A mothers guilt

I have said those words to myself a thousand times, but typing those words out for all the world to see…(deep breath)..it stings a little…

A mothers guilt…this mothers guilt.

I can speak as a mom, and I by no means am trying to say ALL moms feel this way, or are this way, but I hope there are others who understand.

We have to make decisions that will affect our children’s lives. It will affect who they become, and there’s always going to be those stories they tell people about their memories of things, good, bad and in-between. I have stories about my mother. My mom lost her mother at a very young age, so she didn’t get the privilege (I mean that) to complain to her mom about how her own kids (one of which is me 🙂 ) were driving her crazy. Or ask her mom “how did you do it mom!” or to say what I have said a gazillion times to my mom “I’m so sorry for what I put you through”. Mostly I apologize for being a self centered, lazy teenager. And my mom smiles and says “you don’t have to apologize to me”. Yes I do. That’s how I show my mom how differently I see things now as a mother compared to how I saw them as that bratty teenager. And they are not just words to me, I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart. I’m sure my mom doesn’t want my apology because, well, because she’s mom. Mom’s understand their kids will make mistakes, lots of them in fact. Moms hope they can help avoid some obvious mistakes, but I’m learning sometimes us moms must sit back and let the rocks tumble. But when things go wrong and it hurts our kids we moms are always so hard on ourselves, that wonderful “mothers guilt”.

This is going to sound crazy, but I really got lucky with my girls. I was 18 when I got pregnant. I didn’t even know how to take care of myself let alone a baby or two!  Which meant I didn’t eat right, I didn’t sleep enough, or I slept to much, I skipped my prenatal vitamins a lot (they made me nauseous) I stressed myself to tears daily. I was unhappy. I was 18, unmarried, and my boyfriend of 3 years broke up with me after I got pregnant. I had to drop out of college, lost my scholarship. I lost my job because I got put on bed rest. I already felt the mothers guilt. I felt bad for bringing my kids into a single parent home, with no dad in the picture (at the time) and I had no money to take care of them. The depression I felt was actually my mothers guilt I’m sure.

As a kid I dreamed of a fancy future, a high paying career, I was going to be someone important! I always remember picturing myself in a loft downtown with an area for my art with paint brushes and a work in project sitting on an easel. Anyway, being an 18 year old unemployed single pregnant teen was the farthest thing from my dream. My dad was dying of cancer, my mom was in her midlife crisis and my best friend dumped me. I was a depressed wreck. But a miracle happened, well 2. I gave birth to two beautiful and healthy baby girls who brightened my world beyond my imagination. They had a few minor health issues as babies, but overall they were very healthy babies! By 6 months they slept through the night. They weren’t picky eaters, I just had to cut up the meat and hide it in mashed potatoes. They were full of smiles and giggles and they shined everywhere we went. I eventually got back to college. I didn’t think I could love anything or anyone as much I loved those girls! I was lonely sure, but I didn’t really picture myself with anyone. I accepted it was me and them girls forever. So I spoiled them, dressed them alike, gave lots of hugs and kisses, did their hair every day in pig tails, I enjoyed them because as far as I was concerned they would be my only children. Then life threw me a curve ball, well a lot of curve balls and with each of those came more guilt.

I met a guy, looking back I’m honestly mad at my mother for encouraging it. But she was just happy to see me happy again and the idea of me not having to raise my girls alone was nice. What a fool I was. I can’t express how much guilt I have locked away over this one, but it is what it is. Lessons were learned. I became a much stronger person from it all. And in 2002 I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. It was a very, very, very difficult and long delivery. I was in labor for over 27 hours and actively pushed for nearly seven hours, mind you this after having my twins by c-section. My son was 9 pounds and he couldn’t get out. I have guilt over picking that quack doctor.

