Mothers Day

Mothers Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and while I didn’t write a super sappy post on Facebook about motherhood, my mama, or all the great moms in my life, I did want to take a moment on here to reflect. I have found that life is impossible unless you have a support system. Family, friends, anyone who will help you see the light when it’s dark & will lift the load off your shoulders so you can breathe for a second. It’s taken me awhile, but I have found my village here in the PacNW. My tribe, my Girl Gang. This group of women work with me, and half of them are mamas. They helped Little Bee and I get through some super tough behavior/emotional issues last year. They understand the highs and lows of being an early childhood educator as well as a mom. Some of them understand the never ending battle of dealing with an ex who refuses to co-parent. But most importantly, they let me be my weird, moody self and love me for it. They listen to my outbursts of frustrations and try to lift me up when life has me hammered down into the ground. They encourage me to get out of the house when I become too wrapped up in my head, and they shove a glass of wine or a yummy GF snack or a cup of coffee in my hand when I am just DONE. They love my child as their own and cheer on my relationship. These women have pulled me through some tough times with (inappropriate) humor, grace, 90s alt music, and love. I’ve never been a girl who has a lot of friends, and usually my friendships fizz out after a few years because….well God, who really knows? Apparently I’m really hard to befriend. But I can understand that. This Gang though, this is legit. This is some serious girl power going on. There is some serious “mamas leaning on each other to survive the shit show of our lives” action happening.

Unless you have been in the trenches of single motherhood, you can never fully grasp the heart wrenching exhaustion of always been ON all the time. The stress and pressure and non-stop fear that single mother’s face can be suffocating, unless there is someone who understands. Someone who listens, someone who says “I get it, I’m there too.” Although I’m a little more removed from that war zone now, my scars are still deep and I still know. Even the girls who aren’t mothers step up when we’re floundering and say “hey let me take the kiddo for an hour or so” or agree to babysit until uIMG_2308ngodly hours of the night so I can go see a show. Life would be so hard without them. I never thought I’d have a support like this, outside of my mother. I have close friends that I love dearly and still keep in regular contact with. They are part of my tribe too, although they are scattered across the country. These particular women though are here with me, day in and day out, and much more accessible in times of crisis or joy.

Saturday we had a get together at my friend’s house, that ended up being a Mother’s Day sleepover. 3 adults and 5 kiddos and lots of laughter. We drunk danced to 90’s music in the kitchen, ate homemade chili at like 10pm and took turns getting everybody’s children to sleep. It was oddly cathartic and empowering to finally be surrounded by women who are in the same stage of life as I am. Nearing the end of our twenties wondering how the FUCK did I get here and what do I do now?? How do I keep my family safe and stable and not forget who I am? We woke up Sunday morning (Mother’s Day) waaaaaaay too early for the amount of alcohol we drank, and immediately began tending to the needs of bright-eyed kiddos we kept tripping over. Diapers, breakfast, cartoons, juice. All while laughing over pieces of the night and downing black coffee as fast as possible.  It occurred to me then that this is why women of most cultures band together and raise each others children together. It’s easier. It’s way more fun. It’s safer. I feel like here in the Western world, we are so busy trying to be the perfect Pinterest mom and have the perfect All-American family that we end up isolating ourselves and alienating other women who want to help. Our egos are blocking our personal saviors. If we could just say “ya know what? I’m so fucking broken and lost I don’t know what to do. I’ve made mac&cheese for four nights in a row and have no clean laundry in my house. But my kids are happy and alive” a lot more women would start peeking around the corners whispering “you too?” We have to be REAL with each other if we want to build the support system that we need to thrive. Not just mothers, but ALL women! Authenticity builds the village. And it takes a village to survive this day and age.

So to all the mamas out there, no matter what stage of life you’re in: I see you. I know you. You are enough, just as you are.
I’m here if you need me. And to all those amazing sisters who aren’t mothers, but are there without judgements for your friends who are: God bless you. You are an angel on earth and your love means more to her than you will ever know. Stay by her side with open ears and an open heart. She will need a new perspective to help through some situations.

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(image via Pinterest)

Early Morning

Early Morning

Good Morning! It’s been awhile since I have written anything, and my soul feels it. I’ve had the crazy urge to write lately, but have resisted because I either don’t have the time, or don’t really have a specific topic to write about. The pull to put my fingers to the keyboard has only gotten stronger though, instead of diminished, so here I sit, at 5:45 a.m., sipping coffee and typing away at a pointless post in the quiet of my sleeping apartment. I don’t really know what I’m going to write, but I just know that I am tired of suppressing my creativity. So I’m gonna go with it and see what happens. Bear with me here.

