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Saturday, 18 February 2012

11 Questions (Better late than Never...)

      I was lucky and flatter to be tagged by the lovely Story (Sometimes It's Hard) to answer her 11 questions. The rules of the game are pretty simple. I answer her questions, then pick 11 people to answer 11 questions of my own choosing.  She asked my eons ago but I'm finally getting around to publishing my answers: 

     1. Why do you blog? What inspired you to start? 

The short answer: I blog to share my story. 

The slightly longer one: When I was first diagnosed with postpartum depression, I found it immensely hard to believe that anyone else could ever feel the way I was feeling. It was meeting others who had not only been through it, but had managed to recover from it that gave me the courage to fight. I made a promise to myself that, when I was strong enough, I would share my story so that others would realize they weren’t alone. Since starting the blog, I’ve been lucky enough to connect with many other women who are sharing their stories too.  That’s a plus side I hadn’t expected from blogging; that these women have let me know I’m not alone either.

2. What are you proudest of in your life right now?

I’m going through a huge crisis of confidence right now so this is possibly the toughest question I could have been asked.

If I focus on my proudest recent moment, it is organizing a short family trip to London, including spending an afternoon in the city with just my daughter.  Pre-momhood, I wouldn’t give a second thought to planning such a thing, but doing it this time meant tackling the hurdles of indecision, insomnia, anxiety, and self-doubt.

3. What trait do you admire most in others? Why?
Self confidence, for sure. You can conquer almost anything you’ve set out to do if you believe in yourself. And when it doesn’t work out, if you are confident you tried your best, it’s easier to dust yourself off and try again or explore a new direction.  I think self confident people are happy people.

4. If you could meet one "big" or "famous" blogger in real life, who would it be?

Someday I’d like to give Katherine Stone of a great big hug and thank her for being her awesome self and for everything wonderful about that site. 

5. How do you balance blogging and social media with the rest of your life?

I’m not sure I’d use the word balance, but real life definitely comes first, blogging last.  I connect with family and friends using social media. I couldn’t live so far away from them without using it as regularly as I do. 

I originally joined twitter to give me a place to not think about being a mom. Ironically, the main reason I have continued to use it is for #ppdchat and the #ppdarmy.  That has been a catalyst in my recovering.

I write as a form of therapy but I don’t publish everything I write.  I aim to blog once a week but if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay. Lately I’ve been focussing on getting better so I can be a good wife, mom, and friend so blogging has been put on the backburner. I’ve got a list of topics I plan on covering at some point though.

6. What is the biggest source of support in your life? How did you find it?
My husband.  We’ve been through a lot but somehow he’s still by my side, believing in me (and in us) even when I don’t.

7. When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?

I really wanted to be an actress.  Or a Rockette.  I stopped going to dance lessons when I was about eight but continued with theatre for a long time.

8. What would you do for fun or self care, if you could do anything you wanted?
This is a question that should be easy to answer but sadly isn’t. I’ve spent so long doing things I have to do that I no longer know what I want to do.  If money wasn’t an object, I’d travel more. There’s so much more of the world I want to see.  On a more realistic front, I’ve recently re-discovered my love of people watching.  Give me a coffee and a park bench in the middle of the city, and I’m pretty content.

9. If you could bring just one book with you to a desert island, what book would it be?
I absolutely love to read so was a little surprised to come up empty when I first thought about this question.  My taste in books varies from Twilight to Derrida, depending on my mood.  For desert island reading, I’ll choose “It’s Not About the Bike” by Lance Armstrong. I’ve re-read it several times.  It reminds me that overcoming hurdles can make you stronger and that fighting does make you a warrior, no matter the outcome. I can always use that sort of inspiration.

10. Do you prefer cake or pie?

Cake. But don’t put fruit in it.  I say, if I’m choosing a big slice of unhealthy cake goodness, don’t mess it up with jam filling or fruit topping just so you can pretend it’s good for me.

11. What is your favorite word? Why?

Hmmm. Let’s go with “shattered,” though I sound ridiculous saying it.  The English use it to describe being absolutely exhausted. I think it paints the picture well just by enunciation alone.

I've tagged 11 more people. Take part if you want. If you’ve already done it, please leave me a comment with the link because I clearly missed it.  If it’s not your thing, that's absolutely fine. If I haven’t tagged you and you want to have a go at the questions, knock yourself out and comment with that link too.

