Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer

It's the summer. That means 3 kids, all day, all the time. A new thing for us. I'd love to write more,
but it's a miracle I have a moment to stop at all today amidst packing for our first vacation as a family of 5.

I'll just say this... these past few weeks have made me feel like I have never worked harder in my life. But in reality I have... I worked to save my life through my depression and that work started almost 4 years ago to the day. I'm not reminding myself of this to diminish the feelings I'm having now, but to bring empowerment that I am stronger then I have ever been.  Praises to God for all He has given me and gotten me through!

Going going all day long.
No time to sing my own song.
Little hands and little feet.
Guiding, teaching, keeping sweet.
Moments of pure joy and fear.
Moments of how did I get here.
Will I raise them up to love?
Will I raise them to know the one above?
Overwhelmed and always tired.
Fact is I'll never be fired.
Hearts so pure, so open, so true.
Little lips saying "I love you."
It is a season, a blip in time.
Slowly speeding... but it is mine.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Grace to Pull the Rip Cord

Lately I've been feeling a lot of this...

50,000 things I could do.

10,000 things I should do.

10 things I am able to do.

I spend most of my time in freefall trying to manage three little ones. Commitments have fallen by the wayside, things I once found pertinent to maintain a sense of self have been shelved and a new way of managing the chaos is... well... it's still developing. When I find myself about to fall into the abyss, never to be seen from again, I somehow (ok truly by the grace of God) am able to grab the rip cord, give it a big tug, and once again fly upwards, clear and free, into the chaos.

As the chance of  being able to fulfill commitments, housework, growing my marriage, friendships, taking a shower, all pass by me at an alarming rate, I have let discouragement creep in. Misery loves company doesn't it? And that tiny little gnat of self doubt nipping at my ear turns into a giant mosquito biting me at every turn and blindly leading me into comparing myself to others.

Ah comparing.

It's like a curse word whispered underneath the breath of all young moms. Her baby is a week old and she is ALREADY walking two miles?! She has 4 kids and she looks like THAT?! She homeschools all 7 of her children and can still provide a home cooked meal to those in need?!

Come on... you know you've done it.

It's something we all do and have all done since we understood people were different then us. Some are more prone to compare, to lay judgement, others are able to be truly glad for the strengths they see in their peers and applaud them for their achievements.... but no one is perfect.

Typically I am the latter, often seeing what others can do as good for them and then moving on. However, lost in the chaos that is now my life, I've found it easier to look at so and so and see if they "seem" to have it all together then so should I.

A few weeks ago I was feeling discouraged about being unable to fully support Dhrumil in a struggle he was facing. Unknowingly I started comparing myself to him and how he had been able to walk by myside during three years of grueling postpartum depression with the right words to say, the right things to do and being one of  the most important supports in my recovery. It took a dear wise friend to tell me to stop comparing myself to him. She reminded me that he has his own strengths and I have mine. He may be able to support me in ways that I can't support him, however that does not mean I don't have my own strengths and ways to support him.

Again and again I have heard the same message from different friends over the past few weeks and through them God has been telling me...

You have your strengths, they have theirs. They don't look the same, they are not the same, but that doesn't mean your strengths or their strengths are any better. If you are unable to do what they do, that is ok! Stop comparing! I have created you as a unique, beautiful individual who can do and will do many amazing things... and they are what I have created you to do. You are enough.

Last night I was talking to a fellow mom of three about my frustration with still not being able to figure out how to manage my life and the lives of three little ones. She laughed, threw her hands up in the air and told me that having three is chaos and you just have to embrace it. As she shared some of her experiences a weight was lifted off of me as I heard my own struggles in hers. Why do we not share are struggles more openly? Think of how supported we would feel. She may approach her struggles differently, but that doesn't mean her life is still not just as chaotic as mine.

And so... here I am. At the end of my post.

Perhaps what I wrote will help others embrace what they can do and stop comparing to others what they can not do. I'm going to challenge myself this week to fully embrace the 10 things (or at least three tiny people things) I am able to accomplish and smile and cheer for my peers who are accomplishing the other 9,990...

OR are they really?

Who cares!! Up I float once again out of the abyss for my God has got me.



Monday, March 20, 2017

35

This is the first year I feel old.

I know for those of you who are older you're probably rolling your eyes... I'm sure I will roll my eyes when I reread this post in years to come.

However, today I feel old.

Yesterday we were eating lunch at church and a group of younger people sat down and joined us. As I was attempting to dart sweet potatoes being spit at me by Colin, I smiled, said hello and asked if they were in high school. Turns out they were in their last years of College... and two of them were engaged. I then proceeded to recount our engagement story where we didn't have a camera to capture the moment and had to run to CVS, grab a disposable and return to the recreate the gorgeous scene (which I might add did not work very well.) One of the newly engaged remarked "well it's easier nowadays to capture moments." "Yeah," I replied "we didn't have cameras on our phones back then." Blank stares. I felt old.

