Tag Archives: husband

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


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… 

Chasing Anger With Self Recrimination. . . and Then More Anger


Yesterday I ranted about frustration with my husband.  He had allowed our daughter to do something after I said she couldn’t.

I stayed good and pissed for the better part of the morning, but I actually felt better after posting and hearing back from you all who left generous and supportive comments.

While surfing Facebook, I happened across a post from a dear friend who was reflecting on how she never deals low blows with her spouse, and how she thanks her family for this because her mother and father taught her how to fight fair.  It had nothing to do with me or my situation, but because all my stupid sensitive senses were on high alert, I took it as a personal affront.  I am a bad person because I can’t be more mature when I bicker with my Spouse.

I am setting a crappy example for my children who are going to grow up completely screwed up because mommy and daddy fought.  My children are anxious, uncooperative, and angry because I suck at adulting.

 I.  Am.  A.  Failure.  With a capital “F”.

I held onto these feelings until I was distracted by other things.


Last night, I ended up working late.  It is a rarity.  My schedule is fairly set in stone because I usually need to be someplace either at the beginning or end of the day with my children.  

But a teen in the community had completed suicide and we were opening the doors at our center to support the community.   I agreed to stay a couple hours later than usual to be on stand by. It ended up being a very quiet few hours, which was fine.  I got a lot of other stuff done, then I went home.

At home I was deciding how I wanted to play things with Spouse.  He had bathed Emily, but he had allowed Jack to go out past his 7pm curfew to play with his bud.  I was tired and hungry, but Emily seemed sleepy so I figured bedtime would be a breeze and then I could microwave some frozen rectangle of food and get my couch and Masterchef on.  Chill.  Decompress.  Ponder the meaning of life and how gut twistingly terrible it is when a teen takes their life.

Then he disappeared.  

As I was putting my daughter to bed, the Spouse just took off to parts unknown.  Emily would not settle because she wanted her dad to hug her goodnight and he was no where in the house or yard.  I still had not eaten dinner and was starting to spiral out into anger once again.  

At 8:45 Em still would not settle and I still had not eaten. He wasn’t picking up his phone so I sent a ragey text.

Apparently, he had gone down the street to watch a ball game at the fields with our son and the neighbors.  This seemed reasonable to him, and it seemed reasonable that I would telepathically know where the fuck he was even though he’d not mentioned a word of it to me.  Well, where else would I be?  He asked like he goes down to watch ballgames at the fields down the street all the time. (He never has.)

I really lost it.  He and Jack came trundling home.  I screamed.  I ranted.  I raved.

I called him a Doofus.  In front of the kids, no less.

So much for fighting fair.

Now I’m back to being a failure and crappy mom and wife.  And I’m still angry.  So, there’s that. . .

I stormed off while he put both children to bed.  I read the last two chapters of Gone Girl.  I watched Masterchef.  I stressed about if I was really angry because I am a crazy bitch with raging hormones, or if my feelings were based anywhere in reality.  I went to bed fuming and woke up still fuming.

My behavior was not cool.  Not.  Cool.  I get that.

But in all fairness, disappearing on a weeknight at bedtime is not cool either.

I wasn’t angry that he went to watch the game. I’m not “that girl.”

I was angry he didn’t tell me where the fuck he was going.  Because I am not a fucking mind reader.  All of that could have been avoided by him telling me what was going on.

This morning I’m in a vapid brain space.  But I look amazing. I’m wearing a new dress that I bought with birthday money.  It has this splashy pink and navy blue flower pattern on it and the cut is very flattering.  I’ve had my coffee.  The kids are fresh and clean.  Lunches are packed and we are ready to face our day.

I think the Spouse knows he is in the dog house because he cleaned up the whole kitchen after the children had breakfast, which is usually my chore.  

We have a long holiday weekend ahead of us and somehow will have to get on the same page.

So Mad I Could. . .


I’m fuming.

I’m so mad right now I could punch a kitten.  I could scream at the elderly.  I could spit.  I could go out and get drunk and not come home tonight.  I could break all the glass in the house, smash my wedding china, and shatter the windows with my screams.

Or I could make a list of the worst things I can think of and leave it at that.

