Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter Blaahs or depression? Sometimes it's hard to tell.

As the winter continues on, my ability to keep a positive attitude and retain a healthy balance and good mood begins to falter. For many, I'm sure, this is just part of the winter. Especially this winter! So much time below zero with windchill that is downright deadly or at least really uncomfortable if you have an inch of skin exposed, it isn't surprising that the  mood of many is less than spectacular.
But, even if it just part of the seasons, I get terrified that I am falling into a depression. (The clinical kind).
I had a fairly bad case of postpartum depression. I've struggled with depression anyway, but after Ian was born, I have never felt like life was so dark...I struggled to get out of bed, I cried all the time, and if I wasn't crying I was yelling at everyone I loved.
On the outside, I probably looked like the perfect mother. And truthfully. I was doing a fine job. Ian was well cared for and bathed and always had cute new outfits on. I rocked him, cuddled him, cared for him...He was maybe my salvation, even though the chemical changes he produced in my body were part of what got me to where I was.  And yet, if I hadn't taken pictures, I would have missed a lot of Ian's development the first few months of his life.
I ended up on medication and working with a great therapist. She helped me more than anything. I was able to talk about everything I was feeling, the pain, the despair, the fear, and there was never any judgment. As I started to pull out of the downward spiral that was my mental health. I was offered the interim position in a nearby town. It was part time. It was a good fit. They were coming out of a difficult situation and I was someone good to help them move forward at that particular time.
Going back to work at that time was my life preserver. I had lost my sense of purpose in the midst of my depression.  Depression is a mix of sadness and in addition, a lot of belly button gazing. I was so closed in on myself, my failures (real and perceived), my actions and my inaction. I needed to get outside of myself. And the job came along at the right time. I was getting much better and my therapist agreed with my decision to try it out.
I learned a lot about myself. My depression didn't define me and I had gifts. I also learned that you can be wounded, but still help others heal.  My depression wasn't contagious and truthfully, I wasn't turned in on myself, so I found a lot of life around me. And as I healed, the job helped me find some peace again.
When the job ended, I was ready...It felt like God's plan. I was having another baby in a month. I wanted to have time with Ian. I wanted to stay home again. The congregation was in a good place again too. They were getting ready to welcome their new associate pastor.
But, as we awaited Ella's birth, I was scared about slipping into the same place. I was medicated this time. Ready to be healthier from the start. I also had a better support system lined up. This has been important.  I just didn't take into account what winter weather could do to me. I always have trouble in January and February. I have for most of my life. This time. I am just nervous. Am I having a bad day? Or is this something worse? Is it because I haven't been outside for a week because of the cold and the sun hasn't bothered to shine? Or is it something darker inside of me?
Good news. I'm not yelling at people.
I will be on medication my entire life. Why mess with what is working. And truthfully, it would probably be a good time to go see my therapist and check in. It's been quite a while.
There is a difference this time. I don't have hopelessness. I don't have trouble getting out of bed. (Well, it's a bit tough when the kids wake up at 4:00 a.m.)
So, while I know that most of this is weather related and just a temporary mood. I wonder if the monster will always be around the corner? Will I always be scared that I'm headed down the drain? I feel like I waste quite a bit of time worrying about it. Is my awareness a sign that I'm vigilant or is it something else?
I do know one thing. I never want to be where I was, never again. I want to be honest about this time of my life. I really want other women to know that postpartum depression is something you can get help for and you can feel happy to be a mom again. I want people to get rid of the stereotype that it is a bad thing to go on medication and go into therapy. And when you decide to have baby number two. Make sure that your Dr. knows your history so you can be ready, because it will most likely be back and you can safely stay on medications during pregnancy. It truly has been the best thing I have done for myself and for my family. The best gift we give our families is our health.  I want husbands to know that they can be brave, like mine was and say, "We need to get you help."  And for husbands to keep checking in with their wives as they go through the months after a baby is born. She may not just be sleep deprived and overwhelmed, there might be more going on in her life.
So, I think it's the winter blaahs...But man, some days, it really is hard to tell.  I have offered up more prayers for sunshine than I thought possible.  But, I can get through it...I'm not alone (I wasn't the last time either) and I have a flashlight to shine in the dark corners.  But if you don't think it's the winter blaahs. Please, talk to someone. You will wonder why it took you so long.  There's help.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Mommy Day!

