Heavy Words

It’s 3:47 am. I can’t sleep. I was going to say thoughts were running though my mind – rampant and racing, but that’s not true. There are only a few, but they are heavy. Heavy, anchored, and seemingly swelling. It’s parenting, and its tough. Not only the act of parenting, but just the role, the responsibility can be a mental mindtrap. There are so many things to worry about. I worry about how I handled situations, how I may have misread situations, how I may have messed up. I worry about missing things. I worry about being distracted. I worry about worrying too much. Tonight, well technically this morning, I worry that while I am navigating though the struggles of an emotional child who verbalizes her fears so eloquently, I may be neglecting the emotional needs of my younger child who struggles to express herself.

Sometimes, when she does express herself maturely , I am taken aback. Tonight, I was lying next to Isla in her bed, two tiny yet mighty arms wrapped tightly around me, she said, “sometimes Big Sissy doesn’t like me.” My heart stopped.  I struggled to speak, as if the words I was reaching for were trapped in my throat, being pushed back by the power of her words — their sentiment, and meaning.

These words took me completely by surprise, especially when I think about the relationship my girls have with each other. Avrie is a wonderful sister. She is sweet, patient, and an excellent role-model. However, sometimes she loses her patience. Honestly, we all do. I could be a better model for dealing with stress and maintaining patience with my girls. This is something I am actively working on, and I am improving. Isla struggles with screaming and lashing out when she wants something. Feeling like she cannot get her words out results in lots of yelling and frustration. “Use your words,” I say. Well tonight she did, and I had no idea she could even understand what it meant to dislike a person or to be able to feel something so big. I spoke to her like a big girl. I told her Sissy always loves her and named everyone in our family who loves her. She went to bed with a smile on her face and as I finish typing and hope to get some rest, I found a new focus. I need to concentrate on affirming Isla’s worth and helping to develop her own personal interests, and facilitate and encourage her own victories. I’ve been moving on autopilot lately, and she has been along for the ride. I need to give her more.

 

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I Break for Yoga

Piles. I couldn’t get my mind off of them — endless piles of laundry, unopened mail, and germ-filled tissues that loved to congregate on tables and couches instead of the trash can.

It was a Tuesday morning, my oldest was in school, and my youngest was napping. Yes, napping (cue Hallelujah chorus). These days, her naps are few and far between, so to say this is a coveted time would be an understatement. I willingly collapsed and sunk into the couch for a brief moment of reprieve. The past few weeks have been tough. I feel like my family has been in an endless cycle of winter colds, a variety of flu viruses have circulated through every member of the household. We are out of sync, and as a result things are out of order.

In addition, my OCD symptoms have been starting to increase lately, making it increasingly hard for me to tackle overwhelming tasks. These tasks turn into piles. It is easy for me to worry and obsess over the piles, but it takes some willpower for me to take action and begin to sift through things that may cause me anxiety. I am constantly seeking order, and if things have spiraled into chaos (or what I consider to be chaos) I often choose fight or flight, and it is easier for me to flee. I have been working to break these patterns with much success; however, lately I have been faltering.

Anyway, while my toddler is napping and I engage in a little self-talk. After all, I am making a conscious effort to try to be a healthier and in turn happier mom. This past month, I began practicing yoga after a year’s hiatus. Due to a doctor’s appointment, I missed my session this week,  so I figured I should try to squeeze in a yoga video at home. [Sidebar:  I really enjoy Leslie Fightmaster’s channel, Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube.] I found a video that was focused for stress and depression and dedicated the next 38 minutes to it. It felt great. Afterwards, I drank a ton of water, I sifted through my piles of unopened mail. I paid bills, did laundry, and when my baby woke up I greeted her with a smile and ample attention for the taking.

I was focused on the idea that yoga was solely for relief — a tool for decompression, something I needed.  Instead, I should view yoga as something I have. Yoga is a tool at my disposal, something to help prepare or cope with the world. Something I can use to be proactive, not reactive. A gift that I am giving myself to strengthen my mentality and physicality to deal with life. I had been looking at yoga wrong. In fact, the week before I became annoyed that after yoga I had an extremely stressful day. I believe I even said that my yoga session went to waste.  How wrong I was.

