I shouldn’t be doing this.

Henry is at Busia’s. I haven’t finished cleaning. But I’m making a short blog entry anyway… because this thing is, in many ways, like a diary for me, and I need to write.

Today, I asked a question on FB that I’ve wrestled with for years. “How do you value your own work?” Because I’m in my late 30s, and I still don’t know.

I’m creative as hell. I write songs. I write poetry. I write blog entries. I create recipes. And yet, when I signed up for a Patreon account, one of my friends was actually like, “Patreon is really for people who make things.” I wasn’t sure whether to be offended or just laugh. So naturally, I laughed and then anxiety took over and I questioned whether or not I am actually an artist or maker or whatever.  I am. This bullshit entry is undeniable proof.

It’s just weird.  When I start feeling well for even a day, the first thing that pops into my head is that I’m not doing enough for my family.  Nevermind if I couldn’t get out of bed because of fatigue 4 days ago. TODAY, I need to fucking capitalize on it.  And that’s really how I live at this point — in the moment. Do what you can when you can.  That’s why I’m blogging right now instead of washing dishes.

I’ve got people bugging me about the keto cookbook that I’ve been working on, and when another friend asked if I was going to charge for it, I actually laughed out loud — partially because I refuse to pay for recipes (They can’t even be copyrighted, y’all.) and because I hadn’t even entertained the idea of selling it.  I just want people to feel better, and the idea of getting paid for something that I wanted to do anyway seems too good to be true.

It made me think about the Tao of Rae and the short amount of time when I self-published it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and how stupid I felt, having priced it as low as possible, and, yet, no one downloaded it. But worse, I felt ashamed for having tried. So, I took it off those services put it on here for free download, because, why not? I mean, I’d done every chapter on this blog anyway, and it was pretty clear no one was gonna pay to read it. Why should they?

I guess what I’m bumping up against is this sense of utter futility and pessimism. And that’s just familiar as all hell. I know how to deal with it. Ignore it and move forward.

I’ve come to view these feelings of self-doubt and sadness as a signal that I’m on the right track towards having a happier life. Like, if I’m feeling down and like I suck, I need to push harder. I know that if I just force myself to butt up against those feelings more, creation will begin. Something will come out of me.  Something good? Who knows. But something real? Certainly.  It might even be relateable for others.

Fighting ghosts is at least half of having PTSD.  And if you don’t fight them, they get to control you. Giving up control to a cycle you’ve already lived through more than once is just bullshit. And flourishing after trauma means not allowing yourself to become your abuser.

Resilience, I’ve found, has so much less to do with letting old wounds heal and so much more to do with acknowledging that the old wounds exist — saying “I see you.” to your past self and then just making better choices than she did. Fuck, even if the choices aren’t better, at least let them be different. Figuring out how to work around emotional booby traps has so much more to do with being present in your skin in the moment than thinking about the fact that they exist.

So, now, I’m going to go be in my skin, in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher. Adam is on his way home, and I’m pretty sure I’ve maxed out my skillset on overthinking. 😉

BTW – I’ve been published on Modern Day MS a few times since my last entry. Here are links to my articles, for anyone who wants more to read!

THE KETOGENIC DIET FOR MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

RACHAEL’S RECIPE OF THE WEEK: SHREDDED CHICKEN

RACHAEL’S RECIPE OF THE WEEK: ZUCCHINI NOODLES

And the Paleo Compendium, which I’ve devoted countless hours to and never made any money from, is up to nearly 3500 followers with 9000 views a month. 🙂  Another thing that fits my pattern.

I wonder what life will look like when I value my efforts.

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Another month in.

It’s been a month since my last entry. It seems like as good a time as any to update.

Adam has lost 30 pounds in the 6 weeks since we started the keto diet. I have lost 10.  I’m not really sure why I have only lost 2 pounds in the last month. I’ve been doing all the things – food journalling, measuring everything, counting calories as well as macros, but I am at a personal plateau. I got stuck around 185 for months when I was losing this weight the first time. Besides, my shape is obviously changing, and I’m sure that I’m benefiting anyway.

How do I know? Because July 11th was my 10 year seizure-versary, and it came and went without me even thinking about it.

I am becoming accustomed to having energy and being able to think clearly.  And, despite having catamenial seizures, I did not cave and order sweet & sour chicken w/ fried rice… no matter how badly my mind thought I wanted it.

