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Mental Health

Have you ever had someone say, “have you prayed about it,” and in that moment you want to reach across the table and punch them right in the face? It’s not that you don’t believe in the power of prayer or even if you don’t, it’s not that you want to bash on that person’s beliefs. It’s that we live in this world where people think mental health is something that can be fixed or cured by changing our views. They say “have you thiught about the things you have to be thankful for?” Or “maybe you’re just living in the past and you should start focusing on the now.” I don’t think people intentionally say these things to hurt us, even if it feels like that. For me, my depression isn’t something that can be “cured” with a simple change of view. My depression is a lack of serotonin in my brain. It’s my body’s inability to produce the happy gene on its own. Somedays I feel more than overjoyed and ecstatic about life. Other days I cry nonstop and can’t function. I take meds, I exercise, I pray, I eat healthy, I journal, see counselors, and talk about my past to try and overcome the skeletons. It doesn’t seem like I get better and that’s okay. I’ve found ways to cope and deal with the suicidal thoughts. Mental health doesn’t have to have a stigma and it’s okay to not know what to say to someone who suffers from a mental health disorder. Ask them how you can help instead of assuming things about them or the disorder. Pray for them if that’s what you believe in or wish them good karma… but please don’t make them feel worse about their mental health or their inability to “get over it.”

The shower bag…

You keep all your shower things in a bag. It’s brown and zips on two sides. It holds your toothpaste, razor, deodorant, and a few other miscellaneous items. Every few weeks (and if we are lucky, every week) this shower bag appears in our bathroom. You hang it on the towel rack and it’s a little reminder that you’re home for a few days.

I hate this bag. It means that you aren’t settled yet. You aren’t here every day to store those items in the bathroom drawers. I keep one empty for you… but it will stay empty, for at least another year.

I hate this bag because it means you have to leave soon. It means your stay is not forever and the road is calling you back. It means you’ll be missing more bedtime stories to our daughter, early morning snuggles with her bedhead, and the never ending laughter and smiles she gives to me daily.

This bag means you’re missing laying next to me, your wife, and talking about how our day went before we drift off to sleep. The bag means you’re not here to argue with me and then make up. You’re not here to lounge around lazy on Saturday while we do laundry and eat junk.

The dreaded shower bag… it means you’re bringing in money so I can be home with our daughter. It gives me the flexibility to be the momma I want to be. It gives me freedoms that you don’t have the luxury of enjoying. The shower bag has given me security and a strong sense of compassion for you. I could not do your job or sacrifice my time away to give you the security I feel every day.

The shower bag has been a constant in our life–dating, marriage, and having our daughter. I am so thankful for man who carries this shower bag and brings it everywhere he goes.

But the shower bag also holds a lot of resentment. Resentment from me… that you aren’t here to help. Anger because sometimes it feels like I’m drowning in life and my lifejacket is four states away. The shower bag appears and I love that it comes with my husband. But I also get frustrated. Why can’t you read my mind and know what I need help with?

The shower bag needs to go. But I hope it leaves my husband behind… I miss him.

Dear Momma

Momma,

Your grand-daughter is getting so big. She laughs all the time, smiles, waves, and claps at everyone, gives the best snuggles, and is constantly saying “dadadada.” She has hazel eyes that look really green on some days–especially in the sun. Her cheeks are perfectly round and rosy! & her lips are going to be big like mine. She’s independent, loves music, and brings more joy to my life than I could have ever imagined.

Momma… I wish you were here to be her grandma. I wish I could call you and ask about when I first started walking, talk to you about teething, and listen to your stories about being a young mom.

I wish I could ask you how you managed to work, take care of us three kids, and do everything else on your own. I have Sammy (who I wish you could have met too) to call and lean on when life gets tough and being a momma wears on my heart. He isn’t always around, but at least I always have the phone to call and talk to him. How’d you do it, momma? How’d you do so much without any help?

Momma… I wish I could go back and be grateful, say thank you, and show you how much I appreciate you. I wish you could know how much I am in awe of the mothering you did–alone.

I wish I could call you and tell you to stop giving her sugar… that she can only have 1 treat today. That she needs to nap because we have a big afternoon ahead of us. I wish I could drop her off to you on my way to my new job. That I could pick her up from your house and sit around and chat about all the things you two did together. I wish I could see you be a grandma, because I know you’d be the very best one.

Momma… I know Heaven is better than here, but I still need you. I need you to help me through this adventure, I need your guidance, your assurance, and probably a little snuggle time too. I need you to hold me when I feel like I am failing my daughter and tell me that I am doing the best job I possibly can.

I still need you, Momma, even though I’m a momma now too.

