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Category: Being a Mom

Motherhood Uncensored

Motherhood Uncensored

Written on the ink pad app on my phone, while waiting for the doctor. All that’s been changed are spelling errors. It’s time to say what I need to say.

tired mother

It’s not a fight I wanted to get into. I didn’t want to gear up for more trouble, problems, and issues. Yet somehow I am.

We can say we want healthy children, normalcy, and a happy life. Smart, productive children, good in school and we’ll raise them to be self-sufficient, and confident.

Looking back on the carefully formulated plan, I offer a snort of derision. It’s complete and total bullshit. Because sometimes life just doesn’t cooperate.

After 2 1/2 years of infertility, and a miserable pregnancy, I gave birth to twins. It should have been joyous, it should have been my reward for the struggle of trying to get pregnant. It was bittersweet. It was a nightmare. ‘Now what’, I asked myself when baby A was born with a terminal illness. With one healthy baby and one not, I entered into motherhood under the worst conditions you could imagine.

There’s no worrying about raising confident girls, there’s only the daily struggle of keeping a child alive, of rotating nurses, doctor’s orders, do not resuscitate orders and hospice care.

When a child dies, you have 2 choices, step on the new path with your new life and the knowledge of what it is to bury an 11 month old baby, or you can lay down and die. I still had a baby to care for.

As I raised my twin less twin, I did it wracked with guilt. Did I do enough can I be enough?

I still couldn’t follow the plan because that second child had her own battle. Another fight, more advocating for my child. Debilitating anxiety, ADHD. Having to hold the hand of a child old enough to do for herself, fearful that adulthood, which one day will come, will render her incapable. A constant battle to raise her to support herself, handle a job interview, live on her own.

It’s not the usual and its exhausting, stressful and makes me numb. Joy is lost because the little things are big things and there are always issues.

My youngest daughter was my easy, happy-go-lucky kid. The one who found joy in everything. The cool kid who listened to 80s music on a record player, loved comic con, and simply allowed normalcy. Until it wasn’t normal anymore.

She came out as lesbian at 13. I told her I love her, it will be fine. If only that was the end.

There was pain behind those eyes, masked by a laugh. When you fly out of work one day because the nurse calls to tell you your daughter wants to commit suicide. The pain was there and she hides it well. The cutting up and down both arms is hidden by long sleeve sweatshirts in the middle of November. Depression drugs and outpatient programs are arranged and decided.

The storm at some point had to end.

oceanOr so we think. I’m so tired of the battles. I’m so tired of the doctors, the pills, the planning. It keeps me up at night because someone has to control it. That is me…mom.

It’s not over. It hasn’t really started. This newest battle I’m just embarking on. The one that my daughter feels, she was a boy all along.

I will never understand. All my weary brain sees is another problem. Another battle, this one, I dread. I know what’s coming and it isn’t easy.

Transgender. My kid. My world, as it implodes in on itself, I struggle to stand, to understand, to keep walking forward to the end of another tunnel.

It’s not about me, it’s never been about me and yet it is always me. What I wouldn’t give to simply raise my kids to be strong individuals, confident and happy.

Funny how somewhere in the midst of all of it, they finally are.

 

 

The Days are Long, but…

The Days are Long, but…

“The days are long, but the years are short” – Gretchen Rubin author of the Happiness Project

There is no other sentiment that I find more true than this. We see it as we look back at our lives, periods of time that while we live through them seem to linger if we’re lucky or we trudge on through them only waiting for the end to finally reveal itself.

My life moves by in periods of sadness or happiness, because I’ve lived through more things than anyone should have to. College graduation, the birth of my children, finishing my first book; or through a lengthy, difficult pregnancy, the death of a child, post partum depression, a children with issues not of the norm. They can be difficult pits of despair or the highs that give us a reason to keep trying.

Time. It moves quickly and it’s slippery, like trying to hold water in our hands. We can’t contain it or control it. And the older we get the faster is seems to move. And for me at this moment, after the good and the bad, it moves so quickly I wish I could stop the rotation of the earth so that I can take a breath. Breathe and feel instead of constantly fighting for something.

