When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our 3rd child, we were surprised. We had not been planning on having anymore kids after the birth of our son a few years prior. Once we got over the initial shock, we settled in for the inevitable difficult first year that comes with having a newborn.
Here’s what we didn’t realize:
When our son was born, his sister was almost 9 years old. Only one kid was in diapers, only one kid was shoving small objects into their mouth, nose or ears at any given time, and only one kid would be screaming their head off for longer than 2 minutes.
Oh, to go back to those easy days.
Don’t get me wrong - it was definitely a big adjustment to go from one child to two. We had to learn to juggle the needs of both children at the same time. Definitely more complicated than just having one child.
When I was pregnant with #3, we really thought we had this whole “parenting” thing down. It was only 3 years before that we had done the newborn stage with our son, and everything was still fresh in our minds. We weren’t as worried about her getting sick, or getting enough sleep, or as obsessive about writing her bottle times down. We trusted our instincts with the 3rd. We assumed that after 2 kids already, we were pretty much pros.
Dear lord, were we ever wrong.
Okay, so here’s my take: being the parents of 2 kids KIND OF sets up the framework to be able to handle adding more to your brood. HOWEVER, it’s not in the way you think. Or at least not in the way I was thinking…
Bear with me here as I try to pull a coherent thought out of my head with only one cup of coffee in me and 6,000 other thoughts floating around my overloaded brain. Maybe if I make a list that will simplify things?
2. Your kid has a crisis.
3. Throwing a birthday party.
There are SO MANY other things to add to that list, but the infant just started crying, the toddler is waking up for the day, and the older child is calling saying they need you to do something for them immediately. Your lucky partner is off at work, conversing with adults and driving around in their car with the radio on and no screaming in the background. They get a lunch break. You get the half of a granola bar that your child thankfully did not finish eating the day before and you didn’t have enough hands to bring it inside and throw it in the trash.
Don’t get me wrong - I LOVE my 3 kids. They are my world. Literally. My entire world. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but it seriously is crazy. Like bat-sh*t, I couldn’t even make this sh*t up, crazy.
Don’t forget to take your pill!
For anybody who has a mental health diagnosis, or a history of addiction, or has just plain done something that still makes them cringe when they think back on it....this one is for you.
We had a situation with our 10 year-old daughter this week that threw us into through a loop as parents. I'm not going to go into detail about what went on because it is her situation to share with other people and not mine. I will, however, be sharing what I learned as a parent who has always worried that choices I made in the past would end up being detrimental to my children's growth and development.
I had my daughter when I was 21 years old and I have worried about her since she was the size of a kidney bean. I've worried that I would do something to screw her up, I've worried that I wouldn't be the perfect parent, and I've worried that I would make every wrong decision possible and she would end up in juvie by the age of 12 with tattoos all over her face and piercings from head to toe. (I may have been indulging in some catastrophic thinking...)
Fast forward to 2016.
My baby girl is about to turn 11 in a month. 11!! Two more years and she will be a teenager. She has been referring to herself as a "preteen" since last year with such pride and insistence that I want to pack her in a box with a bunch of barbies and tell her to SLOW DOWN! I don't know about you, but I am not ready for her to be a teenager yet.
I'm not ready, but it's coming anyway.
On Tuesday, we were in that position where as parents you immediately question how you got there. What did you do wrong that got you to this place? You are going back in your mind and thinking of the millions of mistakes you have made since you were 5, desperately trying to find that exact moment that decided this fate. You are the adult. You are the mom. These two things make it YOUR fault. Right?
That is not how it automatically works, my friend! Pull yourself out of your puddle of misery and listen to me. Think about all of the people you know. Your friends, your family, your neighbors, that familiar stranger you always run into at Dunkin' Donuts on your morning commute and the "perfect" mom you see at the bus stop. (You know the one I am talking about - her hair is always straightened by 7:00am with no frizz in sight. She's dressed all business casual even though you know for a fact that she is a stay-at-home-mom who is going to be sitting on her floor playing with Mickey and Thomas toys with her 9 month-old in less than 10 minutes. She even bakes. WHO HAS TIME FOR ALL OF THIS?!!) Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent. (Honestly, we don't even GO to a bus stop in the morning...but I know that woman exists somewhere!) You may think about how they all have it together while you are fumbling through life trying to keep your kids alive and fed and not forget to let the dog out before he pees on the floor. It's a lot of stuff. It may sound easy when you say it like that, but life throws you curve balls. Usually these come in the shape of a tiny Lego your toddler decides to put in their mouth and swallow before you even saw that your older kid had dropped it on the floor, or the broken elbow your 8 year-old got from falling off of the swing because they decided to let go mid-air to try to catch a falling leaf.
