Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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GUEST BLOGGER: EMILY GRAHAM

We haven’t had a guest blogger in awhile. Hope you enjoy this!

How to Connect as a Couple When Baby Makes Three

If you’re a new parent, you know that having a baby changes everything. You’re exhausted, up all hours of the night, and probably a little overwhelmed just trying to stay afloat. It’s all worth it for the little bundle of joy you love so much, but what about the other love of your life? Just like everything else, your relationship with your partner changes after having a baby. The most important thing you can do as a couple is to understand these changes and find the time to reconnect while working through them.

You Worry About Intimacy

Intimacy is both physical and emotional, which is why it’s very common for new moms to worry about sex after having a baby. There are the physical concerns: you may worry about sex being painful, you’re exhausted, and probably touched out. Then there are the emotional changes you’re going through at the same time. These concerns are all perfectly normal, but it’s also a struggle you can work through. One thing you can do is check out this guide that has advice and solutions for some of the issues many new parents run into when it comes to romantic intimacy.

You Have Disagreements

There’s no doubt about it: change is hard. Besides the grumpiness that comes along with being tired, you may have more disagreements while you’re figuring out how to adapt to these changes. According to Parents, couples with new babies often disagree over domestic responsibilities, parenting styles, and concerns over money (just to name a few). You have to smooth things over in order to really connect as a couple, which means you have to make time for finding solutions.

The good thing is that solutions can often be time-savers. For example, if you fight over household responsibilities, create a schedule for who does what and when. This may sound incredibly dull, but it eliminates the feeling that one person is carrying a heavier burden and may help you both stay on top of your chore list.

You’ve Changed as a Couple

Parenting is a job where you’re on the clock 24/7. If you’re able to communicate about what you expect from each other in terms of household chores and parenting tasks, you’re more likely to get along. The downside is that the way you interact sometimes changes. Fortune describes this as more of a businesslike interaction, because so much of your communication revolves around parenting and running a household.

To counteract this tendency, try to be very intentional about setting aside time where you each focus on how you’re more than just parents. Some couples benefit from dedicating just five minutes each day to connecting. Set some ground rules, and during that time, don’t talk about the baby or the house! Even though it’s just five minutes, make this time special too. Pour a glass of wine (if you aren’t too tired) or enjoy a yummy treat together.

When you can, it’s also crucial to spend a little more time together by having a date night. Getting out is always nice, but you can also have a home date night while the baby’s asleep. The important thing is to turn off the parent role just for a little while and focus on yourselves as individuals and as a couple. (Of course, if you’re home, you may have to turn the parent role back on if baby wakes, but that’s ok.) Date night is the ideal time for intimacy, but remember that doesn’t always have to be physical. The point is to focus on connecting with each other – even if you’re just cuddling on the couch watching a movie.

Sometimes, the smallest things you do as a couple end up making the biggest difference. Grab the spare moments to reconnect, and set aside time for dealing with the bigger issues too. Just as the late night feedings and countless diaper changes are worth it for the joy your baby brings, the changes to your relationship and the work they require are worth the effort.

Image by Tanya Patxot from Pixabay

Emily Graham is the creator of Mighty Moms. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, mightymoms.net, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.

Emily Graham | emily@mightymoms.net


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Duh Moments

The “duh” moments just keep increasing. Let’s see. I sent a payment in the mail except it returned in my mailbox. Good thing I had my address and stamp on it so it came back. The only thing missing was the entire name and address it was going to. Nice.

Then there was Tim’s hunting/lawn chair. I took it to Dave’s track meet and forgot it there. One of the parents took a picture and texted it to me. He brought it back which was nice because it was an hour away. Fast forward to another track meet. That parent laughed and said, remember when you forgot that? Yep, I will never do that again. Of course, that very same day, you guessed it. I left the chair. Only this time there was no one there to rescue it. I drove back the next morning but it was gone. My cousin started #prayfortim.

My favorite one was coming in the house to ask the boys what the heck happened to the basketball net. We have two in our driveway. Now they are big, and with all the wind we get they tend to fall down. I was passing by the yard and noticed only one of them was on the ground. How could anything so big go missing?

