Aside from the bat-phobia-induced sleep deprivation, this summer hasn’t sucked too bad.
I’m exhausted. Work has been crazy. And I mean that literally. When you work in the mental health field and you say work is “crazy” it is because people are quite literally struggling with their mental health. Usually summer is a little bit more laid back, but this summer has been pretty intense.
It might be because I’m still adjusting to the new position I took about seven months ago. I’m getting used to a different ebb and flow of clients, a different work culture, and a different schedule. For the most part it has been awesome. For the first time in ages, I wake up excited to go to work. I love my little office, and am continually fascinated and challenged by the folks with whom I sit. I also have some quirky, silly, and extremely intelligent and dedicated colleagues whom I am growing to adore and trust.
So, all in all, it has been pretty good.
Plus no one had to be vaccinated for bat rabies, like last year, so we can consider that a big WIN.
Next week, I am going to take some time off, and I hope to get back to blogging as my Jacky boy goes back to school.
In July I was notified by the amazing robots at WordPress that I’ve been blogging for four years. Dude! FOUR YEARS!!!
One, my poems seem to get more attention and appreciation from the readers out there in the blogosphere. And while I write for myself, I also enjoy the interactive process of blogging.
Two, I have been experimenting with short and sweet poems, like this one. They seem to suit the time I have available for writing these days. I’m finding as my children are a bit older and more active, they require more of my time and attention in different ways. And obviously I feel it is important to be HERE and THERE for my children. I mean, mommy blogging kind of defeats the purpose if you are doing it at the expense of your relationship with your kids.
And third, on the note of mommy blogging. . . I’m feeling less enthralled about blogging about mommy crap. It seems redundant. And it feels like I have to force myself to do it, where as the poetry flows out of me a bit more naturally. My children continue to fascinate me, but I just don’t have the same desire to write about them. Also, as they are getting older, I am feeling a bit more protective of their privacy, and feeling like perhaps I should not be using them as fodder for my material.
I don’t know.
There is a lot going on up in my old noggin.
And I guess that was three reasons and not exactly “a couple.” Apologies.
I mean, I have about 45 topics about which I would like to write at this very moment. But time and energy and other demands are nipping at my psychic space.
It has also been on my mind to try to get some of my previously written posts published online elsewhere. . . that seems like a really big risk, and is somewhat scary. And it also feels like it would be time consuming and anxiety provoking.
When I started blogging I was advised not to wander too far afield from the original content and purpose of my blog.
And now I am feeling like I want to explore. . . I have done that a bit over the past year by experimenting with erotica and fan fiction. I have also written more poetry and have been paying more attention to the urge to write poetry. Like if I start to feel, wow, that would make a good poem, then I sit down and jot it out.
I think that motherhood has so permeated my life, as had aging and growing, that no matter what I write it will still be tinged with maternal thoughts and instincts. . . does that technically still make this a mommy blog, even if it isn’t directly a mommy blog?
When I first started blogging, I also couldn’t understand those met posts in which people blogged about blogging. Well. Here I am.
Anyway, my darling and dedicated readers, if you have any input on what you would like to see on Momaste, I would love to hear from you.
Also, if you have any input on previous posts which with you really resonated that you would like to see published elsewhere, I would also love to know that.
And if these requests are way too demanding or narcissistic, please forgive and disregard.
(I warned you in the title this was a stream of consciousness.)
As always, thanks for reading and commenting and for being generally wonderful and supportive. It has changed my life.
I’ve often described your birthday as a national holiday in the country of motherhood, because it feels huge and spectacular.
The story of your birth is like a legend to me. I tell it often, and although it may bore others after the 47th time, it is always magical to me. I remember how it felt to walk the neighborhood with amniotic fluid dripping down my legs, surprised at how it didn’t stop flowing. It was the first of many surprises motherhood would bring my way.
Tonight, on the eve of your birthday, I told you about how when a mama is pregnant, the baby floats in a sack of waters, and how sometimes when the waters break, it means baby is on the way.
“That’s so weird sounding,” you said. “Water breaking.” You walked off to play legos, unimpressed.
I labored for 22 hours with you. Most of it was very peaceful. Since my contractions didn’t start on their own after my water broke (an expression which forever after will sound weird to me), I had to be induced. The artificial chemicals caused me a lot of pain. I was tired and I could tell people started to worry that I would end up with a C-Section (that’s another lesson for another day). I begged for an epidural, and within an hour of getting it, was fully dilated and ready to push you out.
