Tag Archives: self care

the Unbearable “Joy” of Holiday Shit Storms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s no escape.

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

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

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

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

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“M” is for. . . Mammogram!

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You guys, it was so not a big deal.  Let me just start with that.

It’s almost not worth blogging about, but it IS because they are important and necessary and something that a lot of women skip.

My doc ordered my mammogram last August when I had my annual physical.  I say “annual” with a wry smile, because it had been about three years since my last physical.  I’ve not really been that great at “taking care” of myself.  I mean, there is work and the kids and taking the kids to appointments and ballet and karate and grocery shopping and a shit ton of other shit that needs doing before my own health is tended to.

That’s a bad attitude.  I know.  I know.  Airplane philosophy.  Put on your air mask first and then tend to those around you.  I know it, already!  Please don’t lecture me.

So, my doc ordered the freaking breast exam six months before I actually got it done.  And to be completely honest with you, I turned 41 last summer so I really should have had the mamo a year and a half before I actually got it done.

So, why did I put it off?

Let’s see. . .  there was my busy schedule (see list of random crap above).  And there was my desire to go out and do something else on the days when I had the time to go and get the test done.  Let’s be honest about that.  Hiking, biking, shopping, slopping the pigs–  just about anything was more attractive than going and getting my boobs pressed flatter than flat in a mechanism I imagined to be somewhere between a medieval torture device and a Victorian flower press.

I was also putting it off because I wanted to be completely done with breastfeeding.  I don’t think there is any logical or medical reason why a woman should not get a mammogram while lactating.  I think for me, it had more to do with comfort and not wanting to accidentally squirt milk all over the place when my boobs got compressed.

Emily had finally finished nursing at the age of four last November…  so I was good to go.

Then there was my fear.

Firstly, I was afraid of the pain.  I’d read so many tales of woe (many that I now know were grossly exaggerated) about women’s terrible experiences in the dreaded mammogram chamber.  I’d endured crazy nipple trauma while breastfeeding, and not to make excuses, but I think that pain and horror has given me a bit of PTSD when it comes to the mammary region.  (PS.  If I haven’t told you yet, I have the internet’s most popular blog post on nip trauma… Google “nipple trauma from breastfeeding”.   Just go google it…  go ahead, I’ll wait!! See!?!  That’s me!!)

And I was also frightened by what the tech would find lurking in my bulbous, pendulous, no longer useful breasts.  I had nightmares about telling my family what so many women have to tell their families in real waking life. What’s the stat?  One in five women will be diagnosed with breast cancer?  Terrifying.

So what finally convinced me to schedule the appointment?

Well, a friend I’d gone to high school with was diagnosed.  She was a mother to new twins, and diagnosed at her first mammogram with invasive breast cancer.  Long story short, she’s doing great.

And why is she doing so great?

Because the cancer was detected early and she got radical and immediate treatment.  

She will live to see her babies grow up, thank the universe.

The lesson in this story is that early detection is key.  

I’m not going to front and say I got all brave and stoic.  I arrived at the radiology clinic and was shaking, shivering, dizzy, and nauseous.  I texted my BFF that I was quite certain I was going to puke and pass out.  She reassured me that I had natural childbirth and I could totally do this.

The tech thought I was crazy for being so anxious.  I could plainly see that.  Her chill demeanor should have been a big clue to me that I had nothing to worry about.  She led me to where I should get changed.  I was practically in tears as I put on the thin johnny and followed her into the exam room.

When the tech asked, kindly, if I would prefer to sit or stand, I was put in mind of a Monty Python sketch–  “No one expects the comfy chair at the Spanish Inquisition!”

And yet, there was no torture device before me.  There was a mechanism of clear plastic that looked a bit like it could be a fancy display case for jewelry or something.

The actual exam took all of five minutes. Total.  That was both breasts, two shots of each.

Five minutes.

Maybe it was even less.

It was virtually painless.  I can’t even say it was uncomfortable.  There was no excessive squeezing.  There was no flower pressing or medieval torture.

I left laughing at myself for being such a freak about it.

It is hard to believe I actually managed to write close to a thousand words about a procedure that took less than five minutes and was not in any way, shape, or form dramatic of dastardly.  I almost want to apologize for boring you!

But if you are one of those women putting off this important procedure because of the fear that it is torturously painful, please pick up the phone and schedule it.  It is fine.  I swear.  I have no threshold for pain or drama, and if I could get through it, so can you.

Ever Hear of This Thing Called “Free Time” ?

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IMG_8015If you are a mom of any kind–  working, stay at home, etc.–  you have probably heard of this thing they call “free time.”

If you have a husband or partner who really nails it on holidays or birthdays, you may have even sampled some of this thing in the form of a yoga class or massage.

