Welcome to My Corner of the World

I hope you find humor, inspiration and something worthwhile on this blog. I plan to be as candid as possible. Life is hard. I know, I've overcome a lot (and still have a way to go).
It doesn't help others if the rough things are glossed over.

I will no doubt fill this blog with stories of my achievements as a mom as well as my personal struggles.

I have an incredible husband whom I call "my sanity." I have two great kids with strong personalities. I struggle with anxiety and depression and I have had a colorful childhood.

I also have an addiction to Gilmore Girls, A&W Cream Soda, and Starbucks peppermint mocha.
I have recently added biking to my list of hobbies and also love to read, knit, and play tennis.

Welcome to my little corner of the world!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blessings in disguise

  My newest revelation occurred during one of my conversations with my best friend.  Really, it seems that most of my "ah ha" moments occur during my conversations with her.  We have a lot of great talks.
  Anyway, we were discussing my daughter's wonderful behaviors.  Again, A has always been the kid who acts perfect around everyone.  She obeys the rules, says "yes ma'am," "please," and "thank you."  She's that way with everyone but me.  It's not like she's got multiple personality disorder or even that she's acting brattyShe's just being A, uncensored.  What I see is raw emotion.
  Before I got my depression under control I thought "what have I done wrong?"  A would be hysterical with me, but when someone else would step in and do whatever I had been trying, A would respond calmly and settle down.
  Seeing that was hard for me for a long time.  I thought maybe I had "babied" A too much.  I thought if I had done something differently that my relationship with her would have been different.  I thought perhaps my insecurities as a mom had rubbed off on her and made her an insecure infant.  I had about a million of these self-blaming scripts that ran through my head.
  Then one day it started to click:  A felt more comfortable with me than any other person in her life.  She and I have a special bond.  She knows I love her unconditionally.
  Whoa!  What a compliment.
  However, really "getting it" was a process.  Sure, I "knew" this--but why was she prone to acting the way she did.  Surely I had done something wrong...
  Now, I'm glad to say that I think after 4 1/2 years it has finally sunk in.  A feels so confident in my love for her that she knows she can truly let her feelings show through and nothing will change between us.  It certainly doesn't make her behaviors easy to deal with, but now I know I didn't do anything wrong.  I also know that she really has reasons for acting the way she does.  She's highly emotional.  She's 4.  She's doing the best she can.  She's relying on me to teach her how to handle these intense feelings.
  Boy do I have a long road to hoe, but I know that there will be a confident, self-controlled young lady on the other end.
  The second part to this post is what I realized the other day.  I have always seen so much of me in A.  I can relate to a lot of her preferences because I felt the way she acts when I was a kid.  I just don't remember acting the way she does.  I always thought perhaps the reason my mom doesn't have any specific parenting tips to give me (other than the fact that I don't ask her) was because she just forgot how things were.
  A few memories came to mind, though, that helped shed a different light on things.  There are two times in my life that I can honestly remember (there are probably a few more than that, but not many) that I truly let loose and acted the way A acts with me.  In those instances, I remember being aware that Mom was close to the edge of "going crazy" (as I called her episodes), but I didn't care and just went ahead and threw a fit.
  Whoa...it hit me that I never had the solace that A has.  As a child my mother was never someone I could afford to let see me at my worst.  I knew that her love for me was conditional.  I couldn't lose that love, so I acted like an angel.
  I will say that my grandma gave me the closest thing I knew to unconditional love.  I wouldn't say that her love had strings attached, but she had mental problems of her own.  I don't think she would have loved me differently.  I do think she would have acted differently.  I learned early on what to say and what not to say.  Not for fear of making Grandma angry, but I knew that her response would have either confused me or taxed her mentally.  So, I censored myself around her too.
  The bright side of all of this is that the ability to cope with anxiety and depression seems to grow stronger from generation to generation.  Sure, I struggle with those disorders, but not like my mom and grandma.  Sure, A will be prone to depression and anxiety, but her arsenal will already have a few strategies in it that will help her deal with the issues she'll face.  Some of the strategies won't take any effort on her part because she and I have been working together on them since she was a toddler.  Some will take a conscious effort.  Then, there may be times she needs more help.  There may be times she needs to see a counselor regularly or take medication for a while.  And she'll grow up knowing that's ok.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nerves of steel!

