mothers and moms and sheep and goats.

The other day I was working at a Starbucks instead of at home (it’s nice to get out, you know?) and this particular Starbucks has its bathroom located outside between it and another store.

When my phone buzzed to remind me that it was time to go pick up Dax from school (do NOT judge; sometimes I’m so engrossed in my work that I don’t notice what time it is) I packed up my things and headed to use the bathroom before I left.

While waiting my turn, I noticed a young couple — probably not much older than Dan and me — sitting at one of the outdoor cafe tables. The woman was carefully holding a brand new sleeping baby girl, obviously their first and only one. They had the words, “BRAND NEW PARENTS” written all over them in that they were accompanied by a huge, new stroller adorned in countless baby toys and teethers and an obnoxiously overflowing diaper bag. And they looked tired. Happy, but tired.

I just gawked at them. That time in my life seems like it was forever ago, but it really wasn’t. It was only just a little bit shy of three years ago.

My mind was reeling. That Baby Girl was so impossibly tiny. “Are babies really that tiny when they first come out?” I thought to myself. “I mean I guess they are, right?” But I can barely remember a time where it didn’t almost break my back and tear my biceps to shreds when I go to pick up my solid-as-a-rock toddler boy.

Finally the bathroom door swung open indicating it was my turn. I went inside, did my thing, washed my hands, and zoomed out of there. I had to pass the couple again on my way to my car. I wanted so badly to stop and talk to them, but I was already almost late picking up Dax. So I just thought about what I wanted to say to them in my head really hard, hoping that by some chance they were mind readers and could hear me through my skull.

“I just want you both to know,” I furrowed my brow hard as I thought these words, “in case no one has told you, that you’re doing a really great job.”

That’s it. That’s what I wanted to tell them.

I remember the first three months of my son’s life nearly killed me. The sleep-deprivation, the incessant colicky screams, the bleeding nipples, everything. It all sent me to the edge of my limits and I remember thinking at more than one point that I was doing a terrible job and that motherhood must not come as easily to me as it does every other woman and that I was doomed to fail. In those early months, all I wanted to hear from someone was just a small, quiet, unprompted, and sincere, “Hey, you’re doing a really great job with that boy. I’m proud of you.”

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Two weeks ago was Mother’s Day. The night before, appropriately I guess, I couldn’t get much sleep because, well, that’s what happens when you’re 30+ weeks pregnant and it hurts to sit and also hurts to lie down and also hurts to stand. I had spent the night tossing and turning in our guest bed trying and failing to get some rest. (Our actual bed is a 20-year-old broken hand-me-down mattress and it has screwed my back up in ways I never knew possible, and our guest bed is newer so that’s why I was giving it a try.)

When my alarm went off to tell me to get up and get ready to go to church, I was already awake and angry about it. I shut off the alarm and went into our bedroom feeling quite defeated. I turned on the shower to begin getting ready and heard my husband stir.

“Hey! Happy Mother’s Day!”

My eyes filled with tears and I just flopped down on the bed and told him that no, I did NOT want him to tell me Happy Mother’s Day because I don’t deserve it because I’m not a good mother and you should only say those words to people who are good mothers.

“I feel like just a mom,” I went on to explain. “Not a mother. Mothers have their junk together. Mothers meal plan. Mothers pick out matching, cute clothes for their kids. Mothers actually, you know, clean their houses. Mothers know what they’re doing. I never know what I’m doing. I’m always flying by the seat of my pants. I’m just a mom; I’m not a mother.”

Ahem. Mothers don’t wait two weeks to write blog posts about their Mother’s Day. They sit down and write about them, you know, the day they happen. But here I am, writing about Mother’s Day two weeks later, because I’m just a mom. Not a mother.

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I realize this is a ridiculous assertion. I am obviously a mother in the most basic, biological sense. I grew, birthed, and then fed another person with my body. And I’m working on doing that a second time. But while sleep-deprived and hormonal, it made perfect sense to me at the time. I was separating the sheep from the goats in my own head, the sheep being the mothers who make DIY presents for their sons’ preschool teachers and the goats being the moms who pick up a Starbucks gift card with their morning lattes because oh crap, is Teacher Appreciation Week THIS WEEK?

One of the earliest memories I have with my own mother is her chasing me around the house with a hairbrush while I dramatically hid from her with my hands covering my head, screaming. Yes, actually screaming. I hated to have my hair brushed. And teeth brushed. And I didn’t really bathe. I was kind of gross, actually.

