Waves of love

Love, to me, is the most coveted and important emotion we can give to another person. In my marriage our love ebbs & flows like the waves in the ocean. Sometimes there’s a high tide where the love feels all consuming. It washes over me and I feel nothing but bliss & happiness. Other times, like currently, it’s low tide. The water feels shallow and murky. It’s unclear how deep it goes but I know the love is still always there.

I married someone with no clinical diagnosis of mental illness. Of course he has his situational anxiety & sadness, like everyone else, but nothing neurological that prohibits him to feel happiness like I do.

Living with bipolar disorder is hard. I recently had a conversation with him about my own happiness. I expressed that it’s difficult for me to feel joy most of the time. The highs of my mania & sudden drops into depression seep into my everyday life and ruin most experiences for me. It truly is not easy to enjoy my life at times.

I know I am blessed with a husband who loves and supports me. But like I said, love can be like the ocean. Today the waters feel rough and hard. Rather than feeling love in this high tide moment, I feel waves of judgement and resentment.

I don’t know how to explain to him that my mental illness is not my choice. I have had the unhealthiest coping mechanisms for the longest time in order to “treat” my depression. In the past this has involved drug use and even smoking or drinking. When life feels too overwhelming I’d rather numb the pain in anyway possible.

Being pregnant I know I can’t rely on those unhealthy coping mechanisms. I have my friends and support system. But what do you do when the one person you want to count on the most isn’t there for you?

I have to understand and accept him for who he is and what he is capable of giving me. I know his love his endless. It stretches as far as you can see, almost like looking at the vast ocean.

But sometimes love isn’t enough. Love can’t always sustain happiness during times of heartache and loss. I can’t rely on another person to make me happy.

As a person with mental illness, I know it’s my responsibility to make my own self happy. I read this analogy on facebook which has helped shift my perspective on love:

“Some people are ‘gallon people’ and some people are ‘pint people’. I live my life as a gallon person. I want to give a gallon, and expect to get a gallon in return. However, some people are pint people. They only want a pint. When you give them a gallon; it overflows and is wasted. Then when you expect a gallon to fill us back up, they only have a pint to give. A person is never going to be able to give you what you need; you need to find it somewhere else— or better yet, within yourself.”

Love is always something that should be given freely with zero expectations. These expectations become conditions and should never be motivations. If we get love it should be a bonus but not the sole reason and purpose of our love.

I’m sorry to my husband for not being everything you want all the time. I’m sorry that I crumble at times and feel the weight of my depression. It’s not that I want to give in to my sadness, but I truly cannot help it. But I do love you, and there is no end to that love.

The guilt of it all

There are a couple human emotions I feel are entirely pointless. Guilt is one of them. I feel guilt is necessary when dealing with our conscience in order to make decisions that are right from wrong. However, my predicament shouldn’t make me feel guilty at all.

I recently found out I am pregnant. I’m not very far along, about two months, and the tremendous amount of guilt I feel is climbing. Why do I feel so guilty? I’ve always wanted another baby. However, the pressure I feel that it brings causes me so much guilt that it’s hard to feel happy.

I feel as if I’m letting a lot of people down. My parents are one of them. I know they are so worried because of my past severe postpartum depression that it prohibits them from being happy for me.

I feel guilty because I know I should be more excited. How lucky am I that I can bring another life into this world? We weren’t even trying and things just happen anyway. My fertility should be looked as a blessing not a burden.

I feel guilty that I told the world so early of our budding baby. But when is the right time for someone to announce their pregnancy? People usually wait til their second trimester when it’s considered the “safe zone.” I am not in the safe zone. Anything can still happen. But things can happen in the second trimester that are beyond our control as well. My heart aches for anyone who has ever lost a baby. I cannot imagine that loss and what that would do to me personally.

I share because I am an open book at this point. All of my experiences and what happens to me are meant to be learning experiences. But I can’t help but feel guilty for not enjoying this pregnancy as much as I should.