I don't care how much you plan ahead, there will always be a crisis that hits that smacks you in the face and pulls the rug out from under you all in one fell swoop.
When it happens, your brain is going to go into that mode where you are berating yourself for being such a bad parent. It is telling you that because you have children, there is no room for accidents or mistakes - you were supposed to become a superhuman the second you decided to procreate.
I'm sorry, but that's not how it works. You are not given a magic wand, or a cape, or even a Ninja Turtles face mask on the day your child is born. (Which would be AWESOME!) You are still you. Please don't spend all of your time trying to undo all of those moments that you have stuffed back into a closet, desperately trying to hide them from your child and the rest of the world so that they won't judge your parenting abilities.
Take them out and look through them. Organize them in a way that you will be able to use them.
That time that you got caught smoking weed and got suspended from high school? Use it. That night when you were stupid enough to drive drunk in college and thankyoubabyjesus didn't hurt anybody, but DID acquire a DUI that will forever be on your record? Use it. That time you followed an old boyfriend across the country only to have your heart broken and your entire world come crashing down and spent the next 6 months in a deep, deep depression where you hated the world and hated yourself even more? Use it.
You cannot change your past. You cannot change the things that make you you. The only thing you have control over is what you are doing in this exact moment on this exact day. All of those yucky things that make your stomach sick and your head hurt when you look back on them....sorry to tell you, but no matter how much you hate them they are NEVER GOING AWAY. Everyone has them. Nobody likes them. But your mistakes mean that you have already gone down the wrong path at some point in time, and that you have the ability to steer your kid away from it before they land in the same place! You have inside information. You know exactly what it feels like to be there, which makes you kind of an expert in that area. Not only did YOU learn from your mistakes - you can pass those lessons onto your kids before they even make them. Stop punishing yourself for being human and start putting your experiences to good use.
And for the times when your kid makes their own mistakes? Stop standing in front of that vicious mirror and blaming yourself. Ain't nobody got time for that! Swallow your pride and just be there for your child. You were in this same place (probably many, many moons ago), so you know how horrible they are feeling right now. They aren't sitting there focusing on your past. They are worried about their own present. Your stupid mistakes aren't even crossing their mind right now. They are busy focusing on their own negative thoughts and feelings about themselves, and that is something you can do something about.
Give them a hug. Tell them it's okay. Tell them everybody screws up. Nobody's perfect. The world feels like it is ending right this moment, but tomorrow the sun is still going to rise and things are going to be a little better and no matter what, YOU ARE GOING TO BE THERE FOR THEM.
That is what matters.
You need to let go of your mistakes and forgive yourself so that you can teach your kids how to do that, too.
Give them a lollipop and snuggle up on the couch in front of a good movie. Hell, get yourself a lollipop as well! Lean on each other and use that love and compassion to get through it. You've totally got this. It's a piece of cake. Don't overthink things. Just do what you feel is right.
You're an expert, remember?
Smile, my friends, and be kind to yourself.
I am so glad 2012 is over.
This year was incredibly difficult for our family. I am hoping and praying that 2013 will bring us health, happiness, and some other things we have been wanting for a long while. I want to work on eating right, sleeping more, and crying less. I am so lucky to have the family that I do. They are supportive when I need them to be, and they tell me to suck it up when I need to hear it.
I've got my fighting pants on.
I am so ready for whatever this coming year brings. I'm ready to work hard for what I want, and I expect a lot from myself. I have recently cut back on certain aspects of my life that were holding me back and making me crawl deeper into my hole of despair. I am going to work out our finances so that we can afford some of these cutbacks, and it's not going to be easy. I am ready to do anything I can to be able to spend more time with my family and less time curled up on the couch not knowing what to do with myself.
I am sick of feeling sorry for myself.
I'm going to try to look towards the positive more and not let the negative parts get me down. I'm going to hug my child more, kiss my husband more, and just generally take in all that my life has to offer. I am going to be grateful for what I have instead of wishing for what I can't. I will be more accepting of my limitations and give myself time to breathe when I need it. I am not going to push myself to the limit like I did last year. I'm not going to break.
I'm going to move on.
Not quite sure what this entails, or how difficult it is going to be. But, I want to try. I am GOING to try. Try being the key word. I do not always have control over what happens or how things turn out in the end. I need to understand that I cannot single-handedly rule my family's universe. I need to let everyone fly on their own and learn their own lessons. I will not try to save the world. I will not take on more than I can handle.