But What Are You Eating?

I’ve been getting this question a lot. It makes me think that folks who are considering the diet haven’t been able to really wrap their heads around how the diet works because it’s so different from the one that they’re used to.

For the curious, my day usually looks like this:

Breakfast

  • bulletproof coffee -or-
  • coffee & a mug cake -or-
  • coffee and scrambled eggs w/cheese

Lunch –

  • leftovers from dinner or
  • a big bowl of spinach and/or lettuces plus whatever I’d have on a sandwich (turkey, hard salami, a slice of cheese, 1 tbsp mayo, 1 tbsp mustard, and a diced pickle is a favorite, as is chicken, bacon, blue cheese, & avocado)

Dinner –

  • some kind of grilled meat (chicken, steak, lamb, pork chop) or fish (usually salmon, swordfish, or tuna) w/ a cooked green veggie (asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, Brussels sprouts) -or-
  • a recipe I’ve grabbed off the internet or created from family favorites, like
    • Adam’s Hand Pies/Calzones
    • Baked Chicken & Cauliflower “Mac & Cheese” Casserole
    • Homemade Pizza with Fathead Dough crust
    • Zucchini Noodles w/Turkey Meatballs & Pesto
    • Keto Jambalaya

Dessert – almond butter or cheesecake “fat bombs”

Snacks – 

  • baked cheese “crackers”
  • string cheese
  • precooked breakfast meats (bacon, sausage links)
  • pork rinds
  • nuts & seeds

Wherein I whine about whining…

Oddly, friends of mine have been adding me to keto communities on FB, whether or not I have expressed any interest.  I mean, it never hurts to have more recipes, I guess… but I’m getting really tired of  the support aspect of many of these groups.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m all about supporting one another in our journeys, but I’m sick to death of reading people whining about how hard this diet is.  I hear enough whining from my 3 year old and from my inner fat bitch who would prefer for me to subsist on pizza and donuts.  YES, the diet is a tough adjustment from the SAD, but whining is toxic.

I want to tell each of these people, “Listen, you don’t have to be on this diet. You’re making a powerful choice and powerful change. Change is the opposite of comfortable!”

I think part of the problem is that listening to other people complaining does nothing to strengthen my personal resolve. It only amplifies the voice in my head that encourages me to quit or purposefully slip up.

I am well past acknowledging that I have automatic negative thought-patterns whispering in my ear, telling me to harm myself. My full-time job is to tell those thoughts to fuck off.  And right now, one way I do that is by powerfully choosing what I do and don’t put in my mouth.

I think that when it comes to dieting/changing your lifestyle/way-of-eating or WHATEVER you want to call it, it all comes down to one question: What’s your motivation?

It’s okay to admit to yourself that you’re changing your lifestyle in order to lose weight and be healthier. It’s important to be honest with yourself. The real problems that cause yo-yo dieting and will whittle away at your self-esteem come in when your motivation for becoming healthier stems from a place of negativity.

If you’re trying to lose weight because you are sad about what you see in the mirror, it’s easier to get down on yourself along the way because you’re focusing on something that makes you sad.  Your weight loss journey then becomes one of escaping the pain of your own self-flagellation.

The sort of negative self talk that comes from this sort of motivation can sound like, “What’s more important to you? Looking good or tasting a cookie? Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”  The problem there?  Being unkind to yourself becomes habitual, and habits are tough to break. When and if you reach goal weight, you’ll still have more practice at being unkind to yourself than you have practice at giving yourself credit for your achievements, and you’ll wonder why you still feel sad.

If you’re trying to lose weight because you want more time with the people you love, it’s a lot more difficult to shame yourself.  I mean how can you feel bad about wanting to spend time with people who make you smile? “Would you rather eat a cookie or have more time feeling well with your kid(s)?” makes the choice easier for me, at least.

Of course, it’s absolutely ideal for weight loss to be secondary. I’m extra lucky in that regard.  Seizure control matters to me far more than weight loss — but I’d be lying if I didn’t want to get back to a healthy BMI.   The thing is, I know that in order to achieve weight loss or lasting lifestyle change, I need a happy thought to focus on to get me there. The sad or angry ones don’t help as much, and plateaus are very real.

