Friday, December 18, 2015

My Castle In the Sky

   If people ask, I'm not afraid to tell them that having two kids has been way harder for me than I expected.

The original transition to motherhood, when I had Ellie, was pretty seamless. Being a mom is something I've dreamed about literally all my life, so when the time finally came at 23 years old, I barely had a single inhibition or worry. I knew I had been made for this.

  Pregnancy, labor and delivery were a breeze with Ellie. Once she was here my hormones and emotions were all over the place for a month or so, but then things settled in fairly effortlessly. Taking my round faced, furrow-browed baby girl on walks with me brought exorbitant amounts of joy and satisfaction. Getting her dressed, bathing her in the sink, nursing her around the clock, singing lullabies, and taking pictures of every move she made was deeply fulfilling to me.

  When Ellie was just three months old we moved a few states over and made our home in Southern California. Even here, 900 miles away from my family, I still felt I had everything I needed. BJ and Ellie were my home, and I was content with my slow-paced days of walks in the late morning, quiet lunches when Ellie napped, and afternoons spent at the park or library with my baby. Eventually we bought and moved into our first home and now I really had everything I wanted. Baby number two, a boy, was on the way and I didn't bat an eye. My transition to motherhood had come so easily before, what was one more baby?

  When Lorenzo came another baby high accompanied it, and the high lasted for weeks. I was obsessed with this tiny new bundle and drinking in the blessed euphoria that newborns are to me. And a newborn boy? Things just couldn't get better.

  The first major bump in the road came the morning I was taking Lorenzo to his 6 week checkup. For some reason I had scheduled his appointment for early in the morning and was frantically trying to get myself, Lorenzo, and Ellie ready and out the door before 9. I was running late, I was stressed and exhausted, and Ellie, a freshly-turned two year-old freaked out and screamed, SCREAMED about the way I was doing her hair. I lost it. Fully lost control. BJ was here and heard the commotion and told me to leave Ellie with him. He'd go to work late. I got in the car and drove down the 91 crying hard and feeling like the world's worst mother. Total #momfail. Tantrums were a new thing for Ellie. She had had no reason to throw fits when she was one, an only child, and the center of our universe. The tantrum she threw that day, however, now seems to be where the Pandora's Box that would be the next two years of my emotional life was opened.

  I remember a few months after the initial tantrum hearing an older, experienced mother talk about a son she had that was an extremely difficult child. She said people would often tell her, "You have the patience of Job". She said, "I always felt like saying, 'well I am glad that's what the outside looks like, because inside I feel like a raging sea'!" I could so relate to that! Things were ok, and even really great a lot of the time, but often my thoughts and feelings felt like a tempest, tossing violently to and fro. I was stretched with two kids. I felt guilty for the temper that was repeatedly coming out during Ellie's tantrums. I felt fury when Ellie wouldn't go to bed at the end of a long day. I felt horrible that my feelings of tiredness and helplessness and desperation were always channeled to Ellie instead of Lorenzo. I felt feelings that I never wanted to say out loud. Where was my adoration that had come so easily and effortlessly in the beginning?

  My feelings shocked me. I would sometimes find myself throughout the day thinking the words, "I hate this. I really, really hate this." I felt let down by motherhood, by myself, and I felt guilty for feeling let down. I would pray for increased feelings of love for my babies and felt ashamed that I had to ask for that. I just wanted to love all the time, easily, and fully. The short bouts of anger would tear at me, and leave me feeling so sad and downhearted. It's hard to express these thoughts and feelings that are haunting and real, because you feel guilty for feeling them, and you don't want to be misunderstood when you do say them out loud. For example, I still did adore my children, I loved them so much it hurt and experienced moments regularly that were so simply beautiful that I cried, but the feelings of annoyance, and dread, and complete helplessness were also very real.

  I also felt guilty expressing this because I knew my life wasn't really that hard. I didn't have cancer. No one I loved was dying. We had a comfortable, beautiful life and home. Nothing was really wrong , so I felt like I wasn't allowed to say that things were difficult for me. I also didn't want them to difficult for me. I wanted to be good at being a mom, and somehow I thought that good moms wouldn't struggle with the ugly feelings I was having.

I struggled to let these feelings settle in, and to accept them, and then the other day I had a conversation with a friend that changed something inside me. She told me about a phrase that her mother used to use in regards to following your dreams. She said her mom always told her, "Build castles in the sky." Put your dreams out there in the world, and then they can come true. Her mom said that to her all her life, and now as the owner of a successful business, she tells that to her employees in training.

"Build castles in the sky."

That phrase struck me and stayed with me in my mind. Later on, when I helped Lorenzo do his "big jump" out of the car to go into the grocery store with me I realized with heavy, heavy force, "This is my castle in the sky."

I have always, always wanted to be a mom, and now, here I am, a young mother of two. I have my castle in the sky. I am living in my castle in the sky. The beautiful thing is, that moment changed me. My heart was softened and I was blessed with a bigger perspective than I've had in a long time. For a few days I adored my kids hard, and felt like my life might just be perfect again. And then I got tired, and my kids got grumpy, and Ellie told me that she didn't want to be a part of this family again. Ha! Life sucks sometimes. That fact breaks my ultra-feely, romantic heart into pieces, but it is true. Life is hard. Kids are hard. Motherhood is hard. Everything is hard! And that is ok. We can build castles in the sky, and we can have those castles in the sky because life, and motherhood, and kids don't have to be perfect to be beautiful.



  1. OH, how I have missed hearing from you! ;)

  2. I am so happy about this blog! I'm sitting here crying from the beauty and perfect honesty of your words. I love your artist's soul. I love you so much, and you are an extraordinary mother. You're just a real one.

  3. You have said exactly what I think and feel, yet I fear my temper and annoyance are more severe and I only have one child. Being a mother is SO hard and it would seem that all those negative thoughts, feelings, and actions we have are normal, no matter how much we hate having them and are disappointed in ourselves for having them. You express yourself beautifully, I wish I could write as eloquently as you. I'm glad your back in this space!

  4. Those kids are lucky and your castle will always be beautiful bc it's filled with unconditional love.