Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taking a Break

I told you the holidays would wipe me out! I'm back after three. Long. Months. Barely...

The stress I am under lately is incredible. Its almost as if there is someone else who endures this thing called my life during the day and even at night. It can't possibly be me, the strong and structured mommy of three beautiful children who depend on my every. waking. move. I am not really this out of control, am I?

I've checked in with a few of my dear and trusted friends, its official, I am.

So today when I crawled out the door with my usual headache in beautiful 80 degree weather to drop the kids off, I perked up a bit when I realized I was getting my hair done. I don't know what spending 3 hours in a salon chair really does for my well-being, but I am definitely feeling better.

9 am, sitting in the chair that waits for me every couple of months, I start to morph...into me. Before long I am laughing again. I am feeling the tension drift off my shoulders and my face begins to get that stuck feeling because I am laughing so hard. We share stories about the drama in our lives. We both have crazy lives just different crazy lives- and it is actually funny. It is funny how she relates to her children, and it is easy to relate to the daily crap that creeps into life.

I realize my days though overwhelming and filled with total disorganization aren't the most important thing in the world. There are other things going on around me besides what happens in my little world. My sweet Grandma needing help finding a home seems manageable. My children's projects will get completed on time. My husband and I will straighten this mess of a life out sooner or later. The car will be fixed and the house cleaned. The faucet will get unclogged. My children will be FINE. I will be FINE.

Even if I only believe this for three hours, it is enough of a break for my tired and fuzzy brain. I can now think about dinner, homework, and carpooling and actually not want to throw a nap in the middle of it all.

Like I said, TODAY I don't need a nap. Maybe I can have more days like this one- I might just have to start creating them for myself.
I am going to... one day at a time. I hope. Some things I can change, others I can't. I'll start with the smallest things I can and go from there.

Housekeeper comes tomorrow!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Pain

I open my eyes in the morning and light seizes my optic nerves like a hot hand, twisting and burning. I close them again and swing my legs to the floor.

As I sit up, blood rushes and thumps in my head, drumbeats of sick pain against my temples. The muscles of my neck and shoulders settle into their familiar knotted array.

I stagger to the bathroom, I flip on the light and grab the lip of the sink as the first wave of nausea washes over me, crushing any hope that today might be better than yesterday.

Cold sweat prickles my forehead. I suck in a breath and force it out, slowly.

I won't throw up.

I find the resolve to look in the mirror -- the right side of my swollen face is pale, the eye oozes a tear that's stuck in my eyelashes.

Good morning, Sunshine.

I have a killer migraine.

To be more precise, I've entered the hellish world of "transformed" migraines, where the once-occasional misery of these debilitating headaches has become a near-daily mix of tension headache and migraine torture.

When a migraine starts, the roots of each hair on the right side of my head are fiery and electrified. Before the pain begins, sometimes a few hours or a full day ahead, I am antsy and uncomfortable in my skin.
I am always in pain. Saying those words aloud makes me cry.

No one likes to talk about pain. And chronic pain, the kind you just can't seem to fix -- who wants to talk about that?

I'd rather hide. But there's nowhere to go.

I've had migraines since I was diagnosed with Viral Meningitis 4 years ago this January 9, 2011.

For 4 years I've tried just about every drug, alternative and preventive treatment available. I exercise, eat well, try to fend off my migraine triggers (weather changes, cigarette smoke, stress, crying, caffeine), and even avoid those that probably aren't triggers (red wine, strong smells, MSG, seasonal allergens).

I have an arsenal of medications designed to squash a migraine before it squashes me. They often don't work. And sometimes, the treatment is worse than the disease: an injection, a pill to counteract the nausea from the injection, vomiting when the pill doesn't cut it, lethargy, and an inevitable migraine hangover that lasts two days and makes me feel like my head is stuffed with cotton batting.

I've done everything I'm supposed to do and nothing I'm not supposed to. I listen to what my neurologist tells me.

Yet many times I find myself huddled under the hot spray of the shower, lights out, weeping, silently praying for relief from a god I don't much believe in.

Please make it stop.

Please Mama, make it stop.

I'll do anything.

I figure if anyone would put my name in for a miracle, my mother would.

The truth is that my brain, like the brains of 36 million other Americans, behaves differently from those of people who have never had one of these headaches.

Our brains are hypersensitive, demanding little brats that throw earsplitting, room-rocking tantrums at the slightest provocation.

My primary trigger is stress and sleeplessness. If I am woken up at any time before 6:30 am, and have gone to bed after 11:00 pm, I am screwed. I battle the pain off like a new mother tip toes around her sleeping baby.

