Wednesday, August 27, 2014

One Size Fits Most

I am not like "most" people.  Never have been.

There have always been things that made me different.  Divorced parents.  Being Jewish.  A gay dad.  I was always a few pounds heavier, a few notes off key or just a little different than the others around me. 

As I got older, I learned to accept my circumstances and differences and in many ways, embrace them.  I was able to use much of my past as material that would make others laugh so hard that they would cry.  I liked being a little different.  I still do.

I used to shave the back of my head and wear all black to announce to the world that I was unique.  Now I dress the way I want to and let people figure it out on their own.

When Allie died, one of the things that crossed my mind during those dark days was how this was yet one more thing that was going to make me different.  I did not want to be the mom who lost her child or the woman who had to bury her baby.  That crushed me.  Not only did I have to suffer the unbearable agony of not having her here to parent, but I was constantly reminded of what should have been. 

The time we spent trying to build our family after our loss was agony.  The appointments, the shots, the medication, the injections the procedures...the negatives each step of the way.


Then we went to the adoption agency for an informational session.  Then we filled out the paperwork.  Then we had a home study.  Then we had a fundraiser.  Then we got picked.

It was so...dare I say it?  Easy!  The steps were hard and the emotions were running high but once we made the decision, it was so right.

Now I have a daughter to raise.  She keeps me on my toes every second of every day.  She makes me laugh so hard that I sometimes cry.  She somehow has my nuances and some of my differences.  And I think that makes her all the more special.

I am not "most".  I am not "all".  But I am a mother who is learning her way just like any other mother and I am enjoying the journey for the first time in a long time.  I have both my girls to thank for that - and all the people whom I have loved along the way who love me back.  Differences and all.

Our "Allie Butterfly" who lives right outside

One of Miranda's many smiles




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Home

"Home is where the heart is
No matter how the heart lives
Inside your heart where love is
That's where you've got to make yourself
At home"
-Peter, Paul & Mary

I grew up hearing that song.  It pops into my head now and again.  Especially this past week.

A few days ago, we got back from our first family vacation.  We rented a house in the Pocono Mountains and set off for an adventure.  And an adventure we had!  Family came to stay with us for different parts of the week and we did everything from swimming in the lake, jumping off the dock, paddle boating, sunbathing, grilling, walks (or hikes - such a hilly terrain!) and a trip to a local zoo.  We laughed so hard our sides hurt.  We enjoyed the togetherness.  We enjoyed the different environment.  We enjoyed being away.








That being said, Miranda was sick.  Then I got sick.  Then Miranda realized that sleeping in her pack n' play was not nearly as nice as her crib and by the end of the week, started a sleeping boycott.  Then the rain came.  Then the colder weather.  Eventually, we decided to take the warm and fuzzy memories and pack up and head home.
All in all, it was a pretty good week.  Were we more tired when we got home?  Yes.  Is that typical of vacations?  Yes.  Are we going away again any time soon?  Probably not!  Is that typical?  Probably yes!

There was something so special about coming home.  I love our home.  The home where our family began.  The home where Allie's creek runs out back.  A few months ago we talked about moving to a bigger home.  One with a larger yard and a more spacious garage.  One with a playroom or a finished basement.  But the more we talked, the more we realized that this home is our home and we are not ready to part with it yet.  So we are making some improvements so that we can continue to enjoy our time here.  Kitchen renovations started yesterday!  Going to be a long 3-4 weeks but hopefully worth it in the end.

Home really is where the heart is...at least where our heart is.  One in the creek out back and one sleeping soundly in her crib (finally!). 

"All I ever wanted was to make this house a home..." - Indigo Girls

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O’ Captain! My Captain!

I first saw Dead Poets Society when I was 15 years old.  It changed my life.

I wanted to be a poet.  I wanted to marry Ethan Hawke.  Or Robert Sean Leonard.  Or Josh Charles  Any of them would have been fine.  I wanted to be an inspiration.  I wanted to make my life extraordinary.

In college, I got a tattoo on my ankle that says, "Carpe Diem".  It was (and is) a reminder to "Seize the Day".

I studied English in college and wanted to be the next Thoreau.  I wanted to live in the woods and suck out all the marrow of life.  Until I learned there were no parties or shopping or really much else in the woods and come to think of it, I was not really a woodsy type gal.  I gradually learned how to take the lessons that meant so much to be and try to abide by them and to let go of the parts that did not really apply to me.  Knowing and loving and watching that movie shaped so many of my ideas and my thoughts and my dreams.

