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Summer’s Stutter Start

I truly had no expectations for the start of Summer. I was having a rough time anyway and didn’t want to predict it getting any rougher. But it still did. The same day that school let out, the two-year old got sick. And the next day, my husband had a tire blow out on the major highway. I then found out I’d allowed the children’s insurance to lapse and there I was in the strike zone again.

Worst of all, being underneath a sick and tantruming toddler for the next 7 days meant there was just no room for me. sick girl is still cute on Shalavee.com

I like having time and space to myself to create and feel productive and whole. In the absence of that, I feel ‘less than’, angry, and hopeless. Fed up and exhausted from the perpetual waking up of the child and the sudden relentlessness of my life, I felt shameful moments of rage and desperation and behaved in a ridiculously dramatic way to show to my husband that I in fact couldn’t handle all of this as well as he thinks I can.

I then explained that my mommy brain thinks I have to be watchful of the children 24/7. This consciousness ensures they’re kept alive but wears me out and could he please know that I do this and step in and say he’s got them for a while even without me asking? He may or may not have heard this but it was me saying something out loud. I need to hear myself say that I’m allowed a break.Rocking chair hug on Shalavee.com

My constant irritation by everything was exactly the opposite of the feelings of bliss and ease I’d had with my family on several weekends in the month before. What’s the difference I wondered ?

And as each day played out and eventually her health was restored, the insurance was renewed, the car was being repaired, and Mark’s work evened out, I began to feel better. And watching moments of tenderness between my children filled me with the gratitude I was missing. And I knew the spell had passed.

And then I knew what the difference had been.

Faith in my life. Faith in myself.

 

My family on Shalavee.com

When I thought about what really tweaked me during those really hard days, it was the belief that it would always be bad. My anxiety was climbing as I was silently predicting a future that would have me dealing with this stress perpetually. And I’d always be handling it alone. These wrong thoughts are called cognitive distortions. They are lies that we tell ourselves and then, when we feel the feelings of sadness, desperation, or depression, we say that the thoughts must be facts then because the feelings make them feel real. But they don’t. The distorted thoughts are the cause of the yucky feelings.

What I tell myself I believe.

I had myself believing I would always be alone, never have the help or support I would need, and that mothering a daughter would be the hell everyone has ever warned me about. But the truth is that phases ebb and flow. Bad spells come and go. Kids get sick and better. My support system was on vacation that week but they would return again.Siblings on Shalavee.com

What’s most important is that my kids don’t get the idea that I doubt my abilities to parent them. I spend quality time with them and they know that they’re loved. The sickness behavior screws it all up for a week and then it’s as if it never happened. And no, mothering doesn’t have to be the only thing that ever defines my worth. But I better get hopping on stuff that invests my talents for me and my hope into the future. So when the next tantrum and the next bad spell happens, I know I’ve invested in my goals and my getaways and my hope for my future. And that I’m not alone. That I’ve got my back too.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

 

Post Traumatic Toddler Disorder

Almost everyday, between the ages of one and two, I had to keep a constant ear out for my daughter’s distress call when she left my sight. I’d barrel forward in my day trying to  accomplish my housework or do anything creative but I was always listening. At any moment I might have to drop my task for that tell-tale scream that meant she’d fallen over and hit her head and I had to run, not walk, to see if she was bleeding out from her head. On one occasion she actually was bleeding from her mouth. The one time you choose not to go and see is that one time you’ll regret it.

Injury is imminent every moment of the day from age one through two. You can not hover and yet you are on alert constantly. And I earned such a good case of post traumatic stress disorder that the twitch has come and gone and returned in my top left eyelid in the past couple months. That feeling of the imminence of the other shoe dropping has made Mommy-hood feel like trench warfare.toddler tantrum

What’s worse is that I’ve got a girl who’s prone to drama. She knows how to lay it on a little thicker to hedge her bets. Good for her. She’s a survivor. Bad for me, twitch, twitch, twitch. Throw in a good fevered sickness which has me waking up several times at night doing the pogo Mommy reminiscent of the good old “trench” days of the newborn’s first three months and I’m beyond exhausted.

