Monday, January 13, 2014

I am Mom.

I want to let you all in on a little secret: I do not, DO NOT have my shit together.

Not even a little bit.

The Christmas tree is still up and quickly becoming a probable fire hazard. The mantles are still decked out in festive greens, and increasingly, spiderwebs. The bills are in a pile on the corner of the dining room table, unpaid, un-filed, untouched. My 6 week grocery plan has expired, I was supposed to go grocery shopping last weekend, and I have not one clue what I will be feeding my family tomorrow. Not one. There are no clean towels. (And I own many, many towels.) I am tired. I am exhausted. I need to shave my legs but I can't reach them over my ever larger, ever harder, baby bump.

I have no intentions of making a New Years Resolution, or improving myself, or organizing my house. I could not possibly care less about any of it.

My kid was just diagnosed with a rare genetic disease which does not allow him to properly digest sugars or starches, the kind you find in normal, healthy, everyday foods like fruits, vegetables and grains. It comes with lots of big words and far flung support groups and one very specific drug from one very specific source for which our insurance could not determine coverage for for weeks. (But they did cheerfully tell me that the annual cash price was about $14,000 for HALF of the dosage he likely needs, a dosage which will double once he reaches a normal weight. This made me want to panic until someone deposited me in a rubber room. We just found out it will be covered. Thank God.) It comes with a specialized and highly restrictive diet. It comes with a higher risk for viruses, complications, and hospitalizations. It comes with knowing that nearly all over the counter medicines are off limits because they are formulated with sugars and starches which may not be on the label. Piles of papers and information such that I had to make a binder to sort it all out. And rules, so many rules. Articles and websites, clinical trials, hours on the phone with doctors, and insurance, "Care Coordinators" and "Peer Coaches". It comes with frustration, and anger and tears.

And guilt. Guilt because he's bright and cheerful and all of his appendages work. Guilt because he will grow, maybe even thrive once we figure this out. Guilt because we have insurance at all, so what do I have to complain about? Guilt because he does not need to be hospitalized, and I don't have to quit work to care for him. Guilt because I live in a nice house with a supportive husband. Guilt because I have some of the most amazing Mommy friends and The Most Amazing and supportive extended family anywhere, ever. (I'm not even exaggerating a little.) Guilt because we are about to have another baby who may be at risk for the same disease. Guilt because before I know it, my focus will be divided and I won't have the time or brain cells to deal with this the way my son deserves. Guilt because all in all, we are damn lucky.

And guilt because I want to yell at everyone.

My sweet dog for following me everywhere because she's worried. The Hubster for like, whatever. The excellent doctors who found this. My kid for refusing to sleep, or nap, who wants to nothing all day but snuggle and read books. I want to scream at all the idiots on Facebook who keep posting pseudo-science articles about how you can cure allergies and food sensitivities and damn near everything else by just eating right and exercising because it's the New Year and that's what we do in America to celebrate. And above all, my family and friends for being cheerful and so freaking up lifting. (Damn it, you are a persistently positive bunch.)

Maybe it's the third trimester hormones. Maybe it's the stress. But lately, I have been getting so much praise for being a "Great Mom" that it feels false. And I know that it's because people are looking for a way to support me. And it might be because they see my decorated house, and my bright happy boy and my chin up, head down, keep calm and carry on, exterior and think, "She really has it together, if anyone can deal with this it's Jen."

But I don't. And I'm not. And I want to scream every time someone tells me I'm doing a good job. Because this is what treading water looks like. This is what it looks like just before you quietly start to drown. This is me, mothering when I don't even really want to because I need to sleep, or to be alone. Mothering because I have to.

This is me calmly explaining my son's diagnosis, not because I feel calm, but because you asked me about it when he's standing right over there and I want him to feel normal. I don't want him to see the panic I feel. The crush of anxiety when I think about all the phone calls that I need to make, and the fights I need to gear up for, and the future I have to prepare him for, the dinner I need to plan.

