Just Talking Tuesday: Redefining Perfect


Parenthood is messy in real life.

Hollywood, media, and advertisers would have you believe differently.

Your house is picture perfect. Hair – perfect. Toddlers perfectly dressed without a drop of food or stains anywhere, well behaved. Everyone smiles and says cheese.

Thing is – it’s all just that – a snapshot of perfection styled with the help of an entire crew for EACH PERSON in the photo, movie, or commercial.

What if you took a snapshot of your own life? Of your house? Yourself? Your toddler or baby?

What would it look like? Is it perfect?

I’m willing to bet it is perfect.

Maybe not by Hollywood’s standards.

But by REALITY’S standards.

Real life, as I said when I started, gets messy.

What matters at the end of the day isn’t that the sink is full of dishes.

It’s not the massive pile of laundry threatening to devour your entire house.

It’s not the food particles permanently affixed to your toddler.

It’s not that you didn’t get a chance to shower or put on make up.

It’s not that you’re still in your pajamas.

What matters at the end of the day is whether or not you connected with your children.

Whether or not, in THAT DAY, your children felt loved and felt a connection with you.

Because that is what they will remember – not the cleaner than clean house – they’ll remember the Mommy who took time for them. Who got down on their level and loved THEM.

That? Is perfect.

Come back at 7am for a link up here. Several of us will be posting pics of our imperfectly perfect houses a long with happy pictures of our toddlers.

Because that?

Is redefining perfect in the rawest form.

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Saturday Sundries 02.19.11: Talking with your kids about Postpartum Mood Disorders


Hey y’all!  This will be a short yet important post. I’m in the car on my way to the circus in Atlanta with the family. I planned to blog last night but fell asleep on the couch after watching Grey’s.  Woke up long enough to crawl into bed. So here I am. Blogging from my phone at 70mph. Don’t worry. I’m not driving.

Some of you may have older children in the home when Postpartum strikes. They already have a lot to deal with when a baby joins the family. Their role in the family may change from only child to oldest child from youngest to middle child and so on. Issues of jealousy may enter the picture as a result.

Then Postpartum strikes.

Older children may react in one of two primary ways:

  • Self-blame for parental depression
  • Projected blame onto their new sibling for the cause of parental depression

The most important thing kids need to hear is that a parent’s depression is NOT their fault.

I know that’s hard to do when you’re in the midst of hell. We did not talk with our oldest before my Postpartum experience with our second. I had Postpartum with our oldest as well.

We did talk to our daughters about what might happen with Mommy after she had their brother though.  We drove home that it was not anyone’s fault…. not theirs, not their brother’s,  not daddy’s,  not mommy’s. Then, as a family, we brainstormed ways they could help Mommy if she got sad or angry after baby arrived. My oldest planned to tickle Postpartum Depression into oblivion.

Thankfully I did not have Postpartum after the birth of our son. But our daughters knew how to help mommy and would even ask how I was feeling. I think they were looking for an excuse to tickle me!!!

Bottom line: Talk to your kids. Use language appropriate for their age. Answer their questions in an age appropriate manner. Reinforce that Postpartum is not anyone’s fault. Reassure them that Mommy or Daddy will get well. Recruit family members to take older siblings out to do activities and keep their schedule as normal as possible.

Depression affects the entire family but with careful planning your family can come through with flying colors.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday: The High Toll of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders


Original photo "DSC07197" by poodlerat @flickr.com

#PPDChat tonight got me thinking about the toll of Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

A mom with a PMAD is Ground Zero. Her immediate family is in the blast zone, at highest risk for developing their own mood disorders, depression, or other accompanying issues. Extended family is just outsize the blast zone and quite often bowled down as they absorb the shock which reverberates as she flails for survival.

As Mom recovers, Dad may sink into his own dark pit, unaware of what is happening, unwilling to admit his own demons in the dark. Why? Because Dad is the rock, the hinge on which the moon is hung. His family needs him. Depression is a sign of weakness. It does not happen to real men.

Oh, but it does.

Just as Mom has cleared her last hurdle, Dad sinks even further away. He is angry. Frustrated. Hopeless. Lost.

Mom questions her own recovery as Dad lashes out. He is incapable of giving her space in which to grow. Incapable of recognizing her growth, her recovery.

Anger quickly eclipses any rejoicing.

Stress and angst fill the air of the home, adversely affecting their children, their lives, their relationships with friends, families, resulting in isolation.

Their marriage spirals downward. Their children act out.

Their lives fall apart.

Granted, the above does not happen to every PMAD family. But a PMAD affects so much more than just Mom. It truly affects the whole family. My PMAD’s damn near destroyed my own marriage. My husband self-medicated after our second daughter. That did not fall out until after the birth of our third child. What a spectacular fall out it was though. I nearly walked away. Instead, just as with my PMAD, I chose to turn and fight. Fortunately, so did my husband. We were supported by members of our church, our Pastor, and family members as we fought savagely to save our marriage. I wanted to give up several times. So did my husband. We have shared this with each other and in doing so, moved to a new level of communication and trust. It has been a long, bumpy road.

One worth traveling.

