The Quiet Life of Violet has moved!
So long Typepad, hello fresh start!
The Quiet Life of Violet has moved!
So long Typepad, hello fresh start!
As I sit down to go over this post again for the third time, I'm finishing lunch at 3:27pm - I dig up a cold salad from last night and a hot fork from the dishwasher (nothing else was clean - not even a toddler fork, I checked). The first half of my lunch consisted of some peppered gluten-free organic hippie Mac and cheese from a box (with a toddler fork) and the most handsome lunch date in all the land, my three year old, Roman. That kid is funny and he understand so much. And he calls me his best friend sometimes. No including Dinky, Donkey, Honkey and Homie, of course. (He swears they're real and they live at his Regular House, which is, "sooooo far away, like 15 minutes." That's normal, right?) That kid, I tell ya.
Despite my amazing lunch date and my amazingly magical Teddy bear, I, Stephanie, am going through something. I don't feel like me. I mean, I'm still ME, but I feel muted or subdued or hidden. Like I'm drowning in a giant pool of happiness that is my life.
I don't know what's wrong with me - I have a fantastic life. A damn good life. A hot husband who is good to me and our boys. I have two healthy, amazing children that love me. I have both my parents and so does Dustin. We still have some of our grandparents. We are not in debt. We have a place to call home (even if we are still renters). We have food in our bellies. My babies are always fed! I get over-priced soy, decaf coffee drinks at least once a week from a drive through while I sit in my air conditioned car. Dustin gets the weekends off every weekend and I always paid on time. We are so in love and I am healthy! Scared for my health (like always), but damn it, I am healthy right now. We have it made.
But still... I feel like I'm lost. Like Stephanie is missing.
I know that what I'm feeling is partially due to my hormones (I had major anxiety issues six months post-pardem with Roman) since Teddy is coming up on seven months old tomorrow(!). I'm so thankful for that boy and his sweet smile! The story on those pages of our book... God, we are so lucky. It makes my eyes sting. We are so lucky.
Still... I feel broken. How is it that I feel so whole and so broken at the same time!
I know that I will get "me" back someday. That I will be able to sit in a dusty book store for hours, letting the pages of books written by familiar strangers slide off of my fingers. That there will be moments, long moments, of silence that aren't followed by the horrid scream that follow after a baby has drawn all of the air possible into their lungs while upset. Some day I will look in the mirror and see more than a pony tail and minimal makeup, oatmeal caked on my shirt from whichever kid decided to claim me that morning. I know that someday, I will be feel hot again. Not just passable, but hot. My butt will fit into my jeans and my bra won't smell like milk after one day of use. I will go to concerts at The Fillmore in San Francisco and let my body drift off, finding itself in the notes that float heavily in the air. I'll see dust specks catch flickers of purple light from the chandeliers and I will feel like I am a more this just a maker of oatmeal, wiper of tiny butts. Gosh, how torn my heart feels talking about this stuff! My children are the most beautiful creatures I've ever come across and here I am talking about needing to feel sexy at a concert without them.
Motherhood is very hard and feels very lonely sometimes. It comes naturally, the taking care of my boys, loving them and cuddling them and making them happy. I enjoy it so very much! The self-sacrifice is what makes it hard, though. Wanting to run out of the house and far away when Teddy is screaming bloody murder because I, heaven forbid, set him down ("You want to make yourself a SANDWICH?!! The nerve, Mother!"). Wanting to rip my eldest a new one when he throws a foam puck at my head and laughs. (What the hell? Mean much?) The endless giving with no break is what makes motherhood hard for me.
Having two is harder than one in a lot of ways. You know what you're doing this time around, so there is less of the, "is THAT normal?!" type of thing going on, but having two little birds chirp and cry and NEED all day and night long is rough! It's almost like they have a secret brothers pact that ensures that one of them will always be needing somthing when the other is satsified. and if one of them needs to be fed, the other poops and requires my assistance to clean it up. Poop and food do not mix, people! Mommy wants to sit in the bathroom for twenty minutes and pretend that the living room in Better Homes & Gardens is hers! (Better Homes & Gardens is a braggy name come to think of it. Yes, I see! Both your home AND garden are better than mine, but you could say it a little more nicely!)
