Category Archives: Parenting

Motherhood

Motherhood….

  • it ain’t for the faint of heart
  • it is often thankless
  • it is beautiful (and it is a mess)
  • is not the same for everyone – it comes dressed up in different clothes, is achieved through many different methods and definitely doesn’t fit into some mold or come from a cookie cutter
  • it is the hardest and best job you’ll ever have (unless your job is giving away someone else’s money to help worthy causes and then it might be a tie)
  • it is so many things and is so simple all at once

The list could go on and no doubt, having just passed Mother’s Day, your own ideas and feelings about motherhood are fresh in your mind. Here’s what I’ve been thinking.

a) I don’t always know what I’m doing. It sucks that there is not a how-to manual or a choose-your-own-adventure style manual (e.g., “If your child does XYZ… do ABC if you want them to develop good self-esteem… do CBA if you want them to learn from their mistakes… or do QRS if you would like them to go to therapy as an adult.)

Here’s a secret: no one else knows what they are doing, either. We’re all just taking it on with a wish and a prayer.

b) “Good” parenting is kind of a crap shoot. I have two sons but when I just had one son, I really thought I knew the secret to “good” parenting. He napped when he was supposed to, for as long as he was supposed to; most nights he even fell asleep nursing or taking a bottle, seldom stirring when I placed him carefully in his crib. He ate a fairly well-balanced diet. He didn’t try and get into things and was content not trying to cause trouble. Then we had a second child and we did all the same things with Jack as we did with Liam. Guess what? Jack never once fell asleep BEFORE being placed in his crib. Despite an early showing of a broad palate, he now is one of the pickiest eaters I know. And that kid was born with an insatiable curiosity and ability to figure things out that made all child-proofing efforts laughable (he could lock and unlock the fridge lock for us just days after we put it in place to keep him from stealing food).

Since no two people are the same, guess what, no two children are the same… even when they come from the same two parents and are raised pretty much the same. You can do all the “right” things and still end up with a little hellion child and you can pretty much suck and still end up with a fairly well-adjusted child (not that I recommend the sucking approach – the odds are a little more in your favor if you do put in some effort). So do your job as a parent, the best you can, but remember, worrying over every decision and moment of parenting will not at all ensure success (it will, however, make you an anxious wreck).

c) God made ME my kids’ parent. I have a confession, Trace Adkins made me tear up this weekend. I’m as shocked as you might be, because Trace Adkins isn’t really known for his heart-string pulling characteristics. But I went to see Mom’s Night Out (thanks to my friend, Melody, at grkids.com) and I cannot recommend the movie more to any parent out there that is currently in the trenches – I have not genuinely laughed to much at a movie in AGES, plus it had the best message delivered by the cute star and, yes, Trace Adkins, that made me get choked up. The main character is at the end of her line and her wits, feeling like she screws everything up and that she is an unfit parent and Trace Adkin’s character, a tattoo-artist biker, basically tells her that she is the perfect parent for her children because God made her their mom and that she is enough. Truth.

I am my kids’ mom for a reason – God made it so. If ever I question what I am doing, how I am doing or how in the freaking world I am going to make it through, I need to remember that I am enough. I have it in me to make the right choices for myself and for my family.

When it comes to motherhood… or pretty much when it comes to life in general, if we set our sights on God first, the rest will line up. Again, it doesn’t make it easy, but it should lighten the load. We’ve got this because He’s got this.

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Mental health

someecards.com - It's so comforting to know I have a friend to share the same mental health issues with.
Hmmmm… back in January I shared my list of resolutions and buried in the end was a mention of going to see my doctor to figure out if perhaps my brain chemistry could use a little assistance. Two months later I have a little update for you.

Disclaimer: Every person is different. Every journey is different. This recounting is my experience thus far and I share it with you in case you are looking for answers for yourself and this could resonate with you or help you feel not so alone. We don’t always have the conversations we need to when it comes to mental health and not talking about something doesn’t make it go away. And talking about it doesn’t make it the only thing that defines you or boxes you in and it certainly doesn’t make it the thing that limits you. I am so many things, but I happen to be a person who takes Zoloft. It works for me. Maybe something else works for you. There is strength to be found in sharing our stories and our truths. This is my story – at least a chapter of it.


