This Parenting Life…

The greatest joy is watching them grow, and it happens in the blink of an eye.

Raising kids is a never-ending learning process. I have two teenagers and little one who is just about 8, going on just about 35. They are all girls, not sure if that makes things easier or harder, or just different. I consider myself a strict parent, but I do allow a good amount of freedom to my girls. I have rules, and they are expected to follow them, but I love when my children form their own opinions on topics and express them freely. Down with the old saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” I believe that children are a gift for us to mould, but also to learn from as well. I have learned a great deal from my daughters, and I bet they have no idea.

My oldest daughter has taught me patience. Not because she is badly behaved, quite the opposite, she is a stickler for the rules. She is that child would tell on herself, knowing she would have consequences, simply because she knew she did something wrong and wanted to come clean. She needed to clear her own conscience, and she needed reassurance that it would be okay in the long run. She looked to me for that validation. She also knew that no matter what she did, I would always be more upset if she lied about it than if she had just told me the truth. So I do what any good parent should do, I listen, I enforce consequences, and offer time off for good behavior. Wait, that sounds more like a prison guard.

My second daughter, my middle child, is my gypsy in the wind. She was always so carefree and easy going, until middle school. At that point she became far more anxious and concerned about others’ opinion of her. She is not the tattle on herself kind of girl. She’s more the, “My older sister watches me and narcs on me if I do anything too stupid,” kind of girl. I watch her like a hawk, mostly because she is naive and thinks the world is full of good people. She doesn’t understand the world has some horrible, sadistic people in it and we are only trying to protect her from those people. Her anxiety probably couldn’t handle it at this point. She is sweet, caring, a little sassy, sensitive, and driven by emotions.

My third daughter is very much a mix of the first two. It is quite odd, really. If you took my first two daughters and smushed them into one person, you would get my last. She is smart, sassy, always on the side of right, but not going to narc on herself. She is an emotional being, and yet very logical and rational. In some ways she is the easiest because I have so much experience with each aspect of her personality from the previous two girls. She is cute and quirky, bright and affectionate. An all around awesome kid, just like her sisters.

My children have taught me how to love myself. Through loving them and wanting to be the best mom I could ever be, I learned the most important thing to teach them, self-love. I have to exemplify that which I want them to embody. If I want them to be strong, independent, self-loving women, I have to BE that for them, put my money where my mouth is. In order to be good parents, we have to be good to ourselves first and foremost. We have to exemplify to our kids how valuable human life is, especially our own. If we want them to grow up and be happy, successful, contributing members of society, we have to be that in our own life.

I have learned more being a parent than I could in any school, conference, or type of training. I have learned about myself, my children, and people in general. Parenting is not easy, but it is fulfilling, rewarding, and the most important job ever. It is our duty to our children and ourselves to be good to ourselves, work towards attaining our goals, pursue our dreams, and maintain our boundaries with others. Make YOU your own top priority.

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Spring Not Much Break

This week is Spring Break for the kids, aka littles, aka minions. While I would love nothing more than to whisk us all away for a great vacation full of fun activities, lounging beachfront, and all the food we could stuff into our faces, it just is not happening this year. I do want to give them a fun week though.

So far we have planned some museum visits, some park time, and maybe a hike or two. My oldest has to work towards the end of the week, and technically, I am working all week. The delicate balance of motherhood always feels like a tightrope act with no safety net. I am sure some of their friends will return with talks of trips all over the place, and I just hope that my three enjoy what we can do this year.

Parents often get caught up in trying to provide their kids with the biggest and the best, and not just in vacations, but in everything. I really do find the old adage to be true, kids want us, their parents. Our children want our time, our attention. Our children want to know we are present, and the location is a bit less important. While it would be fun to be able to take them on some awesome vacay, and spoil them rotten … in the grand scheme of life, our time together is more impactful on their lives.

Spending time with kids at the park, hiking, or finding the hidden gems in your area are great ways to take advantage of your staycation and still have fun. Reader’s Digest put together this awesome bucket list for all 50 states. Find your state and explore what it has to offer. Feel free to add to the list in the comments. It’s always fun to share new family friendly ideas which everyone can enjoy.

Coffee Talks…And Talks…And Talks..

Coffee mug mockupEvery day this week I have cried. I have lost a good number of my VA clients due to them leaving the main company I contract for, my oldest child likely has Lupus, and now my mother is not speaking to me. Just a few items on the laundry list of reason why I have shed umpteen million tears this week. What are the sayings,

“God never gives you more than you can handle.”

