kids

My Dear Addye, With All My Love, Susan

Hello, dear readers of Butterfly Confessions. Lauren of My Postpartum Voice here. I've recruited some of Addye's friends to write posts for her blog while Addye babymoons with hear new little one. This letter is the first guest post and it's written by the fabulous Susan of Learned Happiness. If you'd like to submit a guest post to be published while Addye is babymooning, email me at mypostpartumvoice (@) gmail with "For Butterfly Confessions" in the subject line! Without further ado, I present Susan's lovely words for Addye.....

 

My Dear Addye,

You and I have been friends for 3 years, now.  And in that time, I have watched you transform into a wholehearted woman.  You took chances with your life and made huge leaps of faith - faith in yourself more than any one person.  You have learned to be honest with yourself about who you are and who you want to be.  Your integrity has been hard-fought and is well-deserved.  You honor me with your friendship.

You said when you married Bert and took his name that it was the beginning of a new life - one written by you and you alone.  One that speaks to all you hold sacred and points to a fulfilling life with your family.  And this baby?  Is a part of that new life.  I can see it in your eyes - in the way you look at him and hold him.  I have experienced the hope brought by a new baby birthed in joy and a sense of calm.  It renews the spirit.  And I couldn't have wished a better birth experience for you.

SusanQuoteRemember that no matter how good your birth (or how much you love that amazing tiny man), having a newborn is a special kind of torture.  The nights are long and the days are even longer.  And no matter how happy you are, it's okay to be exhausted.  It's okay to be emotional.  And it's okay to still need help.  This is not a test of your spirit.  You are not being graded on how gracefully you weather the fourth trimester.  There will be beautiful moments and there will be unbearable ones.  And your tribe?  Will be standing beside you for both.

I hope with all of my heart that the darkness you fear is blotted out by your joy.  But if it's not, if it all becomes too much, you are armed and you are never alone.

With all my love, Susan

Dance Party Friday: It's a Family Affair Edition

IT'S FRIIIIIIIDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!! YIPPPPPPEEEEEEEE! Forgive me, but it's been quite a week, so I had to get that out of my system. What's that? Why has it been "quite a week," you say? Well....

  • Migraines. ALL WEEK.
  • Rain. ALL WEEK.
  • Tired. ALL WEEK.
  • HOMEWORK. Mountains of it. ALL WEEK.
  • Boys being boys. ALL WEEK. (I woke up on Wednesday morning to BOTH of them AND their room being COVERED in baby powder...which I have yet to finish cleaning up)
  • My fridge kept going out. ALL WEEK. But, due to the awesome sauce and generosity of some of my new PBU friends, we were able to survive off of dry goods and the groceries they bought us to replace all the spoiled stuff. HALLELUJAH!
  • Did I mention migraines and homework already?
  • Sick toddler
  • The 4yr old did this:

    Soooooo. Can you see why I'm happy it's the END of the week?! I don't know how I actually managed to record this yesterday, but I did, and I have a special guest with me today: meet Mr. Brennan. He is 4 1/2. He enjoys the Superhero Squad, any electronic device, the drums, music, and can tell you what a trapezoid is. (I don't even know that) He also LOVES to dance (who knew? wonder what side of the gene pool he got that from?) and he LOVES the songs we danced to yesterday.

    Recording with a 4 year old who is preoccupied with themselves on the giant monitor on mommy's desk isn't easy, but hey, I just went with the flow. Again, they aren't perfect, but after the kind of week I've had people, life just never is :) And the best way I know to deal with it is to just get my body moving. So without further ado....here are our Dance Party Friday selections for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy :)

    [vimeo http://vimeo.com/29807331]

    [vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/29804979]

    Check out my other Dance Party posts: Square Biz Edition & Baby I'm a (Imperfect) Star

My Kid's a Shrink

In the midst of playing Angry Birds on the 'pod while we're in the car, waiting at the train station for Alex, Bren Bren stops, reaches over, pats my cheek and says the following: "Mommy don't be sad anymore. Be happy. You're supposed to take care of yourself so you can be happy. Don't be sad anymore-its gonna be alright."