This weekend we went out to celebrate my birthday. Dhrumil looked dashing in his sports coat, I
wore red lipstick. I felt grown up, fun and trendy. After a lovely dinner followed by a drink at a jazz club, we decided to go home... at 10pm. I felt old.

On a trip with just one child, Colin, people assumed he was our first. When I corrected them, told them he was our third and that our oldest was 7. I felt old.

Last week was our 10 year wedding anniversary. 10 years?! How could 10 years have passed already!? I looked at my husband who has grown stronger, more handsome and even more brilliant with age. A man who constantly knows what I'm thinking before I do. I felt old.

With age comes wisdom. Right? My 34th year was one of redemption. I worked through grieving the baby that we lost. Colin was born, making my heart bigger, stronger and more resilient. I've spent the six months of Colin's life postpartum depression free. I have been stretched in new and crazy ways by juggling 3 kids, Dhrumil's new jobs and no sleep. I am far from super woman, however I know my limitations and am aware enough when to ask for help and when too much is too much. My personal growth has taken off and instead of continuing to rebuild myself as I have been doing for 4 years, I am now adding new windows and doors and even additions! I feel whole. I feel complete. I am more sure of myself, more confident, more ME! And it feels good... I am ever changing, ever evolving and yet I'm ok with that because I finally know I have a good base to add too.

So come on 35... you may feel old, but I bet with age comes comfort, strength and endurance to continue on.

A baby 7 years after the first and so much fun!


Friday, December 30, 2016

It's Different With Three

I won't lie... when we were thinking about having three kids I googled "life with three kids" and "three kids is it hard?" and other absurd combinations I could think of. My research didn't glean much. And how could it? One kid for one family compared to five kids for another could be comparable in degrees of difficulty based on personalities and whatnot.


While pregnant I spoke with friends of three kids and with smiles that almost seemed to conceal something they didn't want to say, they replied "oh yeah it's good." I knew they HAD to be hiding something, but since my current state assumed three kids were inevitable they decided not to scare me right then and there.


We have had three kids in our family for three and a half months... here are a few things I've noticed for myself...


- IT IS A CIRCUS AND THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE AROUND ALL THE TIME! And being an introvert that has been an adjustment. ;-)


- 60... that's the number of little nails that continue to grow. For some reason adding 20 nails to the mix has thrown me off my game and I find that someone ALWAYS has nails in need of upkeep. Why does this matter you ask? I'm not really sure... I think it's because I'm a violinist and nice clean extremely short nails are how I've rolled most of my life. And thus if I see a nail trying to get overzealous with dirt or length I take a deep breath... and if possible... run for the closest nail clipper.


- Bathing...  When Mikayla was a baby I would give her two baths a day because she loved them. Nolan once a day and Colin? He's lucky if he gets a few a week. And then there are the older two and constantly trying to remember when they last bathed... I've taken to the "smell" test... if their hair smells funky in they go!


- Clothes... It has been known that Colin will still be in his pjs at the end of the day. And yes... I've taken him out of the house in his pjs. I would have gasped at babies in pjs back in the day... didn't their mother's want to change them? Didn't they know that an infant realizes routine and if not properly dressed for the day and then dressed for the night he will lead a coup against sleeping for months and months? Not to mention all of the adorable outfits... Ah the brain of the first time mom.


- Priorities... my life currently revolves around priorities. Eat breakfast or wash the dishes? Take a shower or make it to school on time? Get dressed or do a puzzle with Nolan?


- Time... is it possible that it goes even faster then before in moments and painfully slower in others?


- Love... It is amazing how love grows and multiplies and there is always enough to go around.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

How am I?

How am I?

Many know I fought long and hard against postpartum depression after the birth of my second son almost four years ago. Because of all I faced I found a new purpose in life... to become an advocate for mental health, to break the silence of an illness that is as real as any physical ailment, to be a listening ear for women who feel shame in depression, to help others support their loved ones in their times of need and to find a new depth to myself that only God could have orchestrated.

How am I?

Leading up to the birth of my third child I had many moments of fear. I was told I had a 50% chance of facing postpartum depression again. My odds increased after my miscarriage, however I had faced the truth - depression and anxiety may be a part of who I am now and I chose to accept it.

How am I?

On the day my son was born my thoughts lingered on the baby who I miscarried a little more then a year before. I couldn't see the face of my new gorgeous boy without thinking about the other baby who I never met... and yet... My heart was filled with joy and thanksgiving as I held my baby. I was fully able to be in the moment as stared at my miracle. The love and peace I felt with my new baby filled me with courage.

How am I?

