Oliver 8_29

Acknowledging the Mommy Meltdown

Caroline Expressive, Family Life, photography Leave a Comment

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been only really taking pictures of bells and teapots. That is true. In fact, I really just took that photo above of Oliver for this post because I wanted something a little cheerier than the results of my recent artistic endeavors.

On the whole, it’s been a hard few weeks since the boys returned to school. I underestimated, fairly severely, how much I enjoyed having the big boys for company during the summer. To compound matters, my computer has been stuffed to the gills of photos to the extent that I’ve had to do some fairly drastic housekeeping to get it back up to working order, so I’ve halted my photography completely. It’s working again, and before that brief hiatus (which did actually affect my moods for the negative), I was taking photos mostly like this one:

Outside Bell

Not exactly the epitome of cheerfulness or happiness. I must have a dozen different okay shots of that bell and every single one, while maybe interesting to me, I doubt they are of interest to a single soul otherwise. In fact, I polished this bell so that it would be shinier and I think the earlier bell photos with the patina finish were actually more interesting:

Bell

I did manage to get a family photo taken a couple of weeks ago. I look really rough– I’d been not wearing my compression stockings and I get all puffy when I don’t wear them and I had bed-head hair– and the boys were not happy about the photo session because it took them away from their video game marathon:
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So anyway, during the day, during the week, it’s just me and Oliver. The isolation is stifling and I have a hard time with self-discipline, getting myself to exercise like I know I should and house-cleaning, well forget it. I have, at least, been successfully crocheting a giant blanket (not the one previously featured– this one is a giant granny square), and I have some ideas for homemade Christmas presents. I haven’t been in-the-bed-depressed, at least. Mostly it’s the old “I should be working at a job” guilt trip I give myself that is giving me fits and that is a now old argument I have with myself. It really is dumb because there’s no reason for it. I know on many levels that contribute to the well-being of this household, end of story. But my brain is set on “self-worth in the toilet” mode seemingly permanently and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, my brain is going to tell me that I am worthless and nothing I do matters.

So when folks, whether it’s Jared or someone outside this household, commends me for staying home with Oliver, it goes in one ear and out the other. I can comprehend the value for Oliver, for me being the one to care for him, but it doesn’t take away that feeling that I should be making money to make things more comfortable for this family. And that feeling is one of the root causes that affects my rock-bottom self-esteem. Not getting out of the house doesn’t help, but I’ve found that if I get out of the house I am more prone to spending money and now that we are actually adhering to our budget, going to the coffee shop to hang out or whatever, just isn’t realistic or fun when I look at the big picture.

So there it is. The psychiatrist says the depression isn’t medication-worthy this go-round and he also said basically that the mental illness stigma has scarred me to the extent that I question everything about myself internally and that I need to get over it. He’s right, though– I feel judged both by myself and by others based on others’ perception of me because of my admittedly self-disclosed diagnosis (and some very public breakdowns). I feel judged to the extent that I don’t think I will ever, ever get over it. It affects my ability to be happy in my role as a mother who stays at home with my children. For that matter, it affects my ability to be happy in my role as human being.

But while there is an aspect affected by my relationship with my mental health, I think what is going on for my role in this household is happening for a lot of mommies in 2014…we are expected to be everything to our family with very little support from the community at large, with family spread wide and thin. There is no village to raise our children in these days, and I suspect that village will just continue to disintegrate, throughout my lifetime, anyway. That is a bleak perspective but it is mine and thus, it is true for me. I pray I am wrong.

CarolineAcknowledging the Mommy Meltdown
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Project: Overcoming Laziness, an Update

Caroline stream-of-consciousness Leave a Comment

So, things are not perfect on the overcoming laziness front, but they are better.  As in, I can happily report that our foyer, as you can see from the photo, has finally been successfully assembled back to its original state.  Original, but better… we opted to put up some sentimental watercolors rather than the stock posters that decorated the wall last go-round.  Jared and I were busy this afternoon.

I also managed to get through a good portion of the old yoga routine I used to do and my heart rate was within a normal range at the end of it.  With the postural tachycardia, that’s no small feat but I know as part of treatment, exercise is an imperative.  Time to just do it.

The laundry is making progress such that it is not consuming all floor space, but resolving that issue will just take time.

In photography news, I’ve just been taking lots of photos around the house, mostly of tea pots and bells.  Nothing too exciting at the moment.

That’s all I have.

CarolineProject: Overcoming Laziness, an Update
Granny Squares

Granny Squares!

Caroline artsy, Expressive, happy, Home Sweet Home Leave a Comment

Yesterday, I spent my day making the yummy granny squares pictured above.  I have twenty-five and a half squares done thus far.  It’s moving surprisingly quickly, but the project did consume my day yesterday.

I’ve been inspired to start this blanket project by a post about a positively gorgeous blanket by Matt, as can be seen here: http://accordingtomatt.blogspot.com/2013/01/granny-square-blanketthe-sequel.html.  His is gorgeous and full a broad range of color.  Mine will only be fifteen colors (I’ve bought ten thus far).

I’m aiming for a twin-sized blanket as my first goal, but eventually I’d love to have a king-sized bedspread.  That’s a fairly ambitious goal and I am prepared for this to be a long-term project.  I’d love to have this done by the start of November.  Since the boys start school Monday, I will have a fair bit more free time on my hands during the day so hopefully that’s not an unrealistic goal.

