Showing posts with label daughter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label daughter. Show all posts

Friday, May 2, 2014

Hugs & Kisses


So I’ve made a parenting decision that seems to be stirring a bit of trouble. Ends up neither set of grandparents like the decision, and my mother-in-law actually finds it “rude”.

What could this be?

Well, I decided from the beginning that Jena would not be forced to give hugs or kisses as a greeting. Even to us. Even to grandparents.

This was a deliberate, thought-out decision.

My thinking is that I don’t ever want to teach my daughter that anyone has the right to obligate, coerce, or force her to show physical affection. Anyone. Including me.

My hope is that this type of thinking will stick to her, long past her childhood years, into her teenage years, into dating, and relationships, and quite frankly throughout the rest of her life.

In fact, dear readers, let me reiterate this teaching for you, in case no one ever told you:

No one has the right to obligate, coerce, force, or shame you to extend or receive physical affection. No one.

It’s not something that I plan on backing down from. I understand there are those who disagree; those who think that children should be taught to give hugs & kisses as greetings, especially to family members.

That’s okay. We’re just gonna have to agree to disagree.

With Jena, I can tell you it’s probably about a 50/50 shot whether or not she gives hugs. Kisses are very rare. This is whether it is me, Jason, my parents, or my mother-in-law. Outside of that circle, your chances of receiving physical affection of her of any sort are very slim.

And I’m okay with that.

Are there times when I would like a hug & a kiss instead of an outstretched hand followed by a loud “BYE!” ? Sure there are. She’s my daughter. I’d smother her with affection on a regular basis. Except she’s not comfortable with that. And I respect that.

Not all family members do
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My parents have decided to respect our parenting decision, but they also let us know that it sometimes hurts their feelings if she doesn’t want to give them a hug or kiss.

My mother-in-law recently described Jena’s behavior as “rude” and “disrespectful”. When pressed for examples, not giving a hug or kiss every time they see each other was one of only two she could provide. And she’s upset that we don’t “correct” her behavior.

I’ll be honest,  I’m not sure how to handle this. I certainly don’t want my child to be truly rude or disrespectful, to anyone, let alone her grandmother. But I also am not backing down on this issue either. And since we’ve previously explained our stance on this, and why, to ask Jena to do otherwise, or to ask us to “correct” her behavior when she’s following the guidelines we’ve set forth, is quite  disrespectful to us as her parents.

At the same time, MIL appears to be quite upset about the “respect” issue, and since this is only one of two issues she brought up, part of me feels compelled to act. I just don’t know how.

Any thoughts, dear readers?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jena's Turn!


And now it’s Jena’s turn!

Jena is doing as awesome as ever.

She is happily halfway thru Kindergarten, and is doing very well. We are blessed that she is currently in a setting where the teachers strive to meet each kid at their ability.

While Jena started the year already reading at a 2nd grade level, her best friend started the year not even knowing the letters of the alphabet (long story). It’s interesting to see such a difference in two best friends, and how the teachers reacted to it and adjusted the lessons & homework so that each child could progress at their level.

Unfortunately she is currently at a preschool, and Kindergarten is the last level. She will graduate in May. The current dilemma is what to do about her schooling for next year (and beyond), but that could easily be another post in and of itself.

She is excited to be a big sister, and was really hoping for it to be a girl so she could have a little sister. She talks regularly about what it will be like having a little sister, and naming ways she can help. I know there will be an adjustment period for all of us, but I really think she will be a great big sister and am so excited to see her in that role.

Currently she loves all things Barbie, and this has for the most part taken over for her love of Disney Princesses.

She still likes her princesses, but the obsession is definitely Barbie now.

So that’s about it on my Jena for now. As always, thanks for checking in!

Friday, September 20, 2013

How Far We've Come

Sometimes it's nice to look back at where we were in the past. It can be amazing how far we've come in a relatively short amount of time:



One Year Ago:
Things were just starting to calm down. After my father-in-law's passing in April, followed by my nephew's overdose in May, plus some major changes at work, last year was rather hectic and stressful. By September things were beginning to resemble something closer to normal. Finally.


Two Years Ago:
I was battling a bevy of health issues: my legs & feet were tingling from my spinal injury, I was struggling with some major digestive issues, and finally met with a pulmonologist about my recurrent cough. As you know, everything turned out okay in the end. This was also Jena's first Summer at preschool.


Three Years Ago:
We were house hunting, struggling in our marriage, and I was fighting major depression. I was busting my butt at the gym & following a strict diet, only to not see any results, as my metabolic disorder was as yet undiagnosed. We were just beginning to realize Jena may be speech delayed, and she was still watched by my parents full-time.


Four Years Ago:
Wow. Four years ago I started my blog. While I struggled with post-partum depression & anxiety, I was blissfully unaware of the marital issues that were lurking around the corner. Jason was getting ready to start medic school, Jena was a toddling machine.


Five Years Ago:
I was hugely pregnant, madly in love, and looking forward to starting our family, as we celebrated with baby showers and 4D ultrasounds. The pregnancy and dreams of our little girl pretty much consumed our lives at this point.


Six Years Ago:
We were engaged and busily planning our upcoming wedding. Invitations would be going out right about now. I had finished my Open Water certification and we did quite a bit of diving that Summer. Fun!


Seven Years Ago:
It was around this time that I knew I wanted to marry Jason. We had been dating only a few short months, but I just knew. We spent the Summer going to festivals, taking walks, and just being in love. I had finally had my back surgery earlier in the year, so was enjoying my first pain-free Summer in what seemed like forever.


Eight Years Ago:
Single and unattached, work was  pretty much my life. I was just beginning to look at apartments closer to work, and I still volunteered with my college marching band. I was also on the Alumni Band Board of Governors. In other words, I kept busy. Post-accident but pre-surgery I was in pain daily, and often walked hunched over.

Nine Years Ago:
Still enthralled with my new job and employer (where I am now), I also struggled with boredom. My previous jobs had been fast-paced and the work endless, but I now was constantly asking for more work. Fresh out of a relationship, I was constantly scouting the engineers at my new workplace (it's true!). I volunteered with my college marching band, which kept me fairly busy.

Ten Years Ago:
Actively searching for work, desperate to leave my job with the bad manager (as it's become to be known). I was miserable with my job, volunteered with my college marching band, and usually took seasonal jobs as a trumpet, marching, or drum major instructor with local high schools. Yes, I was (and still am) a total band nerd, LOL.

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It's amazing how much our lives can change in a relative short amount of time, isn't it? I feel like the past 8 years especially have been a whirlwind.

What about you? How has your life changed in recent years?

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this post inspired by this post


Sunday, September 15, 2013

What's a Diet?

Recently my 4-year-old daughter and I had a conversation that was quite eye-opening for me.

It began as she looked over my shoulder while I checked Facebook. As I was scrolling down, she asked me to stop & go back up so she could look at a picture of a very overweight cat.

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She asked why that picture was on there.

I explained that it was a story about a cat who was rescued and put on a diet.

"What's a diet?"

Crap. I have tried very hard to not let any references to dieting, weight loss, body image, etc. into our home. As much as I have struggled with my weight, I am keenly aware that girls often inherit body image issues from their mothers. And that is something I do not want. So I have consciously avoided the topic, or deflected when it came up.

So now... what to say?

I told her that a diet is what they call it when someone is trying to eat healthier, to put more good, healthy foods into their body. That the cat needed to be healthier, so they put him on a diet.

"People go on diets so they can be big & fat like you?"

Heart. Sinks.

My daughter knows that I am fat. Even though I did not tell her that, and try very hard not to use the word in our home, she came to the revelation herself. It's not a secret. The eye-opening moment here was that she thinks it's a good thing. She thinks people want to be big & fat like Mommy. $@#+!