If you are independently wealthy, you may have experienced “free time” by being able to hire a babysitter to stay with your brood while you go do something “just for you.”

If you are like me, and are just trying nonstop to keep your shit together on a moment to moment basis, you likely do not get near enough of time for yourself.

Going grocery shopping sans kinder, or listening to music in the car on my commute to/from work, or emptying my bladder/bowels alone (yeah, right!), is about the closest I get to “me time” these days.

So, when I heard one co-worker complaining to another co-worker that I never made good on the casual (read: extremely casual) offer I made to go out to dinner two years ago, I got a little defensive.

I’m an introvert.  There’s been a lot of stuff written about us innies in the past few years, and it has helped me to realize that “down time” is a crucial factor for  my well-being.  Working as a social worker is a job that requires a shit-ton of extroversion and it is redonkulously exhausting for me.  Then I go home and have hugging/dinner/bathing/snuggling/stories/bedtime/all the various and sundry duties of a mama.  It is my life, and I try not to complain about it because it is what I chose and I am incredibly blessed in it. But the reality of this amazing life I chose is that it is highly demanding, stressful, and just plain tiring.

Some days it is really hard for me to not look at people who are talking to me and just say to them, “Leave.  Me.  The.  Fuck.  Alone.”

I’d kind of like to start  a Go Fund Me campaign, but instead of donating money, people could donate units of time for me to just spend as I please.  Seriously, I think that is a great idea.  It’s right up there with the napping café my husband would like to start for sleep deprived parents who would pay just about anything for a half hour snooze.

I realize that people without children do not like being told that they don’t understand what it is like to have kids.  I don’t want to hurt or offend anyone’s feelings here, but my childless friends just don’t get it.  It is just soooo hard to get anything done outside of work/children/house/marriage.

It really just isn’t that easy to make plans outside of my home right now.  My kids are both still little, and require lots of time and attention.  It is really hard to be away from them all week, but then the weekend comes and it is really hard for us to all be together all weekend.

Because I really just want to be left alone.  Not forever.  Just long enough to catch my breath, blog a bit, and do a few yoga poses.

People, like my disgruntled coworker, will ask why I can’t just leave my kids with the hubz and go out for dinner.  Well, it isn’t really that easy.  There is a delicate balance.  My kids are at stages right now (three and seven) where they need lots of one on one, and they don’t naturally get along that great with one another because they are at such different places developmentally.  So there is a lot of “divide and conquer” in our family.  Neither my husband or myself really want to be left alone with the children, especially at delicate times of the day, like dinner or bedtime, which is when my footloose and fancy free pals usually want to hang.

I don’t mean to be bitchy, but it makes me feel all annoyed that people want to make additional demands on my already precious time.  That’s another part of being an introvert for me; it makes me nutty when I feel I am not living up to what people want from me.  I mean, I haven’t made time to go out with my best friend in the past two years.  Mercifully, she also has two small ones and understands my plight without judgment.

So, if you happen to have a friend who is an overworked mama, cut her some slack, especially if she is an introvert.  She likely is not avoiding your invitations and is just struggling to carve out a little time to keep her sanity.

In the mean time, if you happen to have some secret stash of “free time” that you would like to share with me, I will be accepting donations.

Dinner is Served… For Mom

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Dear Chef Ramsay.

I’ve always been a fan of your cooking shows.  I find it uber sexy when you yell and scream at your minions who do stuff wrong, or not up to your standards.  I kind of fantasize about having you as my side kick, who can yell at people who piss me off throughout the day so I can get my point across but still be seen as the nice lady.   

I would also love to be in the kitchen with you. . .  But I hate to cook.  I fucking hate to cook.  I’m a working mom and I barely have time to breathe, or the energy with which to wipe myself after I use the toilet.  I sort of imagined my kids would breastfeed until they could make their own grub, but that’s not quite how it went down.  

So meals around our house are usually catch-as-catch-can, if you know what I mean.

I realize you are a gourmet, Michelin Star winning chef, and in all likelihood you do NOT know what I mean. 

 Let me explain. 

 Every now an then (read:  nightly), I get home late, and have about 30 minutes to spend with my kids before they have to go to bed.  I emerge from bedtime, tired, frazzled, and hungry as hell.  But I don’t really want to cook myself that divine scallop and risotto thing, or get into a beef wellington, because remember?  I’m tired and I hate cooking.  Fucking hate it.

Dinner after bedtime usually looks a lot like this:

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Yum!

So sometimes when I am in my kitchen making a “mommy dinner” between eight and nine p.m. , I like to think of a witty way in which I would present it to you.  For example: 

My dear Chef, may I present to you this dish I have concocted.  I call it English Muffins three ways.  First, we have the muffin buttered with plain, organic, and free-range butter.  Then there is a muffin smeared with cream cheese.  And finally, a delightful muffin spackled with peanut butter.  I’m serving this tonight with a $14 Shiraz (from the big bottle).

