Thursday, May 9, 2013


I've taken a break from my blog for a while.  It was intentional and necessary.  You see, sometimes I get into a rut where I take myself and everything around me far too seriously.  I tend to over think situations and conversations.  My blog gives me an outlet to write it out and, in a sense, sort it out.  But too much of a good thing can always be a bad thing.  Especially when you're having a mental breakdown and identity crisis all wrapped up lovingly in a screaming, crying swaddle blanket.  So, my mantra of late has been "share less."  Because before I lost it, I was all about some sharing.  Sharing time, sharing ideas, giving it all away.  Take a step back.  In clearer moments, I've realized that I can still be a good mother, daughter, sister, friend without giving all of myself away.  So, share less.

All this to say, I'm taking myself a little less seriously these days.  The things that were important a year ago, even three months ago, seem small.

I've realized that there's a huge difference between what we want and what we need to survive.  Sure, we can equate this to tangible items like a diaper genie.  Its one of the more futile apparatuses that every new mother thinks that they need to survive motherhood and all of those dirty diapers.  But, really, when you get down to it, a trash can works just as well.  And truthfully, a diaper genie doesn't mask the smell of a dirty diaper all that well.  While its nice to have around, I curse its existence every time I have to deal with the snake of diapers I have to wrangle to the garbage can or change out the bagging contraption.  All of this with an almost-toddler pulling all the books off the bookshelf every time I turn my eyes away from her.

There's a lot about this motherhood thing that no one told me about.  I guess that's because there's just so much to it.  There's no one book or piece of advise that can encompass all of it.  There are so many situations that impact it all.  So many relationships to take into account.  And then there's the task of growing a human and then shepherding it into a successful adulthood.

I really like the visual of Matt and I being the shepherds and Emerson being the sheep.  Perhaps it is a comfortable image that I've grown up with--God is the shepherd and I am his sheep.  We are his flock.  But until I had an Emerson, I didn't really think too much into it.  Its an interesting concept.

Shepherding implies that Matt and I will not reign on Emerson.  We cannot make her do anything, we cannot make her be anything.  But we can guide her and stand beside her and help her as she walks along her path.  We can intervene when it is necessary and stand back when it is warranted.  I feel like adopting the notion of being shepherds will make Matt and I good stewards of the gift we've been given in Emerson.

Doing this job of shepherding does not require a diaper genie.  It doesn't require a wipe warmer or even a changing table.  All of these things are nice, but they are the luxuries of care.  Emerson would be perfectly happy playing with wooden spoons and our pots and pans over the large basket of toys she has in the kitchen (and in the living room…and in her bedroom).  She is content to sit outside and pick blades of grass and wait for one of us to try to stop her from eating it.

There are so many things in this life that we think that we need, when in fact, if we gave them up, we would be much happier.  Maybe the diaper genie is a bad example, now that I've gotten this far in my thought process.  But simply put, we don't need a lot to be happy and to survive this life.  And we definitely can't hang on to the bad--contempt, anger, frustration, anxiety.

The anxiety that I battled for months after Emerson was born has subsided drastically.  I've taken the pressure off of myself by lowering my expectations for what every day should look like.  This includes lowering my expectations of the people I surround myself with.  There doesn't have to be a plan, and that's how I prefer it.  The laundry can go undone for weeks and the kitchen can be a bit of a disaster, but we enjoy our free time together in the afternoons and on the weekends.  Heck, we can all be a bit of a disaster and that's perfectly okay.

Give yourself a break. No pressure. Its okay to be not okay.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Review

2012 has been a whirlwind of a year (technically 2011 and 2012).  I mean, really.  I don't think I could have packed anything else in.  Bought a house, got married, had a baby. I feel very fortunate that all of these happenings have been blessings--huge blessings.

That is not to say that they did not come without their moments of fear.

Do you remember when you were little, perhaps just learning to swim, and you jumped fearlessly into the deep end of the pool?  The fear of discovering you'd gone too deep for the air you'd stored in your lungs, the burn in your throat as your heart pulsed with adrenaline.  Pulling water desperately through your fingers and frog-kicking madly.  And then, frantically, resurfacing.  Cough, spew, cough, tread.  Smile.  Its all okay.

