Tag Archives: fear

Weird Grief Mash Up– the Election and Our Collective, Historical Trauma

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Part of me feels an urge to write a ragey post about what this new world order means for my daughter and for all of the already disenfranchised people out there.

Yet, I find I’ve lost my voice.

I’m swinging back and forth between being optimistically hopeful and being numb.  When I try to find the middle ground in between those two things, I get anxiety.  I start to shake and start rambling about stupid shit that probably doesn’t make much sense to others.

Opening my mouth seems to lead to wrong words, so I’ve been keeping it shut.

Silence isn’t such a bad sound if you don’t have a lot to say that will improve it.  And there sure is a lot of chatter out there right now.

It takes me a long time to process and digest.

I also do not want to give the president elect the dignity of my righteous indignation.

I’m trying to be here with an open heart for others, and for that most part it feels good and right.  I’m listening.  Taking it all in.  I’m sitting with it.

Social media doesn’t really feel like a safe space for me right now, not only because of the constant exposure to this national trauma, but also because being exposed to the steady stream of affect is difficult for me to bear.

I guess I’m kind of regrouping.

Listening to Ani Difranco helps, and sort of puts things into perspective in a weird way.

The grief of this election is getting mashed up with the grief work I am doing regarding the loss of E., and that does not feel like a good thing.

I can’t go there.

I feel like I’ve finally got my head back together, and I do not want to even peek back into that dark hallway.

But it is an interesting thing to contemplate.  When we grieve for one thing, often times past losses, fears, and traumas get dredged up.  And I do think it is important to acknowledge and respect that for a lot of women, gays, people of different ethnicities and religions, that is what this election has brought about.  A collective trauma response that harkens back through centuries of institutional misogyny, racism, bigotry, greed, and hate.

A terrifying side of America has been given not only a voice, but a spotlight into which they have stepped for their warped performance.

I’ve seen a lot of posts of people telling others to stop being sore losers because their candidate didn’t win.  That feels unduly harsh to me.

That isn’t what this is about.  We are not stomping our feet and whining.

We are grieving. We are scared.  We do not feel safe.

And I say this as a white woman, armed to the teeth with education, career, and all of the privilege that my heterosexual marriage affords me.  I feel guilty when I hold all of the things that technically make me “safe” and consider the vulnerabilities of some of my dearest friends.  Do I even have a right to contribute to the chatter on this subject?

Processing all of this junk is going to take some time.  We need to ride this wave of emotion so we can refocus and get back to work.

Because there is work to be done.

Please let us be loving and supportive of one another as we go through this time.  Please let the sun continue to shine.  Please let the collective power of kindness and compassion be greater than anything we have ever seen.

That is my prayer.

We are on the brink of something important and revolutionary.

I guess that is all I have to say for right now.  But if you need me, or if there is anything I can do or say to help you feel safe, I’m here.  I’ll stand with you and I’ll hold your hand.

Love and momaste to you all.

Walking and Waiting for the Answers to Grief

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My friend died.

Over the past week, I have been walking down a shadowy hall.  It is dark and tight.  The walls press on me.  It makes me want to scream in claustrophobic panic.  I believe it is called grief and loss.

Every once in a while lights flash, startle me, and make me nauseous.  My heart races.  I think that’s trauma.

There are doors that open into little waiting rooms with chairs.  Films of memory play on vast, white walls.  But it hurts to go in and watch, so I keep walking down the narrow corridor.

I walk at a really slow pace.  My husband might call it moving at the speed of cheese.

How I’d love to call her up and talk about cheese.  She loved food.

See how that works?  I start to have a thought and then circle back around to her.   My head is so full.  Overloaded.  People are left staring and waiting around me, because my brain can’t move any faster.  It’s a slow computer.  God, that woman could not use a computer to save herself. . .  There.  I did it again.

As a clinical social worker (which by the way my friend also was), I know all about the stages of grief:  Denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance.  It sounds so tidy, laid out like that, and yet it is more of a mangled wreck than anyone could imagine.  On one level, I understand that the so-called stages are more circuitous than linear.

I know it was normal after I kissed her cold forehead to feel a surge of anger well up inside me as I left the funeral parlor.

Anger at her.  Anger at myself.  Anger at the universe.

