I AM Losing My Mind

I had a conversation the other day with my friend Molly about our respective returns to work after our 12-week maternity leaves. I mentioned how I used to feel like I had my life together…that is, until I went back to work.

Never was this made more clear than Tuesday morning this week.

Monday was my first overnight away from Elle. I hated it, but it was fine, she was fine, Jon was fine. It all worked out. I woke up early Monday, drove to my account, spent the day and evening there and then headed to the hotel (with a quick stop at my favorite HomeGoods to pick up some guilt-toys for Elle).

I laid in that hotel bed and had a hard time falling asleep, but finally did (by putting Antiques Roadshow on my iPad and drifting off).

I woke up in the morning and got myself together. I looked in the mirror and realized I only had my right earring in.

Crap.

I began frantically searching the hotel bed, ripped all the sheets off. I ran my hands over the floor. Nothing.

I took the earring in my right ear out and put it in my bag.

Totally bummed.

Those are the earrings Jon got for me for Christmas a few years ago, that I wear almost every day. I dwell on it as one of those things that gets added into your day. Resigned to the fact that those earrings are no longer a pair.

I begin the drive home in the afternoon, from Indianapolis.

I wish the miles were shorter. Literally, I found myself wishing that.

I was SO excited to see my girl – I haven’t felt that much excitement in…I couldn’t even think of a time I felt that much excitement, honestly. Well, that’s not true. I know I have – but I just can’t remember when.

Anyway – I digress.

I get home and my girl is battling her cold (boo hiss) and I’m SO SO SO glad to see her. I don’t put her down for hours — she’s sick, and I’m feeling guilty for having been gone, and I just missed her and she’s so little and warm and cuddly.

I walk into our bedroom and set something on my dresser and notice, ah, what?

My other earring.

Yup, I had made it through an entire day AT WORK with just one earring, pirate style. I managed to NOT look at myself in a mirror (this is becoming a problem of mine) somehow from the time I left early Monday morning until Tuesday morning. And NO ONE told me I had lost an earring, either.

Anyway, I had lost my mind. I HAVE lost my mind.

It was all fine and dandy until I had to go back to work.

And now, I can’t seem to get it together it feels. Spinning, spinning, spinning out of control. I KNOW I’ll find a balance and a way to manage it all – but I haven’t yet.

Before I ended this, I actually checked both ears to make sure I put two earrings in today.

I did.

Ok, maybe I’m already making progress…or not – I did have to check.

 

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Because I’m a Mother

I am among the most fortunate people in the world, I get to be a Mom to a girl I adore.

I say that, because I just finished a major crying bout.

Now, don’t say ‘ohhhh, why, Lindsay?’ or any of that sad stuff. Nothing to feel bad about or to be down about. Other than being a Mom, I suppose, and the perennial feelings of guilt that go with that.

As you may know, Elle has this hemangioma dwelling above her left eye. She was born with it. I’ve blogged about it. We’ve gone to the pediatrician and the dermatologist who have both said ‘do nothing – it WILL go away, sooner rather than later’. The dermatologist assured us (ok, me) that it’s probably breaking up already and that it’s really nothing to worry about. And that the medicine to treat it causes heart issues and the lasers to make it go away cause scarring.

Better to do nothing.

Thank you, experts. We will trust you (at least for now).

Tonight we went to a birthday dinner with Jon’s family. I love family – mine, his, ours (keep that in mind as you read) – and was glad that we were going. I like that we have a life that allows this type of celebration, sharing of time and space and experience. It’s important to me, to the life we are creating for Elle and ourselves.

Jon and I, among the many things we have in common, have the same number of aunts from our Mom’s. Yes, each of our mothers has four sisters.

Tonight, each of his aunt’s managed to ask before anything else ‘what does the doctor say about that thing above her eye’.

Not ‘How’s she sleeping?’ or ‘God, Lindsay, you look great 12 weeks post-delivery’ or ‘Jon seems like a good Dad, is he?’ or even ‘Is she sleeping through the night?’

Nope, none of that.

Instead,  I practiced my smile and my ‘rest assured I couldn’t possibly have heard what you just asked me’ look. I took it in stride. I knew, as Elle’s Mom, that I had sought out not just a pediatrician’s opinion, but also that of a specialist who came well-referred. I don’t see the damned thing above her eye when it’s just us, but when other people are involved, and I see them looking at the thing – well, then it’s in my mind.

