On Being A Girl

Lately there have been a lot of issues coming up involving women.  Some women marched a few months back, if anyone remembers, but there were women on the other side of that march who were flabbergasted that any woman in this country would have the audacity to march in a country where they had nothing to worry about, ever.  They failed to see how a woman making less than a man for the same job was troublesome, they failed to see how woman being assaulted was anything but the woman’s fault for “not being more careful,” or “wearing the wrong thing.”  They even defended when a woman was fired for being pregnant.  I seriously read a comment from a woman who said “a woman could not possibly do two jobs well at once.  She should just focus on the job of growing a healthy baby.”

This is the country we live in today.  It’s August 26th, 2017, and there are woman who still think that there is something inherently submissive about a woman.  “Women ARE different,” they say, “we are more frail, more emotional, more weak.”  They usually throw in a Bible quote somewhere too, proving that even God thinks women are there to make babies and sandwiches.

So, it’s not surprising the have my own mother in law say words like “you know E, she’s just overly emotional because she’s a girl.” or “she falls down a lot like me, plus she’s a girl, so she’s got two things working against her.”  She says these things with honesty. She believes them.  She says them often because my father in law finds my daughter’s emotions to be… annoying?  Icky?  Uncomfortable?  I’m not sure.  Usually it seems to make him a bit ragey.  Probably because he is incredibly repressed emotionally, and easy to anger.  So my mother in law thinks she’d defending E, and calming the father-in-law beast, by spouting off excuses for E’s emotions, justifying it by her also having a vagina, therefore making her an expert on all things woman.

I find it infuriating.  My daughter is four.  If she falls, if she is uncomfortable, if she’s sad, if she’s tired, if she’s confused or frustrated, she cries. Why isn’t that okay?  Why is it something that has to have an excuse?  My son cries ALL THE TIME, but that’s never because he’s a boy, no one even mentions it.  (Although my father in law will say “oh, cut that out, you’re a boy,” which also makes me want to throat punch).

I’m at a point in life where I don’t really know how to handle this situation anymore.  We live in their neighborhood and see them often.  They are not bad people, but their words are being heard, not just by me, but by my kids.  The last thing I want is for either my daughter or my son to feel like they shouldn’t be able to cry, for any reason they feel necessary.  That was the kind of house I grew up in.  I was ridiculed by every member of my family any time I cried.  It got to the point where I’d lock myself in the bathroom when I needed to cry, just so I couldn’t hear their taunts.  They called me “Katie Kaboom”  A cartoon character known for her sudden emotional outbursts.

I’m still an emotional person, but only to my immediate family.  My husband and kids see me cry, but I will hold every ounce of feeling back when I’m around my parents or sister. To them, they think I’m an uncaring robot.  Interesting, right?  If a woman cries, it’s because we possess a vagina.  If we don’t cry, there is something wrong with us.  Is there a way to win this gender war we are having?  Is there a way to be a strong woman who cries and wants equal rights in the world, or do we have to give up something about ourselves?  Can a man still be a man if they cry too?

Why are so many people trying to get rid of emotions in both genders?  Isn’t that the last thing this planet needs right now?  We need more compassion and love and empathy. That is what I am going to teach my kids.  That is what I am going to tell my in-laws, even though I know it won’t work. I will have to work extra hard to try and repair the damage they inflict.  That might sound harsh, but I know first hand what it feels like to hear that my emotions are wrong, and it does damage that will stay with you forever if you don’t have a voice that is even louder shouting “you can cry and I will hold you until you feel better.”

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When You Realize You’re In A Rut

I guess it takes getting outside of the rut to realize you were in one.  The problem is when you realize that you inevitably have to go back into the rut.  Once you’re back in… how do you cope?  How do you deal with the memories outside the rut and how much better you felt?  Here, let me explain…

This past weekend I went away with a couple of my lady friends.  We spent a great weekend in the city doing fun, geeky things.  We went a Comic Con type event, we ate great food, we relaxed, we had alcohol, and we danced, and we sang.  It felt great.  I even wore makeup every day and fixed my hair, and wore grown up clothes.

