Welcome to the frozen tundra: my love letter to wind chills

Baby it’s been cold outside. We spent the day in footy pajamas and lots of layers.  It was so cold that school had been cancelled, yet my husband had to go into work.  He had the ability to work from home, but his boss was not accommodating at all.  Moving on to a happier topic, I typically have a light meeting day. 

This day consisted of four phone calls for me as pointed out by my sweet Munch. “You were on the phone a lot“, she declared.  Only one of the four phone calls was a teleconference where I just listen in.  I threw my plan for the day up in the air, and I decided that we would have a fun day even with me working. 

My amazing boss was very understanding as my children screamed at me on our biweekly one on one.  He had no updates for me, but I had several updates for him.  At one point during our call, I excused myself.  I hissed to my daughters to go upstairs and play because Mommy needs to talk to Mr. S.  It is very important.  Once I am done with this call, then we will have our picnic lunch. 

Yes, we had an indoor picnic lunch complete with our fancy white tablecloth.  My girls stared at me, dumbfounded.  “It’s all white.  Won’t it get messy?” gasped Munch.  “So what?” I replied.  “It’s okay to make messes”.  (Clearly my children think that I have been replaced by the Pod People or a zombie at this point) Once the girls got over their shock, our lunch was full of laughter and story telling.  Skeeter blessed both Munch and I by taking a nap after our picnic lunch.  Munch and I got some much-needed one on one time, and we made banana nutella muffins together.  My biggest girl got what she needed on this day where cabin fever peaked. 

I realized that I just need to let go and relax.  I cannot do it all on these types of days, nor should I try to.  I had a fantastic day even though  we did not leave the house.

Posted in Humor, parenting | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Me too moments – the magic of LTYM

Lisa Gooseberry from LTYM Milwaukee 2013I am so excited to be working with the lovely Alexandra Rosas again as we launch the second annual Listen To Your Mother show in Milwaukee on April 27, 2014.  It was truly a life changing experience last year; it enriched my life in so many ways.  We are partnering with IMPACT Inc. as our 2014 local cause.  To sweeten it up, we are working with the lovely and kind Rochelle Fritsch, a LTYM Milwaukee alumnus as well as IMPACT Inc.’s Fund Development Director.  LTYM really opened up my eyes and ears to the stories all around me.  I brought a book to read this past week at my daughter’s dance class.  Instead I found community and solidarity while I bore witness to a motherhood story that mirrored my own in so many ways.  After the class ended, the other mom thanked me for listening to her and validating her motherhood experience.  I credit Ann Imig, Alexandra Rosas, Stephanie Precourt, Deb Rox, Melisa Wells, and all the amazing LTYM producers and directors from the other cities that I have met either virtually or in person for giving me this gift that I cherish so deeply.  I actively look for those “me too” moments, and I savor them like the precious pearls of story that they are. 

LTYM and the audition process gave me the gift of meeting so many men and women from all over the metro Milwaukee area.  How often did I get to just listen to someone’s story for five minutes with no interruption before last year’s auditions? I had not since the birth of my own two children.  My girls are born story tellers, but they frequently talk over each other.  Our entire family is working on being present and truly listening.  Our need to be seen, heard and known is so great in our family that we sometimes talk over each other in our quest to be heard.  I am guilty of this, and I continue to work on this tendency to interrupt.  LTYM continues to nurture my love of storytelling and my communication skills, both verbal and nonverbal. 

Our community grows stronger through our shared experiences.  We are very different, but motherhood and our family unites us all.  Please come share your story with us!  We would be honored and delighted to hear your original story on motherhood.  We are looking for people of all ages, gender, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Whether you are a mother or aren’t, we encourage you to share your story, by appointment only  (details below) and present your original 5-minute piece. Auditions will be held at the Bay Shore Center Community Room at Bay Shore Mall, from 9:00AM to 7:00PM, on Saturday, February 22, or from 9:00AM to 7PM on Sunday, February 23.

To audition, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Auditions are by appointment only (see details below). Time slots available are as listed above at Bayshore Center Community Room 5800 N. Bayshore Dr., Glendale, Wisc.
  2. Please arrive ready to read, with three copies of a 3 to 5 minute prepared original work, on an aspect of motherhood.
  3. Take a deep breath and tell yourself, yours is a story that needs to be heard.

To schedule an audition, or if you have questions or comments, please email ltymmil (at) gmail (dot) com or call 414-939-LTYM (5896).