And the ever popular…

“That which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”

Let me just say this, I will be bench pressing a couple Buicks later, and I WILL be charging to watch. Hey! I must earn that lost income back, somehow right? During therapy today, I dumped all this crap in my therapist’s lap, and then sat back waiting for the pearls of wisdom to ooze from his well-trained psyche. He yawned. No, I am not kidding…he yawned. Apparently, I was boring him to sleep. After he recovered from his near-nap tiredness he gave me some half-assed recommendations for increasing my work, but nothing overly tangible or actionable. More like, hey, you might be able to increase your business by more self-promotion.

I left feeling both better and worse. I felt better because I had a huge brain dump and getting all that out just felt better. I felt worse because I have no solutions for anything. Don’t get me wrong, I never expect him to solve my problems, but he is usually efficient at helping me help myself. I feel like I was left blowing in the wind out here. I told him the problem with my self-promotion is that my self-loathing always gets in the way…. he laughed. He thought I was joking, but I was not. Ultimately, he said he could help me with that, but again, no actionable items were offered. I know you are probably thinking at this point I need a new therapist…hmm. I do need to work on self-promotion, and possibly through doing so, I will stop a bit of the self-loathing thoughts that spin on the hamster wheel inside my brain.

As far as my kid’s health, really, only time, and more doctor’s appointments will tell. It is VERY likely that she has Lupus. I should probably treat her as though she does, do the diet changes, and whatnot. Hopefully in a month when we go to the rheumatologist they miraculously tell us she does not! At least this way if she they confirm she has it, we will already be adjusted to the dietary changes necessary and be working towards controlling flare-ups. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that she has it. I just need to come to grips and keep it moving.

My mother has not spoken to me since Friday, and I have no idea why. She was very aloof when I texted her on Mother’s Day and did not answer when I called her. I told my therapist I have too many issues going on right now to deal with this passive aggressive bullshit. I am taking a mental vacation from her, until she gets over whatever it is she is upset about or decides to call and just talk about it. She knows everything I have going on now, and if the silent treatment is what she feels is appropriate, then silence she will get in return. I have no patience or time for cutting off communication. I tell my kids, my friends, family, significant other, I NEED words.

Wednesday afternoon, and I have two more days just to this work week alone. I am exhausted, mentally and physically. I need a drink…. of coffee. Do people without PTSD suffer from the amount of mental discord I do? I often wonder this. If I did not have PTSD, would I react the same way? Could I have been one of those people who is happy-go-lucky and just lets things roll off their back like water off a duck? I cannot even fathom what that would be like in my life. I have trauma after trauma, and I cannot even fathom just letting it go. I would love to, don’t get me wrong, but this is my norm.

Did I mention my 6-year-old brought home a picture that has me worried about her mental stability? Yeah, well, she did. She is scheduled to see her therapist tomorrow. Her teacher gave the students a page that said,

“What CREEPS me out is…”

The sheet had a place for them to write sentences and a place for them to draw a picture of whatever creeps them out. Now, at 6 I would think about things like spiders, snakes, clowns, Barney the dinosaur. My child, she said death. Yes, DEATH! My brain took a while to digest this, as I swing between a few emotions. On the one hand, I was thinking how mature she is, because that would be an adult answer. But then, I kept wondering how much fear she has inside that she even THINKS about death, like AT ALL. I decided to ask her about the picture. Boy was THAT a mistake. She became very upset and tried to throw the picture in the trash. It was as if she thought this would make it go away and I would totally forget about it.

I think if we had not endured the verbal, emotional, and mental abuse we had during the first 6 years of her life, I would be more surprised at this paper. But, because I know what she has been through, because most of it was aimed at me by her father, I honestly think this is somewhat “normal.” You know, a normal reaction to a totally fucked up situation. I will find out tomorrow because I am bringing that thing to her therapy session.

Up to Thursday now, and after dropping off my middle, and sending my oldest to school to at least complete her AP test, I start getting ready to take the youngest to her therapy appointment….but wait! A call from the high school, oh fanfuckingtastic. My oldest has passed out right before the test and I will need to come pick her up. Sigh….I was in the shower, literally, one leg in, one leg out, and now…my whole plan has been shot to hell. I hurry up and finish, getting myself and the youngest ready much faster than I had anticipated. I scoot over to the high school, pick her up, and head out to the counseling appointment for the youngest…which is 45 minutes away. On the way I call and make an appointment with our family doctor for the oldest, who has now passed out 4 times in 6 months. Thankfully, during the appointment we learn the reason for Death….apparently she has been watching too much Life….the show on Netflix all about nature and the cycle of life. Thank goodness, it is just a normal reaction to something. Oh yeah, and her therapist actually suggested I get her IQ measured, because she feels she is really advanced intellectually. Finally, something I actually enjoy hearing!

