Misadventures of a 20-Something Mom: August 2012   

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Ramblings of an Anxiety Ridden Mommy

I am a wife.
I am a mother.
And sometimes, just sometimes, I am a scared little girl.

I am now 11 days out from having surgery to remove a lump in my breast. This is not the first surgery of its kind, and I doubt it will be the last, but familiarity with the process is not breeding confidence.
Thankfully our family has ZERO history of cancer. However, we are very prone to benign tumors and cysts. When these tumors get too big, take up residence in a weird spot, or start to look suspicious they have to be surgically removed. That's what's happening in 11 days. But for some reason, the idea of this surgery is bothering me more than any of the others have.
No. I guess "for some reason" is inaccurate.
I know my reason. 
My reason is 32 lbs and 13 months old. He loves dancing and laughing and making "stink" faces at me when I try to feed him peas. My reason chases me around the house with plastic zebras that "rawr!" He makes me read the same book 12 times in a row and habitually strips off his diaper and pees on my carpet. My reason is demanding, mischievous, dramatic, and a tad bit manipulative. He embodies my best and worst attributes all at once and is an adorably chubby carbon copy of his daddy. My reason snuggles up to me every morning and falls asleep in my arms every night.

My son is my reason to be afraid.

When I think of him, and I think of this surgery, all logic goes out the window. I become a being who is ruled by emotion. My anxiety balloons out of proportion and I find myself trudging through the darkest abysses in my brain. The places where cancer exists. Where the "what-ifs" run rampant and thoughts of chemotherapy, terminal illness, and a little boy growing up without a mother terrorize me.

And the thought occurs to me, that this anxiety will not simply be assuaged by a positive outcome with my surgery. This anxiety is here to stay. Because it's not really ME that I'm worried about, it's that tiny blond-headed boy. I have a lifetime ahead of me of perpetual worry.

Now that he's walking: what if he falls? When he goes to school: what if the other kids are mean to him? In someone else's care: What if they can't take care of him like I can? Do they know to cut the crusts off his sandwich?

Don't even get me started on driving or leaving for college!

As a therapist, I know that there is no magic pill for a mother's worry. No psychological theory or technique to apply...the scope is simply just too large.

I guess that this is just what happens when you're heart resides outside of your body.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mom University: Making the Most of "Me" Time

I have a great life. I really do. I have an amazing, hardworking husband who is constantly striving to make more of our dreams come true. I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy who is the light of our lives. I even have the luxury of staying home with the baby right now, so I have yet to miss any important "firsts."

But sometimes, all that isn't enough.

Sometimes the days blend together... and next thing I know a week has passed without me feeling any sense of accomplishment. I realize I have spent all day in my pj's or had a spitty cheerio in my hair when I talked to the neighbor. Sure I managed to teach the baby to point and laugh at boobies or to dance when I say "drop it like it's hot"...but what have I done for me.

 As fantastic as my life really is, I spend a lot of time wishing certain things were different.
  • I wish I was skinnier
  • I wish my house was cleaner/more organized
  • I wish I ate healthier
  • I wish I was an amazing meal planner/cook
  • I wish I spent more time with my friends
  • I wish I was a "real" writer
  • I wish I was a better wife, partner, best friend, etc.
I do all this wishing...and not a lot of doing.

When I worked as a therapist, I lectured many a mom about the importance of "Me" time. I told them that they couldn't take great care of their families if they weren't taking great care of themselves. I spouted off examples like the oxygen masks on airplanes more times than I can count. I created worksheets and activities for these moms to chart how they actually spent their time and how they wished they spent their time.

In short, I was an idiot. Completely clueless. Out of touch with the realities of being a mom. Who wants to fill out a worksheet during their almost non-existent "me-time." I had the right idea, but the logistics were all off.

The reality is: being a mom is tough work.

There are no days off. There is no vacation time. You cannot call in sick or take a sabbatical. The job is 24/7. The boss(es) is such a hard ass that he won't even let you take a pee break without interrupting and imposing demands.

The high-maintenance nature of the job means that most Moms just aren't designed to think about themselves. We are all consumed with our spouses and children. Half the time, if we do manage to sneak away, they are all we can think or talk about.

This my friends, is an absolute recipe for burnout. "Me-time" is a necessity. (No worksheets required.) I staunchly believe that it helps us become and remain the best mom/best spouse we can be.

I mentioned some aspects of my life that are currently shall we say...underwhelming.

Over the years, I have learned that no one is responsible for my happiness but me.

I could continue to make excuses for why things are the way that they are (I'm too tired, I don't have enough time, I don't have enough money) or I can work to change them.

Therefore, September 1st marks the beginning of my 30 day enrollment in Mom University. Instead of wasting all of my "me" time on facebook, television, or mindlessly staring at walls, I am going to try and do something REAL each day. Whether it be small or large, I am going to actively pursue activities/courses that get me a little closer to any of these goals.

It's open enrollment time here at Mom U, and I invite you to join me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dear Olivia's Mom: Missed Connections (Mom Edition)

Have you seen the creepy "missed connections" postings on Craigslist? No? Oh come on!

Basically, someone meets someone else at some random location..a 7-11 for instance..and is absolutely convinced that they had chemistry and that it needs to be further developed. In hopes that their long lost love will happen upon it, they then post a little blurb about their chance encounter. I don't know if it ever works..but there are pages and pages of them online.