I know that soon Teddy won't need me to hold him constantly and that he will be able to feed himself and I will LONG for the quiet moments when I tuck him into my arms and nurse him. I know that some day I will cry because my sweet Roman will no longer take my face in his two hands and kiss me gently. That there will be no more Ricky-Time dances at bedtime (Ricky is a stuffed frog) and no little buns to pat and diaper to fasten. The buns will be grown and I will be old. Will I still feel sexy when I'm forty? Fifty? Am I longing for days past where Dustin and I were young and free only to miss the beautiful days that are laid out before us right this moment? How do I balance it all, the longing for "me" and the loving and enjoying of "us" and not wasting any time when it sure seems like there's never enough to go around?
For now, we live for the weekends. For the times when I can have a little help. For the hour and a halves that Dustin and I have together every night, babies tucked in bed, us cuddling on the couch eating frozen chocolate covered banana slices and watching a show or part of a movie. The small sliver of heaven that we have to fit in "us" time in with clean-up time and fold that load of laundry time and grown up conversation time before we have to go to sleep and do it all over again. I find myself begging God to give me just a little more patience. A little more energy. A little more grace. Five more minutes of uninterrupted sleep.
Soon the days where I can work on my business or work on this blog or sleep all night long, they will be upon me, friends. Days when I can wear shirts that don't require easy boob access. Days where I will look in the mirror and see me, the me that I used to know. Will she ever be back? Will I regret even writing this post in the first place because I should have been milking every drop of my children's childhood possible instead of clicking away on my iPad, listening to Lana and eating leftover salad while they nap? Will I ever feel like the world is full of endless possibilities again, or is that the price of motherhood? Will I still feel like "me" when I'm no longer young and beautiful (oh, Lana!)? I AM GETTING GRAY HAIRS, people.
I'm trying not to blink and let this chapter of life wash over and drift past me, because I know that it goes fast.
Just keep your tired eyes open and don't blink, Stephanie.
Friends and family, near, far and everywhere in between, I have a request. Can you help us with a miracle?
My amazing friend Rachael is in surgery. Right now. She has majorly advanced Chron's disease and is in the O.R. fighting to stay alive as I type this. She has had two other surgeries like today's, and both times she came gravely close to passing away on the table.
Rachael is young. She is beautiful. She is a daughter, a sister, a mother and as of yesterday, a wife. She and her beautiful bride Sam had an intimate wedding in the California redwoods, sharing the moment with only a handful of people including her young daughter, mother and best friend and photographer (and friend) Stephanie.
And today she is fighting for her life at UCSF. She is tooth-and-nail fighting to live as she sleeps peacefully under a cloud of anesthesia. Please pray for her, friends. Please send her good thoughts. Please direct good vibes and juju and rainbows or whatever it is that you choose to do for those in need at Rach and her surgeons. And her daughter. And her Wife. Rachael and Sam (and Rachael's daughter Cemberlyne) deserve a long and happy life together and they just got started.
Please. Please pray that God allows them that.
Especially since today is Rachael's birthday.
Happy birthday, my beautiful friend.
Would you like to see pictures of their wedding? Click the gorgeous photo (by Stephanie of Ahava Studios) below to see a slide show. Grab a tissue, seriously.
Today I made this awesome marinade for a $20 tri-tip we bought this weekend - half an onion, a whole bulb of garlic (maybe 8 cloves?), soy sauce, pineapple juice, Rooster Sauce and some red wine vinegar. I let it marinate all day, lovingly flipping it around in the fridge so that the meat would be evenly coated. I had visions of left over trip-tip sandwiches dancing my my head. Little meat sandwiches with wings. What can I say? I like me some red meat.