Facebook stole my joy

I love social media. I think it’s a great way to stay in contact with relatives and friends from the past. I love looking at pictures of families, weddings, and all the adventurous things people do. I even enjoy looking at people’s food posts. BUT Facebook stole my joy. You see, I don’t have my birthday listed on my profile because I don’t necessarily enjoy getting birthday wishes on my page. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s super sweet when people want to celebrate me, BUT today I had people write on my wall instead of text or call. And it makes me sad. It makes me sad that we live in a world where social media is our main form of contact. That a phone call or text isn’t more personal anymore. I know we’ve definitely got away from cards (although I love those too), but I hate to think we are steering clear of phone calls and text messages too. I know I am friends on Facebook with TONS of people who I would say are just acquaintances and I don’t know their birthday off the top of my head… and I am admitting I am just as guilty of writing on their wall on their birthday. Today I realized how impersonal I was being because I felt very sad when I got wall postings instead of calls or texts. Maybe that means I’m selfish and I should just be happy to get anything at all… but I’m letting go of Facebook because it stole the joy out of my birthday.

Alone

I feel alone, but it’s hard to get out.

I’m a new mom and I literally don’t want to do things without my child… it gives me anxiety to think about leaving her for longer than 1 hour. I know she has tons of people who would jump at the chance to sit for me and give me a few hours to just be. But it’s hard to leave. It’s also hard to give someone else control over my child’s wellbeing. What if she cries and they can’t figure out how to calm her? What if she keeps refusing the bottle because all she wants to do is nurse? What if she remembers not being able to calm down and it impacts her later in life? [I know I’m crazy].

I feel alone, but I want my own space.

I’m almost 28 years old and I’ve only had the chance to live alone for a very brief period of time. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of people, but I need my OWN space. I want to take all the things I have in storage and put them in their specific place. I want to clean up messes that are only mine.

I feel alone, but I’m not depressed.

I’ve been depressed… suicidal and sent to a psych ward kind of depressed. I don’t feel that way. My life is different and sometimes it’s challenging to adjust to the fact I can’t just go do whatever, but I’m not depressed. My daughter makes me the happiest I’ve ever been and I’m so thankful that I have to plan my life around her little naps and feeding schedule. But I also miss my kiddos (the ones I nanny-ed for), my friends, and going out in public without being stared at because I’m nursing my baby. I am sad my clothes don’t fit how they used to. I am sad I don’t feel like I accomplish much throughout the day (sometimes I don’t even get a chance to brush my teeth). But I don’t want help, I want to be able to do it ALL! I am a new person and this new identity as a mother is seriously the best, but I feel like I don’t know who I am.

I feel alone in this journey, even when I’m surrounded by support.

Baby Love

I’ve been a momma for a little over 3 months and it is my favorite thing but also the hardest. I get to wake up every morning and snuggle my sweet baby, listen to her coo, giggle, and even sometimes scream her little head off. The moments are so precious but also so quick. I’ve been told more times than I can remember that in a blink of an eye she’ll be 18 and leaving for college.

I don’t want to think about this tiny little human not needing me anymore.

Being a momma has changed my entire world. What I thought was once important really isn’t anymore. I now spend less time on my phone and live in the moment (besides when I’m soaking up cute photos and videos to share with the world). I rarely find time to shower or fix my hair, which makes me feel like a slob; but when I hold my baby and she smiles up at me, I don’t care that I have spit up in my hair from 3 days before. I’m a slight clean freak and tend to get anxiety when things aren’t in the correct places, but I’ve realized making funny faces at my daughter to get her to laugh is far more enjoyable than cleaning.

Life as a momma has been the greatest and scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s a mixture of counting down till bedtime but missing them once they’re asleep. It’s feeling like a rockstar but also guilty. It’s wanting alone time but wondering what/how they’re doing when you are alone.

Sometimes I get frustrated when she’s awake at 2am and all I want to do is sleep. Then two seconds later and a huge pang of grief wipes over me for feeling that way. Or when she’s crying so hard and I can’t seem to calm her down. I wonder what I’m doing wrong, if I’m cut out for this. I sometimes wish I could go to the store without my little one, but the second she’s not in the car I just stare at the mirror wishing her sweet little face was looking up at me. I wonder if she’ll grow up and feel loved, if she’ll know that I tried my hardest and even in the moments of frustration, I loved her more than I could ever explain. I wonder if she’ll remember crying because I was trying to finish my sandwich instead of scooping her up right away… These feelings are the things I’ve read about on other mom blogs and I know I let myself ride on the irrational train. BUT being a momma is hard work.

I just hope that other mommas know they are enough too. And that it’s completely normal to feel irrational. Know that no one can love your baby the way you do. You know your baby better than anyone. Even when you cannot be with your baby, at the end of the day you’re still their momma and love them more fiercely than anyone ever could. I think it’s important for us to remember our identity has changed, but it doesn’t have to be wrapped all up in our baby. (Although I’m still working on this). Our babies grow so quickly, enjoy them, but also remember it’s okay to enjoy things without them too. & try to not let yourself get too irrational because we are human and we can only do so much!

