Thank You – An Open Letter to My Readers

by Holly on March 8, 2012

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So, you probably don’t know this, but in January my little blog had its 4th anniversary. I didn’t celebrate it and didn’t even acknowledge it. The past two years for my blog have more and more progressively been a struggle. Many days I’ve just wanted to call it quits, but didn’t want to let go either.

You see, my life is completely chaotic. Somewhat controlled most of the time, but in the past several years it seems that each time I thought I was coming up for air, something unexpected would happen to just push me back under.

Most of those occurrences have been, unfortunately, directly related to my kids.

I didn’t want to talk about it, but I also couldn’t think about anything else. Posting schedules went out the door. Good intentions to be organized and improve things made a swift exit through the window. Motivation? Down the drain.

Frustratingly though, under it all, the desire for a creative outlet wouldn’t go away.

In the meantime, wonderful blogging opportunities were still coming my way for a while, but as the reality of life with three complicated kids would once again stare me in the face I would generally have to say, over and over again, “thank you so much for thinking of me, but I just can’t do _______.” Fill in the blank- everything from cooking demos on local tv programs and at pro demo stages at expo’s to attending events.

A little bit more of that happiness of being a food blogger with a bright future ahead of me would die just that much more because the reality I was struggling to live in just really wasn’t my life. It couldn’t be for me.

It just couldn’t. I’m not generally a person to likes to whine or feel helpless to change something. I don’t think that most of us are. Especially as Moms I think we become hardwired to find a way to cope/deal/adapt/change etc. It’s just the way it is.

There came a time for me not long ago where I decided I needed to take a long, hard look at why I started blogging in the first place and where I wanted it to go. Did I start because I wanted to be a sensation or write a cookbook or run a business?

No.

I think it all comes down to intentions. When I started this whole experience it was because I was in desperate need of a creative outlet and some contact with the outside world – or I was going to lose my mind.

I was home alone, all the time with my difficult and emotional four year old at home (who I could tell that something wasn’t ok with and would come to figure out within a couple of years has very difficult ADHD with anxiety and oppositional defiant disorder and possibly another mood disorder we haven’t yet been able to determine).

On top of that I had gone through a terrible and difficult pregnancy, only to have it abruptly turn into a life threatening experience at the end (for us both) when they had to do an emergency c-section to delivery my 3lb baby boy almost 8 weeks early to save my life and his, only to get him home after 28 days in the hospital with orders not to leave the house with him under any circumstances until early the next Summer. This was in October. I did what I had to do to take care of him, but it affected us all, including being the cause of a case of PTSD for me that still lingers and creeps up on me four years later to when I least expect it.

Then two years after that experience, just when I am finally deciding that, because of the likelihood that another pregnancy would be just as bad or worse, that I cannot have any more kids, I find out I’m already on my way to having another.

It should be mentioned here that for both boys we tried for a pregnancy for two years each. With our daughter, we were preventing and wound up with our one and only surprise pregnancy. Needless to say, she was supposed to be here.

I was thrilled and terrified… and hopeful. Perhaps this would be the time where things were *normal* and everything went *right*.

Then our daughter was born one week before my scheduled c-section, where, for once, I even went in to labor. Only to be told she was breech and we would still have to do the c-section.

I can remember clearly thinking, “and so it begins.” Little did I know.

I can remember the delivery clearly and being shown my daughter, who I could tell had been in distress and whisked off to the special care nursery. I’ve never had a different experience than my kids being whisked away and not getting to be with them. It was crushing each time, but this being the third time, I was mentally prepared for that to happen.

I was even mentally prepared for the wait for the epidural to wear off so I could finally be wheeled to where my daughter was to meet her. Again, this is our *normal* so, though it’s an awful experience, I just figured I would get through it.

While we were waiting, the pediatrician came in with the update on how our daughter was now doing. I still remember things clearly up to this point because I remember that my nurse was in the room chatting with us and the pediatrician (who by the way has become a very dear part of our life) excused her from the room.