Timmy did his usual blank stare and Dave asked what the heck I was talking about. He goes over to the window and says they are both there. I go over to the window and point out there is only one laying on the ground. He points out that the other is standing next to it in the upright position, just like it’s supposed to be. OMG, I really am losing it.

One thing I did get right though. Dave has a small room off his closet. It has slanted roofs so the space is difficult. It used to be a playroom but at 16, it had become a dumping ground for hockey equipment. Tim and Timmy got on the mission and designed this lovely thing.

It looks like a professional locker room if you ask me. (The picture looks like the shelf is slanted up but it’s actually not.) Do you think it might not smell as bad if that equipment is hanging like that? One can only hope. Kudos to the men in the house for deisgning and building in a difficult space.

Sometimes my brain works.


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It’s Not Me, Right?

Sometimes it feels like things are so ridiculous, I wonder if I’ve lost my mind. I feel like I live in a world where so many people are consumed and passionate about these crazy things and missing the whole point. Are they serious?

One example from the world outside my immediate setting. Let’s ban Rudolph because of the bullies in it. I happen to think it has an amazing and relevant message, especially for such an “old” movie. You bet there are bullies, even Santa himself. But the “victims” (Rudolph and Hermie) overcome the crap treatment and become heroes. The end of the movie? All the bullies apologize. His dad, Santa… they realize they had behaved wrongly. Amen! What the hell is wrong with that message? Bullying is worth our attention. Focusing on Rudolph? Um… I don’t get it.

Plus, he’s pretty cute!

Overall, I like Frankie’s school, but sometimes I scratch my head. The athletics department is supposed to keep an eye on grades. Big bad on their part this year. Mistake #1, they forgot to notify the parent. Mistake #2, they forgot to notify the teacher. Mistake #3, they forgot to check in DAILY to see if their athlete was staying after. Three huge oops. And they wonder why the warning papers get thrown in the bottom of the gym bag and ignored. Failing academics? I think that is a pretty important thing for them to worry about.

You know what they did focus on? Frankie’s track meets are 6-7 hours long on Saturdays. In between events, they are left to entertain themselves. Now teens have incredible opportunities these days to get into trouble. Frankie found himself doing the worst thing I could imagine. He put on his nerd glasses he got for Christmas, put on his baseball cap backward, tucked in his shorts, and found himself in a dance battle with kids from another school. Unfortunately, he didn’t get video. I was very disappointed because I would have loved to have seen that.

At practice, he got scolded for fooling around between events.

He and his buddy got in the car and he told me what a “rascal” he was. I told him that he better not try to sing either. I assured him and his friend that I would send them more appropriate things to keep themselves occupied. I would send a vape with cannabis oil so they can calm down, a flask with some liquor, and a couple of porn mags so they can sit quietly next time and stay busy. They appreciated the offer.

I don’t know, is it me? There are dozens of other examples, but it just seems to me people are hyped up about the wrong stuff. I wanna hit my head on the wall sometimes. I just hope my kid doesn’t lose his personality because I think he lights up a room when he wants to. Certainly that’s better than hiding in the dark.


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Failing, Failure

The last couple days have been tough. There is nothing monumentally wrong that most families and relationships don’t typically go through. But when I feel like everything around me (or 80%) is failing, I end up feeling like a failure.

My sister was her supportive self today when we talked. She gave me her opinion that I am one of the most capable people she knows and far from a failure. Thanks sissy! Deep down, I guess I know I’m not responsible for everyone else’s choices, but it’s hard when stress can feel unrelenting.

I got talking to a client today and it reminded me of research I read years ago. It said that females in particular tend to be prone to an “internal locus of control” which, like anything else, has its good and bad points.

When a woman is faced with a problem or hurt, she usually asks herself what she did wrong and looks for how she can fix it. An external locus of control would assume someone else screwed up. The good part of the internal focus is that it can lead to empowerment and change. The bad part is that it can lead to over-responsibility and unnecessary self-blame.

Generalizations almost always get you in trouble so please understand these thoughts don’t apply to every single person in every single situation. As an observer of human behavior and relationships, I have to say that it does seem to often be the case though. Women are often the “emotional thermometers” in relationships. It’s almost comical when a couple sits down for session and the man briefly declares things are ok. The woman wants to know who he has been living with because it apparently isn’t their home. As she recounts the week’s activity, the man will eventually nod in agreement. “Oh yea, I forgot about that,” or something similar.

