mommy shoesIt has been nearly two years since I asked for help.

Motherhood and life felt like too much of a burden for me. After years of thinking that the problem was me, it finally dawned on me that there might be something wrong.

I started therapy and found out that I had suffered from postpartum depression. Not once but three times. I also found out that the feelings I struggled with in my early teens were not just regular teen struggles. I found out that it was also depression that I had struggled with.

These past two years have been the most intense years of my life. I have experienced tremendous growth. I have opened new doors and have closed old doors behind me.

People talk about therapy lightly. They think therapy is nothing more than paying someone to listen and to give you advice. Therapy is no such thing. Therapy is facing yourself. Therapy is opening doors and looking into the dark corners of your soul. It is work. Hard work that sometimes  leaves you exhausted. Being as courageous, as walking into a lion’s den unarmed. Vulnerable. It is raw naked honesty and perseverance. Going down a steep, rocky and sometimes dark road without knowing when you will reach the end of it. It’s knowing that you can decide to leave that road at any moment, yet not giving in to that thought. Because you want to get well.

For the past two years I have been going down this road. To say it has been a roller coaster ride, is to take a devastating hurricane and to call it a warm summer’s breeze. The hardest part? Being a mother at the same time.

There is no time off. No time to lick my wounds or to take a break. When I come out of therapy I need to step quickly into my mommy shoes. Some days I come out of therapy feeling empowered. I stand tall and firm and switch roles like a pro. Other days I feel delivered, freed from a burden that has been carried for way too long. Those are the days that my mommy shoes feel like dancing shoes. Then there are days that I am exhausted from the hard work and I feel empty with little left to give. On those days my Mommy shoes are put on reluctantly.

Some days the carefully constructed bandages around my heart are ripped from their place and old wounds are exposed. My heart breaks and scatters into a thousand pieces. An hour passes as I work through the pain.  When the clock strikes reality, I hastily gather the pieces and put them back into place as best I can. I wear my mommy shoes, and though it is I that longs to be nurtured, it is I that gives the loving smile; it is I that spreads my arms in welcome;  I that carries and I that offers warmth and shelter.

On such days my feet struggle to find solid ground underneath my shoes. When my child reaches for me, my grasp is firm. And as I hold her little warm hand softly in mine, the ground underneath my feet gradually feels stable again.

Have you ever experienced something, that made it hard for you to step back into your ‘Mommy shoes’? I would love to hear about it.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our author in the Netherlands, Mirjam.

The image used in this post is credited to the author.


Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands. She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life. Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home. She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera. Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it. She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways. But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself. You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.

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BELGIUM: When Special Needs Children Have Children

BELGIUM: When Special Needs Children Have Children

Tinne 271 x 240It is a running gag that we Belgians like to make things complicated. This shows itself best in the Moloch which calls itself ‘Government’.
Government – like all of its kind – has a thing for paperwork. It starts even before you are born, when your mother and father are requested to fill in form after form to guarantee your basic rights and to prove that yes you are about to enter the world.

And it goes on and on and on. Papers which need to be filled out announcing your actual birth, your name, gender, weight, etc… Then when you are a few weeks old, your mother will receive an order to have you weighed, measured and to have a friendly chat with a childcare specialist about how you – little pooping nugget – are doing. (Don’t get me wrong, I greatly appreciate this service: these checkups – and accompanying vaccinations – are free of charge, and they often aid in detecting health issues really early.)

When you enter school the whole administrative shebang is transferred to another institution, which will now not only monitor your growth, weight gain and fine motor skills but also your learning process and general scholastic development. And, of course, there is paper work to be filled out…

So this is how I found myself filling out a five–page questionnaire on a rainy night in May in preparation of our eldest’s first annual checkup. Most questions were simple and straightforward : “Do either of the parents wear glasses?” (Yes, both), “Any hereditary diseases, mental illnesses,…” (None), “Primary language spoken at home?” (Dutch), “Any serious illnesses as an baby/infant?” (No).

