Just Scream

Sometimes you just need to scream.

Scream out all the frustration. Scream out all the aggravation. Scream out all the pain. Sometimes you just need to scream until you feel like your lungs are on fire.

Today I screamed while sitting on the toilet.

toiletYes, on the toilet. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I am not ashamed.

Some days I feel like a pie crust that has been rolled too thin and the slightest movement makes me crack. Today my crack occurred while I took a bathroom break during my daily cleaning.

As I was sitting on the toilet with my pants around my ankles, sighing a breath of relief that I was alone for those two minutes, my German Shepherd, Cleo, walks in. As most cleomothers do, I don’t close the bathroom door completely so I can hear if one of my kids are about to kill themselves — or each other. Cleo, who just had to be out in the rain today, had been drying off her muddy body in the kitchen. She decided to visit me while I used the facilities because, why not? As she used her long nose to shove open the door, she made her way into the bathroom tracking muddy paw prints behind her — just in case she gets lost she will be able find her way back to the kitchen. In slow motion I watched her giant paws step right on my brand new, just bought 2 hours ago, bath mat. I foolishly bought a new bath mat because my last one has been ruined by my animals. I guess have this thought that if I replace all the things my dogs and cats have ruined they will see that I went through the trouble of buying new ones and they will have understanding and decency not to ruin them. That has to be the only explanation as to why I keep doing it. If it isn’t that means I have to accept that I am truly insane.

Suddenly I hear this ear piercing shrill come from inside my bathroom. This noise was something you’d hear in a horror movie. It sounded like someone was being brutally murdered right next to me. Then I feel my rib cage is closing in on itself and my throat begins to hurt. I realized that the noise was coming from me. I am sitting on the toilet screaming like a banshee, bare assed and all. When I come to this realization that I was actually screaming, I consciously made an effort to scream even louder. Briefly I worried about the neighbors calling the cops, but I didn’t care.

I had to scream.

It wasn’t about the bath mat. Yes, it did upset me. However, I should have expected something like that to happen because that just happens in a house full of cats, dogs, and kids. The bath mat was just a small crack in my shell but nothing a little water couldn’t fix (if you don’t bake: when you have a crack in your uncooked pie crust you put a little water on your fingers and rub it on the crack to fix it.). It was a multitude of normal, everyday stressors that had finally came to a head in my bathroom.

We carry stress with us everyday. Most days we are able to add a little water to it and make an apple pie. However, somedays your crust has just become too thin and it cracks.

pieAllow yourself to crack sometimes. It’s healthier to scream in your bathroom or to eat ice cream out of the tub and cry until you run out of tears. Bottling up all your stress and anger and pain is a recipe for disaster because eventually that bottle is going to explode.

Find a way to release your everyday stresses. I always recommend finding a hobby to focus on. Discover something that you really enjoy doing and throw all your energy into it. Sometimes we have to find fulfillment in other ways than just being a parent, or at our job, or as a spouse. That doesn’t mean you don’t love all of those things, you just need something special just for you. However, there will be days when a hobby just won’t cut it. You will find yourself unable to handle the rage burning inside you or the pain pouring out of you. That’s life. It happens and that’s okay.

Just Scream.

mat2

Advertisements

What Are You Doing With Your Life?

Do you know what you’re doing with your life? 

turkeyIs this question giving you holiday anxiety? Is the thought of every family member in your immediate family asking you the same question a hundred times before the end of the year enough to make you seriously contemplate skipping town and acquiring a new identity?

Don’t worry.

None of us know what we’re doing. 

Regardless of what you Aunt Patricia might lead you to believe, this is a normal stage of life. She, too, went through it.

exit.jpgIf you’re in your 20’s, such as I, you are currently in the stage of the Unknown.

When I first entered my 20’s I used to fret over the fact that I had no idea who I was, what I was doing, or where I was going. My mom would tell me that what I was going through was completely normal. She informed me that everyone goes through it in their 20’s. I wasn’t inclined to believe her because I’m different. Newsflash: I’m not.

