Doubting Your Parenting Abilities : How You Know You’re On The Right Track

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My short one came out of her room the other night, talking about how she only had one pair of jeans and couldn’t find her leggings. I asked her if she had gone through her clothes lately to see what fit and didn’t, and she exclaimed she did (she didn’t) and actually got teary eyed.

In reality, it’s about the time of year where I buy her a few pairs of jeans, some decent tops. Then in the spring, she gets tank tops and a few shorts. Then around her June birthday, she gets clothing from her grandmother (who picks out really good stuff). We’re not destitute, my child does have some leggings (they’re just too bright colored! Not cool enough for her punk look she has going on) and she has jeans, somewhere.

Yet that night, I sat there after she went to bed and beat myself up. My god, my child only has one pair of jeans that she wants to wear! She had a growth spurt and didn’t have anything to wear! I must suck as a parent. Then I thought about how I picked on her for her part in her hair the other day. I told her she looked like Avril Lavigne, instead of remembering how we chuckled about it, I worried that maybe I had hurt her feelings. After that I worried about how cooped up she has been since it’s winter. I felt like a bad mom because I hadn’t done anything outside with her (despite her thinking she’s too cool to play in the snow).

It was a long road down into a worry filled well of self doubt. Then I remembered what I’ve told numerous other mothers, and reminded myself that I need to take my own words to heart.

If you worry about how good of a parent you are, you’re fine. It’s when you stop worrying, stop caring, that’s when you’re in trouble.

A lot of my friends have children now, and a lot of them are reaching ages where they voice discontent with their parents. Time and time again, I see my fellow moms on facebook beating themselves up over whether or not they’re a good mom. Hell, I’ve even seen a couple dads do it. Our kids whine, our kids complain, and we look at other parents and compare ourselves to them. Are we good enough?

We wonder if not buying our kids the newest tablet makes us a bad parent because “all my friends have one! Why can’t I?!” We wonder that the new tablet we did buy our kids makes us a bad parent, as we’re being bombarded left and right by the news and other parents about our children’s time spent on electronics. Our kids don’t seem to have the right looking clothes, or the right sizes (damn those growth spurts!) or the right BRAND of shoes. They don’t have the newest gaming console, or maybe they do? Does that make us bad parents because they’re spoiled? We had to ground our kids for not doing their chores, and we can hear them crying in their rooms. Did we make the right choice? Our kids don’t have set chores and we all help out, are we ruining our children?

Noticing a trend here?

We all worry, and in this current day and age, we are blasted with articles about different ways to raise our children. Every time we turn around, we have social media posts from other moms and dads about how their way is the best way, some of which blatantly say those of us who parent in a different way are damning our children. The fact is, is that my generation, our generation is has so much information about how to parent thrown at us, we struggle a lot with double guessing our own decisions.

I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon, but at the end of the day we need to realize something. We need to realize that we worry about our parenting because we’re trying to do our best by our children. I’m sure we’ll all make mistakes, we’ll all look back and regret some of the choices we’ve made raising our children.. but that’s what makes us good parents. Worrying at night if you did an okay job, proves you’re on the right track.

It’s when you stop worrying, that you have a problem. When you give up on parenting the best way you know how. It’s when you stop caring, that you’re not doing right by your kids. We just need to remember that when we’re beating ourselves up over things, actions, choices, and such.

So to all those parents who haven’t yet purchased the new Xbox.. or who did! You rock! To all those with kids who swear up and down that they have NO clothes to wear! Hang in there! To all those parents who kids are grounded because they acted like an ass.. you’re good! To those parents who just discovered a mountain of clothes in their child’s closet! Buckle in, you got this!

To all those parents, who collapse at the end of each day, wondering if they’re doing a good enough job at raising their kids, relax. You’re doing great!

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Winter – Depression & Crohns rear their Collective Heads

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Winter has always been rough for me. My depression and anxiety tend to get worse, usually from late December until spring. Usually my Crohns Disease acts up (my anxiety levels up my symptoms) as well. However, I tend to look at it like this: There’s no better time to be sick and depressed than winter. Why? Because fuck the cold and snow, that’s why.