I pushed for a little over two hours. It was two of the most focused, intense hours of my life. It seemed like just minutes. It seemed like I was deep inside of my own body, with you, helping you to find your way out of me.
You came out squished, with your head elongated and cone-shaped from being in my birth canal for so long, but as I grabbed you, snatched you to my chest, I sobbed, “He’s so beautiful,” over and over and over.
I couldn’t imagine ever feeling anything other than mystical love and adoration of you.
I couldn’t imagine that I would be so tired and so hopelessly depressed with post partum hormones that I would want to leave you on the steps of the church across the street, or sell you on the internet. I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to leave you at daycare when I went back to work, how I cried until my face looked deformed, how I felt like an incomplete person to be apart from you.
I couldn’t imagine how you would test every nerve in my psyche with your strong will and fierce independence. I couldn’t imagine how you would make me swell with laughter and pride when you made your first smile, took your first steps, or made your first jokes.
Nothing could have prepared me for your otherworldly wisdom, your past life regressions, and your fiery temper. No one could have warned me how scary it would be and how much I would worry about your heart and soul.
I had no clue you would become so tall so quickly. That you would be a brown belt in karate. That you would be fascinated by science. That you would be such a picky eater. That you would be so incredibly sensitive.
I had no clue how much you would be like me, and how much that would challenge and frighten me every day.
I had not an inkling how hard it would be to be a mom, to be YOUR mom, to juggle everything we would both need and want.
You came to the bare skin of my chest that August night wired with your own personality, your unique intensity, your distinct weight and volume in the universe. I’ve tried to shape and help you, and I always will. But I have also learned to respect that you are your own. For as much as I will always love you, you do not belong to me. And maybe that is the scariest part of being a mom.
Before bed tonight, I hugged you close, felt the solidity of you in my arms. I didn’t tell you that a part of me wanted to cry, wanted to go out and shake all the bats from the trees in the summer night with my wailing. I just held you and patted you and felt how different and new you feel in my arms as you grow.
And I think that’s the thing.
I think that’s the part that makes me want to cry– every time I embrace you, you are a new person and it is like the first time I ever clutched you to my breast, weeping for your beauty. It’s a mixture of joy and sorrow that is every bit as strange and individual as you are, my son.
So here’s to your ninth birthday. The last year you will spend in single digits. Here’s to hugs and legos, starbursts and peanut butter sandwiches. Here’s to Doritos and learning to canoe, swimming with friends and Harry Potter.
Here’s to you. Here’s to you and me, even on days when it is kind of hard and when we both feel frustrated and scared.
Happy birthday, Sunny Boy.
I love you,
How’s your summer going so far? What’s life like for you? Do things change a lot for you in the summer? Does the change in summer routine affect your blogging/writing habits?
Life has been a flurry of activity lately.
Getting the kids ready for camps and transitioning out of the school routine into the summer mode.
Making potato salads and picking strawberries for strawberry buckles.
Optimizing time out and about in the pleasant weather.
Celebrating my 42nd birthday.
I honestly do not know when I would have the chance to sit down and actually write a thoughtful blog post. Someone always needs something– a fresh application of sunscreen, or bottle of water, or help getting into/out of a bathing suit– and as soon as I sit down I have to get back up, or I feel guilty for not spending all that glorious time with the fam.
Then at night I am just to tired to construct anything, so I climb into bed and watch tv until I fall asleep.
Even now, I am running late for work, sitting here with wet hair and a dog who is anxiously trotting around me because she needs to go out.
I’ve coughed up a couple poems lately because it is what I’ve felt moved and inspired to do. But also because it is what time would allow.
There is this other interesting thing happening. . . I don’t feel the same urgency to write as I did when Emily was a newborn and Jack was four. It’s like I’ve gotten to this spot where I feel like I know the kids for the moment and things are going okay.
Don’t get me wrong. Life is still super stressful and I’m still juggling way too many balls for my comfort and feeling like a lunatic about 87 percent of the time.
But it’s like I’ve been here and done this and have run out of desperate things to post.
It’s like I would just be writing the same post about how stressful it is to be a working mom to two very strong willed and passionate children. (Wonder where they got those obstreperous qualities anyway. . .)
I’m sure this will change and life will present me with a bunch of new stuff. . . but I’m kind of bored with writing about how fucking relentless motherhood is and I just want to kind of sit in the pocket of quiet that my mind is offering me at the moment.
So, while there may be a few poems or photos this summer, I think I am going to cut myself some slack and think about being in the moment as opposed to writing down every moment. I might also think about some new ways to retool Momaste, because growth and change happens.
