Wednesday, May 6, 2015

the big letdown of life

My first love broke up with me. His parting words were, "You just want too much, and I don't know how to give it to you."

I still think about those words, all these years later. They burnt then and I'm kind of embarrassed to say that they still do. I think I have always wanted too much out of life, and this last week thinking I may possibly have breast cancer made me think it again.

You know that feeling you get when you leave something that was supposed to be awesome but it was only so-so, and you think, that was just mildly "ok", but it wasn't what I wanted it to be?

Life with a husband and kids is like that. Life in my mid-thirties is like that. Right now I'm writing this in between defrosting the chicken and trying to console my three year old who WANTS TAPE RIGHT NOW and honestly, I'm kind of done with today.

me cleaning at the first sign of pubes in the bathroom

My dad took me out to lunch yesterday and asked me what I was "really" thinking in between the concern from my doctor and the visit with the breast specialist.

Honestly, the thing that I was thinking was this:

I don't want my family to watch me die. I don't want my kids to grow up without a mother. I don't want people to find out and to know and suddenly give me that sad clown smile. I don't want people to start wondering how much time I have. I don't want to wonder that, either. I don't want people to say, "Oh, a young mother. That's just so sad." I'm really not afraid of death; in some ways it would be a reprieve from my constant fight with anxiety and depression. I know i'm not supposed to say that out loud, but it is what it is. 

No, I'm not suicidal. Things are really, really good in life, actually. I know where I will go when I die and the only thing that scares me about death is the thing everybody wonders: "Will it hurt?"

People tell me they like to read this stuff because I have the guts to say what few people do. Maybe that's true. I hope it's not. I hope you find the courage to be honest with those you trust.

I'm rethinking things in my life. I'm rethinking all of the things that felt so important to me, like my house being completely clean before a friend can come over. Me being the mom I am supposed to be in my head and falling short of it EVERY. SINGLE. FREAKING. DAY. Me wondering who my children will be in the future and missing my babies from the past. Me struggling to take space to write and just to calm down and think and to enjoy today. My head gets so full of dumb stuff.

The past 10 years have taught me that I do better in a crisis, EVERY TIME. It's the in-between that is hard for me. The dirty dishes, the waking up to the same broken relationships and the same broken world after having hoped that somehow, during my dreaming, everything had righted itself into paradise.

Monday, May 4, 2015


Inflamed/wonky milk duct. Hallelujah!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2015


My appointment and breast biopsy (from what I understand they will be doing) is tomorrow at 8:20.

I was just thinking about how uncertain life is. We think we are going to do all of these things, buy Easter candy on clearance for next year, get the kids a size bigger for next fall, plan a vacation where we will drive next to miles of flax and freesia with the windows down, hoping we can make it to the next rest stop before a child gets car sick and vomits up the Remains of one too many Happy Meals.

I'm scared, if I will be honest with you. I'm scared that the doctor will find cancer in my breast and it's already spread. being scared wouldn't change anything anyway, but it's real and it's what I'm feeling tonight.

I get a panic rising in my chest when I think of all cancer has stolen from so many I love, including my aunt Mary, who will have a lung scan tomorrow - and my sister in law's stepmom, who is fighting the ravages of it in her body as well.

Maybe we look forward to future events, behaving as though we have 100% certainty that they will come to fruition, because living any other way is, in itself, too much of a risk. It's risky to fear everything in a world that already carries so much of the thing we fear, so we hold tightly to love and to hope.

I'm not sure that's such a bad way to live.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

why it's hard to calm down about breast cancer when the odds in the "disasters of the female anatomy category" have not been kind to me

I felt a lump on my breast in the shower last week some time. I sat on it for a day or two, thinking I was being paranoid. I finally called the doctor, but my doctor wasn't available and the only one who was is a doctor who would probably perform a double mastectomy in the office if I asked him to. You kind of have to lead him to conclusions using your own extensive googling, and I'd rather not be the one leading my doctor into anything.

did you sanitize that spear, Jason?
I waited until I could go to the doctor who is female and whom I don't mind touching my boobs. She found the lump right away, scheduled a mammogram and ultrasound within the hour. She also noticed during her exam some odd dimpling on my right breast, dimpling which I had not seen before. I don't really inspect my breasts every day, but Scott had said one day a little while ago that he thought my right breast was getting bigger. Hallelujah! It only took 36 years, but the gods of breast development have been good to me! Finally!!!!!!!!

just kidding. your breast is bigger because it's possibly FULL OF CANCEEEEEEEEEER

i wish i could have been this happy and carefree and not have donuts on my belly
Don't Google Inflammatory Breast Cancer unless you want to be scared shitless. It doesn't show up on ultrasound or mammogram and it moves quickly.

