On Fear, Failure, and Self-Care

21 July 2016

My thoughts on this are pretty muddled, but if I wait for them to clarify I won't hit publish on this post until 2017, and in the interest of not going even longer without a blog post here goes nothing.

I've always equated self-care with treating myself.

Perhaps I'm the only person in the world with this misconception and thus this little piece of writing is pointless, but maybe some of you are like me.

Maybe some of you say the words self-care and you conjure up images of tea lights illuminating a bathtub full of rose petals. Maybe you think a book in a comfy chair. Maybe wine and chocolate or my newest weakness Glutino Yogurt Pretzels. 

I had a really hard time after my third baby was born. Really hard. He's ten months old now, and I'm mostly out of the proverbial woods, but I can still see them in my rearview, and sometimes they're closer than they appear. (#pun #set #spike) 

I've learned that self-care is much better understood as: doing the hard but necessary things for myself. I'm talking things like going to the dentist or the dermatologist. Making my bed. Exercising. And on particularly hard days: eating.

Self-care is tricky for me because I'm largely externally motivated (Thank You, Gretchen) - I do great when someone dangles the proverbial carrot, but not so great when I need to make a change for myself.

This is too bad. Really really too bad. I've thought a lot about what it means to be externally motivated, and I've found that at least for me it's closely linked to my fear of failure.

FAILURE is my self-elected word for 2016.

Halfway through the year and I'm no more comfortable with failure, but I'm committed to thinking about my failures as learning opportunities. (Thank you, Carol.)
For me, failure has a lot to do with how people perceive me. I HATE letting people down. This fear of letting people down has driven so many of my childhood and adult decisions. Only now am I beginning to let go of my people-pleasing obsession, because mama just can't anymore.

Here's the kicker: the only place that I've been OK with failure is when I let myself down. If I'm the only person affected by my failure, if I'm the only person I'm letting down, then nobody sees the failure and the failure doesn't count.

Because I don't count.

I tend to live a narrative that is simultaneously self-obsessed (what must they think of me??) and self-neglectful (you're only letting yourself down and that's ok).

People talk about self-worth, and I always thought I had plenty of it, but the honest truth is that I don't always live like it. I thought I could confidently say the words "I am enough," (Thank you, Brene), but I don't live like I am enough.

So I've turned myself into a third person, and for the time being it seems to be working. I'm constantly repeating mantras. Things like:

You're a person too.

Someone needs to take care of your children's mother.

Don't confuse self-sacrifice with self-neglect.

I've been working on this. I've been taking time for myself: I'm making sure I get myself fed and showered. I'm making it a priority to exercise and hydrate. I'm getting up early. I'm even taking time to pursue meaningful hobbies - even when that means I have to pay or obligate someone to watch my kids.

I'm realizing just how hard self-care is.
I'm seeing the effects of taking better care of myself. It's not all roses, but I'm having glimpses. I'm having moments when I'm with my kids and I'm simply with them. I see how beautiful they are, and I just sit with that reality: I'm not itching to tackle eight things on my to do list or counting down the seconds till naps.

It feels good.

Detoxed - The Habits I Hope to Keep

05 May 2016

So I did it. I "detoxed." My last post had me thinking about it, and now it's done.

Ten days of no sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, caffeine (!!).

Ten days of early rising and nightly epsom salt baths. I oil pulled and did honey masks and dry brushed my skin and kept a gratitude journal. I never skipped my vitamins and got a lot of extra fiber. I've wanted to do something like this for a long time. The only other time I tried a protocol like this I lasted for about 18 hours before I crumpled onto the couch and Jacob force-fed me some toast.

It started out with a two day caffeine headache. And the morning of day three I was completely shaky and nauseated until Jacob made me my very elaborate smoothie and I got my blood sugar back up.
He refused to make it again and said something about wanting to support this "experience" but not wanting to be my sherpa. Fair enough.

After the awful Day 3, I upped my starchy vegetable intake and did better. After I got over the initial headaches and general aches, I just felt kinda normal. I don't know what I expected: maybe to bolt out of bed in the mornings and do jumping jacks to the bathroom or something?

But I felt good about myself - I was proud of myself - and I liked that.

Anyhooo. Here are some of the practices from the ten days that I want to keep up.

Oil Pulling
I've oil pulled on and off throughout the years. My teeth tend to be sensitive, and they're noticeably less sensitive when I'm oil pulling. I've been doing intermittent oil-pulling for the past couple months, but on the detox I didn't miss a day. I would get up, get my spoonful of oil, and swish while I went about my morning routine. I just went to the dentist on Monday and wanna know something: NO CAVITIES. Every time I've gone do the dentist since having babies I've had between 2-4 new cavities. This time: none. I even had him double check the two teeth my last dentist said had cavities that I didn't have filled. Nada.

