We just will….

I don’t know how….but we just will.

How will we get through our family crisis?  How will we make it through the day?  What do we do next?

I don’t know…..but we just will.

We will get through.  We will make it.  We will be whole again.  We just will.

Mothers….families….we just do.

We put one foot in front of the other.  We make it through the day.  We make it through the hour.  We make it one baby step at a time.

We make it through rough times.  We make it through bad days.  We make it through fun and good times.  We just do.  We make it through sleepless nights.  We make it through worry.

There are no answers right now.  There is no clear path.  There is only fear, doubt, and the tiny celebration of the ordinary.

We are a family in crisis.  We carry on.

Hubby goes to work.  Mediocre mommy packs the lunches and loads the dishwasher.

The Hobbits go to school and avoid their chores.

In between all of the regular, we face our fears.  We cry.  We plan.  We hold each other close.  We love one another.

We pray that it is enough.

I ranted…..”how can I do this?….how will we get through?….what will I do?”….

My dear therapist said…..”I don’t have any answers.  I don’t know how you will do it….but you just will.”

I am hanging on to those words.

We have done this before, in different situations.

We look back, now, and we don’t know how we did it.  But we did.

One day, we will be on the other side of this, and we will not really know what we did to get through.

We just will.

We will make it.  We will survive.  We will be stronger.

We just will.

We will do it together.  Each of us bringing our own strengths to our family.

Hubby and I will stand together as the foundation of our home.  The Hobbits will challenge us.  They will make us stronger.  They will make us laugh.  They will love each other unconditionally.

We will lean on each other.  We will give strength to those who are weak.  We will figure it out.

We will do it one step at a time.  We will do it one day at a time. We just will.

We may not do it gracefully.  We may not do it well.  We may do it while kicking and screaming in protest.  But we will do it.

We just will.

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Trouble-shooting….

I have been having problems with those of you who subscribe to the blog not getting your notifications.

I am not super tech-savvy, but I may have figured out how to fix it.

If you get an email notification, it would be great if you could take a minute to comment so I know you got your notification.

Let’s face it….I don’t want you to miss anything!

Thanks so much.  Fingers crossed…..

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One step forward….

Fuck me.

Things are always like this, aren’t they?  One step forward and way too many backward to even count.

Just when things start looking up, life comes along and knocks my feet out from under me.

My anxious little Hobbit is in crisis.  She has done so very well for so very long.  (You can read it here if you need to catch up, or you can go back to the beginning here.)

We have been celebrating her victories, and we have seen tremendous changes in her.  We finally met the precious soul inside of her without the fear of what would come next.

She has had a setback that has caught us all off guard.  We are reeling.  We are lost and confused…..no one more so than her.

She is terrified, and she begs us to help her.  We see our precious Hobbit locked inside herself, and we don’t know how to reach her.

It feels like we are back to square one….starting over.

We are in constant contact with her therapist and her doctor.  We are adjusting medications, revising treatment plans.

We have yet to see the results of her new treatment….and so we wait.  We wait and we hang on as best we can.

We hold her in our arms.  We tell her we love her.  We tell her she is safe.

The other Hobbits want to help, but they are frightened too.  We hold them all.  We let them cry.  We let them be afraid.  Somehow, we find the strength to carry on….day by day….hour by hour….minute by minute.

My heart is breaking for the little soul I once carried within my body.  I ask myself if this is my fault.  I am the one with the family medical history.

But I do not let myself fall apart.  I keep going.  I fear if the pieces of my heart begin to fall, I will not be able to put them back together.

If I think about myself, I am afraid that I will not be able to take care of everyone….so I keep going….one step at a time.

Hubby and I take turns in despair and pep-talks.  When I am weak, he builds me up.  When he is afraid, I am strong.

We carry on.  We trust the team we have chosen for our Hobbit.

We know there is hope.  We trust.  We are afraid.

We believe in our Hobbit.  We believe that she will be better.  We believe in her.

We are scared.  We wait.  We hang on…..we do the best we can.

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So what….

I’m baaaaack!  Did you miss me?  I spent an amazing week, working with an incredible group of college kids in my very favorite city in the world…..the Big Easy!

There are so many things to share that I will be working like crazy over the next couple of weeks, while still trying to bring myself back into motherhood.

Buckle up, bitches….let’s get started!

The last time that I was in New Orleans was a difficult time in my life…..I was pregnant….again….and I definitely did not want to be.  It has been 3 years since that trip, and I have done a lot of work since then.  Spring break of 2014 was a healing trip.