My Spousal Unit and I do not argue that much.  I mean we bicker and banter, but we never really have it out with each other.  Most of the time it is just the minutia of the everyday overwhelmed, working parents, etc., etc.  Like you forgot to do the cat box, or why didn’t you mail the mortgage payment?

We are both entirely overwhelmed and exhausted.  I don’t really know how we are going to keep all this up.  So, I will give him that.  Plus, he is the sort who avoids confrontation and takes the path of least resistance.  Always.  Especially when it comes to the children.

i told Emily she could not have her pacifier in the car this morning.  She is really too old for  pacifier anyway, and we really only allow it at night.  The dentist noticed that she has a gap in her bite and of course that means shit tons of money in orthodontics later on.

As my Spouse was scuttling around the house mismanaging his time and stressing about being late, I specifically told him, no bubby in the car for Em.

I know.  I know.

I sound like a shrew and a harpy and all of those evil, nasty wifey comparisons.

And if it hadn’t been for the clap of thunder that totally shook the entire house, I would never have known.  But I just so happened to look out the window to see if Em and Spouse were in the car okay.  There was Em, in her car seat, sucking on her bubby.

I.  Saw.  Red.

He is constantly undercutting me on shit like this.  I think it is one of the reasons that we have such trouble with Jack following rules.  I say one thing.  He does another.  My question for him is “what does this teach the children?”

Answer:  It teaches them that what Mama says does not matter.  It teaches them that they do not have to respect Mama.  It teaches them that they can go to their dad and split us against each other.

That seems abundantly simple and clear to me.  I’ve had this discussion with the Spouse about a hundred times, since Jack was a toddler.

I don’t get it.

It hurts me.  It hurts me that while we are so freaking busy and overwhelmed we can’t be on the same fucking page about something very basic.  It makes me feel unsupported and incredibly sad.  It makes me question my entire life and my efficacy as a human because I am a highly sensitive person and little stupid shit like this totally affects my entire fucking day.

Life is fucking hard.

So.  I’m pissed.  100% butthurt that I get no back up from the person who is supposed to have my back on our most primative chore–  raising the children.

I sent a pissy text to him.  I did the crazy thing where I tried to call about 18 times.  But he wasn’t answering because he was driving, or because he forgot his phone because he can’t get himself organized.

Ok, that was a low blow.  I get it.  I know.  But it is also true, and like I said.  I’m so mad.  I am so mad I could make dumb, immature statements about my spouse and vent about him on my blog because talking shit out just seems to get nowhere.

What kinds of differences do you have with your mate?  How do you handle them?  

In Bulk


 I may have been bragging at work about how my husband brought home bulk paper products from a wholesale club.

Ok, I was.

And seriously, when I saw the hubz stroll in after work one evening with a huge-ass package of toilet paper under one arm, and a gigantic stack of tissues under the other, I had never been so in love.

It’s the little things, folks.

Lying in bed, after my long day, I found myself wondering if swooning over the hubz joining BJs and stocking up on paper towels was a little pathetic.

But, I mean, he did also get some enormous jars of the natural peanut butter.

I don’t write very much about my marriage. . .

I tend to focus on my children, my role as a mom, and my never ending waterfall of feelings about life.

My role as wife, central as it is to my existence, often takes a back seat to the rest of the maelstrom.

Maybe I don’t write a lot about my marriage because it is so good it would be boring to write about it.  Maybe I don’t want to jinx it.  Maybe it’s out of respect for the hubz privacy. . .  dunno, but I do think the solid foundation of my marriage allows me to wax and wonder about other things, to freak out, and to know I will always have a stable base to which I can return.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband does typical annoying things like leaving glasses all over the house, leaving stinks in the bathroom, letting the kids eat junk, and complaining about the way I hang pictures.  We bicker.  It’s not “perfect.”  And I’m certain I do a shit-ton of stuff that irks him, only he is a lot more generous and forgiving when it comes to not complaining about my, uh, quirks.

He provides for us with a quiet, unwavering stoicism.  And I don’t just mean materially.  He provides calm love, a sense of humor, and faithful devotion.

He also makes awesome pancakes.

So, when he does something like bringing home huge quantities of paper products, it says way more to me than just that he wants our noses and asses to be wiped.  It says he is being considerate of our needs and thoughtful of our comfort.  It says he is saving me a trip out to Target this weekend.  It says he is taking care of us.