Today was Mommy Day! I realize that once upon a time, I would have laughed at someone telling about a day like to day and being excited about it. But times, they've a'been  a changin'.
Today was the conference leadership meeting. All the pastors in the conference get together once a  month from October thru May. I am on leave from call, but I'm still invited. I rarely go because it's not always easy to get a babysitter set up and figure out if there's something else going one. Etc. Etc.  Today, it was held at the congregation that I served last. My interim call from last year. So, in order to see my colleague from that call and a few others I haven't talked to in awhile...I thought I'd go. I also used the opportunity to see my girlfriends for lunch.  Truthfully, the conference meeting was my excuse, the real goal was to go have lunch with the girls. I went to worship, took communion (something I haven't done in awhile because I missed church because it was -25 below and I stayed home with the babes), visited...Then ran away giggling because a day that I can have the Sacrament of the Altar and also commune with my dear friend D and K is about as perfect as  you can get.
I wasn't completely alone. It really should be called a Mother/Daughter day. I had Ella with me. Ian went with Daddy to Grandma's house.
Ella is 4.5 months old. When Ian was that age, I thought it was so much work. I was sooooo wrong. Ella's easy. Completely portable. I can provide for most of her needs from my purse. And I don't have to guess from a children's menu if there is anything on it besides french fries that my picky eater son with eat.  She'll have formula (from my purse!)
So, Ella and I ventured off on our own. We took Dustin's pickup. Um. I'm really not use to driving the 1 and 1/4 ton dually yet. I'm more comfortable in my car. (It still hasn't moved since the last storm). But I took the truck so I could take the recycling and pick up 4x8 sheets of subfloor from the lumberyard. 
See, the above paragraph is kinda why my excitment about the day is so amusing. I didn't get to go off by myself shopping or something. No. I went to a meeting. The recycling center, the lumberyard, lunch, grocery shopping, and the meat market. Oh, and after lunch I ran over to the fabulous shoestore and bought a cute pair of maryjane pumps!
It was fabulous because I got to see wonderful people. I got to shop in an unrushed manor. I got to go through a store without saying, "No, Ian. Don't touch that."  I got SHOES! I think I may have mentioned that already.  I also had 8 sirloin steaks cut fresh at the butcher. Yummy. Bad part. Dustin saw the price of the steaks! It's not like a pick up steaks every week. We have company tomorrow night. I also bought enough so I could freeze half of them. TWO MEALS!  (two expensive, I really better like the people, meals!)
Things that are a lot simpler, make me a lot happier.  And I'm glad.
Now, if I could simplify the rest of my life...I would be even more thrilled. But there is a plan for that too...more to come.
Later all, I need to go try on my shoes! 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Slivers of time.

Ian and Ella will wake from naps soon, so I thought I'd write quick. It seems like that's how I get everything done in my day, with little slivers of time. 30 seconds to switch laundry into the dryer here. A few seconds to check facebook. (How many minutes do those seconds add up to in a day?)Quick, Ian's playing, wash a few dishes.
I realize this more and more every day. I don't have projects, I have stolen moments that add up to life. The larger projects that I have to accomplish, are broken down into the tiniest of pieces so I can do them during naps or with a few seconds without little hands grabbing at them.
I also have started to realize that I have been attaching my worth to what I get done with those slivers of time. I use to work. I loved my job as a pastor...until I had kids...then I liked my job as a pastor, but wished for home. I took an interim call when I had Ian. It was the smartest thing I could have done for myself, my family and for Ian. (But I'll talk about that another day)
The reason I bring up my job, is that, we often measure our worth in what we do. I don't think this is the most beneficial way to measure, but a great many of us do it. We measure our contribution in what we "do." And I have started to do this with my "slivers of time."
      A successful day. I'll use a lot of little bits of time to move household mountains. Laundry, vaccuuming, dishes, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, and making phonecalls for various farm things.  If I don't do as much as I can, I feel like it has been a failure of a day sometimes...The sad thing. It usually isn't a failure of day.
     The days that I don't get tons of these things done, these are the days that I most likely have little ones who want me more than usual. On the days when I don't get "everything" done, I most likely have read "Busy, Busy Bunnies" to Ian 1053 times. I have cuddled Ella and held her as she has fallen asleep and I sit and smell her baby skin. I color with Ian and draw pictures of animals that he knows and then  he tells me what they, "say."  I make Ella giggle as she lays on the floor and shows off her new proficiency at rolling over.
     So, the paragraph I have just written, that seems like what a successful day should look like. Giving myself to my kids. Making them laugh, running around the kitchen table. Teaching Ian that those crazyons are not for eating!  These moments aren't slivers of time. These are what life should really be about. Living fully with the ones you love. Yet, these days are the ones that I sometimes feel guilty about. Why? Becuase of measureable accomplishment.  Do other mothers feel like this?
     Better go...I've got time to waste with my kids.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Still Cold, But A Sunnier Day, In Metaphor and Reality

