SAD days …

I don’t often talk about this part of my life, in fact rarely if ever. The simple truth is, for me some days are just sad. Seasonal Affective Disorder is the clinical term, but I just call them sad days. – If your not familiar with it, it is in very simple terms a form of depression that surfaces in some people, from lack of sunlight, typically in the Winter months. – I tend to be in the camp of thinking that people now a days are way to quick to give everything a “label”, which is partly why I don’t like talking about it. Many, many people struggle with the Winter blues and I dare say it’s very similar, but SAD has some more physical symptoms that can leave you feeling flu like.

The positive side of having a high functioning form of this, is that I am very good at compartmentalizing it. My husband once joked about how the inside of my brain would just be like rows upon rows of open filing cabinets. Everything has it’s place, but it’s so acceccable that things come out in a seemingly random fashion. The downside is, i hide it so well that it becomes burdensome. Its like the elephant in the room that I don’t want to acknowledge. Unlike others who struggle very deeply with SAD, mine is now mild, and I have become good at recognising the feelings early enough to avoid triggering things through the day. I will get dressed, do my hair, eat a proper meal and put on chipper dance music to help me along. On the outside I really try to put on a happy face, because I know how blessed I am, and forcing myself to find the beauty in the mundane can certainly help.

I’m a mom to three little people, who watch everything I do and depend on me for their own emotional balance. I’m a wife, and my husband counts on me to laugh at his quirky jokes and appreciate his flirtiness when I’m making coffee. I’m needed, and for me that really motivates me to overcome when I really want to give in.

I have struggled with SAD and depression as long as I can remember. In elementary school I was taking personal health days, before that was even a thing. Growing up I was very blessed to have a father who understood exactly what was going on. Although we never formally talked about it, he just seemed to understand – which I would later learn was because he struggled too. I use to call home from school, maybe once a month and ask for him to pick me up because I wasn’t feeling well; and he would come, in his work truck, grab my hand as we started driving as say “are you actually sick, or do you just need a day to yourself?” to me this meant everything! I never felt like I had to hide what I was feeling or lie to him, it made me feel so understood and supported, and I attribute it to my strength today.

This morning after being home for about 20 minutes my husband asked for the third time if everything was okay; and I said honestly babe, I’m okay, everything is fine. The frustrating thing is, I really am fine. I’m okay, and nothing is wrong… It’s just a sad day, and that’s my only explanation. I get dressed, tidy the house, I sing and smile but everything has a blue hue to it. I often get really cold, like the cold in your bones that you just can’t warm up, achy muscles, brain fog, sleepiness, and a general melancholy, on these days. Then just like that, the sun shines, the vale lifts and I feel like I have more energy than I could possible use.

For people who don’t experience this it can be really hard to understand! Just be happy, don’t dwell on negative things, or my favorite, it’s not even a problem some Dr. Just decided to put a name on it… yeah. If it where only that simple.

I am at a very healthy place where I haven’t needed medication to mange my symptoms for many years now, and I am very thankful for that. For those mamas out there though that are on medications, or are struggling on days like today or for months on end; You are not alone!

I know how isolating it can feel when you feel like nobody understands. Can I just let you in on a secret? Parenting is freaking hard! There is no manual, or pdf that downloads to your brain to tell you what to do. Sure there are thousands and thousands of books, but do you seriously have time to read through them and sift through all the conflicting schools of thought. Not likely. If your also the type of highly sensitive person, who will overanalyze every single decision and conversation from the last year, and a year into the future, it just makes it that much harder. See I’m one of those people too. For example, this post, I will probably read 20 times before I post, and 20 times after. I will see who’s seen it, wonder what they thought, wonder if they think less of me, wonder if they will look at me differently, or if I offended them in some way. It’s just the way I’m wired, and if that’s you and you can relate, then please take comfort in knowing you are not crazy, I get it!