While I would not want to do it again, I would not change a thing about my past six years of hell. For they have hewn me into a strong woman, a strong Christian, a strong wife, and a strong Mother. I can finally say I am blessed. God saw me through my storm. I know there are more storms brewing out there. I’m okay with that. Bring it. I am ready to tell those storms just how big my God is these days.

However; if there was one thing I would like to toss out the window it would be the exposure to anger, arguing, and stress for the kids.

I did not choose to have a PMAD. But they certainly don’t deserve to suffer from the ripples set in motion from my experience. I think this is one of the biggest things I struggle with as a remnant of my PMADs. The anger, guilt, rage over their exposure at such young ages to such a harsh environment. Sure, it could have been worse. But they certainly didn’t do anything to deserve it. Neither did I, but they truly are the innocents in all of this. And for that, I am remorseful. Resentful even that my PMAD’s stole their infancy and my enjoyment of their infancies from me. If I could toss one thing in a toll booth bucket and be forever done with it, it would be my remorse and resent over what my PMAD’s did to my kids. I wonder every time they misbehave if it is because I was depressed. Do my daughters have ADHD because I was depressed? What about my son? Are my daughters resentful that he and I have a stronger bond because I didn’t have a PMAD with him? Will they be able to rightfully accuse me of having a favorite? How will I explain myself down the road?

It’s enough to make you blink back tears and choke back anger all at the same time. Nauseating, really.

SO. As I take a deep breath and choke back some of that anger and blink back tears, what remnant or part of your PMAD do you wish you could just toss away and be done with forever? Get it off your chest.

Let’s get to Just Talkin’ this Tuesday.

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Just Talkin’ Tuesday 04.27.10: How much of your Postpartum story will you share with your kids?


Six years ago when I became a mom for the first time, my mind was certainly not thinking about a Postpartum Mood Disorder. And I was certainly not thinking about having to discuss it with my newborn daughter when her sister and brother were born. Yet there I was – staring down delivery for the third time and the very real possibility of relapsing- and I had these two darling little girls depending on me. Suddenly it wasn’t about me anymore. It was about them. About their security, their safety, their happiness, the very stability of their world depended on how my husband and I explained the possibility of mommy experiencing a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

We did not talk about it a lot when our second daughter was born. At least I don’t remember talking about it a lot. I may have mentioned something briefly but at that point, I hadn’t become an advocate or blogger. I had not educated myself as much as I had by the time my pregnancy with our son. I had not come to embrace the realization that Postpartum Mood Disorder affects the whole family. Once I embraced that fact, I realized there was no way I could avoid having a discussion with our daughters. I should also say that our oldest daughter really saw a lot of strife she shouldn’t have with that second episode of Postpartum. My husband and I would yell and scream at each other with her just in the other room. We were both frustrated, scared, and really not putting ourselves first at all. Postpartum will do that to you – completely consume you if you allow it to do so. Our communication had hopelessly broken down by the time our second daughter came home from the hospital.

Somewhere in the second trimester of my third pregnancy, my husband and I began to talk with our daughters about Postpartum Mood Disorders. We did not use big clinical words even though we don’t believe in baby talking the kids.

We told them that sometimes, after moms have babies, they get sad. And sometimes they get angry. But it’s not the mommy’s fault. Not the daddy’s fault, not the baby’s fault and not the big brother or big sister’s fault. That it just happens. And if it does happen, mom goes to a doctor to talk about what’s going on so she can get help and get better.

Then we brainstormed ways they could help mommy if she got angry or sad after she had baby.

My favorite response was from our oldest: “I could make you happy by tickling you so you’ll laugh.”

That’s my girl – curing Postpartum Mood Disorders one tickle at a time!

I’ve since talked with the girls about what I do and why I spend time on the computer and the phone. I remind them about how some mommies get angry or sad after having babies. And then I tell them that mommy makes herself available to these mommies so they don’t have to be sad or angry alone. I tell them that mommy helps these mommies find the help they need to get better so they can be happy with themselves and with their families. They both seem to understand very well what mommy does and appreciate it.

Making the decision to share my postpartum journey with my kids was not easy. But given my history and the high chance of relapse, we felt we had to share with them what may happen after their brother was born. One day I may share with them this website and let them read everything that happened. I’ll answer any questions they may have. It’s important to me they understand that there is no shame in any kind of mental illness. But until they are much older, I don’t feel they need to know very much. I certainly don’t regret having shared with them what I have thus far. For me, sharing with my kids will be showing them that it is possible to get through the toughest parts of life. I sincerely hope the phrase “I give up” is never in their vocabulary.

So let’s get to just talking. Will you ever share your Postpartum Story with your child? Have you already shared with your son or daughter? What did you tell them? Will you tell them the whole story or just bits and pieces? Why would you tell them your story? Why would you choose not to tell them if that’s your decision?

Let’s get to just talking!

From the mouth of babes


“I’m glad I was born first!”

Um.

Ok.

Humble, aren’t we, Allison?

Apparently this has roots in a discussion she had with Chris today. He told her how much he enjoyed spending time with her (he took her to get an antibiotic shot – yes, we resorted to that – and then to Wendy’s for a frosty and on to Walmart for Taco Fixins) because when she was little and our only child, he didn’t get to spend a lot of time with her.

So now she’s glad she was the first born.

I can’t WAIT to find out how she uses this in the future.