May 10, 2017

An (almost) Mother's Day Tribute to my MamaTribe.

This month was mental health awareness month, and a few weeks ago was specially noted as maternal and postpartum mental health awareness.  Now, even five years removed from the hardest days with Sienna, I still sometimes feel hesitant about discussing those heavy times. They were days of adjustment and they were so arduous. Being a new mom was tiring, and anxiety provoking, and I vividly remember the tears streaming down my face in the shower from pure exhaustion and confusion as week six of Sienna's life approached- on the edge of the return to working life, both craving the feeling of using my brain and problem solving and eating lunch alone and dreading the reality of being away from my new beautiful baby. My mom, of course, knew me better than myself, and made sure to take really good and gentle care of me. You know how they say children need one consistent loving caregiver? So do new moms. My mom was mine. My mom friends who knew about how hard newborn days were comforted me,  but I didn't know what exactly was going on in the process. In retrospect it was postpartum anxiety. See, I wasn't depressed; I wasn't feeling sad or wishing away my baby; I was just lost and overwhelmed. If the clock hit 2:16 and nap time was supposed to start at 2:15 I unraveled. If I had to wake up an extra time or two at night, I spent hours thinking about what could possibly be wrong (to be fair, my friends and I still send ridiculous texts of this variety, and just last week I exhaled, laughed, and said to a fellow mama- this is so crazy, we never actually know what's going on), and I had most gorgeous chunky baby ever but it didn't prevent me from struggling. I was. I did. And then it passed. The sun came out and the clouds parted and around six months, Sienna and I found our groove together and became best buddies; we haven't turned back. 

Then, summer of 2014 rolled around, and I had a second kiddo. I learned my weaknesses and knew how to navigate the rocky waters of the early days- and when the rocky waters were becoming sink holes. I saw that therapist when Piper was refusing to nurse. I said yes to Zoloft in the early months. I had a lactation consultant at my house at 9pm when feeding was going terribly wrong. I made appointments, I got out of the house. I let my husband hold the baby even when she was crying and put in ear plugs and took naps. I juggled two babies better than I did one. I pumped at I accepted meals.I accepted help. I accepted breaks when I needed them. I still worried, I still felt the edginess creeping up, but I used the best tools I knew to get it back down. 

And then... there was this tool I wasn't expecting that fell into my lap even more the second time around. Three of my friends from grad school had babies close to when I had Piper, and our group text, fondly named "3AM Nursers" rose to the top of my scrolling list every day. I joined a local mom's group. I forged friendships. I talked about things honestly. I listened to other moms' struggles. It felt normal. So... normal. These people held my baby, brought me food, called to check on me, delivered Starbucks and brought me new nursing bras. They amused Sienna when she was adjusting to this whole bizarre new big sister role. They reached out far more than I expected or deserved. The best part is- They STILL do this. Two and a half years into motherhood 2.0, these people haven't backed down or let up. I formed this mom tribe, and I continue to pluck people into this circle of women to join as I go along. It is amazing that when I send a text saying I need a break, or complaining about something that happened, I get one back quickly and promptly, likely fired off while holding a baby in their arms and cooking a meal... to the tune of "Don't worry, my kid ate eggos with marshmallows for breakfast", "Whatever preschool you choose will be the best", "My nanny was late too- and so was I".... and the most honest diatribes via the tap-tap-tap of fingers on the iphone arriving to my message inbox, "I yelled and now I feel bad", "I think i need more sleep before I lose my mind", "There's vomit all over me"... or simply "me too". 

Mom tribes are not only important, in my (short) motherhood experience, they've been this essential piece I never knew I was missing until I built it. I am confident that at any of the twenty four hours in the day, I can reach someone in this circle. By text, by phone, by FB post. They are there. They are at my fingertips. They are in the trenches with me, rolling to cover me as a proverbial explosion goes off, and giving me their hand to pull me up in the aftermath, all while wiping off their own dirt. So during this mother's day week, I say to all you mama friends out there- you surely know who you are. I love you, I appreciate you, I am eternally grateful for you. I hope you're spoiled and celebrated. I know how hard you work and you deserve it. 

And thank you, from the tips of my toes to the lengths of my fingertips for making motherhood better. I'm humbled to surround myself with you. 

January 16, 2017

Dear Daughters... On the 2016 Presidential Election.

