Mommy Resources

I’ve got two great websites for friends out there who have little ones: 

1)  Nancy Stewart’s Website:   Nancy Stewart is a local musician here in the Puget Sound area.  She plays in libraries a lot, and she’s just plain fun.  My favorite thing about this website is the free songs of the month with three or four years worth of archives.  Basically you can get a few CDs worth of children’s songs for free!  Some of the songs play there at the website, and all are available to download.  There are finger plays and suggested activities.  My girls and I take a half an hour to sing songs two or three times a week and we almost always use these.  It’s just an EASY , FUN thing that I can do to spend time with them.  Our favorite songs are “Dinosaurs in Cars,” “Tingalayo,” and “Doing the Penguin Waddling Walk.” 

2)  This is a website that I found through my sister-in-law.  No Time for Flashcards:  This is a former teacher who blogs about things that she does with her toddler-aged son.  LOTS of crafts and free-art ideas as well as songs and fingerplays. 

See–my kids don’t JUST run around spreading cornstarch and soap and cinnamon and other substances throughout my house.  I actually DO engage their little minds from time to time!  😉

Anybody else have any good Mom resources that you’ve found out there on the web?  I’d love to see them!

Disappointed but Not Surprised: My Take on Private Practice’s handling of PPD

As a coordinator for PSI, and a fan of Private Practice, I was excited to see that Private Practice was doing a show spotlighting Postpartum Depression. I was even more happy to hear that they had contacted PSI about doing a PSA for the website. PSI was not allowed to know of any of the content of the episode, but they put together a very well written PSA nonetheless. The PSA was excellent. I wish I could say the same about the episode.

Now, I’ve watched medical dramas long enough to know that they go for the most sensational cases most of the time. My own struggle with Postpartum Depression wouldn’t have garnered many ratings. How many people would really want to watch a woman walk into her doctors office and say, “I just feel blah and I don’t really enjoy being a Mom, can you help me?” get the assistance she needs, fight the good fight, and get better. Not so exciting, I suppose. In short, I wasn’t particularly surprised that ABC chose to write a storyline based around a woman with Postpartum Psychosis. Even so, I sure wish that the media would stop placing all the focus there as 99% of postpartum mood disorders don’t involve any form of psychosis and it is the truly rare case that a woman with a Postpartum Mood Disorder would try to harm her child. Certainly the perpetuation of the myth that all Postpartum Depression involves this extreme sort of action or fantasy is a disservice to women suffering.

Several things really DID bother me. First of all it was terribly irresponsible that the terms Postpartum Depression and Psychosis were used interchangeably. What does it say to a woman who has just been diagnosed with Postpartum Depression to see this? In what is already a frightening and overwhelming situation how dare ABC add fuel to the fire of women struggling by putting women diagnosed with a PPMD in the position to wonder if she too could do that to her child. Furthermore, it bothered me that such a large thrust of the episode revolved around whether or not the troubled mother should be able to be around her child, and it ESPECIALLY bothered me that the makers of this website would put a thoughtless petty poll about whether or not those who viewed Private Practice think a woman should be allowed access to her children when dealing with mental illness. The poll when coupled with the excellently written PSAdoes nothing but further stigmatize this disease, which was certainly exactly the opposite of what Postpartum Support International was going for when they agreed to write the PSA. Even worse it has the potential of frightening women who desperately need help and reassurance when facing a postpartum mood disorder from seeking the help they need. Having been there and done that (to a far milder degree than anyone who had watched this episode would expect–I certainly needed help, but I certainly did NOT want to harm my child), I can speak from experience that the fear of having my child taken away from me made it very hard to reach out for help. Guilt and fear are two of the most debilitating and harmful aspects of PPD and this episode did nothing but perpetuate both AND add to the stigma that women with Postpartum Mood Disorders already have to overcome.

I can’t say that I’m surprised by this television take on the subject, but I’m certainly disappointed that Private Practice portrayed things the way they did. Past that, I find it highly upsetting that even though they featured a PSA on their website, that the matter of Postpartum Mood Disorders was so trivialized throughout the show and especially on the websites poll. I know the sensational cases bring the better ratings, but if you must be sensational at least be responsible. Even more, don’t trivialize the incredibly difficult struggle of mother’s fighting to come back from PPMD’s with a fear-mongering witch-hunt poll.  