Any of a million triggers can bring on the hurt. And the hurt is exquisite.

The word migraine comes from the Greek hemicrania, meaning half the skull. Most migraines try to destroy only half your head at a time, perhaps the smallest of concessions in what often feels like a battle for your sanity.

When a migraine starts, the roots of each hair on the right side of my head are fiery and electrified. Before the pain begins, sometimes a few hours or a full day ahead, I am antsy and uncomfortable in my skin.

Then suddenly it's like I'm drunk and stupid -- slurring my speech, forgetting words, incessantly yawning and fighting a strong urge to sleep.

And then there's the pain -- pain that some people call "headache" but that any migraine sufferer knows belongs in its own infernal category. It's pain that wakes me up out of a deep sleep some nights and makes me cry like a frustrated child.

It's a pulsating, drilling, burrowing monster. You spend long enough with it, and it sprouts legs and arms and intentions. It attacks.

The pain starts around my right eye and coils around the right side of my head, embedding a spiky metal hand into my face, holding tight to my eyebrow, cheekbone and jaw line.

Its other hand locks onto my right shoulder and neck, digging in like a sadistic teacher dragging a ne'er-do-well student to the principal's office.

I shake, stab myself with syringes of medication to kill the pain and fight off nausea. I curse the sun, light bulbs, headlights, the flickering glow of the clock radio.

All this nastiness is screaming around in the malfunctioning, overreacting, treacherous black box of my brain. In the aftermath, I lie there, sick and spent, idly wishing I could somehow separate my head from the rest of my body just for a while. My whole body feels as if I have worked each and every muscle until it is spent completely.

There is no redemption in the pain of a migraine or its daily headache spawn. I am not a better person because I suffer. I am a person, hurting. And the joys I miss, the plans I cancel, the life I forfeit -- that is what matters.

I can suffer, or I can cope.

That misshapen mug that glares back at me too many mornings -- my migraine face in the bathroom mirror -- is the face of raw, familiar, deep-rooted agony, the face of my burrowing monster.

It's also my face, and my mom's face. I am so like her.

Help me, Mama.

My mom died 12 years ago, and oh, how I miss her when I feel so small and alone. I think she hears me. God, I hope she hears me.

I wipe away the tears and open the medicine cabinet.

Today might be different.

Excerpts taken from :

Brie Zeltner; as she has exposed my headache story perfectly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

She's Back....

I don't really know why, but it seems as if one of my alter egos has shown up early this year. I probably have three other people inhabiting my brain that I can identify consciously. They all have different and....unique personalities.

Martha is one. She has started and is making me do things I don't normally start until mid November. Its the damn projects. Cooking the big meals. Decorating the house. Scouring the internet for new fun and festive...candle holders???

So, having young kids is what I am partially blaming this early take over on. I gotta blame SOMETHING. Halloween (yes, even for the 13 year old) is HUGE in our house. I have been hunting for cool ways to outdo our local Halloween super store products by creating my own. I will probably even invent a new and improved caramel apple recipe to post on All this season. I have emptied Joanns and Michaels as well as 3 of our neighborhood thrift stores. Mind you it's only October.

I love the fact that all the neighborhood kids ooo and ahh over our brightly lighted Halloween decor in the front yard, and that they all get super excited to come over before trick or treating to play games and eat chili. Our kids love to dress up and show off as well. But man, if I keep this pace up I will be burnt by Christmas.

I'm not going to lie- I dive into this every year with the greatest intentions, and even more so this year because of personal stuff clouding my brain. If I am Martha, I don't have to be me for a few hours.

There are the women who possesses me when I travel, the other one who comes to visit after a couple glasses of wine or the one who SHOPS after having a couple glasses of wine... probably way more of them exist but I'm trying to go easy on myself at this point in my life!

I know everything will turn out wonderfully...the caramel apples for the 5 year old Kindergartners, the witch hat cupcakes, the party games and costumes. I will even come across to others as if I whipped everything together with my daughters magic princess wand.

Isn't that the point?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Schools In!

OK- Now I know I use this blog to let off a lot of steam, but its my blog- so deal.

With the kids back in school full swing, and me trying to get everyone back onto the weekly routine I have decided to change up some things... Why? Because it wouldn't be my normal if I didn't.

My BFF and I came up with this great idea to have Cissy and her daughter ride their scooters together every day to and from school. They both started Kindergarten together this year. They go way back to the womb together, and really have a sweet relationship. They will, as all our kids have, grow up together. How special her mom and I thought it would be to see them bobbing in front of us legs swinging back and forth exchanging giggles as we walked behind sipping coffee and marveling at their experience.