So I tried gently to explain. No, people don't want to be fat like Mommy, in fact Mommy has too much fat and I'm trying to eat healthier to try to lose some of my fat so I can have a strong and healthy body like Jena.

Oh.

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It's a delicate tightrope, discussing weight with our daughters. We want to inform them, give them a healthy perspective, but we also want them to tolerate differences and love themselves no matter what they look like.

Once, while clothes shopping, Jena asked what size she should be when she grows up, as if she could aspire to be a certain size.

I responded that I didn't know yet, that we won't know until she's older, but that she should be a size that is a good, healthy size for her.

Then we had a little talk about how everyone comes in different shapes and sizes (and skin! and hair!) and that that's okay, it's good even, that we're all different. God made each of us, so it's all beautiful. That everyone should just try to be a size that is good and healthy for their body, and that's going to be different for everyone.

This whole experience just doubles my desire to reach a healthier weight, not just for me, but for her. Because the fact is our daughters are watching us and they want to be like us.

It honestly never occurred to me that my daughter might aspire to be as fat as I am, or that she would think other people would want to be this fat.

Sure, she loves that we both have blonde hair, and we both have blue eyes, will she be as tall as Mommy, etc, etc, etc.

But it never dawned on me that she'd want to be as fat as Mommy as well. My bad.

Mothers, we need to be healthy, have healthy habits, present ourselves in a healthy manner not just for us, but for our kids. We have to realize that as a parent, it's not just about us anymore.

As always, thanks for checking in.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Modesty

Recently I discovered the blog Feminine Modesty, and it has me doing a lot of thinking on the subject. I think especially being the mother of a little girl, the thoughts just keep tumbling around in my head. So here goes my attempt to write them down.

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I think we need to teach our children how to dress and behave modestly. Our boys too, yes, but in our society parents of daughters need to make it a point to teach our girls how to dress properly.

I think what "modesty" means varies from person to person. It's affected by your spiritual beliefs, your upbringing, and the society & community you live in, but if you think about it, it's there somewhere.

I think as parents we need to define what it means to dress modestly for our family, and stick to it.

More specifically, we can't dress up little girls in adult clothing and think it's cute, then lament when they grow into teenagers that dress the same way.
For example, if you don't want your 16-year-old going to the pool in a string bikini, then don't put your 4-year-old in one. If you don't want your 14-year-old daughter shaking her booty for everyone to see, then you can't giggle when you're 5-year-old does it because it's "so cute".

Basically, we have to think of these things now, set the standards now, while our daughters are young & cute & innocent. If we wait until they hit puberty, their bodies are developing, and they want to test the waters, then it's too late.

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My own views of what it means to dress modestly have changed throughout the years.

In my younger years, I was raised in a home where girls did not wear pants and no one wore shorts. As girls/women we wore long skirts (knee length or longer) or coulottes. If it was really cold out, we put long johns, tights, or sweat pants under them. Nothing we wore was tight, but it could be fitted.

My parents made exceptions for gym class / athletic activities (sweat pants, no shorts) and participating in sports (softball uniform = pants). Most families in the church did not.

Somewhere in there, my parents changed the rules. I'm not 100% sure why, but I can tell you I remember getting my first pair of jeans from the thrift store when I was 13 years old. I specifically remember shopping for them, as it was a momentous occasion.

And at some point I was permitted to wear shorts.

My parents never had to worry about me wearing anything too low cut, as I have a scar on my chest that is above the cleavage line that I was very self-conscious about. I used to sew panels or trim into my shirts / dresses to make the neckline higher to hide the scar. I could have cared less how my cleavage looked.

Because we were very active in our church, who (now) had a much stricter view of modesty than we did, much of my wardrobe remained in long skirts & coulottes. I remember going to college at 18 years old, and still wearing coulottes. I wore them until they wore out.

Through my experiences, I've learned a few things.

If you set standards when your kids are young:

- most kids won't feel deprived. I cannot tell you how many people have made comments about how difficult it must have been for me to grow up in such a strict home. Nope. Wrong. As a young person, your "normal" is what you live, you don't know it's different until someone tells you. And life is much easier for kids (well, everyone really) when standards and rules are set in place and enforced. It's clear. There's no confusion, there's no second-guessing. You know what is expected of you and you do it.

- performance will almost always be below expectation at some point. Yes, teenagers & young adults have a habit of testing boundaries when it comes to modesty & behavior. If you set your standard at long skirts, your daughter may test you by wearing something tighter than you would prefer. If you set your standard at mini skirts are okay, your daughter may test you by wearing a micro-mini that she can't bend over in without risking an arrest for indecent exposure. Both of those examples are extremes, yes, but the fact is the higher your standard, the higher your child's performance.

- the standards you set for your children will follow them thru life. Yes, the truth is that I now wear things I would never have been allowed to wear growing up. I sometimes wear things that for me are right on the limits of what my modesty permits me to wear: my "sexy" clothes, per se. But I've had other people call these same items of clothing my "old lady clothes". My point is that what is revealing to me, others consider overly modest. Since the people who make these comments are friends of mine, we can talk about it. It comes down to our upbringing, in regards to our clothing. What was acceptable to them growing up was completely unacceptable to my family. So while I feel like I'm pushing boundaries, they see me as being dressed conservatively. Feel sexy, but the world sees me as modest? Yes, please.

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Listen, I'm not saying everyone has to be raised how I was raised to be able to dress modestly. I am fully aware that everyone has different ideas of what it means to be dressed / behave appropriately. And I will tell you that we are not raising our daughter in as strict of a home as I was raised.

What I am saying is that it has to be taught, there has to be a standard lived out in your home. Your kids are watching you and following the standard you have set for them. The question is: what is that standard? Because if you haven't made a conscious decision about it, then are you really sure you're okay with it?

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As always, thanks for checking in.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

List of Gratitude

If I'm being honest, I've been struggling a lot lately with a lack of gratitude. Well, more precisely I guess you could call it envy. I've watched as some of the people in my circle seem to be getting all of the things I long for. Sometimes it is so precisely exactly what I was wanting, that I almost want to accuse them of doing it just to spite me. Which is ridiculous.

So in an effort to help refocus my mind on what I do have, instead of what I do not, I've decided to do a gratitude post. Enjoy!

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I am thankful for:

my husband So many years I spent thinking I would never find anyone to love me (not forever, anyway), that I would possibly never be married, yet here I am. Married for 6 years now to my best friend.

my daughter She is the incarnation of every dream I ever had about motherhood. She is the fulfillment of my calling, my reason for existence. She amazes me every day.

our home I've always wanted to own land. Our little ranch house on 5.5 acres is perfect. Sure, I'd like to develop it some more: a barn, fencing, etc. But it's the living area I always dreamed of having.

our critters I can't imagine myself without sharing my life with some of God's creatures. Three dogs, two cats, and 10 chickens are enough. For now. I am thankful that none of us have allergies that prevent us from having these wonderful companions in our lives.

my family I am blessed to come from a large extended family, and can't imagine my life any other way. We gather religiously at every holiday, often in gatherings of 50 or more people. They are an amazing group, and a source of strength in my life.

my job While sometimes I lament not being a SAHM, the truth is I like my job. I work with people I genuinely care about, I've learned a multitude of new skills, I'm respected in certain circles, there is opportunity for broadening my horizons. Add to that decent pay and amazing benefits and I have truly been blessed in this area.

our church Our church is amazing. The outreach to the community, the opportunities to serve, the teachings, the friendships... we have gained so much by joining this particular house of worship.

our finances While things could certainly be better, and they have, we are doing okay. We can pay all of our bills, and even have a little left over. Plus we have some in savings. All in all, we're doing well.

social media I end on the medium that brought me to blogging: social media. I started blogging via MySpace, and eventually expanded to a "real" blog. I've met friends thru blogging that turned into real life friends, I've reconnected with old friends via MySpace & Facebook, I've met friends via message boards, and shared my thoughts on Twitter. Social media has been good for me.