But there was one question which gave made me pause : “Was either of the parents treated for a learning disability as a child/adult? If yes, please specify which one.”

Well, yes, actually. I was.

When I was about seven or eight years old I was diagnosed with the type of Attention Deficit Disorder, now called ADHD–I. Later they threw in some dyscalculia for good measure. While I never took any medication, I did receive treatment well into my teenage years.

Those were very difficult times, mainly because when I was diagnosed, the whole ADHD–spectrum was relatively unknown. Most people – teachers, close family members and other – scoffed when ADHD or ADD was mentioned.

Many called it an imaginary condition and would tell me that I was making things up, that I was just “not that bright”, “plain stupid”, “not trying hard enough” or – my personal favourite – “a lazy good for nothing pest, who would never get a degree and whose only career option was cleaning toilets”.

I vividly remember how my mother and I were asked to come to the principal’s office one day during my first year of high school, so we could discuss my poor results and lack of attention during class. We arrived carrying a thick file full of test results, reports, statements,… only for the principal to refuse even to look at the file and tell my mother that “it was about time that she accepted her daughter was not as intelligent as she was and that she should not waste peoples time by insisting I remained in a normal classroom.”

Needless to say, my mom was a wee bit pissed off and the discussion which followed can best be described as a fight between a lion with anger issues and a crazy, rabid baboon on steroids.

It got better when I changed schools the next year. It got better when I got older, because I got a better view on the what, the why and the how. It got better because I developed coping skills. It got better because the therapy actually worked and somehow my brain got whipped into some kind of shape. As we now know there is no “curing” ADHD. I still get distracted easily and rely on noise cancellation headphones or classical music to get me through a bad day.

After filling in the questionnaire I catch myself looking at my children all too often, and playing the “What if” – song in my head.

Because what if – along with the sensitive skin (sorry about that one, by the way, kids) and the shape of their eyes – I gave my kids those parts of me. What if, they, too, will have to fight a lifelong battle?

I know times are different. We are lucky to live in a part of the world where education is a basic right, not a privilege and not something for which we – women – have to fight. I know there is a better understanding, new developments in treatment and more acceptance regarding learning disabilities as opposed to when I was a kid. I know – think, hope, … I will probably be more prepared in dealing with one or both of my children being diagnosed with a learning disability than my own mother, who was basically left in the middle of the jungle with a broken compass as her only tool to help her fight a way out, if only because I’m aware of the fact that this situation may arise and have lived it, am in still living it, coping with it.

But still…

What if… ?

How are people dealing with the whole learning disability spectrum in your neck of the woods? If you are a “former special needs child turned adult” how would you deal with this situation?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Tinne of Tantrums and Tomatoes.

Photo credit to the author.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

Born in Belgium on the fourth of July in a time before the invention of the smart phone Tinne is a working mother of two adorably mischievous little girls, the wife of her high school sweetheart and the owner of a black cat called Atilla. Since she likes to cook her blog is mainly devoted to food and because she is Belgian she has an absurd sense of humour and is frequently snarky. When she is not devoting all her attention to the internet, she likes to read, write and eat chocolate. Her greatest nemesis is laundry.

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FRANCE: Maternal Health is Quite Different Here…

FRANCE: Maternal Health is Quite Different Here…

In France, perineum strengthening goes way beyond your classic Kegels, and it’s taken very seriously by the doctors.

I remember, after having given birth to my daughter in NYC, the doctor saying that nothing “goes in” for six weeks following the birth. No bath, no tampons, no nookie, no nothin’. Here, in France, the story is a little different.

No advice on what goes “in” or “out” following the birth, but it’s out of the question to do any sort of physical activity until you have first done your perineum reeducation, and then your abdominal reeducation.

In other words, if you’re French and if you’re up for it, you can jump right back in the saddle the same week you gave birth (why deprive yourself or your partner of l’amour?), but you must complete your 20 sessions of perineum and ab work before you contemplate, say, bending at the knees. (more…)

Lady Jennie (France)

Jennie has lived in Taiwan, New York City and East Africa, and currently lives just outside of Paris with her French husband. She speaks rudimentary Mandarin, passable French and has had a varied career in Human Resources, Asian financial sales and humanitarian work. She is currently a mother to three young children, with writing and teaching gigs on the side, and blogs at A Lady in France.

