Category: Motherhood (Page 2 of 2)

Day One

Guys. Today is December 5th. A seemingly random, any old day in December. It’s Monday. Mold pollen is high. Trees are turning bare. Brown is all around. I am in yoga pants. Many things are just entirely ordinary. EXCEPT.

I am embarking on a big, fat, mysterious adventure. It’s day one. I have strapped on my sports bra, pulled my hair up into a ponytail (okay, so yes, things I do every day, but stay with me) and am sitting here on this couch about to put this path into written commitment. It’s a big deal. It’s just a normal day. And, finally, I am ready.

You know what happened a while back? I forgot how to stay very close to things that bring me joy. I had a baby, then another. I had (and have) a marriage, a mortgage and a whole new life, and that life got big and busy and demanding, and in response, I got small, and tired and overwhelmed. I tried to keep up by giving everything away. It sounds so cliche, and if it wasn’t the honest to God truth, I’d tell myself to pick another plot line, but no. It’s just that simple, and just that complicated. Because what I learned then, is what I know now: You can NEVER ever sell out what feeds you to please/satisfy/make space/give room to what needs you. You NEED what feeds you.

Now, I have to go out into the world and ask JOY back into my life. With flowers, love notes, chocolate, jewels, the whole nine. This is courtship 911, and I am running the show which means we can all expect a lot of enthusiasm and a hefty dose of brutal honesty. I have no idea what the hell I am getting myself into, but I KNOW IT IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED. I am going out to get her (JOY, yes, she’s a SHE), and I am bringing her back HOME. To myself. I’m not coming home without her, so do not try to deter me. This is my vision quest, my expedition and my very own, personal J.R.R. Tolkien novel (okay, so that last one was a stretch, but think of me like Frodo!). PLEASE DO NOT PLAY.

I’m taking a daily route, which means I’m carving out time every day to call out to her. One day at a time, I am on my way. Every. Single. Day.

I know what you’re thinking. That sounds a little vague, sister! How do you plan to find joy? Do you have a map? Is there a plan? Does joy keep an address? What’s happening, here? I’ll tell you.

I’m going to write every. single. day.

I don’t really know much else about what this will look like, except for practical details, like how much I am going to have to wake up early and stay up late and do WHAT I MUST in order to keep this very deep and entirely sacred promise TO MYSELF. I know that I haven’t kept many promises to myself in a very long time, and that has felt so hard and harsh-both on the inside and on the outside. I have promised myself, from a place so far down inside of myself that I will GIVE myself this gift, this DAILY PRESENT, because GOD, IT FEEDS ME. It brings me joy.

Do you need to care or be interested or invest in this journey? Goodness, no! You can come along, or not. You can be with me, or be without me, and we are so good. I will tell you, that I WILL BE WITH ME in this, and I will be with you, should you decide to come along. I’m not sure that I’m up to anything all that important in any greater context, so please join me in keeping low expectations in the results department. This is just me and my words and a promise I made and intend to keep. Kinda straightforward/Kinda not so much (typical).

I’m not promising you miracles. I’m not promising myself an easy road laced with only perfect sentences. I am promising myself a trek across the space of myself. I am promising to embark on a luminous journey of 100% soul nourishment. I promise to show up. I promise NOT to give up. Not on me. NOT on joy. Otherwise? All else is up for grabs!

I’m so excited/scared shitless/alarmed/shaky/itchy/warm/cold/certain about this journey, and that’s how I know it’s precisely right.

Tally ho!

xo,

M

 

 

WOMAN

Hello, world! I am a woman. I need myself. I need a village. Friends, family, hugs, love, support, laughter. I need lots of trusting, wise, kind and loving people to help me raise my children/myself. I need my health. Physical strength. Vitality to move. I need food, water and shelter. I like to read. I like to cook. I love to be outside. I enjoy time spent with people (but not all the people at once because #introvert). Here’s what I don’t need:

To be constantly sold to
Fulfillment/Happiness that comes from OUTSIDE of myself
Weight loss solutions
Dieting regimes
Skincare regimes
Supplement regimes
REGIMES, IN GENERAL

In fact, I LIKE ME JUST THE WAY I AM. Wrinkles, stretch marks and more. Wide hips, small lips, squinty eyes, yoga pants, ripped t shirt, tennis shoes, unwashed hair. I’m so good with this look! I’m so GOOD with me. I don’t do tight rope walking or strict rules or less than well. You start throwing shoulds and musts and you betters at me, and I get all kinds of pissed off. I do not want your waist trainer, your diet shake or your 21 day master blaster workout routine. I want to live inside this body carefully and consciously, my people. I do not want to shred it or blast it or turn it into a beach body. IT IS OKAY TO PINCH AND PULL SOMETHING FROM MY SIDE, Y’ALL. I have bigger fish to fry!

