Health Parenting

How “I’m Fine” Landed My Husband and Me in the Hospital

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

“I’m fine.”

What does the phrase really mean? Sure, we hear the stereotypical tale of the woman who says, “I’m fine,” in an argument. Is she ever really fine? Not at all. It’s almost a dare to the person on the other side of the discussion to disregard whatever nonverbal cues are being sent. It would seem obvious that someone who says “I’m fine” is anything but fine.

Yet, here we are.

My husband and I had to hop the Canadian border to get to an American hospital during a vacation because for days he insisted that he was “fine.” A blister on his ankle advanced to a serious infection that had him on bed rest for 5 days, but he was “fine.” I don’t think he was lying when he believed that it was just a blister, and it was only sore because we were wandering around like tourists. But he didn’t acknowledge the seriousness of his condition because he was so determined to be “fine.”

I’m no better. I denied for weeks that a cold was getting worse. I genuinely believed I was getting better, and when I said I felt “fine,” I meant it. I wouldn’t have trudged forward as if pneumonia is one of my favorite hobbies. By the time I got shoved into the walk-in clinic by family, I was very close to pneumonia and put on a steady regimen of antibiotics to treat advanced bronchitis.

I’m not trying to deceive others. I’m not trying to guilt my husband or martyr myself over a pile of laundry. I’m not hiding behind a passive aggressive approach. When I say that I’m fine, I truly want to be.

This is the problem that my husband and I both ran into. We were so hell-bent on being fine that we completely disregarded our own health. We shoved aside our needs for the benefit of others, even if it wasn’t on purpose. My husband wanted us to enjoy our vacation. The last thing I wanted was my own doctor visit when I was fielding two sick kids. Some things you can wish into reality, but when it comes to your physical and mental health, it can’t be ignored.

This is something that I’m going to consider the next time I reply to someone that “I’m fine.” Am I really? Or could I be doing more for myself? Should I speak up? Think about how many times you tell others that “it’s fine” when it’s anything but fine. What could you have said differently? There are so many alternatives, and it doesn’t have to be an argument.

“Actually, I think my leg is about to fall off. Should we get this checked?”

“I’m pretty upset. Can we talk more about it?”

“No, I’m not doing as well as I would like, but that’s ok.”

“I could really use your help.”

“I need a break.”

Stop being fine. Be more than fine. Be annoyed. Be honest. Be frustrated. Be happy. But let’s kick “I’m fine” to the curb. It tells nothing of what you’re really feeling, and you deserve better. As parents our needs don’t always come first, but let’s at least put an honest label on our concerns.

On Motherhood Self-Improvement

Why My New Year’s Resolution Doesn’t Take My Kids Into Consideration

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I don’t put a lot of emphasis on the “new year, new me” mentality. I’m sure I’ll be the same delightful hot mess this year that I was last year. I’ve also made absolutely no promises on the motherhood front. I’m a damn good mom and I make no apologies for my parenting choices, successes, and mistakes. It’s all part of the ride and I wake up every morning vowing to be the best mom I can be for my kids. I don’t need a resolution to keep me on track.

Do you know what I don’t do? Consider myself. Almost daily I think that I’ll read one more story or do an extra craft or play more games. I think about the laundry and whether I should download some pre-k educational games on the kindle.

Never do I wake up promising myself that I’ll get to shower alone today and not with an infant or toddler. I never wake up swearing that I’ll set aside five quiet minutest to myself to just freaking breathe. I don’t give myself any slack for relaxing, even if it’s just scrolling on Facebook or catching up with a friend through text. I’m crucifying myself for not giving every second of my time to my children and never second-guessing that none of my time is my own.

So this year, I’m making a promise to myself. Call it a New Year’s resolution if you’d like, but I just need something that will stick. I need a reminder to wake up in the morning promising to be kinder to myself. I need to acknowledge that I’m not perfect, and the kids will survive even if they refuse to eat anything but goldfish for days and might have watched Disney movies on repeat for a few hours. I will forgive myself for losing my patience, but more importantly, I will congratulate myself for the hard job I do every day.

There are three humans (one being my husband) that rely on me every day, and I’m so busy looking at my failures I hardly notice my accomplishments. The two children are not just alive, they’re thriving, and thanks to me my husband has clean underwear to put on every day. I may not be able to find my keys, but I know how to locate every missing toy. I can soothe a screaming infant and sobbing toddler. I am the fixer of all emergencies, real or imagined. I am the ying to my husband’s yang. I practice patience when I have none and I lay awake while everyone else sleeps. I am doing a kick-ass job, and this year, I’m going to start patting myself on the back for it.