Anyway, I’ve been really appreciating that I learned in therapy that I can’t control my automatic thoughts, but I can always control my actions.  6 full weeks with no cheating is a big deal for me.

The trick to not cheating? Always have something on hand you can eat. Prepping ahead for grab-and-go eating is the name of the game.

Without further ado, here are more keto-friendly recipes that are worth the dishes they’ll create to make them.

Recipes That Are Totally Worth It

keto mug cake

Eat your heart out, Otis Spunkmeyer.

Here are some recipes that Adam and I have work-shopped and fallen in love with over the last month:

Keto Party Mix – This tastes JUST like Chex Mix. It’s the first time I’ve liked pork rinds. I strongly recommend a deluxe nut mix without peanuts, like the one we got by The Snack Artist.

Rae’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip Mug Cake – I love to split this with Henry for breakfast! Best served with whipped cream and/or coffee.

Rae’s Lemon Blueberry Mug Cake – Another good one for breakfast or just as a treat. 🙂

Adam’s Keto Jambalalya – This one takes time, but yields plenty of delicious leftovers.

fathersdaynutsFather’s Day Trail Mix – This is what Henry and I made for Adam for Father’s Day 2018.  Which reminds me… he’s all out and I need to make him more today. 🙂

Anyway! I have taken a long time writing this out today, and I am frankly amazed that Henry let me get away with it.

I hope that you’re feeling well and are having a good day.

It’s time for me to go do chores, despite somehow being sick with a headcold yet again. (If only Keto also improved my immunoglobulin count!)

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or recipe requests for me and Adam to makeover!

 

A Learning Machine

A Be-Bot!

WoebotRecently, I started using a chatbot that a friend of a friend programmed.  This chatbot works with Facebook Messenger and is clinically proven to help improve depression and anxiety in as little as 2 weeks. It’s called Woebot.

Since Henry is a big fan of robots, every time he sees my phone light up with the Woebot icon, he gets excited and shouts, “BE-BOT, MOMMY! BE-BOT!” For that reason alone, I’ll keep using it. 🙂

Anyway, I was initially drawn to Woebot because it only takes a few minutes of time per day, and it contacts you, at the same time every day, to keep you doing the work. I was already doing my own thing with Happiness is Homemade, and I’d been considering creating an app to do the same thing on my phone, since printing stuff up and writing things out is occasionally a pain in my butt. I thought I’d check out Woebot to see if creating an app was even worth my time.  (It is, but not because Woebot doesn’t fit the bill.)

Anyway, day before yesterday, Woebot brought up the topics of labels and mindsets.  I was aware that labeling is irrational. It’s an automatic negative thought. I just wasn’t aware of how frequently I still engage in it.  Mindsets, on the other hand, I was ignorant about. (And for a “smart” person, feeling ignorant is mighty uncomfortable.)

Here’s the 10 minute video that Woebot encouraged me to watch.  I strongly encourage you to watch it as well. It could change the way you think about yourself and life in general.

I lived with a fixed mindset most of my life. And, if I’m honest, I’m currently struggling to change to a growth mindset… but the struggle is good.

Fixed Mindsets Waste Gifts

When I was a freshman at Berklee and saw that there were so many musicians who I perceived to be better than me, I stopped trying in earnest to be a performer.

Seriously, the last time I performed music outside of a classroom setting–other than karaoke or singing along at Gymboree– was in high school.  That’s really fucked up for a person who was in all-state choir and regional honor bands all 4 years in percussion, if you think about it. Going to a world-renowned music school should mean you make more music, not less… but should statements are irrational garbage too.

Anyway — I had no idea that what I was butting up against was a fixed mindset. I believed I was “smart” and “a good musician.”  This meant that I couldn’t allow myself to be in positions that could prove otherwise.

When I didn’t do well in my Intro to Film Scoring class, I switched to a Music Business major. When I couldn’t do vocal sight-singing or ear training without playing everything at a piano, I learned every piece at the piano by myself so no one else would know that I couldn’t just sing the songs from looking at the page. My embarrassment was painful and intense.

I cheated myself out of so much growth there because I didn’t want anyone to know that I wasn’t good enough. Truth is: I couldn’t emotionally handle that I needed to struggle so much. I had always needed to work hard at improving my chops, but having to work hard to keep up with a class was foreign to me.  I had always excelled academically. It was part of my identity.