It’s not big deal though, although I hope my (few) friends understand why I’ve been so distant lately. Sometimes it is just hard to push through the brain fog. So for now, I’ll remain cuddled up on my couch with my books and Reddit.

Life other than all of that is alright.

The kid is doing fantastic, she’s not the biggest fan of school this year, but she’s doing great. She’s got one hell of a personality now, she’s like my little punk rocker. She’s super open minded and accepting of others, and thanks to the current political climate has a firm dislike of racists and nazi-scum. She asked me to give her an undercut the other day, so now she has the underside of her ponytail buzzed and the bottom 4″ of her hair is sea green/blue. She is definitely something else, and despite the daily video calls with her other little gremlin friends, I am indefinitely proud of her.

The boyfriend has been job hopping. Trying to find one that is a good fit for him, might as well take advantage of the interviews and look for a great position and company to work for. Things are going great with us, so nothing new there.

Our Animal House has been good too. Vader (our neighbor’s old cat) has settled into the house fantastically. Smudge is still not too fond of him, but they get along. I do have to say that I love Vader dearly. He is such a sweetheart, I couldn’t ever imagine losing him even though he hasn’t been here nearly as long as Smudge or Thumbs.

Things calmed down with Jon’s ex. That’s something I’m glad is basically over. She had denied him visitation over the summer (I guess she got angry that we questioned her parenting choices and called her bluff on abandoning her daughter at our house). So we took her to court, and her lawyers basically told her to go kick rocks and give us our visitation, do half the driving and let Jon in on all decisions. Unfortunately Jon is still stuck paying for the son that is not biologically his (Ex cheated on him, got pregnant, tried to pin it on Jon) as Pennsylvania will not cancel child support, despite paternity unless another man takes his place. Unfortunately they do not require her to work, so she’s still living off of CS & Welfare. Alas. Just like with my daughters dad NOT paying child support, EVER.. we are completely okay with the kids knowing who does what for them, and seeing us as examples. Neither of us will bad mouth our exes in front of our children, but we also don’t lie.

As for me? I’m still on hiatus from work. I’ve interviewed with a few places over the phone, and turned down several in person interviews. I’m not sure what my plan is for right now, but our situation works for us and I’m enjoying finally being able to spend (forced) time with the kiddo even if she’s at the age where she’s not so keen on it. Ha.

As the months drag on, I still do not regret quitting my last job. I’m reminded almost daily by Timehop showing me the posts about how miserable I was from the last 8 years. I may have my normal depression and anxiety, but I am no longer having daily anxiety attacks about going into that toxic environment. I hear from old coworkers and work contacts every once in a while, and it seems like it hasn’t gotten much better beyond a crackdown. All I can say there folks is I learned a life lesson, one that I’ve drilled into Jon (as he walked from one recently in order to take another higher position) and one that I’m teaching my daughter. Work is work, don’t let them destroy you and your health, because at the end of the day, you are expendable. No job is worth being miserable. Not even one you devoted the better part of your 20’s and early 30’s to it.

So beyond all that rambling, hey. At least I’m writing again. I have been slowly working myself into writing again. Even if it’s just free writing a few sentences a day. I’ve just got to get into the habit. Writing is the easiest way to clear my mind and lift my mood.

On that note. I’m off to eat some chocolate and cuddle with the pupper.

Step-Parenting: Working as a Team

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I don’t think anyone really sets out to be a single parent. I know I didn’t. I had delusions of a wonderful husband, 2.5 kids, and white picket fence.. unfortunately the man who I chose to be my husband was actually too full of himself to treat my daughter and I right. So here I am, or was, a single parent.

As a mom, my kid comes first. She comes before me, she comes before my boyfriend, friends, wants and even needs. I will and have burned bridges for her, and have made sure she was cared for and happy even in my sickest days. My daughter is even the type to like to be tucked in at night, so even when I was in the hospital (if she wasn’t with me), I’d call just to say goodnight and sweet dreams. She is my first thought upon waking up, and last thought upon going to bed. I would cross the world for her, because, that’s what mother’s do!

