing for the summer.  As a working mom, arranging all the moving parts of summer camps, transportation, child care, etc. is hugely nerve wracking for me.  Not to mention a drain on our finances.

Oh, also my mentally ill brother has gone missing again which never fails to throw my family into emotional upheaval.

I’m not sleeping well, so I’m perpetually tired.  My body hurts.  About 67% of the time I’m too stressed to eat so my blood sugar is wonky and I’m grouchy.

And because I’m already feeling emotionally fragile, every other little thing that goes wrong sets me off like a firecracker.

It’s hard for me to admit this.  I actually hate the sound of my own voice in my head as I peck it all out into this post.

It’s hard for me to admit my negative thoughts about Mother’s Day when I should just be fucking grateful.

But you guys, it’s all so hard.  It’s all just so fucking hard.

No one ever told me it would be this hard.  Or maybe they did. . .  maybe somewhere in my memory there is a shadowy recollection of my own mother’s bedraggled face dragging herself in at the end of a working day and trying to get dinner on the table.  Maybe she did try and tell me.  But let’s be honest, even if someone had told me, I would not have believed them, because if any of us believed such a thing we would never procreate.  Our species depends on the very suspension of that disbelief.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is all well and good to chose your thoughts and mood and destiny.  It’s great.  I respect it.

But sometimes the adventures of motherhood chose us and flip us into a cave where it is dark and dank and unpleasant.  When you’re sitting there face to face with the dragon of your depression and your heart is thumping away at a resting rate of 150 beats per minute, it is really hard to have a cohesive thought, let alone a positive one of your own choosing. 

If your character looks up at the dragon and says, “Hey there, guy.  What’s up?” go to page 74 where you will work on acknowledging the shit out of your self worth even on your shittiest day and then eat a taco.  

Yeah.  This isn’t my character’s first trip to the cave.  So I know the least helpful (albeit most tempting) thing to do is to put myself down for being depressed.

I also know that probably the first thing I need to do is look up at that dopey dragon and acknowledge he’s there, lurking and looming like he wants to devour me.  He’s scared of eye contact and he gets a little smaller every time I call him by his name.

It’s all hard, guys, and sometimes holidays can highlight what feels like flaws and make things seem really raw and painful. Part of healing starts with choosing to make room for all those feelings rather than shaming myself for feeling them. 

the Unbearable “Joy” of Holiday Shit Storms

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There is nothing like a holiday, and co-occuring school vacation, that validates my ineptitude- not just at motherhood but at this entire thing called life.

If you’re going to get all judgey-wudgey with me and tell me to shift my perspective and appreciate the precious moments, please stop reading and go away now, for the love of all that is holy.  I.  Can’t.  Even.  I intend to rant a little.  Or a lot.

I’m exhausted from this time of rest and relaxation, and I go back to work to a week of back to back clients with whom I have to play catch up, and hear about all of their holiday woes and really valid trauma reactions to stuff.  To be completely honest, I’ve been anxious about going back to work since about a week before my vacation even started, which kinda’ harshes the holiday buzz.  So, if you’d humor me, I’ll take a couple minutes to talk about MY feelings about the holidays, motherhood, and my consummate failure as a human being.

First of all, the house is a disaster zone.  I know, I know.  I’m not supposed to worry about the state of the house, but I do.  My children have eight grandparents because my family is crazy and blended several times over.  I’ll give you a second to let that sink in.  EIGHT grandparents.

Now imagine the influx of stuff they get from said eight grands.  You there?  Good.  Now imagine all that stuff dumped and scattered throughout your entire small home.

Footnote:  You can’t ask them to *not* get stuff for the kids because that engenders all kinds of offense and hurt feelings.  Been there, done that.

I have crates and bins and dividers and shelves and all of the home goods crap that is supposed to make life neat and organized.  You know what?  None of it does a bit of good. I wander the house picking up toys and clothes and dishes, and as soon as I put away one thing, ten other things appear in its place.  The mess makes my anxiety flare and spin inside of me like a Hawaiian fire dancer.

