Tag Archives: diary of a mom

debt

by Jess, a diary of a mom

My friend Jeneil wrote a heart wrenchingly beautiful post this morning. It’s a post about love. It’s about what it means to find the grace within oneself to accept help when we need it. It’s about mercy and redemption.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Jeneil and I have known each other for a little less than two years. Despite the fact that we met as fully grown adults (c’mon now, no height jokes please, this is a serious post), mothers and even pretty evolved women, I would dare to say that we met during our ‘formative years’. I don’t think that Jeneil would argue if I said that she and I are both light years from where we were merely two years ago.

I have watched with sisterly pride as my fiercely independent friend has learned to accept help. I’ve watched her struggle to make peace with the fact that this CAN’T be done alone. I have watched her grow. And of course, I have watched her see clearly – as she always does – God’s presence in it all. I have learned so much from her. And I am grateful.

But I got stuck in the middle of her post. I got stuck on the word ‘indebted.’ I got stuck when she said, “I thought, My mess, my problem. Leave me alone to suffer. If you help me, I’ll be indebted and I don’t like that feeling.”

My life is dramatically different from my dear friend’s. Day to day, moment to moment – there are few similarities. But I too need help. I need it every damn day – whether I want to admit it or not. And every day, it is given. I don’t always see it, but only because I don’t always remember to look. Sometimes it’s buried deep in the farthest corners, but it’s always there.

It comes from my friends. It comes from my family – both blood and chosen. It comes from my children’s teachers, administrators, aides, therapists and doctors. It comes from the dance instructor who believes that everyone who wants to should dance. It comes from the researchers who toil in labs and from the waitress who finds us a quiet table in a busy restaurant. It comes from the mothers who bring our story to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and it comes from the woman in the market who doesn’t judge when my girl is having a hard time. It comes from Neuroscience professors who invite parents to speak to their classes and it comes from the man in Home Depot who finds a flower for my daughter when she just can’t handle any more. It comes from the mother at the pool who buys her a hot dog when I’ve forgotten to bring money. And of course, it comes from you.

Today – at this very minute – I need more than I probably ever have. Over the past week, I haven’t been shy about asking for it. I have literally made calls and simply said, “It’s Jess. I need your help.” And it’s been there. God, has it been there.

I’ve gotten better at making those calls. For better or worse, I’ve had some practice. Quite simply, I can’t do this alone. When I can, I give. And when I do, I give big. When I must, I take. I try like hell to do both with grace. I know I often fail. Giving is easy. It’s the taking that’s awkward. Pride is strong.

But what of indebtedness? What of Jeneil’s words I am indebted?

Do those who I love owe me for the times that I give them what I have? Do I owe them for the support that they give me in return? Is there some kind of cosmic scorecard?

With all the respect in the world for my dear friend, I just don’t buy it. I don’t think that debt has any place in her story – or mine or yours. I don’t believe that love – either the great love of God or the humblest love of a friend – keeps account of what it gives or what it receives.

There can be no debt in love.

Unlike any other resource we have, love’s supply can never be depleted – neither God’s nor man’s. Because the miraculous thing about love is that it replenishes itself through the very act of being given away. That’s a pretty amazing thing. What else works like that? As we give it away, it grows.

So to my dear Jeniel – to all of you – I say,

No debt. Just love.

And gratitude. Lots and lots of gratitude.

**********

Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom where she writes about life with her husband Luau* and their beautiful daughters – ten year old Katie*, an utterly fabulous typically a-typical fifth grader, and eight year old, Brooke*, a loving, talented, hilarious third grader who has autism.

She also runs the Diary of a Mom Facebook page, a warm and supportive community of parents, friends, adults on the autism spectrum and some random people in her life who cared enough to hit ‘Like’ and probably now wonder what they got themselves into.

This post was originally published HERE and used on our site with permission.

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Remembering to Breathe

doing

by Jess, Diary of a Mom

images-1

I tried hard to explain it to Luau last night.

“It’s so odd,” I told him. “In so many ways, I feel so incredibly close to this woman, and yet we’ve never met. We’ve never even spoken!”

He’s heard this refrain before – I’d not be surprised to hear him add ‘ad nauseum, dear’ – my amazement at these friends in the ether – after so many years, these true FRIENDS.

But today, it was one of those friends that made all the difference. So I tried to explain.

