90 to nothin', sippy cup in hand

On That Day|A Blog Dare Post

I was twenty-one when I first-born, Gabe, made his mark on the world and on my heart August 20, 2009.  Twenty-one when my life as I knew it changed.  Twenty-one when my first experience with depression was triggered.

I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I will write about it again.  You see, I fought an emotion-shattering & mentally monstrous case of postpartum depression.  All my life I heard of women’s true love stories over their small ones.  Positive emotions that seemed to ooze from their every pore and tired eyes.  A sweetest love that seemed so genuine it was almost nauseating.  I hoped that I would feel those things.. the simplest form of adoration.  But, no matter my dream or intent, I did not feel those things.  No; instead of happiness I felt terror.  For the first time in my own short life I was petrified… of an infant.

To this day I believe that a series of poor lifestyle choices and awful “mojo,” if you will, contributed to my PPD.  I’m sure my poor relationship, terrible self-esteem, and even weight issues were absolute set-backs.  The raging hormones that weren’t doing their job was just the icing on the cake.  At that time I was certain that I was the only one being affected and tormented by my constant mood swings and sleepless nights; the only one even remotely damaged by the depression.  Now, looking back, I realize what a selfish thought process I had.  Until on that day… I realized I had to get help.  My son needed me to get help.  My parents — the only other people in my life aware of the problem– needed me to get help.  Not just for me, but for them… and not at all selfishly.

It was on that day, in my grandpa’s old leather chair, at 4:30 in the morning that I sat stock-still, eyes closed, praying for the previous nights’ agony end.  On that day, I promised myself and my boy that I would get help.  Because the terrorizing thoughts of violence and grief were just too much the night before.  I’d been in that chair from the time my parents called it a night until my mother woke up the next morning.  The chair was my safe place. A familiar place.  The only place in the entire house where I knew no harm would come to my Gabe, or to myself.  It was in that chair on that long-exhausted morning that I told my mom I needed to be seen and heard.  I didn’t know by whom — frankly, I didn’t care.  So on that day, now 2010,  I let go of my fears and sought help.

As if the mindset of PPD isn’t scary enough, the seeking of help is twice as agonizing.  It was for me, anyway.  I had waited a year to get help… and by that point I feared my mind was long gone.  I just knew they’d lock me away or, worse, take away my boy.  A psychologist’s waiting room always has certain marks, I’ve noticed.  In my experience they’ve always smelled of old books and put off a bleak and dismal feel — as if to really hone in on one’s already magnified problem.  And there I sat, alone; my thoughts amplified and fears on instant replay in my mind.  I sat there for what seemed like hours.  And then my name was called.  I got up and considered heading for the door.  Instead, my common sense finally kicked in and I walked back through a corridor that was, if possible, even more dreary than the lobby.  I finally found myself alone in a room once more.. patiently waiting on whoever was coming to strap me in to a straitjacket.  And then the kindest face walked in.  As if on cue, my fears of the visit lifted.  I talked until I thought I could speak no more and cried until my face was sore.  And the thing she did next stunned me into an almost painful silence; she hugged me the tightest I had ever been hugged.  She assured me that everything would be fine.  That it could be fixed — that could be fixed.  To tell you the relief that I felt is virtually impossible.  But a wave of thankfulness washed over me… and a wave of regret because I had not sought help sooner.

We continued to meet and I was given a strong anti-depressant.  As time went on, we met less and my dosage finally depleted.  And on that day, we celebrated a new start and a new-found, long sought after love that I would not trade for the world.

ppd

Postpartum depression is real and horrifying.  It is also still taboo.  But there is help and hope.  For more information on PPD, follow this link.  If you or anyone you know is suffering from or could suffer from this problem, please seek help and encouragement.

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From a Momma Bear

2014

2013.  Oh, you’ve been eventful.  So much has changed — not much remains untouched by your presence.  One thing uncontrolled by your rapidity — yet, altered still: my momma-bear love for my little ones.

