Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Get a Grip


May is just a hard, stressful month for me.  There's a lot of good in May, but it all seems to be overtaken by my mom's death.  It hangs over me and the month sucks the energy right out of me.

Compound that with three weekends out of town, over 70 hours in the car with two toddlers, cleaning out my parent's house and a really heavy workload.  May has kicked my ass. 

To cope, I gave up taking care of me.  When something had to give, I gave up my time to walk.  When my emotions took over I gave up counting points in return for the comfort of a glass (or two) of wine and not-so-good-for-me food. 

It felt good in the moment.  But today I'm feeling sluggish and a wee bit depressed that I let things get this far away from me.  So I went and bought a cookie. 

Yup -- My name is Amanda and I am an emotional eater.

But I felt like crap.  And that cookie tasted like crap.  And you know what, that cookie didn't make me feel any less crappier so I threw two thirds of it in the trash.  It's time for me to get a grip.  There are only a couple more short days left to May and I need to get myself back on track.  Enough wallowing.  Enough giving into the stress.  Enough letting the depression take over.  Enough Enough Enough!

I need to take hold of things again and thrive on that feeling of accomplishment when I loose a couple of pounds.  Thrive on that pride when I meet or exceed my training goals for the week.  Thrive on taking care of myself not just catering to my downtrodden emotions.  I need to put my focus on making my body strong and healthy because when I was doing that my mind felt healthier and stronger.

So even though it's hot as hell here today, I'm going to refuse to make excuses and put my miles in.  And I swear I'm not going to pull that cookie out of the trash :-). 

Happy Tuesday

Just a little Sam and Will to start the short work week!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012


It's a big week for Linda's Ladies.  It's a big week for me.

When I set out on this journey last year I committed to raising $2300.  I was nervous.  I hoped I could do it.  I was prepared to put my own money up if I couldn't meet that minimum.  This week I crossed the $4000 mark.  It's unbelievable to me.  I am so grateful that others believe in what I am doing.  I am so grateful that others share the goal, the desire to find a cure and beat breast cancer once and for all.

When I set out on this journey I did it alone.  But I wasn't alone for long.  And today, I am teamed up with five other wonderful women who are passionate about this war.  And as we linked our arms our impact grew exponentially.   This week my team, Linda's Ladies, crossed $10,000!  It's amazing.  I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it.  And then I think that we are just one team amongst hundreds of teams and millions of individuals who are joined in battle and the weight of what we are doing towards a collective goal leaves me speechless. 

Today I am taking a few minutes to enjoy how far we have come.  I am taking a little time to give thanks for the generosity of friends, family, and even a couple of strangers.  Today I will celebrate all we have accomplished. 

And tomorrow, well tomorrow I'll march on and look back on this milestone week fondly but push towards greater things!  Tomorrow I'll keep walking towards a cure.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Letting Go

When my mom passed away she left a lot of stuff.  A LOT of stuff.  Too much stuff!

I knew my mom had an affinity for garage sales and TJ Maxx and Marshalls and specialty food stores and Lord and Taylors and well you get the picture.  She liked to shop.  It was something we all knew.  It was something we would tease her about from time to time.  But I don't think the full magnitude of her shopping sunk in until she was gone. 

I spent this weekend cleaning out my parent's house.  Trying to get it ready to sell.  Trying to help my Dad get out from under the weight of the house.  Trying to get myself out from under the weight of that house.  Clearing out that house has been a daunting and seemingly impossible task.  On Saturday we filled up a second dumpster and then continued to fill dozens of trash bags full of items to discard and items to donate.  I threw away hundreds (probably thousands) of dollars of out of date food.

I cycled between laughing at my mom, yelling at my mom and crying for my mom.

You see, I don't think my mom liked to shop, I think she needed to shop.  I think shopping was her coping mechanism.  I think when she felt lonely or sad or frightened or frustrated she headed out to buy something. 

In so many ways, my mom and I are alike.  We are both planners (that like to procrastinate in execution) we both like things a particular way and expect everyone else to fall in line.  We both look for ways to control our life in a World that seemed uncontrollable.   And we both have anxiety.  I know my mom had some anxiety.  She voiced some of it to me, but I don't think I ever realized, or she ever realized the magnitude of her anxiety.  I think it was greater than any of us ever understood. 

And it makes me sad.  It makes me sad to think that this strong vibrant woman carried this unspoken weight.  A weight that manifested itself in stuff.  Clothes and makeup and perfume and china sets and table clothes and jewelry and roosters (oh the roosters).

I wonder if the weight of all the stuff ever made her suffocate or if it usually brought her comfort.  I wonder if she really was filling a void in her life with stuff.  That's what it looks and feels like today.  And that thought brings tears to my eyes. 

For the last couple of years I have had a hard time letting go of my mom's stuff.  I have felt like I was betraying her, or being wasteful, or throwing pieces of her away.  But I'm coming to recognize that this stuff is not the part of my mom I want to hold onto.  This stuff is just that, stuff.   And it's the stuff that represented a part of my mom I think she hid from the World.  A secret struggle she didn't really want anyone to know about.  And I hate the stuff.  I hate it for what I think it represented to her, I hate it for the weight it carries for me and my family.  I hate it and I want it gone.  This weekend it wasn't as hard to throw stuff away.

I feel kind of guilty writing about this - like I'm sharing too much of my mom, but I think it's important to share.  It's important because I've come to realize even the strongest women have a chink in their armor.  Even the strongest women have problems.  Even the strongest women need help.  And I wish with all my heart I had known and would have talked to my mom about it.  Listened to her.  Helped her find the help she needed.  Helped her face and shed this weight.  And I hope, wherever she is, she is finally rid of it. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Enough is Enough

I am lucky to have a lot of mommy friends - or friends that are moms.  Most of them I knew long before the idea of kids even crossed our minds.  They are all amazing women, amazing friends and REALLY amazing moms.

