Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is it sinking in?

As a parent, of not so little kids, I wonder if my advice, words of wisdom, whatever you want to call it, sinks in... Or if it's just "God, Mom... Shut up". Every morning, when the kids are getting out of the car, I say the usual "I love you, have a great day" and I always throw in something like "Make good choices", "Give someone a compliment", "Smile"... You get the point.

There's one piece of advice I've been giving my son since he was 6.

STORY TIME!

I was driving, and all of the sudden, my son starts uncontrollably crying in the backseat. I ask what's wrong, and he practically shouts, "What's the point in living if we're all just gonna DIE?!?!" Mind you, this was completely out of nowhere. After a failed attempt to comfort him, I pull over and climb in the backseat with him. Apparently, he had met this new friend that was very active in their church community. This little boy told him all about heaven and hell and how one day, everyone just dies...

It was very traumatic for Conner... obviously. So, as I'm sitting there, on the side of the road, holding my child as he cries into my chest, I'm searching for words. For comfort... for anything!! This shit is too deep for a 6 year old. We're not religious, in the least, so I come up with the best I can. "As long as you're not hurting yourself, As long as you're not hurting other people, and as long as you try to be a good person, you have nothing to worry about."

Don't judge me, he was 6.

As he's gotten older, I've come to realize, this is actually EXCELLENT advice. It's become something that I try to live by. There may be flaws in it, but if you take it from it's simplest form, and dig a little deeper, it makes sense.
The first part, "As long as you're not hurting yourself", Is kind of hard for some people to swallow. Whether dealing with self harm, or just reckless behavior, when you hurt yourself, it hurts SO many other people. People that care about you, Family, friends, and the like.
"As long as you're not hurting other people", this one is kind of a given. Simply, don't be a dick.
"As long as you try to be a good person", In this world, it's refreshing to see people going out of their way to do things for other people, when it should be the norm. Doing small things like giving someone a compliment, helping someone that looks distressed, paying for someone's coffee when they realize they left their card at home, etc makes a huge difference in someone's day! Has anyone randomly done that to you? It feels pretty freaking good, right?! Even tiny things can change someone's day completely around.

I'm sure that now my oh so wise words, made up in the back of a car 4 years ago in a moment of panic, hold no merit to my son now... but maybe one day, they will. I repeat these words to him on at least a weekly basis. He probably has no idea what they even stemmed from anymore, but in that moment, he found comfort in them. Maybe one day, sooner or later, these words will flood into his mind, and he'll make a choice based on it... but then again, maybe not.

I tell my kids these random things hoping one day, they stick. One day, they pay someone a compliment that may have been having an awful day until then. Maybe... just maybe, they can turn someone around.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

ADHD

So, this week has been a tough one, but a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

I've ALWAYS been against medication for kids. Always. Don't ask why, because I'm not entirely sure myself. I've always kind of known Conner was ADD or ADHD, and this year, his school performance was very very poor. He wouldn't finish things in class, he wouldn't finish homework, he couldn't concentrate. So I made a doctor appointment.

I had to fill out a questionnaire, as well as have his teachers do the same. Once that was all done, I shot it over to the doctor. At his appointment, she walked in and said "based on this alone, He has ADD/ADHD." It sounds awful, but I sighed in relief. Everything I knew, for years, was confirmed. She commended me on trying a bunch of different things to help him before I turned to medication. Which also felt really good. (It's always nice to get a "way to go, Mom!" from time to time). It felt good especially after the constant ridicule of my ex telling me I was taking the "easy way out".

So there I had it. The prescription. Adderall, 5mg, once a day. I got it filled immediately, and Conner was able to take it the very next morning (which was yesterday). Let me tell you, he had the BEST day he's had all year. He has a behavior chart in his classrooms where he has 10 outbursts per day. On a normal day, he'd have between 13-20. Yesterday, he had 1. A single outburst. One.... Going from 13-20 to ONE is HUGE!!! I was so excited to hear that!

Then we get home, and Conner says "Mom!! I am SO GOOD at division!!!" He's a super smart kid, he's in the GT program, and for the first time ever he was excited about being good at something academic! THIS was huge. Then he did the dishes, and sat for a solid 30 minutes, in silence, doing his homework.

If this all didn't happen on the first day of taking this medicine, I don't know how I would have felt. I am elated that this took effect immediately. My kid seems happier already, I know his teachers are happier, and it's a huge weight off my shoulders knowing that this is going to help him.

We are just beginning this "journey" and I'm so excited that it started off on the right foot.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Life life life life life...

I don't even know what to call this blog. Pointless rambling I guess.