Pieces of this year have felt like that.  Pieces of this year have had me madly searching for a sense of normalcy and peace.  I have looked in plenty of the wrong places and many of the right places.  I have floated through many days without much effort at all only to lay down at night and discover that, sadly, I didn't give the day much effort at all.

The great thing about jumping into the deep end this year is that I knew how to swim a little bit.  While I wouldn't say I was prepared, I only felt as if I was drowning.  In reality, no one was going to let me sink.

So, at the end of this hellacious (and breathtaking) year, I am most thankful for the support.  For the outstretched hand and kind words and genuine care that I have been given.  And, funny enough, I feel most guilty about needing these things in such a time of overwhelming joy, not tragedy or grief.

But I suppose it is the overwhelming part of the joy that I was most unprepared for.  It was almost like going to sleep one night with one life and waking up the next morning with a completely different life.  And as much as the life that I woke up to is wonderful, it is different.  It is all different.

In hindsight, there is no other way that I would wish to spend this year.  To buy our cozy, lovely home and to marry my incredible, grumpy, adjectives-don't-properly-discribe-him husband, and then! And then, to top it all off in a superb surprise, to have this amazing little ball of Emerson love join our family.  I just can not imagine it playing out any other way.

The weight that I carried around for months and months has finally lifted, after many tears and much talk and a lot of re-prioritizing my efforts and my feelings.  I still believe we must think abundance when it comes to ourselves.  There is enough to give and enough to keep.  Sometimes, though, we have to keep a little more of ourselves for ourselves and for our family.  And that was the toughest lesson to learn this year.

And, so, I've put myself back on the line.  All of me. My whole heart and life.  I have had to return to an attitude of total abandonment, of throwing all natural caution and defensiveness to the winds and put myself entirely in the hands of love by an act of will.  I am much happier for it. 

Never before have I pictured myself content with spending so much time at home, on the floor, amidst a mountain of laundry, bare feet, and a drooling, smiling girl.  Evenings on the couch with the baby in bed.  But that's how I like to spend my time right now.  Throw in the occasional yoga class and a good run.  I'm set.  Totally and completely.  

"And so we must learn to love with our mouths and voices, as well as with our eyes, flesh, heart, brains, and with everything we have, right down to our toenails. There is not anything about us that cannot love, and that is not called to love, and that is not destined to be turned, conformed, and reduced to pure love. It is the priceless deposit left by the burning away of selfishness."
Yes. I am ever so grateful for the people who held me up when I thought I was incapable of doing it myself.  You helped carry my burden and made me look up.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

She let go

Two weeks ago, I lost my mind (and not in the "she's so crazy, isn't that hilarious?" kind of way).  I lost the ability to think rationally.  Everything came crashing down and I couldn't see my way out.  I couldn't cry enough tears to fix myself.

And then the fog cleared and the anxiety lifted a little and I could take stock of what had happened.

I am very sorry for those I took down in my moment of most crazy.  If it wasn't something, it would have been something else.  It is no one's problem but my own.

A dear friend sent this to me this morning via email.  It very justly sums up everything I've been feeling and struggling with the past two weeks.

"She let go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. 
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore."

Ernest Holmes

She let go.  I'm working intently and without haste to close the gap between my head and my heart.  To breathe and be thankful for all that I have been blessed with.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A big mess

I, myself, am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.  A big mess.

Don't judge me, but I'm about to reference Grey's Anatomy.  I was watching last week and I had a little revelation.  I'll call it a little revelation because, right now, every day day presents small, eye-opening incidents.  Plus, Shonda Rimes has a way of making her viewers fall in love with the characters and then she does crazy things to them, like plane crashes.  

Grey's Anatomy viewers the world over have been saddened by the plane crash that killed off some of our favorite characters.  The first few episodes of this season have been no fun, all drama.  We've all be mourning with Meredith and Derek and Christina and Callie as if their losses are our losses.  And then, when you least expect it, Miranda Bailey has a human moment.  In the vortex of all the awful that's swirling around her, she's worried about her little boy letting go of her hand.  A small problem compared to what everyone else is dealing with.  But the chief cared.  Someone cared.  

