Jana Says

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Family

How am I turning into my mother? Let me count the ways.

Today’s my mom’s birthday. I don’t talk too much about my parents or siblings for various reasons but today I have a good one for breaking that general rule since today we’re going to discuss all the ways I’m actually turning into my mother. 

 To be clear, there are worse people I could turn into. My mom is a pretty great person so there’s nothing I’m necessarily ashamed of when I open my mouth and my mother comes out. It’s just fucking weird.

Let’s assess.

  • I burst into song in the middle of conversations. If I don’t do it out loud, you can bet there’s a concert going on in my head. My mom does this except  100% of the time she will sing, even if you’re still talking.
  • My mother will strike up conversations with anyone, anywhere. I do this, too.
  • You know those people who cropdust in stores? My mother is one of them. Also me now.
  • Getting teary eyed at the smallest, most mundane things. Mostly my heart and soul are black but if the right commercial or song or TV character death comes along, add instant tears.
  • When it comes to meal planning, I cook a shit ton of chicken. My mother made so much chicken when I was growing up, it prompted my father to tell her he was going to sprout feathers. I think the husband is one chicken parm away from this same comment.
  • Pregnancy brain. We’re both severely afflicted. Even if we’re not currently pregnant and, in my mom’s case, her youngest is 28.
  • A high level of yenta-ness. My mother loves town gossip and sticking her nose into other people’s business even from afar. I consider this my Jedi training and why I am amazing at clandestine viewing of the neighbors.
  • We’re both huge bookworms. I have nothing snarky to say about this because books.
  • Math. She can’t do it and neither can I. Especially when it comes to a checkbook. Why yes, 8 minus 6 does equal 3. It’s the new math.
  • I spend approximately 8 million hours complaining that laundry is my life. Guess where I learned that?  
  • And then there’s also this concern   

Happy birthday, Mom!! I’m so glad you weren’t born on a leap year because that would be confusing!

Are you guys turning into one of your parents? Is it just me?

On pregnancy loss

Seven.

That’s how many years it took to get pregnant again. 

Eleven. 

That’s how many days I got be pregnant again before I miscarried. 

Six.

That’s how many months have passed since my miscarriage.

Fifty.

That’s how many books I’ve read to keep my mind occupied during the empty spaces when my mind wanders to what could have been. 

Two. 

That’s how many failed infertility treatments I had over the summer. There would have been more except money ran out and emotions ran too high.

Countless.

That’s how many tears I’ve shed thinking about my child I’ll never get to meet.

Dozens.

That’s how many people I’ve talked to who’ve been through something similar (including my friend Jeff). Not surprising, though, because roughly 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage. 

Daily.

That’s how often I blame myself for what happen, even though in my head I know it’s not my fault. It typically difficult to pinpoint the cause for one and I know blaming myself doesn’t change or help anything but yet I do it.

The rest of my life.

That’s how long I’ll continue to mourn. I know over time, like any loss, it’ll get better but it’ll still be there.  

One. 

That’s how many children I have and will have. And I feel lucky and blessed that I got the one I did. For so many reasons.

I know my story isn’t unique. There are hundreds of thousands of women like me. And the fact that we’re still so afraid to talk about miscarriage frustrates me. Because it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s something that happens. Instead of keeping it a dirty little secret, we need to be supporting each other, comforting each other, and being there to help one another through our grief. 

How to help is difficult. It’s hard to know what to say to someone. There are lots of things you shouldn’t say like “Everything happens for a reason” or “At least you know you can get pregnant!” or “You can always adopt”. Why these are wrong and completely unhelpful is a post unto itself. And if you say them to someone experiencing a miscarriage, know that we know you mean well. There’s no malicious intent. But those statements still hurt. What would be more helpful is “I’m so sorry” or “I’m here if you need to talk” or “Is there anything I can do?” or simply just bring us tissues and let us cry or talk about it, even if it might be uncomfortable to hear. 

That’s what we need.

What else do we need? 

We need people to stop asking “when are you having kids” or “why only the one” and my personal favorite, “you’re so lucky you only have one” (yes, I’ve had that said to me. Yes, I had to refrain from launching into a tirade). A) it’s none of your fucking business and B) if you need to make it your business, quit assuming it’s by choice. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. But you don’t need to concern yourself with anyone else’s reproductive issues or choices. Even if you’re related. 

We need to destigmatize miscarriage and bring into discussion so we can get those dealing with it the help and support they need. Just like with mental health, keeping it secret because of shame or discomfort doesn’t make it go away. And I’m grateful to celebrities like Gabrielle Union and Mark Zuckerberg for openly discussing their fertility and miscarriage issues. For whatever reason, in this country, it takes celebrities to discuss issues to make the rest of us feel like it’s okay to talk about. But with this, if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. 

We also need more stories like my friend Justine’s, who shares what it’s like to know you’ll never have a child and to learn to accept it. We’re saturated with stories of people who tried and tried and then, miraculously, they had a baby. And then another. And then another. We’re bombarded with the message that if you never give up hope, a baby is in your future. But that’s not always the case and women need to know that you can still live a full and happy life without children (Note: I’m only referencing the women who want to have kids and can’t. Those who choose to remain childfree have a different set of issues to contend with).

