Postpartum Depression – The Struggle is REAL

Postpartum Depression

Staying at home for the first two years of Munchie’s life was an unplanned blessing – but it wasn’t easy. During those years, I watched children from two other families… and I still love those kids to pieces. I wouldn’t change those two years for anything in the world… but something was missing… and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I knew becoming a parent had changed me – and I worked tirelessly to define my role in our new family of three. I tried to be happy with our new groove – attempting to force myself in the cookie cutter role of Mommy – but it seemed to be an uncomfortable fit.

Admittedly, I think I tried too hard to shove myself into the shape of what I thought a stay at home mom should look like – and I had a limitless amount of information at my fingertips to guide me through the process – right? Pinterest, parenting blogs and forums, listening to other moms… articles, magazines, studies from the Mayo clinic and beyond. I had to piece the information together – but, finally, the world had come together to write the parenting manual that previous generations yearned for. My generation was lucky to have access to such a gift. Sure, you have to sift through the information… but you could read all about the ins and outs of being the perfect parent and raising a creative and intellectual genius who would one day save the world.

Convinced I needed to be the perfect mom, create a Montessori learning environment in my own home, offer all the experiences and opportunities right here in my child’s immediate vicinity, I made all the things. I needed all the educational games. We went to all the story times. I took my kid and others to museums, parks, pools, and events.

I rocked the yoga pants daily, paired with t-shirts and hoodies that served as reminders of the past life I had once lived – the organizations I worked for, the camps I worked, places I had volunteered, events I attended. They were billboards of my past life… the pre-baby years… a tribute to the individual I had once been.

I missed that person.

You see… I was trying to jam the old version of myself through this cookie cutter of who and what I thought a mom should be. I was frustrated that I didn’t fit into that mold, but being the stubborn soul that I am, I couldn’t accept defeat. I was going to transform myself into this image of the prefect mom… and I was going to be happy about it, dammit!

As I tried and tried to become someone I wasn’t ever meant to be – my frustrations grew, my anxiety levels skyrocketed, my health plummeted to an all-time (and dangerous) low,  and my relationships with the other two members of my household (my awesome  husband and my totally incredible kid)… the most important people in my life…  well… they were far from perfect.

Then… one day… I snapped. All I remember is screaming in the face of the man I love, collapsing onto the bed, and sobbing… like can’t breathe, ugly crying, complete breakdown… right there on the bed. I was a heap of human… and my husband scooped me up in his arms, held me tight, and told me everything was going to be okay… and that we’d figure this out together.

A quick visit to my therapist, a tweak to my medications, and a shitload of support from my family and friends… and in a matter of days the haze started to lift. I started to see that I didn’t have to sacrifice myself and try to cram my life (my individuality) into some unrealistic mold of what I thought the perfect stay at home mom looked like.

Ultimately, what I learned through my healing was that some parents are cut out to be stay at home parents… but that’s just not the life for me.  Yes, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be home for those two years… but doing so made me hold myself to standards that were far too high. Feeling as though I needed to afford my child EVERY opportunity imaginable wasn’t realistic.

We did a lot in those first two years… but it nearly killed me (seriously, stress and anxiety are horrible triggers for UC patients).  Would I trade them for anything? Absolutely not.

Once I began to see clearly, I realized my desperate needed to start relying on more of the “village” to help transform my offspring into an awesome human. I needed it. He needed it. Our family needed it.

I ended up going back to work part-time, where I’m able to exercise my mind and be a contributing member of a team – independent of my family. We enrolled Munchie in an incredibly fantastic preschool – where he is absolutely thriving, making tons of friends, and learning skills I never would have even thought to teach him at two years old.

As for our little family of three – we are more in love with one another than before. We don’t take our time together for granted… we have more energy and patience for one another. We’ve always LOVED one another – but now we LIKE each other and genuinely ENJOY the time we spend together.

A family is a living and evolving system. For the ecosystem to be healthy, we must each find our place, our groove, how we contribute to the organism… which can be tricky, since every family is a little different and continually changing. We’ve learned that communication and flexibility are key to finding how to not only co-exist… but for each of us to thrive.

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We aren’t perfect. What works for our family might not work for yours – but, I can promise you this… if you aren’t happy… you need to talk to someone about it. And if you can’t find JOY in your life… that someone needs to be a professional.

