Thursday, August 28, 2014

Best. Summer. Ever.

When I was young, I used to go away for pretty much the whole summer, to Wellfleet, Cape Cod. This was possible only because of the fact that my father was a professor (with his summers off), and my mom was her own boss.  But to me, I thought this was normal. Didn't everyone take a vacation that lasted all summer long?

To me, summers have always meant relaxation.  Sun.  Water.  Swimming.  Ice cream.  Friends. Family.  Lazy days.

As I got older, summers shifted a bit.  Once I went to college, I cut down on the amount of time I spent on the Cape.  Eventually, I had summer jobs and internships.  Once I "grew up" and got a real job as a lawyer, apart from a weather shift, summers were pretty much indistinguishable from the rest of the year.  Which was kind of depressing.

When I became a stay at home mom, one of the things I was most excited about was having my summers "off."  My relaxing summers would be back (or so I thought).  We would travel and swim and eat ice cream and do all the things I did as a kid.  No more depositions or document reviews over the Fourth of July weekend.  I was free - FREE!

There were a few things I neglected to consider in this day dream of mine:

First, I have a husband, who works at a job outside the home.  And unfortunately, he doesn't get summers off.  So should I want to live a summer of vacation and leisure, I would have to do it without him.  With three kids, that wouldn't be easy.

Second, I forgot that my kids are a pain in the ass.  No more of a pain in the ass than any other kids, of course.  But they are kids.  They cry.  They tantrum.  They whine.  They wriggle and scream as I try to apply sunscreen.  They fight with each other.  They fight with me.  They run away from me. They swim away from me.   And when they do eat ice cream, it gets all over them and makes them sticky and dirty and hyper.

Lastly, I forgot that if I am "free" in the summer, so are my kids.  Aka, there is no structure, no schedule, NO SCHOOL!  When they wake up at 7am, they are all mine, ALL DAY.  And it's a long day.  A very long day.

After two or three of these "free" stay at home mom summers, I realized that summers aren't as relaxing and carefree as they once were.  But that doesn't mean they can't be awesome.  And through trial and error and some lessons learned, I managed to create the Best. Summer. Ever.

Here's how:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I write this blog so people out there will read it, obviously.  

But I also write this blog for myself - because it chronicles my life.  It's something that I, and my kids, can someday look back on.  

So let me memorialize that yesterday, Robin Williams died.  And I am seriously sad about it.  

I can't figure out why.  

It's not that I'm a huge Robin Williams fan.  I like his movies, but I haven't seen them all.  But generally, I would say that I definitely like him.  I mean, what's not to like?  He seems like a genuine, nice guy.  And he's funny.  Definitely funny.  If I ever caught him on a late night show, I would watch.  Because he was wild and unpredictable and entertaining.  

His suicide was a shock to everyone, including me.  But why - because he was funny and rich and entertaining and a nice guy?  Because he had children and a mansion?   It's not like depression only hits melancholy, unsuccessful, childless, people.  But I guess we like to think it does.  Because that's what separates them from us, right?  We have our shit together.  They don't.  So we would never do anything like that.  

That line of thinking doesn't work when considering Robin Williams.  

The first time I knew someone that committed suicide was in high school.  A classmate shot himself in his friend's driveway.  The whole community was devastated.  I wasn't particularly close to the the victim, but it was hard to take in at age 15.  I just didn't get it.  I didn't understand how things could have been that bad, or how he could have done such a horrible thing to his family.  He must have just been crazy, I thought, and extremely selfish.  I didn't think about or understand depression or mental illness back then

As I have gotten older, I look at things differently.  And though I am lucky enough not to have anyone close to me suffer from severe depression or suicide, I have known of acquaintances and friends of friends who have taken their own life, including a law school classmate of mine.  

And I don't think they are crazy, or selfish.  I think they are sick.  

I have never been suicidal.  But when I was in the throws of post partum depression with my second child, I certainly felt crazy.  I had no control over my own thoughts and I couldn't eliminate feelings of utter despair.  Why?  Why was I feeling that way?  I would try to rationalize with myself that I was still the same person, that I had everything I had ever wanted in life, that there was nothing for me to be afraid of.  Rationally, I knew I shouldn't feel the way I was feeling.  But I couldn't make it go away. I couldn't enjoy one minute of life.  And the guilt, my God, the guilt I felt for that, was overwhelming.  I was a horrible mother and a horrible wife and a burden and a general failure to everyone around me.  

I never had the thought, I want to kill myself, but I certainly had the thought: I can't live like this.  

I am SO lucky in that my mental illness was extremely short lived, and was for the most part, hormone dependent. After just a few short weeks of being on an anti-depressant, the fog started lifting.  And though I have had a couple of bumps in the road, I have never again felt the despair that I felt for those few weeks right after my second son was born.  

What I experienced was a treatable, small snippet of mental illness.  For those with longer-term, full blown depression, I can only imagine that what they are feeling is worlds deeper than what I experienced. And in that way, I can relate to how I can't live like this would eventually turn into I don't want to live anymore.  

Can you imagine what Robin Williams was going through in those final moments?  The agony, the solitude, the anxiety, the despair?  Is that what my high school classmate was going through?  Or my law school classmate?  Or all of the people that fall victim to suicide?

It's too sad to really, really go there.  I don't know that I can.  

But I'm sad today.  

RIP, Robin Williams. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Redemption and Envy

When I was 18 weeks pregnant with my first baby, as I walked out of an OB appointment an elderly woman stopped me.

Congratulations, she said.  That was the best part of my life.  

I thanked her and went on my merry way.  This wasn't entirely out of the ordinary - pregnant women get random comments from strangers all the time.  But for some reason, this comment has haunted me.

First and foremost, people don't normally say that pregnancy is the best part of their life.  In many ways, it's a miserable means to an end.  I know there are those women that "love" being pregnant. Perhaps you are one of them.  Then you will forgive me when I say you are effing weird.  Because being pregnant sucks.

From the second you get that positive test, all vices must cease.  No more alcohol.  No more prosciutto.  No more sushi or deli meat or roller coasters or advil.  That initial test is followed quickly by a hangover type nausea that overcomes you for weeks, while you simultaneously try to act normal because of course, it's not appropriate to reveal a pregnancy too early.  A fatigue passes through you that you did not know existed, and your pants become snug almost immediately due to bloating that you didn't realize was even possible.  (You don't look pregnant, you look fat, and this lasts for about 18 weeks until you are even fatter, but it is excusable pregnancy fat.  The day you give birth, it's back to just fat.)

Sure, the second semester is easier and you get to feel the miracle of the kicks and flips inside of you.  But this coincides with an increasing stress which, unbeknownst to first time pregnant women, never goes away.  There are kick counts, to ensure the baby is still alive.  There are blood tests and scans, to ensure that your baby doesn't have spina bifida or a genetic abnormality or other disorders that you can't pronounce.  You learn of complications like placenta previa and preeclampsia and gestational diabetes and you wonder how it is that anyone ever has a healthy child.  You start to feel Braxton Hicks contractions and your provider tells you that it's normal, but too much is not normal, and how much is too much, you ask - well, they're not sure.  You vacillate between being paranoid and being laid back and wonder how you ever will find the balance to be a chilled out, rational human being again.  (Hint - that part of your life is over).

Copyright ©2011 Small Bird Studios| All Rights Reserved |Free Blog Templates at Small Bird Studios