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Please pray for me to continue to turn my mindset around. And as always, thanks for checking in!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Advice for my Daughter

1 - Know that you are loved. Always. Forever. Loved.

2 - That part of you that is of strong mind, and strong opinion, and knows what  you think and doesn't mind saying it? Never lose that.

3 - Good manners are important. Have good manners. Surround yourself with others who have good manners.

4 - Learn how to change a tire.

5 - Learn how to change your oil.

6 - Learn how to use a drill.

7 - Learn how to shoot a gun.

8 - Everything you learn to do, learn the proper way to do it. Learn the basics, the fundamentals. Don't take the "easy" way out. No cheats. Learn it right.

9 - We have taught you that there are consequences to every thing that you do. Doing good brings good consequences. Doing bad brings bad consequences. That will not change.

10 - Never let anyone convince you that your shyness is a fault, something to be corrected. It is how God made you, and that's okay.

11 - Work hard. Most of your success in life will be based not on luck, but on work.

12 - I love you. Always. Every minute of every day. Even when we fight.

13 - Memorize your license plate and important phone numbers. Doesn't seem as necessary in our digital age, but there will be a situation in which you cannot access your stored data via electronic device. Have it in your head as well.

14 - Memorize Bible verses. And worship songs. No one can ever take away what you have stored in your heart and mind.

15 - Never approach a strange pet without first asking the owners. Even when you are grown, this is just good practice.

16 - Play outside. Sit outside. Be outside.

17 - You are beautiful. Never let anyone convince you otherwise.

18 - Meet people from different cultures, who speak different languages, who look differently than you. Make friends with them. Love them.

19 - Work harder at the things that are hard for you. Don't take the easy way out.

20 - Delayed gratification is always better than instant gratification. Always.

21 - Learn how to cook. Have at least a few meals that you can do well.

22 - Learn the basics of sewing.

23 - Listen to your father.

24 - Participate in the arts. Music. Dance. Painting. Choose your medium, but be artistic. There is a divinity in creating beauty that cannot be experienced elsewhere.

25 - Know why you believe what you believe. Test it. Repeatedly. Question it. Challenge yourself. Stretch yourself. But know this for yourself.

26 - When you find the one whom your soul loves, hold on to it. Tightly. Dearly. Fight for it. Don't ever take it for granted or let it go without a fight.

27 - Never let a man hit you. If he hits you, he does not love you, no matter what his words say.

28 - Work to figure things out for yourself. But be willing to ask for help when needed.

29 - Celebrate the holidays. Have traditions. Enjoy yourself.

30 - Learn the difference between like, lust, and love. Sometimes the lines can seem blurred. Don't let them blur.

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this post inspired by this post

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It will all work out in the end

"It is not a parent's job to entertain their child" -- Susan Yates

Between that quote, circulating on both Facebook and Pinterest, and this article, which states that "...parents are spending more time with their kids than they did two decades ago." this idea has been on my mind a lot lately.

Truthfully, it's something I struggle with. I think (for me) a lot of it stems from working mom guilt. I feel like I miss so much of Jena's time, that I want to be truly present with her at all times. Really be there, quality time, connecting on her level.

And my housework suffers, and meal preparation suffers, and time with my spouse is lost, and time to pursue my own interest is gone.

But I've always been okay with that.

And still am, to a point.

But lately I've been thinking more and more about whether or not this is best for Jena. Just because she's happier, just because I'm at peace with it, doesn't necessarily mean it is what is in her best interests.

And so I've been trying to redirect some of my time, some of my attention, with the thought that maybe on occasion it's good, not bad, for me to tell her 'no, I can't, I'm busy'. Maybe it's okay for me to do the dishes while she's still awake. Maybe it's good for her to see me working around the house, instead of just waking up to chores being done.

Now, this isn't to say I've never done any work with her around. She's certainly helped me fold clothes, do the dishes, put in the laundry, feed the pets, sweep the floors, etc, etc, etc. in the past. But it's never been my priority. I always put my priority on focusing on her and what she wants to do.

And so now I'm working to shift that focus. To appease my working mom's guilt by telling myself that it really is best for her to see me focus on these other items, even if she's begging me to play. At least once in a while.

Similarly, Jason & I have done a pretty good job of keeping date nights and us-only trips since she was born, but when we're together as a family, the focus is almost exclusively on her, not each other. And maybe that needs to start shifting as well.

And me. My interests. I tried to participate in some of "my" activities after Jena was born, but found it to be too much, overwhelming. And so I still find myself anxious at the thought, but I've scheduled a couple of girls' days out with friends, and I'm seriously thinking about joining a community band in the near future. Because I've been really missing performing lately. There's an ache inside me that misses the music. And so maybe it's time that I make time for that part of me. And yes, I do think it would be good for my daughter to see me perform, to see that Mommy can do other things besides mothering and housework.

It's all a balancing act. One that changes and shifts, morphs along with the passing of time. Maybe I feel that I can refocus because Jena is older. Or maybe it's because my years long struggle with depression & anxiety were clouding my focus before. Or maybe it's because I'm becoming more experienced as a parent.

I suppose the reason doesn't really matter. Only the outcome. And so I shift again. Refocus. Juggle. And see where the balls fall, where things work, where adjustment is needed. And then shift again.

All the while trusting that it will all work out in the end.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

There are no winners here

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There are no words.

At the same time, there is something to say.

What do you say when there are no words?

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When I heard the news, I cried. Then I wanted to get my Jena, before realizing my parents were watching her yesterday. Safe, visiting a Christmas display in Cincinnati, they may not even know the  news. I refrained from calling. No need to destroy their afternoon.

My mind wandered to the children. A freakin' KINDERGARTEN classroom, for pete's sake. Four- and five- year olds. WHY?!?

And then I realize, there is no reason. There cannot be any reason. I've heard people mention insanity. Mental Illness. Demon possession. And I understand why. Because there cannot be any reason for anyone to do this. Ever.

I pictured Jena's preschool. Thank goodness her classroom is towards the end of the hallway. Thank goodness for security measures taken at the school. And then I feel guilty for being glad her class isn't at the front of the school. Because what about those kids? And I also realize that Sandy Hook Elementary had security measures in place as well. Similar to many schools. And I realize that if someone wants to commit that kind of carnage, there is little that a security system will do to stop them.

I thought about the teachers at Sandy Hook. Those brave teachers and administrators, doing what they could to protect the children. We don't give our teachers enough credit for the work they do, but rarely do we also realize what they would do, should tragedy strike. Thank your child's teacher next time you see them.

And then I dared to think about the parents. The panicked parents. I cannot truly grasp the kind of terror that must have gripped each and every parent as they rushed to their babies. A terror that is either relieved when your child is in your arms, and immediately replaced with survivors' guilt, or is replaced by a grief no person should ever experience. There are no winners here.

And the children. The poor, terrified children. To think that the last few moments of your child's life were filled with such horror... and then the surviving students. What an impact this will have on their lives. Their view of school, of humanity in general, forever changed by this day.

Now to the first responders: police, SWAT, fire, EMTs/medics, probably more. I imagine my own Jason responding to the scene. I have to think it would change him, maybe forever. There will be some that will not return to this career. They all will forever carry those heinous images in their minds. Thank a first responder at your next opportunity. They do what the rest of us could or would not. They go in when the rest of us are trying desperately to get out.

Lastly, my mind turns to the shooter. I cannot rejoice at a life lost, any life lost. But I can be grateful that he cannot do it again. His family must be devastated. To deal with the grief of losing mother & son in one day is difficult enough, but to deal with it in this fashion, facing interrogations, media speculations, public scrutiny, all while trying to make sense of it yourself... I cannot imagine how difficult this is for them.

