how a swollen brain can lighten the load

I’ve had a migraine since the day after my birthday. My birthday was the twelfth of this month. The first day I woke without migraine symptoms was Saturday. Saturday was the twenty-third. So for a solid ten days I suffered a migraine.
I’ve experienced migraines since I was too young to say anything other than ‘my tongue is funny’ and then burst into tears holding my head. (One of my auras is that my tongue and lips go numb.) So I’m pretty adept at dealing with the nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and brain crushing pain. I’ve been on pretty much any over the counter med you can think of and prescription meds from imitrex to percocet.

In addition to this migraine, I had swelling in my brain. (Yes, I know this is a migraine symptom, but for some reason the neurologist assured me it was not related.) Stroke runs in my family. My grandmother dropped dead of an aneurysm in her mid fifties. So I have been…a bit concerned about my brain.
I’m taking toradol for the swelling now. (God, it makes me so nauseous!) I’m trying topamax for the first time. (Arrivederci, my beloved Nectar of the Gods. Diet DP tastes like…well I can’t describe it…but it’s absolutely foul.)

I refused to go down the road paved with “what if”…but I do see the road there…and it makes me anxious. This is the only brain I’m ever going to have. I need it! I need to keep it happy and healthy and definitively unswollen(!), thank you very much!
I’m being mindful about taking good care of my brain. Paying attention to stress and keeping my body healthy so my brain can be healthier.
I’m reminded of Dennis from The Python’s Holy Grail, I’m thirty seven! I’m not old!
I keep thinking, I’m forty four! I’m not old!
I’m about to marry the man I waited my whole life to find. I need to be as healthy as humanly possible! My brain has to get it together and remain the proper size so I can have a wonderful rest-of-my-(REALLY-FREAKING-LONG)-life!

I suggested to YBW I leave my job at the end of summer when “summer camp” is over and this group of children move on to their “PreK” class when “school” starts in the Fall. I suggested this rather randomly, out of the blue when we were otherwise engaged in tedious home improvement tasks in our kitchen with our backs to each other listening to the Nats game on the TV in the next room. Turns out that was exactly what we needed to have that pretty serious conversation. He felt pretty strongly that if the last two weeks were an indication of the way the job impacts my health it was time to move along.
I’ve really not been sick since we’ve been together. I think it scared him a little. I know it scared me, and I’ve lived through ever single one of my sicknesses.

I wrote my resignation letter yesterday and when I signed my name the weight that lifted from my chest surprised me. It was bigger than I had ever realized. I’ve needed to lighten this load for so long.
I’ve told my co-teacher. She cried. I’ve told some other teachers, a couple of parents. I told the assistant director. My director is on her honeymoon. She and I will have a conversation when she returns.

I believe I made the best choice for me. For my good health. For my family. And even for the families of the children I teach. I can be with them until they would leave me anyway. (As long as my brain holds out.)
I feel peaceful in my decision.
I feel my body figuring out how to heal itself.
My brain and I have spent every single moment of the last forty four years together we need to keep up the good work.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

from books to wedding flowers

I found the most wonderful shop on Etsy that makes paper flowers. They are absolutely beautiful and the more I thought about them the more I loved the idea of paper flowers for our wedding.

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YBW got quickly on board once he saw them.
All four of our Things did too! Especially the three older kids, Thing G isn’t as big a book worm as Thing C, Thing 1 and Thing 2. Which brings me to the fact that they’ll be made from book pages. I had this idea that we should each choose our favorite book to be used to create our flowers. We all spent a bit of time deciding which book was important enough to use for the wedding and finally came up with these.

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YBW and I each chose a book significant to our childhoods. Our four Things chose books their favorites. What an interesting combination of personalities we are, no? My book should be easy to guess…after that, well…y’all are on your own. I love this representation of my precious family and can hardly wait to hold these flowers!

The boys will have single flower boutonnieres.
YBW will have a three flower boutonniere.
The girls will have corsages on ribbons, Thing 1 around her wrist and Thing 2 around her neck.
I’ll will carry a pomander.
Extra flowers will be created for use as decorations.
The remaining book pages will be donated to the flower makers.

