Monday, May 4, 2015

You're Not Alone

I've been struggling with how and even whether to write this post.  I've finally decided that it needs to be said and needs to be read and with so many of my friends getting ready to send their children to high school next year, it's imperative for me to get it out there even if it's uncomfortable and difficult.

Let me start by going back a few years.  After months of trying to get pregnant again for my second baby I was overjoyed when we finally conceived.  I desperately wanted my children to be two years apart and it had thrown me for a loop when I didn't conceive again right away the way I had with Sarah.  But still, we found out we were finally pregnant again and all seemed right in my world.

Until I lost the baby at 10 weeks.

Up until that point, miscarriage was something I had read about in What to Expect When You're Expecting as the worst case scenario but it had never seemed real to me.  I mean miscarriages were what happened to other people like house fires or tornadoes.  People *I* knew didn't have miscarriages.  In fact, I remember my mother telling me "don't worry, we don't miscarry in this family;" which of course made me feel like an even bigger failure when I did.

Only as it turns out, miscarriage is one of those weird elusive clubs that you don't really find out about until you're member.  All of a sudden women I'd known for years started telling me about their own losses - losses I'd never known about, never suspected.  Kind of like Fight Club -- you don't talk about it.  And that is so unfortunate because the one thing you really need to hear after losing a baby is that it wasn't your fault and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it.  Oh and that you're not alone.

So today I'm telling you that my daughter is in therapy for anxiety. 

O.k. now you're saying WTF?  She starts off with a sad miscarriage story and now we're going off somewhere totally different... Yes and no.

You know like miscarriage, therapy is still taboo.  People don't tell you about it until they find out you're already part of the club and that makes it so much harder to ask for and go out and get help when you need it.

Sarah suffered with severe anxiety for months without telling me until she finally couldn't handle it anymore and told me what was going on when it became unbearable.  I had no idea.  I know that makes me sound like a terrible parent and I've castigated myself over it many many times, but it's true.  If I'm 100% honest all I saw was that Sarah was having a hard time with the social aspect of school but her grades had gone way up so I was happy.  Little did I know that her grades were a result of an obsessive fear of failure that was keeping her up nights and causing her severe anxiety.

Now you should know that anxiety and depression in teens often starts with the transition to High School.  You should also know that these disorders are more prevalent in teenaged girls than boys and that they are far more common today then they were 20 years ago when the pressure of getting into a good University wasn't nearly so intense.  Even my poor Chloe who is only in grade 5 is feeling the pressure to start thinking of post-secondary education from her peers which is ludicrous but there it is nonetheless. 

Add to this that young kids go from a small school where they know everyone to a High School where there can be up to 10 times as many students as they are used to and it's no wonder that many of them feel overwhelmed.

But there is help.  There are guidance counselors and there are peer counselors and there are medical professionals that can step in and help ease the way for those students who need it.  And you might be surprised at how many do -- how maybe even your own child might be one them.

When I asked her why she didn't reach out to me sooner she told me that she was scared I'd think she was crazy and she didn't know what, if anything, I could do to help.  She didn't know that this was something many people went through and that there was help available to her. 

Yesterday she told me, "you know once I started telling people I was getting help, all of sudden I'm hearing from so many other people that they're getting help too.  I think maybe everyone needs counseling at some time or other in their lives." I think she's right and I think too many of us wait too long to realize it.

My daughter is doing SO much better now.  As of next month we will be going from once a week sessions to once every other week sessions. This is amazing news to me and I'm so proud of the work that she has done.

So I'm writing this to let you know, if you need help, if your child needs help, if your spouse or your parents or your neighbour needs help... you are not alone and they are not alone.  Help is there.  Please reach out and get it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

I just can't do it all. And that's o.k.

I have decided that I am done trying to be Super Mom. 

I originally went back to work 3 years ago and worked 2 days a week.  I enjoyed working and I enjoyed staying home but eventually decided I was ready to go back to work full time mostly because the staying home part became tedious and I felt that we needed to be contributing more to our retirement savings and home improvement funds.

Originally the idea was that we would live off Gunther's salary as we had being doing since the girls were born and use half of my income for savings and half of my income for home improvement.  However, as you undoubtedly know, the best laid plans don't always work out the way you'd like.

We had some setbacks and for months after I started working full-time my salary was what paid for the food and mortgage.  Fortunately things have improved and we were able to set aside some money for RRSPs and get new windows so things are now looking up again.

Only I'm miserable.  I work all day and then come home to a house that's upside down and start cooking dinner at 6-6:30 on a good night.  By the time I've eaten I'm exhausted and only want to flake in front of the T.V.  So the house gets messier and I get more and more unhappy with my home.