Needless to say, it hasn't been that easy. In fact I can't think of one day in five that someone hasn't taken a huge fall, thrown a fit because they can't live together after school, complained incessantly about how hot it is, has to pee RIGHT NOW, becomes so thirsty they can't take another step, the helmet becomes too tight, needs a rest, the backpack is too is always something.

It should have been an omen when on day 2 of school another mother walking home with her 2 children ended up in tears after her kindergartner took off and as she was chasing her daughter down the busy street the stroller she had left behind with her other child in it tumbled into that same busy street scattering everything everywhere including the child. Luckily, both children were fine. But as we are comforting her and reassuring her she was not a bad mom and she still had a shot at The Mother of the Year 2010 award because its still early enough, Cissy proceeded to crash pretty hard on her scooter banging her head and scrapping her elbow. We have both been running in every direction with our great ideas for these kids since Wednesday of last week.

But every day I ask Cissy if she wants to ride to school, and every day she tells me yes. Until she gets "melty" as she calls herself when she is hot. Or her backpack hurts, a boo-boo magically appears on her body and she needs a band-aid RIGHT NOW, or she says, "I forgot, I don't want to ride my scooter to school anymore!". This is all within 2 minutes of starting. We live less than 1/4 mile away from this school mind you.

Everyday I calmly explain how we are almost there... I will hold your backpack... we can rest at the corner. I make jokes about how funny it would be if she was chocolate and really did melt away into the sidewalk, then we could eat all the chocolate. After about 14 breaks at pretend corners, kissing the invisible boo-boos and 7 1/2 stops for water, I lose it.

"Cissy, I am hot too- but if you keep whining, it will make this ride even harder. Get on the scooter you insisted on riding in the first place, push yourself to the house and STOP COMPLAINING! No more breaks, we have lunch and homework waiting for us when we get home." And if that doesn't work, I really lose it. "OK FINE! We will NOT be riding scooters tomorrow with your friends if you cant handle this small ride. I am sick of the tone and the complaining and the attitude! You can walk, or you can ride but we have to get home!" That (so far) has worked when push comes to shove. Except the chocolate joke, because she didn't like the idea of me eating her- so we changed it to an ice cube then she would at least be cool all melty on the sidewalk.

Really, the intensity of the ride to and from school fades pretty quickly once we are done. It must for her too, because she is ready for it again first thing the next morning. Guess this is part of getting used to our new routine. This is our first year riding to school and from past experience it takes my family about 2 weeks of this structure for the kids to seem rested with the new bedtimes, organized with their homework assignments, and for me to join them.

Of course, then I have 2 other children to pick up from school, and that is a whole other display of drama.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I am a Legend in My Own Mind...

So, the kids are back to school, and I have made it to the gym all 3 days. Working out is my refuge from the chaos that is my life.
My. Every. Minute. Of. My. Life. I have decided I am a better me when I get to the gym.

I realized something rather interesting today on the elliptical. It followed me during push-ups and weights and remained until I actually ended my excruciating (yet crucial) stair master climb...I am a legend in my own mind.

It starts with my cardio playlist on my itouch. As soon as I start listening to the music, my brain goes somewhere it wishes it could be all the time. And I allow this take over, because it gets me through the intense parts. The parts when my lungs hurt, legs wobble and my towel is so drenched with sweat I don't bother using it anymore.

Today I became aware of the legend I create that is me. All in my head. I know we all have one. It went a little something like this: I want to travel to different parts of the United States and all over the world, and all with different people. Some places by myself. I would love to pull an "Eat Pray Love" role with my life and just take off to where ever I feel would feed my soul. Taking that journey with different people I have met throughout my life would add something spicy and exhilarating to any adventure in its own way.

I would love to be able to throw money at a charter jet and take off with Chloe to Disney World for a few weeks, or until we got our fill of all things Princess. I would pull JJ out of school and take singing lessons with him. We could enroll in art classes together for a year- he has some unbelievable talent at 10 years old. Noah and I would follow all our favorite bands around the world and have front row seats at every concert. He would take guitar lessons from Slash and I would sit back in the studio and listen and smile and marvel at the opportunity. This about 10 minutes in on my cardio.

There would be no need for school or schedules. My children would learn and absorb everything they could possibly need from the experience of living life. There would be no grade to tell them how they measure up. They would feel it deep inside with the confidence and pure love they feel for themselves and humanity.

