Just because someone carries it well doesn’t mean it’s not heavy.

Strong. Resilient. Warrior. Mama Bear.

“You are such a good mom”

No matter how I spin it, with silver linings and tidy little bows on top, it’s heavy.

No matter how much I love my child (and it’s much – OH SO MUCH!), it doesn’t make the load any lighter.

No matter how true it is that I wouldn’t change a thing about Kiran, that I’d do it all, all over again, just like it’s happened …

You get the idea.

Just because someone looks like they’ve struck a balance doesn’t mean the beam they’re walking on isn’t wobbly. Just because it looks like they’ve sewn a strong blanket doesn’t mean they’re not actually hanging on by a tiny thread.

Kiran is light and joy and love and sunshine.

And despite it all, the load is heavy.



One thing I really miss about my former self is being organized.

Well, that’s not really a fair statement. I miss being organized in every facet of my life.

Just the other day, I emptied out a paper bag that came home with Kiran on his last day of kindergarten. He is halfway through his first grade year. That paper bag has been sitting in the same spot in the office since it came home. I told myself I’d deal with it after we took a break, after I got home from my first week of grad school on campus, after I got through my summer class, after I got him back at school….

And honestly, the keepsake stuff just got shoved in another pile in the office, and the bubbles and sidewalk chalk got stowed in the entry closet to use this coming spring/summer.

I feel like I am constantly looking at piles. And though I don’t enjoy it – and sometimes it really wears on my mental health until I just shut the door and walk away – I often don’t have the energy to tackle it or change it. And when I do, I feel like it lasts for a half a day, and then there’s more.

I was thinking about how good it felt to finally take care of that bag from kindergarten, and I started a negative mental spiral, berating myself in my head. Why did it take so long? It was such a little thing – that took what? five minutes? – why do you always put this stuff off?

And then I remembered: I haven’t missed or even been late to a single appointment of Kiran’s; I don’t miss the deadlines on all his paperwork for insurance, school, camps; I always put in his monthly medical supply order; although not everything is organized, I know exactly where to find all his medical information and previous difficult-to-fill-out-forms so I don’t have to start from scratch every time.

I get my school work done on time. For the most part, I am able to keep our house functional and somewhat clean (dusty walls be damned).

I am trying to write through this stuff because I am trying to realize it about myself. It’s not that I’m lazy or unorganized – It’s that there is so much more to juggle and keep track of now than there has been in my life previously.

It comes back to priorities – so much in this life I’m striving to be intentional in living does. I still want to tackle some of these piles this month, when I have extra time and (I’m hoping, at some point) extra capacity to do so. I’m learning to ask for help more, though I still have a long way to go with this skill.

Though I don’t make resolutions, I do want to actively work toward being kinder to myself, even in my own mind. Grace is so easily extended to others, but I am quick to think the absolute worst about myself. So I’m trying to dismantle the lie that I *should* be able to handle all of this myself. I am going to recognize and acknowledge that this is hard. And I’m going to keep writing about it, in hopes that maybe some of it will resonate with others along the way.

A Partner

Today, I am thankful to have a real partner in life. Someone who simply notices I look tired and asks if I want to go lay down, offering to take over with Kiran and the dog (because it was approaching a busy time in the day – dinner time – when both the boys need things).

I haven’t been sleeping, but this time just lying in bed, scrolling social media, resting…I needed it. I need it often – more often than I used to admit or even realize – but having a partner who chooses to show up and support me and give me these breaks really allows me to notice my own needs. And even tend to my own self from time to time, which shouldn’t be a novel concept, yet is, even at my age.

Pressure Cooker

It’s a new series on Netflix we are about to watch, but it sounds like my life.

Today was one of those days when, for whatever reason, all the worries flooded my brain.

The decisions that must be made, the never ending balance beam of priorities, the incessant guilt…the wishing it could be just a little bit simpler, sometimes.

I shared a specific decision/worry with Eric, one that is heavy with guilt and a true puzzle of priorities. And I told him even though my brain is examining solutions actively, I’m not ready to discuss them or have any provided to me.

Sometimes, I just need to let my brain ruminate in the background for awhile before I can take on a hard, disappointing decision.

So tonight, I’m going to drink my glass of red, watch yet another cooking show with my love, and turn off as much of my brain as I am able.

First Lost Tooth

I wasn’t ready!

I had no idea Kiran had a loose tooth. Hindsight being what it is, there was one definite clue: He has been chomping/playing with his teeth more frequently lately. I know now he was likely doing that because he was messing with his loose tooth, like all kids do. But I had no idea until his toothbrush looked like it had blood on it last night after doing the water rinse with it.