My boys have grown so; even my Connor in his short little life.  Gabe’s laugh continues to fill a room and Con’s lovely smile brightens dreary days — both little bodies warming our hearts and providing a constant reminder of what an enchanted, and sometimes monotonous, love really is.  I so love, and envy, their growth; for they see things in a way I’ve long since forgotten.

But this momma bear sees more than just their childlike innocence; I am not blind to the chaos and utter sleeplessness that little ones can bring.  Hardly.  I have been brought to complete agitation by disappointing news and pre-k hardships.  Left in zombie-like conditions by 3 o’clock feedings and teething pains.  Brought to my knees and sometimes bewildered laughter by incidental growing pains felt by parent and child alike.  No, I am not ignorant of these things.  I am all too aware.  But coupled with these sometimes back-breaking moments of sheer chaos and backwards steps are the wonderful and enlightening learned mobility I see in my kids.  And those, truly, make every sleepless night and heartache dissipate — even if just for a moment.

Oh, though I love my little ones, this year has not been without its frustrations.  I have growled and snarled; been the gruffest of momma’s.  I have not always been patient, nor have I consistently been kind.  I have misunderstood; I’ve snapped when instead I should have clung to.  But nevertheless, this old momma bear, even in her snarliest of ways, loves the little ones that I am privileged to call my own.

Upon entering 2014, we look to new beginnings, trials and errors.  Hopeful that this year brings forth good news and revelations.  And in hindsight, I hope we remember the good of the Old.  To sweet union, new life, and delightful hopes and dreams — we say Happy New Year and God Bless.

And to you gruff momma bears out there — Cheers.

best

It’s Beginning to Look Like a Throwdown

I am quite certain that my recent quips of annual Christmas insanity were a bit hasty.  I am absolutely positive that they would not be now.  It would seem that a large portion of Alexandria forgot that Christmas is tomorrow over the course of the weekend.  It is so maddening, in fact, that even I have been affected by the chaos — and I’ve long since finished everything on my list.  Take the other day, for instance.  I needed a few things for some last-minute baking.  I went to Wal-Mart, as it is closest (and most deadly), with my ten item list, expecting to be out in thirty minutes or so.  An hour and 45 freakishly long minutes later, I had 4 of ten items on my list, a splitting headache, and an urge to slam the nearest Bah-Humbug spirited person into aisle seven.  So crippling was my frustration and confusion, that I left my buggy in an aisle I don’t even recall wandering down and took off with someone else’s — the contents of which I can only assume (and pray) was for an ugly Christmas sweater party.  But I’ve skipped ahead.  So allow me to rewind.

Prior to losing my buggy and my mind, I had cut off (what I assumed was) a woman in the canned food section.  I honestly didn’t mean to, as I did not see her there.  Nevertheless, I did.  And she accepted my apology with an ever gracious, “Ex-cah-uuuuse you!”  Now, if you know me at all you know that phrase infuriates me.  It ignites my rage with the fires of hell.  So from that point forward, it was game on.  We ran into each other several times after our initial encounter, each more challenging than the next.  After about an hour I realized just how ridiculous I was being and made it a point to avoid the other.  I was on my way out and evidently stopped to look at something I didn’t need as I did not eventually check out with it.  Without realizing, I grabbed another shopper’s cart and made my way to the front check out lanes.  I bent down to get a Coke, and upon looking into my buggy noticed that the afore-mentioned ugly Christmas sweater party items were not that of my own.  Immediately and irrationally I began to look for that woman.  She just so happened to be behind me for a moment in the lanes, and in my tired and paranoid state just knew she had taken off with my buggy.  I looked everywhere, high and low.  I even called Evan to let him know that he might need to come bail me out and then BAM.  Right there, in the card section.  A place I don’t even recall walking down.  I shamefully grabbed my cart and headed back to the checkout lane, making quite sure that the contents were, in fact, mine.  I shook my head all the way home, mortified that I had been bitten by the Christmas Bah Humbug Bug.

smackdown

The moral of this story?  Even those of us so obnoxiously consumed in Christmas festivities lose our cool from time to time.  And also, before you throw-down in the dairy aisle, make sure you didn’t misplace your buggy, as it is doubtful anyone would jack a shopping cart.