And so is my self-doubt

And my racing mind was not put at ease by the remarks of:

“Ooooh, you went to that doctor? I’d for sure get a second opinion.”

I gave myself some time alone in the midst of the party. I was glad to have it. I tried to quiet my mind. I tried to forget about what these women were saying. I know that I’m an intelligent individual, that I have access to better health care than many – most. I am strong, independent and in control.

It’s who I am.

It’s what I do.

So why was I reduced to tears as I tried to get myself together after these comments?

My baby is PERFECT.

She’s wonderful, and happy. Among other things, she is well-loved and smiley and sleeps halfway decent and is growing like a weed and…I could go on and on.

So why am I hung up on what some women who I have known just three years have to say?

Because I’m a mother.

I drank too much wine at dinner because I couldn’t deal with it (yes, escapist, but whatever). The wine – and tomorrow’s hangover – will not have been that good or very worth it. But, I had to do something and causing a scene wasn’t in the cards (though I did try).

My baby was born and it turns out she has this strawberry mark – that she was born with, a la, a birthmark – above her left eye.

She’s happy and healthy and good-mannered and SO LOVABLE.

And yet.

And yet.

I cried driving home.

I cried, holding Elle and rocking her once we got home.For a long time, it felt like.

Not because I was sad that they had pointed out something ‘different’ about my baby – but because I was helpless to it.

It’s a fact that Elle has this mark above her eye.

It’s a fact that it will go away in its own time and that we DON’T KNOW that it will.

It’s a fact that the first thing people see about my baby – my wonderfully happy, healthy, smart, little girl – is the red mark above her eye.

No, AT&T repair man, I did NOT drop my baby.

No, teacher, it did NOT rupture and you do not have to treat her differently or care for her differently because of the red mark above her eye.

No, Aunt soandso, we don’t need it biopsied. It is not cancer. But thanks for your positive energy.

No, stranger at the grocery store, I did not do a thing wrong while pregnant to cause my baby to be born with a mark above her eye. Stop staring.

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Jon says ‘There’s a big red mark above her eye, people are going to look.” He’s so practical. But, our family aren’t ‘people’. I can handle ‘people’. But, our family aren’t just ‘people’ in my mind (though they’re quickly on that track to becoming just people). Family are the folks who hold you up when ‘people’ drag you down. But tonight, that’s not what it felt like. Not what it felt like at all.

 

And, this is just one mark above her eye. What about the mommies and daddies who have children who have something actually, seriously, wrong? I mean, I’m upset about a birth mark and the comments made?! It takes a strong person to be a parent, it turns out. And I’m so, so lucky. And trying to be stronger.

 

And here’s why I cried…

Because I can’t stop them staring. I can’t stop the comments, I can’t stop the questions. I can hope, only, that it goes away before she’s old enough to get the questions herself. Because the staring and the wondering isn’t something I can always protect her from. Because there are things beyond my control – especially other people – and I want SO BAD to protect my girl from that. Any of it. Ever. Whether it’s a mark above her eye or something else.

 

It’s that thing that men don’t understand.

“Why are you crying, there’s nothing you can do.”

“I’m crying because there ISN’T anything I can do.”

 

Tonight’s blog was supposed to be about the joy I got laying on the floor staring up at the ceiling fan with Elle.

About how laying on the floor and watching her tiny little hands stretch out in front of her, clasped, toward the ceiling makes me fill up. About how while she was watching the ceiling fan, I was watching her. About how the precious moments in which I get to stare at the ceiling, doing nothing but being present and soaking in the gift of my girl, center my world.

It was supposed to be about ceiling fans.

Instead, it’s about being a mother.

Elle’s mother.

I would not trade it for anything, ever, in my whole life, my whole world. But rest assured, for those of you who make the comments that compel me to tears, I’m done crying.

I’m in protect mode now.

Best of luck to you.

You have made me feel helpless and hapless – and I will not permit that feeling to be forced upon my daughter. I am strong – stronger than you – and I am standing up.

For me.
For my daughter.
I. Stand. Up.