pain

waffleheart

“If you fight the pain, if you resist the contractions, you cause even more pain. I told them that labor is like life and life is like labor; sometimes the most painful experiences deliver the best things-new life, unexpected insight, the chance to stretch and grow. This was the greatest lesson I learned in my years of delivering babies: don’t strain against the pain; learn its purpose; work with it and the energy of the universe will assist you.” – Elizabeth Lesser from Marrow, A Love Story

I wrote this post for the Tampa Bay Mom’s Blog because it is hard to be a human being. And after devouring Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior, I’ve been consumed with how we deal with pain (mostly the emotional and mental variety) both at home and as a society.

I am trying (and trust me, trying is the operative word here) to give my children space to feel whatever it is they are feeling and without attaching my judgment or hope to their words. My internal dialogue may look like…why is he crying about this, it is not such a big deal, oh no they all inherited my overly emotional gene. On the outside, however, I am reminding myself to breathe and bring my shoulders away from my ears. I am whispering to myself to just stay open. I am praying to Spirit, to the powers that be, to help me to not mess it all up.

My concern is that if we teach our kids that it is not okay to feel emotions (why are you you so upset about this?) and express themselves, (you’re fine, stop crying) I wonder if they will in turn keep things from us. Big things. Like questions they have about drugs and sex as they get older. Or the disappointments and worry they have at any age.

If I can’t handle their truth, where will they go with it? What will they do with it? Especially if their truth has pain wrapped up in it. Am I inadvertently teaching them it is better to numb their true emotions then feel and express them in order to make others feel better? In order to keep the peace? In order to spare me dealing with my pain?

I know my kids won’t tell me everything as they grow up and if they did well that would be even harder! But when they do, I don’t want them dealing with my unresolved pain. So I am trying (once again trying not always succeeding) to take care of my heart and soul and all of my emotional baggage. If we don’t deal with it, we pass it on to someone else to deal with.

I now know that pain is a great teacher. And distraction is okay and even necessary from time to time. But in order to grow, heal, and be free from all that binds us, we need to feel that which calls us, even if for a brief, scary and awkward moment.

If you want to read more…http://tampabay.citymomsblog.com/2016/10/11/pain-pain-go-away/

Advertisements

worrying sucks

It really does. Especially in the middle of the night. Usually the morning brings about relief. Sometimes the sunlight washes away the worry and I think to myself, wow I was really worked up for nothing. Everything is exacerbated in the middle of the night.

But then there are the days when the worry keeps going.

Fortunately, most of what we worry about doesn’t happen. And unfortunately, sometimes it does.

I have realized there are tactics to deal with worry when it occurs and then there is what we can do the rest of the time to prevent worrying from even starting or from getting worse.

It’s mental hygiene, it is self care and it can make a world of difference. Especially if you are someone like me who is prone to anxiety.

For me watching the news is off limits. Reading the paper is still upsetting but I can avoid the images which just get stuck in my head and make me feel sick.

If you want to read more and are interested in some tips to help tame worry, please check out my post today on the Tampa Bay Moms Blog.

America Ninja Worrywart (and 7 surefire ways to tame your inner worrier)

 

 

we connect

photo-1455215540020-876b3233799f

“There are so few places in our normal social lives where we are privileged to meet one another so vulnerably-to laugh, and cry and laugh again. ” – Pat Schneider from Writing Alone and with others

Tonight I am feeling very moved and grateful for the opportunity to lead women’s groups.

When people ask me what we do in these groups, I struggle with forming a concise and intelligible response.  It is hard to convey exactly what transpires in a room full of women sharing their thoughts, feelings, and vulnerabilities with one another.

Many of us lead isolated lives. As a stay at home mother, I will never forget how lonely I felt those first few months after having my son and not returning to work. I was thrilled to be home with my sweet new baby and I also missed many aspects of my job. It was a very strange time for me and for many women I know.

Before I became a mom, I worked with a local Hospice. It was an incredibly fulfilling and life affirming job. I loved the people I worked with. And training and managing hospice volunteers was a constant reminder of how much good there is in the world.

I will never forget talking to a lovely woman on the phone one day when she told me she had not been out with her family since taking over the care of her uncle. She was beside herself pushing back tears when I told her that a volunteer would be coming over to sit with her beloved uncle so she could go out and enjoy a nice dinner with her children.

It brings me to tears thinking about it. Or the gentleman who helped a beautiful 18 year old woman make a video so that her family would always be able to watch her when she was no longer here.

It is no surprise that I missed this work.

The quiet at home felt very odd. I would go to the park, meet friends, and get coffee but it all felt like a weird world I wasn’t sure I had signed up for. As much as I like being alone, I like to be with people too!

And we human beings are social creatures wired for connection. We thrive from deep bonds with one another. Bonds that help us make meaning out of our days and bonds that help us navigate the spectrum of emotions and experiences.

