A Valentine’s Day Love Letter. To Me. From Me.

Dear JD,

You’ve had a really hard few weeks, honey. I know you have. A traveling husband, a puking child, the same child not sleeping, and your work projects exploding … well, it’s a wonder you are standing upright.

I’m here to tell you: GOOD JOB, MAMA! YOU ROCK! AND I LOVE YOU TO PIECES!

I know you feel like you are doing horribly at everything. You feel like you are letting everyone down at work, you’re an inadequate mother, and you suck as a wife. And not in a way your husband appreciates.

You’re not doing horribly. You are holding it together. Pretty well, given the circumstances. You even manage a smile and a big hug for your daughters in the morning when all you want to do is crawl under the covers and hide from them and the rest of the world. And I say bravo, my dear. Bravo.

And listen. You know that little 20-something twit at work who is complaining you are “only part time” and “not dedicated to the project” and sent you an email tonight lamenting that she “wished you were here tomorrow so we could talk through some more things”?

She’s a child. She doesn’t have ANY IDEA about life priorities or that you are working WAY more than you are supposed to on this project and how completely dedicated you are, but that family ALWAYS comes first. Someday she will be cursed with colicky twins who puke all over her every night and look back at the time she was mean to you and understand that karma is definitely a bitch.

And I know Grace’s inability to sleep at night is killing you, both mentally and physically. I know you feel helpless. But you haven’t done anything wrong. It’s not your fault. And someday, somehow, she will – and you will – sleep again.

I know you worry about Anne not getting enough attention because Grace is needy and you are so damn tired. But she is doing great. And you are doing great raising her. She loves you to pieces and you love her right back.

You are doing SO MANY THINGS RIGHT. You are carving out time for yourself.  You are getting help via therapy and antidepressants. You are spending quality time with the Hubs. You are working out. You have a job and are making some good money because you are great at what you do. You are still getting quality time with your kids, making cookies and valentines and other things they love to do. You have this blog and you are writing for yourself. And you are full of love for your family and friends.

Now it’s time to be full of love for yourself.

Ya hear me, woman? Appreciate yourself. You rock. Yeah, you’re not perfect. No one is. But you are doing the best you can, and the best you can is pretty damn good.

Life is hard right now. But you are still blessed. And I know you know it. And that you appreciate all you have. So hang in there. The saying “It Gets Better” goes for you, too.

Keep on keeping on with your awesome self. And Happy Valentine’s Day, you sexy lady.

Love, Yourself

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“I have no patience with my little kids.” I hear you. And here’s how I’m managing.

Do you have no patience with your little kids Me either. Here's how I'm managing.

Patience is not my virtue. And that makes being a parent of small children really tough sometimes.

Part of my patience deficit is the irritability and anxiety that go along with the depression I am managing right now. Part of it is the utter lack of sleep I get because of Grace’s sleep issues. Part of it is just me.

I love my kids. They are wonderful, darling, kind human beings. (I feel it’s necessary to issue that disclaimer before I complain about them.)

However, my kids are not easy going in any way, shape, or form. And you know what that means:

Irritable, sleepy, patience-deprived mom + clingy, needy, high-maintence children = mama on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Man, do I wish I could be one of those moms who doesn’t lose their temper on a regular basis. And I wish my kids could occupy themselves long enough without fighting or whining for me to fold some laundry, do some dishes, play on Facebook, send some important emails.

But they can’t. Not quite yet. So for now, if they are home and I really need a chunk of time to cook dinner, de-crumb the kitchen floor, or just, you know, breathe, on goes the TV.

GASP! It’s true! I let my kids watch TV for more than 20 minutes at a time!

Whatever works, people. We’re talking about my own sanity here.

But you know what? I think it’s going to get better. I really do.

Because something occurred to me the other day. No, not occurred to me. Hit me like the proverbial bolt of lightening.

WHY in the WORLD do we moms feel like we have to be good at every single stage of childhood?

When our little kids irritate us, we beat ourselves up over it. We think, shouldn’t we love them and all their “isms” when they are babies, toddlers, preschoolers? Shouldn’t we have endless patience for them because they are our precious little punkins, our flesh and blood, our babies?

I say NO.

Think about it: Some child caregivers adore babies, some go into early childhood education, some teach grade school. These people choose to work with the age they connect best with.

As parents, we don’t get to choose what age we want to work with.