I don’t have cute anxiety.  I have cranky, prickly, ragey, sweary anxiety.  It’s a thing.  Google it.

Some people, like my darling husband, have an impressively high threshold for chaos, disorganization, and clutter.

I don’t.

After ten years of marriage, he sort of understands that when I get like this, he should not take it personally, maybe clear the kids out of the way for a little bit, and bring home a bottle of wine.

He hasn’t seemed to figure out that firing up the vacuum or organizing anything within his reach would go a long way toward deescalating my fervor.  That is, he doesn’t get it until I’m screaming and crying about it. . .  because that’s the point it gets to.  Not all the time, but once in a while and more often during the holidays than I would like to admit.  It makes me feel really ashamed, then depressed I can’t get it the fuck together.

Then, there are the children.  My sweet, happy, playful children who become maniacal, aggressive, and very loud lunatics when their schedule is upended.  Rather, I should say my nine year old Jack has this low threshold for change, is easily overstimulated, and sets off my typically placid five year old, Emily.  Jack has meltdowns that escalate really fast and involve a lot of sensory seeking in the form of yelling, pushing, and crying.

If you know me, or can relate to any of this whatsoever, you know my first thought:  I created this monster and it is my fault he is unhappy because he inherited my anxiety and depression and it is just a matter of time until I’m being judged by another therapist just like myself and my kid has to go on medication because I’m a complete failure as a mom and have no idea how to parent my kid.  It’s science.

And yes, I know that sentence needed some punctuation, but that is how my mind works.

Part of the stress for me, and probably also for my kids, is that with such a big and blended family, there are a shit ton of family parties, get togethers, and visits to be made.  In a perfect world I would really enjoy seeing all of these people hither and yonder and would feel awesome about reconnecting and celebrating with them.

Truthfully, I do enjoy it, but it’s also stressful, draining, and unnerving.  It seems like more proof I’m a complete asshat of a person.  While I enjoy seeing people, it also makes me feel guilty that I haven’t seen more of them, that I haven’t made more of an effort of helping my children get to know them.  It is more fuel for anxiety and self depreciation.

And while I know I might be a bit harsh on myself, it also seems there’s a lot of evidence  I suck at life.

I DO realize it’s not all bad.  And trust me, I’m grateful, despite how this post is making me sound (more proof?).  We had some truly happy moments over the break.  We laughed.  I actually napped a few times!  My husband got me everything on my holiday wish list and the kids were delighted and occupied with their gifts.  I adore my family, and they fill to overflowing with love, which I believe is the most important thing in life.  We have it all.

So what is it about the times of loud chaos that so upends my joy?

It’s a rhetorical question, folks.  I don’t actually have an answer, which sometimes I’m okay with, and other times cranks up the hurdy gurdy of nerves and makes me want to run away with the circus.   But let’s face it, I’m terrified of horses and clowns.  Like actually phobic of them.  So, the circus is probably not a viable option.

There’s no escape.

There’s really only embracing the uncomfortable, nervy sadness and frustration along with the sense of being completely bowled over by living.  It’s tough to get my arms around, and it wiggles while I try to hold it.

Look, I could tie this post up by refocusing on a tender moment and telling you it’s all good in the end.  I really could do that, and I could probably mean it.  But it seems like that would be disingenuous.  It doesn’t seem like it would be totally helpful to ignore the tough times when they really feel so weighted, because if I ignore them, they might subtly start to pull me down, hold me under the surface.

I also feel it’s important to acknowledge “the most wonderful time of the year” is really freaking difficult for a lot of us out here.  The commercials and songs tell us we are supposed to feel and act a very specific way during the holidays, and these unrealistic images and expectations create tremendous cognitive dissonance for those who can’t understand why we don’t “get it.”