Anyhow, when you intensely love and care for people around you, it can be heartbreaking when you are disappointed, worried, concerned when you see those around you making choices that hurt you, or worse hurt themselves. Probably the most intense pain is around the love and concern a parent has for their child. A child of any age, no matter how old he/she gets.

I’m doing ok tonight. I’m exhausted and feel like a wet dish rag. But talking to people who care and an unscheduled call to Scott (my trusted therapist) reminds me that these things too shall pass. They hurt like hell, but I don’t need to fall into the abyss or anything. Tomorrow will come and I will just do the best I can again. I’m usually the only one that asks more of me than that.

Hope all is well in your world, wherever you are. Take some time for self-care, but stay engaged in life and people. It’s worth it, even when you’d rather punch them all…LOL.


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More Rules

Upon discussing some of the things that went sideways where my dad was living, the corporate folks pointed out that sometimes people get so fixated on obeying rules, they stop using common sense. I’ve been aware of that dynamic for a while and spot it in so many settings. Last week someone on the phone just spoke to me like a robot because she couldn’t stray from the script long enough to answer simple questions from me.

Today was another incident that had me seeing red. Dave was supposed to have his first ever indoor track meet today. It was at Buff State, about 25 minutes away. I was supposed to wake him at 5 am so he could catch the bus at 630 am. I didn’t notice that I set the alarm for weekdays, so it didn’t go off as it is Saturday. Oh no!

I woke up at 630. We told his peers we would have to drive there and off we rushed to get there. We weren’t going to be late, but it turns out there is a rule that students need to ride the bus or they can’t participate in the sport.

I called and pleaded with every source I could, all to no avail. They wouldn’t let him race. I had to drive back and pick him up. I even spoke with our counselor who is also on staff at the school. I understand why they have such rules, but you should still be able to use common sense. In other words, no parent (single or partnered) can ever, ever make a mistake or an error without their child being punished. There will never ever be a circumstance where exceptions should be made to the general rule. That’s ridiculous.

We also talked about how I have always been hard on myself for being less than perfect, and things like this trigger me like crazy. This is why you have to be perfect. The system doesn’t allow for being human. And it’s a million times worse when your kid suffers instead of you.

Follow the rules for the sake of following rules. Turn your blinders on. 

I know that David didn’t die because he couldn’t race today. Worse things can happen in life, I know. But it was still a very stressful, exhausting and disappointing morning with an already difficult season upon us.

Please feel free to share any thoughts you have and/or repost this on your page. Wish me luck as I continue on my Mary Poppins goal… Practically perfect in every way. 🙂


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He WAS there!

It’s funny how sometimes the “facts” of your life can change as your perspective and experience grows. Maybe a little growing up too. I remember when I was initially immersed in therapy in my 20’s and I was doing the whole evaluating my family of origin thing. Mom and I were in a lot of conflict at the time. I had this “aha” moment when I realized that I disagreed with her a lot, but it was because she was “there.” Dad just wasn’t. At least that is how it felt at the time.

I’ve mentioned before that Dad was a good, stoic German. He was not very demonstrative with his emotions or affection. It made him uncomfortable. That’s why there are lots of pictures of me sitting on his lap or my sister and I kissing him when we were older because we just kind of forced it on him (lovingly). You see his smile though, he liked it!

Progressive-Lisa, Dad, Darcy

But I was laying in bed the other night and one memory after another popped into my mind. I am rewriting my story. Dad WAS there.

The first time that comes to mind, I’m not really sure how old I was. Maybe five or six? Dad played softball at the fire hall. I think he was the pitcher. I was sitting on a blanket on the sidelines. Don’t know what family I was with but it wasn’t my family. All of a sudden I got hit hard in the head with a baseball. I was dazed. My vision was blurry but I looked and saw Dad running to me. He was there. I remember being home that night with ice on my face and Mom saying, “Poor baby.” But Dad came running, literally, when I needed him.

