Archive | June, 2016

Finding Myself

29 Jun

Motherhood is tough.  As in really tough.  I don’t know a single mom who doesn’t struggle with juggling being a parent, being a spouse, being a girlfriend, being an employee or employer, or being a stay at home mom.  As a mom you have one (or more!) little being that you are entirely responsible for.  Food, shelter, safety are the basics.  Some days those alone are hard enough.  Go further up the scale and giving your love, time, and attention to those little ones is time consuming.  And did I mention, hard?  Then there are chores to do, a job that puts food on that plate, bills to pay, school functions to attend, schedules to manage. That is a lot of time that we as moms used to spend on ourselves.  Just gone.

Because part of being a mom means you want what is best for your children.  Add in some medical appointments and therapies and IEPs and counseling, and (again) all the other things you need to do in life, it seems like that bank of time spent on yourself is the easiest to pull from.

However, I’m sure you are all familiar with overdraft fees.  If you pull too much money out of your checking account the bank will charge you even more for the lack of money that is in there.  That’s what I consider those constant stressors to be.  Just continuous deductions from yourself until suddenly you’re not only empty, but in the deficit.

And it’s kind of embarrassing and sad to realize you’re there.  Suddenly you look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person you are.  At least that’s what happened to me.

I spent so many years completely engaged in caring for everyone else’s needs and kept pushing my own aside until I felt depleted.  And not only did I not want to do anything “fun.”  I FORGOT what it was I like to do for fun.  I forgot who I was other than being my kid’s mom and my husband’s wife and the cleaner-upper of this house.  (Sadly, I wasn’t very good at that one).

But I did wake up one day and realized that I need more to myself than “just” being a mom.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not diminishing the importance of that role.  I think it’s still my most important.  I love not only being a mom, but being my children’s mom.  I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything.  But in order to be a BETTER mom I had to take some time to just find myself again.

I rediscovered I love to write.  I remembered walking in the woods and how much I loved it and began to hike again.  I emailed a friend and said “hey, can I read your book?  I can edit or give you advice, whatever” and suddenly that surge of creativity was released.  I walked up a path up a very large hill, set aside my fear of heights and enjoyed the view.  I started asking friends to meet up again.  And followed through.  In one day I managed to meet up with two of my best friends in the entire world.  I smiled that entire day.  I dyed my hair, cut it short and sassy, bought a pair of heels and new makeup and went on a date (or a couple) with my husband.

And I like myself again.  I like my kids even more.  By padding that account with a little bit of “me time” when they make a withdrawal (20 minute tantrum over what color bowl they want for their snack and running out of insulin when we are sitting in an hour long appointment) it doesn’t hurt as much.  I’m not in the negatives.  In fact, I’m still in a positive balance and by staying there the stress of “running out” isn’t there.  I enjoy my kids more, I have the energy to clean more (no, my house still isn’t spotless), and I smile.  I laugh and I include them on those fun things I like to do.  While I’m writing my youngest usually paints (she’s better at drawing at four than I ever have been in my whole life), when I want to hike my girls will happily jump in the stroller and let me push them around.  One at a time though–there’s not a stroller tough enough for the both of them together!

So mamas, I beg you.  Take some time to do what you love to do.  See your friends, read a book, go dancing, go hiking, or whatever suits YOUR fancy.  Your kids will see the difference and I guarantee you you will feel the difference.  If you feel like you lost yourself in motherhood, go find yourself again.  You’re there.  I guarantee it.

 

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Before it melts

27 Jun

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Today’s adventure started out well.  A walk to the neighborhood grocery store where we picked up some dinner supplies and I may have let my miniature helper pick out an ice cream bar.  It didn’t require a lot of arm twisting.

She loaded back up in the stroller which caused meltdown number one.  After all, she’s carrying her ice cream in one hand and a toy puppy in the other.  Backing up into a stroller like that is challenging enough without a maxi skirt to get caught on the footrest.  Having both hands full make it near impossible.  But my lady is determined to do things solo.

I’ve been through enough tantrums in my life to know that it’s unreasonable to ration during a tantrum. So I allowed the crying, held the puppy dog as she tugged at her skirt, kicked herself into the spot and tried to bite off those pesky nylon buckle straps that were pulling on her.

Again.  I’m not a rookie to tantrums.  (Though I find myself losing patience during a screamfest sometimes.  Hey, I’m human.)

