This is Jammie Kern and she is something special.
I first met Jammie in 2014 when we were cast in Listen To Your Mother OKC together. This year, I had the happy surprise of being with her in the 2017 cast. There is something special about Jammie. I knew it in 2014 and it was solidified this year when I heard her 2017 Listen To Your Mother story for the first time.
When I heard her story I knew I had to share it here. I won’t tell you what it’s about because that would be a spoiler. If you have ever birthed a baby this is for you. If you have ever been awake all night, days on end with a child that won’t sleep or who wants to nurse non-stop; this is for you. If you know a momma who seems frazzled, at her wit’s end, looks like a zombie and you wondered, why can’t she just take a nap and get her shit together? This is for you.
Basically, this is for every person who has been on the receiving end or been witness to, a baby who won’t sleep. Basically, all mothers at one point or another.
Just read it and let her amazing storytelling ability take you on her journey.
The Enemy of My Friend
Listen To Your Mother OKC 2017
I have a kindred spirit, my best friend, her name is Jamie. I’ve known her all my life, we grew up together. I know that girl like the back of my hand; because she’s my soul mate.
Even when she got married and when she started having babies, we were inseparable. Her little girls were so adorable, they were just fifteen months apart. She liked to call them her “little girlfriends.” Jamie would bend down and pick them both up at the same time, then carry both little girls around everywhere, one on each hip.
Somewhere along the way, Jamie made a new acquaintance. I tried to be understanding as her new companion, we’ll call her Lilith, seemed to take up more and more of my best friend’s time.
Once, when I tried to surprise Jamie with a visit, she was napping. I was jealous when she told me how Lilith had been there a lot, keeping her company when the girls were maybe a little too much to handle.
I asked her if she wanted to get out of the house, to do something fun with me, but she said no, she was too tired. I asked her if she’d been writing, or creating. She was too tired. Oh but Lilith…Lilith who was SO boring, she was easier to be with than me with all my “activities outside the house.” Then she said, with a shrug, that Lilith told her she was being selfish for wanting to do anything fun, she was a mom now after all.
That Lilith, she’s a real joker. I had some choice words for that leach. So I gave her The. What. For. No one talks to my bff like that. Lilith told Jamie she had to choose between us. So of course we laughed and laughed until Lilith ran away.
When the girls started school, Jamie got her bachelor’s degree. She volunteered in the community, she worked in her garden. She was writing and creating again, and she was so happy. I felt really proud of her. After a few years, though, she felt like she was missing something in her life, something like a miniature version of her husband, but whatever.
Well that baby boy, he was a little prince. She was over the moon in love with him. But he was difficult- in one way: he was a non-sleeper, and wanted to breastfeed around the clock. Jamie told me having a baby at thrity-eight is a lot harder than having a baby at thirty.
She was such a tough mom, a real problem solver. I didn’t realize how much help she needed. When Jamie was really suffering in the darkest moments of exhaustion, while her son grew and developed on such little sleep, Jamie was withering away.
And guess who showed up. Lilith the negative Nancy. The Debbie downer. Lilith, the enabler. She didn’t encourage Jamie to take care of herself, to make an effort. She seemed to enjoy watching Jamie struggle. She brought out the worst in my best friend. The absolute worst. And it broke my heart.
Why did Jamie lean on Lilith, whose boring daily objective was sad Netflix and heavy carbs? Why wasn’t I enough for her? Why couldn’t I get through to her? To help her at least see what Lilith was doing to her?
Jamie couldn’t stand up to Lilith when she criticized her. She took Lilith’s rude remarks as if they were true. It wasn’t until Lilith started wheedling her way into Jamie’s other relationships that things turned ugly. Lilith had a way of twisting things around to make a tiny problem seem like it was Jamie’s fault, like she was worthless. She had her convinced that she’d never be the kind of mom that her kids deserved. She had Jamie convinced that her family would be better off without her.
Maybe you’re wondering how could I allow that to happen to my best friend? Lilith was just so overbearing. I’d already fought her once, but this time she had a grip on Jamie. She’d turned her against me, and all I could do was hold out hope that Jamie would see Lilith for what she was.
That moment finally came one night, when Lilith made a grave mistake. She messed up so bad, she finally crossed a line with Jamie. Lilith crept in between Jamie and her little prince, as he was fighting sleep. She whispered, “life would be easier if that demanding boy was gone. You could finally get some sleep, have free time for yourself. Isn’t that what you want?”
Jamie called me in a full blown panic and I jumped to help her. I ran to her. I held her hand. We cried together and I told her I’d help her get Lilith out of her life for good this time. I told her I’d never leave her, and that I’d been there the whole time.
I’d been there all along because my best friend Jamie is me.
And Lilith, my dark companion, was never my friend. Lilith was my sickness. Lilith was Postpartum Depression. Over time, she laid little sticks of criticism at my feet. Then she piled on planks of self-doubt. She layered on great, dead logs of guilt, and shame. She became Postpartum Psychosis and used a rope of apathy so I wouldn’t care when she tied me to the stake. She smoldered inside my mind for so long, I grew accustomed to the heat. Then she coaxed the flames of self-sacrifice and I was burning alive.
I had underestimated Lilith. She’s really good at what she does. She’s a master manipulator and she’s been doing it for a long time. It was believed that if you said her name, Lilith had to flee. Hundreds of years before Christ, a pregnant woman hung a plaque on her wall bearing an incantation for Lilith, strangler of lambs.
“O you who fly in darkened rooms
Be off with you this instant, this instant, Lilith.
Thief, breaker of bones.”
Well, here’s another ancient saying: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Turns out Lilith’s enemy is the sweetest little nurse practitioner with a prescription pad and an accommodating schedule for emergencies. During treatment, I felt sweet relief rain over me. I found the energy to get back to my family, I found my emotions again. I can’t forget the wicked things that went through my mind when I was sick. But I’ve learned to swim in the cool waters of self-forgiveness.
My little prince just turned four years old. Now he sleeps like a champ, and he’s still teaching me things. And I will teach him the same thing I teach my girls, who I used to carry at the same time, one on each hip.
My girls are pre-teens, and I tell them, “life isn’t always easy. Stick with the ones who lift you up, not the ones who tear you down. Take care of each other, and take care of yourself, be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. You have to be your biggest cheerleader. You have to be your own best friend.”
Maybe they will grow up and decide to have their own babies someday. If they do, and if Lilith shows up? Tell her Jamie knows her name, and Jamie goes by “Grandma” now.