Losing Your Cool

December 6, 2017

"Don't ever let me go to another mom's night! It's like a prisoner being set free for one day, then being sent back to prison for the next 20 years! I don't need to see how bright the colors are! I don't need to see how great the food tastes! It just makes it worse!"

Okay, friends, here's a truly embarrassing confession: I actually said those words. In the kitchen, to my bewildered husband, while holding a cup of cold coffee. I had gone out a couple nights before with the moms from Penelope's preschool, and enjoyed an evening of eating and drinking at my own pace, enjoying conversation, and laughing a lot. I felt more alive, free, and myself than I had in weeks. It was glorious. The following two days had proven to be the exact opposite - two sick kids, major behavioral issues, no sleep, extra stress - and too many cups of cold coffee.

These embarrassingly melodramatic words spilled out of me, and I just lost my cool.

. . . . .

"But how am I supposed to put him down when you are screaming? I cannot do both! I cannot be everything for both of you at once!"

I stomped down the hall and yelled these words towards my daughter's open bedroom door. It was my first night handling bedtime alone with an infant and toddler, and both kids were melting down. Penelope was screaming for me to lie down with her, Felix was screaming to be fed and put in bed, and I just lost it. My voice quavered and I felt the hysterical tears rising in my throat. Why can't I make them understand?! Why do I have to do this alone?! There are few things worse than looking down at your daughter, who's face is filled with anguish and exhaustion, and seeing how your freakout has shaken her. I hated myself in that moment. When Felix was finally settled, I went back in to Penelope's room to find that she had fallen asleep on her own. I laid down and spooned her for awhile, whispering my too-late apologies for how the evening had gone.

. . . . .

"There is no relief. There is no rest. I thought it couldn't get worse. And it did."

Standing at the butcher block table in the middle of our kitchen, my voice shook with a desperate, exhausted energy. My top knot had half fallen out and I felt like I had reached a new low. Was it really all supposed to be this hard? Was I really supposed to feel this alone? Would my husband ever understand this feeling? An hour before, I had finally left the house on my own, to salvage my sanity and exist exclusively as a single, adult female - only to have an unpleasant and stressful encounter at the grocery store, which left me feeling even more emotionally bankrupt than before.

Again, I heard myself make these melodramatic proclamations and wondered if this was going to become routine. Would I ever feel better?

. . . . . 

"I will not let you hit me. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT OKAY." 

It was preschool pickup, and Penelope had just slapped me in the face for the first time ever. As we were leaving, she kept asking to play with one of the toy cars before we left - something I knew would be extremely difficult to pull her away from, especially with me holding Felix in the carseat. I used my usual tactics - I would love to see her playing with the car, and we will make special time for it next school day - scooped her up, and headed towards the car. The ensuing meltdown was the worst on record. She looked me in the eyes and screamed the loudest screams I have ever heard. They were so intense, the noise of her fury brought tears to my eyes. I took a deep breath and calmly repeated what we were doing. And then she slapped me in the face. I set her down in the car, closed the door, and let her scream until she was done. I stood outside, leaning on the car and trying not to cry.

"Mama, I'm ready to talk about it, I'm ready for huggies..." On the way home, we did talk about it - even as a deliriously rage-filled toddler, her communication afterwards was stellar - but I couldn't shake my dislike for my child for the rest of the day. I felt stupid for how hurt I was that she had treated me that way. I know toddlers are meant to test limits, and I know Penelope's behavior is not unheard of, but I found myself coming to terms with the reality that I had been carrying around (somewhere in my head) the belief that my daughter would not do that. I felt heartbroken.

. . . . .

Over the course of the past week or so, I've lost my cool approximately a thousand times.

I have felt like a bad mom, a lot. I have felt like a bad wife, a lot. I have not done the requisite ab exercises to heal my diastasis recti, nor have I done the adequate number of high intensity workouts to get rid of my excess baby weight. I tried eating Paleo for two days and then promptly quit because drinking coffee without half & half just won't work for me in these trying times.

I've lost my cool a lot.

I think even in the best of times being a parent can be challenging. And call me overly sensitive, but damn, if the state of the world doesn't make it that much harder to stay positive and hopeful and have the energy to stay calm while your toddler is behaving like a monster or your baby is howling like a rabid gibbon - it just adds to the weight of it all.

This is not a story about a thirty two year old woman who had a bad week but she perseveres, thus learning the secret to keeping her cool and finding her bliss and losing the baby weight. No, this is the story of a woman who survived her hellish week and doesn't really know how the next one is going to go so maybe we should just make some cookies?

