Oh my goodness, did I just seriously say that? I have a story to tell you.
The other day, I was out on one of my new and exciting dates. I sort of made a New Years Resolution to take myself out on a date a couple of times a month. Just me, my Kindle, some sushi, and my mighty good eavesdropping ears. I LOVE to eavesdrop. There is nothing more interesting than other people’s conversations. I have finally trained Mr. Lindstrom in my eavesdropping ways, and we now have a catch phrase that we say when we want the other to be quiet so we can eavesdrop. “Did you hear about the Monk?”
I was on a date with myself, and I was listening to a conversation happening at the table next to me. Two women who clearly had been friends for some time. It quickly became clear that one of them was a mom, and the other was not. Even more specific, the one who was a mom was a very very new mom. So, her side of the conversation included such fascinating topics as the frequency and consistency of her son’s bowel movements, the length and frequency of her son’s naps, the noises that her son makes, the faces her son makes, and really a general overview of her son’s development and how far above par he is. So… I’m a mom, and I was bored to death. As you can imagine, her friend was desperate to talk about anything else. She brought up movies, vacations, shopping, exercise, and as a last ditch desperate effort, she even brought up her yoga studio “which has a yoga class for moms.” Still, the mom was obsessed with talking about her son’s clothes, his daycare, his car seat, his weight… and on and on and on. I wanted to buy the non-mom a drink, and give her a hug. She probably would have loved the drink, and thought the hug was a little overboard… but really...
I realized: Moms are annoying. I am annoying. See, I’ve so been guilty of this. It is the right of the mom to think that her kids are fascinating to everyone. They are not. They just aren’t. Sorry.
Parenting is such a special and difficult vacuum. New moms love to talk about their children. They are just in the phase of seeing this journey with new eyes and realizing how hard it is and what real exhaustion and true love is. Seasoned moms love to tell new moms about what’s ahead. They have the advantage of hindsight and the confidence that can only be gained with experience. It’s a rite of passage. It’s part of the joy of parenting. It’s part of owning our roles. That said, when I talk like that, to people who obviously don’t care… I annoy myself. I find myself thinking to myself (in real time), “Goodness gracious, I need a hobby.” But like an addiction, I cannot stop myself. Is it that we are so immersed (and rightly so) in this adventure of parenting that we have little else to focus on? Is it that we want to be accepted into the community of parents? Is it that we want to prove to the world that we love our kids? I don’t know, but I do know this: I need a hobby.
I don't mean that moms shouldn't talk about their kids. I think it's necessary for moms to connect on that level. I just mean that we should a) know our audience and b) know when enough is enough both for ourselves, and our conversation partners. So, just for fun. Just for a little challenge. I am going to try to go 24 hours without talking about my children to anyone besides my husband, my kid’s grandparents, and my kid’s teachers (read: people who care). I’m also going to have to find a hobby, a really really interesting one. Is there a catalogue for that?
I can put the brakes on a perfectly good conversation. I know it, because I have done it. In fact, I do it regularly. I wish that I didn’t have this skill… but I do. It just happened last week, for example. I was having a conversation with a pre-school teacher at the four year-old’s school. Someone I don’t know who was talking to me about a decision we are trying to make regarding the four year-old.
Teacher: “Awwww, he must be your first.”
Me: “No, he’s not, but we never [had to make this type of decision] with our first.”
Teacher: (laughing), “Well, what’s wrong with your first?” (May I pause to say that there are so very many things wrong with this question, especially when delivered by someone who fancies herself an expert in early childhood development.)
Me: “She’s dead.”
Teacher: (stunned silence)
Then only a week later, while introducing myself to some other moms as we were talking about our kids, I just flat out broke down. In tears. With strangers. Met by a collective gasp on their part when I told them that our first died of SIDS (I left out our third child, our daughter, Parker, who we lost as a result of a fatal chromosomal abnormality. I won’t get into the extreme guilt I had to work through about not including her in my list of children), and a desperate attempt on my part to re-normalize the vibe in the room. I hate it.
I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.