Happy Christmas Eve..

Christmastime Magic

santa

It’s Christmastime again, only this year it’s even more magical than ever before.  Gabe is an absolute Christmas fanatic and, suffice it to say, he has made our holiday around here shine.  I love Christmas under normal circumstances, but this year I’ve stayed up long hours making decorations and making sure the tree looks just right for our little guy.  His love for the season is as genuine as can be; fascination just beams from his little eyes.  He started talking about Christmas this year even before Wal-Mart (and other fine retailers) put out decorations (you know — back in March).  I’m pretty sure he believes that Santa not only exists but is also his best buddy; he has been begging me to make gingerbread men for when Santa, “…wakes up from his nap and comes to his [Gabe's] house.”  I love to watch him with every part of the season and am so not looking forward to eventually taking everything down and putting it away.  My only comfort in that is knowing that my little guy will find hope and magic at least once a year, at the best time of year.

This evening we went to visit Santa and I thought Gabe would come unglued.  He was so excited and promptly asked Santa for a snowman and a fast racecar.  Upon leaving Santa’s little cottage his hollered back, “Merry Christmas, Santa!”  He grinned so big the whole way home.  Christmas lights have brought forth a particular joy for him and he makes sure we see every single bulb as we drive by the well-lit houses.

As a child I adored Christmas.  There was no better time of year for me.  Now, as an adult, I get to watch my own little ones glow in awe.  And for a spell I am relieved of the commercialism and greediness that the holidays have become.  I am spared the chaos and, yes, even holiday hatefulness when I look into Gabe’s bright eyes.  I am reminded that this time of year is about giving and loving.  I’m given hope in a Christmas that once was and that still is to my small ones.  And for a moment the hustle and bustle of what Christmas was never meant to be fades into the background, no longer consuming my mind and thriving on my impatience.  I get to experience and love the pure, childlike happiness that illuminates my Gabe’s little face.  And in that moment, I am glad.

Our little Connor is having his first Christmas this year.  I am so looking forward to having two little guys in my life that will be consumed by all the gloriousness that the true Christmas Spirit brings.  For now, though, I am enjoying watching him watching Gabe, his own little face beaming with love for his brother.  It is these little ones and those litttle moments that make my heart overflow with a happiness one can only feel and never explain.

Thank God for the innocence of little ones; it is in them that Christmas lives on.  It is because of them that I still believe in Christmastime magic.
Jesus
And with that I say, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight.”

What Would My Kid Say About Me?

I watched a video this evening showcasing how a handful of mothers view themselves in their maternal-ness.  You’ve probably seen it — I believe it has gone viral.  If it hasn’t, it will soon.  But here’s a link for the heck of it.

Anyway, watching the video was both heartwarming and heart-wrenching for me.  In the clip, the women tell at least one fault they see in their mothering.  The most used?  Patience.  Or, rather, the lack thereof.  It hit a nerve, you know?  I am notoriously impatient.  I am a Type A, perfectionist wanna-be momma who would probably rush Jesus if I could.  I am a ball of nerves at nearly every point of the day — especially where my boys are concerned.  I just can’t wrap my mind around how things can be done so slowly or so disastrously.  I often forget that the reason I can do things (semi)flawlessly and with greater precision and speed is because I’ve been doing these things for 21 years.  I have had a literal lifetime of practice — on things that I still screw up daily.  I have done these things for so long that I take for granted that I, too, had to learn how.  I have forgotten what it’s like to enjoy learning and experiencing newness.  I have forgotten the pride in learning a life skill — because I have acquired them all… or most of them.  I have long since forgotten what it’s like to take childlike time and just be… just be slow.  Take time.  I don’t remember the last time that I haven’t rushed about.  I don’t remember what it’s like to enjoy my time instead of scheduling it.