Why couldn’t she have taken better care of herself?  Why did she have to go and deprive the world of herself?  Why did I not know sooner how truly ill and tired she was?

In addition to knowing it is normal, friends have assured me it is normal.  So a part of me can accept this anger for what it is.

But there is another part of me that is just her friend, a mere mortal who is still alive, and doesn’t know what to do with the thread of anger in this tapestry of pain I clutch at my throat as I walk down this hall.

Her head was so hard under my lips.  Like marble.

I know it is totally understandable to feel rational and accepting one moment, and then to circle back to denial and depression the next.

Bargaining is another “stage,” but it doesn’t seem necessary to bargain. Dead is dead.  But oh god (who by the way I don’t believe in), if I could just get one more minute. . .

And what would I do with that minute?

I’d ask her what to think.  I’d ask her what she would say to me upon learning of her death.  I’d ask her if she loved me as much as I loved her.

I’d ask her if she had given up, if the taste of death she’d had a month ago had made her want the real thing.  I would ask her why she didn’t call me back when I called her a week before she died.  Was it because I had been so adamant about her following the doctor’s instructions, and she didn’t want to?  Did she not want me to harp?  Had she accepted a fate that she knew would be too difficult for me to support?

Was I a bad friend for nagging her, for not being ready to be in the world without her?

At some point, I recognize, my heart will probably tell me the answers to these questions.  That after I get through the dark passageway and back to the land of the living, I’ll be able to see more clearly.

I’d spent so many hours sitting and chatting with that woman.  She listened endlessly to the minutia of my existence.  Birds in my yard. The fox. My children.

She looked at my pictures.

She kept my secrets.

She always took my side. Always.

Her patience and wisdom were never ending.  I’m sure at some point during those many times, she gave me all I needed to know, but until it is clear, I am left waiting, scowling, tapping my toe impatiently, for answers.

One more minute couldn’t scratch the surface. . .  but I’d give some teeth for it anyway.  One more minute to thank her for championing me when I felt like I had no one else.  One more minute to tell her I love her.  One more minute to ask her if she is ready, if she feels okay about this transition, if there is anything she wants me to do for her widow.

My friend had dozens of friends to whom she was close.  She was amazing that way.  She didn’t have casual acquaintances.  If you made it into her circle, you were under her wing of family.

I am sure they would all wish for another minute or three, not to mention her beloved of over 30 years, or her BFF of 54 years. . .  what makes me so special that I should feel hypothetically entitled to be granted one more imaginary minute?

Was I special?

What is it about death that makes me doubt my special-ness.  Does it die with the one who was loved?  Does it disappear behind the veil with their persistence and laughter?

Or is it, perhaps, if I believe I wasn’t special, then it won’t hurt as much because it didn’t mean so much?

I believe in love, and I think I believe that love is a bond that cannot die.  I think I have to believe this about love, because if it is not portable to the great beyond, then I don’t think I could really get out of bed again.

Enduring love is the only “afterlife” in which I believe.

My friend was elderly, and yet, there must have been a rather foolish part of me that thought she would live forever, that believed I’d never have to face a world without her zany humor.

Somehow, her voice continues to fill my head.  I hear her make those noises she’d make when she was amazed or delighted by something, the oooohhhs, and gasps of wonder.  Despite seeing over 75 years of the world, she never ceased to be amazed by the smallest gestures of tenderness, by the beauty of nature, by the majesty of animals.

I did the stuff you’re supposed to do.

I cried.  I brought food to her wife.  I went to the services.  I cried more.  I got piss drunk and fell down.  I collected all the cards and little treasures she had ever given me and looked at her sloppy handwriting and laughed.

I walked in the woods.  I sat at her grave and talked to her.  I patted the freshly rolled out sod, crumpled into a ball, and cried again.

I started to feel better, as though the hallway were lit with skylights.

Then I felt like shit again, and it was dark and I was bumping into stuff.

At the burial, one of the funereal directors plucked roses off of the arrangement on the casket and passed them around.  She said we could place the rose with a prayer on the top of the casket to go down with my friend, or we could keep it in memory of her.  I clutched at mine while everyone else kissed theirs and placed them on the casket.