I pray to God this isn't the beginning of some inspirational breast cancer journey. I'd rather read other people's inspiration, not write my own, yes please and thank you.

I just took a Xanax. This isn't how my life is supposed to go. Of course, if this is what it is, I'll deal with it just like my Aunt Mary who is amazing and awesome and oh man, Mary, if this is a taste of the anxiety you have felt on a daily basis for the last 4 + years, YOU NEED A GOLD MEDAL AND A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF XANAX AND VERY EXPENSIVE MASSAGES. AND A FINAL ALL CLEAR SO YOU CAN JUST GET BACK TO THINKING EVERYTHING IS GREAT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

Let's review on things related to my body that everyone thought I was freaking unnecessarily about but oh, yeah, actually happened. Just because I have OCD does not mean none of my freak-outs are real.

1. I thought one of my twins was going to die in utero. He did.
2. I thought the remaining twin was either going to die or have something wrong with her. She did. All of the issues she had, omphalocele, imperforate anus (that's where a baby is born with no butt hole. Yeah. it's possible), Lucy's twin Camden had even his heart outside his body, so there's no way he would have made it to birth. The chances of a set of non-identical twins having the same issue is roughly 1 in 49 million.
3. Asher was fine. He shouldn't be in this list.
4. Ectopic pregnancy.
5. Oh! Twins! Just kidding.
6. Three months later and another miscarriage, only this time I got to bring the little person? embryo? products of conception? to the doctor's office in my purse!. I had a panic attack in the drive-through lane at McDonald's. My mother in law was waiting for me with a paper bag when I got home.
7. You had a routine, normal delivery! Just kidding! You're probably going to die.


8:20 Monday morning, a biopsy because my doctor just called and she said, "It could be just a cyst, but let's rule out any other kind of breast cancer."

So, you get to suffer and wait with me. Of course I know you're not really suffering, because people like to read blogs for the drama and to congratulate themselves with things like, "Wow, she's a mess" and "I'm so glad that's not me" and even "This is better than doing the dishes."

Isn't life a funny thing? All the things I was worried about (keeping house clean, making sure kids don't turn into socialist zombies, cringing at the cobwebs in the corners of the ceilings, losing 15 pounds before my brother's wedding, making organic, quinoa banana-less banana bread before the ice cream man comes) sound so dumb now.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being you, lovely readers. I admire all of you and your ability to read my inane mumblings without judgement. (or, if you're judging, at least you just do it in your head.)

come on, gals. stop posing and do some breast-checking. pronto.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Eight things learned at jury duty.

So jury duty today was much more entertaining than I expected. I was not chosen to be on the jury but learned the following things:

1. Way too many people have been assaulted. 
2. If you have a cold and are hacking your lungs out simultaneously all throughout he jury selection process, the judge still won't excuse you. He will, however, quarantine you into a corner of the room.
3. You have a small business and your employees are playing hooky not manufacturing custom-made light fixtures while you are gone? TOUGH TITTY SAID THE MAMA KITTY. You are not excused. Sit down and shut up.
4. You are 400 pounds not soaking wet and have extreme vertigo where you could fall over any minute? Also, you're a men's high school tennis coach at then ivy school my children will attend and there is a huge tournament today and you're the one running it? By all means, YOU'RE EXCUSED!
4a. No tennis for my kids.
5. A frightening number of people would invite the police to enter their home without a search warrant if the police only said "we suspect you have drugs in here."
6. The opposing counsel's lawyer looked 12.
7. That last statement means I clearly wouldn't have made the jury anyway. ‪#‎bias‬
8. Everyone in our country gets their knowledge of the legal system from CSI: Miami, where the guy with the creepster voice can wave a machine around that can tell who has been in the room in the last 15 minutes.
Cuz, 'Murica.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

why I'm talking about giving medication to my son

As a special education teacher, I used to inwardly roll my eyes when I'd look on a child's Individualized Education Plan and there'd be 27 medications listed. Really? Prozac for a six year old? Ritalin for a nine year old? All they need is LOOOoooOOOVE, don't you know? Love and better parents.

