Thursday, May 12, 2016

On Confidence, Grief, and How it's all Awkward

So, I had this really weird moment the other day. A friend of mine found out her cousin died. She was really upset. I was really upset for her. I was unusually struck with sadness. Like, very, very sad for her. And sad about life in general. I did not know her cousin, but still I cried when she told me.

This happens a lot though, this extreme emotion, ever since I had kids. It's like they take a hold of your hormones, twist them up into a knot and light them on fire with sadness. And happiness. And everything. It's a bonfire of emotions.

Sometimes I find myself hysterically laughing at the way Tula says computer ('puter), and then I start crying because I watched a cute kitten video, while my kids just stare at me like I'm some crazy person they just let in off the street.

A day or so after she got the news I saw her in a parking lot. I immediately stopped my car, we rolled down our windows and just pretty much said, "Ugh. Blah. Sucks," to each other. And then we were backing up traffic so I blew her a kiss and drove away.

But I was kicking myself the whole time. Why didn't I unbuckle, jump out of the car, and run over and hug her? How hard would that have been? I would have wanted a hug had I been her. Or maybe I wouldn't have if I was trying not to cry, but I would have wanted it even if I hadn't wanted it.

And yet I didn't do it.

And I don't really know why.

I used to be really affectionate. I used to be very open with my body. I sort of did the opposite of what most people say they do. I wasn't awkward and shy in High School. I was outgoing and friendly. I danced all the time. I participated in stuff and I had a great group of friends. I was awkward before that. I have pretty much been over six feet tall my whole life, and super skinny, with weird hair, acne, and glasses. But I hit 9th grade and somehow I hadn't cut my hair, so it was long now. I got contacts, and my braces off, and my acne cleared up. None of it planned in some huge reveal sort of a way, the Gods just really helped a sister out that year, I guess.

But then I went to college, away from my amazing friend group, and it slowly all went away. I lost some confidence in myself. And then I lost some more.

I lost so much I almost didn't know how to talk anymore. I rarely laughed.

My body felt awkward again. People were not used to how tall I was, and I had a horribly short haircut again which seems petty, but long hair was like something I could hide behind. Now I had no veil, no safety net. I was gangly, and shy, and had a weird sense of humor that no one at my new school seemed to get.

And part of the way I handled it was to not move my body very much. I tried not to make big gestures with my arms because I was sure people thought they were tree limbs flying at them and I didn't want to draw awkward attention to myself. I sat down whenever I was talking to someone because I didn't want to tower over them. And I stopped being affectionate with new people because I was worried they thought I was this weird giant trying to squish-hug them.

It's so ridiculous. I'm not a giant. I'm tall, but not enormous. And logically I knew that. Logically, I could repeat to myself that being tall was a blessing, lots of people wish they were tall, you are beautiful how you are - all the things my mom said to me, and drilled into me day after day after day when I cried in her arms in 6th grade about how I would never get a boyfriend because I was taller than everyone ever.

Of course that was ridiculous, I don't even know where it came from. My dad is 5'8 and my mom is 6'2 and it was NEVER an issue. I never for a second thought that he didn't think she was beautiful. And she never, ever - like, Never. Ever. thought her height was in any way a hindrance. She owned that height like it was nobody's business. To this day, she wears heels all the time because who cares? So what? She's fucking gorgeous.

Anyway, who knows where insecurities come from. Mean kids on the playground mostly. Movies maybe. But it wasn't like I was surrounded by bullies. I had my fair share, but I also had a great group of men around me that countered it. My dad, obviously. My granddad always told me I was beautiful and smart. The neighbor boys I grew up with across the street, the Pruetts, the were the kindest boys you'll ever meet, defending me and my sister and my brother without so much as a second of hesitation.

Not to mention the strong women around me. Oh lord my family has strong women. But that's a whole different post in itself.

It's a fucking novel.

Anyway, that regression of confidence has ebbed and flowed. I gained more confidence over the years, then lost some, then gained some again. And then some more.