Now that I’m on the other side of 20 with the EXIT sign flashing it’s bright red light at me, I realize my mom was right.

signI still don’t know exactly where I’m headed but I do have a pretty good idea who I am now.

I can’t tell you if I’ll go back to college or if I’ll pursue other avenues of higher education. I have learned that I really enjoy writing (obviously) so maybe I’ll be a writer in the future. I also have an interest in psychology –namely mental illness and the effects of childhood abuse — so maybe I’ll get into the social services field. I don’t know what the future holds, but the more I learn about myself the easier it will be to make a decision.

wrong wayIn the U.S. we are pressured by others, be it a parent, teacher, or peer, to know exactly what we want to do for the rest of our life at 18 years of age. This expectation is unrealistic and just downright unfair for a 18 year old. Granted, some people do know what they want to be at a very early age. However, most of us will change our interests many times before we hit our 30th birthday. It is wise to take some time to know yourself before you make any big decisions; especially if that decision will cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

brain.png

If you feel lost right now that’s okay. It won’t last forever, I promise. It’s normal not to know who you are yet. The human brain doesn’t even fully develop until you’re in your mid-20’s!

If your Aunt Patricia tries to interrogate you during the holiday season this year, just tell her you don’t quite know who you are yet and you’re comfortable with that because humans aren’t created from a cookie cutter mold. We all have our own paths to take.

Everyone has to lose themselves to find out who they are. 

It Could Have Been So Much Worse

I posted about this on my personal social media account. My friend, T.R. Noble, suggested that I write a blog post because other people should hear this, as well.

This is my testimony of God’s love.

To give you a little background, I was raised a Believer. I have been saved — twice. Once in the basement of my aunt and uncle’s house at 12 years old. I was going through a difficult time and I recall falling on my hands and knees and accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was more “formally” saved in my 20’s at a church I briefly attended when I was living out in California with my husband. These days my faith has been wavering. My footing has become uneasy and I have questions. I hardly pray anymore, but I know He is still in my heart. With that said, I don’t see many things as an “Act of God” anymore. I don’t shout my praises, I whisper them. The relationship have with Him (not the other way around) is rocky, at best. So the events that followed have positively shaken me as a Believer.

Also, I want to note that my husband works upward of 80 hours a week so I am often alone. If I want to do anything with the kids (pumpkin patch, festival, library, etc.) or run errands, 9 times out of 10 I have to do it alone.

atmIt started about three weeks ago. I wanted to take the kids to a fall festival that is about a 40 minute drive from our home. Before we set off on our trip I wanted to swing by the ATM to get cash because I knew they wouldn’t accept credit cards at the festival because it’s in Amish Country. As I was turning into the ATM at the bank, I hit one of the concrete barriers separating the lanes, with my right front tire. I noticed it knocked the alignment off because the steering wheel was offset. I checked the tire and quickly peeked under the carriage to see if anything was hanging. Nope. All was well. We just needed a new alignment. I postponed the trip to the festival but I continue to use the SUV.

 

fall festivalA week after the incident, I decide to try to go to the festival again. The car has been fine while running errands and doing my normal day-to-day trips. My husband even took it to a McDonald’s in a neighboring city, about 20 minutes away, at the end of the prior week and the SUV was driving fine so I thought there was no harm in trying to go to the festival again. We made it to the festival and back without incident.beau corn

 

The next week I told my mom I would drive down to her place, a 45 minute drive out of the way, to pick her up and we could all go to the fall Festival together that Thursday. It would’ve been a 3 hour and 28 minute drive round trip total. Unfortunately, Thursday morning my daughter and I woke up with colds. My mom said she wasn’t feeling well either, so we cancelled the trip

hospitalThe next day my husband took the SUV to McDonald’s for breakfast (I’m addicted to their Frappes, okay!), just like last week. He left and I tried to keep my hungry toddler entertained until he got back. It began to feel like he had been gone for a little too long. It should only take him about 45 minutes for the whole trip. An hour has already passed and he is still not home. I hear sirens going down the street behind my house toward the road my husband would’ve taken to get to McDonald’s. Now I really start to worry. Has he gotten into a wreck? Did he break down? Is he at the hospital unconscious? He doesn’t carry a wallet so if he was unconscious the first responders and the hospital won’t know who he is. I start to become frantic. I calm myself down by telling myself that maybe someone else got into a wreck and he was stuck in traffic. Or maybe he seen someone he knew at McDonald’s and he got caught up chatting. We all know how my husband likes to talk. He gets it from his grandpa.