I work almost everyday to write my books. It’s a long process, a difficult process for me. And as I realize that it’s been five years since I wrote The Day of First Sun, I should be proud and happy. Instead, time chases me. I’ve come no farther than those first days, finding myself at the beginning, no closer to my goals. And time, it teases me, suffocates me and reminds me that I can’t beat it, I can’t win against it. Time will always keep marching.

And I will keep marching, stepping to the rhythm of time and become one with it, not rub against it. I still have my goals and I still shoot for that end, to support myself as a published author. The goal hasn’t changed, it just feels more intense, more urgent.

Time will always move forward, but I won’t let it beat me.

 

 

 

Becoming Lola – Girls Weekend

Becoming Lola – Girls Weekend

We all need time away, time to process or not to not process, to unplug, unwind and hang with someone who totally gets you.

For my birthday, I loaded up the car, because I always over pack and headed to Holland, Michigan with my friend Marilyn. It was the perfect place to all of the above, and only three hours from home with just enough to keep us busy or not, for four days.

The location was beautiful, along Lake Michigan, with cute little towns, lots of great shopping, outside cafe’s along the lake, a great hiking dune, with a 239 step climb and a two-mile trail. And we did it all in my convertible. What’s not to like?

It was the perfect weekend with a great traveling companion. But for me it was something a little more. I’ve been making the most of my summer off from work, partially because I can’t find another job, partially because there’s so many things for me to catch up on and frankly, I’d rather be writing books for a living than anything else. But a weekend away, with a good friend, no kids, no husband, was what I needed. Time to just be me. Not mom, not wife, not pack mule. Just Sheryl.

I’ve been on a journey of sorts, one in which I’ve been taking myself out of my comfort zone, doing things that stress me out a little and it all started with the re-writing of my first book The Day of First Sun. In the five years since I wrote that book, I’ve evolved. I can tell because my evolution is reflected in Annie Pearce journey. She started out, maybe tough as nails, finding it difficult to let someone in and now she’s a loving, confident woman who sometimes isn’t. She changes and grows and is a far more complete character as she discovers who she is. Much like me, like the journey I’ve been on as I try new things, discover who I am and what I want my life to be.

For the first time since I lost my daughter to an undiagnosed neural muscular disease, I finally feel unstuck and in a place where I’m moving forward, and not standing still in the muck. Becoming Lola, my way of shaking myself up and moving out of a comfort zone has been an eye opener. Where once I thought incapable of doing the simplest things I now realize that when my car overheats three hours from home, I’m more than able to buy and use the antifreeze, let alone simply driving there in the first place.

Fear is paralyzing, and it’s in the relearning to do the simplest things, we realize that writing that book is really not so hard. Only the first step is.

For my first steps, check out Introvert to Sales Goddess on Amazon.com

In Honor of Nurses

In Honor of Nurses

It’s Nurse Appreciation Week and I’ve been re-tweeting and sharing statements on Facebook and Twitter about how much nurses are super heroes. So I decided to share my personal experience with nurses and why they’re not just empty shares and tweets.

On April 24, 1998 at 10:11 and 10:13 pm I gave birth to two beautiful little girls. My daughter Stephanie was born first, and after fertility issues, a miserable pregnancy and a long labor, Stephanie was delivered. And when my daughter didn’t move or make a sound, my first thought was, “Now What?”

Kayla came into the world two minutes later crying and screaming, healthy and alive. Stephanie, fragile with an unknown disorder, was transferred to a neo natal unit at a different hospital as the doctors and nurses did all they could to keep my daughter alive, where she lived the first three months of her life.

It was heartbreaking, bittersweet and I was scared. And every time I went to the hospital, it was awful, watching the monitors drop and beep and not understand at that time that what was happening.

Unsure and tentative, I remember one day talking to my baby over her crib, she looking up at me best she could as her muscles degenerated, becoming weaker. The nurse saw my apprehension to pick up my child, came over and lifted Stephanie’s head and in a tiny voice, the nurse spoke for my daughter and said, “But mommy, I’m only a baby.”

I will never forget that turning point moment when I realized I could do this. I could care for my child. With the nurses support, I learned the medical and that she was a baby and holding her, kissing her and cuddling, might not be as easy but it was doable and necessary.