It’s estimated that nearly half of women with Postpartum Depression struggle for more than a year. Some women and doctors have found PPD to last 3 years are more. You aren’t weak. This doesn’t have to be your “new normal.” You can be happy… and you don’t have to walk this path on your own.

If you live in the United States and feel like you need some help – or aren’t sure – and want to confidentially speak with someone who can help guide you in the right direction, please call 2-1-1.

If you live outside the United States, please contact your local mental health or crisis hotline – these incredible people would be delighted to point you in the right direction.

The Day Our Play-Doh Died (and We Made More)

The Day the Play-Doh Died

After a week of continuous assault (thanks to that awesome blizzard), my Play-Doh addicted child had finally squeezed the last ounce of life out of his crumbly play clay (which is now resting in pieces at the bottom of our trash can… and under the couch… and in tiny crevices all over the ding-dang house). When I say my child has an addiction to this dough – I’m not kidding. He won’t go anywhere without it. Though we try to confine the stuff to our main level – he’s managed to sneak it up to his room somehow. I would say via pocket – but we all know my child is a wannabe nudist – so it’s gotta be going up there in his diaper… or maybe he’s hiding it in his cheek like a squirrel (I was going to say like some sort of prison inmate – but we don’t let him watch OITNB).

Shy of sleeping with it (it naps on a high shelf within view), he’s either playing with the stuff or carrying it around in a bowl, cup, basket, or straight in his hand. Munchie doesn’t even have to have it out of the container! He lines up his cans and they talk to each other, watch shows together, sing songs… it’s adorable… and can be a little creepy at times.

Whatever the case… he’s been playing with the same cans of Play-Doh since Christmas… and the stuff was funky. It needed to go. Knowing I couldn’t handle a breakdown (or the therapy costs later on in life when he told a mental health professional that I threw away his best friend) with this much snow left on the ground… so I put my crafty pants on and we headed to the kitchen.

I have to give my son’s teacher props – because he almost walked me though the process of mixing up a new batch of dough on his own. (Little kids are gross – so I assume the classes are constantly switching out their supply.) We whipped up a batch of my FAVORITE homemade play dough (from back in the day when I was one of those overachieving stay at home Pinterest moms – but don’t worry – this one’s really simple and by far the most texturally pleasing recipe I’ve found). Munchie mixed all the ingredients together and was excited (and super cautious) to be using the stove to cook our dough.

Since I can’t do anything by the book, we did leave out the food coloring. Instead, we divided the dough in half and added a packet of Kool-Aid (the cheap ones without sugar) to the dough. Be sure you have a stain resistant surface for the kneading!

In a matter of minutes (maybe about 15 minutes… because I let him help with measuring), we had a new batch of play dough, split into two awesome new colors. Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Mango Peach! The new dough smells awesome. An added bonus – I know exactly what’s in it… so if he sneaks a taste (which he will) it’s no big deal (and going to taste like a salt lick).

Three cheers for channeling my inner overachiever Pinterest  SAHM self and saving the day! Now it’s time for my favorite stay at home throwback… NAP TIME!

Penis. Vagina. Nipples. Anatomy.

Penis. Vagina. Nipples. Anatomy.

Blushing yet? We don’t nickname body parts… and that freaks some people out. Sorry… not sorry. Every family is different… and this is just how we roll. Some families are super modest, which is fine – but we don’t go out of our way to shield Munchie from nakedness. (This would also require a certain amount of privacy – something that is a mystical fantasy of parents everywhere.) Bodies are bodies. Everyone has one. Accept it and move on.

Munchie is two and a half – the kid knows he has a penis. Like most boys, he thinks it’s the coolest thing in the world. I know we’ve said before that boys have penises… and having been around friends, he’s been told girls don’t have penises… but I think he forgot… because last week this happened:

Munchie woke up from his nap and walked into our bedroom as I was getting out of the shower. No big deal. I told him to hop up on our bed (because I didn’t want him destroying anything, knocking over the cup of water on my nightstand, etc). He sat there holding his precious lovie while I dried off. As I walked from the bedroom to the bathroom, he scared the Nutella right out of me.

