So I Went to Wyoming

2 07 2014

…and I kept a brief journal of my trip. I know. You’re such lucky readers.

6/27/14 – Wyoming, Day 1

I tried communing with nature, but it was muddy so I gave up.

My cousin, on the other hand, tried to drive across a stream and his truck is now stuck.

Did I mention he's a doctor?

Did I mention he’s a doctor?

So most of the men-folk and several women are working on that mess, while I sit here and avoid venturing forth into the mud.

Did I mention I hate mud?

It’s evening now. The kids are outside running around and a small group of adults is playing Carcassone. I’m not playing because I hate strategy games even more than I hate mud.

Still, I feel a little bit left out.

There are a lot of people here. I love them all, but the sheer proximity—it’s a lot to deal with for someone who really enjoys solitude.

The decor here is Western American rustic. Or something. Basically, there are a lot of dead animals staring at me and it’s creeping me out.

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6/28/14 – Wyoming, Day 2

Today I went shooting and I drove an ATV. I feel so bad-ass.

You can't tell, but I'm totally behind the wheel of an ATV here. I promise.

You can’t tell, but I’m totally behind the wheel of an ATV here. I promise.

I just sang in the family talent show. I feel less bad-ass now, but still pretty awesome.

6/29/14 – Wyoming, Day 3

We went to church at a local congregation this morning. The talks were on faith, which is personally relevant to me right now.

Last week my therapist brought up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and we talked for a bit about faith. About how faith is more than believing in something—it’s knowing that if your hopes, your dreams, everything that if good in your life comes crashing down around you, you’ll still believe.

Faith, as one of the speakers said today, is more than just a feeling. It’s a choice.

So today I choose to have faith. I choose to believe my life will not always revolve around my depression. I choose to have faith that one day I’ll look up and realize my life is so much more than I ever expected it to become.

I choose. I believe.

6/30/14 – Wyoming, Day 4

Headed home today. We’ve had a great time here, but I’m still kind of glad we’re done.

We did run into some traffic on the way home.

We did run into some traffic on the way home.

So there you have it. I know, pretty exciting stuff. I bet you can hardly wait until my next post!

 





Done

22 06 2014

Okay, so it’s been over a week. I’m doing my best here, people.

Today I turned 38. Not a very big milestone, though it’s odd to think I’m merely two years away from 40. I’d like to say I’m another year wiser, but you’d probably all laugh at that (rightfully so). So really, 38 isn’t very big news. But here’s the thing—in just over a week, I’m having a procedure that will end my reproductive years.

I’ve known since we had Little G that we were done. I have no desire to give birth again.

Still, I mourn.

I mourn the passing of that stage of my life, and I wonder what to expect in the years to come.

I wonder about the woman that I am becoming. The woman I can become. The woman I will become.

I push down the little voice inside of me that says I will be less of a woman when I’m no longer capable of procreation. Womanhood is not dependent upon the ability to bear children, I tell myself, and most days I believe it.

I imagine the relative freedom of life with older children. What will I do with myself? How will I fill my time? I have so many questions, and only time will provide the answers. I’m not a patient woman. It grates at me to not know what’s coming.

Still. Whatever may come, whoever I may become, one thing is sure: it will be glorious, because it will be me.

 

*For those of you wondering, I’m having an endometrial ablation on July 1. So I’ll still have all my girl parts…they just won’t function like they used to. Whee!





Writing is Hard

10 06 2014

There are so many distractions in the world—so many excuses to stay away from my keyboard.

Writing is hard.

I write blog posts in my head all the time. I tell you all about the woman I met at the playground who was just angling to give me her business card, the jerks who swore at me when I refused to sell them pseudoephedrine because they didn’t have proper ID, the way I struggle to get out of bed every day, but I do it because my children depend on me and I can’t let them down.

So much to say.

Sometimes I wonder if I did tell you these things, if I wrote all the thoughts in my head, if you’d keep coming back. After all, not every post is thought-provoking, award-winning content.

I worry.

But I need to write. Writing is a healthy outlet for me, and the longer I go between posts, the less I write, the harder it gets to turn to my keyboard.

