I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past

I have had one hell of a week.  One hell of a few weeks actually …or a few months or years… depending on when you want to start counting.

Yesterday I drove past a church and the sign said, “I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past.”  I thought… wow, that is very true.   I internalized that for a moment and realized that I feel that I am stronger than I’ve ever been before, yet I feel so defeated.  It was an interesting thing to contemplate.

So why have things been increasingly hard this week?  I’ll tell you.  I used to work for a company that does senior care.  Wow!  What a rewarding job that is… seriously.  I got to “meet” some of the sweetest seniors and had some of the greatest conversations.  I had excellent coworkers and felt very rewarded in what I was doing.  However, there were things that also stuck out to me that weren’t quite right. I won’t go into those details here because they’re personal and they will be dealt with but just trust that though I found a wonderful industry, I needed a better company.

I decided to put out applications and was delighted to hear from a seemingly wonderful company that was voted top 100 places to work last year!  I was so excited to advance my career with this company and continue to work out my passion of helping seniors, the disabled, etc.  Of course, before I applied for these positions I checked with the HR at my company to make sure there was nothing preventing me from doing so… and they said I was good to go.  I wasn’t good to go.  In my paperwork was a non-compete.  I have no recollection of signing it and am certain I didn’t know the extent of what it meant but that’s neither here nor there.  Long story short, my previous position stopped me from stepping into my new role.  She smiled as she handed me the document.

I consulted a lawyer and she told me that in NC it would be a very difficult, costly process to fight them.  And for whatever reason, I didn’t have it in me to fight them.  I felt that even though I’d been so wronged by these people trying to make an example of me… that the universe would work it all out in some way.

I’ve heard things here and there about them and I feel that they’re reaping what they’ve sowed I guess.. but more importantly… I’ve seen such generosity from others.  I saw my psychiatrist this week and had a wonderful talk with her.  I told her that everything felt like shit… things were shit and I felt like shit and …those were my exact words really.  She let me get them all out and she reassured me.  I really got connected with my psychiatrist after the birth of my daughter and what a blessing that was.  She genuinely cares about my well-being and is there for me through every stage.  I’ve raved about her this week because when you find a business that is truly wonderful, run by people that are genuine and pure in their intentions… it should be celebrated.

My daughter’s daycare reached out to me as well and told me they were willing to half her tuition for the next several months until I could find a job. WOW!  This is a very wonderful school and I believe it has a waiting list! She did not have to offer something so generous… but she did.  She told me that we were a good family and my daughter was a great kid.  She wanted to help out as MUCH as she could.

I’ve also had so many friends reach out to me during this time. I mean, seriously guys… Phone calls, texts, lunches… I have been so blessed with the connections I’ve made and the people I’ve come to know and love.  When shit sucks… I have friends all over the world sending me those good vibes, praying for me and checking on me.  I love you guys!

With that being said, even with the love and support and the very-necessary-perfectly-timed-generous-gestures… there are hard times.  There are really difficult times.  I cried the other night until I couldn’t cry anymore and then I fell asleep.  I woke up at 3 am and cried some more.  My 22 month old rolled over (co-sleeping for the win!) and in the silence of the middle of the night I heard the SWEETEST sound.  She said, “mommy.”  I looked at her and said, “hey baby… i’m sorry, go to sleep.”  She said, “mommy sick?”  I said… “no baby, just sad.  Mommy is okay. ”  She then sat up and said, “Mommy, let me hold you.”  My little perfect girl.  She held me and I couldn’t help but cry harder.  My baby is such a caretaker with a gentle, sweet, caring spirit and she knew what her mama needed.  So blessed.

This morning, my son didn’t want to go to school.  He told me there would be a fire drill… that school was cancelled, etc.  I took him there and told him I would ask the teacher if there was going to be a fire drill and if there was going to be one I would stay with him for as long as I was able to.  I got to the school and was surprised there was no fire drill.   I told him this and he stood there panicking.  He started pacing, digging at his arms and tearing up.  I sat there and held him and talked with him.  He then told his teacher that “mommy needs to work here.”  My heart fell into my stomach.  I realized that my sweet, perceptive, beautiful little boy was worried about my situation.  He had been worried about it all week and was trying to fix it.  I’d thought I’d been careful about discussing anything in depth with him… and explained everything “kid friendly,” but he is such a sweet soul.  Our souls are so connected I know he feels when things aren’t quite right.  My heart broke into a billion pieces as I had to walk away and let his teacher help him cope/breathe/relax and adapt.  I knew it was the best thing but I sat there in the car crying and staring at the rain beating the windshield for 45 minutes… frozen.  I couldn’t leave… but I knew I probably shouldn’t stay and all I wanted to do was tell these people that they’d ruined everything… and now my kids?!