Bon Appetite!

 

 

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I try hard, sometimes, to cook special and nutritious stuff for my family.  But on the nights I get home late and don’t want to turn on anything more complicated than the toaster, this might be all you get:

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Or this:  IMG_7384Ok, we all want to have meals like this:  IMG_5059But sometimes we have to accept that English muffins and a little vino is all we are going to get.  And let’s face it, at that time of the day, after the day we have had, that’s what tastes best anyway because it is all we have the energy for.

Don’t worry about my nutrition.  I swear I eat a huge salad and about four servings of fruit throughout the day while I am at work.  And besides, wine counts as a fruit, right?

Thanks so much for stopping by Chez Momaste.  We hope you enjoyed your muffin platter.

And even if you didn’t, don’t worry.  We sort of get off on hearing you yell about your dissatisfaction.

Hey Moms!  What do you love to eat for dinner?  Do you have a special “mommy dinner?”  Do share your favorite recipes below in the comments!  

Momaste’s Five Minute Facial Treat

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People frequently ask me how I get such a glowing, radiant complexion and manage to look so fresh and young, despite my hectic-working-mom lifestyle.

Nah, I’m just kidding.  No one has ever asked me that, ever, never, not once.

But I do have a little facial hack that makes me feel so dewy it seems people should be stopping me in Target to ask my beauty secrets.  

As you may have realized, Momaste is not the place you want to come for straight up advice, awesome life hacks, or recipes.  The reason for this dearth of sage wisdom is because I mostly suck at life, unless it involves getting comfortable while simultaneously breastfeeding and sleeping.  Oooh, I should write a post about that!  Because that is one thing at which I most definitely have not sucked!

But I digress. . .

Anyway, I love you guys, and want to share a sweet little thing you can do to show yourself a little kindness.

My facial is an elegantly simple treat you can give yourself whenever you feel your complexion is getting a bit sallow, like say when you have endured blizzard conditions for the past three weeks and haven’t seen any sun.  True story.

The ingredients are simple, and probably stuff you have lying around right now, or can pick up on your weekly trip to Trader Joe’s.  You will need:

  • The juice of an organic lemon (or a regular lemon, or the squeezey stuff in the fake, plastic lemon)
  • About three tablespoons of coarse, organic sugar (or, you know, regular sugar)
  • A couple squirts of pure jojoba oil (a dab of melted or soft coconut oil would also be lovely, or you could use a tiny bit of olive oil, or EVOO, for those of us who think we are cool and like to use abbreviations)

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1.  I start by squeezing the juice of about half an organic lemon (or a few squirts of the fake, plastic lemon) into a ramekin.

2.  Then add your sugar.  It is best if you add the sugar right before you are ready to do the facial, otherwise it tends to melt, and the coarseness of the sugar, which gives a lovely, exfoliating scrub, loses some of its magic.

3.  Add a couple squirts of the oil of your choice.  I love jojoba because it has a natural ability to unclog pores, and is a wonderful makeup remover.  I’ve also found through trial and error that it is an oil I can wash with on my face (yes, I did just say wash with oil, it’s a hippie thing) and I won’t break out.  It is mild and light, but also very moisturizing.

4.  Scrub a dub dub!  

Since this sugar scrub tends to get a bit messy, I use mine in the shower.  Then I can also use it on my neck and décolletage.  The sugar helps scrub away dead skin cells, while the lemon treats your flesh to a burst of vibrant vitamins, lightens dark spots, and invigorates your complexion.  The oil (and yes, I know jojoba is actually a wax and not technically an oil) helps to quench and moisturize, and also removes any left over makeup or grime.

Just be careful that if you do go out in the sun (fat chance in my neck of the woods right now) you wear sunscreen.  Something about the vitamins in the lemon juice makes skin particularly sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays. . .  oh mama, if only we had some harmful rays right now. . .  IMG_7044

But I digress.

Let’s face it, we are all busy people, and in the course of mothering and cooking and cleaning and working and commuting, we tend to forget about taking as good care of ourselves as we do our kids, spouses, clients, etc.  For me, taking five extra minutes a couple times a month to engage in this wonderful-smelling ritual makes me feel like I am really caring for the skin I’m in.

So, try it out and let me know what you think!  
Unless, of course, you are allergic to any of the ingredients in this facial.  In that case, for the love of goddess, please do not indulge.  Melt some chocolate and stick your toes in it or something else (a pedicure I actually gave myself one time, true story).

Do you have any beauty hacks that make you feel amazing?