So now I make a promise to you. I will write at least one blog post per week. Those of you close to me, or even those of you who are simply casual readers—keep me honest.

Writing is hard, but it’s what I know, and I don’t want that to change.

Y’all come back now.





I Am a Mother

2 05 2014

Since none of you losers were at Listen to Your Mother on Tuesday night (close family excluded), I thought I’d post what I read. You’re welcome. 

 

I Am a Mother

“Why aren’t you wearing any underwear?” I ask for what feels like the millionth time.

“But mom, my underwear has poop on it!”

“Why does your underwear have poop on it? Did you wipe after you used the potty?”

“OOPS! I FORGOT TO WIPE!”

“How on earth did you forget to wipe your bum after you used the potty?”

Let’s be honest here—there’s no acceptable answer. What could he possibly say that would make me understand such a lapse in memory?

So ends another average day in the Smith home.

I believe certain women are born nurturers—something within them is programmed to mother every child who crosses their path. These are the women whose homes become the neighborhood hub; children enter and exit in a never-ending stream. Cookies are baked. Commercials are filmed.

I am not one of these women. I never particularly enjoyed babysitting or holding babies, and as I matured I wasn’t even sure I wanted to have children of my own. Obviously my views changed, and I’m now the mother to two wonderful boys.

Still, being a mom is something that doesn’t flow naturally through my veins. I have to work at it every day

Please don’t interpret this as me saying I’m a terrible mother. In my moments of stunning clarity, I will tell you I’m a great mom. My boys know they are loved. I get angry at them and they get angry at me and still they know that I love them. I believe that knowledge will serve them well in life.

But there are moments.

Moments when bums haven’t been wiped. Moments when tantrums are thrown over the plastic water holder for a grocery store carnation. Moments less like doing homework and more like climbing Mt. Everest.

Moments when I’m sitting at the park watching my kids play and it hits me—I’m so very lonely. Yes, I have friends. I spend time with them and I talk to them, but still, I feel isolated. It’s like I’m in a bubble with my children and even though I can reach out, a thin film will always separate me from others.

Moments when I wonder what the hell was I thinking, becoming a mother?

I think of all the things I could be doing if I didn’t have children. Perhaps I’d actually have my college degree. I’d certainly have more money—maybe I could travel. I’d be so carefree and glamorous and charming and I’d never be caught off guard by the random appearance of a penis or an unhygienic rear end.

Right?

Then I sit on the couch and my eight-year-old comes to sit next to me. It’s been a long day, and we’re both exhausted and ready for bedtime. “I got ready early,” he tells me, and burrows up under my arm. He closes his eyes. “You’re my favorite mommy,” he murmurs as I stroke his hair and he drifts into oblivion.

The next morning my five-year-old slips his hand into mine on the way to the car. I’m amazed by how small and warm his hand is, and how well we fit together.

This. This is what I was thinking.

Is it what I expected? Heavens, no. None of my contemplations on motherhood ended with me hiding in the bathroom, running the fan to drown out the screaming. There are days the reality is more than I can bear, but I’ve come to realize that’s just part of the package. Some moments are gloriously scrapbookable and others, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t mind a device or a potion that erases specific memories.

I wasn’t born to be a mother. I’m okay with that, because it doesn’t change the fact that I am a mother. Motherhood colors my thoughts and shapes my actions.

Now if you’ll hold that thought, I need to break up the underwear-clad wrestling match in the next room.

After all, I am a mother.





Good Enough

8 04 2014

You’re so much more than good enough.
~ Sarah McLachlan

Thursday night we had the first rehearsal for this year’s Listen to Your Mother show. Did I mention I’m doing that again? Because I totally am. I know.  I honestly can’t believe I was chosen for a second year in a row, but apparently the casting director is suffering from some sort of brain-wasting disease, because there I am on the cast list.

Anyway. It was my first time meeting this group of women—over a dozen smart, talented writers—and even though I listened to my favorite nerve-soothing Pandora folk music station on the ride over, my heart couldn’t quite decide if it wanted to reside in my throat or my belly as I knocked on the door.