(Caution: Self pity ahead) I cannot express with words how much I hate that I don’t get to talk about my children like normal parents do. I will never get to talk about my children like normal parents do. Because I am not normal. We are not “normal.” What I have been through is far less common these days than it was in pioneer days and before. In some ways, I wish I could go back in time. In those days, when you had a child that died young, or didn’t live through pregnancy (both of which, I unfortunately have), the rule was that you didn’t mention them. You moved on. You “got over it.” That was back when a) the death of a child at many different stages was FAR more common, and b) we didn’t have the sophisticated understanding of grief and the necessity of working through it and dealing with it. These days, it is quite rare to be in the club I’m in. The club that is full of the greatest people I never wanted to know. We are bereaved parents.
I have been in support groups with these wonderful people, and there is a theme that runs through our conversations… the things that people said accidentally, meaning to be comforting, that instead turned out to be so hurtful. There is an even more common theme: Those comments almost always start with the words, “at least.” Here’s a sampling (all of which I have heard from people regarding the SIDS death of my 3 ½ month old daughter, and the loss of my second daughter at 20 weeks gestation.)
- You’re young and you can have another.
- She was young and you didn’t really know her yet.
- You weren’t there when she died.
- You have each other.
- You didn’t do anything wrong.
- You have [the four year-old].
- You know you did everything you could to try to save her.
- You know you’re fertile.
and on, and on, and on. The words “at least” operate in our vernacular the same way the words “bless your heart,” or “with all due respect,” or “I don’t mean to be rude, but…” They negate the statement that follows by trying to minimize the emotion or cancel it altogether. “At least” says, “well, it could be worse.” There are many other variations on the theme, such as:
- You know, people die in war everyday, and imagine how their mother’s feel.
- It would have been so much harder if she had been sick.
Or my very “favorite,” and a common “favorite” of bereaved parents:
- She (he, they) is in a better place.
I had one person say to me, “you know marriages end because of this type of thing.”
All of these words say one thing, “it could be worse, and here is how.” This is our way of attempting to fix or minimize pain in others so that we can avoid dealing with the feelings around it ourselves. Grief is a whole bundle of big feelings. Many of them feel unmanageable. As we witness the pain of another, our natural instinct is to try to take it away. To “fix” it.
This is the truth, and if you read and understand nothing else of what I have said here, please read and understand this; we cannot fix or eliminate someone else’s pain. We are not so powerful.
So, what do you do when someone around you is grieving? How do you show support without obeying the gut instinct of trying to “fix” or “take away” the pain. It is far more simple than you can imagine. You do this: You walk along side of them. You tell them that you are sorry that they have to feel this way. You tell them that you don’t know what to say. You honor them and their feelings, and you leave your perspective and judgment out of it. You remind yourself that this is their path, and then you feel honored to be near them while they travel it. You can even silently thank your lucky stars that you are not traveling that path yourself. And most importantly, you love them. That, my friends, is the very best you can do, and it is more than enough.
Then I consulted my list and made a label for each spice we had, using this handy label maker my mom once gave me. I love this label maker because it gives me the illusion of organization. Make no bones, though, it's an illusion.
I picked a font I liked (from the limited selection), used italics (because I think it's fancy), and added the border option. (Thanks mom, for getting me a label maker with bells AND whistles.)
I cut them to size and affixed them to the front of each container. Here's where I made my first mistake, I should have used the white tape rather than the transparent tape because once the spices are in the container, it's hard to see the words (you'll see what I mean later). But, live and learn... moving on...
I bought this amazing magnetic paint at my local "big box store that carries paint," it's possible that it rhymes with "comb creep-o." In any case, I was convinced that it comes in a spray can, but I didn't see that, and in the end, I'm glad I got a can. It's a lot easier to control. So, I think I paid about $20 or so for this, but I have a TON left and now I'm an addict, so it's a win/win. It is technically a primer, so it is meant to be painted over. You can prime a wall with it, and then paint a wall cover over it and magnets will just stick to your wall. CRAZY! Even cooler, you could use chalkboard paint over it, and make it a magnetic chalkboard. That's probably the coolest thing ever. But, I just left it plain. The can says that you can do 3 coats. That didn't feel like enough for me, so I put on about 7 or 8 coats in the end. The good part is that you can apply another coat 30 minutes after you've applied the previous coat. So, I just set a timer, and dropped what I was doing when it went off to spend 3 minutes covering the 12" by 24" space I was covering.