. . . . . 

Dear reader: if you are losing your cool, or are feeling like a bad _______, or are generally feeling at the end of your rope - you are not alone. (Insert emoji of me waving.)

I see you, exhausted and unshowered;
I hear your frantic, freaked-out bargaining with God;
I stand with you in your Paleo-desertion and your lack of cardio;
I send you calm and strength in the midst of your emotional tornado;
and I want you to know: you will be okay.


Learning to be Astonished

December 3, 2017

. . . . .

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird -
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.

The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

-Mary Oliver
. . . . . 

I've been in love with Mary Oliver since high school, and this one especially moves me. Do you have a favorite poet / poem? 

Welcome, Felix!

November 29, 2017
It has taken me some time to write down the story of my sweet Felix's arrival. When Penny was born, I couldn't wait to get down every little detail of her birth experience. On the 1 week anniversary of her birth I shared our story - complete with lots of smooshy exclamations of love and contentment and a fair bit of oversharing. I was so proud! I was so excited! I couldn't wait to share! And rightly so, it was one of the most blissful times of my life.

With Felix...it's been different. This time around there were a lot of unexpected emotions for me. While I had the fairly speedy labor (7 hours, start to finish), and the natural Birth Center birth that we can been hoping for, Felix's arrival was much different than I expected and it's taken me awhile to process everything.

I should start by saying that he was a true rascal throughout my pregnancy - he was a major kicker/mover/karate-enthusiast while in the womb; he was always positioned weirdly when the midwives were looking for a heartbeat (always anxiety producing for mama); he turned breech at 36.5 weeks and was thankfully flipped back (a thoroughly uncomfortable experience, but thankful it worked); and then the little rascal was 10 days past his due date. I don't know if he takes more after his mom or dad. 

By the time we reached 41 weeks, 3 days pregnant...I was pretty much in a state of madness. I was worried about facing unwanted induction, I was at the height of physical discomfort, I was stressing about where Penny was going to be when I went into labor...I was a MESS.

At 9:30pm on Wednesday, September 20, I woke up to what I thought just might be contractions. For at least 2 weeks prior I had been feeling contractions on and off, and there had been a few nights when I had been convinced I was going into labor...and inevitably did not. So I was determined to not let myself get too excited. (During the last weeks of this pregnancy my body decided to hang around the "almost-but-not-quite-in-labor-yet-so-just-be-chill" place that is just the absolute worst!)

But these weren't going away, and I started checking my phone to see if there was any regularity. Hmmm, 10 minutes apart. This could be the real deal. 

She Fell Together

November 25, 2017

My husband's therapist calls it "falling together."

When you feel like your life is in shambles, or your positive energy is dwindling, or you feel like you've irreversibly screwed up and you're definitely a permanent failure, or you're moving through a particularly hefty challenge - like you're completely falling apart - the therapist says that this is, in fact, falling together.

The first time Matthew shared this concept with me I immediately liked it. Maybe it's because I'm inherently a positive person, but the thought that my challenges and perceived failures could be seen as evidence of my falling together - of me evolving, becoming a truer form of myself, moving forward - I really liked that.

.   .   .   .   .

When you do things 
from your soul,
you feel a river moving, 
in you, 
a joy

- Rumi 

.   .   .   .   .

I've had this blog for a long time. I started writing in my early twenties in an attempt to share life with family and friends. It's had many iterations, many designs, even more redesigns, lots of pictures, and a fair bit of over-sharing.

A few weeks ago I was overcome with the desire to scrap Roy Joy and start a new blog. I felt different, I wanted a fresh start...I felt like coming back to this space was like going back to the old me. A person that was foreign to me in a lot of ways. Who is that woman, looking so well rested and actually finishing cups of hot coffee? 

In a way, the act of starting over and leaving Roy Joy behind felt like an appropriate way to honor all the falling together I've done over that last few years. I have been a student of setting boundaries, listening to my intuition, and being keenly reminded that I am, in fact, an adult. (And in charge? That still surprises me sometimes.) I have grown into a new phase of motherhood, now with two little people who remind me everyday that life is precious and fleeting and utterly exhausting and awesome.

But I came to the conclusion that really....it's all me.

Old me, meet new me. 

I'm excited to come back to this space - it's a homecoming that feels especially meaningful to me right now.

Looking forward!