Another vivid memory I have of my own mother is sitting with her on this bright orange velour chair we used to have (thanks, late 80s trends) and listening to her read a book to me. I can’t remember what book it was, but I remember it was one that I basically had memorized. I knew the story backward and forward but still insisted that she read it to me. And she did, because she loved me and was usually really good at hiding how annoyed with me she must have been.

My mom was (is) a single mom. And I’m sure she could have used a positive affirmation every now and again. I’m sure there were days when her drama queen of a daughter fought vehemently against the evils of, you know, basic hygiene and made her feel like she was failing, too.

I don’t really have a resolution for this post, but I’ll just end it with this:

Mothers — sheep and goats alike — you’re doing a really great job. I know it’s hard, and I know it’s thankless. And I know it isn’t glamorous. And it isn’t all Pinterest DIY projects and home-cooked meals. Sometimes it’s late birthday cards and pizza three nights in a row. But you’re doing a good job.

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calm after the storm.

Just a few moments ago, as I was putting Dax to bed, I heard the tell-tale sound of summer.

Thunder.

Next month it will be two years since my family moved to Naples; we relocated just as the hot, rainy season was ramping up, and I remember that not a day went by in those first weird months that I didn’t hear that throaty rumble of the angry, humid skies.

And I heard it again today for the first time this year and it sent me into a spiral of nostalgia.

When we first moved here, we didn’t have any friends. We didn’t know a soul. And Dan was out of town for work a lot, so many nights I would sit by myself on our lanai and watch the lightning and listen to the thunder. It was lonely, sure. But it was also peaceful. I didn’t know much of anything about my new town but, being a native Floridian, I knew that sky and I knew those sights and sounds enough to not feel completely out of place. Being naturally extroverted, however, it was a whole new challenge to find so much time to myself. To be silent. To listen and to not speak.

To anyone.

Today was one of those days I wish could have been struck by some of the lightning I saw tonight; both Dax and I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, each of us already counting down the minutes to nap time before the last bite of breakfast was swallowed. I’m hormonal, and he’s two. And then a massive poop cut off a huge chunk of nap time, causing the rest of the afternoon to go just as poorly as the morning. He tested one too many boundaries and I lost my temper in an embarrassing way one too many times. And when I didn’t think I could possibly handle any more, I got a phone call from a debt collector wondering why we haven’t paid the nearly $3,000 still owed to the emergency room for last year’s miscarriage.

Seriously, Wednesday?

The storm is over now. Rain is no longer falling and thunder is no longer rumbling, but the ground is still sopping wet. Similarly, Dax is no longer raging against the Mom Machine but is soundly asleep in his crib. I’m no longer yelling at him, but am sitting on the couch in a funk so intense it almost has a color, contemplating eating cookie dough ice cream straight out of the carton (BECAUSE WHY THE HECK NOT, I’M 30 WEEKS PREGNANT) feeling both relieved to finally be done and ashamed at the ways I missed the mark today.

And Dan is away at work and I’m home by myself.

The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar.

where we are.

Over the past month, our family has experienced a lot of change. And from what I understand, the saying goes that change is hard. Regardless of what change is taking place, there is an adjustment period and, in case you’ve never experienced it, it can be hard.

But, as I was discussing with a friend yesterday, there is “good hard” and “bad hard”. And I am grateful that, for us, all of this change has been “good hard”.

I’m currently 28 weeks pregnant with this new little life (who we recently found out is another sweet BOY whom we have named Case Daniel) and my pregnancy is going faster than I’m really prepared to acknowledge. Baby shower dates are being finalized and I passed my glucose test and now I have a stack of bins of clothes to go through, but we are treading water in this house, making barely any forward progress. We have no plans currently in place to redesign Dax’s room to be a shared room, and we have yet to reorganize our own bedroom to allow for a newborn. But there is still time and we are enjoying where we are.

One thing we have done in preparation for a growing family is take a serious leap of faith; facing the reality of no paid maternity leave or short-term disability, Dan and I (with the help of a very dear friend) made the decision for me to quit my job to work full time as a freelancer. (That’s a lot of reason for my blog silence; finding time to work on my own blog has taken a backseat to the blogs of my clients. In related news, I LOVE MY NEW JOB!) Since making that transition, I’ve fully embraced the idea of “good hard” change. For instance, now that I work from home, the hardest thing I deal with is not working too much, and slotting out dedicated times throughout my day where I am 100% focused on being with Dax. Since Dax is such an independent little soul (who still takes 4-hour naps in the afternoon!) I could easily spend my entire day at my laptop plowing away at my work while he plays, pausing briefly to have short conversations (usually about trains) and to throw together a little lunch or a snack. But I prefer to give him my undivided attention for good portions of the day when he’s awake, so finding that balance is a bit of a challenge.