My husband has never been a love-letter-writer or flower-giver, except maybe on our anniversary.  I’m fine with this now, but it used to make me feel like I was missing out on something.  Maybe I’ve just become overly pragmatic in my middle age, but I’ll tell you, the messages a load of paper products sends to me at this point in my life is sexy as hell.

I really love that dude.

Like, in bulk.

8 Ways Having a New House is Like Having a New Baby


IMG_6430It is funny how sometimes really positive events can be overwhelming and stressful.  We recently bought a house, and while this was a wonderful change for our family, it also brought some new and unforeseen challenges.

We only moved a mile away from the apartment where we had lived for nearly nine years, but the entire process made me realize why moving is way up there on that list of “Life’s Greatest Stresses.”  (IMHO, moving with children should be up just a notch on that list, but anyhoo…)

I took a week off from work to move, and when I returned to my job, I was greeted by people who excitedly wanted to know all about the house.  In some cases, I actually had to “fake” my pleasure a bit when I told them all about it, because I was just so tired and emotional about the whole thing.  In other cases, I was able to explain to people how having a new house is akin to having a new baby.

1.)  It is an exhausting flurry of activity that is hard to remember.  Much like the hazy weeks after the birth of both of my children, when I was too sleep deprived for my brain to actually transfer anything into long-term memory banks, moving was just that–  moving.  Constantly.  For days on end.  Until our bodies were sore and I was so tired all I could do was cry.  It reminded me a lot of pacing the floor with my colicky newborn boy, uncertain how many minutes or hours were flickering by and always being surprised by how fast or slow time was ticking.

2.)  It is disorienting.  Living in the same five rooms for nearly nine years, I developed a certain muscle memory.  I could reach for things without looking, or collapse into my favorite spot without really thinking about it.  But in my new house, everything felt out of whack, awkward.

It reminded me a bit of how it felt breastfeeding those first weeks, finding new positions to be comfortable in, and figuring out how to hold a nursing baby while reading or talking on the phone.  With a new baby, my body needed to learn a whole new language of moves for nursing, consoling, and playing.  It eventually came and became natural.  In my new house, I am learning all the new twists, turns and contortions to make it comfortable and familiar.  It will come, but at times feels funky.

It has been strange at times for the children too, as they adjust to new space, especially for our three-year-old daughter.  Emily is having some major sleep regression and feels really frightened when she is alone in her new room.  We are all trying to be patient with one another during this enormous transition.    IMG_6354

3.)  It is shockingly expensive.  I remember dry-heaving a bit when I learned how expensive day care was going to be.  While we are doing everything in our new home on a tight budget, it still feels like I blink and another couple hundred bucks has disappeared.  Shower curtains, paint, a new duvet cover, shelf liner–  it all adds up.

4.)  There is tons of unexpected crap that goes down.  When I was expecting our first-born, I imagined a placid little tot who would sleep for hours on end, eat contentedly from my breast, and coo like a dove at my voice.  Imagine my surprise when I got a fussy, high-needs, perpetually hungry, non-sleeper of a baby.  This rude awakening felt very similar to the experience we had when all of our plumbing backed up almost immediately after signing on the house, necessitating extensive (read, expensive) rotor rooting, despite our careful and thorough home inspection only weeks prior.IMG_6386

5.)  It can take some time to fall in love.  Of course I loved my children before they were even born.  Of course I did.  But with both of them, it took me a while to get to know them, to appreciate their quirks, and to feel that intimate connection.

My first week in the new house, I cried every night that I wanted “to go home.”  But each day, I found things that delighted me a bit more about my new environment.  The way my hardwoods gleamed after a good swiffering.  The tranquil lavender accent wall in my bedroom.  My family’s coats all hung neatly together on hooks by the front door.

6.)  I get to see my spouse in a new role.  When my babies were born, I was amazed at how my husband became a father.  A whole new side of him emerged with this new title, and it took my breath away to watch him find new ways to soothe a fussy Jack, or how he would chatter and play with kicky Emily.

