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Should I be More Embarrassed or Should You?

On Saturday I was solo parenting. Adam was travelling for work and I decided I would hire a sitter and go to my friend’s birthday dinner anyway. So, I washed up, got dressed, put on makeup and drove to the restaurant. The restaurant was in a mall plaza and the parking lot was very busy. It took 5 minutes of driving around to find a parking space.

After my long day with my toddler who missed her dad already I was an hour late for dinner. But I was there. I left the house. I had a tasty dinner and saw friends that I haven’t seen in 6+ months. It was a really nice dinner and I was glad I mustered the energy to leave the house.

On our way out I offered a ride home to some friends. As we arrived at my car I noticed someone had written in the dust on the hood of my car. My initial thought was “some kid thinks it’s funny to write ‘wash me’ on my car” and was ready to dismiss it when I saw that it read ‘do you know how to park’. I laughed anyway because my wheel was on the line. Oops. I made a mistake. I guess that’s what I get for parking in a full parking lot in a cramped spot.

But then. Then the old lady in the van next to my car rolled down her window and said “that was me who wrote that”.

Well, that was unacceptable to me. I thought a young adult had written it. I didn’t think an old woman would be that crass as to risk scratching the paint on the hood of my car just because my car was a little bit too close to hers.

“You wrote on my car? You could have scratched the paint. You don’t know the circumstances I had when I parked here. I did the best I could. But you took the juvenile route and wrote on my car. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

I may have said it a bit louder than necessary but I said it. Her only reply was “aren’t you a pleasure to deal with”. I just looked at her and said “you wrote on my car. Go away.”

I think I’m still processing this for a number of reasons.

  1. I was genuinely surprised that a full grown adult decided that the rational thing to do was write in the dust on my hood instead of just driving away.
  2. My friends were there and they have never seen me yell at anyone like that. They said nothing and let me have my peace. They were very supportive after but I’m still embarrassed.
  3. I haven’t had a chance to get a car wash yet so it’s still on the hood of my car, mocking me every day.
  4. I’m worried that because I lowered my SSRI dose that my anger is rising again. I don’t like being angry. It feel awful. The hot anger in my stomach hasn’t returned but my patience is thin and I am quick to take it out on strangers. Especially bad drivers.

What did I learn from this? I learned that my view of humanity is probably wrong again. I always assume the best of people. I hate being proven wrong about that.

I learned that after a long day with a toddler that misses her dad and takes it out on me that I am quick to take that out on anyone who wrongs me.

I learned that my car is much dustier than I thought it was.

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Potty Training at Night or How I am Learning to Love the Dark

I seem to have accidentally stumbled into night time potty training.

We started day time potty training almost a year ago when Beans turned 2. She picked up on the peeing immediately. We have had maybe 4 accidents in that time and all because she was too busy playing and didn’t want to stop. Lately she’s even been really good at putting her toys down and running to the potty.

Poop had been a different story. It has taken her longer to figure that out. She seems to have mostly gotten the hang of it lately. And for that I am beyond thankful. Cleaning poop off a nearly 3 year old is beyond gross.

But now. Now she’s getting herself ready to stop wearing Pull-Ups at night. And I am not so grateful. Which is awful, right? I should be grateful. I should be happy that my kid is listening to her body and become more independent. Right?

But I’m not. I am so tired of waking up two or more times every night to the loud yells of “Mama, I need to pee” or “Mama, I really need to poop” or the best combo of “Mama, Mama, mama, I need to pee AND poop”. Which right now does not really mean “I need to pee and poop”. What it really means is “I have peed and pooped and now you have to deal with it”. Which means that in the middle of the night I am zombie walking to her room, changing her pull-up by the light of the washing machine controls bringing her back to her bed and trying to convince her to go back to bed. I have too many bruises on my shins from that fucking table in the hallway that I can’t see in the dark.

I am tired. I am tired of getting poop on my hands in the middle of the night. I am tired of not sleeping through the night. Here’s where you might think “Why don’t you enlist your so called wonderful husband to do some of the night duty?” If you are thinking that then you don’t know my husband. Adam may not hear every time she gets up but if I wake him up he will jump at the opportunity to step in. The only problem is that I spend that whole time awake, listening, waiting for him to get back to bed so I can go back to sleep.