I don’t remember at exactly what point I started noticing a difference in myself… I think it crept up on me gradually over time as things often do. I wasn’t quite myself but then, I also had quite a bit on my plate with running a business, raising kids, volunteering, keeping up with friends and family and the parenting/work schedule we’ve been handling the last four years (oh how that number makes me laugh when I consider they initially said it would be two years until Simon moved to first shift and back then I would pass the months thinking, “Oh, we’re 1/24th of the way there and then 1/6th, etc…” and those two years have come and gone more than twice now with no end in sight). Still, if you had asked me if I was depressed, I would have told you no, absolutely not. We bought our “forever” home last year and moved into a wonderful neighborhood where our kids will grow up that is close to church, work and many, many friends. Work was the same, my business partner had named me president but it was mostly business as usual with a new title that made me feel all grown up and proud. I had started the book club and was seeing friends regularly, having semi-regular date nights with my hubby and hosting many gatherings at our new house. Who would be depressed about all that? Or how could you be depressed? Depression is a funny thing, well, mental health is a funny thing – it doesn’t care who you are, it can just show up and cause problems, sometimes you don’t even realize that your “normal” doesn’t have to be normal.

For me, everything should have added up to being all right, and yet… I felt it, that niggling feeling that something wasn’t right. That I was drowning in my life but I didn’t have a clue what could be changed or done differently. My kids were just kids, a little hyper at times, not always the best listeners but still just kids and pretty darn good ones at that and yet I was short tempered and sometimes downright mean to them, quick to yell and frustrated as all get out. My husband has his annoying habits as all husbands do – the joy of marriage and living with someone day-in-day out is that you learn all their little “things” and you love them because of and in spite of those things – and yet EVERYTHING he did drove me crazy, made me annoyed and made me so I was constantly reminding myself that marriage is work and that it is a choice to be made daily because divorce isn’t an option – I would find myself muttering with scary regularity, “I’ve had enough, I’m done.” I’m sure I was a real joy to live with. And the new title at work didn’t change my responsibilities or add more stress to my life – and yet if I thought about work in the evenings I would feel my pulse start to race and the anxiety rise to where I couldn’t breathe – 13 years in the business and I was unsure of everything, kept awake at night with thoughts of what the next day held in store (this anxiety was what finally made me realize something wasn’t right). I felt loved, knew I was loved, was actually usually happy and not mopey or depressed feeling and yet I found myself after MOPS one Thursday morning wrapped up in the arms of a wonderful mentor mom, sobbing and feeling so very tired, so very much at the end of my rope.

So I asked for help. I met with two women from church – the mentor mom who first comforted me and another woman who is on staff at church who had led my calm parenting class last spring – I talked, they listened and shared their own experiences, asking questions and giving advice. I prayed, I read and I talked with others about what was going on. I made an appointment with my doctor and after explaining to her how I had been feeling, she asked, “Have you heard of Zoloft?” Her question made me laugh because after talking to other friends who had been on it, it was exactly what I thought I would be asking for, the mommy’s drug of choice.

I started it two months ago and I feel like myself again. I didn’t even realize how “down” I was until I started waking up in the morning, feeling like I wanted to jump out of bed, instead of only wanting to roll over and go back to sleep. I still feel frustrated and annoyed by my children and husband at times (not all the time) but I can react more appropriately and with grace and love instead of anger and desperation. Instead of being my worst self and feeling guilty and anxious, I feel like a better version, I feel like me. I feel like telling everyone that they, too, should be on Zoloft. I don’t know that I will always need it but for where I am right now, it’s exactly what I needed to help get me through. I also need to to keep talking, to keep praying and to keep reading things that help give me insight into my marriage, my children and my life.

The funny thing is, now that my mental health is more stable, I can see how out of whack it was, how I was in a constant state of extreme PMS. Three weeks in to taking my little blue pill, I started feeling that anger boiling up and threatening to overflow, I thought that perhaps I needed to up my Zoloft dosage or worse, that it had stopped working but that time happened to coincide with a little hormonal imbalance that happens monthly in all women (if you catch my drift). It hit me, for the last year what I had been experiencing as my normal baseline emotional state on a day-to-day basis, was the same as what should happen only a few days a month and I had just come to accept it, to think that was just how life was.

I’m very thankful that so far, Zoloft has worked for me without any horrible side effects – I have found that I think I might be allergic to it as the skin on my arms started itching horribly after I started it but after adding a daily allergy tablet to my pill popping, the itching has gone away. And I am so appreciative of the people in my life who have supported me and been praying for me. Special thanks to my husband but just being himself – our marriage certainly isn’t perfect, but at least again I know it is good and worth it.