So much of our daily lives as mothers is messy, dirty, gross. Much more of it is boring. Very little is Pinterest material. That is the truth that Daisy and I wanted to share when we started this blog. But that stuff is well, boring. And this stuff, this part of Motherhood, most of the time it's just too raw to write about. I have been thinking about how to write about this for months. I have been writing and revising this for two weeks now and I'm still terrified to hit 'publish'.

So we mostly write tutorials and fun stuff. Sometimes I worry that we are adding to the noise and image that makes so many of us feel inadequate and overwhelmed in our attempts to be a "Good Mom". Blogs, even ones that try to be honest, are edited. They are not real. What you see here is only a small part of what happens in our home. The cheerful stuff I want the remember, the DIY stuff that might save some other Mom some time or money, the stuff I can spend an hour writing about to escape the boredom and the guilt and the stress that is daily life.

Most of what happens in my house is not pretty. I don't tend to write about the mold growing in the shower grout, or the fact that the dog is on prozac and still has an accident (in the tub) every time I leave the house. I don't write about the mountains of laundry that need to be folded before they get covered in dog hair but never quite make it. I don't write about my floors that are covered in toys because I am too pregnant and dizzy to bend over and pick them up. I haven't written about the months gas pains, sleepless nights of moaning and unconsolable crying, days spent with a toddler refusing to get out of bed because he hurts, endless doctors appointments, or the foul smelling, malabsorbed, fermented, liquid bowel movements we've been dealing with, because I don't want to dwell on it, and, I promise, you do not want to read about it.

You need to know, I'm not writing this for sympathy. Or support. Or compliments.

I'm writing this because I will get through this, and whatever comes next, not because I am particularly strong, or brave or smart. (Even though Daisy says I am, and maybe she is right, but I truly don't feel any more strong or brave than any of the other Moms I know.) I'm not writing this because I'm "Great" or "Good" or even "Adequate." I, like so many other Moms, will get through this with or without the help of my family and friends. (But please, Dear God, let it be WITH, I love you all so much. Even when I'm behaving badly, I'm still so grateful for each of you.)

I am writing because I'm a Mom. And you are reading this because you are a Mom, or you know a Mom. A Mom who just seems so...together. A Mom who seems so...brave. A Great Mom who is smart and loving a gentle and kind. I write this because we all are. Every Mom who loves their kids and tries day in, day out to be kind, to be gentle, to keep the household running, to put a meal on the table, to be calm and not yell. Moms who do the minimum, just to get through the day. Moms who quietly clean up after pets and kids. Moms who work and still find time to snuggle. Moms whose houses are a mess. Moms who worry that there is not enough grocery money this month. Moms who mother even when they are sick or sad or overwhelmed and don't feel like it. Every single one is an Awesome Mom. Every. Single. One.

I am not particularly equipped to handle this challenge, no more so than any other parent who recieves similar news. I firmly believe that the expression "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" is utter BS. But I have a Mom who is all of those great things I mentioned, and is still flawed, so I know none of us are perfect. None of us have our shit together 100% of the time.

There was this moment last night. Kiddo was freaking out because he was sick and he only wanted to eat pears. I was freaking out because I could not give him pears. The Hubster looked up from fixing dinner to see what the ruckus was, and sliced his finger-deeply. It was like the clock struck meltdown and we all just caved.

Later I called my Mom. She had no words of comfort, she said only "this is tough."

The truth is, Motherhood will break you. It will bring to your knees and make you beg for mercy. It will happen and you won't see it coming. Somehow, you will struggle to your feet and you WILL fight. Because this is not about you. You are no longer just a woman, you are being remade, you are becoming Mom.

None of us are actually ready for tomorrow. And yet, we are still Mom. And when our kids look at us, or hold our hands, or touch us we know in our bones we are Mom, and we know what that means and what we will do.

I will get my family through this, and whatever comes next, not because I am particularly strong, or brave or smart.

I will get my family through this because I am Mom.



  1. I love you for writing this, and editing this, and publishing this.


  2. This is fantastic! Thank you for saying what we all feel most of the time.

  3. so true and so wonderfully honest. You are not alone, you brave strong wonderful mom.