Dear Emerson; On Depression and Future Siblings

Dear Emerson,

Its been awhile since I last wrote. There's kind of a reason for that. I left off the last letter -- which was about my finding the strength to give your mom a push into making a step she was scared to make -- by saying I was going to work on some of my issues as well. And I did, it just took a lot longer than I expected...or hoped. I'll get to that, though.

We've been in our new house for awhile now, and everyone seems to be settled. I moved in three weeks before you and your mother, and whether or not that was the push she needed will eternally be up for debate. Living away from you guys, even though it was down the street and really just constituted where I was sleeping, was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Still, now that we're all adjusted to our new home our life has taken a gigantic leap forward.

The real point of this letter is to write you about your new baby brother or sister.

We found out one morning when you were putting forth quite an effort to not go to school. I'm on third shift at the factory now, and am the one to get you up and ready for school each day. Though, this time, I was not feeling well, and neither were you. You'd said you weren't feeling well every day for the last 3 days, though. Without a fever, I wasn't taking that as an acceptable excuse to stay home. So I dragged you around kicking and screaming, getting you ready myself.

Somewhere in the fight I had to duck out to the front porch to vomit off of it several times. The neighbors probably thought I was a drunk or something. I came back in when I felt it had calmed, ready to resume the struggle, but it had not calmed. As I hunched over the bathroom sink running some water to wash things down, your mother came in with a pregnancy test.

Besides the stresses of that particular morning, there were so much more thoughts flooding through my head. It's not that I hadn't wanted another child. We've been trying for over four years now. I'd almost resigned myself to believing we wouldn't ever be able to again, and that you were the lucky one and only. So this should be an immense source of joy, but the first thing it triggered was instead panic.

I kind of looked at you as my little savior for quite awhile. See, I've been dealing with depression for as long as I can remember. It's always sort of there, but low enough to just ignore. Sometimes something will send me into a pit, but I always climbed out. For the longest time I was reticent to even say the word because it seemed like an excuse. I could get over this myself.

Your mother gave me a reason to live when I was a teenager, and when we married and I was scared beyond belief trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life, you came along. I didn't matter any more, you two were my purpose. You saved my life and gave me a reason to exist.

You can only do so much to combat a mental deficiency, though. Within the last year or so I've been declining significantly. The pits are now way deeper. Last summer I tried to get over that invisible wall standing in between me and help by getting on a website for an organization that worked with people at my job. It let me take an online quiz which informed me of the unsurprising fact that I was right; I was severely depressed.

Not everyone that is depressed is suicidal, though. Apparently the divide seems to be not whether you've thought about killing yourself, but if you've thought about how you would kill yourself. I hadn't so I felt safe. I still needed some help, but there was no where on the site to click "YES I WANT HELP", just a phone number to call. I know it sounds ridiculous, but calling that number was just too big of a hurdle still.

So I pushed on alone, but like I said, those pits were getting huge now. In the midst of one of the worst I told your mother she needed to make the call for me. I needed help and I couldn't do it. She said she would, but a month plus went on without any appointments made. Until we found out we were having your brother/sister.

Look, it's not that I don't love you more than words could ever describe, but parenting is really hard. Coupled with the depression it was near impossible at that point. I was constantly assaulted with feelings of fear that I was screwing it all up. The frustration lead to anger and I'd just retreat and give up even trying. A day or two after we found out about your future sibling I was at the worst I've ever been before, and hopefully ever will be. You didn't feel good again, and of course didn't want to go to school. I was overwhelmed and suddenly said all the horrible thoughts I'd been having in my head out loud. For what it's worth you ended up going to school that day and getting sick before you even walked in the door, so you were right all along.

While you guys were gone, all I could think about was killing myself. Not just how easy a solution it was for all the things I'd been feeling, but specifically how I would do it. I'd crossed that point. I knew suicide was the most incredibly selfish option there was, but there I was, thinking about how I would do it. Whether or not I ever actually was going to do it, I knew I desperately needed to get help now. I laid in bed all that day, waking up periodically and blubbering like an idiot, and then falling back asleep. Your mom made the phone call I'd secretly been praying someone would make for as far back as I can remember.