It scares me a little to be honest about all this for fear that someone will think I can’t do something because I’m unstable or that it will add stress to my life that I don’t need and that simply isn’t the case. I think you could make my life absolutely stress free and I would still have the brain that I have and need some readjusting. If anything, I’m more stable on Zoloft with the knowledge that I’m not perfect or able to do it all on my own. We all need help of some kind and we’re all on the journey of life together. God puts people in our lives to help us, God gives us his word to guide us and God made people smart enough to invent drugs to rewire us in a way that makes us shine more true to ourselves.

Five

Wah wah… someone is five today and that someone is my baby! What the what?! Thankfully the kid is on the small side so he doesn’t yet look like a five year old to me… more like 3.5 or 4 (which is perfect since he is just finally fitting into 4T clothes :)). But I still know that in reality, he is FIVE. Break my little heart. This just will not do.
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In a little over 6 months he’ll be starting kindergarten. He writes his name and can count to 800 (for real – the kid has more stamina and stubbornness than I can even comprehend… the other night he walked in a circle and counted to 250 for no reason, whereas his older brother gets bored after reaching 20).
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His tenacity and non-stop personality will serve him well in years to come, but my, do they make me exhausted by the end of each day. He would quite literally talk your ear off if you let him… though he still feigns shyness when he first meets people.
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There is absolutely nothing he can’t or won’t try to do (unless it is food). Especially if it means showing his brother up… like swimming lessons.
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He equal parts adores and loves to antagonize his big brother.  IMAG2517_1And his parents đŸ™‚
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I love hanging out with this kid and hearing what he has to say… my favorite from the past week was: “Mom, if we had $1000, we’d be rich and our house would be filled with money… even the light switches would be made out of money.”
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While I don’t miss the carpool line at Liam’s old school, I do miss the time spent waiting with Jack in the car at least three days a week… but now we get to spend that time at home where he asks me to rub his back or cuddle with him (for seconds at a time, can’t spend too much time sitting down).
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Jack loves his dad and is so proud that they both love chocolate shakes and Vegemite sandwiches. The fact that he will eat Vegemite is still amazing to me as he is the pickiest of eaters (i.e., more stubborn than I am when it comes to food choices) and his list of acceptable foods is laughably short and includes mostly brown/tan foods, and inexplicably, strawberries.
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Happy Birthday to my big boy, Jackers Knackers… you might be the youngest in the family but you have the biggest personality by far. Love you to the moon and back.
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Second verse, same as the first

BrockBday-007Photo credit: Kim Brock Photography

On Tuesday evening, Jack and I were sitting at the kitchen counter… he was playing Temple Run on the iPad and I was working on the computer. Out of the blue he says, “When are my fingers going to grow?”

*sigh*

We talk about his little hand fairly regularly. It comes up when we have play dates with new friends (and old friends – kids are often fixated on it and who can blame them, it’s different). I notice the looks from other children when we are at the park. I weigh out what I should say and what I should leave up to Jack to say for himself.

“Did those kids ask about your hand? What did you tell them?”
“That God made me special!”

But still, he wonders when he’s going to grow fingers. If only it worked that way (or not). Do I wish Jack could just grow some new fingers and have a fully developed hand? Not as often as you’d think, at least not anymore. Jack’s hand is part of who he is and it’s a part of who he will be. I’ve said before that I don’t believe it’s ever going to stop him from doing something he puts his mind to, but I do wish I could erase every potential hurtful thing other people could do or say with regard to his hand.

Yesterday, Simon posted a link to Tony Memmel’s “Lucky Fin Song” and the first comment was: “Simon, do you have a child with a limb problem?”

Breathe in. Breathe out. Even the well-intentioned say things that can be hurtful. We prefer limb difference. Our culture needs to change its vocabulary when it comes to talking about people with differences. We so quickly wonder, “What’s wrong with him?” when we see a person in a wheel chair. We label people with “disabilities” as if they are without ability instead of just being differently-abled. We shy away from asking what made them how they are or getting to know someone for who they are and instead stare and whisper when we think they aren’t paying attention. We need to change.