  Before Bug came along I had never thought I'd be the mommy in the grocery store leaving a cart of groceries behind, unpaid for.  However, once he got here and we discovered his temper and desire to be heard I figured one day I'd be that mommy.
  I must say I was caught off guard yesterday when A was the reason everyone was staring at us as I parked our cart with unpaid merchandise in it off to the side and we walked out of the store.
  Let me paint you a picture of how this very memorable event played out.
  Our day had been going great.  I had managed to get the three of us dressed and fed and out the door at 9:30--a major accomplishment in my world if we don't have anywhere we have to be.  We got to Wal-Mart and had done almost all of our shopping. 
  Naturally things went down hill from there.
  I have promised A I will make her a felt board and we were off to see what kind of felt Wal-Mart had to offer.  As we headed to the school supply aisle A was trying to use the package of Pull-Ups in our cart as a seat.  She couldn't get it "just right" and was getting frustrated.  She started whining, jumping (as much as she could in the cart) up and down.  Noticing her level of aggravation rising, I offered to help.  I did tell her that if we couldn't get it the way she wanted after I tried to help then the Pull-Ups were going under the basket.  Naturally we couldn't get it fixed so I put them "away" and I started to look at the felt.  A continued to carry on, crying and boo-hooing.  I stopped what I was doing and told her that I couldn't concentrate on what I was doing when she was being so loud.  I also told her that if she was going to carry on, we'd just leave.
  She kept on.
  We left.
  She got hysterical.  Like a typical moment at home--only this was in public.  Everyone was watching.  Usually she keeps all of her behaviors to herself when there are other people around, but this time she let loose!
  I calmly pushed the cart to the entrance.  All the while A was yelling, crying, kicking and begging to stay.  Everyone stopped to stare.  We even passed an older gentleman who scowled and pointed his finger at her!  I had to smile--I knew that would stick with her for a while.
  I left the cart by the garden center door and we walked out--A still showing herself.  It didn't help that it was raining outside and she was wearing Crocs.  Her feet got wet and that bothered her, so when we got in the van she was kicking her feet hysterically and one of her shoes flew into the front floorboard.  I got Bug (who was being very quiet) buckled in and off we went.
  Thankfully we only live 5 minutes from Wal-Mart--otherwise I might have cracked!
  On the way Bug decided he wanted a share of all this noise making and started yelling.  I just let him, in fact, I joined in.  Oh my did that make A angrier (which I didn't think was possible)!  She started screaming at the top of her lungs.  She was so loud I could feel my eardrums vibrating!  Keep in mind we were still in the van--very close quarters.
  When we got home I had her go to Mommy and Daddy's room and wait while I got Bug's snack ready. 
  I went in and talked to her--then she got a spanking with a belt. 
  I told her that after nap we had plans to go to Chick-Fil-A with her good friends (and my best friend), but that I wasn't sure I could take her.  I needed to know she could act appropriately in public.  Thankfully we had time for her to have snack, cool down and try Wal-Mart again.  I told her that if I wasn't able to get what I needed from the store then Bug could go to Chick-Fil-A, but that she'd have to stay here with me.  I also told her that if we went to Wal-Mart before nap and she acted inappropriately again that she'd have to stay here with me in the afternoon and Bug could go.
  She had snack.  She calmed down.  We tried Wal-Mart again (the cashier had put my cart aside for me) and that time was a success.
  When we got there the second time the greeter said "You look familiar" and I said "Yes, we're trying this again."
  As we left he smiled and said "that's much better."
  Like the older man who scowled I was thankful that the greeter made these comments.  I think it helped A realize that other people noticed and that she was acting pretty ugly.  It leaves a bigger impression if someone other than Mom comments on behaviors.
  When all was said and done I was really proud of myself for handling the situation the way I did.  Looking back I don't regret anything.  I didn't scream at her, I didn't spank her in the middle of Wal-Mart (spankings, I think, need to be done in private and not in the heat of the moment), I didn't threaten her (none of the "if you carry on, we're leaving"..."I meant it, one more peep and we're gone" etc),  and I didn't cave to what she wanted just to take the focus off of us.
  Over all, it was a  great learning experience.  For me and A.
  I must say I'm not looking forward to ever having to do that again, but I'm going to be a realist and anticipate it happening once more before the kids are too big to carry on like that.  And when that moment happens, I'll be ready to blog about it!