And those bigger fish are the entire world that is ready and waiting to try to teach my daughter how much she needs to CHANGE and SHRINK and WITTLE and BLAST and SHRED and SMEAR ON or TIGHTEN UP. A whole world of messaging is headed her way and it says: BE MORE, BUT BE SMALL ABOUT IT. DO MORE, BUT DON’T LET ANYONE SEE YOU TRYING. BE QUIET. BE STILL. SIT DOWN. SMILE MORE. MAKE ME COMFORTABLE. ALWAYS BE COMFORTABLE. KEEP TRYING. NEVER GIVE UP. EXCEPT, ON YOURSELF.

Y’all, I’m on a rampage this year, and I should’ve known it was coming because this year felt like shit up until I started asking myself the right question, and that question was not “What is wrong WITH ME?” The right question was: WHAT IS WRONG?

Cliff notes: So many things.

Anywho, I’m just not cool with being a woman and raising a girl in a world that wants to sit me down and shut me up and squeeze me into a pencil skirt. I’m not cool with a world that wants me to spend my money on a diet industry that keeps me SCARED of my body, and AFRAID of myself. I am not down with raising kids in a world that tells me I need to do it all by myself and do it perfectly and never fail and never fuck up, while telling me to somehow make sure to teach my kids to fail and teach my kids to fuck up and teach my kids they don’t have to be perfect. What?

I’ll choose to give to myself, put into myself, teach myself. I’ll choose to be so conscious so that anything I do consume, I consume with my wits and my senses and myself. I’ll teach my kids to fail and fuck up by failing and fucking up. I’ll teach my kids to be enough by learning that I AM ENOUGH. I’ll teach my daughter to love her body by LOVING MY BODY. I will teach my girl to know herself by KNOWING MYSELF. I’m not looking for myself in other things, in other bodies, in other people. I am RIGHT HERE, MY BABIES.

HELLO, WORLD! I did not come to social media to share my perfect pictures, and tell you about my shiny life. I came here to share myself, to be seen and heard and to connect. Mark Zuckerberg did not KNOW what he was getting all of you into.

Do not let anyone tell you what you need, boo. YOU NEED YOU. We all do.

xo,

M

I Just Had to Listen

Oh, I was feeling small and fragile and shaky today. Things felt extra hard. I felt extra incompetent. After a while, I looked at the boys (my husband and son) and asked/begged: PLEASE GO AND LEAVE ME ALONE FOR A WHILE? And, while my daughter slept upstairs, I decided that maybe it would help to come spend a little time with myself.

Oh, I have been working so, so hard, you guys. I have just been working deep and wide and painful and time consuming and rewarding and exhausting and for myself and for my kids and for my marriage and for my family and for my world. I have been working in tedious fashion, pulling tiny specs of dust and dirt off of my heart, whittling away at old, unnecessary ways of doing things and gathering a pile of shit I no longer need and discovering the courage, in small bits and pieces, to throw that shit out and keep going.

Today, I woke up, and everything inside me said, “Stop. Wait. Rest awhile, dear.” The kids were needing me, the day was calling and my husband was waiting. But, my body and my SELF would not be deterred. “SIT DOWN, SISTER,” they begged me. “GO FIND THE QUIET,” they urged. I started crying, for what felt like no reason, and retreated to my bed. My husband wanted to know what was wrong, and the words came from someone, I think me, “I just need space and quiet and away. Please take over?” And, he did.

There was a time in my life when I would have forced myself onward, even when all things inside said, “Stop. Wait. Rest, awhile, dear.” I would have pushed onward for “the sake of” my children, my husband or my career. I would have told myself to shhh, shhh, be quiet. Get up, get going, and you will be fine. Don’t wait. Don’t stay. Don’t listen. Just go.

This year, I have learned that listening to myself is the best and greatest thing I can do for myself and for everyone who knows and loves me. When I listen to myself, I can listen to the people around me. I can hear my children, my husband and my friends. I can be awake, and I can make conscious choices. It’s amazing, actually, what I can see and hear and do when I listen, first, to myself. I never knew how much I was missing when I wasn’t listening to myself. How I was shutting down to so much because I was shut down to myself. Now, the world is NOISIER, but I am clearer. I need this combination of REALITY and SELF, because, for some crazy reason, it grounds me. It anchors me. I can feel my legs again. The shakiness stops. The blood returns to my body. I can breathe.

Today, after listening very carefully, I discovered that I was hungry. So, I made myself this salad.

Not a salad advertisement, but wow-right?

Not a salad advertisement, but wow-right?