Upon taking ownership of our new home, my husband chose paint for our children’s rooms (with their input, of course), and did an immaculate job painting them.  He has trouble shot issues with our plumbing and heating.  He has raked and re-raked our leafy lawn.  He installed new shades.  He hung a bird house.  He even bought a fresh evergreen wreath to hand on our front door so we would look festive for the holidays!  The care he is putting into our home delights me, just as it did to watch him with our children for the first time.

7.)  There is no better time to practice Radical Acceptance!  I often wish for a do-over with my Jack during his newborn period.  He was such a challenge for me, and I think I could have done a much better job being his mom.  But all his challenges were, in fact, a tremendous gift to me because it ultimately taught me the importance of Radical Acceptance in this motherhood gig.

When Emily came along, I was much more prepared for sleep deprivation, feeding issues, and the general discomfort of parenthood.  It made for a much more peaceful postpartum period because I was in the moment with Emily, as opposed to trying to bend a situation to my will–  which is almost always a futile situation.  My mantra became, this is what makes me a mom.

For me, it has kind of been the same with the house.  Rather than getting overly frustrated or upset with the ups and downs of home ownership, I have been able to embrace the trials and tribulations that go along with home ownership, and also to accept my own feelings about this move, whether trepidation, sorrow, or excitement.

8.)  It is an incredible time and opportunity for new memories to be made.  I am not a great cook, nor do I relish cooking, but I will forever remember the first stir-fry I made in my new house.  In our old apartment, cooking was dreadful in the postage-stamp-sized kitchen.  But in our new house, the spacious kitchen is pretty cool.  We all sat at the table and it just felt great.

IMG_6410Much like all of the enchanting firsts after having a baby (the first yawn!  the first sneeze!  the first time they poop/pee/puke on you!  the first smiles!), creating new firsts in our new home is sweet.

We waited a really long time for our first home.  We dreamed about it, talked about it, and did a lot of soul searching about it.  In the end, it seems like it was a good choice, and will continue to be well worth the labor of love–  just like a new baby.

What I Wanted For Mother’s Day


How was your Mother’s Day?  20140511-200433.jpg

If you are anything like me, you have a complicated relationship with the holiday.  There is a sense of being manipulated by the media and marketing geared towards consumerism in addition to the worry of feeling great all day long and also celebrating your own maternal figure.

On one hand, the idea of celebrating motherhood is special. It is nice to think that we (and our maternal caregivers) would be the center of attention for one whole day, that our husbands would shower us with appreciation, and our children would be perfectly behaved, adoring cherubs.

On the other hand. . . there is reality.

Look. If you have a husband who gave you a spa day and took the children to the playground while you slept in, then that is great for you. He nailed it. If you have those mythical “easy” children who behaved all day, got along with each other, and did not get sassy even once, I’m happy for you.

For most of us, the reality of motherhood is an all-consuming love that’s dirty, smelly, chaotic, and constant, meaning it doesn’t necessarily stand still for one day each year while you are adored like the Goddess you are.

I’ve been trying to write this post without sounding like an ungrateful harpy, but the Mother’s Day of my dreams would have gone a lot differently.

If I had been asked, I would have said I did not want the Pandora charms, lovely as they are. I would have foregone the bouquet of roses and the breakfast.

I would have done without the orange juice that my husband spiked with white wine at 7:30 a.m. without me knowing, so when I drank it I thought the juice had gone off and didn’t realize I had moved beyond “day-drinking” to “early morning drinking.”


Not to sound ungrateful, but what I wanted for Mother’s Day wasn’t elaborate, at least it didn’t cost anything.

First of all, I would have been totally content with the cards the kids made me, rather than trying to create something unrealistic.

But. . .  it would have been nice if someone else did my laundry and grocery shopping.

I also wanted someone else to notice, for once, that the dining room table is encrusted with maple syrup, jelly, pizza crumbs and moldering cheese and wipe it up, and then wring out the sponge instead of tossing it back into the sink to wallow in its own decrepitude.

I wanted the tub to be magically cleaned because Sunday is “cleaning day” even though it was also Mother’s Day and there is still a ton of crap to do even though Hallmark says “go buy a card.”

It would have been heavenly to not worry about work all weekend.

I wanted my kids to get along and not start dueling tantrums in the car on the way home from our picnic.