We have asked the girls to pitch in more and Gunther has stepped up his game as well but to be honest, we're all tired at the end of the day, Sarah is getting slammed with homework at school and Chloe is too young to have too many chores (she has some don't worry -- just don't think it's fair for her to have more than Sarah just because she has less homework.)

So I have decided enough is enough.  Right now conditions are right that I can go back to working part-time.  We're not that busy at work, I work for my husband so he's o.k. with my taking the time off and our finances are holding up o.k. for now.  I don't know how long I can afford to do this, but for now, I'm going to only work 3 days a week and take Monday and Tuesday to deep clean/purge/organize my home. 

I know I am lucky to be able to do this and I am telling myself that it is not a failure to admit that I can't keep up with today's fast paced Uber Mom expectations.  I'm going to do what's right for me and right for my family at this moment in time.. and at this moment in time, my working part-time works best.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

When I say...

When I say that I have eaten well or gotten some exercise I want you to say "Way to Go! and "Good for you!"

I don't want you to tell me that I'm your inspiration because that just puts way more pressure on me than I can handle and makes me feel super bad about all the time I've been told I was an inspiration in the past only to put the weight back on or stop exercising or let my house turn back into a hazmat zone.

When I say that I'm having a hard time I want you to say "That sucks!" and "I hope you feel better soon."

I don't want you to tell me how much I have to be thankful for or how much worse other people have it.  I know these things.  That doesn't mean I don't have a right to have a bad day or be bummed about the struggles in my life which are perfectly valid all on their own.

When I say "I'm sick" I want you to say "feel better soon!" and "that totally bites!"

I don't want you to recommend that I try ColdFX or increase my consumption of kale or that I start downing tablespoons full of honey.  I get all the same spam you do.  I know about this stuff too.  Being sick still sucks.

When I say my husband is driving me nuts I want you to say "Relationships are hard" or "You two will work it out."

I don't want you to tell me how good I have it because your husband is so much worse than mine or that I have no idea how crappy it is to be single.  I'm not looking for a pissing competition.

When I say my kids have problems I want you to say "that must be so hard, hang in there" or "you're a good mom, it's not your fault."

I don't want you to tell me it's because I didn't breastfeed them or discipline them or give them enough independence.  I don't want you to give me diet tips and medication referrals or try to solve their problems when you don't even know them because while I know you're really really REALLY well intentioned, I just want to hear that I'm not the one who broke them. 

When I say my house is a mess I want you to say "it's hard to have a full time job and raise a family.  You have to pick your priorities and a clean house isn't really a big one" and "You can't be Super-Mom - don't beat yourself up about it."

I don't want you to tell me that I need to get my husband or my kids to help out more because frankly I'm tired and discouraged enough when I get home that the last thing I want to do is fight with everyone.  

When I tell you that I am grateful to have you as a friend, I want you to say "thanks, I love you too."

Because I mean it and so even when I say shit that you really don't want me to say, I need you to forgive me and know that I meant well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Visit Home -- Family Fun Time

So, as you may or may not recall, after our last Family Fun Time we had a balance of $4380.00 to spend on family activities.

We decided to spend some of this on a trip home for Easter (we also plan on spending some of this for trips to the cottage this summer, a trip home for Thanksgiving and a trip home for Christmas.)

Breakdown of our costs:
Hotel: $384.00 (Holiday Inn Express in Nepean)
Gas: $48.00 (gotta love that!)
Food:  $245.00

And thanks to the fact that we slept in on Saturday morning (we had planned to go to a reptile zoo) and to the fact that Chloe wanted to swim in the hotel pool which we would have to ourselves versus going to the splash pool, we got away with a trip home for a total of $677.00 bringing our Family Fun Time Fund to $3,703.00.  Still plenty of money for our trips home (especially since we won't have to pay for the hotel every time) and our big trip to Comic Con this summer.

And the best part?  I got to spend time with my family, the girls got to spend time with their extended family and we got to see my niece who had to miss Christmas because she was away at school.  Only thing missing was my nephew but we're hoping he'll be home by the summer.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The problem with serialized horror (Walking Dead spoilers)

Please don't read this if you're not up the season 5 finale of Walking Dead.  You've been warned.

I still remember when Joss Whedon killed off a main character in Serenity. It was surreal to me and almost unforgivable. Who kills off one of the fan faves?  His reasoning was that it was necessary to give a real sense of peril to the climax.  We had to really believe the characters were in danger to become fully engaged with the plot.

I forgave Joss, partly because that's just what Joss does and it's to be expected but mostly because Serenity was Firefly's swansong and we all knew there would be no more film or tv entries to this particular saga. 

