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During my trip during the last week of August, my mother and I spent some time driving around Regina while the kid slept in the backseat. She needed the nap and I needed the quiet time. As my mother drove around the city I started crying, as I have been doing most days for the past little while. I told her that I feel like I’m failing as a mother. The toddler is just too hard, I can’t do it.

Just a few days before, on our flight to Saskatchewan, I had a total mental breakdown. I was trying to hold Maggie for takeoff the way I’m supposed to do, and she squirmed and struggled to get away. She screamed and cried, she scratched me and hit me. Finally, I couldn’t handle it any more and I handed her to my mom and I just sat there, in the window seat, crying – weeping- for what seemed like an hour but might have been 10 minutes.

In those moments I feel absolute hatred from her. I am the person who is stopping her from doing what she wants and nothing more. I feel totally out of control.

At work I feel totally out of control. Everything around me is changing and I am lost in the middle trying to find my place again.

Joe was away for a couple of days not long ago and I was at home with the kid, and I found it impossible to think of making dinner. I’ve been cooking for myself since before I left home, I like cooking, I have fun cooking with the kid around, but I couldn’t even think of any recipes I knew. I didn’t want to set foot in the kitchen.

At home and at work I am drowning.

I feel like I’m stuck in PPD. I thought I was doing well, I thought I was moving on. Things were good. Work and home were balancing pretty well, the kid was enjoying daycare, we had a system. Then things went off the rails. I don’t remember what the first thing was, but pretty soon we started saying that next month will be easier, we’ll get through this and then things will get back to normal. Now I have no idea what normal is and I can guarantee that the next few months won’t be it either.

So what I need to do right now is take control of the uncontrollable. Clean when I can, write when I need to, knit at every opportunity because it gives me time to think, and reach out to the friends that I miss when I let life get away from me. Enjoy the moments when my daughter is being curious and smart and loving, remind myself of how much she’s growing and how this is only a phase when things are hard. Get my exercise because I know it makes me feel better. Get some sleep when I can because you never know.

Just go with it.

You know, when I went to roller derby one of the things they told us was to just fall if you’re going to fall, get it over with and then you won’t be so scared any more. Maybe now I’ve fallen.

 

Yesterday, in an attempt to have some fun with the kid and get out of the house, Joe and I took Maggie to Toys ‘R’ Us where they were having an event to launch the newest Elmo doll (which happens to play the drums and cost $75).

The event wasn’t entirely what we expected. A pile of the dolls next to a table where kids could colour or play with the Sesame Street play dough kit ($19.99). I knew that it was basically a ‘hey kids, demand this toy from your parents’ thing, but it was alright.

However, when we walked through the store to get to this event, we passed the Halloween costumes and I noticed something that is still bothering me.

I bought the kid her Halloween costume last week – it’s a lion, because one of the cutest things she currently does is roar when you ask her what a lion says. I considered buying her a Cookie Monster costume (actually, I considered making her one, but I’m not quite up on my sewing and time is a rare commodity these days).

What we saw on display yesterday was this:

Elmo costume – boys

Elmo kids Costume.jpg

Elmo costume – girls

Disguise 2011 frilly elmo.jpg 

 Can someone please tell me why a girl needs a different Elmo costume than a boy? Or in what way a little red dress is an Elmo costume? They also have these ‘frilly’ versions of Big Bird and Cookie Monster.

I just don’t understand. If your kind wants to be Elmo, doesn’t she want to look like Elmo? I really don’t think we need to create boys and girls versions of costumes that should be the same thing. This separation seems to send that message that not only are boys and girls different, they’re supposed to be different, and even if a little girl’s favourite character is a boy, she should still look like a girl when she dresses up as that character.

The very worst times of my life are those times when I have sat with my baby girl in my lap, weeping and apologizing to her.

It has happened three or four times, when I’m at the end of my rope and everything seems to be going wrong.

I cry and cry and can’t stop myself, and I apologize to her because she shouldn’t have to see me like that, she shouldn’t think at any point that she’s the one making me sad.

There has been no worse time in my life than when I go to see my baby girl because she is the one person that can make me happy all the time, no matter what, and when I sit with her I can’t help but cry because life is overwhelming me.

Some of my very worst moments are sitting in the dark holding my baby girl while she cries and cries and I can’t figure out what’s wrong with her. I hold her in my eyes and try everything I can think of to calm her but nothing works. I think of how tired I am and what I’m going to do if I can’t get her to stop.

Some of my very best moments are just sitting and watching my baby girl. Some of my very best moments are lying in bed and listening to her talk to herself or sing to herself over the monitor.

