Three Mugs

This past Christmas, we surprised the grandparents with the announcement of a new baby on the way.

I came up with the idea of sharing the news via personalized mugs, each containing an ultrasound photo. I bought the mugs, and I printed the photos. I carefully wrapped each mug in colourful Christmas cheer, and presented it to each of them on Christmas Day.

It went off without a hitch.

There was joy, and there were tears.

There were only three mugs.

five years

Five years ago today, my father passed away. It’s been 1,826 days, and I still don’t talk about him much. I’ve written more words down than I’ve ever said aloud, and that suits me just fine.

I still think about him, though.

Mostly, I think about what he’s missed, what he’s missing, and what he will continue to miss as my life — and all of our lives — continue on. I think about my anger surrounding his illness and death, and yes, I still curse to high hell the grief that just never seems to subside.

As I lined up those three mugs on Christmas Day, I felt robbed and empty and gutted, but nobody could know. Especially not my mother, whose solitary Nana mug stood bravely in obvious isolation to those of her co-grandparent counterparts.

Robbed because he’ll never get to meet my sons.

Empty because he never got to see me become a mom.

Gutted because I know he would have loved my kids more than anything in this world, and he never got the chance.

But when I became a mom, I spent some time reflecting on being a part of the Dead Dads Club as a parent. Here are my top three pieces of advice to fellow club members with little ones, or little ones on the way:

1. Stop feeling let down by good things.

Creatively revealing my pregnancy to my mother and in-laws over the holidays should have been fun, but it just ended up feeling insincere and forced. I felt like a giant, phony ball of excitement as I plastered on a fake smile, waiting for their reaction. I was too focused on who wasn’t there, and not focused enough on who was. I ignored their joy, and focused on my misery instead. So if you’re standing where I am right now, stop looking through each one of life’s milestones with grief coloured glasses. You can’t go back. You can only keep living your life. The good things — I mean the really good things — don’t come around very often. Cherish them.

2. It’s okay to feel cheated.

I hate that my dad never got to see me become a mom, but what hurts even more is my sons won’t grow up to know him. I got 29 years with him, but all they’ll get are faded photographs and grainy, 80s-era home movies. But that’s life, and life isn’t fair. It’s a sobering reminder, and it’s helped me to appreciate what I do have a lot more. Yes, I’ve been robbed. But I’ve also been blessed. See #3.

3. Remember that they’re still here, in a way.

Though I’ll never again hear his voice, see his face, or surprise him at the holidays, my dad is still here, in a way. I get to see him every day. No, he didn’t get a mug this past Christmas — but he got something that nobody else did. Something infinitely more valuable.

He got his smile.

And nobody — even death — can take that away from him.

I stopped wearing makeup to work and so should you

Since entering the rat race ten years ago, I have held five full-time jobs.

Now before you try to calculate exactly just how much of a professional flight risk I am, peep this stat: up until this year, I’ve never gone a day without wearing makeup to every single one of those jobs.

Sick as a dog?

Full head of makeup.

Hungover to the point where I probably shouldn’t have even driven to work?

Full head of makeup.

Literally about to give birth right at my desk?

Full head of makeup.

I’m talking the whole gamut – liquid foundation, concealer, powder, blush, bronzer, eye shadow, mascara and lip gloss. At this point, I’ve probably put the founders’ offspring from Shopper’s Drug Mart, Sephora and MAC’s through college.

I get up at six o’clock in the morning just to give myself enough time to shower and put on my predominantly drugstore-brand façade that in theory, is supposed to present me as a human female, but in reality, probably makes me look a lot more like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show.

mimi

Screw the extra sleep. Screw breakfast. Time to look club ready as I sit hunched over in a windowless office surrounded by cheap fluorescent lighting for the next eight hours!

When I became a mom, wearing makeup every day to work became harder and harder to justify, but I kept doing it anyway. Force of habit? Maybe. Lack of confidence? Likely. Self-absorption? Most definitely.

I recently started a new job (with a window office!), working for a small communications firm with an all-female roster of unbelievably talented powerhouses. Truthfully, for the longest time, I couldn’t fathom the president’s decision to bring me on board. I felt completely inadequate and legitimately questioned her sanity when it came to the hiring process.

But here’s the rub: when someone takes a chance on you, it’s probably not because they like the way you accent your cheekbones.

And as I got to know these women more and more, they made me realize something about myself that I’m ashamed to admit: I cared far too much about what people thought of my physical appearance, for far too long.

A decade too long, in fact.

See, my new colleagues didn’t care about my uneven skin tone, my blemishes, and oh-so-dark under-eye circles. They didn’t care if I moisturized, powdered my nose, or drew a line across my eyelids. They cared that I showed up, did a good job, and contributed to the company in a meaningful way.

So I stopped.

For the first time in a decade, I actually stopped putting makeup on every morning.