I get to feeling a little hopeless. Like this will always be the way it’s gonna be. And I don’t know how I’m gonna do it. Twitch, twitch, twitch goes the eyelid. And then stuff starts to calm down. I get the nap schedule back into place by sitting in her room in the chair until she stops crying at me and passes out. I take a day or two to go out with my friends to chat and do mindless girl things. I get my toes done finally. And I feel a little better. more toddler tantrum

And that’s just enough so that when she starts screaming at 5:30 in the morning, I’m not resentful and know she’s at least safe in the crib. And when she’s begun to cry in the other room with her brother, I wait a beat longer to respond because I know they have to work it out. And when she says Elmo Pooh Elmo Pooh Princess constantly at me to watch a movie, she may need to take a nap or Cookies Candy Cake Cookies Candy Cake at me over and over, you know she may be hungry.

And sometimes the best way to deal with her is just to ignore her however I can. Because it’s a little scary for a toddler to be at the control wheel all the time. Children may become overwhelmed because they have gotten everything they want and will continue to meltdown looking for restraints to make them feel safe. Sometimes she needs her keys taken away. And sometimes she needs to be given a lollipop and plugged into Elmo.

The Easter Egg Debacle

I know you think I am a nice person. And I am most of the time. But a patient person? Having a toddler has shown me all of my imperfect impatient downfalls. These became glaringly apparent when we went to dye Easter eggs this past Saturday morning. How quickly I had forgotten the Christmas cookie baking lesson. Dying Easter eggs on Shalavee.com

I thought I would be able to figure something out on the fly. Give her a way to dye the eggs. But boom, she’s trying to lay the egg down on the flat table, grabbing the cups of dye, and there’s just no way to baby proof this event. As I was already twitching from the rest of the morning, the moment she took the egg and crushed it in her fist, I knew we were done.blowing bubbles on Shalavee.com

I bloody well love dying Easter eggs. It’s totally a thing for me. Mandatory seasonal crafting along with carving pumpkins. But there are certain things that need to be done without two year-olds and this was one of them. I didn’t mention the brain exploding amount of patience it took the other day to hold the bubbles for like 45 minutes straight while she attempted to blow them, did I. I’ve just gotten rid of the eye twitch and pray it won’t return.

Yes, some women are born to have and raise children with infinite patience and no other expectations. Pas moi. I could do without this toddler phase except for the utter heart stabbing cuteness of her saying “Wogger” for water. And the shrieking contagious giggles she gets when her Dad zerberts her on her tummy.eggs and bowls on Shalavee.com

So I am now completely aware that again, I’m not a toddler crafter. I need to leave this stuff to the pros. I’ve learned my lesson. And I’d like to apologize to Fiona, and I just might some day, but not today. I am however secretly praying she doesn’t take this event personally and have it thrown back in my face at age thirteen.

The posts are no longer truncated and all words will appear in your mailbox. However, if you want to see all my lovely full color pictures, you’ll still need to click over to the blog to view those.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks a bazillion for your visit.

The Toddler Twitch is Back

The twitch on my top right eyelid is the only outer sign of how I really feel. Well maybe a little lip chewing too. I’m sure you’d notice one or the other. At 8:38 am this morning, I was an epic failure at parenting a toddler. I had yelled “Stop” like five times by this point. Dressing her had been an all out fighting tantrum from which I’d narrowly escaped getting my front teeth whacked and deadened by her skull. Cussing at anything else that had gone wrong had brought no relief. And the rest of the day hung in my mind like a cloud of impending doom. Fiona and the fruit salad on Shalavee.com

The mental health facility that houses my “talking doctor” is adopting a new catch phrase. “It’s OK to be not OK. “ While it feels slightly better to have permission to be ‘not OK’, the yucky feeling of humanity lingers. It must also be OK to have post traumatic stress disorder because even the eye doctor explained the cause for my toddler eye twitch is stress. Duh.

Mothering is like an extreme sport that you’d rather be sitting in a chalet watching and enjoying from afar. While I crave Happy Happy all the Time Time Time and everything under control, instead I get sudden eruptions of chaos. She’s being really cute and suddenly she’s having a really really bad day and dragging me down with her. Negativity is a constant modus operandi. I felt despondent yesterday after her tantrum over a)putting on the coat, or b)clipping her toenails, or c) anything else her brain snapped over. I intended to enter a selfie challenge on Instagram and I thought a picture of this moment would be far more real than the happy grinning one I ended up with. I’m human therefore I feel and am real. I resent the expectations I have of myself otherwise.