I’m exhausted. I can still take my bipolar meds but the ones I need for focus & attention are not allowed. I can’t seem to find the motivation to even want to go out and see the animals. It’s also been my longest gap in posting on Farmerish.

So how do we make it through moments when guilt & despair surround us? We push through. I have to rely on sheer will power to make sure things get done. I also have to rely on my support system.

This pregnancy will be different this time around. I have never had the support I’ve had in my life than I do now. I read a quote on Pinterest that said, “Guilt is rooted in actions of the past, perpetuated by the lack of action in the present, and delivered in the future as pain & suffering.”

When I was suffering through my postpartum depression I experienced a lot of rage. I had so much pent up aggression that I was taking it out on people that I loved the most- my husband especially. The guilt of that still triggers me currently. However, my present circumstances aren’t defined by my past.

I don’t want to live my life with pain & suffering because of guilt. No amount of guilt can change the past. We must let go in order to move on. And in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this budding baby. Because it truly is a blessing.

Our first scan

bipolar mommy

I’ve been struggling with a little bit of writers block. Last night I opened up my WordPress and attempted to write 3 times. Each time I got a few paragraphs in and then deleted the whole post. It’s frustrating & mostly due to my constant need for perfection.

I’m trying to write while Blippi plays in the background. If you’re unfamiliar with Blippi (you lucky person), it’s a popular albeit annoying Youtube kids show.

My kids are my world. I had someone ask me the other day, “Aren’t our kids EVERYTHING to us?” I hesitated when I answered.

Of course my children mean everything to me. But should they make up my whole entire life? I don’t necessarily think so.

I am a mother of three beautiful boys. One is my stepson, but I love him like he’s my own. I’ve always wanted to be a mama of three boys & it’s funny how life works out.

I love my sons. But I don’t think my identity & purpose should solely be a mother. I’ve tried that before when I was a stay at home mom for three years, and I couldn’t handle it.

The long days of isolation when my husband was at work and dealing with two under two dismantled my mental health. I would have to wake up multiple times a night to nurse or pump & then spend the following day exhausted and depleted of any remaining energy. I remember barely being able to keep my eyes open somedays.

Going back to teaching saved my mental health. I was so nervous to join the workforce as I know from experience that teaching kids with special needs isn’t easy. But it was one of the best decisions of my life.

We, as mothers, know that our children mean everything to us. But if you grapple with mental health as well, I know how difficult it can be. I understand the demanding job of juggling motherhood & your mental health. I can empathize with what it’s like to feel like you’re doing everything but not enough at the same time. To wonder if you’re doing a good job or if you’re failing your children by struggling inside.

I found this image on Popsugar.com with this quote by Jessica Lange. While I agree with the sentiments, I don’t think that motherhood should make you completely unselfish.

They say when you’re on a plane and heaven forbid need to use an oxygen mask, you should put your own mask on first before helping others. This doesn’t make you selfish. It means that in order to help others then you must help yourself first.

There’s nothing selfish about that. It’s okay to prioritize yourself. It’s also okay to have an identity outside of being a mother.

Motherhood has changed my life. I’ve never known love this deep before. I never knew how much my heart could explode with LOVE when I see my kids and I still look at them in awe.

But I also know the demands that motherhood brings. Being a bipolar mom I know I need to prioritize my mental heath as well. I also know I need to give myself grace. Bad moments don’t make us bad moms.

So mamas, hold onto those precious moments with your little ones (or big ones). But please remember- it’s not selfish to want to have a life outside of them. We can’t pour from an empty cup.

Proud boy mama

Back to school blues

I feel it in the air every morning when I step outside of my farmhouse to feed my pigs and goats. The feel of the crisp morning chill my thoughts knowing that summer is drawing to a close. Usually thoughts of pencils, apples, and pumpkin spice lattes dance in my head, but this year is different.