Once the nurse had left, the doctor looked at us and explained that Kayla had an infection among other issues and that she was fairly sure that she had Down syndrome.

From that moment on, on and off over the past two years, my world has changed dramatically and is still a daily adjustment.

Interestingly enough though as I’ve thought about it more recently, it’s entirely possible to be lucid and yet still living in a complete fog.

Don’t get me wrong though, it isn’t all about Kayla’s diagnosis at all. It is the big picture of my life. I have family that like to remind me that this is what I wanted. I don’t think anyone wants or expects to have three complicated children with a gamut of unexpected and special needs.

But that’s what I have. Life is not all peaches and cream. I adore my kids and seriously wouldn’t trade them for the world… BUT.

There. I said it. But.

For their sakes, and some of our own, I wish things weren’t so hard all of the time. I am told often that Heavenly Father wouldn’t have given us more than we could handle. Most days I feel like we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

The bottom line is, my blog is a hobby. It is meant to be my happy place. It is meant to be a place where I can connect with a community of like minded people who inspire me, support me and need my support and where I can come to be ME.

I’ve been doing a disservice to us both here for a while because I’ve been at a complete loss for words that could convey my love for my family and my joy in my children, while still sharing the feelings that my situation brings out in me that just aren’t so pretty.

The reason decided to do NaBloPoMo this month was to put an end to the waiting for things to change and get to a perfect place for me to pick up that bright food blogger future and surge forward again.

In the meantime, things have changed. I still love to cook and bake and obsessively talk about it and my love for food, but I’m done trying to talk around the reality of my life.

While I sincerely hope you’ll stick around for the future of my blogging adventure for lots more recipes, I really hope you’ll stay around to be a part of my life.

On that note, I wanted to write, after that long, drawn out, convoluted and unedited diatribe of self therapy above, for this open letter to you, the incredible people who come here and hear my words to help give them value beyond myself. I just want you to know, thanks to you, I’m not giving up and will still have a happy place to share recipes and the things I love, but I will be able to be more open and genuine again. I hope that there is something in that that somehow helps you as well.

Dear Friends,

I’ve said many times in the past that you mean so much to me. I’ve meant it every time, but have never felt like I could really convey what I meant. I would love to throw a big party and do giveaways galore and give you all moonbeams to take home in a jar. I can’t though. All I can do is very humbly tell you that YOU are of immense value to me. Each click, each comment, each bit of support and acknowledgement that by being here you are telling me, “hey, I get it. You’re not alone.” is what helps the inner me get through the days spent at hospital appointments and trying to figure out how to navigate the emotional maze of raising my kids. I remember a time when I was more of a dreamer. I remember a time when I wanted to be a crusader. Most days all I want is to get through the day. I’m lucky in so many ways and know that I am. I hate the times when I feel like I’m whining about what is still so much more and so much better than so many have. I’m trying to adjust my expectations for myself. When I named this blog “PheMOMenon” I always intended to write about my life with my kids and especially related to food. The fact that anyone cared was and is amazing to me. I want you to know that you inspire me. I don’t often get to quote on others blogs, and frankly it’s usually because I’m just trying to keep my head above water and just don’t feel I have anything to give. I want to, but it isn’t always there. I’m working on that. I really miss when I interacted with you more, but I never want it to be for the sake of just doing it. You have too much value in my life and heart for me to dishonor that relationship with idle responses and prattle. You help me get through the day and, while I hope in some small way I do the same for you, I just know that we have a lopsided friendship here. I don’t mean to be a taker, but I’m ridiculously grateful that you sometimes let me be. There are thousands upon thousands of other blogs you could read. So, I don’t know how to convey what you mean to me other than to just wear my heart on my sleeve here and tell you, thank you!!

All my love and admiration,
Holly

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily March 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Holly, I love you. And I will be here reading no matter when, what or how often you post. And I’ll be on Twitter and here in real life too. You’re amazing.

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Krista March 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm

You did it Holly! You are awesomesauce!!!! I love you! xoxo

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Charlene March 9, 2012 at 2:08 am

Bravo! I too think you are amazing! I love your blog and will continue to enjoy it not matter what you post! Strength and happiness to you and your beautiful family!