I thought of the red rose corsage I wore a year ago at her wedding, how I’ve kept it tucked into my mirror in my bedroom.

How could it be?  How could all of this be real?

It’s confusing how my brain is trying to fold around this information and digest it like a carnivorous plant.  I suppose the good news is that I don’t have to completely get over my grief for her today.  It’ll take time.  One minute at a time; one breath at a time.

I’ve never cried such fat, wet tears.

If I were sitting with her, she wouldn’t hug me.  I know that sounds weird and kind of cold, but it isn’t at all.  It’s perfect.

She listens to me with her hands on her thighs, fingers curled in towards her thumbs.  She breathes and nods slightly while I cry.  She gives my space and lets me have my feeling, my dignity, my rage.  

Then she pushes a box of tissues toward me.  She tells me with a wry grin that she has examined the woman before her, and she does not find her lacking.  She hands me a candle.

I dry my face, and plod forward.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/waiting/

Can We Please Talk About What a Royal Mind F*&K Modern Motherhood Is?

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Both my daughter’s daycare and my son’s elementary school send updates through email during the day.  It is a nice way of knowing what is going on with them while I’m at work.

I’ve spoken before about what an existential leap it is to drop my kids off in places and then drive off to another place and be away from them for about nine hours a day.

Actually, if I think about it too hard, the above sentence really screws with my brain.

So it doesn’t take much to kind of push the scale in favor of full blown anxiety attack when my kids are concerned.

Imagine my shock when I got the following email on my lunch break at work:

“Dear Parent:  Please be advised that our school was in Lock Down Mode, as ordered by the local police due to an incident in the area.  We were Lock Down for 30 minutes.  The police assured us that the incident was resolved and we are back to normal.”

The email was time stamped about 90 minutes earlier than when I read it.  Of course the last line indicated that everything was cool as Ice, Ice, Baby.  But the first line of the email had already sent my adrenaline into full-blown-flood-of-piping-hot-lava-panic-mode.

As I tail spun through the office, alerting all my coworkers that I was in the midst of a neurotic episode (and probably alerting some of the incoming clients that maybe they wanted to rethink their choice of counseling agency because the staff here was cray-zee), my eyes filled with tears. 

I longed to run out of the building and race to my baby boy, to hug him and validate that my worst fears had not come to pass.

Two of my coworkers hopped on the internet to see if they could find anything about what happened in my town.  There was nothing on the news.  I finally called the school (yeah, I get it; that should have been my first move, but when panic is in full swing, you don’t always make the logical choice first).  The school secretary assured me that all was well.

I sat back in my office chair and did some deep breathing, trying to calm my racing heart and mind.  As I did so, I checked my email again.

Up popped an update from my daughter’s preschool.  It let me know that they were petting the chicks that hatched in their class’ incubator last week and that they were making nests in art.

And that, my dear friends, is motherhood:  fluffy chicks and bomb threats.

It is a royal mind fuck, the likes of which I never could have predicted.

As a mom, you lose the right to wake up and know what to expect with your day.  You can either get the downy, yellow, baby critters, or you can get the sheer terror of knowing everything you treasure and hold sacred can be squashed like a bug at a moment’s notice.

Sometimes you get both at once, and hardly know where to look or focus because it is all just so confusing and cute and horrifying and your heart is bursting.

As a working mom, sometimes I send my children off to school sick or sad.  Sometimes I hug them with an annoyed huff because we have left the house late, or because they have forgotten something “important”.

Sometimes I leave them crying or cross with me.  Sometimes I kiss them goodbye and give them nary a thought until I join them at home, many hours later, for the chaos that is dinner/homework/bath/tv/stories/bedtime.

And then there are days like this where I ache every second to be together with my babies again, so I can wrap my arms around them, nuzzle their fuzzy heads, and thank the stars we have all made it back to one another safe and sound.

This Is Batshit Crazy. For Reals. Or, About the Time My Family Got a Crash Course in Rabies

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So, if you ever wanted a crash course on rabies and America’s culture of fear, here it is…

Friday night found me tired and eager to go to bed. I went down to use the bathroom, brush teeth, and then went out to the living room to say goodnight to my hubs who was watching television.

All of a sudden a small, brown bat swooped around us!