So maybe you're not a believer, in which case, please don't cramp my placebo.

Dry Skin Brushing
I love dry skin brushing. (I use this brush.) My skin feels so much softer when I'm doing it regularly. The naturophiles make a lot of claims about dry skin brushing - some even involving cellulite. I never believed this, but now that I've been doing it pretty regularly, I'm just gonna cross all my fingers and say...maybe?

Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk is straight fiber. I purchased it in a powder form and for the whole ten days, I took an extra ~500mg throughout day mixed in water. It doesn't taste great, and downing a glass of gelatinous muck isn't fun, but...let's just say... on the southside it's great. I didn't have any complaints before, but now...I didn't know what I was missing.

Omega 3 Daily
My eyes have been dry in the morning for the last month or so, and my optometrist said Omega 3s. In the past I've only taken them while I'm pregnant, but the detox got me back on board, and it's already helping a lot. I take this one.

More Nuts and Seeds in my Smoothies
Traditionally, I only make smoothies in the summer and when I do they taste like milkshakes. I throw in some spinach and call it good even though it's a sugar bomb. During the detox I had a daily powerhouse of a smoothie with berries, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, flax, chia, hemp and avocado. We have a Vitamix which creamed everything right up, and I did find it carried me really well all morning.

Taking Baths the Right Way at the Right Time
I'm not really a bath person. I find them kind of a hassle. But I got into the nightly bath during the detox. Not the bath part so much, but the things that surrounded it.

1) I would draw the bath for myself first, swish the epsom salts around, add a little essential oil. Then I would go change into a robe, and waltz into the bathroom like someone else had drawn me a bath and I could just slip in. Decadence is in the detail.

2) After the bath, I would put fresh pjs on and crawl into bed. I'm the type that wears the tank top I've had on all day instead of pajamas, and I pretty much always seems to have spit up or drool on me, so this whole being clean and having clean clothes and crawling into clean sheets was really awesome.

Ditching my Phone at Night
I've been meaning to get off screens at night for such a long time, and now I'm finally in the swing of it. While I'll still watch TV with Jacob, I've tried not to to read on screens at night. I have no idea if this is helping me sleep because I still have a baby that wakes up a lot, but I know it helps my heart. I do better if I don't lull myself to sleep with online articles and instead open up my:

Gratitude Journal
I've started journaling. Good ole fashioned hand written journaling. Sometimes I'll write for awhile, but usually I'll just list a few things from the day that I am grateful for, then examination-of-conscience style, I'll jot down the things I wish I'd done better, and end with some positive self-talk as I remember what I did well. I'm pretty self-critical, so this last step is crucial for me.

There you have it, friends! Until next time!

Thinking about Detoxing

11 April 2016

The two littlest are working their way through Roseola. Roman was a pretty high maintenance little invalid, but Lucy June is sweeter than sweet. She lies on the couch and every once in a while lets out a melodramatic sigh and says: "I'm shick." 

When Jake was a baby, he was so rarely sick. Now that we have three littles, it feels like someone always has something: a runny nose, a rash, a cut we're making sure doesn't get infected. Weirdly, this malady-train has taught me about living in the moment. I want my kids to be well. I try to keep them healthy, but ultimately I can't control whether or not they get sick, so I have to let go. I also can't wait for the moment when everyone is simultaneously OK to finally relax because that moment may never come. I have to learn how to hold a beautiful Sunday evening in one hand and a feverish toddler in the other. 
That said. All the little sickies have got me thinking about some kind of detox. 

I'll (roughly) follow Mark Hyman's 10 Day Detox which is a lot like the Whole 30, but only ten days and with lots of specifically detoxing foods. Hyman is the president of the Institute of Functional Medicine. I listened to a lecture of his about biological food addiction, and then I got his book from the library, and now I'm worried that I'm a little too dependent on high glycemic foods. His detox involves daily exercise and a powerhouse of a smoothie in the mornings and a lot of journaling and reflection and Epsom salt baths in the evening. It also discourages screens before bed. So it would have me commit to ten days of new routines that I might want to implement.

