Today marks 13 years that you’ve been gone. So much has changed and yet so much hasn’t. Yesterday I found myself thinking about the day before I knew you in person and the horrible feeling I had knowing that you were not going to stay. That sick feeling, I had that this little miracle everyone talks about, that “little blessing” that was supposed to be greeted with open arms and smiles was not going to be happening.
Each year that goes by and you are gone just a little bit longer creates a slightly larger space that worries me. I worry that I will somehow forget that feeling and it will be like it never happened which means it would be like you never happened. But as your one day on earth approaches each year I am reminded how that is just not the case. That sick feeling is easily remembered how your life was not meant to be. The sick joke that was played on your Papa and me just months into our marriage-the happiest time in our lives together was robbed along with the happy experience of our first newborn baby being brought into our lives.
You forever changed me, Faith. You forever made my life even more different than everyone else’s. And what I wouldn’t give to get you back for just five more minutes. I hope you knew it was us who were holding you that day, I hope you knew we didn’t choose this for you, and although we were in shock when we first found out you were coming, that shock was not warranting an outcome like the one that happened.
You changed me Faith, that hollowed out feeling the night I went home from the hospital, empty and alone. And those weeks after you were gone I cried so much I eventually became numb, I thought I’d never feel again. You changed me Faith, you changed me.
Since you’ve been gone we’ve brought in three amazing children into this world, and because of you I can’t imagine my life without them, but that still doesn’t take the place of missing you. Just writing those words I am choking down my tears and my vision is blurred by welling tear ducts. You changed me, Faith.
I thought surviving a life-sucking eating disorder was the worst I’d ever endure. And I have to be honest, I was wrong. Your short life was a rip-off, a cruel joke on two young soulmates who would have loved you and given you nothing short of a backyard campfire, dirty feet, self-exploration, be your own personal childhood experience. You would have loved us as parents. It was a rip-off.
Still, to this day I watch others race to have babies, act like pregnancy is crappy, and moan about getting rid of their pregnancy body to “get back to normal”, and to those people I say, “you are missing the point.” Don’t chance fate and take for granted a healthy baby, the amazing miracle of bringing a baby into this world, and the privilege you get to become a parent to then raise those children. Your Papa and I will never know the joys of having a first born baby, and to be honest, it took until having your sister Meredith to get rid of the numbness and until Ivan to actually not relive in my mind the experience of having you.
But you changed me, Faith, because of you I am now stronger than before. I was able to prove to myself and others that I could forge into recovery fully and you gave me a reason to take even better care of my body and cherish my life and every life I bring into this world.
You changed me Faith, I now connect with yet another group of people, I get them, I know what they are feeling and I can help yet another group of people.
You changed me Faith, because of you I see life differently, I see sunrises, rainbows, and butterflies differently. Harper, Meredith, and Ivan look forward to your presence when they see a butterfly circling us-they jump for joy and yell to the trees that Faith is here. You changed me Faith, you changed your entire family that we see life and creation in a way only those that have held their baby in their arms and watched that little life leave earth can know.
You changed me Faith, each year on your “life day” I am reminded that I am a strong ass woman, that you gave up your life so I could have one, a debt that I will forever on this earth be repaying. A debt that I will die trying to repay. I don’t know if I can or will ever be able to be as selfless as you, as giving as you, as humble as you.
Many days I feel like life just isn’t’ getting me, that God just isn’t hearing my prayers, my dreams, my goals. There are so many days that I feel like people still just don’t get me, that they just don’t understand. And today as I write this letter to you I have come to realize that many never will. And I will waste much of my precious time trying to get them to. I know you get me, I know that you know my heart, my dreams, that you hear my prayers.
Today I am crying for you, not because you are gone, but because you gave me life.
I know that you’re here, and just last week we saw you for the first time in the back yard. Meredith squealed with joy as you danced with her in the grass.
You changed me Faith, I’m not a mother of three, but a mother of four. And although I never got to see you take your first steps, say your first words, ride a bike or one day, drive a car, graduate, get married and maybe even have a baby one day. All those things aren’t necessary to have made you real, to prove you existed. I grew you in my belly, I was your only life line, I felt your little heart beat to its last beat.
To everyone reading this today, please know I need no sympathy. To those reading this today that have lost a child, that have watched an innocent child leave this earth-it does get better. Some wounds never heal and I think some just aren’t meant to, but you can choose to use your child’s life to bring more life to others. I choose to believe that my daughter chose this life, she chose this path and me too. Today if this message touches even just one person then that is one less person that has to be stuck in grieving longer than necessary. One less person that feels like they can’t move on.