Now I’m back to being mommy.  I answer to the call of the wild humans who control my every moment of daylight.  I do not eat hot food, I do not change out of my pajamas, and I do not rest.  I am back in my rut.  It feels awful to say, but I am.  Even though I’m feeling better emotionally lately (less depression and anxiety), I still feel trapped.  Trapped by the mundane, trapped by the eating schedule, the sleep schedule, the constant neediness that is children.  It’s not their fault they are like this, it’s just how they are, but once you’ve tasted the freedom of the past…. it feels like you’re having to go back to wearing chains.

I’ve even begun to wonder if maybe my husband is bored with me.  Does he hate the mundane life that has been created here too?  Is that why he is always up for guys nights and golf weekends and basketball?  I have always understood, but I guess I really get it now.  The problem with this is that I’m never unsatisfied with my time with my husband. He is my source of calm, of normalcy, of peace.  I’d have the same night with him a million times, then a million more after that, and never get bored.  But my husband is a different person than I am.  He enjoys me (I hope), and he loves the time we spend together (I think), but I know he needs more.  That’s why he  plays around with developing apps, and plays video games after I crash for the night.

I have other things I like to do too, of course.  I crochet and I write, but by the time I’m done spending my quality time with my husband, I’m exhausted.  I guess I could blame life in general for this (kids are crazy exhausting), but I think it’s more my thyroid disorder than anything.  So my day is spent with the kids for 14 hours, then 1.5 hours with my husband, then I sleep.  There is no time to crochet or write… there is nothing left of me.  I’m a mommy and i’m a wife, and nothing else.  I guess this is why I find myself constantly on my phone during the day looking at Pinterest and Instagram.  My way of gazing out the window of my phone into other peoples lives.  People who have time to create, to write, to imagine.

I know one day things will be different.  The kids will be older and in school, then eventually they won’t want anything to do with me…. but that’s not what I want either.  It’s like I somehow want to live in this rut, but be able to fully enjoy it.  To make the rut comfy and happy and new, but I just can’t figure out how to do it.  Maybe venturing outside the rut a little more often can give me the necessary daylight and air to replenish my spirit and give me the strength to fill my rut with love… then, maybe, it just won’t be a rut anymore, but more of just a divot in the road.  A small little something that once tripped me up on my way through life.

When Your Child Shares The Worst Part of You

It’s bad enough that I have suffered from anxiety for my entire life, and depression for the last 3 years, but the worst part of having mental illness, is being aware that it could be passed to my children.  Well, I thought the worst part would be being aware of this fact, but the worst part is actually seeing it happen and not knowing what to do about it.

My daughter, E, has been struggling for the past couple months (and as I write this, I’m realizing that’s how long she’s been going to occupational therapy… I’ll think on this as I write).  She started picking the skin on her lip when she was sick with a cold.  You know how it goes, your nose is stuffy, so you mouth breath all day and night and dry your lips out until the crack and peel.  When this happened, E realized that she could pick the skin off, and she started doing it.  No big deal, right?  I’ve done the same thing.  Then she started doing it when she was better, and her lips began to bleed.  Both top and bottom lips were picked to excess, and she kept doing it.  She’d do it in bed at night, at school, and at therapy.  It looked awful, and I knew it had to hurt, but she kept at it.  Then she started picking at her fingers….

First she just picked the skin around her fingernails when she had a hangnail.  She’d bleed and whine about the pain, asking for a bandaid.  She fell in love with bandaids and would ask for one every time she got even a little scratch.  Soon she started picking at the skin so much she was picking off chunks of skin.  The bleeding was bad, the fingers looked awful.  We tried everything from asking her why she was doing it, to telling her that was not a good thing to do, to pleading with her to stop hurting herself.  Nothing has worked, and now all ten of her fingers are picked raw and bleeding.  Still, she picks.