Yes it does.
Thanks for being here with me on this journey. You will never have any idea how much it has meant for me to have your compassionate witness.
So, I’ll see ya in September, or sooner, or later, or you know, whatever.
I got home late from work after a cluster fuck of a day.
Sorry I said the eff word, but there was no other way around it.
My last client had some complex and very dangerous stuff going on, and it would not have been ethical even in the best of times to say, “Gee I’m sorry but I need to get home to my own family now. Good luck with everything you are going through.”
Like, I could have been sued for that shit. And people could have been in serious danger. Like life or death kind of stuff.
Sometimes it is really hard to have to put other families before my own.
It is especially hard at 5:25 pm when I was supposed to be home already and am stuck at work trying to convince someone that they actually want to make a safe choice. And because of the nature of my work, I can’t really tell you any more than that.
So that stresses me out too.
Because I then get home and can’t really talk to anyone about what just happened and why I’m late. Because ethics. Always with these ethics.
I thought I had planned a super sweet dinner for the family with a rotisserie chicken and potatoes and stuffing and all that shit.
Sorry I said the ess word. But there was even a vegetable, even though it was smothered in a cheese sauce. And I had visions of eating ice cream on the porch after.
One big happy family.
All I really wanted was to sit down and have dinner together as a family, but apparently this is an unrealistic expectation.
My son refused to come out of his room because he just learned he has five weeks where he will be attending summer camp this summer instead of being on an eternal weekend for 10 weeks.
And my daughter has pronounced what a “bad mama” I am because I am already making three different meals tonight (leftover mac and cheese for the boy, leftover spaghetti for her, chicken dinner for me and the hubs) and I wouldn’t make fresh mac and cheese for her too.
My husband was quiet and sullen, trying to cajole the kids and me into all being nice on a path of least resistance. I’ve tried and tried to tell him that the Path of Least Resistance is not the best way to raise children or “be” in a family, but he don’t care.
And deep down, I am still stressing about if someone else’s family will be safe tonight and if I did enough before leaving work.
Fuck. It. All.
Again, my apologies for the eff word.
Did I mention I am also in the throes of rampant and savage PMS?
So I’m unhappy. And I’m disappointed, a little angry, and pretty frustrated that I can never fucking “nail” anything as a working mom.
Really, my feelings are just hurt.
So, no one else in the family is happy, because I’m not happy.
I’ve taken away TV. And dessert. No ice cream on the porch.
And as I stomp off to walk the dog and then change out of my work clothes, it strikes me what a monumental responsibility it is being a mom and trying to keep everyone happy while simultaneously implementing appropriate rules and consequences, and also balancing my career and setting up the coffee for the next morning.
Whatever I am feeling seems to trickle down, one way or another, onto the rest of the family. Sometimes it feels like if I am not if super-chipper-robot-mode, then we are all fucked.
It seems really hard to have an authentic feeling without either going over the top and ruining everyone’s day, or retreating to a cave of solitude and ruining everyone’s day.
And happiness? WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?
Most of the time I am an anxious mess trying to keep all the balls in the air, and the genuinely good moments I share with the family are few and far between and savored dearly.
In my office, I would preach emotional regulation and self care.
In my reality, if I can find the 25 minutes to write this post before I pass out in front of Netflix, then I can chalk it up to self care for the week.
Look, I realize my experience is not unique.
This is the life for which we sign up as working moms. I don’t really think any of us could have possibly predicted what a gut busting marathon working motherhood, or just plain motherhood, truly is. People try to tell us. Very well-meaning people try to tell us how difficult it is, how tired we will be, and how quickly it goes by. But no matter if we listen to them or not, we can never truly predict the reality.
It begs the question, if we had known, would we have done it?
Furthermore, what the hell are we supposed to do with this complex blend of exhaustion, frustration, anger, and confusion? How are we supposed to express it– how are we allowed to express it– without upsetting the family apple cart.
Because anything we feel, the rest of the house is going to feel.
We didn’t know that either, but that’s just the way it works.
We are the emotional barometers in the home. We set the tone and temperature for how it will be.
If we had known, would we have been crazy enough to reproduce?
It is also the path I chose when I became a clinical social worker. And little optimist that I was, I had no fucking clue what all that meant. It is the same path any working mom choses when they become a doctor or lawyer or supervisor or whatever where you have to put the needs of others front and center. This was all well and good before I had kids… but now? It is almost unbearable.