At first, I wondered if his teeth just got brushed a little hard, he had some gum irritation – it happens – and then it dawned on me and I said out loud “Do you think he could’ve lost a tooth!?!”

Kiran doesn’t make it easy to investigate his mouth on a typical day when nothing out of the ordinary is happening, so you can imagine how difficult he made it for us to check. He was very firm-lipped, with them tightly closed, and then when I could finally get in there, he kept putting his tongue where I had caught a glimpse of a gap.

We did finally get confirmation – Kiran lost his first tooth – one of the front bottom ones – right on time. I thought he might lose them a little later than typical, because he didn’t get his first tooth until he was 18 months old. There was a time I thought he may never get teeth, and I was grappling with what that reality might be (Turns out, not necessarily super different, as he’s still getting all his nutrition through his g-tube, teeth or no)

We are pretty sure he swallowed it, with seemingly no issues – This has been a big fear of mine, with his swallowing difficulties – I would imagine aspirating a tooth is very painful and dangerous. He has given no indication of aspiration, so I am hoping to spot it (though Eric thinks I’m crazy) in a stool. Hey – peace of mind is worth a lot.

No, the tooth fairy didn’t come. I am really having to grapple with this idea, because so many people have asked this question or insisted she must. One of the benefits of Kiran being an only child is I do not have the pressure to do all of that – no big stories of Santa, definitely no elf on the shelf nonsense – if we do the tooth fairy, it will be far more for us than it will be for Kiran. But – I think we might be getting him his own piggy bank so the tooth fairy can leave a quarter for his teeth, now that they are determined to fall out. And yes – I am also very lucky that I can just do a quarter – I acknowledge that.

I am surprised at my emotional reaction to this. I really wasn’t ready. It just seems like such a big boy milestone, and I still think Kiran is little. I sorta had to remind myself – he’s SEVEN!?! The time really does go by so quickly. I’m thankful to be experiencing these big boy moments with him.

And you better believe, I’m going to be investigating his mouth more often!

Wasting suckers

Kiran has a plethora of suckers. I keep them in a container in the large basket that is always on our dining room table. They are prominently displayed in the hope I will use them on a regular basis. They are great for getting him to move his tongue, an important aspect of oral eating. He likes licking suckers.

I end up throwing a lot of them away. In fact, I just did a giant purge of suckers recently, because between the 4th of July parade and Halloween, not to mention his Easter basket, we had a lot.

And they were getting old.

Tonight, in that time between his free water and blended meal, both given through his g-tube, I let him choose one. Well, to be fair, he was exhausted after communicating during speech therapy this evening, so Eric ended up choosing one for him. He indulged for awhile, eager to taste something he hasn’t had in awhile. At one point, I asked him if he was all done, and he immediately took his chewy necklace out of his mouth with one hand and reached for the sucker with the other, mouth agape.

I took that to mean he was not, in fact, all done. I love when he is so intentional with his communication and motivated by something as simple as a sucker.

I hate that I end up throwing so much food away, and suckers are no exception. And I don’t just mean when I purge his overflowing stash. I mean, he licks it for awhile, and I make his tongue muscles work, and it doesn’t make a dent. He can’t safely have the sucker – he doesn’t really know how to suck on something, and he would likely bite into it – that wouldn’t be a safe bite for him to attempt to swallow. We don’t need that kind of excitement, especially on a Thursday evening.

But I realized today – so what? Regardless of whether I throw most of the sucker away now, after engaging with him and giving him this experience or if I throw the entire sucker away several months from now because it’s been sitting in the same place for far too long….I’m still wasting the sucker.

Only – it’s not a waste if Kiran gets to enjoy it. It’s not a waste if his tongue gets a workout and it inevitably progresses him toward oral eating skills. Whether it’s a few licks or a few bites, I need to be giving Kiran these experiences more. I’ve fallen off the routine, and it’s time to get back to it.

So – we’ll be over here having a sucker – probably not every night – but at least twice a week. Working through his stash, enjoying the licks he takes, and tossing the rest. And then we’ll buy more and keep going.

After all, it’s the only kind of candy Kiran can really safely enjoy – and every kid deserves to have some candy every now and then.

Cleanliness is next to….

My walls are still not going to get wiped down today. Kiran’s bathroom remodel was completed at the end of November, and I keep telling myself I am going to get all the excess dust off of my walls. But – finals were happening and then holiday preparations and then Covid and now – well, now the house is in such disarray, that I have to prioritize basic cleanliness today rather than any kind of deep-clean task.