My sweet, amazing, handsome Husband (a.k.a. The Grill Master in this house) pre-heated our grill, oiled it with the coconut oil spray we use and put the juicy piece of meat on to sear. While the meat was cooking, he decided to clean the outside of said grill and asked for a rag and got the can of cleaner out.
And then he got distracted and sprayed the meat with the cleaner instead of the coconut oil. And then our dinner caught on fire. And the end.
For some reason, this unfortunate meat event really tickled me. I quoted Martha Wilson and said, "I'll make us some sandwiches." (Brownie points if you know what I'm talking about.) I am immeasurably happy to be at home with my three boys doing normal life things. Laundry. Breakfasts. Wiping buns all day and getting overwhelmed sometimes. This quiet life is really the best life ever. Flaming pieces of dinner meat and all.
The sweetest and most important moments of my life are those that involve my boys.
While I sit in bed nursing Teddy at night, room darkened by lack of daylight, I sometimes catch myself just staring at him while I cry. Silent tears carve pathways down my cheeks and soak into my blanket. I breathe him in, his smell so intoxicating that I feel instantly calmed. I hold his small hand and remember the time in his life when ALL I could hold were his hands. When I would just spend my day staring, eyes wide like a deer standing still in the middle of a road, frozen in the moment because being present and processing the things in front of me would be too much for me to handle and my system would overloaded and shut down. How privileged am I to hold this baby in my arms now! How sweet is each breath that this boy takes! God, we are so lucky. Really. We are so very lucky.
Roman has really softened up towards me ever since coming home from the hospital. I guess absence did make his heart grow a little fonder, and the stability and routine that we now have at home has put him in a really good place. Some days I look at what a big kid he's become and I'm just washed over with sadness and complete joy at the same time. How does that even happen? I can't believe that we made this little big boy - seriously, the coolest kid I know. He really is just this smart, amazing little human that has conversations with me now and knows what he wants and isn't afraid to ask. Sometimes I look at him and I love him so much that it physically hurts me. It's like I can feel my soul, the warm spot around my heart, contract because it's all so beautiful. It's all so real that it's almost surreal, if that makes sense. Am I hallucinating? Am I really stuck back in a sterile hospital bed in some cancer ward and this is all a hallucination? Did I really die when I had the tumor in my stomach and now God is making up for my short life by showing me what I would have had as a courtesy? Is this real life?
Living quietly, weekdays full of Disney movies and grilled cheese. Nicholas the Bunny and monsters at the end of books. Dinner leftovers for lunch and laundry marathons during nap time. Oh, to live! Dustin and I hold out for the weekends - it's our time, family time, the time when we feel the most whole. Having my husband and two boys around me at the same time, us doing anything at all, is like a drug to me. It fills my veins with the warmth of the sun! When I take the time to really look at what's in front of me, even with Teddy screaming and Roman running around the house in a Power Ranger outfit wielding a lightsaber and Dustin doing paper work or folding clothes, my world feels right. It's like the scene starts to slow in that moment and everything moves at a snail's pace and the specks of dust in the room around me reflect the sunlight from the front window. Lana del Ray sings a song in my head and I catch Dustin's eye just barely, and I am really THERE. And then everything bursts like a match held to an old gas stove and I have to remind myself to breathe because the view in front of me is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. And it's mine. And I am happy.
And we are so lucky.
Obviously we've had a lot of love sent our way since my water broke exactly six months ago and everything that has happened with Teddy since. I'm talking, a LOT of love. From nurses who took care of me all the way to friend's parents that we met once at a wedding years ago. People have been very generous and very kind to us. One of my friends set up a fundraiser while I was in the hospital, people we don't even know sent us Christmas gifts and we were very well taken care of. I can't even express how loved we were during one of the hardest times of our whole lives.
Normally, I am on top of writing thank you notes for almost everything. When I was younger, my grandfather emphasized how important it was to formally say 'thank you' with a note and it's stuck with me my whole life. I LIKE writing and sending physical notes of gratitude - it's a rapidly disappearing practice and I enjoy keeping it alive.