This brings me back to my groups. Really they are about connection. And not just the connection to one another but the connection to ourselves. Sometimes we get so busy or overwhelmed, we may not even be able to identify what in our life brings us joy. So we snap at our loved ones because we are so depleted.

Or maybe shut down or clam up because we feel fearful.

But then we talk to others struggling and we feel less afraid. Or we share what we are grateful for and we are reminded just how much there is to celebrate.

It is a reminder that we have more similarities than we do differences. It is a reminder of how much we need each other. And how much can happen when we come together in the spirit of collaboration and soulfulness.

And if you think these groups are selfish, they are a bit. And this is a good thing. We deserve it. If we all took responsibility for our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, we would live in a much healthier and well-balanced world.

So what do we do in these women’s groups?

We show up for each other. We wake up. We listen. We share. We laugh and sometimes we cry. We write. We play. We feel. We breathe. We connect.

And for that I am so grateful.

 

 

happy mothering day

photo-1443466612971-98a16c828136

“Mothering Myself” by Nancy McBrine Sheehan

In a society preoccupied with how best to raise a child I’m finding a need to mesh what’s best for my children with what’s necessary for a well balanced mother. I’m recognizing that ceaseless giving translates into giving yourself away. And when you give yourself away, you’re not a healthy mother and you’re not a healthy self.

So, now I’m learning to be a woman and a mother. I’m learning how to just experience my own emotions without robbing my children of their individual dignity by feeling their emotions too. I’m learning that a healthy child will have his own set of emotions and characteristics that are his alone. And, very different from mine. I’m learning the importance of honest exchanges of feelings because pretenses don’t fool children, they know their mother better than she knows herself.

I’m learning that no one overcomes her past unless she confronts it. Otherwise, her children will absorb exactly what she’s trying to overcome. I’m learning that words of wisdom fall on deaf ears if my actions contradict my deeds. Children tend to be better impersonators than listeners.

I’m learning that life is meant to be filled with as much pain as happiness and pleasure. And allowing ourselves to feel everything life has to offer is an indicator of fulfillment. I’m learning that fulfillment can’t be attained through giving myself away-but through giving to myself and sharing with others.

I’m learning that the best way to teach my children to live a fulfilling life is not by sacrificing my life. It’s through living a fulfilling life myself. I’m trying to teach my children that I have a lot to learn because I’m learning that letting go of them is the best way of holding on.

I came across this poem maybe a decade ago when reading  Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom; Creating Physical and Emotional Heath and Healing by Christiane Northrup, M.D. Every cell of my being screamed yes while I soaked up the words like a sponge. It is not selfish or indulgent to take care of ourselves and want to heal our past hurts, hang ups, and old wounds. Maybe it is selfish not to. It seemed like something I wanted to return to as a mother.

And return I do. Often.

This morning my babysitter came to watch the baby so I could exercise and run errands aka spend too much money at various stores. But the minute she walked through my front door, I felt like was about to crumble to the floor into a heap of pure exhaustion. So you know what I did? I said, “F off errands, I’ll get to you another day.”  I took off my sneakers and my confining exercise top with the built in bra situation, strolled into my bedroom, shut the blinds, turned on the white noise machine, and climbed back into bed. It felt rebellious and glorious and so good. And my two hour nap was complete with a dream featuring a magical baby miniature horse and crunchy carrots. An added bonus!

Taking care of ourselves may mean saying yes to sleep and no to errands. It may mean a trip to the therapist or the spa.Whatever it means to you, do it without guilt and enjoy yourself!

Because you are worth it and you deserve it!

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Mothering Day!

 

 

 

 

 

The Kissing Bandit Strikes again (this time at my son’s birthday party)

DSC_1463

I, my husband, and my very patient and generous mother-in-law were sitting outside waiting for pizza on a rainy night with nine children ranging in age from four to nine, when we first saw the “Kissing Bandit” appear on the T.V.

Through the glass window, footage from the 1970’s and 80’s showed the vivacious and buxom woman with the mane of blond hair running onto soccer, football, and baseball fields, hockey rinks, and basketball courts grabbing players or mascots, coaches and refs, and planting a big smooch on their surprised faces. They then showed her getting hauled off the field by security accompanied by cheers and applause.

This darling expose could not have come at a more appropriate time; a bunch of kids sick of the rain, sick of sitting still, and in need of some fine entertainment. It all seemed relatively innocent until a picture flashed up on the screen of the “Kissing Bandit” posing naked on a bed with crumpled sheets and a black censor over her breasts.

I imagine these party-goers will not be forgetting Will’s 8th birthday anytime soon.

When I was little, I recall sitting on my parent’s mauve carpet (wonder what decade I grew up in?) in front of the T.V. flipping through the channels looking for something to keep me company. Once I reached the higher channels there would be some funny business going on especially in the evening. We didn’t actually pay for these channels but every now and then something curious would pop up (pun intended) on screen, and although it was fuzzy or wavy, it was hard to miss what was happening.