Sometimes stuff is just hard and heavy to hold onto.  I have to believe that’s okay and it doesn’t make me a bad person; at least not all the time.

In the Dream. . .

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. . .  Jack is in the back seat and I’m driving.  My car dies at the entrance of the cemetery.  I ram my foot down on the pedal and turn the key over and over, but my car won’t start.  It does however float off to the side of the cemetery gate.

We’re walking among the graves. There is a train, a small one, like in an amusement park. It’s dusk.

E.’s casket is unearthed, or maybe it has never been buried.  It is open and we can see her.  She is on a little hill of green, grassy earth and even though it is shadowy, there is a sort of fairy tale cheer about the place.

Someone approaches her and runs their fingers through her short, gray hair.  This does not seem weird to me, but also it does seem weird to me.  At her wake, I remember, we all remarked how they had not done her hair quite right.  It was too spiky, too piecey.  It looked like they had used too much product.  We all sat and laughed, but it was a loving and fond laugh, about how she used to sit in her office and brush that short hair into a fluffy little puff.  Oh, how we loved her.

Wait, I think.  We’ve already done this.  Why are we doing this again?  

Someone bends down to get a closer look at E.  Someone strokes her cheek.  Someone kisses her forehead.  I like seeing people touch and love on her.  It comforts me.  I want to touch her again too.  I want to kiss her too.

But then we are all sitting in chairs.  E. is sitting there too.  She’s wearing her wedding dress, the royal blue suit in which she was buried.  She’s there.  She’s talking to us.  She’s reading things from a paper in her hand.  That seems right.  That seems normal.  She’s a born orator, even though it makes her nervous.

“I won’t be around forever,” she tells us.  Part of my brain is wondering what this means because she is already gone, but she is also here.  “I’d like to have one more party,” she says.  We start talking about what we are going to wear.  I get excited about the idea of digging up my pink tutu.  We all laugh.  “I might only be here for another ten years.  We will have a party, and then you will have to live with whatever happens.”  She says this and she looks right at me.

I’d love ten more years I think.  

I’ll be good, I think.  I won’t put pressure on you or try to change you.  I’ll let you be. Just stay with me.  I’m thinking all this and she’s looking right at me.  I think maybe she is thinking that I need to let go.

Her face is changed.  It’s her, but it’s not. I’m strangely mute.  I can’t say any of the stuff I want to say.

We walk away to prepare for the party.  I remember that my car is dead and I will have to call for a tow truck.  My friend agrees to give me a ride, but she’s walking far ahead of me and I’m nervous that she will leave without me.

I walk past E.’s grave.  It’s a big hole.  I look down into it and the earth is deep and brown, but it is empty.  I look up, and a little ways off, I see her casket.  I look and it is open.  I look and it is closed.  I look and it is open and she is not in it.  It all makes sense, and I’m more nervous about my car now.

And my kids.

Jack is with me, but Emily has gone off.  We need to board the train.  I yell for Emily to come.  She comes.  There’s not a lot of space on the little, amusement park train, but we cram into it.  I am squished on the seat next to my friend. My kids are with me.

I’m nervous about my car.  I’m excited about the party.  I can’t wait to see E.  I’ll be so happy to see E.  There’s so much I’ve got to tell her.

I’m so excited to see E. . .

. . .  and so sad to wake.

Not Your Average Soccer Mom

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I’m not your average soccer mom, mainly because my kids don’t do soccer.  My nine year old does karate, and he recently brought home a trumpet which I have vowed will not make me crazy at all.

Is there such a thing as a karate and trumpet mom?

Emily is almost five (oh man how it hurts to say that, as opposed to saying she is four and a half) and she thinks she would like to do dance.  But being the crunchy and neurotic freak that I am, I am too scared to sign her up for any old dance class, because I am fairly certain it will give her the same self-loathing and body issues that I had as a dancer for about 20 years before succumbing to a pudgy middle age of motherhood and sedentary work.