I still remember the first time I told a family member that I am trying to “move on”. They didn’t get me or what had happened from my perspective and told me “well you don’t’ just forget about her”. I still remember yelling at her in my head, like “are you kidding me!?!!?!… How could I?” So to all those out there trying to be a support to someone experiencing loss, just be a shoulder, let them know you are there, they most likely don’t want to hear about your passing Grandma or your lost dog. They don’t want to be told it will get better, or how sorry you are. They just want to have support, they want to have a shoulder without a mouth, and when they are ready they will talk, they will reach out, and when they do you’ll be there.
We received dozens of cards those first few weeks, and of the dozens, I kept only a few, and of those were two unexpected cards from two people who briefly shared their loss of their child. I re-read those cards several times, reading those helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, reading those cards helped me feel that someone out there did understand exactly what I was going through. So to those reading this, I get it, I’ve felt the heartache, I’ve felt the unbearable emptiness, I’ve experienced the fits of rage, anger, and hostility, and I’ve felt every tear you have cried as my own. I get it and I’m here. You’re not alone. Please know this. You will survive and you will find happiness again. Just know it will be a different happiness than what you have felt before-and that is O.K.
Happy 13th life day Faith…
That’s all I have to say… Until next year… I’ll be seeing you in the sky.
Each day I realize my kids are only getting older and
soon they will have their own opinions and ideas they already have their own opinions and ideas!
What was once scheduling naps and changing diapers has now become everything school-aged children.
So now that I have 3 grade schoolers, days are longer (even if some are still doing virtual school), sitting still is a requirement, and the joys of studying for tests and homework loom our household. I have found that being a parent is a combination of doing the things my parents did that I loved, doing the things I wish they would have done, and doing the things that are necessary for each of my kids individually, depending on what they need.
Just last night I was helping Harper study for a religion test and what is he doing: trying to sit still at first, then making silly faces, rocking on the stool, standing on the stool sideways, running and leaping over the stool to see how far his long jump can stretch, pretty much just not paying attention. As I attempt to wrangle him back in and realize this is getting nowhere, he proceeds to tell me he just can’t seem to remember the names of the people and the answers to some of the other questions. I can see he’s distracted and somewhat uninterested. Because heck, are you wanting to talk about work after a full day at work?
I was initially frustrated with him like it was his fault he didn’t know the answers, but as his parent it is my job to help him, guide him and find his strengths and show him how to use them. A big parenting lesson for me continues to be don’t take my frustrations out on my kids-they are just kids.
So I took a breath and stepped back.
Because if Harper was me when I was young, I probably would have been told to knock it off, sit down and focus. But how can a very active boy focus by sitting still at 6 O’Clock at night when his sit-still-juice has already been used up at school?
It occurred to me a while ago that as a parent I can either do what has always been done and what most others are doing: make a flip chart, or a red, yellow, green light reward sheet for my kids so that they “behave” when I want them to, so that they can learn to suppress their inner energy and need for movement to appease me. Or I can show them how to use their strengths, understand their emotions, and learn right from wrong with always explaining why.
At our house it’s not just studying for a test, homework, daily reading is approached with a get it done attitude but one that asks my kids to be themselves and move. Doing sight words Harper struggled for a while and so while doing them every time he got one right he’d jump up, and soon he was jumping up the entire deck of 50+ cards. When doing a worksheet, I break it up and give him a 30 second to one-minute break to go be silly. The emphasis on doing that gets him jazzed up and so when he comes back he wants to focus so he can do it again.
So where am I going with all of this?
OK back to Harper’s homework and studying for a religion test. Harper is a highly active boy, he loves movement, he’d climb onto the roof if we’d let him; that being said, when I stopped trying to do what my parents did, and stopped asking something of him that he is not capable of (Well, he is short term, but all day? Come on) and started making the times that he needs to focus be active, the homework and study time at the Krebs household changed.
I allow Harper to sit down and focus when he needs to think, and when he needs to walk around he does that too when he gets an answer wrong last night I had him doing jumping jacks as he repeated the question and answer three times. Then when I asked it again and if he got it wrong- back to the jumping jacks. Once we got through the entire sheet without jumping jacks he was done. There was no yelling, no arguing, no complaining, he got his needs met, he thought it was fun and when he moves, especially in a repetitious way he focuses way better.
I could have very well flipped the card on his chart at home (that doesn’t exist) and tell him he’s not making a good choice and ask him to sit down and listen (which I’ve done before with limited success). But flipping a card doesn’t teach him how to manage his energy, channel his emotions and create new skills to one day manage his own life.
Now I know when he is an adult I’m pretty sure he’s not going to do jumping jacks when his boss asks him to remember something. But what I hope will happen is he will remember the actual skills he was taught to deal with stress, deadlines, and time management. That it’s OK to move, to be yourself, and do what you need to do for you because it’s right and it gets the job done.