I thought that because music transcription and reading was so difficult for me, it was a sign that I just wasn’t meant for it. I allowed my mindset to close the door on something that I loved.  After seeing the talent that was all around me, all the time, I figured that music, no matter how much I loved making it, wasn’t for me.  And I didn’t even realize I was making a choice.

Music business was easy. It made sense, even if it could be misogynistic, cutthroat, and terribly ageist. So, I stopped making myself do the hard stuff, and I worked on a business plan… and on a ton of unpaid internships for internet radio dot coms that no longer exist. (When I think about how much I could have earned if I were given even minimum wage, it makes me sick at my stomach.)

Fast forward to adulthood and every time I had to face what I perceived to be an unforgivable failure — one that made me question my worth and identity — I became suicidal to the point of needing hospitalization.

The Gift Of Disability

Being diagnosed with seizure disorder caused by MS was a low point in my life, for sure. But I got used to having seizures. I got used to not being able to work a full-time job. I got used to my identity baseline being “not good enough.” And that was immensely freeing.

I decided that since I wasn’t living up to anyone’s expectations (least of all my own), I ought to change my expectations and try harder to make myself proud. And that’s what I’m doing now.

It’s not easy being a mother. It’s not easy sounding like shit on guitar or piano every time I play. It’s not easy learning Japanese on my cell phone or going to the gym 3-5 times a week whether I’m having seizures or not. It’s not easy to play make-believe with my son when I’m as pragmatic as I am. It’s certainly not easy to make myself proud.

But I’m doing the work… so someday, the things that are hard right now might be easy.

If I don’t, it’s like telling myself that it’s okay to be bitter and sad and unhappy with my appearance and life forever. And that’s bullshit. I’d rather choose struggle than familiar misery.

Besides, I won’t have any good stories to tell if I don’t choose worthy conflicts.

What are YOU struggling with today?

Well, duh.

You know, there are days when I realize that for however smart I was in grade school, that may well be how completely clueless I am as an adult about common sense things.

smart-vs-dumb

Gorgeous, either way, though, right?

See, I’ve been living in Orland Hills, IL for a little over a year now.  The town is so small that in order to use public transportation, you actually have to call a phone number more than 24 hours in advance and set up your ride.  It’s like paratransit, but for everybody.

When we moved here, I walked over to the town hall to get all of our paperwork in order, and I was told by some of the ladies who work there that I couldn’t bring my baby on the bus because they don’t allow car seats.  Thus began my year of walking everywhere and having absolutely crushing stir-craziness in the winter, wondering how I would make it until my son turned 8.

Well, today, I had enough of it.  It’s gorgeous outside (but -5 degrees wind chill), and despite having time travel seizures yesterday, I decided I was tired of feeling like a middle schooler who was impatiently waiting for one of her friends to get a drivers license. I decided to ask the hivemind — my friends on FB and the folks in one of the local parenting groups on there.

And do you know what they suggested? A taxi service.

benny

I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me earlier, and I feel totally dumb for not thinking of it. It’s so simple and straightforward that it makes my head hurt.

For some reason, I thought that since we’re living in the suburbs, we wouldn’t have access to taxis out here… but we do! I even thought, “Hey! Uber might work!” but riding in an Uber with a baby and his car seat only works if the Uber driver is cool with it — and most of them aren’t. (Who can blame them? If my baby pukes, Uber’s not gonna clean it up for them, and if we are in an accident, the liability for them is too great.)

So, one of the ladies in the parenting group suggested a specific driver who works with her elderly mom, and I’m going to be giving him a call tomorrow.

I’m tired of feeling like less than an adult, simply because I can’t get where I want to go when I want to go. Henry deserves to go to the library, regularly. He deserves to go on playdates. He deserves a life outside of this house, and a mommy who has more self-esteem than I do right now.

Cabbing it might seem kinda costly, but I’m going to do everything I can to remind myself, when I’m feeling too cheap to give us freedom, that if I had a car, I’d be paying more for gas, maintenance, licensing, and insurance. Not to mention how much we’ll save on psychological therapy in the coming years for me and Henry. (No agoraphobia allowed!)

