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Chris playing shinny, December 2019

This Christmas I cried three times, and that felt like a pretty big win.

The first time was when I opened a card from Chris. I cried because he wrote in it.

I knew how much effort it took. He wrote in it left-handed, because he can no longer grip a pen with his right hand. He can’t do anything right-handed, which was his dominant hand until earlier this year when suddenly it got harder and harder for him to squeeze my hand, to make a fist or to shake someone else’s hand, until one day it wouldn’t do anything at all.

Chris can’t write or type with his right hand. He can’t tie his shoes or his skates. He can’t cut his food. He can’t throw a baseball or grip a hockey stick. He can’t carry groceries in from the car or balance things in one hand while unlocking the door with the other.

There are a million things he can’t do with his right hand, but I can’t list them because he doesn’t talk about them.

Instead, what I see are things like this summer, when it got to the point where he could no longer throw right-handed and so he just started playing catch with his left, telling our lefty son, “I just want to be like you, buddy!”

What I hear are things like his response to our daughter on Christmas Day when we were getting ready to go skate. As I tied Chris’ shoes she said, “Daddy, I hope your hand gets better soon.” And he said, “Oh thanks peanut, but I don’t think it will ever get better. And that’s ok. I don’t need it.”

A year ago I thought I was grateful. I thought I understood what that word meant. I had no idea how my definition of gratitude would shift and change over the course of these last months as I’ve watched my husband face his mortality with courage and hope and a smile on his face.

Now, because of Chris, because of this disease, my gratitude is so elemental, which brings me back to that card on Christmas Day.

Chris is a better writer than I am, for sure. And he’s always written me the most beautiful cards. When he was diagnosed I remember spending hours one afternoon sitting on the floor of my closet, my shoulders shaking with sobs while I read through all the cards he’s given me in our 15 years together. I didn’t know if he’d ever write me another one. 

So when I saw his words on Christmas day, I walked out of the room so my kids wouldn’t wonder why tears were suddenly streaming down my cheeks.

The second time I cried was after watching him play shinny with the kids and a group of strangers at our neighborhood rink.

In the days after he was diagnosed and before we knew how hopeful doctors were about the clinical trial we are in now, I thought of all the things I would lose. I thought about his family history, how quickly his uncles and cousin and dad lost function and mobility and independence. I thought about his specific gene mutation, which carries with it a 6-18 month life expectancy.

My mind played out the months to come and my son’s hockey season hit me so hard. I thought about our local rinks. I tried to remember what they had for handicapped access. I expected, fully, that Chris would be watching our son’s hockey season from a wheelchair. I expected he would be dying.

But, more than six months after being diagnosed, he’s not.

Instead he’s playing shinny at outdoor rinks and coaching our son’s hockey team.

The Flames equipment manager sewed Chris’ right hockey glove into a fist, so Chris slides it around his stick and onto the ice he goes. He skates like he always has — smooth and easy and with a smile on his face, even if I will never, ever be able to tie his skates tight enough.

The place where he feels most whole, where he feels the healthiest, he says, is on the ice. Even before this, that was the case.

The third time I cried was when we all snuggled in on the couch to watch a movie after Christmas dinner. I looked over at my babies, each under one of Chris’ arms, and I felt so lucky. In that moment life felt perfect. This was all I ever wanted — the four of us together, in our home, with this life we’ve worked so hard to build. For a minute I felt so content and happy, my cup so full.

And then I remembered.

My mind slid into the abyss and all I could see is what I stand to lose. I thought of my life without him. I thought of my kids’ lives without him. My stomach dropped and fear replaced the joy. I spiralled into the unknown — will he be healthy next year, am I strong enough for this, will the kids be ok, who am I to deserve a miracle?

Some days the abyss sucks me in and I stay there, but in that moment I took a deep breath and reminded myself of what I have.

Right now, my fears are not my reality. And I have so much reason to believe they never will be. Right now my husband is here. He is defying the odds and he is strong and capable and smiling. He is already a miracle.

I looked at my three favorite people giggling at A Christmas Story, and I wanted to stop time, to freeze the four of us right here — together and healthy and smiling. But I couldn’t, so I wiped away my tears and did the next best thing I could think of.

I let myself feel happy.

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To learn more about our story, go here: https://www.nhl.com/flames/news/dear-hockey-family/c-312763286

To donate to ALS research in Chris’ name, follow this link: http://uom.convio.net/goto/chrissnow

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The Snow family, December 2019

By Kelsie Snow

I used to tell stories for a living, but telling your own story is different. It’s scary and it’s hard and it exposes you. 