I have Dr. Phil for a son. I love this freakin kid.

addyeB

Fumbling on the Ocean Floor: A Rant About My Struggle with Motherhood

Note: This is just what the title says, a rant. An expression of emotions I'm currently feeling at this exact moment, a release of what I need to say so I can get it off my chest, out of my brain, & get on with the rest of my day & my attempts to just keep swimming, swimming, swimming through this thing called LIFE, particularly motherhood. It will ramble...it might be long....it probably won't transition well or be a cohesive body of writing. But rants aren't supposed to be are they? Hear me: I love my kids, I just desperately want to love being a mother again. I just desperately want to understand myself & what they need from me again. This. is. just. that. A RANT. If Motherhood is a vast, expansive ocean, I'm drowning in it. Better yet, you know that dark, pitch black, murky, where-the-creepy-looking-creatures-live part of it waaaaaaay down at the bottom? What is that called, the ocean floor? Yea, that. That's where I am, where I've been the past 15 months since Alex was born & close to 24 if you include pregnancy. I've been down there, floundering around, searching for some semblance of life I recognize, trying to get back the surface of who I am, the mother I was on my way to being, back to the place where I could tread water because being in this ocean was something I could handle. It was rough, especially being a single parent struggling to get back on my feet, but

I

could

handle

it.

I was getting through it, with God's help & support from family & friends.

But now? I'm at the bottom, unable to get to the surface because I have a rope tied around my neck &  it's  weighed down....with anxiety. with frustration. with anger. with perplexity. with desperation.

Motherhood and I, for reasons I'm still trying to figure out have been going at it, round for round for the past year, year & a half. Maybe it's because I've been riding the roller coaster of depression & anxiety-loops through the tracks of PPD included. Perhaps it's due to the growing pains I've been enduring in an attempt to shed some tangles from my past/childhood & tangled relationships with my parents. It could be because of the spiritual growing pains I've been experiencing the past 24 months, and it could even be because I've just had SO MANY life altering changes happening in my life. It could be all of those things added together, but for whatever the reasons are, I don't like the mother I've become.

I hate her. Passionately. I'm pretty sure my kids don't like her either. She yells. She doesn't have enough patience. She's not fun. She doesn't play. She has a hard time sitting still, being present, enjoying life moment by moment. She's angry sometimes. She's tired most of the time. Her thoughts race, which makes it hard for her to concentrate-especially when her 4 year old is asking her for cookies for the 50th time in the last 20 minutes while she's attempting to figure out what's wrong with her 15mo who's thrown themselves on the floor and crying in frustration for a reason that's totally lost on her. Yes, that mother? I can't stand her. I can't stand me.  Not today. Not at this moment.

I love my kids. I want to be a good mother to them. But I DON'T UNDERSTAND THEM or MYSELF today. Or this week. Or the past year. Don't get me wrong, I'm great at making sure they have what they need physically or materially-that crap is easy. Or at least it comes naturally for me. It's the stuff underneath it all, the emotional development & nurturing essentials, the stuff that will keep my kids from needing therapy when they're 28 that I've been sucking at. Failing at. Floundering at. Flubbing. Fumbling over like my hands are doped with Novocaine. I just haven't been able to get a solid grip on this thing.

Since the day Alex was born I've struggled even more with this, this motherhood thing. His father always says that Alex is the type of kid who will remind us that we're alive. It's so true. He's so completely different than Brennan was as a baby/toddler.  Calm? Quiet? Still? None of those describe my feisty youngest. Bold. Loud. Emotional. Aggressive. Needy. Those do. He seems to be what those "parenting experts" call....Spirited. But even that is putting it mildly. Beautiful kid, and funny in his own way. Sweet in his own way. A complex myriad of emotions & characteristics that seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum from each other. Fierce independence but needy would be an example. Coming to you for comfort but pushing you away when you try to give it is another. What was that line in Shrek about ogres having layers like onions? (or was it artichokes? *shrugs* whatever, I'm sure you get my point) Yea....that's Alex alllll day. (not the ogre part, the onions/layers part. Not to brag, but my Alex is adorably cute) Full of layers I've been trying to understand & have been left scratching my head over in bewilderment. See, I understand & see these things about him, but I don't know how to mother him. I don't know to meet his needs or even understand them most of the time. I just don't. I don't know what he needs from one moment to the next. Honestly, I never have. I've been spending the past 15mos guessing. Some of those guesses I've lucked out & have been right. Others, mmmm not so much. And I've been trying to keep up the "Mama knows best/what the heck she's doing" face, but I'm not good at that either anymore. This Mama is unraveling while fumbling in the dark for a light switch, or like Velma looking for her glasses, exclaiming "Jenkies" in frustration. Alex was my second child, but it feels like he is my first & I'm back in Parenting 101, only I'm failing the class. And failing him....

