about Blogs book exercise mamalougues contact Image Map

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Get My Freak On

I will never forget my first meal after giving birth to my first son. It was 4 a.m. and the nurse brought be a package of Graham crackers and a small container of peanut butter. I hadn't eaten in 22 hours, and anything I had eaten previously had been thrown up. 

I ripped open the package and devoured it, dropping little crumbs all over my newborn's head.  I then ate the peanut butter like it was going out of style, even using my finger to scrape out the tiny bit I couldn't reach with my knife, or truth be told, my tongue. It was so graceful to watch; I'm sure.

When my blood sugar finally leveled out, I began to try and feed my son for the 3rd time since he was born. It wasn't easy, he knew what he was supposed to do, but I was still trying to figure it out.  I had to put my nipple in his mouth, and I used my finger to get his tongue down so I could put it in there.

He too ate like he had never eaten before, come to think of it, he hadn't. When he finally finished, the nurse came in to take him to the nursery so I could rest.   Don left to take a shower at home, and I began to fall asleep until I was hit in the face with a punch called worry.  It occurred to me that my baby could be allergic to peanuts, and I had just poisoned him.

I frantically hit the call button for the nurse, called my husband, mom, sister, anyone and told them what I had done. Mind you, I had absolutely no basis to think that he was allergic to peanuts.  

By the time the nurse arrived, I had already gotten my freak on, and she assured me that Parker was just fine.  And he was. Looking back, I created something to worry about because everything just felt too perfect.

I may also mention that I have a major issue with anxiety. And I'm a little bit of a freak.

Fast forward 12 years to last week after Parker had a horrible night at lacrosse practice.  I had been working late all that week, and I already felt like I had been neglecting my children. He asked to speak to me in our bedroom, and as soon as I shut the door he fell to the bed sobbing.  I tried to figure it out, but I didn't know what was wrong. I asked if someone had said something to him that made him feel so terrible.  

I could here the bass start in my heart to Missy Elliott's song "Get UR Freak on."

Watching your child in emotional pain, may be one of the worst feelings ever imaginable. It's a punch in the heart that you can't stop and with every beat, it hurts just a little bit more.  He couldn't articulate why he was so distraught. So just like I freaked when I thought I had accidently killed him with peanut butter, I went into freak mode. If I had a transcript of all the texts I sent in the next 5 minutes, it would be amusing, to say the least.  I contacted his coach, my friend who is a father and familiar with lacrosse, my brother and that was just the first minute.  I wanted to know if anyone knew what was said to him to make him feel this way.  And more importantly, what I could do to fix it.

We sat on the bed and although since his birth he has gained 110 lbs. I still held him like he was that 9 lb. baby.

When he calmed down, he finally explained that he was the worst on the team and that he wanted to quit. 

Oh God, haven't we all been there.  I have wanted to quit so many times, but not with anything athletic; it is always with something academic.  When I don't feel like I'm smart enough, or I don't want to embarrass myself in front of a group of people with my lack of knowledge of things that I should just know.

But one thing I will never even think of quitting is being his mom.  And biologically it isn't an option, but metaphorically, mother's quit on their children all the time.

I wanted so badly to ease his pain and tell him it was okay to quit. That I'm fine with his quitting, but I couldn't do it.   These painful moments are what are going to make him a stronger kid, a stronger man, and stronger person.  I can't let him see me give up on him.  So I told him that wasn't an option.

I then shared that I took my college Algebra class 3 times before I finally passed. 

I don't know if he was listening, but through his puffy eyes, he told me he was going to go upstairs to his bedroom. But before he did, I read him a few of the texts I had gotten back from the people I had text ambushed.  When I finished,  he had already fallen fast asleep.

I may suck at math, but we all have things we are good at, for me, it is freaking out. 

The next morning I found him at the breakfast table, hair a mess, eating a bagel with peanut butter ironically.  I hesitated to bring it up, but I asked him if he was okay. He glanced up with sleep eyes and asked what I was talking about.   I reminded him of our conversation, and he said, "Oh that? Yeah, I think I was just super tired."

He was just tired.  And now I was because I didn't sleep well because I was too busy getting my freak on. But not a good kind of getting my freak on, the bad mother kind.

