To My Future, Negative Self:

Dear Future Self:

Even though you’re writing this post on a pretty good day, you need to know that you need to read, and internalize, these words on your worst of days. While you’re sitting in the doctor’s office. While you’re sitting in the ER or OR waiting rooms. When you have a bad day. This post is for you. Read it. Internalize it. Know you are worth it.

You are a BADASS mom. You kept this SUPER high maintenance kid, Callie Anne, alive. For 2.5 years. On a farm. With germs. With a trach. With setbacks every few months. While working full time and running a farm. You are a formative badass.

You are AMAZING. Despite its challenges, you’re [right now] 50% of the 9th generation of Gauker Farms (Meats). You are the driving force of a cash flow that allowed for the purchase of a farm to carry on to the 10th generation. Many of families have tried their best to do what you’re doing, and you’re doing it despite that challenges presented to you. No excuses, you just do it. Amazing.

You are FIERCE. You work 2 jobs plus the farm and markets. Plus community work. You do it without complaints, because you know it needs to be done and you are the {woman} for the job. You just do it because it’s the right thing to do, and right now your skills are needed here.

You are STRONG. Despite your kid’s drama, familial challenges, and other obstacles along the way, like a new to you job and anything else that jumps in your way, you made it happen. Since moving to Berks County in 2008, despite being absolutely miserable at the time, you did the work necessary to make yourself happy, to make your work meaningful, and to carry on your [married-in-to] family heritage. It was hard. It was challenging. It tested your faith in human beings and nature. But you did it.

You are HAPPY. Your family is, now, relatively speaking, HEALTHY. You could lose weight. You could be in better shape. You shpuld probably talk to a therapist, but at the very least a wine professional, I mean, life coach, maybe?! But your family is keeping on keeping on. And there’s not much more you can HOPE for than that!

Please read this to your future self. When you’re having a bad day, when something happens that yet again tests your faith, when you are down and can’t seem to pull yourself back up, read this. Know how far you’ve come. Know you are you. You are Jodi F-ing Gauker, aka #jfg. And you’re a rock star. AND, the sun NEVER SETS on a rock star.

Advertisements

Farmer Lee, the Problem Solver

It’s a Wednesday night. It’s my night out. One may think I’d be drinking wine somewhere with friends,  but alas, I am speaking at a farming workshop.

So, I texted my lovely husband to check in on the dramatic kid. Listen, I love her, but she is dramatic and I call it like I see it. I have no idea where she gets that. Really, no idea…

I received this photo with the caption, “I’m a problem solver.”

image

Yes, Lee Gauker. You absolutely are a problem solver.

You see, our super dramatic kid cries hysterically if you leave her by herself in the room. Always. Hysterically. Like, you’d think she’s dying. If you take her in the bathroom with you and have to put her down to you-know-what, she cries. Hysterically. Like she’s dying.

This photo is taken in the bathroom. She’s in her chair. Apparently to solve her ridiculously dramatic hysterical crying, he took her into the bathroom with him, with her chair so she didn’t have to sit on the rug in the bathroom. Not on the floor. In her chair. Still able to use the bathroom.

Congratulations, Lee Gauker. You won the night! You are a problem solver.

*Claps hands slowly*

How Do You Do It, They Ask. I Don’t, I Say.

On the way back to the event we were to be at this evening, from going to Lowes to purchase a table for the farmers market – style event that I forgot a table for, I said to Lee, “I’m a freaking mess. People ask me how I keep it together. I tell them I never did! Ever!”

“If anything, it’s probably gotten better since you had a kid,” he said.

“At least I admit my shortcomings!”

image

It’s true. I have always, 100%, been a hot freaking mess. I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached to me. It’s true, and I admit it to the fullest extent I can.

You see, we decided to go to this event on a whim. I let Lee decide if we went. He said we should, so I spent the weekend putting together a wholesale flyer and some stuff for a display.

We packed up Callie after work and headed to Easton. I forgot the dang table.

So, we get there, and I realize it. I call my friend, T-Hahn whom will also be attending, and he recommends Lowes since he was almost there, too. Super. We can do that.

So, we go to Lowes, and I select the 4 ft table because the 6 ft table is bigger than we need and the other tables we have are 4 ft. I check out. I’m making great time. I get to the trunk and the DANG THING DOESN’T FIT! Because our other 4 ft tables fold, and this one doesn’t. So, I have to go in, return said table, and buy the 6 ft table that will fit in the trunk. It took forever for the lady to return it because she can’t multi-task. I’m annoyed beyond belief, but retrospectively I can now see that’s extremely hypocritical of me. After all, I’m the one that forgot the dang table and how has to rush around like a crazy person.

Here I am, the crazy lady again!

We get there. We get set up. Everything is fine. My bladder is about to explode though. I find the bathroom, up 3 flights of very long, steep stairs. I got back downstairs and Lee says Callie probably  needs changed. Super.