Please check out all the beautiful designs at: http://danaspaperflowers.com/
(paper flower images courtesy of Dana’s Paper Flowers)

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some words can never really be spoken

My child always moves me.
This may seem a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but I’m honestly not sure how else to say it.
I called Thing 2 this afternoon just to say, “You’ll be here in ten days!” and we have talked and talked and talked the deepest well of emotions and pain and love. She emailed me a couple of samples of what she’s been writing and the anguish I felt upon reading them borders on indescribable.

She has been emotionally crippled by a time in our family life much more severely than I ever realized. The pain I feel is overwhelming. (These words simply cannot convey the feeling behind them.)
I worry so that this moment in time has come to “define” her. That she doesn’t want that, that there is a part of her that knows it isn’t true, but it does indeed contribute.

This time in our life was excruciating. My Mommy pain stole the breath from my body. The only other time I felt as helpless was when I left Thing 2 in the NICU when they discharged me from the hospital.
I couldn’t protect either one of my girls and that was something I had no idea how to live with.

She wrote a “spoken word piece”. I adore the irony of this…writing the spoken word. But she said it’s all about the way she speaks and I agree. When I read it, I heard her voice saying the words.
To say it is powerful is an understatement.
I’ve asked her permission to share these words. I’m grateful she agreed. I feel so strongly that her words need to be “out there” if for no other reason than to get them out of her.

We were actually on the phone when I read it. I cried so much I could barely speak. All I could do was apologize to her. Tell her I was sorry I couldn’t protect her.
She has so much pain and anger inside of her. I still don’t know how to help her. Feeling helpless about my babies is truly the most horrible thing I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve copied and pasted it exactly as she wrote it.

born second

Shave your head, slit your wrists,
In the middle of a teenage crisis,
Get out of your head, cause you’re making a mess,
I’m not just talking about the bathroom,
God, you’re so selfish,
Ruining my childhood innocence,
I was just a little kid, it doesn’t make sense,
I didn’t know any better than to keep your suicidal secrets,
Looking back I cant believe that you did that to me,
“Don’t tell mom”
What happened to the role model you were supposed to be?
Did you care when I was tiny and scared?
Praying I wouldn’t come home to find you dead,
I’m still freaked out by hospitals, makes my stomach flip,
Remembering the visits makes me fucking sick,
Throwing the blame of the disappointment you became on everyone else,
Yeah, fuck em, they can all go to hell,
Then you’ll be left with yourself,
And the hole in your heart where mom was supposed to fit.

And after you went back to school, it was all about attention,
Nobody seems to remember when I had to keep it secret,
Cause the rumor mill was churning, they already called you a lesbian,
What would they say about this?
I started failing history, couldn’t pay attention,
Barely talked to my friends for two months and when they questioned it,
“Oh, sorry, I don’t feel good, I’m sick.”
And that was it, we were eight graders, they just believed it,
Years passed, and when we talk about the past all my friends talk a big game,
“Yeah, I knew something was wrong then, I just didn’t say anything.”
It makes them feel better, like they’re being supportive,
I ignore it, none of them knew shit,
But I can’t hold a grudge because they couldn’t help,
What are they supposed to say?
“Sorry that your sister tried to take her life away.”

It was a very dark December, I’ll say that,
Since then it’s been a struggle to forget the fact,
Like how we waited for you, to come home to decorate the tree..
And you didn’t want to, don’t even get me started on “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

Thing 1 tried to take her life, was hospitalized for ten days and came home the week before Christmas. Our lives have never been the same. Their relationship has never been the same. Thing 2 had the harsh reality of the darkest part of life kick her little girl soul and hasn’t been able to heal…even after all these years.
My instinct is to hold her in my arms, that won’t take away her pain. It won’t help her heal. But it’s the only thing I can do to comfort either of us.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

cheers, bitches

My birthday is coming and I absolutely need these candles for my cake.
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I’m just sayin’.

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Say it proud!

