Neurofibromatosis

Know Your Audience

It’s a good thing I work from home. For the most part, I know my audience is… well… me. So, after a call or while talking through creative concepts, I can laugh at myself or swear out of frustration and know that no one heard me. I think my biggest fear from working at home is that I will someday lose that filter and judgment and not know when to say something, what the right thing to say is, and when it’s best to simply shut up.

This is the work world. And if I can pride myself on anything, it’s that I think I will always have the intuitive ability to know what/when/how to deliver what I need to say. I can read the person I’m talking to like a book (even at first meeting), and respond appropriately for the occasion. I don’t ruffle feathers. I don’t need to bite my tongue. I don’t get mad or lose my cool under pressure. I can speak PhD nerd, talk financials with an accountant, pretend I’m super creative to an agency exec, or be a smartass on a construction site. And I think that’s why I’ve been successful in so many of my jobs.

However, in my personal life, especially my life over the past six months, my filter and ability to handle people not knowing their audience is seriously on the fray. I find myself sitting staring blankly at people, hearing (not listening), and thinking over and over and over –WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM? Can they be more annoying and rude? Do they know who they are talking to? Do they know what’s going on in my life? Do they know that I would KILL for those struggles and troubles? Do they know what I have in checking (uh, $238) when they complain about money? Do they know what I’d give to spend my nights running around to activities instead of planning my month/vacation hours around Children’s hospital and therapy? But here is the thing.

They don’t know. They don’t think of me as an audience. Life isn’t business (even if I wish it was – think of my long list of titles). They may not have the ability to know. They may not be emotionally capable of trying to know. They may not have the desire to put themselves in my shoes to think through what is about to come out of their mouth. And for that, I am learning, and trying so desperately to be patient and be kind. And less bitter. And I know (sometimes) that this is going to help me in ways that I simply cannot comprehend.

So, if I can offer anything… to the person going on about their first world problems – it’s this:

Please do share your problems. They are real for you. I want to hear about them. That’s what friends are for. I want to know what’s upsetting you and stressing you out.

But PLEASE, just acknowledge me first. Acknowledge that you realize, in spite of the things I’m faced with, your issues are trivial and you are blessed to have them. And then proceed like you always used to. It’s as simple as… ‘I know that no one in this world should complain to you, but’ or ‘I feel awful telling you about my ‘bad’ day when I know yours …’Or, ‘No one needs a vacation more than you guys, but we simply cannot wait to get away.’ COOL. I want this for you too. Our friendship is not a competition. I never want it to be. But take the 5 seconds to preface what you are about to say to help me listen instead of make me want to preach.

For the person who feels their world is crashing down and has a sick child, I offer this:

People don’t mean it. They don’t think. They don’t say the right things. Even if they spent a week doing what you did and having the racing thoughts and future dreams dashed by a diagnosis, they wouldn’t get it. Let it go. It’s not a competition, but you’ve won the right to always feel slightly jaded. Just remember that happiness is a choice – and jealousy does nothing to benefit our babies. And nothing to benefit us. And if you are me, the only benefit will be on your ass or in the form of love handles as you stress eat starburst jelly beans.

If we all would just acknowledge each other’s issues – what a freaking amazing place this world could be.

It will be okay.

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If I could write a letter to the ‘me’ I was just one year ago…

A year ago (well, give or take), I was just a very pregnant mom to a toddler. I was working full-time, up to my due date, and too guilty to take the extra time to take a break, put my feet up and get a pedicure. I was mad at myself for gaining too much weight during my pregnancy (Shamrock shake and medium fry after every appt – um, I think so!), I was worried about money and making it all work while being on maternity leave. I felt sad I didn’t have a really nice home and a new bedroom/nursery for my baby boy (even if my toddler was stoked to share his room). I was stressed because the weather was so cold and I’d feel cooped up in my house on leave. I was overwhelmed with things I’d now kill to feel overwhelmed with again.

