Is it OK to not be OK?

How are you?

Fine. You?

Great.

We have these mini-conversations every day. And it is a standard. For the most part, no one is really inviting you in that moment to discuss your general well-being. It’s the new hello. How are ya? Good! Great. Have a good day.

But what about people you know? People you REALLY know. At what point can you say, you know what- I’m NOT OK. Not even a little bit. Seems to me noone really wants to hear it. And that’s OK, too, because lord knows we all have enough going on.

One of my favorite replies came from one of my grandparents who used to say, “Can’t complain. Who would listen anyway?” I don’t remember which grandparent would say this, maybe they all did. Maybe you just get to that point in your life where you think no one wants to hear your laundry list of Things That Have Gone Wrong Today. And that’s true. No one does. Again, lord knows we have our own sets of crosses to bear. But at what point does not burdening another with our bullshit become holding in things which are actually kind of significant to us? Things that will eat at us from the inside if we don’t let them out.

I was a Facebook “vague book” offender the other day when I posted that my heart was heavy and I urged people to be nice to one another because as the saying goes, we are all fighting battles no one knows about. I received so many lovely and comforting comments and texts. It felt good to know I was supported. But I didn’t necessarily want to get down into the deep and nitty-gritty. And I don’t, on a public blog, want to go there now.

However, I realized today when I let loose my angst on my child that I had been keeping too much bottled inside. It’s not that I don’t talk to people–I do. My mom. Sometimes my sister. I have friends I tell things to piecemeal. But I’ve been known to hold back and sugar coat. Because who really wants to hear that I’m hanging by a slender thread of sanity? That even though I could rattle off a gratitude list as long as your arm and I start and end each day with a prayer and I realize I am among the very blessed of this world, I am still sinking deep into a place where I desperately don’t want to go.

Admitting weakness is not one of my strong suits. I can self-deprecate with the best of them, but when it comes right down to it I feel like I am a strong mofo, above weakness of any sort, and there is absolutely zero room for me to complain or accept sadness or accept anything that is not within my immediate control.

But that’s all a load of horseshit.

There are a zillion things out of my control. From as big as the constant barrage of violence in our world to the way my children react to the only parenting I am qualified to give to health issues that arise which I am not qualified to fix, whether they be mental or physical.

This is certainly not something that the odd passerby who asks me how I’m doing needs to hear. But it is something we all need to address in our lives; whether we need to find that trusted confidante or we need to admit to ourselves that there is a problem that can’t be solved on our own, we need to stop pretending that things are OK when they are not.

Maybe if more people said, “I’m not OK right now” and weren’t looked at as freaks or inappropriate or whatever, this world would be a different place.

I know that today is just a moment in time. I know that this, too, shall pass.  But let’s all remember people need a safe place to say, “I’m not OK”. If we all strive to be a safe place for someone, anyone, maybe the world wouldn’t seem so overwhelming.

Just a thought and I haven’t written anything in so long, I’m just hitting publish on this baby…

 

 

 

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Triggering memories

In school, I was never great at history and remembering dates. I’ve got a couple big ones left in my head (Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492), but mostly they are all gone. I’m much better at remembering personally important dates like birthdays and anniversaries and such. Way before Facebook’s birthday reminders, I was a master at remembering birth dates of friends. I’m less masterful at getting my act together to actually send a card, but that’s a different story. Recently, I got in touch with an old friend I haven’t seen in probably 15 years and I texted her on her birthday and she couldn’t believe I remembered.

Lately, I’ve been getting a big kick out of Facebook’s app “On This Day”. Facebook will show you posts from years before on the same date so you can reminisce and re-share and reconnect with people over shared memories. There are other apps that do the same thing with pictures and such. It’s fun to see where my head was at on any given day 6 years ago or see pics of my boys as they grow.

was i describing laundry?

was i describing laundry?

2013 glasses

wordpress 2014

All cute, but none that I especially felt like re-sharing (ironic, since I’m now writing a blog post about it) and nothing that would actually lend itself to remembering this particular date in time. Since today also happens to be “Throwback Thursday”, another social media trend I enjoy following because who doesn’t love an excuse to post old pictures?, I began sorting through old pictures of the boys thinking I could find a fun one from July of another year. That’s when I realized the significance of the date.

July 9th. It’s not exactly a super important date in my personal history, but it is exactly 2 months until the boys’ 10th birthday. Here’s what they looked like 2 months before their 1st birthday:

10 months G 10 months cjm 10 months

Look at those pudgy little babies! How lucky we were (and are). This was back when I would take a photo on the day of their birth each month to see how they had grown. I even had a frame where I was going to put each of these monthly pictures for the first year. I think they are in a box somewhere, but I digress.

