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 It’s Easier to Plug-in, Unplug.

I knew today would be hard when I cracked open my eyes to see what time it was at it was only 5:54.  My daughter, standing at the side of my bed, leaning her face into my face, quietly asking if she could snuggle.  I peered back at her through blurry, glasses-less eyes and said “it’s too early, go ask your daddy….”  (He was on the other side of the bed, mind you).

I guess my answer should have been “sure, baby girl.  I know it’s an hour before your get-up clock says it’s okay to be in our room, but you never listen to that anyway because you are strong and independent, and I admire that!”

I just don’t like to be woken up, and especially not so damned early.  Turns out my son was working on a bowel movement and woke up 23 minutes later, screaming his face off.

This is motherhood.  It’s real and it’s raw.  It’s opening your weary eyes and having to immediately “get to work,” so to speak.  There is no waking up when your body says so, or going to the bathroom, or brushing your teeth, or drinking your tea/coffee while you listen to the silence of the earth rotating in space.  It’s just non-stop noise, dancing, hitting, yelling, eating, crying, screaming, laughing…. and that’s just from the four year old.

So, today, on day five of a very long week, I should have thrown my hands into the air and said “screw it!  Here’s an iPad, and the TV, and any snack you want, just be quiet for five minutes!!!” But, I didn’t.  I breathed through it.  I even did exercises every time I got frustrated (so, quite a workout).  I kept the TV off, I kept the iPad upstairs and my phone hidden.  I know that these things wear on my daughters mind.  They make her anxious and keep her mind running with all the noise and all the flashing colors.  She needed to be unplugged today, and so did I.

Sometimes the silence of being unplugged can be harder to fill with patience, because it definitely takes more work, but today, so far, has been an improvement on yesterday…. and that’s really all I’m asking for.

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.

Shoo Fly…

I have become a woman possessed. Possessed with keeping these frigging flies out of my house.

Last year, there were hundreds of them.  I kid you not.  There is no exaggeration.  Unfortunately, I had a three year old and a 3 month old and I had no ability, energy, or desire to battle the flies.  Now, however, my kids are older, and I am on a rampage. Swatting, spraying, and cutting off their food sources.  And you want to know which of these three things is working best?  Cutting off the food source.

Last week I decided that there would be no more food in the trash.  None.  I put everything in the disposal (this is a great time for people to rave about composting, but I’m almost unable to keep up with throwing things into my sink, so it’s just not the right time, or the right blog).  I have even been rinsing out food wrappers and food covered paper towels.  Not only are there no more flies racing towards my face every time I open the garbage can, but there is also no terrible garbage smell.  Seriously, it’s a win-win.

Are there still flies? Yes, of course.  It’s summer in North Carolina…. but compared to the hundreds from last year, this year has a max of 15 at a time, and those get swatted.  Then I spray their filthy black poop dots that cover my window sills with vinegar and go about my day.  It’s kind of exhausting, but earlier this summer I was having to put a paper towel with a hairband around it around my cups so that the flies wouldn’t dive in and drown in my drink.  Inside my house.  Yes, it was that bad.

So, shoo fly, don’t bother me, or i’mma gonna have to swat ya.

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?

The Demon Time-Suck (AKA Facebook)

I recently had to re-sign in to my Spotify account, something I rarely do because I am one of those people who never logs out of anything.  Could be because I’m lazy, could be because I can never remember which password goes where exactly.  Probably a good mix of both, but the fact remains that I had to actually log back in to Spotify today, like some sort of person from the stone age who did not have Google immediately remember my information and do it for me.  Ugh, how did people live back then?

When I logged back in, Spotify automatically connected me to Facebook.  I guess this is something it’s always done, but I never noticed or cared because it’s only been two months since I deactivated my Facebook account.  Imagine my surprise when I receive an email welcoming me back to Facebook.  Yes, they do that when you leave and then come back. They welcome you back.  Probably like a drug dealer welcomes you back to the den.  “Don’t you want to see what your friends and family think about politics and religion?  Mmmm… feel that red hot heat flowing through your veins?  That’s the good stuff!”

Blerg.  No thank you.  I am done.  I spent five minutes dancing with the demon time-suck when I went back to deactivate, and that was enough.  I no longer care where you went to dinner, or what you think about the latest sporting event, or how many babies you have.  Sorry, if I like you enough, I’ll already know these things.  I have spent the past seven weeks actually reaching out to people through messenger (yes, you can still have messenger with Facebook), and text.  I ask them about their days, their kids, their lives. We send pictures and joke, and we don’t have to have the whole world see what we are discussing.  We don’t do it for show, or to elicit responses from that girl I knew in high school who was kind of mean to me the one time I talked to her, but sort of seems like she’s okay now.

It’s amazing.  Do it.  Cut that demon off and tell it to go back to the spiraling vortex of internet time-suckage where it belongs. Enough wasting your time scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.  Get back to the people you care about.  Talk to them directly.  Don’t settle for the shiny Facebook persona that so many people (including myself when I was posting multiple times a day) shine for everyone to see.  No one is that person all of the time.

Get off of Facebook and do something.  Go outside.  Learn to crochet, or paint, or bake. Actually look your children in the face when they talk to you.  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in those hours you’re currently wasting.

A First Step

I’m no stranger to trying to declutter.  Some weeks I spend every spare moment of my day working to throw things away that we don’t need.  It’s a great joy of mine, but it’s also a huge distraction.  I can’t seem to ever keep on top of it.  The more I throw away, the more other people bring into my house.  “I noticed you didn’t have 12 of this thing that I have that I love, so here you go!”

*Me in my head: Rawrerghghhghh!!

*Me out loud: Thaaaaaaaanks!  Awesome!  I don’t really need these for anything, but, um, thanks!

I’d like to start with toys, but that is the battle that will continue until the kids are…. I mean, what… ten at least??  I don’t know when kids are done with toys.  So I figure I can start with clothes.  I’ve already begun my great decluttering project with my own clothes. Next, the kids, then my husband, who has been known to still wear shirts from high school (and one he got when he was three.  Yes, it was adult sized then, but he’s worn it since middle school at least).  I figure less clothes in the house = less clothes to wash = less folding = less time spent putting away said clothing = happier, less preoccupied mommy.  (I’m not very good at math, so this could be totally wrong.)

I’ll let you all know how it goes.  So far I have one, huge black trash bag full of just my own clothes.  A great start!