Any where I went would be perfect. Filled with all the perfect people and experiences for me and my journey. And I would feel that. Every book I picked up would be impossible to put down. And I would never feel as if I had something else to do while I was reading it. All around 25 minutes in.

On my not so hot days, I would close the shutters, pull out a HUGE gallon of Cold Stone peanut butter and chocolate (extra peanut butter) ice cream and watch the whole True Blood series all day. And when that was over, I'd take a nap. The sleep would actually be restful. And when I woke up, I wouldn't have to hurry anywhere, or start dinner. I would feel peaceful and nurtured. I'm pretty tired now, and needing a pick me up about 35 minutes in.

Moving on to my feeling hot days... I would love myself and everything about me so much I would think nothing of saying "Absolutely!" to the modeling agency that wanted to pay me to be their next Top Model. And, by the way, want me to be able to represent them at all the "A" list parties. I have a lot of questions for some of those celebrities, and a lot would probably be answered if I was one. Then I'd meet all the ones I am star struck over. Eminem would fall all over himself to find me across the room and profess his love and passion for me. We would have a long chat- but not so long as to spoil my moment (sometimes I think it might just be better if he didn't say a word, that might ruin everything).

My wardrobe would have everything and anything I could possibly need for all my worldly travels. I would always have great hair days without spending a ton of time on it. I would never need makeup...Yes, among other things, this is my legend. All this positive thinking takes me to the end.

When I allow my brain out of my legend about minute 8 on the stair master and bring my reality back into focus, I feel fresh.

So... note to the guy with the blue bandanna, white shorts and neon green tank top- No I was NOT staring at you or anyone even remotely near you. You are NOT my legend. I would appreciate, as I am sure every women at the gym would, that you leave us alone and stop gawking. Yes women actually work out. And some of us actually like to use the free weights. No, we are not there for you to stare at. We don't need help with anything unless we ask. It can actually come across gross, and quite intrusive.

Stay in your own legend, I shall remain in mine. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


So I am getting Christmas a few months early this weekend...and it's the only thing on my list about now.

Fireman is taking the kids, yes all THREE, camping.

How fun you say? What a great experience for them all, you add? I say Sianara!

Oh the visions I had when my children finished school for the summer! Late night swims, smores out back after BBQing all day with family and friends, family trips to the lake, sleeping late, I even have those books for them to work on during the summer so their brains don't turn into mush.

They start in a week and a half, and I can't wait.

I am exhausted. I can barely keep up. My beautiful system of cleaning, menu organizing, going to the gym, and laundry has been long gone.

It starts like this: "Mom, can I invite a friend over?" "Well can we wait and see for a bit, its 8 in the morning." or "Noah, do you really need to eat Top Ramen for breakfast?" and then I get the look that tells me there is no one available in his 13 year old brain to have a rational discussion with.

They have been waking up I'm sure by 7 am every morning, so they can sneak in Xbox time. They can't be bothered by their alarms during the school year that ring them awake at 7 am, but Xbox can. Do you have any idea how many times I have bolted half brained down the stairs to yell "turn that thing off NOW!"? Neither do I, but enough to want everyone to just leave.

Me being me, I wonder quietly and then out loud to Fireman, where did I go wrong? These kids have had 2 really nice boating vacations they probably feel entitled too. A beautiful backyard oasis to swim and play in. I even gave them a project and they painted our play structure themselves. We've planted a garden, gone to see movies, had their friends over for the night and visited with family. It seems that every waking moment needs to be filled with some sort of entertainment. And sometimes when push comes to shove, I say, "That's it! I'm sick of the fighting, I am sick of you all wandering around here like you have nothing to do!" then I pull the mommy dearest card out and add, "I have plenty for you to do!" I give them a magic eraser and make them scrub the grime of the doors.

Well, good riddance with ya'll, I say. I'm out of ideas and money! Fireman's turn. Have fun in the wild wilderness.

I will use my 2 days off well. I will visit some long lost friends, and eat lunch when I feel like it. I will sleep past 8 and not feel guilty. I am staying with my sister and my beautiful niece. It will be fun to play with her and spoil her, and then hand her to mommy when she is hungry or tired. I will shop with no intentions and watch True Blood without worrying about which kid will walk in on the nude or gory parts.

Yes Christmas came early...too bad it will only come once this year.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Mother's the raw

So there is a reason I didn't write about Mother's Day before now. I both love and hate that day. I love the idea of having a day set aside on the calendar each year to remind everyone in our lives to celebrate us mommies and all we stand for.