The video got me to thinking: is that what Gabe and Connor will think of me?  Will they see me as some Nazi-esque scheduler who is impatient and high-strung?  Will they see me as that momma who never thinks before she speaks?  Who is more concerned with how a pre-schooler’s turkey project looks than having fun and enjoying the time?  What would my four year old say about me?  What does he think?

When I was young I cared incessantly about how others saw me — and they knew it.  I was walked on and pushed around.  Eventually, I stopped caring.  Until I had children.  And then I cared so much about what other people thought about me and how others saw my kids that I became the mother I swore I’d never be.  I became the mother that, when my children are older, will see my name on the ID and reluctantly answer.  I’ll become an obligation because that’s how I’m making my little ones feel.  When in reality… my desire to love and take care of them far outweighs the obligation.  But they seldom see that.  I’m sure Gabe knows I love him.  But I shudder to think what else he believes.

What would my boys say?  Would they understand that my crazy strictness is meant to protect?  Would they know that my persistent tries for perfection are so they could feel proud?  Would they know that I love them unconditionally… no matter my impatience and hurried ways?  My head is hopeful; my heart hurts to think not.

On Progress and SPD

Oh, progress.  What a stress relieving thing it is.  As you know, we’ve been struggling to figure out what is wrong with my oldest, Gabe.  We have been mind-boggled for years, actually.  But time after time Gabe has been cast aside as if nothing is wrong and he’s just an uber knucklehead and I have been chucked away as that mother without parenting skills.  While that last bit may hold partial validity, I’m also sure (and have always been sure) that something just isn’t quite right.  That Gabe is so smart and so bright — but is still so off and so behind on things I’m really shocked at.  My little backwards boy.  Even when he was tee-tiny he excelled at things beyond his level and behind on things that should be right at his fingertips.  Almost like his little mind had a serious case of the Benjamin Button’s — but in comprehension, not age.  Obviously.  I’ve known for a long time that something was not right.  But I’ve constantly been put off as one of “those moms.” You know the kind.  They want their kid(s) doped up and tout d’suite, please, because they cannot be bothered.  No.  That’s not me.  Gabe’s a little boy, and wild though he may be I’ll not zombiefy him for the sake of a little peace and quiet.  There are too many risks involved and I’m not big on medicine anyway.  But until recently, we were left to our own devices.  Left to shuffle through the mounds of “could be” disorders and to figure out where we went wrong.  Left to translate what my four year old has been trying so desperately to communicate, and screaming inside what I wish he would understand.

I’ll admit, after being told a hundred times over that, “You’re the problem,” you really start to wonder if that is the case.  I don’t mean to make this about me so let me do a little closet cleaning; I’m not saint and hardly a good momma.  I’ve done my fair share of yelling and screaming, spanking and cussin’.  I’ve muttered under my breath and daydreamed about getting in a cold beer to let some of the aggravation off.  I’ve wished the day would just end already and I’ve dreaded the drives home knowing that I wasn’t doing the right thing.  Knowing that all the sand raising wasn’t right.  Knowing that following my gut was what I should have been doing and wasn’t.  Knowing that my actions, and the lack thereof, were positively vile.  As much as I love that child, I’ve been equally a terrible mother and a virtual no-show on support because I didn’t understand.. or because I was being told that I wasn’t doing right.  I couldn’t physically or mentally understand the child I carried and gave birth to.  I loved him, and love him still, with every heartbeat that pumped within me.  Yet, I couldn’t muster enough patience with him to see past my own shortcomings to help him fix his.  It was too easy to label him “disobedient and unruly.”  Just as everyone else had done.  Great momma, right?  Hardly.

