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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21 Years Long

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Twenty one years ago, I was Ashley’s age. I was in the 5th grade, I had long brown hair that my mother refused to let me cut, and I was even more of a dork that I am now. I still liked to read more than I liked to talk to people, and you could still find me hanging out with animals more than with my friends.

Today, in 2018, we had a pretty standard day. Jon and I had to work, and Noodle had to go to school. So the day started off with Jon getting to work, me having coffee in bed, and Noodle playing around with the cats. A pretty relaxed morning before I had to drop her off at school. She had a regular day at school, I had a regular day at work, and we both got home and are relaxing while Jon makes us stuffed mushrooms for dinner. Right now I’m writing, Ashley’s harassing my sister on Snapchat, and Jon’s listening to his videos while dinner is finishing up. It’s a decent day.

In 1997? It was a much different day. I had woken up in the early morning hours to use the bathroom, only to find out that my mother had fallen into a coma. I remember mumbling “uh okay” and going back to bed just to dwell on the fact that my mom had been too tired to sing her “good night” song to me before bed the night before. I had insisted my little sister go first.. trying to be a good older sister and all. A few hours later, I crawled out of bed to be informed my grandparents were coming to pick my sister and I up for the day. 

We spent the rest of the morning trying to be .. normal? I don’t think my brain quite understood what a coma was being in 5th grade and all. All I knew is that my mom was asleep and not waking up. It was pretty surreal, even when my grandparents encouraged me to crawl into bed with my mom and say goodbye. I remember laying there and praying to whatever god I believed in to let my mom be okay.

Because what 5th grader understands “terminal cancer”? 

I realized maybe 15 minutes later that she wasn’t going to be when my grandmother started describing her version of heaven once we got into her car. 

I don’t remember the rest of that day from 21 years ago. 

… 

21 years have past. Each year that passes I reflect, I remember, and I learn. This year I think is a bit special to me since Ashley and I are the same age. She’s the age I was when I lost my mom.. so this year it just hits a little closer to my heart. So this year? I am grateful for the very simple things. 21 years ago, I was exactly her age, in exactly her grade, and had *just* lost my mother. I was starting on a new, seemingly horrific part of my life. 

Today? I’m sitting next to my own daughter, listening to her send her screeching raptor noises over snap chat to my unsuspecting sister and cracking up. We may not have done anything super fun today, or anything she’ll remember in 21 years, but that’s okay with me. Considering what I remember 21 years ago? I’ll take it. I’m grateful for the simple things, and how lucky I  really am.

 

I miss you mom.

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!

Parenting: Frustration and Pride

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Every parent on the face of our planet has at least once wished their kids have children just like them. Now, raising my own child, I do have to say, sometimes it’s like arguing with myself in the mirror.

My kid is definitely my mini-me, without a doubt. She has the same mannerisms, attitude, and hell, some of the same dislikes. Getting her to clean up one at project before she starts another is like pulling teeth (while I ignore the yarn I pulled out in favour of writing). Arguing with her about why it’s important to rein in her smart mouth, while realizing my mouth is the root of half of my problems in my past is very odd. Watching her read through a chapter book in an hour reminds me of bringing Stephen King’s Misery to fifth grade.

My child is definitely my child. She pushes every button I have, gets under my skin like there’s no tomorrow. However, when I hear about her standing up to her bullies at school, I swell with pride. Watching her befriend younger children makes me smile. Watching her excel in the things she wants to do (art, writing, reading.. soon sports) makes me ever so proud.

Just like every other parent on the face of the planet, I hope I’m going a good job. I hope I’m everything I should be for her. I hope I teach her right from wrong and how to be a strong woman. After stepping on a Lego a few minutes ago, after a long day of bickering about picking up toys and not using attitude.. I threw my hands up in the air and thought to myself “I hope she has a kid just like her.”

Just like every other parent out there.

Stress, Happiness, Family, Home and Work: Rambling Does a Soul Good.