This yucky twisted thing, is hard enough on it’s own; Thinking back to the days I would lay paralyzed on the floor from a panic attack 3 hours before going to work, or laying awake the whole night counting down the hours until I had to go back – gosh it’s awful, and once you have kids it only gets harder. I am so thankful for support and prayer. I have come a long long way from those laying on the floor days, and by God’s grace the worst days for me usually only involve a few pointless tears in the shower.

So there it is layed bare, something about me that most people would never know.

My takeaway is this:

Dear mom,

If this is you, if you have sad days. I get it. You are not alone. I know how precious your sweet babies are, and I know the guilt you feel for having these days. I know your exhausted, overwhelmed, and feeling like you could never be good enough. I know you feel like you have no right to complain, no right to be tired, no right to be sad, because outwordly there is no reason. But, I also know inside you are battling a storm that you feel like other people can’t understand, you feel crazy and hormonal, and like you are broken. But you are not broken. You are not damaged. Your journey is different, your path has a few more hills and valleys. But mama, you are strong. You are passionate, and you love fiercely and with all your heart, and that is not a fault. That is beautiful. You are beautiful. And the fog will lift ❀

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).

Advertisements

The struggle we don’t want to talk about.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend on the topic of anger and impatience in respect To motherhood.

To be honest it took me largely by surprise when she said ” I really struggle with patience”. Outwardly this woman is a saint as far as I’m concerned, I just could never picture her getting angry ever! Through the conversation though we named a few other ladies who have mentioned this struggled in the past, and it became pretty apparent that this is not a small issue. This is not something that a small few of us struggle with. The issue of anger and frustration as mothers I dare to say is far larger than most would imagine, and it’s just not talked about.

I mean I get it! No one wants to display a banner that says ” I struggle with anger and impatience; and my kids can make me so angry I just want to slam the door and scream into a pillow”… but isn’t that the reality so many days? I think much of the shame that comes from this issue is that it’s simply not talked about enough. So let’s open that discussion up a bit. Can I admit something to you? I struggle, some days deeply, with feelings of anger, closely followed by feelings of guilt for feeling angry in the first place.

When my toddler refuses to eat the food I spent an hour making specifically because she asked me to make it. That frustrates me. When I ask my child to pretty please with sprinkles on top pick up your shoe and put it in the entrance for the hundredth time, and they cross their arms, and stomp their foot, and say no. That makes me angry. When I’ve been in the nursery every 40 minutes for the last 8 hours and my baby claws at my skin, pulls my hair and screams at me to feed her again, I feel agonisingly frustrated and yes, angry.

** Now, before I go on I feel like this is an appropriate time to say. There is absolutely no situation ever where I think it is okay to harm your child in any way small or big ever, because of your anger. That is not what I’m talking about here! And if you find yourself in this position, you need to reach out for help. **

What I mean, is that blood boiling, lump in your throat, flighty feeling you get when you just want to cry and yell, and well, throw a tantrum.

Becoming a mom is a huge change. It is 24/7 meeting needs big and small. It is answering why a hundred times a day. It is arguing with your child about why they can’t wear a dress outside in the snow, and fishing entire rolls of toilet paper out of the toilet. It is being told no, over and over again, and desperately trying to reason with tiny humans who just feel the need to fight with you about every single request.

I love my children. They are precious gifts from God and I am so thankful for every second I get with them. They sure know how to push my buttons though! It seems like the days I plan the most fun activity is the day that it just all goes to poop. The most resistance, the most fights, and ugly attitudes.

Do you ever just get to that point when you feel so frustrated that you just can’t speak anymore. You can feel everything just shut down and you give up. “Fine if you want to trash the living room go for it, I don’t even care.” ,”You want to wear your winter boots in thirty degree (C) weather? Guess you’ll learn the hard way”. Feeling out of control of the situation can feel so helpless, especially when your suppose to be the one who has it all together.