So, I’m now looking very forward to going to pilates or yoga classes during the day at our gym like I’ve wanted to for so long. I’m going to make friends here and be a functional member of this community. I’m going to stop using my inability to drive as a reason to feel sorry for myself. I’m taking back at least some of the freedom I’ve unconsciously given to seizure disorder.


On a completely different note, I was approached by an employee of Earnest a few weeks ago who asked me to write an entry on holiday budgeting. Over the course of our emails it appeared that they wanted me to suggest to my readers that they refinance their student loans. They didn’t offer me any compensation to promote them, so my link above exists out of nothing more than goodwill towards someone who may have read one of my entries, but who definitely has a tough job if they’re trying to get sporadic writers like me to pimp their product.

Anyway, I have a ton of tips that I would be happy to share about how I personally save money, but I also have a massive amount of respect for my small and dedicated group of readers. I don’t believe that y’all care one iota about reading about that sort of thing here.  If I’m wrong, let me know, and I’ll happily write it up for you.

Hope everyone’s feeling well, and that 2017 isn’t half the shitshow that the Great Dumpster Fire of 2016 was.

2016dumpsterfire

And today I’m fine. (So far.)

MS is so weird. One day, I’m damn near immobilized by fatigue and seizures, and the next, I’m feeling great and am having a genuine debate as to whether it’s smarter for me to blog or fold and put away ALL. THE. THINGS. (It can’t be some of the laundry. That’s just not enough. I’m adulting so hard today!)

fold

Happiness > Folded Laundry

Of course, since you’re reading this, you know what choice I’ve made. Surely, I’ll make a dent in the mountain of clean laundry at some point today, but I felt like writing was a better use of the short time that I have while Henry naps.  Why?  Because writing is one thing that makes me genuinely happy, even if I’m writing about tough stuff… and if I don’t do simple things that make me happy, I have no one to blame but myself.

I think that’s one of the hardest things about being a SAHP (Stay-At-Home Parent, for the uninitiated). It’s way too easy to spend the entire day focusing on your child’s needs and housekeeping and to completely neglect yourself.

If you can sing every jingle from every Daniel Tiger episode, but you haven’t listened to a new release from one of your favorite artists that was released almost a year ago (like this one for me), you just might have your priorities slightly out of whack. (And that’s ok.  Friends help each other. Yes, they do. It’s true!)

If you don’t carve out time for things that make you smile, you can become overwhelmed and sad so easily. Heck, when I first started this gig, I had to set alarms to remind myself to eat (Ok, I’ll be honest. I still use those alarms.) and take showers. (More than 1 a week! It’s important!)

After going back to therapy, this time for postpartum depression, I realized something: I’m doing a fantastic job of challenging automatic negative thoughts… but I’m doing a crap job of giving myself credit for the things I do and an even worse job of having fun.

A thought really struck me hard the other day — Henry is learning how to be a person from watching me.  If I don’t do things that make me happy, I’m teaching him (by example) how to be miserable. We can’t have that. I refuse.

domorehappy

So, I’m gonna keep doing my best to show him that you rest when you feel bad, and you do whatever you can when you’re feeling well.

On that note, I’ll be busting out the guitar this week…finally bringing it out of retirement. It’s been almost a year and a half now since I played. (Baby belly bumps get in the way!)  I’m not expecting that it’ll sound particularly good — but something is so much better than nothing. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now, and I think he’s finally at an age where I could play it and he wouldn’t automatically try to wrestle it away from me.

Truth be told, I miss parts of my identity from before I became a mommy… from before MS made my life wonky… from before I stopped thinking that I could be and do anything I wanted to do be and do. It’s time for that thinking to end. My mindset is in my control. Self-empowerment is about owning your bullshit and choosing to powerfully move past it.  You can’t be proud of yourself and be mired in self-pity at the same time.

How do you kick self-pity’s ass?  Gratitude and credit.

The Sticker List

Y’all have heard me talk about how important Gratitude Rampages are, and how you can rewire your brain to be more positive by writing down 3 great things that happened yesterday, every day.  Well, we can add another exercise — one that I made up myself that is helping me out loads.  The Sticker List.

What’s “The Sticker List?”  It’s a simple list of everything that you believe you deserve a sticker for.  See, we give kids stickers (or other little treats) when they behave well, in an effort to give them positive feedback and attention so that they will develop good habits. Some kids gets stickers for using the potty. Others get them for brushing their teeth or doing basic chores.