This year, I will put my needs on my never-ending to-do list. I will check off bath time for both kids and include a ten-minute shower for myself, by myself. I will schedule a coffee date with a friend while I’m scheduling doctor appointments, and I’ll remember to brush my hair when I’m brushing my daughter’s. My kids have what they need. The resolution is my own that is necessary, to care for myself like I care for everyone else.


Creating Balance Self-Improvement

Seeking Balance

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Balance is elusive.

I often work too hard, then I’m so tired I can’t do anything useful for self-care. It’s the nature of my business – there is always something more that needs done, so I could conceivably work non-stop forever. I want that clean desk, boxes checked, end of the day to happen…and it’s not going to. I have had to teach myself that the work is continuous, and I have to find good places to stop.

But then, when I do have a minute, the demands of others reach out and grab those precious minutes. I don’t mind – in fact, that’s probably the biggest problem: I want to say yes, every time someone needs something from me. I’ve become more adept at saying no to unreasonable client requests, especially once I realized that a client who was paying me a pretty decent retainer fee was reducing me to slave wages with extra demands.

But I’ve hit a point in my life where my constant devotion to my business and to the others in my life is resulting in negative consequences for me. My health is suffering. My stress is too high. My ability to do what I need to do to be healthy is non-existent.

What I’ve decided is that saying yes all the time isn’t good for me, but it isn’t good for them, either. Because if my health deteriorates to the point where I can’t do anything fun with my kids and grandkids, or if my husband is stuck taking care of a sick person just when we’re finally getting to the point where we can enjoy alone time together, well that’s not doing anyone any good at all.

So I’m going to try to find that elusive balance for myself – a balance that doesn’t mean I’m so tired at the end of the day that all I can do is walk from my office to my living room and collapse – a balance that prioritizes me time, my time, and my health. And I think my kids will be cool if occasionally I have to say, “Not right now.”

My new truths:

  • I’m no good to anyone if I can’t take care of my own self
  • Taking care of me makes me better at taking care of others
  • My health is as important as everyone else’s needs
  • Down time – for me to read, meditate, contemplate – is essential
  • The house – and the people in it – won’t fall down around me if I step away to paint and feed my creative soul

I’m a work in progress, and I’m still learning what I need to thrive. I am lucky to be surrounded by people I love, but the thing is, they love me too – and they want me to be here, healthy, and happy more than they want those few minutes of my time that I take to nurture me and restore balance.

Creating Balance Self-Improvement Stress Management

I Suck at Self-Care

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Self-care is important, especially as a mom. You can’t possibly devote all the necessary energies to your kids if your own tank is measuring empty. As much as I try to repeat this mantra to myself, I must admit that I suck at self-care. I feel guilty leaving for only the briefest of moments, and I can’t even tell you why. Other family members are completely capable of caring for her, and even if she cries as I leave, her eyes are dry as soon as I’m out of sight. So why do I have such a hard time doing something for myself as an individual, and not as a mom?

We all have our struggles.

I struggle daily with PTSD, a souvenir from my time in an abusive relationship. For a couple years I convinced myself that I was doing “well enough” and that things would get better with time. In my circumstances it didn’t, and I now attend therapy weekly to address the trauma I experienced. This is not only critical to myself as a person, but it is vital to my role as a good mother to my daughter and partner to my husband. The levels of stress I was experiencing were wearing on my marriage, and having a newborn did not make things easier. I noticed that on the days that I was tired (which was almost every day), I didn’t have the strength to keep my demons at bay. Addressing my mental health is one of the best things that have done for myself, and I’ll continue to work on recovery.

Unfortunately, as valuable as my therapy sessions are, I wouldn’t count them as a mini-vacation. I know that I still need a hobby of sorts to give myself a break from all my obligations and worries. As much as I would love to be on a beach, sipping cocktails handed to me by beautiful servers, that is not in my near future.

I’m a city girl in a farm world. 

I live in an area where I simply don’t like to do what is available. It is rural farm and wine country, and to some that is haven. To me, rural is so incredibly effing boring. I don’t like to camp, or fish, or hike. No thanks. Of course, there are “fun” wine-and-paint opportunities but no one wants that mess. I’m sure I would be removed from the festivities, since one glass of wine would cause distraction, and anything more would cause disruption. One drink knocks me over, and tequila also may or may not make me bite? But that’s a story for another day.

My realistic idea of self-care would involve exploring parts of a bustling city, new exhibits in a museum, or even a night out downtown when the mood strikes me once or twice a year. Access to adult dance classes that aren’t mediocre, or a gym with childcare that wasn’t a 30-minute drive would be nice. However, I live in the middle of nowhere, so good luck to me and my pickiness of hobbies.

Making the best of it.

So right now, my self-care involves home workouts, most with my daughter present. The gym was a great stress reliever when I was younger, and still is. I love the feeling of a good workout, and although it isn’t a perfect fix, I have already noticed an improvement in how I feel in general. Yes, my daughter is still rolling around, which sort of invalidates what should be “me time”, but that’s ok. I’ve also been reading more, which is a good escape. The point is, I’m trying, and I will continue to try to find an activity that amuses me.