Speaking of our picnic, I would have loved not to have been the person to do all the shopping, food prep, and packing for it because I was trying to do something special for my own mother by giving her a picnic and my sister blew us off and my brother is mentally ill and missing, so I was left with the entire responsibility to “bring it”.

I wanted to not be making toast for and cleaning up after the kids at 7 p.m. because they did not want to eat any of our picnic fare.

Most of all, I wanted to go to bed not feeling like a bitter wench about all of the above.

It I were one of those kicky bloggers who has it all together, I would end this post by saying, “Hey look at me, I spent Mother’s Day being a mom and it was awesome to treasure every moment!”

I could do that, but I will not because it would not be authentic.  My blog is all for mindfulness, but I will stop short of lying to you.


What I realized as I was falling asleep (deliriously exhausted) at the end of the day, was that in some ways, my day was perfect.  The hand made cards were amazing.  The kids had their moments of being adorable and affectionate.  My own mom seemed happy.  My husband cleaned the toilet and helped me put fresh sheets on the bed.  We saw the ocean and ate nice stuff.  There was wine.

And I felt loved, despite all the chaos and exhaustion, I felt loved.

But what I really wanted for Mother’s Day was to not be a mom for a little bit, to be alone somewhere quiet without any responsibilities or voices asking me to get up and do one more thing, because being a working mom is relentless and so much harder than I ever imagined.

I wanted the guilt and frustration twirling in my gut like a fire tornado to simmer down because it made it so hard to think or even breathe.

I have friends who lost a baby to cancer when she was only five months old. Losing a child is unimaginable to me, and yet I am forever taking my children for granted and trying to shirk the responsibilities because I am overwhelmed and exhausted. In these moments, I think of my friends and their lovely daughter, and I try to reconnect and do better. Sometimes it works and I am humbled. But many other times, it is like telling a young child that there are starving kids in Africa so they should eat all their broccoli. It is an abstract concept.

It is an abstract concept I pray to never understand in reality.

Pema Chodron says, “The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”  She also says something about how the greatest sadness is robbing ourselves of the present moment.  I felt both of these sentiments full-force as I slipped into sleep last night.

I read a lot of posts about Mother’s Day this past weekend.  Some were quirky.  Some were punchy.  Some were raw.  Some were downright annoying they were so sweet and sublime.  They made me feel like I should have some deeper understanding of what it is to be a mom.20140512-134358.jpg

What I understood, is that I failed yet again at being in the present moment because I was frazzled and anxious.  I also understood I should have left cleaning my closet and taking three loads of stuff to the consignment store for another weekend.

In spite of all my frenetic worry, grumpiness, and expectations, I was loved, and I have the construction paper and crayola cards to prove it.

So, maybe I didn’t get the Mother’s Day I wanted.  But maybe I got the gift I needed.


Curative Properties Of The Sea


20140311-212106.jpgEvery time I look at the ocean I fall in love at first sight.

Every single time.

The sight of the salty waves lapping at sand, rock, or cliff around my native state is a balm for heart and soul.  I’ve gone to the ocean with friends and lovers, and spent many hours on the beach with my dog.  I’ve rushed to the ocean with a spirit so broken I feared I’d never be whole again.  But then I’m there, with gulls soaring in the air that stirs my hair, and I understand the curative properties of the sea.

I didn’t get sleep last night.  My husband worked until midnight and I woke up when he came in.  Despite the fistful of melatonin I’d gobbled before bed, I couldn’t fall back to sleep no matter how I turned or breathed or what I chanted.

But let me back up.

My son had a tantrum before bed.  In general he’s doing a lot better with his behavior.  We’ve seen some maturity.  Sometimes he even puts himself in a time out under the covers of his bed instead of lashing out at us.  So, progress is being made.  Baby steps. . .

But he had this tantrum and it rattled my cage.  So, in the middle of the night, there I was, restless, unable to sleep, and freaking myself out questioning how I’d gone wrong in raising this little boy.

But let me back up again.

Jack has got in trouble at school.  Not big trouble or anything, but the teacher wrote us a couple times to say he said something inappropriate, etc.  Jack’s side of the story is that kids are picking on him, and that they look for any little thing to tell on him and get him into trouble.  His teacher is a bit of a rigid bitch old school, and Jack has a hard time speaking up for himself, so I can both sides of the situation.  But Jack is my KID, so if he is getting picked on, my big, bad mama bear buttons will be pressed.

