Sunshine and Rain.

photo via flickr
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It takes both the sun and the rain to make a rainbow.

-author unknown.

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I should preface this post:

1.  I’m going to discuss a subject that now the clouds have lifted, I find slightly embarrassing.

2.  Writing is my version of therapy.  Words {lots of them} hold me by the hand as I work through a tangle of feelings and thoughts.  These words have been written and rewritten over many days and still seem jumbled.  It took months to realize the subject I was writing about.  Then my pride got in the way and I’d delay hitting the publish button.  After all, it’s pretty hard to give the impression of a perfectly happy life when discussing postpartum depression.

3.   I have this teeny-tiny habit of being *slightly* dramatic.  But this was real.  Even though I told myself countless times to “snap out of it” I couldn’t.  My dreary days and breakdowns – silly and serious – were my reality.

4.  I’m still one foot in, another out.  But I have been exposed, my flaws so carefully hidden, revealed.  Growth often hurts, but makes us stronger.

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I’m a “glass is half full” sort of gal.

The glass has been half empty.

Yuck.

I like to see the good in things – the big and little pieces that come together to make simple days extraordinary.  But during the last few months I’ve felt uneasy.  A blanket of calm and peace accompanied baby bliss, gave way to baby blues, which gave way to a funk that made itself at home.

I’d have a good day here and there, utilizing my best “fake it ’till you make it” routine.  Often it would work and I would have a string of good days.  Yet…

What was my problem?  Was it the winter weather?  Did I need to order one of those special lights from Costco?

It was tricky navigating the “mother of three boys under age four” waters.  Adding to the storm, one of them cried all the time.   Another has “special needs.”  And of course there was that whole “no sleep for almost six months in a row” thing.

Where did I go wrong?  Wasn’t this what I wanted?  I’d carefully plotted things out for our family.  Husband.  Babies.  Life.  And yet this “mother going through the motions” was not a part of the plan.

I told myself to pull it together.  For heaven’s sake I had given birth to a perfect and healthy baby boy.  Enough already.

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I’m still not sure why I was so blindsided by this.  One would assume that the majority of postpartum funk I’ve experienced in my life occurred after Charlie was born.  I’m certain those days happened, but in all honesty I don’t remember.  Those early weeks were a whirlwind of appointments, visitors, dinner deliveries, and “playing house.”  I was intentionally going through the motions.  It’s called survival.  My “plan” was to slowly process my emotions while “doing,” rather than being hit by a Mack truck all at once.  Ah, to be so naive.

I often walk the line wondering what is “too much” to share.  This is the place where I come to honestly share the beautiful moments of our family life.  Yet I’ve come to the conclusion that if I didn’t include this and the other not so shiny parts, I would be leaving out details that good or bad, have shaped and molded us {me} into who we are today.  What I am writing about today has to do with me – not my children, or husband.  This my story.  A broken girl, living in a broken world trying to muddle her way through some deep “stuff” while still believing that in brokenness, there is hope.

So here it goes…

I found myself in over my head, fighting battles I though I had long since won.  They blinded me like the sun and for some reason at the most unexpected times, I found myself staring at the fiery star.

I cried.  I was petrified.  What were we thinking having another baby?  Charlie is still a baby!  I can’t do this.

But I did.  I would load up the kids, pick up Henry at school, run errands with Charlie and William, run board meetings, make lunches, wipe noses, help little feet into pajamas, brush teeth, go on “dates” with Alex, and spend time with family and friends. 

Maybe I could do this.

We were doing this.  We were going to be OK.

Then came the anger.  I questioned my Jesus. Why did Charlie have Down syndrome? Why was William born healthy?  I was mad.  Then sad.

Followed by the “what-ifs.”  What if we just had two boys…

I truly thought I had “dealt” with those feelings and was upset for dredging them up.  I discovered that I need to be patient with myself.  That with each milestone life brings, these feelings will probably crop up.