Rick Bragg writes a column for Southern Living Magazine titled “Southern Journal”. This journal entry for May is called “Donkey Business (How I went from a proud rancher of bulls to a jackass man)”.
Mr Bragg writes about feeling a bit ashamed about being a writer. He writes that he feels other southern men judge him for not having a more manly profession. In the column, he explains how his family’s property had Hereford cattle until one day his mother asked to sell them off because she’d been chased by one of the bulls.
Like most good southern children, boys especially, he wasn’t about to disobey his Mama and the cattle were no more.
Which resulted in him no longer being able to tell folks he “raised bulls”.
Apparently, his Mama then decided the land looked lonely and wanted miniature donkeys…wackiness ensues.
And now when Mr Bragg is asked by some “real man” what he does, he tells him he’s a writer because he surely doesn’t want folks to know they are mini donkey on his family’s land.
(P.S. Mr Bragg, you are a beautiful writer, shout it out with pride!)

This struck my funny bone. The humor and telling of the story.
It struck my heart too.
Once upon a time, I was a very young stay at home mom…not college educated…”just” a mom. These years were the happiest years of my life, which I would trade for absolutely nothing and sometimes wish I could revisit. But I remember being in groups of people and when it came time to share what I “did” I would say: I’m a stay at home mom.
I wouldn’t feel prideful when I said it, I would feel less than.
I knew it was the most important job I would ever have. I knew I wanted to raise my own children. I knew I wanted to be the person they could trust most in this world to keep them safe.
But at that time I assumed the “rest of the world” with their fancy degrees and their office jobs would just look down their noses at me.

I remember the first time someone looked at me with awe when I told them what I did. Clearly the “rest of the world” understood the dedication and love and work that went into being someone’s (Two someones.) mommy all the live long day.
I saw respect in that face. The respect I had earned through my hard work at this labor of love. The respect I deserved.
It took me a while to understand how to reconcile the way it felt. It seemed to me that I might be viewed by the “rest of the world” as someone of no importance because my worth wasn’t in my job like most of the people I knew.
Only it wasn’t my worth that was in my job. I had the most important (and lifelong!) job in the history of all jobs. My job was to help, create a foundation for the girls to build their lives upon. My worth was irrelevant in my job. My job was to start them on the paths to their own worth.

It wasn’t much longer I didn’t hesitate to say I was a mommy. When I tell people now that I was a stay at home mom for fifteen years, I say it with pride and joy. I say it as though nothing I’ve done (as “work”) before or since matters a fraction as much.

I’m forty four years old. It took me a long time to stop comparing myself to the “rest of the world” probably longer than it should have…but that’s a story for another day.
I am me. The me I am because of the live I’ve lived. The choices I’ve made. Being a mom made me stronger than I might have been otherwise.

Sure, they might be miniature donkeys instead of Hereford cattle…but they’re my mini donkeys. And I’m their Mommy.

Categories: me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

counting down

My birthday is in seventeen days. This may be the first year in my life history I’ve not “counted down” those days. The only other person who loved the “Birthday Birthday Countdown” as much as me was my dad. And without him to be silly about it with…well I’m just not feeling it.
This is not to say I’m not excited about my birthday, because I always am!

I think my mom instilled that in me. I grew up rather poor, like the food drive at church would feed my mom, brother and me, kind of poor. (Though I didn’t know that bit of information till I was a grown-up.) Anyway, since we didn’t have much, and there weren’t always loads of pressies or big birthday parties, my mom was very particular about our birthdays. She made such a big deal about celebrating the day we came into this world. It was the most special of all the days. There would always be cake and our favorite dinner…which most times included colored mashed potatoes. I’m not actually sure why, perhaps because they were cheap? I don’t know, but mine were always purple because that was my favorite color when I was a little girl. When I tell people about the colored mashed potatoes they look at me like I’m crazy, but it seems so normal to me…It’s all about how you’re raised I guess.
Colored mashed potatoes aside, celebrating birthdays was of paramount importance and something that has stuck with me my entire life.

I love to celebrate the birthdays of the people in my life! I love to celebrate my own birthday! Not in a way that’s ridiculously “look at me” but more along the lines of I’m special and I choose to honor that for myself.
I absolutely adore birthdays!