Last night Jena got a little bit spoiled. She doesn't know it, doesn't know why. In exchange for doing one tiny little chore she should have done anyway, I let her stay up "as late as Mommy". I let her play on the computer for hours. And then I let her sleep in my bed. Three things I never let her do. As much for me as it was for her.

Tonight we will take her to see the Elves at a local Christmas display. We will have dinner with family, then enjoy a little holiday spirit. I will do my best to pretend nothing bad happened. Not because I have become "desensitized to violence", as one of my friends suggested of anyone who moves on quickly from such a day, but I will do it for my child. At four years old my daughter has no need to know what happened today. And so I will go thru the next few days as if nothing happened, as if nothing is wrong, as if my mind weren't wandering to that horrific incident time and time again. I will hold back the tears as best I can. I will be forever grateful for my daughter.

And should she overhear anything, from anyone, about what happened, I pray that God would give me the words.

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Dear God,

Lord, we come to You today and ask that You be with the people of Newtown. We ask that You comfort all those directly and indirectly involved with the shooting. We don't understand why these things happen, nor how anyone could ever be comforted in such tragedy, but we do trust in You to do the impossible. Hold them close in their time of need.
Lord I also ask that You guide all of our minds, especially those in law enforcement and education, to find in this a way to protect our children in the future. Let this be used as a learning experience, let some tiny bit of good come from this.
Father, there are not enough words, not the right words, to express what we are all feeling, even thinking. But You know our minds and our hearts. Hear our unspoken.

Amen

Saturday, October 27, 2012

You Can't Claim to be Both

One of my friends, who happens to be a SAHM, posts regularly on Facebook about how she does work, she raises her kids, takes care of her house, etc. It is work. She's tired of people saying she doesn't work, SAHMs do work, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe she's getting some flak from someone in her life about not having a paying job. I don't know. I've never heard anyone say anything to her. I've never seen anyone post anything but supportive things in response to her rants. But I'm not around every moment of every day.

Maybe she's feeling guilty about not having a paying job, and is dealing with some of her own internal issues.

I don't know.

What I do know is that she also regularly posts about where she took the kids that day, how they visited her mom, how she took them to have lunch with her husband, how they went to the park.

And this morning's status really got to me, on a personal level: she posted about how cuddling with her kids after breakfast is the best part of her day.

That's awesome. It really is. I think it's great that you have time to cuddle with your kids after breakfast. I think it's awesome that you get to take your kids to the park in the middle of the day & stay as long as you like. I think it's fantastic that you get to visit your mom whenever you feel like it, or have lunch with their dad once a week. I really do think it's great.

I also acknowledge the fact that she (and other SAHMs) work really, really hard to raise their kids, take care of their homes, etc, etc, etc. It is real work. Please don't take anything I say to mean otherwise. It is work. I acknowledge that, and respect the work that SAHMs do.

But the fact is that you do stay at home (hence the term SAHM).
The fact is that you do not have a job that provides income for your family.
The fact is that it is distinctly because of these two things that you have the honor & privilege of enjoying cuddling with your kids as long as you like after breakfast, taking them to the park in the middle of the day  & staying as long as their hearts desire, or visiting your mom for a chat.

There's a reason I take these statements personally.

I take it personally because almost daily my daughter asks me to cuddle in the mornings, and I have to either tell her 'no', or tell her 'only for a few minutes', and then watch the clock like a hawk... because I have a job to get to and don't have the luxury of enjoying extended cuddle time every morning.
I take it personally because today my daughter asked if I could take her to the park after work tonight, and I'm trying to figure out how we can squeeze it in, because I already know I need to stay a bit late at my job tonight, and we're running out of food, so I need to go grocery shopping, so I'm afraid working in a trip to the park probably isn't in the cards at all, and if so, only for a quick 15-20 minutes... because I have a job that takes up the majority of my day.
I take it personally because I adore when I get to visit my parents with my daughter, but those visits are maybe once a month, almost always at the end of a work day, so we don't get much relaxed time to chat... because I have a job that has taken up the beginning of my day.

I take it personally because I can't take my daughter to lunch, we've tried it, because she has too hard of a time saying good-bye to me again in the middle of the day... because I have a job to get back to.

You may think that being called a SAHM is somehow an insult, is somehow a sneaky way of saying that you "don't work", but it's not. It's a way to acknowledge the amazing life that you are honored to lead. Stop selling yourself short by trying to justify your existence.

Stop devaluing the time you are privileged enough to get to spend with your family by insisting on getting credit as a "working" mom.

And stop devaluing my contributions to my family by insisting that you're a working mom too.

Because you're not.
Just as I don't know the challenges of being a SAHM, and would never try to claim to, it's time to admit that you don't know the challenges of being a working mom, so stop trying to claim that too. Either you're a SAHM, or you're not. The lives of SAHMs and Working Moms are distinctly different. You can't claim to be both.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baby Blues, I Told Myself

I remember it like it was yesterday today. I can see you. Each of you.

I know that doesn't make sense, because you came on different days, but it's true.

You came to our home, to help us welcome Jena into our family, to bring us dinner, and to see how we were doing.

I have no idea how I seemed to you at the time.

Maybe I seemed fine. Maybe I seemed off.

I felt off. I felt like a stranger in my own house, lost in my own skin.

I remember not knowing what to do, what to say, feeling awkward.

So many details came flooding back today. Details, details, details.

Mary* was the first to visit. You were wearing a black shirt & jeans. Your dark hair pulled back neatly. You brought tomato soup from Panera. Picked up on your way home from work. Yours & your husband's favorite. And "not too spicy" you said. You peeked in on Jena, who was sleeping in her pack-n-play in the living room. You had Victoria with you, in her carrier, born just a few months earlier. Adorable as ever.

Next was Betsy. You were wearing a striped sweater & jeans, Ugg-style boots, adorable hat to match. You brought your girls with you, dressed to match you. You brought us ready-to-cook enchilada's in a clear baking pan. Peeked quickly in on Jena, and left. I sensed that you were trying hard not to intrude.

Isabel was next, with her boyfriend. You guys brought a KFC family dinner, and ate with us. You were wearing a black button down shirt, untucked, and jeans.

You probably sensed that something was off. Our conversation was good, but there was a moment when I drifted off, staring into space. What you may not have realized is I was trying to focus myself, trying to keep from crying. I don't know why.
I finally excused myself to go to the bathroom. Which I did. And cried on the toilet. And couldn't pull myself together. I heard you get up to leave, so I took a deep breath, blew my nose, composed myself just long enough to come out & wave good-bye from the front porch.
Then I went back inside and felt like crap for the rest of the night. For no real reason at all.

And then there was Lori. She stopped by with her kids on her way back home from the zoo. They'd had a good day, but said it was really super crowded. She & I chatted while the kids & her husband seemed bored. They didn't stay long. After all, I probably seemed bored too. Kept zoning out.

Baby blues, I told myself.

At that point, I hadn't yet been told to go to my doctor. I hadn't yet been told I had Post Partum Depression. I hadn't yet realized how very sick I was.

At that point, I felt a little bit of nothing about you coming to visit.

Somewhere along the way, I realized how much I appreciated those visits. I really did do. I still do. Four years later.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that each of you were moms yourself. So maybe you get it.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that those short little visits are an expression of love, a showing of care & concern for another human being.

Somewhere along the way, I had completely forgotten about them.

Today, they came back to me in a flash, in an instant, vivid, detailed, as if each of them had just happened moments earlier. There was no specific trigger, nothing happened, nothing was said to cause me to think of them. They just appeared instantaneously.

Jena's birthday is approaching.

PTSD is rearing it's ugly head.

This flashback, while it seems lovely, reminds me of how dead I was inside, how just awful I felt.

I cried a little today.

I'm sure it won't be the last flashback I have in the next few weeks.