Munchie: *Gasp* OH NO MOMMY!!!
Me: *Alarmed* What’s up Buddy? What happened?
Munchie: *Incredibly concerned* MOMMY PENIS FELL OFF IN SHOWER!!!
Me: (Oh crap. He’s already terrified of bath time.) Awww. No it didn’t, Sweetie. Mommy is a girl and doesn’t have a penis.
Munchie: Why?
Me: Because Mommy is a girl and girls don’t have penises.
Munchie: *confused* Mommy have chicken?
Me: (Chicken?!?! WTF kid?!?!? What do I say to that? WhatdoIsay? WHATDOISAY? Truth… tell the truth.) No, Sweetie. Girls have vaginas.
Munchie: Why?
Me: (TIME FOR THE GOD CARD!) Because boys and girls are different and God only gave boys penises.
Munchie: Oh. Mommy?
Me: *terrified of what is to come*
Munchie: Can I watch Yo Gabba Gabba?
Me: *internal happy dance* Absolutely. Where’s the remote.

Never in my life have I navigated to an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba with such focus, in such a minuscule amount of time.

Fast forward to last night. We’re getting ready for bed… a time of day that is generally presented with a decent number of obstacles, requests, books, songs… and questions. Anything to delay Munchie’s inevitable bedtime.

Munchie: *points to his nipple* Daddy – what this?
Daddy: Uhh… Ummm… That’s your… *looks at Mommy*
Mommy: That’s a nipple.
Daddy: Oh, yeah, Buddy… that’s your nipple.
Munchie: Daddy have nipple?
Daddy: Yeah, Buddy.
Mommy: Look, you actually have two nipples. *Points to them while trying to wrestle a shirt on the tiny being*
Munchie: *lifts shirt… and counts* One… Two. Two nipples. *turns to Daddy* One… two. Daddy has two nipple, too! *Turns to Mommy* Mommy have nipples, too?
Mommy: Yep. Everybody has nipples.
Munchie: *tries to poke my chest* Why?
Daddy: Because, Buddy.
Mommy: *eye roll* Are you asking about nipples because you saw someone feeding a baby? (I know the answer is yes… Munchie nods.) Well, that’s what they are for. Feeding babies. Some babies eat from nipples. Some babies eat from bottles. You are a big kid. You drink from a cup and eat big boy food.
Munchie: Baby eat my nipple?!?!?
Daddy: *fighting extreme laughter* No, a baby isn’t going to eat your nipple.
Mommy: Some mommies have milk in their nipples to feed their little babies, just like (gave and example of family and friends who he has seen breastfeed). Boys have nipples so they don’t look weird in bathing suits. Alright?
Munchie: Okay, Mommy. *grabs his lovie and heads to bed*

Parenting is freaking exhausting. You get hit with curve balls all the time. The questions of your children (and other people’s children) are kind of like seagulls at the beach. Generally terrifying… because you know at any moment, you child could verbally poop out a disturbingly unexpected question that… in your mind you think you are prepared for (because you and your child rearing team have discussed situations like these… but it was in more of a hypothetical, emergency, this won’t happen to us kind of way)… but blood still rushes to your face, you are caught off guard… and even though you think your tiny spawn can no long surprise you… they do… and you look for backup… but if no one else is there to spot you… you might just have to play that one card you have stored in your back pocket that not even a toddler can dispute… and in our family… it’s The God Card.

Munchie: Why?
Mommy: Because… God said so.

The End.

WTF Was Wrong with Little Red?

Little Red

It’s Fairy Tale week in Munchie’s class. In last night’s daily recap email, his teacher explained, “I changed the story so that it was not so morbid with grandma getting eaten. Our grandma got put into the closet because the wolf wanted the basket of muffins and cookies.”

Um – I’m sorry… YOU DID WHAT? As if the story isn’t already screwy enough – you have this “free range kid” running about the forest ALONE to get to her grandmother’s house. I’m sorry – did any helicopter parents call the police and report her parents to CPS? Because if this were my neck of the “woods,” someone surely would have reported such activities to law enforcement and they would have helicopters circling the area to search for that kid before Snitchy Susan so much as hung up the phone – and surely before she had a chance to tweet about it.

