Where do I start? I haven’t always been good to you and for that, I’m sorry. I have even taken you for granted at times. I have put crap in you and still expected you to function. I have pushed you beyond your limits and cursed you when you fail me. I have neglected the signs of damage. We’re not in bad shape, don’t get me wrong. It could be much worse. And we’re still here.
Love is all you need.
I have been struggling with anger for some time now. I get frustrated easily and sometimes overreact to small-ish things. I thought part of it was post-concussion syndrome, and perhaps that is still a factor. I also have anxiety and sometimes my anxiety comes out as anger. I have been trying to figure this out, not for myself, but because I don’t want to set that example for my daughters. I am trying to teach them to manage their emotions, but in truth I’m still learning to manage my own.
Thank You to Paramedics Everywhere
One of my favourite scenes in the summer is the hay fields, with their bails (round or square, it doesn’t matter) all spread out in neat rows. It’s picturesque and beautiful and reminds me of my country upbringing. I have had seasonal allergies, or “hay fever”, since I was young and have taken some form of medication nearly every year from about May to October. The exception to that was when I was vegan–I didn’t seem to suffer from pollen enough during that time to warrant medication, which is interesting. Growing up, I had many friends with farms. I used to help with haying and would sneeze, itch, and get hives, but it didn’t really stop me from doing much. It was manageable.
Mom’s the Word
Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate our own mothers and all they do for us. I am close with my mom and she deserves to be celebrated every day. I always say that she sets the bar high, as a person and as a mother. But it’s also a day to celebrate the other women in our lives who might be mothers, aunts (real and chosen), grandmothers, friends, or otherwise. These are the women that form the village helping to care for and raise our children. I am grateful for all the strong female role models that my daughters have in their lives.
I have always taken great pride in my teeth. My dad used to “motivate” us when we were kids by paying us every time we came home from the dentist with no cavities. It worked very well. Until about a month ago, I had never had a cavity. I enjoyed going to the dentist because everyone was amazed with my teeth. Then, a month ago, it happened. The dentist told me I had a cavity. He immediately started setting up to drill out the cavity and fill it in. Thank goodness for the dark glasses they give you because I cried the whole time. It didn’t hurt, but I was crushed. In the grand scheme of things, 42 years with no cavities is still an accomplishment. One cavity is no big deal, right?
But what happens when the bad part is in your brain? What happens when it can’t be drilled out and filled back in?
I had a bizarre experience the other day. I was watching a television show, which admittedly was pretty intense. In the show, a girl was hit by a car. Badly. The way they filmed it made you feel like you were the girl–the camera was right behind her shoulder and moved with her, while she was looking around. Which meant that when she was hit, it was quite shocking. The reaction I had was the strange part though. I screamed and immediately started hyperventilating. I pressed my hands over my heart and couldn’t let go for some time. For the rest of the night, I was crying off and on and couldn’t seem to stop. There was really no reason for this reaction, but in that moment a small part of my brain thought back to that day just over five years ago when I fell and hit my head. It wasn’t that the show reminded me of it in any way, but it brought back that feeling of, “oh no, this is really bad.” To call it a flashback is the only way I can describe it, but more of an emotional one than a literal one.
A Book in a Year
I might have mentioned that I’ve been writing again, but I haven’t said much about what I’m writing. I challenged myself to write a book in a year and while I officially started this project May 5, 2020, the idea has been simmering for much longer. This book started when I was trying to get pregnant. At that time, I was thinking a great deal about the kind of parent I would be, the things that I would replicate from my own childhood, and maybe a few things I would do differently. I started to feel a need to share the life lessons I had learned with (what were at the time) my hypothetical children. The problem was then I would have to admit to my mistakes and no one likes to do that! These were the types of conversations that I was raised NOT to have: “What people think of you is important…you don’t hang out your dirty laundry for people to see. And when you’re an authority figure, you certainly don’t show weakness by admitting to your mistakes!”
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
One year ago, “Silent Grief, Healing, and Hope: 15 Inspirational Stories of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Child Loss” was launched to the world. Inside its covers, 15 women share their stories and mine is one of them. It’s a story I’ve told in bits and pieces for 10 years. Because it was literally 10 years ago this fall that I experienced my first miscarriage.
It was important to me to tell my story–you don’t know who else is struggling silently until you share. It creates a safe space for someone to speak their truth. It means that they are not alone. And even though I’ve been an avid reader and writer for most of my life, I learned on a different level the power of storytelling.
