There and back again….

Yeah, yeah. I am not a hobbit, nor I am elfin or dwarf…. but there are days I wish I were.

It has been some time since I wrote last, or had much to say for that matter. I am now, not only a mother to a precocious 3 year old but also to an almost 1 year old little boy who is equally just as active. There are days I wish I didn’t have to get out of bed. There are days where I would just like to do nothing. I am a mother…. so this never happens. Even on mother’s day.

My son really has a hard time letting me do much…. he wants to be held a lot. And if he is not held he screams. I can not stand the scream crying. It is too much for me. So, I am holding Smiley. A lot. Thus cooking is difficult and so is getting around to typing on my blog much. But, here I am. Trying to write while he is asleep on my lap.

I still struggle with depression and anxiety, but I have managed to do okay in most areas of my life. Patience, at times, is not one of those areas. There are days where I wish I could be a better, and more patient mother to my daughter. She is so much like me in so many ways that it is scary. I want so much more for my kids then to have to struggle with anxiety. My anxiety and lack of patience is higher with lack of sleep. I want to continue to use attachment parenting, but there are many areas in which I have just had to stop, or change tactics when trying to parent my highly passionate daughter. Have I mentioned that my daughter is a MASTER negotiator? She is even using the phrases “lets make a deal” or “lets compomize mama.” She wants something and she wants it 10 seconds ago, but she will use her impressive vocabulary to say why she wants something and try to negotiate how to get it.

You know that t-shirt that says ” I am a co-sleeping, breast feeding, cloth diapering, baby wearing, blah blah blah, attached mama”? I am still officially a breast feeding mama. My daughter quit 2 days before my son was born. I was all prepared to tandem nurse, but even after Smiley was born, Sunshine tried some pumped milk and just didn’t want it. I am still nursing my son and he just chows down a lot at night. Yes, we are still a co-sleeping family. My daughter finally moved into her own room, but she struggles with nightmares and anxiety. We would have her stay in our room but she actually sleeps worse when she is in there. Smiley still resides with us though. He is the better sleeper between the two. Otherwise, Sunshine sleeps from 7 p.m. to 7- 8 a.m.  I am still a “sometimes” baby wearing mother. Smiley prefers to be held, but he is outgrowing the ergo just a bit. Now, cloth diapering I save for swimming diapers. Regular cloth diapers just became too much. I am finding I need to really clean house. Get rid of a lot of clothes and items…. perhaps with kid #3 or #4 I will have time to launder such items… but babies make a lot of poop. And my kids especially. So, cloth diapers are out for now. I feel terrible about the earth and the ecosystem… but I can only do so much with the limited brain power and high stress levels I already struggle with.

I guess I am starting over. It is quite a journey; motherhood. I may not always be patient, but I am being more patient with myself. I am not perfect, but I love my family perfectly. So, I guess I will share what I know, what I don’t know, and what I am still learning; As a mother, as a woman, as a human being.

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And another new beginning….

I apologize for being on hiatus for so long…. I found that I just needed to focus on my daughter and on myself. Now that I am writing again, (I still plan to focus on my daughter as she gets into EVERYTHING), but writing is for me.

I don’t care much what my blog looks like, as long as its accessible. I want anyone who needs to, be able to navigate without issues around the site.  So, thus I changed it around again. Plus, I like change. I don’t like things to become static because then I also become static. For some reason when there is not change, I begin to lose some of my creative edge and thought processes. Its like the longer you sit on the couch in one spot, the harder it is to get up cause you have permanently indented the cushion. No. That is not me. I like to move, I like to read new things, and be doing a new project. So, while I am mommy and still incredibly love to spend time with my daughter, I am also a person who loves to be needed and to use my knowledge and education that I have worked so hard to earn.

With that, I am putting ideas and thought into motion. I am now applying for some part-time positions. (I could not do full-time as that would totally take away from the fun I have with Sunshine and I so love to see her grow). I also acknowledge that when working full-time I become ill. My anxiety worsens and then proceeds to make my other mental illness just as worse. I find working part-time is wonderful and I get the best of both worlds and remain healthier, emotionally and mentally. There are not, however, that many part-time positions in my field right now. Just full-time. I fully acknowledge that a full-time job is NOT worth it to me. I don’t even need the bene’s. I would just like the opportunity to NOT have to pay back my RSA scholarship that paid for my Masters and stipulates that as long as I work for a nonprofit or government agency for the next 5 years, I won’t have to pay for my Masters.

So, as I said, there are not many part-time positions out there for me at this time. What am I doing in the mean while?  I am starting a foundation. Just getting my feet started on the steps of at least starting the support groups.  What I plan to do is form a Resource and Peer Support program for Mothers that have Mental Illness. I am not excluding those who have Postpartum depression, but I am focusing on the women who had diagnosis prior to pregnancy and there mental illness is not related to said pregnancy after.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some mental health issues that come along with just having a kid that some people do fall into…. this can be directly correlated to lack of sleep, inappropriate diet or lack thereof of healthy food, and no real self-care. This is an area that I, myself, am trying to alleviate.  (Will post more on that later).  The real issues are that many women who have a significant mental illness (like Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective disorder, Dissociative disorders) become pregnant and don’t have the resources to really be the best mom that we can be. That is what we all ultimately want, right??!! To be the best parent we can be. Our mental wellness, or lack thereof can get in the way of this. On top of this, because we have children, the previous resources or avenues to seek peer support or help are closed to us because children are not welcome at such places.  Thus, the need for a place that women can go with their kids to receive assistance and peer support.

So while I am not working, I am working on something. It can be difficult for me to get my head wrapped about this, and I do have my daughter going with me in everything I do. That is the point…. She is my reason for being a better mom, and for trying to support and help other moms in this same quest.

For now, I must sign off, as my kid is currently pulling out all the dog bones out of the drawer again, and I need to protect her from the dog.  But let me know what you guys think and which direction I should move on this now (Aside from developing a pamphlet, contacting a local church to set up a first meeting, and contacting all the mental health agencies and hospitals in the area to let them know we will be up and running soon….)

Blessings to all and don’t forget to giggle!!

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!!!