Anytime I am with my high school friends (or my sister or cousins) I feel like myself. Like I can breathe, and move, and just be - without worrying about it. And I am much better now than I was when I first started college.

Most of the time now I don't care. I'm proud of my body. I'm proud of what its done, but I still hesitate sometimes. I still sit down when I meet new groups of people.

I still avoid a hug, because I don't want to make things awkward. Not just physically, but because somewhere in there I knew she didn't really want to let it out either. Because showing emotion, or feeling it can make you so incredibly vulnerable. And not one wants that.

Later she would say something about how weird it was she was in a funk. That it wasn't her child, or her mom, so maybe she shouldn't be so sad. As if she shouldn't be allowed to feel this much hurt because there were other people closer to him that needed to feel it.

But OF COURSE she should. It was her cousin. It was someone she grew up with, someone who shaped her as a person simply by growing along side of her.

I have 8 first cousins, 3 of whom I haven't seen in years, and yet I know for a fact if anything ever happened to any one of them I would be devastated. I would be crushed beyond belief. Because they are my family. They are me. They shared something with me no one else can ever recreate, ever.

The same goes for the Pruetts. Or my other neighbors that moved away before I even hit high school. Or friends I had 15 years ago. Or my family members in general.

She should be allowed to feel sad, because it's a sad fucking thing.

And I should have jumped out of the car and given her a hug. Even if she didn't want one. Even if she drove away and stopped calling me.

Because that's what kind of a person I really am. And that's what I need to do to make sense of life.

And this is a shitty way to start realizing I need to let go. And open up. And get back to myself.

But there you go. Life certainly doesn't always hand you things in pretty packages, but at least it hands you things.

At least it give you the opportunity to change.









Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother of the Year

So, Addie's school had them do a little Mother's Day project last week and when I walked in to pick her up on Friday one of her teachers was already laughing. When I asked her what was so funny she said, "Oh just waaaaait!"

Yeah.







FIRST OF ALL!

I was laughing so hard/almost crying.

But, ALSO! 

I don't know why she thinks I like cleaning so much. I genuinely hate it. I like to have things clean. I adore a clean house. I just dislike doing it. Like, with a passion. As soon as she's old enough, Addie is taking over the majority of the cleaning. 

ALSO! 

She's not wrong though. I spend all. damn. day. cleaning the ding dang house.  That's what happens when you have four small, highly destructive children who claim paralysis and young age when I ask them to pick up after themselves. When I told Luke to pick up the blocks he threw all over the living room this morning he just looked at me, said, "Bee!" and ate a Tic-Tac he found on the floor that I'm pretty sure is over 2 years old. 

"Some help you are!" I yelled at him as I walked away to have a talk with Henry about how he shouldn't eat tin foil. In response Henry giggled and spit out the tin foil and something else I couldn't define, but I'm pretty sure it was a hardened piece of orange I lost 3 months ago.

"Henry, go home you're drunk," I told him as I moved onto Tula.

Tula was sitting on a sea of laundry spilled onto the floor, so large I could no longer see a single square inch of floor. I didn't even bother with that.

"Call me when you're 12 and I can ground you," I said walking away to the next mess.

And the next. 

And the next.

And that's why she thinks my favorite drink is "alcohol."

For the record! I only drink wine after I put everyone to bed! And I can barely get through a half a glass before I fall asleep in my ice cream.

Little stinker. Now her teachers think I'm an OCD lush, with a salad-eating disorder. 

Such a typical mom.






My babies and me on Mother's Day. 



I am so lucky.






Friday, April 1, 2016

Baby Love

I am not afraid of affection. I love me some affection. I kiss and hug my kids constantly. If Josh would let me, I'd kiss and hug him constantly, but he likes to "breathe" and be able to "eat with two hands" and "look single."

