America, sleeping

While you were sleeping..

I read an article about maternity leave in other countries. We are one of only five countries in the world that doesn’t have at least one year of government paid maternity leave.

I already knew that. Maybe you didn’t?

It gets me writing …

I believe that having to leave your baby is the worst thing this country could ever do for the health of our nation and the world. The struggle, worry, anxiety and depression of taking care of your home, feeding and bonding with your child, sleepless nights and busy, burnt out days … this is something that every mother can relate to. We call ourselves strong because we can cope and some of us make it through. Some of our relationships last. Some of our bonds with our kids remain in tact. The sad truth is that sometimes no matter how much you give and struggle and “be strong” and try … it just doesn’t work out that way.

Age 0-1 is the most important bonding time a child will have ever and it will shape their heart and their brain forever. By age five … you are what you are, sure you can change things about yourself and make choices, but essentially you will be that little five year old for the rest of your life. If that five year old is hurt … you better believe you’ll be talking about it in therapy for the rest of your life. Many Americans don’t. Many Americans just continue the cycle and put that hurt on to their children. Some shoot up schools. Some use drugs to cope. Some kill themselves. Many find bad relationships much like the ones they remember, or worse.

We should be strong and we should do good and be good and take care of ourselves be we are just animals and we are vulnerable. When we have babies we are raw. We are wearing our hearts on the outside and we should! We shouldn’t have to be forced to toughen up. To let the baby cry. To give the baby to someone else. To blame the baby for our problems. We shouldn’t have to be concerned about if we are going to be able to keep breastfeeding because work is getting in the way.

Raising a society that treats people well and is successful starts at home. It starts with love. It starts with setting a good example of nurture and care.

Raise your hand if your relationship would be better if you weren’t ships passing in the night, trying to take care of your kids and bills on opposite schedules 👋🏼 Raise your hand if your relationships with your children could be different if you could take one on one Time more with your kids after a new baby came into the family 👋🏼 Raise your hand if you feel that your relationship with your parents suffered because everything else came first 👋🏼

In this country we measure success with the size of our wallets. We have a drug epidemic. We have a mental health crisis. We have a mass shooting problem. We have a teen suicide problem. Those little 0-5 year olds inside of us are screaming for help and no one is helping us.

This is textbook. This is human behavior. This is a problem.

We could fix it.

We don’t.

This country wants you to be blind to how everyone else is doing it all over the world. We are our own worst enemy and we are too busy  change it or notice.

We are breeding competitive behaviors and jealousy. I’m guilty of those behaviors FOR SURE.

When I see someone who gets to spend every meal time with their family … Someone who has Sunday dinners and family board game time with extended family … I’m mad. I’m genuinely mad. I’m mad because I don’t have that. I’m mad because I have worked my ass off since age ten with family goals in mind and somehow I’m still working my ass off on this hamster wheel without success how I measure it. Whether I’m watching someone collecting food stamps and free state insurance while they work less than I do, or watching someone who is satisfied living in a trailer over a five bedroom house … I am resentful. I hate that about me.

I want it to be fair. I want a higher power to care that we are all human, we are all struggling, we all need help. We need to take care of our mothers, our babies and our elderly.

We are trained …. brainwashed! To be racist. We are brainwashed to believe we are the best country and we are doing it right. We are not !!! That’s a fact. That’s math! We are trained to always put on this show and compete with one another instead of looking out for one another when the only solution is love ….  starting at home!

The fine line

I’m in bed. It’s 9am. I’m here because it’s the last day of summer and I’m soaking up the freedom before the school schedule hits and my bed sees me even less.

The truth … I’m here because I slept three hours total (maybe). You see, that’s pretty much my night every night. I can count on me to not sleep, whether healthy or not, moreover .. sustainable or not … I got this. Or at least I tell myself as much. The realty is .. I’m out of shape, unhealthy and beyond exhausted. It doesn’t really matter because nobody gives a fuck.

My three year old has diabetes. I refuse to let her down. Really, I refuse to let her die. If I let my guard down … she dies. I also have a little bitty baby who has decided that she wants (not needs) to eat and wake in the middle of the night.