We need people to know it’s okay to grieve openly.  To talk about their losses. To know that “miscarriage” is not a dirty word.

If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, please know that you’re not alone. You don’t have to grieve in isolation. I’m here for you, even if we’ve never met.

And know that your baby, your pregnancy, no matter how brief, mattered. Just like mine did.

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Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. If you can, please light a candle at 7PM in your time zone (I think that’s how it works. I’m struggling with understanding) to create a wave of light for all the babies gone too soon.

 

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Conversations with my husband

My husband and I started dating way back in 1996. Yup, we’ve been together that long. We were 19 when we met and for those who are interested, here’s a quick recap of how we met.

We were in the same class in college. Great Crimes with Dr. Kelly. Steph was in our class. She sat behind him and our other friend sat next to him while I, thanks to alphabetical order, sat across the room (our professor was all kinds of crazy and made us sit alphabetically. So much for that college student autonomy we all hoped for). Steph and Ray, being outgoing, social, friendly people chatted it up with him and introduced us as friends often do to new people. We found out we all lived in the Towers and since we all lived in the same one, we’d often walk or take the bus home together or go to the computer lab (anyone else old enough to remember those?) to work on our assignments. Captions, mostly. The husband and I still have nightmares about those. I’m sure Steph does, too. Anyway, we had our first date roughly 6 weeks after we first met although it wasn’t “official” until just before Thanksgiving break, a month after that first date. My sorority hayride, for those who needed and/or wanted that detail.

And that’s that. Nothing exciting. Nothing romantic or interesting and we definitely didn’t have a meet-cute. But it all worked out.

Back then, we worried about what most couples worried about. Are we eating too much pizza? Which date parties/formal are we going to this semester? Should we study or go to the bar? What is the earliest class we can possibly handle? Should we take any classes together this semester? 

And it went on and on like that. It was fun and pointless and now that we’re old and have been together for 18+ years (married for almost 11 of them), we have much more important discussions. 

conversations

The great peanut butter debate

Him: Can you please buy crunchy peanut butter?

Me: No. It’s disgusting. And you put it in the fridge and that makes it worse. Creamy peanut butter is the only acceptable kind and it belongs in the pantry.

Him: Can’t we just have two different kinds?

Me: No. I mean, technically we could, but I’m not buying crunchy peanut butter. It’s terrible.

Him: But the child likes it, too.

Me: Way to play into my mommy guilt. Touché.

When we run into people he knows but I don’t

Me: You didn’t introduce me. You don’t remember his/her name, do you?

Him: Nope.

All about that toast

Me: Did you just toast bread and then put it in the freezer?

Him: Yes.

Me: Why?

Him: Because I want the crunch and texture of toast without the bread being hot.

Me: Of course you do.

Watching TV

Me: Are you watching Fight Club?

Him: I can’t talk about Fight Club.

Deciding where to eat

Him: What do you want for dinner?

Me: I don’t care, what do you want?

Him: Okay, how about we get burgers?

Me: No, I don’t want those. 

Pretty much anytime of day, particularly in the car on long drives

Him:Did you fart?

Me: No, I did not fart. If it were me, you would have heard it. 

Trying to find the dog 

Me: Is Barkley in the closet? 

Him: No, he’s comfortable in his own skin. 

Texting

Note the fact that these were on different days, yet at similar times. Also, do you love the “no service” message despite the fact that my phone is on my couch? Verizon, we need to talk. Although we probably can’t because I CAN’T GET SERVICE IN MY DAMN HOUSE!!

scott text

Note my Kate Middleton sarcasm and his complete glossing over of it.

 

scott text 2

 

If this isn’t proof that romance is still alive, I don’t know what is.

If you want more, you can read some of our other conversations here, here, and here.

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Choose Your Own Adventure: February recap and March goals 

How the hell did February fly by so quickly? I don’t know if it has something to do with it only being 28 days or if they all morphed into one long, snowy, cold day but the fact that it’s March is amazing to me. 

But with the new month means a new round of goals with Steph, Stephanie, and Ashley and that’s always fun. I love the theme of this month, too: relationships. We’ll get to that in a minute. For now, though, let’s recap how I did on my February create goals.

GoalSettingLinkup

I only had 3–write my 40 by 40 list, write my already done list, and create my recipe binder. Then, if time permitted, I was going to edit some of the stories my husband has written for our daughter. Let me be honest and upfront. I did not do any editing of those stories. They need it, badly, but I’ll have to work on those another time. 

For the other three, I did them all! Well, mostly. You can read the 40 by 40 list and the All These Things That I’ve Done list and, as for the recipe binder, I did clean it out but because my laptop will not connect to our printer, I couldn’t print any of the ones I want to add. I did, however, make a list of all the recipes I want to print and/or hand write and put in the binder (mostly family favorites and a few others I want to try) so it’s a half-pass. 