Work has been pretty tough lately, and there are some pretty huge changes in the not-so-distant future that are going to make it a bit tougher. I come home drained physically and mentally almost every day, and by the time dinner is made, consumed,  and cleaned up, and Little Bee is in bed, this mama is D O N E. Then of course there are household chores to be done, bills to be paid, and conversations to be had and time to be spent with my C. This crazy busy schedule  of mine leaves little time for me to be creative, or do things that feed my soul. I’ve started getting up a tad earlier to make sure that I have time for morning yoga, but even that sometimes doesn’t seem to cut it. I realized that I’m not creating anything anymore. I’m not writing. I’m not knitting. I’m not making cute things any more. I have pushed away all my creative urges for the sake of survival: more sleep, a cleaner kitchen, one more show and a glass of wine. I don’t think that’s conducive for me anymore, because I end up feeling blocked, stagnant, restless. I handle my emotions and anxieties and stress by writing about them, yoga’ing them out, our pouring that nervous energy into an art project. Lately though, I haven’t had the energy to deal with all that, so I just DON’T deal. And Lawd knows how unhealthy THAT is, especially in my family. So I am making a conscious effort to allow my creativity to come out again. I cleared off the horrid “desk from hell” in our bedroom, and organized it into a cute and functional craft space. All of my supples are in cute jars, baskets and bins within arms reach and out in the open so I am reminded every day that there are projects just waiting to be made.IMG_1570I’m digging this early morning writing sesh right now, so this will probably become a thing too. I’m really toying with the idea of making an inventory of things I can make well, and opening an Etsy. Not necessarily for the money (although that’d be sweet!), just for the sake of creating. Of keeping my hands busy and my mind quiet. For the sake of giving back to myself, and allowing my soul and body to replenish after (or during) a hard, long day. If I am calmer and more settled, than so is my family. If Mama ain’t happy, then nobody’s happy right???

Well, I think I’m about out of nonsense to write about for the day. Time to email Little Bee’s teacher, and start making lunches and all that fun stuff. I hope to be on here more often now, but I’m making no promises. I know myself too well.

Until next time.

Peace.

Life is…

Life lately has been…fine. We’ve fallen into a comfortable routine with school and my new work schedule and it was actually pretty painless. Little Bee has been doing exceptionally fantastic in kindergarten and has earned “golden tickets” almost every day for being either responsible, respectful, safe, or all three. He’s immensely proud of himself, as are C and I. He started writing letters and really enjoying trying to write and read. It’s been such a joy to see how much he’s matured in the past 3 weeks or so. After the first week he didn’t want me to walk him into school, but merely drop him off at the curb in the parent drop-off line. My heart breaks every time I watch his tiny self, carrying a big backpack, walk himself into the gaping doors of the school. I’m proud and awed at his autonomy and independence, but want to yank him back to my side and say “nope, never mind. I’m not ready to let you go like I thought I was.” Obviously, I don’t, as that is the main goal of parenting: to get them secure enough in their life where they can branch out and grow wings. I hate it, and think it’s the cruelest “joke” in the universe to intentionally break your own heart, but whatever. I didn’t make the rules.

The problem with routine, for me, though is that it utterly bores me. Little Bee thrives off of it, so for the past 5 years I have made sure we have a very set schedule and try to change it as little as possible. Of course we have fun, spur of the moments trips, or long night outs, but for the most part we go to school/work, come home & make dinner, do chores, bath/bedtime routine, and then sleep. After he’s in bed I have a little bit of free time, but I usually end up a vegetable in front of the TV before passing out on the couch or C’s shoulder. My heart and soul crave spontaneity and creativity and freedom to do what I want, but my mind and body are too exhausted to do much of anything. Thus ensues a big conundrum inside of me. Bored to death with the predictability of life, yet craving the stability and comfort of knowing what exactly comes next. I’ve been struggling with it for the past couple of weeks: bored of sitting on the couch, but too fatigued to do anything much more. (Gemini much??) Since the autumn equinox, it’s still dark when I wake up so I haven’t been getting up as early to do yoga. Which means I haven’t been doing yoga in the morning, but waiting until after work. Which means my yoga practice has suffered immensely. I went about a week without doing ANY yoga at all, and the further I got from my mat, the worse I realized my mood and body became. I felt detached, distant. I barely slept, and all my muscles started feeling knotted and tight again. I was just pushing through the gray fog, not really seeing anything but certain I was going in the right direction. So finally I decided enough was enough. I got online and searched yoga studios nearby that I could A)afford and B)had classes at night or on weekends. I found one and scheduled my free introductory class for the next week. Then I unfurled my mat, turned off the TV, and let the asanas flow. It wasn’t anything strenuous or even exciting, but it was exactly what my body and mind needed. As I sat twisted up in Gomukhasana (cow face pose), I realized how at ease I finally felt. I was fully present and aware of everything around me. I let go of yoga when I needed it the most. I was too tired for the one thing that could have woken me up.