From day one Ryan had health issues. He didn’t sleep, he was always hungry but like the girl from the exorcist, he threw everything up. It was awful. Jaundice, fevers, ear infections, acid reflux (I never knew a baby could have that!) eczema, sick all the time he was. The guilt over his birth still eats at me. I was again going through another pregnancy alone but this time also raising twin four year olds. The last thing I wanted was to be raising 3 kids by two different fathers alone, going through a divorce. What a catch I made my myself! At least I had a job this time. (there’s my sarcasm) Do I need to explain where the mothers guilt fits in this part of the story? God I hope not!

Fast forward through a lot of crappy choices that came with more of..you guessed it… mothers guilt.

Let’s see, I have no idea where to start on this part… Hmm.. okay, 2004 was the first time I took Ryan in for outside help. Ryan was always so much more work than my girls were. I’m sure I’m exaggerating but I honestly remember the girls always being so easy. You said “no, don’t touch that” they didn’t touch it. Shocking I know! I mean, they’d give me a poutty face, immediately followed by a big smile and a “shake that booty..uh uh..shake that booty baby” such easy kids. Ryan is a tester, a button pusher, he likes to test the limits and push buttons. He’s honery! Anyways, 2004 fast forward through alot of mis-diagnoses, therapy, behavior modification, medical tests and hospitalizations…and the overwhelming guilt that comes with all that… Ryan actually has Epilepsy, and ADHD. He’s a great kid though. He’s funny, charming, peculiar, artistic, loving, smart, jokester, thoughtful. But he’s had a rough road, course thank god he had me and his sisters because it takes a whole lot of love to get a person through what he was.

And the guilt over all the stuff I fast forwarded through? Well there’s just so much to explain, to sum it up, I learned how to be my child’s advocate. I learned how to navigate my way through the system. The medical, the insurance, the doctors, the school, IEP’s, I became obsessed with it all. Why? My guilt. It’s silly really. Most people don’t know about this stuff, we trust the doctors and the schools to do right by us and our kids. BUT I learned a very important lesson. We must educate ourselves too, moms (and dads if they are involved) are the most important person to stand and fight for our kids.

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A calm after the storm

The Storm Hit and stuck around for a bit

To sum things up, my family has been hit hard. The storm came and just stayed. It kept turning and moving and spinning. On numerous occasions I found myself dizzy from the whirlwind. Physically exhausted, mentally burnt, and wondering when it would stop hitting us with new blows. Just let up already! Hadn’t we survived enough storms?

Learning to find the Light

I’m learning to find peace and light in whatever little things I can. It’s to hard when I focus on the negative things. It’s scary and quite frankly there’s too damn many of them to think about. So I’m trying to focus on the things I’m thankful for. This doesn’t come naturally for me, I have to work at it. But I am starting to see the gifts and stay focused on them because it makes me feel better.

It’s Okay

For some reason things are okay. I say this shocked because I had “checked out” for a while. I didn’t focus on the parenting plans or behavior strategy’s. I didn’t even think about all the appointments I needed to make and all the things I needed to get done, doctors to follow-up with for my son. I just didn’t care, it was not in me. While my body got some much-needed rest, I cut myself off from the world. My kids saw that even Supermom runs out of juice. I didn’t harp on them about vacuuming, or doing their dishes. I didn’t notice if the litter box was getting scooped. I didn’t say a word when my son repeatedly left his dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, right next to the clothes bin. I stopped pointing out that someone left the shower curtain open instead of pulling it straight to make the bathroom look tidy. I didn’t get up before the sun to feed the pets and start laundry and frantically run around the house before I had to leave for work. I didn’t have my usual “to do” list to remind me “don’t forget to do this today!”.  I stopped shaving my legs, I didn’t bother with painting my toes, I can’t believe how many gray hairs I really have when I don’t color my hair. I just pretty much stopped everything. My body caved under all the pressure and I physically had nothing left to give.