On this particular night (last night) my diabetic daughters levels were riding the mast dangerous line possible. In type one diabetes there is a very fine line from health to danger and that fine line is your eyelids .. you blink and something can change. If you don’t act quickly because your lids were shut .. you just may never wake up (in this case… she may not  .. because she’s 3 and it’s my job).

There’s another factor SIDS. Yes I said it. I’m terrified of sudden infant death syndrome. It happens. It happens often. My little baby needs me just as much as my type one baby needs me. Neither of them need me less than my other two, that shouldn’t have to take the back burner because they are free of ailments. What a great way to cause ailments of a whole new breed.

So here I am. The keeper of these four little lives. They could change the world one day. They could just as easily turn out badly and harm the world. Not on my watch. So I take watch. Eye lids wide open. Watching sugar levels in the left hand and a video baby monitor on the right.

The three year old (quick diabetes lesson) .. her sugars are in a blessed range. A range that a type one would dream of. They are floating between 60 and 70 with no insulin on board. I’m not doing this. Insulin isn’t doing this. Control isn’t exactly a thing when it comes to diabetes. So we take it as it comes. Floating for hours between 60 and 70 is beautifullllll. Floating at 57 and under deadly! And deadly fast.

How tired am I? The most tired … possibly more tired than my husband who is sleeping through all of the crying and the alarming. While his coma is tempting, that girl needs someone to be on watch for her. Her sweet little body should not be pumped with apple juice just so I can sleep. Especially since she already had some before bed.

I choose not to sleep. It doesn’t mean I don’t need it. I’d stay awake for her for weeks on weeks on years on years if it means I never have to wake up without her.

And this little one. Ugh. I love her like … well there isn’t a measure. I’ve given up everything for her. I’ve dreamed of her for my whole life, but realistically, for 2.7 years (that’s a long time). My biggest fear for the next 18 years is to wake up and not have her. So I watch her monitor as she fake screams at me. Don’t worry … I know the difference. 4th kid deep .. you know. If a baby is crying and you pick them up and it shuts down 100% … they’re lying to you. If this one .. this little cheaty twerp … looks silently up at her monitor to make sure mommy knows she’s crying …. she’s lying! This doesn’t change the fact that I haveee to watch her. She’s four months old. SIDS is a real thing. This lying little nut can’t get herself out of a bad situation because she’s not yet strong enough to do so. If she’s fussing and she is strong enough to flip over but then not strong enough to flip back .. my whole world is done for. So I watch her.

This is my life. Maybe not as severe, every single night. But every single night I go to bed with a tangible fear of Hypoglycemic death and SIDS. If I wake up to one less kid it is all on me. Forever.

That is all.

So .. I’m taking an hour. To “nap” and I have been reading and writing the whole time.

That’s okay.

I’m going to go stuff my face into the necks of those fragile little babies who have no idea what it takes to keep them and be ever so grateful that they don’t.

Lies.

A clean house is a beautiful thing. It tells you a lot about a person. KIDDING! It tells you that a person can clean their house when expecting company. Which, might actually be telling you the least about that person ever. Cleaning the house before company isn’t exactly a unique trait. It does tell me that you know a little something about proper etiquette, which this day and age is actually highly commendable. It also tells me that you were raised by a mother that tried her best. “Best” is certainly relative in its usage. I have learned throughout my journey as an adult and a parent, especially recently, that my mother probably did try her best. She also gave up after she found that her “best” was either no good or not what people were interested in, or maybe just too hard to sustain. Either way, I digress. 

A clean house is unhealthy. I have come to this decision on my own, but, medically, it is also true. The new theory in medicine is that our clean environment is to blame for the early onset, rapid increase and changes to many diseases. Back in the day, parents would let their children eat off the floor, bathe once a week, they wouldn’t wash their hands as much and you damn well know parents weren’t carrying hand sanitizer around with them or spraying bleach all over their house when one kid was sick to try to prevent the rest from catching it. Honestly, what even is that?! Before I say what I’m about say … relax. I bet your nasty little rugrats have had conjunctivitis … That’s poop dude! ew. Anyway, my kids do not wash their hands many times a day. I do not encourage being yucky and if their hands are dirty, they are to wash them asap. Also in public restrooms, if they’ve touched stuff .. for the love of god wash your hands! However, in our house, with our family, I really believe proper wiping skills are more important teachings than that of washing your hands. Now, my daughter may have a potentially fatal and lifelong disease, but hey, that was in the cards for her from the jump and genuinely has nothing to do with her health. My kids don’t get sick. They get nasty booger noses and coughs that make me want to punch their faces but they don’t get fevers. There’s no need for days off of school or medications. Sleep, alone is their cure all. I digress. 