I truthfully don’t have a whole lot of advice for you, because I’m still very much learning myself; But I can give you a couple tips that have helped me, and would welcome any others you may have!

  • My first and foremost weapon is prayer. Goodness do I pray for patience! Especially if I know it’s going to be a rushed day, or higher stress in any way, just take a moment and ask God to help you be patient and to give you strength in the moment.
  • Second I would say, learn your triggers. Do you feel yourself spiral 10 minutes before you need to leave, worrying your going to be late? Then give yourself time – I know how precious those 10 extra pillow minutes are trust me! But if you are running late, you’ll find yourself barking at your kids before an issue has even begun. If you need to be out the door by 9, your new time is 8:50, that way if your kids spend 5 minutes picking out the right pair of shoes, you can breath a little bit and just go with it.
  • A life saver for me was the two option rule with my strong willed toddler. Two options, same outcome – So she feels like she has control over the situation and the end result is the desired result. For example, “Hey liv, we’re leaving in 10 minutes so we need to get our shoes on. Would you like to put them on yourself, or would you like mommy to help?” Or “Mommy made spaghetti for supper, would you like a blue bowl or a purple one?”. Sometimes you’ll get a flat our refusal to cooperate even with options, but this has difussed many situations for me.
  • My last tidbit would be to pick your battles. Seriously though! You need to figure out what is a big deal for you and what you will let slide. For me and my daughter I had to let go of the clothes issue. So long as it’s weather appropriate I don’t care what it looks like or if it matches – If she wants to wear a tutu with pj pants and cowboy boots to Wal-Mart, so be it. Absolutely there are many battles worth picking, but there are also many that aren’t, and what those battles are for you will be different for every family.

Above all I want to say. If you are a mom of little people and you find yourself struggling, there is nothing wrong with you! You are a good mom, you are doing your best, and you are only human. Before kids I honestly thought I was the most patient person: go with the flow, laid back, not easily triggered, and man did that change quickly! But I’ve also learned that over time you start to adapt. You learn about yourself more and more – what frustrates you, what your triggers are, and how to deal in healthy ways.

If you find yourself yelling when you shouldn’t have, or snapping in frustration; Try looking into those sweet little eyes and saying “hunny I’m sorry, mommy shouldn’t have yelled. I was feeling frustrated, I love you. Will you forgive me?” These moments can be great teaching and bonding moments. Admitting that you where wrong can be hard, but there is such freedom in humility and forgiveness. Luckily our sweet little people are generally quick to forgive and it opens a great dialogue on feelings and actions.

So take a deep breath, maybe grab some books or podcasts on the subjects you struggle with and give yourself a break mama! Being a mom is a hard job, and tiny humans are not exactly known for their calm and rational demeanour. What your feeling inside does not make you a monster, it makes you a human. From my trench to yours ❀

Pouring from an Empty Cup

We’ve all heard the sayings: You can’t pour from an empty cup and, remember to take care of yourself. As a busy mom though, it can be hard to recognise the signs of burn out, and easy to chalk it up to normal.

The beginning of 2018 was hard! I tend to get a mild case of the winter blues most years, so coupled with overwhelmed and exhausted, I was feeling pretty numb. My youngest spent 3 weeks waking every 30-50 minutes through the night. Then came the influenza which simultaneously took down the toddlers and I before making its way to the baby; And to cap it all off, the baby then refused to nap without a boob in her mouth at all times for the following few weeks. This would have been tricky even without two other little people in the house, but man oh man the level of destruction that can occur when mommy is busy for a hour upstairs… diabolical.

For 2 weeks I thought maybe I was still just recovering from the flu. Unmotivated, exhausted, eyes glazed over, doing the bear minimum on auto pilot; but then something else happened. I began to question everything I was doing, and not doing. I spiraled into a full blown identity crisis and was filled with feelings of uncertainty, resentment, doubt, sadness, loneliness, and confusion. I didn’t want to eat, exercise, or parent, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep forever.

