a life with style blog


Parenting with Depression and Anxiety

motherhoodcourtnee4 Comments

This was not the post I had planned. The post planned was supposed to be one singing the praises of a local berry farm capped with a photo of a spectacular blackberry cake! Well as close to a spectacular baked good as someone who is a terrible baker can get. But, the last two weeks I’ve really been struggling a lot with my mental health. And so, here we are.

These are the days when I worry exponentially that loving Rowan is simply not enough. I adore this kid with my whole entire heart but I don’t think I’m parenting in a way that gives him what he needs when I’m barely hanging on. Getting him ready for the day is hard. Engaging with him is harder. Y’all I’m so incredibly tired. Yesterday he asked me if I liked him and it nearly broke me. He is clearly picking up on the fact that EVERYTHING including caring for him is really a struggle for me. And, because he’s a kid it feels like mama doesn’t like him. These are also the days when even though the exhaustion from doing the things I’m supposed to do to feel better weighs me down like a brick, I fight harder. I refuse to let myself sink into the cycle of depression that is so bad I don’t want to get out of bed and anxiety so intense it literally takes my breath away. I know that despite my brain sending me messages that make me think otherwise, I have so much to live to for because this too shall pass. Just know that if you are a parent struggling with mental illness while doing your very best to give the the very best of yourself every day, you are not in this alone.

mornings and messes


Looking for a quick, easy and messy way to spend the morning?  

Like all good ideas, I found this on Pinterest. There were several pins and each of them called for different kinds of paint. I used the tempera paints we had on hand. You also need a bin, lid or something to hold the shaving cream, shaving cream(the old fashioned foaming kind) and the tip of a paintbrush/toothpick to swirl the paints.  

When we were finished I took our rainbow-colored foam and let Rowan have the time of his life rinsing himself off! 

I'm trying to balance our days with structured and free play. This was the perfect activity. There was something for him to focus on but since it was creative I think to him it felt like play time. More importantly, I had a relaxing and fun morning with my little love bug! 

hello, december!


My last post was almost a month ago and I feel like life and everything I thought about the world has completely changed! First, came the shock, followed by anger and then grief. There are those that will claim those of us on "the losing side" are cry babies and need to get over it. I don't know if I ever will. This time a spark has been lit and there is no place for apathy or complacency. And so, as I continue to work and harness my anguish into something productive, life continues. 

And here we are! December. The end of the year and the beginning of the holiday season. There are several things I'm looking forward to this month- some holiday get-togethers, experiencing all of sights and sounds of the season through the lens of a two-year-old and lots of family time. There are also a few goals I have this month- documenting our favorite things and blogging more consistently-are the two that I'm really going to focus on as the year ends. 

slow {motherhood}


sometimes i forget that it's okay to be still. i'm constantly thinking of places to take rowan, things we need to do, classes we should enroll him in. parenthood is a competitive sport these days and it takes an effort to resist the urge to follow the tide.

as he gets older, i'm loving that he's starting to enjoy "slower" activities- storytime in a quiet corner, building lego houses and arts and crafts! 

last week, i broke out the paints and resisted the urge to direct to him. i loved seeing him use his fingers, sponges and brushes to create his own little masterpiece! we had a quiet and creative morning at home. and, it was good.



birthday girl

motherhoodcourtnee2 Comments

a letter to my 13 yr old self on the occasion of turning 43.

happy birthday! today you are 43! i know. there was a time when you thought anyone over 30 was ancient but the older you get, the more fluid the old lady rubric appears to be..

i decided to talk to you, my precious 13 year old self, because this is the last age where you are the true you, in all of your awkward glory. sometime in the next year you will retreat to that place where teenage girls hide their light and become self conscious/hyper critical versions of the person they used to be. 

not gonna lie, those years are TOUGH! you spend a lot of time hating yourself and feeling unworthy of anything. this means many of your choices will be driven by fear. the fear of success,the fear of failure, the fear of being loved, the fear of being authentic. 

you will experience heartbreak and loss so profound that it causes you physical pain. you won't think recovering is possible. you'll doubt your ability to raise your kids as a single mom(spoiler alert: they are AMAZING!) you'll struggle with figuring what you want to do with rest of your life(spoiler alert: it's still a work in progress!) there are times when you remain wholly convinced that you will grow old alone(you don't!)  and even with grief, loss, heartache and more bad decisions than i care to remember, you'll come to this point with very few real regrets.

 because all of those missteps and questionable choices have created the person, the woman you are right now. you aren't the perfect friend, daughter, wife or mother but you do your best to be what they need. you are the person that offers clarity and insight. you are the person that can crack the right joke at the perfect to put everyone at ease. you aren't an artist but you recognize and appreciate artistry and beauty. you learn to love deeply and unconditionally. you see the best in others even when you struggle to see it in yourself. the place you will find yourself, the life you create for yourself is even better than your dream because it is real. it is tangible.