It took a teacher complaining about her possible loss of career (a crock, by the way) and pretty much hating on my kid that made me call bullshit and seek more help.  Thank God I stumbled on the right path with the right people.  And thank God my faith and patience are being restored.  I almost gave up on my kid.  And I hate myself for that.

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My boy is thought to have SPD; a sensory disorder that can mimic ADHD, Asperger’s, and some signs of Dyslexia.  It not only mimics those disorders but can also coincide with them.  With help from a speech pathologist and occupational therapist he can learn how to deal with his issue and how to advance in spite of it.  We too can be taught how to help him grow and live to his greatest potential.  I will not allow myself to be that crippling mother that tells her challenged child to sit back and just “get by.”  Gabe will be expected to thrive and push — just how any challenge should be handled.  With dedication and commitment.  I will continue to be the same grumpy momma bear because (with some exceptions) because I know that he absolutely can.  Of all my short-comings, I’ve never once truly doubted his abilities.  He is bright and imaginative and I really believe that with a little extra effort he’ll soar.  And really, won’t that little extra effort make the pay-off so much more rewarding?  I think so.

spd2

If he is willing to play a little hardball then Evan and I will be his hard-nosed but deep down rooting for him coaches.  He has an amazing support team made up of great friends and family who are already offering support and shoulders without question.  This little “disorder” might be exactly what the dr. ordered for this little family!

And so our journey begins.  Keep us in thought, y’all.  There are a lot of changes to make!

“No Child Left Behind,” My Foot.

As my blogger name plainly states, I am a momma.  I’m a momma to two beautiful little guys — one of which is in pre-k.  I’m also a momma who has not long been out of the school system, herself.  As a matter of fact, I was enrolled in high school when the, “No Child Left Behind” act came into being.  Let me be the first to say, that the phrase is nothing if not less than accurate.

Also, allow me to be the first to say, that even though I played the school system (and it’s educators) as a joke during my time as a student, I’m also a parent who tolerates no bullshit from her children and expects them to be on best behavior while in teacher’s and fellow pupil’s presence.  I do not expect, nor do I desire, that any educator cater to and lift my child up above any other children.  I expect them as teachers and mentors to communicate with me on my children’s behavior — whether it be good or bad, amazing or appalling.  I also demand that said educators never, EVER give up on my child or children because of problems, issues, hardheadedness, or an inability (whether it be self-induced or accidental) to learn.

I do not view the school and it’s educators as a glorified daycare.  Absolutely, if my child is misbehaving please contact me and my husband and I will deal with it at home.  We’ll set up conferences, meetings… whathaveyou… to get the matter resolved.  I do not expect any teacher to take my place as parent because, quite frankly, parenting is a role I take pretty damn seriously.  This is why I’ve long since left behind partying, drinking, and the like:  to take care of the children that I have produced.  It is not at all my intent to withdraw from my kids and turn them over wild to the world so as to escape the sometimes dreadful and always tiring task of parenting.  I brought them in this world… I’m going to go to the greatest depths to see them through it until they can go it alone.  Believe me when I say that far too many people these days view the education system as a convenient mini vacay from their hellions.  Very seldom is school viewed as it’s intended purpose: to teach and be taught.  With that being said, it is also fully on the teachers to take the job that they were educated for and are currently being paid for (no matter how little) seriously, thereby taking on their task at hand: tackling and winning over even the most stubborn child.

Now, I’m not a teacher.  I don’t want to be.  To those of you who are good teachers: I salute you — no sarcasm intended.  You guys do what I could, and would never, do.  Those of you who take your professions seriously, thank you.  I’ve had a handful of great teachers and I loved them.  They pushed me where I needed and pulled me back when it was best.  They helped me get from point A to point B and taught me how to get to points C through Z on my own.  They set a path — the believed I could.  To those educators, I am forever grateful.  I’ve also had teachers who couldn’t pull their own heads out of their asses — and to those glorified babysitters I say, “Piss off.”  To those of you who have given up on me and so many others because we needed a different lesson — or made your day just a little bit harder for you?  Yeah.  You guys need a new career choice, because teaching obviously ain’t your forte.