Dear Sienna and Piper, 

I have had a hard time coming up with what to write here. Sometimes this blog is a place to put our home renovations, and look back at how far we've come as a family. Sometimes it's a place to remember your birthdays, or just some funny things that happened. But that's not all it is and not all it's intended for.

All along, it's also been a place where my heart comes when it's hurting. It's a piece of history for you two. I hope that years from now, you can show your daughters and grand daughters this blog. I hope this one, specifically, resonates with them. I haven't written personally about the 2016 presidential election, aside from social media postings. I've really struggled with what to say. But I want to leave this here for you. Friday is the presidential Inauguration, and this week feels especially poignant. 

I think about the fact that your Gigis, great grandmothers, were alive during World War II. They tell me stories, but there's no blog to read- and I wish there was. When they do talk about the war, or history in general, I am always intrigued. They add so much value to the conversation. Never take for granted generations above you telling you about their lives. It's rich and full of goodness. Personal accounts are so very valuable to understanding the past. 

When I was little, Grandma and Grandpa did a really good job of talking about a lot of things with me and Uncle Matt. We lived in a relatively diverse (albeit upper middle class) town where I went to as many Bat Mitzvahs as I did church services some years. I had friends that were from different backgrounds. Grandma told me on a regular basis to be kind to people- to include people- and to stop judging people when I started (even if it was just gossiping with high school friends; that was never looked upon fondly in our house and grammy was often seen rolling her eyes and saying sweetly "girlssss" when we started to chatter). Your grandma and grandpa are not super left or super right, they are just super full of doing what's right and their votes go wherever they think that lies. I came out of the gate volunteering, fighting for human rights, and knowing that inclusive environments are a win. Politically, an ex boyfriend once called me a bleeding heart liberal. Probably true- but I am not as left leaning as some think. The thing for me is, humanity is at the heart of so many political arguments. If you are taking away someone else's ability to do things, you're infringing on their rights, and their ability to experience humanity without the boundaries the rest of us avoid. So if that make me a bleeding heart, then sure, you can call me that. 

On November 8, 2016, Election Day 2016 arrived. I woke up excited, and a little nervous. I got dressed and threw on my favorite t-shirt, "Feminism is the radical concept that women are people", and asked you, Sienna, to get dressed too. You came out in heart pants saying, "Love Wins". I didn't tell you to put those pants on, but I was proud. It was sunny and relatively warm for November. We drove to the polling place, you came into the booth with me, and we hit the button for the first female presidential nominee together, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Afterwards, we went to the playground and got a coffee. I dropped you off with your nanny, Martha, and you two squealed happily playing while mama worked. And watched. On election night, this thing happened around 9pm. Mommy's friend Sarah was texting her and said "New York Times just gave Trump a 50% chance of winning". It was then that the tears started. Later, I saw a man come out of a voting booth on the news saying, "A woman can't actually be president". I knew then that this election was not going to go in favor of Hillary, a woman who has given her life to service. I watched at 3am as they announced Donald Trump as president elect. I listened to Alicia Keys 'Holy War' and cried in the shower getting ready for work the next day. That morning, you played pirates. Sienna you were talking to Piper, but you said, "We lost the ship but don't worry, the good guys are still together!" Your words stuck with me. Social media posts and texts from friends I love and admire (republicans and democrats alike, for the record) echoed the feeling of being shell shocked. The grief was real- but we had to keep moving. 

This week President Elect Donald Trump will take the highest office of the United States. Before he was elected, he fought a campaign against Hillary Clinton. The first woman to ever secure a major party nomination for president. A woman who helped all children get health insurance. A woman who was Secretary of State, who has met dignitaries all over the world. A woman who would fight for children's and women's rights. (To those that will criticize this- yes I know she has her faults and no I didn't ignore them- listening to the Benghazi trial and watching her testify about emails is anything but ignorant). And, much to my dismay, he won. That does NOT mean a woman can't be president- it means the US didn't vote her as president. It doesn't mean that you or one of your friends won't one day hold the highest office. It does mean it's harder for a woman, but that's not a reason to give up the fight. 

