The Way Of Life


I lost my Aunt Anneke this week.  It wasn’t sudden.  She was battling cancer for some time.  But still, the finality of any passing startles me, nonetheless.  I am grieving.  Not so much for her, as I know she is pain free and was most certainly welcomed into heaven with open arms.  She was a wonderful, strong, loving woman.  Her full bodied, lasting hugs were her trademark that I will cherish in my memories of her.  I am grieving for my uncle who was left here on this earth to do the unimaginable.  To go on without her.  It breaks my heart.

It’s funny that I should have such a bond with this man.  He came into my life when I was in my twenties.  He had been estranged from my mother and most of our family for all of my young life.  His acute alcoholism kept him away from us for years.  After he had gotten sober for good, he came back into our lives and I’m so grateful.  Oh, the stories he would tell me over a cup of coffee at my parent’s dining room table! I just adore him despite the fact that we could not be more different.  Our views on pretty much everything are diametrically opposed.  Yup, everything.  But his heart is true, his words are real, and he is just my Uncle Ronnie. The fact that he has a special place in his heart for my little O just makes me love him all the more.  And now he is alone without his wife, his partner.   It is the way of life.  He would tell you that.  But it is unthinkable.

The landscape of our family keeps changing.  My parents, aunts and uncles are in their seventies and eighties.  Several have passed already.  Actual distance of siblings and cousins has created emotional distance, as well.  It is what happens as you get older, I suppose.  I guess I just wish it wasn’t happening quite this soon, for O’s sake.  I rationalize, as an older mom, that my family is also older.  But he is never going to know, or at least remember,  many of the family I love.  It is then, that which is understood in my head is not so accepted in my heart.

I don’t believe I actually have a point to make with all this.  I think I just wanted to talk about my family.  I appreciate you letting me do just that.  I know this isn’t exactly one of my typical mommy blog posts.  But then being a new mom at 46 isn’t exactly typical either.  Having a child late in life comes with all sorts of pros and cons.  It is so odd watching family become elderly (or succumb to age) while I witness all the newness my son experiences.  It is the biggest bag of mixed emotions I’ve known yet.  Immense joy colored with the occasional stroke of sadness and grief.  I’m sure it is the way of life for most older moms.  It was certainly something I didn’t think about before becoming a mother.  I suppose, thank God there is the joy.  Such joy!

Thank you for reading and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Xo

If The Shoe Fits


I was getting X-rays done at the dentist yesterday.  Carol, the dental assistant who cleans my teeth and takes said X-rays, was making chit chat.  Of course, when you have a toddler who is in the waiting room with Daddy, the small talk tends to be about your child.  In this case, O’s presence in the office seemed to bring up some nostalgia for Carol.  She started to tell me, as most people do, how fast it all goes.  How he will be 21 before I know it.  And then she said, “What I wouldn’t give to hold my son as that little infant again.”  She cradled her arms and for a second I could see her newborn baby right there in her mind’s eye.  She said it was her favorite time of being a mother.  I assured her I was enjoying each moment with O….and just smiled.  But, I’ll be honest with you, my heart was aching a bit.

I wanted to be able tell her that I could relate.  I wanted to say, ” I know the feeling.”  But I didn’t know the feeling.  When O was a newborn, I couldn’t stop crying.  I would hold him in my arms and cry.  A lot of that time is truly a blur to me.   I had an impulse to share with her my bout with post partum blues, but I didn’t want to rain on her memory and make it about me.  I just smiled.  But inside I knew I missed something apparently very special with my son in the first several weeks of his life.  Something I’ll never get back.  Hence, the ache in my heart.

Now I’ve talked a lot about post partum depression and shared most every detail of my story with my readers.  So you know that my situation was short lived (thank God).  And I am certainly not harping on the past.  What’s done is done.  I can’t change any of it and I can’t get that time back.  I have not beat myself up over it for quite some time now.  But, it is important to me that I acknowledge the feeling of loss, however minute it may be perceived to be.  With out acknowledging the darkness I was in, I can’t fully appreciate the joy and light I am basking in now.  Does that make any sense?

My conversation with this woman was such a sweet memory for her and a true reminder for me to be grateful for where I am presently.  I think back to that time and I feel like a completely different person now.  It was like I didn’t know how to even walk in the shoes of that new mother.  I just hobbled along, stumbling (and crying). And now, I feel so sure footed….like I am sprinting through fields of gold.  It’s as if these Mommy Shoes were meant for me.  Like they were in my wardrobe all the time, I just didn’t realize it.  I guess that is a lot of shoe references.  I can’t really even tell you how I wound up here in this amazing place, except that I had the unending support of my husband and I kept putting one foot in front of the other. One day at a time.