Here is what I looked like a year before that:

hospitalThree days from now will mark the tenth anniversary of the day I was admitted into the hospital with the possibility of having my babies 13.5 weeks before they were due. July 12th will be a date I will remember forever. Mostly because I make myself remember. I’ve made it a twisted anniversary of sorts. A day which could have been really horrible. A day my whole life could have changed. Maybe even a day where my world should have changed more than it did.

If I were trying to write a good story, I would say that July 12th was one of the scariest and most confusing days of my life. But that’s only partially true. Looking back, I can see I wasn’t nearly as scared as I should have been. Maybe it was faith. I had to believe that everything was going to be just fine. Maybe it was naiveté. I didn’t understand the seriousness of the issues I was having. Maybe it was stubbornness. I couldn’t let anyone think that I couldn’t handle what was happening. Maybe it was something else. Maybe it was denial.

I do remember that when they admitted me to the hospital, I really didn’t think I’d have to stay there–despite the doctor flat-out telling me I was going to have to stay. I do remember thinking the doctors were being overly conservative and I was sure I’d be fine. I remember worrying about work. I do not remember being truly concerned I was going to go into labor. Even when the contractions started. Even when they put me on super strong drugs to control the contractions. I was going to be JUST fine. Yes, looking back. I think July 12th was a day of denial.

It wasn’t until the following day(s) when shit got real. I became very sick from the medication. My lungs filled up with water. I was having difficulty breathing. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure everything was going to be fine. It felt more like I was going to die. At one point, it was late at night and I was being rolled down to have a CT scan to make sure I hadn’t developed an embolism. I was scared. I was crying. I didn’t want to expose my babies to radiation. I was singing “Me and my Bobby McGee” to the boys trying to make them dance in my belly so I knew they were OK. I’m sure the hospital staff was convinced I had cracked. I kept complaining about how I didn’t understand why it was necessary and wouldn’t it hurt the babies and just being a general pain in the ass until finally the frustrated technician told me it would hurt the babies a lot more if I had a pulmonary embolism and then went into labor and died.

Well, if you put it that way…

Obviously, it all turned out OK in the end. It would probably be easier for me to let my memories drift into a soft, hazy blur like so many of those first few weeks and months after the boys were born. Some memories are difficult. Some are better with the soft edges. Maybe some are even better left in the dark recesses of our minds, all but completely forgotten.

Without reminders from Facebook or birthdays or special occasions or re-reading old emails to discover what we were thinking on any given day, without a conscious effort to tell and retell stories which conjure up vivid memories of a place or time, all we are left with are the general impressions of moments in our lives; fleeting, fuzzy, and fallible.

I think it’s important to make that conscious effort to remember. To mark the passage of time with personal anniversaries and milestones. To revisit those key memories which shape who we are and reinforce them by sharing them. So, I’ll keep looking back and telling the boys stories about the days leading up to when they were born and then all the days after that I can remember. I’ll weave for them a story of their earliest moments so they will know how much I fought for them, how much I wanted to protect them, and how much I loved them.

For this memory will always be the sweetest of my life:

holding my babies for the first time

holding my babies for the first time

To-do or not to-do?

Despite my best attempts at detoxifying both my body and my spirit, I am tired. Exhausted, really. As I mentioned in my last post, I have so many thoughts running through my mind and so many tasks that remain incomplete, all I want to do is get the boys to bed every night so that I can crawl into my own nice warm, cozy bed and shut down. Or lately, I have gotten into the bad habit of “binge-watching” different television series until late at night, completely submersing myself in another world, someone else’s drama.

I just want a break. It would be so great to push a pause button on life so I could, ya know, relax, without everything falling to pieces. I’d like to be able to take a vacation where everything wasn’t piling up on the other side of that vacation. Or a few days where I just didn’t have to do anything…no cooking, no cleaning, no homework checking, no getting out the door on time, no “did you boys brush your teeth?”, no laundry, no bill paying, no having to get gas, no needing to go grocery shopping…just nothing. But then I don’t want to have to cram that whole list into the very next day either.

There is always something else to do

There is always something else to do

Basically, I need to be able to escape to an island where time stops and nobody needs me for anything and then about a week of being able to get my shit together and do all of the things I keep reminding myself need to get done and then life can resume.

Isn’t fantasy life grand?

But the reality is I am so consumed with all of the above, plus all of my responsibilities at work, that I can’t seem to cram another freakin’ thing into my day. Full disclosure: here are the top five things that I really should have completed but just CAN NOT seem to remember/make time for/cross of the to-do list.

