Learning to love the self

I believe, as we grow older, that we also grow more wiser in regards to learning to love ourselves.

Picture from canberratimes.com.au

It is amazing how society has done a number on us, especially women. We are taught to question our beauty, or talents, and pin them against the likeness of others instead of teaching us to improve ourselves for ourselves. Instead of being content as a stay-at-home mom, we have to one up others as well as our husbands and do something “more” with our lives.  I have to admit, that for a long time I believed I was going to be a career mom. I grew up with a mom, who for awhile was a single parent, and very busy trying to find work to keep our little family going. She did get a position that she was very successful in, and became a workaholic. She had the chance to retire, but did not enjoy not working. She took a part time job, and then was offered a pretty lucrative executive director position she couldn’t turn down. The thing is, my mom grew up believing, or perhaps from her experiences learned, that true enjoyment in life and love of oneself is derived from what you do as a professional woman.  It wasn’t that being a mom wasn’t important to her, it just wasn’t where she derived her self worth from.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t believe your self worth should come from just a job, or even from being just a mom.  I believe a person’s self-worth comes from just being. Surviving this world and all the good and bad experiences that occur.  I believe that a person’s self worth doesn’t come from someone patting you on the back and telling you that you did a great job on such and such project. Self worth should come from inside, and that the good deeds we do as human beings should be of utmost importance. That we treat others in life with kindness and humility, and we don’t judge others for their choices or decisions because we do not live in their shoes, nor have the background to base such choices on. That a higher power, be it God, Allah, Buddah, whomever, has called us to be better people and accepting of differences in each other because we were all created to be unique individuals.

For me, learning to love myself and be content with who I am today, has been an extremely difficult thing to do. Being a professional working mom was supposed to be what I strove for. You have probably read other posts where I have beaten the proverbial horse dead on this matter, but it is still something I am working on daily. Something I am faced with every time I get an email about a job (which I get about 20 emails a day regarding this) or information on disability related issues.  I have this part of me that so desperately WANTS to be out there doing more for the disability community. Volunteering, participating in legislative issues, working within the community of others with disabilities. But this all requires me to leave home and Sunshine is not permitted to join me.  If she were, this wouldn’t be an issue and I would probably be neck deep in volunteering with Sunshine strapped to my back.

So, here I am. Struggling with wanting to participate in the Governor’s Commission again, but also wanting so desperately to be a good mother. A lot of moms would have made a decision already. I actually have made a decision, by not making a decision. It has to be perfect. The job or volunteer opportunity has to be a sign from God that this is the right move to make.  I have been praying and praying and until that sign appears, I am content with being at home with Sunshine. Technically, we are rarely at home and my husband has been complaining lately that we use more gas than he does.  We have been going out a lot lately, but it is more for my sanity that anything else.  Staying active and involved is a huge part of why I believe I am doing as well as I am without medications.

I know this post is rather random, like much of what I write. But I wanted to remind myself, by writing it down, that learning to love myself is a neverending quest…. that I first need to like myself at bit more and that by striving to be a better person, to myself, to my husband and daughter, to others who I do not know and just meet on the street, a store, or a park…. that being a better person is first and foremost what will help me get closer to that goal of loving who I am.

Toddlerhood and StayListening

Visit Kindred Community for More on this topic!

Visit Kindred Community for More on this topic!

Hello to my fellow readers! I am so sorry that I have been off the deep end lately.  But alas, my little girl started walking at 11 months of age, turned one year old just a few weeks back and well, there has been no looking back let alone time sitting down to write such posts.

Today, however, I felt I needed to write about something I have been struggling with.  What, you may ask, could you possibly struggle with a one year old?  Don’t get me wrong, she is a bundle of giggles, smiles, and laughter. My little Sunshine is full of spunk, passion, and is what some may call a “fire cracker.” With this, however, comes a lot of miscommunication or her frustration in her inability to communicate what is bothering her.  What, you may also ask, can a one year old possibly have to say that is frustrating, angering, scaring, or pissing her off? Oh, my dear readers…. PLENTY.

