Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rockstar to Falling Star



I mentioned the other day that I can go from rock star to falling star like the flip of a switch. My emotions swing from pretty high to pretty low pretty quick as well. I would say that's the case these days but I've probably been that way for a long time. I feel that being a negative, cynical, borderline depressed person is a genetic trait I have to focus on overcoming on an almost daily basis. Because of that certain people or types of people can easily rub on me the wrong way and bring on that angrier, negative side of myself I work so hard at controlling. Certain stressful situations also makes this internal battle sometimes a daily war with myself.

A friend of mine posted this meme the other day about how everyone has a chapter in their story they don't let others read. I found it incredibly fitting for myself because as much as I'm an open book with my writing on here and in general I mentioned how I have two unread chapters, but because they involve others' personal situations and stories I don't share them. They're not my stories alone to tell. Unfortunately, if me and them could ever get to a place to fully confront those stories together it'd possibly have the potential to change mine and their life for the better. But it's really hard to see the flaws in ourselves and to confront those flaws so all I can do for now is work on myself. However knowing those stories I think would clarify this sometimes daily struggle I have with myself.

I don't even remember what actual event lead me to claiming rockstar status the other day. Maybe it was another one of my essays making it to the final selection rounds of Chicken Soup for the Soul's upcoming book. I think there's one more round of cuts before the final essays are selected though I had to return a contract already the other day. It could have been my excitement of hopefully getting published with them again or maybe it was sticking to my workout goals these first six weeks back to work. Or maybe it was the two compliments I got at work with my yearbook class. But whatever it was I also added that I knew how easily I could go from rock star to falling star. I hate failing. I take it hard. I remember that ball player that would cry over losing the big game. I know we win some and we lose some. I know we succeed. I know we fail. However, 35 years old or not I still hate to fail (think that s why I took that depressed, struggling year back in 2012/2013 so hard) and  I am a sore loser.

I knew I was hanging by a thread heading into this week. The baby doesn't sleep much at night. My grandfather is down to what we believe are his final days, and though we said our good byes when I left in August and he thanked me probably a half a dozen times for bringing the kids up to see him three times while I was home it's still more upsetting than I thought it would be. Some of it I think is hearing how much he's suffering here at the end. He's so ready to go. I know it's hard on my dad to see him like this, and that breaks my heart too. I know my aunt doesn't want him to go, and she's his little girl so I can't blame her. Pretty sure I'll want to hang onto my dad down to his last miserable moment even though he always tells us he really doesn't want to live to be too old because you're not living at that point. But I just want my grandpa to have peace at this point. Besides his little girl he always made my sisters and me and my cousin feel like his little pride and joys. We won't ever forget that. There's another meme that floats around saying something about how it's not about what you do but how you make people feel. So thanks, grandpa, your support of us always made us girls feel special. But, please, I know you're angry these days about your situation, and I know you love my dad so much. Please, please in these final days make sure he knows it. And one last request when you get to the other side and you and Grandpa M are sitting around similar to that picture of you two that will forever hang in my hallway capturing you two in your better days come pay your namesake a visit. I didn't know when I named him after you two he would have your stubborn personalities so please convince him sleeping at night is a good thing, and even though I maybe deserve a stubborn, sometimes difficult child or two like myself I could use the break.

On top of the baby and my grandpa,  sickness has started going around my house and my observation was this week. I just did not have a good feeling headed into it. It was with my worst class. I haven't seen a group of students this unmotivated since I left my old school three years ago. Pretty much the conclusion of the observation was I need to own my students' behavior. Them wanting to be on their phones, them thinking there's no point in doing class work because of the new grading system, them just not giving a shit about their own grades or learning is on me. This reminds me of when Kenz was a screaming, colicky baby and it felt like everyone thought I as her mother should know how to make it stop. Now years later I see it was just her personality coming through. Now I face the same thing with Lincoln and his sleep issues. All these I should do this or  I should do that. They're well intended but more times than not I can tell you it's just who he is. All kids even as babies, trust me I can attest to it with all three of mine, have their own personalities. Yes as parents and teachers we can guide them, but kids have a mind of their own. I have to work hard as it is to control my own behavior, but the expectation that I can control a kid or anyone else's is pretty limited.

Just like I can't make the people in my two untold chapters confront their own flaws to move forward I can't change the behavior of other people. I can't change who my students or are who my own children are. I can't even fully change who I am- overly emotional at times even though I can put on the tough bitch mask in person like no other (most of the time), hot tempered, impatient with waiting but overly patient with tolerating others poor behavior.