We attended church the morning after we left home.  I remember little of the service except for this phrase: “if you know who you are, you do not need to prove it.”

If you know who you are….you don’t need to prove it.

From my earliest memories, I have been trying to prove myself.

I tried to prove myself to be a daughter worthy of love….

I tried to prove myself worthy of God’s love….

I tried to prove myself to be a “good girl”….

I tried to prove myself to be a good student….

I tried to prove myself to be a good Christian….

I was always a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

I had some really shitty times as a young adult and began to form my own identity.  I turned my back on parts of my past.  I met the Hubby, who supported me in my journey.

We married, and I became a mother.  I began to try to prove myself again.

I tried to prove that I was an amazing mother….

I tried to prove that I could handle (and love) the chaos of a big family, the crazed pace of life with a house full of Hobbits….

And then I broke down.  I couldn’t prove what wasn’t true.

I wasn’t happy.  I didn’t love my life.  I didn’t want my life.

I tried to run away.  I knew that actually running away was impossible, so I withdrew from my family.  I withdrew physically and emotionally.

Hubby was desperately sad.  He knew I was in trouble, but he couldn’t reach me…I wouldn’t let him.

After months of allowing me to wallow in self pity, my therapist told me to either get out or get better.

I chose to get better.  But it wasn’t easy.  I started a blog.  I started roller derby.  I learned to box.

I discovered the music of P!nk.

Pink

Cover of Pink

Some may say my obsession with her borders on delusional….of course, they would be wrong and I would have to start a fight.…but she saved my life in a way.

Her music was full of pain and piss.  She urged me to fight and to fight hard.  She spoke to me with every word she sang.  She spoke to me with the passion of her words and the pain in her voice.

I cut my hair.  I adopted a new style.  I became a badass.

And I discovered who I really am…..the person I have always been….even while trying desperately to be someone else.

I am not a submissive wife.  I am not a perfect mother.  I am not necessarily a good Christian.

I do not want to wear sweater sets or a ponytail to fit in with a “mom” crowd.  I do not want to be predictable.

I am curvy.  I am sexy.

I am a badass.  I am strong.

I am a good person.

I love my family fiercely.  I am compassionate.  I am honest.

I am flawed, and I accept your flaws.  I actually love you more because of your flaws.  Your imperfections give me freedom, and they make you interesting and complicated.

I am loved.  I am loved by my family, my friends, and my sisters.  I am confident.

I still need reminders, and I am still a work in progress….but I am no longer afraid….and I am no longer proving myself.

I know who I am.

I wish the same for each of you.  We are in different places in our journey, but we are all here together.

Use your anger.  Use your fear.  Use your desperation.  Be brave.

Find your P!nk.  Find your voice.  Find your courage.

Find your style, whether it is a faux-hawk or a cardigan.  So what?…..

And whatever it is that you find…..rock it, sister.  Own it and rock it!

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Random thoughts….

Random thoughts from the past week….

Will I ever get four minutes in the bathroom without a crisis taking place outside the door?….

Seriously, I do not spend a long time in the bathroom….no camping out for me….and you can jolly well believe that if I have been in the bathroom more than three or four minutes, I am actually just hiding.

Every single time that I am in the bathroom, I can count on screaming, hair-pulling, even Hubby’s sudden need to get into the bathroom or ask me a question.  I have even had the neighbor girl knock on my bathroom door.

Why does every Hobbit say my name over and over and over and over…..2 inches from my ear?????….

I think one of these days, my brain is going to liquefy and leak out of my ears.

Family game night makes me want to scream….

Family game night always means one Hobbit squirming on my lap….another Hobbit hanging over my shoulder….and some Hobbit crying because they didn’t win the game.  Baby Hobbit wants to participate in game night, but she wants to play by her own rules….and screams when no one else wants to play the same way.

I love quality family time.

I may have permanently warped the Hobbits’ image of “mother”…..

I am pretty sure that most children do not start a story with the phrase….”Wouldn’t it be funny if a mom left to get a tattoo“….yet, that is just how Hobbit #5 began her thought the other day.

I take it all back about how much I love the age of two….

I thought that Baby Hobbit had reached a magical age where everything was new and her world was expanding.  I was wrong.  She was magic for about five minutes….and then she just became really pissed off!