So when I meet a man I’d like to have a relationship with, I make it known that my kid comes first. I make it damn well known that we are a packaged deal, and if he doesn’t want responsibility down the line, or to forge a relationship with my girl, then he knows to take a hike. I’m very up front about it.

(Jon’s and my first conversation went like this – on both sides: Hi, I have kid(s) and a chronic illness. If that’s a deal breaker.. bye.)

Now days, well, we’ve been dating for almost a year I think? We work as a team. He relies on me to help with his daughter, and I rely on him to help with mine. We may be step-parents to each other’s children, but we work as a team.  Our end goal, is two happy, well-adjusted kids in a stable home. Now that’s not to say that a child can’t live in a stable home and be happy with a single parent, (she did, trust me) that’s just our goal since we’re living together.

We’re a team in our love life, so we’re a team in our family life as well. The point of bringing someone into your home, is to envelope them into your family, so we both raise both children.

This came up recently because someone we know doesn’t feel that way. She’s in a long term relationship with someone, and she also has 2 kids with another on the way. She doesn’t feel like it’s responsibility to help care for the kids since he didn’t father them (oddly enough, she has another guy paying child support for a kid that isn’t his.. so that doesn’t make much sense to me). That baffles me, you have someone that you love and supposedly loves you back, that is living with you and your children, and you don’t expect him to help out with your kids? You don’t have your boyfriend care for them? Does he not pick them up from school? Comfort them when they have a fever? Does he not love your children as part of you? If not, then why be with him?

That baffles me. As a mother, I try to be there as much as possible, but with working full time, I’m not. What I can’t fit into my day, Jon does. He cooks meals, drives her places, picks her up, and has basically taken on a fatherly role for her. The love between those two makes me so happy it’s ridiculous. I know he would go to the end of the earth for not just his daughter, but for mine. I am so proud to have him in our lives, he’s a great dad (Noodle doesn’t call him dad, just Jon FYI).

To think that there is a child out there, with a step-“parent” that can’t be troubled to pick his girlfriend’s daughter up while she’s indisposed… disgusts me to be honest. It just continues the horrible step-parent stereotype! “That’s not my kid, so I’m not doing it”. The worst part is? It shows the child that she isn’t loved, it shows her an unhealthy relationship, which of course she will model as she gets older.

I don’t know, it just really confuses me. Why create a family with a man, but exempt your previous children from it? Why be with someone who you don’t trust to care for your kids, or who doesn’t WANT to? Why fail your children like that?

I’m just confused and disgusted.

 

I’m also grateful for the man I have, and that he and his daughter are part of my family. I will kick some ass for that little girl of his, she deserves the world, just like my Noodle.

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We are a Team, We are a Family.

Snow Snow Rambling Snow Snow

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The first big snow of the season is supposed to come this weekend. Sure, we’ve had a dusting or two, maybe a couple of inches, but they are saying it could be 6-10 inches over the course of 48 hours.

As much as I hate Winter, I do look forward to the first snow storm. Something about it brings out something very childlike in me. I have so many memories attached with the first snow and getting excited for Christmas, that I can’t help but be a little bit thrilled when the first snow storm hits. Not to mention, we’ve had a handful of years where it didn’t snow until after January, so huzzah to snow for Santa.

I do have some things to do before the snow gets here. I decided against putting up Christmas lights on the outside of the house, (got the inside covered!) but I do need to move some things into the shed and pull out the snow shovels. Just generally clean up the yard so I don’t have to do quite as much in the spring. The snow is supposed to start tomorrow evening, so I know what my day plans are for tomorrow.

Thankfully I don’t have any plans for this weekend. I did most of my present – shopping online this year, so beyond one more day with a trip to a couple stores, I’m done. So while the snow is piling down, I’ll be at home with my tea, occasionally shoveling but mostly binge watching Netflix and random cleaning. Unfortunately the boyfriend, Jon has to work, so I’ll be worried about him driving, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. Hopefully the snow slows down by Monday so my own commute to work won’t be too bad.

