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Friday, May 24, 2013

The Having It All Project: Lyette Mercier

I've only met Lyette, who I know better as Daisy Razor, through Twitter, but I've corresponded with her plenty there. It's kind of funny reading some of this as a complete story now, as I remember reading the tweets as it happened in real time! Be sure to check her blog for awesome items on sale each Friday. Here's how Lyette is having it all.

Briefly describe your life and what you think makes it unique
I am a married freelance writer and stay-at-home mother to a 3-year-old daughter. The only out of the ordinary thing I can think of about us is that our daughter, Genevieve, was diagnosed with Celiac disease when she was 23-months-old and is gluten-free. She stopped gaining weight when she was about a year-and-a-half-old and regularly threw up or had diarrhea after eating for about a month before her diagnosis. It was completely terrifying to know there was something wrong with her and have no idea what it was or how to fix it.

I remember putting her in the bath after she’d thrown up one day and crying my eyes out as I cleaned her off, because she was sick and her ribs were showing and I was utterly helpless to do anything about it. My husband and I both struggle with anxiety, and we actually came to an agreement that only one of us was allowed to freak out about it at a time and the other one would be the strong one, which worked pretty well, as silly as it might sound.

Her diagnosis was a massive relief. People ask me if it’s difficult to have a gluten-free child, but, for me at least, any difficulties are overridden by seeing my strong, healthy girl running around. (All right: I really miss bread sometimes.) We also got lucky that she was diagnosed so early, so she doesn’t remember/miss anything she can’t have now.

What are some of your favorite tips and strategies for coping with the chaos?
I don’t feel qualified to answer this! I am extremely lucky that I get to work from home and have a healthy, (generally) low-maintenance kid. Plus, my in-laws live 15-minutes from us and will literally come over and take Genevieve for the day when my husband and I have had a rough week. We are insanely, stupidly lucky.

Which is not to say I don’t look at her occasionally and wonder if maybe she’s possessed by a demon. I work really hard not to engage emotionally when she’s trying to get a rise out of me, and I walk away until I can calm down when she gets to me. Not because I’m opposed to yelling really, but because it gives me a headache and she just thinks it’s hilarious. I also try to think of things from her point of view, and since I was once also a demon child, I can sometimes outmaneuver her.

But I think the best tip I got came from my mother. I complained to her once about the overwhelming amount of contradictory parenting ideas and philosophies and advice, and she said, “Well then just decide what you want to do and go find the advice that agrees with you.”

Please share a moment where it all broke down, and how you got through it.
Gen got a nasty stomach bug in January. She and I were in Colorado, visiting a friend with a 4-month-old baby. My husband was back in Boston. I had to change our plane tickets, do all our laundry, bleach bomb everything she’d touched in the past day, and comfort her as she puked every 45 minutes. She was actively sick from 1:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. and we left for the airport at 7 p.m. for an 11:30 flight. At that point, I was mostly worried that I would get sick too before we got on the plane, but the universe had one more curveball for us.

Between Colorado Springs and Denver, we got stuck in a whiteout snow storm. That was terrifying enough in itself, but it also put us way, way behind on getting to the airport. I had managed not to panic all day, but I’d been awake for 18 hours at that point, and when my friend’s husband was like, “I think you need to start thinking about what you want to do if you miss the plane,” I was like, “I need to work on not passing out right now. I’ll deal with that later.”

I was so overwhelmed by everything that had gone wrong that I decided to just focus on one positive thought and completely block out everything else. That thought was “We are going to make this plane.” That was all I allowed myself to think until the panic receded, and it actually let me calm down enough to make peace with the idea of staying in a hotel overnight and getting a flight the next day.

Well, we made the flight that night. I strapped Gen into her seat, she fell asleep immediately, and I realized I’d gotten us through something I would have told you 100% guaranteed I could never do. The thing about parenthood that has consistently amazed me the most is how often it forces me to be a better, stronger person than I actually am.

Do you have any balance role models? Anything you try to avoid because it wouldn't work for you?
On days when I’m trying to write and make sure Gen doesn’t set anything on fire, I often think of my mother, who ran a sewing business out of our house. She’d have customers over and measure them while my sister and I ran around, then she’d stay up until midnight hemming and sewing. It’s a constant reminder that I’ve got it comparatively easy.

I try to avoid overscheduling Gen or signing us up for anything with a lot of noise or sensory stimuli, both because I’m worried she’ll be overwhelmed and because I know I’ll be overwhelmed. I think both of us staying calm and anxiety-free is worth missing out on a few preschool activities sometimes.

Think back to your 18th birthday. How is your life different from how you expected it to be then?
When I was 18 my only goal in life was to get the hell out of my hometown, so by that metric, I have succeeded wildly. I wanted to be a journalist back then, and that didn’t work out (turns out I mostly hate talking to strangers!), but I’ve managed to write professionally, so past-me would be pleased about that at least.

I didn’t think I’d get married or have kids, for many reasons, the main one being, um, my personality. I didn’t think about having a family at all until I met my now-husband when I was 25. He hadn’t particularly thought he’d get married or have a family either, which was good in some ways, because we didn’t have preconceived ideas about a dream wedding or a big house or what we’d be like as parents. But on the other hand we were like, “Buying a house? How do you do that?” and “Oh, preschools have wait-lists? Crap.” We are really, really bad at domestic stuff. But we’re in it together and that makes it easier.

I think that’s the biggest difference, actually: that when I was younger I assumed I’d be going it alone in adulthood, but I actually ended up with a husband who’s just as weird as me, friends with whom I’ve been to hell and back, and a great community of mothers in my neighborhood. It’s all been a wonderfully pleasant surprise, honestly.

Relate to what Lyette is saying? Leave her some love in the comments. Read other posts from The Having It All Project here. Want to participate? Send me an email at havingitallproject@gmail.com!

2 comments:

  1. "we actually came to an agreement that only one of us was allowed to freak out about it at a time and the other one would be the strong one, which worked pretty well, as silly as it might sound" - BRILLIANT. Your daughter is lucky to have parents who strategized to manage their own emotions to best handle hers - that's amazing.

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  2. she said, “Well then just decide what you want to do and go find the advice that agrees with you.”
    ... BEST ADVICE EVER. I'm taking it!

    ReplyDelete