Today, I believe I deserve a sticker because I’ve chosen to write… and I think I probably also deserve a sticker for:

  • changing 3 poopy diapers before noon
  • remembering to take all of my morning meds
  • eating within an hour of waking up
  • not being ashamed of sharing this. 🙂

It’s like a to-do list in reverse… a “Done” list, if you will.

poopsticker

This would be the sticker I would give myself for changing diapers. Have you ever seen such a happy crap?

And, now that I’ve shared this, I actually want to go fold clothes. (Who am I becoming?!?)

Hope you’re all having a wonderful day. ❤

 

32 Weeks & Personal Growth

Hey, party people!

Yesterday, I saw my OB.  I was hoping to have a new ultrasound to show everybody, but Henry was all balled up on my left side, so we couldn’t get any good shots.  Maybe we’ll be more lucky next week.

The breech tilt -- something I'm supposed to do 3 times a day for 20 minutes a session.  Laying upside down on an ironing board... totally natural, right?

The breech tilt — something I’m supposed to do three times a day for 20 minutes at a time. Laying upside down on an ironing board is totally natural, right?  Did I mention that I don’t own a full-size ironing board yet?

Currently, the kiddo’s transverse. He’s really taken to using my left lower rib as a pillow recently. While a part of me thinks that’s sweet, the most of me is tired of the pain and wants him to flip around and get into ready position.  I’ve been reading up on how to do that and doing some of the exercises suggested on YouTube (like this video) and sites like SpinningBabies. To be totally honest, though – this site‘s my favorite, for no other reason than it’s both helpful and hilarious.

I’m 99% sure that his breech position is entirely my fault because I spend so much time sitting, either at the computer or on the couch, and I’m almost never pelvis-forward. Time to start sitting on the floor, the balance ball, or flipping chairs around backwards.

Oh, and some things I’ve learned…

One way I didn’t expect pregnancy to change me was on a personal level. I thought I was already pretty mature, and that all the personal growth would be happening after the baby came out. But, it doesn’t work that way. Here’s what I’ve learned recently.

1.) Everybody knows at least one pregnancy horror story, and they all will tell you that story, regardless of whether or not you want to hear it. People who haven’t been pregnant don’t really care if it’s going to freak you out. There’s a real feeling that if they don’t let you know what happened to their sister’s best friend’s aunt, it could happen to you too. I’m getting really good at reminding myself that being afraid isn’t going to stop anything bad from happening, so it’s not worth it. 

2.) Most people who had babies more than 30 years ago seem to believe that the science of baby-rearing stopped progressing when they had their kids.  So, when they tell you how vitally important it is to have bumpers on your crib or that the best way to calm your baby is to put it on its belly with a fluffy stuffed animal and a blanket, they’re not actively trying to kill your kid. They just can’t fathom that the parenting advice that was given to them by doctors (and that they followed) isn’t considered safe anymore.  What’s worse is that many of them feel personally attacked if you correct them… which is why I am becoming incredibly good at just saying “thank you” for advice that I have no intention of following, and acknowledging that the bad advice is just a long-winded way for them to say that they want the best for me and my kid.

3.) Speaking of opinions — everybody has one, whether it’s an opinion on how you should be raising your kid, what you should be eating and/or doing during pregnancy, or what they consider socially acceptable… except for me, now.

I honestly don’t care if you use disposable diapers or cloth, if you formula feed or breastfeed (in public or private), if you co-sleep or strictly crib it. I could care even less if both you and your spouse work full time and have a nanny or if you are so committed to attachment parenting that you’ve decided to quit your job and spend all your time and energy homeschooling your kid from birth. Don’t believe in western medicine or giving birth in a hospital?  Mazel tov! More resources available to those of us who do. The circumcision debate? Both sides have merit! I really don’t care how you choose to parent.

I have decided to believe that everybody wants to do right by their kids (unless they’re a total sociopath or narcissist), and that if their personal decisions do not personally affect me or my family, they’re not worth my emotions or energy. 

This is as true for the mommy who has decided not to treat her kid’s ear infection with antibiotics (and instead to use essential oils) as it is for the parents who have decided that once their kid hits age 6, she’s going to boarding school.  Would I personally make either of those decisions? Oh hell no.  But you’re welcome to them.