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes all you need is a hot shower or a long soak in the tub to feel refreshed. I’m tapping into guided meditation to see what that does for me. Other times I put Hallie to sleep and eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting. All I’m saying, is that you find something that soothes the stress of day-to-day motherhood.

Mom-guilt is too real.

As guilty as time for ourselves can feel, it’s better for both you and your family in the long run. Your kids will survive for the short moments you have stepped away, and you’ll be more present in the moments that count. It may not be a perfect situation, or anything close to a beach get-away, but even a few minutes is exactly what you need to keep that mom train going. What do you like to do in your quiet or kid-free moments?

Health Stress Management Toddlers

Exercising with My Toddler is a Workout

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

Let’s give some back story here. I used to love going to the gym. The workouts felt great, I felt great, and I was happy that I was doing something for my body besides shoving ice cream down my throat. The gym was my go-to stress reliever, and it wasn’t too expensive, so win. I was disappointed when I gracefully fell down my stairs in my rush to get to work on time, giving myself a good ankle sprain.

Exercise Isn’t Always My Priority

As much as that sucked, I figured I would be back on my feet soon enough, running and weightlifting. But then I got pregnant, and my OB advised that because I hadn’t been regularly working out, now was not the time to get back into my hardcore routines. That sucked even more. “Try yoga”, people told me. No offense to all you “yogis” out there, but I struggle with yoga and any other workout that doesn’t make me feel like I’m dying. I LIKE the suffering of running and weightlifting, so to each their own.

So, I started walking on the treadmill (yawn), but that only lasted until my morning sickness kicked in. I spent the rest of my pregnancy napping when I could and eating mini corn-dogs (GASP! The nitrates! Yes, I know, insert eye roll here). Clearly, working out was not in my pregnancy plan, at least, not until the plan was eviction at 41 weeks. I did a lot of walking late 3rd trimester, and no, it did not bring on labor.

Fast forward to now, as I sit with my 17-month-old darling daughter. For months, I claimed I would get back into shape when I got a gym membership. That hasn’t happened. I tried home workouts several different times, only to fall off the wagon. I figured that I would stay dedicated with the gym membership that never came.

What Now?

Now, I have chosen a free home workout available on YouTube that I like doing, and they’re only 20 minutes long at most. I can handle that, and we also go on a lot of walks and runs with our jogging stroller. Now that I know I won’t get the gym membership I crave, I force myself to get some exercise, regardless of Hallie tackling me every five seconds. And you know what? It works.

It’s not easy working out with Hallie running around, but she’s a champ all her own. She’s my biggest motivator, and drags the yoga mat out herself if it gets too late in the day. Her jog in place is hysterical, and she does her best to imitate the moves with me. It’s very entertaining, and at first she was distracting, but now it’s bonding time. Sure, it’s annoying when I can only get 10 push-ups in because she’s climbing on me, but our squats are solidly done and we’re always giggling.

Teaching Healthy Habits by Example

It may be only 20 minutes, but it is 20 minutes that I’m doing for me and no one else. It’s a step towards self-care, which I suck at, and it makes me feel good trying to be healthy for both myself and my daughter. She will learn that exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, along with healthy eating, and I really can’t be disappointed in that. I miss the gym, but I won’t complain about our home workouts. Unless she poops in the middle of the session, which is more often than not. I whine about that a little.

There’s a million ways to incorporate exercise in the day, and I’m hoping that Hallie and I can explore other activities as she gets older. Let us know what activities you and your family enjoy!


Creating Balance On Motherhood

Things I Don’t Have Time For: Leaving the House Edition

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

There are parents out there that look completely polished. I am so envious of the moms that look gorgeous with pristine hair and makeup every day. I honestly wish I had the skills, because even when I do put on makeup twice or so per year, I don’t look like the tutorials. But really, even before motherhood, I didn’t put effort into my makeup or hair. I spent all my college years in sweatpants and t-shirts, and motherhood looks about the same.

The difference now, is that I used to have more options in how to use my time. If I wanted to, I could spend 2 hours bouncing around my bathroom listening to music and curling my hair. As a mother, I’m short on time and energy, and my attention is directed towards my busy toddler. I’m tired, and if we are trying to leave the house, I’m more than likely running late. With everything that it takes to get out the door, my list of the many things I don’t have time for gets longer ever day.