So I know for those of you that are so wonderful at supporting me in my crazy emotional roller-coaster ride that is just me in general that I have been all over the place with being up and down and back up then back down so sorry for the crazy ride, but as always if you want real that's what you're going to get from me.  I like to think I know myself well, and I knew going into this year it would be tough, but I was going in with a positive attitude. As the weeks have passed it's like one thing after another wants to chip away at my goal of positivity to the point that I feel like I first went from sprinting in motivated excitement towards some invisible finish line, to hobbling as the stones of defeat were cast, to now army crawling my way to that invisible line. The defeat this week hurt.

I can put on the mask which usually involves sarcasm or misplaced anger at someone, but here is where I've always let myself be me.  For those that can't take the emotional pendulum that is me sorry but not sorry. But more times than not people appreciate my candor, my willingness to be open and to share the reality of struggling. Because my story is not yours and yours is not mine but we all struggle. Sometimes it feels like every day is a fight. A fight with ourselves to be who we envision with who we are in that moment, a fight with being who everybody else thinks we need to be verse who we are, a fight to get over the failures and the let downs and get back up and move forward.

So this week I failed. I feel like I failed at my job, I definitely failed as a housewife as the dirty dishes in the sink can attest to that, I'm not doing very well in the marriage department at the moment, my uncharacteristically crying seven year old and my four year old putting baby food in her brother's eye and not having a six month old sleep through the night might be indicating I'm failing motherhood at the moment too, and I even failed at being the damn tooth fairy this week.

I worked too hard to get in a better mindset and get my confidence back so I have to let this go. It's just a moment in time. It will pass, and there will be better days ahead.

 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Transformation


I'm a month into being back to work. A month into conquering the new me, and I feel amazing. Maybe I use the word amazing because I know what it feels like to feel the complete opposite. I know what it’s like to feel defeated and like you keep getting kicked while you're down, which in all honesty is usually yourself tearing yourself down because you feel overwhelmed, like everything is never enough. I've had those moments here and there in the past month, but they've been short lived where before they've consumed me.

Sure it's been hectic busy at times. When is it not at this time of the year, but wow, my energy level has been a huge lifesaver. I can be pretty go go as it is, but I like my sleep, people. I do crash pretty hard by 10 almost every night, but I'm up at 530 after at least one middle of the night feeding with my son. It's go go go all day long until about 9, but I'm good. I got this in a way I haven’t in a long time. I'm not frustrated with it and taking it out on everyone in the house every night because believe me there was a time I was like that. In fact I did something tonight the old me would have never done. If I don't get my workout in shortly after work it's not going to happen. However at 8 after the baby went down and dinner was cleaned up I thought I'm not going to pass on that workout; I am going to get it in tonight right now. And I did. The old me would have fallen back on some excuse and pushed it off for another day.

Not only is my energy level higher but I even feel like my mind is more focused and not so foggy. My husband always claimed I must have adult ADD or I call it mommy brain. Even though I can be scattered brained here and there my head does not feel like there's a ping pong ball rattling around in there all the time like it used to feel like. I'm focused, I'm organized again, and I have my plan whether it's  about me and working out, work, or family activities and household responsibilities and I get it done. I’m feeling accomplished in a way I haven’t felt as a working mother possibly ever.  

I'm a ball of positive energy that I have not been in a long time. My husband would probably tell you it was from sometime before we had kids, and he's probably right. But I worry when my mindset will slip, when the feelings of frustrations and being overwhelmed will consume me again. When will the ball drop?  Will that crazy, angry, negative girl come back? See depression runs in my family. If I ever sought the official medical diagnosis as my family has pushed me to do I would be the third in our family of five. Even though I did eventually seek medical attention for mine a few years ago besides discovering my thyroid issue I never pushed it any further because I have very strong feelings about being medicated. It took multiple blood tests before the doctor convinced me I really needed medication to get my thyroid under control.

However, when I saw the negative toll my negativity and anger had on my children and marriage, I knew I couldn't just hold onto my stubborn resistance. It was give in and seek anti depressant medications or change. So as anyone in my family can tell you I have quite the stubborn streak so I went for change.