Alright – so we are lead to believe a wolf saw Red, intuitively knew where she was heading, beat her to  the Grandmother’s house, gobbled up locked Grandma in the closet, figured out how to put on Grandma’s glasses and night-gown, and crawled up in bed. Yeah – totally plausible.

But wait – it gets better. This kid shows up, busts through the door with her basket of goodies, and then believes that a WOLF is her GRANDMOTHER?!?!?! I’m sorry – was this child on DRUGS? I was all concerned about her running amuck in the forest by her lonesome self – but good gravy! THIS CHILD IS ON DRUGS! (Perhaps someone dropped ecstasy into her bag while she was trick or treating?)

Let’s be honest – in this type of situation you have two options (well, three – but the third is death, so we are skipping that one). Option #1 – RUN! You run as fast as your tiny little feet will take you… and then call animal control. Option #2 – KILL THE WOLF! Granny lives in the middle of the woods – she surely has weapons. Also – Red is a country kid from back in the day – she knows how to hunt. I’m nearly certain of it. Had she played her cards right, she may have been able to trade in her little red poncho for a nice fur coat – and some wolf stew.

Then again, seeing as Red was most likely high out of her mind – she probably hallucinated the whole thing, locked Granny in the closet, and then went to town on those (perfect pun) “baked” goods because she had the munchies.

Children should be terrified of manipulative animals who gobble up grandparents. I don’t buy the whole story… And I certainly don’t believe there’s a moral of any sort… Other than wild animals will eat your face off and drugs are bad.

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FYI – I DID SOME RESEARCH
Turns out there is a moral to this story. Brace yourselves.

Moral: Children, especially attractive, well-bred young ladies, should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say “wolf,” but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.

Source: Andrew Lang, The Blue Fairy Book (London, ca. 1889), pp. 51-53. Lang’s source: Charles Perrault, Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec des moralités: Contes de ma mère l’Oye (Paris, 1697).

That One Time I Got a Job and Totally Neglected My Blog

A Real Boy

I’d be lying if I said a certain amount of guilt hasn’t kicked in. My memory is the equivalent of apples that have been mashed into sauce… with a little spilled on the floor and gobbled up by the dog… never to return. In a sense, my blog is our “book” of memories, our baby book, the timeline of Munchie’s milestones, bloopers, and the grand adventures of parenting (and life in general).

So – instead of moping around about it – I’m going to do my best to do something I RARELY do. I’m going to photo dump and narrate, in an effort to catch everyone (including myself) up on recent(ish) events. And… here we go – in no particular order…

Bike with Gram

Bike Ride with Gram – Freaking LOVED it… didn’t even complain about the helmet. Looking forward to many more biking adventures!

Blurry Ice Cream
Sometimes the blurry pictures are the best – because they capture the laughter and silliness in all its splendor. I believe this was a late night ice cream date with Gram.

Bubby
Bubby is teaching Munchie to read words and match them to pictures… fingers crossed that this leads to a full ride to college.

church
We spend a LOT of time at church. Munchie goes to school there, I work there… he thinks we live there. It’s a whole thing.

Coffee
Sometimes, you just need some coffee on a blustery autumn morning. Unless you are two – then you get donuts.

eggplant
And… sometimes you just need to eat a raw eggplant at the Farmer’s Market? This is probably one of my favorite things Munchie does… eating raw veggies. Over the summer, he would hike out to his vegetable garden (at the farm… well, he wouldn’t hike to the farm… but once we were there he would trek out to his garden), snap a squash off the vine, plop down… and just eat the freaking thing! Good thing Papaw and Bubby don’t spray those plants with pesticides!

family reunion
Family reunion at the shore – CHECK! It should be noted that, while we spent a week at Myrtle Beach over the summer, he didn’t start talking about the “beach” until we went to the family reunion.

fire truck
Fire truck came to visit school! Something to note here – I had to gray-scale this image because someone has snot on his face. People without kids – you do not know the struggle… and it is VERY VERY VERY REAL. Kids are like faucets. Something is always leaking out of an orifice. Yes, it’s gross… but it’s life… and boogers WILL show up in photos. Get over it.