“She took a risk,” I said. He didn’t respond, waiting for more. He knows his wife. “An emotional risk. She stepped right over boundaries, somehow knowing that she could. She TOLD ME what to do. She sent me a velvet-gloved btch slap, signed with lots and lots of love.”

I stopped for a moment, hoping the import of this was getting through. “I don’t know how to tell you what it means to me that she would do that.”

“Oh, yes, it was very nice of her to take the time,” he said.

No, damn it! It was much, much more than that. I wasn’t going to give up. I needed him to understand why this mattered so much. I had to find a way to explain.

Friends and teachers and mentors come in so many forms. And sometimes one of them is simply willing to say, “I think I have something to teach you.” That’s not easy. In fact it can be really, really hard.

I told him about the e-mail that I got over the weekend from my friend Carrie. I told him how when I’d first read it, I was caught on my heels. I told him how I’d begun to make excuses. “Oh,” I thought, she just doesn’t see how much I DO take care of myself. Well, of course she’s worried; I don’t show the world that incredibly selfish side of me that spoils myself rotten! For heaven’s sake, I just don’t write about all of the things I do for myself!”

I began to list them in my head – the clothes I buy – the cars, the shoes, the cosmetics, the sunglasses, the shoes (yes, I said that twice – trust me, I buy myself a lot of shoes). “She just doesn’t hear about all of that,” I thought.

I forced myself to stop. To just STOP. I’d made a list of all the things that I do for myself and the list was comprised completely of THINGS that I BUY for myself. Ouch. BUYING for myself is not DOING for myself. Wow.

I spend an awful lot of time trying to ensure that my girls grow up knowing what matters. I teach them that THINGS don’t matter. Of course there are things that we need and things that help make life awfully comfortable,  but what kind of mother am I if I set the example for my kids that they should value THINGS over themselves?

I constantly tell them that making TIME for those that we love is the greatest gift we can give one another. But what about making time for ourselves? If we value ourselves, then don’t WE deserve our own time too?

‘Yes!’ said the wake-up call from this dear friend who saw past my line of crap and gently, lovingly made me confront what’s underneath. No matter that we’ve never met, nor even spoken, she knew. She wrote,

… it’s okay not to know. It’s okay not to be “up” and “on.” It’s okay to be pissed. It’s okay to be overwhelmed. It’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to try your hardest and have it not be “enough.” It’s all okay. What is not okay is to ignore yourself. You will pay the price (dearly) which will inevitably “cost” your children. The social worker was right, “Take care of yourself first.”

I think that’s what I’m called to reiterate.

Take it from me … The price of not looking out for yourself is too high. Don’t pay it.

Those neck pains? Address.

The fatigue? Treat.

The tired of being tired, tired of being up and on. Listen to that.

And don’t forget that the love. you have for others, must be extended to yourself, too.

Reading it again just now I was brought to tears. Yes, Carrie, YES! I can’t be the only one who needs to hear this. I just can’t, can I?

We need to take care of ourselves. We have work to do. For our children, for ourselves, for each other.

I went and took a tour of a gym yesterday after work. It’s quiet, relatively private, out of the way. I stopped off after work and took my time walking around. The world did not implode in the time that I was gone. My children did not forget who I was because I came home a little later than usual. I will be joining that gym today.

An hour a day. ONE HOUR. One 24th of the day, I am giving to myself – adding it on to my work day. I’m downright giddy – energized.

Back in May, I wrote a letter to a friend who is new to this club of ours. I wrote,
You will neglect yourself. You will suddenly realize that you haven’t stopped moving. You’ve missed the gym. You’ve taken care of everyone but you. You will forget how important it is to take care of yourself. Listen to me. If you hear nothing else, hear this. You MUST take care of yourself. You are no use to anyone unless you are healthy. I mean that holistically, my friend. HEALTHY. Nourished, rested, soul-fed. Your children deserve that example.

My internal guide had fallen silent. She was preoccupied with three thousand other things. I needed a reminder. I needed a friend to say, “Enough.”

I have no idea how to thank her.

ed note .. thank you, carrie for graciously allowing me to share our conversation. i am so grateful for your wisdom and your friendship.

**********

Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom where she writes about life with her husband Luau* and their beautiful daughters – ten year old Katie*, an utterly fabulous typically a-typical fifth grader, and eight year old, Brooke*, a loving, talented, hilarious third grader who has autism.

She also runs the Diary of a Mom Facebook page, a warm and supportive community of parents, friends, adults on the autism spectrum and some random people in her life who cared enough to hit ‘Like’ and probably now wonder what they got themselves into.