This is the second, maybe third week my husband has been doing his new job. He's a chef, an amazing chef, and he was hired to be a personal chef at a hunting ranch. He's gone most of the week. I don't get how military wives do this. I just... don't. Especially with kids!

Our weeks are constant go go go, and then the weekends are "Holy shit my house exploded, I should probably do something about it." I work full time, kids go to school. I get up as early as I can muster to fight 3 kids into getting dressed, eating breakfast, and MAYBE brushing teeth and hair. (Don't judge me). Then it takes them 10 minutes to make sure they put everything in their bags, and then another 15 minutes to get into the car. We HAVE to leave our house by 7:05 for me to be able to drop all of them off at school (2 different schools) and get to work, semi on time.

I work all day, when I really could be more productive at home, and when I get off, I just want to go home, and just.... be. But no. I have to drive all over town (literally) to pick up the kiddos from 2 different places. By the time I scoop them up, we're home at least an hour after I've been off work. I still have to cook dinner. I still have to help get homework finished. I still have to TRY to get all three children in the bath and read with them before 8. It's a lot to shove into a couple hours. God forbid their karate uniforms get ruined and need to be washed, or one of the animals has an accident, or something ELSE goes wrong.

Our schedules should be streamlined, but they're anything but. It's crazy, it's loud, it's busy, and I'm tired. It's honestly like being a single mom. Luckily, when my husband is home, I don't have to cook. I don't have to do much of anything. But then, after those 2, blissful days are done, chaos ensues.

On my weekends, I really just want to lay around the house and never get dressed... but honestly, how fun is that for the kids? So... I have to force myself out of bed to drag 3 kids around town. One of them, who is autistic, I have to be EXTRA careful with. Yes, my 5 year old rides in the seat of the shopping cart. Bite me.

If I want to hang out with friends, I feel like they expect me to come to them, which is fine, but I literally have zero energy to deal with trying to catch up with you, and trying to wrangle my children. I'm tired. And every week, it's the same thing. There are so many things I WANT to do, but I literally can not muster the mental ability to do them. I can not reconnect with friends, so they're all slowly fading away. Sometimes, I just want to bitch. I want to cry. I want to drink. And I want to curl up in a ball, and just be...

But it's not my life.

There is no "message" in this. I usually try to do something... but can't today. My brain is in overdrive.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Any form of abuse is not okay.

Let me tell you my story.
I was 15 when I met my ex husband. We had a child when I was 17 (pregnant at 16) We were SOOOOOO in love (insert eyeroll and wishing I could go back in time and slap myself) When my son was about 4 months old, I had postpartum, and xh was zero help. I was also still in High School. Trying to do my best so I could graduate. (I was NOT the "type" of girl that got pregnant in high school) I was exhausted, My son never slept at this point.
He was crying, I was standing, rocking him in my arms, trying to calm him. Ex Husband came STORMING into the room, screaming at me. I lowered our son from my chest to my stomach, and as soon as I did that, he slapped me across the face.
I immediately called my mother. By the time my mom got dressed and came to my house, he had convinced me he was so sorry, it was such a mistake, he's just very tired, it'll never happen again... and I stayed.
I finished high school without incident. During that summer (Conner turned 1) we fought, so much. He'd get in my face and scream at me, spitting all over my face. He'd push me, lunge at me, hit the wall beside my head, etc. But he never actually hit me. During one of these fights, he shoved me down, and I hit my face on the door. Soon after, the purple started showing on my eye.