I am a special education teacher. This will be my 9th year- almost a decade. In the last decade have I experienced anything like what is going on in the education world today? Absolutely not. I would never have dreamed that we would be in a global pandemic affecting the lives of countless teachers, parents, and of course- the children.

I have the back to school blues. It’s not because I don’t love teaching. I do. It’s just this year has been causing so much conflict. Most of the school districts in my state are opening with remote learning. Parents are struggling with their decisions, teachers are doing the best they can, but my heart really aches for the children.

My heart aches for the children who rely on school as their safe place. A place where they can rely on consistency, routine, and accountability. A place where they feel loved by their teacher and their friends are their family. The sad reality is that those relationships are hard to build via remote learning.

I am not arguing that we should all rush into schools now and be in person. I know the importance of social distancing, mask wearing, and staying safe. However I can’t help but have the back to school blues.

I have three boys. They will be all be doing online learning. My two youngest have never been in school before. My heart continues to ache for the loss I feel of missing out on an important event in their lives. I wanted those classroom photos. I wanted to pick them up from school and have them tell me about all the new friends they made. I wanted to hang up their art project they made in class.

As a special education teacher doing online teaching, I will do my best. I will try to cultivate relationships with my students by being as engaging as possible. So please be patient with us teachers. As a mom and educator- let’s work together. All we want is what’s best for the children.

For the parents struggling with their options of whether or not to send their children back to school, do what’s best for YOUR child. People will always have opinions. I try to only listen to people’s opinions or advice if I truly respect the decisions they’ve made in their own lives. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Being a Bonus Mom

My bonus son

This whole summer I’ve been trying to add another piglet to my farm family. Unfortunately, I always fall in love with the runts & they haven’t made it home sadly. It’ll happen eventually & I know the animals will quickly adjust and treat him like another brother. The goats are sisters & the pigs come from separate farms, but together they are a blended family.

I have a step son. When I first met my husband, he went straight to the point & told me he had a three year old from a previous marriage. At first I thought “well this is our first date, let’s just see how this goes & I’ll ponder it more.”

Well more turned into a second date. People probably will think this was fast (I did too), but he introduced me to his son our following date.

I was nervous. I mean, I’m a teacher & love kids, but I was still anxious. When he opened the door I saw this tiny, little person behind him. My future step son.

I fell in love. He has always been super sweet & kind. If you meet anyone who knows him, they always mention what a good boy he is. His dad & biological mom did a fantastic job raising him.

Was it always easy? No. It was especially hard after I had my two boys fifteen months apart. I was tired, unmedicated & far less patient. I had created a natural, maternal bond with my own two children & I know it’s not fair but it seemed like my heart could only stretch so far.

This outlook has changed tremendously. I had to reevaluate my relationship with my stepson. I started really engaging with him. He was not a little toddler anymore, he was growing into a boy. My attitude shifted & it sparked the same love I had for him when we first met.

It was wrong to be preferential to my own kids. My stepson might not be mine biologically, but he is mine in my own way. My bonus son. He has always been the best brother. He never treats me like “just a stepmom” and I will truly love him forever for that.

Luckily, his bio mom is great. It’s not always perfect but we always try to put the kids first & do what’s best for them. Co-parenting can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. I had to separate any jealousy I might’ve had over their previous marriage & put my step son first.

“The only steps in this house are the stair steps & the only half in this house is the half & half creamer.” I have a sign in my house that says that. It reminds me everyday that we are a FAMILY- blended or not.

The original three

Two under two

My pigs & my babies

I have two male pigs. They are considered “mini pigs”. Now you’re probably picturing a tiny teacup pig, but some can reach up to 300 lbs! At the rate I feed my pigs, they will probably top out around 200 lbs.

All my boys are getting bigger. My firstborn Vinny has a birthday in a couple weeks. He will be five. years. old. I cannot even believe it. I swear when they tell you how fast it goes- it’s true.