I have stories, so many of them; the time the nurse encouraged me to record my voice for my daughter while she was at the hospital, or the nurse who helped me make calls to find my daughter a car seat because there were none that a child could lie down in, or the pediatric hospice nurse, who listened to things I couldn’t tell another soul but that I needed to say to someone, only she understood, who also came to the house when my daughter died even though we no longer had hospice care.

They are angels on earth, give of themselves, supportive to families in the confusing, frustrating world of medicine. I will never forget and I owe them a great deal of gratitude. Thank you to the nurses who are on the front lines. We families in our time of need appreciate the love, care and support you give.

Becoming Lola – Day 1

Becoming Lola – Day 1

It’s time I reinvent myself. I’m thinking of dyeing my hair orange and calling myself Lola. (Nov 24, 2014)

The last six months have been some of the worst both personally and professionally. I’m sorry if I haven’t been happy for some of you in your successes or supportive of some of you when you’ve been at your worst. And as I try to figure out whereto go from here, I had a very weird epiphany in the shower this morning. Day one starts today… (Feb 28, 2015)

This is what the world sees of me on the outside. Put together, shiny, okay. But after the last six months, after the last sixteen in a half years of raising children, that’s not me. As my life on the outside seems rather normal and put together, on the inside it’s chaotic and I feel like I’m constantly living on the edge of the storm being sucked in at regular intervals.


This is me. Everything gets shoved into a disorganized mess, because I can’t keep up. My closets are the same way. Everything gets tossed aside, forgotten. Messy piles of disorganization.

This website is much like my life. I started three years ago to become an expert in fantasy and science fiction to coordinate with the sale of my first book The Day of First Sun. But as I struggled with the book and a job I didn’t like, I wrote a book about the struggles of being an introvert trying to sell sponsorships. My focus on the website has been about that. And now my website is a bit schizophrenic and doesn’t know what it is. Much like me. I wish sometimes the world would stop and give me 24 hours just so I can sort through everything, clean it up and try to fix the ills.

frustrationMy children both have issues that need attention and because of that our family is scattered, fighting to stay above water, mostly alone. While I wallow in all of this mess, an epiphany hit me in the shower.  More of a plan. I decided I would seek out experiences. Some outside my comfort zone, and others, just to try something new.

Today is day one. With the stress of a depressed child and one with debilitating anxiety, I’ve gained some weight. Not much but enough to no longer fit into my clothes. I’ve lost muscle mass, my lower back and stomach hurt. Day one is a restart of the plan that I currently live daily, though I’ve gotten lazy and cheat too much, because I’m a stress eater. This time I’m determined to follow the plan with more dedication and less cheating. Body for Life has been my go to for years. When I follow it, I’m stronger, healthier and happier. And today is killing me as I retrain my brain to eat what I’m supposed when I should be eating it. I’ll cheat on my cheat day next Saturday. I can hardly wait. So the point of day one is, before I can fix the rest of my life, I fix this.

I share because someone else might benefit, someone else might realize they’re not alone and that some times is helpful. I’m finding my voice but not letting these issues hold me back any longer. I have a plan. I’ll be learning new things, going outside my comfort zone. Though I don’t plan on running a marathon or climbing Mt. Everest, I will try to train for a 5 K (as long as my back holds out) and I desperately want to take lessons at the American Ninja Warrior Gym I found on-line. Yeah, I’m a fan. Some like reality television, I like me some obstacle courses.

There’s more on my list that I’m keeping a secret. But I promise I’ll share. I also promise that I’ll take into consideration any suggestions as long as they don’t involve deep water. I’m terrified and trust me I’ve tried to overcome that. Or anything that could endanger my back, because I lifted my yoga mat funny and was in pain for three weeks.

Some adventures I’ll share with my kids others will be solely my own. In the end, I hope I come out of the stress and anxiety with a greater sense of who I am. Less chaotic, with a greater ability to help my kids, and a plan on how to achieve the dream I’ve had since I was seven, being a writer. Wish me luck!