Parents like the parent I was sure I was destined to be. Awesome. A+. Better than Average.

no, my son is not Asian and yes, we lock up the meds.

Isn't it strange, those points in life when we who usually could say all of the words in the world in one day just don't have anything to say?

Asher's appointment was good. He's now on a regimen of therapy and supplements (yes, I shall call them supplements) to help combat childhood anxiety.

I think it felt pretty crappy to finally acknowledge that I was the one who gave this to him, genetically speaking. I just haven't had a lot to say since he received that diagnosis. We have tried play therapy, talking therapy, essential oils, dietary change, sending him to his room, sending everyone else to their rooms, withholding his electronics, withholding treats (yes, we're awesome like that), and there was even one day last week that I am not proud of. I lost my composure with him and I cried for the rest of the day.

me when my kids are grown, realizing I've completely failed them. 

I know that he knows right from wrong. I know that old-school parenting would say, spank him when he misbehaves and just be consistent. I am not theworld's most consistent parent. I will submit that. Also, though, there are so many times when I've seen him trying SO HARD to do the right thing, with everything in him, and he's telling me, "MOM I'M TRYING SO HARD TO BE GOOD BUT MY BRAIN IS STILL GOING" or "I WORRY ALL DAY LONG ABOUT 'X' HAPPENING" and I'm transported back 28 years ago to when I was seven and no one knew what was wrong with me.

starbucks drinks
My husband and my best friend and my sister in law all were the people I needed to talk to. My sis in law risked sounding like a complete douche at Starbucks just for me and ordered a skinny grande decaf mochalocha frappucinno with no whip, then headed over to my house and let me talk and talk and talk and talk.

My friend is a former social worker and current adoptive parent and foster parent, so feeling like I was given the "OK" from her and the support I needed was pretty awesome.  I remember, years ago, when Scott and I were dating. I said to him, and seriously, "I am totally OK with never having an biological children. I don't want a kid to go what I went through with depression, anxiety and OCD."

a representation of our family in all of its caucasianness. Also, if Scott smiled that creepily I would have no choice but to hit him in the head with a frying pan.

Scott then said something about with adoption you REALLY don't know what you're getting, and I'm sorry, but now that just makes me laugh. I have several friends who have adopted children of unknown heritage and I'm pretty sure they haven't been diagnosed with anxiety disorders or need medication. The ol' "but my genetic line is superior" makes me laugh a little bit.

and cry, maybe, too.

Oh, irony. You're such a bitter little pill.

our son does not wear Uggs on a beach or have long hair, though I wish he did so I could redeem a bit of myself with the natural parenting community...

Our son is an amazing little creature. I just want him to not constantly be in fight-or-flight mode, which is what the last year has felt like. Huge tantrums over not getting the right spoon, time lying in his bed wide awake and staring at the ceiling because he's afraid someone is going to break into our house and he can't stop imagining the scary things they'll do to him.

Me feeling like Class A Dick because I told him he couldn't wake us up unless there was a medical emergency.

We'll see how this new method of treatment works for him. I'm sure there's someone out there who thinks I am making the wrong decision for my son, and you know what? I'm completely OK with you thinking that. You're not his mother, and you do not know what I know.

Heck, maybe this will be the wrong decision, looking back.

Or maybe this: maybe my honesty will help some other mom feel less alone.

I sure hope so.
this is supposed to be some moms hugging, not a lesbian wedding. Either way, it's an awesome picture.

watch your words

The other night I was so extremely frustrated with one of my children. Everything that child could do to push my buttons, make unnecessary messes, complain about things, make me want some wine at 3 pm, that child did.