So, what’s the silver lining? She’s learning that it’s uncomfortable to sleep in pee and poop. Which means that pretty soon she will wake up before her body takes over. Which means that soon she will stop wearing pull ups to bed and I can stop buying them and destroying the planet with them in my garbage.

What it doesn’t mean is the end of night time calls to the bathroom. She’s 2. She can’t fucking go to the bathroom on her own. I wouldn’t trust her to be allowed to leave her room in the middle of the night on her own. She would just go downstairs and play. And what if she fell down the stairs? Or what if she decided the tool and medicine cabinet looked especially enticing in the dark? What if she decided she needed to sleep in our bed and then I would really never sleep again.

So, what’s next? I guess powering through the night time wake-ups. It’s technically better than having a newborn. And I will take technicalities.

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Relationships

I talk to 2 people on a daily basis: my husband and my kid.

How many people would I like to talk to on a daily basis? Probably 6, maybe 10. But, obviously there isn’t time for that. Between work, groceries, crafting, husband time, and my constant need to enhance the functionality of our home I don’t have time to talk to more people than Adam and Beans.

I wish I were closer with probably 27 people. Maybe 38. I didn’t make an actual list.

Relationships require time and effort. Close ones do, anyway. So, how do I keep close with all the ones I love?

Facebook? No, thanks. I’m a lurker on Facebook at best. I don’t really like the idea of posting too many personal things for anyone to see.

Instagram? Nope. I keep my profile public and don’t post photos of my kid, whom everyone wants to see anyway.

Call them regularly? In this busy age it’s hard to find time to nail down where neither of us are busy or engaging in much needed solo time.

Visit them? Again, busy people are hard to plan with. I am one of those busy people. We had our first empty weekend this year earlier this month and we immediately filled it with stuff to do because when you have a minute of quiet you try to see the friends you never see and you probably try to make plans with your friends with kids because someone has to entertain the toddler.

Text them? It’s enough for a short period of time but it starts to get old and not feel real.

Lament about it on your blog and hope that writing it down makes me feel better? Yup.

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When You Have Two Families

As of 18 yrs old I have always lived a minimum 1.5 hour drive from my parents’ home (excepting a small stint post Europe when I had no money – thanks again, mom and dad). My family has been a long distance relationship for my entire adult life. I’ve grown accustomed to them switching holidays to entirely different weekends to ensure all of us can be there. This works because not one of us lives in the same city anymore. We are all a minimum one hour away from each other. 

So, when I chose to include myself in the family of my beloved seven hours from my childhood home I didn’t think much of it. I assumed they would accommodate as I have always accommodated. What I have never gotten used to is the fact that this family all lives within 20 minutes of each other. 

So when my chosen spouse and I choose to use an extended weekend to drive the seven hours to visit my family I forget that they don’t need to rearrange their lives to see each other. They can still have their holiday meal even if we aren’t there and why wouldn’t they? They can easily drive to each other for an evening and still sleep in their own beds. 

I also didn’t plan on the loss of my beloved’s step-father of 20+ years. Losing him hit all of us extremely hard. He was a positive pillar in our family. We love him and now that he’s gone our communication about holidays has gone from ok to terrible. The emotions are high. The sadness is real. The need to be supported is so real. 

So how do you balance two families? One that is long distance and with whom we cram all our face to face time in within a few days every four months. One that is grieving the tremendous loss of an incredible man. 

I don’t know how to make the choice. If we choose to travel we are avoiding the real effects of his death. We aren’t faced with the reality that he isn’t there for the family moments. We aren’t there to support our family when we need each other. If we choose to stay we miss one of the few opportunities we get each year to visit my large brood of love and laughter. Either way we miss out. We cannot be both here and there. No matter which family we choose we are leaving one behind and possibly hurting feelings. It has never felt good.

Usually by the time I’ve written out the thoughts jumbled in my head I have some minor epiphany I can conclude with. I have no such thought tonight. I only have sadness and longing.