I called my husband over and over and over and tried to get him to talk me down but then I called my former employer.  I wanted to tell her what this was causing… that the loss in income was the LEAST of my worries at the moment… all I cared about was making my child feel secure.  I wanted to say that what’s “Business” to you… is someone’s life… but I’ve said it all before.  Some people don’t change.  Nothing I say or do will make them feel any remorse for what they’ve put us through… but regardless, it shouldn’t matter anyway.

I am trying to stay calm, focused, and pure.  My heart aches but I’ve utilized many resources.  I’ve called my parents, my friends, my husband, my psychiatrist, the crisis hotline, etc.  I’ve tried to find inspiration in little moments and encouragement in everyday things that maybe I wouldn’t have noticed before.  I do find that so much negative makes you really, really appreciate and see the positive.  It becomes quite clear and in focus.  It was always there and is always there but sometimes you have to go through some things to really see it.

I am blessed beyond measure.  I’ve always been taken care of and I always will be.  My children are pure, beautiful, caring, kind, amazing humans.  My husband and I are doing a FANTASTIC job of raising beautiful, loving people.  I can say that honestly and therefore I have everything.  I have a lot of work to do.  I have to start with what is most important and work my way out.  I need to protect my kids and help heal their hearts and minds… focus on finding a new job and calming myself.   Each day I have to remind myself that it IS worth it… and that I am worth it.  Practicing self compassion is not something I am good at doing.  I am the first to beat myself up when it all goes to shit… but hey… maybe now is the time to work on it even more.

This post is long and I don’t even know where it started… but I had to write it.  I don’t even know if I’ll re-read it.  I just hope that if you read it… you practice kindness.  It makes a huge difference.

 

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Quick Tip Tuesday: Get up and move


Today’s tip is about mental health, again.  (Is anyone noticing a trend? lol)  Things have been hard, I haven’t been shy about admitting that… and I haven’t even tried to hide how hard they’ve actually been.   If I didn’t have kids I would no doubt be in my bed, under the covers until my stomach growling forces me to wake up… where I would no doubt drink something rather than eat to calm my stomach and spend the rest of my day zoning out in front of the TV or Internet.

BUT… I am a mom– and as HARD as it is to push that natural inclination away, get up when the kids get up and get out of bed… that is what I have to do.  That is what I WANT to do… its just hard to get there.  Its easy to move one foot in front of the other but its really hard to keep going sometimes.  I get stuck in my head and it is hard to be present for them.  As hard as it is, I keep doing it each day and I’m thankful for my littles because they give me that motivation that I need.  Doing it for them..helps me too.

Kids don’t sit still.  They don’t wait for you to feel like doing anything…they very much operate on their own timeline.  So… I wake up and make them breakfast, change diapers, get them dressed, and try desperately to figure out SOMETHING for us to do that day.  Whether its read a few books for circle time, drive around while on a Starbucks run, go to the park, or meet up with a friend– doing something is important.

So my quick tip today is, in a way, faking it until you make it.  When you can’t find it inside of yourself to keep on going for you… you can do it for your kids.  I’ve said it before, children are such beautiful, bright blessings.   When I get up and do things for my kids, I get more energy to do things for myself, our home, my husband.  When making my daughter’s breakfast I can tidy up in the kitchen for a few minutes, I can take a walk around the neighborhood because my kids need to get out.  As a result, I am walking and exerting energy.  I’m getting some stress out and moving forward, physically and mentally.

When you can’t carry on, do it anyway.  The fact is, we all can give just a little bit more.  Sometimes you need your sweet, innocent babies to show you that you do have it in you.  They have absolutely no idea how much they’ve changed my life for the better.  I struggle.  I’m not perfect and am not even close… but I’m just a little better because they are my babies.  I’m thankful that they are wild, energetic, healthy children.  I have to keep up the energy to keep up with them… and even in the darkest times, I’m always happy to do it.

Why I won’t spank my kids

[note:  this opinion is solely my own! it is what works for me and my family. everyone is doing their best to parent the best way they know how.  I can appreciate all parenting techniques. people I know and love discipline all sorts of ways and they are wonderful parents. This isn’t meant to offend– it is just something that has been weighing on me and I felt like writing about it. love you all! ]
Tonight I’m posting about something that has been on my mind and on my heart lately. I’m not sure why I feel so compelled to write about it, perhaps because my son is 4 and he lives to try my patience. At some point in each day I sit with my head in my hands and wonder how I can make him listen! It is so frustrating and so perplexing. I wonder what I can do to make him do what he is supposed to do.