He had already moved on, or if he hadn't, he was choosing to power through and for that, I was as proud of him. Almost as I proud as the first time he figured out how to eat, even that took us a few times to figure it out.

I will gladly rip myself into heart shaped pieces if it helps makes him feel whole.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Just Show Up

I have a confession.  I don't have a high opinion of myself.  Sure there are a lot of things I think I do pretty well.  I'm not naive enough to think that I'm the best at anything, but I'm all right with that.   For a long time, I had this recording running in my head that would always be in the background.  But on some occasions it would get so loud I couldn't concentrate on what I was doing.

The recording was a collection of all the not-enough's.  The you're not smart, tall, pretty, talented, coordinated, thin enough's.  Then I became a mom, and the recording now had a second track called who are you fooling, you don't know how to, discipline, raise, feed, care for kids. Creating a familiar harmony of doubt in my head  no matter what I was doing.

I looked to other people to make me feel capable of any of those things listed above. Especially my mom.  And the only thing I realized is that there is a boat load of people doing the same thing.  How many likes does a post get, how many people notice my outfit?  How many letters can I get after my name?  (For the record,  I only have two and B.A. can stand for Bad Ass too.)  But when you work in academia, it's a big deal.

But when you go to bed at night, alone or with someone, none of those things matter.   When I'm laying in my cozy bed with my warm husband to my left, and each of my boys mummy tucked, and their cute, healthy bodies are cooking under the heat of three blankets and flannel jammies, while my dog is in the corner snoring louder than my husband, nobody cares or will remember how I made a typo in sending out a mass email.  Or how I accidentally slammed my son's foot in the door because he wasn't moving fast enough.  So why should I?

When I lay my head down at night, I take an inventory of the way I feel and if I did all I could do that day to make someone feel loved.

That is the one thing I am really good at.

I have one huge empathetic muscle, and it didn't become strong by sitting at home on my couch watching Netflix.  Although, at times that sounded more appealing.

After my Dad's accident, I had hundreds of people tell me they were praying for him.  I would say thank you and go about my day.  But it wasn't until recently that I realized that I hadn't prayed for him.  Not once.  I was overcome with guilt and thought, how awful, that I hadn't stopped to pray for my own dad.

Before I could add that to the long list of things that make me less than everyone else around me.  I realized my prayer was done by showing up.   Prayer to me is an action.

Showing up isn't hard, you just knock on someone's door, and say, I'm here.  I don't have any reason to be here, but here I am.  You don't have to have a prerequisite to show up.  So, okay maybe it is hard. Maybe you feel like you are imposing or that you will look like an idiot.  But that is when you have just to turn down the volume of your doubts.  Or bring wine, that is always a good idea too.

I suffered from severe postpartum depression and people unexpectantly knocking on my door kept me alive.  And that isn't an exaggeration, it's the truth.  Had they called ahead of time I would have told them I was fine, so I'm glad they didn't.

What I learned from that experience is that sometimes you need a depression ambusher.

I have had four close friends lose one of their parents this past month.  I thought about calling or even texting, but I couldn't come up with the right thing to say, so I showed up and sat with all of them.  Or if I couldn't go to their house, I just listened to them.

In their time of grief, I never heard any of them say,  that her mom didn't allow her to get a toy, or that his mom lost her temper once and said things she didn't mean. Or that her dad grounded her for talking back. What I did hear is that they wanted just one more day with them. Just one more hour, or minute, just to tell them that one thing that needed to tell them.  But now they can't.

But they can tell me, and I'll listen, because that is what I'm good at, and that is why I just show up.  Have you ever noticed that dogs do that?  When you are feeling down, they just walk over and sit at your feet, not saying a word. Dogs know the healing power of sitting in silence together.  Obviously they can't talk, but sometimes I think people should take note that words can get in the way.

I feel so blessed to have my parents.  Back in November, I wasn't so sure I was going to have both of them for long.  I was scared and didn't know what to do, so I just showed up and had some of the best silent conversations I have ever had with my family.

You learn so much about people when you step outside of yourself and your insecurities and just listen.  Listen with your soul, not just your ears.

What I know is that there are no words that are going to make anyone feel better when they lose someone, face a tragedy or are drowning in depression.  So why even try?  The best thing you can say to someone is nothing, just show up, extend your arms for a hug and allow what happens in the silence. It can be more comforting than any words ever could be.