Welcome back, PTSD. Let's try to keep the traumatic flashbacks to a minimum this year, 'kay? I'd really love to go thru just one of my daughter's birthdays without having a complete meltdown. Can we make it her 4th? Please?

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* as always, names changed to protect privacy

Friday, June 22, 2012

What are you whining about?





Mama’s Losin’ It

What are you whining about ??

What am I whining about? Seriously?

I'm tired. I'm tired of being sad. I'm tired of being on an emotional roller coaster.

I wish my husband were home more this week.

I wish I had someone to help me with Jena so I wouldn't feel so strained all the time. And yet...

I wish I had more time with Jena. Good, long, quality time - not just trying to get life done.

I wish I felt more committed to my job. Or better - I wish I had a job that was more meaningful to me. I wish I could find one.

I want this fat to melt off. And the skin to tighten and the boobs to lift all at the same time. As if by magic. I'm tired of watching what I eat.

Ugh. I'm still gonna post it, but I've decided I don't like this post. I don't wanna whine. I want to be grateful. Let's turn it into that.

I'm grateful for my awesome family. I'm grateful to have so much love in my life.

I'm grateful to be in good health and pain free. I know from experience this isn't always guaranteed.

I'm grateful for my daughter. My amazing, wonderful, daughter.

I'm grateful for my husband, his love, and all he does for our family.

I'm grateful to be part of a good God-focused, outward-focused church.

I'm grateful to have a job with good people, doing good work, that also pays me good money and awesome benefits.

I'm grateful that we are financially stable, and improving.

There, that's better.

As always, thanks for checking in.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Parenting Don'ts... that I did

or maybe still do.

Because we're all just doing our best.

Because judging one another needs to stop.

Because if I looked hard enough, I could find something to judge you for.

Not that I've ever intentionally hid any of these, but I'm letting them go, being upfront and honest, and telling you that I'm doing the best I can, just like you.

Flame away if you must.

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- I got my hair dyed while I was pregnant.
I couldn't find any reliable research to say that it would do anything to harm the baby, so heck yeah, I covered my gray.

- I let Jena play outside. By herself.

If you count 'with four dogs' by herself. I check on her every few minutes.

- I let Jena play in the bath by herself.
Once I get done washing her, if she's not ready to get out within a few minutes, I leave the bathroom. I pick up random crap around the house, walking past the bathroom and poking my head in every couple of minutes.

- We totally follow the 5 second rule in our house.
And sometimes extend it to ten.

- I rarely washed my hands when Jena was a newborn.
Oh, after the potty & before eating sure. But I figured she should be exposed to "family" germs, so never really bothered in between those events.

- I feed Jena all kinds of sugar & preservatives & fast food. And very little organic.
She also eats lots of veggies, and fruit, and whole grains. Whatever.

- I have spanked Jena

And smacked her hand. It's rare, but it has happened.

- I don't follow the pediatrician's recommendation on shots.
Nor do we skip all vaccinations. Nor do we follow Dr. So-and-So's modified vaccination schedule.
I researched every individual vaccine myself and we have followed a modified schedule of our own, making our own judgement on what is best for our daughter, instead of following blanket advice from either side of the table.

- I just found out that five years ago the FDA recommended no cold medicine for kids under the age of 6.
Meh.

- We didn't really childproof the house.

But I've already written about that.

- Jena's car seat got turned around before she turned one year old.
Not much before, but she had outgrown the height & weight requirement & had good control of her head. She's moved to each level of seat restraint sooner than the recommended age, but never before the required height & weight. And we follow requirements for both Kentucky & Ohio, since we travel frequently in both.

- similarly, I think putting a child's age on a safety requirement is stupid.
Other than for infants (because you have the whole head-control thing), it makes much more sense to use a combination of height & weight. Some children are big, some are small. Going by an age will make no actual impact on their safety. Going by height & weight will. Needless to say, I ignore the age thing.

- I could have breastfed longer than I did.
But I had extremely low supply (3-4 oz per day) and spending all that time pumping for one feeding a day seemed like a waste. Bring on the formula.

- I let Jena sleep on her belly.
Once she got up the strength, she kept flipping herself over anyway.

- I skipped tummy time
While she loved to sleep on her belly, she hated being awake on her belly. Would scream incessantly till you picked her up. Seriously. I have one such session on tape. It was torture for everyone involved. So after about the 3rd or 4th time, I stopped.

- Jena never slept in our bed as an infant.
She slept in a bassinet next to our bed for about 2 weeks. Then we gradually started moving her farther away. She was in her crib overnight by 6 weeks of age.

- We let Jena cry it out.

As an infant. And thru preschooler-hood. As in now. I self-imposed a 20 minute time limit when she was an infant, which we still hold to, but she rarely went that long. Like maybe twice in her life. She also slept thru the night (6+ hours) by six weeks of age.

- I changed the kitty litter while I was pregnant.
Jason wasn't doing it, and I wasn't getting rid of the cat, so...

- When she was little, I rarely slept when she slept
I felt like I got more out of showering during at least one of those times.

- We went on our first post-baby "date" when she was less than 2 weeks old
It was our first anniversary. We went to lunch & a matinee. My mother-in-law watched her. She was fine. So were we.

- We went on our first "no baby" vacation when she was less than a year old.

We won a dive cruise. In the Bahamas. She stayed with my parents. She was fine. So were we.

- I praise my daughter religiously
I tell her she's awesome, smart, funny, kind, amazing, and beautiful multiple times a day.

- I still let Jena drink from a sippy.

She's nearly four. She can drink from a regular cup just fine. But walking around the house, or on the go, a sippy is safer for my floors, my furniture, and my sanity.

- I still ask Jena if she wants a paci. If she asks for it, I give it.
She's never been addicted, and it's better for her teeth than sucking on her fingers (which she tries to do).

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So there you have it. My list of "don'ts" that I so did. Or still do.

What about you? What have you done "wrong" as a parent?

As always, thanks for checking in!

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this post inspired by this post

Monday, December 26, 2011

Well Hello, Cold-Air-Induced-Cough-Variant-Asthma...

... or whatever it is you actually are.

But cold air induced, cough variant asthma is the best diagnosis any doctor, other person, or internet has ever given me. Suggested by a co-worker, I spent way-too-much time trying to find information on the internet. There wasn't much. But it's a much better fit than the "I don't know" that most doctors have given me.

Every winter I have severe coughing fits. Severe as in people who aren't familiar with them will ask me (seriously) if I need them to call for help, or if I am dying.

For me, they are just a part of life. See, I had my first major coughing fit when I was nine months old. I was hospitalized for it, before given a diagnosis of bronchitis, a diagnosis that would follow me for the rest of my life, but that I no longer believe to be accurate.

These fits start right about the first cold spell of the year, and end with the last. I mean, I don't have them every single day of the winter, but... enough.

The longest run that I remember was the year in my early 20s when they started in September and lasted thru March. That was a rough year.

And this happening-during-the-winter thing resulted in me being wrongly diagnosed with an allergy to "furnace dust" (whatever that is) for several years when I was a child. Although I see why it sorta made sense - they started about the time the furnace had to be turned on, and stopped right about the time it got warm enough to turn it off.

During my school days I usually ended up missing at least a week-ish of school during the winter months, but it was really more due to exhaustion than the actual coughing, as to get any sleep at all I have to sleep sitting up, which isn't truly restful, and after doing that for weeks... well, something's gotta give.

And that's where I found myself about a month ago. In the middle of my first coughing fit spell of the year, I spent four of the five nights sleeping sitting up in the recliner. And ready to pass out by mid-afternoon. It's exhausting.

But I digress. I do continue to work (in [many] years past school), as my parents came to realize early on that whatever this is, doesn't appear to be contagious, as no one, no one, around me has ever gotten it, including family or close friends. Ever.

And since I went to the same fairly small school for K thru 12, it means that the staff was fairly familiar too, so no one ever tried to send me home. At least not that I recall.