What am I even doing? What’s the point? Why does my husband get to go to a job he loves and I’m stuck wiping poop off the floor and being yelled at all day? Why does nothing I do feel appreciated? I feel like I’m not contributing to this family. I’m just dead weight. Why is it that no matter how hard I try the house is always a mess? I’m not good enough. I feel like I’m drowning…

Have you ever felt like that? I was on the verge of signing up for a 40+ hour a week online BHSc course, because I felt I was just completely failing at motherhood and I needed something else to feel successful at. I needed something just for me, even if it added 5 levels of crazy to the chaos. What I didn’t realise though, is that all of those things I was feeling was because I was just so burnt out. There was nothing rational about those thoughts, nor was there any truth to them!

Back in the fall of 2017 we had planned a trip away for the National Farm Convention and the Corvette Museum in Kentucky. Now if I’m being honest farm shows aren’t really my thing, but time away with hubby totally is my thing, regardless of the destination. I left feeling the way I had described above; but little did I know the effect a few days to myself would have. In the previous few weeks I had really stopped enjoying my children. I loved them, absolutely, but the constant fighting, tantrums, attitudes and not listening had worn me right down. It felt like as soon as I turned around there was another issue to deal with, and while I was dealing with that issue, the next one was already starting. I felt breathless and unable to keep up.

The trip was great, lots of walking and about 20 hours of driving, but nothing that really demanded my attention. Baby girl came with us, but hubby was a huge help with her, and going from 3 kids to 1 was a breeze. The hotels had beautiful pools and hot tubs, and I wasn’t required to make a single meal. I knew it would be nice to get away, but I had no idea how much I needed it! It was like a huge reset button, and it happened completely to my surprise. I started to see those thoughts for what they where, lies. Of course I’m needed, of course my job is important, and you know what, I really do love it. The burn out goggles had dragged me down a negative path, and the more I allowed that negativity into my life, the more it was effecting our whole family.

Hearing the kids in the morning, knowing I had to get out of bed started the ball rolling; “Why are you guys being so loud!?” , “Why is your room a mess?” , “Why did you ask for cereal if you didn’t want it!?” , “Why are you constantly fighting with me!”… It became a snowball rolling down hill and my poor kids really didn’t stand a chance. Of course they where a mess, because I was a mess. I had become a pouty, woe is me, life is so hard person and that’s exactly how they acted too.

Walking in the door from our trip was such a difference from when we left. Immediately my kids started with their 100 stories, and questions. The bickering resumed and being passed their bed time caused some pretty big emotions and confusion for them; but my attitude had changed. I didn’t feel overwhelmed. The questions and the tears didn’t make me want to cry. I felt empathy and understanding. I snuggled them and talked through how they where feeling and why. I was able to be rational and calm for them when it was outside of their understanding. I felt in control of the situation and man did that feel good!

So what are the actual signs of burn out?

  • Chronic fatigue -feeling tired all the time
  • Insomnia.
  • Forgetfulness/impaired concentration and attention.
  • Physical symptoms -headaches, irritability, general body aches and pains, decreased sex drive
  • Increased illness.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Anger.

I wanted to share this with you because it’s easy to chalk this up to normal mom feelings. Being a mom is hard absolutely, but if you are getting to that level of burn out, you need to take a break! Not only for yourself but for everyone around you. It doesn’t need to be long or expensive; A couple nights away even somewhere local – A place that has amenities you enjoy, a pool or hot tub, a nearby theater or bowling alley – can do wonders for you!

From one mom to another, ask for help! You do not need to be super mom, and if you feel like you are drowning, especially for weeks at a time that is a pretty huge sign that you need a break. I know we want to feel like we can do it all, but it really does take a village.