So I haven’t signed her up for anything yet because I can’t bear to think that the joy she feels for moving her body will ever be squashed or warped into something it shouldn’t be.

And I can’t lie to you.  The trumpet is in fact driving me crazy.

It’s a slip shod style of motherhood I try to embrace, and for which I cannot find a label.  It also bears zero resemblance to the perfect mother I thought I was before squeezing these two critters out of my now unrecognizable lady bits.

Meanwhile, I can’t decide if we should spend a third night eating leftovers so they don’t go to waste, or if I should cook up the tortellini Trader Joe made for me. . .  It’s humid here and I really do not feel like cooking, so I’m thinking it will be leftovers for me and the hubs and Lunchables or English Muffin pizzas for the kids.

Yes.  I feed my kids Lunchables.

And also yes, I make them separate dinners than what I make for me and the hubs.  I know, I know.  I’m breaking all kinds of “rules” here, but as a working mom, I would rather we all sit down and enjoy each other’s company than endure tantrums at dinner time.

Also, we don’t always eat dinner together, even when we are all home together.  But usually we are all eating at a vaguely similar time, just in different rooms.  We call it parallel eating.  I like to think of it as an ingenious parenting hack as opposed to a ginormous parenting fail.

Although it still makes me nervous.

But it doesn’t take much to make me nervous.  I’ve been prone to anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember.  Add to my already neurotic disposition that I am a social worker, and you can pretty much guarantee that I’ve diagnosed everyone in my family with just about anything possible.

A lot of people don’t get it.

Like my perfect Coworker who grew up in an intact family and has probably never worried about the sky falling in her life.  She made a crack that she had never met someone as anxious as me.  I think she meant it in a tender and friendly way, but do you know what it did?

If you guessed that the comment made me more anxious about being anxious in front of people, then you win the cookie.  But it is a keebler elf cookie.  I do not have time to make cookies from scratch.

One of the biggest compliments I ever got in my life was when a colleague said, “I always forget that you are actually anxious, because you always seem to have it all together.”

I try to channel this compliment on my darker days, and it makes me feel quite ravishing, but in a photoshopped kind of way, because if one thing is for certain it is this:  I do not have it all together.  Not by a long shot.  And it makes me crazy.

It makes me cringe when I hear mommy labels passed around. . .  Tiger Mom.  Helicopter Mom.  Bad Mom.  Attachment Mom.  Drill Sergeant Mom.

I mean, is anyone really just one label?

Sometimes I wish I could be just one label.  It would be so much easier.

I suppose that the label “Good Enough Mom” comes close enough to describing me, but like Dorothy said to the Wizzard, “I’m afraid there isn’t a label for me in that bag of yours.”  I’m paraphrasing.  We actually have not watched the Wizzard of Oz in recent years because it terrifies my daughter and then none of us sleep for weeks.

Oh, and apparently “Wizard” only has one “Z”.  Who knew?

Probably that Drill Sergeant Mom.  She knows everything.  (Cue exaggerated eye roll.)

How about “Mixed Bag of Contradictions Intense Love and Inconsistent Energy”?  Is that a title worthy of me?

I love my kids.  Hopefully that counts for something, if not everything.  And hopefully we will all laugh about all the times I’ve yelled and stomped off because I am so frigging overwhelmed by how much I love them and by how much pressure I am under from all conceivable angles to get it all right.  Motherhood.  Marriage.  Work.  Laundry.

And no I don’t sort my laundry.

And I think I’ve decided to do the leftovers.  I don’t feel like cooking and we have karate tonight after all.

Still with me?  Congratulations.  You have just taken a hike through the meandering mind of an overwhelmed working mom whose life feels almost perpetually in a state of careening chaos, if not lurking danger.

In short, I don’t really know who I am, other than to say I’m not your average soccer mom.

Or rather, that I’m not a soccer mom at all.