For about 13 weeks exactly, I have been a mess of a person working hard to figure it all out on my own.  Outside, I'm a functioning adult caring for an almost 5 month old, working a job that I love, and living the perfect life with my awesome husband.  And yes, with the right perspective, it is all perfect.  Maybe I'm lacking the right perspective.  

Or maybe I'm having a human moment.  

A meaningless conversation with a good friend sends me into a panic because it is just that.  Meaningless.  And certainly the hallway at work is not where you answer the question, "How are you?" with, "I'm staying awake at night worrying over the future of every relationship I have, including ours.  I am a walking trap of anxiety, disappointment, and guilt. I can't really breathe."  

No, meaningless is not doing it for me right now.  I need a good run with a good friend.  

I am about to pay someone to have that conversation with me that I used to be able to have with a friend.  And that makes me a little nauseous.  But I can't keep staying awake at night and coming home from work with furrowed brows.  These thoughts can not keep ruminating in my head.  

Parenthood is hard, whether we are home or away or single or married or rich or poor.  Parenthood is hard, not because we are doing it wrong.  Just because its hard.  Like life.  Like friendship.  All are hard because we love them so much.  We love life and we love parenthood and we love our friends, and so we want to do it right.  

But I'm not sure there is a way to do it right.  We just listen to life as it makes demands and we respond thoughtfully and we remember that, sometimes, the more out of control things feel, the better.  Because then it is less easy to pretend we are in control.  

We are not in control.  We're just not.  

I am a mama and a wife and a sister and a friend and a neighbor and I am very shareable.  I am making time and making myself available. 

You, too.  You are enough.  You can be shared, and all who share you can have enough.  

We must think abundance when it comes to ourselves.  There is enough to give and enough to keep.  

And, finally, lately, this is where my broken heart lies.  Not quite okay with where I am.  Logically, realistically, I know.  I know that I've got it good.  But that doesn't make it sting any less.  It doesn't make the transition any easier. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

E, Myself, and I

There’s a lot to be said about spending the majority of your time with a person who is unable to communicate verbally.  Actually, there’s not.  Its pretty quiet.
As I approach month 4 of motherhood, I’m very grateful that the tearful moments are becoming less and the joyful moments are more.  I’m enjoying all of the new skills Emerson is acquiring–slobbering, eating her fists, grabbing onto her paci lamb, trying to laugh, holding her head up, etc.  It seems there’s a newness to every day in the Green household.
Our latest breakthrough: sleeping through the night. I am hesitant to share this news with anyone for fear that I will jinx myself into waking up at 12 and 2 and 4 all over again.  But for the past week, we have had nights of 9-5 sleep.  And then 5-7:30.  I can’t decide if the exhaustion I still feel is from the two months of night duty before or the shock of too much sleep to my system.  Either way, I’m waking up a happy mama. And I’m learning how to function without sleep, when necessary–I’m almost back up to full speed.
This is not to say that I am normal.  I don’t know if I will every be the person I was before E.  I have spent many hours mourning the loss of that person, that schedule.  I really, really miss my friends and I am keenly aware of a shift in dynamic that I can’t fix.  That makes me sad.
I’ve tried walking it off and I’ve tried running it off.  I just can’t shake my anxiety.  Which makes me feel guilty.  Which gives me anxiety. I can’t breathe.
And then I get to play with a sweet, chunky, smiley girl and it makes it almost all better.
The transition back to work has gone well so far.  Matt has been excellent at his new post as dad-on-duty and my mom has helped a ton.  We are very lucky that we do not have to drop Mowgs off with strangers or germy kids. While I would rather stay at home and play all day, I have been happy to be back at work with my friends and the kids.
There is a lot of work to be done, though, to make up for all of the work that I didn’t do last year.  My pregnancy brain took over my life and between buying a house, getting married, and having a baby, I don’t remember much else about last year besides floating around at work and not being very good at any one thing.  I was okay at a lot of things, but not great.  So, I’ve got a lot of work to do to redeem myself.  Anxiety.
All of the anxiety squeezing at my lungs has made me a bit more prayerful this summer.  When we brought Emerson home from the hospital, I prayed that she wouldn’t stop breathing, that she would sleep, and that maybe I could sleep, too.  And my prayers transitioned as she started to grow and we got more comfortable.  I prayed for her to eat well, to take a nap, to smile at me when I was feeling sad, to grow into a good person, to know that I am trying my hardest to be a good mom.   I pray that when we go on walks in the afternoon that we both feel fulfilled afterwards.  I pray that she is comfortable in our home.  I pray that she is a daddy’s girl. And I still pray for sleep.
“We forget that joy, like rest, is a basic requirement~we need joy in our lives. We think that it really isn’t necessary, that most of life is meant to be endured, not enjoyed. And yet we are God’s children, and He desires that we be happy. Joy and rest are intimately linked. Resting helps us unclench and let go of all we need to do, so that we can open our hands to receive.”
As I’ve been praying, I’ve been reading.  While my brain has only been able to process written word in small amounts and very slowly for the past 3 months, I’ve been given several tools that have played a key role in my poor readership.  One of them is a book called Champagne for the Soul by Mike Mason.   Constant reminders that joy in life takes work, is necessary, and can only be found if you look the right way.
Joy changes how we define happiness. Happiness is not always feeling wonderful. It might be doing the best I can in a tough situation, or being confident I can overcome anything, or giving myself a break, or letting God’s grace release any pressure to perform.