People swear by by low-glycemic protocols, and I want to see how mine does on one. I'm starting to have those lovely complaints like brain fog and dry eyes and puffiness and junk in my throat in the mornings. I'm starting to feel older. And instead I want to feel me some optimum wellness

I tend to turn my nose up at detoxes probably because I'm pretty bad at doing them. I'm really good at eating mostly healthfully: lots of veggies and salads and intentional this and that, but I'm terrible if I have to give up my coffee/cookie mornings and wine/chocolate evenings. Terrible. I can forgo the occasional kettle-cooked potato chip binge, ice cream, yogurt covered pretzels, strong margaritas, and big hamburgers, but if I mess with my coffee or my wine or their attendants, we're talking toddler levels of brain integration and mood management. Once I wrap my brain around that hurdle I'll be on my way.

So that's what I've been thinking about. Since yesterday anyway. I'm writing it here because - as Gretchen Rubin has convinced me - I'm one of those unfortunate people who needs external obligations to get stuff done. And since Jacob has zero desire to ever ever do anything like this with me, you, little blog, get the job.

 No commitments yet, though. Still just planning. [And Jacob's somewhere laughing.]

More JakeTalk

01 April 2016

Even though I posted some kiddo talk like five minutes ago, I just found these in my drafts, and had to share them before they got too dusty.

>> 1 <<
Jake: How old are you?
Me: 30
Jake: But Papa's 30 and he's a lot bigger than you.
Jake: Is he 30 and a half?

>> 2 <<
While the kids were playing with their uncle who fell down lifeless on the couch for ten long seconds:
Jake: Oh shut, Lucy June. I think he's really dead.
>> 3 <<
After biting his cheek:
Jake: I accidentally ate myself.

>> 4 <<
Overheard from the other room:
Jake: OK, Lucy, this is gonna hurt a little bit.

>> 5 <<
Jake: It's deleeeeeeeeeecious.
Me: What's deleeecious?
Jake: Deleeeecious is so so happy it's Mary tickling Jesus in your heart.
(Hashtag catechesis)
>> 6 <<
After introducing him to his little brother, Roman John:
Jake: (disappointed)...oh...I thought we were going to name him El Tio.

>> 7 <<
Jake: The other day on Nana Suzie and Opie's porch, we heard a sound like a squeaky toy, so I went ta go see what it was. I said it was a snake, but Papa said snakes don't squeak. But it was a snake eating a frog whole. He was swallowing it. And there was another frog literally watching the scene while his brother got ate.

And that, my friends, is a true story. I can verify all of it except the family status of the frogs.
Pics from The Rock where Jacob took little Jake camping and fed him bacon, chocolate, and marshmallows for breakfast.

(Jake: But mostly just chocolate and marshmallows)

Linking up with Kelly for ole times sake.

Before and After: Our First Remodel

30 March 2016

Remember once upon a time when we bought a house with two of my brothers and remodeled it? Maybe you noticed that we moved out of it, and I never mentioned it on the blog again? A couple readers (literally two) have asked to see pictures of that effort. Here I go channeling my inner Joanna Gaines and making good. These are some of the original listing photos followed by our listing photos after the remodel.


Backyard Before
Backyard After

 Living Before

Living After

Bedroom Before
Bedroom After
Guest Bath Before
This is actually the after pics of the Master Bath...but you get the idea:
Kitchen Before
Kitchen After

Sigh. That felt good

We are elbow deep in our second remodel project right now, and it hasn't gone as smoothly and we're learning a lot. Like I've spent the last month learning how to solo parent at my folk's place while Jacob redoes the sewer line. I've been a real sport about it.

Happy Wednesday! Hope you enjoyed the pics!

Follow the Little Rhodes

28 March 2016

In another attempt to break my blogging silence: we'll go with the old fashioned what the 4 year old and 2 year old have been dishing out lately.

At dinner when Jacob leaned in to tell little Jake something:

Jake: Dad, you're throwing beer smell in my face.

After Jake overheard me saying something would be a "life saver," he agreed:

Jake: Yeah...Such a light saber. 
Lucy June, say Everybody.


Lucy June, say Everybody.

"All de buddies"

Jake: Mom, what's R2D2 + C3PO?

The sewer line backed up, and Jacob said he was going to check the clean out. Jake hopped off his stool and ran to his room. He came back with a mask and snorkel.

Lucy June, what's your bday?

"Octumble twenty seconds"

Lucy June, what's your bday?

"October two toesies"

After I told him that a certain health food fed the "good guys in his body":

Jake: Mom! There's nothing in my body except blood and snot!

While sitting in the overflow room at Mass on Easter Sunday, Jake turned to me and whispered: "Mama, I love watching this TV show at Mass."
After we finished eating at a restaurant, I packed up the diaper bag, fished out my keys, slung the bag over my shoulder, hiked up my 25 pound six-month-old, and started the long walk to the car. Lucy June pounded both fists in the air and started yelling: 

"Go Mama Go! Go Mama Go!"
Overheard while Jake was playing in the bathtub:

Jake: Better settle in for the winter. You're not dead till you're warm and dead.