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Canada: Interview with Salma (Chasing Rainbow)

Canada: Interview with Salma (Chasing Rainbow)

Where in the world do you live? And, are you from there?
We live in Canada right now but Egypt is a second home for us as well. I was born in Jamaica.

What language(s) do you speak?
I’m a passive bilingual. I speak English & some French…I’ve been learning Arabic since  “forever”.

When did you first become a mother?
My oldest daughter is 13 years old…I have been a mommy for a very long time. (more…)

Salma (Canada)

An Imperfect Stepford Wife is what Salma describes herself as because she simply cannot get it right. She loves decorating, travelling, parenting,learning, writing, reading and cooking, She also delights in all things mischievous, simply because it drives her hubby crazy. Salma has 2 daughters and a baby boy. The death of her first son in 2009 was very difficult, however, after the birth of her Rainbow baby in 2010 (one day after her birthday) she has made a commitment to laugh more and channel the innocence of youth through her children. She has blogged about her loss, her pregnancy with Rainbow, and Islamic life. After relocating to Alberta with her husband in 2011 she has found new challenges and rewards- like buying their first house, and finding a rewarding career. Her roots are tied to Jamaica, while her hubby is from Yemen. Their routes, however, have led them to Egypt and Canada, which is most interesting because their lives are filled with cultural and language barriers. Even though she earned a degree in Criminology, Salma's true passion is Social Work. She truly appreciates the beauty of the human race. She writes critical essays on topics such as feminism and the law, cultural relativity and the role of women in Islam and "the veil". Salma works full-time, however, she believes that unless the imagination of a child is nourished, it will go to waste. She follows the philosophy of un-schooling and always finds time to teach and explore with her children. From this stance, she pushes her children to be passionate about every aspect of life, and to strive to be life-long learners and teachers. You can read about her at Chasing Rainbow.

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Too Loud: Part II

This is part II of III parts, beginning with last Saturday’s post, “Too Loud“…

I knew I needed to get my son evaluated, so I made an appointment with the pediatrician and explained what happened at the fire house and downtown.  We got a referral to have an evaluation done with an occupational therapist (OT).  We were given a diagnosis of sensory integration disorder (SID).   We started therapy twice a week.  I read one book after another on SID, and there were parts that explained my son so well.

It was actually a relief to get some answers and reasons for his behaviors.  He was getting help, and we were, too.  I joined a support group and got a ton of information from other moms.  One thing that stood out was when one mom told me that SID usually doesn’t walk alone.  This had me thinking about what else could be going on with him.  Did we have it all?  What about his language? (more…)

Maggie Ellison

Maggie is so grateful to be raising her 2 children with her husband in the low country of South Carolina. Life at the beach is what she’s always known, although living in SC is new to this NJ native! The beauty of the live oaks and the palmettos takes her breath away on a daily basis and being able to go to the beach all year is a dream for her. Art and music have also always been a part of Maggie’s life, and she is happy that her family has the same love and appreciation for it that she does.
Maggie and her family are also very active. Her husband coaches both kids in soccer, and they like to spend their time outdoors kayaking, biking, swimming, camping, etc. They try to seize every moment they can together, and they feel that it’s not just the family time that is important. They want their kids to know a life of activity and respect for the outdoors, expose them to new things and teach them about the world! Maggie and her family are no strangers to overcoming life's challenges. They've had to uproot their family several times when jobs have been lost in the economic crisis.
They also lovingly face the challenges of having a child diagnosed with special needs. Through all this, Maggie has learned to celebrate the good times and never take them for granted. Her family is everything to her, and she is incredibly grateful for every day she has with them and for every moment she has shared with them. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t tell them she loves them and how lucky she is to be her kids’ mommy. How sweet!

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