so, don't give up hope girl! life will reveal itself to be a weird, painful, f**ked up, amazing gift! and when you blow your candles out today the thing you will wish for is exactly what you have- family, friends, the love of your life and a pretty badass shoe collection;)    

celebrating progress {motherhood}


a while back i posted our concerns with rowan's speech development. we had him evaluated and were not shocked when we received the news that he had a speech delay. we started a little more than six months ago.

at the start of therapy, rowan had about a dozen words or sounds that we recognized as words for specific things(for example, "nana" is his word for milk).  

like most child-rearing experiences, this process has been not what we anticipated it to be. we have a bright, healthy and curious little guy! our intial thoughts were that the therapist would come in, give some tips and advice. and with a little help, rowan would be talking in no time! yeah, nope.

at the start, it felt like we were making no progress at all! it was difficult to get him to stay engaged long enough to implement any of the strategies and techniques recommended to us. outings with him were a little stressful because he was all over the place!

We soon discovered that Rowan had some sensory issues. He is a sensory seeker. In the simplest terms, he needs lots of sensory stimulation-physical activity, touch, etc-in order to center himself enough to process the world around him. This factored heavily into the speech issues. We needed to really work on getting him centered and able to focus before we could even work on the speech aspect. Three or four months were spent trying to figure out what sensory stuff worked and what didn't. slowly we started seeing improvements. he sought out storytime. bringing book after book over to have me read to him. he would sit and build with his legos, play with his trains, and "talk" to his stuffed animals.

those gains were amazing! but, we still weren't seeing any improvement in his speech. we got into the habit of saying things over and over and over. emphasizing simple words. "up" "down" "on" "off" "eat" "go" "cup" and so on. initially, i felt a bit silly. but, the more i did it the more of a habit it became. our ST is always encouraging and reassuring. she seemed happy with his progress. while not adding any new words, he was becoming more verbal and making more complex sounds. 

it's been a sometimes frustrating and incredibly humbling journey. we are doing all we can but this speech thing will happen when it happens. there isn't anything else we can except to continue the things we've been doing.

last week i posted this picture to instagram with the caption "it's all good until he realizes the buses are not coming home with us" 

we were at story time in a local bookstore and the kids regularly enjoy playing with the toys. buses and trucks are his most favorite things on the planet and i was mentally preparing myself for the scene that would probably happen when he had to leave them behind.

we know ro has an excellent grasp of language but he gets really frustrated when he's unable to express or get us to understand his feelings. so, meltdowns are things that happen with regularity. also, he's two!  i tried to prepare him by telling a few times that we were leaving soon and we needed to leave the buses for other kids to enjoy. and so, he played. made friends with another little kid and played some more. i set the timer on my phone to let him know we had to leave when it beeped. just before the timer went off he looked up at me and said, "bus". (it sounded more like ush. but i knew what he meant!)he repeated it several times! i started crying in the middle of the bookstore and trying to get my phone out so i could get it on video to send doug! this is the first new word he's added to his vocabulary since we started therapy!!  he smiled and laughed! he was so pleased with himself. 

he has worked hard for every sound and syllable. he's been so good-natured and sweet through countless evaluations and appointments. we are so proud of him! obviously, i bought the damn bus!

small victories{motherhood}

motherhoodcourtnee2 Comments

i recall being in the thick of raising my four older kids on my own. it was an extremely difficult time in my life. i felt isolated and alone. i'm pretty sure i was suffering from postpartum depression. i was going through a divorce. i was certain that i wasn't qualified to be a parent and i was going to screw my kids up in some irreparable way. i was navigating life with a triple stroller, three car seats and a booster, potty training for four years straight and diapers for even longer! i rolled my eyes when i heard other mothers complain about being unable to manage their one tiny human(often with the help of a husband or partner) and i had no one.

 a few weeks ago i had an epiphany of sorts. when the ratio is, at least, one parent to one child you're harder on yourself because you feel like you should be able to do a better job. you feel like you should be able to keep them from melting down in the target checkout line. it shouldn't be difficult to get them to eat your lovingly prepared organic quinoa and veggie bowl. bath time and bed time shouldn't be something you dread all day long because the 35 minutes it should take is drawn out longer than the last 40 minutes of the wolf of wall street! when the kids outnumbered me, i was too busy celebrating the fact that no matter how hellish the day was, i got through it. they got through it. and, none of us were worse for the wear! that's not to say that i didn't worry. i did!! but it wasn't something i thought about daily. there was too much other shit i needed to get done! 