Having a clean house is also socially, mentally and emotionally unhealthy for children. Also, I made that up .. but hear me out. Kids need to use their imagination. They need to jump, run throw, uncover all their awful little toys and leave them places that their parents can break a leg on them. They need to feel safe in order to do these things because it bonds them with their siblings. It encourages creative, interactive play which stimulates their brain and helps them grow into well-rounded adults with impeccable social skills and innovative minds. While there is certainly a time and a place to learn to pick up after yourself and have your mother follow you around nagging you … it just shouldn’t be always. Ever met an artist who is clean …. lies. Ever met a hot girl with a clean bathroom counter, closet or car …. lies. In order to create a masterpiece within yourself, whether it be your body, face, brain or canvas as the focal point, you gotta get a little messy.  

….. And now whether you like it or not you have read an entire blog that I wrote jusssst because I don’t wanna clean my house. HA!      

 

 

1000 words

I take a lot of pictures. I have a vision for them. I love to do it. The pictures, the pictures are good. I don’t want to be a professional photographer. Professional photography is often 90% technical skill and 10% heart. I want to experience the photograph. I want to remember thinking of the photo I wanted to create, the memories that were had and the people that were in them. 

There was a time I shot landscape photography, only. I specifically remember a time … I was sharing printed photographs I had taken on vacation with an ex after I had come home. I was on that vacation with roughly 16 people. He, quickly, shuffled through the pictures and said “where are all the people?” I hadn’t taken one picture of anyone. I said to him, “people only ruin pictures.” At the time, I genuinely thought that statement was true. I know that he was only trying to catch a glimpse of me in some pictures. Out of kindness, he looked at the pictures, but he didn’t care about the mountains, the sunset, the flowers or the ocean. At the time, I didn’t like myself. I certainly wasn’t proud of my life. In retrospect, I really see why I didn’t take pictures of myself or anyone else. I didn’t want to be seen at all.  

I have always had a camera in my hand from the moment I could hold one. I was developing in a basement darkroom at the ripe age of 9 years old. I was winning awards for photos I had taken and ones that were taken of me, in all four of my high school years. I once read something that said, “If you want to know what someone cares about, just look at what they are taking pictures of.” Thinking back to my conversation with my ex that day and, really, my behaviors my whole life, I get it. My photos have changed drastically throughout my life. I have so much that I care about and even when I didn’t care, my photography reflected just that.  

My formally estranged, now reunited, yet also separate, totally not my other half but kinda, maybe sorta (guy) said to me the other day “I am so SICK of this taking pictures thing”. I’ve heard this from him before. I’m not hurt. I am barely annoyed. He may hate the “taking pictures thing” but guess what he doesn’t hate … “the pictures thing.” The man has pictures that I have taken all over every screen saver in his life and covering his desk at work and his toolboxes in the many garages he works in. It’s like saying you hate work but love money. Get over it.  

I am self-aware. To a fault. I know what I am good at. I know what I struggle with. I am very aware of what I am bad at and I know the things that take the most work. I also know that I am blessed. Often times, with all that “self-awareness” comes a little forgetfulness. I (temporarily) forget that I am blessed. I (temporarily) forget that there are great days in my past and with that, there are great days in my future. No memory is picture perfect and sometimes getting the picture is the least perfect memory of all.  

The thing is …. the picture IS perfect! I know it, because I made it that way. I made it that way so when I have those days that everything is imperfect, I can still look at that picture and know … I’m not far from another moment that can reflect all of my greatest joys, efforts and work. You may just see a picture, but I see every single good day, bad day, hard conversation, sleepless night, drag out fight, ugly cry, joyous laugh, painful tear and all the smells that filled my lungs with love. To me … there isn’t a prettier picture.    