  1. Super-glue my kid’s sneakers. The bottom rubber started peeling away from the tip of his sneaker ages ago. It has now become so bad that half the bottom is peeled away which he exacerbates by bending the rubber underneath his foot while he’s sitting around. Probably does it all day long at school. This is one I think about regularly when I am looking at the sneakers. But I have no glue. I remembered to think about super glue the last time I went to the store. But I forgot to buy it. At this point, I am going to have to make it a priority to make a special trip to the store to buy the stupid glue to fix the God-forsaken shoes. How do other mothers seem to be able to keep their kids in shoes without holes and parts falling off of them and I can’t manage to even buy the glue?
  2. Call the music instrument rental company and get a new bow for my kid’s Viola. The thing is, I did remember. I did call. And they came and switched out the bow. But then it was the wrong bow. And this is like the third thing that has gone wrong between the two instruments. It’s like I keep scratching it off my to-do list and it keeps magically reappearing. Plus, it’s one of those things that I only think about in the shower or while I am lying in bed or some other time where I can’t just pick up the phone and call. My son doesn’t remind me because he doesn’t even want to play the instrument anymore. Too bad I paid a whole bunch of money to rent it.
  3. Email one of my son’s teachers. I had a question about some inconsistency on his report card and I really want to clear it up. How does one get a “2” in counting and number facts and a “4” in algebraic thinking? Of course, maybe in the topsy-turvy world of Common Core math we have been living in that actually makes sense. You’d think this would be something I would just do. And yet, it’s been a week and I haven’t done it. Frankly, I’m more concerned with the scores I’m going to receive on my own “report card” at work. Hopefully, my marks will be easier to understand.
  4. Get my car registered and inspected. This one is sort of done now, but is an excellent example of my state of mind. In January I received the renewal notice from the DMV for my registration which expires this month. Seeing as how it is always a scramble at the last minute for me to get my car registered and inspected I thought, “I should just do it online now”. And I did. IN JANUARY! And then it came in the mail and sat in the pile of mail in the spot in the house where mail and bills and things collect (you know you have that spot, too!) Then the challenge was for me to remember to just put the sticker in the windshield. This is not a hard thing to do. But I waited and waited. Then about a week or so ago, I was headed to the garage to put some recycling in the bins. I caught sight of the sticker. I thought, “here’s my chance”. Grabbed it all, plus a bag of garbage and headed to the garage. As I was placing the trash in the bin I thought, “Geez, I am going to drop this sticker if I am not careful”. So, I put it on the hood of my car while I took care of the trash and recycling. When I was finished approximately 30 seconds later I thought “Whoa, it is cold out here”. I ran back inside. I didn’t think about the sticker again until I was in the school drop off line last Friday and I was staring at my windshield and the sticker and suddenly gasped. I actually had to order a replacement online in the eleventh hour because of that moment of brilliance. It’s like I have baby brain, except my kids are nine.
  5. Make an appointment with the gynecologist. I am way overdue. I need a mammogram. I need a regular exam. I need a lot of things. I can get my kids to the doctor/dentist/orthodontist, but I cannot seem to remember to just make a simple call during the day to get this all sorted out. I know this is the worst one on the list.

Maybe now that I have put it all down in black and white, I will be inspired to just get this shit done. Luckily, we have a long weekend coming up and perhaps I will be able to get the break that I am yearning for AND be able to scratch the necessary items off the to-do list. I shall consider this part of detoxifying my brain. Until then, I just need to get us to work and school with clothes on and food to eat. I figure if I set the bar there I should be able to leap over it even in my exhausted state.

Bed and books

Five days into my least favorite month and I am feeling OK. My “detox” is going about as well as can be expected. When one gives up sugar, carbs, alcohol, etc., there is a certain level of crankitude that I feel is acceptable. Especially when my darling children haven’t exactly been on their best behavior. In fact, it is almost as if they are pushing the boundaries more than usual. Or maybe I have just lost my capacity to deal with bullshit. Either way, it’s been a little rough here at home.

Full-disclosure: I haven’t written because I can’t bear to think about my life or my children or my challenges or string together a semi-coherent sentence for one minute longer after I tuck the little devils into bed. I turn things around in my head while I am driving or washing dishes and think about what I will write, but by the time I have them in bed the only thing I can do is crawl into bed and lose myself in a book.

I’ve been trying not to beat myself up about it and telling myself that I am not not writing because I can’t deliver on the brutally honest reality that I promised with “full-disclosure February”. No. It is just a measure of self-preservation. Even though it is true that I feel better when I write, sometimes (like this last week) I just need to turn off completely.

With that said, and my short, sweet (feeble) attempt at a post behind me, I am off to finish the book I am reading (Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel; it is excellent) and to finish the laundry. Tomorrow is another day.

Full-disclosure February

February has never been my favorite month.