I was at the point where even looking at said child was causing me major anger. This child of mine came into the living room to hand something to his or her sibling and I exploded. I just blew up. I grabbed that little body and made a beeline for his/her bedroom, saying things that FELT SO GOOD TO SAY but things that I knew, WHILE I WAS SAYING THEM that I was going to regret for life.

Yes. For life. They weren't nice words. Not well-measured, spoken kindly from my lips and hanging in the air like tendrils of admonishment before hitting this child's ears.


my hair has never looked this, uh, amazing.

They were not the right words to use, and I know my child will remember these words always. I called Scott, telling him to be home NOW and I could not even look at this child because I was so angry. Earlier the child had taken a look at the dinner I'd stumbled around Pinterest to find and worked two hours on and called it vomit. I was crying. I was so mad. Scott could hear it in my voice and told me he was driving down Metcalf, almost home.

I literally waited by the front window for his car to pull in the drive, tears running down my face and my heart trollopping along in my chest.

I know my child will remember these words because there are words I was thinking about today, words that were said to me 27 years ago and words that I still remember. My grandmothers lived to be 101 and 102, so, barring dementia or cancer or a car accident, I'll still remember those words 70 years from now.

My parents share a birthday. The moment I learned that fact I asked my mother, "Did you know you were destined to marry dad then?" Ever the pragmatist she replied, "Well, it's bound to happen at some point, you know, a couple having the same birthday. There are only 365 days in a year!"

I was elementary-school age and had approximately $3.24 in my piggy bank. Yeah, that's a lot more when the year is 1988, but it's still not a lot. For my parents' quickly-approaching birthday, I devised a plan.

I was nine. My best friend two doors down, Lori, has a mother who is one of the loveliest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She is soft-spoken, dependable and kind, the kind of person you go to when you need an encouraging smile and a hug.

I told her about my plan to call all 100 or so people in our church using the church phone book, asking each person who answered if they would please send a birthday card to my parents the day before their birthday and, if they wanted to, put a one dollar bill in there. Also, "Shhh! It's a secret!" My parents have always been well-liked, and when I look back now I could tell that the people in our church were excited to be in on this little plan. I even remember how much some people sent. The Andersons, Bodins, Crongbaughs, DeSousas, Edsons, Fogles, Koencks, Neffs and Nixons all sent a card and money, some of them sending much more than $1. I'm sure they had a good chuckle as they hung up the phone, excited to play a part in my little plan. There were so many other people who did the same. It was remarkable to my little nine year old mind.

Making the calls was tiring, and even then I hated talking on the phone. I was determined to make it through the whole phone book and to make sure my parents knew they were loved. I imagined their eyes opening wide in surprise as they opened card after card, birthday greetings carefully printed, a bit of money in each card that was put there as a gift from the people who loved them and they loved right back.

I was getting on in the phone book and went through my pre-written pitch to the woman who answered.

There was a slight pause and then a sigh. Nasty tone: "Well, dear, I suppose I'll do this but you *do* know it's a little uncouth to be calling people and asking for money, right?"

I apologized to her and hung up, already starting to sob.

Lori's mom gave me a huge hug, telling me I shouldn't stop and I was doing such a nice thing for my parents. The adult me thanks Patty Anderson for giving my little child heart a boost, right when I needed it.

With trembling hands I dialed the rest of the numbers, much less excited with this woman's words echoing in the back of my mind. I had looked up the definition of the word 'uncouth' and knew it probably wasn't very good, because the way it sounded when it came out of her mouth was muted, disapproving, annoyed.

  1. (of a person or their appearance or behavior) lacking good manners, refinement, or grace.
    "he is unwashed, uncouth, and drunk most of the time"
    • (especially of art or language) lacking sophistication or delicacy.
      "uncouth sketches of peasants"
    • archaic
      (of a place) uncomfortable, especially because of remoteness or poor conditions.

I remember looking at this woman so differently after she said what she said to me. Even now, as an adult, those words are fresh in my mind and they sting. 

Sometimes, the best thing to do when we're tempted to say something we know will hurt is to count to ten, walk away, and say nothing.

Just watch our words.