The Art and Sadness of “Getting Through”

By De Elizabeth

In high school, I referred to them as “Dread Days.” They were, quite simply, days that provoked the feeling of dread, for reasons entirely appropriate in a 14-year-old’s world: science lab with the girl who bullied me in elementary school, a history class presentation where I was underprepared and my crush sat in the first row, having to complete my volunteer shift at the library instead of spending an afternoon with my friends.

Initially, I only used the phrase in my head silently, but eventually started labeling them in my planner with two D’s, written as tiny as possible and in purple ink. In the days leading up to a Dread Day, I’d have a pit in my stomach, knowing that whatever fun I was having in the moment would soon be overshadowed by the knowledge that something unpleasant would take its place. On the morning of a Dread Day, I’d repeat to myself: Just get through it; just get through. When the day was over, I’d cross off the “DD” in my planner, feeling a sense of overwhelming relief.

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You’re Allowed to Be Sad

By De Elizabeth

I went for a drive the other day without an actual destination. It was a 25-minute car ride, taking loops through familiar streets, passing deserted parking lots, dark windows, empty playgrounds. My toddler sat in her car seat behind me, every once in a while asking: Where are we going? Every time I’d answer, Just for a drive.

Towards the end of the trip, we passed an ice cream shop we’ve been to a couple of times. Like many other establishments right now, it was closed, windows shuttered, without its usual inviting neon signs. I found myself thinking back to last summer, sitting on those wooden steps, choosing not to care that my 2-year-old was getting ice cream all over her face and clothes. I took a picture of her chocolate-stained cheeks and hands; a printed copy is taped into her baby memory book, a snapshot of Before All Of This.

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Are You Better Now?

By De Elizabeth

CW: The following talks about eating disorders & restricting behaviors.

The first time I heard about National Eating Disorders Awareness Week was in college; I passed a sign in the dining hall that showed a picture of a girl probably around my age holding a piece of fruit. Across the poster, in big letters: “What does an eating disorder look like?” As I methodically put things on my plate, taking twice as long than everyone else because I was terrified to eat anything at this point, I remember thinking: This, it just looks like this. 

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What We Mean When We Say We Have “Mom Brain”

By De Elizabeth

I forget to do things all the time these days.

Sometimes they’re small things: I forgot to move the laundry to the dryer or I forgot to answer a text. Other times, they’re a little more significant: a work email that’s sitting in my draft folder, an invoice I need to send, the paperwork from my accountant for tax season. I’ll remember at inconvenient times: driving on the highway, brushing my teeth before bed, or while trying to fall asleep. Oops, I’ll think. I’ll do it tomorrow.

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Be Away From Me

By a 3OT Guest Writer

“Be away from me” my almost-three-year-old boy shouts at me, for likely the seventh time this week. To compliment his bold declaration, he throws one small arm out straight in front him and swings it from side to side, as if indicating the exact amount of space he needs in order for me to “be away”.

Though he is good with language for his age, he obviously lacks a command of the English language, which sometimes win us some great little phrases. When he doesn’t want to snuggle before bed at night, I am told to “be off his body”. Typically my husband and I giggle about these mistakes in wording. We try to document them because we know that one day he won’t make mistakes like these. Or he will…. But it won’t be funny so much as a reason for a concerning parent teacher conference.

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The December I Stopped Making New Years Resolutions

By De Elizabeth

The end of the year feels like it’s supposed to be momentous. The parties, the glitter, the fancy dresses. The countdowns, the champagne toasts, the resolutions to try harder, be better, do more, next year. The reflections, the highlight reels, the top 10s. The overwhelming urge to look back, collect your thoughts, and go on to vastly improve.

In reality, the shift from December 31 to January 1 comes without fireworks. It’s soft, it’s quiet, it’s the rustling of a page turning in the dark. There’s no explosion, no flashing lights, no disco ball. There’s you on December 31. There’s you on January 1. And it’s the same you all along.

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Chasing The Crape Myrtle Tree

By Jillian Stacia

On my phone, I keep a list of things that I love – things that make me feel like me. It starts with coffee and ends with deep breaths of forest air.

It may seem dumb, this list. Or maybe a little narcissistic. And it’s slightly sad to have to remind myself that I prefer sunflowers to roses, or that naps during sporting events are my favorite way to unwind on the weekends.

But I find myself looking at this list more and more, constantly adding, editing, tweaking.

I’ll catch myself staring down at the numbers, memorizing the content, reading them like a mantra: the sound of rain, library books, reading on the beach. Continue reading

I Love Being a Mom, And

By De Elizabeth

There’s a special kind of nagging, annoying, feeling of guilt that is unique to motherhood. So much that there’s even a term for it; aptly, it’s called “Mom Guilt.”

For me, and so many others, it sneaks up a thousand times a day: if I take 30 seconds to answer an email instead of playing with my daughter, if I spend 25 minutes getting ready rather than 20, if I arrange a rare night out and leave her with anyone who isn’t me. Mom Guilt is always there to remind me I didn’t come up with a fun Pinterest’y craft that week, or that she’s eaten mac-n-cheese three times for dinner instead of whatever colorful nonsense I see on those toddler meal Instagrams. And Mom Guilt loves to have a party whenever I find myself missing my pre-mom life, or wanting to indulge parts of myself that isn’t wrapped up in the identity of being a mom.

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Instagram, Real Life, and The In-Between

By De Elizabeth

Earlier this week, a friend told me that my life seemed “amazing” through Instagram, and my first instinct was to laugh. Hard.

I read her message after I had just finished cleaning a stack of dishes that had piled in the sink. Prior to that, I had picked up no less than thirty toys strewn across my living room floor, knowing full well that the room would once again be a mess just a few minutes later. My hair was unwashed, thrown up in a messy half-bun, and my eye makeup was rubbed off from crying earlier over a reason I can no longer recall. Untouched on my desk was a to-do list I’d written earlier in the day when I was feeling more motivated, when I thought I might actually accomplish something productive that afternoon.

But sure, on Instagram, everything looks different.

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Joy Comes With The Mourning

By Kate Kole

Last week, my older brother would have turned 40. It was the 15th birthday we’ve had without him here with us.

While most dates are just numbers on the calendar, Mondays blurring into Tuesdays and one errand running into the next, birthdays stand apart.

There’s anticipation and expectation. Memories of the past and wishes for the future.

When his birthday rolls around each November, I think about the first year he wasn’t here. The way our grief felt heavy and hard to carry. How we wondered if we’d ever feel happy again.

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