Quick question, though: How often do you wipe down your walls? Because when I did a quick Google search to get some ideas on what I wanted to use (I’ve used white vinegar in the past – thinking I’ll just do a drop of Dawn dish soap this time around), the article that pulled up said I should be doing this task monthly – and even better, twice a month!

What!?! No wonder the pressure is constant. Who has time to take on such an extraordinary cleaning task that often? My ideal self would wipe down walls once a year, but truth be told, I have been looking at the dust on the wall in our bedroom since we moved in, over two years ago now.

There are things more important than dust-free walls.

Coffee carafe

On the first day of every month, in the calendar on my phone, there is an all-day event: Clean coffee pot. Inevitably, I move this event to the next day and the next…and often end up accepting I am not the person I strive to be and delete it from my calendar entirely, the task left incomplete.

Don’t get me wrong – I wash the components of the coffee maker – the carafe, the basket, the reusable filter – more often than once a month. This task is meant to be running white vinegar and water through the machine to descale and keep our coffee tasting as it should. But it just doesn’t happen every month, try as I might to motivate myself with that calendar event.

But yesterday – the second day of the month! – I completed this task. It took me a few steps, as Covid exhaustion is still slowing my body more than I’d like. But the task was complete, the components of the coffee pot drying on the counter for fresh, delicious coffee this morning.

I was sitting on the couch last night when I heard it – CRASH! –

Eric had opened the cupboard above where our dishes dry, and my yeti travel mug betrayed me. It fell, perfectly onto the coffee carafe – the clean, drying coffee carafe – and shattered it into a million pieces.

If at any time on this journey, you have thought: “I’d like to buy Holly a cup of coffee”, this week would be a great time.

It’s an interesting reminder that life doesn’t always let us reap the benefits of our efforts. It is unpredictable, and sometimes, something we worked really hard on just breaks into a million pieces, through no fault of our own.

And what choice did we have? In this case, Eric worked to clean every tiny bit of glass off the kitchen counter and floor, to be sure more damage was not done – the glass shards could pierce our skin and cause more pain.

I suppose there is a beautiful metaphor in that, as well. When life smashes into something you’ve worked hard on, you can decide to just sit in that place – allow the pieces to cut and wound you, time and time again – or you can choose to sweep it up and away, toss it aside, and start over. Make a new plan. Pivot.

I have gotten so good at the pivot.

Sometimes – maybe far too often – I sit in the mess, trying to make it work still when I know it’s shattered beyond repair. I have stayed in situations that cut me and hurt me, again and again, because I was stubborn and determined to make it work. After all, I had worked so hard on the task.

It’s better to drink our coffee without the glass.

Under the surface

Encanto came out, and Luisa sang our anthem:

“Pressure like a grip, grip, grip, and it won’t let go, whoa
Pressure like a tick, tick, tick ’til it’s ready to blow, whoa, oh, oh
Give it to your sister and never wonder
If the same pressure would’ve pulled you under
Who am I if I don’t have what it takes?
No cracks, no breaks
No mistakes, no pressure”

I think every human who has heard this song and let the lyrics wash over them has felt seen – especially caregivers and perfectionists – two identities I personally hold.

The pressure is constant – insistent- and so much of it, for me, is piled on by my own hands. As Kiran’s mom and primary caregiver, there is always something we should be working on – walking in the gait trainer, helping with transitions, washing his hands, eating orally, using a speech device, getting in crawling position, working on pincer grasp, initiating communication, making marks on paper….

And then there is the nagging concept of balance. He needs to work on these things, but he needs to also rest and play and be a seven year old kid. He needs time in the community, time with family, time with friends, but he needs someone always by his side to assist him in all of these things.

But I can’t lose myself in the identity of his mom/caregiver only, either. There’s this pressure to also be a good romantic partner, a good daughter, a good student, a good friend, with pressures on the horizon about securing a good job and being a good speech/language therapist, a good coworker….

And the appointments need to be made, the house needs to be cleaned, the puppy needs exercise and mental stimulation, when was the last time the cat’s litter boxes were scooped? Order the medication before it runs out, blend food to nourish the boy, follow his schedule but also carve out time to shower and rest and figure out who the heck you are.

I have the entire month of January off from school, and the list is so long, filled with all the things I feel I have been “putting off”, grown even longer because we haven’t been feeling well for over a week now.

“But wait, if I could shake the crushing weight of expectations
Would that free some room up for joy
Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?
Instead, we measure this growing pressure
Keeps growing, keep going
‘Cause all we know is

Pressure like a drip, drip, drip that’ll never stop, whoa”