i stopped writing, because i got sick of saying the same thing over and over.

i wrote something about being unstuck and then, moments later, i felt like i had been cemented in place. STUCK.

what really happened is: it got cold. real cold. icy. for days on end. i tried to drive once in the snow and had a panic attack as i flashed back to the day the snow sent me spinning across the highway, totaling my car. it was dramatic, but also real. i was scared to leave the house.

suddenly, melby and i couldn't putter around louisville the way we normally do. staying inside all day, time just some choppy succession of naps and not naps, pacing our worn out floors like a caged animal, i really lost it. at one point, i googled "how to survive winter with an infant without losing your shit." no one had much advice. also that is a terribly ineffective way to use google. i started to try to curate an inexpensive hobby i could do at home. the internet suggested couponing and online gaming. sorry, no.

am i the most boring person alive? i'd ask myself. how do normal people pass the time? how often can i clean the kitchen counter? why are there so many things i could do that it seems impossible to do anything? i'd start writing. and stop. i'd start yoga. and stop. i'd start drawing. and stop. i'd start cooking. and stop. i'd start organizing. and stop. i'd even start crying. and stop. i couldn't even pretend to start reading. my brain was swimming too much. i felt insane.

so i did what any 21st century person does when they're listless. i looked at my phone for 3000 consecutive hours. i refreshed and refreshed. did you post a new story on instagram? because i definitely looked at it the second you posted it. did you comment on some stranger's post on facebook? because i'm definitely creeping on you and then creeping on that person and diving deeper and deeper and deeper into the black hole of social media. that cycle has no end. and it just makes me feel frantic and sick, but it's also a full blown addiction.

so i deleted facebook. and then i deleted my blog. (real talk: i didn't delete instagram, because i NEED a place to curate my 9000 daily photos of melby.) i just wanted myself to go away. i didn't want to hear all my stupid ramblings. i didn't want to wonder if people liked me or thought i was insane. i just wanted to escape. i needed a break from my brain. i felt so trapped in my own thoughts.

two weeks (maybe?) passed and i didn't even think about facebook. or my blog. until people started asking me if i'd unfriended them. or how they could see pictures of melby. or WHAT ON EARTH WAS HAPPENING. and then like 19 people told me their random friends i've never met really appreciated and related to my blog.

and i felt maybe even more insane.

because i didn't know what was right. because i just wanted to fix myself.

because i do this constant thing, where i try to pretend i am someone different than i am. i try to pretend i'm not going to share photos of every moment of melby's life or pieces of every one of my thoughts. i would like to be less transparent, less of a word vomiter. but guess what? i'm not.

i do need to hone it somehow. streamline. but i'm just not there. i'm still just exploding feelings. and the feelings are always different and conflicting. but this is where i am.

i also revived the idea of wine bar. over a year ago, i said i was going to start a wine bar. it took a year for me to realize that it's not about wine at all. wine is amazing. i like to drink it. but what i want is a community. i want my job to be about community. i want to create a space that's about community. but i literally have no idea how to begin.

i googled "how to write a business plan." i got to the part about numbers, the part right past my address and phone number, and i got stuck again. all i have felt lately is stuck.

FUCK.

the disparity between super loving my baby girl and wanting to drink up every moment with her and also feeling like i'm going to lose my fucking mind if i do it one more second has been really challenging. it's not about the moments with her. it's about the moments just being this list of things on repeat. nurse, change, play, laundry, nap, nurse, change, play, dishes, nap, nurse, change play, food, nap. it's dizzying. the time gets eaten up but it's nowhere. it's groundhog day.

i debated heavily a. if i needed to dig in and learn to be still. that this time is hard for me, because i've lived a life full of distraction and no longer have it and need to learn to just BE. or b. if i am an explosive, creative, dynamic person and being at home endlessly is just not for me. if i'm denying my most authentic self.

i feel like if i knew i were eventually going somewhere, this wouldn't all make me quite so crazy. if it was just this gestation period for my future self, it would be okay. but right now, i'm the zoo animal. and it's hard. and i feel guilty that it's hard. because i think staying home is THE most important thing i can do. but i also just feel like i'm floating in space.