Fire
Seeing as Bubby and Papaw keep their house, barn, etc warm with wood burning stoves – Munchie learned EXTREMELY early that fire is HOT. Naturally, if something is hot… you should blow on it. And… that’s what he’s doing here. Please note: If we come to visit and you have a candle burning… this kid is going to figure out a way to blow it out. “Fire! Hot! Danger! Blow Out!”

genius
Because sometimes you have to go to Mommy’s appointments and the only toys they have are 150 years old. (Also… he’s a genius.)

Great Grand Parents
Visiting Munchie’s Great Grandparents… where he was fed copious amounts of sugar… and was allowed to pick the M&M’s off donuts so he could have chocolate. (Goober.)

independant
After a couple of days home sick, be figured he would just help himself to the popsicles. Nothing in my house is safe from our tiny climber.

Leading Horses
Still a big fan of helping out on the farm. Ironically, he will get closer to the horses in the field than he will in the barn, where they are gated in. I guess he prefers animals in their natural habitat.

Not Candy
Oh – YES! The day he tried to sneak candy, only to unwrap his precious bounty and find a tampon. Yes, sometimes disappointment is punishment enough. He did have fun swinging it around on his way to the trashcan.

Papaw
Okay, admittedly – this is where I start to get choked up. Papaw (that’s my father in law) is the relative Munchie talks about most often (with the exception of Duke, one of Papaw’s dogs). While no one could ever replace my dad, or the relationship he would have had with my son, I couldn’t have asked, hoped, wished, or prayed for a more loving grandfather for my kid than Papaw. He teaches Munchie all sorts of things, sneaks him treats, and spoils him with incredible amounts of love and laughter. I’m thankful for all of our family members and their love for my little guy… and the way they keep my dad’s memory alive… and love on Munchie… and teach him all the things Pap (that’s my dad) would have wanted him to know.

Okay… wipe your eyes… I’m done.

picture day
This is my kid on school picture day – a ploy to get parents to spend every dime they have on the child(ren) they think is/are the most adorable people in the world. (Though we all know there can only be one most adorable child… and that’s mine.)

Potty
Oh yeah, we got a potty… and sometimes sit on it while we watch TV. Also – for posting this picture, I’m going to be adding several hundred dollars to his future therapy fund. He’ll sit on “Mommy’s big potty”… but only if we blow bubbles. He’s peed once… and I am about to make a bumper sticker to brag about it. (Take that honor students – my kid can pee in a friggin potty!)

saving the world
Helping Seed of Life bag food for families in need. Serving is so important to our family and a BIG part of my dad’s legacy. I’m so excited Munchie has the opportunity to make a difference at such a young age… in this case… feeding families in our community.

Smiles
Teeth – there are so many teeth. We stopped naming those damn things after the first few. Now there are just a LOT of them… and he’s still getting more. FYI – molars are a b*tch.

strep test
Strep Test – which he hated with a passion, but was very proud of himself for living through… and he really enjoyed reenacting. These were a staple of my childhood and I felt horrible for him… but also saw it as a right of passage. Trooper Bish.

Wednesdays
I told you we were at church a lot. Here he is passed out in the youth room. Hey, it happens! Oh, and see that binkie – it’s gone now! A week without a binkie. Woo hoo! The youth love him, the staff adores him. It’s fun.

zulily
Yes, parenting is difficult… it’s the most difficult experience of my life. BUT… we are blessed to have such an incredible support system and community of friends and family who help us raise Munchie. He is by far the greatest gift my husband and I could have ever given one another… and our families… and the world. (You’re welcome.)

Update: Rockbox Complete… FINALLY

Rock Box Complete

Two months later… I finally got the motivation to complete the rockbox! (Original post here.)

Washing the pea gravel was a bit of a pain, but I ended up drilling holes (three cheers for power tools) in the bottom of a Rubbermaid storage bin (like, a ton of them), dumping in a bag of pea gravel at a time, and washing it with the hose (and mixing it up with my hands) until the water pretty much ran clear. I ended up only using three bags of gravel – so filling the box only cost about $10.

The result? Absolute JOY!!! Inevitably, handfuls of rocks have already been thrown… and I’m happy to report that gravel to the face hurts FAR less than cancer sand in your eye.