Lou & Leela: Our Parents Bought a Camper

My husband and I travel for a living and decided to a buy a camper for our adventures about a year ago. If you ask us, we would much rather have a stationary home, BUT it is very beautiful & works for the time being.

However, as we patiently wait for a life that doesn’t consist of traveling so often, many millennials and retired couples (and others) buy a camper to travel the world! Or they sell their home to become minimalist and have a smaller space (sort of like tiny houses). They take on this journey and end up LOVING it! My sister and her husband happen to be one of those amazing people who can rock the small-living. They bought their camper around the same time as Sam and I, however, they don’t travel for work–they chose to buy a camper to just live-in! CRAZY! They’ve lived in this camper (which is BEAUTIFUL) for almost a year with their two beagles, Lou & Leela. They both work from home–so they spend almost every hour together (also, I think this is CRAZY, but so happy it works for them).

Since I have read about tons of people buying campers/RVs to live in full-time, I decided to do a Q&A with Mattie and David about their tiny home.

1) Why live in a camper? (Instead of a house/apartment/condo)

Mattie: “Ive always been drawn to smaller spaces and tried to convince David to live in a tiny house for years. When I was looking at tiny houses, I knew I couldn’t get David on board [due to prices]. So I started to look outside the box, which led me to campers. There’s such an incredible community out there for people of all ages, but especially those under forty, full-timing in their campers. I was sold… I just had to get David on board.”

*Side note: David is super easy going and I knew as soon as Mattie had this idea in her head, she could convince him to take on the adventure with her.*

“People tend to think I’m a little crazy for wanting to live small, but it allows us the freedom to put what’s most important first. We’re not tied down to anything right now, we don’t have a large house payment and we both are able to work from home, which is something I am incredibly grateful for. This lifestyle allowed me to focus on my dreams and business and take things to places I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s been a blessing.”

David: “I was drawn to the idea of downsizing and it gives you the opportunity to be closer to the ones you love. You can also pick up and move anytime. You can live at the beach for a month and move to the mountains the next”

2) Did you plan to remodel your camper when you purchased it?

Both: “Yes! We both knew going in that we would have to make it feel like home for us. I can’t live in a world of beige and everything in the camper was beige when we bought it.”

3) What did you struggle with while remodeling?

Mattie: “Painting! But really, it was tedious. I paint every new place I move into and I didn’t think the camper would be such a challenge because the space is so small. Cue the laughter, it just created more nooks and crannies and oh so many cabinets to paint. I was covered in paint for weeks while I finished everything. I still have some touching up to do, which I’m dreading.”

David: “Getting our queen bed in, we had to full take it apart and put it back together in the camper. We’re not looking forward to taking it back out.”

4) What was the most daring makeover?

Mattie: “The biggest wall in the camper I painted black. I remember David coming home, the paint still wet and looking at me like I was nuts. But I think we both love it now. I would love to seethe new owners add a gallery wall, I think it would be gorgeous!”

David: “Pulling up the carpet, but really Mattie did most of the work, so whatever she says.”

5) What would you still like to change in your camper?

Mattie: “I would love to put vinyl flooring in the slide to get rid of all the carpet and put in new industrial style lights, but I’m not sure we will get there before we sell. Hopefully the new owners will love our style and won’t have to change much.”

David: “If we were living here longer, I would build a portable deck for grilling.”

*Side note: They LOVE their camper and don’t want to move out or sell it, but life happens and there will be more about that further in the blog*

6) What do you like most about the camper?

Mattie: “I really love our bedroom. We love watching moves in bed with our pups, it just feels so cozy since we remodeled. I found this great removable wall paper from Target too which adds such a warm touch and my books are just above the bed so I can easily see them all.”

David: “The fireplace, it puts off so much heat which is great in the colder months.”

Mattie: “I also agree! It feels so cozy watching the snow fall around you and having the fireplace on. We will need to get one for our new home. I also love all our windows, it lets in so much light during the day, helping the space feel even bigger.”

7) What’s something surprising about the camper life?

Mattie: “We don’t need nearly as much stuff as we thought! I had filled the camper to the max when we moved in and I’m constantly purging things each week now. We actually have an empty cabinet or two. It’s funny how little we truly need to live and to feel fulfilled. Material things are just that, i would rather have adventures with my loved ones than something new I don’t even need.”

David: “Ditto”

8) What’s a misconception people have about living in a camper?

Mattie: “Oh my goodness, there are so many! That we must hate being so close to each other is the biggest one I get. While we are forced to be closer, we do have our own space. We both work from home full-time and so we each pick a room for eight hours and then meet for dinner in the kitchen. I typically don’t hear David while he’s working, he’s a pretty quiet person, so I suppose that helps.”