Sure, I've only had one session with a therapist, but things seem like they're coming to an end anyway. Like I'm on a slow rise now, instead of the slow fall I've been on since I was a kid myself. I have another appointment next week, as well as a doctor's appointment to look into anti-depressants. With any luck it'll be an easy transition, but anything has got to be better than where I've been.

I don't really believe in God. I mean, he might exist, but I don't actively practice a religion or pray or anything. Still, it's bizarre to me that when I needed it the most, something has always come along to help me. Your mother, then you, and now your future brother or sister. When before I was upset about the apparent inability for us to get pregnant again, now it seems like perfect timing. You've all saved my life. I knew I needed to stay strong to provide for you, and when my strength finally starting failing me a second motivation came along to remind me that I couldn't give up. That's the worst proof of God ever, but it's the best proof in the world that each of you are my miracles. My saviors.

If you ever feel awful in any sort of way while you're growing up, please don't be afraid to tell me. It's not an excuse. I can help you get help. Or we just hug a lot. Whichever you want, I'll always be here for you.

The Splash

Growing up I would always play this little game in the shower. I'd cross my arms and clutch them together around my chest as tightly as possible, and let the water spray into the makeshift basin I'd made formed. The goal was to make sure it didn't leak out, and once it was as full as possible I'd open my arms and let the water splash down onto the shower floor. The louder the splash the better.

The inside of my brain is sort of similar, in that my feelings and emotions are the water. Every once in a while they all start flooding up, and spilling out. I try my hardest to keep them in, but they just keep spilling out. I need that big splash to reset things, but it never comes.

I stretch myself out as thin as possible. That's just how I am. Sometimes it all comes to a head, and I'm left with an overflowing basin. And I live with all of those thoughts. I desperately want to say them out loud. I wanna shove those feelings in everybody else's face, but I don't.

Working at a factory is like being in high school a second time. I really just want to act normal. I want to have normal interactions and genuine conversations that don't have the pretense of trying to be cool, but it is impossible. Everything is a game. Sometimes I throw someone under the bus to get a laugh, because those are the rules of the game it seems. I always tell myself to not play, but it usually just ends up being easier to join in than become the target.

After I get home from the factory, I dive into the non-stop stress of pursuing a writing career. I always feel guilty when I don't have some sort of content to post on the site I've spent over three years trying to create. I feel like a failure when I don't contribute any articles to the site that I feel completely honored to even be a part of. And I feel like a complete piece of trash when I half-ass my daily moderation duties because I've got too many other things on my mind to concentrate. It's a never-ending wheel of guilt that just keeps on spinning.

As a result, I don't pay enough attention to my kid. I really just want to relax and spend time with her, but I always feel like there should be something else I'm doing to be more productive. I can't say no to overtime at work, because after half a decade of living paycheck to paycheck I'm always worried we won't have enough money. There's always something else that I should be writing, because I promised it and because sticking to schedules will make me a successful writer some day. It's all for her. I don't want us to be poor, and I don't want her to be ashamed of my career, but neither of those things matter to a four-year-old. All she knows is she isn't getting attention so she acts up. She makes messes and acts like a brat because she wants me to get off the computer and pay attention to her.

That makes me feel like the shittiest parent in the world. The constant mocking at the factory magnifies every tiny insecurity I've ever had about myself. Trying to trudge my way through the thick swamp of The Internet to actually reach the other side and make something of myself as a writer becomes a task which I could never force myself to achieve emotionally.

Why do I keep writing when it can sometimes feel like I'm throwing my hard work and dedication down a giant hole? Why do I keep working overtime when it can sometimes feel like the factory is the worst environment emotionally for me to be in at the moment? Why do I keep doing anything I'm doing when I can barely work up the courage to put myself out there most of the time? Because that's life, at least how I know it. I'm fighting my way through as best I can. I feel like an awful parent sometimes, but it just helps me realize I need to take some breaks and spend some time playing. I feel like shit when I'm too emotionally drained to put forth the effort at work and some coworker inevitably takes their own frustrations out on me, but they are the every day hurdles that I need to overcome. I feel pretty crummy when an article I spent weeks on gets written off in mere seconds and I'm told I'm a garbage writer, but I'll keep on doing it anyway.