And that’s why it’s important. 

People aren’t good at grief, and that’s because we don’t share it. We hide it away and expect those living through it to do the same. 

My family is grieving. And we are also joyful. We are scared and we are hopeful. We laugh and then we cry. All of these emotions exist together. Sometimes they overlap. Sometimes we know we are doing it right. Sometimes we are barely holding on. 

This is our story. And here’s where I tell it. 

Here is where I try to find a way to explain what happens when you are 35 and a doctor tells you your husband is dying. How you feel your stomach heave and you grab a trash can in the tiny little room with not a single thing on the white walls, just a sad little desk where the EMG technician whose name you don’t even know sits and tells you your life, as you know it, is over. 

About how your husband once held up his phone with the calculator open and the number 16,425 on the screen. How, with tears in his beautiful blue eyes, he told you, “If you live until you’re 80, this is how many days you’ll be without me. Promise me you will LIVE.”

This is where I tell you, or at least I try, how that guts you. 

This is where I tell you that when a doctor says your husband has a year to live, you stop eating, you can’t be around your kids because you can’t stop crying, you jerk from sleep remembering that wakefulness is where the real nightmare lies, you start taking Ativan and you have rolling panic attacks. About how you can’t stop staring at your 8-year-old’s huge smile because you wonder if — when all this is over, when he’s lost his daddy — he will ever smile like that again? How you fill your Amazon cart with a safe and external hard drives and buy more iCloud space to be sure you never lose a single video or photo because you realize your 5-year-old will need them to stitch together her memories of her father. 

And this is where I tell you what happens when, after all that sadness and hopelessness has left you completely hollowed out, someone tells you that, actually, all hope is not lost.

What happens then — when you go from no hope to real, true hope — is you feel high. You feel everything. You feel like you’ll never stop appreciating every single breath you take. You feel like life is brand new. And you feel desperate — utterly desperate — to hold onto that hope, completely terrified of someone taking it away or diminishing it even a little. 

Because hope, it turns out, is everything. 

And maybe that seems like an obvious thing to say, but I would wager that until you have been truly without hope, you can’t really understand it. 

Hope is everything. 

Here is where I tell you that we were hopeless but not anymore. Here’s where I tell you that Chris has a chance. That he has ALS and he has a chance, and isn’t that sentence a miracle already?

Here’s where I tell you that we believe he’s sticking around. 

Here is where I tell our story. 

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To learn more about our story, go here: https://www.nhl.com/flames/news/dear-hockey-family/c-312763286

To donate to ALS research in Chris’ name, follow this link: http://uom.convio.net/goto/chrissnow

To love my body, it had to fail me.

Me, in July 2018, waiting for an MRI to check the healing in my brain.

This week I was skating with my family, racing my 4-year-old up and down the rink as she giggled and squealed. I watched her wobble and right herself and push forward to win. I followed behind her, skating the length of the ice on one foot going one direction, the other coming back. I’m not a great skater, but I did it with ease, and in that moment I was struck by such a deep thankfulness for what I was doing.

I’ve had two babies, suffered through tough pregnancies and been lucky to have straightforward deliveries. I didn’t have so much as Tylenol in my system giving birth. I had my daughter at home in the bathtub. After having them I felt powerful and capable of anything. But that power was about me. It was about what I could do. I was proud of myself, and with that, I now see, arrogant about what I thought I had somehow controlled.

My stroke was the first time in my life my body failed me. It was the most humbling physical experience I’ve had, and it opened my eyes to my body in a way that childbirth never did. Suddenly, I couldn’t lie on my side without feeling certain I was falling out of bed. Once that improved, the neurologist asked me to sit up. I tried and fell sideways. When I could sit, he asked me stand. I toppled into the arms of the residents around my bedside. I had no control. And I was humbled in a way that shattered how I think and feel about my physical self.

Now, I am just profoundly grateful for my body, how it healed and what it’s capable of. And I’m struck at how it had to be broken before I could appreciate it, before I could understand how amazing it is. Now, I appreciate that while my body is mine, it is also its own. Now, I look at my body — every sore muscle and aching joint — with respect, reverence and, most of all, gratitude.

Growing and birthing and feeding two humans was not enough for this realization. For me, those were successes. Hard things, but successes nonetheless. It took my body failing for me to love it, to be gentle to it, to look at it with grace and kindness.