Some of my very best moments are when she calls for me and I can make it better.

Somewhere in between

September 23rd, 2011 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | PPD - (Comments Off on Somewhere in between)

I love my daughter more than I can ever describe. She’s smart and beautiful and she’s curious and she gives the world’s best hugs. I love her and I love being with her.

And there are nights like tonight when I just want her to go to sleep. I want to put her to bed and have her fall asleep and have time to myself, with quiet.

And the guilt washes over me.

I sit and listen to her and wait to see if she’ll wake up so I can go in and see her and prove that I do love her and I do want to take care of her. And I want to cry.

Life used to be easier. It didn’t matter if I stay up late on the weekend, or if Joe had to go out of town. It didn’t matter if one or the other of us had plans. It didn’t matter because we didn’t have this little person to think about – who is going to get up with her, who will take care of her, who will pick her up.

And I think of going back to the life we had before her, when things were simpler, less confusing and convoluted and my heart aches at the thought of not seeing her, not hugging her or talking to her or watching her. She is my whole being. Without her I would be less than half the person I was before her.

How is it possible to want to be with someone and away from them at the same time? Is this motherhood? This feeling torn in half all the time? No one told me about this. No one told me that so many of the tears would be mine.

I am efficient. I get things done quickly and I consider this a skill.

When I was in high I was always the first to finish exams. You had to stay in the room for the first hour and there were times when I re-read my exam a few times just because I had the time to. My marks varied, but overall I did pretty well.

I have great legs. I really do. My grandmother used to tell me this. She was very proud that my sister and I were so tall like she had been. I need to watch my posture so I can stand tall and show off my legs into old age.

I am a good mom.

I am a good writer. I have been a writer for a long time and I love it. Without writing I wouldn’t be me.

I am a good employee. I am dedicated to my job and I do it well. Any job I have ever taken on I have done my absolute best at, and when I felt like I wasn’t doing my best I left.

I am smart. I was raised by smart people who taught me how to think about things critically. I take knowledge very seriously. I am smart enough to know that there are people smarter than me who can teach me things and there always will be. I plan on teaching my daughter to believe the same.

I am creative. I can write, I used to draw all the time, I can knit a sweater or a dress. I wish I had the imagination that I once had, and I wish I had time to get my sketchbooks out again, but I’m still pretty creative.

I am very good at jigsaw puzzles. I don’t have any on the go at the moment, because I don’t want the kid to eat my puzzle pieces, but I really love concentrating and figuring out where pieces go and finished large puzzles. My love of puzzles is also one reason for the talent I showed in newspaper layout, which was one of my favourite classes and resulted in me getting the job in which I met my husband.

I am a very good listener. I am a much better listener than talker. All my life people seem to have felt comfortable sharing things with me, and I appreciate it. I hope I say the right things in return.

On days when things seem hard and I question every decision I make, I must remember that I am pretty awesome. I am, you know.

 

 

I was inspired to write a little about my experiences after reading Stephanie’s post Everybody Hurts… sometimes,
and by Michael Landsberg’s blog post about Wade Belak’s suicide

Suicide seems to be one of the topics of the day, particularly in the world of hockey, my hometown Senators gathered around one of their coaches last year after his daughter took her own life, and this summer Belak’s suicide came soon after the death of Rick Rypien, a player at the beginning of his career.

I am glad to see people talking more about suicide, and Stephanie’s post really struck me because she felt attacked for ‘complaining’ online.

I can honestly say that when I have met Stephanie in person she has been one of the most friendly, happy people. I was so sad to hear that someone had been mean to her like that, because when I make friends on Twitter I want to know how they are honestly doing and how I can help them if they’re having a hard time. If I can say something that makes you feel better, or I can buy you a coffee and brighten up your day, I want to do that.

I also want to clarify some things that came out of the Michael Landsberg post and came up again in Stephanie’s.

When I was 16 years old, in the depths of depression and suicidal, I didn’t talk about it. I didn’t talk about it not because it was embarrassing, but because I assumed no one would care. I assumed, and still sometimes assume, that people don’t really like me, don’t remember me when I’m not around, aren’t actually my friends.

When I was in the depths of depression and suicidal it wasn’t about me. I planned on killing myself because I thought life would then be easier for everyone around me because I would no longer be a burden. I thought that those people who would actually notice I was gone would be relieved not to have to deal with my problems any more.

It was not about my pain being such that I didn’t care about the effect on my family, it was that my vision was clouded and I didn’t understand the pain I might leave behind. It would be an end to my pain and my problems, which caused pain and problems for those around me. Suicide seemed like a solution for me and all the people I loved.