What it does mean though, is that throughout the winter months, if I happen to catch so much as a sniffle, I'm done for. For weeks. So yes, I am that person that gets really annoyed when people come to work snotting all over telephones and door handles. Because your minor cold will set me back for weeks.

Anywho... asthma does run in my family. Like, the normal kind anyway. So the asthma thing does kinda make sense. And having had pleurosy twice during frigid winter months and being told that my lungs are sensitive to cold air and I should make sure I'm breathing through a scarf when walking in freezing temperatures... well, that seems to back up the cold-air-induced thing. And clearly it would have to be cough-variant, as the only sort of wheezing involved is when the coughing fit lasts so long that I am sucking in air to fill my lungs back up.

Random, but have you ever coughed so hard that your body bends into itself, so when the coughs repeat you almost look like you're having some weird seizure? No? Just me? Moving on then...

Oh, and while advice is appreciated, because I understand their good intentions, telling me to take cough syrup or Nyquil... well, I mean... c'mon, do you seriously think that in 34 years I never thought of that? The fact is that cough suppressants of any type have minimal, if any, effect. Honestly I'm better off taking a sleeping pill to get some rest, than trying to contain the cough at all.

But, in reality, the fact is that I am blessed. Oh sure, this really sucks. But at the same time, like I mentioned before, for me it's really just a way of life. The only time it really sucks is when people stare at me, or when it truly interrupts others' lives, like my family.

But luckily my husband and my daughter both sleep like rocks. So that's not really an issue most of the time. And all of my family, and friends who have been around long enough, realize what it is and how to ignore it because no, I am not gonna die. And most of my co-workers have been there long enough to realize that not only am I not contagious, it sounds worse than it is, and no, I am not gonna die.

So, for the most part, it is simply an annoyance for me for a few months of the year. And an occasional embarrassment, when I come across someone who is not familiar with my condition (whatever it actually is).

The only thing I do worry about is FireGirl. It appears that she has inherited this condition (whatever it really is). The good thing is that for her, it appears to be much better controlled when we keep the temp in the house at least 72 degrees during the winter months. Which is much warmer than we did before she came along, and raises our heating bill a bit, but well worth it.

Of course, that only adds to the cold-air-induced theory, doesn't it?

So that's that. And now you know a little bit more about me. Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Not Just Another Blog Challenge #10 - A Change in Your Life You've Been Wanting



Well, if you've been around here very long at all, you can probably guess that my change would be to become a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).

How do I think this would change my life?

Well, on an abstract level, I believe I would be less stressed, because I would no longer be trying to juggle the working world and the home life, no longer feeling the pressures of contributing to our family's finances, plus 95% of the housework and the vast majority of the child care and the greater part of the animal care as well. I wouldn't be so overwhelmed that I felt like I was drowning and / or failing most days.

This decrease in stress level would reverberate to my relationships with my husband and my daughter, as well as my extended family and my friendships, even my pets. All would improve. Or have a better opportunity to improve, at least.

On a more concrete level, we would obviously be doing better financially, since we couldn't make this change without already being there.
And I would have more time.
Ah, sweet time.

Let's look at today, for instance. What difference would being a SAHM make to my day (theoretically, since I don't really know).

Real Life (as a working mom): I've been fighting off an illness for over a week, so I overslept. Again. Woke up and was immediately rushing around trying to get everything ready to get FireGirl & myself out the door at a decent time. Had planned on packing my lunch, but no time this morning. FireGirl has also not been feeling well and has been sleeping in. I don't usually have to wake her up, but at 8:05am, I have to. I've got everything ready to go, except her. Bring her clothes to her in bed, dress her, still in bed, carry her to the car. Buckle her in, and floor it to the preschool. We got there so late we missed breakfast. Her classmates are already back in the classroom. So I sit with her while she eats breakfast by herself. Walk her to her room, put her things in her cubby, say goodbye. Drive to work and get there at 9:15am (I know, still pretty impressive, huh?). Work 8 1/2 hours. Drive to preschool. Pick up FireGirl. Drive home. Arrive home a little after 6pm. Thank goodness for a short commute. Make dinner. Eat dinner, finish around 7pm. She plays while I start her bath. Bath time is the most 1x1 quality time we'll have together today, without distractions, and including washing, playtime, drying, and putting on PJs will probably last until around 8pm. She'll help me change the chickens' bedding, and it's now 8:30pm. Watch a show or read 2 books (her choice), hopefully in bed by 9pm. After being quiet for 15-20 minutes to make sure she's asleep (open floor plan + nosy toddler = if we're not quiet she gets up to see what we're doing), I'll fold a load of laundry, put another load of laundry in the wash, do the dishes, and begin clipping coupons for tomorrow's grocery trip. At some point I'll feed the dogs and the cat. Hopefully I won't pass out from exhaustion, and will be able to do at least 2 loads of laundry tonight, plus I have two gigs coming up, so I really need to sit down and go thru those materials within the next few days, so that would be nice too. And while there are about 50 other things on my To Do List, those are the minimum for me to do tonight and not feel like a slacker. I should get to bed between midnight and 1am.

If I were a SAHM? : Well, I don't know how long we would have slept, but since we're both fighting illness, we need to rest and get better. So... let's say I woke up at 8am. Folded some laundry & put another load in. Had breakfast waiting on FireGirl when she woke up at 9am (cold breakfast - just because I'm suddenly a SAHM doesn't mean I've learned how to cook... yet). We casually eat breakfast, then clear our plates. I take a shower & get dressed while she plays in her room or reads. Then I get her dressed. We play a game together. I put another load of laundry in (or not, maybe I wouldn't be so behind on laundry if I stayed home). I promise her we can paint after lunch if she plays by herself for a while, so she does and I do the dishes. Then we eat lunch. Maybe tomato soup (her favorite). After clearing the table, it's time for paint. We do paint, and then maybe Play-doh, or craft. Something else that causes a mess. Because why not? Then it's rest time / quiet play and I send her to her room (we actually do rest time / quiet play on weekends). I proceed to clip coupons for tonight's grocery trip. Since she's not been feeling well, she falls asleep sooner than usual, after about 30 min. After I finish the coupons, I tackle the chore list: maybe some dusting or sweeping? A few simple things I can fit in during her nap, nothing major. Go outside and spend a few minutes with the dogs. Around 5pm I start dinner (I don't know what, like I can cook yet, right?). She wakes up soon after, and we eat around 5:30pm. Then we head to the grocery store. Home around 7:30pmpm, straight to bath time, but not quite so long since we've had good play time together the rest of the day. Nighttime routine is similar. She's still in bed by about 9pm. I relax on the couch for 30 min while she falls asleep. Feed the pets. Go thru my items for the upcoming gigs. Check the clock. It's 11pm and I decide to head to bed.

See the difference? I do. I really do.

And just like every day now is different, every day as a SAHM would be different to, so that's just one possible scenario. But do you see the difference? The chores that I have to save for the evening are done in the afternoon, and more! The grocery shopping I'll have to wait and do tomorrow, would get done today! The time I would have to read and play games with my daughter, just to be with her. I mean, do you see the difference?

I do.

Still busy. Very busy, in fact. But what a difference. What a real difference.

So... what's a change you've been wanting in your life? How do you think it would change things for you?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Did you know there's another fairy besides Tinkerbell?

I didn't.

Another mom at a todder's birthday party I went to this past weekend informed me.

I was clearly the odd man out. A couple of other moms were discussing Disney princesses, a topic I can at least keep up with, growing up with Snow White & Cinderella myself (ha!). They were all discussing how their houses were drenched in pink and oh-my-goodness-does-anything-not-have-a-princess-on-it? (yes)

And then a third mom introduced the topic of fairies.

Apparently there are several. Maybe... six? I don't know. I'm still reeling from the announcement that there's more than just Tinkerbell. And they have names. And Fairy clothing lines all their own.