It would take what I call a whole trifecta transformation: spiritual, mental, and physical change. I wanted a natural change. Even though I have always been a believer in God and said my prayers I started to add in a few prayers for myself. Because frankly I needed help. So oddly at first the idea of asking Him for help in becoming a better person was about like the thought of asking my parents for financial help. I’m independent and I can do everything myself is my attitude, but over the course of the past few years I really grew my relationship with God. I have no doubt He’s played a more active role in my life these past few years. I sought his help and He answered.

For the physical transformation I knew I needed exercise back in my life on a regular basis again. I'm not a beach body coach and heck I don't even follow the programs like I should, but I love the videos. Even though I’ve implemented multiple changes over the past few years to change my mindset and get here, I do believe they are key in the final results. All I've done is commit at least three days a week to the videos and cut soda and other sugars out of my life. I tackled my physical health with exercise which as I've always shared has had a huge mental health benefit to me. Seriously exercise is the greatest free therapy there is, people. It does amazing things not just for your body but for your mind too. I think the exercise and better eating habits have been huge for my increased energy level, positive mindset, and just clearer head.

There were so many changes I put into place in the years since I started to realize what my angry, negative attitude was doing to those around me but I really feel like it's been in the last few months that I've seen the final transformation of feeling that even though I'm not completely where I want to be I'm confident I'm on my way to her. I’m in such a better place physically, mentally, and spiritually than I’ve been in a long time. I think all three of those are key in transforming myself to a happier better me. It all started with knowing I had to change and taking action to make it happen.

 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Why I Understand Holden Caulfield

It's childhood cancer awareness month incase you didn't know. If you also didn't know childhood cancer only gets 4% of government funding. Children are fighting for their opportunity to live at this very moment. Every day children lose their future and their life to childhood cancer. Every day a parent faces their worst nightmare as they watch cancer steal their child away. Somebody's child out there isn't going to get to live.

Have  you ever watched someone die from cancer? It's awful. It's heartbreaking. It's slow and painful for them and those feeling helpless beside them. Trust me. It's not something you'd wish on your worst enemy, much more an innocent child. I can't even begin to imagine how that haunts you for the rest of your life. Yet I know people going through that very thing right now.

My students are reading Catcher in the Rye right now and finding themselves drawn into Holden Caulfield's lost, depressed world. So many I know don't like Holden because they find him whiney and pathetic. But I never have because he's not just the lost boy of some Peter Pan Neverland world who selfishly doesn't want to grow up. He is a lost boy just existing and too jaded to really live his life. But unfortunately his Neverland is Hell, a world where he's suppose to figure out how to live when fate in the form of cancer took away one of the people he loved most, his brother. He's unsure how to move on with his life, unsure why he got to live and his brother did not.  His innocence and childhood were stripped away from him when he watched what cancer did to his younger brother. You don't easily recover from that. You don't just get over that. You don't just need to grow up and move on from that. He, along with every child, and sibling of every child, that faces cancer, are forced into a hellish adult world an adult hopes to never be in. He wants to be the catcher in the rye because he's seen the hell that exist on the other side of our childhood innocence, and he doesn't want anyone to experience that anymore than any other adult does.

Holden is living in a hellish world where he has to figure out how to live after cancer stole his childhood innocence and left him in shattered pieces much like the shattered window on the night of his brother's death. So I get Holden Caulfield, and I don't think we should be so quick to judge him as whiney and pathetic because coming out the other side of cancer is no easy feat.

I'm personally tired of reading about real life Holden Caulfield's, siblings watching their young brothers and sisters fighting and sometimes losing their battle to cancer. Spread the awareness that it's Childhood Cancer Month and we need more funds for our children!





Sunday, August 28, 2016

I Have to Be Enough

I'm into week 3 in this back to our reality thing but this week is the true test. My oldest started school on Monday which meant the return of the dreaded nightly homework, but it was also the start of soccer season which is followed by gymnastics and basketball season in the winter and then softball in the spring and girls scouts all year.

I'd like to say I've rocked these past three weeks and I'm some supermom superstar but honestly it's had its high and low moments.  One minute I'm all energetic and positive I'm going to rock this working mom balancing act this year and in another moment I want to just throw in the towel and say who am I kidding.

There are  the moments like my oldest's first day of school that no one is there for and she comes home almost in tears wanting to know why neither of us put her on the bus for the first day like so and so's parents. Or why when I randomly put notes in her lunch all the time last year didn't I on the first day of school (mom fail right there due to a massive headache I had the night before that required her to pack her own lunch). Or why again as if there weren't enough failed moments in that first day that I had to drop her and leave her at soccer because her sister had practice at the same time in a different place and her dad was going to be another 20 minutes before he could get back into town from work.