I do love Groundhog Day. To me, it is the first sign of thinking about spring. Whether it is six weeks or eight weeks or whenever Mother Nature sees fit, no matter to me. A cute rodent is looking for its shadow and the world is wondering if it will be an early spring. Someday I will make the journey to Punxatawney and be a part of the spectacle.

Valentine’s Day? Hmmph. Whatever. I make an effort for the boys. We like to make cute Valentine projects. Love is wonderful. But the holiday is not really my scene.

Superbowl Sunday? Such fun. I love any big sporting event. Competition. Food. Clever advertising. What’s not to enjoy? Although I enjoyed it so much more when I lived on the West Coast and it didn’t start so late in the day.

I’ve got some friends and family with birthdays in February. That’s always something to celebrate. And Fat Tuesday usually happens in February and I can get behind a day of wanton excess.

I discovered I was pregnant in February. That was an interesting year.

It’s the shortest month, so its got that going for it. And once it is gone, Spring is so close you can practically taste it. But alas, if I had to choose one month out of the year to ditch…sorry, February, you’re it.

This year, I decided to combine lots of different elements to make February more engaging, more challenging, and ultimately more transformative (I hope) as we cruise into the Springtime of my 40th year. First, I decided I would undertake the Sober February Challenge.

It is exactly what it sounds like but you can follow the link and read it for yourselves. People do it for all sorts of reasons, but I figure it will be a good way to detox my body and save some money, too. I’ll need that extra money because I am also going to detoxify by changing my diet. I did a similar program last year (no sugar, lots of protein and veggies, moderate fat) and it worked great. I felt so much better and had more energy and I figure THAT is exactly what I need to feel great this February. The only catch is there’s a lot of cooking and meal planning and organic food shopping that needs to happen. But that’s OK, I won’t be spending any money on wine or on alcohol if I go out with my friends, so I can put it toward my meals.

No drinking should also help with quitting my worst vice: smoking. I’ve come so close, so many times. I get to the point where I am only having one cigarette a night or only when I am out having drinks with friends and I think, why the hell can’t I quit? What tethers me to these disgusting, smelly, nasty, cancer-causing sticks? These are rhetorical questions. I’ve tried everything. It’s just going to take sheer will power at this point, but this seems like the right time to do it.

February, since you already suck, I am just going to make this the most brutal 28 days of my life. It will be like boot camp. Only better. And I will come out of it a healthier and happier person.

So, with my no drinking, no smoking, new diet, I figured I would need another challenge to keep me focused on why I am doing all of this–because I want to live another 40 years (at least) to share many more adventures with my children and experience as much of this world as I can and to write about it as I go.

I looked for some good blog challenges to keep me on track like NaBloPoMo did, but I didn’t find any that struck a chord. So, I decided to make up my own: Full-disclosure February.

In looking back at my most popular posts, I noticed that the ones people responded to the most were those in which I was revealing the most about myself. Since September, I have been wanting to write a post inspired by a speaker that I listened to at a conference I attended through my work.

Kevin Bracy was a truly amazing speaker whose thoughts and words have stuck with me all these many months. The conference was for parents who are a part of a very special community Share Your Story, whom I have the privilege of working for and with. It is a support community for parents of premature children or children with birth defects or children who had to spend time in the NICU and for those parents who experienced the loss of their child. Kevin had his work cut out for him as he took on the role of keynote speaker and addressed what these parents were going through in “Finding a New Normal”.

One of the exercises he had us do was to go around our tables and tell a bit of our story using these words, “If you knew me, you’d know…” and THEN go around and say “If you REALLY knew me, you’d know…”. It was a tough, emotional exercise, but revealing. Not only revealing to the people at the table, but to ourselves, to reach into the place that sometimes not even our closest friends see, a place sometimes we don’t even go, and see what we pull out.

I kept toying with the idea of making it a blog post or series of posts. Something along the lines of, “If you knew me, you’d know I was a single mom of twins. If you REALLY knew me, you’d know that even though I’ll often say I thought I was too selfish to have babies and be a mother, my whole life I dreamed of having a big family. A loving husband. Lots of kids that loved one another and looked out for one another. A fairy tale. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and their whole crew. But me. And someone who loved me more than life itself. And a big brood of happy, healthy kids. However, I am stuck with the reality that while I am so ridiculously lucky to have healthy, mostly happy twin boys, I will probably never have that fairy tale. I would love to be married to a loving man and have another baby, but the reality is that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me. And sometimes I resent the hell out of that.”

Full-disclosure. All February long. I will detoxify my body and my mind and put all my energy into writing (and parenting) (and waiting for Spring).

I’d love for others to join in. If you decide to join, please send me a link! I also think this will only work if my lovely and amazing readers will comment and ask me questions or give me topics on which they’d like my raw and unadulterated answers. Give me something to write about!

No masks this February

No masks this February