Posted in storytelling | Tagged | 4 Comments

Resurgence of my nemesis anxiety

I felt that choking feeling again.  I could not sit still.  Anxiety had reared its ugly head again.  I looked on in horror as I noticed a hive on my wrist.  I have not broken out in hives from anxiety in over a decade.  I knew that it was time for me to take control.  I sat and breathed through my anxiety and just sat with those feelings.  Once I identify my triggers, then I can focus on finding solutions and reframing my thoughts.

I realized what had triggered my anxiety was my fear over my sweet Skeeter’s health.  It was almost three years to the day that I had driven to the emergency room of Children’s Hospital.  Two days after that trip, our pediatrician admitted her to the hospital for a three-day stay so her urinary tract infection could be treated with IV antibiotics.  This event contributed greatly to my postpartum anxiety. 

Here we were again, at Children’s Urgent Care Clinic on a weekend.  I began beating myself up because I missed the signs again of a urinary tract infection.  Skeeter suffers from VUR (vesicouretal reflux), otherwise known as bladder reflux.  I had taken her to the pediatrician the day before because she just seemed “off”.  When our amazing doctor asked me if she was showing any symptoms of a bladder infection, I said no.  We were checking out her nasal congestion and a lingering, wet cough.  Why did I not push for a simple urine test?  It only takes ten minutes.  I am her mama.  I advocate for her care and well-being.. 

This was the second urinary tract infection within a month.  Skeeter had finished antibiotics only six days earlier.  She also had hives all over her body.  Since I have suffered from hives, I understood how miserable Skeeter felt.  I felt powerless since I could not alleviate her itching.  We did not have any children’s antihistamines in the house.  All we had in our house was a topical ointment that provided temporary relief for her.  I cannot control what I did, but I can control my future actions.  I will advocate for a urine test every time that Skeeter goes to the pediatrician’s office for an illness.  I am also going to advocate for the antibiotic that she was given by her specialist.  That antibiotic seems to have the best success with treating her infections quickly.  I also need to remember that Skeeter is very three.  She can tell me that she does not feel well, but she is unable to articulate very well what hurts.  I need to keep her asking her specific questions to try to isolate what the exact issue is.  Also I need to cut myself some slack.  I cannot be omniscient.  I am doing the best that I can with the information that I have.  I trusted my mama gut, and I took her in the following day.  When I trust my intuition, it does not steer me wrong.

Posted in postpartum depression | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Blessing in Disguise

Two weeks ago I spent the day working from home with my sick Munchkin.  Normally on these sick days, I stress myself out by trying to accomplish all the things on both the home and work front. I realized that I need to reframe my thinking of success.  I have been working on not multi-tasking.  This approach does not make me more efficient.  It increases my anxiety, and it overwhelms me.  I lose my focus. 

Today I let my sweet girl stay in her adorable footy pajamas all day long.  I pumped her full of fluids, and I let her lounge on the floor and watch TV and movies to her heart’s content.  We played a rousing game of Chutes and Ladders which is way more fun than I remembered.  She napped for a glorious ninety minutes.  Munch hasn’t napped for that long in at least two years. While she napped, I worked in the stillness and quiet, lit only by the glow of my laptop and our Christmas tree.  After her nap, we made chocolate chip cookies for Skeeter’s Christmas program on Thursday.  At bedtime, she read us bedtime stories (the Christmas story) from her children’s Bible.  It was a magical day with my oldest girl, and I am so glad that I stayed present.  Too often, I do not give her my full attention.  Life gets so busy, and I feel pulled in too many directions.  When I approach my day with intention and mindfulness, I am able to accomplish a lot and make some amazing memories.

Posted in parenting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Love of reading

My sweet Munch proclaimed to me last night that “kindergarten rocks!” She has acclimated to her new school, and she wakes up every morning ready to learn.  On the other hand, my husband and I are still adjusting to all the new routines of elementary school: fundraisers, permission slips, homework and parent-teacher conferences.  I could barely contain my nervousness at our first conference.  Munch’s amazing teacher put both of us at ease, and she advised us that Munch was ready to start reading. 

Her eagerness to read is astounding.  She spells out everything that she can now.  Her enthusiasm for reading is contagious, and she reminds me of both myself and my husband.  We are a household of bookworms.  I had to turn off her lights the other night to stop her from reading just one more book.  Munch’s nights have become more structured as well.  She prefers to read, work on her writing and draw even if she does not have homework.  We are working with her to find that balance of play and learning so she does not become upset at the end of the night.  She has finally realized how many choices she has, and she gets overwhelmed that she cannot do it all.  Then it hits me like a ton of bricks.  Her academic mindset is a lot like mine was at her age. 