Fiona and the fruit salad on Shalavee.com

By 10 am, I could only hold my mental breath and resolve to keep it together until I finally get a break tomorrow. Sure I intend to create more of those breaks this week and month. Knowing that daycare is around the corner is a prize I have my eye on. But everyone then has to make it to that point without losing their stuff. I almost started crying yesterday because there is nothing in the world that makes you feel like a bigger loser than knowing you’ve failed to be the most calm patient considerate prepared Mommy in town, any town, at that specific moment.

Fiona and the fruit salad on Shalavee.com

An additional motherhood requirement is for me to consider my luckiness as compared to others’ unluckiest. I better be grateful every moment because she is alive. I discovered recently that someone I’d known for 30 years had lost their first-born baby daughter many years ago. They’d created a foundation for their daughter and now their eldest living daughter is turning 14. I was speechless. An unimaginable grief. And yet I am still really disliking my daughter today. It’s my apples to their oranges. There’s automatic disparity between one parent’s experience and another’s feelings. My entitlement to feeling any and all of this allows me to move through it. I can only live my life, however ungratefully, just once.

Fiona in her room on Shalavee.com

So do I really think I suck as a parent? No. Do I make lousy choices? Yes. Will my children grow up knowing that parents are fallible human beings? Yes. And hopefully that I’m a mostly nice person. Teaching them these acts of self-tolerance so they become human beings, plus keeping them alive is my job. And then letting them go out to make their own fallible human lives and choices in the places they settle with the people they’ll come to love. Soon this will all be just a distant memory. Right?

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter orPinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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I Am Enough

We are enough.

I read these words and I want to live this truth so badly. Because, I go in and out of believing this is true. And believing I’m enough is where I, and everyone, needs to be.

Let me give you the excerpt from Kelly Rae Roberts that brought me this thought. She wrote in this post about letting herself off the hook and off the burnout train,

I have a long way to go, but I’ve exhaled, unhooked, and detoxed from the I am not enough gremlins. I don’t want my worthiness attached to what I do and how much I do it. I don’t want it to be attached to anything. We are enough. As is.”

This week was not a happy and contented week for me. One week out of every month needs to be thrown on the fire and sacrificed to the gods of unhappiness. I was accomplishing all the tasks I had deemed necessary. It was all getting done and I wasn’t even stressing about Christmas, but I felt disgruntled. I wanted to feel that liquid chocolate satisfaction of my accomplishments. And to be a super Mommy too. But in the end, I didn’t feel like I got it right. It wasn’t enough happiness the right way. I was detached from all my accomplishments and spinning wheels in my soul.

2014 wrapping paper line up on Shalavee.com

I resent not having time to myself to do whatever I want for as long as I want it. I don’t resent the toddler who prevents this, just the lack of me-time. I was irritated at the anticipation of the nap being screwed up. In fact, now, I’m vaguely hostile for that very fact. Because the un-napped baby is nasty later and there’s no true unplug for me…for 12 hours straight.

I perceive that I’m responsible for too many other people’s happinesses. Whether they feel that’s true is of no consequence. And I’m not sure if I’ll ever get that perceived burden out of my head because it’s rooted pretty deeply. I’m not enough to be the best everyone on top of being my best self. Now I hear myself as whiny and that’s not good either.

The poo sandwich just keeps getting bigger on the days where I make it all about poor me. I’ll never and I can’t and nothing. Those are how I hear conversations starting.

And that is in fact enough of that.

Enter gratitude. I have so many people in my life who care dearly for me. They may not be the people I wish cared or in the exact way that I wish they cared but I know there’s care there. My family at the Christmas parade in Denton, MD on Shlalavee.com

My kids are safe and healthy and none the worse for my outbursts or disgruntlement. And many people in the world aren’t able to say that today.

I am finding my way and discovering the things that work and the talents that I can value in myself. It’s slow but it’s progress. And I can’t open my eyes any wider than they are. I have to trust the process. I have to show up every day and work hard and know that when I’m ready for whatever needs to happen, it will happen.

And I need to lighten the heck up. Do something silly and fun. Ask for what I need. And tell the soul-suckers there’s not enough of me to go around. Because I owe me something better than spread thin, eye-twitching, unsatisfied Shalagh. I owe me the happy safe little gal who likes to make things pretty and see other people laugh. She is joy and in her moments, she is enough. And she has no care but for herself and her soul satisfaction.

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