Three kids is beyond overwhelming. Three kids has dropped me into the bucket of chaos where I feel at times there is NO escape. Three kids makes me feel outnumbered in a whole new way. But the sun still shines. The moments of pure joy make it possible to face the next moment of intensity. The dark cloud of depression is not nearly as intense. The red insanity of anxiety is dulled. The tools I spent months honing to face my darkness have become second nature. My heart praises God in the good times and the bad. It is well with my soul.

How am I?

God has put many in my life who uphold me in prayer. Many in my life who remind me of the truth of who I am. Who help me banish the lies that sometimes creep into my head. Those who I can go to without shame or fear. Those who accept me for who I am, flaws and all, crap and all, imperfections and all. I could not do life without these people.

How am I?

There are setbacks. Most days I don't have to fight anymore between my positive and negative mind, but then there are still the days that I do. Those days are hard. But then I look to God, I look to my people, I look to myself and who I have become and then I stand up, dust myself off, and keep moving forward.

How am I?

I am here. I am staying here.
I am ok.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Becoming a Mother-Person

It's crazy to think a woman can grow a person for 9+ months, that this person will make his/her way out of you in 12+ hours and then BOOM you are considered a mother. All of the sudden you have been inducted into the most prestigious club there is on earth with one ear splitting cry of a tiny needy person... when just the day before you were fully wrapped up in yourself and who you had been becoming for the past 25+ years. 

Sure books were read, newborn prep classes taken and advice was given, but there really is no amount of preparation that can truly equip you for the life altering change you go through as a person. Learning to take care of a tiny person is one thing... learning to understand the new you is a whole other. Can this change happen so rapidly? So quickly? So overnight? I believe we are meant to believe it does, however I have learned for me that it has taken time.

Becoming a mother-person is a process... a process that is constantly evolving. The wisdom that I have ascertained over these past six years have been invaluable. Looking forward to the upcoming birth of my third child has filled me with a certain excitement that I finally understand what being a mother means to me. I am not talking about being an expert in newborn care 101, preschool tantrums or navigating the total crazy random things your 6 year old does... heck no... I will constantly be surprised by these things, unknowing how to handle them and also floundering on a daily basis. Rather, I am talking about who I am!

I unknowingly fought the idea of being a mother-person for many years.  My internal argument... I was still me wasn’t I?  I wasn’t a 100% selfless being who went with every whim of her children and moved heaven and earth just for them. I had to reserve some identity for myself... I had to be ME!! But I didn’t know who me was and instead of one identity, I had taken on many AND I had made them unattainable. I strove to be a fully unique, dedicated, driven, dare I say perfect and separate person as an employee, wife, friend, musician, thinker, follower of God, woman, daughter, sister, mother.

The thing was I had the idea of who a mother was supposed to be all wrong. I felt I was lowering myself to think of my role as a mother to be my calling at present. I rejected that God had called me to this very precise position in order to shape and mold me into a new identity. One He had predestined for me, one He knew would make me a whole rounded person. Being a mother doesn’t mean being selfless and living for your children 100% of the time. To me, it is an intricate weaving of past, present and future self into someone who is fully unique, imperfect, learning and growing. I had been battling that true identity for 4 years and it was getting exhausting. Exhausting to not be able to fully measure up to who I thought I was supposed to be and exhausting to not be able to accept my true identity.

Embrace
Something finally clicked about a year ago. Maybe it was my depression and the process of having to put myself back together again from the nothingness I had become. Maybe it was the amount of time I spent being a mother. Maybe it was the hundreds of hours of therapy I had done learning to be more self aware, learning to love my imperfect self. Maybe it was because I was finally letting myself let God lead. Maybe it was all of the above... but I have now fully embraced being a mom, being content and also being me... they are all the same thing!  It’s hard to describe but as I birth this baby I will not be re-birthing myself this time. I am no longer a reflection of who I want to be... I am now who God means for me to be right now and that is empowering, encouraging and exciting! I am whole. 


The Real Belly

I pray my son and daughter can grow up loving their imperfections and embracing every mark on their bodies. As I stare in the mirror at my ever growing belly, and my war-torn stretch marks that continue to multiply, I have tried to accept that NOW is the time for my body to go through yet another change... and I will fully embrace that change! I know that after I give birth I will have months of waiting until my belly goes down... that's just how my body is... and I will try to embrace that as well! We are all different and unique and comparing just drops us in the crapper. So here's to the next 9 months and seeing what my body can do.


"Mama why does your belly have those marks?"
"Because I have had the blessing of growing three people inside of me and it stretched me out a bit. Some ladies get marks on them and some do not"


"Does it hurt?"
"No it's just uncomfortable"


"Is this baby I'm feeling!?"
"Yes it is"


"Can baby chestnut hear me? LALALALALALALA"
"Um yes he/she can"


"Did you feel that!?"
"Yes!"


"I love this baby!"
"And I love you!!!"