Appointment over, grab dog food on the way back home because I actually remembered we were out, and we get home just in time for our family doctor to call me and tell me to take the oldest to the emergency room for an evaluation. Ummm…excuse me?? I now grab the middle kid from school, run home to leave middle and youngest home while I take oldest to the ER…this was so NOT in my plan. Three hours later, we are discharged with instructions to follow-up with our family doctor…say what? UGH! So first thing tomorrow I get to call and make an appointment with our family doctor, again.

We are relaxing, FINALLY, and unwinding from our hectic, crazy day. My oldest leashes up her massive pup, and goes to take him outside. The moment she opens the door, insanity ensues. The shepherd from upstairs was coming down, and going past our door the very second my kid opened it to go out. The dog lunged at our dog, with my kid right there in the middle. She did the very best thing she could, she slammed the door shut, our dog inside, psycho dog outside. I jumped up and she was already crying and upset from what just happened. I went outside to see the dog and owner still walking away. I waited…stewing. When she returned we had a chat about what happened. She apologized and took ownership of her dog’s behavior, THANK GAWD. She said since she was pregnant about a year ago the dog has been protective, but only when on leash, and only against other dogs. We agreed to be mindful of when we each walk our dogs, and she apologized again. I wasn’t thrilled, but I don’t want to go to jail, so I’m certainly not gonna push the issue….

Every day things like this happen in my life, and I cannot determine if I am special, or if this is just life. It is all I know, but I feel like those around me, for the most part, do not have the amount of drama and trauma in their lives that I do. I feel like I know people that lead happy, peaceful lives in their middle-class suburbia, and not just on Facebook, but actually lead them in real life. I don’t know, my life need a filter… or ten. Can’t wait for next week….not.

What Nobody Tells You, But You Really Need To Know…

 

A newborn baby

Ever notice how becoming a parent not only opens you up to an entirely new universe, but also shows you how full of crap people are as well? Yeah, I know you know. When I was pregnant with my first child, all the moms I knew that breastfed made it sound like breastfeeding was such a natural, easy thing that just happens. Once I had my daughter, I quickly came to realize either I was already a horrible mom, or these women had mislead me to a degree. After 100 different positions, nipple shields, and cabbage in my bra, she and I got the hang of it. It was the beautiful experience they all said it would be, but it was a bitch getting there.

People also go on and on about the terrible two’s…but no one tells you to watch out for three-nagers. My girls were angels at 2 years old. I thought I had made it home free, until 3 came along. All this talk of, “no,” and my personal favorite, “why?” Everything was WHY WHY WHY. Because I said so, that’s why! OMG, I sounded like my parents, and then it all made sense. I spent a year, three times over, explaining with age appropriateness why we did everything we did, from pooping in the toilet to breathing air. WHY WHY WHY me?!?! Because I am a parent, that’s why. Nobody warned me about three….and I do wanna know why.

Things were smooth sailing for a while there, and I got cocky. I thought I had this parenting schtick down pat. It was then that it happened. It happened all oops upside my head too, my oldest became, a teenager. I am not sure when exactly it happened because she was 7, I blinked, and then she was a teenager. Makeup, boys, sports, and now…driving. Someone get me off this crazy ride. My oldest two are now BOTH teenagers, both girls. Yes, I have all girls, and yes, we are cyclically aligned with the moon and the stars. It is a wonder we each survive month to month. I must be doing something right.

Nobody warned me the issues that teens face these days. I mean, you see it out there online, but often it seems unrealistic and fake newsy. But I am here to tell you, online bullying, predators, and the whole kit and kaboodle are real, very real. We have to walk this tightrope of allowing independence and hovering with protective might. I swing back and forth between wanting to lock my teenage daughters in a closet, and wanting to send them to live with the traveling circus. My kids rarely get into trouble and for the most part, are fine, upstanding members of society. I just want to protect them from those who are not.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I read all the books, made note of all the advice, and listened to everything my mother guilt tripped me about. I thought I was prepared. But just like war, nothing quite prepares you for parenthood. Although, I do think some more realistic examples could be provided. I see some of my friends and family on social media, and I think, “wait, Joan’s life is a hot mess, how does she look so together on Facebook?” Or I see an adorable picture of my friend’s kids, and I ask her how she got them to sit so nicely, only to find out that was 3 hours and 55 threats into the photoshoot, and she had just threatened them with losing all their electronics. Only to get a split second where the photographer was able to snap one single photo in which they did not look completely possessed.

