Friday, August 5, 2016

Uncomfortably Numb

~A. L. Tennyson
I wish they warned me about this in Psychology class. I think there should be at least a whole semester devoted to how depression makes you unfit and unable to handle being a mother. Because that’s how I feel.
I remember watching a video a few years ago about a high school track athlete with Multiple Sclerosis. She was explaining that after intense exertion, the MS causes her to lose all the feeling in her extremities, even while her body keeps going through the motions. Besides feeling completely in awe of her perseverance in spite of her diagnosis, I thought that was such a similar description to what I feel like, parenting with depression. When it takes all the energy and motivation you have to simply get up and get out of bed in the morning, I feel like I spend the rest of my day numb - going through the motions. There is just nothing left for when the day doesn’t go as planned, or the kids are being especially cruel. And they’re kids. For the most part, they shouldn’t be to blame for expressing themselves when they’re frustrated and confused and unsure of how to show it meaningfully. But at the same time, it hurts. It hurts so much when they yell at you and tell you that they think you don’t care about them. Because - unbeknownst to them - the fear that you’re not able to care enough plays on repeat in your own head all day. When all of the daylight hours feel like you’re running a track race completely numb, using every amount of effort you have just to make sure your kids are content, and fed, and washed, and dressed. When you’re foregoing eating, and drinks, and the rest you so desperately crave, just to make sure that you are there, and present, and engaging with them so you don’t lie in bed later agonizing over all the wasted minutes and hours that slipped away when you were so lost and struggling with your own body and mind - just to have them turn around and scream at you that all your best effort isn’t worth it...
Not worth it, and not worthy. Their words repeat what your depression is telling you, every day. When the message echoes around you in stereo, its so hard to tune out the noise. But your one job as a parent is that you must not give up. Sometimes I wonder if the pain is my blessing in life, just so I know that the numbness isn’t all there is.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bitter Pill

Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself, "I have failed three times," and what happens when he says, "I am a failure." ~S.I. Hayakawa
As parents, we all have our most challenging child. The one who frustrates us, pushes us, and makes us redefine our limits, our strengths, and ultimately plays on our weaknesses. We may love them all, but it's not easy to love them all the same.
Monkey is my most challenging. My enigma. Always changing and mercurial with her likes and her temperament. At times I think I can catch a glimpse of the little girl I knew and bonded with in the first 7 years, other times I think she's a changeling. But the hardest facet of her personality is that she will rarely ask for help. My Monkey will push ahead blindly, or hide and cry, but hardly ever will she ask for assistance. So most times it falls to me to judge when she has met her limit, and needs someone to step in. This can be met with resignation and acceptance, or it can be met with fierce denial and resentment. One can never tell. Whichever the case, I try to impress upon her that having help is an advantage, not something to be embarrassed about. But now what do I tell her when I can't get her the help she needs?
This school year has been a long and challenging uphill battle. We have tried tutoring, therapy, counseling, bribery, and punishment. Finally, in March, I thought we had scored by the school district agreeing to evaluate Monkey. But now it has all come to naught. Our request for an IEP was denied. Again. Instead of feeling relieved that my daughter will finally be able to get some individualized help in Math, I got a note at the bottom of the evaluation that read “We suggest flash cards or other methods of practice to help her retain basic concepts.” Really? My daughter has a 64 average in a subject, and you don’t think I’ve tried something as simple as flash cards?
I still can’t wrap my head around it. They promoted her to the next grade, but with an F. An F. Failure, flunkie, fan-freaking-tastic. I feel like I get an F for failing too. Because I failed my daughter. I told her all this year that she needs to learn to ask for help, because doing it solo while you’re struggling is not the way to do things. Yet, here I go asking for help, and we’re denied. I am at such a loss as to what to tell her. She already has internalized that her effort doesn’t matter because she “just fails it anyway.” What kind of example do I give her when my efforts fall short as well? What message is she left with?
We will be spending the summer blocking this entire episode out of our minds doing flash cards. And hoping for a miracle regarding her placement come September.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


I held a small ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the passing of my mom. I wasn't sure how well it would be received or attended, but I really felt like I needed to do something. It has been so long without her.
I had seen many years ago that Hawaii started a lantern floating ceremony on Memorial Day that looked so peaceful and beautiful. People write messages to loved ones and then float them off the coast of the beach. I wanted to try and recreate something like that for my mom. I think it was a wonderful success. The evening started off with a sun dog appearing in the sky, and a small breeze sent all the lanterns with their messages safely to the other side of the lake.
It was a beautiful evening surrounded by friends and family. I feel incredibly lucky to have so many people still here to remember her by. I'm hoping to try and do it again sometime, to keep her memory alive.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Five Little Words

"There was once a boy named Pierre, who only would say,"I don't care!"