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Merrilee March 9, 2012 at 5:17 am

I don’t subscribe to many blogs, and I subscribe to yours for the very reason you say– life if crazy and best laid plans get changed! I love the kid stories mixed in with the food stories and love that you don’t pretend it’s all glitter and perfection. Life is what it is. One of my favorite sayings from “Heartbreak Ridge” with Clint Eastwood is IMPROVISE, ADAPT, OVERCOME and I hope you’ll continue to do just that, adapt this blog to be what you need. I think you’ll find us all along for the ride!

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Pam March 9, 2012 at 6:18 am

My hats (if I wore hats) off too you, You are truly an amazing lady & a awesome writer.

I’ve been following you for a few years now, (I look forward to your blog) & I’m always amazed that you can do all that you do daily & still find time to cook/bake & then to write about it.

I will be here for as long as you are, be it a recipe or you find you just need to vent, let er go lady
You are inspiring to say the least. You are loved & admired more than you’ll ever know.

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Elizabeth March 9, 2012 at 7:48 am

Thanks for hanging in there and sharing with us your gifts of honesty, faith, and love for your family, freinds, and those of us you only know through words. You may have to change some of your dreams, but many of us do anyway and new dreams can be just as great or even better! Life can be so full of struggles that its hard to remeber to “live”. I find you a great inspiration and only wish you great moments of “living” each and every day! Take a deep breath, and keep going.

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Adelina Priddis March 9, 2012 at 8:23 am

wow, you are so amazing. I’ve only recently started following, so thank you for sharing a glimpse into your life and emotions. I can’t imagine what each of your pregnancies and children are like, it’s almost too much for me to even think about. I do believe that Heavenly Father only gives us what He knows we can handle. Some days will be worse than others, but that’s part of our test, our growth, to become the person He knows we can be.

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Lindsey C. March 9, 2012 at 8:30 am

Miss Holly,
You are seriously amazeballs.
Brava to you for for being strong and having the wonderful and loving family you were given.

I have been patiently waiting for you to come back to blogging…. hovering over your name in my feed a few times deciding whether or not to take you off due to no new posts for a while. But I am glad I listened to my feelings and left it alone.
I wish you many happinesses and love in your future. And I wish you strength and support when you need it.
😀
Happy Friday!

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Lindsey C. March 9, 2012 at 8:31 am

And P.S.
You have a lovely, beautiful daughter. And she is lucky to have such a lovely mommy.

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Marsha March 9, 2012 at 10:18 am

Wow…………what an inspiration you are. I’ve been following your blog for some time now and have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy each and every one. Thanks for sharing your life with me.

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Fuji Mama March 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Thank you for being YOU. The more I get to know YOU, craziness and all, the more I love you. You are an INCREDIBLE pheMOMenon! And I think the decision to stop writing around your life is an awesome one. I think writing through your amazing life and persistence will bring even more flavor and personality to this space. Love you girl!

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Regina Reed March 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Oh my goodness, how much I can relate to you and your household! I had 4 boys within a 7 year span. One of them, the 2nd born had (and continues to have) ADHD. People used to ask me how I did it, and I always said it wasn’t really that bad, or else I was really crazy and just didn’t know it! So your comment that it is possible to be lucid and still be living in a fog, hit home!! I know exactly what you’re talking about.
The good news is, you WILL get through it. My boys are all adults now and are actuallreal functional adults!!
My love of cooking and cake decorating and other crafty things got me and them through.
Hang in there little lady! You are sooo smart are quite the inspiration.
Don’t hesitate to contact me for ANY reason!

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Regina Reed March 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm

A p.s., to my previous note!
I worked my whole adult life as a nurse. Part of those years, was working for company that was a branch of A.R.C. Quite a few of my clients were Down Syndrome. You have been given a true gift in your little girl. I truly felt an attachment to everyone of my clients, however they (the clients with Downs Syndrome) were the most loving and gentle people I have encountered in my life. Cherish her, she is a gift from God. Your sons will learn an empathy and compassion for others that cannot be taught, something that will be an attribute, so few in our world have.
Enjoy, and keep blogging!