 

Without Notice.

What’s the most important thing in life? I have to ask this sometimes before I think to open my mouth or use my heart to make decisions. I have a big heart, so big that the broken parts can’t support the stable parts and often it just all feels bruised. I want to respect the people who treat me well and it’s so very few people that it shouldn’t be a hard task. It just feels so impossible. I don’t want to say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing or make any promises I can’t keep. I’m the most decisive when I am fueled by pain, hurt and loss. I have lived my entire life completely selfless or completely selfish as a rebound for the former. I need to find a grey area. I need to be treated right by the right people and be happy with the decisions I make. I’ve only ever watched people be completely selfish, which has only ever made me want to be an example of complete selflessness, all while being attracted to those selfish people. When life hurts, I join them. How better to guard myself from feelings than to think only about myself and what I need. No one ever got anywhere in life selflessly. Clearly, letting people in only hurt so now it’s time to think just about me, until of course I end up alone again to reassess whether selfishness was really the way to go. It’s a never ending cycle and I don’t know the right way to live. While I have found love so many times and have been loved by so many amazing people, I find myself hurt, sad and disappointed more times than I care to count. Ending up completely alone because I refuse to be treated poorly never feels like a total loss. It’s better to be right than be happy and it’s better to be alone than to be disrespected. Its especially easier to be angry than to be despondent. Feeling alone while sitting next to someone is the worst feeling I’ve ever had. I’ve felt it with my parents. I’ve felt it in relationships. I’ve felt it with my kids, at stages. At least with them, I know that they will grow out of those stages. I refuse to live always lonely but never alone. Is there a way to fix the pain of raising a child all alone? Is there a way to fix the empty feeling that is waking up next to a baby and being the only one there staring at her beautiful face, cuddling her beautiful body and putting her back to sleep, night after night. All alone. I don’t wonder if there are words anymore. I know that there aren’t. I tried the words thing more than I ever would have normally. I blame the hormones because I’m really NOT a fighter, or a talker even. I cared a lot, but it didn’t get me anywhere. I see the truth. I’m not stupid. I don’t know what’s next, but I won’t stop loving and I don’t blame anyone, not even myself. I don’t think life was supposed to be easy. It seems as though, daily, I am faced with the reminder that it all could end without notice. I am thankful. I am grateful. I know that I am blessed.  I will keep going.

The thing is …

The thing about things is, they are just things. They’re never going to bring you back to relive a moment in the same way. The first time is the only time you can experience a memory the right way. You can relive it in your mind, sure, that’s healthy and hopefully you were present enough in the moment to realize that it was one of those moments to really hold on to. Hopefully you weren’t buried in your phone or thinking about what’s for dinner.

I’m always present, maybe it’s a problem sometimes because I miss moments while they’re actually going on, I get emotional in wishing I could make moments last forever. There are a handfuls of blessed moments I will never let go of in my mind and my heart. There are more terrible ones, for sure. One of the good ones was the last song at my wedding when everyone that I loved that I had been collecting my whole life gathered around in a circle and we danced and high fived our way into a new chapter. Their acceptance, their love, their smiles, the laughter, the music and sounds can never be duplicated, purchased or bottled. Keeping my wedding dress in my closet to never be worn again isn’t going to bring me back to that moment better than my vivid memory. 

I remember coming home with my first baby, laying in bed, looking at the miracle of life we had created, it was quiet, there wasn’t a plan for the day or anything to do that was more important than just being present. I can still smell her skin and remember the feeling of love like I had never felt before in my whole life. The feeling of peace, purpose, success and health. That complete feeling doesn’t get diminished or changed because I didn’t save the outfit my baby was wearing. 