I’ve had to send her to preschool with six fingers in bandaids.  The teachers are aware of what’s happening, and they are trying to redirect her attention when she’s doing it.  I know a lot of the time it’s just something she does.  She’s not actively thinking “okay, time to pick the skin til it hurts!” She’s just doing it.  It’s just something to keep her hands busy when she’s bored, nervous, anxious.

(I did think, for a few days, that she was doing it just because she wanted bandaids, but after offering her a box of bandaids all to herself if she stopped, and still not seeing her stop, I knew it was something else.)

…but what can be done?  Is this a phase?  Is it something deeper?  If it is, what set it off?  Could she be suffering from my depression, anxiety, and anger?  Are my outbursts and crying getting to her?  Is listening to her brother scream all day (because I’m not holding him) grating on her nerves as well?  Does it bother her that I have to hold him and give him more attention BECAUSE he will scream if I don’t?  Does she feel left out?  If so, what can I do?  How can I help her if I can’t help myself?  When will S be easier so that I can give equally to them both.  Or, can I?  Is that ever going to be a thing?

I want to help her, but I don’t know where to start.  Should I start with myself and hope that helps her? Or is this something that also lives inside her and has nothing to do with me or S?  Is this something that therapy set off?  Does she feel odd, knowing that we are taking her somewhere because she thinks we think there is something wrong with her?  I never really have been completely on board with the therapy (it’s for social and gross motor skills), but is 50 minutes a week doing exercises and interacting with other kids something that could set off her genetic anxiety bomb?

I’m not sure what we are going to do, but my husband definitely wants us to take her in to the pediatrician.  I assume they will want us to take her to a child psychologist, but I just can’t believe that it’s to a point like that.  Isn’t there anything that can be done by me first?  Can’t I help her?  She’s my little E, and all I want is for her to feel happy and safe and loved.  Can’t I push aside my own issues and do that?  I think I can…. and I will be better for her.  She needs me, and I can do this.

Right?

Can You “Do It All?”

I don’t want to know if it’s possible to “have it all.”  That honestly sounds pretty silly to me.  First of all, who wants that much shit?  Second of all, there is a never ending line of things being made, invented, and dreamed up every second of every day.  So, what does “having it all” really mean?  No, my question is something different entirely.  Can you actually do it all?

Can you actually have time to take care of kids, spend time with your husband, clean the house (dishes, toys, vacuum), do the laundry, go to the grocery store, make all of the meals, shower, bathe the kids, change diapers, take the kid to preschool, pick the kid up from preschool, play with the kids, do something you love (crafting, painting, reading), sleep, and still be a happy person?  If so, how?

I feel like a good first step for me is to sit back and really consider being a minimalist. Now, I already consider myself to be a semi-minimalist.  I don’t buy anything extra, but I have relatives who believe that if they don’t buy me and the kids things, all the time, that it means they don’t love us.  I’m not sure where this type of thinking comes into play.  I like giving gifts so very much, but even I don’t think you need ten gifts for every special occasion, and two on Tuesdays.

My mother in law is the worst.  It’s actually an addiction for her.  She’s completely addicted to shopping.  She will spend $400 on clothes for the kids a month, and the same amount on toys.  I’ve begged her to stop.  My husband has begged her.  My father in law has given her an endless amount of crap for it, but yet she persists.  She will visit, randomly, on a Friday and bring my daughter three new toys and my son one.  Even though our house is overflowing with things they don’t play with.  You cannot walk two inches without stepping on a toy.  Yet my kids are bored, or over stimulated, or something.  They hate it as much as I do, but I keep putting things out.  Why?  So I don’t offend her.  She shows her love through giving…. but what the kids really need her to give it time.