so here we are. rowan is 22 months old-whyyyyy is my baby growing up so fast!!!!-and i worry. all. the. time. we just learned that he has a bit of a speech delay. i suspected it but the actual confirmation was brutal. i spend all day with him. i talk to him all the time. we read books and sing songs. what wasn't i doing? or am i doing something wrong? i beat myself up over it for several days because it's what moms do. then i remembered to celebrate the small victories. he can only say a few words but his eyes ight up when he sees me. he gives hugs and kisses abundantly. he'll stop playing and walk over to hold my hand for a few minutes before returning to play. he calms down instantly when his daddy sings to him. he is joy. these are the things i need to savor!

stop beating yourself up, mama. you got this!  

motherhood{making it work}


i've finally admitted to myself that the lack of structure in our day is making my life much harder than it needs to be.  i like to think that i'm a fairly spontaneous person but if i'm being really honest options tend to overwhelm me. i like routine. 

last week was one of the hardest parenting weeks i've had in long time. rowan is almost 19 months and is pushing boundaries like it's his job-which,technically it is. i was grumpy, impatient and stressed out!  longest week ever! i described it to one of my friends as a week of mondays!  i decided to sit down and make a schedule for our days. i've been a mom long enough to know that trying to stick to a minute to minute detailed schedule won't work for me. my goal is to provide an outline for our ideal days will look like and allow myself the flexibility to make changes when needed.  right now i spend a lot of time waiting for ro to go down for his nap and then scrambling during that time to check everything off of my to do list. it shouldn't come as a surprise that getting dressed with a toddler is extremely frustrating because he's into everything! we've already suffered burned fingertips when he grabbed my flat iron before i could stop him. getting up earlier sacrifices some sleep but also allows me to at least shower and do my hair without worrying about little hands getting into the cabinets, toilet, closets, etc 

we're going to test out this schedule for a few weeks and see how it works. 

i've allowed myself time for exercise as well as two different times when i can get some chores done. after rowan goes down for the night i'll have some time to spend with my husband, tend to blogging or paperwhites&whimsy details  i'm hopeful that having some sort of schedule will give me the work/life balance that i desperately need! 



motherhood{things i learned from my toddler}


having a toddler in the house is sometimes like living with yoda. they're tiny, odd and teach you lessons you never knew you needed to learn. the force is strong with these tiny humans! here are some of the life lessons i've picked up from master rowan.

1. enjoy the process- we're big fans of self directed play around here. i love sit and watch him. he'll dump out a bin of blocks and put them all back in. sometimes he'll leave them out and build with them. sometimes he'll have them interact with other things. sometimes he's very content to dump them out and put them back over and over and over. is he learning a lesson? trying to figure out the most efficient way to do it? or how high he can stack before the lid refuses to snap shut? perhaps. or maybe there is something soothing to the rhythm of repetition. i'm not sure what it is but he talks and giggles to himself as if he's enjoying whatever it is. 

2. one meltdown won't stop the show- i'm not really great in dealing with disruptions to my schedule. it will throw my entire day off kilter leaving me feeling out of sorts for the rest of the day. i find it difficult to pull myself out of the resulting funk which colors my interactions with people that day. if you've spent anytime with a toddler you already know that meltdowns and tiny frustrations are bound to happen. the great thing about them is once they're over, they're over. disappointments and frustrations disappear almost as quickly as they happen. trust me when i say that nothing will stop them from moving on. recognizing this in rowan as well as living on his schedule has loosened up the stickler in me. as the kids say #youmadornah    

3. confidence- i'm convinced toddlers are the most confident beings on the planet! climbing onto the table...mom, i got this. reaching the snacks on the table...mom, i got this. interacting with new kids on the playground...mom, i got this. dressing themselves in the most interesting way...mom, i can rock this. there is no task he won't attempt to do on his own. no food he's hesitant to try. no person he won't attempt to befriend. confidence is something we're born with. fear/self doubt/self consciousness are all learned.  

   when i started this motherhood gig i was so young and felt so inadequate and unprepared. i was so worried about getting it all right. it's not that i didn't think they had anything to teach me it's just that i was too afraid of losing control. it wasn't possible for me to absorb the lessons. i love that having rowan has changed me so much in such a short amount of time.



wild rumpus{rowan turns one}


way back in march ro turned one!! wtf! seriously, he is growing up way too fast for my liking. we decided to go with a where the wild things are theme for the party. i hoped that we could have hosted some of the party outside but of course the day turned out to be to cold! so we crammed about forty of our friends and family into the house to celebrate our sweet boy's first year. 

i'm pretty sure i drove doug crazy with all of the details but it was a fantastic day!