A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: depression

Pet Therapy

“Honey, pass the peas, please…. Bucket Head, stop licking your pork chop!… Who set the table? Nice job on the napkins, Mini-Me…. Oh, I forgot to tell you, Vincent has a band concert on Thursday; can you get home early?… Hey you guys, who wants Mommy to have another baby?”

“MEEEEEEEEEEE!” the kids all screamed simultaneously while my husband’s eyeballs popped out of his skull and rolled into his mashed potatoes.

Wait. What?

Did I really just say that? Out loud?

And my kids actually WANT me to have another baby?

What the what?!

I’m 43 years old. My husband had a vasectomy nanoseconds after Bucket Head’s birth. I have no business thinking about another baby.

And yet, I do. I think about it. Continue reading

Something’s gotta give

Receiving a call from your child’s teacher at 7:30 a.m. is rarely a good thing.

And learning that your six-year-old son won’t stop crying is not the kind of news any parent ever wants to hear.

But realizing that the reason he’s crying is because of me? That, my friends, is a game changer. Continue reading

Flirting with the flu

So, this happened recently…

Thirteen day old clam chowder. It passes the smell test. What could possibly go wrong?
Leslie Marinelli


Maybe my “winter blues” are more serious than I thought.

But on the bright side, it’s good blog fodder.

Join me In The Powder Room today to hear the rest of that story. Surprisingly it’s not at all about poop. It’s actually about germs, suburban life, gambling, Puerto Rican hookers, drug store makeup, leftovers, and flu shots. Bring some hand sanitizer. You’re going to need it.

Happy Friday, y’all!


84 days and counting

I have been sober for 84 consecutive days.

It was February 22 when I gave up my beloved wine for Lent. I was hoping it might just be the one change I needed to kick start a series of other healthy changes. It had been a long, sedentary winter and my chronic depression was rearing its ugly head. I knew in my heart that my daily wine habit was only making things worse.

Well, I’m happy to report that indeed, giving up the hooch has made a huge difference in my mental and physical health.

The first few weeks were pretty ugly. Looking back, my body was clearly in withdrawal. And even though my daily consumption was never the kind of thing that anyone would ever question (1-2 glasses, max), it was obviously enough for my body to become dependent.

I tried to be gentle with myself by making healthy substitutions like a cup of green tea every afternoon instead of wine. Focusing on all the good I was doing for my heart and skin with that green tea made me think less about my wine, whose loss I was definitely grieving.

I also ate jellybeans by the fistful those first 6 weeks to keep my sugar cravings at bay. I’m pretty sure that’s why jellybeans are associated with Easter…to keep all the struggling Lenten promise-makers alive.

And then came Easter, the ultimate celebration on the Christian liturgical calendar, and the exciting conclusion to all our Lenten sacrifices.

Only, by the time Easter arrived, I felt so much healthier and less depressed by just giving up my daily wine habit, that I decided to stay the course.

So here we are. Eighty-four days later.

The extreme sugar cravings are finally gone. My temper and sleep patterns seem to have improved as well. And oh my God, what is this strange feeling? Is it happiness? I think it is! Shut the front door! I am happy.

I haven’t started consistently exercising yet. But I do find myself drinking a lot more water every day and not spending so much time in front of the TV. As a result, I’ve lost about 5 pounds. Now my former muffintop is more like a small dinner roll, which makes me feel so much less depressed. I was right! One small healthy choice begets other healthy choices. Well, what do you know!

Last month, my In the Powder Room colleague Heidi wrote a poignant post “Why I’m a better mother when I don’t drink” that really resonated with me. Heidi found that not only did her relationships improve while she tee-totaled, but her capacity for joy increased as well. I couldn’t agree more. The feelings! Good God, the feelings I have now that I’m not so comfortably numb every afternoon…so worth it.

So I take it back. Turns out, I’m not a better mother on the sauce. I was just too numb to know it.

I can’t say for certain that this is the path I will walk forever…I’m just taking it one day at a time. But I will say this: it’s working for me right now, and that is all I need to know.

Originally published at In the Powder Room, May 15, 2012. 

Which came first: the depression or the muffintop?

If you’ve ever been depressed, or out of shape, or more likely…both at the same time, you know hard it is to battle your way back to good health.

I know this struggle all too well.

And make no mistake about it, this is biological warfare, and the enemy knows all my weaknesses.

The enemy, of course, is me.

I don’t know what came first: the depression or the muffintop. Am I depressed because I am so flabby and tired all the time, or am I so flabby and tired all the time because I’m depressed?

It’s a classic Catch-22 for sure.