So I decided to fully commit to an idea I had been toying with: yoga teacher training. It’s an intensive 200hr course that consists of text learning and postures, and I’m ready. Financially, I will have to wait until tax returns, but that gives me time to work on my practice a little more, and research which programs I want. But I’m pretty sure that I was meant to go down this road. I feel it will open a lot of doors to help the people that I’m so desperate to reach. And it will help heal all the wounds that I’ve been pretending don’t exist. I may finally find a job that fulfills me and helps pay the bills. I’m still seriously considering getting my master’s as well, and think I may have found a program that fits what I want and my schedule. That won’t start until next fall, which will give me time to get the YTT at least started, if not completed.

I’m ready for these big changes. I’m a bit frustrated that I will have to wait until I can implement my plan, but it’s probably for the better. I’m not a patient person, and this is probably just an (to quote my favorite author, Glennon Doyle Melton) “AFGO: another fucking growth opportunity.” I want to feel like I’ve finally got this life under control; that I’m working towards a goal, not just waiting for something to happen. I’m tired of waiting. I’ve spent the better part of 28 years just waiting. No more. I’m grabbing life by the horns and namaste’ing the shit of it!

Once I get some money in my bank account of course…

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Five Project pt. 4

This weekend we decided to do a quick one night camping trip at our favorite mountain top spot. Little Bee spent 24 solid hours playing in the dirt, wildlife watching, and hiking. And his mean ol’ mama even let him have a s’more! (highlight of his trip I’m sure)
I was playing around with my camera, trying to capture the golden sunlight cutting through the dense forest, when I looked down at my feet and saw the best subject I could ask for. I pointed my lens at him and called his name and this was his pose:

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I laughed at his “silliness,” but then upon seeing the image, I realized this IS my boy. This is his authentic five year old self. He’s got a stubborn, challenging set to his mouth and deep, soulful eyes that are at once older than his age, and playful. He stares right back at you, not apologizing for who he is. Or for the dirt completely smeared all over his face. Because he doesn’t care. And I don’t want him to care. I want him to always be this sure of himself, and to look any person right in the eyes and say, “Yeah. This is me. I am wise and funny and smart and stubborn and I’m not ashamed.”

Be wild Little Bee. Be wild.

Five Project pt. 3

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Sometimes I forget how young my boy really is. I say, and hear “well he’s five now he should be doing/acting like _____  by now…” But if you stop to think about it, five years of life is really not a lot. The things he has accomplished and master in only five years of being on this earth is pretty extraordinary. This picture reminded me of this for some reason…I guess because of the toothpaste all around his mouth and chin and his goofy/rotten grin on his face. He is still a fledgling. He is NOT an adult and should not be expected to act like one, or do all the things that an adult can do. No he’s not a baby and is old enough for some responsibility and manners. But there is a fine line between helping him to become a functioning, independent adult and thinking of him as one already. I feel that adults are often guilty of this; not remembering how young children really are and how some of the things we demand them to do are not physically or mentally possible for them yet. We need to let them be little without “babying” them. We need to encourage imagination and play, will instilling respect and responsibility.

“Childhood is not preparation for anything.
Childhood just IS, and they only get one.
It’s up to us to protect it.
~Lester Laminck

The Cloud

The Cloud

Today is glorious. It’s not a special occasion. There is nothing BIG happening….or really, anything, happening today. But it’s the first day in a long while I have felt like myself. I enjoyed my yoga practice this morning even though all the lights were on and there was a little boy all up in my grill making airplane noises. I made it to the farmer’s market and natural food store, then came home and put on soup and settled down with My Love to watch college ball opening day.  Fall is in the air, but the sun is still breaking through the clouds and it’s in the low 70s. A simple, beautiful, cozy life.

The past month has been a dark one for me. For no particular reason, I started to feel the threat of depression peeking around corners at me. I have known this feeling my whole life, but was a teenager before I had a word to call it. D E P R E S S I O N.
I worked extra hard at being happy with the chaos of my life, and being social and bubbly, loving and attentive to my boyfriend, patient and present for my son. But there was always a heavy, black Cloud behind me…I could sense it, but couldn’t hide from it. The more I ran and pushed myself, the faster it sped up. I zigged, The Cloud zagged. If I stopped for a moment to ponder the sad feelings starting to settle in my heart, The Cloud caught me and sat right over my head. I was strong enough to break through, shake it off for awhile and keep on. Until I got smacked with terrible news and The Cloud won. (I will write of that news another time. I need to collect my thoughts.)