The past few days Sunshine has been rather difficult. Sunshine has been seen stomping around, throwing mini-tantrums, wanting to be held, but then once in my arms, pushing struggling to get out of them. When she is placed down on the ground she screams bloody murder at the top of her lungs. You would think I was battering my kid or something by the sound that comes out of her mouth. This, however, is not the case. She has all of these emotions and they are coming from somewhere, and stupid me… totally forgetting that she has the same emotions that I do, I am just able to better express and verbally identify what those emotions are and then do something about it.

My good friend Alana, has helped me see that this behavior is what we call “hitting our head against a brick wall.”  The brick wall effect is one way to see it, but I also see it as shaking an unopened soda pop.  Here, Sunshine has all these pent up feelings and emotions, all those feelings getting pent up become a little scary and she doesn’t know how to vent them, give them names, and feel comfortable with them. Then, all of a sudden- “BOOM” she lets it loose. Sometimes, she vents a little at a time, others she just saves it up, give that can a huge shake and lets it go.

Now, as I grew up, my family really wasn’t comfortable with anger and frustrations. We were taught that if we were mad or upset, that it was not okay to have those feelings. We could only be happy or pleasant. So this avenue, of letting Sunshine vent her feelings is new for me and slightly unsettling. Instead of telling her what a lot of mainstream parenting practices call for (“stop crying,” “don’t be a cry baby,” “I won’t give you what you want until you stop crying.”). This doesn’t sit well with me at all. It is also difficult to let her have a tantrum. Even more difficult if it is in public.

I want my kids to know that it is okay to have those feelings and to get them out. She doesn’t understand more positive ways to express those emotions yet, but she still needs to be heard and feel validated. So what do you do, if your child is having a difficult time and really wanting to be held by you? Butdoesn’t want to be held? Seems like they do not know what they want?  The solution I have tried lately, and has shown to work, is “Stay Listening,” or in my terms “SitListening.”

Photo Credit goes to: depositphotos.com

Photo Credit goes to: depositphotos.com

Here are your general directions:

1) Get down on the ground with your kid. Not 2 feet up on a futon, or chair looking down at them…. Get your butt down on the ground with your kid,  face to face with them on the ground.

2) Turn off all tv’s, radios, and put down the damn phone. Any and all distractions need to be dismissed. Your kid knows when you are not giving them your full attention.

3) This is the most important: Listen to them. Let them know you love them. Tell them you are sorry that they are frustrated, scared, angry and that you will be there for them. That it is okay to cry and get it out. Validate their feelings.

4) If they want to hit, bite, and be physical, remind yourself over and over that it is not personal. You can set them aside, and let them know that biting hurts, but don’t turn from them. They need to know you are still there, listening, and that you love them. All kids have a shut down mechanism, just like grown ups, that when things get too much, too scary that they can’t comprehend, that their flight or fight system comes into play. They are trying to butt their heads against that brick wall so they can get all that aggression out and communicate what is scaring them. If they are too young to figure out what that is… you get the biting and hitting. Ever seen a kid in a play group go up to another kid and bite them, or hit them? Tends to be the kid is overwhelmed, can’t express what they are feeling so they shut down and do what comes naturally. They bite and run. They hit and walk off.

If you can’t help your child get those emotions out with laughter and giggling, which helps get that repressed energy out somehow, then try some type of physical activity. If they have hit that brick wall and are lying down on the ground, throwing themselves backwards, perhaps try some hugging. What I do, is give Sunshine a big hug, hold her arms down and keep her

Picture by: colourbox.com

safe. She will push and push, but she just needs that resistance to get that energy out. If you put them down, they may cry even more, like she does. She doesn’t want me to let go. She wants to be close, but to have that resistance. If your kid wants to let go or get out of the hug, let them, but remind them you are there. Hold their hands and keep telling them you love them no matter what and will be there after all the fear and feelings are gone. Now, don’t get me wrong. Hitting and biting are NOT okay. But if you can separate yourself for the time being, and know that it is not the behavior of biting or hitting that is the issue, but a symptom of what is really going on. You can deal with the issue first, and later teach that hitting and biting people are not positive ways to show those feelings. Perhaps hitting a pillow is a better alternative for now, as they are kids and may need to physically get that emotion out.