To get the facts on Postpartum Mood Disorders, or to find support for those struggling with them check out PSI’s website at www.postpartum.net

One more thing:  This is of course only MY feelings on the subject and in no way reflects the ideas or opinions of the PSI organization as a whole.

Ebenezer Moment Borne Out of Ripping and Dipping

….Or What I Learned at the Gary Thomas Weekend

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At the end of the Sacred Marriage weekend yesterday, we took communion. Now, I thought the last session was gonna be a bust for me. I was struggling through all my fleshy feelings about praise and worship music (they’re not so positive), and light guitar music during prayers, and feeling manipulated by all of that, not to mention trying not to let my runny noise and inability to breathe through my mouth drive me crazy. I loved all of Gary Thomas’ talks, but this one was my least favorite, and I was actually kind of starting to feel bummed about it all.

So Husband and I argued quietly about going to take our turn at the rip and dip method of serving communion to one another, and how we were going to do that, and if we should watch someone else do it first, because after all I get all nervous about communion. Andy eventually just grabbed my hand, and we finally went up and took our turn.

When I sat down I started crying a rather unpretty cry. The weekend itself had done a tremendous job of reminding me exactly why I married the wonderful man that I had. And I so needed that. We’ve been struggling lately. A lot. There hasn’t really seemed to be a way through the struggling. And so I desperately needed this chance to look at my marriage and my husband and remember why I’d gotten myself into it all in the first place. I needed to remember that as much as my insistence on finding ‘the one’ had twisted my thinking throughout high school and college, that ultimately I had married a man that I knew to be my best friend… That I’d married a man who protects me, and loves me, and ultimately would sacrifice anything for me and consider it an easy decision. All of this was taking root in my heart again, and it was good.

As I sat there after taking communion, wishing that I’d spilled a little more Jesus-juice on me, and letting the bread and grape juice dissolve in my mouth, I started seeing the first time that Andy and I had taken communion together. The night before we’d stayed up late sitting on Mom and Dad’s couch talking. It was the summer between our Sophomore and Junior years of college. We’d had a long discussion on ‘where things were going’ for our friendship. I remember speaking in terms of standing on the water’s edge, and how I wasn’t sure I was ready to even start wading in up to my ankles, and I certainly wasn’t ready to dive in to anything considered ‘more than friendship.’ And so he promised we’d just put our toes in together. Ultimately we decided that we were still friends who were staying open to what might come of our frienddship. The next morning at church we took communion at the altar, and I remember a little thrill in my stomach at the thought that this might be the first of many times being part of that sacrament together.

And then I thought of this photo I think of as defining Andy and I in the last few years. We’re sitting on some jagged-lave rock at the North Shore in Hawaii, and the water is just roiling beneath us. But we’re turned toward one another, looking out at it, and sitting solid.

My mind flitted over everything we’ve been through. That first year of marriage, and Andy going off to Basic Training….  moves, and cross-country trips…  The deployments and detachments, the first 4 years of life with children…. the loss all of my grandparents, two of Andrew’s…. the loss of my Mom and the subsequent journey through intesne grief…. postpartum depression, frustration in Andy’s job, and so much time spent apart with the shots of novacaine to our hearts taking longer and longer to wear off.

I’d begged God in the shower yesterday morning to show me some encouragement. To show me what the Sacred Marriage stuff had to do with us at this point–I just wanted some encouragement that spoke to where we are….. settling into Shore Duty and discouraged because what we hoped would be a season of settling and soaking into one another, has proved instead to be one where we don’t know how to relate anymore. We’ve hurt one another. We’ve struggled not to see only the problems in our marriage and in one another. We’ve found it tremendously difficult to heal from all that I’ve already mentioned here, and to do so together.

God showed me the double images of these two communions; one where we started, and this one where we are now. He brought me through this mental journey of all we’ve been through and I heard, “Here’s your encouragement. You’re here now together. You’ve been through all of that. I’ve had my hand on you from that first moment of ripping and dipping to this one (yeah…. you really have to know my love of communion by intinction, ok?). I AM using your marriage and all that you’ve been through to draw you closer to one another and ultimately closer to me. I am fashioning you both in holiness. I’ve brought you this far… you can trust me for all the rest.”