David: “People seem to think we live this lifestyle because we can’t afford something else. Which is always funny seeing their reactions when they see what the inside looks like and how much space we actually have. Everyone is surprised we have surround sound in the camper.”

9) What is your favorite thing about living small?

Mattie: “Being close to my husband and downsizing. David was active duty military at the beginning of our marriage and while it was hard being apart so much, i did look forward to eating my favorite foods for dinner and having the TV remote all to myself for a few weeks at a time. Now that we’ve been in the camper almost a year, we’ve grown a lot closer as we’re kind of forced to be together more.”

David: “I would agree with Mattie, it’s shown us how much we can truly tolerate each other. HA! But in all seriousness, it has been nice being close to my family again.”

10) Why are you selling?

Mattie: “We love our camper and I’ll probably cry the day we sell it, but it’s served it’s purpose for us.For me the biggest reason to sell is because we want to adopt and that’s not something we can do from the camper.”

David: “We’re ready to start our family and having somewhere a little more permanent to settle down will be nice.”

If any of you know Mattie and David, you know they will probably buy a camper to travel the world in later down the road. They love adventures and not having ‘roots’ to tie them down. However, I am very excited that my baby will have her Aunt and Uncle close by when she arrives AND hopefully some new cousins eventually too. Mattie is an extremely talented and artistic person and I’m sure she would love to answer any questions or give advice on remodeling to anyone out there. Just shoot me a question and I will relay it to her. Below I have some before and after photos of the camper–which they will be selling. You can also ask me about the price if you decide you can’t live without this dreamy home!

*Side note: the formatting of this blog keeps correcting itself and since I am using an iPad, I haven’t been able to fix some of the things that are really bothering me–please don’t judge the format 🙂 *

Being a Motherless Daughter

“When a daughter loses a mother, the intervals between grief responses lengthen over time, but her longing never disappears. It always hovers at the edge of her awareness, prepared to surface at any time, in any place, in the least expected ways.” Hope Edelman (Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss)

I became a motherless daughter when I was sixteen years old. This was almost 11 years ago… I lost her to cancer. As I have aged and gone through different phases and stages of life the “longing” for her has come like rapid fire emerging out of nowhere. While other times it is subtle and more like a pinched nerve that only hurts when I move a certain way. Being pregnant without my mom has definitely felt like that pinched nerve at certain moments and other moments it’s like I’m reliving her death and that gasping-for-air-grief all over again.

During my first trimester when I was hospitalized multiple times due to being dehydrated and so sick, I wondered what her pregnancies were like and if she was sick too. I laid up in my mother-in-law’s house for weeks, puking every 20-40 minutes, dry heaving even 12+ hours after I attempted to eat. I laid there everyday so thankful I had this wonderful lady who took care of me like she was my mom, but I also laid there feeling guilty and sad.

As I progressed into the second trimester and started feeling Geneveive kick, I wanted to talk to my mom about those wonderful flutters. I wanted to ask her about stretch marks and how much weight she gained. Now, in my third trimester, I long for her to know her first grand-baby. To have her in the room with me during labor, to call and cry to her when I’m having an anxiety attack because I don’t feel prepared, to simply talk to her about this new journey. Some days it’s in the back of my mind and others it is a blazing forest fire ripping through me.

I want my mom here and that is selfish because I know heaven is beyond anything I could imagine. I feel guilty because I have been blessed with different motherly figures throughout my adulthood and it’s a fine line between letting them love me like their own and feeling like I’m leaving my mom behind. There are so many emotions (some irrational) that come with grief and loss. I feel heartbroken because my daughter will never know this amazing woman who I called my mom. I feel ashamed when I think about all the ‘fill-in’ grandma’s my daughter will have because what if that hurts my mom? I know it’s probably irrational to think that way because God gave me these incredible women to talk to and love me–but it does not make the thoughts go away.

There are times when her death lays on my chest like an elephant suffocating me… I wonder if I am allowed to be loved by other motherly figures. It is okay to have these second families that I spend my time, holidays, etc with? Does it make me a bad daughter to not mourn her at all times? I feel it becomes harder to accept love from others–that I should return the love, gifts, favors, advice with another gift or money. I know God did not take my mom as punishment, but I find myself wanting to punish myself for letting other people in.

I know as I grow older, the longing for her will still not fade. There will always be a need for my mom–questions I have, stories I want to share, other babies I want her to meet… I was blessed to have my mother for sixteen years and I am so thankful for our time, but it was not enough.

Side Note: losing my mother so young did create a special bond between my siblings and I. My little brother has blossomed into this amazing young man who is wise beyond his years. My older sister is a role model, a take-charge and keep us in-line beautiful soul who consistently reminds us the value and importance of family. She is so much like my mom and it is wonderful having her around to keep that memory even more vibrant. God works in mysterious ways that we don’t always understand, but I know our relationship was a small part of his bigger plan.