I was the third woman to arrive, and the other two seemed perfectly nice. We made small talk and waited for the others.

And then the fourth woman arrived.

“Hi, I’m Jenny-” I started, and she cut me off.

“Oh, you don’t have to introduce yourself. You’re like a celebrity to me. I know who you are,” she very nearly gushed.

Wait, what? A celebrity?

Apparently this woman, who appeared perfectly sane, is some kind of…fan of my writing? I was flabbergasted. Actually, I still am. I mean, I enjoyed the Listen to Your Mother experience last year, but I certainly never expected this sort of reaction.

Which brings me to the point of my post. I know—logically—so very many things about myself. I know that I’m smart. I’m fairly certain that I’m funny. I have a gift for writing. I’m musically quite talented. I could keep going, but you get the idea.

But I believe I am fundamentally flawed.

Now, if you were to ask me if good old Bob down the street has something fundamentally wrong with him, I’d be the first one to tell you that we’re all children of God and God doesn’t make mistakes.

I cannot apply this logic to myself.

I faced this room full of women who are smart, gifted, funny, and talented on so many levels, and I felt…less than. I felt like no matter what I said, no matter what I did, it would never be good enough, because I will never be good enough.

I will never be a good enough mother.

I will never be a good enough wife.

I will never be a good enough person.

The next day, my newly-discovered fan sent a friend request on Facebook. Her profile picture showed a smiling face with a hand held up next to it, and on that hand was written, “I’m Imperfect & I’m Enough.”

Enough.

The thought struck me in the shower (because let’s admit it, all the best inspiration occurs in the bathroom)—maybe, just maybe, it’s not about being good enough.

Maybe I just need to accept that I’m enough.

I’m definitely imperfect. I’m far from good enough. But I am enough.

And you, out there reading this? This applies to you as well. You are enough. Whatever is going on in your life, wherever you are…you are enough.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. It means more than I’ll ever be able to adequately express.

xoxo





Keep Breathing

26 02 2014

“I want to change the world.
Instead, I sleep.”
~ Ingrid Michaelson

I am depressed.

I hate those words. I hate that they exist at all. I hate that depression has a foothold in my life that I just cannot seem to shake loose. I hate that I sit on my couch and run through all the things I need to do and then I curl up in a ball and do absolutely nothing.

I’m not lazy. I’m not procrastinating. I’m not lacking motivation.

I am depressed.

I want to get back to blogging, but when I open a window to start a new post, everything goes blank. I don’t know what to say anymore. I don’t know how to say it. The medium that I love so much is suddenly intimidating.

I am…well, you know.

I look for the positive. I got out of bed. I took a shower. I talked to a friend. It could be worse.

It has been worse.

Still, that’s not exactly how I want to live my life. “Sure, I’m depressed, but I’m not to hospitalization level, so hooray!”

I want to be happy.

Why does it have to be so hard?





I Am Trying

17 02 2014

I wrote this in April 2011 but never published it because I was being less honest about my depression and I was scared of worrying the people in my life. I’ve decided to share it with you now…well, honestly, I’m not quite sure why. I just like the writing, I suppose.

Feeling scared today
Write down “I am ok”
A hundred times the doctors say
I am ok
I am ok
I’m not ok
~ eels

I stand in the shower and look at my blood vessels—a branching, complex network, relaying blood to the tips of my toes, the rough spot on my elbow, the curve of my hip.

My body contains approximately 60,000 miles of blood vessels which circulate a little over five liters of blood. Step back from any squeamishness you have and imagine that color—a rich, gorgeous red. Picture the stark contrast to the pale pastel blue of my veins.

It is beautiful.

Millions of vessels. Capillaries, veins and arteries. A nick here, a scratch there. A satisfyingly fat bead gathers on my fingertip when the doctor performs my monthly blood thinner check; a rivulet streams down my shin when I cut myself shaving, pooling at the bottom of the tub until it flows down the drain, pink ribbons swirling.

One small slip, one wrong cut, too much curiosity, and all five liters will leave my body in minutes.

It is terrifying.

I’m not suicidal…I’m just fascinated.

I’m not okay.








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