Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

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

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Mother’s Day.

What a fucking crock of shit.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lot of it is situational.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grinch of Mother’s Day

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I’m shaking with rage.

It’s “Mother’s Day” and I am doing laundry and cleaning up the art supplies and dried paint from the craft my husband planned for the kids.  The craft that ended up flopping and was unusable for gifts for the grandmothers so I had to come up with and execute something last minute.

I hate Mother’s Day.

I hate everything about it.

I hate the commercialism.  I hate the expectations that are never met.  I hate having to do stuff when really I just want to stay in bed, or wander the mall by myself.

I hate the added pressure to do special crap that I really don’t want to do for my own mother and mother in law.

And then I hate the guilt I feel for not loving a day that is supposed to be all about glistening gratitude and love.

I’m like the Grinch of Mother’s day.

And like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I dread Mother’s Day every year.  Every.  Fucking.  Year.

Last year was halfway decent with mimosas and breakfast in bed followed by a walk on my own at the beach.

But this year it was like the goal of the day was to make me feel as un-special and pedestrian as humanly possible.

Look.  My kids are alive and healthy.  I have a beautiful roof over my head and a cute dog.  To the naked eye, my life is perfect.  I’m grateful for all of this.  Really.  I do not mean to sound like some harping fishwife about Mother’s Day, even though I probably am.

I’ve also learned that expectations are usually not met, so it is best not to have any.

And I’m not actually a high maintenance person.  Really.

But when my husband is going out at 8 pm the night before to buy me a card, and then making the kids make me half-assed cards the morning of. . .  Well, it just kind of highlights the fact that no one really gives a fucking rat’s ass about what I do the rest of the 364 days per year.

It is usually one of the two days per year that my husband gives me some kind of flower arrangement.  This year, he gave me coloring books.

Yup.  Adult coloring books and some colored pencils.

Had I EVER expressed even the slightest interest in coloring, it might have been thoughtful.

OR, had I the time to color, then maybe the gift wouldn’t have seemed like such a slap in the face.

Maybe if I hadn’t actually mocked and reviled adult coloring as a hobby for myself. . .  but no.  This was the gift that basically screamed, “Hey, I have to give you something and I really didn’t want to put much thought into it, so here.”

I’ve been trying all day to breathe and allow and accept that it is really just another day, and it is alright that no one made me breakfast in bed or took me to the ocean or even folded the children’s laundry for me.  I’ve been offering gratitude for my children who are alive and never had cancer or anything horrible happen to them.

I’ve been offering gratitude for the opportunity to clean the toilet, and to run all around the state dropping off my handmade gifts to the mother and mother in law.  They deserve it.  They do tons of shit for us.  If anyone deserves recognition on Mother’s Day, it is them.

I’ve been attempting not to be resentful that my husband did basically nothing for his mother and that I had to step up to recognize her.  And I have been trying to not be a dick and be upset that my own brother is mentally ill and missing in action, and my sister moved 3,000 miles away so I am the only one to give and show love to my own mother these days, despite the fact that I can never really seem to please her and anything I do pales in comparison to my sister’s Facebook status from 3,000 miles away.

But come on.

What the fuck?

When am I allowed to say enough is fucking enough and I feel like shit and I hate coloring books and it would have been nice if you could have even kept the kids from waking me up before seven this morning?

I mean, come on.  Dude.  Don’t we stress as moms like every second of every day during the year?  Is it way too much to ask that we get even an hour of feeling special on our fucking “Day”?!

What.

The.

Fuck???

Tomorrow I will get up and bring the kids to school and go to work.  And it will be another day.  People at work will talk about the flowers from their kids, or the perfume they got for their moms and I will smile and nod.

I will quietly wonder if there is a word that encompasses a middle ground between “mediocre” and “crappy” and will silently use that imagined word to describe my Mother’s Day to myself.  Because no one likes a Grinch.  And no one wants to hear about how sucky, passive-aggressive, and enraged you felt on Mother’s Day.  Goddess Forbid.

In the mean time I want to slam shit and have a tantrum because Hallmark set me up for yet another incredible disappointment.

I know for a fact there are a lot of you out there for whom Mother’s Day is really rough.

Maybe you lost the baby you always dreamed would make you a mother.  Maybe your child is desperately sick, or caught in the grasp of addiction or mental illness.

Maybe your mother was not kind to you when you were young and a tide of disruptive memories comes flooding back and sweeps you off your feet and into its angry current.

Maybe you are battling your own demons of depression and despair.

Well, you are not alone, my sister-friends.  You are most certainly not alone.

So next year, I say we take all the coloring books and crappy cards that weren’t hand made, and everyone else’s bouquets to the top of Mt. Crumpet to dump it.

And maybe if we strain our ears, and peer into the rising sun, we will hear a sound.  Maybe we will hear the sweet song that actually clues us in to whatever the hell this day was supposed to be all about.

Every Day A Mama Day

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By the window we stand,

watching snow fall.

Cars turn into polar bears

before our eyes, silent and sleepy.

The weight of you is the world in my arms.

We are warm dreams of tomorrow,

the love of all our yesterdays all

wrapped up, as we stand here, our breath

more quiet, more drowsy by the moment.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is a poem I wrote when Jack was an infant.  I realize that it is strange to be posting a poem about snow in the middle of a glorious week of spring, but re-reading it five years later, I can still feel the soft heft of his body in the circle of my arms.  Oh!  I was so thrilled with him when he was a baby.

If you pay attention to the commercials, magazine ads, and store displays, you would think that every moment of motherhood is thrilling– shiny, new, essential.

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Turns out, every moment of motherhood is most definitely NOT thrilling.  Some moments are dull and mundane.  Some moments are infuriating.  And many moments are downright horrifying.  Once when we were trying to potty train Jack he threw a potty full of pee at me after repeatedly telling me “I do not want potty learning!”  Wiping urine up off my hardwoods, I felt angry and also terrified that I was a failure as a mom.

This past week, I actually spent a lot of time stressing about Mother’s Day.  There is always such a build up to it and I feel like I end up exhausted and disappointed by some small tragedy during the day–  a tantrum, having to cook, laundry.  Then I feel like a total jerk for being let down, when I should really just be thankful for my family.

I mean, how else would I rather be spending Mother’s Day than elbow-deep in bleach, cleaning up the piss and toenail clippings of other people?  How blessed am I?

It sounds sarcastic, and I admit, when I first thought the above sentiment, it was sarcastic.  Then I challenged myself, somewhat dubiously, saying, but aren’t I lucky to have these crazy slobs to goop up my life?  Sure, I wish they could mop up their own messes, but wow- this is the stuff of life.

I am spending Mother’s Day being a mom.  And in between the laundry and dishes and grocery shopping, the people I love stopped to show me how much they love me with home made cards, cinnamon buns, flowers, and rings with my babies’ birthstones.  I am infinitely blessed.

Peridot and citrine.

Being a mom is special and life changing.  Every moment of motherhood does not feel special and life changing, but has the potential to be.  Even doing the laundry somedays changes my life.  In this manner, every day is a day to be a mother, not just this one wacky hallmark holiday per year.

May every moment of your life as a mom be as thrilling as when you first beheld your newborn.

Happy Mother’s Day, and momaste- the mom in me bows to the mom in you!