How to think faster than our blackest thought.  Give yourself a break.  No pressure.  Its okay to be not okay.
I am praying that the difficulty I am having and the heartbrokenness I feel are only preparing me for the challenges ahead.  Because I know that this is not the most difficult part of parenthood.  It is the most beautiful.
Every day, every moment, provides possibilities for joy. In no situation is it impossible to turn to the light.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Irrational Thinking

Note: This blog was started on Wednesday, July 25.  It takes a while to get two hands on a keyboard these days. 

Every once in a while Every day, I cry.  Sometimes its happy tears, but lately the tears have been tired, at-my-wits-end-tears.  Today Emerson and I cried together. 

This morning on our stankin' hot run, I ran out of things to try.  A 4 mile run at 7am without a baby is much different than a 4 mile run at 9am with a jogging stroller for many reasons.  But neither of us was crying because of how hot it was or how hard the run was.  

Emerson was crying because she's still new to this world and is trying to figure out how to live.  I was crying because I'm still trying to figure out how to live with her.  

Right now, we are living each day hour by hour.  We are still figuring out which hour she will want to eat, sleep, poop, and sometimes just cry.  And just when we think we are in a routine, she proves us wrong.  We haven't slept in three days--I'm talking naps, nighttime, nothing.  This lack of sleep causes me to think irrationally.  

At 3am, my wide awake little girl looks less like my sweet cutie and more like an alien.  I honestly don't recognize her.  It may be the lack of lights and my lack of sleep, but I have had moments where I look at her, wide-eyed, and think this is not my baby.  My baby eats well, sleeps, and wakes up happy.  This alien baby who is awake at 3am is not mine.  (I also swaddle her tightly, causing her to resemble a torpedo, not a baby)

My irrational thoughts extend into real life, causing me to question my worth as a person if I can't take a shower, if my friends even like me, and if sometimes my baby has it out to get me.  

Lately, here's what has been on my mind:

1.  The government should take measures to warn against driving with a baby.  Much like the DNT TXT N DRV mission that they are on, there should also be a DNT DRV W A SCRMN BB. Or, don't drive with a screamin' baby.  If you thought looking at your phone for 5 seconds whilst sitting at a red light was distracting you from your duty as a responsible driver, try driving for 15 minutes with a baby who is screaming and choking and hollering from the backseat, just out of arms reach for you to soothe her.  That deserves our government dollars, ya'll.  Now I know why some women tell me that they didn't leave their house for 8 weeks.  

2.  Baby poop really doesn't stink.  This is a thought addendum to a previous statement where I said: Whoever said that the poopy diapers of infants smell sweet was lying.  In retrospect, I hadn't been a mom long enough to come to a conclusive answer.  Now that I'm a whole two months in, I feel sure that I can positively say that baby poop does not stink.  My mom nose has come on full force and baby poop smells like sweet bread.  No lie.  And, have I mentioned I'm not sleeping and losing my mind? 

