What’s Written on Your Face?

Oh my. Where do I begin?  A rude awakening occurred for me this week.

My face and jaw and neck have quite literally carried the brunt of my feeble stress management skills for the last few years as I work out my frustrations with my perceived inability to do anything right in my sleep.  My nocturnal teeth grinding has been so severe since becoming a Mother that I’ve managed to completely alter the alignment of my jaw to the point that only a few teeth touch in the back of my mouth and my face looks different.

I remember musing as a teenager that I could guess the overriding character of an elderly person based on the way their face had aged. And I was always struck how women, more than men, seemed to physically take on a sad or angry life more than men — way before they turn gray.  My husband and I are still guilty of commenting on women we see while out and about whose faces reflect the appearance a difficult life.  With Texas quips in his DNA, I can count on him to say, “Wow does she ever look road hard and put up wet.”

Over the last several months as I inched closer and closer to 40 and contemplated my increasingly distorted road hard mouth, I had to call a “time out” on letting another day go by without doing something about it. I’ve been barking about it to my husband for a year.

“Look at my bite! It’s getting worse!”

“Oh God, another terrible headache this morning. I’m grinding again!”

“This mouth guard doesn’t help, what am I going to do?”

His answer has always been, “Focus on getting to the source of the grinding and then worry about fixing your mouth.”

Well, shit bags.

I’ve finally, once and for all, GOT to prioritize self-care and self-love. I’ve been writing about this for how long? Julia Cameron says if you complain about something enough in your writing day after day (if you’re disciplined with daily journaling which I’m not) — that you simply can’t continue with the same problem or situation without your mind generating new action or perspective.

I’m proud of the attention that I’ve given to parenting and learning all that I can to best meet my children’s needs. And I’ve also managed to inadvertently develop myself into the poster child for Attachment Parenting Martyrdom which I don’t recommend to any of you newer Mamas!!

Absolutely love your child with every ounce of who you are. Honor their little spirits and tend to their needs. Do all that you can to foster secure attachment.

But for the sake of your own emotional and physical well-being — don’t put yourself on a shelf in the process.  Don’t do it!! If you’re like me, you mistakenly believe that if you give to yourself it means your child will suffer.  That you won’t be giving to them.  And you can drive yourself to the brink in the name of intended Love and Devotion. You really can. In the long run, no child benefits from a sick or unhappy mother!!

My rude awakening occurred during our first weekend trip without children since either were born.  This Big Deal trip to L.A.. coincidentally happened the weekend after we went to New York City for my 40th. It was gifted to us by my Mother, brother and sister-in-law and we had our tickets booked before we received the spontaneous gift of the NYC trip. We went from a never-leave-home couple to serious jet-setters all in two weeks. Crazy.

On the way out to California I had a complete melt-down realization of my fairly chronic state of being that alternates between stressed out, pissed off or disappointed.  Within me also exists Mrs. Positive, Do-good, Dreamer. And she shines when I’m with my children, my friends, or at work. But “I’m not OK” always seems to take over as a set-point of sorts. And while I might attempt to maintain the allusion that this angst I often feel isn’t impacting anyone but myself and my godforsaken jaw-line — I was faced with the reality that my husband gets the brunt of it. And that my desire to always make the world right for my children has me on a No Good path of over-parenting. And that in order to be the kind of wife and mother I really want to be, I’ve got to take a hard look at myself, how I respond to what I don’t like for myself or for my girls, how I get my needs met, and finally take steps to do what I know can shift my world view every day when I commit to it.

  • Running, Walking, Running. In Nature.
  • Journaling gratitude for all that is and all that will be.
  • Listening to Libby’s song, Mama.
  • Setting up as many organization and support systems as possible to weather this 2 parents working over-time challenging chapter of life

On the way back to Austin, I was nailed with one of the worst headaches I’ve experienced since I started this teeth grinding nonsense a few years back.  I took four Advil on the plane and still couldn’t shake it. After 3 1/2 hours in the air of pounding pain behind both ears and in my temples, I threw up in an airline barf bag my husband found for me.

Rather than rush home from the airport to the babies I’d been apart from for three days, I had my husband take me to 24-hour urgent care and get some more serious medicated relief. Two shots in the ass — one for pain and one for nausea. And a muscle relaxant.

Halle – LU – HOO – jah.

Now. I could continue down my well-tread path of self-loathing and beat myself up for what ultimately unfolded as a result of this body-shouting-for-attention incident. But I choose to find peace in knowing that maybe, just maybe — it’s quite good for the whole family.  I believe the angels guiding us all through this life are always whispering messages of support every day and sometimes when a change needs to happen in our lives, the universe is left with throwing us a curve ball so we wake up and hear what they’ve been trying to gently tell us all along.

Having gone 2 nights and 3 days without nursing my Littlest, and unable to nurse when I got home because I was all drugged up — I opted to call it quits with “Mamas Milk.”  No pep talk preparation to ease the transition for her.  Just done.

A day or two of angst from Sweet Iz, begging and crying for “just a tiny bit!  Mama! Mama! Mama!”  And the desire — or at least the request — is fading in intensity and frequency.

I’m sad as I write this. I’ve never done well with endings. But thank God I’m old enough now to know that endings bring beginnings and a change in perspective is as easy as you choose to make it.

I had forgotten the incredible new snuggly chapter that unfolds after you wean!  Oh the hugs! The kisses! And the new ability to spoon with her tiny body at bed time and have her relish my embrace without holding, pulling, pinching or nursing my tired boob.

This week I’ve visited Doctor number 3 about my increasing jaw alignment issue. Thankfully I think surgery can be avoided and I will visit Doctor #4 in December to determine the correct “hinge position” and get set up with something akin to invisalign.

Now. Guess what? Holy Moses. I’m off for a little run.

One day at time.

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3 Responses to “What’s Written on Your Face?”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    This is something that so many of us have to struggle with daily! The problem is there isn’t anyone who can say definitively to you, “Yes, this is the absolute right decision to make for yourself and your children.” And so we all do the best we can, with the information that we have. I’ve had the opposite problem, of making decisions to leave my child more often than I’d like because of crazy touring routing. Right now I’m going through the longest separation — 2 weeks! It’s been so hard, and yet I have to beleive it’s the right decision for the situation.

  2. Mom says:

    I wore invisalign for several years to correct my teeth and overbite. Nice alternative to metal braces. No one could even tell I was wearing them. Love you.

  3. Reggie says:

    wow!! brilliant post… thank you. Glad you won’t need surgery and weldone and Congrats on day weaning… this is something I’ll need to do in a few months too – getting tiring for sure. Plus, I am probably splitting from hubby and looking foe somewhere to move in to and this is also tiring. I think this is very inspiring – thank you.

    I am glad of hearing some honesty about the desire to day wean… it makes me feel better about my irritation with it sometimes. still do an early morning feed though, somewhere btwn 4-5 and back to sleep till 6.30/7am – got to nix that too! Hard, when you feel unsupported by the other half though & sometimes don’t have the strength.

    Keep writing..thank you. xx

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