(Oops. I just realized that I was using the obits as my drop cloth. My apologies to everyone I dripped on. Rest In Peace.)
I'm kind of in love with it. Now, I want every wall in my house to be magnetic. Would that be overboard? Don't answer that...
I think there may be only one butt related thing that I like less than seeing someone’s butt crack peeking over their low-rise jeans (remember, crack kills), it’s watching a hot and heavy couple have sexy-time in public and play a fun (for them) game of grab-ass in full view of complete strangers. I am not at all opposed to PDA’s, as long as the butt grab doesn’t make it’s way into the mix. Yes, I caught an eyeful of booty squeeze recently. I don’t just come up with this stuff out of the clear blue.
I have something that’s been weighing on me, and I need to confess it, so that I can move on with my life. I have a serious shame crush on Michelle Duggar. Yes, the 19 Kids and Counting Michelle Duggar. I want to call her up and go to Perkins with her. She’s adorable. For the record, the shame crush is usually non-sexual and can really be on any noun (person, place, or thing). I know this, because I made the shame crush up.
Is there a diagnosis of a condition for people who hoard organization tools?
How long before fluorescent lighting is abolished? It was either created by a man, or a woman without cellulite.
On a more serious note, I am so horribly troubled by the violent, hateful act committed by that young man in Arizona this weekend. My heart is broken for the families and victims of the shooting. As a parent, I worry about my own children, and whether or not I would recognize the signs if they were having violent ideation. What would I do? I have to be very clear that I believe that this type of activity is indicative of a serious mental illness on the part of the perpetrator, and unless and until we as a culture are ready and willing to address and understand mental illness, to educate ourselves on recognizing it and handling it, and do away with the stigma that it carries, I’m afraid that we will continue to experience this brand of national grief. I ask everyone to say a prayer (or send good thoughts, energy, vibes – whatever works for you) not only to the families of the victims, but to the family of the young man who committed this act of extreme violence. They are humans too, and likely ones who had no idea of what this young man was planning. They are now, like us grieving the loss of the people who have perished, but also the loss of what they knew of this person whom they love.
Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. Be sure to check out their website, and don’t forget to “like” them on Facebook to take advantage of all their knowledge as THE post-partum and newborn experts.
I have always wished I could hear what was going on in the mind of my babies. Mr. Lindstrom and I used to narrate what we though our babies were thinking, we would prattle on and on as though we were in their heads, "look, it's getting light outside, and I'm still in this cage. I don't really remember how I got here because my last memory is of that nice lady who likes to call herself 'mama' rocking me in that really comfy chair that moves. Maybe she'll come in and get me soon if I make that shrieky noise that stresses her out..." All day, on and on and on like that. With the twins, we get to narrate their dialogue, because we are pretty sure that they are reading each other's thoughts (and plotting against us). I like to imagine what "babybook" would be like if babies could have facebook pages. Yes, these are the thoughts that keep me up at night.
So, I found this site, which approximates that fantasy. It really is tongue in cheek hilarious, but it got me thinking about the fact that we should be intentionally thinking regularly and seriously about what our babies are thinking. I think sometimes we get in such a routine, and we forget to look at the big picture, and remember that in each moment we are sending our children a message about who they are and their position in our lives.
This morning, I got an email from my friend that linked to a story about parents spending too much time on their smartphones. The article featured this onesie. I think I am going to get a couple, for my own kids.
On Monday, I told you that if you asked a question, I’d answer it. So, here are the questions and my answers. I hope that you feel entertained… if not, then ask your question next time (there I go with that whole shifting responsibility thing. God that’s fun.)
What's your favorite fantasy of your children as adults?
This will sound like a cop out; I try very hard to refrain from imagining what my children will be like as adults because I don’t want to accidentally ascribe dreams to them that may not be their dreams for themselves. So, what I will say is that my fantasy is that they all turn out to be wholly who they are as individuals, and that they take pride in that. I like to imagine that we’ll spend functional (as opposed to dysfunctional) holidays together, and that they’ll think that Mr. Lindstrom and I are cool (instead of embarrassing and obnoxious), but I’m aware that that alone is the very definition of fantasy.