Luckily, most of my kids are super affectionate too, but Luke - my sweet little Lukey - is affectionate to the max! Sometimes I will be doing the dishes or something and I'll look up to find him smiling and making little googly eyes at me like a love-struck Romeo. If we're at playgroup, or the library, or somewhere someone might give him eye contact, he'll stare hard at his intended until she (or he - he's an equal opportunity lover) looks back and smiles, and then he'll bring out the cheeks and the eye lashes and before you know it you're giving him all your money and promising to run away to Mexico with him.

And lately, he's gotten into kissing. Like, really, really into kissing. Often when I pick him up he's so thrilled and in love with me for giving him attention (which is 99% of the day), that he'll start kissing me on the lips. But not just a light peck, it has now turned into deep, long, dare I say it - passionate kisses.

We almost frenched the other day, you guys.

He is really forceful with his love.


This is mid-make out sesh.
How can you not love that little face?!

I love him so much, and I love that he wants to kiss me (and everything that's ever laid eyes on him, just because they looked at him) but I can't tell if I feel uncomfortable or not when the kiss lasts more than three seconds. I tend to just end it and pull away, but then he just goes in for more.

I've seen him do this to Josh to, and Josh (a 190 lb, 6'2" man) gets pinned to the ground with the sheer force of Luke's love and he cannot escape it. He'll start doing the uncomfortable giggle-kiss where he's like, "Oh, thanks for the kiss Luke *kiss* Oh, one more? How ni- *kiss* Wow, I missed you too buddy *kiss* Ok, jeeze you're reall- *kiss* Alright, maybe I could just sit up *kiss* Can I just *kiss* Thanks, uh *kiss* Mom *kiss* Hey, Mom! *kiss* Mom! *kiss* Little help! *kiiiiiiiisssssssssssssss*"

He's a very romantic baby, you guys.

If you ever feel like you need someone to make you feel special, call Luke. He'll love the crap out of you.




About to attack Tula with his charm.


Henry's trying to escape Luke's advaces, straight out the doggie door.




Easter cuteness.



They have these amazing things at the mall, that are like giant robot stuffed animals you can ride on. They blast Michael Jackson and go about .04 mph and the kids LOVE them because they get to drive around the mall like big shots.



So fun!




Luke sending his lovey kisses through the tupperware, so you can keep it fresh.



Addie and Tula rockin' their dad's old t-shirts from when he was a kid.



Luke, charging me so he can tackle, and kiss. 
Just a normal day.




Thursday, March 24, 2016

Playing Sofia

Sometimes having three siblings super close in age to you is rough. Mostly, it awesome. Adeline always has someone to play with, someone who follows her around, someone who lets her boss them around. But we all want a little one on one time now and again, and Adeline needs it.

She's always the one who gets pushed to the side if someone gets pushed to the side, because she's the oldest and she can do it herself. She can go to the bathroom alone, she can get dressed, she can draw, she can paint, she can read (memorize) books, she can work the iPad, she can do it all. And I actively have to remind myself she's only four years old. She's still a teeny tiny kid!

So, now we have a routine at night where after we put the other three to bed, Addie gets to play a game with me and/or her dad. All by herself.

And it is so joyus!

I didn't realize I needed it as much as she does. I miss her during the day. I don't miss Luke or Henry because they are all up in my biz all the time. And Tula. She's even more up in my biz, if that's possible. They demand attention. But Adeline will sit patiently and wait, for hours.

She is an amazing kid.

Right now she has two options: two rounds of Candyland, or something she calls, "Sofia". Candyland is self-explanatory and so fun.

Sofia, is a game she only plays with her dad. I didn't really understand what it was until I stumbled in on it last night. Basically she plays with her Sofia the First doll and Josh listens to her, and occasionally hands her things. All I saw was her going, "Ok, Dad. Now I want the green necklace." He hands it to her. A few minutes go by and she says, "Dad, now I need the pink one. No, that pink one."

It is hysterical! And also, he is so soft and patient with her I want to cry.

When we got in bed that night I said:

"So, 'playing Sofia' means you hand her the pieces of jewelry she asks for?"

"Yes. And then I watch her march Sofia around and position her on different pieces of furniture."