5) Give it time. The rant could last for 5, 15, or 45 minutes. It depends on your kid whether they like to let it out all at once, or a little at a time.

To give you an example:  Sunshine has been pretty upset the past few days. I just couldn’t chalk it all up to teething, or bad sleep, or getting over the colds and flu she had the past week. There are moments where she obviously feels great and happy. I realized she has been pretty upset every time I stepped two feet away from her, or was out of her sight. This has been since I left her at the nursery on Sunday during church. I went by myself and knew I couldn’t do it without hubby, who was sick at home. Since then, any time she can’t see me she gets upset. Being I am a stay at home mom, she is with me most of the time so this is understandable. She is also at that anxiety stage.

So when she started the tantrums this morning, I practiced what my friend offered  which is the “Stay listening.” So, I sat. For about 10 minutes she went on and on. I reassured her and stayed with her on the floor, at her level. She figured that I was listening, said her peace, and was done for the time being. She went back to her happy self. If I hadn’t done this, it could have gone on all day and I was SOOO not up to the task of that.  I also knew, that if I was right about the situation (of my leaving her) that if I went to the YMCA to go swimming today and she was left in the nursery there, that she would give me the same reaction again.

Sunshine not so sunny….

Upon picking her up, she seemed fine, was happy and we went home. I could tell she had been crying while I had been swimming though. I am so glad that I took care of myself and went swimming because I had the energy and peace of mind to be totally “present” for her later if she became upset. We returned home and commenced with our regular routine. At one point she helped me start a wash and we went into the other room to play with (fold) clothes. I heard the washer was unbalanced so I got up to straighten it out and start it up again. Not more than 45 seconds was I out of her sight.

This started a good 40 minute rant in which she expressed to me in all the Sunshine words she could muster how upset she was. I sat down with her and realized she has a lot of pent-up feelings to work through as I have had her watched by several people in the past few weeks. I have to admit, when she stopped crying, looked up at me, smiled and then made the sign she wanted to nurse, we just laid down and were peaceful for another good 20 minutes.

Can I tell you what a weight that took off my shoulders?!! She felt listened to! (Something I really lacked when I was growing up so I tend to overcompensate by talking as grown up instead of doing more listening). I feel so much better having let her have her moment and telling me in her words what she was feeling. All those feelings, of being left, abandoned are scary as an adult. Think of what that feels like as a kid who doesn’t have the ability to express that yet??! (total headsmack!)

So, while I share this with you, my little girl is playing catch with her daddy. Mainly rolling and bouncing the ball back and forth. She has a thing for bouncy balls…. I believe that will be her next word.

Hopefully, this helps some of you. Or perhaps sheds some light on what may or may not be occurring with your little one. All, in all…. it was a learning day for me and the learning curve was a big one!  (Thanks, Alana!)

For other articles on this topic and others visit:

Aha Parenting: Hand in Hand Parenting

Kindred Community: Understanding Children’s Feelings

My hugs to all and Don’t Forget to Giggle!!!

How we know she is our kid…

This was written a month or so ago, and I never got a chance to post it.

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In just a few days Sunshine will be 1!!!

The verdict is still out on who she looks more like; me or my husband.  Depends who you ask really. We recently compared baby pictures of each of us at our 1st birthdays. It is pretty funny. Her daddy had a long face and really white light blond straight hair. He has these deep blue eyes and funny grin. We both had 4 teeth at our first birthdays. I have blue/gray/green eyes depending on what I wear, but they have a dark blue ring around the iris. My hair at that age was a strawberry blond, curly,  and I had lots of it.