Alligator Adventure – The Highlight of Our Summer

Alligator Adventure

So, here we are… we’ve traveled hours upon hours and finally arrived at our destination – Myrtle Beach, SC. We roll up to the house, where Gram, Aunt Lizzie, and Uncle Austen are excitedly awaiting our arrival. We are all super excited to share in Munchie’s first REAL beach vacation and can’t wait for a week of sand castles and salt water. We had everything planned out… beach in the morning, lunch, nap, and afternoon adventures.

Just one problem – anytime the parent of a toddler meticulously plans or schedules any event… the toddler must throw a monkey wrench directly into your face… often with great force.

Insert beach day numero uno. We load up the golf cart and head to the beach. It’s about 100 degrees (F, not C… for all my concerned friends from around the globe), but the salty sea will cool us off, right? ERRRRRT. Wrong-o, my friend. You see, my child has decided that his incredibly severe phobia of pools now extends to the ocean. I simply couldn’t let my child bake in the sun for a week without any reprieve… so we did a bit of rearranging to our schedule. Activities during the day – beach at night… for about 30 minutes… at which point, he would head for our bag, start dragging it to the dunes, and exclaim loudly, over the sound of crashing waves, “ALL DONE! GO HOME!”

Insert Pinterest Fact – While, yes, baby powder will dry you off and take the sand off – do NOT put it all over your body (sorry, kid), or you will straight up look like a ghost. Tried it. No photos. Trust us. Just put it on your feet and put those shoes on.

So – on to our activities. We hit up the aquarium, which was super awesome – but at the age of two, Munchie pretty much generalizes all fish to just be “fish.” He did like the sharks – especially the guy wandering around in the shark costume. Overall – I think we are too young to fully appreciate the aquarium. (The adults loved it – be sure you are in the tunnel at feeding time – incredible!)

Next, Alligator Adventure. We bought our tickets, which were actually good for two days in a seven-day period, so we were able to go twice… which is a good thing… because it took that long to travel the park with a toddler.

From the outside, Alligator Adventure looks rather small, but they have an incredible property with animals Munchie was able to recognize. He got super excited about the house of small reptiles (which is air-conditioned – so we were thrilled he enjoyed it there) and was obsessed with the monitors. He even gave on a high five! We also got to pet an owl and a giant iguana thing!!!

He loved the alligators, got to pet a giant tortoise, saw some kangaroos, a bunch of birds, and then… we got to the lemurs. (Okay, there are some random animals here – but they are all super awesome!) He actually played chase with a lemur for about seven minutes… and then had a full on meltdown when we couldn’t take the little guy home with us. Gram said he’s going to be that kid you read about who sets a bunch of animals free from the zoo or a lab or something… and I can’t say it would surprise me.

We did a bunch of other stuff on vacation (like took Munchie to his first movie in a theater… Minions), but Alligator Adventure was certainly the highlight of Munchie’s Summer… and getting to experience such an adventure with him – a magical moment for all of us. If you’re headed to Myrtle Beach – be sure to put this place on your list.


Please note: I didn’t get paid to write this. We didn’t get free tickets. The park compensated us in NO way. I wrote this post because we truly LOVED our experience and I want other families to know how awesome Alligator Adventure is, so they can have super special memories like the ones we created in this park and will cherish forever. Also, we saw a ton of people without kids who were totally enjoying the place. We recommend it for people of all ages!

Also… all of the animals seemed to be completely happy and well cared for. I’m not typically a fan of animal prisons – but this was more of a sanctuary.

 

 

Hello Workforce – Did You Miss Me?

Saying Goodbye to Staying at Home

It seems this is the week of big changes. A two-year old… a toddler bed… and a WORKING MOMMA BISH!!! Today, after two years of staying at home with my favorite little guy in the world (and some of his friends), I am going back to work. I am beyond thrilled to announce that I have accepted a position at our church, First Baptist Church of Frederick​, that will allow me to use my eclectic set of skills and experiences in non-profit growth and management, communications, marketing, event planning, and a passion for FBC Frederick, to grow our church family, cultivate volunteers and mission leaders, and send them out in our local community and beyond, to help share the love of Christ through their service and actions.