Jack comes home like a ticking time bomb at the end of the day.  Common Core (the new and improved way of educating our children) is definitely from the seventh circle of hell, IMHO.  He sits there “learning” all day, and then comes home with all sorts of pent up energy, frustration, and angst.  Having social issues with his peers is not helpful.  And since they don’t really get a chance to practice their social skills through play or exploration, it is extra-not-helpful.

But to go back even further, I should let you know I’ve been having this weird pain in my abdomen- a piercing stab to the right and above my navel, under my rib.  It comes on in a dramatic pop when I sneeze, laugh, or stretch.  It’s gotten worse over the past six months or so, and I haven’t had it checked.

So, there I was in the middle of the night, wide awake and fuming about being wide awake.  I started worrying about Jack, and before I knew it I was in a full-blown panic attack with racing heart and everything, convincing myself that the pain in my side was some sort of giant tumor or ulcer.

I decided to go to the doctor today, which requires me to take a half day out of work, since my doctor is at the opposite end of the state from my job.  I was in a tizzy about canceling my clients and using benefit time, but I knew I needed to see her.

It takes an hour to get there, which is about as far as you can drive in my state without reaching another state.  My doctor used to be a lot closer and more conveniently located, but she moved offices about three years ago.  I love her and she is a wonderful physician, so I go the distance.

She palpated me, ordered an ultrasound, hugged me and gave me a script for some sleeping pills.

I left feeling better.  The ultrasound is in two weeks.  My doctor doesn’t think it is anything serious.  Maybe just a hernia.  No biggles.

But let’s get back to the ocean.

Since my doctor’s office is about ten minutes away from the ocean, I took the drive and parked by the sea wall.  My mind argued with me the whole time, telling me I should be getting the kids from daycare and racing home to make dinner.  But as I stepped out of the car, the ocean sang to me.  Take a walk, it said.  Self care is important and the world will not stop turning if you take a walk.  

So I did.

20140311-212134.jpgI walked along the sea wall and it was a blissful release valve to the pressure cooker of my tortured head.  With hardly a cloud in the sky, I could see across the bay to the islands, and miles out over the ocean to the thin horizon where sky met sea.  The water was calm and glassy, gently rattling the round rocks at the base of the sea wall.

My neurosis blew away on the breeze.  It was a mental massage.

The drive home was relaxing.  I filled my prescription.  Then I picked up greasy take out without a care in the world, rationalizing the fat and calories by telling myself I would cut up apple slices to serve with it.

My husband picked up the kids and we met up at home.  They played outside and came in with flushed, happy faces, greeted me with hugs.

We ate burgers, nuggets, and fries (and apple slices) together, then spent the rest of the night reading stories, since Jack had lost his TV privileges for that tantrum.  It was tranquil.

And all the while, in the back of my mind, I hear those gentle waves.  My heart wiggles a bit, as though I’ve just fallen in love for the first time and nothing else could ever get me down.


The Mean Time– How Depression Looks As A Mom


I’m clinically depressed.  20140118-082848.jpg

The thought comes and goes like a wave, reaching in to the shore of my consciousness, then receding.

Here’s the deal.  I’m a child and family therapist, so I know all the signs and symptoms.  Irritability and a very short fuse with those around me.  Anhedonia, or lack of interest in the things I normally love, like blogging, talking to friends, or spending time with my family.

Change in sleep.  I want to sleep all the time, but when I am in bed my rest is not restful.  Change in appetite.  I want to eat all the time, but everything that passes my lips tastes annoyingly like sandpaper.

Worries about everyday things like finances and the behavior of my children take on new, sinister shapes like monsters in a dark room.  My thoughts become obsessive, intrusive, and disturbing.

I withdraw from people then feel awful loneliness.  I lack energy to tend to the things that need tending to like the dishes or clogged tub.

I have no emotional fortitude.  A tissue gets into the laundry and the world fucking falls apart.

I feel agonizing hopelessness things will ever be any better.