Other than my excitement for the white shit that falls from the sky, things are.. okay. The short kid is excited for Christmas, I got her one big present and some smaller things, and of course Santa is coming to my house and Grandma and Grandpas.

I’m trying to share in her excitement but of course, for I assume all single parents, the holidays are a stressful time. Jon has helped out with some gifts, and has been helping me tackle some things around the house I haven’t had time for so that’s definitely been helping. Just trying to stay on top of all the household chores and the finances is kicking me when I’m already down.

Of course my FMLA for work had expired, and getting it renewed isn’t exactly easy. I’m trying to be patient and understanding, but it hasn’t been easy on the corporate side of things. Thankfully I have a couple of friends who either work in employment law or are very familiar with FMLA that are guiding me through it. Of course, all of that just adds stress on top of what I already am dealing with, plus being sick. That’s how it always works. When it rains, it pours. (Or in this case, SNOWS!)

Other than that, one thing I don’t have to worry about is my car. My lovely Rav4 hit 250,000 miles the other day. We rebuilt the transmission 2 summers ago, so that’s been good. However, my wheel bearing went out. I went to get that replaced, and also replaced the ball joint as well as finally getting new tires for it. It was time, I couldn’t put it off any longer as they were pretty bad and I was sliding on just wet pavement. Of course that set me back quite a bit, but it needed to be done, and thankfully it is done just before the big snow.

I am still reminding myself to think of the good things, because like anyone else under a lot of stress, it’s easy to take life for granted. I’m very lucky, even though I’m having a tough time with my health, I’ve also been much sicker. I may be stressing about finances, but I have my house, car and decent job. I may get overwhelmed, but I’ve got a smart cookie for a kid, and a very loving boyfriend (who brought me a chai at work today because I was having a rough day!). There’s an upside to everything, and I am very blessed to have the life I do and the people in my life.

Twas a 4 Day Weekend..

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So today was the first day back at work after 4 days off. The prior week we also had a long weekend, and only worked 2 days. Lets just say it was a lot more needed than I originally thought. The stress from work and every day stuff had really been building up, and I hadn’t noticed how bad. So it was bliss. I could tell the difference while I was driving into work this morning, (Stevie goes in before me.. haha) I wasn’t making a list of the things I’d need to take care of, and my shoulders weren’t up to my ears. It was very fun, and very laid back and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thursday, my family came over for the short one’s birthday, in addition to two of her friends. It was so relaxing just to chit chat, have some beers and grill (the new grill rocks!) while the kids tore around the yard. Noodle LOVES her new bike, and is having conniption fits over all her other toys and clothes. She had the biggest smile on her face the whole day! Birthday Number 9 was a success!

Friday was for relaxing. Just took care of some things around the house, and then Steve and I sat outside and had some beers with the neighbors. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I adore that family. They are like my second family, and if they end up moving this year, I don’t know what I’m going to do without them.

Saturday we had Steve’s uncle and aunt over for more grilling. Noodle went and played next door and got spoiled. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time. Seriously, it was one of those laughing fits where you know there’s a distinct possibility that you might pee yourself. I absolutely adore his family so far, which is a bonus!

Sunday, we worked on the yard and garden. I had already planted, but I wanted to weed again, thin the radishes and put my tomato cages up. We cleaned and organized the shed, put my AC units in, and finished up the house. The end of the weekend was spent sitting on the deck for dinner and enjoying the beautiful weather. My little Noodle was at a sleepover, so it was a kid free evening too!

Seriously, it was a wonderful weekend. Between my daughter making me smile, and Steve making me smile, I don’t think I got grumpy at all (well except before my morning coffee, that’s a given). I can’t wait until our mini vacation next month, it’s going to be great.

I do have to say that I’m really happy with the way things are going with everything. The house, work, Noodle, my relationship with Stevie. Everything’s pretty smooth. It’s been a while since I’ve been consistently happy. I’m glad life took this turn, it’s about time. :)

 

Growing Up and Getting Older

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My little minion is turning 9 years old tomorrow. She’s been counting down to her birthday for weeks now, and now it’s almost here. I just can’t believe it, this year just flew by! I mean the school year was a blur, and it seems like it was just last summer. She can’t possibly be another year older can she??