It is our job as her parents to navigate how much is too much.  Munch is currently only taking dance one night a week even though she wanted to do another one.  I would rather her try out a new class during the summer session instead.     Munch also begged me to let her join daisy scouts.  My husband and I agreed that dance is enough for now.  We want her to enjoy her unstructured free time as much as possible.  Now that she is reading, those interests will continue to expand.  I cannot wait to see what she wants to try and experience next.

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The Caregiver Archetype

 Katherine Stone and Cheryl Contee led the Pathfinder session of Blogging as a Change Agent : they recommended this book: Archetypes by Caroline Myss.  I finally got a chance to check this book out from the library this past month.  I am still reading this book.  I am savoring it, and I am really reflecting on the message of this book. 

A different archetype is covered in each chapter.  I have identified with many of the archetypes in this book already.  The chapter on the Caregiver archetype seared into my consciousness.   “Caregivers are haunted by a deep-seated belief that any act of self-care is the height of selfishness.  Because you are naturally compelled to reach out to others, you habitually put your own concerns last.”  So much of my struggle with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety  is traced back to the idea that I had to take care of everything.  I had to be Supermom.  I immersed myself solely in working and parenting.  I had to be coaxed out of the house on solitary errands.  I felt guilty for being absent from my girls at all.  I felt like I needed to be there for them all the time, especially since I worked full-time.  I only had a limited amount of time with my family, so I made it a point to spend every waking moment with them. 

When I finally got help, exhaustion, burnout and severe anxiety were my constant companions.  It took me several therapy sessions to realize that I was a better mom when I practiced self-care consistently.  The media plays up the myth of the supermom, and the parenting magazines also play a part in fueling the mommy wars.  I realized that I was my own worst enemy.  I heaped so much judgement, guilt and shame on myself for my decision to return to work full-time, for my decision to supplement some with formula instead of being able to exclusively breastfeed, for my decision to take medication, for attending therapy, and for being a crappy mom in general.  I felt like the world’s biggest fuckup as a mom.  I felt like I did not deserve the amazing daughters and patient husband.  I truly believed that they would no longer loved me if I put myself first.

Looking back on my experience, I realize how much more patient and understanding I am when I also take care of myself.  I know what fills my tank: reading, writing, running, yoga, dancing, singing, weightlifting and sleep.  If I place my needs below everyone else, I cannot take care of my family.  I am no good to anyone when I am ill and exhausted.  Chronic sleep deprivation and stress contributed to my microscopic colitis.  When I manage my stress levels, everyone benefits: my family, my employer, and my community. 

To my friends who are still struggling and to anyone out there who is still struggling, I promise that you are an amazing mom.  Tell that critical voice in your head to take a hike and leave you alone for good.  I will repeat until I am blue in the face that self-care is NOT selfish.  Self-care is NOT selfish.  I am NOT a bad mom for making myself a priority.  Let that message really sink in and hear me.  You are an integral part of your family.  Do not discount the importance of taking care of yourself.  You will be well.

Posted in postpartum depression, self care | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

My exercise posse

I’m the youngest by twelve years. I am in a different season of life; they are empty nesters or going through menopause. Yet we all fit together. We are a team of four united in our mutual desire to make lasting changes in our fitness. We met in a boot camp group at work.  I had read that you need to find workout buddies, and I always had the excuse that I could not find anyone.  Then I found my posse. 

We have been working together through two boot camps and personal training sessions.  These three women inspire me to work harder and push past my comfort level.  My nickname is Speedy.  I was given this nickname when I rediscovered my absolute joy in running line drills and doing speed intervals at boot camp.  I was not in the best shape, but I was the fastest.  I learned to love the strength training with my peers because Lee always challenge me to do the most difficult moves.  Instead of push ups on our knees, we do regular full-on push-ups.  Carrie is our group cheerleader; she radiates positivity and determination at every session.  Joy is the funny one; she keeps the mood light when I feel like giving up.  We frequently get chastised for chatting too much while working out.  I get the extra benefit of laughing while working out.  The only time that I have missed a workout with my posse is when I have taken a sick day to be with one of my girls.  I am always dashing into the fitness center just in the nick of time.  One of the posse will always grab the weights, medicine ball or mats for me.  I am spoiled and doted on by this group.  I feel so blessed to have found them.  If I had not decided to do boot camp this summer, I never would have gotten to know these amazing women.

Posted in self care | Tagged , , | 4 Comments