I’ve said all that to say this: Gabe is, as most of you know, in pre-k.  And he is so excited.  Gabe is also, as most of you know, difficult.  He is hard-headed, strong-willed, and has a tendency to be downright defiant.  He has a temper like his momma and can show it off, to boot.  He wants it his way or no way and by God you better give it to him.  But amazingly enough, even with all of those obnoxious traits, he is also one of the sweetest hearts I know.  He’s smart, and he knows it.  He’s tender, and funny, and loves to laugh.  He’s a cuddler and a truly loving little soul.  Hardheaded or not, he’s certainly not a child that should be given up on.  He’s got potential for days and it’s just as evident as his stubborn attitude.  Again, I will clarify — I will not allow my child to terrorize a class or his teacher.  I expect him to behave and to learn.  I do not want people to see him coming and think, “Sonuvabitch, Gabe’s coming.”  I want people to see his potential and his sweet heart.  I want him to learn how to use that strong will with wisdom.  But I also want his teachers to work with me and Evan.  To work with Gabe.  Not to cater to or ignore his problems.  Someone who will help us figure out how to work on these issues and how to help Gabe grow and thrive.

His pre-k teacher is a genuinely good heart.  I believe that or I’d have pulled Gabe out of school after our conversation this afternoon.  But today I was given an ultimatum: either he starts to listen or he’ll need more “mommy time.”  Code for, “We can’t handle your son — we might kick him out of pre-k.”  If this were the middle of the year I might be a little bit on board with that train of thought.  But we’re only a month in.  And I’ll be honest, I”m a bit peeved that already they’re giving up on him (but not admitting it), and hurt for him because he was so excited about this new adventure.  I’m also aggravated with Gabe.  Because even though he’s too young to know it, he’s setting himself up for failure after failure after failure… just because his way is better.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never known a four-year-old’s way to be better.  Usually, it’s stickier, sneakier, and all-around messier.   Believe me when I say I’m equally as aggravated with the system as I am my child.  But to throw your hands up already?  To say my kid just isn’t going to cut it?  I call bullshit.  I’m not one of those parents to demand exceptions for my child.  If he’s misbehaving then we’ll work together to find some kind of discipline to get him inline.  But please don’t act like I’m that back-alley, hands off parent that threw him into school to be done with him for a few hours a day.  And don’t leave my child behind.  He deserves better than that.  Granted, he also deserves a couple of good spankings.  But throwing my kid to the curb is not going to solve the issue(s) at hand; it will only intensify them.

I’ve watched for years, as a student and now as a momma, these kids who are constantly catered to.  Revered as golden objects even though their behavior and intelligence is average at best.  I’ve witnessed kids behave like a horse’s ass and still move ahead in school.  Whether they’re simply getting passed on to the next victim or not is besides the point: they’re moving up.  They’re being given some form of “privilege” whether they merit it or not.  All I ask is the same for my kid.  My kid’s not a bully.  He’s not hateful.  He isn’t a holy-terror and hasn’t tied up other kids.  He’s difficult, for sure.  But difficult kinks can be worked out.  That hard head can be transformed into a good kind of strong will that will compliment his potential; not blemish it.  I am hoping for better news in the near future.  That maybe someone will have the heart and mindset to handle my boy.  I am also hopeful that Gabe will come out of his own kinks. That Ev and I can help him maneuver away from these awful habits.  I don’t expect the school system to raise my child; that’s my job.  I do expect them to see his potential and help him learn how to mold it into his own greatness.  I expect greatness out of Gabe because I believe he can deliver it.  I expect these teachers to be great mentors.. to help shape him into what I know he can be. Everybody needs that great teacher that just believes in them.  I wish that for him.


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