And when it comes to my oldest, Brennan, well, I'm failing him too. I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me. I know that he sees & feels the change in me over the past year or so. I know from being a kid with a dad who married six times & was abusive that kids aren't stupid, there ain't alot you can hide from them & they always understand things that are far beyond their alleged young-minded comprehension. He can see that I'm less patient, less calm, less fun, less talkative, withdrawn sometimes. Tired. He's seen me cry. Too much. Come to think of it, I know when the change started-potty training. I was doing everything I could, taking everyone's advice, trying every which way to get him to understand that he needed to use the restroom & everything was failing. Nothing worked. NOTHING. And that's when my struggle with motherhood started settling in deep. That's when the frustration & floundering started dipping me below the surface. That's when the tears really started flowing.

That's how I feel now, today. I feel like I've been trying everything I can to be a better mama and I'm still just lost in the dark. Running out of oxygen in my tank fast & I don't know how to get back to the surface where light, clarity, understanding & enjoyment is. I hate it down here, in this dark, abysmal place where all you're surrounded with is thoughts that you're a failure & doing irreparable damage to your children. And yourself. And your relationship. Failure is just eating away at me, feeding off of me like plankton, it's disgusting down here. I want out. I want out!

Last night I was looking at pictures of Alex when he was a baby. I was remembering how much I wanted to him to know how much I loved & wanted him, but how heartbroken I was over my seemingly inability to bring comfort to him. It seemed like no matter what I did he just wouldn't stop crying. My attempts to meet his needs didn't seem to ease his emotions. And hearing it would make me anxious because I just felt like I didn't know what I was doing, like I didn't know how to take care of him.

And while thinking about that I remembered how when I was a little girl I wanted to have a big family, full of kids. While it may not have happened how I envisioned, being a mother was something I always wanted. I guess that's one reason why I'm so frustrated-right now it just feels like I'm so ill-equipped to handle what I asked for.

God....I could use some light down here, please. (sigh)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcCOJuDR5Mo]

I'm Not Strong Enough....But I Don't Have To Be

You ever wake up with a song in your head? I've got one a new one every day. This morning was no exception:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCjIM7-aLmg]

The chorus is what kept replaying over & over in my mind. By the time I started making breakfast I had figured out why: Summer vacation is here and I'll be home with my boys ALL summer.

With my 4yr old finishing pre-K next week, and my 14mo already having been home with me for the past two weeks, I know that despite my best efforts, being with my boys 24/7 has the potential to make me lose it. Not because I don't want to spend time with them, not because I don't love them, not because I don't want to take care of them, but simply because I have a serious anxiety problem, and just the thought of being with them nonstop makes me edgy. Every time I spend extended periods of time with them, I don't handle it well. It's taken me therapy, medication, A LOT of conversations with God, A LOT of crying, some anger, some frustration, talking to my partner, a basic psych class, and reading tons of information about postpartum & perinatal mood disorders to recognize & accept this fact about myself.

It took me realizing that some of the physical symptoms I've been having the past few months only happen after certain "triggers" occur, the most difficult one to handle being when my youngest, Alex cries...or voices his frustrations the only way he knows how-screaming, shrieking, throwing things...you know, being a toddler.  I know what he's doing is normal for a widdle person his age, but what I had to realize wasn't normal is how I respond to it:

Physically, I break out into sweats. I'm talking looking-like-I-just-got-out-of-the-pool sweats. My heart starts racing. Sometimes I shake and my throat feels tight or like something's stuck in it. After his screaming/crying fit is over I'm tired. Not "oh let me take a power nap" tired, but "I could sleep for 20 years Rip Van Winkle style" tired. I can literally feel the energy draining from me while it's happening, it's crazy. Emotionally & mentally I feel drained, my mind feels scattered, and I'm usually so edgy that if you tapped me I'd fall right over.  And if my 4 yr old comes along and decides he can't hear me tell him to put his shoes on because I MUST be talking Greek, asks me to play the Wii when I've said no already, or how to spell words like "Timberwolf" ? Forget it. It's like a solid right hook just landed squarely on my jaw-the Mama in me is knocked out.