She is mad when she doesn’t have the ability to do something “myself.”  She is mad when we don’t have time for her to do something “myself.”  She is mad when the Hobbits won’t play with her.  She is mad when the Hobbits try to play with her.

Her favorite word is NO!, and she says it shrieking at the top of her lungs.  She screams, yells, cries, and throws herself to the floor every minute of every single day.  She is pissed off, and so am I!

“Green” is over-rated….

Hubby and I are trying to teach the Hobbits to respect the world that we have been given.  We want them to recycle and be responsible with our natural resources.

But there is no way I am giving up my paper plates.

I will diligently recycle.  I will try to make responsible purchases.  I will refill stainless steel water bottles…..but don’t you dare try to take my paper plates away!

I will save the earth when the Hobbits have all grown up.  For right now, the choice is between recycling and saving my sanity.  Earth be damned….Mommy needs fewer dishes to wash!

 

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Reduce, reuse, recycle….

We have an amazing, progressive, liberal, environmentally-aware family friend.

She is remarkably thoughtful….cards for each Hobbit, every holiday….Christmas gifts….gifts in the mail for birthdays.

Recently Hobbit #4 celebrated a birthday….her seventh!….and a package arrived from our dear friend.

The package contained several small fair-trade gifts….a beaded bracelet from Ghana….a hacky sack from Ecuador….and a wonderful little handmade paper notebook.

The notebook had a sweet little picture of a baby elephant on the front, chubby and friendly….and Hobbit #5 was immediately jealous.  She has begun to wish that every birthday can be her birthday.

(She has also started asking random people if she can have their things when they die, but I don’t have the energy to try to think about that one….)

We unwrapped the notebook, and I picked up the small paper packaging.  It was called “Ellie’s poo book”….or something similar…..with the beautiful paper made from elephant dung.

The packaging showed the process in simple terms and illustrations.

English: A female African Bush Elephant raises...

Elephant eats leaves….elephant poops….poop dries in the sun….poop is recycled into paper….Here’s your notebook!

Cool, right?

The birthday Hobbit was completely unnerved and disgusted.  She immediately knew she wanted nothing to do with the poop book.

Hobbit #5 swooped in and claimed it as her own.  She could care less if it was made out of shit….it was hers now!

Not even jealousy could prompt Hobbit #4 to try to get the notebook back.  She was completely done with it.

It was one of the smoothest Hobbit transactions that has ever taken place.  One Hobbit discarded it….another claimed it….no regrets….two happy Hobbits.

While I cleaned up the dinner dishes, Hobbit #4 seated herself at the snack counter.  Sighing deeply, chin in her hands, she lamented, “I wish you hadn’t told me about the poop.”

What’s a mediocre mommy to do with a statement like that?

Well, of course, she laughs!…and then writes a blog.  They seriously serve my material up on a silver platter!

 

 

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Whose room is it?….

Hobbits were fighting and kicking one another out of bedrooms….A Hobbit defended her actions, saying, “well, it is MY room.”

Hubby knew exactly what was coming when I replied in my most icy voice….”oh, really….”

“That is my room.  It is my room because your dad and I work really hard to give you nice things and they all belong to US.”

The first time I played that card was on the Boy Hobbit.  He was a little guy, and there had been a lot of door-slamming.

I had tried (over and over) to explain that little fingers could be smashed….and then they finally pushed me over the edge….

I was nursing the current baby when the door slammed yet again.  I almost lost my mind.  I put the baby in the crib, marched to the garage, and demanded a hammer from Hubby.

I took the hammer to the Boy Hobbit’s door hinges.  Even fueled by anger, I wasn’t actually strong enough to get the suckers out, but Hubby quickly provided backup.

Boy Hobbit cried, screamed, and begged.  ”It’s my door…..” he wailed.

“NO…” I replied calmly….”No, it is not.  It is my door.  Everything in this house belongs to me.  It is my door….it is my room….it is my house!”

Boy Hobbit cried his little eyes out, but I stood firm….and I leaned the door against the wall to taunt him….I mean, as a reminder to change his behavior.

(Not to mention the fact that the darn thing was too heavy to actually carry anywhere else!)

I learned early on in my parenting that you can only warn the little beasts so often before actually carrying out a threat. Sooner or later, they get smart to your game and realize that you don’t really want to punish anyone.  Once they figure that out, they ignore you and the behavior continues….your threats don’t even cause them to bat an eyelash.

Woe is the poor Hobbit who is the next offender of said rule.  Because if you severely traumatize one Hobbit, the others will remember….