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This last year has been turbulent.  There were so many ups and downs (it seemed like more downs than anything to be honest) and to be completely honest, I was burning out and pretty damn near miserable.  The worst part is?  I didn’t realize how miserable I was, despite it tearing apart my life.

When you’re not happy, it truly does impact all aspects of your life.  A big part of my issue was work itself, and after I started burning out, I no longer wanted to be a part of it.  I felt helpless, taken advantage of, and angry.  Little did I know, I was taking all of that home with me.  My relationship with my boyfriend suffered, I was working 60+ hours a week, and was so crabby during what little free time I had, I threw most of it on him.  My daughter felt the brunt of it as well, I snapped on her for simple things more times than I’d like to admit.  Of course, working so many hours, made me feel like I missed out on her life (which I did, and I regret wholeheartedly), which made me resentful, which made me angry… and the cycle continued.

The stress from work, and my by that point, unhappy home life impacted my health.  In 2013, I had no hospitalizations.  In 2014 through now?  What, 3?  4?  With several ER trips in between?  It’s been ridiculous.  Crohns isn’t caused by stress, but it most definitely is impacted by it.  So, on top of everything at work, and at home… add in hospital trips.  When you add in hospitals, you have to remember to subtract pay and add stress at work from missing work.  Take all of that and re-route it back into the unhappy job, which leads back into the unhappy home.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

Towards the end of the year, I realized that work was my main issue, and was getting the impression that I was bringing it home and affecting my family.  I made a goal to make it through Christmas.  I had talked about it with Ryan, and once Christmas was past, I would make a decision and decide whether I would leave or stay.

Oddly enough the timing of that final conversation coincided with a demotion.  For whatever reason, my management decided instead of making changes I had been asking for, that it would be better to put me back into the customer service pool and bring back an old coworker as the new supervisor.  I jumped on it.  Sure, I was a bit angry, not at the demotion itself, but at the lack of help I had received, the lack of support I was given and the lack of training (which is improving markedly since then, might I add) for my position.  However, I knew I wasn’t right for the position yet, and at that point, I didn’t want it anymore.

Once I was firmly back in my customer service position, I vowed to leave work at work and to bring the happiness from home there.  I had never been good at separating work and home, never.  Not even when I first started working at 15 years old.  This time I was determined.  That was the first step.  Within a few weeks I was getting comments from family, friends and coworkers that I seemed markedly happier.  Little fights with the boyfriend seemed to happen less and less.  I started to sleep better at night and I realized that it was because once 5pm came along, I *refused* to be aggravated about work, I *refused* to be angry.  If I did manage to bring home those feelings, I did something immediately to put it out of my mind.

Since then, as the weeks pass, I realize what a mess I was.  I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t eating well, and I was perpetually grumpy.  My Crohns Disease started to flare again around Christmas, and I have been back in the hospital twice since then (one was just an overnight, the other almost a week).  The downtime while being sick really pushed home the changes I needed to make.  I have been doing great leaving work at work, and enjoying my home life.  My stress levels were markedly lower once I started focusing on how much I enjoyed doing silly little activities with my daughter, once I started working on my hobbies again.  I started to tweak my diet and cut out some of the fattier foods I eat and try to cut down on coffee.  I quit smoking again (wish me luck) even… that’s the newest, I haven’t had a cigarette since Saturday.

Needless to say, I’ve noticed a huge difference in myself.  I’m enjoying my life a lot more now, and I finally feel like I have my priorities straight.  It took a long time for me to realize that my family and my health come first, no matter what.  No more going to work sick, no more sending my daughter to school with a cold, no more rushing back after hospital stays.  No more bringing home work and no more stressing about it after the day is done.  The benefit also crosses back into the office.  I feel happier heading into work (or at least the dread of a new day isn’t there anymore) and I take my lunch breaks and work on something I’d like to.  When you feel better, you tend to have a higher quality of work.  I  also make it a point to enjoy cooking (like I used to) and my family is benefiting from home cooked meals again.  I’ve even done my best to bring as much music and art as possible back into my home, which is one thing I noticed fell out of my life this last year.