Posted as part of the WordPress Daily Prompt

Hike

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Please– a plea to a dear friend while she is on life support

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Please, please, please, please.  

I’m supposed to be praying.  I told your wife I would.

But all that comes through my head is please.

You have to be okay.

You have to be okay so I can yell at you for being so stupid stubborn because you didn’t go to the doctor last week.  They didn’t even tell me about the first “episode” you had.  I would have worried.  I would have been on the phone in an instant, although I don’t know what I think I could have done.

Was it before or after you called me last week, I wonder?  Before you asked me to dinner and I said I couldn’t go out with you and the girls because I had other plans?

Did I remember to tell you about the turtles?  

You have to be okay so I can scold you for not taking better care of yourself.  I told your wife as much when I called her this morning, after the phone tree reached me with the news of your collapse.  You are as stubborn as that basset hound of yours.  It’s probably why the two of you are always at odds, you and that dog.

People depend on you, don’t you know?  You are so loved and needed.

And I’ve been crying all morning, thank you very much.  So, I’d like for you to get better so I can chide you for that as well.

I think of how you will laugh when I tell you that I had done my make up particularly awesome, and the news of you, being ill, hooked up, on life support, machines breathing for you, made me cry. Like crazy, ugly cry until all my makeup was cried off except for the waterproof eye liner and mascara.  I think about how we will laugh about that together, my vanity.

How you chuckled when I ironically called myself “the painted whore.”

So, I’ve tried to go about the business of the day, but all I want is to hear you are okay.  Tears leak out of my eyes incessantly.  My dog hovers near me, concerned at my change in mood.  See?  You’ve gone and upset my dog.  We’ll laugh about that too.

I was sorting silverware, trying not to cry when I heard your voice.  You said, “Char, it’s okay.”  I hate when people call me by the shortened version of my name, except for you.

Remember how we used to joke that your clone would come and visit me for glasses of wine in the evening?  “A lovely pinot,” you would say.  It was our little fantasy escape from work and chaos.  And even though it was just in my imagination, it brought me so much comfort.

Please.

I don’t accept that you will be anything other than okay.  Do you hear me?

Please.

Every room in my house is festooned with little bits of you.  Cards.  Pictures.  Gifts.  The fan from Chinatown, NYC in the sixties.  The scarves you gave me.  Damn, where were those from?  See?  You have to pull out of this so you can remind me where they are from.  Spain, maybe?

The paining  of swans you gave us hangs in my dining room.  “Be of love(a little) more careful than everything,” is the ee cummings quote on it.  You had taken it off your own office wall and given it to me when we bought our house, two years ago.  I was shocked that you would part with it.  It is big and beautiful.  “Char,” you said.  “I’m at the age and station in life when it is okay to part with things.”

I think I told you to shut up.  Or at least I covered my ears and didn’t want to hear your age and station speech yet again.

Thing is, I’m at the age and station where imagining a world without you is still way too painful.

All the secrets and confidences I’ve shared with you over the years.  We haven’t known each other longest, but we’ve known each other well, if that even makes sense.

I finally looked up the poem.  It’s a good one.  I think you would like it, if you are not familiar with it already.

I had always taken the quote to mean that you should be wary of love.  But when I read the poem in its entirety, I realized what ee cummings was saying was that you should be protective about love, that you should guard it fastidiously because it is everything.

How stupid could I have been to misread such an obvious quote for all these years.  I must have looked at that painting a thousand times in your office.

And now I’m here and you’re there and it just seems a very apt line.

Please be okay.

Please.  I love you.  Please be okay.

You are one of my best friends in the whole world.

You are my hero.  My champion.  You allowed me to see myself through eyes of kindness and love when you looked at and accepted me.

This doesn’t even seem real. 

Please be okay.

“Go to work, Char,” I hear you say.

And that is what you would advise me to do.  You wold want me to dry my tears and smile and go to work.

So, I will, but only on the condition that you will be okay.