Finding balance throughout the day is essential when it comes to coping with stress and living the best way I can.  I started thinking about a child’s school day. It is structured with breaks, transitions, ebbs and flows that make the time pass and time as productive as possible, time to recharge and reset.  Things happen that are beyond our control.  There are things we can control.  I am going to embrace those things with a loving and confident hand and equip myself to handle the tough things with support.

Of course, these “things” go beyond piles of bills or laundry.  Problems, heartache, tragedies, and struggles become piles in our lives and minds. I need to remember to keep going and take what we can as help or tools become available and try to conquer.  Every day you try is a fight — no matter how small or large the obstacle.  Self-care helps to strengthen, cope, and conquer.  This is why taking care of myself has become a priority.

 

 

 

hidden milestones

I feel incredibly emotional today. I am choking back tears and feel like what little energy I have is slowly seeping out of me, like a small tear in an inflatable raft, its not noticeable until you notice it, and then it’s just a disaster — plain and simple.

Today is a normal day. My oldest daughter is at day camp. They are going on a field trip to a local museum/park for the day. She will be going to a public place under the supervision of people who are not me, my husband, or her grandparents. This is the first time this is happening and I didn’t realize it was a big deal until an hour after I dropped her off. I started thinking of how mature she seemed when she jumped out of the car, confidently shut her own door, and walked across the street with the counselor. I know she needs to be responsible for her own belongings. This camp requires her to be more independent than she’s used to, and she’s doing great.

She is tackling new challenges. Every single day. She is doing things that are outside of her comfort zone. She is trying to forge new relationships out of nowhere. All of this newness. All of this independence. All of these tests. All of these things that I helped her with that she can now do on her own, that she could do on her own. She doesn’t need me like she used to.

The other day, she was running around the house in a hyper-energetic state. She was jumping over wash baskets and sprinting down the hallway. She fell, hard. She started to sob, and as the tears streamed down her face I went to scoop her up in my arms, like I always do when she is crying or scared. I protectively life her up and hold her, hoping to absorb all pain and fear into my body and provide her with security and healing. Something was different this time. I couldn’t scoop her up and hold her like I used to. She was too big. Her legs were too long, her body too heavy to carry with ease.

Things were different. Our world shifted, changed. My heart broke a little in that moment. She was growing, and it hurt. How did I not take notice that she was growing so fast? How could this hit me by surprise? My little girl is not a little girl anymore. She is simply a girl — a girl with is growing, learning, and experiencing.

One thing that I did not expect from seeing her grow is how inspiring she would be. Here she is tacking all of these challenges and overcoming obstacles. How often do I do things that are outside of my comfort zone. How often am I trying new things? Do I ask for help when I need it? I need to start to be more like my five-year-old. Time to try.

some excuses. some valid. 

Unfortunately, I have come to realize that finding time for myself is even harder than I thought – even after committing to making myself a priority. I can easily add myself to the list every day, but whether I put a checkmark next to my name is less predictable. I have lots of excuses. It is winter. The kids constantly have colds, the flu, or an oh so fun stomach virus. Days are spent drying tears, wiping noses, playing, singing, problem-solving, organizing, snuggling, disciplining, teaching, and driving. 

The amount of needs and wants that have to be met on a daily basis are staggering. An infinite checklist remains in the forefront of my mind at all times. I am constantly highlighting and rearranging the tasks, pushing the major needs to the top and letting the less urgent matters fall to the bottom. Which reminds me, how often do you clean YOUR windows because I’m pretty sure I may have set a record. At the end of the day, I breathe a sigh of relief after my oldest is in bed. I tell her I love her and whisper, “sweet dreams, princess” as I slip out of the room. I managed my list for the day. My girls are happy, my husband seems like he is doing okay and I made it through. 

How do I motivate myself to do something beneficial at the end of the day when I have no energy and a sick, exhausted toddler has finally fallen asleep on me? 

How do I go to bed early when i know I need it but I haven’t seen my husband all day and am longing to have an adult conversation, or at least watch an adult TV show? 

How do I say no to a second glass of wine or 5th cup coffee when my body needs hydration and replace it with a bottle or water or calming camomile tea?

How do I throw my kids’ crusts in the trash instead of nibbling on the crusts and other unwanted empty calories?

