Down the rabbit hole, and in my purse

I am a very random person. A free spirit my sisters call me. I have had a weird collection of clothes, weird collection of art hung up around my bed room/apartments, and most definitely a weird collection of things on my person. At any given time these things lurk in my purse, in my car, etc.

My friends and I used to play a game called “What’s NOT in Andreah’s Room.” There were few and far between things that were not located in my sanctuary. One friend jokingly said a kitchen sink one time. I then produced a small miniature kitchen sink from somewhere, and laughter of course ensued.

The weird/strange/obscure things I have found on my person are the following:

Jars of dirt
I have a jar of dirt from Ireland, PEI and Nova Scotia, and for a while after I collected, or received them, I carried them around for a couple months. I know it’s weird, but it’s fun being able to carry around a piece of a far distant place that I either have been to or am dying to go to.

A beard
Yes. That’s right. I own a fake beard and used to carry it around and whip it out when certain situations called for it.
If you are currently asking yourself what situation would call for a beard, then you don’t understand life and the many simple complexities it involves. Or you are just not a strange person who used to carry around a beard.

Handcuffs.
I actually don’t want to explain this one, other than they are an interesting conversation piece. NOTHING SEXUAL. Just used to have them in my backpack.

My button collection
I have a button collection and used to carry around a few key ones that I loved to look at when I was in college. I even found use for some of them along the way.

I am a strange person. With strange things and a strange personality to match. Although I don’t find myself with these things on me on a normal basis, I still have all of them. I still am that strange girl with a beard in her bag, even if it is not a literal beard anymore.

Do you have strange things you used to do? Please tell me someone else has a fake beard.

~ Andreah

Tell her she’s awesome

I talked about the idea of feeling bad for people who want children and who have announced that they’re pregnant – worrying over their mental health, the blow to their sense of self, and the permanent upheaval of their lives that they will experience – and how it is wrapped up in my own battles with PPMDs. But is it completely restricted to me or other moms who have experienced mental illness or something traumatic? Or might I be onto something bigger?

I read an article on HuffPost Parents (seriously love following them) called: Throwing a New Mom Pity Party. The author, Kate Rope, a two-time mother and PPMD warrior, postures that maybe, just maybe, it might not be such a bad idea to talk about the bad stuff, the hard stuff, the stuff that makes you think, “What the HELL have I gotten myself into?” with as much zeal as the sweet-baby smell, the realized dream of being a mother, and the all-encompassing love you’re supposed to feel.

She says:

…I don’t think it’s a bad thing to acknowledge the tragedy that can accompany this socially recognized miracle. Why do you think Zorba called having a wife, kids and a house “the full catastrophe?” That’s what life is — messy and filled with highs and lows. And, when it comes to motherhood, we need to normalize the lows. There is no shame in talking about how it sucks (albeit not around your friend who is on her second round of IVF) and in reaching out for help at any stage of it.

In the article, she talks about wanting to give a weary-looking mother of a newborn a hug when she spots her in a coffee shop. But she refrains, because truly she doesn’t know what’s going on with her and she’s looking at the mom through the lense of someone who has suffered in her motherhood. And maybe this mom isn’t suffering, per say, but she’s a mother of a young baby, and that is not inherently easy.

But that’s just the point – young babies notoriously don’t sleep, have trouble eating or latching, drain you, throw your schedule for a loop, cry because they don’t know how to pass gas and sometimes scream for no reason at all. Why can’t we talk to a stranger about that? Is it the same reason that we say “Good!” whenever we’re asked how we’re doing in passing?

I get it – you don’t want to freak out some poor defenseless person on the street with your insistence they talk about their feelings right now, but maybe we should relax a little about talking about it in our circles of friends, or family, with our own parents, or with people in our baby yoga class. Maybe we should let go of the idea of perfection and embrace the fact that it’s crazy messy and we’re all doing our very best.

A dear mom-friend of mine, Sara, texted me saying that I should write about “creating a new mom environment – supporting not critiquing – how to create a village”. I think there might be three blog posts in there, but she’s right: as new parents, we’re bombarded with a hundred different ways to do the smallest of things and each of those options claim to be the RIGHT WAY because the other ways just might KILL YOUR BABY. It’s overwhelming. And not helpful.

If you breastfeed your baby, you’re a rock star. If you don’t, you’re a horrible mother. If you make your own baby food, you’re crazy and a health-nut. If you buy jarred food, you better be buying organic, because goodness knows what’s in the ‘other’ stuff.