What is the best and worst part of having twins?
The best part: watching their relationship with each other.
The worst part: knowing that I can never fully understand or experience the bond that they have with each other.
I thought about this a lot, and I listed in my head a million wonderful things about having twins: never a dull moment, lots of laughs, getting to know their unique personalities, feeling like a rockstar when I conquer Target with all the kids, etc. And a lot of really difficult things: kissing goodbye to downtime, lots of crying, never having enough arms, feeling like a failure when I just can’t make anyone happy, resolving to allow my home to look like a daycare center. However, the truth is there is the most immense joy in watching them together, and there is a certain jealousy (though I’m not even sure that’s the right word for it) that their bond with each other, in many ways, is as important or perhaps in some ways more important than their bond with me.
How do you always remain so positive?
I would not say that I always remain positive I would say that I tend toward the positive.
My answer to this is relatively simple. I grew up with a father who was so negative that it was toxic. I have never shared that publicly before, but it’s the truth. To say that he saw the glass as half empty would be a gross understatement. I am not even sure he would have even noticed the glass unless it was broken and he was standing barefoot on the sharpest shard.
I have had some very very dark times in my life. Some I have shared, and many that I have kept private (can you believe that? There are things that I actually keep private!) I think that at a young age, I saw the damage of living in such a dangerously negative way. The misery it created for my family that permeated the climate in our home was crippling, and I made a choice to not live that way. I certainly have negative thoughts, emotions, feelings, and actions. I am human. However, I make conscious and deliberate choices daily, sometimes moment to moment to see possibility rather than defeat. I just don’t see anything productive about being negative. It seems like a good way to get nowhere, and I’m going somewhere, baby (I just don’t know where).
Can I have your hair? Because it's so beautiful, and mine is so ... not. :)
First of all, thank you. I am still practicing a resolution from 3 years ago to graciously accept compliments. Yes, Anne. You may. However, remember… the grass is always greener on the other side. Also, once you get it, be ready to spend a lot of time unclogging the drains. I know it’s disgusting, but it’s the darn truth.
What was something that was most helpful for you when grieving the loss of your two girls?
There was, and still is just one thing that is the most helpful for me in grieving the loss of my children, it is my belief in the afterlife. Knowing that there is a place where I can hold them again, and even better, that they are with me right at this very moment. This is a gift from God. My belief is that God does not make bad things happen, God is there for you when bad things do happen. God’s tears were the first to fall. Truly I tell you, there have been days (even recent days) when that has been the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a lot of things when I grow up. I want to be funny, happy, creative, crafty, spunky, funky, and quirky as all get out. I’d love to be pretty, tall, and thin… but I think that my genes are working against me. I would love to dance again (and do it as well as I used to, but I think that ship has sailed). My dream would be to get paid (lots and lots and lots and lots of money) to write what I want the way I want. I have a silly dream about having a business planning kid’s birthday parties (I have had such a blast planning my own kid’s), and I also have thought about starting a business putting together Ikea furniture, I have a rare and impressive talent for doing it correctly without the directions, and in a fraction of the suggested time. When I was younger, I wanted to be on Saturday Night Live – I don’t really want to do that anymore, but I think it would be really fun to do stand-up, but only if I killed (that’s comic-speak for “make people laugh until they pee their pants.”) I have always sort of secretly wanted to be a Cruise Director (like Julie on the Love Boat), but I think that ship has sailed, too (pun completely intended). If I had the time, money, and energy right this very minute, I’d get certified to teach Pilates.
What television shows do you let your kids watch/watch with your kids? Do you watch those Baby Einstein dvds? Or Sesame Street? Or Yo Gabba Gabba?!
The Twinstroms don’t really do the TV thing. The four year-old is allowed to appreciate some Nick Jr. or Disney Channel right away in the morning, and just before bed. He likes Yo Gabba Gabba, Dora the Explorer, and Diego. I like the Imagination Movers and I tolerate the Backyardigans very well. I am happy to be over the Caillou days and glad that he has transitioned from watching Thomas to solely playing Thomas. I could get raked over the coals for this, and I’m ready to accept the punishment, but I don’t really have a problem with my kids watching TV, and I’d be lying if I told you that there weren’t days that I honestly left the TV on all day because for one reason or another it really was the best I could do on that day. I feel like there are already a million things to feel guilty about, so I try not to feel guilty when I have those days.