I wish parents would share more of the true stories. I think we could all commiserate and sing Kumbaya together. It isn’t about failing, it’s about persisting. I was proud of my friend for hanging in there, and claiming her one picture worth of glory. But share the war story, so we can all know it is not JUST US, and we do not sit around questioning….WHY??

No Amount of Coffee….

Pickles1Look here Mother Nature, Universe, whomever you think you are…I know it is Monday, but seriously, the amount of bull crap you have put in my way today is just too much. Having to take my 5 month old Great Dane/Lab puppy to the emergency vet this morning was bad enough, but all the additional crap is just icing on the shit cake. I will not stand (or sit) idly by and let you condemn another one of my weeks down the toilet. No ma’am. I have had enough.

This morning I walked the pup, and let him curl up with me on the couch for some snuggles. Nothing is better than some massive puppy snuggles, even if he does smell like a wet rat. No bother, he is too cute to care. I got up to go pee, and wake up my high schooler, whose alarm had clearly not gone off. In the 2 minutes, literally 2 minutes, I was gone, my adorable snuggle bug turned into the biggest frigging moron I know. When I came back he was eating something. Of course he was, he is a huge 5 month old puppy, it’s what they do. I shoved my hand in his drool soaked mouth. Good Monday morning to me!! The only thing I pulled out before he swallowed was a tiny piece of black avocado skin.

I immediately began to freak out, completely. I Google’d what to do if my dog eats an entire avocado. It’s not like I don’t know what to do, I just needed that backing by Google to legitimize my freak out. I was not disappointed. I then looked up the emergency vets in my area, and called one. The lady that answered should never work with dogs, or any animals, or people for that matter. She was nice, but she told me to just let him rest, and that he would probably vomit and/or have diarrhea. I asked her about the fear of the pit causing an obstruction. Do you know what this lady said?? Well sit down for this one. She then told me that HE SHOULD PASS THE PIT. I mean he is a Great Dane/Lab puppy, but ummm, I know physics, and this dog is not going to pass an avocado pit. So I hung up, and cursed her out in my head.

I then called the other emergency vet clinic. I explained what happened, and this time, the person who answered actually consulted a vet before advising me on what my options were. I liked them already. I was told I could bring him in, and they would induce vomiting, or I could wait, watch for symptoms of obstruction, and see what happened. Weighing the options, and the thinking of the idea of this turning into a dire emergency which would be impacted later in the day by having to pick up my kids, and blah blah blah….I took him in to induce vomiting. It is amazing to me how quickly that works.

So, my dog is in the back barking and puking, thank goodness I can only hear the barking. The tech comes out and informs me they see a lot of avocado skin, but no pit. Well FML. So now, they can do an xray, and see if the pit shows up, or I can take him home and wait it out. Well, weighing my options again, we proceed with the xray. I mean, I am here, he is already puking, I want to know before we leave if he is going to be okay. The xray shows nothing. No pit to be found. I call my teenage daughter, who is at home with my youngest until I can get back and take them both in to school late. She searches high and low, no pit. The pit is apparently the second coming of Harry Houdini, as it has disappeared.

The vet gives my puppy the shot to reverse the vomiting. He is ready to go home, and of course, as they are bringing him from the back he shoves his head in the trash can and tries to grab something out of the can….clearly he has not learned anything from this adventure. I wrestle him into the car, and yes, I mean wrestle, and we head home. I have to get everybody where they need to go, and I am desperately searching for this missing pit. I have to do my work for today, deal with the dogs, and all before I even had the opportunity to have a cup of coffee…or five. I have not even mentioned all the kid fires I have had to put out today. Seriously, 24 hours in one day is just not enough.

So I implore you, Mondays, just stop. Just give me some peace and quiet, for once. I know everyone hates you, but seriously, this kind of crap is why. If you would just not come through like a bull in a china shop, no one would mind Mondays. I mean, I like my job, so I don’t mind that it is the start of the work week. I have no beef with you, unless you pull shit like today. Then we have problems.

 

Just An IV Please….

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This could not be any truer today, and I have one phat ass. I have been up since 2:10am ET, which was 4 hours and 9 minutes ago. My dog woke me up because he had to go potty. We have this pup who is half Great Dane, and he has a really sensitive tummy. Apparently, the organic peanut butter I bought is too oily for his belly. He had some in his Kong last night, and VOILA, up at 2 am to poop. UGH. So I get him outside, relieved, clean it up, and back inside. He goes right back to sleep, lucky bastard. I am not quite so lucky.