O is napping.  I sit here in my favorite writing spot in the house.  The skylight above me allows the sunshine to stream in onto my lap.  There are toy trucks and cars strewn about the sectional.  And outside I can hear bees buzzing and buds opening.  I’m not missing a thing.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading.  Always. Xo

I Choose Us


I write a lot about extreme self care and metaphorically putting on your mask before you help those around you.  Breathing for yourself so you can be a better mom.  As a mother, a huge theme of mine is survival.  Motherhood is an awesome, all consuming job, that doesn’t have an end to the work day.  Our brains don’t get to shut off and decompress during most days.  I am “on” 24/7, even when my husband is home.  It’s certainly not for lack of help from him.  He is a full hands on Dad.  It’s just my Mommy mode.  It’s like sleeping with one eye open.  I never get to forget I have a child. Not that I would want to, but you get what I’m saying.   I have come to realize that my survival plan is short sighted.  It doesn’t encompass the big picture.

And so, it occurs to me, sometimes it is not all about MY survival. Nor is it about baby coming first all the time.  It’s about the survival of our family.   All of us.  As a wife, who truly wants and loves this equal partnership I am in, I realize it is not only important, but imperative to sometimes put my partners needs before all else.  Yes, I just said that.  Before baby and before me.  I find that I do a lot to keep myself in balance.  I make a conscious effort to seek beauty and positivity every day.  I take walks with O.  We have adventures and stories and cuddles. It doesn’t always have to be “only me” time to be “me” time.  Sometimes my efforts fail me, and that’s when I need assistance, like any normal being.

My husband’s career can’t exactly be called “me” time for him.  Although he loves it, it is stressful.  And let’s face it, the man is doing it to provide for his family.  After all, it is called work.  So when does he get to slow down and breathe for himself? He could go to yoga, but that’s never gonna happen.  The point is that sometimes we fall out of balance because I am in need of some self care and sometimes we fall out of balance because he is in need of the same.  It is my job (and privilege) to help him with that.  (Yes, I said privilege and I’ll get back to that.). If it means that I have to give up some of my “only me” time to provide for him, then so be it.  Maybe I miss my yoga….when I am in balance, it’s not going to wreck me.  I know I’m stronger than that.

You see, to me, the bigger picture is O having two happy, healthy parents who are enjoying raising their child together and who are enjoying their loving partnership.  It is about him witnessing a relationship that gives, supports and loves.  The stronger we are as a couple, the more secure he will be.  The more love he sees, the more he will want to give.  I have to look at it like we are the foundation of our family life.  If the foundation is cracked (regardless of where the crack lies) our family is on shaky ground.  If we are solid, there is no limit to what we (and he) can build upon it.

I say it is my privilege to help my husband, because I am so lucky to have him as my partner.  I am not only blessed to share this life with a someone…but with the someone who I truly believe I am meant to be with.  There are so many people in this world longing for companionship, for love, for another.  I am privileged to take this journey with a beautiful human being….I will not take that for granted.

I often say that O is our world.  But in truth it is our family that holds the key to happiness. I can’t be fully happy if my partner is hurting or suffering in any way.  As independent as we both are, we work as a unit, not as two independent entities.  Our individual balances, triumphs and struggles affect us all.  That is what the commitment to partnership means.  So I don’t choose ME.  I don’t choose O.  I choose Us.  Every time.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up. Thanks so much for reading.  Xo

My Name Is Mommy


I am continually discovering on this journey of motherhood.  Even at my “advanced maternal age” I learn something new about myself everyday.  I constantly have those moments when I go,” Aha! That is why Moms do that!”  Things I used to roll my eyes at now make sense.  This constant learning curve certainly keeps this mother humble.

One of the things that used to make me cringe, was a husband and wife calling each other Mommy and Daddy.  I have always thought that was really ridiculous.  It reminded me of baby talk in a way, and I just couldn’t stomach it.  Well this is the perfect case of having to go through it to understand it.

Last week little O walked up to me and said, clear as day, “Hey Mare!”  I thought to myself “huh?”  He said it again (in case I missed it) and turned and walked away in search of a truck.  My 22 month old son was calling me by my nickname.  Like a little version of my husband.  “Hey Mare!”

Now I shouldn’t be shocked.  Of course he hears my husband call me Mare.  But then it dawned on me.  THAT is why parents call each other Mommy and Daddy!! Hello, Mommy!?  Duh! It’s not because there is some weird baby talk fetish at work….it’s because a toddler will repeat EVERYTHING he hears, including inappropriate expletives and, of course, our first names.

Let me tell you, try as hard as you may to mind your P’s & Q’s, a toddler will undoubtedly pick up the words you absolutely don’t want him to hear.  It will be the ONE time you slip because shards of fiber glass are shooting into your fingers while you are carelessly throwing something away and your toddler sits watching in his wagon.  Doesn’t everyone say “Fudge You!” to inanimate objects?  Except I didn’t say Fudge, did I?  Nope.  If only.  Hang out with us enough, and the actual phrase can be heard coming from my son.  He really captured my inflection perfectly, I might add.  We decided at first not to acknowledge it and now we pretend he is saying “vacuum” (stress on the second syllable).  I kid you not.