YBW asked me what I wanted for my birthday…I told him I want the girls here. That precious man got on the phone with Thing 2 and sorted it. Then Thing 2 got on the phone with me and YBW bought plane tickets for those girls and Thing 2’s boyfriend, D to come for Mother’s Day and my birthday!
I’m so excited! YBW is so excited! Thing 1 and Thing 2 are so excited! D is excited too, he’s not yet met YBW or his two Things! Thing C and Thing G don’t know yet, but they’re going to be excited too!
I called Sundance to see if she, her husband, and Girlie Thing and Boy Thing would come celebrate too. Waiting to hear back from her…oh that would be absolutely the BEST!

I’m going to reach out to Thing 2’s Godfather who works at National’s Park to see if I can get tickets for a game Mother’s Day weekend! YBW, Thing 2 and I would be “pants peeing” excited, not so sure about the rest of them…but it’ll be fun cause we’ll be all together!
I’m so happy!

Birthday Birthday, Thing 1 and Thing 2, YBW, Thing C and Thing G, and Boyfriend D, and my Washington Nationals!
Turning forty-four is going to be SPECTACULAR!

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outdoor living space

I ordered furniture for the porch from Overstock.com. I was really surprised at how quickly it shipped! I ordered it Sunday last week and YBW told me it was in the driveway when he got home Friday afternoon!
I was one smiley Robynbird!
We put it together early Saturday morning. The sun was hot, but we were undaunted. Everything was wrapped in the teeniest bubble wrap I’ve ever seen. No matter how you touched it, it would pop. (I gotta admit that was kind of cool. I love bubble wrap!)
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The pile of cushions amused me so much more than it probably should have.
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Here is is all finished! We sat out here together Sunday morning, reading the Post. YBW with his coffee, me with my Diet DP. It was a bit breezy, we needed sweatshirts over our jammies, but it was absolutely beautiful!
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I also ordered a fountain to replace the one that sprung a leak that just can’t be fixed. I’m sad because it was a mother’s day gift from Thing 1 and Thing 2 when they were little. But, I’ve had ten years and have loved every moment of it.
This one makes beautiful sounds and we added river rocks to the base level to cover the drain screen. Makes even better water sounds now!
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We ordered an umbrella yesterday and we’re still looking for an outdoor dining set. YBW expressed his pleasure at me putting in the time and effort to make the deck inviting. He’s lived in this house for fifteen years and has never really used it to it’s advantage. I’m happy to help make that a reality. It’s big enough to be it’s own outdoor room and I intend to use it as such. Bring on the gorgeous weather! You’ll find me out on the deck!

Categories: around the house, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I can hear the bell

YBW and I went out to Naked Mountain yesterday. The weather was gorgeous, more like later on in May than the end of April. The winery was jumpin’ with folks on blankets and adirondack chairs on the big hill.
Wine club members are still picking up their orders and we got a bottle of wine and a charcuterie plate just for showing up. We sat on the small deck for a while before going about the business of purchase.

On the way we stopped off at the church where we’re getting hitched.
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The church is honestly one of the most precious places I’ve ever seen! I love the church building and the graveyard. I can’t wait for the photos to be taken in the fall. I think it will be even more gorgeous than it is now!
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There is a bell in the side yard of the church. I was so excited to ring it yesterday and have visions of the most perfect photos of us ringing it on the say of our wedding.
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We’re closing in on six months…I say, “Bring it!”

Categories: wedding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

drink naked (wait, what?)

wpid-20150412_143006.jpgThis is my afternoon.

Naked Mountain Winery (Not only a great winery, but also our wedding venue.) has the rather saucy tagline “Drink Naked”.
They also have wines called “Red Light”, “Skinny Dipper”, “Birthday Suit”, and “Make Me Blush”.
I think it’s actually quite clever. The owners are playful about their names, but very serious about their wines.

This bottle is from the wine club shipment…three of these reds came…only one is left unopened. (I’m feeling a trip up the mountain this weekend.)
Happy Thursday.
Drink Naked.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

the redbuds

Spring is here! The redbuds are blooming!

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I stopped on the way home to take photos. It’s gray here today, which made the light harsh. I find that a bit disappointing.

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If I could be reincarnated as anything I would choose to be a redbud tree.

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