This isn’t a reflection of my feelings for Charlie.  I would never change a single thing that makes him who he is.  It’s an act of letting go.  Letting go of the script *I* had written for my life and embracing the one that was written for me, by the One who knows me.  I’m still loosening my grip.

Then came the exhaustion.  It was like nothing I had experienced.  Round and round I went, making myself dizzy.

I don’t think I’m doing this whole mom thing right.  I’ve needed so much help.  Maybe I’m not cut out for this.

The real me doesn’t think like this.  I’m confident.  I don’t question my parenting, or the decisions I’ve made for my children.  I know I can do this.

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Alex has been so good.  He is an amazing father and husband.  Together, careful with each step we learned to maneuver life with our growing family, but eventually we became weary and clumsy.  Yet carefully, layer by layer, we added more love, patience and understanding to our lifetime together.

There were pictures.  Three little boys smiling.  Having fun.  Celebrating life.  We were together – baking, doing a project, making silly faces.  I took so many pictures of my boys.  Proof – they were happy.  That while I was barely keeping my head above water, they were blissfully unaware.  That life went on, and it was good.

I realized this was more than just “one bad day after another” when I stopped baking.  No baked goods in our house is a red flag that something is wrong.

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Last week was good – small meltdown in Anthropologie excluded.

The storm has let up, maybe even passed.  I question why it stayed so long.  Perhaps I was walking along with it, caught up in my own rain?

I see glimmers of His truth and hope.  I could continue to believe the dark reasoning that it’s up to me to figure this out on my own.  Or I can trust that I was made in His image for a time such as this and receive His grace and mercy.  I am stubborn.  He is patient.

The sun was shining and I went walking with Charlie and William.  My babies were bundled up in an assortment of coats, fleece buntings, hats and blankets.  It felt good to stretch my legs and breathe in the fresh air.

I danced while making lunch for the boys.  Charlie and Henry giggled and clapped at the sight of their silly mommy.  I used to always make up dances for my favorite audience.  Somewhere along the way I stopped.  Today we danced.

There are chocolate chip cookies and bran muffins sitting on the kitchen counter.

Yesterday it rained.  Today is sunny.

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14 thoughts on “Sunshine and Rain.

  1. Oh, Libby, I wish I could reach through this darn computer screen and give you a huge hug! Thank you for being real and honest because, in all honesty, the picture you were painting of being a perfectly blissful mother was making me think I was not such a great one. Now I see that even the greatest moms (which you are) have some tough days (or months) too. Your willingness to share and be vulnerable is healing for you and for others who read your words.

    I have experienced many of the same feelings you have and am thankful you put them in writing.

    In His love and grace,
    Danielle

  2. Libby, I am so sad to know that this has been such a difficult season for you (though you have alluded to it here). I am so thankful for your perspective. I am so thankful that the sun is starting to peek through, creating a rainbow sprinkled with kitchen dances and freshly baked yummies on the counter (you really are a girl after my own heart!). I am so thankful that you are sharing your heart…your three boys are so very blessed to call you “mama”. xoxo

  3. Libby, you should have put a disclaimer on this that read, “ANGELA: YOU’RE ABOUT TO GIVE BIRTH TO YOUR THIRD BOY. YOU WILL HAVE THREE BOYS AGES FOUR AND UNDER. ONE OF THEM HAS DOWN SYNDROME. DO NOT READ THIS RIGHT NOW.”

    LOL! Just kidding..

    It actually helps for me to read this so that when (not if) I go NUTS in about a month, I will know I’m not crazy, and that it *does* get better.

    Thank you for your honesty. :)

  4. You have given words to the pain, joy, upheaval, contentment that mothers of three.. or one… or six experience with their brood.

    By sharing your conflict within yourself, you breathe pure oxygen into the lives of those who can not find the words.