And so he has. For Valentine’s day, I hope to fashion an ‘Ebenezer’ of sorts… to help me remember–to help us remember–that we’ve come through it all TOGETHER. I hope it will remind me that we can trust the One who works through the good and bad of our marriage for our good and for our growth. I hope it will help me to remember the incredible nature of the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with.

Still Rippling

Almost two years ago, I wrote this post about losing my Mom as a young adult.  It is the post which brings in the most searches.  It is the post with the most comments.  Every couple of months, a new person (or two, or three) will comment and say, “Me too.”  Each time I am saddened, and humbled, and grateful to know that I know I’m not alone, and maybe my commenters do too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mom the last couple of days.  The Steelers won on Sunday after all.  A friend of my Mom’s has been in contact with me recently, and today posted a photo of her for me to see on Facebook.   I just got done looking through about a dozen other photos that he sent me tonight via email.  I said this in a note to him: 

You know, I have so many photos of Mom–a whole album’s worth and then some, but I have looked at all of them so often, and studied them and memorized every little expression. It’s so nice to see photos of her that I haven’t seen, and see an expression I didn’t expect or have memorized. It makes me feel a little closer to her for just a second. Like she’s more than just a memory for that one little instant.

I miss my Mom.  And again today I was wearied and exhausted by the truth that I will go on missing her this way for all the rest of my life.  I have written here ad-nauseum about all the ways and reasons I miss her:  her wisdom and advice, her presence in my life, and in my children’s lives, her humor, and on and on…  I miss her.  And that just isn’t going to stop.  Some people would tell me that it should, but all I can tell them is that it won’t.  That missing is a much a part of me now as the joy that washes over me each morning when my children greet the new day with radiant smiles and kisses for Mommy. 

I still contend that the timing of my loss was unique…. was complicated.  It’s always unique and complicated.  But as 50+ people shared with me in the comments about losing a parent in early adulthood, it’s almost as though something developmental goes a little nutty.  I am still feeling the ripples of losing her when I did.  I was talking just today with a friend about how it seems that since dealing with losing Mom–her sickness, and death–I just don’t feel like I have it all together.  Ever.  I think part of that is my personality.  Part of it is the scatter-brained nature of Mommy-brain.  But I can’t help but wonder if part of it is this ripple effect that I’m still feeling from my Mom’s death.  My relationship with time is a little off.  My follow-through on communications and projects somehow gets left dangling over and over and over again. 

Some might disagree with me, but I feel that I am in a place of acceptance in my grief.  This is what it is.  Life has moved on in many, many ways.  I can’t go back.  I know this.

But something about this shattering of how I anticipated my life to look for much further into adulthood…  Something about the picture I had in my head 5 years ago of life as a mother with children, as life as a woman experiencing life…  Something about what I anticipated to go on for longer as a daughter of this wonderful woman…  Something about all of that keeps me off-balance.  The loss and the subsequent derailing of so many of my previously unknown expectations leaves me floundering in ways that I can’t even quite express.  They came at such a pivotal time. Just as everything was being built…  Just as I was piecing together what my life was going to look like as ‘a grownup’…  As I was putting together some pivotal pieces of the foundation of the rest of my life, one piece of the puzzle was thrown out…  I just still feel off-balance, off-kilter. 

But there is value in the tension.  There is value in knowing that security should not come from my expectations of how life will look.  My heart is different.  My lense for looking at life is altered.  I’m grateful to have come through the loss of my Mom.  I’m grateful to keep going.  I’m grateful that she gave me the strength to do so.  I’m grateful that I know a bit more about the depth of hurt and loss in this life.  I am grateful for the broken pieces of me that are gaining strength in their mending. 

The ripples of my loss go on.  They always will.  I continue to find new ones–some silly, some ridiculous, some deep and painful still. 

But I go on too.  One foot in front of the other.  Trying to make my Mom proud.  Trying to be like her often, but also trying to find the ways I am not like her–to embrace, and accept those…  and often, to be relieved in them.   I guess in those ways, I’m just like any other daughter, huh?  The ripples will continue, and I’ll continue wading through them.  Maybe I will always be a little ‘off.’  Or maybe in facing down the deepness of loss, I’ll become a bit more whole. 

The missing of her will go on.  The ripples will go on.  But most importantly, I will too.