Seems like the older I get, the harder it is to step off the Unhealthy-Choices-Merry-Go-Round. And there are paradoxes everywhere I turn.

1.) I know I’d have more motivation to do something productive if I got off my ass and exercised, but I’m not motivated enough to get off my ass and exercise in the first place.

2.) I bought a bottle of St. John’s Wort because I heard it is good for brain function and “mood boosting,” but I can’t remember to take it every day.

3.) I know I’d feel better if I ate healthier foods, but I crave such unhealthy things like sugar, fat, and alcohol. I eat crap, then (surprise!) I feel like crap, so I seek out crappy comforting foods. Cue the shame spiral.

4.) It is a known fact that the brain requires a certain amount of water each day to function. Yet I reach for another cup of coffee or a soda when I feel sluggish. And then later in the day I rejoice when I realize it’s a quarter to wine o’clock.

5.) Alcohol is categorized as a depressant, but every time I try to quit drinking I just feel more depressed.

Does any of this ring a bell? God, I hope so, because I would hate to feel like I’m alone in this.​

I’ve long suspected that if I could just make one small change, the rest of the keys to better health would slowly start to line up like a row of dominoes, eagerly awaiting a chain reaction.

But where to begin? Which small healthy change should I make first?

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to deliberate this for long. The Christian season of Lent began a few weeks ago and I chose to give up my favorite vice: WINE.

Ain’t going to lie…it’s been brutal so far. And the fact that my depression has worsened instead of improved leads me to believe that my daily wine habit isn’t as harmless as I thought it was.

Now the real question is: will 40 days of abstaining from wine be enough to set me on a healthier course or is a more permanent change in my future?

Only time will tell.

Originally published by In the Powder Room, March 13, 2012. 

Blowin’ the Stink Off

I’ve had a bad case of the winter blues the past few days. Not only has it been cold and rainy and gray here in North Georgia, but something about taking down the Christmas decorations and opening up those post-holiday credit card bills just sucks the will to live right outta me. 

Not only that, but my dear friend Patty just lost her mother to a 22-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Yesterday was the visitation and service and it was just heartbreaking. The service was beautiful though – a true celebration of a wonderful life well-lived. 

I haven’t been to many funerals in my life, kinehora (ya’ll, that is Yiddish for “knock on wood”), but going to one always scrambles my eggs for a few days, and not in a good way. Especially if it is an open casket. Lawd. That always shakes me to the core. Those standardized tests in high school that told me I would be a good mortician were just flat out wrong. 

Coming to grips with our mortality is just hard. Plain and simple. But a good funeral can be just the ticket to get you off your ass and get you on the road to a better life. 

My friend Patty handled her Mom’s passing with such dignity, grace, and love. It was truly an honor to witness. The four grandchildren all made special treasures to place in the casket with her – painted rocks and a signed baseball. Patty even did her Mom’s makeup and hair that morning, herself, because she knew exactly how her Mama would want to look. She was laid to rest in a gorgeous white nightie that she had chosen herself when she knew her time was near. I was just blown away by the love and loss of this great lady. 

It was a very emotionally draining day. But it made me want to come home and live the fullest life I can carve out for myself… to be a better wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, and parishioner. Made me feel grateful for the healthy life I’ve lived so far and made me want to take steps to ensure that I can stay healthy in the years to come. And it made me want to stop watching Bret Michael’s Rock of Love Bus on Sunday nights on VH1. Seeing 20 slutty silicone-augmented women fight over an aging has-been rock star is just not contributing one iota to my goals for leading a fuller life… even if the episode where that skank stuck a shot glass in her vajayjay and then was (surprisingly) not invited to continue on the tour was mildly entertaining in a “I-just-saw-a-train-wreck-and-can’t-avert-my-eyes-from-the-carnage-lying-next-to-the-tracks” kind of way. Ewwww. 

So, yeah. I need to make some changes ’round here if I’m going to break out of this winter funk and live a fuller life.

And that brings me to my tip for the day. It is Tuesday after all and you know I love to share simple advice for better living in my semi-regular “Just the Tip Tuesday” columns. 

My advice today is to go outside and “blow the stink off.” That is what one of my favorite Aunties likes to call the simple act of taking a walk. If you just go outside and take a walk, it is amazing how much better you will feel. It clears your head, gets your heart pumping, releases those feel-good endorphins that help you to keep on keeping-on. It’s all good. 

I just got back from blowing the stink off with Bucket Head and I tell you what, I feel like a million pesos… which is much better than I felt an hour ago. It’s a journey… we’ll work up to a million dollars. One stink at a time.

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