Naturally, I squealed and jumped out of my skin.

My husband calmly got up to open the front door to let the bat out. But the bat swooped back through our dining room and disappeared.  Or, I lost sight of it because I screamed like a monkey, and ran to lock myself in the bathroom.  (Yes, it is a well known fact that batwings can manipulate door handles quite well.  They are more pernicious than octopus, people.)

Over the next hour we searched high and low for the bat. We were all Mulder and Scully with flashlights and a Swiffer duster thing I grabbed to smack at the bat if it flew into my face.  The bat is out there, Scully. . .  Trust no one.  

We couldn’t find it.

Long story short, my daring (and darling) husband finally located it up in a crawl space in our attic maser suite.

It is a goddamn good thing I did not marry a squeamish man, folks.

Because, it was in our bedroom, people. The bat had burrowed into the insulation in our room, under an eave, just a few feet away from where we rest our heads.

And there were piles of icky guano (bat poo) that indicated he had been in residency for a while.

Hubs couldn’t get the bat to come back out, and it was getting really late.  My adrenaline surge had succumbed to the melatonin I’d taken only moments prior to the bat showing up. I was on my way to bed, remember?

So the Spousal unit sealed up the crawl space with some tarp and duct tape. Then we hit the hay for a very jumpy and tense sleep.

The next day we worked on inspecting our eaves and then sealing stuff up. By “us,” I mean my husband did that crap.  He’s awesome like that. I’ve never been so happy I married him.  He put piles of moth balls in there, installed LED lights, and put on a radio with NPR blaring into the eave, all to discourage the bats from returning.  He reinforced certain places and secured the bat hatches, so to speak.

We went out to dinner with friend and chuckled about the bat. We’ve had bats in our house where we lived prior to this house and we let them out and got on with our lives.

It was never a big deal.

So imagine my surprise when my daughter’s pediatrician insisted we needed to call the department of health post haste.

I’d brought Emily in because she had a cough. Guano can cause respiratory illness and Em had been present when my husband was using the shop vac in the bat cave.  So, I mentioned the bat situation to the doc, feeling a sense of chagrin, and certain that she would laugh me out of the office.

The doc shuffled through a drawer to get the number.  Call now, she insisted.

Not one to be indoctrinated into a culture of fear, I waited and called the next morning, again feeling chagrin and certain that the hard working folks at the department of health would laugh at me for wasting their time with my bat story.

But they transferred me to triage.

And then triage transferred me to a nurse.

And the nurse took down all the pertinent info about my entire family and instructed us to go to the hospital for rabies vaccination.

Are you fucking kidding me, I wanted to ask?  But I didn’t.


My husband was not convinced.  He’s done a lot of reading on the subject and insists that you are no more likely to get rabies from a bat than from any other wild animal.

Yeah, I countered, but these wild animals were maybe swooping around our heads as we slept, drooling all over our slumbering bodies.

I learned that while rabies can be transferred from animal to human by a bite or a scratch, it is also transmissible just through proximity.  And drool.  So, if the bat swooped over us and just one droplet of its juicy, contagious saliva fell on us, we would be at risk.

I was scared enough to leave work early to collect my children and make our way to the ER.

The health department lady had called ahead, so they were already going on the journey into the bowels of the hospital’s rabies clinic to collect our precious serum.  We got to the hospital, went through triage and registration, and then were brought to a holding room where we waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Eventually, a doctor came in to explain what would happen, and he confirmed what my husband and I thought–  that the health department was being overly reactive and borderline ridiculous.

The doctor said if we lived in any other country, this would not be an issue, but for whatever reason, our state’s department of health has gotten crazy vigilant about bats and rabies.

While rabies in bats is still pretty rare, it has grown in our state over the past four years from 4% to 8%.  Rabies is 100% fatal, and by the time you develop symptoms, it is too late.  There is no cure.  This information made me 75% freaked out, and 25% annoyed, and that is where my percentages end.

It was a long wait.  We all grew tired and hungry, but I was a very proud mama bear at how well my children sat and played and handled the long wait, way past their bedtimes.

On the other hand, I got pretty punchy and wondered if the guys at the nursing station would play Grey’s Anatomy with me.  I texted my BFF to see if she thought it would be cool if I casually sauntered up to one of them and mentioned that I was scrubbing in on a craniotomy.