So while I still have quite a bit going on with my health (new doctor, new medications, and new symptoms – a blog post for another time), I’m enjoying myself, my home and my job a lot more these days.  I wish I would have listened to my friends and family earlier, maybe I would’ve caught on to how miserable I really was.  However, you can’t change the past, you can only create the future, and more importantly, make sure you enjoy the present moment.  Here’s to hoping for a better year, a healthier life, and more happiness through out it all.

Society and it’s high expectations – aka: You’re not a bad parent.

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There’s a constant mental war going on inside my head.  I believe every mother (and father) deals with it at one point, but for me, it seems like it’s waging every day.  A rifle shot sounds as soon as I drop my daughter off at school, I mean come on, I must be a bad mother for working?  Especially when I made a promise to stay at home with her when I was pregnant.  On that note, another rifle shot sounds and I don’t know if a blended family is right for her.

Hot damn.  The enemy line is approaching, when I yelled at her yesterday for sassing me when I asked her to clean her room?  I must have wasted precious weekend time fighting with her.  Hell, when I made her go to school when she was upset that other morning… that surely was the wrong choice.  Explosion.  Telling her we’d play outside tomorrow when she wanted to ride bikes and I was exhausted from work.  More wasted time.

Yup.  That’s it right there.  That, is just a small portion of the mommy-guilt-war that wages inside my head.  Being a parent is tough sometimes, I know for me that I feel a lot of guilt for what we *don’t* do, despite all of the fun stuff we actually *do* do.  I think that no matter what we mothers do, how we act, or which decision we make, there is always the lurking thought when things settle down that maybe we could have done better.  Maybe we could have made our child(ren) happier, or maybe we could have handled a melt down a better way.  Parenting is not easy folks, at least not for me.

Growing up, my parents made it seem way easier than it is.  My mother cooked dinner more nights than not, and my Dad never seemed to complain about work.  Despite being booted out the door to go play as soon as we got annoying, I still held my parents’ .. well… parenting at top notch.  Being children, we don’t realize that our parents were struggling too.  Now that I’ve gotten older, and have heard some of the stories, chuckles, and tears about raising my sister and I, I realize that we just didn’t know.  However, that doesn’t mean that the parents I was lucky enough to grow up with didn’t set some impossibly high standard for my own life.

For example, society has brainwashed us that a happy, healthy family eats together every night.  That home-cooked meals create healthy, happy children.  I know I’m speaking for more than myself here, but I know after a 14 hour day when I finally get home, just glancing at the ingredients to make dinner makes my brain hurt.  So we’ll order something and eat something in our respective places.  Later on that evening, when I’m back to work at my own desk, that guilt kicks in.  I should have made dinner, we should have eaten at the table together.  Despite the fact that we do more often than not, I will feel guilty for taking the easy route.

Of course I don’t remember the nights when we were kids that we got Wendy’s for dinner (one had just opened up by our house) because my parents were too exhausted to cook.  Nope, I remember my mother’s home made chili going for hours and the corn bread from scratch.  Instead of realizing that it’s okay to be lazy once in a while, it’s okay to be tired, I hold myself to that latter standard.  My parents did it, with a lot more on their plate than myself, so why can’t I?

The end point of all of this, is that I, as well as too many other parents, might be being too hard on ourselves.  With social media, technology as a whole we have too much to compare ourselves too.  If that’s not enough, we have endless articles on what, who, how we are damaging our children.  So we go about our days, pushing ourselves to line, and if we don’t accomplish what society has set up for us, we beat ourselves up.  We double think what we are doing, and instead of enjoying the little moments, the happy moments, the good we *do* accomplish we are left feeling inadequate and lost.