When I found out that Robin Williams died yesterday, I was crushed.  I was speechless.  I was so sad.

When I found out that the cause of death was suicide, my heart sank even more.

Depression is a real thing.  It's a disease.  I know because I have suffered from it.

Long before you might think, too.

I had one aunt on my father's side of the family.  She committed suicide when I was in high school.  My parents had long since split up and the relationship with my aunt had become strained.  We were not close and I had no idea she was in any kind of pain or sadness.  By the time I knew, it was too late.

My father also suffered depression.  Years of intense therapy and all sorts of medication and his demons were often in his own mind.  On the outside, he had everything. On the inside, he was insecure and felt weak and often alone and depressed.

Genetically, it makes sense that I could suffer from depression since it runs in my family.

During and after my parents divorce, I was in all sorts of therapy.  I also did talk therapy in college and then again for a short while in my 20's. I was always fortunate enough to know when I needed the help of someone else.  While suicide was not something I thought about, I tended to suffer from either being too "high" or too "low".  Not manic, but not right.  And I did not want to live that way.

I have been on and off different medications and I know pretty much what works for me.  Sometimes, I can stick with all herbal and natural medicine to get me through a rough patch.  Sometimes I need more.  

When Allie died, I paid VERY close attention to how I was and tried to see if I was situationally depressed or just overall depressed.  During that time, the grief counseling and some over-the-counter antidepressants worked for me.  I needed to feel the pain and go through it to come out on the other side of it.  And I did.  I still am.

When I lost my job last year and became a full-time stay at home mom with a 5 month old, my depression and anxiety were off the charts.  So I talked to my husband.  I talked to my family.  I talked to my doctor.  And I did what was right for me.

Depression is real.  Addiction is real.  Pain is real.  Suffering is real.  I am so grateful that I have the support system I need to know when I need help that it is ok to ask.  I wish that everyone had that.  I can't say how much I wish for that.

I am so sorry that it took a celebrity dying for people to talk about depression and suicide but I guess if there is anything good to come of his death, that may be it.

As for me, I will keep "Seizing The Day" and teach my daughter to do the same and also teach her that there is nothing we will not talk about.  There is nothing too dark or too scary...there is always light at the end of the tunnel. And if I can't help her find it, we will find someone who will.


“Carpe. Hear it? Carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
 – John Keating, Dead Poets Society

Friday, August 1, 2014

Story Time

I pull up to the daycare and park my car.  I lean over to the passenger seat and grab my purse and my phone.  I get out of the car and start to head to the door.

At the entrance, I punch in our special key code and the red light turns to a green light and the door unlocks. I tug on the handle and pull the door open and let myself in.  

My ears immediately hear the sounds of laughter playing.  My nose inhales the sent of baby powder and diaper cream and leftover snacks.  

I peer into the "First Steps" room and find it empty.  I keep walking and head towards the toddler playground.

I see her before she sees me.  Her cheeks are red from playing and her hair is tousled from all the activity.  Once she was on the swings.  Another time she was on the slide.  Sometimes she is in the grass or by the fence.  

Someone always says, "Miranda, look who's here!"

She always looks.

Her face lights up and she opens her arms and runs to me.

I shove my phone in my pocket and drop my purse and run to pick her up.

She snuggles into my arms.  It is the happiest minute of my day.  I am warm from the inside out.

I love being a mom.  I love being Miranda's mom. 

I never really knew that I was going to be a mom.  I know I had dolls growing up but I don't remember thinking that they were my "babies".  Some people are born to be parents.  I am not sure that I was.  But now that I am, I can't imagine my life any other way.

Recently, someone asked me (again) if Miranda was the only child we had.  It was almost too easy to say yes.  I long since stopped telling strangers my life story. I do not need to make them sad or embarrassed.  But it still makes me sad.  She doesn't make me sad, but her absence does.

You never know what is going to happen from one day to the next.  I never know what to expect ever since the unexpected happened.  I am reminded every day to stop and take it all in - for you never know what might happen next.  I am slowly coming to terms with that.  

I try to cherish the moments that could easily be taken for granted.  

We walk to the car and head home.   It's almost dinner time and bath time.  Let's be on our way.  Daddy is waiting for us.


A Letter to My First Daughter

My Dearest Allie, It’s been a while since I have written to you. I find it easier to write about you than it is to write to you. ...