After I ate it, I cried. Because I am so proud of myself. I am hobbling around and facing myself and doing the next right thing over and over again. I am showing up when I don’t know what to do or how to do it. I am doing simple, every day things, and big, lifelong lesson-y things.  For more than half my life, I wanted to be this strong. I wanted to be this brave. I wanted to be this creative. And, after all of those years of longing and searching and not listening, HERE I AM. I was always here. I didn’t have to be fancy or shiny or even walking on my own two damn feet. I JUST HAD TO LISTEN.

(Also, I am proud of my salad skills, but we’ll save that celebration for another day, because time and such.)

Oh, thank you world, for letting me share this with you. I am not trying to teach you the lessons of yourself. I am just so grateful because now that I am listening, I also feel courageous and driven to SPEAK. It feels like real life running through these crinkly veins. I needed that. I needed this. I needed me. I needed you.

Love you. Mean it,

M

2016

The universe gave me a HUGE gift this year, and I probably would have noticed it sooner, if I hadn’t been busy being REALLY pissed off about it (typical). Anywho, in this latest episode of What God Gives When He Takes Away, I lost the ability to run/walk, BUT I FOUND MYSELF. Here is the very long-winded story of how that came to be.

This past year, it felt like the bottom dropped out at the same time that the roof blew off. I went back to work full time for all the wrong reasons, and, naturally, it was awful. My kids entered two “challenging” developmental stages AT THE SAME TIME (2 year old hitting me, 3 year old tantrums at all the times). If there was an injury to be had, I was having it, and surgery was in my near future. Finally, my 2 year old was up all night, and so was I. Ultimately, I was tired and in pain and really ready for Calgon to take it all away, and then a crisis occurred in my marriage.

Yes, Jesus, you can take the wheel, because I AM OUT, I thought. I just CANNOT, I believed. I planned for hip surgery, watched my children growing/exploding too fast for me to keep up with, and wondered, seriously, WHERE WAS I IN ALL OF “THIS” ANYMORE?

Spoiler alert: I was lost. And, as soon as I realized I was lost? I got angry.

I got super, duper angry. Like, mad at God and my husband and my parents and my uterus and the weather and the season and the year and THE WORLD (cue Godzilla voice on that last one for effect). Anyway, I was so darn pissed off (thank you, Jesus), that I broke right on through the haze I had been in and I WOKE THE F UP. I looked around me. I was like, WHAT THE WHAT? Nope. Not going out like this, sister.

You know what I have been doing way too much of over the last 4-5 years? BEING SMALL. Really. Like, shrinking to make space for my growing family. Shrinking to make space for my marriage. (Noble effort here, all around, but maybe I overdid it which is totally typical for me). It’s no wonder I was lost, because I had disappeared, shrinking to hide from things that needed me or, worse, that scared me, like:

Being a Mom. Wow, that is some scary business in the beginning for all the days, right? I have been super overwhelmed trying to figure this gig out, and it’s taken me some time to learn that I’m NEVER going “to figure it out,” so better to get back to being MYSELF, and let the rest work its way out. It sounds so simple, but trust that this took me 4 years to discover. Good times!

Being Married. Also, wow. Marriage is about the riskiest business in town, and guess what? I didn’t realize the risk until I was way the F married and trying to balance MYSELF with ANOTHER PERSON and doing ALL OF LIFE’S THINGS in partnership with SOME ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PERSON and NOT JUST ME and OUR KIDS ARE DEPENDING ON US so NO PRESSURE but SMILE FOR THE FAMILY PHOTO!

Let me say, here, that I LOVE my husband. He’s a wonderful guy. Marriage is hard even if you’re both Beyonce, and I’m not going to sugar-coat that for you, friends. We’ve had a long ass learning curve, my hubs and I, and he was not the one who asked me to shrink. I went ahead and did that on my own (it’s my thing).

In fact, I have 35 years of experience shrinking to make room for other people’s needs under my belt, and while I learned this behavior very young and it was the only way to survive back then, I know better now. My kids haven’t taken anything from me and neither has my husband. In fact, they’ve given me so many things, and the first thing on that list of gifts is A REASON TO GROW INTO MY HIGHEST SELF. Never has this been more pronounced than in the last year, when I have regularly found myself stopping and asking, in complete desperation: Who am I going to be for myself and for my family? This year gave me the perfect conditions to go and look for that person, and while I hadn’t planned on doing that search sitting down, I now realize it was exactly the way I had to go.

So, circling back to the point here, by the time the clock struck midnight on good ol’ 2016, I was already profoundly, deeply and painfully lost, and at a time in my life when being lost can easily go unnoticed (read: BUSY AF). I was surviving, hidden underneath all of the work and the issues and the stuff and the fears and the challenges and the everyone else. 2016 showed up and said: WORK. Or, in other words:

The Lord came down and granted me two silver crutches and said, unto me: Go, forth! And, be found, wise woman. Look deep, deep inside yourself while seated on your uncomfortable couch. There, you will find YOUR ANSWER.