My 11 Questions:
  1.  What’s your favourite birthday memory?
  2. What is your favourite scar and why?
  3. What’s the best thing that has happened today? 
  4. Where do you spend most of your “me time?
  5. What’s the one thing about motherhood you wish someone had warned you about?
  6. What is the one thing about motherhood you’re glad you didn’t know ahead of time?
  7. Where is your favourite running route? (I  think almost all of you run, but choose a walking route if you prefer)
  8. If they made playgrounds for adults, what apparatus would you like to use most?
  9. What’s the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
  10. Coffee or tea? (My own little experiment on UK/US stereotypes)
  11. And finally, because I may be a mom but I’m still not mature when it comes to farts...
         What’s your most memorable story involving “windy pops?”

Friday, 3 February 2012

Unpredictability and the Anxiety Hurdle

My Kid is unpredictable. Parenting is hard. It doesn’t always go to plan.  

The best thing to do is to roll with it.

It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that this is much much easier said than done.  Especially since other people can be so judgy.

Add to that my own expectations, plus a huge helping of post partum anxiety, and well, I was a walking disaster.

In the beginning I just didn’t go out. Oh sure, I popped around to the corner store or down the street to pick up take out, but this was always without my daughter. The idea that I could be somewhere with her and things could take a direction I couldn’t predict was positively crippling.

But I couldn’t stay inside forever. It was good for my daughter to see the world around her and, according to the various health visitors, community nurses, and counsellors I had visiting me, it would be good for me as well.

So, with my chest feeling like it was in a vice, I left the house, with a list of questions running like a ticker tape through my mind.

What if I stay out too long and her nap is too short?
Or she sleeps longer so eats later?
Or she needs a change and I’m near a place with a changing area?
What if she cries and I have no idea what to do? 

You may think these thoughts are normal and you just adapt and do your best, and I did. But the dark thoughts would always begin.

She’s not being unpredicatable, you’re just not a good enough mother to understand her.

A good mother can tell what her baby was trying to tell her
A good mother would be able to make her stop crying.

A good mother would have this situation under control.

I would do my best to talk myself out of it, remind myself that it was only me that was bothered.

Then, inevitably, I’d notice the looks or I’d overhear comments like “How can such a loud noise come from such a little thing,” and I’d realise that actually people did notice. The dark thoughts would then spin into over drive:

How dare you think you’re fit enough to take care of such a helpless being?

Don’t you realise that everyone around you is miserable because of your inadequacy?

They can tell you know……………That you shouldn’t be a mother.

If you don’t figure out how to make her happy soon, they will take her away.

Nine times out of ten, my daughter was crying because she was tired.  Once she was asleep, all would be fine. For her and for all those around.

But not for me.

The thoughts would keep coming.

You just got lucky.

Your night is going to be hell now.

What were you thinking?!?!

 You won’t get any sleep.

They might still take her away because they saw how clueless you are.

As my daughter grew, I got used to the vice grip on my chest.  I found a way to bottle up and block the thoughts away so I could make it through the day.  Then, at night, they flooded over me, recreating the scene and reminding me how badly I had handled it.

I can actually feel my chest tightening now as I write this, remembering with all too much clarity, many many times when it practically broke me.

As I get better, I realise that yes, I am kidding myself if I think other people don’t notice when little miss kicks off in public, especially now that she’s two.  Hell, even the doctor let her leave with a toy from his office the other day because of the tantrum she started throwing when I told her it was time to leave.

The difference is now I’m realising I actually know my little girl and I do everything I do for her out of love and that’s really all that matters.  I will make plenty of mistakes. She will throw plenty more curve balls in my direction. Neither of us is perfect and that’s okay. We’ll get through it.

Those judgy people can raise their kids how they want and vent to others about what they may have witnessed. I took my daughter out and split a flapjack recently, but the mom who commented about it doesn’t need to hear my justification for it and it doesn’t make me a bad mom because I didn’t give her a healthy snack instead.  I know that my girl calms down fastest when give her a bit of space and let her do it in her own time, but again, I didn’t need to explain this to the mom who tried to rationalise with her in the midst of her meltdown in the museum. That mom doesn’t need to explain to me why she thought her approach would work either.

I don’t think I will ever erase the demon thoughts that haunted me. However, I hope that the cringe-worthy moments that happen from now on will not bring me to my knees. Perhaps some will be worth retelling to other parents to remind them we’re not perfect and neither are these little humans we’re raising.  I think a lot of us worry about the judgy ones and sometimes they do get the best of us, especially when they turn out in numbers. However, I realise I am doing the best I can. My daughter loves me and I love her. We’ll get through the bumps because of it.