On the floor. Done.

And so I break. Snap. Scream. Yell. Get miserably irritable. Cry sometimes. Swim in guilt. Listen to the voices that tell me I'm a bad Mama and I'm ruining the self-esteem & development of my kids. And I go to bed early. Tell myself that when I wake up, tomorrow will be a new day and I can start over. I fall asleep praying & asking God to help me make it, help me to be more patient, less anxious, a better Mama....

While I was in school this mostly only happened in the mornings trying to get out the door, or in the evenings, kicking off as soon as we got back home. I can't tell you how many nights I rushed the boys through dinner, baths & off to bed, teeth clenched & fighting back tears in an effort to keep my edginess from spilling out of me and sweeping all of us away.

Last summer when Alex was just a few months old and Brennan wasn't in daycare, I thought what I was feeling was just me trying to adjust to meeting the needs & demands of two kids. My doctor & I both thought maybe it was just depression, so I started taking Zoloft. I even thought it was more of the same when I was feeling burnt out & feeling very low back in February....but the more research I did, the more I talked about my discomfort with motherhood with my therapist, the more convos God & I had, the more I recognized my responses to my boys behaviors, the more I've come to realize what I really need help with.

And that's why this morning, when I came face to face with what this latest round of anxiety is about, I just started singing the chorus to that song....

"I know I'm not stong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be,

I give up, I'm not strong enough...Lord I'm asking You to be strong enough for the both of us."

And just told God, "I want this to be a great summer. I want to enjoy my kids. I want to enjoy being a Mama, but God the honest truth is that I'm just not strong enough on my own. I wish I was, but I'm not. I can't handle this, being with them all the time while (partner's name) is at work. I know this probably isn't an issue for other Mamas, but it's one for me. I know You say not to be anxious about anything...but I am. Okay? I just am. I'm terrified that I'm going to screw this up and let hormones & stress & anxiety just overtake me, allowing whatever's going on in me to keep me from being the Mama I want to be. Ya know, the one who doesn't sound like a lunatic? The one who doesn't cringe or resent her son when he cries? Yea...I would really like to get back to being her. But I can't do it own my own."

Right after I said those words (in my head, cuz I didn't want my boys to think I was talking to myself-I'm sure they already think I'm wacky enough these days) the response came:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ( 2 Corinth 12:9)

Right then I knew He got "it", that He understood just where I was, and admitting I can't do it in & of myself relieved me of the pressure I was putting on myself.. It also activated my faith to help me believe even stronger in the One who I know IS strong enough to handle my weaknesses....and the overwhelming demands of motherhood that make me want to jump off a cliff. I just have to remember to reach out to Him. I knew then that all I have to do is keep working the plan He gave me months ago to deal with my "stuff':

Prayer. Medication. Exercise. Eat healthier. Read the Word. Take Breaks. Self-Care. Repeat

and He'll take care of the rest, like helping me enjoy Mamahood. Just gotta keep working the plan.

So here's to a summer vacation not riddled with anxiety but filled with good times spent with my boys. And Yoga...lots of calming, relaxing, deep breathing Yoga...hahahaha.

Got anxiety in the Mama department? How do you cope? I'm taking any & all suggestions!

Fear Redefined

Today I experienced fear in a very real way. I thought I knew fear, what it felt like, what it was to experience it, but after today, my definition of what fear is has been obliterated into nothingness...and all that remains is the cold, harsh reality that try as you might as a parent, you can't protect your kids from everything... I don't have all the articulation necessary to convey what happened-not right now. I'll try to give a proper voice to what I experienced as a mother today-tomorrow, or the next day-when the stark reality has blurred around the edges of my memory and lost its sting....