Lucy June, say Popsicle

Lucy June, say Amen
"I'm a man"

A Third Baby's First Week of Life

03 March 2016

My, if it hasn't been a few months of totally unexplained if entirely explainable absence.

Three kids.

Three kids has me whooped. I'm pretty sure our fourth kid will be an accident.

We're gonna dive right in with a catch up post just in case little Romie ever wanders through the archives and asks if he had an infancy.

You did, Romes, a really jolly one.

Roman is remarkably good-natured. As I'm lugging all 22 pounds of him from room to room while I chastise a four year old and potty-train a two year old (her choice not mine), sometimes I remember to look into his face. He looks at me so adoringly. It kinda floors me. I do my best to stop and love those moments, but I'm not very good at it.

Ok. Here we go. Roman's first week of life.

When his brother and sister came to visit him in the hospital the first time, I was holding him in my lap, and when he heard their voices, he craned his head back and forth and his eyes searched the entire room. Meanwhile they were beelining for him: Lucy June couldn't contain her glee when she first saw him. It was magical.

I'd never seen one of my newborns respond to voices so obviously.

He came just a little bit early - earlier than all the other kids. I had scheduled a loan closing on Tuesday, but he was born on Monday. Jacob went to the appointment and while he was signing a million documents I was watching all three kids by myself in the hospital room. With some help from Winnie the Pooh and Netflix Too, it went remarkably well. It was stressful though. I held my breath and waited for everything to devolve for the entire two hours.

Roman's early life has had many of those moments. Darker moments. Moments where his stubborn mother doesn't seek out the help she needs and puts too much on her plate until her stress and anxiety start to leak out all over her house and into her relationships.

I couldn't skip the closing even though I'd had a baby, so I was scheduled to sign my name a million times on Wednesday right before we planned to take two day old Roman to have his bilirubin checked. So I would go sift through papers for twenty minutes and then we'd take the baby to the pediatrician. I was not excited about this, but it would be OK. We could do it. It would be fine.

Then Lucy June fell off the top bunk. Right onto her head. My was it horrible. It started swelling immediately, and we were just a few minutes from leaving for the closing/pediatrician outing, so we figured we'd muscle through the closing and then get some eyes on the little girl's head at the doctor's office.

Jacob dropped me off at the closing, while he drove around the block a few times with the kiddos. Lucy was unhappy, but lucid with a lump. I shuffled into a swanky office and sat down in a leather chair at a conference table and signed and signed. I felt like such a body - a fragile body in a room designed for pantsuits. Then there was a knock on the door. It was Jacob carrying Lucy June, and both of them were covered in vomit.

So we expedited the pediatrician visit. We piled in the car. The newborn was crying, everything reeked of vomit, I was hyperventilating.

At the pediatrician's office I tried to settle the baby down and feed him in the newborn area. The triage nurse who was checking on our probably-concussed daughter came over to ask if a suspicious triangle-shaped indentation on Lucy June's forehead was normal. Through tears I shook my head that I couldn't tell. Had she fallen on a lego? She did have a widow's peak. Maybe that was it? The triage nurse patted my shoulder, told me we would probably need to have some imaging done on her, and left me to my tears and my newborn.

Things quickly got better. By the time we saw the doctor, Lucy June was playing with toys and sporting her black eye like a clumsy champion and was pretty much her normal self. He told us to go home and call if she vomited some more.
Jacob had a huge job starting the next day that he couldn't reschedule. So my mom descended on our house like an angel of mercy and took care of everything. My friends picked up Jake for playdates. Lucy June and her shiner hung out with my mom. I nursed my baby and my very bruised postpartum tailbone.

Then it was Sunday - Jacob's day off - and the toilet backed up into the bathtub, so Jacob got to spend the day digging a hole in the backyard to reveal a broken sewer line.
And that officially rounded out the baby's first week of life.

I don't write these things to complain or to elicit a rush of combox sympathy. I write them because I'll probably want to remember them.

Some of it is funny. Some not so funny. I want to write it down. I need me some catharsis or something.

Or probably should remember them. There's more craziness to add to this. This was just week one.

Life is exhausting right now.
But I'm learning how to settle into good moments.
Also, these are all pics from back in September. Roman now looks like this:
Perpetually flanked by siblings.

And like this when sausaged into a size newborn baptismal gown.
Working Caption: Husband leaves room for the Holy Spirit at Baptism

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