She texted back, LOL, go get some FOOD in you.  

We sat with the kids and waited for hours until they finally came in with four trays of syringes.

And here is where it gets fun, folks:  The first round of treatment is a course of rabies vac, and a dose of immunoglobulin  (whatever the hell that is).  The immunoglobulin is based on weight, so the more you weigh, the more you get.  Super awesome!!  Since my hubs and I are “Fatties for life” (fist bump!), we got to have six shots each.

Our poor children had three apiece.

The kids went first.  Emily was psyched that she got to hold a shiny, light-up ball, and she didn’t bat an eye (no pun intended, I swear) as they plunged the medicine into her.  Not even one tear.  Damn, she’s incredible.

Jack sat on my lap and knew enough to know it was going to suck, but he was brave and got through it with merely a whimper.

It is worth noting that they no longer give the shots in the stomach. The kids got theirs in their thighs, and my husband and I got two in each thigh and one in each arm. I guess that is slightly less repulsive.

I was not so dignified as the rest of my family.

I saw them coming at me with all those syringes and got dizzy and nauseous.  They had to lay me down, and my husband held my hand through my hyperventilating, as they all coached me to breathe.  Let me tell you, I would much rather give birth every day of the week than have six needles simultaneously plunged into my flesh.


The immunoglobin was thick going in, and it burned (That’s what she said!!  Holla!!  Did you see that, I made a joke!)

After it was all done, we sat and were observed for any ill effects for fifteen minutes. By this time we were all cranky and really ready to go home. We were discharged and trudged out to our cars, decorated in what seemed like an entire box of Angry Bird bandaids.

We will have to go back for four boosters over then next few weeks.  The good news there is that we only get one shot at each one.  But the best news is that we get to pay our insurance’s hospital copay for every single one of us for our foray the other night.  $150 apiece!

Obviously I am being bitterly sarcastic about that.  Shelling out $600 for rabies medicine fucking sucks bat balls (excuse my French).  It feels horribly discouraging that we are paying what could have been enough for  a weekend away at a nice resort, or half of what it is going to cost to professionally “bat proof” our bedroom, for a treatment we likely do not need, simply because Americans love to get all scared about shit and layer on tons of cure.  But I guess that is probably another blog post there.

Right now, I am trying to focus on my family’s health and safety, and my gratitude for those blessings.  I think I will feel heaps better after I finally manage to get a good night’s sleep.  If that ever happens again. . .

To be Continued… 

I’m a 40 Year Old Having Trouble With Hormones and I. Can’t. Even.

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After the parade, we were suppose to come back home, rest a bit, then go to the family cookout.  

But the parade left me feeling like my punching fist was going to come out if anyone even looked at me sideways, so I stayed back and let Spousal Unit take the kids to the cookout.

I felt sad watching them drive off, as I put the wooden pieces of a Melissa and Doug puzzle back together.  My sadness quickly turned to frustration with the puzzle.  Have you ever done one of those stupid puzzles?  They are no joke, and certainly not something to mess with during the roller coaster of PMS.

Well, it’s not just PMS.

It’s a rabid combo of stuff.

Work has been stressful and exhausting.  My program is understaffed and I feel like I am doing shitty work because I can’t see my clients frequently or consistently enough to really help them progress with their treatment.  The mantra, “Your work sucks balls,” is definitely not uplifting my spirits on a daily basis.

Next, there is the stress my husband’s new job is putting on the family.  In some ways his job is heaven sent–  I mean, it is nice being able to pay our mortgage, you know?  

But it also means he doesn’t have the same flexibility to be with the children and they are in extra daycare, being shuffled around from one thing to the next by family members, because my job has zero flexibility either.  This situation pushes every button on my mommy-guilt-sensor panel.  And guilt is draining.  And frustrating.  And futile.

It also seems that now he works full time (and often much more when he stays up doing additional freelance projects at night), I am picking up more slack at home with the chores, grocery shopping, and cooking.  Don’t get me wrong, he is still super helpful.  The other night I went to bed and he stayed up to fold a basket of the children’s clothing, so part of this might just be my own perception.  Or full blown psychosis. Who knows?