    Thank you for that….. and now- just take a day for yourself, it will feel like a week- don’t spend it with anyone else- get a hotel, go for a one day retreat- or just wander about in the city, visit a museum, or ????then come home late… way after those beautiful boys are sleeping… life is a marathon……

  5. Libby – Thank heaven I am not alone! I so understand your feelings and thank you for sharing them. I find it amazing that your words always reach me when I am having the weakest moments. Your writing is an encouragement even when you write about the hard stuff. Know you are loved by many! Praying for peacefulness and sleep in your days ahead! XO Lara

  6. Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and absolutely love reading about your family. Thanks for sharing your honest feelings, and know that most of us moms have blue feelings too. I’m a mom of two boys, a 3 1/2 yr. old and a 2 year old boy (who has DS), and we are contemplating having another baby. I love reading about your days and how you manage through the craziness of life with three. You are such a wonderful mother to those beautiful boys and an inspiration to me!

  7. I sincerely enjoyed reading this post – not that Im happy that you have been going through all of this, but rather that you were brave enough to make yourself so transparent. It is an encouragement to me, as a mother, that no matter what it looks like from the outside, not everyone has it all together – that Im normal….

    Wish I could give you a hug and come over for some cookies…. sounds yummy!

  8. Libby, I love reading your blog, you are such an amazing writer. It’s fun to see what you and your family have been up to. I am a terrible writer so bear with me. When I read your blog last night I could not believe it, but my devotion yesterday was titled “Asking Why” The main point of it was that of all questions, this is the most searching, the most tormenting, It accompanies every tragedy. Shall we accept only good from God and never adversity? In this devotion the example they talked about was with Job, he grabbed on to one great principle: God is too kind to do anything cruel….too wise to make a mistake….too deep to explain himself. The last statement made was “When we know Who, we can stop asking “Why?” The scripture for the devotion was Job 2:9-10 I hope this gives you some encouragement, I just thought it was too coincidental that my devotion happened to be on the same subject you wrote on. Being a mom is by far the hardest job ever, no one talks about the struggles before you have kids, that you for sharing so honestly. I hope you are getting some rest. :Tami

  9. Oh my dear Libby, those are such beautiful thoughts… you are a beautiful person. Things will carry on well in your life, there’ll be some wonderful moments, there’ll some not-so-great times, but you will pull through. You are doing great so far, things will only get better.
    You are such an inspiration to all us moms, keep smiling…
    Here’s wishing you all the sunshine, all the rainbows…

  10. Dearest Libby. part of my “healing” – and not just about Sam having Down Syndrome – but life – has been writing on my own blog as well. Truthfully, honestly, sometimes painfully so. I often wonder if I may be the only one who has these feelings and then I see, and notice, that I am not.

    I love coming on here and taking some time out to read about your many tasks, your beautiful family, your thoughts. It makes me smile.

    But I love your honesty. I love that even though you are blessed and filled with so much, you have those moments, those rainy days, and you write. Not because I want you to have those days but because I realize that we are all human.

    I hope some of this makes sense Libby.. I want to thank you for your post.

    Hang in there. I have only recently truly started to appreciate the rain as well…..

    Sari

    p.s. could I repost your post on my blog..?

  11. Hi again Libby,
    I’ve written once before…. but you made me cry this am. Like I haven’t been wanting to acknowledge/admit what is going on in my life… So how did you get back into the sun? And how do you know you are there for more than a day? I feel like I’m trying so hard… and I know it is God’s strength not my own that I need to rely on but don’t really know what to do…
    Appreciate you, Mari

  12. I’m just catching up on all of the posts (terribly behind, I know). I admire your honesty. And I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one that still questions “why? why her? why us?” sometimes. Your family is beautiful and I just want to say thank you for sharing all of it, the good and the not-always-so-good.

  13. Just like you said – I think this is what makes us grow…sunshine and rain. In life, sometimes you can only appreciate real joy when you have endured real sorrow. Feel all of it – without fear. I think we all need to embrace it and be good to ourselves.

    Beautiful post as always!
    Margaret

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