On “Those” Days; An Open Thank you to my Husband and Mother

Today has been one of those days one of those weeks months years.

Ok, but today it all boiled down to a nightmare of a day.

I truly want to be one of those moms who writes about nothing but the rainbows her child poops and all the glorious joys of motherhood. And I will. One day. I do know those joys, I have those joys, I live for those joys … but to be honest, if I talk to you and you speak of nothing but all the happy times and how amazing everything is 24/7, I don’t relate to you. And sometimes I hope you’re a liar, because if you’re not, what the heck am I doing wrong? Is my parenting bad? Are my sons endless tantrums and lack of sleep my fault, thus causing the misery we find ourselves drenched in from time to time and if I could just … teach him better, none of this would be happening?

Probably not true. But my thought process none the less.

In any case, if you’re like me and my husband, you’ve had … well let’s politely call them shitty days. Yes, I know. I’m a Christian, and I swore. No, it doesn’t make me cool. No, it doesn’t make me evil. I’m very sad, very vulnerable and very tired today. And sometimes, it’s the only word I can find. So shitty it shall be.

Today started out like any other day…6:00AM wake up on the nose, child in the fridge screaming for strawberries and the tantrum over food begins. No, you can’t eat 12 plums and 38 strawberries for breakfast. Here’s your eggs. Well you said you wanted eggs. No you can’t have oatmeal. Because you asked for eggs and I made eggs. I don’t live to make you food. Yes, you can have a plum when your eggs are finished. Because if I give you the plum all you’ll eat is the plum until your stomach thinks your full and you never eat sustainable food. Sustainable. Sus-tain-a-ble. It keeps you full. No, you can’t have more strawberries. When you’re done screaming and kicking on the floor, come find me. I’ll be eating your eggs.

Usually my patience is pretty far reaching. I am able to take deep breaths and relax, remind myself this is a stage and that one day he won’t throw himself on the floor every single morning the minute he wakes up, and he will have slept through the night.

Today was a different day.

I managed to get in a team call this morning while he screamed and ran around peeing on things because he’s kind of over being told he has to pee and is rebelling, and I managed to do quite a bit of tidying around his tantrums. We also sat together and drummed, and played hide and seek around his fort, and read books inside of it. He then napped for 1/5 hours and woke up foul, as usual. And today I couldn’t handle it.

I don’t know why my son doesn’t sleep well, and I don’t know why he wakes up angry. But it frustrates the hell out of me, because I want to fix it. I want to see him happy and thriving, and to see him so upset all the time honestly just breaks mommas heart. He cries intermittently and hard for a long time after waking up. We’re talking a couple of hours until he’s righted himself, and I’m at the point where I’m falling asleep while he’s screaming because I’m so bloody tired of it all. My body is exhausted and my mind is weary.

And then in walks my husband, and in walks my mother.

My mom came to help me clean today … and all I could do was sit there. And cry. And then leave to nap. And then wake up and stare into space. And watch her clean.

She cleaned my floors, my banisters, my kitchen and every inch she moved along, she scrubbed away a bit of the clutter frustrating my heart.

My husband was in there with her, helping, putting in an effort … while I sat here. Immobilized by exhaustion? Yes … depression? Maybe … in any case, I am not alone in these struggles and there he is. Doing things I cannot do. Cleaning dishes. Making dinner.

My family has surrounded me and it took me a good couple of hours to get up off the couch, and pitch in.

And to top it all off? I can’t show my gratitude…I can’t seem to be very warm and inviting and kind. I can however be critical, condescending and lack the ability to extend anyone else the grace to not be perfect.

So because I can’t seem to find my voice when anyone is present to say thank you, here I am. Saying thank you.

Lucas, you have strength I cannot comprehend. No, you don’t have to be pregnant. No, you don’t know how tired or emotional I am. But what you do know is that you were once married to a vibrant, joyful woman who didn’t condescend, criticize and fall apart. I promise you, even though I keep losing that woman, she is here, and I will keep doing everything I can to find her, to be her. You have put up with just as much sleep loss and frustration and joy and pain as I have, and yet you come home and you take care of this family. I promise I will show you all the kindness I have, even if it’s not much I will muster it up and give it all to you. You have provided for me, for Asher in ways you’ll never understand. Food, finances, it all pales in comparison to the peace you’ve given me to know I am married to a warrior. A fighter. A man who is so capable of loving even when love is not being shown. Sometimes I get angry around you simply as a reaction to your love, because it’s too much for me to handle your gentleness that I react negatively…like being in the presence of God’s overwhelming love that if we don’t feel worthy we run from. I’m 5. No big deal. Just know that I see you, for every little amazing thing you do, even though I don’t seem capable of voicing it. I’m learning. Pray for me and work with me; I know God will use you to be the hand that pulls me up. Thank you for every day, for every hug, for every kiss, for every time we forget to make eye contact throughout the day and then you touch my shoulder to remind me that you’re there. Thank you to the ends of the earth, which I will crawl to to find a way to show you my love.