I don’t know what I would say to my 16 year old self, or my 22 year old self that would make them believe that, as Dan Savage says, it does get better. Maybe everything I put myself through all that time taught me to be the person that was strong enough to marry my Joe and have our daughter. The idea that I might never have met her, might never have heard her laugh or call me mommy, or never have hugged her – doesn’t even compute.

Perhaps I could tell my teenage self that everything I put myself through, everything I went through, everything that fucked with my head, was to earn the beautiful life I have now. Yes, I have struggled since then, and yes I will have more struggles in the future I’m sure, but I am here, I am a survivor and I can change the world.

 

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

 

I’ve seen a few things in my online adventures recently that reminds me that little boys are supposed to be wild and get dirty and little girls are supposed to be pretty and gentle. This encourages me to get my daughter out playing in the dirt.

Yesterday she was dressed in yoga pants and a shirt with a nice warm sweater and she was asking for her hat and we knew that her summer hat would not do. Joe fished her Ottawa Senators baseball cap out of our ‘outdoor accessories’ basket. The cap on top of her messy hair that I no longer expect to be able to tame (just like Mommy’s) and she looked like a tomboy and I told her so.

Today I’m re-thinking my word.

In my head it’s good to be a tomboy – girls don’t need to be so delicate and fragile as we paint them to be. I struggled to be nice and pretty when I was a kid. I’m uncoordinated, so my knees were usually cut up, my hair was always messy (I remember one year when my teacher actually came to comb my hair right before my school picture and it actually made it worse), and I managed to stain just about everything I wore.

I wished I was outgoing enough to be a real tomboy.They were the girls I identified with in movies and on TV – I wanted to be Jo in The Little Women. I wish I had Katherine Hepburn’s style.

Other people consider ‘tomboy’ a bad thing. As I grew into a teenager it became clear that I would never be well-liked or have a boyfriend in high school unless I ditched the pony tail and the glasses and started wearing dresses and skirts and nicer shoes.

The problem was I liked my glasses, and my hair was easier to deal with short, and I was not comfortable wearing skirts that barely covered my ass and I have always preferred sneakers to heels. I spent all of my five years of high school looking for shoes that were ‘in style’ but were butt-ugly platforms.

But when I looked at my kid, smiling in the backseat, and called her a tomboy, I realized I don’t want her to have to choose one or the other. I want her to wear a dress if she feels like it, and not be afraid to get a little dirty or have scars. I want her to not let messy hair or stains bother her.

I want her to just be, not tomboy or girly, just Maggie.

She is, without a doubt, Maggie.

Getting it done 9

September 14th, 2011 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Getting it done 9)

Fix up the bikes so we can actually ride this summer – Yeah…

Get a ticket for the Social Capital Conference

Arrange a date night (with babysitter) Thank you, Grandma

Organize a book swap in Ottawa – July 31 at the Elmdale Tavern, 2-5 pm  A smashing success, we have to do it again

See Harry Potter

Weed the garden (started by Joe)

Knit a shawl for my mother (in progress)

Knit a sweater for Joe (in progress, but barely)

Knit a sweater for myself (now on the needles)

Go to a FatCats game

Find a fall activity for the kid – waiting for the city’s fall activity guide Looks like we might register her in Indoor Soccer and Skating lessons, but we have to wait for January starts  Registration complete

Schedule a physical

Get through my at work to do list – Not this summer

Back up my computer

Organize the laundry room

Organize the storage

Hold a garage sale – Come on out and join us! Postponed – took some of our old toys to Boomerang Kids instead since I was tired of everything taking up space

Organize the kid’s wardrobe and figure out what she needs

Check the air pressure in the tires

Schedule the facial to use my Groupon

Make brunch reservations at Le Cafe to use our LivingSocial deal

Renew Joe’s passport

Learn more about Google+ – I seem to have stopped caring

Change my LinkedIn profile picture

Actually do something on my Pinterest ‘Things to Make board  Peach Bars  and Coca Cola Cake
Get the car serviced – scheduled for this week – re-scheduled for next week
Potty train the monkey – in progress
Check out Teksavvy
Go to the Running Room to check out new shoes
Attend at least one of the Capital City Derby Dolls’ open houses
Thoroughly clean the house

Attempt freezer cooking

Get back to yoga 

My other goals for 2011 include:

  • Hitting 175 lbs – and then to keep going
  • Being able to make it all the way to my 10th floor office on the stairs
  • Consistently having a meal plan so that the whole family is eating healthy food
  • Continue to test my knitting skills in my project choices
  • Make my way through my ‘to read’ pile (my ever-expanding ‘to-read’ pile) – Happy with my progress here
  • Build up my profile at work
  • Keep blogging, keep tweeting, maintain my connections
  • Organize the second annual Road Hockey Showdown
  • Improve my French

A Sentimental Song

September 8th, 2011 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on A Sentimental Song)

My wedding dress is currently hanging in our storage room. I just took it out of the Rubbermaid bin it’s been in since I took brought it home on October 7. The bottom of it is still dirty from my walk up the rainy aisle on our wedding day, our pictures in the grass, the dance floor at the hotel. I never got it cleaned because there is always something better to use that money for.