Time to get going for the day.  More granny squares are waiting!

CarolineGranny Squares!
May Parallax Background

The Little Things of Summer 2014

Caroline children, Family Life, happy Leave a Comment

It’s gorgeous outside today.  The temperature is perfect, slightly cool and reminiscent of Fall, and wherever the mosquitoes are, they are not here at the moment.  Today is a day we need to spend some more time outside than usual, the boys and me.  I think it’s a “colorful park” kind of morning.

Today we will visit the classrooms and meet the teachers for this school year, for Porter and Liam.  This is a day we are all ready for; school supplies are purchased and ready to go and the hazy days of summer are getting more and more restless for the boys.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t restless for the routine that will start next week, too.  The boys are ready for it, as well.

I will remember this summer, though, as much more than the summer after Oliver was born.

  • It was the first summer I recognized how much my Porter is turning into an articulate person, how much he has grown into his “oldest of the family” role.
  • I took the time to cook at home much more than I have since Jared and I were newlyweds.
  • This is the summer of learning to live on a budget, and we’ve come so close to succeeding that it’s hard to believe how frugal we’ve been.  What’s more, it hasn’t felt like deprivation, either.
  • We didn’t stay pent up in the house all summer long but we also didn’t take extravagant day-trips either.  We managed several times to go to the “dinosaur museum” and the zoo (to which we have memberships) without even peeking in their gift shops and there were no fits about it, thankfully.
  • Oliver got used to being carried in his mei tai carrier, which means freedom from the infant car seat or stroller.
  • I’ve really gotten to appreciate Liam’s incredibly fun sense of humor and style.  He’s one hilarious kid.
  • Oliver sleeps through the night and has since late June, most nights.  It’s common for him to go 8-10 hours overnight at this point.
  • Unless I’ve lost track, the boys only went to daycare for one afternoon of the entire summer, when I had a doctor’s appointment.  And, we had a babysitter come out a handful of times while I did things around the house.  Other than that, it’s been me with the boys All.  Summer.  Long.  That’s the first time it’s happened since Porter was a baby.  They were with me last summer too, but we relied far heavier on daycare last summer.  I had many more not-so-great days last summer.
  • My therapy dog, Abby, really is a therapy dog.  She is the best dog we’ve ever had…she doesn’t get into anything unless a stray dryer sheet makes it into the living room, she’s completely house trained, she’s great with the kids (even Oliver)…this pup is in her bed at my feet at the kitchen table even as I type this.  She is slightly neurotic like me and barks for seemingly no reason sometimes, but she’s a real joy to have as part of our family.

I look at that list and all of a sudden I realize that there is so very much to be grateful for in this family.  While I’ve been plugging along lamenting and slightly depressed the last few days, we’re in the home stretch of a real triumph of a summer.  All that list of “little” things from summer 2014 aren’t really that little to my family.  They indicate stability that we all need.

With that stability, too, this list signifies that I’m on the verge of health in a way that I haven’t been in years and years.  The symptoms of illness are still there, but I’m learning to manage them in ways that I’ve never been able to do before.  I’ve still got a long road toward learning balance with my illness, but stopping to recognize all that I have been capable of doing recently helps me keep momentum to keep it all up.

One day at the time.  It’s all about the little things.

CarolineThe Little Things of Summer 2014
Mommy and Oliver

Resisting My Identity

Caroline stream-of-consciousness Leave a Comment

Yep, that’s what I’ve been doing for years now.  It’s not that I don’t identify as a wife and mother.  That’s not it, because I for sure recognize that those are my roles.  But for years now, I’ve been grasping for something else…something that’s become more and more ethereal in my life as the years go on: an identity apart from my family.  I will always be my own person, of course, but I’ve learned this summer that I do actually enjoy taking care of my family when I stop long enough to remember the joy in doing so.  I’ve learned to actually enjoy cooking for my family for the first time since those early days of our marriage when I cooked regularly for Jared.

I am not a perfect mom and I have no interest in being one.  The one takeaway I’ve learned in the past five years is that perfection is highly, highly overrated and boring.

But those boys who are upstairs right now building a fence for their “kids only” space….this baby smiling at me in the photo– the same one who’s slowly falling asleep beside me right now– these boys are here now and they’re kids only once.  Some day, as it should be, they will grow up and have lives independent of our family life.  Then I can find something outside this house to do.

But for today, there’s laundry and a sweet baby “talking” to me and a six-year old upstairs who still likes to hold my hand in parking lots (and a nearly eight-year old who is newly too-cool to hold Mom’s hand), and there’s a dear husband who’s walking this path called life with me.

Jared has been the one person who’s been here through the bad and good of it all.  He didn’t walk away when it would have been far, far easier to do so and nobody would have faulted him had he chosen to do so.  In fact, there are those who would have been relieved had Jared chosen to walk away from this marriage.  Instead, he’s chosen to hold me tighter and remind me daily that he will always truly accept me as I am.  For that I will be forever grateful.

I’ve been trying to put a label to my identity for a long, long, time.  But while labels generally are unnecessary, I’m proud to be wife and mom and for today, that is enough.

CarolineResisting My Identity