i went to see my therapist after 3 months of absence. another thing i've been doing is trying to not hemorrhage money, especially since i make exactly zero dollars. but without shopping or facebook or treats (because diet became a whole other thing i was micromanaging but that's a different story) or therapy or ever leaving the fucking house, it was just too much. i am not a monk. i have achieved zero percent higher consciousness and sometimes i just need some help or a crutch. anyway, she encouraged me to stop fucking berating myself. she basically said, you had a baby less than 5 months ago. stop asking yourself to be a fitness model and a health guru and a new business owner and a perfect mother.

i cried because i forgive everyone else their imperfections, their being human, but i literally expect myself to be perfect 100% of the time. clearly that's working out great.

she likes wine bar, but she said i'm focusing on what i DON'T know how to do.

what do you know how to do? she asked.

i know how to talk to people. i know how to connect to people.

i am really sure that a majority of the things about me are shitty, because i am horrible to myself, but i DO KNOW that i am good at people. (for the most part. if you're someone who hates me, sorry, and why are you reading this?) i second guess everything i say and do and assume people think i'm a freak, but i also assume people like me. because i'm pretty unassuming and because i've shared so much about myself that i think i'm pretty non threatening.

this is a VERY LONG and painfully stream-of-consciousness way for me to get to my eventual point that's not a point at all, but an invitation:

i am starting a mom's group. 

that's the part i can do now.

i tried to make mom friends for a while (i think i did at least. i was really tired then and am not actually sure WHAT i was doing). i felt awkward and stupid most of the time. i also felt judged. i am pretty sure no one cares enough about what i'm doing to judge me, but i was judging myself, because i am a much different mom than i anticipated. melby sleeps in her own room, in a crib. we let her cry it out sometimes. i don't hold her all day. sometimes i give her tylenol. this is not the attached hippie earth goddess mama i expected myself to be. i felt like people saw that and went home and wrote in their diaries about how terrible i was to my baby.

needless to say, i didn't make friends. i was being too weird to make friends. i didn't feel like i fit in at the moms' groups i went to. mostly because i was too busy judging myself.

also because i really just wanted a glass of wine.

so i'm starting a moms' group that contains wine and the freedom to raise your baby however the hell you want. i certainly don't know what's right and maybe neither do you, but if we're making it through the days, then a-fucking-men.

if you have a young(ish) baby and you are willing to hang out with some other women, who are fumbling through it, let me know and i'll give you the details. because, even though i have high anxiety about what this will all look like, i think it's important to create what i want to exist. and i think that, even though it scares me, it's what i'm good at NOW. and maybe, in beginning that, i will feel a little less stuck. i just need some momentum.

this is admittedly the worst, most scatterbrained collection of words ever. but this is basically what it feels like in my head-- endless cycles of questioning, self-reflection/ flagellation, and anxiety-- so welcome.

i am not perfect. i am trapped in my head. i doubt myself at every turn. i want to do a million things and don't know where to start and am definitely too scared to start.

but i'm going to invite some moms over to my house and wear my imperfection and you are welcome to join me.

dear god it's cluttered in this brain. but i'm back.

on fires in the mountains.

i chose not to write or draw today. 

or so i thought.

it wasn't avoidance. it wasn't a preference for something more trivial. i just chose to enjoy my life in other ways and didn't feel guilty about it. 

until, now, lying in bed. 9:35 pm, which, for anyone who knows me, is far past my bedtime, i laid in bed, my mind racing.

because i saw some translucent red shapes on a map of santa barbara, detailing the mandatory evacuation zones for the thomas fire. those shapes are so close to my parents' house, my childhood home.

when i was a kid, maybe about 8 years old, deep in my emotional turmoil i blindly named "the empty feeling," there were sometimes fires in the mountains. i remember, so distinctly, having nightmares that the fires would blaze down those mountains and engulf our house. everyone would die but me. i was so terrified of being alone. to me, the fires were going to leave me alone.

looking at a map on the internet, 25 years later, that feeling swallowed my whole body. that panicky, fearful, lonely feeling. that desperation to cling to my parents for reassurance and protection.

i immediately called my mom. it must be getting close to your bedtime, sweetheart, she says, knowing why i'm calling so late.

she tells me they were just discussing what they'd take. they have gas in the car. they're getting ready.

i feel frantic thinking about my parents outside of that house. they've lived in that house my whole life. that house feels like part of us-- my mom, puttering back and forth between the rooms, cooking things, piling things, cleaning things, nurturing a home, and my dad, carefully placed before the space heater and his computer in his office, tapping away, calculating, balancing, measuring things. that's where they belong. i panic, thinking about them having to leave, to be outside of their space and their routine. i panic, thinking about my home not being there.