It’s glorious, guys. I’m as free as Alicia Keys, and I only wish I had the confidence – and the courage – to do this sooner.

Now, I get a few extra minutes of blissful slumber each morning. I don’t have to stare at my reflection longer than absolutely required. And the best part is I use the extra time in the morning to eat breakfast with my son before I wrestle him into his coat, pack his bag, and drop him off at daycare for nine consecutive hours.

Look, I’m not against wearing makeup at all – to work, or anywhere else. Not by a long shot. If we’re being honest, I haven’t given up wearing it to work completely: part of my job occasionally requires me to look like I’m not a homeless meth addict, so when duty calls, I’ll run a curling iron through my hair, put on a blazer, and gussy up my drawn, tired-as-all-hell mommy-mug.

And if I get the exceedingly rare opportunity to leave my house for a night out with my partner or my girlfriends, I refuse to subject them or the general public to my blotchy, ghoulish complexion. Besides, wearing makeup makes me feel good – it elevates my mood, and gives me a confidence boost that is so needed during these dark, exhausting pregnancy days.

I’m fortunate. I have the privilege of working somewhere that I’m not required, nor expected, to put on filtered mask every day. Many professional women don’t have this luxury, and I cannot overstate how grateful I am to be part of a team that nurtures this environment.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go let my toddler run his hands all over my face with absolutely no consequences.

Toddler hands don’t have germs, right?

amy-schumer-makeup

Watch Amy Schumer’s “Girl, You Don’t Need Makeup” here.

Could we maybe just stop rating women like prize pigs at the fair?

If there’s one thing that every pregnant woman has in common, it’s the barrage of unsolicited comments she’s received about her appearance.

“You’re not having twins, are you?”

“You’re so tiny! Are you sure your baby is okay?”

“You look tired!”

It’s not just pregnant women, though. Ask any woman you know about the times she was cat-called, body shamed, or generally made to feel uncomfortable about how she looked, and she will have a handful of stories ranging from amusing, to downright terrifying.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), there isn’t much that phases us these days when it comes to remarks about our physical appearance. Women literally have generations of experience taking all kinds of unsolicited comments (typically from men), so whenever this kind of thing happens, it generally just rolls off our backs and we get on with our day.

Now I know what you’re thinking: is this crazy blogger lady some sort of hypersensitive radical feminist who hates the opposite sex so much that she’s using this platform to launch a verbal tirade against men?

Relax.

I only hate men when they talk.

Look, I know it’s unfair to generalize. Most men are decent human beings who don’t feel the need to gratuitously mouthblast every woman who crosses their path, or spew their inane word vomit all over the comments section of Facebook.

But then I recall the time I announced my first pregnancy on social media, and a man – let’s call him Danny – someone who I would never dream of even sharing a cup of coffee with jumped at the chance to inform me that I “just went from a 9 to a 2”.

GASP!

Say it ain’t so!

Are you telling me that I am not longer on your list of “Women I wish I could skrog but I’m too much of a stubby, trash-talking mouthbreather to even come close”?

I’m truly devastated.

Truly.

And to think, I was considering leaving my incredibly supportive, loving partner of ten years for you.

At the time, it rolled off. I found it both amusing and pathetic, not to mention so completely befitting of an individual who used to drive his convertible around to all the local high schools after he graduated to try and impress the co-eds. I quickly forgot about it – and him – instead, choosing to focus on what mattered: the incredible support from friends and family and the little boy who when he arrived, made every extra pound totally, utterly worth it.

But this past week as I struggled with my own insecurities as it became painfully clear that this pregnancy is being exceptionally unkind to my body, it came flooding back to me, and for the first time – I felt angry.

Angry that up until very recently, part of me actually still cared about what people thought of how I look.

Angry that I was a willing participant in the early 2000s Hot or Not phenomenon, and enjoyed it.

Angry that instead of enjoying breakfast with my son before work, I usually use that time to put on makeup.

Angry that we live in a society where women are still judged and rated like prize pigs at the fair.

Angry that the actual President of the United States literally endorses and makes money off of a degrading, arbitrary contest that quite frankly makes me embarrassed to be a woman.

Angry that someone so insignificant and meaningless still manages to get under my skin, even after all this time.

But then I stopped being angry. Because in three weeks, I might find out that I’m having a girl. And even if it turns out that it’s another boy, instead of being angry, I need to start being better.

And I will.

Danny recently had a baby of his own, and I’ll admit that I was tempted to childishly reciprocate his terrible joke from three years ago.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I decided to stop letting him waste any more of my time, and replace him with some incredible women I know who volunteered to share their similar experiences.

Let’s all be better.

Enjoy.

hola-beach-club

Mommy and the terrible, horrible, no good very sad brain

Somehow, I miraculously dodged the postpartum depression bullet like a ninja wearing a giant diaper-pad after the birth of my son.