Next, fast forward to fourth grade. My grandma died. She and I shared a bedroom so I was very close to her. We had this ugly, brown, upholstered rocking chair, but we had it for years and years. I remember being curled up in Daddy’s lap in that chair and just crying. He didn’t say anything, just held me. He was there.

Right after I graduated high school I went on a mission trip to Europe for six weeks. I was in the driveway saying goodbye to mom and dad and we were hugging. I remember looking up and being shocked to see Dad crying. I mean tears, streaming down his face. He didn’t say a word but he didn’t have to.

In 1990, we had a huge tragedy in our family. My niece was killed in a car accident at only 10 years old. Dad was directing traffic as a firefighter and had no idea who was in the car. That tore him up. I remember him talking about it. And I remember our family going to the private viewing at the funeral home before everyone else arrived from the public. I am pretty sure it was him that stood next to me with his arm around me as we all sobbed.

In 2010, Tim was diagnosed with cancer. Our cat was too. Oreo was put on steroids and had another month where he functioned normally. Then the day came when he couldn’t walk and we knew what had to happen. Of course, the irony of knowing what lay ahead for Tim didn’t escape any of us. We were all in the bathroom as that was where we found Oreo unable to walk. It was Tim, David, Dad and me. All four of us cried. Dad was right there with us. No words were necessary.

I will never forget October 14, 2010 as long as I live. After his five month battle with cancer, Tim died at the Hospice facility. The room was full of loved ones, but it was Dad that stood next to me as the nurse examined him and looked up at us to tell us he was gone. Crazy thing about a terminal illness. You know the end is coming. You wait for it. You plan for it. But when it happens, you are shocked anyway. My knees literally buckled underneath me. Dad caught me. He literally held me up because my body wasn’t capable of it.

My story is rewritten. I had two amazing parents. As we all kept vigil as Dad was living out his last two weeks, my boyfriend Tim carved out some time alone with Dad. He told him that I wouldn’t be alone anymore. He promised to take care of me. He promised to take care of David. Even though he wouldn’t articulate it to me, I know that helped Dad to let go more peacefully.

As I had foot surgery this week and have had to sit still (which is almost impossible for me), Tim has kept his word. He has held me up, literally and figuratively. I remember him telling me that he knew he would never replace Dad, but he would do his best to be there for me.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Tim. And thank you God for all of them.

Graduation June 22, 1985 (3).jpg


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Screwed Up Priorities

Frankie is an avid athlete. He gives 110% for any sport he plays. Currently, he is a cross-country runner and a hockey player. You can see his effort and passion just by looking at him.

DSC_5798.JPGI have been making sure lately that I am thanking his coaches. When I go to meets or games, I am often appalled by the behavior of other coaches and parents. We have truly been lucky to have had great role models 90% of the time.

At a recent hockey game, I was sitting near a kid who looked like he was in sixth or seventh grade. He yelled on and off during the entire 75 minutes of the game. His mother sat next to him not responding in the slightest. He was belittling the referees by calling them “zebras” and “blind zebras” over and over again. At some point, everyone gets frustrated with refs and yells out, but there is a difference when you are denigrating them. If for no other reason, this young kid should show respect to them simply because they are adults. What is this kid’s future going to look like?

Cross country showed some unsavory characters as well. One coach was screaming at the guys, “You are running against these guys. They are not your friends. Stop running with them.” I can’t give you the intonation in written word, but it was awful. Frankie’s team supports each other and have each other’s backs. They cheer each other on and want everyone to be successful.

The worst was when I was talking to the girls after their race. They were talking about the moms from one of the other teams. She said one mom yelled out to her daughter, “At least you can burn off those calories you ate last night at dinner.” I was proud of our girls for realizing that was inappropriate. Plus, they had seen how that girl reacted to her mom and it wasn’t good. All I could think about was how she was a shoe-in for developing an eating disorder.

Competition is good for us. It motivates us and challenges us. Not everyone can have a trophy. But what I adamantly believe, is that my son needs to be a great human being first, and a great athlete second. Winning is NOT everything. Character IS everything. I’m extremely grateful for the coaches and parents we are surrounded by that seem to agree with that.

By the way, I’m pretty damn proud of Frankie- his skills as well as his sportsmanship. Well done!