The point is, my name is now Mommy.  My husband is Daddy.  My Mother-in-law is Grammy and so it goes.  Every day the ridiculousness of parenting becomes more and more my norm.  Spelling things out absolutely happens in our house…you can’t say the word s-n-a-c-k until it’s actually happening.  No one needs that kind of melt down.  I tell you,  I get it now.  It’s all out of necessity.  And we are not alone in it.  People with kids around O’s age or a bit older are all in the same boat.  The same leaky boat. We are  patching up the holes with chewing gum, scotch tape, or whatever we can find to make due, to survive the day.   The scary part is that we are only just entering the toddler trenches. The combat has only begun.  This M-O-M needs a N-A-P.  Signing out.  Over and out.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight and remember that behind every great kid is a mom who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thanks for reading! Xo

Depression: The Family Thief


Once again, I have crunched my way into avoidance.  Anything to delay the writing.  It’s funny, because tactics to avoid writing only come into play when the topic is of a difficult nature.  This is not  some “Aha!” moment for me.  It’s pretty textbook, really.  We tend to avoid the uncomfortable difficult conversations.  My bowl of popcorn, dried peas and blue corn chips are pure proof of my discomfort.  By the way,  my snacks are organic so that means they are good for me, right? Yeah, didn’t think so…they are just less bad.  Well, that’s something.

I’ve been harboring this topic for a while.  I’m not even sure how I want to explore it.  It is intensely personal.  Painstakingly difficult and heartbreakingly close to me.  I’m talking about depression.  Now I’ve shared quite a lot about my bout with postpartum blues after I had O.  What I’m talking about now is the depression I have lived with for as long as I can remember.  I’m not talking about myself.  I’m talking about my mother. It certainly has affected me my whole life…but now, as a mother myself, it brings up a whole other set of feelings.

Depression has robbed my mother of so much in her lifetime.  And that is sad enough.  But it has stolen as much from those of us who love her, as well.  And now it continues to steal from the relationship she could have with my son.  If you have never seen someone through the darkness of depression you might not understand.  She loves him, undeniably.  And he is over the moon for his Oma.  But her sickness keeps her from spending any real time with him.  It keeps her hidden away in the darkness of her slumber instead of enjoying her grandson.  It has taken all possibilities of joy from her, even when they are right in front of her.  It would be easy to blame the person.  But I know enough  after all this time, it is the illness.  And when medications cease to work, it is a deep dark place she goes to.  To say my heart is heavy is an understatement.

I want O to know my mother.  The mother that I know. The glimpses of the real her are few and far between these days.  And the truth of the matter is, she is now elderly.  Depression seems to wreak havoc on an older person’s body at an exponential pace.  The less one does when they are older, the less they actually can do.  Bones soften and muscles atrophy through lack of use.  It’s tough to make a comeback at 79.  Especially when there is no end to the darkness in sight.  It is brutal.  The reality is that O will have the memories he has, because he doesn’t know her any other way than the way she is now.  But for the rest of us, it is hard.  Especially for my father.

I am writing about this not just to express my personal upset, but to raise some awareness about depression and how it affects not just the afflicted, but the entire family.  There are two types of depression that I am aware of.  Circumstantial and chemical.  The latter, as in my mother’s case, is the trickier to remedy.  A person might find a medicine that works beautifully, but after time, it begins to lose its effect and depression can set back in.  The dosage is usually increased and enhancers are added, which can make for some scary side effects.  Or a new drug might be prescribed and the whole acclamation period starts again, sometimes only to find out the drug isn’t a good fit.  Back to square one.  I can see how a patient could be despondent about their recovery.

What I know is that depression can be genetic.  It can run a cycle that affects generation after generation.  My maternal grandmother, though I never knew her, was agoraphobic.  Anxiety runs in my family. Anxiety untreated snowballs into depression.  With all that I have learned about depression, I’ll be damned if I’m going to follow that path.  The madness must stop with me.  Parents pass on their anxiety to their children everyday.  It is unconscious and usually the fallout doesn’t rear its ugly head until the child is in their teens.  But it doesn’t have to be.  Seek help early.  As minor as your anxiety or depression might be.  Seek help.  If not for yourself, then for your family. If you suffer from circumstantial depression (divorce, job loss, death of a loved one)…seek help.  Your family needs you.  You have a spouse, a son or daughter, a grandchild who needs YOU.

I always say that things happen the way they are supposed to. I’ve always been a believer of “If it is meant to be, then it will be.”  My life is a testament to that adage.    I was certainly lucky enough to have my child at the age of 44.  But what I never thought of was how old my parents would be when I had him.  (That’s a whole other post.). So let me finish up by saying I miss my mother.  There are days when I need her more than she could ever fathom.  There are days when I need her guidance and parenting wisdom.  There are days when I just need to hear her tell me she loves me.  To know that she is here, yet not really here, is just cruel and breaks my heart.  Everyday.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, and remember, behind every great kid is a mother who is pretty sure she is screwing it up.  Thank you so much for reading. Xoxo