The Mom at the Door With No Pants

When my oldest was a baby, he never slept.  Several months into motherhood, I got my first full hour of sleep and I thought that was surely what the people that vacation in Bali felt like. He was constantly moving, never sleeping, and lots of screaming.  I tried everything. Car rides, swinging, dietary changes, Dr visits…I heard that babies like white noise which could easily be replicated by a hair dryer. My husband had to break it to me that it didn’t work when he found me at 2 in the morning. My son was screaming bloody murder in his crib, I was sobbing…on the floor…in the pitch black…holding a hair dryer.  I swear I would have rubbed Cheetos on my eyeballs if someone told me it might work.

My husband’s favorite story was the day I met him at the garage door. I was holding our precious son out at arm’s length, waiting to pass the baton. I couldn’t do it another second. He! Never! Stopped! Crying! I was inconsolable because I was exhausted from sleep deprivation. I was devastated that I couldn’t comfort my own child. I felt like a failure as a mom, as a wife. Hubs got out of the car as I’m crying, “I can’t do it! I need help!” He smiled, took our son, and said, “Baby, where are your pants?” I vaguely remembered in my stupor that our son had spit up, or pooped, or some form of baby excrement on my pants. I don’t really remember taking them off, and quite honestly, he should just be happy that he parked in the garage rather than in the front of the house. I would have just as easily been the crazy, pantless neighbor in the front yard.

Last Thursday was another one of those days, sans the no pants part. I was tired…no exhausted, at the end of my rope, drowning, losing my ever lovin mind. Everything made me angry. My kids didn’t like me, my husband didn’t like me. I didn’t like myself. Friday was better. I met with my bible study girls and told them of my shortcomings. We (metaphorically) high fived Jesus and I decided I would remember to only think on things that were true, noble, just, pure, lovely, trustworthy (Philippians 4 something or other…don’t hold me to that). Truth be told, nothing I was thinking fit into any of those categories.  Try as I may, I felt dread, exhaustion, and anger. It was like a filter was placed over my eyes. If the kids would just listen…If my husband would just help me more…

Saturday morning the kids were playing loudly in the kitchen, kicking around a roll of duck tape like it was a soccer ball. Nothing out of the ordinary. It sounded like a stampede of water buffalos running for their lives. I don’t know what that sounds like but I am thinking it’s loud. As I was screaming like a wild banshee, it hit me like a ton if bricks. It’s me. They aren’t really doing anything different than they do any other day. They are always loud. They are hardly ever still. But it was me that couldn’t handle it. My fog was getting thicker. I went to bed for the rest of the day.

I am completely aware that some of you can not relate. You may even be clutching your pearls at the fact that I can’t get myself together to perform normal human functions, like wear clothes. But that’s just it. I do not always have it together. If I’m being honest, I don’t have it together most of the time.  My house is a wreck, my youngest ate a bowl of shredded cheese for dinner the other night, my husband has long ago come to terms with the fact that cooking, “isn’t my thing” (read: I can’t cook), and my kids have broken 5 bones between the two of them. No Mother of the Year awards will ever line my mantle.  But I think it’s important that we can say, “I’m a hot mess. I don’t have it all together. I need help. Pray for me.” I am thankful for the women I have in my life that I can be authentic with.  That hold me accountable but offer an abundance of grace. I promise I am trying. I love that God is not finished with me yet. I love that He gave me the exact children I needed and the best daddy to help raise them (and send me to bed for the rest of the day when I act like a lunatic).  Momming is hard. Most of the time, I feel ill equipped to do the job. But when my son runs through and says, “Love you Momma! You’re the best Momma ever!”  I won’t remind myself that he has nothing to compare it to.  I’ll cherish it, and let it hold me over until my next crazy episode.

Update On My House Arrest

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The setting is nursing school and the main character is a hypochondriac with anxiety and OCD. We will call her Courtney, because that is her name. In nursing school you learn about most disease processes, and as a person riddled with worry anyway, I undoubtedly had every disease we studied (with the exception of prostate, testicular, fontanel malformations, and maybe cleft lip/palate….yep, the rest were fair game). This hypochondriasis was not unique to me alone. My best friend was convinced she had AIDS without any symptoms or exposure. But this isn’t a blog about her so let’s move on.  During third semester (give or take, this is my story) I became convinced I had lymphoma. The symptoms, albeit vague, were there and my lymph nodes were, in fact, enlarged. No big deal, I’ll just go to the Dr and let them tell me how utterly ridiculous I am and I will then find something else to worry about. The kink in my plan started when the Dr agreed with my diagnosis and thought that my theory was actually likely! After a plethora of labs were drawn and a biopsy was done to find the culprit of my symptoms, I was told, “We will let you know the results in 2 weeks.” Two….WEEKS.  As the days grew longer it consumed my every thought to the point that, not only did I have lymphoma, but I was dying. Part of me knew this was ludicrous (not to be confused with Ludacris). But those thoughts set up camp in my brain just to make sure that any rational thoughts on the subject were redirected back to Crazy Town.