Tonight I will just lift my eyes to the One who always holds and comforts me when I'm vulnerable, my Father who covers me when my emotions are raw and exposed to the cruelty life can bring...Tonight I lift my eyes and my voice in gratitude to the One whose name left my lips in a panicked prayer the instant fear and hopelessness began to seize my being. Tonight I'm just so grateful to God fear didn't win and that my son is still here-I'll never take him being on this earth or the fact that I'm his mother for granted ever again....Until tomorrow....

Motherly Improvisation

 

 

 

 

 

My youngest refuses to crawl on his knees like a regular infant-instead he does this military-style lowcrawl around my apartment. He's lightning fast at it and wouldn't bother me in the slightest except for the rug burn my poor bubba gets from his explorations. After noticing he was developing some light callouses on his knees, I had a "lightbulb" moment-I simply grabbed a pair of my oldest's socks, cut the feet off, and simply slid the sock over his knees. Worked like a charm! Of course he looks like a volleyball player, but his knees have been rug burn free :)

 I think I saw something called "babylegs" at Target a few months back that I'm assuming were/are designed to do the same thing my homemade baby kneepads are-BUT they were $9/pair. Ummmm, me thinks not-for some socks?! Get outta here....

It also makes me wonder-what do you do if you have hardwood floors? Babies have been crawling for ages with nothing on their knees, so I'm guessing it's no biggie, but it does make one wonder-I know crawling around on my knees picking up anything makes me wince in pain-but that's probably just due to age :)

Anywhoo, just thought I'd share a moment of "motherly improvisation" with you....what's your's?

Viral Infections of the 3rd Kind

Today's daily post: I'm sick. Actually, I'm sick but I feel like I'm dying is more accurate. Whatever germs my son has brought home from Bacteria & Viral Land aka daycare/pre-k,have evolved into some mutant strain of the Plague and I'm being overtaken. Even as I type this I feel the strength leaving my fingers...I need more tea...and sleep...more importantly I need a new immune system-anyone have a spare I can use?

It's His World...

The following are excerpts from random conversations I've had recently with my almost 4 year old...... It's his world, I just live in it :) 1. sitting in a packed waiting room at the Social Security office:

Brennan: "Mommie (gently touching my face) I love your hair."

Me: "Thank you, Brennan." (looking at my ticket number, shaking legs anxiously)

Brennan: "Mommie....I love your eyes."

Me: (eyebrow raised-but feeling loved) "Why thank you, Brennan, you're so sweet!"

Brennan: (voice raised extra loud) "Mommie! I LOVE YOUR BOOBS!"

Me: (open mouth-now old people are staring at me-my face is hot-I have no response-looking for an escape hatch) "Man, when are they going to call our number?!" (and WHEN & WHERE did he learn THAT?)

2. Me, sick, trying to get the boys settled in for the night....about to play CandyLand with Bren-AFTER I handle the waterfall of snot that's oozing from my nose....I head to the bathroom, telling Bren:

Me: "Brennan, set up the game, I'll be right back, I have to blow my nose!."

Brennan: "You have boogies?" (following me into my bathroom-CandyLand forgotten)

Me: "Yes, loads of em. They are atrocious!"

pause....out of the corner of my eye I see him eyeing me curiously

Me: "Do you know what atrocious means?" (no movement, but eyes clearly say no) "It kinda means very bad, awful, not good."

Brennan: (nodding in understanding, starting to walk away) "Very bad! I need tissue, I have atrocious boogies! Mommie, I have very atrocious bad boogies in my nose!"

3. In my office, I'm typing away on the lappy, he comes flying in, voice frantic....

Brennan: "MOMMIE, I HAVE A SHARK IN MY STOMACH!"

Me: "Huh?"

Brennan: "MOMMIE, I HAVE A PLANE ON MY HEAD!"

Me: "What?!"

Brennan: "MOMMIE, I HAVE A (something unintelligible) ON MY TONGUE! (opens mouth) SEEEEE?!"

Me: "Boy, what are you talking about?!"

Brennan: "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" (crazy laughter) (runs out of office screaming something about "Dr. Evil Porkchop!")

Ummmmmm....yea LOL

4. In my kitchen, standing on the scale waiting for the digital display to tell me how little I've lost....Bren walks up, peers around my legs at the scale....

Brennan: "Mommie, that says 180-8."

Me: "It sure does-good job."