The simple matter is it's hard. It's going to be hard. I know that. I think I've accepted that. I'm a teacher in her summative year of evaluation with crazy changes to implement in the school year that have left my head spinning a bit. Hard. I'm a mom of two little girls in activities all year that need a lot of my time and attention. Hard. I'm a mom to an infant. Seriously hard. I spend two hours a day sitting in traffic commuting to work. Sucky hard. I have a house that has shit that breaks like the water heater, laundry hose, and dishwasher ALL in the PAST week that requires our time to clean up and fix or have someone leave work early for the repair man. That's  on top of  not having any family around for back up when the kids are sick  or freak accidents like the sitter's water going out this week too that require someone to leave early or take off. Frustrating hard sometimes.

These are my situations but everyone's motherhood story I've learned is hard. They're all different kinds of hard; we have different situations and different goals that make each of our hards unique in their own way.  Maybe the first time, four years ago, when the balancing of  it all got really hard I wasn't ready or expecting it. I know at this point in my motherhood journey it's going to be hard regardless, but I also know this time I can choose my hard.  That s what I have to remind myself when I'm frustrated and doubting my capabilities of what I can really accomplish this year. I can either drag my feet and throw in the towel that this year seriously has the potential to kick my butt or work hard to stay focused on my goals, focus on the positive rather than the negative each day, shake off the bad failed moments and know that the next day is a new day. Perspective I've learned in the years since I struggled through this whole post baby motherhood balance thing is everything. I've worked hard in the four years since I lost my way  to change my thinking, to change my mindset. My mindset has the potential to be the everything in either finding success or failure this year. There will be tough moments. There will be disasters. There will be shit that goes wrong. But I can't let it be everything. I can't let the frustration get to me, to interfere in my goals.


I headed into this year determined I would have the so called All. After the birth of my second when it felt like the bottom just fell out of everything- motherhood, career, marriage, money I wrote a whole chapter in my book on the myth of "Having It All", the idea of the modern day woman having and exceling in it all at the same time with family, career, marriage, health/fitness, financial stability and progress, pursuit of personal hobbies and goals. Four years and a third baby later though I was convinced I could prove that girl of four years ago wrong. I could balance my three kids with a career I enjoy again. I could make more time for my marriage again with adding back in date nights and even trip getaways. I would make working out every week a priority in my life again. We could continue to pay down debts and increase our savings and even financially plan to have the summers off together again.  I'd make the time for myself to write and even pursue some publications again. This was the year I kept saying I'd prove to myself I could have it all at the same time. But here I am at only week 3 and I'm doubting that question of can we really have it all at the same time? What does the true reality of that look like? So will I master the whole having it all this year?  All I can do is give it my best shot. I'm sure it's going to have some highs and low lows probably but I'll give it what I got.

The hard truth is it's impossible to make everybody happy, and even though I wish my give a damn button was broken as much as I claim it to be, honestly the being pulled thin and not meeting everyone's needs gets to me and makes me feel like no matter what I do it's never enough. The simple fact is it has to be enough. I have to be enough. I am enough and I have to know that this time.



                       But these three faces make all the hard totally worth it. LOVE them so much.
 



 






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Saturday, August 27, 2016

To My Girls on the Hard Days

Our reality that has been approaching like a dark looming tunnel ahead in which we have to find new footing and balance to maneuver our way through unknown territory is now upon us, and  I know myself too well to know there will be days I come unhinged. I will not be the mom I want to be or the mom you enjoyed this past summer.

There will be days work uses up all my energy and I come home with little left to give. There will be days I lack sleep; therefore I will lack patience. There will days I lack enough time; therefore I lack tolerance. There will be days I can't do it all, and I just really need your help. There will be days my requests sound like angry demands and my tone of voice mirrors the wicked witch's.

I will try to keep that angry, short on patience mom's visits short. But I'm sure she will make her unwelcome entrance into our lives at random chaotic times this year. I just ask you to have patience with her. Try to remember all that she's trying to do and be for herself and for you. Remember even when she seems unhappy, mad, exhausted that she loves you more than anything.

Remind her you love her. Give her a hug. Ask her what you can do to help. Give her a few precious minutes alone. Just as she's held you tight through the difficult moments, hold her tight through hers. The happier, more patient mom will return with the love you shower on her.