The splash comes, you just don't see it. It's not the kind of splash I imagine in my head during my darkest hours. It won't get people talking or make the local news. The splash is when I dump all those emotions and feelings in my head, and climb out of my slump. I might be a little mopey for a bit, but I carry on and make it through. The splash is not giving up, and it always comes.

Things Emmy Says, Part 6

As she was putting on her Easter dress: "The Easter Bunny is gonna see me and say, "Look at that fancy girl!""


Singing on the toilet: "Pooooop is coooooming. Poooooop is coooooooming."

Me: "Emmy, don't sing about your poop."

Emmy: "OK. Your pooooop is coming. Your pooooop is coooooming."

Me: "Em, don't sing about poop at all."

Emmy: "Peeeeee is cooooooming. Peeeeee is coooooooming."


When I grab her and hang her upside down over my back she likes to yell, "NOBODY WANTS TO BE NEAR YOUR BUTT!"


When watching coverage of the Royal Wedding Emmy saw when Kate Middleton drove by in the car and waved toward the camera. Zoe told her to wave back and she got really excited and waved to the TV. Then she said, "I didn't think people on the TV could wave to people not on the TV but they can!"


We were picking up sticks in the yard and I found a chunk of a ball that the dog must have chewed up. I threw it up onto the porch and a minute or so later Emmy walked up to Zoe holding it and said, "This came from the sky."


Em: "A long time ago I was a baby rat and I was in Mommy's stomach then I came out."

Me: "Um, yeah you were in Mommy's stomach, but you weren't a rat."

I didn't realize until days later that she was talking about several days before when we went to eat chinese and I told her she was a rat because she was born in the year of the rat.


She was eating a handful of Cheerios and it looked like she was trying to hide them. Zoe told her she knew she had them and it was fine so she said, "I know I was just covering my mouth so they didn't fall out on the floor, the couch, and all over you, and the chairs, and the cats, and the dogs."


Em: "I've never been to the ocean."

Zoe: "I have."

Em: "You have?! Did you ride a shark?!"

Fourth Anniversary

Today marks my 4th year of being married to my lovely wife, and my 9th year of being with her in general.

I've gotten comfortable in our relationship, but when I stop to think back on the kind of person I was when I met her I realize how much I owe her. If she hadn't taken a chance on me I would probably be a wreck of a human being living with my parents and crying myself to sleep every night.

I was immensely lucky that such a perfect woman went to the same high school as me and saw through all of my stupidity back then to even give me the time of day. She started everything good in my life, ushering forward a much more stable mental state, as well as convincing me that having a child was something I wanted.

I was young and immature and never really imagined having kids, but I knew that I wanted to spend my life with Zoe, and she didn't want to wait until we were pushing 30 to have kids so we got started right away. Now imagining my life without Emerson in it is almost impossible.

I've struggled with what I want to be in life for a long time. I stopped going to college because I had no idea what direction I wanted to take. If it wasn't for Zoe I would probably still have no idea that all I really want to be in life is a parent. Everything else is inconsequential. Jobs are ways to support my wife and kid, not a way of life. Zoe and Emmy are my life, and I'm the luckiest guy in the world that they came along and gave my life meaning.

I love you, Zoe! Happy Anniversary! Thanks for giving me everything.

Overboard on Easter

Emmy was born on February 1st, so Easter was the first kid-oriented holiday to come along. After you have your first child you tend to get a little bit excited when those sorts of things come around for the first time, so we went pretty overboard.

As a parent it's fun to try to make holidays as magical as possible for your child. We still try to stick to a budget, and we usually do fairly well. But even if we don't, I think it's worth it to see the excitement on her face.

Look, we're poor. We don't get many chances to spoil our kid. When we do, it's with pretty small and inexpensive things. Sometimes the little things add up and we find we went too far, but I don't really mind. We live with my in-laws and we have no way to afford any sort of costly gifts for Emmy. A majority of her clothes come from mom-2-mom sales (like a garage sale but on a grand scale and with all moms), and a lot of her toys have been purchased at yard sales, so it's not like we're spoiling her too much.