And then the thoughts:  You suck.  You’ll never be any good at anything.  You are a horrible mom and you screwed up your children.  There is nothing that will make you feel good.  You ruined your life by becoming a social worker.  You ruined your life by becoming a mother.  It will never end.  They would all be better off without you.  

Of course I know that like every other feeling, depression is just that- a feeling.  And feelings by nature are temporary, changeable.  I won’t feel this way forever, but in the mean time (and it is very mean, cantankerous, angry time), it sucks pretty bad.

I know a lot about depression and anxiety, not just because of my profession, but also because I have struggled with it on and off for the better part of my life.  I had severe postpartum depression after my first child was born, received excellent treatment and have basically been in remission for the past five years.  One thing I can tell you–  mood and anxiety issues blow, but they blow even harder for me as a mom.

Studies show that one in three moms struggle with depression, and as many as two in three working moms struggle with mood issues.  OK, who am I fooling?  I totally made up those stats.  I’m way too depressed to do research for my blog, but it sounded good, and it sounds accurate based on anecdotal data I collected.

As a mom, and a working mom no less, the pace of my life is relentless.  I take care of anywhere between seven to nine clients during my work day and have a short commute home to take care of the little people who need me here.  I don’t get a break until they are in bed and I can collapse on the couch for an hour or two before passing out myself.

Before marriage and children, I could take to my bed on weekends to rest and restore for an entire day if I wanted.  I could go for a long ride by myself to the ocean, music blaring, to get a change of scenery and sense of perspective.  I could go out drinking and dancing to reconnect with my vitality.  Now, there is no break.  Sure, my husband and I take the slack for one another here and there, but in general it just never stops.

A friend and I recently chatted about this and she said, “without kids you don’t really notice it as much. . .  but we are stretched so thin as it is, and the mental health stuff doesn’t have as much room to just be and causes more issues. I was fine being depressed when I wasn’t a mom. I mean, not fine…but like I managed.”  And that for me encapsulates why being depressed and anxious as a mom feels 40 gazillion times worse than when I was just a self-indulgent single lass.

It isn’t just me anymore.  My mood and behavior have a direct impact on my children.

While I’m not actively suicidal or homicidal, I fantasize about being on a desert island because I just can’t handle it around the reality corral.

And that’s probably the scariest, worst thought- that I just can’t take care of everyone for whom I need to care, and I’m probably screwing them up by not being as available emotionally, or by having intrusive images of them being eaten by bears because my obsessive/compulsive anxiety is also off the charts.

Things light up my day like my son singing along to a song on the radio in the car, or my daughter wearing sunglasses and eating a yellow lollipop.  But the moments are fleeting.  Elusive.

It’s a very lonely place to be.  My husband doesn’t “get it”.  He thinks I’m being histrionic when I rage about the millions of legos left out all over the house because one of the acute symptoms of my depression is a nearly obsessive/compulsive need for order.  Maybe he’s right.  Or maybe he’s depressed too.  Either way, he doesn’t get it.  Other than him, I have no family I can reliably turn to (Jesus Christ they all have their own issues yes they do where do you think I got it from in the first place), and the feeling of my lips making words to describe this shit to my friends sickens me.

So, I fake it.

I smile and accomodate coworkers.  I treat my clients like they are the center of my universe for 50 minutes each.  I titter and giggle with friends.  I place plates of sliced up fruit and glasses of milk in front of my children.

I fake it until something insidious slips out.  I fucking hate everyone and everything.  Oops, did I really just say that?  Hahah.  Then I get anxious and clumsy.  Drop things.  Swear.  Watch my hands fly up into the sky in front of my face like frightened birds.  I give up!  I’m done!  

Not to put words in your mouth, but you’re probably shaking your head and thinking, damn girl, get a grip.  Yet another post about your feelings and depression?  Why don’t you get yourself some help?  Maybe get on some medication?  

You make good points.  So, I’m considering the medication, much as I hate to.  I know it would help because I’ve been there before.  I also know it will make me gain weight.  But the chemicals would tighten things up in my head, tone down the negativity so I can make lunch for my daughter without feeling the scary need to get down on all fours and start scrubbing the grout in the bathroom with a nail brush.