Today, nine months since my stroke, I am recovered. The residual symptoms I deal with are minor and do not impact my quality of life. I get dizzy more easily, but even that I find is a welcome reminder of how much I can do and how far I have come.

So when I am playing catch with my son and look up too fast and find myself dizzy, or when I’m dancing with my daughter and spin her in a circle and am left holding the counter to steady myself, I say a quick thank you to the body that grew two humans and had a stroke and didn’t give up. To one that is sturdy and strong and capable and that I can rely on every day to get me where I need to go.

My whole life I’ve been terrified to fail. I’ve minimized risk and followed the rules and colored inside the lines. I’ve made good choices and been responsible. Still, I know it’s true that failure is the only way we learn and grow. What I didn’t know until I had my stroke is that failure is a gift.

When my body failed me I learned to love it for the first time, and I learned how to be truly grateful for every single thing it does every single day. And I know this lesson was worth all the pain it took to learn.

Joy & Grief

My husband and son, celebrating a goal.

I haven’t known what to write in a long time. I’ve started things and stopped, saved drafts and deleted them. I thought I was stuck. I now realize I was overwhelmed.

This year has been hard. For me, for my family, for so many of my friends. All around me, there’s been sadness — death and divorce, illness and pain, strokes and cancer. Horrible things happening to good people.

Just a few months after my stroke in March, my father-in-law told us he had ALS. He passed away in August. This disease has now killed four of six men in my husband’s family in just two generations. My father-in-law and both of his brothers and one of their sons, who was only 28 when he died. When I think about this, about the very real possibility of losing my husband to this disease, I cannot breathe. I cannot find a way to get air into my lungs.

And now, at 37 and 35 years old, my husband and his sister have lost both of their parents. Their father this year and their mother in 2012. I cannot fathom their grief.

The list of sadnesses and tragedies among my small village of people seems endless. I am tired, and I am too realistic to believe that something magical will happen and these things will cease in 2019.

Life is heartbreaking. The weight of loving people with your whole self often feels crushing. Because you treasure them, and in a blink they could be gone. Our kids, our partners, our friends, our family.

But life is also so beautiful and so complex. And what I know now is that all the pain makes you love harder. It makes the colours richer and the sun brighter and getting up at 5:40 in the morning to go to the gym feel like the most amazing gift because you can — your body can do it, and it feels like a miracle to be strong and capable and healthy.

And I realize, now, that I’ve been drowning these last months in what the brilliant Brené Brown calls foreboding joy — the constant fear and panic rising in your throat, telling you that all the good things in your life are going to be snatched away any second. And you are filled with so much anxiety about losing your joy that you can’t experience it.

Foreboding joy is hard to fend off. It’s why I couldn’t write. And why during this holiday season as I watched my gleeful, beautiful, healthy children bask in the magic and wonder of Christmas, I had to fight back that fear, that overwhelming urge to grab them and hold them and never let them go because I’m terrified of losing them. It’s why I struggled to be present. It’s why I cried. It’s why I pushed my husband away instead of telling him how I actually feel — that I am terrified he will die.

And then yesterday I was at the gym, where I had retreated after I’d gotten upset with my husband about something and found myself incapable of enjoying my kids’ squeals and giggles as they played games with each other on the living room rug. And I was running at 9 miles per hour on the treadmill. And my legs — legs that needed a walker and a cane in March — didn’t buckle.

And I felt so grateful. Not scared. Not worried. Not anxious. Just grateful.

And then I thought about how my little girl curls up against me in bed, one of her legs thrown over my back, about her face when I bounced her up and down on the seesaw at the playground the day before after watching my son toss his hockey stick down in the middle of the ice and join a pick up game at the neighbourhood rink, about him high-fiving his dad after he scored a goal, about how the sun hit the ice and the air filled my lungs and the breeze felt on my face as I stood there and watched.

About how I felt alive and at peace, even in the midst of all the sadness that sometimes feels capable of swallowing me whole.

When I was a teenager I read the Bible voraciously. I highlighted verses and stories and psalms and proverbs, I studied and wrote in the margins. But no matter how much I read my favorite verse was always the same.

“Even in laughter the heart may ache and joy may end in grief.” Proverbs 14:13

When I first read that verse at 14 years old, I had never known grief. But somehow I did know that proverb spoke to life on a bigger scale than I understood then.