There's something about all of this, though, something that's kept me from writing, from thanking. Dustin has been on my back about writing the notes and has even offered to write them himself, but I feel like they need to come from me. I think about it everyday, the weight of the thanks that I owe heavy on my conscience. Why have I not been able to do it? Why do I keep putting it off? What gives?
I actually sat down yesterday, card on lap and pen in hand, with the intention of writing my thank you notes. The first one was to my nurse Janet, one of the sweetest ladies I encountered while on hospital bed rest. She went out of her way to set up a mini-tree, decorate it, stuff a stocking and wrap little presents from Santa to my dear Roman. She set it up right outside my hospital room door for my guy to discover on Christmas morning because we told him that Santa would find him no matter where we were. How do you thank someone for making Christmas special for your two year old when you, his mother, are to stay in bed, in the hospital, away from Home? How do you thank the generous people that donated money to your family so that being in the hospital saving your second child doesn't put your first child in debt? How do you thank the friend that handmade the baby quilt for your premature son? The quilt that used to cover his Isolette while he was on a respirator, literally fighting for his life? My poor boy who was hooked up to IVs and breathing tubes, was poked and prodded daily, and that blanket with the giant smiling bear on it helped me find him as soon as I set foot into the NICU. How do you thank someone for helping you find your baby each day?
It's hard for me to go down the list I've kept and and look at the people who've done nice things for us. It's hard to go back to that place and time in our journey, to put myself back in that NICU, that hospital bed, that first car ride to the ER when my water broke at 22 weeks. The letters of gratitude are very much owed, but the weight of going back to those days has been too much for me. Too heavy for me to manage as I try and navigate the waters of normalcy with my two healthy, amazing boys.
And, not only is it hard for me to go back, but it doesn't feel like enough. 'Thank You' doesn't begin to cover what I want to say to all these people. It sounds so insignificant, so small, so... insufficient. How could I ever express what I felt and how I feel now that Teddy is doing so well, with just those two tiny words? How do you thank someone for their kindness, for grabbing your hand and keeping you and your little family afloat and your heads above life's tumultuous water when the rain keeps pouring? Even the smallest gestures, a set of pajamas for me, a book for Roman, a cute outfit for Teddy, all of these things brought us hope and kept us going. How is it possible that blue ink and a paper notecard could possibly express how much that meant to us? How much all of it meant?
Slowly. Slowly I'm dealing with it. It was hard going from water breaking early to waiting it out to bed rest to feeling so much hope when I made it to 34 weeks to 'your baby is going to die' to maybe it will be okay to 'congratulations, take him home now' to being thrust back in to everyday life with a two and a half year old and a newborn that I am constantly worried about.
Maybe it means that I'm weak that I'm still trying to process it all six months later. Everyone swears that I'm so strong and so courageous, but really I'm just a girl who finds her breath taken away each day by the memories of what she just went through. I get overjoyed when I pause and realize that I can sit on my couch (sit, not just lay!) and then get up and cook whatever I want in the kitchen. I can drive a car and sleep in my own bed and go to the grocery store. At the same time, my stomach feels like it's being ripped out of my butt when it hits me that this little boy who smiles at me all day long used to have a breathing tube down his tiny throat. That they had to sedate him and poke needles into his veins and he was supposed to die. My boy, the baby that I nurse and kiss and cuddle... They told us he was going to die. I would never have seen his smile, smelled his milky-cheese hands or cuddled him in my bed. The thought of that makes me sick, makes me cry big fat crocodile tears and makes me want to curl into a ball for a year. It's something that is imprinted on your heart and never really goes away, I'm guessing.
In the mean time, I'm just taking it day by day and soaking in each and everyone of these juicy, delicious Teddy smiles. The thank you notes will be sent out, slowly but surely and life, the life we only dreamed would be possible, will go on.