The increased stress plays on my nerves as an introvert.  

Extroverting myself takes more effort than usual and is more uncomfortable.  I need more down time to recover and recharge, which I usually do not get.  

Being a social worker takes a shit-ton of extroversion.  Being a mom takes a shit-ton of extroversion.  Being a human on the planet, interacting with other humans on the planet takes–  well, you get the picture.  

Age and exhaustion have made me even more on an introvert than I ever was.  It’s almost like I don’t enjoy the world anymore.

Situations like going out in a huge, noisy, inconsiderate crowd to a parade reeks havoc with my sense of safety.  It is like my skin gets peeled off and everything is just stroking on raw nerve.  Ouch.  It’s physically painful.

And it’s hot.  It is no less than 90 degrees in my huge, loft-like bedroom.  Oh my, do I love my bedroom.  But I hate the heat and haven’t slept, and we haven’t figured out the air conditioner situation yet.

Add to this mix the fluctuating hormones of a 40 year old woman, and it’s not pretty.

There are moments I am actually frightened I will completely lose my shit and scream at someone.  Like the woman on the cell phone who wouldn’t get the fuck out of my way.  Or the dude smoking a smelly cigar over my children.  Or the cashier at CVS who can’t figure out how to access my extra bucks and find the price on a greeting card.  Don’t even get me started on the municipal worker who needed to get into my basement for 20 minutes right as I was walking out the door to drop the kids off and go to work.

It seems like every month since I turned 40, my PMS gets longer and harsher.  It’s at the point now where I have it about three weeks out of the month.  Yeah.  No fun.  The slightest thing sets my blood boiling and I feel I am careening out of control on the world’s scariest roller coaster.

It sucks when this gets projected onto my kids.  I try with all my might to be happy and calm with them, but I’ve noticed that lately I am raising my voice more often.  It doesn’t help anything, since it really just pisses my kids off and they don’t respond to it.  Plus it makes me feel shitty.  But it happens more than I would like to admit.

In addition to all the emotional crap, there is a physical side.  I feel constantly bloated and sausagy (efff you autocorrect, sausagy is a word, dammit).

At times my energy drops to non existent and I feel sluggish.  My stomach swirls with a nauseous blend of anxiety and anger that has nothing to do with what I ate, or didn’t eat.  Doing even the simplest thing feels excruciating.  My back hurts no matter how much I stretch.  There is an ever-present kink in my neck.

So, of course, in light of all these symptoms, the logical thing was turning to Dr. Google and pecking in, “Having trouble with hormones at 40.”  Web MD took me to a list of signs and symptoms of perimenopause.

OMG, people.  I.  Can’t.  Even.

“Perimenopause,” for those of you lucky ducks who’ve never heard of it, is apparently the pre-game show to menopause.  This is the bad news.

But the good news is that the cure is oh so simple.  Apparently if I give up salt, sugar, flour, fat, carbs, caffeine, wine, and basically everything else in the world that I like, I will feel a drastic reduction in my symptoms.

OH, and I also should not be too overweight or too underweight.

Awesomesauce.

This information literally made me want to cry. Or scream.  Or throw stuff.  Or eat a pint of ice cream.  Because apparently it is like I am 13 and going through puberty all over again in terms of wild mood swings and irrationality.

It feels like there is a storm brewing in my body.  Thick, puffy, slate grey clouds swirl around in 97% humidity in my chest cavity.  At any minute lightening could lash out, or a tornado could form.

If you are a woman of a certain age, you might understand where I’m coming from.  If that’s you, then give it up top, Lady-Friend!

If you are a perfectly balanced woman, or my husband, you are more likely to think I am being histrionic.  That I need to stop being so selfish and cook some dinner for the kids.  That I need to have better manners and not sigh heavily at the person who is in my way at Target.  That I should not become so easily angered with Emily when she is being obstreperous about taking a bath, or with Jack after the 40th time I’ve asked him to turn off the TV and put on his shoes.  That I should shut up and quit whining. 

I ended up lying down for a while after Spouse left with the kids for the cookout.  Beached like the world’s plumpest whale on an isle of tempurpedic, I took some deep breaths and tried to accept my age and station in life.  With every breath I was able to stitch back on a few inches of skin, and the world stopped hurting quite so much.