No parent is perfect, and no childhood is perfect.  As long as our kids are happy (despite having to clean their rooms, eat their dinner, do their homework and not be little miniature assholes) and healthy (as can be), we’re doing a good job.  I’m not a bad mom for working my ass off or creating a blended family.  You’re not a bad mom for not buying the latest gadget, and you over there?  You’re not a bad dad for yelling at your kid for talking back.  Go ahead, take a break, just because your kids aren’t eating dinner 7 days a week at the kitchen table doesn’t mean you’ve ruined them.

Now if society and social media could just let parents know that once in a while, I think we’d all breathe a bit easier.

Basically Rambling

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I am finally relaxing.  As I posted earlier, we bought a new (to us) washer, and of course I had to wash every little bit of clothes I owned.  Haha, let me just nominate myself for the lame-adult-of-the-year award.  The kid and I colored with some chalk, and after her bath, we made a pizza.  Thursday nights we usually do a one on one dinner, which she gets a kick out of.  Always nice to actually get some alone time with the kid and talk with her.  She’s a really bright kid, and the conversations we have always amaze me.  We talked today about money (and how things cost money so we have to save for bigger purchases) and about camp and what she likes about it so far.  I’m pretty impressed with my little one.

It’s almost Friday thank God.  It’s been a long couple of weeks.  Work has just been crazy, with the exception of today, and with the fight with my family member, it’s been pretty high stress.  Now that everything is over, my anxiety has calmed down.

I’m finally getting caught up on some work that I fell behind on with my day off on Tuesday, and I feel like I actually got something accomplished.  I’m very numbers driven, so being able to see what I’ve done each day really helps.  Hopefully things continue to calm down at work, I’m starting to feel a bit burnt out with everything.  I just keep reminding myself that it’s the season… as a coworker says, it seems like everything implodes in the summertime.

As for the fight with my family member.  I was able to text what I really wanted to say, (once I wasn’t so angry, just hurt) and for once I wasn’t interrupted.  I hope that she read it and took it to heart.  I haven’t heard from her since and I noticed that she blocked me on Facebook.  That’s fine I guess.  After talking with my Dad, and then with the boyfriend, I’ve definitely made the decision to cut ties.  If she hadn’t said certain things I might have let it blown over, but unfortunately once words leave your mouth, it can’t be unsaid.  Frankly, even if I did change my mind, I don’t think the boyfriend will… from what I understand his family is pretty upset too.  It looks like with a couple of hurtful comments, a wedge may have been driven between the two families.  Sad.  Like I was saying, I’m glad it’s over.  I’m slightly upset still, but mostly relieved.  I was able to say what I’ve been wanting to say for months, and I found out how she really feels about my disease/job/family/life.  So not only did I get what I needed to off my chest, but I was able to inadvertently find out who is toxic to me and who I need to keep away from my kiddo.   It’s odd, I feel in a way… lighter.

Beyond all that, I’m just doing the thing.  I’ve been feeling pretty run down lately, but I honestly think it’s mostly stress (which hopefully should lessen now) and oddly enough, dehydration.  It’s been pretty warm here, and with being sick, I get pretty dehydrated pretty fast.  So water and tea it is!  It looks like the weather should be cooling down here soon, so forest preserve trips are coming and I think I’m going to finally sign up for a yoga class or something.  I haven’t decided which one, but I think it would be a good (natural) way to bring down my anxiety.  Plus the benefits!  The only other thing that’s on my “personal-for-me-to-do-list” is looking into a bicycle.  I really want a beach cruiser and have for years, but you know how it goes, there’s always another place that money could go.  So I’m going to start saving up a portion of my savings (haha) to put down on a bike, since the kid has learned how to ride her bike good now, I want to be able to go on bike rides with her.  So wish me luck!

 

Anyway, this turned into more of a journal post than I wanted, but I didn’t feel like writing in my physical journal.  My kiddo has fallen asleep on her chapter book, so it’s time to get her in bed.  Happy Friday everyone!