Compared with the “bad hard” Dan and I both dealt with while I was working full time outside the home, this is certainly preferable.

Dax, being the fierce introvert that he is, absolutely loves our new routine where he is home with me more. Every morning he tells me that he wants to “stay home with Mama and wear Spiderman jammies and play with trains!” And maybe it’s a coincidence, but I feel like the number of time outs he earns has dwindled a bit (not that he isn’t being very two and pushing a lot of boundaries lately).

Lots of change. But lots of “good hard” change, resulting in higher spirits around our house and increased sense of gratitude for this precious little life we get to live together.

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things i love thursday: a blog for cameron.

Monday evening, right after I posted my latest blog, I received the news that Cameron, a dear friend of mine whom I’ve known since childhood, passed away. After a long battle against Leukemia, a bone marrow transplant, then Graft-Versus-Host disease, she finally fell ill with a fungal infection in her lungs and then she was gone from our midst.

The news shot through my core like an ice-cold sword. I burst into tears and spent the rest of the night angrily crying out to God.

Why her? Why? Why, one of the sweetest, most talented, most precious souls to ever walk this earth? I know so many other terrible people who get to live. Why doesn’t she get to stay with us?

(I’m one of those terrible people, by the way, as is evidenced by the horrible prayers I’ve been praying since her passing.)

I felt especially bad for posting a blog link on my Facebook right around the time the rest of my hometown started posting about Cameron’s death. I felt so tacky, so self-serving. I felt like a total ass.

But there is something many people from our hometown didn’t know about Cameron.

They all knew she was sweet. And hilarious. And fiercely intelligent. And crazy talented. Anyone who’s spent five minutes with Cameron can tell you any of those things.

But one thing no one but me knew about her: Cameron loved this blog. 

She did. She loved it so much. She loved my writing. And I can’t even tell you why someone so great, someone so smart, and someone so incredible, would even read my (sometimes nonsensical and always emotional) ramblings, let alone love them. But she did.

She would always message me the minute after I posted a blog and thank me for speaking to her heart. She, just like me and many other women out there, fought the same body image ideals of our twisted society. And my writing gave her hope and peace and encouraged her to love her body (even when, in the end, it didn’t seem to love her back).

And so today’s TILT is dedicated to Cameron. To the person she was, and the person she made me to be.

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I first met Cameron Huster at our church when we were little. She played the harp and I burped on purpose. She was small and sweet and I was tall and loud and wild. She made friends with the other girls in our children’s ministry and I climbed kumquat trees and pouted. And that’s how we grew up.

When we got to high school and I went astray, she was the only person from my churched upbringing that remained my real friend. And never in a “man I hope I can rub off on Lindsay and be a good influence because OOOH BOY is she awful” way. But in a genuine, “I care about you because you are worth caring about” way.

When I learned that I was going to Florida State University for college, she reached out to me because she was dual enrolling at FSU our senior year (because I wasn’t kidding about her being a freaking genius) and made plans to meet up with me and show me around. She was the one who told me that I had to go to MoMo’s and try “pizza as big as your head”, a pizza place that ended up being integral to my quality of life during my nine years of living in Tallahassee.

When I got pregnant and then had Dax, she was one of the people who was SO excited and grateful for my new journey. She came by to snuggle him and brought him toys (a music instrument puzzle and an orchestra music box, complete with — of course — a harp) because she loved Dax so very much. She loved him so, not just because he was cute and tiny and a baby, but because he was mine. And she loved me. For some reason this smart, talented, sweet, incredible person loved meMy whole self. My opinionated, aggressive, stand-offish self. She loved me and she loved Dax because we were just the way we were.

Cameron Huster believed the best about everyone. And that included me. She believed that, even though I had my demons, I was worth a damn. She always treated me as such. Even when I was falling asleep in the pews during the church services in which she played that harp, she always loved me and made me feel worthy of love. And I never wanted to fight her on it, to tell her, “No, actually, you’re way too good for me.”

Because even more than all that, she made me actually believe that I was worth a damn.

This morning while I was eating my breakfast and trying to organize my thoughts for this blog post, I kept saying in my head that this world will be a much crappier place now that Cameron is gone. But you know what? That’s a lie.