Whatever.

I also cannot name all of the Disney princesses. I'm guessing I might be able to get half of them correct, and those would be the old-school half.

I knew the story "The Little Mermaid" first from the book of fairy tales I had as a child, and then from Disney.

That's true of a lot of the stories I know.

I cringed when FireGirl opened a set of Disney Princess PJs at her 3rd birthday party. Cringed. Hoped they came with a gift receipt.

It's not that I have a problem with Disney (actually quite a fan), or that I have a problem with a girl wanting to be a princess (I personally want to be called "duchess", but whatever).

What I do have a problem with is the culture I see around me, as the mother of a little girl, where this influence of loving all things pink & shiny and forcing princesses (especially Disney princesses) down our daughter's throat is somehow not only acceptable, it is apparently the only satisfactory way to raise a little lady.

I walk thru the stores and see girl after little girl, virtual clones of one another, wearing the same characters, sporting the same clothes, the same shoes, and yes... acting the same way. The same I'm-a-dainty-little-spoiled-little-princess way.

And I don't like it.

If that's the way my child turns out to be, on her own, the fine. But it just seems like over the past 10 years or so this princess culture has invaded and infested our baby girls.

And I don't like it.

In a side note to commercialism, and in a surprise to even myself, when I was pregnant I made the decision that I didn't want my child wearing any character brand (ie. Elmo, Dora, Disney, etc) clothing. Quite a change from the woman who a few years before had declared that when she had a child she would have an Eeyore-themed nursery.

But when the time came... when I was pregnant... when it was my child... the idea of paying for a company to advertise on my child (which is really what you're doing)... made me cringe.

I'm racking my brain now to think if FireGirl yet has any character brand clothing items in her wardrobe. I don't think so. Although now that she's older I do let her have a little say, so there might be an item or two. Maybe.

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random timing maybe, but I want to take a minute to say that what I'm writing about is what I feel is the best way to handle the situation for my family. I make no judgement to those that have no problem with their girls wearing princess outfits, etc. and actually do understand where they are coming from as well. This is simply me explaining why I do what I do, and my reasoning behind it.
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My child does like girly things. But instead of conforming to society's vision of femininity as being a princess, FireGirl was entranced by ballerinas at a young age.

So she has ballerina skirts, and watches Angelina Ballerina, and PBS shows about ballet, and now her interest has spread to other forms of dance and even cheerleading.

I embrace her love of dance because she loves it. She discovered it all on her own, and loved it all on her own. She doesn't love it to please momma, or because her friends do, or because we forced her to take a dance class, or because society told her it was cool.

Same with nail polish.

And the color purple.

My child has liked the color purple since she was old enough to focus her eyes. I don't remember exactly how young, but it was clear at an early age that her gaze lingered on all things purple. And when she could point, she'd point out purple items. And her first two-syllable word was... purple.

It's not that I don't want her to be "girly", it's that I want her to be her own girly.

Lately she's been telling me that her favorite colors are now purple and pink.

And I'm upset.

Not because it's pink. But because I have a sneaking suspicion that she's been influenced by the girls in her class. Whose parents dress them in much more pink & girly clothing than my daughter wears. They come to school with curled hair & pierced ears and I swear I've seen lip gloss on at least one of them.

And now, suddenly, FireGirl likes pink.

I'm suspicious.

But I suppose it's all part of her journey. Of figuring out what she really likes and what she only likes because other people like it or because she thinks she should like it. And if she insists that she likes pink, I won't deny her pink.

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crap, now I feel like I'm rambling
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I guess my point is... I don't like anyone trying to push my daughter into a pigeonhole of who she should be, just because she's a girl.

Or any other reason, for that matter.

I mean, I don't like people doing it to me, I sure as heck won't stand for people doing it to my daughter.

And so... one way we combat this... no, we don't have Disney Princess items in our home. She will get exposed to that in a bevy of other locations. She does not need to be inundated with it at home as well.

Her Barbie four-wheeler? I instructed FireMan to not put the Barbie stickers on it.

Not sure what I'm gonna do about those Disney Princess pajamas.

I like that my daughter is very well-rounded in what it means to be a girl. Meaning that her choice of a Halloween costume has gone from a purple ballerina, to a black spider, to a firefighter in yellow bunker gear (she's very specific, can't you tell).

And in case you think she's simply mimicking Daddy... Daddy wears black bunker gear, thank you very much. Her costume must be yellow bunker gear. I don't know why, other than that's what she wants.

I love that she sees all of them as perfectly acceptable for a little girl.

I love that one day she will ask to wear her purple & pink skirt to school, and the next day she will ask me why the firefighter on her shirt is a boy & not a girl.

I love that in a very typically girly way she loves all things horses, but in a very untypical way she also loves snakes.

I loved the day that she asked me to get her pink training pants with Diego on them. And I love her confusion as I try to explain that Diego only comes on blue training pants and pink training pants only come with Dora on them, and my confusion as I try to explain to her why.

I love that she very daintily hates getting dirty (although she is unfortunately getting over that), but God forbid Daddy try to take the four-wheeler out without her on it.

You wanna see a real princess? Come see my daughter. In her jeans & Tshirt. Hair tangled. Dancing in our driveway.
Talk to her. Listen to her "please" and "thank you". Her "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am".
Watch her open the door for you. Help you carry something. Watch her offer her hand to her Papaw to "help" him up the stairs.

World, listen up... that is a princess. It has nothing to do with pink frilly things, nothing to do with over-commercialized painted faces. Real princesses know how to act like a lady... no matter what they're doing or what they're wearing.

My kid... she's a real princess.

Just don't call her that. Because she'll scream "No I'm not!".
And I swear she didn't get that from me. But it still makes me smile.

As always, thanks for checking in!

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This post inspired by another blog post...
Purple Toenails and Princesses by JenM 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hunny, I am not "just" anything (edited)

originally posted in July 2009

The word, "just", can be such an awful, degrading word. By injecting that simple, little word in to the sentence, you decrease the value of what or whom you are talking about.

The truth of the matter is that none of us are "just" anything.

In the workplace, those of us that are in support positions, usually lower on the totem pole, are generally taking care of the things that make it possible for those higher on the totem pole to do their work effectively.

That's right. "Just" admins keep your office operating smoothly.

In a family setting, being "just" a mom means that you are holding what is quite possibly the greatest responsibility in the world. Literally. You are raising the next generation of people that will eventually take over this world. You are raising a human being. Think about it... What an enormous task!

Being "just" a wife means that you have committed your life to another person, for life. That, in and of itself, is worthy of applause. Add to that the fact that you are your husband's primary support on his journey thru life, and being "just" a wife takes on a lot more consequence.

Being "just" a girl means... what? That people like you make up over half of the world's population? That you are a person with endless possibilities for the future? Being a girl is awesome.

And yes, so is being a boy.

Being "just" a child means that you have your entire life ahead of you, and the time to make it whatever you want it to be. The possibilities are endless. No child should ever feel like he is "just a kid".

By the way, we all have our lives ahead of us, to make it into whatever we want it to be.

Besides all that, we all hold many titles. Let's see. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a granddaughter, a cousin, a friend, an employee, a coworker, a volunteer, a blogger, a scuba-diver, a coupon-clipper, a pet owner, a trumpet player, etc, etc, etc. The list could go on & on & on. As it could for each of us. You see, I am not "just" anything. I am everything.

And so are you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Supermom has left the building.

or that's how I feel at least.

I cried on my way to work this morning. Because I hate who I am weekday mornings. Rushing around, ushering FireGirl to get up, eat her breakfast, get dressed, and out the door.

Even on days we don't fight, which are the majority anymore (thank the Lord!), I still hate who I am on those mornings.