I felt guilty about it. I know my kids hated watching me fall down and unable to get back up. I was SUPERMOM with super powers controlling our world, not anymore. I hated knowing they had to see it, day in and day out watching me in my self-pity. We all only told a select few at first, I was embarrassed that I was now “unemployed” and without a plan. But once I got past worrying about all of it, I realized something. Something I needed to know all this time. The world didn’t fall apart. Everything was still okay!

My kids picked up the slack. Sure they all took advantage of not having to follow the rigid schedule of chores. They enjoyed mom not complaining about who did or didn’t do whatever. Who can blame them! But you know what? They knew what things were most important and what things could sit and wait. The pets got fed, but I didn’t do it! Every now and then a load of laundry was done, magically. The house was picked up, we all got fed, and somehow it didn’t matter that I wasn’t controlling it anymore. That’s when I started to breathe.

I still constantly apply for jobs, but I can even do it from my phone now. These smart-phones are amazing, just miniature computers in the palm of my hand! Instead of sitting at the computer, I played fetch with the dog. I watched a lot of junk TV with the kids. I even read a little bit. I looked at every option and decided I’m going back to college. I’m already registered. And guess what, I’m not even sure exactly what degree I want and it’s still okay! See, I’m a planner. I have to know everything in advance, schedule for it, arrange all the details. I’m learning I don’t need to do that anymore because things still work out. Even when the plan changes, it all works out.

Now when I decided to bring some structure back it wasn’t an easy task. My son is a very stubborn boy. We played “bull” for quite a few days trying to see which one of us was going to outlast the other. It was not fun and I wasn’t sure I had it in me anymore. At one point I was ready to throw in the towel and I got a call from a great lady who sat on the phone with me, reminding me how I did it before and telling me it was okay I got off track. That’s life! It was the perfect motivator and rejuvenated me, and then I realized he was throwing in the towel instead. I didn’t go back to all of the lessons and strategy’s we recently learned. I did take pieces of them though and found a way to make it work. Eventually he stopped fighting me. The power of a cable TV is pretty darn strong. I learned that’s the key, at least for my son. I don’t sit next to him constantly redirecting him to clean his room. He just didn’t get the TV until he did what I asked him to do. Slowly I realized his fights weren’t such terrible battles anymore. He was learning it was better to just get it over with and do what mom asked. I wince at typing this for fear that I may ruin the progress. (Knock on wood Heather, quickly before it’s too late!)

Today I made my dear son pick up the mess in the living room. It was his after all. I keep the remote until he finishes the job. He needed to clear his dirty dishes, pick up the wrappers and re-organize the stack of DVD’s he took out. When he asked me nicely for the remote I just calmly reminded him “Sure, once you finish picking up the living room”. There is no caving in from me, at least not today. I checked the room before I gave him the remote. Something I always needed to do before, but was too exhausted from work to follow through with. Now he doesn’t waste my time with 10 trips of me checking to see he had not done anything yet. I just calmly ask “Did you get the dishes yet? And the trash? And those DVD’s got put back in the proper cases right?” That last one took him a little while. He just kept whining and pouting how hard it is and why should it matter if they are in the right cases if they’re just his movies anyway? I just simply answered the question, calmly stating “because I said so” at the end. Eventually, after about an hour, maybe two, he finally did all the steps, properly. And he was proud of himself. (and I am proud of us both!)

I write this detailed reminder not for other parents who may read this and need the tips. I write it to remind ME why it’s working now. I’m not frantically pacing the house to get all the chores done and stressing about all those papers I still need to get done at the office. I’m not stressed out because I still haven’t had the time or energy to organize the closet. My mind isn’t racing with 30 things I need to make sure gets done at work because I’m doing 3 people’s work while they get to relax watching YouTube, frustrated at the lack of concern the owner has about his own company. I’m not angry anymore about the lack of involvement and interest he had. I’m not stewing over the fact that the owner is an unreasonable and unappreciative jerk blowing me off every time I discuss logical and necessary changes to be addressed. Sigh…I was overworked, unappreciated and undervalued which contributed to a toxic work environment, I’m not dealing with that anymore. I’m not thinking which step of the new behavior strategy I forgot to follow through with either. I’m not stressing. I’m breathing. I’m calm.