There is no winning. There is no making the best decision for your family and appeasing everyone else. There is no being perfect.

And therein lies the rub.

No one is perfect. No one has all the answers. No one has ever raised a child completely mess- and stress-free. NO ONE. EVER. PERIOD. But, ads, magazines, well-meaning relatives, friends with children, friends with pets, friends who live in their parents’ basement will tell you otherwise. Will tell you that you’re doing it wrong. That they have a better way. That they are right.

Not everyone will experience my personal pain of surviving a miscarriage or fighting with mental illness. Not everyone will walk the road that I had to in order to become a mother. But everyone who becomes a parent will stumble at some point. Will have a hard time at some point. Will wonder who they have become at some point. Inevitably. No life change comes without challenge. If it did, it wouldn’t be life-changing. It would be hanging out on the couch watching your favourite show. Not doing something awesome and crazy and hard.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

I have come across this incredible online community fueled by Glennon Doyle Melton, a woman who has lived a far from perfect life, but who is learning to embrace the truth that everyone has also lived and is living a far from perfect life, called Momastery. Here, mothers from around the world chime in about embracing their flaws and failures and not working so damn hard pretending that life is anything but nuts. It’s incredibly liberating. And comforting.

Because sometimes, days when I’m covered in poop (no, literally), when I realize the pants I have been wearing have been peed on by two different children on two different days, when I can’t remember the last time I had a shower, when I just want five seconds alone without any sound, I wonder if I’m doing it wrong. If I’m not accomplishing some illusive mom-goals. If I’m failing miserably. If everyone else is normal and I’m the exception.

And then I find things like Momastery. And the Messy Beautiful Warrior Project on Pinterest (an ATTAINABLE Pinterest board, people!) And I realize, not only am I not messing up, but I’m doing awesome because I’m doing it. 

So, the next time you see a new mom, or the mom who is yelling, or the mom on her iPhone, or the mom checking out the no-name, non-organic food in the grocery store, instead of judging, or wondering if you’re doing it wrong, maybe tell her she’s doing alright. She’s doing just fine. And then tell yourself, you’re not too shabby either.

Because as Kate writes in her article, “Even if being a parent is one of your most important life goals — it was for me. You are allowed to struggle — a lot. And just because you signed up for a life-changing experience, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help with all the changes it brings.”

So, help her with her groceries, if your hands are empty. Be truthful when talking about this craziness that is parenthood. Don’t judge when someone makes a different choice than you. And keep in mind that you are doing your best, and that is pretty freaking awesome.

Just show up Be brave Be kind Rest Try again

~ Julia

Lifelong subject

So today I want to just bring up a touchy (at least to me, it used to be) subject:

I cry… a lot.

Me crying when I was little. It started young.

Me crying when I was little.
It started young.

I cry when I’m excited.

I cry when I’m sad.

I cry when I’m happy.

I cry when I’m frustrated.

I cry when I don’t want to and I cry when I know I just need to.

It always sucks when I am going along with my life, and something just happens, whether it is a conversation that is hard, or I see something that reminds me of something from the past, out come my waterworks.

Everything is connected to my tear ducts and I just can’t seem to help it!

I was talking to my favourite counselor back when I lived with the Mommy and she said something to me that I have been working on.

“Andreah, your emotions are a part of you, they are like waves crashing against us. You either need to learn to accept it and ride out those waves, or you are going to drown in them.”

I do my best every day, I work my hardest to make sure I ride the waves, so that I can get through the day without bursting into tears at the drop of the hat.

My sisters, I know, are just as frustrated at the tears as well. After all, they have been a witness to it for 23 years.

“And there she goes again!”

I know how frustrating it is. I wish I could stop! I wish I had little tiny corks to shove in my tear ducts!

Joe sometimes comes home and asks, completely worried, “What happened? Why are you crying?”

Usually it is me finding some video that pulls at the heart strings, or a new song that makes me think of family.

I know that it is silly to be frustrated over something so small, but when it is your constant, it gets kind of old.

I’m tired of the tears as well! I am tired of crying over the smallest thing!

I WISH I COULD STOP TOO!

I am working on it though. I have my breathing exercises that help. I have my visuals that I put in my brain to calm my emotions. I gently relax every part of my body to just calm all the nerves.

It is a tediously slow process of trying to master my emotions, and is so incredibly hard some days, but I am still trying and I hope one day I will be able to not have to worry about my tears.

~ Andreah