I know foreboding joy will always be there, lurking. I know it will rise up, and I will feel overwhelmed again by all the things I have to lose. But my resolution for this next year is to keep fighting it off, to never give up, to hold close to my heart all the love in and around me, because, really, the beautiful thing here is how much of that there is.

I’ll choose to accept love and to give love and to be present, to be grateful for sore muscles and tiny humans who need an extra snuggle at night and a husband who thinks I’m capable of anything no matter the growing blank space on my resumé and a house that’s warm and a country that is safe.

I don’t read the bible anymore, but these last weeks I have found myself reciting that verse over and over in my head, most especially when I was going through photos for our family Christmas card. And so I’ll end this the same way I did that card — in 2019, may we all have enough laughter and joy to sustain us during the heartache and grief.

Happy New Year.

Aftershocks

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Me, in the hospital, the day after my stroke.

Most people reading this know that in March, at 34 years old, I had a stroke. On social media, most of our friends’ life events, whether happy or sad or scary or joyous, exist in a vacuum. We read about them. We comment on them. And then we mostly forget them.

But of course social media is not real life and nothing happens in a vacuum. And when it comes to trauma, nothing gets tied up neatly with a bow.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week, particularly since I finally mustered the courage to return to the gym, which is where my stroke happened. And I keep coming back to the word aftershock.

For me, the days and weeks and first few months following my stroke were the aftermath. My health and my condition served as a constant reminder of what had happened to me. There was no escape and no chance to forget even for a moment.

Now, though, life is mostly back to normal — except for when it’s not. And those are the aftershocks. Sometimes I see them coming and sometimes they blindside me.

Recently I was at the hospital where I spent six days following my stroke. I went there to deliver a donation of care pouches that my friends and family had sponsored after my stroke. I filled them with small things that I wished I’d had during my hospital stay, and the hospital wanted to do a news story on it. I was rushing that day, trying to get to the hospital on time after dropping my daughter at school, and I hadn’t spent any time thinking about how the morning might make me feel. I had been back there in the months since my stroke, but I hadn’t been on the stroke unit since I’d been discharged.

When the elevator doors opened my heart skipped. The smell overwhelmed me. Flashes of my time there came at me. I saw a nurse I remembered. My palms started sweating. My chest felt tight. But I took some deep breaths and kept going.

That time the aftershock blindsided me. I got through the interviews, but the rest of the day I felt completely drained. I’ve learned the aftershocks exhaust you.

The gym was an aftershock I saw coming. For months, even the idea of going back made my stomach flip. I told myself I would wait until I knew the tear in my vertebral artery, which is what caused my stroke, had healed. I got that news at a followup with my neurologist in July. But I wasn’t ready for the gym. I told myself I’d go back when my kids went back to school. Life got in the way of that and suddenly it was November. I knew I had to walk head on into this aftershock or the anxiety surrounding it would get too big to overcome.

So last week I called the gym and asked if I could try a class before I restarted my membership, which had been on hold since March. I booked one and put it on my calendar. The night before I had trouble sleeping. My mind wouldn’t quiet. When I was getting ready the next morning my 7-year-old could tell something was bothering me. I explained I was nervous and that sometimes we have to do things that make us nervous. He hugged me hard and told me I would be great.

And so I went. I told the coach (I go to Orangetheory) that I hadn’t been to the gym in 7.5 months and that the last time I was there I’d had a stroke. She asked me if I was scared. I told her I was terrified and bent down to tie my shoe to avoid crying.

The workout was hard but aside from my pathetic cardiovascular condition, I was ok. My balance during the floor work was an issue, but I knew that would be the case. I did the entire hour-long workout and thought I would feel proud. I felt relieved.

Afterward I got in my car and cried. I thought I’d done it — faced my biggest fear and come out the other side. Here it was, this one thing at least, wrapped up with a neat little bow. Perfect for a social media post.

And then on the drive home the right side of my head and neck – the same side as the artery tear that had caused my stroke – started throbbing. I felt sick and lightheaded and worried. I went home and sat down and ate breakfast and tried to convince myself I felt miserable because I am out of shape and nothing more. I took my daily baby aspirin, which I forgot before I went to the gym. I thought about texting my doctor.

Eventually I started to feel better, and the next day the only health issues I had were very sore muscles.

I was incredibly lucky with my stroke. It was in my cerebellum, and so mostly disrupted my balance. I had no paralysis, no speech impediments. I went home with a walker and a cane and a cache of pills but also with a positive prognosis.

Still, I had a stroke. At 34 years old.