Today, at our 16thappointment since February 16, I was desperately trying to make it to the bathroom before we headed to ENT. I caught a glimpse of the door for ‘Special Needs.’ My heart broke thinking about the people who may regularly have to visit that office. And then, right before my eyes, I read ‘Neurofibromatosis.’ My son’s diagnosis, so blatantly in front of my eyes – ‘special needs.’ Man, what a difference a year makes. What a different path my son’s life may take. These are worries. These are concerns. These are things worth stressing about…

Neurofibromatosis
ENDNF

So, in that spirit of realizing just how much I’ve grown in a year…. I thought about what I’d write to the me I was just a year ago. I’d have so many things to say, starting with:

1)       Stop beating yourself up. Life is messy. Working and parenting, and trying to be a wife – and eat healthy and workout, and clean a house, keep a marriage happy, and sell a house, and move, and manage finances – this shit is hard. It’s exhausting at times and you are doing no one any favors by not giving yourself a god damn break. Stop doing 6 loads of laundry on Friday nights. Sit down. Watch Shark Tank. Have a glass of wine. Or three. Don’t constantly compare or think you are failing because you aren’t in a size 27 jeans. You are good. You’ll get there.

2)      Stop giving a fuck. Who cares if you live in an affluent area and people dress more for grocery shopping at Sendiks than you do for a night out on Friday. WHO THE FUCK CARES. Wear your Titleist Hat with two-day old showered hair and caked on makeup, and get your shit done. Life is so much more than how we look, how others think we look, what cars people drive, what home they drive home to, and so much more. STOP caring. You are a better person than most of them will ever be – and you can own everything you have (and don’t have). Trust me, fast forward a year and you’ll know damn well what I mean.

3)      Appreciate your dumb worries. So your son or daughter had a bad day at school. They cried because someone didn’t want to be their friend. You are worried about how mean kids will be in grade school and what to buy the teachers for an end of year teacher gift. You worried about whether or not your kid has a nice neighborhood to trick or treat at for Halloween. These things stressed you out in previous years. These are LOVELY worries. Seriously, lovely. If these were still your worries Megan, you’d be laughing, loving and enjoying them. If you are blessed enough to have this type of concern in life – appreciate it.

4)      Do more for others. That person that is running a marathon to benefit children’s cancer? Donate. I know you don’t have any money – but trust me, you never will. $20 to their efforts means a lot to them, and means more to the families of kids suffering. When you have healthy children, you are not facing a lifetime of medical bills, therapy session bills (not covered by insurance), meals on the go, travel to healthcare centers, days off of work. So find $20 somewhere and give it back. Do more for others. When you read a caringbridge or gofundme and the subject is someone’s child who is suffering – and they are connected in some way shape or form to someone you know – DO SOMETHING (besides sob at their story – which you are good at). Send a gift card for a meal, a simple birthday card to their child in the hospital, you get my drift. You may not know how much it means to someone.

5)      Remember, you are resilient. There are days that you don’t think you can possibly keep going. At the office. As a wife. As a mom. As a friend. But guess what, you will. And you’ll probably kill it. Know that so many things in life are out of your control, but somehow, you will adapt and move forward. Same goes for the worries you have about your kids – they, too will surprise you. From the worst tantrums can come the most amazing revelations and attitude adjustments.

6)      Let others in. You suck at this. You still suck at this. You might always suck at this. But do something to let others in. If you can’t ask for help, at least accept it when it’s offered. If people want to do something, give them ideas. If people want to be your friend, be open and honest about the time you have right now, but how much it means that you will have their friendship when your shitstorm settles down. It’s okay to let people in. Even if it’s strangers and through writing on a blog.

So, a year ago, I thought my life was falling apart because my dog died the week I went into labor, my husband lost weight while I was gaining, I went into labor with the worst norovirus/flu, I lost my wallet at Target two days after delivery… what I didn’t know was that these issues were character building annoyances. In a very blessed. Easy. Luxurious and oh so under appreciated life.

 

It will be okay.

-Megan

 

 

 

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