We visited a local consignment shop recently, took in some old toys the kid is too big to play with now, along with last year’s Halloween costume. She was a monkey for as long as we could keep the costume on her. She was as cute and ridiculous as a baby should be on their first Halloween.

I get the feeling I’m supposed to be sentimental about these things – that I should want to keep them boxed up, preserved, to show her or even her children should she have any.

I am very rarely sentimental about things. I am sentimental about my memories and that’s why I tend to write things down, but I don’t feel a real need to save the objects associated with those memories unless the object itself is truly special.

I have four shadowboxes on our mantle filled with truly special things: One holds my wedding bouquet, which I did not toss; one holds our cake toppers, made by my best friend (who I’ve known now for 18 years – holy crap) and one of the awesomest parts of our reception; one holds all things Henry – his first collar, his first tag, his first sweater and the toy he came home with – I keep these things to remember just how teeny tiny he was when we first met him (2.1 lbs the day we brought him home with us almost six years ago) and the last is Maggie’s – the sleeper we brought her home in and the hat they gave her when she was born, a pacifier that she grew out of so quickly and her little bracelet connecting her to us for hospital purposes.

If you walk upstairs to our third floor you will see picture frames taking up most of one wall. Pictures of Joe and me when we first started dating, pictures of us getting married and now many, many pictures of Maggie and all the things we’ve done with her in her not-quite 20 months. Near the top of the stairs is another shadow box that holds a beautiful little purple dress with a picture pinned to it – this picture of two of my absolute favourite people in the world:

Gramps and Maggie, July 26, 2010

They had just met and my grandfather fell head over heels for that little girl, just like I did.

Sometimes I look at her and I wonder if I’m going to regret getting rid of some of these things – things that show me just how small she was or just what kinds of things she loved, her ‘first’ things. The fact is the stuff clutters up my house, but the memories fill the spaces in my heart.

Getting it done 8

September 8th, 2011 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Getting it done 8)

Fix up the bikes so we can actually ride this summer – Yeah…

Get a ticket for the Social Capital Conference

Arrange a date night (with babysitter) Thank you, Grandma

Organize a book swap in Ottawa – July 31 at the Elmdale Tavern, 2-5 pm  A smashing success, we have to do it again

See Harry Potter

Weed the garden (started by Joe)

Knit a shawl for my mother (in progress)

Knit a sweater for Joe (in progress, but barely)

Go to a FatCats game

Find a fall activity for the kid – waiting for the city’s fall activity guide Looks like we might register her in Indoor Soccer and Skating lessons, but we have to wait for January starts  Registration complete

Schedule a physical

Get through my at work to do list – Not this summer

Back up my computer

Organize the laundry room

Organize the storage

Hold a garage sale – Come on out and join us! Postponed – took some of our old toys to Boomerang Kids instead since I was tired of everything taking up space

Organize the kid’s wardrobe and figure out what she needs

Check the air pressure in the tires

Schedule the facial to use my Groupon

Make brunch reservations at Le Cafe to use our LivingSocial deal

Renew Joe’s passport

Learn more about Google+ – I seem to have stopped caring

Change my LinkedIn profile picture

Actually do something on my Pinterest ‘Things to Make board  Peach Bars  and Coca Cola Cake
Get the car serviced – scheduled for this week – re-scheduled for next week
Potty train the monkey – in progress
Check out Teksavvy
Go to the Running Room to check out new shoes
Attend at least one of the Capital City Derby Dolls’ open houses
Thoroughly clean the house

Attempt freezer cooking

 

My other goals for 2011 include:

  • Hitting 175 lbs – and then to keep going
  • Being able to make it all the way to my 10th floor office on the stairs
  • Consistently having a meal plan so that the whole family is eating healthy food
  • Continue to test my knitting skills in my project choices
  • Make my way through my ‘to read’ pile (my ever-expanding ‘to-read’ pile) – Happy with my progress here
  • Build up my profile at work
  • Keep blogging, keep tweeting, maintain my connections
  • Organize the second annual Road Hockey Showdown
  • Improve my French
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