So, back to Tuesday and Jack’s question about his hand/fingers… no matter how many times we have talked about his hand and explained that it’s the way God made him; that it’s not going to change but just grow bigger with him, like his other hand (but without fingers) he still wonders and hopes that things will be different someday. I believe this will be a conversation we have many times in his lifetime, with varying emotions coming from my spitfire of a child. So instead of explaining it again, I opted to show him all the posts on the Lucky Fin Project’s Facebook page (take a minute to go “Like” them, I’ll wait). Clicking on photo after photo of kids and adults who, like him, were born a little bit different but just how God wanted them to be. And then we watched the “Lucky Fin Song” video (see below) and Jack spent the rest of the evening singing, “Yeah, I’ve got this fin but you should see me swim…”

We should all be so lucky to have a community to turn to when we are looking for answers specific to what we are going through. I hope Jack continues to find comfort in that community and as he grows, I hope he doesn’t forget that his little hand is just one small part of what makes him special.

“There’s always a choice and it’s time to dive. And when the day is feeling long and the sky is getting dark, you have got to let your light shine. Know how great you are!”
Tony Memmel, Lucky Fin Song

Also, go like Tony Memmel.

File this under random stuff I have photographed this week

It’s been a busy week… things are wrapping up with lots of things (how’s that for a vague sentence?) and life is just busy, but that is May for you… less than two weeks until school is out for the summer and 5-6 weeks until we move. We close on our new house next week and provided all goes well and according to plan, we close on our current house two days before we take possession of the new house. So yes, we have sold our house, but I’m not ready to shout it to the world until all the inspections are behind us and the only thing we are waiting for is the closing. But I can tell you that God is good and He for SURE answers prayers and that is all for now. On to the real reason for this post…

My apologies in advance, but I was laughing at the series of photos on my phone for this week – none of them super pleasing to the eye or cute pics of my kids doing cute things… nope, just a real slice of life for what it is really like to be a parent.

Exhibit #1: swollen ankle/foot from a mosquito bite
Poor Jack. Daycare called me on Monday to let me know that Jack had been bitten by a mosquito and was having quite the allergic reaction. The pic below is after the Benedryl kicked it and had reduced the swelling quite a bit and yet you can still see how his ankle and foot are puffed up significantly more than the other leg, they were also hard, red and hot to the touch. [Not pictured: his other knee which was also bit up and swelled; bonus shot of his shorter toe from where the bone was removed to put in his thumb.] I called the pediatrician just to confirm that pain meds and Benedryl were the way to go and was advised to bring him in if the swelling did not improve the next day. In the morning Jack’s swelling had come back full force and he didn’t even want to walk on his foot because it hurt so Simon ended up taking him into the doctor, yes, for a mosquito bite. He learned there is a bad batch of mosquitoes that recently hatched but that should die out in the next week but the office had seen quite a few bad reactions that week, so at least we weren’t the only ones. Jack now has to take allergy meds every morning to help with potential reactions and wear long pants to daycare (where he seems to react the worst to the mosquitoes in their woods).
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Exhibit #2: suddenly grown-in adult tooth
Liam apparently has fast-growing teeth because last week when I was doing our regular check for loose teeth (his top two have been wiggly since before spring break) the bottom ones were not lose and totally by themselves in his mouth, but on Tuesday when he got out of school he showed me that not only was the bottom one wiggly, but his adult tooth was fully grown in behind it. How does this happen? Well, I know how this happens, the same thing happened to me in kindergarten when my bottom two adult teeth came in and the baby teeth weren’t even lose so I had to have them pulled by the dentist. Thankfully Liam’s tooth is quite loose so no traumatic tooth pulling in our future (we had enough of that with Jack, thank you very much).
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Exhibit #3: a tick
This is the picture that most squigs me out. Wednesday evening I noticed George had a bump on the underside, edge of his ear – but he’s had these before in the form of a non-problematic cyst and a skin tag. This looked like a skin tag since it was flesh-colored and mostly obscured by hair. Cut to Thursday night when I think again to check it out and note it seems bigger than the night before and when I take a closer look, I discover little black lines at the base of where it is attached to his ear. Um, those would be legs and my night suddenly got awful. I knew it was a tick but of course I Googled “ticks on dogs” and sadly confirmed my suspicion to be true (also, add that to the list of things not not look at Google images of – ick). I called Simon and told him that I’d have to wait for him to get home because I just could. not. remove. it. myself. He came home armed with tweezers and rubbing alcohol. It was a quick job and since it was moving around after we removed it, we were successful in removing all of it. Here it is after we asphyxiated it with a rubbing alcohol pad. Did you know that you shouldn’t flush a tick because that does not kill it and also you should keep it in case it needs to be tested? Now you know.
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So that’s my week… here’s hoping those are the set of three unexpected things that happen to us and that I don’t end up with a strange picture of Simon over the weekend.