Category Archives: guest blogging

What Courage Looks Like

Please welcome Susan today as she guest posts here at Giggles and Grimaces.  Susan is a wonderful mother to two little girls, she is a piano teacher (even via twitter) and blogs at www.learnedhappiness.wordpress.com.  She is a calming, comforting and encouraging voice to me amidst the chaos that is depression.

 

Every time I post something about my PPD, my antenatal depression, or my anxiety, I get at least one comment from someone thanking me for being so brave. It’s appreciated, really. But honestly? It also makes me cringe. It’s a damn shame that a person has to be brave to tell the truth. That I have anything to fear by opening up and sharing my experiences with others, experiences for which I carry no blame. Experiences that might help others. When I first started blogging, I took a chance. Though I was afraid of how others would see me, I needed to stop Shame in its tracks. Now that I air my dirty laundry on a weekly basis, I don’t need courage. In exchange for being vulnerable and real, I’ve been rewarded with love and understanding. These days, I don’t fear the hard posts.

Now, courage has been redefined for me by the everyday women in my life, some whom I’ve never met in person. Let me share with you what courage truly looks like in this community of Warrior Moms:

Courage is raising two children on your own, leaving an unhealthy relationship (despite it being the only familiar thing in your life), and beginning your bachelors degree when all the students around you are too young and immature to understand the demands of motherhood. It’s balancing homework, laundry, and dinners. It’s playing with your boys even though you’re exhausted beyond words, and still finding time for self-care. Courage is dancing your butt off each week just to bring a little joy to others. My friend A’Driane? Never knows what kind of day BPD may bring her way. But she rises in the morning, bringing brilliant color to her world, her boys’ worlds, and everyone else along the way.

Courage is living life with an organ determined to complicate your every meal. It’s struggling with a life-threatening condition but living the life YOU want to live anyway. It’s managing your illness with intelligence…and reaching out to others to share everything you know. It’s dedication and self-discipline – the kind it takes to get healthy enough to bring two beautiful babies into the world. Melissa is one of my oldest and most trusted friends. And though her diabetes does its best to define her, she gracefully rises above it to accomplish everything from a double major in English and Music Performance to being a breastfeeding, baby-wearing mother of two. Her writing is deep and honest and filled with integrity. And she does it all with humor and humility.

But the most courageous act a person can do? I believe it’s being honest with yourself. Digging deep to see the truth lying within. Often frightening, ugly, and easier to ignore than to face, the truth hides behind the story we wish we could tell. It takes a brave person to uncover those lies and reveal what’s really going on. To be able to say to yourself (and your loved ones), “I’m NOT okay. I need help.” Charity, my friend, you inspire me with your courage. I know this last week was torturous, but you fought back against the depression that was threatening your life. Admitting yourself to the hospital was an act of courage and self-love and I am so proud to call you my friend.

What Have You Learned this Week?

I am thrilled to have a guest blogger today. Part of my self-care this week was to ask for some help on my blog and I am so excited to share with you the first of those:

I am so honored to be a guest on Charity’s blog today. I have admired her writing. She is so honest as she chronicles the ups and downs of motherhood. Charity has inspired me to start a workout regimen to help me become more physically fit. She very generously shared me her training plan. She is a mom of three little girls, and she is an advocate for breast feeding. We met through #ppdchat on twitter. She has given me wonderful advice on nursing a toddler and transitioning from pumping at work to just nursing when I am with my littlest. Thank you again for having me in your space.

I am reflecting on what motherhood is to me. Charity’s blog title is a great example of how I feel on any given day from moment to moment. My sister-in-law summed motherhood up as this overwhelming love that makes you feel as if your heart will burst in one moment and in the next moment the overwhelming urge to pull your hair out in frustration and rage and hop in your car to drive away. This resonated with me.

Motherhood is a dichotomy for me. It is the most rewarding and the most challenging thing I have ever done. I marvel daily at the unconditional love and forgiveness that my daughters show me. I wonder aloud on a daily basis why bedtime and getting out the door in the morning is an exercise in patience and creativity, causing me to lose my patience and become frustrated. My girls have seen me at my best and my worst, and they love me just as I am. I love them just as they are. Day by day I am figuring out who I am as a mother and what my girls need from me. I am learning something new every day from my girls.

Here is what this week taught me I have learned that dancing in the kitchen and making goofy faces can turn my girls’ moods around. My oldest really is interested in my day. Our bedtime ritual now includes telling each other about our days. This gives us some much needed time together. I have learned that my youngest still needs affection even as she runs away from me to explore everything. I have learned that a cardboard box is more fun to play with than any of our toys. What did your children teach you this week?

Check out her blog at www.tranquilamama.wordpress.com

Hear my Heart at Butterfly Confessions

The lovely and talented A’Driane has invited me to guest post today at her blog.  A’Driane and I met via twitter and and #ppdchat where she is the always real and encouraging @addyeB. 