She’s been through a lot in her little life, and has come out of it all a wise little girl. She is beyond her years in common sense, and understands things that most people don’t even touch on until their early adult years. That wasn’t in the plan, but I’m amazed at how she handles every day life and problems. I can’t wait to see the woman she grows into, but I’m aware that it’ll all fly by in the blink of an eye. This past school year she excelled at everything, consistently scoring higher than the average as well as her school mates. I am so incredibly proud of her, it’s borderline ridiculous. All I know is I’m about to have one hell of a smart 9 year old, instead of a smart 8 year old.

It’s cliche but time really does fly. I remember people telling me to enjoy every moment because the baby/toddler years will be over in an instant. It’s definitely true. It seems like just yesterday I moved into my house, and Noodle’s best skill was hauling diaper around the backyard. She went from this little thing, carrying around her scrunchies (her word for puff-a-lumps) everywhere to this leggy, spunky kid listening to punk rock and metal and demanding her own band t-shirts.  Where in the world does the time go?

She’s turning out to be such a great kid, kind, caring, smart, beautiful, with one hell of a sense of humor. When I look at her, even when she’s mouthing off (which she obviously got from me), I’m just in awe of the great little girl I’ve raised. I couldn’t be happier.

 

So for her birthday, we’re having family come over for dinner, cake and presents. The plan is a bike, roller skates, and some smaller stuff. We’ll see what I come up with. She’s been needing a new bike, the hello kitty one I got her 2 years ago is just awkward for her to ride.. so that’s the biggest present. She’s so excited, I just want to make it the best I can. Now to find the perfect ice cream cake! She’s also requested my German Pancakes for breakfast, so she’s got a game plan. I hope it goes well. Happy Birthday Noodle!

Decency and favors. Love and Life Lessons. (Plus a realization)

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(I’ve refrained from writing about this on my public blog for two weeks now. Mostly keeping my comments to my private Facebook. However, I’ve neglected writing for some time now, and writing is how I heal. Sometimes journaling is not enough. So here we go. I’m taking back the things I care about, and my blog is one of them)

So I was informed today that I am not a decent person. Apparently because I got myself couches and moved my exes couch outside and asked him to pick it up.

I was informed that he was doing me a favor by letting me “keep the couch so you had a place to sit”.

Right. Because not putting it on the curb, along with the motorcycle and all the other shit in the shed isn’t decent. Because watching the dog that’s not mine until he finds a place to live isn’t decent. Because I didn’t do him a favor by standing by him for 4 years even though it put my family at risk. I didn’t do any favors supporting him financially and emotionally, through the toughest time in his life. Because it’s obviously my fault that he walked out, and can’t fathom that I’m not going to rearrange my plans so it’s convenient for him.

He did ME a favor by cheating, moving out and leaving us with next to nothing, just in time for Christmas? Taking all of not only his stuff, but stuff we bought together and things of mine? Just to put them in storage? He’s the decent person because he let me borrow a couch?

Right.

You know what? He did do me a favor. He taught me what love is, and what it isn’t. He taught me that I should never be dependant on someone else. He taught me that real men don’t cheat on someone they promised to love forever. He taught me that real men don’t break a child’s heart, then take even the toothpaste out of the cabinet on their way out. He taught me that I can do this all on my own, that I deserve better than all of that.

He DID indeed help me out, but it wasn’t letting me borrow his couch. It was teaching me that there are people will help us if we need it. People who love us and stepped in to give us a happy holiday. It was teaching me what commitment and devotion is. It was teaching me that someone who loves me won’t sleep around behind my back, putting my health at risk. It was teaching me what I want, how much more I deserve, and that there are good people in the world, in my world.. He taught me that he didn’t deserve to be part of it.

I hope on his quest for happiness, he finds what he’s looking for. I do. I just hope he stops hurting everyone who loves him along the way.