The biggest problem I’ve had since moving into the neighborhood with my in-laws is that their relationship with my kids is not the same relationship I had with my grandparents.  I was always with my grandparents (my grandmother mostly), or they were always with me.  They wanted to spend time with us, and even though my grandmother is a world class shopper, she almost never bought us toys.  She’d buy us clothes (ugh, boooring), and then send us outside to climb trees or play basketball, then we’d come in for dinner.  She was always there for us, and we’d spend hours everyday sitting on the porch, talking and swinging in the big porch swing.  These are my fondest memories.  I can name one thing she bought for me when I was younger, and that’s because it’s sitting in my bedroom right now, 25 years later.  It’s a wooden trunk, and it now holds books for my kids.  That’s it.

This is the kind of relationship I want my kids to have with their grandparents.  I want them to remember wagon rides around the neighborhood, and playing softball in the back yard.  I want them to remember dinners, and snuggles, and laughing.  I don’t want them to think of their grandparents as the gift givers.   Although my daughter now says “I’m going to ask grandma to get that for me” every time she sees a commercial for a new toy.  And you know what… if grandma is around when she sees that commercial, she will have that toy within the next two days.

So, what do I do?  How do I unburden myself from this weight?  How do I take the biggest problem, the biggest collection of junk strewn about my house, and make it disappear?  How do I get this one thing off of my plate so that I can take clean up time and put it towards family time?  What can I do besides offend someone who thinks this is how you show love?  Is there a fix for this that won’t hurt her feelings?  Or hurt our relationship?  Something has to give, and it has to be soon.

Birthday As A Mom

My birthday was yesterday, and it was basically a regular day with 2.5 hours of alone time in the morning, thanks to my in-laws.  I enjoyed it by grabbing some food and eating it in bed, taking a hot, quiet shower, and doing a little crafting.  The rest of my day was spent being a mom.

I remember when birthdays used to be the most special day of the year.  There was always a party, just for me.  Decorations, food, music.  Tons of friends coming over to celebrate my day.  This was high school, mind you.  As the years went on, and I got older, birthday’s became less important to those around me.  In college we’d all drink and laugh and maybe go dancing.  For my 21st birthday, which should have been the craziest birthday of all, we went to a bar and only me and one other friend wanted to revel in the festivities (music and beer).  The other three people didn’t.  I was bummed… and that was the beginning of the end for birthdays.

Now birthdays are a day where I take care of kids all day, just like every day before that, and I get more dings on my phone from Facebook friends wishing me a happy birthday.  Most of whom do not speak/type to me any other day of the year, which just ends up making me more upset about my birthday.  I’m not sure why, but I assume it’s because these people want to make me feel like they still care about me because Facebook reminded them that it was my birthday, not because they actually care.

Maybe I’m just bitter, and this depression is eating away at any joy I might possibly feel in life.

So, yesterday was my birthday, and it was nothing special.

I hate saying that, I hate feeling that, but my goal is to be honest right now while I’m going through this.  Hopefully a day will come when I will be so glad I no longer feel this way.  I’ll laugh and enjoy my birthday regardless of the amount of attention it’s given.  Maybe, someday soon, I’ll enjoy the little things again.

I Have Two Kids Now

Well, here I am, with two kids!  Is anyone else on the planet more shocked by this than me?

My son (S) is now 4.5 months old, and he is as big as E was when she was ONE YEAR OLD.  I’m having trouble with him not sleeping well, because in my head I’m all like “you are big, so you must be old.”  That’s not how things work though, I’m afraid.  Too bad though, I could really use some sleep.  Maybe soon…. *fingers crossed*

I know I haven’t been around much, but having two kids is ten times harder than having one.  (SURPRISE!) and most days I’m struggling to just eat food.  Not cold food, but any food at all.  When I do get to eat, I eat an entire plate of food in four minutes.  I’ve also been struggling with stomach aches… not sure why though.