I’m not sure how I did it, to be honest.

So many things went wrong those first few months that I should have been thrown into a pit of despair, starting with the unplanned c-section I still get choked up talking about.

Maybe I just didn’t have room for PPD.

Maybe something else was in the way.

Unfortunately, we’re all out of PPD at the moment, but would you like to try the suppressed grief instead?

From the unplanned c-section recovery, to the Great Breastfeeding Battle of 2014, to the most terrifying milk protein allergy hospital ordeal of all time, I still wonder how I came out of that first year relatively unscathed.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, a staggering amount of new mothers aren’t quite so lucky.

As many as 20% of new moms experience varying degrees of PPD, and as many as 80% experience a mild form, known as the “baby blues”. Symptoms include overwhelming sadness, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, sleeplessness and trouble bonding with the baby. If these symptoms persist and are left untreated, this type of depression can last for months, or even years after the baby is born. For the handful of women I have personally known to fight this battle openly, I also know that there are just as many, if not more, who choose to fight behind closed doors.

I happen to know a little about the latter.

When my father died, I shoved it all away. I refused to talk to anyone, and the worst part was that the grief I declined to acknowledge was compounded when I experienced recurrent pregnancy loss a short time later.

So if you’re reading this and you’re going through some pretty heavy stuff – PPD, grief, anxiety or literally anything else – I want you to know that you can reach out to me, anytime. Leave a message below, email me at rebecca@rebeccaford.co, or if you know me in real life, get in touch.

But I also want you to know a couple more things, and I’m not going to go easy on you.

1. You are not brave.
I say this with love, because I know what it’s like trying to do this alone. It won’t work, and it won’t get better, I promise. Fighting alone isn’t you being fearless, it’s you being stubborn. Asking for help takes real courage. Reaching out is brave.

2. Burying your feelings isn’t cute.
I wish I sought help a long time ago, when I needed it the most. Instead of dealing with my feelings in a healthy, adult way, I have always been more comfortable burying them, or burying them at the bottom of a box of wine. As you can imagine, it’s been highly ineffective. I know you may be shocked to hear this, but burying your feelings doesn’t actually allow you to feel anything at all. It masks the pain, and until you feel each loss—I mean really feel it—you will always be stuck in that pit I mentioned earlier. Don’t get stuck there. It’s uglier than you could ever imagine.

Don’t tell me to “get over it” unless you want a drop kick to the back of the head

As I sat in my midwife’s office today wiping away tears that seemingly came out of nowhere, I felt completely humiliated.

It’s been two years. Why can’t you get the hell over it? I scolded myself. Crying in front of complete strangers is easily in the top-three most humiliating things to do in public, next to sneeze-farting and getting your period in a white skirt.

I digress.

We’re just constantly told to “get over it”, and I have no idea whyWe are told this so much that today, I was actually angry at myself for not “getting over” a traumatic birth experience that happened to me two years ago. But feelings aren’t simply something you can turn off, like flipping a light switch, or that time I found out that Johnny Depp hit women.

(You’re dead to me, Johnny).

Bad breakup? Get over it.

Stressed out at work? Get over it.

Simply feeling sad about life? Get over it.

“Get over it” and “move on” are the boilerplate poster children of bad advice, and frankly, I’m sick of hearing them. Believe me, if someone could just “get over it”, they would. No one wants to lie in bed all day with the curtains drawn, wallowing in anger, sadness or grief.

So here’s an idea.

How about instead of asking people, women, moms and everyone in between to “get over it” and “move on”, we say, “Hey, let’s talk about it,” instead?

How about that?


January 25th is Bell Let’s Talk Day, a special day each year designed to bring awareness to mental health issues in Canada. To learn more, click here.

bell_lavie

Great, another mommy blogger

If you’ve clicked on the link to this post, I thank you, from the bottom of my tiny, black heart.

No, truly.

The fact that you have made the conscious effort to read this drivel in lieu of any number of infinitely more interesting activities is a testament to how much you value me as a human being, and — hey, where are you going?

For those of you who are left, welcome. You’ve made it a lot further than most people, mainly those who rolled their eyes/ignored my status as I shamelessly plugged this blog on social media.

So let’s get started.

Why unfit-mom.com?

I know what you’re thinking: Becca, what could unfit-mom.com possibly offer me?

First of all, what makes you think I’m doing this for you? Get over yourself.

I write because I love to write and frankly, this blog may be the only legacy I leave my children.

But if we’re being honest, I feel like a complete failure 99% of the time. Sometimes, I seriously believe that I’m breaking the world record for the number of ways I’m botching parenthood. So if I write anything at all here that makes you feel something, commiserate, laugh, fart, or laugh-fart, it will all be worth it.

In conclusion, I really do hope to see you back here, because frankly, I need the exposure.

And maybe a foot rub, if you’re offering.