I am fortunate enough to have a family that treats me really quite nicely that day. I am always spoiled on Mother's Day. And I truly love it. I love sleeping in until 8-ish because my body is so used to getting up by 7 every other morning, it doesn't recognize the occasion and therefore doesn't let me sleep any longer. I devour the strawberry crepes Fireman and the kids place on my lap while they all lay on my bed and huddle as close as they can to me. The coffee gets spilled and the food is cold...the flowers are beautiful. The presents are a heartfelt gesture- the homemade song from my 13 year old, the coupons for chores from my middle child, and the hand print from Cissy made my heart sing. Fireman even hung up his frugal hat for the day and splurged on a really cool car adapter for my iTouch, the kind that has to be professionally installed! Yes, I know, I am spoiled. For one day, anyway.

Every year on that Sunday, no matter how wonderfully I am being treated, or how much love I am shown by my adoring family, there is always a sense of loneliness and loss that's creeps into my heart. It starts the day before. As my thoughts drift to the festivities of the next day, while I am finishing up the house so I don't have a load of laundry staring me in the face on what is supposed to be a day of no chores. As I go through the motions...I am suddenly very aware of a growing throb in the pit of my stomach. Throbbing that doesn't stop until it is very much at the center of my chest and has made completely sure it has consumed my every thought. I know it is easily angered at my attempt to try and stuff it by the way it turns to a sort of disabling nausea. Just enough to make me unable to eat, unable to sit still and unable to feel any sort of contentment. It sits in the bottom of my stomach and rises and falls throughout the day into my throat. It gnaws at me, demanding attention.

And I know exactly what it needs. Every year. Same time and place. And I know deep down it doesn't go away on its own or because I tell it fervently that it is not welcome. It's like one of my kids- it needs attention. Raw attention. And it needs it at its convenience, not mine. By the end of the day, with the all the physical chores done, I decided to lean into this throb that continued to lie in my gut. I retreated to my closet. I sat on the floor next to the old paint spot. And I cried. I cried the ugly cry.

I miss her more every year. I need answers only she can give me. I need the unconditional love only she shared with me. I am jealous of everyone else whose Mother's Day plans involve their own Mother. I remember her Mother's Day routines. I miss them. I miss her. I ache for the warm touch only her hands could deliver. I
am forever empty in the place only she could fill. My tears don't stop as easily as they started. I hate to lose myself in this seemingly endless pain and torture. Thinking my way out never helps it ease away. Tears do, though. A lot of them. And I slowly feel my way out.

It is as if my Mother is hearing my cries and actually feels my heartache, when my daughter walks into the closet. "Mommy? Why are you crying?" She sits down and holds my soaked snotty hand in hers. She waits until I can talk. "I miss my Mommy" I tell her. I start crying again. I hate to upset my children, but they are all very aware that their Mommy, doesn't have a Mommy. She sits quietly while I sob. I think she sat there for about 5 full minutes not moving, not squirming, not asking for anything. Just being. I realized the throb had dulled a bit. So I looked up and stared into Cissy's brown eyes. She smiled back at me and I pul
led her little body into mine for a hug. I suddenly felt something I hadn't felt before. This is what I felt like to my Mommy for 23 years. It made me smile from the inside out. The throb lessened even more.

Yes, I realized the moment I gave life to my first born how my Mother's love was like no other. But, the love and tenderness exchanged from a Mother and daughter is really just different. Not to be judged, just different.

So, at that moment, I could relate in a way I had not seen before. I became very conscious of what my Mommy actually felt each time I hugged and held her. I am aware now of what that felt like to her. I am so thankful I was able to give her that kind of irreplaceable unconditional love in return, even if it was just for a short time. I take such solace in knowing she felt that from me in her times of need, especially in her final days here with our family.

I could feel the throb descend into an ache. The nausea subsided a bit. I held my little girl and my little girl held me. It was a quiet exchange of raw love. I enjoyed the feeling of her warm soft skin against my neck and arms. I savored the thought of what pure joy my little girl gives me daily and related it to the joy I must have given to my mommy.

This is what it feels like to be a mommy and to have a mommy. My feelings range different throughout the year, and can strike at anytime. This Mother's Day was so special in that I was actually made aware of something I had never thought of before...who and what I was to my mommy is now so clear and tangible to me, it has made my role as a mommy carry a whole different meaning.

I will always miss her, but this past Mother's Day, I truly felt a little closer to her than I had before. I like to believe she was giving me a Mother's Day gift all her own. Through my daughter she was showing me that love, our love, will never die.

Thank you, mommy!