In our opinion, and since we are her parents our opinions count the most, Sunshine has her dads straight hair and dark blue eyes. She has my hair color and a fair amount more hair than her dad had, but not as much as I had. She has my dark ring around her iris…and my round face. In fact I found a pic of me where i thought it was her until i noticed the curls.
When it comes to the rest of our brilliant kid… She has my brothers nose and my long torso and short legs. Sigh… I hope she grows into those legs. Would hate for her to be vertically challenged like me. She sticks her tongue out, like I do, when concentrating and she scrunches up her nose when getting into mischief and she graces you with a smile. She hums when I sing, and LOVES to play her daddy’s guitar with him. She said “dah dah” first and the most clearly. She looks for him during the day and stills asks “dah dah?” with a question while at work. She started walking at 11months, or at least taking her first steps. The full on run/walk didn’t happen until 2 weeks later.
She can become so focused, like her dad, when doing a task. She tunes everything out just like he does. You can’t distract her from her object of focus. She is a little fire cracker and has opinions on lots of things. This is not so much her cool, calm dad, but my “spitefireness”  (yes, I know that’s not a word). She had 6 teeth at her first birthday, and two more have been working their way in.

She is this perfect amalgam of both of us. That is why we want another. Hopefully a boy. Whatever we have, we will be so excited to see what qualities of us come together to form that little being too! For now… We will enjoy the gift of Sunshine and bask in her rays of learning and cuddling.

Not myself

I am sitting in a car with some of my fellow choristers. We are the chorus for the broadway show of Titanic. Super cool actually.

What is not so cool is how insecure I feel. I do not have a lot in common with the people in the car. They are all school music teachers… I used to teach but it was special education… All those students these guys are complaining about having in their classes.
As they talk and discuss about their experiences, their opinions… I try to think of something to share, some medium of conversation I can contribute. The young guy with us, however, gives me an odd look every time I do interject something.Like I am weird or he’s annoyed with me. Perhaps I might have interupted, perhaps I just missed the point of the conversation… Who knows?
The more odd looks I get the more I get insecure… Thinking, “Am I so weird?” Do people really think I am odd? I used to think I had my shit together. I stopped taking my medications to be able to.nurse my daughter. I am lucky to be able to do this for my little girl. But now, with her nearing a year it may be time to go back on my meds. Sigh. I don’t feel myself. I don’t feel in control. I feel shaky and unstable. Exhausted and insecure. Perhaps its just today. Perhaps I should at least take my antianxiety meds before attempting this again tomorrow night? Lots to think about when all I want to do is sleep.

At rehearsal...

At rehearsal...

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Alas, I am still in the car with the others. Wish me luck.

Manic Monday: Hypomania

While contrary to popular belief, I have not fallen off the edge of the earth. In fact, I believe I may have temporarily left said planet for crazier times… cause who can’t get enough crazy in her life already?  This girl, right here.

I have been slightly hypomanic.  That is to say mania type symptoms but definitely not manic (as in I am not thinking I am Mother Theresa or that I am on some quest sent from God to pure the world of all evil.  Wouldn’t that be cool though?! I would have to say I would start off with getting rid of most of our government that refuse to get along and thus never gets anything accomplished,  as well as the self-righteous idiots running for president.  Dude!  Get out of the dark ages people!  We are a diverse country with lots of likes/dislikes and beliefs! We are entitled to those beliefs and no! Those beliefs do not have to coincide with yours and you have no say over what we, as women, do with our bodies!)

Okay, off my random rant now.  So, on to my lack of posting. My sincere apologies.  Here is the scoop. When I am hypomanic, I tend to try to do everything. And everything has to be done, RIGHT NOW.  Kinda makes my anxiety go even more through the roof.  Thing is, I can’t seem to complete half of what I try, or it takes a whole week of writing down my goals and continuing to go back to said list to figure out what it was I should have been doing, but was misdirected from.  I have been trying to prepare for a JBF (Just Between Friends) sale in which I am selling some of the clothes Sunshine has grown out of, so as to make room for what she will need in the new future. (One being a kid potty, and no, I do not store the potty with the clothes she will be growing into).  I have been trying to get the ever-loving mountain of laundry that accumulates everyday, done. However, it seems the biggest hurdle is folding said mountain and placing the boulders of clothes back in the damn drawers they came from. Not only am I thwarted by my 11 month old who unfolds everything I fold, but my husband and I can’t seem to get to putting the stuff away. Thus, the piles of clothes in our bedroom. Sigh.