He doesn’t have his cell phone on him so I can’t call to check on him. It is now pushing an hour and a half since he left. I pull up the hospital phone number on my computer and as soon as I get ready to dial I think to myself to look at my cell that is charging upstairs. Up until now I have been waiting for a call on my home phone, but maybe my husband doesn’t have our home phone memorized. Sure enough, there is 2 voicemails on my cell, both from my husband. On the message he says the tire blew and he is stuck and he needs me to call Allstate, our insurance company. Relief flooded my body. But when my adrenaline dropped, aggravation started to come to the surface.

“Why didn’t he call the home phone?! He knows I use the home phone more than my cell!”

“Why doesn’t HE call Allstate?! How am I supposed to get a tow truck to him if I don’t know WHERE in [city] he is?!”

I call him back the number he called me from (a kind stranger’s cell phone) and my husband tells me he has already called Allstate and the tow truck is there. He lets me know how much it’s going to cost and that he will be on his way home soon. Now to sit and wait. I’m frustrated because more money has to be poured into the car. I’m aggravated because our other car is dead in the driveway and has to be hooked up to a trickle charger continuously in the fall and winter months when it’s not in use. As I sit here waiting for my husband, stewing in my own aggravation, I start thinking about the situation.  I start to realize that could’ve been me and the kids in the car. To think I could’ve been driving the back roads of Amish Country with my two very young children in the back when the car broke down.

I am no longer upset about how much money we have to spend or how the other car is dead in the driveway. I tell myself we have been through worse and we’ll figure it out like we always do. Most importantly I tell myself how blessed we are. Those sirens that passed by my house an hour and a half prior could have been for my husband. My husband gets home after another half hour and tells me that they ball joint completely came off and the tire blew. He says to me “Thankfully it was me driving because if it were you and the kids on the highway the car would’ve…” he made a sweeping motion with his hands “and it could’ve been a lot worse.” I asked him where this happen at and he said he was pulling out of McDonald’s onto a side road right before you pull onto the state route. He said he was only going about 5 mph before the front end dropped on him and all the air from the tire blew out.

I am pushing back tears. I start recalling all the events leading up to this incident. I echo husband’s words and say “it could’ve been so much worse!” I blamed myself. “If I didn’t hit that stupid barrier at the bank this wouldn’t have happened!” My sweet husband says he is glad that it happened because the ball joints were in horrible shape anyway and he is having the garage change all of them. He tells me this was a good thing. If I didn’t hit that barrier and if the ball joint didn’t drop we wouldn’t have known they were in such bad shape until it would’ve been too late.  I am still pushing back tears telling my husband that it could’ve been me and the kids. It could’ve happened when we drove to Amish Country the first time. It would’ve happened if we didn’t catch our colds. I say to my husband in a weak voice “I have never been so happy to catch a cold in my life.”

bless.jpg

There is no way for me to explain the events leading up to this. The only words that came to my mind was:

God’s Unwavering Love.

He made sure that tire blew and that ball joint dropped in the most perfect spot with my husband –the one who drives for a living– behind the wheel. What could’ve been a disaster for our family turned out to be one of the biggest blessings we could receive.

Thank you, Lord.

Our Flaws

I was having a discussion with my husband last night about my personality flaws. I tend to have, what I call “episodes”, to which I become overly obsessive, even almost manic, with certain ideas or projects. Recently I was obsessing over remodeling our house. It started with the idea of tearing out the carpeting and replacing it with hardwood floors. It ended with me drilling holes in our walls. Once I discovered that there was in fact nothing hidden in our walls (a fireplace, a body. You know, normal things) I felt quite foolish. Why did I allow myself to get so obsessed with this idea of remodeling our house when I know we do not have the funds to do right now? Why couldn’t I just wait until we appropriated the funds to properly remodel?