Brennan: "That's aloootttt of numbers!" (walks away)

Me: (sighing, grabbing "the mass" aka post-pregnancy pooch) "Yea, those are alot of numbers."

5. Sitting at the table, eating dinner, Brennan is eyeing a mini-mound of sweet potatoes on his plate...

Brennan: "I don't want those..."

Me: "Well, you have to eat a couple of bites, Brennan."

Brennan (eyeing me warily): "I'll take onnnne bite."

Me: "Three bites"

Brennan: "Um, two bites?"

Me:" Ok, fine, two bites but you have to eat everything else, Mr. Particular."

Brennan: "I'm not Msisister 'Ticula, I'm Brennan Mills!"

Like I said, it's his world, I just live in it......

Up to My Elbows...

in being a Mom at the moment, so by the time I tuck my handfuls into their bed/crib, I'm plumb tuckered out...too tuckered out to write anything but a few lines such as the ones I'm typing now....BUT my almost 4yr old starts his new Pre-K program tomorrow-5 days/wk- so I'm hoping that will free up some of my time during the day, and help me get some order, discipline, focus and FREEDOM to concentrate on things like well, my 9 month old, prayer, reading, studying, and of course, WRITING-my first love.  (sigh) off to bed-gotta be ready for another day of being "mommie" :)

Ummmmm....

Today.....started off great and has just meandered down to a bit of a "ho-hum" kinda day....both boys are sick, one has 3 teeth trying to break through, runny noses, screams, dirty house, laundry, and mother nature stopped by to deliver a lovely gift...Ummm, what happened to my great day?..I'm hoping some CandyLand and Despicable Me help me salvage what remains....I am afterall, an optimist at heart :)

Counting It All Joy

Today was definetely one of those "crazy" mommy days. If you're a mother or are responsible for a life other than your own, you know those days-they are the ones that make you feel like you have as Bill Cosby called it "brain damage". The ones that make you question what on earth possesed you to engage in the activity that brings children to this earth in the first place, the ones that make you just want to ditch adulthood and go make mud pies. Yeah, I had one of THOSE days. Between my fussy 5 week old who doesn't like to ride in the car much less be put down for more than 10 minutes, and my 3 year old home from daycare with Scarlet Fever, (yes, you read correctly, I did say SCARLET FEVER!) who, either from medicine or being couped up in the house for 3 days, acts like he can't hear me (I must be speaking Chinese, why else would he just IGNORE my command to stop throwing his toys?) today was a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong day.(and yes, that many o's were necessary)

The highlight or climax of the day occured earlier this evening. Having just fed the newborn, I was sitting with him in my living room, paitiently waiting for time to pass so I could put him down without worrying about his dinner coming back up (he has reflux and has to sit up after eating) when as I gazed lovingly into his eyes, I heard a massive explosion as the volcano that is his rear end emptied his afternoon snack into his diaper...and my lap. Yep. There it was, oozing out of the side of his diaper like yellow, scrambled egg lava, covering his clothes, and my new pair of jeans I had just washed yesterday. As the 3 year old whizzed past me with his nerf sword, screaming something about Iron Man and death rays, I blabbed something about him sitting down like a decent human being and went upstairs to handle Mount St. Doo Doo.

Upon further inspection of the destruction that resembled a diaper, I decided to  just give him a bath earlier than originally planned and quickly filled the tub while I got him undressed. That's when the 3 year old decided he needed a bath too and started peppering me with "can I take a bath too Mommie?", "Mommie, is it bathtime?", "Mama, whatcha doooiiiin?", "Mommie, Mommie, Mommie, Mommie!" Walking back into the bathroom, I diverted the 3 year old with promises of a future bath and ordering him to go play in his room. Turning my attention back to the baby and the bathtub, I realized that I had failed to put the plug in.....and all the water was easing it's way out the baby's tub and down the drain.

Mumbling something about just wanting to go to sleep under my breath, I put the baby in one hand and used the other to rerun his bathwater. Almost instantaneously I felt something wet covering my lap and looked down to find my adorable son peeing all over my newly-changed-into pajama bottoms and the floor. I was about to growl in frustration and ask why did I decide to put myself through this when four simple words stopped me dead in my (vocal) tracks: "Count it All Joy." Huh? Come again? "Count it All Joy." Count what joy-the fact that I had just been pooped and peed on in less than 15 minutes? Or that today had been motherhood's way of testing me to see what I was made of? "God," I said, "you have got to be kidding me-why would I be joyful about any of this?" "Why not?" was His reply and as I put my son in the bath, I began to ask myself the same question.