Do you keep in touch with Kevyn Burger? I loved the friendship you two shared on-air with all of your listeners and miss Kevyn's voice at 107.1. Just curious if you two have stayed connected.
I don’t keep in touch with Kevyn. I wish her the very best in her current and future projects, but no, we really aren’t connected at all.
How do you manage real adult conversations when you have kids? I feel like all of my talks end up being about my kids! I listen to you on the radio and admire you :)
This has taken a little practice. It’s important to remember that when I am on the radio, we do a lot of work around exactly what we are going to talk about. It’s not like a normal dinner out with people where you’re sort of left to your own devices to direct conversation. On the radio, we have spent hours deciding what we are going to talk about and how. The conversation is natural, but often the outline is manufactured. I actually have to work very hard NOT to talk about my kids on the radio. I naturally think my children are amazing and mostly perfect, however, I’m aware that to the rest of the world, they are just average kids.
In real life, honestly, I spend so much frickin’ time with these little people and their sounds and smells, that I want nothing more than to talk about anything BUT them when I’m out. Of course, they find their way into conversation probably more than I realize, but when I’m having adult time, I try to put all my focus on having adult time.
What inspires you?
This is fun: music, well-crafted words and sayings, laughter, obviously my kids, my grandparents (they are the most in love couple I’ve ever known, and their wisdom and life experience is astounding), the show Hoarders (I really don’t want to be one), the show the Biggest Loser (I’d like to be one of those), people who live with complete joy, and people who just love the heck out of life.
When are we having a sushi date?
Shannon-san, raishu no kayobi.
To make this private exchange more worthwhile, you will like to know that I was a Japanese minor in college. To make it funny, you will like to know that I had to go to google translate to remember how to say 'next Tuesday.' That's pathetic.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a radio personality?
I would say that the most challenging aspect is the fact that I know that there are people who just don’t like me based on what they hear of me on the radio. I get emails from them regularly, sometimes they even comment right here on this blog. People who actively seek me out to tell me how much they hate me, or how annoying they think I am, or how fat they think I am, etc. Once I had someone tell me that if I didn’t change my appearance, my husband would divorce me. I’ve gotten no fewer than five emails from people who have told me that it is my fault that Brady (my firstborn) died, each of them went on to “educate” me about SIDS and how my parenting methods likely contributed to her death. It doesn’t hurt me or upset me as much on personal level, as it makes me so sad that there are people like that in the world who have the time and energy to be actively hateful. I LOVE my job. I love being able to bring my whole self to work. I don’t need everyone to like me; I just wish that those who don’t would just silently turn their dials for the duration of my shift, instead of listing out my flaws for me.
What advice do you have for a mom who has lost a child on how to celebrate her first birthday since she went to heaven. She would have turned 10. Different circumstances than Brady, the birthday comes in the dead of winter and 2 months after she left us.
My advice for this mom is – do whatever you need to do to get you through the day. It is a difficult day. They certainly get easier over time, but never become easy. That may seem like terrible advice, or no advice at all, but truly, it is the only advice I have. Everyone grieves and celebrates differently, and ultimately, the goal is getting through the day knowing that it will be painful, but that you will emerge from it. (I will say, that many parents like me have said that the anticipation of the date is almost always more painful and difficult than the day itself. I have to agree.)
What was high school like for you? What crowd did you hang with? Who were your enemies? Were you A) class president or B) a super-geek? If A, who did you beat to get there? If B, who did you envy and look up to?