Kidding. It way didn’t happen like that, but I did find myself having to spend time WITH MYSELF in a brand new way. At first and for a while, I was mad about it. I cursed the names of all those I loved. But, I came back. And I kept showing up. And doing my work. I’m still doing it, and finding lots of things along the way. I found my voice (EXHALE TIMES 1000 BC THAT WAS ANNOYING). I found my spirit. I found my faith. I found my COURAGE. I’m still scared, but I’m not hiding and I’m not going to be silent. Finding myself hasn’t taken away tough stuff, hard times, bad days and LIFE. But, it is giving me the courage to do the work with strength, with humor and with gusto-three things I hadn’t felt in a long time.

These times of upheaval are so intense and they hurt. It’s hard. It doesn’t make sense. Until you choose to let it. When you do, you have to hang in, and for longer than you may deem acceptable. Then, I promise you, because I’m THERE, DUDE: Something important is coming.

For some of us, we have to get REALLY uncomfortable and LITERALLY IMMOBILE in order to get found. Especially if you’re a high functioning person, like me. Because I tell you, guys, I would have kept myself busy doing all the things for all the others forever, if I hadn’t been stopped. And stuck. And handed these magic crutches.

If you’re in the DUMPS. If you’re L-O-S-T. If you’re feeling small and stuck and shriveling. You may need to sit down and do some searching. I’m no spiritual leader and I am NOT a therapist or even a person you should necessarily trust with your plants and pets, but I am really, truly tuned into myself for the first time in a while. And that feels like the most important thing in the world.

xo,

M

Growing Up is Hard to Do

My son turns 4 next month. While he is still small, he seems sort of gigantic to me lately, and these 4 years are a blur. My pregnant and postpartum days are behind me, and it seems like all of a sudden that I’m no longer surrounded by toothless grins and pureed peas and babies slung onto my hip.

Those babies grew teeth and learned to eat their peas whole and now are too big to sit comfortably on my hips. Those days were exhausting and always new (I didn’t know whether I was up or down half the time), and I worked all the time, but without pay or much recognition. Caring for babies can seem like invisible work unless you’re the one doing it (or, perhaps, the one who has done it). But the urgency and the tenderness of the work is energizing in a way that always gave me strength when I most needed it.

Nowadays, I’m spending a lot of time realizing how futile my initial worries as a new mom really were. Breast or bottle? My babies did both, but mainly, they were fed. Cry it out or attachment parenting? Again, I did a bit of both, and eventually, they slept and not one of them better than the other. There’s nothing like having two children to make it glaringly obvious that tools, tips and techniques are only useful in good luck, and that what matters most is the simple act of giving love. Over and over, again and again.

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As I age, and my babies age, I am learning that the only way to give my children the love, empathy and support they need is to first give it to myself. And, this requires a kind of shift that I’d say is pretty difficult to make when you have tiny babies, but not as difficult to make once they’ve grown into mouthy, small children (albeit, CUTE and mouthy small children). Still, it takes real, conscious effort to learn to take the oxygen mask first, again. I still struggle, in my body, to believe that could possibly be the right thing to do. Some kind of person was born along with both of my babies, and that person is me, their mother. Getting to know this new person is no small feat, and I find it even harder to crack her code since she so often turns to her children and seems to identify, primarily, with them.

But, my babies are no longer babies, and their changing needs are changing me. Some days, accepting that I have to put effort, space, time, air and breath back into myself and back into my body in order to give to them feels like a strange punishment, an alien request, an inconvenient truth. The world is rough, and for a while it was made less so because I looked only at those two tiny bodies.
I want to teach them patience, so I must learn it. I want to teach them faith, so I must practice it. I want to teach them compassion, empathy and generosity, so I must discover how worthy of those things I am, myself. When my child cries, I can no longer pick him up to make it stop. I have to teach him to find courage and be vulnerable and feel his feelings-all things I still continue to learn. It’s all new work these days, and the thing is, the work is really all in me.

It’s strange and spiritual and simple how giving birth isn’t just about bringing a baby into the world. Raising children isn’t just about keeping growing bodies out of harm and learning right from wrong. Each year that my child grows, so do I, and this is as terrifying as it is wonderful.

All ye mamas on the brink of having babies, or watching your babies become toddlers and then children, I send you my sweetest, most tender hugs. The road forward is a heartbreaking, soul saving and life-affirming journey into yourself. I’m there, at least that much I know.

xo (here we go),
M

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