Take care of yourselves mamas, your health is just as important as your little ones, and you need to recognize when your body is screaming for help. From my trench to yours πŸ’—

………………………………………………………

Symptom list from “https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-burnout-do-you-have-them”

Life in chaos

I read an interesting article today and it really got me thinking. The article talked about how among surveyed women, they found that for a majority, three children was the biggest challenge and then it seemed to get easier with subsequent babies. Now everyone is different; I have friends who transitioned beautifully to three and had a harder time with four, and so on. For me though, three is absolute craziness.

Two kids; two parents, two arms to hold, two baskets in a shopping cart, two to entertain one another. Family passes include two children, most cars fit two standard car seats, I feel like our Canadian society is just designed to accommodate 2 kids well. Then enters baby number three. Grocery shopping now requires putting on a baby carrier under your coat and, somehow maneuvering a 50lb bag of dog food into your cart while a baby is strapped to your chest. Also, buying the $400 European car seat so you can actually fit 3 across, or upgrading to a larger vehicle.

I remember those days when I could snuggle on the couch, a baby on each side, with snacks and a movie… Yeah, those days don’t happen anymore, (and if they do for you then we need to chat!) because if I where stop doing housework long enough to watch a movie… Anarchy. Total and complete destruction, everywhere. I’m actually not even sure how it happens, but somehow two small people can spin an entire house into chaos before your even done feeding the baby πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Speaking of feeding… putting a baby to sleep with a 2.5 and 4 yr old at home has to be the ultimate patience tester. My kids have 2 modes: Trying to slap each other to death with spatulas, or cheering each other on when they go to the bathroom, and there’s really no in between. There is either screaming and growling (yes, my child growls), or screaming and laughter – and when your upstairs trying to put a baby to sleep it can be really hard to figure out which category all the screaming and door slamming falls into. So I sit, I listen, and I quietly pray that the screaming doesn’t come close enough to wake up the baby… again πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Then there’s the whole issue of self care – I mean I try, but if I fit in 3 showers a week, I’m feeling pretty on top of things. Don’t even get me started on actually styling my hair or doing my make up. It’s not that I’ve “let myself go”, or that it doesn’t bother me, because it truly does – but I’ve had to really narrow down my priorities and unfortunately looking Vogue ready each day just doesn’t fit in there.

So for me the article was so relatable! Three kids is totally crazy town, but gosh I love them! It’s true, I feel like I’m living in a zoo, and most days I feel more crazy than the day before, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for any kind of life without them.

And if you find yourself in the three kid category, feeling just a little crazy town, I’m right there with you mama! I also highly recommend the book: Loving the little years: Motherhood in the trenches By Rachel Jancovic. It’s a hilariously relatable read that will make you feel a little less alone and help you to laugh it off.

This is an affiliate link and as such the following disclosure statement must be viewed. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Women are amazing!

Obviously… but today as I attended the very special birth of my sister’s baby, I was just so amazed and awestruck. Now, I’ve had 3 babies of my own, I’ve been on that bed, I’ve screamed and cried and wished I could just blackout from the pain – but seeing it from the other side is just… wow. Indescribable.

Now I need to give credit where credit is due, my sister is a superhero, like she is Wonder Woman’s #goals. She trooped through an entirely natural labor and birth, all the while tied to monitors, on the bed, and vomiting blood. I’m am totally fan girling over her amazing strength.

Our bodies are so amazing though. The miracle, and delicate, precious nature of conception, pregnancy, and then birth. The beauty of life in your body, forming, developing; Every organ, every tiny feature, every single strand of hair, knit together to absolute perfection, inside our bodies. (Have you ever been amazed by the fact that parent A with one exact DNA strand, and parent B with another exact DNA strand can make so many different combinations of children?)

Then, after almost 10 months, for reasons we still don’t fully understand, baby is ready to be born, on their own time. A hormonal exchange happens, and your body and your baby start to work together in harmony to bring this life into the world. All of the muscles, and hormones work together and, even if you’ve never delivered a baby, your body just knows what to do and in most cases does it flawlessly (of course there are cases when it doesn’t, but generally speaking).