It feels so... cold, so unfeeling. I swear I don't even think I saw FireMan this morning, till I was hurriedly pulling out the driveway.

It's get up, do this, c'mon, I said "do this", are you doing this?, why aren't you doing this?

It stresses me. It stresses her.

I hate who I am weekday mornings.

So I cried on my way to work this morning. Because I hated who I was at that moment.

But I don't know how else to do it. How else do you get up and get yourself and a toddler ready in the morning? It's so busy, so go-go-go.

I hate it. I hate me. Or the me I've become. On weekdays.

You know, I used to be a good employee too.

I was a great employee. I came early whenever they needed me to. Stayed late if anyone asked. My longest day was 6am-11:30pm, with no breaks except for lunch. Straight work. And I loved it. People depended on me, and I got stuff done.

Now? Please. Well, even if I could figure out how to get out the door sooner, I can't get there too early, because I'd have to wait until I could drop FireGirl off. And I can't stay too late because I have to pick her up.

So those days are definitely over.

My focus is split. I don't love my job anymore. I'm starting to hate it. Because of how it affects the rest of me. I hate the fact that I'm the way I am in the mornings because I'm going to that place. If I didn't have to go to that place, we wouldn't have to rush around, I wouldn't be ushering FireGirl around the house, urging her to eat her breakfast, begging her to let me dress her, fighting with her about getting in the car.

Ugh. I hate it. I who I am on weekdays. I really do.

I seriously considered texting FireMan when I got to work this morning and telling him I was putting in my two weeks notice. And meaning it.

I have no idea how we would make it financially, but...

I just feel like something's gotta give.

And it can't be my family. So...

I was a good employee, until I became a mom.

I'm a great mom, when I'm not trying to be a mediocre or better employee.

And in-between all that I'm desperately trying to be a satisfactory wife.

But... it's not working. Twenty-six months later, 26 months of trying, 26 months of failing, 26 months of stress, 26 months of failing at all three... I think we've reached a point where something has to give.

I am broken. I am tired of feeling like a failure. I am tired of being told I am failing.

You know how you have the worst things you think about yourself?

Now imagine if everyone around you told you they were true. Not just one person, but everyone. Okay, not literally everyone, but just about.

Oh, they always phrase it nicely. Okay, not always, but usually.

What if your husband told you repeatedly that you were not satisfactory to him as a wife, and he wasn't pleased with how you handled your daughter, and by the way, why can't you keep the house clean?

If your mom started putting parenting articles in your diaper bag so you'd find them once you got your daughter home?
If your dad kept telling you that you'd better "shape up" before you got fired?

If your boss & co-workers started telling you how to do your job?

And you are trying, you are really, honestly trying, working, pushing yourself to do better at all of it.

And when you realize you can't work on all the areas at once, so you focus on one, you immediately hear a chorus of dissatisfied groans around you, because focusing on improving in one area means not focusing on five others.

And so when you decide that won't work, and you decide maybe if you take baby steps in several areas, so you don't overwhelm yourself too much you get laughed at & made fun of because what are baby steps gonna do? and "I know how you are & how this will end up" and then the chorus of dissatisfaction starts anew because you're not improving quickly enough.

Heck, let's broaden things.

What if two different volunteer organizations you that your volunteer contributions weren't up to snuff?

If members of your own family told you how horrible you were, and decided not to be around you?

What if you invited over 150 people to a party... and only five showed up?

Just... whatever it is for you... think about what the worst things you think about yourself. Seriously. Take a minute. Think about what they are, what they would be.

And then, imagine if the rest of the world seemed to be reading your mind, and telling your that you were right. That all of those horrible things... really were true.

And every time - we're talking over the course of several years - every time you had the arrogance to try to convince yourself that they weren't true, to stand up tall, and press onward... well, every single time you got knocked on your butt again.
That every teeny tiny success you might have, was met with a minimum of two decent-sized failures?

I just... I need a break. I need... I need something to give. I thought giving up volunteer organizations would help. And... at least I have lowered the number of people I am disappointing, but... I'm not really doing any better at this.

And then, of course, I have those people that like to tell me how I shouldn't have given up volunteering because of... blah, blah, blah. And when I try to explain they proceed to tell me how they manage to work it in.

You know, because the fact that I can't handle it is just another sign of how badly I suck. Because everyone else can do it.

I don't have much of a social life to give up (see above note re: party).

Can't give up family. They're family.

All that I see that's left, is work.

And all I know, is that I've reached my breaking point.

After two-and-a-half years of fighting just to manage as a working mom, fighting and struggling, and fighting, and failing... I am waving the white flag yet again and saying, I can't do it. I give.

I spend too much time crying. Too much time feeling bad. I give.

I honestly believe I will be a better, and happier, wife & mother if I am not working full-time outside the home.

I will have more time for my family, more time for my home, more time for myself.

I will not be as stressed. I will not be under as much pressure. I will not be held to so many outside pressures.

Instead of 50 different people reaching for me, depending on me, relying on me, counting on me... there will be two.

I don't know how to convince FireMan this is the right decision, and I don't know how we're gonna make it work financially, but... I really think I need to do this. I think all of our lives will be better.

And Lord, Father, Abba - if this doesn't work...........................................................

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well, I had my MRI

45 minutes in a narrow little tube on Saturday, and I already have the results.

My family doctor called yesterday and said that the MRI showed that a fragment of my disc has broken off and his "kinda hanging down", interfering with the nerves.

I'm kinda struggling to really understand that, but basically, I have somehow managed to re-injure the same disc as before.

They are recommending a surgical consult at this point.

But... more because a neurosurgeon is the expert that knows about these types of injuries and can recommend the best course of treatment.

Apparently there are some new sort of steroidal injections that have shown some success in shrinking these types of fragments.

Or he said the surgeon might think that several rounds of physical therapy might due the trick.

I don't know.

I'd be willing to try the injections.

But the PT? I guess after last time... I just hate to spend all that time and effort going thru physical therapy, only to end up on the surgeon's table anyway, you know?

But that's why he's sending me to the surgeon. To see.

The good news is that the neurosurgery practice I went to five years ago (and 45 minutes away), does have surgeons that come to the hospital here, and our family doctor highly recommends I stay with that practice. Apparently it is the neurosurgery practice that they recommend to all of their patients, and consider the top in the area.

Good to know.

As far as my symptoms go, I've had very little pain since that one 4-day episode. I did make the mistake of jumping last week with FireGirl, and immediately knew it was a mistake. I was in very minor pain for a couple of hours, but it was enough to remind me that I need to be carefu - really careful - until we get this taken care of.

But I do still have the tingling / numbish sensation in my legs, particularly my right leg. It's become so frequent now that I don't even really notice anymore. Unless someone asks me, or I'm telling someone about it (like right now when I'm typing). Like at the MRI when the tech asked if I'd had any tingling recently. I sat for a minute and was like "oh, yeah, like right now?"

It doesn't really hinder me at this point, just is a minor annoyance.

But I know the drill, I know the lecture. The what-if's that go along with leg tingling & numbness. The possibilities for it progressing into worse - much worse.

And so... I will call to schedule my consult sometime this week. And at work I've begun making sure the work instructions for my job are up-to-date, and given my boss a heads up on the possibility of me being off. Seeing as how I'm the only one who knows how to do my job and all, I figure they'd appreciate that.

Part of me says I should be taking this more seriously than I am. I guess part of my brain knows how serious it could be. Potentially.
But... I also feel like I've been thru so much worse, right?

And this is just really inconvenient, which is annoying me.

I have things I want to do. And a job. And a house to clean. And a daughter to take care of.
In reverse order of priority.

Right now, I'm functioning, for the most part, normally.

Sure, this could potentially be serious, but if I have surgery I will definitely not be functioning normally, for what is most likely an extended period of time.

That idea annoys me. Greatly.

Thanks for checking in. I'll keep ya'll updated.
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