Because of all the people she touched — like me — this world is going to be a better place because she was in it. She left a piece of herself in me, and in everyone around her. And while her body may not be with us, her spirit permeates the air in things like the words I write in this blog and in the conversations we have with those around us.

She may not be breathing anymore, but she is alive. And I am grateful that she is alive in me.

Love you, Cam.

how to physically love your body even when you mentally can’t.

For those of you who don’t know, back in 2007, I was diagnosed with an ED-NOS, or eating disorder not otherwise specified. I was taken aback by the diagnosis, but before I could argue I was flung into therapy, nutritional counseling, and was prescribed some anti-depressants to treat the disorder.

I’m happy to say that this diagnosis was seven years ago and I have yet to relapse. Huzzah! However, that said, I don’t really like to say I’m “recovered”. I know full well that, out of nowhere, dark thoughts can sneak into my brain and make me adverse to eating. Just a few months ago, before I got pregnant, I was having a really hard time at work and my go-to solution for it was to not eat dinner. This sounds crazy to anyone who hasn’t struggled with disordered eating, but it hit me like a freight train in the dark.

Even though I didn’t want to, I immediately told my husband how I was feeling, so I could have someone in the room speak some reason into me. It worked, but it felt uncomfortable and wrong. Like I was faking it.

But here’s the thing — the majority of my ED recovery was exactly that: me faking it. I’d been eating in a disordered manner for so many years (12 years at the time of diagnosis) that anything other than that seemed wrong. But after faking it for a while, it became more natural, and now, I fake it less.

I might almost say I’ve made it. (Almost.)

I’m 20 weeks pregnant right now, and just like I experienced with my first pregnancy, my mind swings back and forth between feeling beautiful and proud of my round belly, and horrified at the changes and the lack of control I have over my expanding frame. And this would happen to me throughout my ED recovery, too. I would swing back and forth between happy to be healing and terrified of relinquishing control.

And now, halfway through my pregnancy, I sometimes feel the need to physically fake loving my body when my brain can’t, in hopes that it will eventually catch up.

If you ever find yourself in a position like that, here are some ways to fake it until you make it. (And you WILL make it, I promise.)

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1. Exercise

I know. Sounds gross, especially when you look down and aren’t happy with your body. But seriously, exercise not only releases endorphins and other happy hormones in your body, thus making you a more pleasant person in general, but I always feel more confident in my own skin when I’ve gone for a jog or tackled the yoga mat.

2.  Shower/Bathe in the Dark, But Not For That Reason

I’ve bathed in the dark because the sheer thought of laying eyes on my naked body has repulsed me. But lately, instead, I’ve been showering in the dark so I can’t focus on how my body looks at all, but how it feels. I turn the water just the temperature I like it (scalding, actually) and close my eyes, and allow my body to feel good. And then I say a prayer of thanks for legs to hold me up and skin to feel the hot water. (And, at this time, a body that is strong and healthy enough to build/care for another human life. Regardless of how unattractive I might feel, that is an incredible gift for which I am so very thankful.)

3. Stay Naked

I had a roommate in college (whom I lived with when I was diagnosed) who always had “naked time” after her shower when she would just lay in bed and relax. It sounded weird to me at the time, but I gave it a try, and there is something sweet about letting your clean body be just the way it was created for a few minutes without rushing to cover it back up again.

4. Apply Lotion Everyday

The sheer act of applying lotion to your body is a very practical way to love yourself. Check out this post about the lotion challenge and give it a try for yourself. Pick out something that smells divine and commit to putting it on everyday and evaluate how you feel about your body after a day, a week, a month.

5. Open Yourself Up to The Love of Others

This one is always the hardest for me, but is ultimately the most rewarding. Whenever I’m feeling particularly down on myself, I will ask someone close to me why they love me and then listen to their whole answer without responding. When they are done, I won’t argue with them. I won’t try and dilute their words. I just say a very heartfelt, “Thank you.” And let their words be true. Because they are, even if they don’t feel true to me.

Those are just a handful of things I’ve thought of over the past week. What do YOU do to love your body, even when it’s hard?

diet coke 12-pack: week of january 26, 2015

WHOA HEY. Remember these? Probably not, because the last time I wrote one was back in 2011 which was before I was a mom.

LOLOLOLOL time flies so fast though.

To get you up to speed, back in the day, I would collect all the stuff I’ve read/loved over the past week and share them with you. And since I’m back at it, HERE YOU GO.