The Mother Load

The Mother Load

I spent the last day of 2014 and the first two days of 2015 crying. Partially because I dislike my job and would prefer be doing anything other than what I am doing, but mostly because I’m emotionally exhausted.

There is this idea that the new year is a great time to reflect and resolve to change something, improve on ourselves. I don’t necessarily make new year’s resolutions, but this year, the bad stuff that I endured during 2014, hit me hard and left me feeling as though I had just flown into a brick wall.

I’m no stranger to bad things. I gave birth to twins 16 1/2 years ago after enduring fertility issues and a bad pregnancy. one twin, was born with a neuromuscular disorder that claimed her life at 11 months old. I thought after the stress of caring for a terminally ill child and the pain of watching her die was my stumbling block, my brick wall, my pain that I would move on from and live my life.

But life is chaos and you can’t necessarily be certain that you only have one hell to live through. As it turns out, I was still to live through post partum depression and to come out it to endure with my second daughter debilitating anxiety.  Light breezes to stormy winds, had her hiding in the basement. She spent time with the social worker, a therapist and a psychologist all in the hopes of helping her come out into the open. It was hard, being present for the temper tantrum at the zoo, people watching my 10 year old child screaming because the wind was too much. It’s hard planning for the future when she choses not to live it thinking we’ll take care of her long past becoming an adult and having to teach her everything so she can deal with her future.

And when we finally came near the light at the end of the struggle, hell opened up once more. The youngest child, the one that found the joy in life, the one that was the happiest, tried everything and enjoyed herself, was depressed. Not the blues, not situational, but seriously depressed. She was going through something more than the average teenager as she navigated her world and came to conclusions about who she was. We all have those moments and most of us scrape by and move on, but when the pain is so overwhelming you need help through it, whether it be alcohol, drugs or in her case, self injury, it more than just average.

It’s the process of doctors and drugs and therapy. I’ve done it all before, but this time, it was protecting my teenager from herself, trying to keep her healthy and not trusting her with her own safety. It’s beyond stressful, and it’s exhausting.

I know I’m not alone in this journey. I’ve met several other parents through our work with the outpatient program who are living the same nightmare as me. And with every  hell I’ve found myself in, I move through it by taking one step at a time, baby steps. As long as I’m moving forward, I will eventually come to that light.

But this new year was almost too much to handle. To much sadness and too much feeling as though I’ve failed my kids somehow. Did I not read to them enough, was I too lenient? Too much feeling that I’m inadequate and not qualified. And after having my temper tantrums the ones that I so needed because I have never given in to them before, I realized it was time to really take stock of my life and see what it was all about.

I’m always five minutes away from shutting down my website, closing the Twitter account and removing my author page on Facebook. I almost decided to delete my novels from computer or at the very least store them elsewhere. Because the realization that I’m not good at any of this or not even a good writer hit me as did everything else.

And as I thought seriously about everything, I decided quitting wasn’t in my nature. Not this time. I can’t quit on the kids as much as I can’t quit on myself. Writing and creating is who I am, and at least with that, the writing is my therapy.

I can only hope that 2015 is a better year. That my kids grow into healthy young adults and that I no longer grimace as I hold back the tears. Maybe this is the year that I have a truly publishable book that I can proudly sell and that I start winning a few.

There’s only quitting or there’s pushing through whether we obtain our goals or not. We have one life and we need to do the best that we can with it.

There’s no woe is me and I expect no pity, only understanding that right now, it’s hard and I’m entitled to an occasional moment of doubt and the inevitable breakdown.

With everything, I find the positive. And I expect that 2015 will be better.

 

Depression

Depression

depression_3You either know what if feels like or you’ve been lucky enough to weather life’s storms without that intense pain and sadness that sometimes grips us during those dark times.

As an onlooker watching a loved one live through depression it’s not for you to understand what it is to be depressed or what it feels like to breathe underwater, scream in whispers muffled by the weight of the water. Its not your job to fix it. It’s for you to offer unconditional love and support, not give suggestions or answers. Depression isn’t black or white. It’s a light gray, dark gray and every shade of gray in between, and there is no one single answer that can make it go away.