They remember the time Mediocre Mommy finally lost her mind.  They remember that it was really, really ugly.  They remember how glad they were that they were not the one in the line of fire.  And they remember (most importantly) that they never want to see that again!

Believe me, they remember….

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Olympic mother….

One of my favorite things about the Olympic Games is the sappy commercials.

Commercials that show the progression of athletes from their first wobbly attempt on skates, and challenge each of us to accomplish greatness.

Maybe the Proctor & Gamble “thanks, mom” commercials have always been around, but I never noticed them until I was a mother.

You know the ones…..a young gymnast using the couch arm as a balance beam….a young hockey player manipulating her puck through a kitchen obstacle course….and of course, mom in the background, with an indulgent smile, using a Proctor & Gamble product to clean up the mess left behind.

I am relatively confident that none of the Hobbits are going to become Olympic athletes….but I am even more confident that I am not an Olympic mother.

When these same scenes take place in my house, I say things like…my house is not a jungle gym….take it outside….do you have the money to buy me a new couch?….if you want to jump, you had better save your money to buy a trampoline….

And I am certainly not the type of mother to be cleaning anything in the background….especially not Hobbit-created messes….with a smile.

All  the messes are created by Hobbits.  Wash the bowls they used for cereal….scrub the pans I used to cook their dinner….fold the clothes they wore to school….pick up the toys they left scattered….clean the toilets they sprinkled all over….

Nope.  I am definitely not the long-suffering, indulgent mother who pushes her children to greatness.

We could add in some new Olympic events, though.

How about Olympic nagging…..Olympic taunting-your-siblings….Olympic drive-your-mother-crazy-in-record-time….Olympic avoid-your-chores….Olympic stretching-the-truth….

The Hobbits take these sports seriously and train with dedication.

Maybe their determination will translate one day to success in the “real” world.

Somehow, I doubt they will make a commercial tribute to all the ways I helped them get there.

 

 

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The gift of the last child….

Twelve and a half years ago, I was a really good mom.

I was amazed at the responsibility that had been entrusted to me, and I took motherhood very seriously.

I looked into the face of my first-born Hobbit, and I recognized that her life was a blank canvas.  It was my privilege to paint the colors of the world for her.

I cared for her physical needs, played with her to develop her mind and body, and nurtured her emotionally.  She rewarded my efforts with smiles, snuggles, intelligence, and early verbal skills.

She was a charming, polite, and gifted child.  Job well done!….maybe I should do it again…

Hobbit #2 required that I learn to divide my attention and prioritize my time.  It was impossible to attend to both Hobbits at once, and I always wondered if I was meeting their needs.

It was a steep learning curve, but Hobbit #2 also thrived and charmed the world around her.  She was affectionate and adventurous….intelligent and beautiful.  She rushed into life with open arms, where her older sister had preferred quiet observation.

When the Boy Hobbit was born, I learned to relax and remember that the intensity of the early days would pass more quickly than I could know.

My Hobbits stayed in pajamas all day and ate yogurt and granola bars for lunch.  I made pancakes…or frozen waffles…or peanut butter and jelly for dinner.

Clean laundry was never folded or put into drawers, but we learned to dig to the bottom of the baskets to find what we needed.

I realized that there would be time enough to attempt perfection….for now, good enough was perfectly good enough.

I was just beginning to discover my mediocre.

When Hobbits #4 and #5 joined our family, my standards relaxed even more.

Hubby values the peace of an organized home….I could care less.  Over many years, we have reached a compromise that works well enough.  He still wishes the house were clean….I still don’t care….but he learned to let go a little, and I learned to step it up a little.

And then came the Baby Hobbit….boy, was she a surprise!

We were done with babies….absolutely done.  The crib was still in use, but we had given away the swing, the bouncy seat, the bassinette.  The clothes were donated the moment they were outgrown.  We were moving on.

I complained to mediocre sister, “I can’t be pregnant.  I don’t even own a onesie.”  She showed up at my door with two tiny, white onesies.

Hubby did not say one word for a full 24 hours after I told him the news.

I nearly had a panic attack when I finally drove to the midwife’s office for my first check-up….already into my second trimester.  Every month, the lingering smell of the hospital soap on my hands gave me heart palpitations.

We prepared the best we could….and then the Baby Hobbit came to us.

Her birth was my favorite….not the most exciting….but the birth that left me feeling completely powerful and in control.

She was a big girl, and I laughed with delight the moment I held her in my arms.