What have I learned from this?  Yes, its important to try to maintain some semblance of cleanliness in our house, but it’s not the priority right now.  Keeping my daughter from climbing the book-case, stuffing power cords in her mouth, and playing with the outlet covers IS.  So, while I don’t have the time to write so much right now, nor the time to do much around the house other than chase after my kid…. know that I very much wish to post and will do my best to write when I can. It may not be much, but it will be something… and that is the best I can do for now.  I am satisfied with that for now.

So, all my best, dear readers…. and watch for that next post! You never know when it will be coming, and neither will I!  hehe….

Don’t forget to giggle.

Grumpy Day turned peaceful…

What do you do when you wake up feeling like crap and have a 10 month old waiting for you to get on with the day?

Today I woke up and just felt awful. Physically. Mentally. And guess what? My daughter woke up in the same state. I didn’t think we slept poorly last night, but obviously someone didn’t send that memo to my body.

So, with the urgings of Sunshine, I dragged my ass out of bed. The rest of the morning continued on in a grumpy fashion. I was totally out of it with little energy… often on the verge of tears, and I could not decipher why Sunshine didn’t want to eat breakfast, wanted to be held, then would squirm to get out of my arms…. then promptly get mad because I set her down. Sigh. Within fifteen minutes after waking she started showing signs that she was ready for a nap. Yet, that nap would not happen at home. Even wrapped up in a sling and carried around she refused to nap. Oh, Lord. Help me! I thought.

So, while refusing to nap, but so obviously needing it, I decided on the only proper recourse I had. I needed to get said grumpy kid in the car to go somewhere. Didn’t matter where, just somewhere. She tends to be content in the car. I decided, with the news that there were new clouded leopard cubs at the zoo, that we should venture out there and thus walk around and get some fresh air. With a destination in place… Sunshine was asleep before we left our driveway.

Once at the zoo, she was still asleep, so I sat and read a book until she woke up. After we went for a walk and visited the animals and had a fun time. She slept on the way home as well. Now, she is in a right happy state…. while I am still dragging my ass. Well, at least one of us is content. If only I could sleep walk or perhaps watch Sleeping Beauty and live vicariously thru those efforts?

Even though we had a tough start, we are peaceful right now. I will take that peace and roll with it. We have Pride and Prejudice (BBC version) going on in the back ground while I race (crawl) around on the floor and Sunshine chasing me. I will hold on to this moment… relish it. Enjoy it. And pray for some better sleep when I get home from choir tonight! Until then, I will find ways to giggle!

Two Steps Forward

This occurred several weeks, perhaps a month ago, but I found this and felt that I should at least post it.. since I went thru the effort at o’dark thirty in the morning to write it.

My daughter for the first time, rolled over and hugged her tigger last night. May not seem like a big deal, but it is to me.

You see, she slept better the first three months of her life than she does now. She is a sensitive little girl who in her sleep seeks out mommy to cuddle her and reassure her throughout the night. Often this involves nursing too. This rolling around and seeking mommy occurs perhaps 6-10 times a night. She is not totally awake, mind you. But I am. She has taken to sleep talking, sleep eating, and sleep crawling so that we have to push a pillow up at the top of the bed so she doesn’t bang her head in the wall. Cosleeping has been a challenge, but the hubby and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What happened tonight though, means progress. She rolled over, like she usually does, and thwacked me in the face and threw her leg onto my stomach. I was awake at that point. She made her fussy noise like she was to wake up again. I put my finger in her palm so she could hold on to it like usual and is assured I am still there. Well, this time she pushed my hand away and rolled over and cuddled with her tigger.

I was shocked really. Then a little sad. This, of course, ended, when she rolled over with tigger, thwacked me in the face with her other arm and then planted her leg back on my tummy. Yep, mom was still there. She was satisfied and rolled back over and cuddled with her tigger.

She needs me, but is taking her first steps, er…. movements?, toward feeling okay without moms help. Moments like these that I feel good about how I am raising her, and that even though we are tired we are doing right by listening to her needs and not thrusting our wants and desires for her to conform to what we need (or what society thinks we should be doing, i.e. Cosleeping vs. NOT). So, this is a little step but I am excited where this little girl is headed. What will she do next? This is an exciting adventure, even at three o’clock in the morning.