I’m still in a storm, but I’m okay, me and the kids. I understand the term “calm after the storm” and I have faith that it’s all going to work out. I just hope I’m right.

this mom seems to be rebelling from herself….

reb·el

[n., adj. reb-uhl; v. ri-bel]

noun

1. a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of his or her country.
2. a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
adjective
3.rebellious; defiant.
4. of or pertaining to rebels.
verb (used without object) re·bel

5. to reject, resist, or rise in arms against one’s government or ruler.
6. to resist or rise against some authority, control, or tradition.
7. to show or feel utter repugnance: His very soul rebelled at spanking the child.

(definition compliments of dictionary.com)

Yes, I said it. I admit it, I own it, I am acknowledging this. I am rebelling from my own parenting strategy plan! Let me explain.

Time is not on my side

Let’s see. On a typical day my alarm clock starts going off at 5:30 am. Well, really it’s 5:23 am. I fool myself by setting the clock ahead. If I were to use an easy round number (say 10 minutes) it’s pretty darn easy to figure out what time it really is, even at 5 in the morning. I know I have enough time to hit snooze a few times, but I’m honestly so tired in the morning I can’t remember how many times I hit it already. Then to do the math in my head for the 7 minute (which I’m thinking I should at least double this now) trick, oh shoot, just get out of bed. On a good day I am out of bed by 6 am.

Immediately I need to feed the cat, then the dogs, but Emmy’s food needs to soak in hot water for a few minutes because she’s old, clean the water dish and fill that up. Once I dump the first cup of food in the dog dish, my daughter will grumble and slam her bedroom door closed. How dare I wake them up before they need to curl their hair! Maybe sweep the kitchen floor, flip the laundry I didn’t finish the night before. Breakfast, I take a handful of vitamins every morning so I need food in my stomach first, breakfast is usually a banana or apple, maybe a protein bar. Fill up my ice water jug, because I have to drink 8 ounces of water with my vitamins, otherwise I’m backed up again.. and I NEED to take the vitamins because this mom doesn’t eat right or enough which just drags me down more….

I typically will practice our tricks with the dogs. Sit, down, up, speak, sing, dance, for whatever reason my dogs love this. I’m sure it’s the treats. Anyway, time for my shower (I have to bring Emmy’s food in the bathroom to feed her, otherwise Toby will devour her food…I also might scrub the tiles or tub), wake up Ryan. Waking up Ryan takes at least 45 minutes. I will go in and out of his room about 5 times trying to wake him. Toby is adorable and will climb into his bed when he hears me trying this. Toby will stand over Ryan and sniff in his ear and face. I honestly think this is Toby’s way of helping me out 🙂 I need to make sure Ryan’s taken his anti-seizure meds, remind him a dozen times to stay on track and brush his teeth. While doing this I’m attempting to put on some make up to hide my dark circles under my eyes. Let the dogs out again, get Ryan off to school (damn he forgot his book bag again!) get Toby in his kennel for the day and grab my purse heading to work. As you can see, I haven’t even started my day.  I think you get my point about a lack of time for me.

Who has some energy to spare?

I’m exhausted. Completely and utterly exhausted. Now I’m suppose to come home and immediately start with the kids. I need to inspect for “children droppings” and see if they “stole” any fun without doing their jobs. (I’ll explain more later) But all I want to do when I walk in is go hide in my room for a 15 minute break. A break from the world. Just 15 minutes that I don’t have to smile at anyone, or greet them. 15 minutes of not listening to anyone else. 15 minutes to lay down because my back has been killing me…But I can’t get this. It shouldn’t be a big deal…but for me it is…

At least the dogs greet me with a smile 🙂

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