My husband just got a vasectomy on Friday.  I’ll admit that on Thursday I was kind of freaking out.  I sort of wanted to stop the whole thing, have 12 more babies, and be one of those moms no one understands.  Luckily, it was just a mild freak out, my husband reminded me that I’m losing my mind, and he got it done.  When he got back home from the procedure, I was suddenly so calm and elated with the decision.  I could not be more happy that our family is complete, and now we can focus on things like preschool for E, and getting S to sleep (maybe?), and MAYBE… just MAYBE…. one day I’ll get to shower in the daylight again.  You see, S still sleeps in my room, and I have to shower after he’s asleep, and the light would maybe wake him up, and it’s not worth even trying to see if he’d sleep through it.  So, I shower in the dark.  I don’t shave now… I’m not that reckless.  Yes, I am as hairy as a bear now, thanks for asking.

Well, that’s about all the time I have now.  E isn’t napping and S just woke up from his and is staring at me.  I know he’s trying to tell me something…. but what??  Babies…

 

The TV Has Been Dead Nine Days Now….

Well, I’d like to say we made it 100% in nine days, but alas, we had a really bad day with a sick mommy, and an E who fell down a step and hurt her foot.  Add the fact that she refused a nap (for the first time in… I can’t even remember), we decided it might be nice to curl up on the couch and watch The Lorax.  It was nice.  She was exhausted, and mommy felt awful.  We snuggled, danced, laughed, and sang (why does this word always sound awkward? Singed..?).  When it was over?  She walked over to the TV and asked me to turn it off.  Unheard of!

Other than that?  Nothing. Not once has the TV been turned on, and after day four, she completely stopped asking for it.  This is actually huge.  We used to have the TV on all day and night.  More for background noise than anything, but always at the request of E, who chose what we were allowed to watch.  Although we did sneak in Modern Family and Big Bang in the evening before bedtime.  That’s a mommy and daddy type of need, especially when mommy had been watching Muppets and cartoons all day.

So, here are the results.

  •  E is more attentive to whatever she is playing with.  Blocks, letters, books, puzzles.  She takes time to look at what she’s doing, and although she still gets easily frustrated, I’m starting to believe that’s just part of her personality, or part of being two…. hopefully the two part.
  • E enjoys everything more.  She now randomly breaks into dances, she drums on tables and her tunnel.  She pretends more.
  • She no longer breaks down into hysterics when she needs something.  I mean, good god guys, it was the most traumatic experience in the world for her to run out of milk and need more.  Before asking “mommy, more milk, please” she would just immediately start whining and throwing her cup at me. “E NEED MILK!!”  I cannot tell you how much I’m enjoying this.  Not to say all the hysterics are completely gone (I’m not sure that is a possibility with a two year old?), but we are down to maybe 2 episodes a day instead of 20.  Awesome sauce.
  • Now I can tell if she’s been watching TV.  Her grandparents are, well, grandparents.  They think that what mom and dad says is poo-poo and they can do whatever they want (they won’t even anchor dressers to the wall, which is a completely separate fight).  I get it, my grandma was notorious for not doing what my mom wanted, and my mom hated it.  I guess you forget that when you become a grandparent though.  My in-laws have the TV on all the time.  The tantrums she has thrown at their house the three times we’ve been there in the past nine days…. wow.  That’s all I’ve got.  They are either 10 times worse than before, or she’s just become so calm in the past nine days I had forgotten how bad it truly was.  I feel like this is a battle I can’t win though.  So I put up with it, and put up with the 24 hour grandparents house detox it takes for her to calm down and get back to normal.  It’s a long 24 hours….

So, this is the evidence I have that “breaking” your TV is the best decision for your toddler.  It might not be the easiest at first, because it will require a lot more of your time to keep them amused, but I am now finding that she will go into her playroom, or out onto the porch all by herself and play, and pretend, and come back in to tell me what she’s been doing.  Then, when she understands that I’m done doing whatever I was doing (cleaning, peeing, eating), she will ask that I come play with her, and I do, as I am no longer distracted by the TV either.  I’ve even been able to crochet in the same room as her while she plays.  It’s really been life altering, and I’m so glad I tried it.

…although I do occasionally miss The Lorax and The Muppets, I’m so glad I traded them for my little E.