So this morning at breakfast I asked him randomly the questions he struggled with last night and without hesitation, he got them right. I praised him for an amazing job! And then asked him how he remembered them, he said the jumping jacks.
Remember it’s OK to parent outside the box. Heck parent nowhere near the box!
Did you know that May is #MentalHealthMonth?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. #MentalHealthMonth was created to increase public awareness of mental health conditions and to break down the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
Mental health conditions are far more common than you think, mainly because people don’t like to, or are afraid to, talk about them. However, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Everyone experiences the ups and downs of mental health and there is nothing wrong with seeking help to manage it.
As a mom of three and someone who has battled mental health challenges most of her life, my greatest concern upon having children was that my children would struggle with their mental health in the same ways that I did. However, I believe that my own struggles actually made me a better parent. I was more aware and attuned to the needs of my children and never once did I hesitate to seek help when I thought they needed it.
So, what can we do, as parents, to help improve the overall mental well-being of our children?
Communication is the key. Good communication with children involves listening well and talking in ways that encourage your child to listen to you. Communicate the super uncomfortable and challenging things, too. Being open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear, and anxiety will help you and your child to navigate potentially tricky situations in the future.
2. RECOGNIZE THE NEED FOR HELP
This may seem silly or even stupid to some reading this. As a parent who has struggled with this most of her life, I just don’t get why seeking aid in this way for your child or children is still a “last resort”, or for some, not even an option.
My oldest is very emotional. Last year, he was caught teasing and talking under his breath during class to a few of his classmates about how they looked. When I confronted my son and talked to him about why he was doing what he was doing, in all honesty, he told me that he wasn’t that sorry for some of it. I knew right then and there was something bigger going on. Not in regards to the relationship with these other children, but within himself. My son needed someone else to talk to and it was my job to find someone else who could give him perspective and insight beyond that of my husband and myself.
3. SEEK HELP
That summer, I arranged for my son to see a counselor. We called his sessions “his class with Michael”. During that time, a few parents and family members questioned my decision to seek outside help for my son. They often said, “Why are you doing that? He’s fine”. But, I knew he wasn’t. I saw a young boy struggling to process how he felt. I saw myself in him.
Seeking help was the best thing I could have ever done for my son as his mom. It gave us a place to communicate with our son and it gave my son a place to communicate openly without judgment. Michael played a HUGE role in my son’s confidence, understanding, and processing of emotions. Most importantly, Michael was a huge game-changer for my son and his future. He now has insight and coping strategies that will serve him his entire life. An insight I wish I would have had at his age. If I would have, then, maybe, my story would have been a bit different.
4. DON’T JUDGE
For many parents, at the first sign that their child appears to be sick, there is no concern or questioning on getting them medicine to help them feel better. So why aren’t we looking at our children’s mental health, their mental well-being, in the same light as their physical well-being?
I urge you all, parent or not, to put all your personal issues aside and see your kids as they are. To attend to them in the best possible way that has nothing to do with you. Seeking help is not a bad thing. Would you ever look down on someone for seeking treatment for a medical ailment? More than likely, no. So, I urge you to do the same for you and your child’s well-being, especially when it comes to their mental health and wellness.
So, I ask you, during #MentalHealthMonth–what does your child need? As someone who has struggled most of her life with mental health and wellness concerns, I can tell you that having a therapist has been one of the best things I have done for myself and it made all the difference for my son, too.
If you are interested in learning more, check out these great resources on Amazon.
If you had asked me what a safe relationship was as a kid or even a young adult, I would have responded that the other isn’t physically harming you. But there is more to a healthy relationship than what goes on physically. Open, honest, and safe communication is a fundamental part of any healthy relationship.
It has become apparent that there were many emotional processing and communication skills I was lacking and, unfortunately, never learned as a growing kid and teen.
Years ago, I had an addiction and survived because that deep dark struggle brought forth the need for these necessary skills.
Now in my thirties, I am so grateful to have learned:
- Boundaries, what they are, why they are necessary, and how to set them
- Effective communication
- How anger is a surface emotion for sadness and hurt
- Sharing how I feel is to help, not hurt.
- It is not my responsibility as to how others receive my feelings.
- There are healthy ways to communicate even scary, uncomfortable things.
Years ago, I would not have known how to communicate safely and healthily. I would not have known how to validate another’s experience because I would have been too overwhelmed with my own. I would not have known that I could feel one thing and someone else feel another and still be OK.
We all have the opportunity to grow. To learn. To expand. To be stretched.
That the way we respond to situations and things is often more about us than it is about the other person. When I finally understood that my relationship with life, others, and I made a massive shift.
We all can make a shift. That shift can be an uphill battle, or it can be a process where we can all learn from the way we have done things in the past, how others respond and grow from them. Learning effective communication has been a game-changer for me to transform my relationships with my husband, my kids, clients, and my parents. I am no longer tied to the back of their car as they ride the rolling hills of their life and emotions.