After we managed to push the horrid straps over her arms, and pulled the skirt up so the seat didn’t hurt she could concentrate on the yummy chocolate coating over ice cream bar.  I saw the flakes of chocolate peeling off and watched her daintily lick pieces.  I picked up the pace in the stroller.  It was summer.  We were outside in the sun.  And I had a preschooler eating ice cream on a stick.  While I was not a science major in college,  I do know what ice cream does in the sun.

We made it about two blocks down the road when it happened.  The block of ice cream fell off and the shards of chocolate as well.  They landed on her puppy, on her lap, on her shirt.  I stopped the stroller when she started her wailing.

Here is when I stood and looked at my little girl.  I calmly said “You have a choice here.  You can scream and cry over your spilled ice cream and you won’t enjoy any more of it.  Or you can stop crying and pick up the pieces and eat those.  No, it’s not the same, but it’s still really good.  And you can still enjoy it.  Again, it’s your choice.”

Typically she would continue to tantrum and the pile of ice cream probably would have ended up on the side of the road until a stray dog licked it up or it was stepped on by an unsuspecting jogger or bicyclist.  But she stopped this time, looked at me with her tear filled blue eyes and picked up a piece of chocolate coating.  And popped it in her mouth.

I smiled as I picked up the pace again and watched my daughter pick up the pieces in her lap and enjoy them.  And I realized this was a life lesson started by an ice cream bar.  Some day she’s going to struggle in class or break up with a boyfriend and I will remind her of her two choices.  Either stay and cry or just pick up the pieces.  Don’t get me wrong, I think crying is important.  And I have spent my time crying, but at some point you need to focus on the pleasure of what you do have. It might not be how you planned it to be.  But it’s still really good.  Chocolate is always good after all.

To the Red Haired Girl at the Splash Pad

26 Jun
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I saw you with your frizzy red pigtails, freckled face and your soaking wet yellow dress.  I saw you watching my daughter.  I saw you sitting near her, not too close, but close enough to watch her expression as she concentrated on watching the buckets fill with water and then pour down.  Most kids would be standing under that water.  Mine likes to watch from a distance.  I saw you smile at her.  And then I saw you look up at me.

You walked to me, shivering in the air, soaking wet.  And you smiled this beautiful, crooked smile with your front teeth missing.  I smiled back.  And you sat next to me and watched my daughter again.  Here is where I brace myself as a mom.

My daughter has Down Syndrome.  She’s non verbal and has some autistic tendencies.  She doesn’t know how to relate to other kids, sometimes doesn’t mind just watching others.  Some kids watch it and ignore it.  Some kids ask questions.

What is wrong with her?

Why doesn’t she talk?

Why is she mean? (If she pushes somebody too close to her out of the way)

Why is she yelling?

As her family we are used to it.  The kids she has gone to school with for the past few years know her quirks.  But “strange” children are rarely accepting of a child with special needs.  Especially when she’s nine and doesn’t speak.

So I braced myself when you looked up to me.  Because even though you look so sweet I get tired of explaining my daughter’s quirks. It hurts every time I have to explain that my child has special needs.  “Is that your daughter?” you asked.  I said yes.  “What is her name?”  And with that reply you got off the bench and went back to sit by her.

“Hi!” you said brightly, plopping yourself on the cement right next to her.  She looked at you, but instead of shrieking, she smiled back.  You wrapped your arm around her and laughed as the water bucket poured down.  She looked at your arm and I stood up, expecting her to shriek now and push you away.  See, she generally doesn’t like being touched.

But my daughter, like me sensed your beauty.  Instead of yelling “nooooo!” she did something amazing.  She leaned in and hugged you back.  And laughed as well.  And I sat down again.  You were too far away for me to hear your conversation.  But I saw you talking to my girl.  And not caring if she didn’t reply back.  I saw you both laugh.   I saw her touch your red hair and smile.

When your mom called you, you walked over to me wrapped up in a beautiful handmade quilt.  I smiled again, as I was still speechless.  Instead of me thanking you, you thanked me as your teeth chattered.  “Your daughter was so much fun to play with!  Have a great day!” you chimed as you started to run to your mom.

I’m sorry I couldn’t say thank you at that moment.  But, you see, I rarely see friends with my daughter.  You gave us the most beautiful gift that day.  You gave us a day where she was a typical child.  Making friends and laughing.  For that I will always be grateful.  And I hope I see your frizzy red pigtails again.  This time I will make sure to thank you.