My kids draw pictures and write me notes everyday. I adore them. I often keep my favorites around for quite a while and I take pictures of them to refer back to for the rest of my life. Do I hesitate throwing them away later? No. Not ever. I touched them, I acknowledged them, I loved them and they mattered to me, they still do and that’s why I took a picture. What I think is so much sadder than throwing something like that away is cataloging it in millions of Rubbermaid boxes in the basement to be either looked through in a sorrowful heartbreak moment of times gone by, or worse .. to overwhelm your space and your life and to never be gone through again until you need the space and have to make the heartbreaking choice to get rid of them for good. This time, however, you’re asking your kids, your relatives, your storage company if they give a shit to take them off your hands and love them the way you do. They won’t. Those memories mean so much less to everyone else because they’re yours. 

Yeah, it’s more than possible that I’ve watched too many (all in fact) of my loved ones hold on to things and homes as if that’s who they are and that’s all they have. I have watched them spend endless hours going through boxes of memories, sad to think about making space for more, devastated that they can’t take it all to their grave. These people are overwhelmed with feelings. They’re overwhelmed with clutter. They’re overwhelmed with in your face good, bad and missed memories. Those feelings weigh them down like a ton of bricks and it becomes too late to handle it in an afternoon, a year or even several years. 

I get it. I’ve been there. You can’t be raised by people like that and not have caught the bug yourself, at some point. Cleaning my room as a teenager was daunting, difficult and just made me want to eat a bunch of ice cream and quit for the day. After all, I didn’t only inherit the collector vice, but I was also blessed with the power to eat all of my feelings. Lucky me. As long as I could sit around a room full of unopened, rare action figures of my favorite horror movies, mint condition Care Bears, old notes from friends and lovers, empty bottles I thought were cool, 400 movies, 1000 books, a closet full of shoes, 80% of which I’d never wear again .. man, it almost felt like I wasn’t alone. I was SOO alone though and when it came to throwing a thing away, changing something or letting go of emotions that were attached to all of those things, I’d never felt more emotional and more alone. Maybe, if I just ate a bunch of garbage that didn’t make me feel better, I could hide behind the idea that I deserved to be alone or that I didn’t feel like or want to be seen or heard. After all, I subconsciously, yet very purposely and literally made myself too sick to do anything but sit around in the overwhelming environment and emotions that made me make myself sick in the first place. 

For actual hundreds of years I’ve been witness or privy to my family being held prisoner with the impossible and isolating burden of keeping a business afloat on their own, keeping an old house warm, together and cared for, keeping land in the family. This has actually killed them. Like walk out to fetch some wood for the fire and never come back, killed them! 

Loving a property, a business, stuff, a town, land … it isn’t love. It’s possession and you aren’t the one who is in possession. The things are in possession of you and they will weigh you down enough to kill you. 

It is my choice to live my life feeling light, living in the light, not being burdened by things and stuff that can only weigh me down. 

That’s the thing. 

There are no mistakes.

For anyone who ever thought they made a mistake and anyone that ever thought they were a mistake ….

There is this idea that a child can be a mistake. I don’t buy that. 

One in four pregnancies miscarry, that’s without the medical need to end them, which brings the odds of success even lower. 

A woman is born with all the eggs she will EVER have. An egg can only be fertilized 12-24 hours in a month! Leaving a very short window for even the most fertile of people. 

Each time a man ejaculates he releases 100 million sperm! They are all different genetic codes and different genders! 

Let’s go back ….

A woman is born, somewhere. A man is born, somewhere. Somehow, they meet. Somehow, they like each other. Somehow they find themselves together, intimately. 

Whether they were trying to create life, or not, their dna combined. 

Not only were they healthy enough to have the parts that made it work, but the timing was right. The match was right. 

After months of waiting to see what they created, they look at that baby … it’s unlike any baby in the whole world. They made THAT match. Any other couple, any other sperm, any other month, day, hour and she wouldn’t be who she was. She is unique. 

Circumstances may not always be perfect. But that baby was meant to be. With billions of obstacles in her way, she is here, never the less. You can’t tell me that was a mistake. She is a match, a miracle and a life that was meant to be created.

Some of us were raised by loving parents. Some of us were raised by parents that hate each other. Some of us were raised by only one parent. Some of us were raised by relatives. Some of us were abandoned. Some of us were adopted. Some of us were barely raised at all. But ALL of us were meant to be. 

That’s science.