Episodes, such as these, come in waves. I will be content for a significant period of time and then I’ll get an idea, or an urge, and I have to do it. It can be as simple as obsessing over finding a certain book I want to read to something as big as remodeling my house. More often than not, I do not see these “projects” through to the end. I will start something because I have to, but I won’t finish because either the desire passes or because reality sets in and I realize it isn’t possible — like my husband told me 100 times over.

I once was told by a therapist that I have Bipolar II Disorder. At first I believed her. But then after a while, I thought maybe she was too quick to make such an assertion (not a diagnosis because she was not qualified to make a formal diagnosis). I consider myself an extremist. I come from a long line of extremists, so it’s normal to me. However, as I am writing, I am starting to think maybe the idea isn’t too outlandish and maybe it isn’t normal.

Anyway, that is a discussion for another time and another therapist. As I was saying, I was discussing these episodes with my husband last night. I told him that I hate this flaw I carry within myself. I said to him that I am aware we all have flaws. Flaws make us human, but what flaws do we embrace? Which ones do we accept to be just part of who we are? Do we only embrace the productive flaws versus the non-productive? Do we accept the ones we have carried for decades or the habits just too hard to break? Or do we continuously work on eradicating ourselves of them? Perfection is unattainable so the idea of ridding ourselves of certain personality traits we deem unfavorable seems like an daunting and never ending task. Why strive for perfection when perfection is impossible? So we find ourselves back to the original question: Which flaws do we embrace?

For example, my mother is chronically late. She claims that’s just who she has always been and who she will always be, so everyone else needs to come to terms with it. While I admire her for her self awareness, just accepting that she will always be late is hard for me to come to terms with. As a person who is always early, it’s difficult for me to understand how someone can be habitually late. However, looking at my mother’s perspective, maybe it’s hard for her to understand why I am such a stickler for time. Maybe my need to be early for an appointment or an event could be viewed as a flaw, too. So which one should be embraced? Being chronically late or being chronically early? Being late means less stress for the individual. They can take their time in getting to their affairs which in turn makes them safer. The less rushing about the clearer they think, and more importantly, the slower and safer they drive. Being early is more stress for the individual. Even if you plan everything out beforehand, you seem to still be rushing around with the fear that you will be late for your early arrival. On the other hand, you are considered more reliable and predictable. So which one should be embraced? Both? Neither? Which flaws actually help create the makeup which is you? Which flaws actually serve no purpose but to aggravate yourself and those around you? My husband’s answer is: “Why do you even have to see them as flaws?” Which I find very sweet and endearing and maybe he has a point. Maybe our flaws shouldn’t even be considered flaws. We are who we are. Maybe we should just embrace ourselves for just that — who we are. However, being intelligent, sentient, emotional creations, shouldn’t we always strive to better ourselves? But what is “better”? Do we eliminate the flaws unfavorable to other people or the flaws only we find unfavorable in ourselves? Or do we just accept ourselves for who we are and everyone else just has to learn to accept and accommodate certain aspects of your personality?

What are your thoughts?

One Of Those Days

I woke up with the feeling that I’m going to have “One Of Those Days”.

Every mother has them.
sunriseIt starts early. At 7:00 am you are prying your heavy eyes open and trying to will yourself to move out from under the blankets. You give yourself some positive affirmations to encourage your tired body to move.

“You can do this!”

“You are strong!”

“You are Superwoman!”

But you’re not Superwoman. You’re a tired mother. You have been up every three hours to feed your four month old son and now you’re awake before dawn has fully broke with your toddler already begging to watch Paw Patrol. 

checklistThen before you have even rubbed the sleep from your eyes, your mind is running at light speed.

“I have to get breakfast ready.”

“I got to get the dishes done.”

“I need to wash the laundry.”