A’Driane does an amazing weekly post called Self Care Saturdays.  I was originally going to write for that, but as you’ll see, my post, well, moved a little out of that realm.

It was hard to write and I don’t anticipate it being easy to read.  It is where I am, broken, but trying to get whole.  Surviving til I’m thriving.

 

Please come see my guest post

I am guest posting today at NAMI Massachusetts, National Alliance on Mental Illness. Please come visit!

Let me know if you are interested in having me do a guest post or if you would like to write one here. My blog is Faith, Family, Mental Health.

Guest Posting for Mental Health Mondays

Please join me at

As I tell part of my journey with postpartum depression and where I am now…learning, growing, surviving til I’m thriving.

Let me know if you are looking for guests posts.  I am working on getting the message out there about depression, but also have cute kids to share, crafts, projects, and recipes.

 

Guest Blogging–Come Visit

Hello y’all.  I wanted to let you know I am over at Birthing Beautiful Ideas today sharing my story about postpartum depression and anxiety.  Come see how depression looked in my life and the many resources I have found as I seek to become whole for my girls!

birthingbeautifulideas

Baby Talk with Story3girl

I have met many lovely ladies on twitter, via the twitter #ppdchat.  Story3girl is one of those.  And I have loved hearing how she signs with her baby.  I used to be an interpreter for the hearing impaired, and I rarely remember to use sign with my girls..I have done better with Patrice, but not near as well as Story3girl.

Check out her post here and then her blog, Sometimes Its Hard.

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I wish I could talk to my baby.

Okay, perhaps that’s not entirely accurate. I talk to her a lot. I mean, she’s the only other person around all day, so I pretty much talk to her constantly. I just wish she’d talk back.

So instead we sign.

When Baby Girl was a newborn, I read about baby signing and was immediately sold on the idea. I get to communicate with her? It prevents tantrums? It improves her vocabulary and maybe even accelerates her speech. Boom. So almost immediately, I started signing to her. Just a few words at first, and whenever I remembered. By the time she was 6 months I was pretty consistently signing “milk,” “diaper,” and “all done.” This is a piece of cake, I thought. I’m so on the ball, she’ll be signing in no time. I’m a genius at this baby thing.

Not.

By ten months, I had decided we were complete baby sign failures. No matter how much I signed, no matter how much I tried, she showed no interest in signing back to me. For months, people had said to me, “Oh no. You don’t need to worry. Mine didn’t start signing until 8 months. They say 9 months is average.” But, people, she was 10 months old. And nothing. Was I doing it wrong? Was my baby broken?

Then, one day, when she was about ten and a half months old, Baby Girl signed “more.” At first it just looked like she was clapping, instead of bringing her fingertips together, but she was clearly doing it in response to the question of whether she wanted more. She was actually trying to tell me something.

It wasn’t smooth sailing from there. For the next couple months, “more” was the only sign she made, and she didn’t make it consistently. She still found it easier to get what she wanted by screaming or by throwing her high chair tray. And when she did sign more, it was still indistinguishable from clapping. Once again, I was frustrated. “Use your words. . . err, word, Baby Girl.” I was sure we’d never get this right, and I’d be doomed to signing purgatory FOREVER.

Except not.

A little after her first birthday, she had a signing explosion, just like the books said she would. She signs “more,” “food,” “milk,” “dog,” “ball,” “duck,” “all done,” “mommy,” and “daddy.” The past couple of weeks she’s been signing “baby.” A few times I’ve seen a confused sign that resembles “diaper” right after she’s, ahem, used her diaper. She doesn’t sign “bed,” but I’m pretty sure that’s just because she doesn’t want to….

And it’s amazing. It doesn’t prevent the screaming 100% because, let’s face it, my girl is a bit of a drama baby, but it does help both of us to figure out what is necessary faster. If we’re playing and she signs, “eat,” I can get her into her high chair before the tantrum sets in. And while there are definitely days when I ask whose idea it was to teach her the sign for milk, I do prefer it to her ripping my shirt off or biting my shoulder.

It’s amazing to see what’s going on in her head too. She recognizes that her pink stuffed dog and grandma’s living,breathing pet are the same thing. She could tell that a rubber ducky was the same thing as her blanket ducky. But she thought every animal she saw at the zoo was a “doggie,” even the panda bear. (Even the emu, which she could not be convinced was a “bird.”)

Sometimes, I’m convinced, she messes with me. She will sit in her high chair and sign “more” “all done” “more” “all done” She will sign “eat” “duck” “milk.” Sometimes when we’re out,she’ll just start signing “baby” in her stroller, when there’s no one else around – no doubt, to remind me that she is, of course, my baby. When she doesn’t know what she wants, I think she just runs through her entire lexicon of signs, hoping that one of us will figure it out.

Now go check out her blog, Hard to Mommy

And I don’t always. I try, sometimes probably too hard, but I don’t always get it right. And that’s okay. I’m just glad that she’s starting to hold up her end of the conversation.