But what about if the series goes on?  What happens when you've become so invested in certain characters that the idea of continuing without them seems impossible?

This, for me at least, is where I find myself with the Walking Dead. I mean let's face it - it is at heart a zombie show. That means people are going to die and walkers are going to get stopped in gruesome and inventful ways and it'll be gross and scary and fun.  Part of the fun is watching that character you hate get caught and part of the fun is watching that character you love evade the walker horde.

But for me at least, something happened somewhere between seasons 3 and 5 that have left me wondering how or even if I would want to want to keep watching if one of the mains characters got chomped.

For me that main characters, the ones I rout for and want (or perhaps need) to see continue living are Rick, Carl, Daryl, Carol, Glenn,Maggie and Michonne.  Basically anyone who's still around from the first two seasons (though admittedly Michonne's role in season two was like 3 seconds long.)  These characters are for me the core group - the ones that have evolved in amazing ways.

Take Carol my current favourite for instance.  She's gone from a character I found annoying at best, pathetic at worst and metamorphosed into as big a badass as Daryl and Michonne if not an even bigger one.  This cowering battered wife who in season two left the locating of her lost child up to the rest of the group, is the warrior queen who donned a poncho and blew up a whole compound to save everyone's ass in Season 5.  This is no longer the woman who would beg and plead for help from the group, this is the woman who would make Rick look at the flowers and take over the group if she felt it was necessary to everyone's survival.

So if Carol is the one to die tonight, I'm gonna lose it.  Like O.M.G. they just decapitated Herschel lose it - maybe even worse.  And let's be clear -- someone is going to die tonight.  It's the season finale.  Someone more important than Deanna's annoying son or that chick's abusive husband.  Someone big is going to die and frankly if it's Rosita or Tara I'll be o.k.; if it's Father Gabriel, I'll cheer; if it's Eugene I'll feel bad for the group not because he's likeable but because he's smart and will help them keep Alexandria going.  There are others I'd be somewhat saddened to see go as well: Abraham, Sasha, Jessie (only because it would make Rick sad,) Aaron, Aaron's boyfriend...  But go after the big 7 and I'm likely going to lose it.  So don't. K Walking Dead writer people?  Just don't.

And yes I know how Glenn gets it in the comics but hey.. Daryl doesn't even exist in the comics so creative license o.k.?  Just hands and guns and walkers off my seven.  That way I can spend the whole summer looking forward to season 6.


Monday, March 23, 2015

We Survived!

Well we got through the March Break and the girls each had some time with just their friends so that worked out o.k.  Sarah invited her bestie over for tacos and chocolate fondue and that was about as tasty as you would imagine it to be.  YUM!

I'm sick again which really sucks.  I didn't even get the buildup of being a little more sick each and every day but just WHAM I feel like there are glass shards in my lungs from day 1.  I still have the puffers from last time and some antibiotics I squirrelled away from when my toenail was ingrown.  Not sure if I'll be able to get rid of it on my own but hopefully I can make it bearable until I can get in to see my doctor.

My car is also sick and needs to be seen by a mechanic.  She's squeaking something awful.  Just one more thing to add to the to do list.  Never seems to end.  I also have to renew my passport and Gunther has to renew his license.  Looks like there are some errands ahead of us.

Not much more to report I'm afraid.  Looking forward to seeing my niece at Easter.  She has been away at school and I didn't get to see her at Christmas which sucked!  Hoping the weather cooperates.  I hate it when Easter is so early in April.  Fingers crossed the snow will be mostly gone by then.

Well that's my lot... ttys


Tuesday, March 17, 2015


So we have confirmed this morning that Sarah does indeed have asthma. We have already determined that she is allergic to grass so it's no small wonder she was perfectly miserable last summer. Poor kid. 

We are currently in March break mode. Sarah went to the movies with her friends. She didn't want to take chloe and honestly I can't blame her for that so I was going to take chloe today. Lucky for me my coworkers girlfriend offered to take her so i don't have to suffer through Cinderella after all. Yay me!

Sarah is also planning on having her fronds over for chocolate fondue and a movie later this week. That means I'll have to make arrangements for chloe to do the same with her friends. It was all so much easier when everyone had to drag their little sister along. Oh well. The joy of growing up. 

I am doing well. Work is busy-ish which keeps me from getting bored. Things have stabilized somewhat now that we have returned to the more dependable production house and our boards are coming in on time. 

The window guy is coming next week to hopefully finish the install. I'll be so glad when that is done. 

Well that's it for now. Hope all is well with you and yours.  Julie.