4.) Speaking of — I remember my pre-pregnancy days. I thought my opinion mattered when it came to how my friends were raising their kids. It didn’t. It still doesn’t. I remember losing a friend because I so passionately argued against the use of leashes on children, and she was committed to using a backpack harness and leash on her daughter.  That friend didn’t need the aggravation of dealing with my unwanted opinion, and she was right to unfriend me. She was working hard to raise her kid and keep her safe, and my approval of her methods was not necessary.

Do I still think the use of child leashes is a bad thing? Most of the time, for the great majority of kids, yes. But does my opinion make a damn bit of difference? Hell no. I’ve learned that there are times when I just need to keep my mouth shut. And during times when I can’t (and yes, I acknowledge that they exist), just say what I have to say, and then back the fuck off. Arguing is not helpful in any way to either of us.

5.) I am super-grateful that I have been through the emotional bullshit and therapy that I’ve been through. I’m not ashamed of it. I feel so much more prepared to parent because I have already accepted that I’m gonna fuck up along the way and that fucking up is part of doing things right in the long run.

If I can teach Henry to not fear failure but to embrace it as a step on the way to greater success, I will have saved him from a lot of pain and anxiety.  And I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety recently about becoming a mom.  My mantra recently has been, “We’ll figure it out.” 

Am I gonna breastfeed or formula feed? Who knows?! I want to breastfeed as long as possible, but if I have an MS relapse when Henry’s born, I won’t have much of a choice — so we’re preparing for both eventualities. We’ll figure it out.

Are we going to use disposable or cloth diapers? Well, I love the look of cloth diapers and that they save money over time… but I have no idea about what my health is gonna be like or whether or not it’ll work with our lifestyle. So, we’re registered for cloth diapers, but we’re also gonna have a beer & diaper party for Adam’s birthday. When Henry’s born, we’ll see what works best for us and figure it out.

Heck, I obsessed over everything on the registries… but at the end of the day, if anything doesn’t work for us, we’ll figure out what does.  None of these things are life and death.

 

3 Important Things I Want My Child To Do

Earlier today, I read an article that inspired me. A father-to-be wrote out 14 things that he wants his future child(ren) to know… things that he doesn’t embody right now, but that he’ll probably strive to embody as his child grows.

I’m not so arrogant as to say that I feel prepared to be a mother.  I honestly don’t know anyone who isn’t either totally narcissistic or uniformed about the complexities of parenthood that can say they feel totally ready. Hell, I don’t even know if it’s possible to be ready.  But that’s the first thing I want my kid to know.

Try new things, especially if they scare you.

As a kid, this is gonna be easy because everything’s new. You don’t really have a say in the matter. You’re going to be presented with challenges over and over again. It’s part of growing up. But… as you get older, you’ll notice there are some things that you’re great at and other things that make you feel uncomfortable because you aren’t yet proficient. You’ll get comfortable with the idea of who you are and what you can do. That’s when you need to try something out of your comfort zone.themagic

The scary things — the things you see other people doing that make you think, “WOW, they are awesome!” Those are the things I want you to do, especially if you are afraid that you will fail or that people will laugh at you. Neither of those things are a good reason to stop yourself from growing.

When you think about doing those things, part of you will be excited and giddy… but there will also be a tiny, cowardly voice inside you saying, “Are you sure you can do that?” or “They’re so much cooler than you. There’s no way you can do that.” I want you to respond to that voice in a loud and powerful thunder inside. Respond to that voice by saying, “WATCH ME KICK SOME ASS.”  And then do whatever needs to be done. Don’t shy away from the hard work. It’s the most important work you can do.
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Embrace the suck.

I’m gonna bet that well before you’re an inevitably foul-mouthed teenager, you will have already heard the following phrases so many times that they seem reasonable to you. I say this, not because your father and I will say them frequently, but because they’re pervasive in pop culture, and real people say and think things like this all the time.

“Life sucks.” … “Work sucks.” … “I suck.” … “The Bears suck.” (Okay, that last one might be true.)

First, I apologize for cussing through your whole childhood. I’d like to pretend that becoming pregnant with you magically improved my vocabulary, but it didn’t.