There is a standard of care, between drugs and therapy that can be applied but no matter how good that medicine or therapy is, depression just doesn’t go away. There is always an underlying cause of the pain. Only time and therapy will ease the pain. The medicine, it can only ease so much.

We don’t chose to be depressed, we can’t just get happy, like we can’t change our eye color or change our sexual orientation. Some things we are just born with. And sometimes we’re born with a chemical imbalance that tugs us in opposite directions. It feels like a violent storm, like we’re falling and flaying and grasping for something. And you can’t pick yourself up because you’re paralyzed by fear or overwhelmed by feelings you can’t understand.

Sometimes you dull that pain, hide in the shadows, masking those feelings with drugs, alcohol or self injury. But the pain is only knocked out for a brief moment. It will always come back.

I’ve been depressed before and I understand that turbulent storm, the pictures that flash in your head because it can’t slow down, it can’t relax, it can’t heal. But this time, I’m on the outside looking in. I’m forced to relive my struggle as I offer unconditional love and support. And my heart breaks because there is nothing I can do to ease the pain for someone else.

If this is you seek help. Start with your doctor. If it’s your child start with their pediatrician. There is help.

Web MD

 

depression

Hair Says What Now??? And the Stupid Who Can’t Shut Up About It

Hair Says What Now??? And the Stupid Who Can’t Shut Up About It

hairPerusing the internet the other day I found a blog from a mother whose son chose to wear his hair long. He like it long and was owning the look. Now long hair on boys and men really isn’t such a big deal now a days, but for this mom, it was. It wasn’t because she wanted her son to have short hair and be something he wasn’t but she didn’t like the reaction of those around him, to his long hair. She complained that he was constantly called she or her and she was tired of strangers telling mom that she had three beautiful daughters. Yes she had two beautiful daughters and one handsome son.

I know exactly what that mom was going through. I have a beautiful, smart, athletic and funny daughter who from the very beginning was nothing but a tom boy and has spent most of her 14 years, trying to figure out who she is. Until she was five she wore clothes from the boy’s section. At 3 she wanted her hair short like a boy. I was hesitant because she dressed like a boy and I didn’t want confusion for her or others. We made a compromise of sorts and the hairdresser did a great job giving her a cut that was short but kept her looking like a girl. She was thrilled. But eventually kids change their minds and she began growing out the once adorable cut. Still wearing boy clothes as her hair grew out, she oftentimes would be called he, him or my son. It would anger me and as she got older it bothered her.

She knows she’s a girl, but she’s not like the other girls. She doesn’t like pink or princesses. But she loved the Twilight books and she loves to hunt, wear perfume and makeup. If my daughter could, she’d live in basketball shorts but on that rare occasion that she has to dress up she doesn’t stop and slacks and a blouse. She goes all out strapless party dress with converse gym shoes. My daughter is just who she is but she hasn’t found her place in society or even in her circle of friends.

Who she is, is a unique kid who knows what she likes but surrounded by crazy, stupid, hormonal teenagers, she gets picked on and bullied, something I wasn’t completely aware of until I let her get a short hair cut. I convinced her to not go crazy and get that short spiked do’ but a very cute Anne Hathaway at the Oscars hair style. My daughter was adorable, one of great faces for short hair. I loved it, she loved it and felt very comfortable in her own skin. But her boyfriend at the time, granted they were 11, broke up with her, she was called a lesbian and teased about an awful hair cut.

My heart breaks for my daughter who so desperately wants to fit in but has her own style that makes her not quite fit in. I gave her a choice. You take responsibility for your look and ignore the stupid around you or you find a way to fit in that makes you comfortable and allows you to be you. She chose the latter because she’s not quite confident enough to own her look yet. I’ve worked with her on crafting a style that allows her to fit in and yet honor her style. Ripped blue jeans, rock and roll t-shirts from the girls section because their cut closer to the body and teal converse shoes, allow her to be her and yet, be a girl too. I’m willing to let her experiment with her style, her hair, her make up but not her hair length.  Because after all she went through and after growing her hair out she now wants it short again. I feel bad but I told her no. Not because I don’t want her to be herself but because I’m worried about the stupid that surrounds her.