I became engulfed in the heavy, dark, hopeless cover of the Depression Cloud. The anxiety that I had fought back into submission roared back into life, causing me to gasp for breath all day long. I felt like my sternum would crack from my heart slamming into it all the time. I slept every chance I got. It was a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, so my yoga practice suffered. The few sequences I could manage hurt my body so badly I ended in tears and frustration. I thought “great, another thing I fail at.” I fell asleep on the couch after dinner (and a bottle of wine) almost every night, wasting valuable time with my family. Even though I was sleeping more, it felt like I hadn’t slept in weeks. I got rip-roaring drunk more during the week than is good for me, especially when my job is so mentally demanding (and knowing my family history). I went through the motions of my day, but couldn’t remember or enjoy anything. Food didn’t taste at all, or tasted off, so I barely ate. I cried anytime I was alone, and brought back that old, useful skill of crying without ruining my mascara. I could lose my mind for a few minutes in the bathroom and walk out without anybody even knowing about my breakdown. It wasn’t just the news that was breaking me, it was the fears surrounding my own child. Even if it’s just one thing that triggers a depressive patch, all your old insecurities and tragedies come rushing back at you until you’re buried under years of pain and stress and loneliness. And as an empath, I take on everybody else’s pain too. I was literally carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and it was breaking me.

As it always happens to me, stress manifests itself physically and I got sick. Every single joint in my body ached like I was 100 years old, and my skin was raw to the touch. I couldn’t even push up my sleeves or wash my hands without an electric jolt. The softest clothes brought me to tears, just because they were touching me. I felt feverish, broken. There was an old cheesy commercial for depression medication in the 90s that had the tagline “Depression Hurts.” It’s true. Truer beyond true. There was no reason I should be feeling like this, except for that fact that I was in a dark depression spell. The Cloud was so dark and heavy and came at me so fast, I was scared I was losing myself. I have worked so hard to contain my crazy without medication and was actually pretty successful with it. This sudden onset of darkness petrified me, and made me angry. I am not willing to give up everything to sit in The Cloud. I have to much going for me. So in the darkness, I forced myself to find some light. The sweetness of a friend. The heat of the sun. A delicious coffee. I started the #100daysofhappiness challenge on Instagram. Anything to prove to me that it would be okay. That I could come out on top again if I kept fighting.

Yesterday was better, although I was edgy and cranky at work. I shook it off and was awake and talkative when C came home. My near constant anxiety of the past several weeks peaked last night to the point my chest physically hurt. I curled up on the couch and forced deep, cleansing breaths until I contained my panic. Then I changed my sheets, pulled out my down comforter from the closet and went to bed.

This morning I woke up and sensed that things were different. I drank super strong, black coffee slowly and then rolled out my yoga mat. I did a 30 minute restorative session and walked away smiling, instead of curled up in a tearful ball on my mat like I had last time. I knew then that I was coming back. I was fighting The Cloud, and winning. I’m not 100% back yet. That will take some time. My anxiety is still sitting in my throat, causing me to be snippy and reclusive. I’m still bone tired, craving sleep constantly. But I’m here. My head is above The Cloud, and that’s a start. I’m remembering things I like, and I’m staying away from alcohol for awhile. I need clarity to keep fighting this damned Cloud. It’s a fight that will never go away, but I know I can win for awhile. I know this because I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again. I’m no quitter.

One of my very favorite writers, Glennon Doyle Melton over at Momastery, writes candidly about depression and anxiety. She explains coming out of The Cloud beautifully. She says:

“So now I’m in the returning part, which has its own challenges. I feel so grateful. But I also feel fresh—new—baby-like, vulnerable, exposed, skinless. Like a soft shell crab that has outgrown its previous shell but hasn’t quite found a new one to wear yet.
For me, these depression times are exactly like an eraser. They come and stay and when they leave they take everything with them. The only way I can describe it is that I feel totally new—like I’ve forgotten all the wisdom I learned before. Like I’m starting over.”

Five Project pt.2

CSC_0103I ADORE this photo I took a few weeks ago. We had had a long day at school & I promised Baby Bee a smoothie popsicle when we got home. He asked me so sweetly to sit in the kitchen with him while he ate it, so I ignored my huge list of shit to do, and sat on the kitchen floor with him. As he’s buzzing around the kitchen, chattering incessantly, I keep noticing all the crumbs and dirt that need to be cleaned up. Just as I’m about to get up and start getting to work, he slides in next to me, lays down on the not so clean floor, and rests his head on my legs. There he laid until his popsicle was finished, talking about his day & absolutely content. And there I stayed, marveling at how much he’s grown up and savoring the rare, snuggly moment. As he gets older and busier, the times he needs physical connection and reassurance lessen. Which is a blessing yes, but also can leave me feeling quite lonely. I hope he always knows that I will be his home base, his safe place, no matter how old he is.