Also, a lot of these bloggers are my IRL friends and they are cool so if you like me, you should definitely like them.

Only thing I ask is that you please don’t break up with my blog for their blogs. Sure their blogs (as well as their faces) are sexier than mine and they are undoubtedly more trendy/fun/nice/better cooks but LISTEN. You liked me first, right?

Right. Anyway.

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK:

  • How To Ditch The Cubicle | SEMIPROPER – In America, in 2015, the age of supposed hover boards and wiggity whack jumpsuits, should we not be able to fully work from home? That’s kind of my thought process this year as I navigate how in the heck to care for two children and still make ends meet without selling every comic book Dan owns. (What? I would never…)
  • Friday DIY Roundup | Oh the Lovely Things – A few friends and I have decided to have a monthly DIY “crafternoon” (a thank you, a thank you) all year in order to make Christmas presents in a timely manner. I love these ideas and I’m pretty sure I’m going to make that photo soap of my FACE for literally everyone I know. (You’re so welcome in advance.)
  • Printable Valentine’s Day Gift Wrap | Sarah Hearts – To go along with the DIY theme, download these adorable gift wraps from my homie Sarah. They are almost as adorable as she is. Almost. Also, why fight the line at Target when you can just click print? Genius.
  • I Chose Life and His Name is Lexington Anthony | Svellerella – I am not all about to get political up in here (ain’t nobody got time for that) but reading this girl’s story wrecked me a little bit. Life doesn’t always go as planned but, if you let it, it can be beautiful.
  • The Continuing Saga of Blink-182 Explained in Blink-182 Gifs | Hello Giggles – Because I was a huge Blink fan in the late 90s/early 00s, and because who doesn’t love a set of good gifs? (Also, Tom DeLonge, WTF bro? Stay together for the kids!)
  • Test Driving Natural Skin Care | Scratch or Sniff – My skin has always sucked. The first pimple I remember getting was in the 2nd (!!!!) grade. When my friends were fighting over broken crayons, I was in the bathroom crying over my broken skin. In my 20s, especially putting my hormones through the wringer with pregnancies/nursing/miscarriages/everything, it hasn’t really gotten any better. I’ve ditched all the harsh chemical treatments I was using and have switched to a skin care routine similar to this one, and I might give this routine a try.

And that’s all from me this week. Check you next week.

<3,

Lindsay

what it’s like to be afraid of a blog.

I mentioned yesterday that I took a three-month blogging hiatus for personal reasons. While I don’t want to go into all of them, I will say that a big part of my problem was that I was just plain scared of my blog.

Which is super dumb because my blog can’t, like, hurt me or anything. For crying out loud it isn’t even a tangible thing. And I created it. But regardless, I was (and am still a little bit) afraid of it.

So. What’s does it look like to be afraid of a blog?

1. A blank draft page shuts down all of your brain cells. 

I never realized how much power a set of HTML code could have over a person until I tried to blog and the mere sight of a blank draft paralyzed me. What once came so naturally to me — stringing words together to form coherent thoughts — was suddenly impossible. I would get a blog idea, open my dashboard, see the blank page, and then…

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2. This leads you to believe your blog will steal your other powers. 

First writing, then what? Speaking? Spelling? Breathing? I wasn’t sure how far my blog was going to go, so I felt it was best to play it safe and keep my blog at a distance. I can’t afford to have my blog shut down my lungs on top of my brain, too. That would surely kill me.

3. You forget that you ever blogged in the first place. 

I would have conversations with my friends about their lives, and they would casually mention the blogs they follow or their Bloglovin’ feeds or whatever. And I would nod along stupidly, drool a little bit, and then utter something along the lines of:

“Blogs haha wow blogs those are cool blogs what is a blog can you tell me more about your internets.”

4. You admit defeat.

Your WordPress app’s dormancy then defines your blog’s (and your, by extension) state of life. Blog post ideas float into your head and so quickly out, because your brain’s muscles have atrophied from months of non-use. Your future flashes before your eyes and you see yourself explaining to your grandchildren, “I had a blog once…oh yes, your grandmother knew how to blog. And then one day… it just…left.

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The thing that sucked the most about being afraid of my blog was that I was afraid of something that was so inherently me. Without getting too psycho-babbly, that’s fodder for a chaise lounge and a paid professional, right? Like being afraid of my blog made me afraid of a little part of myself.

And that reminded me of the reason I started blogging in the first place — because I can’t afford therapy.

So, I diagnosed myself in need of some therapy and got back on the horse. And here we are.