 He denied he did it. Denied he even pushed me. MADE ME QUESTION if it had really happened.
He came home from work the next day, and I was putting on make up on the other eye, to make the black eye look like eye shadow. He started yelling at me, saying I accused him of giving me a black eye and all it was was makeup. I was the crazy one, and I made this all up...
Fast forward a few years, many fights later. Many bumps, bruises, and me questioning how clumsy I actually was. By this time we had another child. She was 1, and my son was 4.
I was 21, and I felt so worthless. He was the only man that would ever love such a broken woman. I had a nice body, but I had stretch marks. No one would ever want to see me naked, but him. I had zero self esteem.
We moved to Oregon for his job. This was literally a month after I found out he had been cheating on me, for almost our entire relationship. I blindly loved him, and believed he loved me. He was the ONLY person who could love me.
One drunken night, we got into a really bad fight. One thing led to another and he was physically on top of me, strangling me. I thought I was going to die, so I started punching the back of his head (up until this point, I had NEVER hit him). He then sat up, reared back, and decked me across the face. He chipped my tooth, and I was devastated.
I quickly got up and left the house. I called the police and they met me to get a statement, and took him to jail. Instead of anger management, we had to go to court ordered marriage counseling.
During these sessions, I learned a lot about myself, relationships, and what is okay and not okay behavior, on both parts. I WANTED us to work. I wanted our family to be whole. And I was going to try.
A few weeks later, his mother came to visit us. During her whole stay, it was like I didn't exist, to both of them. So, on her last night there, I thought I'd open the communication with him, and tell him how I felt. He waved his hand in dismissal of me and my feelings, and I had fucking had it!
So, the next day, I packed my stuff, my kids' stuff, withdrew half of the money from our account, and I left. I drove across the country back to Texas.
I'd be lying if I said I never thought about going back. Taking that first initial step to leave was so hard, and it was SO freeing. I'm sure I cried for half the drive back home. But I stayed strong. I stayed strong for me, I stayed strong for my kids. I was completely destroyed. A shell of a fun, life loving person. A broken, beaten, destroyed shell.
That was 6 years ago. Yes, I still have to see him because of our children. No I do not feel he is a threat to them, yet. I picked up my pieces, found confidence, and moved on with my life.
I am now in a very happy marriage with someone who loves me like there's no tomorrow. He doesn't call me names, he doesn't intimidate me, he doesn't threaten me, and he doesn't hit me.
NO ONE deserves to be in an abusive relationship. "It's not abuse because he doesn't hit me" is NOT okay. There are many forms of abuse. There is physical, there is emotional, there is verbal, the list goes on. You are worth more than that. You have done nothing to have that done to you. You don't deserve to be called names. Your feelings are valid, and you CAN get out. It's not easy, it's not fun, it's fucking hard... but it's worth it. It's worth it for you, it's worth it for your children, or future children, and it's worth it to your future self.
Please don't think this is normal, and it's okay. It's neither of those things. You are a strong, beautiful person. You can do anything you set your mind to.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Your problems don't matter, anymore.

Last night, my daughter (7) was being really emotional. Super happy to downright distraught. She cried for about 5 minutes because her backpack was stuck in the backseat and she "had to pull it really hard!" And then, when she got out of the shower, her brother accidentally smacked her in the back of the head (I watched the whole thing, it really was an accident) and she was just so upset about the whole ordeal.

I hugged her, then, a sort of light bulb went off. "Is everything ok at school?" I asked her... Her big brown eyes looked up at me, and she sadly shook her head. I coaxed her a bit more, and this overflow of information about this girl that was so mean to her "for no reason". I could hear her holding the tears back through her words, and it was heart breaking.

We talked about this girl, things she was doing, things Rylee could do in the future to make things better. How to avoid this girl. Maybe not hang out with her friend that day because she was hanging out with the mean one. Etc. All the while my seven year old, 52 pound, baby was curled in my arms. She needed me. She was having issues, and she needed to talk it out.

While this moment was nice, it was also very humbling. What moments have I missed out on, talks have I not been able to have, and cues have I missed because I was wrapped up in my own adult problems? I think parents often forget, kids are kids. They're little, with young, ever-growing minds. They don't care if a bill didn't get paid, or if you're almost out of gas, or if you had a bad day at work. None of that matters to them, and it shouldn't matter to adults, more than their kids' problems.

Kids are only kids once, They're only little once. These problems, how ever trivial they may seem, are BIG deals! My daughter was just plain upset yesterday, and it was all because of this girl. All because she was having issues on the playground. She doesn't care how much money I have, if I have gas in my car, or if I have an impossible deadline.

From now on, I am vowing to be more present. Maybe I can set aside my problems when I'm around those little humans, so that I can be aware of their problems. So they can talk to me about the "big" stuff, without going unnoticed.

 We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. 


Friday, August 15, 2014

"Why even have kids?!"

I was asked this by new parents the other day, and it didn't take long to come up with an answer.

Their baby is just shy of 2 months old, and they're having a hard time. Babies are hard. Kids in general are hard. Are they worth it? Some days. There are more days of frustration, anger, and just down right tears. I can't tell you how many times my 10 year old has said something that has completely crushed my heart and made me question whether or not parenting was what I should be doing with myself.

They say things, and do things, and don't realize the full impact of their words. There have been times that I've had to stop in the middle of a conversation with one of my children, and just walk away. Either to hide the tears, or to hide the emotion, be it anger, frustration, or just sadness. It's hard.

The thing is... it's worth it. Those terrible, frustrating times are made up for, I swear. Whether it be sleepless nights made up for with that first smile, or the heartbreak of an older child's words made up for by a hug and an "I love you, Mom!" When you give them presents for birthdays or whatever, and they're just kind of "meh" about it... it's made worth it by that ONE present you get that gets a jaw drop, welling eyes, "OH MY GOD THANK YOU" reaction.

It's not just those rewards, it's the reward of watching a person you created, in every literal sense, grow.