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You Probably Didn’t Know I Was Depressed

I saw my doctor in August. He let me speak. He asked relevant questions. He asked questions about my past, about the last time I felt this low even though it was 15 years ago. I was a teenager and spending too much time on the computer at night. “How did you get out of it?” “Ha!”, I said, surprised to be saying it out loud, “I found God. Whether that was the catalyst or not, that’s what happened”. I didn’t think my dark experience as a teenager was relevant until he asked me about it. Of course it was relevant. It was real. It was depression.

He let me cry. He gave me a questionnaire to answer honestly. Questions like “In the last 2 – 3 months have you felt like you were a burden to your family: 1. Rarely 2. Sometimes 3. Most of the time 4. Always.” Questions that were hard to answer. He left me alone to answer these questions. I cried the entire way through because… because even though I was in the doctor’s office seeking help I still didn’t want to admit that I needed help.

Even when he said “so, what do you expect to come from this appointment?” I was still hesitant to say blatantly “I need help. I don’t know what that help looks like but I have tried all my usual tricks and I am in a very dark place that I cannot get out of.”

It had been nearly a year for me of trying to convince myself that my depression was situational. It would go away when winter was over, when I lost the last 10 pounds, when we could play outside again, when we started eating fresh seasonal food, when something else happened. I couldn’t blame it on the situation when I started hearing my thoughts lie to me. When my brain started to tell me that my family would be better off if I moved out, or that my friends were only pretending to like me because they liked Adam, or that my best friend should not be burdened with my struggle because she would probably use it against me to steal my life. Writing it now makes me feel just plain ridiculous but in that cloud of fog those thoughts were so real.

I had been sitting with my head in this dark fog for the last year and you probably didn’t know. I was still hosting board game nights regularly. I was still reaching out to friends for play dates and drinks (even if less frequently). I was laughing and smiling when it seemed appropriate to do so. I was polite and kind to others. But when I was home I was tired. I was so tired all the time because I was using any emotional energy I had to put on a brave face for others. I was finding myself unable to get off the couch to even do the dishes. I would just sit there for 20, 30, 45 minutes staring blankly at the floor while petting the dog, willing myself to just get up and be an adult. I stopped crafting and the frequency of my craft nights dwindled.

I wasn’t talking about it because my brain was telling me that no one wanted to hear about it or that I was making a big deal of nothing. Everyone gets sad and tired sometimes. Especially moms.

I started taking an SSRI about 6 weeks ago. Temporary side-effects aside, I could feel the cloud lifting off my head. I was smiling because… I was happy. I was laughing because something was funny. I was singing. I hadn’t realized that I had stopped singing. I was playing with my kid again instead of counting down the minutes until she was in bed and I could stop faking it.

Most importantly I can hear the lies for what they are: lies. My best friend is my best friend again. We are giggling together and being silly and talking about something other than the mundane details. We are loving each other again. I’m connecting with Adam again in a way I didn’t realize had gone away.

The only person whom I had the courage to mention my feelings was Adam. And if I could have avoided that, I would have because depression told me that he wouldn’t care. I had to tell him because we live together and by 9 pm I couldn’t hold it together anymore. He watched me break down more times than I could count and supported me in every effort to feel better. He was as scared as I was and I commend him for being my strong rock while I wept on the floor trying to describe why I was so tired all the fucking time.

I’m still hesitant to write about this. It still makes me nervous to tell anyone. It’s such a taboo subject. It still makes me feel like there are girls calling me an attention seeker. But I need to talk about it because someone like me needs to read about it. Needs to know that there is help. That your brain is lying to you. Depression LIES to you.

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Vocal and brave. Being vocal and brave. I am being vocal and brave.

It’s been roughly 10 months since I first started to describe myself as “exhausted” every day. Every single day.

In December I was blaming the course I was taking for making me exhausted – plus Christmas plus Beans being a handful plus winter approaching. It was justifiable.

In January my father-in-law died suddenly. Enough said.

In February Adam and I went on a date where we learned to make sushi. Instead of having such a great time all evening I had to rally myself to get dressed, go, be cheerful, and not cry when 10:00 pm hit because it had all been so much. I blamed the lack of vitamin D.

In March I made a joke that I should just stop saying I’m tired because it’s really my constant state of being.

In April I had a breakdown because I couldn’t fathom how other adult couples were keeping their lives afloat – I blamed my workload: it was the end of tax season after all.