As far as counseling goes. . .  well, it would maybe be palliative and supportive, but my insurance has a really high deductible and copays for MH treatment are exorbitant, and I kind of need to spend the money I have on groceries and gas.  Plus, when would I ever go?  This money/scheduling dilemma is just another facet of the complexity of depression as a mom.  If I did have the time and money for counseling, I would probably take a yoga or dance class instead.

It is a crystal clear winter day with copious sun.  The skeletal trees are reaching up to tickle the bluest sky.  My daughter is napping and I’m sitting on the couch, writing this.

I’m clinically depressed.  

The thought and its accompanying label almost bring me a sense of peace, like maybe I could make friends with it.  Maybe I could get really close, really fast to it, and do everything with it, and write about it, and think about it and call it up a hundred times a day.

Until we are sick of one another.

Epic Mindfulness Fail


This morning started like any other- with me stressing about getting up, getting everyone ready, and where we need to be on time.  There is never, ever enough time in the day and we are always rushing and we all hate it. 

Except that this morning, as I was getting in the shower, and the others were still abed, I took a moment to stop and notice the anxiety I was having, and the urge to start nagging people to get up and at ’em.  I let the hot water engulf my still sleeping body, patting myself on the back for being mindful of this and for redirecting my anxiety with the thought, “we always make it out of the house on time and everyone always gets where they need to go.” 

Which is true. 

I got out of the shower, primped, dressed and was feeling a-okay.  Then I went out to the kitchen where Jack was grousing about having to go to school and Emily was plastering oatmeal over her entire body as well as the table.  Lunches still needed to be made.  Emily hadn’t had a diaper change yet.  Hair needed to be brushed.  Cars needed to be moved around and packed up with the gear d’jour. 

I got overwhelmed. 

I started rushing and any mindfulness and congratulatory attitude I had went out the window. 

Emily refused to get dressed, so that meant we had to seek permission to treat her as a hostile witness, thereby cramming her little limbs into fresh diaper and clothing.  By the time lunches made it into back packs we were running late. 

My stress manifested in my gut, making me extra-queazy-cranky.  Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!  I chanted like a deranged cheerleader of the annoyed. 

Jack and my husband made it out the front door to the bus stop while Emily and I made it out the back door to where my car was parked and ready to go.  My arms were full with my bag, her bag, our lunches, coats, her blankie and her baby doll.  Emily paused on the porch to go through her ritual of looking at this and that.  I figured I had the 15 seconds it would take to shove all our crap into the car. 

I turned around just in time to watch as my daughter fell face first into the cement from the second step of our porch. 

I froze for an instant then ran towards her, simultaneously yelling for my husband and fighting the urge to vomit. 

Long story short, she was fine.  We iced her and wiped her down.  She had a nasty abrasion on her pretty little forehead and will probably have a black and blue, but she was alert and oriented, able to count, talk, and sing in the car on the way to daycare.  When we got to daycare, I had the nurse check her, and told her teachers who assured me Emily would be well watched and cared for.  Emily had already gone to play with her little buddies in the sand box and seemed totally past it.  I also called the pediatrician who reassured me that toddlers fall, and that if Emily got over it and is acting normally, she is most likely fine. 

As for me, I drove to work with intrusive visions of my little toddler doing a face plant into the cement, and berating myself for being such a speed demon in the morning. 

Oh, and did we all get to where we needed to go on time?  Yes.  Yes we did. 

So there was truly no need to be such a freak about rushing. 

The entire incident made me check in a little with my mindfulness about mindfulness.  For me, being mindful is being 100% aware of what is going on around me, and accepting it for what it is without trying to manipulate or change things.  So, I’m sitting and being aware of my stress level, of the pain in my stomach, and of my feeling that I am the world’s crappiest mom.   

I’m trying to accept my mindfulness fail. 

And though I can’t change anything about what went down this morning, you can bet I learned something from it. 

Please feel free to share in the comments below.  I love to hear from you. 

My Week In Haiku


Monday afternoon:

home with sick child.
morning light slips into
long evening shadows.

20131128-114427.jpgTuesday evening:

day drifts on the bay,
white water birds hunker down
as winter draws near.

Wednesday morning:

my son’s daily brawl
over socks and being rushed
sours my commute.

Thursday noon:

for an hour I sit
worrying my cuticles.
I hope no one sees.

Friday night:

certain songs float out
of the radio and I
long for other times.