Just thinking about what was known in classy, mature circles as “Picasso Porn makes me giggle and feel nervous. When I couldn’t take the risk of getting caught viewing such racy static, I would change the channel to Star Search with Ed McMahon (who kind of resembled my dad) as the host. And my innocence and purity would then be restored as I watched a little girl in glitter sing her heart out.

Sex education in 5th and 6th grade meant learning that I could still swim and partake in regular activities when I had my period. Yay! I was also appreciative to learn that feminine care products had come a long way since the 50’s and no longer required belts for usage. I am not sure what the boys learned in their class because one kid thought my friend had her period out of her breasts. This caused a lot of confusion that day at recess.

I learned a lot, and I mean a lot, from the books, Are you there God, It’s me Margaret? and Then Again Maybe I Won’t by Judy Bloom. Generally, my memory is distant. I struggle often with remembering the names of actors and musicians and sometimes my own children. But somehow I remember exactly where those books are shelved in my elementary school library and the very vivid description of Margaret’s first menstrual cycle.

Last weekend my son’s friend who moved out of state last summer called him on my cell phone to chat. I walked into the family room with a basket of laundry when I heard his friend ask, “So do you still want to kiss insert little girl’s name?” I pretended like I didn’t hear the question. My son looked at me with a twinkle in his eye as he gently slid in his socks on the bare wood floor to the back of the room. Then he quietly said, “No” with his hand over his mouth as he gracefully changed the subject.

It dawned on me, in that moment, that my little boy is really growing up. This was the same little man who laid on my chest for hours as a baby, and as a toddler would rather have played tag with me at the park than with other little people his own age.

I think about the fact that I don’ t want to be the weird mom that says too much and gets over-involved in my son’s romantic endeavors or the aloof mom who says nothing at all. My mom’s tactic in high school was to water the plants in the family room while my boyfriend and I watched Brenda and Dillon break up again or Donna Martin graduate on Beverly Hills 90210. I would then sigh and roll my eyes at my adoring, curious, and concerned mom.

In the not so distant future, God willing, it will be my turn to annoy my son. But for now, however, I relish the fact that he still smiles when I enter the room, and that the only kissing bandit smooching him at his baseball games is me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain of our Heart

speedometer

“Only by complete surrender to our changed situation can we embrace the beauty of the place we are now.” – Shefali Tsabary from The Conscious Parent

Recently on one unassuming summer afternoon, my cell phone slipped from the white slick porcelain top of the toilet into the basin just after my daughter had peed in it. I daintily picked up the wet phone with my thumb and index finger, flared nostrils, and pursed lips. I then asked for a bag of rice from a woman at the bar and placed my phone in it hoping the rice would magically suck the moisture out of the phone. The rice trick didn’t work, and the opening where the charger went now had pieces of rice stuck in it.

It was one of those days where I found myself constantly annoyed by external and uncontrollable circumstances. And after a few more hours in the relentless sun, it was time to go home and go to bed. When we reached our house, my husband, kids, and I jumped out of the car and ran to the front door anxiously awaiting the sweet reprieve of cold air. But instead, a suffocating blast of heat hit us as the door swung open. Earlier that day, our noisy and temperamental air conditioner had been replaced, but, unfortunately, after the workers had left for the day, the thermostat mysteriously switched from cool to heat and now was set at 90 degrees.

So we packed our bags and quickly fled the sauna that was our house opting for a night in a crappy motel close to home. There we settled in for a long summer’s night while visions of cigarette smoke and bed bugs danced in my head.

But before I could fall asleep, I grumbled along unpacking my car, and then walked up the flight of stairs to our room. As we entered the hotel room and stepped into the frosty air, my daughter exclaimed in a sing-song voice while appearing as if she was spinning on an Austrian mountaintop, “We have everything we need.” And then my son, genuinely pleased with our well-appointed accommodations said, “This is a really nice room” while admiring the stained tub, yellowish shower curtain, and old T.V.

As I complained about the headache of the day and the hassle of our unexpected hotel stay, my kids heard none of it. Instead they eagerly jumped into bed ecstatic about getting to watch T.V. as they fell asleep. I realized later than I would have liked, how grateful I was to be having that moment and how much worse it could be.

When I think about my own childhood, I remember the moments that didn’t go as expected and the ones that happened in-between all the plans. Like when I picked my dress for prom, I never envisioned a broken ankle and having to wear one of my dad’s black work socks over my walking cast. And as fun as our family trip to California was that one summer, it was the seven-hour car ride in my dad’s Oldsmobile, sandwiched between my brother and sister without digital entertainment, while the song “Captain of Her Heart” played on the radio that brings a smile to my face today.

The memories that keep me company when I am lonely are often the mundane, awkward, funny, and unexpected ones that happened on unassuming days in places like the car or in my family room. And they are replete with the reminder to appreciate what is instead of wishing for things to be different. Because where we are, and not where we aren’t, is where the good stuff resides.