There was an instant the other day that completely made my day. My husband was putting his shoes on, and I was leaving to go to work. My littlest child, (5 yr old HF autistic) said "Bye mom! I love you!". This.was.HUGE! It made my heart swell that my little one, unsolicited, unprovoked, just told me he loved me. This was one of those moments that all was worth it.

Just yesterday was a huge "worth it" moment. My 2 older kids were trying out for a karate class. This class doesn't except all families, you have to go through a process and be approved to be in the program. Part of the "initiation" is breaking a board with a kick. My daughter, Rylee, who's going to be 7 on Tuesday (oy), got a board about 1/4 of an inch thick. She broke it with her kick on her first try. She was way excited about it! Conner was next up, and the instructor said "I almost think I should give you a thicker board..." I piped up with an enthusiastic "I think you should!"

He left and returned with a board about 1/2 an inch thick board. Conner got nervous. The instructor had a little pep talk about believing in yourself, and BAM! Conner broke the board. I was facing him, and I saw the look of shock and excitement rush over his face (it makes me smile to even think about). His eyes began to well up with tears. He was so happy for himself. It opened a whole new world of possibilities for him.

I will forever remember that moment. The moment when he learned a very important life lesson, always believe in yourself. Now, that might seem like something small and trivial to you, and that's fine. I'm sure you have moments that I'd think the same about. But as a mom? I was SUPER proud of my boy. He overcame his doubts about himself, snapped this thing in half like it was nothing, and was so proud of himself he almost cried.

THAT is what makes it all worth it. That is what makes the sleepless nights, spit up covered clothes, skinned knees, nightmares, hurtful words and everything in between 100% worth it. Stick to your guns, there is a silver lining. It's coming, and it'll make you feel things you've never felt before.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I had a moment

My husband will be the first to tell you that my son and I go toe to toe on a fairly regular basis. He's almost 10, and he's in a major turning point in his life where he can't decide if he wants to be babied, or if he wants freedom. With freedom comes responsibility and if I weren't there with my eighty-billion reminders, he'd probably go to school naked, with no so much as a backpack, because I didn't remind him.

This is the last week of school, and this transition has shown it's ugly head more than once this week. Everyone in the house is stressed, but mainly me. As one of the "special days" he gets to take board games, a blanket, and a stuffed animal to school. He gets all this together, and is ready to head out the door, when I notice his hair. Typical "I'm growing my hair out and it's in a really awkward stage" sticking up everywhere, hair. So I tell him to go do something with it, to which he snaps back "It's MY hair!"

At this point, I have to bite my tongue, and keep myself from getting in a knock-down drag out fight with my 10 year old on this Wednesday morning. I tell him to fix his hair, again, and walk away. This moment of defiance is the latter part of this transition. The wanting independence. Not 5 minutes later, we're getting in the car, and heading to school. He's trying to situate this stuffed animal in he seat belt, "because he might get hurt". THIS is the former part of above mentioned transition... Again, I have to pick my battles. Do I yet again explain to him that he is almost 10?! No. I say nothing.

This morning was yet another FINE example of this transition. He takes all the clothes (that I have folded) out of his dresser and places them in the laundry room, in a giant pile. Never mentions it to me, just acts like this is something normal to do. So the clothes get washed, but not dried. Because I'm lazy... and forgetful... but that's another blog post. We're getting ready this morning, and he casually mentions he has no clothes, and that he is to wear a grey shirt. At this point, I lose my cool.

You want to be this free, totally independent child, but you fail to tell me the things you need from me until the morning of. Wonderful. So this leads to that knock-down drag out I avoided yesterday. I am at my wits end. All day, stewing about this morning. Then someone asks me a question. A question they didn't know would pull at my eyes, trying to make them leak... "When your son gets married, what song will yall dance to?"

Odd question, seeing as how that's at least almost a decade away. But I think about it... My first instinct isn't some sappy country song about moms loving their sons, or sons loving their moms. It's about the memories we've made with certain songs. The first thing that came to my mind was "Kung Fu Fighting". We have had countless dance parties to this song that included our very own made up dance routine. Another was "I'm Yours" This has been my oldest's favorite song, since I can remember. We have dueted it on many occasion.

It brought back memories, some distant and some not so distant, of my boy dancing right along beside me, singing his heart out, and loving every moment. This memory was brought to me right when I needed it. It helps me realize that yes, my son drives me INSANE sometimes. But so do my other kids. I love him to pieces, and I have so many stored memories of little moments that mean nothing to anyone else but him and I. I can't be mad at him for being in a perfectly normal transitional stage in his life, and that one thing is so easy to forget. Those memories are so easy to take for granted.

Big or small... memories matter, and I learned today that memories have the ability to keep you sane.