Read his story, my friend, for you'll find at the end, that a suitable moral lies there." ~M. Sendak
Mommy lost her shit yesterday. I feel like it was inevitable, with how much stress I have been under, and how little release I have been finding time for. And of course, since Monkey has the shortcut menu to my hot buttons, she was the one to set me off. Just five little words that apparently blow my temper like an atom bomb. “You don’t care about me.”
Oh, my darling, how wrong you are.
I realize mothering is the most thankless of jobs. The day to day minutiae that actually makes a household run is something always expected, but never appreciated. I have yet to have one of my children thank me for the hours spent making them complete their homework, or hounding them about project deadlines, or telling them to turn off the video games, and go outside. The most feedback I get about dinner, and breakfast, and lunch is how horrible it is, and that they refuse to eat it. And I know the last thing they’re thinking about while they’re off doing their thing at dance, or sports practice, or a game, is what Mommy is thinking about on the bench while she’s waiting for them. About how she skipped dinner to make sure they were fed, or is cold because their sibling insisted they didn’t need a coat so she gave them her own, or how she wished she could be off doing the million other errands that need to be done, but she doesn’t have time for. Because she is with them, always. In mind, in thought, in action.
Most times I can take a step back from my anger and remind myself that they are blessed that they are truly unaware of what it is to experience someone not caring about them. That their hurt feelings and animosity are temporary and fleeting, unlike the scars some children carry from the burden of being neglected or alone. But every once in awhile, they witness the human side of me. The side that is just as hurt and resentful as they are about how unfair I feel I’m being treated. And as guilty as I feel about it now, as horrible and childish I myself acted, in a way I’m glad they saw me as raw as I was. I hope they remember that was Mommy caring so much about you that she was crying.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Breaking Through

“I am not what i have done. I am what i have overcome.”
May 7th, Mother’s Day weekend, I ran my first 5K with my husband. We wore orange in honor of my mother, we stuck together as we dodged through the strollers, and walkers, and dancers, and kids. My husband even got hit with a spraying can of beer. But we did it. I did it. Asthma and all. For her. For me. For the fact that I am still here breathing, even though the pain can still take my breath away.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

In Wonderland

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
Most days, I still feel like Alice after she fell down the rabbit hole. It has been two long years to get to this point. Two years of doubting myself, second guessing myself, and losing every ounce of confidence I had about being a good mother. About being a mother who could help her kids, guide them in the right direction. Help them learn and grow. Its two years later and I feel that I have none of these qualities anymore. And still I have no answers.
After a personality change, a near complete withdrawal from extra curricular activities, and an academic freefall, my wish for an evaluation for Monkey was finally granted. But even if we get a diagnosis that deviates from simple ADHD, I still feel like it will get us nowhere. It's almost May already. The white rabbit would agree that we are late in every sense of the word. Even with an IEP, there is no magical cure that will create passing scores in her two suffering subjects before June. No magical drinks or edible mushrooms that will instantly make her ready to be promoted. I'm trying not to fixate on a future of summer school or a repeated grade, but the possibility looms over my head every day. And still no progress report from the school. I just get to sit and wonder what is going on in the otherwordly dimension of the Upper Elementary. It's frustrating to go from such open communication in her last school, to having none whatsoever in the next. My imagination does me no favors filling in the blanks in lieu of actual information.
So I drift in this stagnant ocean of helplessness and anxiety. Wanting to know, but dreading what they have to tell me. Fearful that I won't be strong enough to help my child navigate the next chapters of her life with my sanity intact. And on and on we cycle through the same repeated behaviors and conflicts, just like being stuck at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with no escape. With the depression in the background calling me like a siren, trying to seduce me into its arms.
My only solace is to keep distracting myself with other things. Keep pushing, and living, and moving forward, to distance myself from my own mind. Doing anything I can not to go through the looking glass in my mind to the other side.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Happy Birthday to you
Still lost without you
I just keep pushing forward

And try to live for you too