She is another unique personality…..and two years old is magical.  Her vocabulary is exploding, and her thought process becomes more sophisticated each day.  She is no longer a baby….she is a tiny person.

She is constantly learning new things….like dressing herself…..(although that could actually be a reflection of just how mediocre I have become.)

She may have realized that if she was ever going to get out of her pajamas, she would have to take matters into her own hands.  ”I do it ‘self,” she says.

She changes her clothes at least five times a day.  She zips herself into footed sleepers for church, and puts on jeans at bedtime.  And guess what?….mediocre mommy doesn’t really care.  First-time mommy would have cared….a lot.

Pajamas for church?….at least you are warm.  I may try to coax her into something other than jeans at bedtime for the comfort factor….but I have learned to pick my battles.

I thought I had forgotten how precious this age is….like I have forgotten so many other things….but I think that, perhaps, I never really saw my Hobbits at two years old.

Every time I had a toddler Hobbit, I was consumed with the relentless demands of a newborn.

Verbal skills only meant that I could now understand their unreasonable demands.

Attempts to “do it myself” were an annoyance that made me late everywhere we went.

Opinions about what to wear caused us to butt heads and rearrange drawers, so that pajamas were not in reach.

Parents have a reputation for being hard on the first children and spoiling the baby of the family.

In some ways, I suppose it is true.

I cared about a lot of details in the early days of creating my family, and there are a lot of things that just don’t matter so much anymore.

I think that perhaps this is the gift of the last child.

I am able to relax into my parenting and notice the moments as they happen.

The Baby Hobbit will always be the “surprise” baby….the one we didn’t see coming….the one we kind-of….(okay, totally)….didn’t want.

But she will also be the Hobbit that I have always enjoyed the most.

 

 

 

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Just like you….

One of my Hobbits wants to grow up to be just like me.

“When I grow up”….she said….”I am going to be just like you, Mom.  I’m going to eat all the junk food I want….and then I will just have a lot of kids, so I can blame my fatness on them stretching out my stomach.”

Silence…..and then hysterical, uncomfortable laughter from everyone in the room.

I cannot really be insulted.  She is planning her future….and speaking the truth.

I do eat a lot of junk food.  I do have a lot of Hobbits.  And, I do blame my “fatness” on them.

The Hobbit does not get to eat as much junk food as she wants…..she does not have a lot of kids….and she does not yet have any “fatness” to blame on anyone.

But she is well on her way to being “just like me.”

She says what she thinks and then stands by her statements.  She may need to finesse her delivery a bit, but there is plenty of time for that.

I may have to suggest that she start a blog.  In a blog, you can sniff out the bullshit and write about it any way you please.

You can write about the fact that when you were a kid, your mom binged on junk food and then blamed her “fatness” on her kids…..as long as you spin it….of course, it makes sense because parenting sucks big time, and if mom’s comfort was found in a bag of Oreo cookies, who are you to judge?….and, besides, mom may have had some “fatness,” but the lady knew how to work it….see what I did there?

When I was younger, I had way too many opinions and no idea how to express them.

My dear, dear school guidance counselor sat my sassy butt in her office for the hundredth time and stumbled upon the answer….”you have plenty of opinions, so let’s give you an outlet to express them,” she said….and then she filled out the entry forms for speech competitions.

Throughout the years, I spent hours in her office….brainstorming, writing, and editing speeches.

I won national competitions, and forged a valuable friendship.  My dear friend loved me unconditionally and taught me life lessons I still hold dear.

Nearly twenty years later, another friend sat across from my slightly larger and now angry butt, and struck upon a new answer….”you have a lot of anger, so let’s give you an outlet to express it,” she said….and then she suggested that I start a blog.

I am not sure how these lessons will translate for my Hobbit, or what her outlet will be, but she is growing up to be an awful lot like her mediocre mom.  I am (mostly) ok with that.

She is hard-headed and determined to reach her goals.

She can be remarkably empathetic….and unbelievably selfish.

She is witty, funny, and brings a beautiful energy to a party….but she takes her alone time very seriously.

She is a little bent, a little broken….but she is working hard to be the most complete soul she can be.

She has a knack for saying exactly what she thinks….and, of course, she is talented and beautiful.

Maybe she will give speeches, maybe she will blog….and maybe she will grow up to eat a lot of junk food and blame her “fatness” on her kids.

I hope she is happy….because my life seems to be working out pretty well.

 

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