Sometimes I start to feel a little bit guilty that she'll probably always grow up somewhat poor. Sure, that's not whats important, but it's still a factor. A happy childhood is dependent on having good parents that encourage you to be glad you have whatever you do. If a kid has everything in the world they'll likely just want more. Still, I'd want to give my kid everything in the world if it didn't cause any negative effects and I had the means to do it. Right now, what we can afford is everything in the world to her, and that makes me smile. When she's older and understands that she can't have that expensive toy she wants because we can't afford it, it won't be as fun. But if I raise her right she'll still be happy with whatever it is she has.

A Shit List, for the Future

I don't often get days off of work. In fact, I usually never do unless I pay someone else to fill in for me. Every once in awhile though, my father-in-law has some time off of his own work and covers for me. Usually he has to really push it because I'd rather just do it myself, but that's besides the point. Today he had the day off and he told me he'd do one of my routes for me.

So, I relaxed a little bit instead of rushing to start work right away. I spent some more time in the morning with my wife and kid, and got a little bit of writing done. When I headed out to start up the route I was about and hour and a half later than I normally am. No big deal at all because I usually finish the route three hours before I have to be done -- time I use to go and do the second route which my father-in-law had covered.

Of course, people get accustomed to having things a certain way, and they don't really like change. Multiple people were standing around waiting for their papers as I pulled up, and I even fielded a call from someone I hadn't yet gotten to saying they didn't get a paper, most likely because they tried calling my employer first and were told they can't complain about not getting a paper until after 5 o'clock. But the real kicker was the guy that had the nerve to inform me I was late as I pulled up to hand him his paper.

I first responded in a friendly manner, informing him that my father-in-law was covering my second route so I didn't have to rush off right away today. He seemed annoyed by that, as if my entire life was only to deliver his paper. He told me that I was normally there at 2:30 (it was quarter to 4 at that time). I said yes, because I normally had to be so I could do my second route, but I wasn't late because it wasn't after 5. This didn't exactly satisfy him, but he grumbled and walked off.

You know, some people are so privileged that they seem to think the world plans itself around them. If the paper carrier is late, it must be because he's lazy. He should be delivering the paper at the exact same time every day, because surely he doesn't have a life outside of this one minuscule task which directly involves me!

I should start keeping a list of everyone that has shown behavior that proves they think like that. However long it is that I am stuck still delivering newspapers, I'll keep a file of their names and addresses. The day that I finally find a new job, I could then go and knock on every one of their doors and tell them exactly why they are awful people who can think of nobody but themselves.

Of course, I won't do that, but it'd be supremely satisfying if I did. I've said this before and I'll say this again: tip your paper carrier, mail carrier, pizza delivery boy, or whatever other person you have providing you with a service. You might not treat them like shit, but chances are there are a bunch of people that do.

Denied Again

Turns out I failed pretty hard at not getting my hopes up for that job. And of course it fell through, like they always do.

After weeks of waiting for a call back after my interview, I started to call them. Every day for over a week I'd just be told that someone would call back in a few hours and they never did. Finally I got through to one of the hiring managers who told me very matter-of-factly that they had decided that I wasn't right for the job.

I'm not entirely sure how you can't be right for filling boxes and loading them onto a truck. Obviously I'd screwed up the interview, though, it probably didn't help that the guy who interviewed me was a royal douchebag. If the woman who was actually scheduled me for the interview had been around when I showed up things might have turned out differently, but I guess I'll never know for sure.

This whole job hunt thing is getting frustrating. The hardest part is working up the motivation to try again after your hopes are crushed.

A Bygone Era

It's a little odd that my daughter's first obsession with a show was Thomas the Tank Engine. I've never ridden on a train in my entire life. Considering I see them tearing up old tracks constantly it's extra likely that she won't ever ride in a train as well, unless it is older-looking one for attractions and such.

They've been tearing up the tracks on one of my paper routes out in the country. Early this morning when I came through I stopped and grabbed one of the railroad spikes from the pile they'd left. I'm not entirely sure why, but I thought Emmy might like to see it. A souvenir I guess.

When she was talking about it with me she said she would never be able to ride on a train and I had to explain to her that trains still exist but she will likely ride on a very different kind of train. They won't use metal spikes pounded into huge blocks of wood, but all metal tracks.

Part of me wants to find the oldest train still running and get my family onto it before they break it up for scrap metal. It's not even nostalgia, just a weird sense of regret over the passing of an era in transportation. Things get old and lose their usefulness, man. It's kinda sad.