I am just so honoured to have been part of this beautiful birth. Not only was it special because it was my sister, but also my previous midwife, and my sisters doula who just so happens to be one of my best friends. It was just such an amazing little family of women loving on, supporting, and bringing new life into the World.

I love you Ash, and Peyton is just perfect. I’m the proudest Aunty 😚

When did it happen?

This week has caused me to reflect a lot about a few things. It was very unintentional how this all came about, but never theless it seemed to all tie together under the theme of – When did it happen?

After a few extraordinarily difficult weeks with our youngest I was feeling many things, but above all exhausted. Between screaming, hair pulling, and inconsolable cries I found myself frantically cleaning, in my attempt to bring some semblance of order to the house. However, in the process two very important people in my life got tossed aside. In the chaos of the new baby duties, I have never felt so distant from my toddlers, and I’m not sure, if it werent for my eldest I would have even noticed. After a full week of attitude and defiance from her, I found myself trying to figure out where in the world all this anger and aggression was coming from – and when I realised what was going on, it left me a little gutted.

Dozens of times last week, she had asked me to snuggle with her, to read her a book, to come see what she was doing, to practice her school work – and every time I had brushed her off. After all she’s my big girl; my strong, smart, independent girl. Surley she can see how busy I am right? My realization came durring a hilarious overtired conversation I was having with her when I said ” Olivia do you think I want to be cleaning instead of spending time with you? Of course not! But you guys just keep making messes and I can’t sit for two seconds without something falling apart somewhere!”… wow mama, hold on a minute. Did I just blame my 3 year old for not keeping the house clean and not understanding why I was stressed out? Yeah, I kind of did :/

So when did it happen? When did a clean counter and coffee table become more important that my time? When did the mess of building a fort become more important than how many couch cushions and blankets you could fit inside? When did painting and crafts become a cause for anxiety? Now obviously there are seasons in life where we are busier than others, and we definitely need to have clean clothes and dishes, I’m not saying that. What I am saying though, is I don’t want those things to become so important that when my kids look back on their childhood all they remember is that I was a good mommy who always kept a clean house and took care of them. I want them to look back and remember, mom use to build the best forts! We would spend hours in there reading and singing, and sometimes we would all sit at the table painting crazy pictures and making playdough monsters. The house may not always be tidy, but does it really have to be? 

This time we get with our little people is so fleeting, and precious – My resolution this year is to be more present and available to them, to look at life from their perspective and live accordinly. So this morning we built the fort. We read the books. I took Liv with me on a special date to the mall and let her pick out some things from my list. We had popcorn and donuts, and made special memories – and it’s been the best day in a long time πŸ™„

Noodles, and zoodles, and coodles, oh my!Β 

….Or rainbow noodles for short πŸ˜‰ This is another one of my favorite recipes because it’s super simple and gets my kids to actually eat veggies unknowingly and without complaint.

You will need a veggie spiralizer for this one. I picked one up from Amazon for less than $20, and I honestly use it all the time! So without any further explanation, I give you “Rainbow Noodles”

Ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 baby zucchini
  • 1-2 servings of pasta noodles
  • 1 large sweet pepper
  • 1 C mushrooms
  • 1 Jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lb hamburger
  • Seasonings of your choice

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil
  2. Spiralize your zucchini and carrot into thin noodles, and chop the sweet pepper.
  3. Put your pasta noodles in the boiling water first and set the timer based on the packages instructions. When there are 4 minutes left on the timer add in the carrot noodles. When there are 3 minutes left add in the zucchini noodles.Β 
  4. Strain and set aside.
  5. Cook the hamburger, adding in the mushrooms and peppers about half way. Season to your liking – I used a bacon chipotle seasoning, onion and garlic.
  6. Add the noodles and sauce, mix well, and simmer.
  7. Β Enjoy! πŸ™‚