On a Brighter Note; Play Group and Broken Babies

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So it’s been a hot second since I’ve been in touch. I’ve crafted countless posts in my heart and in my mind in the past year, but they haven’t made it to this page. Why is that? Because you can’t stop to describe the waves that are overcoming the boat, when you are busy bailing out the water. Because writing from scars is so much more effective and healing than trying to tape back up, and tuck back in the gaping, oozing wounds that are still too raw to touch.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the play group days. At the time, I had convinced myself that I had officially “arrived”. I was straight up adulting, because I not only brought two beautiful babies into this world, but I somehow managed to get my postpartum craziness out the door twice a week, with those little miracles (born 22 months apart) in tow. And if you know me, you know both of my babies were born broken. Bro-KEN. Beautiful and precious as can be, but kid you not – if their eyes were open, they were not just crying, but SCREAMING. So this was solid gold stellar at play group, not if, but WHEN my little miracle woke up. Oh and by the way, my oldest sweet cherub had a bit of a feeding/swallowing disorder as a toddler, so if you offered her food, the mere thought would cause her to vomit. And we all know how popular snacks are at play group. So baby brother is screaming louder than a firetruck in a parade, and darling, older sister is yacking on the carpet and maybe even on a buddy, for seemingly no good reason. Awesome. Is she coming down with something? Choking? Nope – just an added little feature that required field trips to Mary Free Bed for Occupational Therapy, and produced enough self-doubt and frustration as a parent to fuel a guilt trip around the world. Twice. So, in other words, we were the popular ones at play group.

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To make matters worse, I quickly discovered that when other play group moms asked “how are you”, they actually DIDN’T want a detailed description of the last 3 sh#% sandwiches life had served up. Rather, I was supposed to smile, and lie through my teeth that life had never been better. Living the dream, sharing the vision, right!? Except you can have that “dream,” especially when you add to it, a spouse that worked long hours in law enforcement and no family close by to provide respite after long days of colic and toddler temper tantrums. And it wasn’t exactly easy to find a babysitter (not that that was realistic to afford often on one income) for a colicky infant that even *I* struggled to not throttle. Those were some of the loneliest, most isolating and challenging years of my life. I remember leaning on my girlfriends who were in the same stage of life, but somehow feeling like my situation was different, because I had the “difficult” babies. And there was a good chance my house actually looked like we lived there, because I could barely keep up with the laundry and diapers and yack piles, let alone keep a spotless house.

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This stress took it’s toll on all of my relationships. I constantly existed close to tears, and complained excessively about the whole situation. It wasn’t an uncommon scene to find me bawling on my kitchen floor next to a tantruming toddler, while holding a screaming baby. But the pivotal moment was when one of my closest friends told me that I really might need more help than she (or anyone else for that matter) was able to give me. I’m sure the intention was good, and came from a place of genuine concern, but the statement cut so deep, that it took my breath away and just pushed me further into the abyss of loneliness and despair. My crazy was sticking out, and if I could just tuck it back in, that would be great.

Fast-forward almost 10 years later, when I was going through another very difficult time (they happen to all of us). I went out with some girlfriends and we were catching up and talking about life, and I made the mistake of being blatantly honest again. I described what I was feeling and then admitted that there had been times recently when I wanted to just drive my car into a ditch.You can imagine that little nugget of truth paired well with the chips and salsa!? In fact, it went so well, that the response I received went a little something like…”On a brighter note…” Not unlike my days at play group, I wanted to “magic myself invisible” (as Grant used to call it). If I could have disappeared, I would have. If I could have taken my truths right back in, like another huge swig of my margarita, I absolutely would have. But it was too late – once again, my slip was showing, and no one was appreciating my truths.

My point, besides wanting some cheese to go with my whine? We all have kitchen floor moments, we all have some version of wanting to drive our car into a ditch. Maybe you’re a lighter shade of crazy, so you would stick to riding your Schwinn into a guard rail (ring the bell twice while you do, for a little added flair). But I can guarantee, if you’re human, you’ve met moments of darkness and despair. And in those moments, did you want someone to give you advice and swoop in Superman style to fix it all? NO!!  Believe it or not, I DO realize that I’m not the only one who struggles. I realize my problems aren’t bigger than yours, and that they aren’t even unique. But when those moments of hot loneliness (as the beloved Glennon Doyle Melton calls them) creep in, all I want is for someone to sit with me in the pain, without judgement. I don’t need you to fix it, but please, whatever you do, don’t look the other way, or shame me for having a moment when the hurt and fear are a little bigger than I am.

I can tell you – I’ve spent the better part of my life in therapy, trying to ease the pain and grief even just a little, so I can take the burden off my friends. So I’m not “too much”. I’ve sat next to you at girl’s night out, and I may have shared my truths, causing you to change the subject and look the other way. Without a doubt, I went home that night and replayed our conversation, beating myself up for letting my crazy hang out again. I’ve tried watching your shows, and learning your sports terms, so I can talk about something other than my ditch moments. I’ve worked harder than you can even imagine, to fit in, at your play group, as a fellow dance mom (THAT didn’t end well), and in whatever new “group” my life as a parent has brought me to. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not willing to pay the price of “fitting in.” Sensitive is how I was made, and changing that, would change the very essence of who I am. I will no longer “tuck it back in.”

So, instead of working so hard to fit into spaces not meant for me, I’m trying something new. I’m creating a new table in the middle school cafeteria of life, where truths are not only allowed, but encouraged. Where we save space for you, even when your “crazy” is hanging out. Where you don’t have to be perfect to be accepted. I don’t care how clean your house is, or what size or brand of jeans you’re wearing. I hope you have a big zit on your face, or are wearing the same outfit as the last time I saw you, because that only makes me feel more human and more alive. When I ask you how you’re doing, I actually want to know. Good, bad, and dastardly – please tell me. And after you’ve filled me in on the latest show that is all the rage (I’m sorry but I SUCK at watching TV and I’m sure I haven’t seen it), let’s talk about the things that break our hearts, and the steps we can take to turn our heartbreak into purpose. And in those moments, when the hot loneliness sets in (because it will), this can be your safe space to sit with the pain, without being judged. Life is hard, it truly is. It will break your heart a million ways past Sunday, but you don’t have to stay stuck in the story and in the pain. On a brighter note…if you’re interested in having a seat at this “table”, feel free to send a note to :

lovesavesspace@outlook.com

With your permission, I may feature some of your stories here on my blog, and may even invite you to write your own post to be featured right here.

Saving A Space For you,

T ❤

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