Why let the demands on my nerves and patience wear me out? Why let such trivial occurrences weigh me down and frustrate me? Why get upset and worked up, angry with myself? Because I had been having the wrong attitude that's why, I found myself answering. Instead of looking at things from the perspective of a frazzled, frustrated person, why not just take it for what it is? "It's all about your perspective, A'Driane," I heard God saying. "True there are things in life that aren't pleasant, that demand all of what you have and push you to your limit. Yes, you will have days where you feel like you don't know what you're doing or where your going, days you will feel like you can't go another step. Yes, you will go through things that make you question yourself and everything you think you know about life. Yes, you will be faced with trials and tests, some big and some small, but how you handle them, how you think about them, will determine how your character is developed, and how you respond to future situations."

He then brought to my remembrance a scripture I had been meditating on a few weeks ago: James 1:2, which in the Message translation says, "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." In the King James version it says to "...count it all joy" and that's just what God was reminding me to do. Now maybe a trying day with your kids and your son peeing on you is nothing to get worked up over, things such as that don't even make you bat an eye. But for someone like myself who has been battling depression on and off since 7th grade and who is currently taking Zoloft to help ward off postpartum depression, a day like today can have me in my closet with the door closed crying hysterically. I'm serious people, a day filled with open defiance from a sick 3 year old, the always present needs of a newborn, a 35 min car ride filled with screams from BOTH children, a dirty house that was just clean 24 hours ago, and not a free moment to myself all day would be enough to send me down Despondency Lane sometimes.

The demands and pressures of being a mother to two children can be overwhelming, especially in the beginning, and although two weeks ago after reading that scripture I was all pumped up and ready to be joyful, life had handed me a two peice and a biscut in recent days.  As a matter of fact, just on Sunday at the altar, I had told God I wanted off the up and down, merry-go-round rollercoaster of depression I had been on  not just for most of my life, but particuarly this past year. I asked Him to show me ways to battle it,strategies to overcome it, things to think on and practice during moments such as I was currently having while bathing my son. I left the altar feeling changed and for once confident.

And then Sunday night, my son's face was twice it's size...by Tuesday he was diagnosed with Scarlet Fever and declared unfit for daycare for at least 10 days-after he had already been home testing my limits for a full day. And then today happened...but sitting in my bathroom, bathing my son, talking to God and thinking about things, something else happened: I started to laugh. It started as a giggle, then evolved to a chuckle and then burst out into belly hugging, gut busting laughter. It was so loud and unexpected it made the baby jump and brought the 3 year old in from his room, demanding to know what I was laughing at. Splashing water on him, he laughed started acting silly which made me crack up even more and by the time I was rinsing the baby off, I was fully relishing spending this time with my kids, the feelings of stress and being overwhelmed completely gone, a distant and quickly fading memory. "See now was that so hard?" He asked. "How do you feel?" "Much easier than I thought," I replied, "I feel lighter.....well whatya know I feel joyful!" I laughed and took the baby into my room with an extra pep in my step. (may sound corny, but that's how me and God talk, okay?)

Taking that moment to change my perspective and choosing to laugh through my frustration and stress instead of getting weighed down by it and worked up made me realize that I can choose how I look at a situation and how I respond to it. Me taking that moment to laugh allowed me to enjoy putting the baby to sleep, bathing and feeding the older one, putting him to sleep, and even gave me the energy I needed to do a quick "pick-up" of my house, which will definetely make me happy when I wake up to a clean house in the morning.

I didn't realize when I asked God for a strategy to deal with my depression I would find myself with an answer so quickly, but I'm so grateful for it. I'm even more grateful because I understand that I may have alot on my plate now when it comes to motherhood, but if I tackle each challenge with the right mindset, it will equip me to handle stress and other demanding situations in other areas of my life.

Now I understand that days like today aren't about trying to make me lose my mind- they are all about developing my character, and giving me an opportunity to find joy in the most unexpected places.