In June I made a doctor’s appointment because there is no way that other adults are this tired all the time. There must be something wrong. We did blood work, he asked me if I was happy (which I answered “yes” because I am, technically. Other than this fucking exhaustion). My blood work came back normal. I swore at the nurse who told me this over the phone – I wanted an easy solution.

In July I began to think that maybe I’m not getting enough exercise. I will start doing Barre classes. Adam and I did a 16 km hiking/camping trip. I went for a run. I biked to work. No change to report. I had days where it took 20 mins to convince myself to stop sitting on the couch (literally doing nothing but resting my hand on the dog) and just put the toys away. I stopped crafting. I stopped planning. I stopped caring about what my house looked like (pictures have been falling off the walls and I don’t care about it enough to get new hooks). I stopped initiating board games. I stopped talking to my best friend because it was easier than admitting that I didn’t have the emotional energy for her.

In August I began having thoughts like “I’m trapped in this life” and “It would be easier on everyone if you left” and “There’s too much to do. You are a failure because you can’t get it all done”. This was my darkest moment. Luckily I have been educated enough to have recognized that these were lies. I know as fact that I love my life, my husband, kid, family and friends love me, and no one can get it all done (it’s not just me).

So, this afternoon I have a doctor’s appointment where I will try to fight my brain and tell my doctor that I need help. My brain will not convince me that this is my fault and that I am beyond help. I will fight for myself and if my doctor won’t listen I will find another doctor. I need help.

Last month was the darkest month I have ever experienced and it shouldn’t have been. It was filled with love, laughter, friends, family, sunshine, fresh air and a hundred other things I enjoy but I couldn’t enjoy it properly because there was this dark cloud – it looms over and around my head, clouding my judgement of myself, not allowing me to fully enjoy my life.

I want to fully enjoy my life and I’m ready for some medical help. I cannot do this on my own and I need someone to help me in a way that my husband, friends and family cannot. Let’s see how today goes.

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Dear Daughter, You are almost 2.

I want to capture this moment for myself to remember how you were when you were almost 2.

You are a spectacular creature. You are determined, strong willed, loving, generous, smart, clever and sweet.

You are determined. You are currently pushing all the boundaries you can find. This week we fought with you about whether you could sit on the seat in the canoe or if you had to sit on the floor. You can’t sit on the seat of the canoe until you are big enough to understand the movement of the canoe and that you could fall into the water if you reach too far. You fought with us about how close you can walk to the side of the road and if you could walk in the road. “No cars coming, Mommy.” I hope one day you understand that that was not the point.

You are strong willed and independent. We haven’t done up your car seat buckles in months because it’s honestly not worth the fight. I will gladly wait 10-20 minutes for you to do it yourself if I can avoid you crying all the way home. You’ve been walking up and down the stairs from the moment you realized you were physically capable. It’s been a terrifying 6 months.

You are loving and sweet. The way you hug the dog and say very sweetly “my Alice” will never get old. I will never forget the first time you ran up to me when I picked you up at daycare and yelled “my mommy is here!” I also love the way you say “Hello handsome daddy” when we pick him up from work.

You are generous and expect others to be so. We will never eat a meal where you haven’t offered your milk or food to us. I have never finished all of my meal because you ask “Mommy, may I have a bite?” and I have no will power to say no. You make sure bear has some play food for breakfast before you sit down. You offer me “mom bear” every morning when I enter your room.

You are smart and clever. You know how to unlock the front door. You have figured out games and puzzles so much faster than I could have expected. You told me last week that “Old MacDonald is my favourite song, mommy”. You can count to 10 (let’s ignore the fact that you skip 5 and 6 regularly) and have been singing your ABCs for months and recognize letters in the world. You think all Canadian flags deserve the exclamation of “Go, Canada, go!” You can put on your bath robe and tie up the strings by “self”.

I love you, my darling. I love your soft kisses, your tight hugs, your desire to be your own person, your love of others, your concern for others, your tiny little naked butt, your long toddler summer legs, your gorgeous hair with the soft curls you inherited from my dad. I love your smile, your giggle, your silliness, your Grover voice, your one-octave-too-high singing voice.

I love you. Never stop being you, my sweet nearly two year old.