The list is endless. The same chores need to be done day in and day out. Most days you do it with no problem. But not today. Today is One Of Those Days. Today the list of things you need to do seems insurmountable and monotonous. You yearn for a break. You daydream of yourself on a beach alone somewhere. Your feet buried in the warm sand and your nose in a good book. The sun kisses your skin and the crashing waves sing you a slow song of contentment and peace. No house to clean. No dogs to take outside. No boogers to wipe. Just you and your book.

Suddenly your toddler shouts. 

“No that’s not monkeys! That’s gorillas!”

You’re quickly snapped back into reality. You aren’t alone. You’re never alone. There is always a diaper to change, a face to wipe, a person to hold. You forget what it’s like to be able to take a nap whenever you feel like or to sit quietly with your own thoughts.

You try to keep grounded by indulging yourself with a hobby you enjoy. You need to feel like something other than a Poop Princess. So you immerse yourself in whatever it is that you enjoy…only to stop five minutes in because you have a crying baby who needs you.

Will you ever have another day where you don’t have to worry about someone, or something, else?

Suddenly it hits you: guilt. You feel guilty for wanting alone time. You feel guilty for being too tired to play with the kids. You should be grateful you are able to be with your kids 24/7. Do you know how many people wish they could even have kids? And here you are moaning and whining about how tired you are.

bedThe fact of the matter is, you are allowed to be tired. You are allowed to want to do something for yourself occasionally. You are allowed to get overwhelmed with being  parent. You know you are blessed with the life you are living. You love your children endlessly. You are human though. You’re going to have “One Of Those Days” every now and again.

Everyday you have a list you must tend to:

  • Kids
  • Husband
  • Pets
  • House
  • Yourself

The order in which this list is presented often changes, except for one thing — yourself. You always put yourself last. Somedays –many days– you don’t even get around to caring for yourself. So of course you are going to feel run down sometimes. It’s a wonder you don’t actually run away to a beach somewhere just so you can know what it feels like to have your body all to yourself, without someone hanging off of it, licking it, or pooping on it.

Yes, it is sad there are people out there who are praying hopelessly to live your life. However, that does not negate from the fact that this life is hard. You can be thankful for your blessings and need a break from them at the same time.

I love my children more than life itself. Listening to my daughter chitter chatter to the dogs all day fills my heart with joy. Making my son flash his adorable dimples at me when giving me a smile warms my soul. I want to be a mom just as much as I have been required to since I gave birth to my daughter. The majority of my days I enjoy the chaos and hectic days of being a homemaker. However, I have allowed myself to have “One Of Those Days” because, like I previously stated, I am not Superwoman. I am a mother. Which means I get tired, I get overwhelmed, I get frustrated.

I know we often forget but mothers are human, too.

An Open Letter To My Children

grace & kids

I Promise. 

I promise I will mess up.

I promise I will fail you.

I promise I will not be perfect.

I promise life will hurt you sometimes. Life isn’t easy. You will face tough decisions, most of which I can prepare you for, some of which I cannot. You will find love and you will lose love. You will find yourself and you will lose yourself; and I pray you will find yourself again. You will fall and you will be dropped. You will fail and people will fail you. You’ll learn tough lessons that only life can teach you.

This is life.

I wish more than anything you would never have to feel the agony life will hand you sometimes. I wish I could keep you young and innocent. Free from the hardened cold world. If only I could hold you in my arms forever and protect you from your fate. However, even I will fail you.

I will mess up. I won’t mean to, but I will because I’m not perfect. See, even I will have to make hard decisions while raising you two. I won’t always know what the right thing to do is, which means I will mess up — a lot.

There will be days you two will hate me and I will hate myself for it. However, I know I will have to accept that even if you hate me sometimes, that means I’m doing my job. I can’t always be your friend. Not right now at least. Now, while you two are still young, I have to be your mother. And as your mother my first priority is protecting you two and sometimes that means I will make decisions you will not like.

But I promise.

I promise to try my best.

I promise to be there to catch you when you fall.

I promise to be your biggest fan.

I promise to be there to wipe away all your tears.

I promise to be a listening ear and a warm hug anytime you need one.

I promise to support you in the decisions you make in life — even if I don’t agree with them.