Hair is so much of who we are, it’s the first thing people notice about us and they can perceive so much about who we are whether its correct or not. I promised my daughter that she could cut off her once blonde hair and cut it short but only when those around her are mature enough to not open their mouths. But then again, my daughter is 14 and has changed her mind again, she wants long extensions.

We can only do our best with our children as we navigate the ups and downs of raising them. I hope that someday my daughter will have a better sense of herself and trust that those around her will like her for who she is and not what she wears or by the length of her hair.

 

 

The Daughter’s Almost Fixed

The Daughter’s Almost Fixed

We tried a new therapy for our daughter. Exposing her to the everyday experiencing that most of us take for granted, the ones that make her anxious and worried. But she’s not so worried anymore. The therapist has explained to her how her preconceived notions about growing up and her life were lies.

She already holds down two jobs, gets good grades, cares for herself, does her laundry, you know takes care of herself. She’s worried about growing up. It’s been a painful process putting her in the position to do things that make her uncomfortable but with each exposure I can see her relaxing, her confidence grows and she no longer fights us when we say she has to drive. She even said she could when it rained rather than using that as an excuse.

I feel for the first time since the anxiety reared its head that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through the fear of wind, the holding up in the basement for an entire summer, the crying, the ADHD, the scoliosis, eye issues, wrist soreness, meds and physical therapy, there might be an end for her. A chance to simply enjoy life.

She’s been through so much and yet we push her through her “homework” her exposures, opportunities to learn how to simply be. Whether its how to fill out her deposit slip for her paycheck, or how to go grocery shopping and navigate on her own, with each experience she’s learning that she’s okay.

She may always be nervous and scared because we are who we are, but if we’re willing to take the chance and make the change, it will get better.

 

 

Divorce and the Single Mom

Divorce and the Single Mom

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the issues of raising an introvert and how many challenges I have to overcome when helping my daughter grow into a productive, confident and happy adult. I’m not the only one who fears for my kids. We parents have so many different ways of hurting and helping our children and sometimes, the best way to help them is to help ourselves. This week let me introduce Marilyn Mages, newly divorced single mom and her perspective of what divorce means for her and her child.

Divorce –

There are very few spaces in life where you feel happy and sad, relived and lonely, and full of excitement as you look at moving toward a new future. At 45 I never expected to be in this situation although it is probably the case that most people don’t. I have found myself starting over as a single person. I am looking forward to the challenge that my new life brings and also I am excited about starting over.

There are things that I miss already. I miss not having my daughter around. I really hate having to share her with her dad. I feel blessed that I am even a mom. And the idea that I have been reduced to every other weekend, well, all I can say is that I hate it. I really just hate it.

I miss my family as a unit. While my husband checked out a long time before we were actually divorced, I miss the three of us being together. I do miss my old life in certain ways, and the thought of coming up with a new routine is intimidating.

I also miss my neighborhood. I loved my house and I loved my life for the most part. I also loved my neighbor. It took 11 years to find her. We shared sugar, vases and she was someone who was there for me even for just 5 minutes when I needed her. Two years later, I find myself deserting her.

What is most scary is really the idea of starting over. Who wants to start all over again half way through life. I therefore choose to look at it like a blessing.

What’s new on the list???

Dating for example. How far do you allow yourself to go on a first date, how long to you wait to talk between dates, is that guy worth all of the effort you are putting in. Don’t get me wrong, it seems like an oxymoron to be single and be a mom at the same time.

I have needs but at the same time, I want to make sure that I am the best mom ever. It is like I am living as a spy with a separate identity, one that my daughter doesn’t know about. Nor do I want her to know about.

Learning how to feel sexy again and feel good about me…Man, I need to hit the gym and I need to achieve my goals.

What is it that I want out of this new life?

I want to date and have someone to talk with.

I want to be happy and take risks and do something that I have never done before.

I want to learn more about myself and what makes me happy.

I want to feel calm and not have life pass me by at a light speed pace.

I don’t want people to be sorry because in the end, this was the right thing to do.

 

Marilyn currently lives in Glenview, IL with her 12 year old daughter. She has been in marketing/communications since 1998. Marilyn is learning to start over after getting divorced after 22 years of being married. She enjoys writing, reading and biking.

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