Things fall apart. Tantrums happen. Doors slam and you are told what a poo poo head you are because you only have two hands. Work spills over into home just as home spills into work. Balls drop. Some nights you don’t sleep.
In the end, I sort of stomped off to my corner of my room to implement a time out for myself. It was all I could do. I started writing this post.
And both of my kids came up to check on me. They couched their concern in questions about other stuff, or random fun facts about their day, but I could tell that they were checking in with me, making sure I was okay, much as I check in on them and make sure they are okay. They weren’t nervous or upset. Their anger with me was all over and done. They were allowing me to have my feeling, but offering me a little connection, a peace offering of sorts.
I didn’t totally grasp this at the time, but later it hit me. I’ve modeled enough emotional regulation for them– maybe just enough— that they get it. They respected that I needed space, and they gave it to me, but also let me know that they were okay and present. They knew I was upset and were modeling back for me what I have tried to model for them.
That’s kind of cool.
It sort of tempers the responsibility of keeping my shit together– maybe just enough — to see it reflected back to me in my kids.
So maybe I nailed that. And maybe we can all have ice cream together on the porch and be a perfect family on another night.
A while back, I mused about what would become of my breasts when I was done nursing my youngest of my two children, Emily.
Emily weaned completely about six months ago, shortly after her fourth birthday.
Weaning had been a very long process for us that took close to two years, as Emily slowed her nursing sessions to twice per day, and then only to once per day either in the morning or before bed.
I had wanted weaning to be a gradual and mutual decision. I didn’t want it to be traumatic for either of us. The beginning of my nursing relationship with Emily had been very traumatic as I suffered extreme nipple damage and had to really fight to keep my supply and the nursing relationship between my baby and myself.
Initially, I felt robbed of the “perfect” nursing experience with my daughter. I’d had tons of struggles and antenatal depression with my first child, and had ended up needing to supplement with formula with him.
Although I am beyond thankful that all was well that ended well with my son, when I was pregnant with Em, I was really committed to the idea of exclusively nursing. I felt certain that I had been better educated on breastfeeding due to the trial and error with my son, and that everything would go off without a hitch.
My confidence was shattered shortly after Emily’s birth when my nipples became mangled as a result of her tongue tie. For 11 weeks, I battled a nipple wound that would not heal. Finally we got things sorted out, but my supply never got back to what it needed to be to be able to pump milk for her to have upon my return to my job at 12 weeks after her birth.
I took a huge amount of comfort in the fact that she continued to nurse whenever she was with me, and that she almost always refused the bottle at daycare and then would reverse cycle all night with me. Sure I was tired, but I was thrilled that we were not having to supplement with very much formula, and that Emily was such a champion nurser.
Eventually, I accepted that while our relationship was not what I could label “perfect” from the get go, it ended up being pretty amazing and sweet.
And it endured much longer than I thought it would.
My son had weaned completely at 23 months. Like I said, we’d had to supplement him with formula, but he continued to nurse first thing in the morning with me until one morning he woke up, asked for milk in a cup and that was that.
I don’t remember having any truly intense feelings related to this weaning. Sure it was bittersweet, but it was not devastating in any way. And as a first-time mom, I was thrilled I’d been able to milk it out to nearly two years (pun intended!).
I had figured Em would wean around the same time. But she didn’t. She turned two and then three and still loved her milky cuddles with mama. Around the time she turned three, we started talking about what it would be like for her to not nurse anymore. Long story longer, she went another whole year and was still occasionally nursing when she turned four.
Then she stopped.
It was so gradual. It was almost unnoticeable.
To be honest with you, I don’t really think about it all that often.
Until I do think about it and then it is difficult to stop thinking about it.
A client came to my office with her toddler a while back. The child grew fussy, and she surprised me by offering him her breast, which he eagerly took and settled right down. It was absolutely the most natural and graceful thing to watch. I told her how thrilled I was that she was nursing her toddler, but the image stayed with me throughout the day and into the night along with a feeling of deep sorrow.
It had been the first time I’d seen a mom nursing since I weaned Emily.
And this is going to sound crazy, but I felt an actual physical sensation in my breasts like I used to feel when my milk let down. But it was different. It was like the shadow of that let down sensation, and I felt bereft. It was like my boobs actually felt sad.
When you are bonding and nursing with a new baby, your body creates oxytocin which is the chemical that signals the need to produce milk. It also creates a drowsy, sweet, loving feeling between you and your baby, which for me also extended to the world at large.