I promise to be your home. That no matter where I am –or where you are– you can always come home to me for safety and protection and warmth.

I promise to always love you.

There is nothing you could do to make me stop loving you two. I would give my last breath for you two. I care more about you two than I care about myself. A mother’s love knows no bounds. A mother’s love is endless. One day when you two have kids of your own you will understand. For now I will try my best to show you.

I will show you.

I will show you why the stars sparkle at night.

I will show you how a butterfly gets its wings.

I will show you the best part of summer nights is catching lightning bugs.

I will show you the magic of Christmas.

I will show you that there is so much more beauty to this world than there is darkness.

I will show you that you are stronger than you think.

I will show you that you are smarter than you believe.

I will show you how to play the hand that life dealt you without folding.

I will show you that you can overcome anything.

I will show you that you are worth loving.

I will show you that you are amazing just the way you are. 

On the days you feel all alone in this world, I will always be there even if I’m not here physically. I could never leave you two. And you two could never leave me. You are part of me. You grew inside of me. I am the reason your heart beats. A part of me will always be etched into your soul. No matter where you go in this world. Even when you grow up, get married, and have children of your own, I will always be part of you.

Being your mother is the greatest blessing God has given me. I never knew how much I could love someone until I met you two. Having you two is the greatest thing I have ever done. Thank you for being the amazing children that you are. I can’t wait to see what wonderful people you two will become; but please don’t grow up on me too fast. Let me hold you just for a little while longer.

Love,

Mommy.

 

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

Little pitchers have big ears.

pitcher.jpgThis is an expression that my grandmother used to say when we were growing up. As a young child I never knew when it meant. I imagined pictures hung up on the wall with giant ears attached to them. Now that I’m an adult, I understand what my grandma was saying. She was reminding other adults that the kids were listening when they were discussing conversational topics children should not concern themselves with. Color me surprised when I discovered this is an actual expression, not just something she made up one day. According to dictionary.com the saying “refers to the large handles (ears) sometimes attached to small vessels.”

Now that I’ve become a mother I understand the importance of this turn of phrase.

bathWhilst bathing one day I grabbed a handful of my belly and shook it. I looked at my daughter and said “Mommy’s belly jiggles like jelly”. My daughter looked at me with her gorgeous blue eyes and said “Abbo’s [Annabelle] belly jiggle too” with a chunk of her tiny belly in her adorable dimple-knuckled hand. I smiled at her, but I was crushed. I heard my grandma’s words ringing in my ears — “Little pitchers have big ears.” Did I just inadvertently teach my daughter that the size of one’s tummy actually matters? Am I teaching her to be ashamed of her body if one day she becomes a little “jiggly”? No, probably not. She probably just thought we were being silly. However, all the times I have called myself fat in front of her. All the moments I have sat on the edge of my bed with a dejected look on my face while staring hopelessly at my pre-baby clothes. The scenes I paint for her when I look in the mirror with disgust. That’s when I’m teaching her that a woman’s value is measured in her physical appearance. 

We teach our children to love themselves by loving ourselves. 

Children aren’t born with the concept of superficial beauty. They don’t understand that society has set a standard of beauty that all men and women should strive for. Ask a two year old to dress his/herself you’ll see they don’t care about matching their outfit or if it has a huge chocolate milk stain on it. They pick out their favorite shirt or their favorite color(s) because that’s what makes them happy. Ask a five year old what their favorite thing about their self is. More often than not they list their talents or personal achievements. Now ask an adult to do the same thing. The difference is clear. We adults base most of our decisions on the opinions of someone else. We measure our success against the societal measuring stick of superficiality. And it’s a wonder why children are far happier than adults; it’s because they live their life in a way that makes them happy, not what makes everyone else happy.

It isn’t until they see us –their most important role models– frown in the mirror at our own reflection that the world of “beauty” opens up to them. 

sponge.jpgIt’s said children are like sponges and soak up everything around them. Imagine if there is a day we look in the mirror and smile. Imagine if instead of insulting ourselves we start celebrating our faults. Imagine if we begin to love ourselves. That would be something worth “soaking” up.