Growing up, my family didn’t hang dirty laundry out to dry. We kept the struggles quiet. It took me a long time to change my perspective. I am proud of my contribution to this book and I hope that it works to remove the stigma associated with infertility, miscarriage, child loss, or any other struggle for that matter.
I believe the best way to change perception and remove stigma is to talk about the real issues in a real way.
Who has time for self care?!
As if self care wasn’t hard enough before, the pandemic has made it nearly impossible. Flight attendants advise parents to put on their own “oxygen mask” first, otherwise they may be unable to help children or dependents. I believe this to be true, but when you are working, parenting, and homeschooling…there are just not enough hours in the day. Self care becomes sleeping, eating, and showering, if you’re lucky!
Another truth I have heard about self care is that it doesn’t have to take a long time. It can be 5 minutes, 5 hours, or anything in between. This should make it easier for busy parents, but is it feasible to benefit from anything that only takes 5 minutes? I’ve tested this out more than a few times since the pandemic began, not intentionally but out of necessity. I have, on more than one occasion, locked my bedroom door and laid down on my bed, not to sleep but just to close my eyes and have some peace. While 5 minutes doesn’t do much for me, I found that 15 or 20 was useful. It gives me a much-needed “time out” but also allows my twin girls enough time to sort things out on their own. This way, when I emerge from my time out, everyone has moved on from whatever drama drove me to retreat in the first place. And trust me, the percentage of meltdowns by everyone in our house has gone up during COVID-19 isolation.
Maybe you can count this as self care, and maybe not, but it was effective in the moment and there are many things you can do in 15 minutes. At this stage in life, I also feel that I’ve lost track of my own interests to a certain degree. I’ve been focused on kids for the last 6 years, what do I even like to do anymore? Reading is a given, I’ve always loved reading. Some of my other interests have changed though.
Here are some ideas:
- a hot bubble bath (preferably in a deep claw foot tub);
- a cup of tea, coffee, or a cocktail and a book/magazine;
- a short walk, run, or even sitting outside enjoying some sunshine and scenery;
- going for a drive by yourself and listening to music;
- engaging in some intimacy with your spouse/partner or by yourself;
- watching an episode of a grown-up show;
- or a phone/video call with a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but all of these are things that make me feel better!
Since the end of March, I have boycotted “homeschooling”. My girls are 6 and keeping them focused on anything is a challenge. Instead, I have been taking opportunities for learning as they come. I have taught them how to count money, bake cookies, play “go fish”, sew, and a number of other things. A question or a problem arises and we do it together. What I realize now looking back is that this is a concerted effort on my part to incorporate learning. It may not be a 3-hour block, structured on certain subjects, using the online resources that the teachers have provided. But I am taking the time away from work and “normal” parenting to focus on these things. And it’s been challenging but fun. Don’t short-change your efforts during this unusual time–the weight we are all carrying and the accompanying stress needs to be balanced by some much needed self care.
Why don’t we make time for ourselves? Unfortunately, as parents, we often put our kids’ needs above our own and since the younger ages need us frequently, the “to-do” list is never complete. We think that we will get to ourselves once everything else is done, but who are we kidding? If having kids has taught me anything, it’s the that the list keeps growing and you simply have to prioritize the items. So, self care should really be scheduled and prioritized. I still struggle with this…I tend to do it only when my girls are with a family member or when I’m about to lose my *&%$#@!
But what if we taught our kids to engage in self care as well? What if we asked them what activities make them feel calm and happy? What if we schedule time for the whole family to engage in self care, individually if that’s what’s needed? Would everyone will learn to respect each other’s needs and boundaries? It might not be easy at first, but it might also be worth a try…
Confessions of a Twin Mom
Confessions of a Twin Mom started out as a column for the Durham Parents of Multiples newsletter. I joined DPOM when I found out I was having twins and found a wonderful group of people. Since I love writing, I began to write some articles for the newsletter and then eventually became the newsletter editor.
One of my articles was picked up by TWINS Magazine which was fantastic. I also wrote my chapter for “Silent Grief, Healing, and Hope” under the “Confessions” banner.
“Confessions” is my way of communicating that motherhood is not what I expected. Sometimes it’s better and sometimes it’s worse. It’s my way of calling it like it is and trying to break down the social-media-perfection barrier. It’s my way of reaching out to say, “I’m not always okay, are you?”
Now I’m writing through this blog. It’s not always going to be about motherhood or twins, but it will be honest. I found that if I talk about what’s going on with me, I find other people who have been through (or are going through) the same thing. You can help them, they can help you, and then you have an open dialogue with someone like-minded.
If nothing else, this blog will maybe make you laugh!