I did eventually fall back asleep, sometime after 3:30am, only to be woken 12 minutes later by my 6 year old wanting to crawl in bed with me and snuggle. It was fine though, because I had fallen just deep enough into dreamland to be in the middle of a disturbing nightmare about my ex, thank you Complex-PTSD. My 6 year old waking me up was actually a relief, because I did not like where that dream was going. Especially since the dream started with my ex having a psychotic episode, and then trying to convince me he was going to get me back….I am still unsure how he meant that in the dream, get me back like retribution, or get me back like back together. Honestly, both are equally as horrifying.

So when my 6 year old woke me up that was it for me sleep wise. I did get some killer snuggles though, and she went right back to sleep. The rest of my time has been spent thinking (obsessing) about the things I need to get done today, and what excuses I can use to not do them. You know, put them off until it becomes an emergency type thing, then run around like a chaotic mess doing everything. Proclaim my day has been so productive because I got 15 things done, when in reality, I could have just done one of them every day for the last 2 weeks, and NOT made myself insane. But where is the fun in that I ask you….nowhere.

Of course, on a day like today, by noon my brain will be mush, and I will be lucky if I remember my name let alone get things accomplished. Oh yeah, and today is a random early release day, so my youngest gets out of school at 1pm. Hmm, what are the odds I will remember that without a reminder? And cue the dog crying to go out again…

Life is a many splendored thing, who said that anyway? I have no clue, but I want to be that person in the yoga memes you see, doing yoga at sunrise on the beach, with a kick-ass toned body, not a hair out of place, and a huge smile on their face. I bet they don’t have kids though. I mean I can’t even pee alone, let alone have all that without a child needing something, or arguing with another child, or some event that requires parental involvement. And now the dog wants to eat…he really is just another child.

Someone pass the coffee….

Teenagers….

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So getting right back into things, I need to vent about my 15 year old. What the actual hell is wrong with teenagers? Was I like this to my mother? UGH! My daughter forgot to take her meds this morning. She texted me about it, to which I asked if she wanted me to bring them to her after dropping off my youngest. She said, “Yes, por favor.” Yes, my very caucasian daughter speaks to me in Spanglish, she’s fun. Anywho, I dropped off the youngest and ran home to grab the meds.

The moment I walk in the door, my 15 year old’s dog starts howling from his crate because YAY! GRANDMA IS HOME….Grandma…yeah. I grab the meds, change my hoodie to another hoodie, because it was more presentable. I did not want to walk into the high school with a hoodie that is 5 sizes too large because my daughter would look at me like I had 5 heads. No worries though, because I threw on my coffee hoodie, grabbed the meds, and the howling moron dog, and ran out the door. I let the dog pee, and herd him into the car. He is 50 pounds, and only 4 months old. Yes, let that soak in. He is half Great Dane and half Lab. Four months old, 50 pounds. Yeah.

I arrive at the school and grab my driver’s license, the medications, keys and my phone. I get buzzed into the front door, and check-in at the office. They have to scan my license and give me a sticker to wear as a visitor’s pass. Next, I have to go over to the clinic and wait for my daughter. On my way the bell rang, and all of a sudden the previously empty hall was FILLED with GINORMOUS teenagers. What are people feeding their children these days?!?! I don’t think one of them was my height, or shorter. did my best to bob and weave through the masses, and duck into the clinic. The nurse lets me know my daughter is on her way.

Here she comes, my amazing kid. She is gorgeous, smart, funny, and athletic. She is everything I always wished I could be, and through all the shit she has endured through her life, she still keeps it all together. She is my hero in so many ways. I showed her the three bottles I brought. She tells me she only needs the one and she will take the others when she gets home. My hero then proceeds to brush me off, and run out the door barely even saying two words, and no, those words were not THANK YOU.

I left the building kind of in a stupor. While this may not seem like much to many parents, it is to me. We have been through a great deal, and I dropped everything to bring her the meds, WHICH SHE FORGOT. I practiced deep breathing all the way home. I am still deep breathing 2 hours later. I have counted to 1,328. I am not angry, but I feel disappointed, because my kid knows better. I guess I will say something to her after she gets home from practice.

I get that teenagers want to pretend they were hatched from eggs and do not have parents. I have been there, but still, I feel like this is an instance where all I wanted was common courtesy. Maybe next time I will leave on the 5 sizes too large hoodie, and put some holes in my pants, and wear mismatched shoes, skip brushing my hair. We shall see, or she will just remember to always take her meds before she leaves for school.