Self Care and a Mama’s Alarm Clock

Sometimes things pile up on you.  This week has turned into one of those.  So, I sent out a call for guest posts.  My lovely friend, Lauren, from My PostpartumVoice, was gracious enough to send me a wonderful gift; Let me share it with you.

The alarm clock screams out at you (read: your three year old is screaming at the top of their lungs because YOU’RE NOT AWAKE YET AND DEAR LORD GOD I NEED COOKIES RIGHT NOW SO GET OUTTA BED ALREADY, MOMMY!) as you cover your head hopelessly with a pillow in a futile attempt to ignore your human alarm. Snooze button kicks into motion as knees and elbows plow into every hard part of your body, feet too.







“Ok. Ok. I’m up.” Muttering, you stumble to the bathroom, then the kitchen to get cookies because hey, maybe it’ll keep them quiet. There’s nutrition in cookies, right? Right? Turn on the TV and pop on a movie. There. Parenting at its finest, right?






Wait. There’s something wrong with that picture, isn’t there?






What did you do for you? Anything? One could argue giving the kid cookies and putting on a movie was for the sake of your sanity. Perhaps, but do you have food? Drink? Are you watching a movie you like too or just one that the kid likes but is more like listening to Fran Drescher on helium for you?






Self-care does not have to be some huge long-drawn out and expensive process. It can be as simple as your favourite beverage. A movie YOU like to watch too. Sharing the classic flicks with your kids is precious and character building. Sure there are day to day tasks we must complete. Why not make those tasks as pleasant as possible by infusing them with a bit of self-care? Cleaning? Use one of your favourite scents while doing so. Laundry? Pay attention to how the fabric feels. Child care? Use your child’s innate sense of humour to fill up your laughter tanks. Laugh with them.






If, however, you don’t find yourself wanting to do any self-care at all, and instead you’re gloomy, dragging, and struggling to find the light in even the simplest things, it may be time to talk to a professional about your mental health. There’s no shame in reaching out for help. If you or a loved one are feeling suicidal, call 1-800-273-TALK or reach out to @unsuicide on Twitter. There’s always hope.

Damn Dog

Hubby did bedtime routine last night while I moderated #ppdchat on twitter and then did a conference call for work with collegues in China.  They all headed to bed.  It was late and dark.  Almost quiet in the house.  And the doorbell rang. 

My heart skipped a couple beats.  I hoped hubby would come downstairs to answer it, but then was pretty sure he couldn’t hear the doorbell.  What to do.

I prayed it wasn’t a polite robber or mass murderer wanting in my house as I walked to the door.  I opened the door…and saw a shadow of a guy holding my dog. 

“Damn dog!”  Yup, those were the first words out of my mouth.  That was the second time yesterday a neighbor had returned the little escaping houdini dog.  Grrr….

Ha ha ha. “Yeah, I was taking out my garbage and I heard this rustling noise.  Kind of scared me.”

Would have scared me to bits, but thankfully this guy was a little less timid than I, found the source of the noise to be my dog and returned him.  I thanked him and went back to the safety of my kitchen.  Hubby came down toward the end of this and got my version of the story.

I even admitted the “damn dog” greeting.  Hubby was nice enough to add, “Oh yeah, Jesus saves.”  Yes, He truly does and I believe that with all my heart. 

Now here’s the question.  Did I ruin my witness to this guy with my dog comment?  Or, more to the point, when I am at work and that word escapes, do I ruin my witness there?  Does that negate all else I may say about God, Jesus and the Church?  Does it damage what I may say or does it make me more real, more approachable?

I’m not perfect, but I do work on my language.  I work on not saying everything that pops into my head.  And I succeed in not saying a lot!  Trust me.  But other things…

What say you?  How has your language changed since having kids?  Better or worse?  How is the internal monologue?  Better or worse?  What does mild swearing do to someone’s witness?  Do I need to eradicate it all or is it okay to Just Be Enough here?

Also, did you see my guest post yesterday?  Please head over to Sometimes It’s Hard to check it out, browse and enjoy other great pieces of writing there!

Also linking this with Thought Provoking Thursday

I’m Not a Bad Mama Guest Post

I am thrilled to be sharing my second guest blog post today.  This time I am over at Motherhood Unadorned.  She is a fellow #ppdchat mama who works to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. 
Last week she started a new blog series, “I am Not a Bad Mom (or dad)”…  This is a powerfully freeing series.  Mamas, and maybe daddy’s but I can’t really speak to that, tend to compare ourselves and our kids to others.  And I don’t know about you, but I often see myself as coming up short.  This series is a place for us to put those thoughts to rest.  To expose our comparisons to the light of day, acknowledge them for what they truly are, letting them go and moving forward. 
I am thrilled to be taking this opportunity to share some of my parenting thoughts.  Won’t you head over to to Motherhood Unadorned and see what I think about myself as a mother?