Secondly, I’m gonna let you in on a secret that most people in our day and age have forgotten: Life is supposed to be hard. It’s a feature, not a bug! Sure, there will be times that are awesome and fun and happy and easy. It is my greatest hope that those times are a much bigger part of your life than the others… but you can’t have the good without the bad.

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I know, for a fact, there are going to be moments in your life that just, well, suck. You’re going to face loss. You’re going to face failure. You’re going to have your heart broken. You’ll lose hope. We all do, from time to time.

But, if your dad and I do our jobs well, you’re going to become resilient. You will know that nothing lasts forever – not sadness or happiness. You’re going to understand failure as a step towards success.  You’re going to accept loss as a natural progression that comes from having people and things in your life that you truly value, and you’re going to appreciate people and things while they’re around as best as you can. You’re going to learn that your heart is stronger and bigger than it ever feels like it is at any given moment. You will learn that time heals most pain, and that hope and happiness are things that you choose.

 

There are gonna be times when you’re building skill at something and you’ll get frustrated and think to yourself, “I suck at this!”  That’s a good thing, really! It means you have good taste, and that you should keep working.

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I can’t tell you the number of times I heard classmates at Berklee College of Music say that they sucked at their instruments. It was almost mandatory to believe that you weren’t good enough. Heck, it might as well have been an entry requirement. Truthfully, nobody who attends that school sucks at their instrument. They all are just humble and know how much better they could be. Everybody there was working hard to get better every day. I would go so far as to say at least half the folks at my college were perfectionists, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  There are folks out there who say that “perfect” is the enemy of “good”… but really, the enemy of good is quitting.  This is as true for honing your skill in any art form as it is for gaining skill and technique with bodybuilding, gardening, carpentry, or any other pursuit in life.

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There are also folks out there who will tell you to follow your dreams. I’m one of them!  But in all the dreamy talk, people often forget that the actual act of doing what you love is still damn hard work. It really doesn’t matter what you choose, honestly. The way you’ll know that you’re on the right path is that you will not hate the hard work or yourself for doing it. Sure, it’ll still suck. Work almost always sucks. That’s why it’s called work and not “fun.”  But if you’re doing the right kind of work, you won’t mind it so much. You’ll think to yourself, “Well, at least I’m doing this and not [insert something you truly hate here].”

One of my friends in college had a gross saying that used to make me laugh pretty hard, but it’s dead on in this regard. He would say, “Being happy is all about deciding the right flavor of shit sandwich to chow down on.”

So, embrace “the suck” in all of its forms. Doing so will make your life so much more enjoyable. Resistance to pain only makes it subsist.

Love Yourself.

For some people, this is one of the hardest lessons they will ever learn in life, if they ever learn it.  The world is full of folks who exist in a state of sadness that comes from years of untreated trauma. They have low self-esteem. They believe they somehow deserved whatever bad treatment they’ve endured. They don’t believe they deserve good things. They don’t feel like they deserve unconditional love. I know this person.  I’ve been this person, and I healed because of your father (and our family)’s unwavering and unconditional love and patience, and a lot of work with several good psychologists. It took years for me to be able to say that I love myself without feeling guilty or like a fraud.  I will do everything in my power to make sure you never have that same challenge.

I want to assure you, right now, that you are unquestionably loveable.  I can say this without hesitation because I already love you like crazy, and you’re not even born yet. Heck, you were created from love. I thought this world needed more of your father in it… and he thought the same thing about me.  If you ever find yourself wondering, “Why did my parents have me?” the answer is very simple. We loved the idea of you before you were part of our world. We wanted to hug you and love you and teach you and watch you grow. We wanted to leave a legacy of goodness and love, and the best way we could think to do that was through you.  And that goes for any siblings you might have later too.

So please, treat yourself with the same compassion you would treat anyone else. Be kind to yourself. If you ever find yourself beating yourself up over anything at all, ask yourself, “What would Mom say to me?” I promise, I’d say something nice. 🙂

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Advertisements, magazines, and many TV shows exist to make you believe that you’re not enough exactly the way you are. Companies, in an effort to sell you things, will tell you that you need to be thinner, faster, sexier, richer. Don’t believe any of it. You are the only one of you that has ever existed or will ever exist. Your existence is unique event in the history of the universe.

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Right now, you are the size of a sweet potato… and I know there are many more important things that I want to teach you.  Those lessons will have to wait for another day because I desperately need a nap.

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