3.  Cracked nipples aren't all they are cracked up to be.  

4.  There is a very big difference between pregnancy-brain and new-mommy-brain.  Pregnancy-brain was a bit muddled and unclear.  New-mommy-brain is a beast because you have to actually function and think semi-rationally through the muddled and unclear brain you developed during pregnancy, plus you have about 5 less hours of sleep.  The milk doesn't go in the pantry and the used nursing pads don't go in the refrigerator.  

My tired, irrational mind has brought me to tears an embarrassing amount of times.  I have to talk myself off the cliff a lot: its okay if I don't get to shower every day.  My friends do really love me, they are just busy.  And my baby doesn't know she's hurting my feelings when she won't sleep or eat.  

Sometimes I have to call in reinforcements to talk me off the cliff.  If you have fielded one of these phone calls, thank you. 

I am very blessed to have a baby support staff in town.  My mom and my sisters have helped me almost every day since we brought Emerson home.  Sometimes one of them will just come over and sit with me so that I don't forget what it is like to talk to a human who talks back.  And my mom even gave me the best gift ever: a full night of sleep.  While waking up soaking wet from the neck down was not ideal, sleeping from 10:30pm-almost 8am was a great recharge.  

So, I'm determined to survive these first months of motherhood and will allow myself to cry when I need to, just like Emerson.  And just like any baby, there's always a solution that will dry up those tears.  We started that bad run crying together and we finished it like this: 

While she doesn't talk back, she's a pretty good running partner.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Alpha Monkey

I am a mom.  I grew a person inside of me and that person is now part of the world.  I made someone who will think for herself and walk and talk and be something.  And I'm still not sure how it all happened.

In the 7 weeks that I've had to figure it all out, I'm still living each hour by trial and error.  I still have to convince myself that standing up out of the chair while she is asleep is not going to cause her to scream now or hate me when she's 13 (she'll most likely do that regardless of how many times I stir her while she's sleeping).  When I'm frozen, breathless, by her crib, I have to remind myself that 1. She's surely not listening for me to breathe and 2. I do need to leave the room.  But there are a lot of unwarranted fears that come along with motherhood.  Many of them are concocted in my head.  Many of them come from what everyone else has to say about caring for a child.

In the 7 weeks that I've had to figure it all out, I've come across something that every mom struggles with, it seems.  For 7 weeks, I haven't been able to put it into words.  And then I ran across this blog from one of my favorites.  Alpha female monkeys.

A friend of mine had her baby one week after I had Emerson.  We have gotten to share the many joys and struggles of the beginning of motherhood.  We have also swapped advice or information on good products.  I will admit, however, that there was something inside of me that wanted to advise and warn her about all of the things to come in the week ahead (because I was a whole week ahead of her--duh!).  So, the alpha female monkey phenomenon happens to even the newest of us.

It does make me feel better to know that all of those seemingly normal women who smothered me with sage advice and backdoor comments are only acting out of instinct.  There was no physical way they could bite their tongues.  Something literally takes over their bodies and they must shove everyone out of the way to care for your child.  Give them a break--its natural.

But because you are wondering: Yes, my baby is getting plenty to eat and, actually, she's rather plump.  She's sleeping like a champion, so she's probably not tired.  In general, we keep a clean, dry diaper on that little bum at all times.  And, given the manly burps and farts that come out of her, I doubt she's got a horrible gas bubble sitting in her belly.  Babies sometimes just cry.

When my blogger friend says this, however, I think she may be taking it a bit too far.

All you have to do is gently, but firmly, hold their arm and whisper, "I know what you're trying to do. You're trying to steal my monkey baby. Don't bother though because, let me tell you something, I am the Alpha Female here so you need to back the hell off and go back to smelling your ass."

Personally, I just go for the silent nod and ignore.

But I do like to imagine these alpha female monkey women as gorillas instead of the cute, small monkeys that they really are.

Because my baby likes me more than gorillas.