Here’s a small sampling of my list:

  1. Shaving my legs – I’m in athletic shorts regularly because, duh, they’re comfortable, but I only noticed the other day how out of hand things had gotten. My best estimate would be about 2 months? Even I was shocked about the length of my leg hairs this time around, and that’s saying something. But when 80% of my showers are occupied by my daughter, shaving is not a thing. I’ve officially hit the point where a razor no longer does the job, so if I really want a clean shave, I’m going to have to enlist the help of my husband’s electric shaver.
  2. Makeup – I married the right man, and I know because even he looks at me weird if I mention makeup. “Why? You never wear makeup, and you look beautiful anyways”. That is the correct answer, you wonderful person. Thank you, because I truly don’t give a crap about makeup and I’d just rather not. That means I have to wash it off later, and showers are already too hard. Toddler, remember?
  3. Brushing my hair – Most of the time, it’s piled on top of my head. Even my hairdresser knows that on my semi-annual visits, it can’t go too short, because then I wouldn’t be able to be so careless. Can you tell if my hair isn’t brushed? Don’t care. My daughter’s hair is brushed, so quiet yourself and be happy for the team effort.
  4. Shirts that make breastfeeding hard – A nip-slip is not on my list of things to do today, so every clothing decision I make revolves around how accessible my boobs are. I have some cute clothes among the t-shirts, but they’ve been collecting dust for a couple years now between pregnancy and breastfeeding. The last thing I have time for is fighting with my outfit while my daughter screams in irritation.
  5. Toddler clothes with buttons – Why. Why do manufacturers do this to parents? Hallie sits still for one button max. Anything more and I’m chasing her or trying to pin her down with my legs, because those buttons take both hands. Buttons for small, mobile children suck. Snaps, please.

Luckily, my natural lazy habits have adjusted very well to motherhood. Today, I left the house in my husband’s sweatpants (he is an entire foot taller than I am, so it sort of looked like it was hammer time) and I have absolutely no regrets. When I’m chasing Hallie, comfort is all I care about. Also, when I do have time for anything on the above list (which is almost never) I get a lot of compliments out of minimal effort. “Wow, your hair looks great”! Thanks, I brushed it. Win.

Could I make time to brush my hair and do makeup? Of course, but I choose to do other things, like lay in bed. There are different kinds of moms, and we all have things we don’t have time for. You don’t have to wander around in sweatpants or put on a full face of makeup, either. Maybe your makeup routine is part of self-care, and that’s awesome! If your child’s well-being is the priority, it doesn’t matter what the rest of your list looks like. You do what makes you happy, and let yourself embrace the messy realities, too.

What’s on your list of things you don’t have time for?


Photo by Lenses and Laughter Photography, Bath NY
Chris Crossing

Finding A Self-Care Mode

View from the Dragonfly’s Back

MomsGetReal Soulfeeder Chris Wilcox

Yesterday, I read a random post on Facebook from someone I’m connected to via a women’s group. We’ve never laughed together, clinked wine glasses in a toast or to my knowledge been in the same state, but what she said struck a nerve. And not in a good way.

It went something like “We all need days where we just give in and indulge. This afternoon, I put on my fuzzy bathrobe, sat down on the couch and watched a movie, and then I read a book. What do you do for self-care?”

My first thought was, “I read crap posts like that and go back to work.”

Not my best first thought of all time, admittedly. My mind’s eye imagined her beaming face in a big, purple bathrobe (why purple?), eating chocolates out of a huge box (and not gaining an ounce, by the way), laughing randomly with that I’m-tossing-my-Pantene-perfect-hair-back motion under a spotlight, and only rising from the couch to turn her rainbow on outside and go pet her unicorn.

And then I heard Mr. Wickham’s voice from Pride and Prejudice saying, “Jealousy. You like her life better, and you can’t stand that.”

I always have a tinge of jealousy when I read posts where people seem to have all the flexibility in the world to do whatever they want and live at the end of the Rainbow where unicorns frolic. During my career, my average week has been 50 hours (during some stretches closer to 70 hours) and my frolicking is limited, at best.  So what’s a workaholic to do when self-care comes to the forefront?

Self-care is also wrapped in reality. When I ignore self-care, my benefits are weight gain and spontaneous fever blisters (2 in the last three weeks – front and center on my top lip), and now have the added feature of high blood pressure (did I mention that I also had my yearly doc visit?).

So self-care has to be a part of my reality. And fast. And like any workaholic, I want the plug-n-play version – 15 minutes to Zen and on my way, right?

I’m rolling my eyes as I type that because while I want that reality, I know it’s not that easy.  My current self-care mode is (really unhealthy) comfort foods and sleeping – not exactly at the top of the list of healthy habits, and it’s results are creating a reality that I don’t want and cannot permit to continue.  So I need to find a new mode.

I’m on the hunt for healthy comfort foods and a framework for reality that fits with my word nerd desire to work. I love yoga, and will have my yoga corner established in my soon-to-be-completed sanctuary space in my house in the next few weeks. Is that all I need?  We’ll see.

What does your list look like?