I don't know how, but you can have what feels like the exact same day, but it is soooo much better. I have mostly played with Ian and Ella today, which has been fun.
I am going to have to think about supper eventually, but I'm not digging it.
It's still freezing out, (-9) but the sun is shining and my heart is too. Ella has been eating cereal for about 3 weeks and she isn't getting the hang of it, she's getting there, but it feels like she's gone backwards. She'll get there.  She's the cutest and happiest baby. Ian was too, how did I get so lucky...It's pure blessing and pure bliss.
Today, I don't feel the isolation. I feel like I'm in my crazy element. A baby trying to learn how to eat, a toddler who goes on hunger strike every other day. When something is wrong, it amazes me that only I will do. They want Mommy, that's it. The may accept others for periods of time. Grandma gets her fair share. He may run to Daddy with reckless abandone when he gets home...But if something goes wrong. He wants Mommy.
I never knew I could love this little people as much as I do. And I realize something. I still need my mommy too, from time to time. My husband still needs his. I realize that no matter how old they get, they will be my little ones. And hopefully they will never get to big to not need this mommy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cold Days in the Country

One of the aspects that I have really struggled with in the SAHM life is very seasonal. Cold days on the farm. This winter has involved more -15 below or more days than I have remembered in a few winters and that isn't including the windchill.  It's freezing for an adult. It seems a bit irresponsible to take kids out in it. If my skin can freeze on contact, what would it do to them?
Consequently, I've been home alot. I miss getting out. Dustin got me out a few times, but I was sick, so enjoyment of those outings was a bit lacking. This winter has lead to a real lack of freedom. I don't always feel comfortable trying to manuever two kids by myself on outings, especially in this weather. Roads have been terrible this year. My car hasn't moved in weeks. (It actually hasn't even been dug out of the drift.) So, I've been feeling a bit like a prisoner.
I actually think if I had the option of leaving, even if I didn't go anywhere, I'd feel better if I had the option. I know that sounds silly, but it's true.
I've been getting out once a week for church. And I go with Dustin down to the farm. (His mom and dad's, which is the yard we farm out of). Don't get me wrong. I love my inlaws. They are wonderful. I get along with them very well. It's just, well. I really would rather go out for coffee with a girlfriend or even by myself. I have a list of people that I could call and meet for coffee or lunch on most days (assuming their work or family schedule permited). But it doesn't happen. I don't have anyone who can really just come over or a place to drop off the kids. My MIL, once in awhile, she's great, they love her. But I don't want to take advantage of that, I feel like I should only use her for real reasons, not cause I need a day with the girls.
I wish I had the husband that would say, "I'll get home early, you go out for the evening and I'll handle the kids." I have a wonderful husband, he's a wonderful dad, but while he was just starting to get comfortable with Ian, I think the idea of both of them, intimidates him. Truthfully, I would be more thrilled if he's arrange childcare and we'd go on a date. I don't think he thinks that way.
So, until they are both walking and talking.
I think I'm hope.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Return!

It's 2011 and with it...My (hopefully faithful) return to blogging.
This blog has obviously taken a bit of a new turn. I'm no longer working as a pastor. I have taken on the new role as SAHM.   Actually, I'm a SAHFW (Stay at home Farm Wife), which brings a whole new dynamic to my life.
So, while the blog address will stay the same, I think we may change the title.  I'm a Farm Wife! (You can't scare me)

It's different being at home. During the summer, I love it! During the winter...Not so much. I get a bit stircrazy. I know a lot of SAHMs do. Some would say, go to a playgroup or make a playdate. I think that is wonderful advice, for most. It's a little harder for me. I live approx. 20 miles out of town. Our winter roads have been terrible this year. And on days like today, when it's -15, I feel it's a bit irrisponsible to take the kiddo's out.  So, we are home a lot.
So, to my other mom friends out there who are happy to take my calls. God bless you! I'd never make it without you.

Being home this time is so different than the first attempt. It's soooo much better. And I've been thinking and reflecting on it quite a bit lately.

So, welcome back to me. And welcome back to everyone else.