If you want to create safe and healthy relationships, you must effectively communicate (PERIOD). Going through the process of recovery has taught me that the first relationship I need to improve is the one with myself. I had to relearn how to process my emotions because the two strategies I was taught were exploding, and holding it in, wasn’t working. That process was long and, at times, overwhelming. But moment by moment, month by month, year by year, things began to change. And for me, yoga had a lot to do with that process. I used my yoga mat to learn to feel, learn to process and learn to take action. Yoga became a place where I rekindled my relationship with my Higher Power and slowly with those that I love. My yoga mat helped me understand that what I was feeling didn’t have to dictate how I lived. And teaching yoga taught me how others felt didn’t have to run my life.
My hope for you today is to step back and breathe.? This coming from the girl who had explosive reactions and took everything personal-step back and takes a breath.
Doing so requires you to do two simple things:
- STOP and step back (literally, step back).
- Inhale and exhale.
Being stuck in our heads makes taking any action twice as tricky. That is why the yoga I know was pivotal in my recovery and learning these vital skills to better communicate with myself and others.
And do not be afraid that even after taking a breath (or many breaths), what needs to be said may not be warm and fuzzy, but it needs to be said…⏩Press on.
Other people try to complicate this process and make you buy into a profound complexity of how it is to learn better, more effective communication. And sure there are additional ways to dig deeper, but what I’m telling you is, until you can stop, step back and take a breath in those moments, all those other fancy steps won’t work. They won’t work because you haven’t called time out. Just like my 11-year-old need a time out to take a moment, breath, and emotionally calm down so he can feel and better communicate. We as adults often need that too.
A business coach once told me some conversations are more effective when there is space (time) put in-between them.
Now some people are against time out because it seems harsh or cold. But a time out gives you time to feel, breathe, and process so you can come back and respect the conversation and relationship. It helps you decide what is truly important to communicate when approaching a time out from a whole place. There have been hundreds of things I wanted to say to the person on the other end. But when I gave it time, I discovered that it was something else, something more profound, or it was more about me and how I was feeling from another situation than the one that was currently in front of me.
My yoga mat was often my time out. I would go there to feel, process, and step away so I could figure out what was going on. See the pattern, see the conversation in a new light, see what I want to say, and sit with the feeling I was having around that conversation, that person and the relationship.
?I have a mantra that I tell myself daily: “I cannot control how others perceive and receive me and what I have to say, as long as I say it with kindness…say it”.
One of the BIGGEST skils I have cultivated when it comes to healthy and safe communication is the ability to “sit” with feelings, and even more sit with the possibility that someone else may not have liked what I had to say, and may project unhappiness towards me. But knowing I have control over how I respond. And within receiving that, an opportunity to learn from it has now become a blessing. So keep breathing my friend, keep feeling, and remember that validating another in no way invalidates you.
May those that need to hear this find it ♥️.
Is your child a warrior?
Your role in your children’s lives is crucial. As a parent, you walk alongside your child through their most developmental years. If you aren’t familiar with how to build your child into a Warrior, take the following notes into strong consideration.
Here are 3 Reasons You Should Teach Your Child to be a Warrior:
1. Empower Your Children to Feel and Know That They can do Anything
From a young age, kids are told what to do and when to do it. They aren’t often given the option to make a decision or feel in control. In every part of their lives, seek to give them options and let them make a choice.
In yoga, a pose like Warrior allows children to feel the empowerment like that of their superheroes. This pose will empower your children to feel and know that they can do anything. Give them choices (hey, there are several variations of Warrior pose!) and allow them to make decisions.
2. Your Children Need Courage
A warrior is about courage. It is important to explain to your children what courage is and looks like. Show them examples from stories in books or movies so that they can have role models. This courage that they learn is what they will need to try out for the football team, raise their hand in class, stand up to bullying and speak up for what they need.
If you have any great story or movie recommendations, leave them in the comments below!
3. Teach Your Children to Never Give Up
To a young child, ‘being a warrior’ means that they won’t give up. They will stand for what they believe in and pursue it until the end.
As a yoga teacher for over a decade and a mother of four, I find it is vital for young children to really understand what it means to try and keep trying. As the parent, be there to encourage your little warrior(s) to never give up. Your support is instrumental, especially on the bad days.
For More Resources Related to Parenting, Read These Posts:
Don’t Sit Still and Listen: Backyard Parenting to Homework
Mental Health and Parenting: What No One is Talking About
The HOPE Process: Breath, Body, Belief for Addiction & Grief
Remembering: Infant Loss Awareness Month
This post was originally published in Jan 2018 on Team Mom n Dad.