I suppose some might call this gesture romantic..frankly, a lot of the posts give me the heebie jeebies.

With that said, I STILL think there should be a "missed connections: mom seeking mom" section on Craigslist. I'd hate to think that this qualifies me as one of the above mentioned creepsters...but just hear me out.

I suck at making friends. Always have.

First off, I am very particular about the kind of person I want to be friends with. A lot of people just annoy the hell out of me. I couldn't even tell you why. They might laugh funny, or be too materialistic, too stuck up, or too phony, or their kid might be a complete asshat. Sometimes I meet moms who are so perfect that I am left with no choice but to despise them. :)

On top of my award-winning  anti-social tendencies, I am also too shy..too awkward..too everything to initiate conversations, or exchanges of numbers, or do any other number of social maneuvers to begin the friend making process.

This means that the few friends I DO have are very outgoing individuals who "made the first move" so to speak. I'd probably just be some lonely hermit of a woman if it weren't for all you extroverts out there. (I'm making myself out to be a real winner, huh? lol)

The good news is that once I am comfortable around someone, and the friendship is well established, I am an awesome friend. Not to toot my own horn, but I am loyal to a fault, humorously self-deprecating, I love wine and chocolate so I will never be skinnier than you, and I'm a professional listener (M.A. Clinical Psychology). But I digress..

FrequentlyA lot of times.. OK. Occasionally, my finicky personality comes across another mom that seems funny, and down to earth, and that I would LOVE to make friends with. However, I don't know the protocol for exchanging numbers/propositioning a play date and so nothing ever becomes of it. Being a Stay-at-home mom can be really lonely at times, and it would be great to have more mom friends to hang out with, so I am always super bummed when this happens.

It happened today and I am pretty disappointed. If Craigslist had a Missed Connections for Moms..this is what my blurb would look like:

"Dear Olivia's Mom,
I'm pretty sure that's what I heard you calling your adorable daughter while she was yanking stuff off the shelves of Target and tickling my baby son's feet when you weren't looking. We met today in the baby food section and discussed the amazing innovation of squeeze fruit and veggie pouches for toddlers. About as riveting as conversation gets with two moms! You said your daughter was almost 2, and she may well be the cutest little girl I've ever seen. My son was enamored too! She had bright blond hair, (pink?) glasses, and the most adorable mischievous tendencies. You seemed a bit frazzled, but still managed to be very friendly. I saw you again while we were checking out. You were panicked because Ms. Olivia snuck off and you couldn't find her. I spotted her, took her tiny hand in mine, and walked her back over to you. You were genuinely relived. This was probably just a crazy, "off" day for you guys, but it reminded me of what most days feel like to me as a relatively new mom. It was absolutely endearing. I would have loved to get to know you better and to have let our two little devils have a play date. I hope that your day turned around and that Ms. Olivia treats you well.
Maybe we'll meet up in the baby food section again someday. The baby and I will keep an eye out for you."
(Non-creepster) 20-something Mom

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why this mom is boycotting Oprah's magazine..and I hope she hears about it

So I realize there are a lot more pressing issues in the world than what graces the pages of Oprah's magazine..but here is my humble stance nonetheless.

I've never actually purchased one of these literary masterpieces. I usually get the "gift subscription" when a family member resubscribes. A free magazine. Who would complain about that? Well, me, I guess. Call me a crotchety old bag but I've come across some serious issues with the mag.

 I typically just leave these by the toilet to peruse when I'm doing my business. However, for the first time ever, I decided to sit down (somewhere other than the porcelain throne) and give the magazine my full, undivided attention. What a mistake that was.

As a new mom, I don't get a lot of "me" time. So in all fairness, my standards in the light reading material category have probably gone up substantially. Oprah's magazine doesn't even come close to making the grade though. It is absolutely atrocious.

I swear that 80% of the issue's content was advertising. I understand that in the corporate world, its all about the bottom dollar. Ads are an easy way to make a quick buck. Regardless, I take serious issue with the kinds of ads in the magazine.

Every other page implies that you aren't pretty enough, you're too wrinkly, you don't dress well enough, you smell like a homeless person, you deserve this dessert, but you're also a big fat ass. At the end of the issue I was left feeling... quite deflated. Thank God it was free! Who pays money to get kicked in the nuts like this?

I guess I always thought that Oprah was the quintessential woman; embraced by ladies across generations. A woman who habitually donates money and builds schools in an effort to support and educate young, African women. Yet, right there in her magazine, was page after page aimed at pummeling enough self-esteem out of other women to provoke a buying spree of needless products.

Gone are the empowering stories about women chasing their dreams, traveling the world, changing careers, expanding horizons, and bettering themselves and their families. These stories are replaced with innumerable ads and pages of makeovers on otherwise beautiful women. The message is loud and clear.

You aren't good enough.

The pursuit of happiness, at least in the pages of this magazine, has morphed into an ugly quest for endless products that will keep you young, and vibrant, and flawless.

I will never subject myself to this nonsense again and this is certainly not a magazine I'd ever want my niece, little sisters, or future daughter to come across.

For me and my house, we will teach about the beauty in imperfection. The joy of uniqueness. The prize of individuality. Unfortunately, this magazine doesn't facilitate any of that.
Feel free to message me with any crafty/Pintrest-esque ways to upcycle this garbage. With enough glue..I might even be able to make an end table.