Munchie seems super excited about starting at his new school later this week and his teachers have already expressed their delight in having him in their class. Last week, he had the opportunity to play with his new classmates for a while and everyone seemed to get along fabulously. I feel comfortable leaving him in the responsible hands of his new caretakers and teachers… but I will certainly admit that all this growing up and change is a little bitter-sweet. (Dear Self, get over it… he’s literally going to be in the same building you are working in… everything will be fine.)

Being a stay at home mom has been an unplanned blessing. People are generally shocked to learn that I hadn’t ever planned to be a Stay at Home Mom… it’s just what God/the universe (whatever you believe in… just because I work for a church doesn’t mean I’m going to cram the Bible down your throat and ex-communicate the friends who don’t share my beliefs… so no worries) had in store for me.

Yes, I am truly thankful that I had the incredible opportunity to stay at home with Munchie – but at this point in time, I feel going back to work and putting my kiddo in a classroom environment is certainly what is best for our family. Let’s be honest… he could use a little more structure and socialization in his life… and I could use a few more spreadsheets and paychecks in mine.

I have a feeling that going back to work, in a job that many would argue was designed just for me (insert chuckle… because I may have written and pitched my own job description), will be the recharge I need in the middle of my week (I’m only going back part-time) to gice me a new outlook on the time I get to spend with Munchie… and the time we all get to spend together as a family. I feel like staying at home (and with Daddy Bish working from home) we kind of take our time together for granted.

So,  to sum up this entire rambling post – I’m going back to work… starting today – and I am certain this is the right decision for our family. It does come with some mixed emotions… but overall – they are of happiness and excitement.

Cheers, to new beginnings!

Sentimental Sandbox… Turned Rockbox

Sandbox Turned Rockbox

Last night, I got a message from a mom at church asking if we might want their old Crabbie Sandbox. All three of her boys grown. One is in college and the other two are now in the youth group… and they have known Munchie since he was an itty bitty little guy (well, as itty bitty as Bish babies get)… and our families have been on mission trips together… and… well… we know these people… so it was kind of totally awesome that we were in line to inherit such a totally awesome piece of play equipment! Obviously (from the photo above), we graciously accepted their offer.

Now Momma Dubs (that’s what we’ll call her) did inform me this crab needed a good scrub down and that he was rather faded from years of baking in the sun… but that didn’t stop us! She rolled up this morning and we unloaded the beast… as Munchie and Sweet Cheeks waited (not so) patiently at the front door… their jaws totally dropped…  just waiting to get their hands on this incredible piece of awesomeness.

As Momma Dubs rolled away, I met the excited little buggers at the front door and they trailed behind me to the kitchen. “Outside? Outside? Play? Play?” Never have I seen larger smiles than when I handed them sponges, grabbed the soap, and informed them we will be cleaning the sandbox!!! I’m not even exaggerating – squeals of delight radiated throughout the home and echoed throughout the neighborhood, as we stepped outside.

As neighbors peeked through their blinds and stuck a head out their cracked door to see what the fuss was about, I’m certain they thought I had lost my mind. Two toddlers with sponges, a sandbox (just brimming with sudsy water), and Momma Bish… with a garden hose in one hand… and a toilet brush in the other (don’t judge – it was new… I get a pile of them every time I go to IKEA)… it was certainly a sight to see.

After a full day of scrubbing (primarily because toddlers aren’t very helpful… and like to run off… and babies wake up from naps… etc) and bleaching – our crab is cleaned up and ready for sand!!! Right???

WRONG!!!

Now – I come across as a fairly chilled out mom – but I do take my kid’s health (and the health of his friends) seriously. I didn’t have to look very far to learn that play sand contains some crazy silica nonsense that people shouldn’t be exposed to for long periods because it’s linked to cancer. So… if you were ever curious about where I draw the line of “chilled momma,” your answer is cancer-sand.

I’m not going to lie… stumbling upon this information pretty much made my day because… fun fact… I HATE SAND. You can’t get it out of the carpet, it scratches your wood floors, it hides in clothes, diapers, ears… and no one wants sand in their eyes… especially not cancer-sand.

So… what will we fill the crab sandbox with? Rocks… more specifically pea gravel. Washed, clean, cancer-free pea gravel. Thanks Momma Dubs – and the whole Dubs family!!! We are honored to be the next in line to love on this awesome crab box – no matter what it’s filled with.