I have a habit of minimizing things that happen to me, and I do it with my stroke as well. But I’ve learned that the aftershocks come no matter how often you tell yourself that what happened to you wasn’t that bad. I’ve learned they are scary and they are consuming and they are real. And I’ve learned that to make them go away, I have to let myself feel them.

Trauma lingers. It sneaks up on you, and sometimes it squeezes you so tight you think you can’t move. But you do. You put one foot in front of the other — off the elevator, into the hall, through the doors of the gym, onto the treadmill.

You keep going.

Perfection, rejection and self doubt.

IMG_1635.PNGHi, there. I’m a perfectionist.

This poses problems in many areas of life, but most obviously right now is my new career choice.

Freelance writing is not a place for perfectionists. It’s a business full of rejection and, for much of my life, rejection has been akin to failure. So I knew taking this path would challenge my ability to be, well, nice to myself in the face of anything short of success.

My first rejection came today, and this blog post is probably how I’m working through it.

The first story I want to write is quite personal. In March, at 34 years old, I had a moderate stroke caused by a tear in my right vertebral artery (one of the arteries that winds through your vertebrae on its way to your brain). In the days before my stroke, a chiropractor cracked my neck. I’ve learned, since, that there is an undeniable connection between chiropractic neck adjustments, vertebral artery tears and strokes in otherwise healthy, young people. I also went through some pretty horrible and negligent care at the EMS and emergency room level that might have had something to do with healthcare providers not thinking about a stroke in someone my age.

So this story is a big one for me. It’s a little bit comeback and a lot of catharsis. And when I pitched it last night for the first time, I felt really good about it.

I got rejected this morning.

My instinct was to assume I messed up the pitch, and maybe I did. I have never really had to pitch stories before. As a beat writer, your material is always happening right there in front of you. So I’m new at this, and I know as time passes I will learn what a good query looks like. My next instinct was to email my pitch to my husband, so he could tell me if he thought I should change things.

In addition to perfectionism I deal with something I know is so common in women: I constantly feel I have no clue what I’m doing, and I’m terrified everyone will suddenly realize it. Psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes labeled this the “Imposter Phenomenon” in the 1970s. It’s basically when you spend tons of time wondering when people are going to figure out that you are a complete fraud. (Sound like you? You can take Clance’s assessment here: http://paulineroseclance.com/pdf/IPTestandscoring.pdf)

This did not serve me well during my time covering baseball. I would spend hours beating myself up if a mistake made it into the paper, and I had a hard time sleeping many nights, obsessively going over my copy in my head. In my worst moments, I would get up at 4 a.m., even though there was nothing I could do about any errors by then, turn on my laptop and go over my stories once more. Add that anxiety to the fact that my email address was right at the bottom of every story I wrote, making it nice and easy for readers to let me know how inept they found me, and it made for some pretty harsh self talk and what I now realize were panic attacks.

Being a beat writer is pressure packed. By the time a game was over and I had been down to the locker room for interviews and back up to the press box, I often had only 15 minutes to transcribe any quotes and write my entire story. It was hard. And I was even harder on myself.

My husband used to be a writer, too, and he was incredible. I still Google his old work sometimes, just so I can remember how great he was. He knew I had these anxieties, so especially when I was on a road trip and he was home, he would get up in the morning and read my stories with his coffee and send me an email listing all of his favourite lines from my work the night before. It meant the world to me, and those messages were some of the sweetest things he’s ever done for me.

But on too many days I felt like I couldn’t breathe until I got his email, and for the first four years of my five covering baseball, my own validation was never enough. By my fifth and final season I started to believe I deserved to be there, that my voice and my observations were worthy of my position. But just when I was finally convincing myself of my ability, life went in another direction and my beat writer days were done.

This time around I need to stand on my own. I need my confidence to come from within, not from my husband or my editors or my readers. I have to believe in what I am doing enough to do it with my own voice as my most weighty influence. This time around, I deserve to believe in myself.

So I didn’t wait to hear from my husband about my pitch this morning. I sat down at my computer with my 4-year-old on my lap, reworked my query and sent it to another editor at another publication.

So here’s to pitch #2. And, if need be, pitches #3 and #4 and #5 and …

A return to words

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I remember this day so clearly. I was so pregnant (see my belly sticking out from behind that jersey?). It was so hot out — the end of July in Minnesota. And it was the last day I covered a baseball game, something I had been doing for five years. I remember asking my last questions, transcribing my last quotes, saying goodbyes, writing my last game story and calling the copy desk one last time to check for questions.