I have fond memories of high school, and I would totally do it all over again, knowing what I know now, and without the homework. That said I don’t have very specific memories of high school or even of college. Honestly, after the trauma of my daughter’s death, I find that my memory of life before her is not very strong. I wouldn’t say that I hung with any crowd in particular. I had a lot of friends who were popular, and a lot of friends who would have been considered “geeks.” I don’t think I had enemies. I don’t think I’ve really ever had enemies. I was the Vice President of my class, and a super-geek all at the same time. I have never really related to the Saved By The Bell brand of stereotypes because I felt like I was equal parts Jessie Spano, Kelly Kapowski, and Violet (she was Screech’s geek girlfriend played by a young Tori Spelling, see, I’m a geek – I didn’t even have to IMDB that). I had a couple of boyfriends (not at the same time), but I never really thought boys really liked me. You know how there’s always the pretty friend and the funny friend? I have always been the funny friend. I had lots of crushes, most of which were unrequited. If I thought that he could read it without feeling awkward or embarrassed, I’d tell you all about my epic high school crush on the guy who is now my boy twin’s godfather. Instead, I will invite him publicly to comment here and confirm what a complete geek I was – this is also a test to see if he really reads my blog like he says he does. I was definitely cuter and thinner then, but I thought I was ugly and fat, so that was a waste of time and energy. Overall, I’d say that I was mostly the same then as I am now, but my prefrontal cortex is now fully developed, I make better choices, and I’ve gained some serious life experiences. I would also like to note that I would have been DANGEROUS in high school with a cell phone, a facebook page, a Twitter account, and a blog. I am terrified to parent that age.
* Funny high school related tidbit, Mr. Lindstrom and I went to high school together, but we did not know each other. We knew of each other (we say “by reputation,” which makes me feel kind of cool that I had a reputation), but we didn’t know each other. We were introduced after college by a mutual friend (who had no intention for us to date, much less get married), and the rest is history. After we were married, however, we realized that we had been in the same Chemistry class. No lie. It’s a good story… isn’t it?
Here’s how I know I’m not in college anymore. Today would be the start of January term, and I would still be behaving as though I was on vacation. Also, what is vacation?
I just realized the other day that I give my grandparents Gift Certificates to their favorite restaurants for Christmas and they give my family the EXACT same amount of money back in cash as their gift to us. Isn’t that kind of weird?
Whenever I hear a fellow parent type say that they know exactly what they are doing, I laugh a little, because they are liars.
My husband likes to watch concerts on TV. For me, this is like nails on a chalkboard. It’s too much media. If I want to listen to music, I will listen to music, if I want to watch TV, I’m gonna need a plot-line. If I am watching musicians play music, it’s just rubbing the salt in the wound that I am not AT the concert and am instead sitting on the couch in my big unflattering pants and watching musicians perform “live.”
Has anyone ever said, “I disrespectfully disagree” or “with all due disrespect?” May I please be the first?
When I was young, as a gift I gave an important young person in my life a “voice changer” toy. I thought it was hilarious. The other day, our dearest friends bought our son a “voice changer” toy for a Christmas gift. I am not laughing. (Dear Mayers, I’m kidding, kind of.) May I also note, that it is not only the four year-old that plays with it (eh-em 33 year-old husband).
Now that I have kids, this is what I call a “dinner party.”
This is me. I almost can't believe it, but it's true - and there are more where this one came from. A few weeks ago, I tried (and f...
Food For Thought Friday is brought to you by the amazing folks at Welcome Baby Care. They are THE postpartum and newborn care experts. Che...
Please note: This post has been written with the blessing of Mr. Lindstrom. The deed is done. Just last week, Mr. Lindstrom went under the...
Pop over to It's My Baby Blog and stand in my shoes for a quick moment. I have reposted one of my favorite stories of early lessons in...
I'm all about icebreakers. In fact, this introvert relies on them because small talk is no strength of mine. Icebreakers come with rul...
Before I get all bloggy here, I have to set a couple of ground rules. I’m about to get pretty vulnerable, and I want to be very, very, v...
It’s been a helluva week. In short, two sick twins (seven month old sick people are not very good at telling you what’s wrong), multiple t...
Brady Judith Lindstrom 3/19/2005 - 7/5/2005 You Are My Sunshine My only sunshine. You make me happy When skies are grey. You'll never k...
More than I care to, I get an email from someone asking what they can do for a friend who has recently lost a child. In the last six years, ...
One year ago today, I was looking toward New Years Eve. This was the day we had settled on with our Doctor for a scheduled c-section to ...