To be fair, there's still  a lot of good out there. Even after this election, my belief in goodness is unwaivering. (And just so we are historically correct- 3 million votes actually favored Hillary. The people of America gave her their votes, even if the electoral college didn't.) So, why did people vote for Trump and why is your mom still confused by it? Some days, it continues to blow my mind. Donald Trump had a campaign that spoke to people and motivated them, in ways that confused- and sometimes horrified- me  People supported a man who really played into sexism, racism, bigotry, a man who belittled a reported who has a condition that makes movements difficult, and who tweeted at 3 am if anyone dare make a negative comment about him. Some voted for Trump because they felt he was the lesser of two evils. Some felt like the Clintons were too corrupt.  Fear was rampant. Some didn't like Hillary's issues with email servers and felt that she couldn't keep our nation secure. Some let greed and need get the best of them (taxes will absolutely be better for the wealthy under Trump).  Some stood by their religious and spiritual convictions (pro-life friends just couldn't vote for someone who believed in abortion rights).  Some felt like basic needs weren't being met or understood by the "elitist liberal" party.  People expect Trump to bring big change- I think in a way that people expected with Obama. They wanted something different. Many Americans were saying, "This polarizing two party stuff isn't working for us", and we will vote for a person less qualified to take office rather than continue to support it. In other words, we have voices and we want to be heard! That's how America works. By people being allowed to vote and speak and act.  That is the good part, my girls. You each have a voice- don't be afraid to use it. 

As much as I stand up for what I believe in, little ones, I don't want to draw lines in the sand so harshly that they become walls I can't step over.  Our political system, on a whole, has room for improvement. There are changes that need to be made on both side of the aisle. Working together is something people with different mindsets have a difficult time with, but there's always hope we can change for the better. If we just cut ties with people who disagree with us, we all lose. Be courageous. Listen to, and then challenge other people's views- and more importantly, challenge your own. Find good sources and then- read, listen, seek out more information. Work on putting yourself in other people's shoes. Understanding other people is so important- if we didn't learn that this from the election, what did we learn? Maybe we also learned to fight the small battles- grassroots and volunteer efforts matter. Put your time where your heart is. 

On Friday, Trump takes office. I'll continue to mourn this choice of Americans, but I can't help but hope for success too. People talk about Trump being impeached; I am not sure, even as a card carrying Hillary supporter, this is optimal. People talk about him making horrific global decisions- I don't want another world war. I don't want more people to suffer. I want there to be bipartisan efforts to truly tackle hard topics- and to support humanity (and our earth) across the globe. I want checks and balances, and a country that I continue to be proud of. A country that protects and provides and gives opportunities. 

On November 9th, the day after election day, I got up and kissed daddy and your sweet faces. I drank my steaming coffee that daddy put next to my night stand, after he hugged me and shook his head.  I turned on the shower and slipped under the water as my hot tears melded with the droplets pouring over my head. My iphone was playing Alicia Keys' ballad as I tried to wash the stress away. I kept reminding  myself- I voted the day before for a woman for President of the United States. I  put on my clothes, grabbed my bag, and drove to work as a successful woman and mother. This is all privilege I sometimes take for granted- and I know there are other free countries in this world-  but I'm grateful to live in America. So don't get me wrong; this is a truly good place to live. It continues to be a land of dreams. A land where not everyone has equal rights, but we can hope and work towards that reality. Our successful future depends on all of us- we get to vote and speak our mind. On Saturday, I'll join some awesome college friends, and go to the Women's March on Washington. I feel lucky to be able to peacefully be present. To have this chance. I'm thankful you'll have these chances, too. 

You have voices, and passion, and power to change the world a little at a time. This election cycle was certainly a low point in our country.  But it's not the end and hope continues to keep me afloat.  Last night, I watched an episode of the TV show, Black-ish. I wonder if it will even be on TV anymore by the time you're old enough to read this. Anthony Anderson, an actor on the show, gave a brilliant monologue within the half hour show, and then his closing really spoke to me. There is no limit to what you can do. So I'll leave you with this- and hope that one day when you look back on these writings, we have come so much further. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to raise beautiful children in a world that showed them Jay Z and BeyoncĂ© as king and queen, a black family in the White House, and a woman run and almost win the presidency of the United States. So if you ask me if I love America, the answer is yes. Warts and all. Can it be better? I hope so. And I hope that we as a people have it in us to come together and make lemonade out of our lemons.”

I love you two more than anything, and you can always make lemonade.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...