Some breastfed past their baby's first birthday, some struggled to make it to the 6 month mark, some struggled to get started - watching their baby loose weight - and agonized over turning to formula rather than put their baby's health at risk, and some decided that breastfeeding wasn't for them. 

New moms do what new moms do and share their struggles looking for support and understanding and compassion and advice.  I was surprised at what a struggle breastfeeding was, pretty universally, across the board.  And what makes this even harder is the pressure that society puts on new moms.  The constant messages and images that define what a "good mom" looks like, what a "good mom" does.

I've watched this pressure turn logical, brilliant, strong women inside out.

The pressure turned me inside out.  With both of my babies I was determined to breastfeed until the 6 month mark.  But with both of my babies my supply plummeted when I went back to work.  I exhausted myself pumping and feeding around the clock, while working an intense full time job.  I snuck in extra pump sessions at work, gave up my lunch break, pumped in the car on the way to and from work and dissolved into a mess when I would come home and still not have enough for the next day of day care.

Every time I added formula to a bottle to make up the difference I felt like a failure.  I felt like I was doing it wrong.  And at the 5 and a half month mark with both babies, I sobbed as I made the decision to move exclusively to formula.  A decision that was right for me, my sanity, my marriage and my kids.  But that decision made me feel ashamed, made me feel like I wasn't doing the best I could, made me feel inferior.

Where the hell does this pressure come from?  Why is doing the best you can not good enough?  Why do we as moms feel like we have to compete with the best of every other mom or some ideal defined by society?

And breastfeeding is just one of the many many many topics that invoke this self doubt.  Cosleeping, sleep training, baby wearing, organic baby food, homemade baby food, cloth diapers, working, staying home.

It has to stop!  We are creating a generation of moms that constantly judge themselves against an unrealistic ideal.  We are creating a generation of moms who feel like they don't measure up.

There is no "one size fits all" guide to parenting.  There is no formula on how to do it right.  Parenting is not black and white, right and wrong.  Parenting is knowing your baby and trusting your instincts.  Parenting is trial and error and finding what works for you.  Parenting is a journey down a path that winds and splits off in many directions.  Parenting is making the best decision at that moment, celebrating when you took the right path and course correcting when you made a wrong turn.  Parenting is loving, beyond all else, parenting is loving. 

I wish my mom were here so I could ask her if she struggled with these same doubts.  If she had the same nagging feeling that, despite everything she did, she just wasn't doing enough good enough.  Is this just a side effect of being a mom or something else?

Regardless of the answer, there is one thing for sure, the media exploits this desperate need to be the best mom for our children.  They prey on our insecurities, our doubts, our gut wrenching instinct to do everything we can to give our children the best we have.  And to that I say enough is enough.  We are good enough.  In fact, we are better than good enough!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What I Learned about my Kids in 30 Hours

Last Thursday we embarked on a great adventure (or insanely bad idea) -- a trip to Florida. In the car!  Have I mentioned I have a 2 year old and a 1 year old?

For those of you doing the math, that's more than 30 hours of drive time. Not counting meals and stops for the boys to run around and expel energy.

By just about every measure it was a success. The boys handled the car like champs - better than I could have hoped for.

Hour 6 -- Teddy Graham Pit Stop

I thought I knew my kids inside and out but all that time confined to a small space I learned some new things.

Like how Sam likes to sing along to his favorite Sesame Street songs -- and he knows most of the words!

Like how Will likes to do the hand motions to Itsy Bits Spider.

That Sam has a generous heart and would quickly hand over his favorite toy to try to cheer his brother up.

How Sam loves digger trucks and water.  He thinks any kind of water is the Ocean and proclaims it loudly.

Will claps along to songs he likes.

They love to hold hands and laugh at each other.

They have their own language that consists of loud, high pitched shrieks.  Apparently what they say to each other is hysterical because fits of giggles always follow.

Sam narrates every minute of life.

Will points to something he wants and says "this."

Most of all I was reminded how lucky I am to have been chosen to be their Mom.  In the hustle and bustle of the every day it's easy to get frustrated at the little things, go through the motions and miss the moments that make memories.  But this weekend I got over 30 hours of uninterrupted moments with my boys and I enjoyed every one of them (well almost!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Accountability - Week 9

This week was a walking bust - but I wouldn't have traded it.  We took the boys to Florida to spend some time with their Great Grandparents.  It was a wonderful trip! 

Today I get back on track.
Accountability - Week 8
Weeks until Walk -23
Funds Raised to Date - $3693.14
Miles Walked to Date - 97.85
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - Worked Late
Wednesday - Prepping for Trip
Thursday - Vaca
Friday - Vaca
Saturday - 3 miles in Fl.
Sunday - Vaca

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Three years ago today I lost my mom. I still sometimes have trouble believing it really happened. It doesn't feel right. A big mistake. I feel like there must be someone I can convince that they got it wrong and then she'll be back.

But logic knows better than that. It did happen. Right or not, my mom is gone.

What is not gone are the values she instilled in me. She taught me what in life is important. And above all else comes family. She taught me to love and respect family. To hold them close. To hold them tight. That no matter distance or time, family is, and always will be the one true constant. Family is her legacy.

So I find it fitting that today, three years after I lost her, I get to honor the most important thing she ever taught me. I get to start passing this lesson down to my kids. How lucky they are to get to know my grandparents. How lucky I am to see the love between these generations.

On the day I have come to dread, I watched my Poppi's eyes light up as his great grandson dissolved into fits of giggles. I watched my son play trucks with his great grandmother. I am so lucky that my mom passed this lesson in love down to me.

My mom may not be here, but today I feel closer to her than I have in a long time.