When it comes to discipline I’ve tried just about everything. Time out, taking away privileges or toys, etc. I’ve even tried “spanking.” (In quotes because they weren’t the spankings I got as a kid.) I’ve heard it time and time again from older family members, etc…, “He wouldn’t act like that if you spanked him.” “What he needs is a good spanking.” In my most insecure parenting moments I’ve taken these comments to heart and felt that maybe I was being a bad parent by NOT spanking my son. So… a few times here and there I’ve popped him on the butt. A little pop here or there to get him to really pay attention to what I’m saying. NEVER anything more. Guess what? A little pop here or there, still feels terrible. It still sucks. and oh yeah, it doesn’t work in the long run (or even in the short sometimes).

So, spanking. Let me tell you all the reasons I won’t spank my child. First of all, it feels wrong. Nothing about striking my child feels okay. My children are precious and I don’t want anything to hurt them. Or anyone. Including their parents. Even if it is a socially acceptable form of discipline. It is not acceptable in my house.

Studies over the past 30 years have shown time and time again that spanking is ineffective long term. It is a quick fix. It is lazy parenting. (Don’t take offense to this, we’re all lazy parents at some point in some way). I don’t want to be lazy in this VERY important part of my life. I want to be a good mother that understands my children. I want to see behind the reasons they act out. I want to listen to them, understand them and react accordingly. Spanking is dangerous because it is lashing out from our own frustrations. I think that sometimes spanking can be more of a release of frustration from ourselves instead of an appropriate discipline technique for our children. How is that okay? We tell our children not to hit. Keep their hands to themselves. Don’t act out… and through spanking we contradict every bit of what we’re saying.

Spanking is confusing for a child. Personally, I was spanked, and yes, it worked. (In that I was terrified to do anything wrong). I feared it to the point of feeling sick at the threat of it. My parents didn’t take joy in it. They hated it, I know. They even said it. As a child all I could think was, “if you hate it, why are you doing it?” 30 years later I still feel the same way. If it feels wrong, why do it? It was scary, caused a lot of worry, and it was very confusing.

A parent’s job is to guide us. They’re supposed to show us how to live in this world. Spanking a child because they do something wrong is not showing us how to live. We do not hit the first person that wrongs us in a day. Every situation is a learning experience. We should take these punishable situations and learn from them. We should teach our children how to think, react appropriately and make a better decision in the future.

In very stressful moments when my son is at his peak of rip-my-hair-out behavior, I can usually take a moment to find out what is really going on. He is 4. He doesn’t know all the perfect words. He doesn’t understand all of his feelings. Little children are so complex. Sometimes they act out because they don’t know any better. Often, my son acts out because he is tired, he is scared, he is frustrated, etc. LISTENING to my child can guide my own actions. I can prevent meltdowns by making sure he gets enough sleep, stays on a schedule, etc. I can listen to him when he tries his best to explain his own insecurities and fears. Even if he does them loudly, in the floor with giant tears. Our children don’t want to make our lives hard. They don’t WANT to meltdown or be upset. If we took the time to see this rather than get frustrated by the external behavior we could approach situations with compassion.

The times I’ve felt like spanking my child I’ve known that taking that way out is the lazy way. I don’t want to be lazy. I want to be an active parent that listens, engages, redirects and teaches my babies. I want to show them how to handle difficult situations in a positive way. Studies have shown that children who are spanked are more likely to have emotional problems in the future. They can be more aggressive, depressed, etc. (Please see this wonderful article for more facts and citations http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/should-I-spank-my-child ) I fear these things with my family history of depression/OCD/anxiety. The very LAST thing I want to do is contribute to the possibility of these outcomes.

I’ve seen the effects of being lazy on a child. My son was in a preschool last year that punished him for everything. If he didn’t want to stand in line he was sent to time out. If he ran from the teacher he was sent to time out. His first time out was at 2 years old. He was sent to the director’s office for the remainder of the day. Rather than try to understand the reasons for my son’s behavior, he was disciplined. They saw him as defiant. They grew frustrated with him and angry. They isolated him from his friends and activities. Eventually he stopped making art, his behavior got worse, he voiced troubling things to me and he was removed from the school. At his new school he is approached with love and compassion. He is appreciated for being the bright, beautiful child that he is. He is redirected when necessary. He is listened to and valued and he hasn’t been in trouble once.

I know I’ve rambled on a bit in this post but the most important thing I hope to express is that there is a better way to discipline our children.   Finding our own individual ways to discipline is our own journey unique to our children and our circumstances.   I think we’re all figuring it out as we go.  I’m also not judging generations before us. My parents were really good parents. Most parents are trying REALLY hard. We want to do a great job at this whole parenting thing. I think it is important to be willing to grow and change though. I saw on a friend’s facebook a quote that said, “When you know better, you do better.”  In 2017, we know better. I plan to do better.