This post was originally published on her site and re-posted here with permission.

13 Comments

Filed under Remembering to Breathe

avalanche

by Jess, Diary of A Mom

**

I never seen you lookin’ so bad, my funky one

You say your superfine mind has come undone

I can tell you all I know, the where to go, the what to do

You can try to run but you can’t hide from what’s inside of you

Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you, my friend

Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again

When the demons are at your door

In the morning they won’t be there no more

Any major dude will tell you

~ Steely Dan, Any Major Dude

**

My sweet friend,

I know how much you’re hurting. I so desperately wish I could lift you from this place.

You’re not alone. Please hear that. Really, truly HEAR it.

YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE.

I say that because I know how lonely that place feels. Especially when the people within arm’s reach don’t get it.

But I do. I get it. I promise you, I do.

We push and we push and we push and God, we push some more, don’t we? And sometimes we have absolutely no idea how we can possibly keep pushing. Sometimes we can’t.

Do you remember Sisyphus from the Greek myths? Poor schmuck was punished by the Gods – for what I don’t remember – and his penance was that for the rest of his life he was to push a boulder up a hill. Every time he pushed it, he managed to get just a little bit closer to the top. And every time he got incrementally closer than he had on the last run, the damn thing came rolling down. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

So let’s review – Herculean effort. Barely perceptible progress. Dramatic fall. Dust off. Start again.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

And sometimes – sometimes – the pushing is just too damned much to bear. And we sit for a moment. We try to breathe. And then we find ourselves paralyzed at the bottom of that hill.

We chide ourselves because we know better than to stop moving. It’s the mantra of this club, isn’t it? Never Stop Moving. So we slap a palm to our forehead and shout to the heavens, “How could I have let myself stop moving?” And the guilt and the shame cement our feet to the ground. And now, no matter how much we may want to, we CAN’T move.

And then it starts. A pebble here, a pebble there. The business of life begins to fall to the ground. A rock and then a bigger rock. The stuff that simply must be done to keep ourselves, our family, our children moving forward. The ground is littered with What We Just Can Not Do Right Now.

And while we try to catch the falling rocks, there’s still this business of the godforsaken boulder. And the feet cemented to the ground.

There’s a low rumble, then a deafening roar as the avalanche begins. And really? There’s nowhere to hide. We duck and cover the best we can.

***

We all have moments that flatten us, my friend. And sometimes those moments are days and sometimes those days are weeks. But when the weeks turn to months and the rocks are piling up so high that they are threatening to destroy us, it’s time to get some help. Some REAL help.

And I know that there’s no easy fix. I know what it means to ‘get help.’ It means sifting through the rubble. It means facing down the demons that you’ve worked so hard and for so long to stuff away. And it’s terrifying.

I get that. Far more than I’d like to admit. I get that.

But here’s the thing. You’re facing down those demons every day whether you acknowledge them or not. They’re riding shotgun, sister. Always. And they’re sucking the life out of you.

Saying their name doesn’t make them real. They’re already plenty real. So say their name. Stare them down. Take back the power that you’ve given them. Release yourself from their strangle hold. It’s time.

You can do this.

First thing –  Step out of the shoes that are stuck to the ground. Walk away from the guilt and the shame. You don’t need them anymore. You never did.

Ask for help. REAL help.

Walk in and say, “I’m ready.” If you don’t feel it, LIE.

Because the rocks don’t stop falling. The business of life simply doesn’t cease. The boulder has to be rolled up the hill. Our kids demand that we be whole and healthy and present.

And we deserve a life. A life with joy. A life with manageable demons.

It’s too much to do alone. Those dang demons are well-fed after all these years. But it CAN be done.

I’m here.

I’ll help in whatever way I can. I’ll even keep an eye on the boulder while you do what you need to do.

Please.

Take care of you.

With love,

Jess

Jess can be found at Diary of a Mom where she writes about life with her husband Luau* and their beautiful daughters – ten year old Katie*, an utterly fabulous typically a-typical fifth grader, and eight year old, Brooke*, a loving, talented, hilarious third grader who has autism.

She also runs the Diary of a Mom Facebook page, a warm and supportive community of parents, friends, adults on the autism spectrum and some random people in her life who cared enough to hit ‘Like’ and probably now wonder what they got themselves into.

This post was originally published on her site and re-posted here with permission.

14 Comments

Filed under Remembering to Breathe