I’d like to enjoy the world again. . .  but in the mean time, there is a pint of gelato, a bowl of pasta, a bag of pretzels, and a bottle of wine with my name on them.  I joke!  I joke!  

If you have been through any of this and can resonate at all with me, please leave a few words in the comments. . .  and if you have any tips, feel free to leave them too!  xoxo, Momaste!

Sometimes My Kids Make Me Brave

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 It’s no secret.  Motherhood changes a gal.

“What are we waiting for?” Emily squealed.  “Let’s go in!”

There was an expanse of seaweed between us and the ocean.  First it was crisp and stinky, buzzing with flies, up on the hot, dry part of the beach.  As we got closer to the water, it grew damp, then sodden and squelchy.

Emily didn’t seem to mind it as she dragged me down sand towards sea.

If there is one thing I have always hated it is seaweed.  It is so nasty and slimy and there could be a million things hiding in it that want to slither around or snap at my toes.

But I didn’t have long to muse on my loathing of slimy stuff, because my eye caught something clear and glistening in the sun.  “Oh my gosh!  Look, Emily, it’s a jelly fish!  Eeewww!”

If there is one thing I hate more than seaweed, it is jelly fish.  Disgusting!

“Can I touch it?” Emily immediately asked.

“No, Baby.  It might sting you.”

Truthfully, it was one of those “mostly” harmless jellies that wash up on the beach here, but I’ve heard they can cause some skin irritation, and my daughter does have very sensitive skin, so I preferred she not commune with the jelly.

We walked up the beach.

Well, I walked.  Cautiously.

Emily skipped with the exuberant glee of a puppy, straining on the leash of my arm.

I’ve always been a bit of a neurotic mess.  I’m scared of practically everything, and phobic about some things like snakes, clowns, and crowds, and crowds of snakes and clowns.

But like I said, motherhood changes you.  I’ve found myself shoving aside some of my -er- issues for the sake of my children.

Until I had my first child, Jack, I had a paralyzing fear of the dark.  I was so scared of the dark, that if I woke in the middle of the night with a full bladder, I would lie awake and in discomfort until day break because I was positive Hannibal Lector was lurking behind my shower curtain, just waiting for me to get up and pee so he could “have a friend” for a midnight snack.

See, I told you.  Neurotic as a Siamese cat.

It is like being pregnant and birthing a baby altered the molecular structure of my brain, because after bringing Jack home, there was no fear of the dark.  Not that walking around in the dark is my favorite thing, and not that I don’t still get jumpy, but when you have a little baby crying for you in the middle of the night, you can’t exactly stay frozen in bed for fear of fictional serial killers.

Last summer I also put my fear of slimy stuff aside to pet a shark and sting ray at a local aquarium.  Jack wanted to, but he was a little skittish.  Logically, I know there is nothing unsafe or threatening about these things, and it was in a supervised setting.  I didn’t want Jack to be afraid, or to be deprived of the experience.  So, I stuck a finger into the tank and pet the shark.

Oh my gosh, you guys, it felt awful!!  It was so cold and gross and I hated every second of it!  But I loved that my gesture gave Jack the courage to do the same.  He also found it icky, but at least he made his own informed decision.

Truth be told, Jack is cautious and a bit on the anxious side.  He is tentative about heights, new situations, and squelchy stuff.  Like me.

Emily is much more of a dare devil.  She has always been very physical and energetic, has loved climbing and jumping off of stuff, and has boldly gone forward in situations when Jack would have been slow to warm.  In short, she is rapidly turning all my hair grey and taking minutes a day off my life with her antics.

So, it was really no surprise this girl wanted to prance through the seaweed so she could wade into the water.

We walked down the beach until we found the least seaweedy spot.  Then we did it.  We waded in up to our knees.

I never would have done it if Emily hadn’t been there.

Something about her courage to boldly go, inspired me.

I didn’t love the experience of sticky seaweed swarming around my ankles, but I loved Emily’s delighted laugh, and how her entire body seemed to smile as the gentle surf splashed us.

We waded for a bit and then I went up and sat on our blanket for a few minutes as she ran between me and the water’s edge, throwing balls of muddy sand into the water’s edge.