So I think it’s unrealistic to think that just because a kid is our kid, we’re going to be naturals at parenting at every stage of their existence. We’re going to be great at some stages and not so great at others. We need to ease up on ourselves, people.

And since I am finding that my lack of patience is not easily conducive to being a good parent to young kids, I have been making changes. And they’re working. I am:

  • Taking meds that help manage my irritability
  • Seeing a therapist who gives me ideas on managing my kids
  • Working out twice a week
  • Not being a full-time SAHM: I work 2.5 days/week
  • Getting a sitter 4 hours/week for me time and/or solo errand time

Maybe as my kids get older my patience will increase. Or maybe I will need to do most or all these things for the rest of my life with kids to be a more effective, happy mom.

Who knows. All I know is that things are getting better because of the things I’m doing. So I’m gonna keep doing them. And it’s really helping me to both ease up on myself and be a better mom.

Are you having a hard time with the parenting stage you are in? What are you trying to make it easier?

Sleeping kids are good

photo credits: Alex really doesn’t want to be at Filene’sTime for a napCrying at dinner – Day 331no dinner = no dessert = heartbreak – MG 1168.JPG; all via via photopin (license)

Here’s why I freak out for a few days every month.


Every month I think I’m pregnant.

There’s no rational reason. The chances are pretty slim. At times it would practically be an immaculate conception if it did happen. It’s really quite ridiculous to even consider it.

But every month, it happens.

Even if I’m not 100% convinced I’m pregnant, I’m still thinking that maybe, I could be.

And it rattles me to my core.

Why am I so afraid of having another kid? Why do I so deeply fear something that so many people long for?

Partly because my girls are not easy and Hubs and I have our hands full as it is.

Partly because Hubs and I are looking forward to the end of the sleepless nights and tantrum-filled days that dominate us right now.

Partly because I really like working, and if we had a third kid I’d have to give up my job.

But mostly? Mostly for a very real, very tough reason.

Mostly because I suffered from postpartum depression after my second daughter, Grace. And three years later, I really haven’t quite bounced back.

And I worry if I had another kid, I wouldn’t ever bounce back.

Depression isn’t new to me. I had my first bout of it when I was a sophomore in college. Then another short bout when I got laid off for the fourth time in four years a while back.

So the postpartum depression with Grace wasn’t a total shocker, though it did seem a bit odd I didn’t have it the first time around with Anne.

But this time, what’s so perplexing to me is this current depression just never seems to go away. It keeps ebbing and flowing into something else.

First the PPD, which seemed to get better after meds and therapy.

Then my dad died suddenly and it turned into grief-based depression.

Now I have what my therapist calls “situational depression.” And you know what my “situation” is, what triggers my anxiety and anger and impatience and sadness?

My kids.

My own kids! That’s not exactly a “trigger” I can change.

So I am trying many different things to improve the situation. I don’t want to be an irritable, impatient, anxiety-ridden mom, feeling under siege by a barrage of unwanted emotions anytime her kids are remotely difficult. (Which, as those of us with small children know, is basically an hourly occurrence.)

So, I am working less. Exercising more. Getting more me-time. Trying a new antidepressant. Going to therapy. Walking away when a situation with the kids gets to be too much. Taking deep breaths and trying to fight off the urge to scream at the little people in my house who are constantly talking at me, pulling at me, complaining at me. Reminding myself of all the lovely qualities that my kids have and trying to focus on those, instead of the downright annoying ones that will eventually fade away with age.

Fighting. Battling. Persisting. Resisting … against myself.

There are many days when I am drained by 4pm from fighting off negative, unwanted emotions. It’s truly exhausting in a way I can’t completely describe.

Sometimes – no, often – I wonder: Is this it? Will it always be this hard? Will there ever be a day that I don’t have to fight against myself? Will I ever just be … truly … happy?

I have faith that I will. It has been a hard three years and I do lose that faith at times. I can see why the phrase is “battling” depression. But I’ll keep battling to get happy, regular me back. It’s a fight I just have to believe I’ll win.

And in the meantime? I guess I’ll start buying stock in EPT pregnancy tests.

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March 2013 note to new readers: This post was written one year ago. I am happy to report that I am doing much better today and I am feeling great. I still deal with depression and manage it in the ways I described above. I certainly have my ups and downs, and I never know when I’ll dip back down. But right now? Things are great.

So take heart, fellow depression warriors. With the right treatment, it can get better. Don’t give up.

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