*near hysterical giggling* "Why don't you get a doll to play with?"

*dead serious* "That's not my roll."


I mean, that's a good dad right there.








Also, the other day we went to the mall and the Easter bunny was there and the kids BEGGED to see him. So I let them.


Addie would not get off his lap.



Tula would not get within 100 feet of him. That's why he's no where near her in this picture.



Luke, however, was overjoyed! Henry doesn't know why we won't let him down so he can tear all those gigantic fake flowers down.
Which he did five seconds after this picture.



So cute!



Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Anniversary and Prepartum

On this day three years ago Josh and I got married.

It was a cold, gray, ugly-snowy day, and I was 7.5 months pregnant with Tula. I wish I could say the wedding was the sunshine on the day, and we didn't need anything else to make it a great day. And actually I kind of can. It turned out to be sort of an amazing little ceremony at the courthouse and then a lovely dinner at my in-laws afterwards. Josh and I both cried, Addie yelled, "Guy!" the whole time, pointing at the judge, and I wore a black dress.

Because I wanted to wear a white one at my "real" wedding. One where I was not insanely pregnant. I told all my friends, and the rest of my family not to come because we would have a big thing later. And I still believe we will some day. When the dust settles.


Also, black is slimming.


Addie was SO little!




But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, that day three years ago was a bright spot in a lot of not so bright spots. Postpartum depression is talked about a little bit in the after effects of having a baby, but not enough. So, not enough. And depression while you're pregnant? I hadn't heard of that. I heard a lot of, Oh you're just hormonal. Or, She's crying again, those hormones!

"Hormonal" is a super popular catch-all for any emotion a pregnant (or just normal) woman may be having. And while part of it is true, pregnant women are more emotional,  I think it's irresponsible to just brush it aside as "hormonal." Irresponsible to the pregnant woman, and irresponsible to her loved ones.

I had a lot of emotional days when I was pregnant with Addie. But I had hundreds of "hormonal" days when I was pregnant with Tula. I was miserable. I was sad all the time. I was depressed as heck and barely holding it together. Luckily, the only thing I had going for me was that I still had the desire to take care of Addie. I still needed to wake up and get out of bed for her.

But I was lucky. That's not always how depression works. And if I hadn't gotten help I might not have continued on like that. I might have stopped getting out of bed.

But I did get help. I saw a therapist regularly, and I saw my OB regularly, and used her as my 2nd therapist. And she was so wonderful. She was so kind. She let me sit on the table and cry and tell her how nothing made sense. She handed me tissues. She didn't run out of the room because she had other patients and I know she had other patients. She didn't tell me everything was ok, because it wasn't. She just said, "Yes. This is hard." And, "Yes. sometimes it feels like you can't do it." And "No, you are not a bad mom because you wish you weren't sometimes. That's called being normal."

 And I had a prescription of Zoloft waiting for me at the hospital for the minute I delivered Tula.

The only reason I had the strength to get help though was because I literally have no stigma attached to seeing a therapist. I don't, and have never, seen it as a sign of weakness, and I don't think there's anything wrong with talking to someone even if you don't know what's wrong but you think something might be.

Because we take care of our teeth every six months whether we need to or not. Why wouldn't we take care of our brains? Or our hearts and souls? Aren't those things as important as our teeth?

YES.

THEY ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN TEETH.

You can get dentures if your teeth fall out, you cannot get a new brain.

But most people are not as hippie, free-spirited thinking about therapy as I am. Most people say they're not opposed, it's just "not for them". And fine, maybe it's not. But maybe you've never felt like crying in the middle of the grocery store for no reason. Maybe you've never fought with the people you love the most because nothing makes sense. Maybe you've never looked at the steering wheel in your hand and thought, just one quick turn and maybe the pain of the impact would make me feel something. Anything.

It didn't cure me. All the therapists and drugs. It didn't magically make things go away. But it helped. It helped me survive it.

And once Tula was born I was again super lucky because I didn't have postpartum. So, I basically had the opposite. I had prepartum depression. That's not a real thing, but that's what it was. Nine months of pregnant depression.

