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.

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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!

Work Ethic

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Some days I have a real hard time in the mornings.  For whatever reason, since I was diagnosed with Crohns Disease 6 years ago, mornings are really rough for me.  Even when I’m in remission, I still spend more time in the bathroom than I’d like to. 

Either way, today was one of those rough days.  I was totally feeling like shit (no pun intended) and wanted nothing more than to crawl back into bed.  Instead, I didn’t want to leave my girls to the wolves (also known as the Monday Craziness) so I got moving.  Sometimes it takes all I have to keep a smile on my face until 5pm.  That’s just how it is with a Chronic Illness. 

Sometimes I get bitter though.  I wish I didn’t have so much pride in my job.  I am very proud of myself for supporting my family and doing what I have to.  It’s hard watching my generation flake out when I’m doing my best to muster through a bad day. 

For instance, my sister quit her job just because she didn’t like it.  That’s her prerogative, how she’s handling it after the fact is another story though.  So when I’m hauling my butt to work, and others just quit because they don’t like what they’re doing, I get bitter.  It’s almost jealousy, but not quite.  I could never sit at home depending on someone else again, my marriage taught me that. Some days its just rough is all.

Which got me thinking.  What happened to my generations work ethic?  I grew up in a working class home, my father worked on cars.  I watched him bust ass to care for us, even though his job pissed him off.  I’m proud to have grown up with such a great father with an awesome work ethic.  It’s what fuels me through my bad days, and what I use for an example.  Hell, my mother worked an office job, similar to the position I started in… and worked it through cancer.  Pretty damned impressive if you ask me.

So while my generation may be lacking in the pride in a hard day’s work, or hell, not even working at all… or even in my sister’s case, looking down on someone who works a working class job (like both her parents and now myself do) while they have no employment of their own. I’ll take pride in the industry I work in (and love) and I only can hope that that I instill the same pride in my daughter.  I hope that by setting a good example, even if some days I’m sick and don’t particularly want to, I’ll teach her to take pride in whatever she chooses to do.  I hope I teach her to have a good work ethic and do something she enjoys as well… whether or not she has a college degree to back it up. 

I guess the moral of the story is take pride in what you do, and do it well.  If you’re lucky like me and get a job doing something you love, take it and run with it and be proud!