 

The Grieving Family is NOT Your Therapist

Always in Our Hearts

In 2012, Joe Biden spoke to the families of soldiers about grief. He said, “There will come a day – I promise you, and your parents as well – when the thought of your son or daughter, or your husband or wife, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye,” Biden says. “It will happen.”

Now, I don’t care what your political affiliation is or how you feel about Biden – but that statement right there – that statement is an incredibly accurate truth. On this second anniversary of Dad’s death, I am able to smile when I think of him, his jokes, his laughter… I choose to remember the good things. Do I still cry? Absolutely. But am I now able to find joy? I am. Has the gaping wound in my heart started to heal – so I can speak more often about that scar, the permanent mark that my dad left on my heart, instead of feeling the constant sting of an open wound? Definitely.

I already know that today’s post is going to be one of my highest traffic posts of the year – because people want to know how our family is doing (or because they are hella nosy and want more details of Dad’s death… which really don’t matter at all… the details are, he’s gone – it was unexpected – it was traumatic for all those left behind – and if you didn’t care enough to be around and offer your support while he busted his tush to recover from a traumatic brain injury… well, then you pretty much suck and don’t deserve to be privy to any details that we will never ever share with you – so stop being a creeper).

So, now that I’m fired up from that little rant – I know exactly what message I want to share with you. THE FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE DECEIVED ARE NOT YOUR FRIGGIN’ THERAPISTS. We have friends and family all over the country – and many of these folks were not able to make it to Dad’s service to pay their respects – so when we do finally get the opportunity to see these folks, a few words of sympathy are typically exchanged.

Let’s just throw this out on the table right now… paying your respects is awkward. There is no right thing to say… but for the love of all that is holy – there are plenty of things you should NOT EVER EVER EVER say to the family who has endured a loss.

In our situation, Dad died of suicide – something many people don’t understand. That’s fine – if you want to talk about suicide and mental health with an open mind – let’s do it! I would love to have the opportunity to educate you on the topic – I think talking about mental health is super important and the only way we will be able to work toward eliminating the stigma associate with mental illnesses and suicide. I’m totally game!

HOWEVER – I’m not your ding dang therapist… and you better not open your mouth without seriously thinking about what is going to come out. I could seriously write an entire book about all the stupid sh*t people have said to us.

“Oh, but wasn’t he excited to meet his grandson?” Oh – you mean my baby that was born 12 days after he died? Yeah – he was beyond excited to be Pap to Munchie… but mental health doesn’t discriminate and is illogical.

“I mean, what was he thinking? Why would he do that?” Did you seriously just point these questions toward his daughter? He did it because his benefits had been suspended and he had stopped receiving the care he needed. Much like – if someone with cancer had their benefits suspended and they stopped receiving treatment. Their disease would take over and they, too, would die. Mental illness requires the appropriate treatment.

“My life is hard and wake up every morning and decide to be happy. So, he should have just gotten over it and been happy.” Yes, and people with cancer should just pretend it isn’t there and they will magically be healed. I’m so happy you understand medical science.

“Suicide is the ultimate sin because you can’t repent.” Commence throat punch… because I literally have no words that your ignorant, narrow, uneducated, insensitive mind would even be worthy of.

Honestly, if you don’t know what to say… just say you were really sorry to hear about my dad’s passing… and if you knew him, feel free to tell me a funny story about him, share a memory, or let me know what you are going to do to keep his legacy alive. For all your other outlandish comments, please… go find yourself a therapist… because my family and I certainly aren’t the ones to analyze your psyche and help you hash out your issues, questions, etc surrounding the death of my dad. There is a time and place for everything… and I suggest 3pm in your therapists office.

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If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues – you aren’t alone – you aren’t weak – you just need some help! I encourage you to call this number and talk to someone so you can find the care you need. Just three numbers to remember 2-1-1.

If you feel like I pulled one of the above “what not to say” comments directly from one of our conversations – then I urge you to read up on mental health, grief, and what to say to someone who is grieving.

I also HIGHLY encourage folks to watch this Biden speech. Again, I don’t care what your opinion of Biden are – the man makes some great points and after the death of his son, his message is more poignant.

The Twists, turns, and true tales of a mom and her pint sized human

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