And I got married in the middle of that.

Needless to say, my relationship with my husband-to-be was not thriving in the midst of all of this. Without going into details, we were having one of the hardest times of our relationship and then we threw in getting married, because, why not!?

(Why we did is a whole other post!)

It was a rough time AND we got married still. Maybe because we thought I was just being hormonal. That's I'd snap out of it and we'd start to get along like gangbusters again.

I sort of defy anyone to tell me they had two kids in less than two years and their relationship didn't suffer the slightest. And if they do, they are a liar, liar, pants on fire.

Part of the reason we still got married in the midst of one of the trickiest years ever, was because I think we knew it was still there somewhere. Buried deep under the stress and the depression and the confusion was the core of how we became a "we". And that's because we love each other a lot. And we respect each other. And we support each other. And not just the sort of love like, Oh he's cool and we had good sex so I'm pretty much in love.

Nope.

 It was more than that.

We knew we wanted to have kids together almost immediately after we started dating. We knew we wanted to live together. We knew we wanted to share a life together, and not just in a side by side sort of a way.

We don't always succeed with what we wanted. Especially not now that we have four kids. (Four is a boatload of kids, ya'll!) But we will. Because of what's underneath. Because of the fact that we still like each other as well as love each other.  

And because We are our family. Without us it didn't happen, it doesn't work. We need to be the ones there for each other, and loving each other before we can take care of anyone else. Because we are the foundation for this rickety, messy, loud, boisterous, darling, fun, hilarious, crazy, did I mention loud, colorful, happy, exuberant, joyful, heart-bursting, amazing house that is our family.

Three years of marriage. Six years of being together.

And I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Because I love him so much.

















Monday, March 21, 2016

Note To Self

I am so not good at the typical "mom stuff" stuff. I don't keep a memory book for any of our kids. I put Addie's first lock of hair in a special holder, and now I can't find it. Last Easter I told Addie the Easter Bunny needed a bathroom break because I forgot to hide the eggs before she woke up. And then I told her Santa wasn't real.

Kidding.

But I keep thinking I'll remember everything cute they do and say and of course I don't. And I don't remember to write it down either, so I'm trying to get better at it.

For instance, right now, if Tula is talking about that black silhouette that the sun casts on the pavement she says, "Mom, is that my eye shadow?"

Luke is saying Mommy, Daddy, Addie and for Tula he says, "Doy!" It is beyond adorable. We'll be yelling, "Tula! Come here!" and Luke chimes in, "Doy! Doy!"

Henry says Mama, Dad, and Nah. As in, no. "Nah!"

And Addie can say everything, she is extremely well-spoken for a 4 year old, but sometimes things are so overwhelming she just can't stop talking about it. When Tula had an allergic reaction to Amoxicillin we were at the doctor's office every day for a week and one of those times Addie was with us and the doctor had to check Tula's nether regions because there were hives everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

So, she put on her gloves, and started checking, and Addie just happened to be in the line-of-vagina-sight and the look of horror on her face was so mighty, and so hysterical I wish I had been filming it.

Immediately she said, "MOM! I do not like looking at her vagina! Oh no. No. No. No. No. Is that what mine looks like inside?"

She was practically in tears for poor Tula and her totally normal vagina.

And then she talked about it every hour for about four days.

Ah, kids! They are so adorable!!!



She needs her goggles for the wolf petting.



No time for Daddy, she's got wolves to pet!


Luke has his sixth ear infection in six months. Such a bummer. It's ENT time.



So, I did something silly and let my friend talk me into running a St. Patty's day 10K. It turned out to be super fun, and I ran it faster than I've ever run before thanks to my friend C who sneakily paced me! Felt good to feel like a real person again, and not just someone's mom.



Plus you get a beer at the finish line! God bless the Irish!




My sister dyed her hair! 
She's so gorge.



Just a little stroll on a pretty day!



Henbo and Boris have a strong love affair going. 









Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Group Hug

Today while I was pushing all four kids in a cart through the Target parking lot a woman stopped her car and rolled down her window to talk to me. If this had happened in LA I might have braced myself to start cussing back. Or to defend myself for crossing the road so slowly with my heavy ass cart full of a shocking amount of kids under 5.

But not in Bozeman.

The woman stuck her head out and said, "Way to go Mom! You're doing a great job!"

And I just smiled and mouthed, "Thank you," because I was afraid I was going to start crying if I actually spoke.

"Really awesome! What a good mom you are!"

And then she drove away.

She didn't see me yell at my kids in the car for dumping an entire bag of Goldfish on the floor.

She didn't see me tell them they could wear slippers to the store because I couldn't find two matching shoes. Anywhere. For anyone. (WHERE DO ALL THE SHOES GO?!)

She didn't see that they were wearing two different slippers on each foot because we couldn't find matching slippers either.

She didn't see me laugh when they threatened each other with being thrown in the "Fart Room" if the other one didn't play kidnap the right way. Yeah, kidnap. That's their favorite game. And the Fart Room is where you go to be punished with farts. There's so much wrong with that whole scenario.

She didn't see me let Tula eat only yogurt for 2 days because she was so dang cute when she said, "I Tuwa. I eat dis yogurt, ok Mom? It's super duper yummy. You wike it much and much?"

Much and much, you guys! I mean - c'mon! Who can say no to that?!

But she also didn't see me reading to the kids for hours on the couch.

She didn't see me giving them a billion kisses, or telling them I love them a hundred times a day.

She didn't see me let Addie stay up a little past her bedtime because she really needed time to just talk, just breathe near me without her sister or brothers interrupting her.

She didn't see me checking on Tula every hour all night long for several nights when she had a super scary and severe allergic reaction to amoxicillin.

She didn't see me take all four kids to the park by myself because the sun was out and they needed it. And it was so glorious.

So, how did she know I was a good mom? How did she know I was doing a good job, or that my kids were actually thriving and not abused into behaving in the parking lot?

I don't know.

I don't know that she did. But she saw me, and I happened to be smiling at my kids and maybe she assumed. Or maybe she's had kids and she knows the struggle is real. She knows that sometimes moms just need to hear that they're not messing it all up. That even though they yelled too much one day, or are probably causing yogurt-induced malnutrition, or that they can't keep track of clothes - they are still doing a good job. They are still being a good mom.

You shouldn't have to have validation to continue fighting the good fight of motherhood, but gosh darn it if that woman didn't make me day. She made my week.

Stopping and rolling down her window to tell me I was doing a good job. That will stay with me for a long time. That will keep me going. That will make me be a better person today.

Words are so amazing and so powerful. She could have just driven away and had the thoughts to herself, but she said them and changed my day.

And in return I said nice things to people I saw at Target, at the post office, at the library.

And my kids saw me do that. That's the best part.

Addie actually asked me, "Why'd you talk to that lady?" And I said, "Because it's nice to be nice to other people." And she said, "I know that mom. You tell me that all the time." And then she walked up to a homeless woman sitting inside the library, out of the cold, and said, "I like your scarf," and walked away.

Good, little lady. I hope that radiates from you in ten years, and twenty, and thirty like it does now. I hope you are just as positive and wonderfully happy when you're old and gray.

I hope you stop playing kidnap soon, because that's starting to worry me.

But that's a different post for a different day.

Today I am happy to be a mom. I am happy to be part of the whole thing. I am happy to be a woman who is doing a good job. Most of the time. And you should be proud of yourself too. Because it's hard to do - be proud of yourself. It's really f*cking hard. There's always room for improvement and there's always something you can nitpick, but honestly - you are doing a great job.

And so am I.

And so are my kids.

Amen.






We have had some gorgeous days lately.
And some wild hair.



So thrilled to be allowed outside!



Sunshine! Heck yeah!



First haircut! Took of almost 5 inches!!!



Someone is super stoked to have her first board game! 



Because this month is about women.