Monday, October 19, 2015

A good day

I didn't spank any children today. We played outside in short-sleeves. Libby made a delicious dinner for us all by herself. I read three long, interesting books to the kids and they all listened and loved them. My kitchen is clean. My kids are asleep. It was a good day.

Nope, these pictures were not taken today, but they capture the essence of today.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


Ten years ago today, I joined the ranks of motherhood, and boy am I glad I did. Overall, my stress level has been much higher this past decade than previous ones (most of which is naturally explained by my age, but I think there's still something to this). In fact, I heard of a study that somehow measures happiness and determined that adults experience a net decrease in happiness after becoming parents. I actually believe it, but don't think it provides the whole picture. My pre-parenthood lows pale in comparison to what my kids have put me through, for sure. But my pre-parenthood highs also don't stand a chance against the thrills and extreme joys that these small, dependent lives have given me. So yes, if you average it out, perhaps this past decade has been my saddest, or at least my most difficult, on account of being a mother, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

One thing's for sure, and that's that my lows would be much lower without this girl. It's almost criminal how much I take Libby for granted. With Kyle gone so much, it's probably about how much I used to take him for granted. Libby is a remarkably selfless being. She actually wants to watch Cosie and clean her room (or at least more than my other kids). She thanks me emphatically for every meal. She asks people how they're doing and genuinely cares. Yes, she cares. She cares about so much and so many, so very much. She is just what this world needs, and just what this mama needs.

Happy birthday, dear Elisabeth/Ellie/Libby.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Me again.

Hi there, it's me again. I intended to write last Monday about the state of things and that it is a sad, sorry state. Particularly if you ask my feelings or sanity. I have spent many days this year feeling extremely overwhelmed, despondent, frustrated, lonely, angry, and hopeless. I wondered at times if postpartum depression was striking, but I think it's been wholly circumstantial.

Having a newborn is always struggly for me. I'm awful at sleep training and I inadvertently follow attachment parenting principles, so I end up with super clingy babies and fractured rem cycles. Then there are the four older children. The toddlers are demanding by disposition, and Amelia has suffered from displacement in a manner that makes us all suffer. It has been a truly difficult year managing her emotional volatility. The olders are older and easier, but have their own emotional hangups, plus homeschooling them is no simple task. The time we actually spend studying curriculum is nothing compared to the time and energy invested in researching new products, curriculum, techniques, opportunities, and anything else that could possibly improve how we're learning. I will never feel like I'm doing enough for their education.

It's also been nine months since we started a restrictive diet to treat Libby, Erik, and Charlie's severe eczema outbreaks. In January, their skin all flared up to an unprecedented extent, and the persistent itchiness quickly turned into open wounds, scabs, and more eczema spreading up their arms, chest, neck, face, and legs. Between the miserable itchiness and pain and social embarrassment over their striking resemblance to lepers, these kids were suffering. I felt I had to do something effective, so it had to be drastic. After a good long scouring of library and online resources, I settled on the GAPS diet, which attempts to heal them from the inside out through nourishing, easy-to-digest foods. This meant eliminating ALL grains and starches (rice, corn, wheat, oats, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, etc.), ALL sugar except minimal honey, all uncultured dairy, and anything processed or with weird ingredients. I could say a lot about how this has worked out for us, but this post is not about food. It's about life's burdens, and depriving my family of all grains and sugar has been a tremendous burden. Sure, it's become much, much easier over time, but it's still a sacrifice of time, money, and effort that I wouldn't have undertaken if I'd felt there was a reasonable alternative.

When I was called to be the primary president a few months ago, I knew something in my schedule had to give, and preparing meals was such a time-suck, so I went with rice. Reintroducing rice helped considerably decrease my workload in the kitchen, actually. Being primary president has been a great experience, though it's also been one more area of life in which I under-perform. I just can't stay on top of it all.

The other circumstance that has contributed to my sorrows is my absent husband. When Kyle started consulting over a year ago, I tried to be tough about parenting solo for four days out of every week. I was positive for as long as I could, but eventually I decided to be honest with myself. It's hard. For a lot of reasons.

On top of all this, my dearest, wonderful mother is dying of cancer and I'm far, far away from her. There's almost nothing I can do for her or do about my parents' situation and it's just awful.

So, for a lot of this year, getting through the day with breaking down emotionally has been difficult. Sometimes I'm okay. I'm functional. I'm happy when I interact with friends. But I yell at my kids, a lot. My house is a disaster and that is mostly why I yell at my kids. Sometimes I throw away their things or say mean things or lock myself up in my room and make them put themselves to bed. Sometimes I feel anxious or heavy-hearted about just making it through the moment or the hour. It just doesn't feel like things will get easier in the foreseeable future. I'm doing all I can to keep myself intact spiritually, eating well, and trying to be grateful that things aren't worse in the countless ways they could be so very much worse. Usually this results in feeling crappier that I don't appreciate my charmed life, such a blessed and ideal life compared to so many others.

In all this complaining, my ultimate message to myself tonight is that there is hope. Sometimes I don't see it, but today I do.

I spent this past weekend blissfully surrounded by dear friends from college. The sight-seeing, excessive gluten consumption, and abundant meaningful conversations were weekend highlights. Another was an observation made in the science museum. We were witnessing baby chicks hatching from their shells and I expressed my desire to break into their cage and help the exhausted, struggling little darlings out of their shells. My bosom friend explained that actually if you help a chick hatch from its egg, it will die because it won't have developed the strength necessary to sustain its own life. Wow.

I came back from this girls weekend rejuvenated in several ways, and already in two days I can see that I really do love being at home with my children and I do have a happy life and I can do this and do it well. Today I had normal hard mommy moments, but nothing resembling despair. I felt like me again.

I think I really just needed a break. Inevitably, all of my responsibilities will continue to wear on me and dark times will resurface. But I think I won't hope and pray for someone to save me from my struggles. I think I'll break out of my own shell, painstakingly though it may be, and have the strength to live my life. It's a life very much worth living.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


That was surprisingly easy. I actually expected to have forgotten how to create a blog post, but it was a single-click effort. Blogger must really be desperate to keep this dying art alive. It's still one click too many for most of us, though.

I decided to write a brief journal entry tonight, but instead perused a few previous blog entries and scrolled through my bloglist only to discover that I am not alone. Almost none of my friends still attempt to blog regularly, and the titles of most of our last blog posts are something akin to, "Yeah, I never blog anymore..."

Normally, I would let dying things die. That's what I'm doing with my houseplants. In the case of blogging, though, I feel a (probably fleeting) urge to renew these self-reports. I have no presence on facebook, twitter, instagram, or whatever other social media outlet currently reigns. True, I've written sporadic, lengthy journal entries to myself over the past year or two, but sporadic is a generous description of their frequency.

Mostly, I'm in need of some therapy, and blogging is self-therapy, so maybe it will fit the bill. (More than actual therapy that costs real dollars, that is.) So there it is: a blog post. That was simple. That was a start.