And I remember walking, alone, out of the Target Field press box, into the humid, heavy Minnesota summer night air, meeting my husband at a nearby restaurant and sobbing. A sort of very embarrassing, very public type of sobbing. The kind you do when you know something is really, truly over.

This picture is of a previous life.

It was more than seven years ago now. I was 27 years old and walking away from my career. In the eight weeks after this photo was taken, I quit my job, had my first baby and moved to a new city in a new country where I had no friends and no family, save for my husband and my 5-week-old son.

I didn’t have any idea when I sobbed that night over sushi what I was really crying about. Covering baseball was a hard job, but I understood, going into it, what I was getting myself into. Long hours, no days off, trying to reason with people who don’t want to talk to you (yes, I now realize this sounds a lot like parenting). I had spent months telling myself I was ready for a change, that I couldn’t be the mom I wanted to be as a beat writer, that moving to a new country for my husband’s job was going to be an amazing adventure!

And I was right, in part. I couldn’t keep covering baseball and be a mom. I would have been miserable. What I didn’t expect is what no 27-year-old does — that life is hard and complicated, beautiful and sad, full of joy and full of heartache, often all at the same time, that marriage is so very hard and parenting breaks you wide open.

But two months after I said goodbye to my career, I was naive enough to be excited as I stood in line to board a plane to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with my 5-week-old son strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn. (I realize many people don’t know where Calgary is. It’s north of Montana, on the eastern slope of the Canadian Rockies. My favorite story about Americans having no idea where I live happened at the dentist a week before we left Minnesota. I told my hygienist I was about to move to Canada, specifically Calgary. She asked me, “Oh, what providence is that in?”)

I had no idea what was waiting for me in Calgary, and thank goodness I didn’t. In the years since that day, I developed often-debilitating anxiety, I learned about trauma and real loss and that parenting is basically realizing more each day how little I knew about babies, about people and about life.

I found that I could hate life and love it at the same time.

Today I have a 7-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter, and mostly I still have no clue what I’m doing. But lately I have started to come back to life. To my life. To the person I was all those years ago, crying in that sushi restaurant for something I understood on some subconscious level — I was already mourning a life I would never get back.

Parenting changes you on such a fundamental level. And for me that has born out in a lot of ways. The most profound, maybe, is that after spending all of high school knowing I wanted to be a journalist, after pursuing that singular profession in college, after having internships at the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe, after graduating from the University of Kansas and getting my dream job — which was covering the baseball team I grew up listening to on the radio during summertime crop checks with my dad in our beat-up crew-cab pickup while he drank a Miller Lite and I stuck my face out the open passenger-side window to smell the freshly-cut alfalfa — I walked away and put it away and stopped writing entirely.

What I have loved, always, about journalism is telling other people’s stories. One (big) thing that’s kept me from writing for so many years, is that I don’t know how to tell my own. Or why anyone would want to read it. Even as I type this, I’m not sure I can do it. Or that anyone would or should care to read what I have to say.

But maybe it’s time to just put it out there in the universe. To see if my brain can still function in a way that doesn’t involve my kids and their schedules and who hit who and did he eat enough vegetables today and what will happen if she subsists on milk alone and how much screen time is enough and how much is too much?

So here I am, 35 years old, with a blank space on my resume that surpasses the number of years I actually wrote after college, starting over again. Trying to figure out if I have interesting things to say, if anyone wants to read them, and if any editors want to publish them.

In this blog space, I’m going to share my successes and my failures as I try to reenter the professional world. And I’m going to write about myself. I’m going to do my best to be real, to tell you stories about my life and my failures and my stay-at-home mom guilt and my woman guilt and my feminism guilt and how motherhood has opened up all of these doors of being guilty about things I never even considered I could feel guilty for!

Some of it will be funny, I hope. Some of it will be sad. Some of it will be about panic attacks in the grocery store checkout line, and some of it will be about when my daughter talks about her vulva in very public places, like in line at the amusement park. It will be about how I go to bed so many nights worried I am totally screwing up my kids, how other nights I lie awake overwhelmed by what I’ve given up to be a mom, and how, on other nights still, my kids fall asleep with their head on my chest or their hand in mine and I know that no matter what I gave up, it’s all been worth it.

About how, basically, I’m just like you.

If you’ve read this far, thanks. I hope you’ll stick around.

– Kelsie