Of note from the list (only one side is pictured. And I don’t know if the spots are water stains, bacon grease stains or something else)–my family eats an extraordinary amount of foods with ranch dressing in them. And chicken. 

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So, yay for me conquering February! I even started working out again as a way of creating a healthy routine for myself so that’s a bonus. 

Now, March. 

This one is a great topic and one I need to commit to. I’m great at spending time with my husband and my daughter sans technology and I’m pretty good at playing with my dogs, too. The cat is an asshole so she doesn’t count. I don’t have too many friends but the ones I do, I’m pretty good about seeing or talking to when my life isn’t held hostage by cheerleading (and I’m even making friends with the other parents! Who knew?). The one area I do fail in as far as relationships is with my parents, my grandmother, and my little sister. 

I do not call, text, visit, or speak to them often enough. Granted, from August-April, time is stretched thin for face to face visits but there’s no reason I can’t pick up the phone and call or text my sister. I also need to make sure that I’m texting/calling/seeing some friends a bit more than I do. 

That being said, my goals for March are:

  1. Call my grandmother at least twice. 
  2. Speak to my mom and dad every week.
  3. Text my little sister at least twice (I speak to my middle sister pretty often and we’re going to Disney with her, my brother-in-law, and nephew in April so she gets a pass)
  4. Make plans with friends I haven’t seen in awhile (looking at you, Steph!)
  5. Get better about responding to emails from other bloggers

These are not difficult goals but ones that I can accomplish as long as I try and make the effort. 

Now I leave you with an ecard that has a quote I first heard from my friend Marcy back in college and it’s still hilarious

Are you guys making any relationship goals for March? What are they?

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Despite what you think, you’re a good mom

Last week, I was standing in my front yard with my dogs when our neighbor’s dog wandered over to us. It was cold and I didn’t know how long she’d been outside so I picked her up (she knows me. We dogsit for her) and brought her home. Because it was only two houses down and I had no intention of going inside for a visit, I left the child inside, by herself for the whole 5 minutes I was gone. While talking to my neighbor, I let him know that the child was home by herself and I needed get back and also that “I’m a terrible mother for leaving her alone”.

That last comment has stuck with me since then. 

Because the truth of it is, I’m not a terrible mother. 

And neither are you. 

Despite what all the blogs and Pinterest and news stories and Facebook groups would have you believe. 

Motherhood has become this horrible competition filled with unattainable, arbitrary standards that leave even the most seemingly perfect mother filled with anxiety and feelings of inadequacy and also sometimes rage. I suppose there’s always been some sort of competition among mothers, and some animosity between working mothers and stay at home mothers, but with social media (or perhaps just our current societal culture), it’s become an all out war. 

It’s ridiculous. 

I’m over it. 

So I’m going to break some things down for you and clear up some all too common misconceptions we moms believe about ourselves. 

  • Whether you use cloth diapers or disposable, you are a good mother. 
  • Whether you cook from scratch every night or feed your kids takeout, you are a good mother. 
  • Whether your kids go to public school or private school or are homeschooled, you are a good mother. 
  • Whether you bottle fed or breast fed, you are a good mother
  • Whether you have a Pinterest worthy home or it’s in desperate need of a cleaning, you are a good mother. 
  • Whether you bake and do crafts and have endless ways to keep your children occupied or you let them watch TV, you are a good mother. 
  • Whether you have 10 kids or 1, you are a good mother. 
  • Whether you work part-time, full-time, have a nanny or stay home, you are a good mother. 
  • Whether you lost the baby weight immediately or you’ve hung on to a few extra pounds, you are a good mother.
  • Whether you look perfectly put together or have worn the same yoga pants for so many days in a row the elastic is starting to give, you are a good mother. 
  • Whether you’re strict or laid back, you are a good mother. 

 
I could go on. I won’t because the list would be more extensive than anyone would probably care to read so for the sake of brevity and also making you not hate me, I’ll stop there. 

Almost. 

Now. With that said, let me break down for you what makes a bad mother so that when you go to think you’re not enough, you can say “hey, self. Remember that list you read on that random blog post that detailed the qualities of a shitty parent? You don’t do that and while you’re frustrated and maybe not the best you can be today, you’re still a damn good mom!”

A bad parent (read: not you) does this:

  • Neglects her children, emotionally, physically, medically, educationally
  • Abuses her children, physically, emotionally
  • Consistently endangers her children’s safety (ex., bringing them on a drug deal)

 
Do you do any of that? I’m 100% confident you do not. 

Which means, contrary to what the internet might tell you, you’re doing just fine as a parent. 

Being a mom is so much more than how we look, what we feed our kids, and how beautiful our home is. 

Being a mom is about how you make your kids feel. 

And if they’re happy (most of the time because let’s face it, kids can be moody little shits), you’re doing just fine.

So give yourself a big hug and a Stuart Smalley affirmation and tell yourself you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and damn it, you’re a good mother. Hell, you’re a great mother. The best one your kids have got.

 

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