Mom, I don’t know how you’ve put up with me all these years. To no end do I wish I could actually be as kind as you deserve, when I am this down and out. And just like Lucas, what kills me the most is your endless ability to pour out love on me when I’m like this. To not ask for anything in return. To just be willing to do whatever you can to help me and my family, even if you never get a thank you. I wish I could open my heart when it’s this hard, but I haven’t been able to, and you deserve every ounce of gratitude I can muster. For loving my son to the ends of the earth, to taking him when I’m working, to always be there to help me, to always bend your plans to help mould them around mine and A’s sporadic naps…you’ve never asked for anything, and I’ve never been able to give much, but my love and respect and deeply rooted desire to be like you, you have. Thank you for choosing to love me even on the hard days.

I 100% believe this will pass. I know that this is 95% sleep loss and 35 weeks pregnant. But it’s hard to see past that, especially when I had such a good handle on it just a few short weeks ago.

But I’m here, putting the few things in front of me that I know how to do.

One of those being my complete and utter commitment to sharing my journey with you. Because while it is scary to some to be “so open” it’s actually very therapeutic for me. I’m a verbal processor but I also believe that God will use my struggles, and reach out and touch someone with them.

Maybe to help you feel like you’re not alone.

Mom’s, it’s a tough gig.

And sometimes, we aren’t the nicest to those who are nicest to us, and I know you’re like me and find it devastating to know we’ve hurt someone whom we love so dearly.

If you’re in the same boat, I’m praying for you. The trenches are deep, but the hands reaching in are strong and sturdy.

Grab hold of one and don’t let go.

Commit with me to taking the time every single day to doing something that utterly feeds your soul.

Spend time with God, knit, rest your face in the sun, walk alone outside, exercise, eat well and as you walk alone let the wind caress your skin and fall in love with life every single day.

It won’t be like this forever.

Just promise me you will take the steps to walk forward every single day.

More than a fitness coach, I walk hand in hand with women struggling with things I too struggle with.

A tribe of strong women is forming around me, and together we climb ahead.

I have an incredible support at home, and there are those of you who are single parents or struggling the same but have no family to help …

I can’t say I’ll come be the things for you that my family is for me, but I can walk with you. I can climb with you.

We are strongest when we hold each other up.

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On Asking for Help

I hired a cleaning lady yesterday. I can’t believe I paid someone to clean my house. But only because it adds to the judgments I feel on mothers … on me.

I should be able to do this myself. 

During my post partum depression, I did not know how to clean. I didn’t have the energy or mental ability to think about emptying the dishwasher. It was too daunting. I couldn’t fathom what it would take to pick up the dirty laundry and put it in the wash…it was all utterly overwhelming and the tasks consumed me every day; taunting me. Mocking me. 

I didn’t even know how to put my son down and have a shower. I can’t tell you how many times I wound up sobbing on the bathroom floor, naked and wet, holding my son while the hot shower filled the room with a heavy blanket of steam and depression. 

My house was not just messy, it was dirty, and I was completely ashamed. I hated when people visited. 

I was overwrought with the thought, “I should be able to do this.” 

My mom, my amazing mom, would come over and clean my entire house from top to bottom. She would scrub walls, toilets and bathtubs…and I would sit and talk. Incapable of knowing how to even begin helping. Feeling guilty as ashamed to not be helping … and she just cleaned. Never asking for anything in return, she just wanted to help. Words will never be enough to thank her for her help. She knew. She just knew. She gave me a space to feel relaxed in. A few days peace before it was all headed for ruin again. And she didn’t ask. She just did. I pray I will be that same kind of mother, of person, for my kids, that she is to us. 

But since joining a challenge group, becoming an online personal health and fitness coach, taking my fitness and ultimately my life back, I’ve been able to tidy. I’ve been able to start building habits that lead to a cleaner, healthier home environment. 

But I can’t catch up. 

I didn’t ask my mom for as much help as I should have, because truth be told I was ashamed in front of her as well. She raised me. And I failed at an area she excelled in. She kept a clean home. Raised two kids. And I couldn’t. So I didn’t ask for help from someone who would always give it without judgment. 

Because of this, there’s still layers of grime around my home that need attention. A home deserves to be taken care of. Not perfect, but it’s my home. And I now can take pride in caring for the place we raise our kids. Not in perfection, but not in filth. 

So I hired help. And it was weird. 

I still passed judgment on myself … should this be where I spend this money? Is it worth sacrificing other things? Am I that person now? 

And just who is that person that I had such a hard time becoming? The mom who’s home so much and still doesn’t get her house clean. What does she do all day anyways? The mom who can go get her nails done but can’t seem to get the walls and windows washed? Must be nice to afford such a luxury

And then I realize, who am I to judge others, but most importantly, who am I to judge myself? I think mommy wars are waged inside…not just out. 

I think they start with us. 

I think they start with a lack of honesty. 

Well, here’s me being honest.

I can’t do it all. I haven’t figured it out yet. I was depressed, and I needed help. I asked for help. 

I prefer to cook all our meals, and buy very little pre-made food. I’ve even begun experimenting with granola bars. Hello, my name is Michelle and I am a crunchy mom.

I prefer to workout before I scrub the toilets. I put eating well and fitness above other things. Hello, my name is Michelle and I am a fit mom. 

I like to spend time outside with my son, I like to have coffee and read books while he naps instead of folding laundry, I like to catch up with friends and arrange play dates and set up fitness groups for pregnant moms because my passion is to help.

Hello. My name is Michelle, and I am a real person. I am a real mom.

And sometimes, I need help.