My two younger boys are fifteen months apart. I stopped breastfeeding Vinny at 5 months. Low & behold, one month later I found out I was pregnant.

It was difficult being pregnant while also having a baby to care after. I remember being so nauseous that I just let Vinny cry & cry in his playpen so I could lie down and cry too. I had very little help & missed my parents immensely. They lived across the country while my husband was busy working so I could be a stay at home mom.

While I previously thought it was hard being pregnant with a baby, I had no idea how difficult it would be to have two under two. I was completely sleep deprived. The difficulty of coordinating two small children’s sleep & feeding schedules, while also interacting with both of them when they’re not in the same developmental stage was more than just stressful.

The first two years were a blur. I don’t know how I got through it. I spent 2015-2017 without medication for my bipolar disorder. I didn’t want to risk the complications of taking meds while being pregnant or breastfeeding. My mood swings during this time were all over the place.

In late 2017 I knew my “baby blues” were signs of postpartum depression. I finally went to see a psychiatrist where I got diagnosed again with bipolar depression & he urged me to get back on medication.

I had to cut my breastfeeding journey to three months with my last baby. The mindset of “breast is best” stung me. Was I not doing my best because I was formula feeding? The mom guilt was terrible.

We live in a culture where people love to give unsolicited parenting advice. However, what works for some doesn’t always work for everyone.

To the mamas reading , I’m writing this because it does get easier. My boys are now 3 & 4 (soon to be 5😭). Every moment I have with them I hang onto, because I know tomorrow they’ll only be older. So let go of that mom guilt & hold onto your precious babies. One day you’ll be holding them in your arms… and the next they’ll be letting go. ♥️

My two boys & their farm animals

Experiencing Racism

My parents are originally from the Philippines. They immigrated here in 1975 and lived the quintessential “American Dream”. My father was a successful anesthesiologist and my mother was a registered nurse. They were able to leave a third world country and raise their three children in America. I will never be able to share my gratitude of all the hard work they experienced to have my brothers and me live a comfortable life growing up.

However, wealth and being born in America does not exclude you from racism. Growing up in a small town in New Jersey, I was frequently the only Asian in the room. This feeling of being the “outcast” has attributed to many of my characteristics and even subconscious feelings. I endlessly wanted to fit in and it’s hard to just be myself. This feeling of caring what other people think has hindered me in so many ways. It causes an insecurity within yourself that you will never be enough.

In todays world people still live with racism. I was in Target at the beginning of the pandemic and a woman was holding a cleaning product. She loudly and looking my way said “I’m going to buy this product because it was made in AMERICA.” Now, I don’t know if she was saying that because she thought I was Chinese and was trying to make a dig. Or she could’ve just been feeling really patriotic.

While my experience with racism has been mild, I cannot even put myself in the shoes of what’s going on in the world. I have never in my life been pulled over and feared for my life. I have never been running and thought that I would be a hate crime target.

People lack the understanding of racism if they never experienced it themselves. Our belief system is mostly engrained in us by how we were raised and what we experienced. My hope is that by sharing my perspective, you’ll stop and think before you make a racist remark. That your actions and words have consequences. Above all else, just be kind.

My amazing parents

Front porch photos

Romito family

This morning we had front porch photos done by a dear friend. I had forgotten we had scheduled them at 9 in the morning so around 730 I frantically went to feed the animals & get everyone ready. 

This picture pretty much has my whole world in it. I’ve always wanted three boys and luckily my dreams came true. What’s not pictured is my littlest one, Niko, having a terrible time getting his picture taken. He is developmentally delayed and some things trigger behaviors.

It’s not easy having a child with communicative delays. I can’t always understand what he wants or needs. However through continuous speech therapy he is making progress. 

Love the idea of “front porch photos” especially during a pandemic when we need to social distance. But remember behind every smiling family photo you see on social media, there’s always a story behind it.