I’m not carrying my kid up those stairs. I’m tired and sweaty from running like a crazy person and carrying stuff around, and those are steep stone stairs.

I find a little side room and put her down on the changing pad.

You know where the story is going… yes. It is. She did.

Green poop up the back. Awesome. Good thing I’ve got ample wipes, and plastic bag, and a change of clothes.

Can’t remember a dang table, but we’ve got the tools to handle this. Her shoes need washed, though. They’ll survive this, but they need a swirl in the washer. With soap. And not just a swipe of the wipe.

I also find it ironic that we went to a Buy Fresh, Buy Local event and stopped at Burger King on the way home because it was fast, we were super hungry, and we didn’t have time to eat at home before Callie’s bath and bedtime.

We ooze class. And irony. And I don’t, nor will I ever have it together. No fear, though. I’ll die trying!

image

I’ve Hit Crazy, Fat Momma Cow Status and I’m Not Sorry

That’s right, livestock friends. You’ve heard it here first. Crazy, fat Momma Cow over here. Like, way bad crazy. #sorryimnotsorry

Today, when I dropped the containers of meat Step 2 baby food from my hands full of milk and coffee creamer for the 3rd time this afternoon, and the nice manager man said, “slow down. You got more things than you were planning to,” I wanted to look that man directly in the eyes and says, “sir, you have NO IDEA how right you are.”

Instead, he placed my milk on the counter, the nice associate went and got me a new container of baby food that luckily did not open or explode all over the floor, and I went and got myself a basket. After all, I could handle all of this stuff I wasn’t expecting to get. I just needed to get a basket to carry it.

So, I slowed down, gathered my things in the basket, checked out, and went home. Then, I put Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on for Callie, and poured myself a glass of dry red. Everything is fine.

Why? Why was I rushing? Why was I letting a crazy lady I was emailing with previously make me a frantic, crazy lunatic when I already was carrying so much stuff?! Seriously though?! Why do I do that to myself? Why do YOU do that to yourself? It makes us drop things and be a crazy person!

We’ve all got stuff, man. All of us. Family. Kids. Work. Life. The abundant amount of stupid or ignorant people who purposefully make our lives harder than they need to, taking our attention away from the things that matter most?! My stuff isn’t bigger than yours, and your stuff isn’t bigger than the next. We’ve all got stuff. How we chose to overcome it – that sets us apart.

Get the dang basket already. Help yourself first. And if you know someone who needs to hear it, tell them to get a dang basket.

Who knew there would be wisdom in a trip to get milk today?!

Don’t be the crazy, fat momma cow. Be the fat and happy momma cow. They have way more fun.

image

Dear New Mom Jodi

Dear New Mom Jodi:

In the words of your college friends: nobody died. Look at you go, having a kid that defies odds and Mother Nature.  Life is hard right now. Get used to that. It’s not going to get easier. That’s just how life goes. The sooner you suck it up and come to terms with it, the better off you’ll be. Put on your big girl pants. You’re a new mom. To a flipping miracle.

Your baby in the NICU? She looks like ET now. But in a few months, when she gets her tracheostomy and you get sent home to pretend like you know what the hell you’re doing raising a “high maintenance” kid, she’s going to be the cutest, smiliest, happiest kid ever. You’re going to hear stories about crying, screaming kids that don’t sleep, or eat, or are cranky and miserable. You won’t know what that’s like, but you can tell them where to find the children’s suppositories in the drug store. Priorities.

image

Your career working with people is going to come in handy. You will need to use those restraints, careful words, and attention to detail and memory recall when dealing with doctors, nurses, specialists, and schedulers. God knows your husband isn’t going to do that for you. And if you play your cards right? Well, you’re going to deliver your expectations once, and it will be inherently clear when those expectations haven’t been met. And you’ll earn a great deal of respect from the people who need to meet those expectations. And they know they’ll meet them or you will find someone else who will.

You have no medical background. None. But you’re willing to learn. And you’re scared to death at failing. Failing your kid. Failing yourself. That deathly fear of failure? That will get you through the most difficult times to come. You won’t fail. You’ll be fine. You may cry hysterically at work one day because the night before you gave your kid a bath and started at her feet instead of her head. You know what? Nobody died.

You’re going to quickly learn you have new priorities. You won’t even know it. You’ll be trying to make appointments for your kid, and the doctor will HAVE to see her on a certain day for a vaccine or something that will take up a ridiculous amount of time when it doesn’t need to. So that conference you wanted to go to? The one you paid $150 to attend for one whole day? Yeah, well, good thing you have a fabulous coordinator to give that registration to because you, my friend, are going to the doctor. With Cheese.

Suck it up, buttercup. You’ll be fine. Nobody died.

What Goes Through a Parent’s Mind When You Find Out Your Kid Needs a Trach.

image

Hi, Friends!
It’s been a while. Sorry. Busy trying to be mom, wife, project manager, farmers market vendor… all that fun stuff. You know how I roll.

