I’m Not Gone…

I’m still here.

Despite what I said in previous post(s), I will continue to post and write. My mind is full of unsaid words. This is my safe haven. Where thoughts and memories are shared and where I elsewhere, don’t feel safe sharing.

Today, I feel lost. Scared. Empty. Lonely. I feel hope is gone. Today, I’m searching for an answer. THE answer. I just don’t know where to find it anymore…

Today, I’m asking for prayers for a very difficult situation I’m fighting within and personally.

My heart has never hurt as bad as it does in this moment.

All I ask is that you pray for me…

Radical Self-Care

“About 3 days a month I wake up feeling excited about life, and all my responses to my kids are better. But the other days, I just can’t amp it up to be as playful and patient as I want to be.”

“Want to feel as playful and vibrant as your children? Want to feel an abundance of energy? Want to experience greater clarity in all you do? Want to wake up jazzed about the day ahead? Imagine taking care of yourself in all the marvelous ways you take care of others. It makes sense that, if you shifted self-care onto the top of your priority list, you would feel more rested, more centered, more present to your loved ones, more joyful…” — Womans Field Guide

Most of us find that when we can stay connected to our internal fountain of well-being, it overflows onto our children and we’re more patient, loving, joyful parents. To love our children unconditionally, we need to keep our own pitchers full, so we can keep pouring as needed. Quite simply, we can only give what we have inside. And even if parenting is the most meaningful part of your life, it still requires a whole lot of giving.

And yet, most of us live in constant stress, which means we’re often running on empty. Many days we wake up wishing life could be different. Small wonder we lose patience with our children. And then we feel even worse.

Sadly, remorse and and self-blame after we lose patience doesn’t change anything. Actually, it makes things worse, because it’s hard to act like a loving, happy person when you’re feeling like a bad person.

What if, instead, you could find a way to stay in a positive state more often? You can. Not all the time, of course — into every life some rain must fall. But most of us can find a way to be more positive more often. It starts with finding ways to nurture and nourish ourselves, so we can stay more centered.

But if you’re like most parents, that’s not so easy. The secret is radical self-care. What do I mean by radical? I mean not just tending to yourself after everyone else’s needs are met. I mean actually moving self-care high up on your priority list. I mean overwhelming yourself with love and appreciation. Because that’s the only way you can be the happy, patient, unconditionally loving parent your child deserves. (And because you deserve it!) Wouldn’t that be a radical act?

Here’s how.

1. Nurture yourself as you would your beloved child. Treat yourself as you would your child — do you need a snack or a break right now, so you don’t have a meltdown? Find a way to help yourself feel better. Maybe that means finding a way for your child to occupy himself, or maybe it means giving him a snack, too.

Do you need to go to bed when your child does tonight, so you get a really good night’s sleep? Why not do that routinely while your child is still waking up at night? It won’t last forever (even though it seems like it will!)

Do you need to take Sunday off and just enjoy being alive? You can’t stop being a parent, but you don’t have to do laundry, you can leave the dishes in the sink, and you can have peanut butter sandwiches and carrots out of the bag for dinner. If you feel like you’re playing hooky, ask yourself: Whose life is it, anyway? And at the end of it, who will have been responsible for how you felt during it?

What if your child needs you at this moment? I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t take care of your child. I’m suggesting that there is usually a way to take care of yourself at the same time.

Sometimes we simply can’t give ourselves what we need, just as we can’t always fix whatever is wrong for our child. In those cases, self-care means listening with compassion, whether to our child, or our own distress. In other words, just notice what’s happening in the present moment. “The baby is screaming…my jaw is tight…my shoulders are clenched…” You don’t have to change anything. Just “witnessing” is a huge gift to yourself. And often it shifts your experience.

And, of course, make a promise to yourself for more self-care as soon as you can manage it.

2. Contain Stress. Most of us live in constant stress, which doesn’t allow for self-nurturing. Rushing makes us less patient, less empathic. It sends our children the message that they aren’t as important as whatever we’re rushing to do. It strangles the joy out of life.

Luckily, while stress-inviting events are inevitable, stress is not. We can begin by gradually paring our lives down to what matters most to us. This may feel like a sacrifice, but only until you realize that what you’re choosing is your own well-being, and that of your child.

The next challenge is to change our reaction to whatever stressful events still pop up. Impossible? Remember that what stresses one person just rolls off another person’s back. When you notice a thought creating stress in your mind, can you reframe it? (Instead of “This child is driving me crazy” how about “This child is having a hard time….Maybe there’s a way we can both get what we need here.”) Remember, it isn’t stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.

3. Exercise. It’s magic! It increases endorphins, which make us happy, and serotonin, which calms us. Exercise actually prevents depression. No time? Who needs the gym? Put on music and dance with your kids. Get them out of the house and run around with them at the park, every single day. Take your baby with you to a “Baby & Me” yoga class.