The funny thing about all these things is that they are easily doable, even when I can’t get outside to exercise due to the whether or lack of daylight. They are not affected by a busy schedule and being unable to fit something in. These are simple things.

I need to strengthen my inner voice. I need to listen to myself and let my inner voice speak loudly. Often I drown her out. She comes through as week and therefore easily ignored or forgotten. Sometimes she doesn’t even speak. Sometimes she’s lost or has been lost for so long that she’s forgotten how to be heard. 

It is time to hear her. I may not make huge strides, but I will do what I can. I think that developing a stronger inner voice will help. 

Not every moment is beautiful. There are many times throughout the day that my patience is tested, and I fail. I am short-tempered, emotional, and tired. Sometimes I am an awful storyteller and my tales are unimaginative, disconnected and boring. However, I look at my daughter when I am telling her a story. How she is looking at me intently, hanging on every word. Moments like this help me to realize how much I matter — even on those moments when I am not doing my best. The way that I act is shaping her and teaching her about the world. I need to give my inner voice the same respect and attention that my sweet and attentive daughter gives me.  When my stories start to go downhill, I take a moment, breathe, improvise, and try to improve. I strive to give the characters more flair, I beef up the plot, ensure that she can make connections to the story, and include some theatrics. Basically, I suck it up and do better. 

Time to suck it up. I may not make huge strides this week, but I will try to do better.  

committing to myself

Treading water. As a metaphor, I feel like I’ve been treading for a long time. Here I am, expending energy yet going nowhere. The juxtaposition at play is that I have an immense amount joy in my life. Immense. I laugh every single day. I love and feel loved to a degree that is impossible for me to articulate. I have a great life. However, in between (and in conjunction) with the good stuff, there are moments when I start to sink.

The world darkens and blurs behind a thick screen of water, foggy and warped. Sometimes, I manage to break the surface for a few fleeting moments, hours, even days, only to be tossed back beneath the unyielding waves. Occasionally, I will propel to the surface and break into an all out sprint – we’re talking breast stroke like I just shaved my entire body and shed two drag suits. However, these moments are fleeting. My weight keeps pulling me down. But the weight is not a metaphor. The excess weight that I have gained over the years relentlessly pulls me back, time and time again.

With every crash diet, the promise of success lifts me up only to send me plunging and hopeless the moment I fall off course. Suddenly, my arms and legs feel even heavier than before strained by guilt. How do I explain how I am feeling? How do I express myself? How do I get help when I am ashamed to admit that I’m struggling? I often retain control for about a week but a small slip up immediately sends me plummeting into the a dark tunnel of guilt, shame, and hopelessness. Why can’t I pull myself out of this? I should be able to put down this piece of chocolate cake. It’s easy to do. It should be easy — and I struggle. I fail. I binge.

The funny thing is, that during both of my pregnancies I ate well. I did not binge AT ALL. How could there be such a huge shift in behavior? I realize that it has to do with my self-worth. While pregnant, I was thinking of the health of my little ones. I would eat healthy foods and exercise regularly; ultimately, I made their health (and my default my health) a priority. This is what shifted.

It’s funny that my reasoning for eating well during my pregnancy was for my children. Well, my girls deserve to have a healthy mom. My husband deserves a healthy wife. I deserve to feel my best and to be the best that I can be. I deserve to feel good about myself and comfortable in my own skin. I do not want the extra stress that comes with having to pull at my shirts and struggle to hide my stomach in photos. I want to play with my daughters on the beach unencumbered and just enjoy them. I want to run into the waves. I want to be free. Free from the weight that has been pulling on me for years. I deserve to be happy. Despite my happy, joyous life, I deserve to feel happy about myself. And I’m going to try. On step at a time.

My husband told me that I need to get myself out of it. This sounds harsh and it hit me hard. But, it is true that if I want to change things, I am the only one who can do it. So I am digging. I am trying to clear the surface. I am trying to get everything in order – to stay afloat. There are so many things in life that are beyond my control. Tough stuff. There are things that are outside of my control that affect me, my family and my life. I cannot have the controllable factors add to the struggle. There are things I can control. I need to get my shit together and try.

I need to simplify. I need to take a moment, breathe, assess and then build. I need to make a commitment to myself. I need to make my health a priority. Starting now. I need to be a better me.