and then i feel selfish, worrying about this in the microcosm. even if their house is fine, so many are not. i feel selfish, because i'm worrying about what my christmas looks like, which has taken place in the same living room with the same windows with the same purple mountains on the horizon every year since i was born. i feel selfish, because of how intent i am upon melby having that same christmas, now, her first year of life. i feel selfish for being so linear and stuck in my thinking. i have ideas and i need them to continue to look just how they have always looked, how i i expect them to continue being. my mom in her rooms. my dad with his numbers. my christmas next to those mountains. that's how it has to be.

i am holding onto it. i'm holding onto it, tight and panicked. i'm clutching it in my sweaty palm. i will not let this go. letting it go means the fires might come down the mountains and burn them up and leave me alone.

that is, truly, at 33 years old, the precise feeling i am having in bed, now at 9:47 pm. sheer terror at the idea of losing literally everything i love. that's how this makes me feel.

i keep reminding myself that they will be safe. that that is all that matters.

i don't say all these words to my mom. i don't know them yet. i just know i needed to call her and hear her voice.

i'm not afraid, she says. this whole thing is creepy, but i'm not afraid.

that voice echoes in my head as i lie in bed.

that's my mother. that's the woman, who keeps me safe.

i immediately picture this photograph that often comes to mind when i think of my mom. it's us in a pumpkin field. i am a baby. i must be 4 or 5 months old. i am curled into my mother's arms, facing her chest, just a pile of baby, totally at ease. and she is standing, squinting at the camera. she looks, to me, like everything a mother should be. what that is, i'm not quite sure. she's just... there. self-possessed. sure that i am hers. she is holding me like i'm hers. she looks not afraid.

that's the woman i feel when she says those words to me. i believe that she is not afraid.

she talks about the humanity of it all— of people helping people, of service and safety and joy amongst tragedy and fear. she finds the good in every possible situation. she is not afraid.

my own baby is just feet away from me now, sleeping. her noise machine mimics the sound of waves, almost deafeningly loudly. she is swaddled tightly and at peace. when i scoop her up, when she cries, she becomes at peace again.

i, quiet woman, 33 year old woman, adult woman in a striped holiday onesie, panicked in her bed, am that person to another living human.

i wonder, briefly, if my mother feels scared and wishes for her own mother some days. i wonder, even more largely, what it's like not to have a person, who makes you feel that way. safe. deeply grounded and safe. like their body itself is home.

i am 33 years old and i can still call my mom, not only when i am scared, but when i am scared for her, and she will reassure me.

she will say, i'm not afraid. and i will believe her wholeheartedly.

in some ways, this makes me feel totally unprepared to be a mother myself. how can i make the world feel safe for another person, when i feel so lost in it myself?

and then i think of that picture. i was so small. her arms held me so easily. she grew with me. she became the mother i needed at each step of me becoming the person i was. she heard me and held me. and she still does.

i still feel scared. i feel attached to a certain idea of home, of holidays, of safety, of certainty.

but i am also reassured that, wherever i go, i have this woman, not only to call, but in my bones. she wasn't afraid in the pumpkin patch and she's not afraid now. that's part of my make up. that person made me and grew me and heals me daily. and, in turn, it is a gift i hopefully will be able to give my own daughter. a lifetime of being held, even when she grows too big for my arms.

for now, i will hold her tight. i will acknowledge the little girl in me, who is scared. i will acknowledge the woman i am, who is capable of handling fear and uncertainty. i will say thank you for my own dear mama, who taught me that both of those things are okay and true. that is something no disaster can take away.

 

stay safe, southern california, landscape of my childhood and my heart. i am thinking of you.

on the two settings.

IMG_4563.JPG

last night, inexplicably, melby slept for six and a half hours straight. half of those hours were during my evening awake time and 80% of the others were spent staring at her monitor, obsessing over whether or not she was breathing, because she was sleeping so much longer than she ever has before and getting what you want is really, truly terrifying. (the other 20% was “sleep,” if you can call it that.)

thus i have discerned that early motherhood consists entirely of either wishing your child would sleep or worrying they’ve died because they’ve finally gone to sleep. 

and that’s about as casual and relaxed as i am 100% of the time.