A year ago today, an ENT specialist (that’s Ear, Nose, and Throat in case you’re like me and forget medical acronyms because you work in agriculture and you’re fresh out of acronym memory) came into Callie’s room on her first full day at CHOP, after a trip to the OR (Operating Room) to tell us our daughter would, in fact, need a tracheostomy. They drew pictures and showed us pictures of why it was needed and we understood. I mean, this kid needed another 14 weeks to full grow before she was supposed to make her appearance. We were lucky beyond measure that the only thing she needed was a tracheostomy  (and a feeding tube, but that’s so minor it’s crazy). We thanked the surgeon and he left.

So, it was me, Lee, and a sedated Callie, hanging out in her NICU room at CHOP. I’m pretty sure all 3 of us at that point looked at each other in sheer horror thinking to ourselves the same thing, “how in the world are we going to do this?! We (you) are NOT qualified for this deal!”

There’s not much that enduces an extra special heaping dose of self-doubt quite like finding out your “medically fragile” kid is going to require a breathing tube through her neck and 24 hour care for a while. First, you’re a relatively new parent. You have no IDEA what you’re doing in the first place, and now you all but need a medical degree to help your kid live.

You are going to spend the next few years of your life relying on a stupid piece of velcro. A stupid piece of velcro that holds your kid’s airway open so she can breathe.

And if you think that’s scary, wait until later in life when you learn just how important that stupid piece of velcro is because you get to watch your kid turn blue. 3 different times. Before she turns one.

Let’s just agree ignorance is surely bliss at this point, shall we?

But here we are. A year later. About 15 pounds heavier. A hell of a lot smarter. A whole lot more tired. And a ridiculous amount more appreciative of a rubber tube with a metal spring in it, and a stupid piece of velcro.

I Still Firmly Believe I’m Not Qualified to be a Mom

Still following the saga of the Charmed Farm Mom fighting the insurance companies? Let me catch you up.
• Still fighting for a back up ventilator.
• Realized we need a back up feed pump and suction machine, too, that we don’t have. Need to start fighting for that.
• Supply company never notified me insurance will only cover 4 Farrell bags per month – bags that are supposed to be changed every day that relieve gastric pressure. I have a letter of medical necessity from months ago that we need them (and our surgeon says we need them). Not sure why insurance won’t cover them all of a sudden, after shipping a month’s supply previously, or why no one notified me. Guess I need to fight about that, too.

I’m really not a fighter. I’m a lover, not a fighter. But when my husband and I, and our friends and family, work each week and pay into a system that’s supposed to help people in situations like ours, and companies that I’ve had the displeasure of working with through our experience are complete and utter jerks, it’s really hard to keep my composure. Do NOT mess with my kid and her health!

I need to tell you, though, that I have felt since before conceiving this piece of cuteness kicking on the floor here beside me that I did not feel like I was qualified to have a child. And I still don’t. We need licenses to operate vehicles that drive 100 miles per hour or more, but don’t need a license to bring a child into the world?

I digress.

I mean, I cannot get myself together. I have calendars and to do lists and reminders in my phone and I’m still not in time and forget appointments. I can’t even begin to tell you how many chiropractor visits I’ve missed, and i absolutely need them! And really, this has been for YEARS, like before I had an excuse (valid or not!).

I hear a lot these days, “I don’t know how you do it.” Let me be the first to tell you I’m NOT doing IT, whatever IT is. You know what I am doing? Walking around here, playing with Callie, and praying like hell that I’m doing right by her and not screwing anything additional up along the way. So if by IT you mean skating by on the skin of your teeth, then I guess, heck yes! You bet I’m doing IT!

Don’t get me wrong. I think all mom’s have self-doubt and probably guilt. Am I doing the right things, whatever those things are? Am I raising my kid? I don’t care who is judging the crap out of me right now, but is this kid going to be ok – special needs or not? I don’t think that ever goes away. And I don’t think it ever gets less. Bigger the kids the bigger the problems, right? But gosh, for my sanity’s sake, I hope the overactive self-doubt drive I’ve got going on dies down soon.

I’m not asking for help. I’m not telling you all of this for pity, or anything. I don’t need counseling, or help, or a pep talk (I get those from Kid President!). I’m sharing this because I’m a mom. A normal, every day mom with normal, every day problems and work and life, that happens to have an adorable baby that has required 6 ER visits since she came home 3.5 months ago. I’m a mom and I want other moms to know it’s OK. You’re not alone. And we’ll vent, we’ll get over it, and we’ll move on to the next obstacle, no matter how big or small. And hopefully there will be a lot of smiles and love in between.

image

And I’m pretty sure the poor girl that answers the phone at our supply company when I call prays for that, too. Her ear, and eyes from emails, probably can’t take much more.