So one night I remember going into the bathroom to wash my face. I don’t remember being sad or upset but when I looked in the mirror, I had this crushing thought. This overwhelming dread and fear that I was dying. Newly married, in nursing school, never having kids.  As the tears began to flow, I became angry that my life was over before it even started. I literally kneeled on the floor, in the dirty bathroom (the military housing was super old and never actually looked or felt clean), with the water still running (sorry Mother Earth, I do better now at conserving water), and I sobbed. Like the ugly Kim Kardashian cry (My bad, I will never reference them again, forgive me). I prayed, “God, WHY?!?”

And as instantly as this cockamamie debacle started, it stopped. I was jolted to my senses and God said to me (not audibly but just as evident), “Don’t you trust me?”  I couldn’t move. I felt a peace that I hadn’t felt in months and I felt so silly for letting something consume my every thought that wasn’t even reality (spoiler alert, I did not have lymphoma). “Don’t you trust me?”

When you are in the middle of the battle, real or perceived, you think it will never end. When I cried day after day that God would give me a baby (that would stay in my womb)….He did. When my first born only slept through (up to) one hour at a time for the first year with no naps and a need for constant movement, I tried to accept my fate. This is it, I will never sleep again. But I did. When a heartache from a broken marriage consumed me and I just knew that not even God could fix this one. He did, and made it better. When a family member was so lost in the throes of mental anguish for TEN YEARS and I thought she was gone forever. Her mind was restored. When I fell into the deepest pit because I was a prisoner in my own home (read my other posts for our family’s autism journey)…I see light at the end of the tunnel.

This Saturday, we have a babysitter coming for the first time in a year and 2 months. This Saturday, I will be in the same room with my husband in the dead middle of the day, without my kids. And not only can I go to the bathroom by myself without meltdowns and fear and panic, but I can go freely from one room to the next without a single scream. This Saturday my son will not see me and will not even know where I am. With a hesitancy and an inkling of a tear, he proudly said, “I’m ready. I can do this.” This may not seem like much to you. But to our family, this victory is monumental.

I say all of this because I talk too much….Oh and also to say this… Mark 4:40 says, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Still after being pulled from the rubble so many times? Still after turning devastation into beauty? Still after He has proved His grace time and again….”Don’t you trust me?”

I don’t know what will happen on Saturday. Honestly, I don’t care. The progress we have seen is so huge that I am ecstatic knowing there’s hope. There is a way out of that pit. No matter how deep or how far you’ve fallen. “Don’t you trust me?”…..

What Now???

I have always wanted to blog…start a blog…be a blogger (is ‘blog’ a noun or a verb)?  All I ever hear is how incredibly cathartic it is.  Catharsis just reminds me of all my college psychology classes, shout out to Mr Freud.  But here I am.  A dear diary for grownups. While I don’t have anything life altering to write about, I do need all the therapeutic catharsis I can get.  I just moved 1400 miles across the country for better opportunities. Leaving behind family, a career that I loved and was passionate about, friends, a church, a support system, and perhaps my identity. I am grateful for the new adventure, really I am. I am grateful for the beautifully quirky farmhouse with the huge yard and the short distance to the beach. For the opportunity to stay at home with my kids and homeschool and run around in our pajamas and play cops and robbers with the perfect jail underneath the cute nook under the stairs.  For the church that we found on the first try, because finding a new church is much like dating. Sometimes half way through the service, you think,”what kind of tom foolery did I just get myself into” and try to figure out an exit strategy.  For a husband that is brilliant and works hard and has been making me proud for 15 years (give or take, marriage is hard ya’ll). For two kids that I so desperately prayed for. I can not imagine two kids that were more wanted than those two curly headed, blue eyed boys. The years I couldn’t sleep for the visceral pain that was caused by the thought that I might not be a mom.  I see all of these things and realize that for ALL of this I prayed. So why is this so hard?  What I did not take into consideration is life.  When I dreamed of my children, my free time was filled with us making precious memories by crafting at the huge kitchen table while my homemade lasagna was baking in the oven. I didn’t know that my son would have autism and any kind of organized crafts would be laughable and a guarantee that someone would have copious amounts of glue in their hair and glitter would be shot up a nostril.  And that lasagna? It is glorious! Seriously, my lasagna is amazing. But I also didn’t know that my son wouldn’t eat most things because of his sensory issues or that dear husband would have ulcerative colitis which is a crap shoot (pun intended) on what his poor tummy can handle, and usually results in him eating a sandwich instead.  I never dreamed that my son would go through a period where he had to see me or his dad at all times. At all times… No bathroom breaks, changing clothes, or even getting something to drink from the kitchen without a major meltdown.  No playing with friends, going to school, sleeping in his own bed. My constant shadow. Without work or friends or date nights or adult conversation,  I have no break. No time to breathe. No time to hear myself think.  Added to depression and anxiety that have reared their ugliness at the most inopportune times (another shout out to my mom’s side of the gene pool). Some days it’s literally hard to breathe. The panic that is waiting in my chest before I even get out of bed is overwhelming at best. So here I am. Trying to figure it all out, with God of course. Documenting the victories so that I can remember and be grateful. Sorting out the noise in my head.  I know that this too shall pass. And when it does, I want to look back at it fondly.  I want to see all that God has done and what He has brought me through.  This is my journey and my prayer is that I journey well.