4. Take Responsibility for meeting your own needs and solving the problems life presents to you. Do you need some appreciation? Give it to yourself! Really. Once you get in the habit of appreciating yourself, you’ll be amazed how much more appreciation you feel from those around you.

Some of us have a hard time feeling appreciation from others, and even from ourselves. In that case, daily practice stretches our ability to receive that self love. (And give it to our children.) What needs do you have that weren’t met when you were little? That’s what you have to give to yourself now. Maybe you felt you were never quite good enough. Can you start reassuring yourself, every time you look in the mirror, that you’re more than enough, and are deeply loved? Once we take care of that old unfinished business, it gets much easier to find ways to take care of ourselves in the present.

And what if your problem is in the now? Fights with your spouse? A job you hate? A life on constant overwhelm? Life challenges like these are tough, but when we leave them unaddressed, they demoralize us. Can you take a step, any step, toward solving that problem now? It may not solve everything overnight, but moving in the right direction will help you enjoy your life more and stop spilling tension onto your child.

5. Don’t postpone joy! We’re all guilty of taking the joy that pours into our lives for granted. We let it slip right through our fingers, in the name of efficiency and responsibility. But what if reveling in that joy is part of what makes you a more inspired parent? What if enjoying your daughter’s dancing on the sidewalk helps her start the day basking in your love? What if that water fight is just what you need to defuse tension and reconnect with your kid? What if those bedtime stories give your child the message that you’ll always be there for a snuggle, no matter how old she gets? What if you and your spouse need those kisses to stay connected so you’re a better parenting team? What if that bubble bath would help you be a more patient parent tomorrow? What if you never know which sunset is your last?

Don’t wait. Commit to radical self-care.

CREDIT: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/peaceful-parents-happy-kids/201401/committing-radical-self-care

Juliette: 9 Months Old

I was always so good about updating Josie’s photo each month and talking about milestones she’s reached. But second child syndrome is a real thing ya’ll. I do take photos of her on my phone and it’s a quick snap and then back to my daily grind. Life is busy being a SAHM of two little girls all the while tackling it alone sometimes.

Each month (since the last time I posted), she’s grown so much. She’s moved into her own room, fully decorated (shabby chic like her sister). She sleeps 12 hours every night without waking to eat or be changed since she was 3 months old. She is just like Josie and loves her sleep. It really was like my routine finally fell into place and she understood night vs. day so well. But she does wake up at 6am on the dot every single day. Needless to say my “morning time” is gone for now but I know I’ll have that back again one day. We went through the same with Josie.

We call her Butterball. Because she’s such a cute little chunk! She eats a lot of food! A ton of baby food. In fact, she’ll probably eat just about anything you give her. Which is a huge relief considering Josie’s food allergies and how picky she is. I started feeding Juliette at 3 months old. She was so interested in what I was eating that I gave her a taste and her mouth hasn’t shut since. Some say that’s too early. Some say wait until after a year and give them only breast milk. You never want to start a debate with me over this because most likely you’ll lose. Josie has been such a challenge to feed since birth and discovering all her food allergies made me realize I don’t want to put Juliette through the same path. The longer you wait, the more likely they are to develop those allergies. This isn’t BS people, do your research. I did. It’s evidence based ya’ll. And just look at her…she’s thriving and a happy, healthy baby who sleeps all.night.long!!!

Anyway, having two kids is hard. And having the time to gather my emotions and thoughts just isn’t allowed. Because by the time I reach that moment, my head hits the pillow and the last thing I want to do is pull out my computer and write. This blog started because of Josie and my pregnancy with her. Yet it developed into a therapeutic way for me to release thoughts, emotions and share stories of our little growing family. I never thought I’d get this deep into it. Or even share the stories I’ve shared. But I know that those out there reading need to hear some of the things that are said.

There’s something about having your own children that makes you realize how hard your life was growing up. It brings all these thoughts, emotions and painful experiences to light that you really wish didn’t. As I strive to be the best mom to Juliette (and Josie), I realize Josie had ALL of me then (which is why we had so many posts and pictures) and Juliette is now getting all of me but what’s left of me now goes back to Josie. Rather then capturing the moments and writing about them, I’m too busy raising these girls and figuring myself out. Being a mom is hard. It is the hardest, most rewarding job on this Earth. Nothing can make you stronger. 

She sucks on her bottom lip. She has since she learned how to soothe herself to sleep. And she reaches for her blanket and calms herself. It’s so precious. I want to remember all these things and more. Life is too short. And time flies. And before I know it, the end of the day is here and I’m utterly exhausted. I wish I could write the words in my mind most days without taking the “time” to do it. Because I want Juliette to know that I treasured her life and milestones just as much as I did Josie’s even though I didn’t have the time to record and write them all down.

I love this little butterball. My Double Divas. My sassy girls. They are my mini best friends for life. Thank you God for making me their mother.