So, when I saw this mom nursing, it was like I got a surge of oxytocin but there was no milk and no baby to nurse. I went home and felt the need to give Emily and Jack extra cuddles.
I think about how I am no longer nursing at other weird times too. Like when I went to the pharmacy and was browsing the antacids and realized that I could take alka-seltzer again. It used to be my go-to remedy before pregnancy and nursing, but it has aspirin in it so you can’t use it during the aforementioned times. So I purchased it with a mix of hey-this-is-awesome and hey-this-is-super-sad.
I’m bummed about weaning in a lot of ways. It makes me sad to not have that connection with another human any longer. It is a reminder that children grow so quickly and things change faster than you can ever imagine. I also blame the ten pound weight gain on weaning, as well as some of my hormonal shifts and mood swings. . . although I realize those should be well regulated by now.
There is no going backwards in life.
And as I continue marching forward, I am having trouble trying to figure out what to do with these floppy appendages that seem to be a permanent DDD cup size now and give me back and neck pain. They are like an accessory that has gone out of style, only I can’t pack them away into the back of my closet or toss them in the junk drawer.
Once upon a time, they were pert and pretty. They attracted people and were objects of potential sexual pleasure. Then I had kids and they became vehicles of nurturance and nutrition.
About a week after I had Jack, I developed a urinary tract infection and went to a doctor. She was excited to hear that I was breastfeeding and shared that she had nursed her kids and it had been a great experience for her.
“But your breasts are ruined for sex forever,” She had mused. “They become like these tube socks with golf balls at the end.”
Well. . .
I guess mine are more like balloons with permanently erect, frozen peas at the end, so her very lucid description was a bit off there. But she was right about one thing– my boobs are of no use for my sex life anymore. There is a cognitive dissonance that these soft things that Emily still likes to pat and rub her face on could be used for anything other than bringing comfort to my babies.
So, I guess it is a blessing my husband is an ass man. Anyway, I digress. . .
Six months after weaning Emily, and I am still wondering what will become of my breasts now that I am done nursing. I’m trying to figure out how I feel about them, and what to do about the sense of sadness and loss.
At the end of the day I am very proud and content with the nursing relationships I had with both Emily and Jack. They were conflicted and diverse, but they were filled with love. Even as my boobs feel sad that it isn’t something I’ll ever share again with another human, I am grateful for the experiences I did have breastfeeding.
What was your weaning experience like? Did you experience any hormonal shifts or depression with weaning? Talk to me in the comments below. I love to hear from you! And please feel free to share my post on social media, or with other nursing/weaning moms in your life. xoxo and momaste!
I had a difficult time making friends. I was painfully shy and at times it felt physically painful to even attempt interacting with others.
My teachers complained I wasn’t social enough when they saw me walking around the outskirts of the recess yard.
Their complaint implied that there was something wrong with me.
When I go now, to pick my son up from third grade, I still feel uneasy, as I stand there on the blacktop, waiting for him to emerge from the cavernous, brick fortress.
My kids like to spend a while playing on the playground after he gets out. It’s good for them, so I oblige.
My four-year-old, who is not yet in school, skips about making friends with just about anyone she can run or slide or swing with, and it doesn’t seem to trouble her if they run off to play elsewhere. She doesn’t take it personally at all, but just finds something new to do, or someone new to race with.
My son has his school cohorts with whom he tussles and frolics to the point where I’m almost concerned one of them will get hurt. I’m assured by other parents that this is just the way boys play on the playground after six hours of sitting in their chairs. So I leave it at that.
I watch a lot of the moms chat with one another. Sometimes I see someone I know and will utter a few words about the upcoming field trip, or how challenging this particular teacher seems. Sometimes we talk about our children’s extra curricular activities.
But mostly, I stand off to the side, feeling like I don’t really fit in.
I’m still shy.
It is not in my nature to approach people and I haven’t a clue how to make small talk.
Sometimes I still feel like that awkward, gangly girl I was when I was nine or ten, or twelve, or fifteen.
Sometimes my stomach rolls and I want to run and hide behind a tree so no one can see how nervously I glance around, knowing I don’t fit in.
But mostly, I talk to that girl I used to be.
It is really a special thing to get to meet her again on the same playground where I once stood, lonely and confused about social customs.
It’s alright, I tell her. Do you. You’re just fine. It’s okay to be quiet. It’s perfectly fine to not want to waste your energy on small talk. You’re gonna do just great. You’ll see. It’s all going to be okay. There is nothing wrong with you.