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Mel March 9, 2012 at 9:13 pm

You are an inspiration to so many, Holly (um, yes, including ME!). Thank you for your honesty and openness. You are real and that’s why I love your guts!

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Stephanie March 10, 2012 at 6:25 am

Please look inBiofeedback and Neurofeedback! At 33, I have suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia for years. My condition is related to my PTSD and an early childhood trauma. NO MEDICINE can help me, but finally Biofeedback has. It can help with PTSD, pain, anxiety, panic disorders, Autism, ADHD, trauma (which includes difficult childbirth, surgery) and so much more. Feel free to email me with ANY questions. Biofeedback has “given me my life back.” Thank you for such a wonderful, heartfelt post. You are a gifted writer. Stay strong.

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Frieda March 10, 2012 at 9:33 am

What a thoughtful letter to your readers! I’m grateful that I have had the chance to meet you and your daughter in person. You have a passion for your family and for food as your creative outlet. Don’t feel badly about turning down blogging opportunities; they’ll come your way again ~ I can tell that your kids and family will always be your FIRST priority. Your kids are only little once; you will never have these experiences again. Yes, they will drive you crazy, but believe me, when they have grown and begin to lead lives of their own, you know what you are going to miss? The bread crumbs on the counter. The cacophony of screaming, laughter and fun. The toys strewn all over the floor. Yes, I miss my 23 year old ADHD son, who lives several states away, who is now a new father. You will make it. One day at a time. Why? Because you are PheMOMenon, a mom, first and foremost. 🙂

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Laura March 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

Holly,

I loved reading this letter. You are such a strong person, and I truly admire your ability to do all that you do, and take care of your family so well. 🙂 I hope you know that you are never alone in the constant battle to raise your family and maintain your sense of “self”. You are doing a great job! I truly believe like you stated above, that Heavenly Father doesn’t give us more than we can handle, but just exactly the limit of what we actually can. Thats why life is always going to be a struggle, and on the days that you don’t feel 100% it will seem like more than you can handle, and thats what friends and family and your Heavenly Father are for. To buoy you up and lift the extra part of your burdens that you cant seem to carry at the time. 🙂 I struggle daily to carry my burdens as well. Some days I feel like I have mastered my life, and on other days I am drowning in it. Thats when I ask for help (or frankly, take a break from it all, and do something that I enjoy like cooking or sewing etc!) I applaud you for all you are accomplishing. I am here if you ever want another mommy to talk to!

xoxo
Laura Muir

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Jodie March 11, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Holly, I love your blog and you (through your blog). Being a mom and wife is tough some times, but you will be blessed with courage and strength because it was what you were meant to do. You have a beautiful family. Sending prayers and thoughts your way!

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Stephanie March 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Your strength and resiliency is amazing. You are such an inspiring person. Thank you for sharing your journey with us readers

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Mary March 12, 2012 at 7:48 am

Holly – life is complicated. Thank you for having the courage to open you heart and share your most tender feelings. It is a brave thing to do and you are a “phenomenal” Mom to do it. I love getting your posts by email. I love seeing your awesome recipes and incredible photography. I love your sweet kids. I too have a special needs child and every day is a new adventure. No two days are alike and I have been doing this for nineteen years.

So take a deep breath and know that you are not alone. This is a hard and difficult season of life right now. This too shall pass and brighter days will come. So take care of your family and don’t worry about your readers. We will be here when you pop up for air.

Blessings and Grace my friend…

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Angela March 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm

HUGS!!!!!

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Kelli May 23, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I saw your AWESOME segment on Studio 5 and then came to read your blog. I love your open heart. Thanks for being brave enough to trust us with your tender feelings. While I don’t have anything profound to say, I hope you know that you are clearly an amazing woman, wife, mother and blogger. I hope you find peace in the journey you decide is best for you and your family.

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