SHE // Danielle Bennett

October 25, 2016

She is a patient gardener,
and if you ask her soil how it became so rich,
it will tell you how she has always been more willing to listen to what it needs
than waiting to speak it into moving at the pace of her understanding.
Her silence is terrifying because you know
the next time she opens her mouth to speak
she will mean every ounce of it.
When she speaks
there is so much permission in her love
and holy on her breath
you cannot help but sit like you are budding toward the sky,
you cannot help but believe you are every bit as necessary
as you were created to be.
She is so gorgeous in the absence of need for attention
You can’t help but notice her still waters, even when
she moves at the speed of hustle.
She is the realest and cool with it because she is
rested in the knowing she is new.
She is unashamed of being happy,
and is not bracing herself for the next hard thing,
her hands are too busy receiving the day and its gifts.
She has the audacity to act like the queen she is, and
she doesn’t complain about the myriad requests for her time or
going unrecognized or the weight of the crown because
she knows it is the lightest load she has ever carried and
in the Kingdom every night is a feast she doesn’t strive to earn so
she can give it all away because she knows
there is always more where that comes from.
She treats this city like a palace
she has been entrusted to care for and keep,
every stranger a guest she looks in the eyes with her love
so others feel called up by the way she chooses well.
Discipline is a gown she wears like she is
never afraid of being the best dressed person in a room.
She is a warrior in the tent of a king with a permanent win,
She trains and sharpens the blade so
she can keep that badge of justice on fire to fight for those without defense,
and when they ask her “what about you?”
she points to her scars and her vibrant pulse
as a reminder of the times death nearly held her in its nasty jaws
and still she lives, and lives well, so she doesn’t
question that she is covered and seen and doesn’t
need to go around making a case for herself anymore.
She has stood inside the eye of a tornado enough times to know how to stay
even when circumstance wants to chess piece her
into some place she can’t be so blinding,
but she is sensitive enough to the wind to know when she needs
to start walking away, and
she doesn’t mind how long the journey will take because
even on days she can’t shake the fog, she trusts
she has never really been in control.
And she has seen a succulent survive enough times to know
she is much stronger than she thinks, so
she is tenacious in her commitment to a covenant,
no matter what the cost –
she calls the things she’s lost a necessary shedding of skin.
She is the skyscraper we look for on the 101 that reminds us we are home.
If you ask her how she got so tall,
she will show you the days she spent clearing the debris
so the concrete could be poured in clean and deep
She will show you the moons who knew her fear of heights           ,
and the mornings she woke with the gumption to keep growing anyway.
If you ask her how she got so tall she will bend her own steel
into staircase so you can get the best view,
She will remind you that you
can be built even higher.
She belongs in the book spine and woven into textures
She belongs with platform for all the truth in her bones
She belongs at the negotiations table and written into code
She belongs elbow-deep in flour and memos
She doesn’t have to chase her dreams – she outpaces them.
She doesn’t need to have it all together to have it all.
She is strange – doesn’t always make perfect sense
But she is perfect in the way she makes her presence
A place where you can rest.
Her best beauty trick is knowing where she comes from and
not apologizing for where she’s going.
She is an augmented 9th – the musician’s unresolved note,
lovely in her complexity, and
she doesn’t know she will always walk in and kill it
but she knows there is no room that can tell her what she is and isn’t made of.
She is on her knees in the desert,
not phased by where her water will come from,
a dusty-faced worshipper unafraid to be alone
because she knows she is never alone.
She is the tangled mane of a wild horse running to a quiet place
She is thunder feet of elephant claiming the land she walks on
She is tiger in the face of a lie that tries to steal her peace
She is brave
and they do not question her intuition – home of the Spirit,
rocking chair of the uncertain,
oven of the good word.
She’s the prayer that makes dark things look for a hiding place.
She is believer of supernatural,
Stardust and fabric of the sky,
The morning of forgiveness,
Offerer of everything,
Templed-body home builder,
Bride of the thick presence,
Courier of life,
Firm-footed friend of grace,
A heart bowed in respect,
She is the strong and delicate hands on a loom,
threading legacy for daughters and
granddaughters who will be written into the book of life
as cage breakers,
earth tilling ambassadors of heaven,
faithful guardians of this city.
She is a lady of honor.
She is a mother of the future,
a sister of the present,
and if you’re wondering
where to find such a unicorn of a woman
look around, my love,
trust the time you chose to live with magic in your blood
which means SHE
is the woman YOU
were always meant to become.
// Danielle Bennett //
Does this move you as much as it moves me?