We all know where that gets me.
Goodbye, 2012. Welcome, 2013!
My head is too full.
I hate writer's block. It always happens when I have too many thoughts in my head and it becomes impossible for me to reach in and pick one out to talk about. It's extremely frustrating to feel so many emotions and not be able to release them in the form of written words.
Anger. Happiness. Anxiety.
And the list goes on and on....and on. It's like having a thousand birds flying around my brain and I have to catch the right one at the right time to be able to speak.
I've been juggling so many things lately. We have a lot of balls in the air right now and I'm trying to keep them all going just right...it is tiring. Luckily, it's also rewarding a lot of the time. I feel I've done some good this week. I feel I made a difference in some lives. It may be a small, seemingly insignificant act of kindness...but a difference all the same. I am happy with the place I am in right now. I love my family, I love my job, I love my friends...yet it is so chaotic I often find myself bouncing from one thing to the next without being able to focus on the outcomes of what I am doing. It will be nice when things calm down and I can take a deep breath and look around at all we have.
I am so grateful. I am so blessed.
I just need to come up with a positive mantra to get myself back on track. Mantras are also difficult to come up with when you have a thousand attention-seeking birds occupying your brain. Makes me tired to think about trying to organize this by shoving each thought into their respective box to sort it all out.
I need an energy boost.
It may be by a thread, but I'm hanging on.
I seriously think that surgery whooped my ass. It's taken me a lot longer to recover than I thought it would. The scar tissue still hurts and I've still got the residual nausea. I've also been exhausted lately due to this and other stressors. I am a mess.
I'm hanging in there. I'm doing it. I'm waking up every night, going to work, getting the munchkin to camp and back in the mornings, and finding time for sleep when possible. I've actually been sleeping a decent amount, so I'm not sure why I feel so exhausted. That's a lie. I have some ideas, but I'm not at the point where I would like to share them yet.
I feel a bit numb, a bit empty, and just a bit less me. It's been more difficult to get myself to sit down and read, or do the housework. Which is why I've been pushing myself harder to get these things done anyway. I want to prove I can. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I don't push myself too hard and break.
That would pretty much suck.
Keep hanging in.
My poor husband.
After almost 5 years of being together, he just discovered one of my quirks.
I like to rearrange rooms in my house randomly every couple of months for no good reason.
Literally, there is no point in doing it...it just makes me feel better when it's done! I think of it as a way to really be able to get behind stuff and do a full cleaning. He, however, did not appreciate the fact that I wanted to move our giant dresser and bed around our tiny room just because I felt like it. Thank god he's a good sport and helped with all of the heavy lifting! Did I mention it was also quite hot outside that day and we don't have air conditioning??
I don't know what's wrong with me and all of the cleaning and rearranging lately. It's just nice to have the energy to do things! The nausea has subsided enough that I'm not curled up in a ball on the couch moaning and groaning constantly. I've been able to go out and run errands, which included buying all new towels and bathmats for our bathroom today to spruce it up a little. It was a pretty good day!
I think it's also been difficult for me to move into my husband's childhood home. It still feels like it's more his than ours just because there are so many remnants from when he was a kiddo there. By rearranging things and adding a few of my own touches it's helping me to feel more at home there than I originally did when we moved in. And I'm loving these new projects. They give me something to focus on and to work towards which has been awesome.
All in all, things are looking up!
Am I sinking??
Not sure what's going on here, whether it's just too much stress at once or something else is contributing. I am grossly overwhelmed and am grasping at straws trying to fix this problem that I can't even see. Well, I can see what is stressing me out - I just can't see why it's so much harder to deal with this time around. I think it's just that I've been battered by these same waves for so long that I don't have enough energy to stay standing. They're just knocking me down over and over again.
Being bipolar has its ups and downs.
I miss the really good days. I miss the days when I was waaaaaay up there...but having good days and not having those really bad days makes it all worth it, I suppose. That's what they all say, anyway.
Oh, mania, why are you so bad for me?
I got to play in the dirt today!
It was a gorgeous day outside, so we decided to go to Home Depot to pick up some flowers to do the flowerbeds out front. These flower beds haven't been worked on in many years, so it was REALLY exciting to see them transform from dust bowls to fully-mulched gardens.
My favorite part was getting to walk through the store and just pick out anything that looked pretty. I am good at that! And flowers aren't too expensive, so we got to buy a whole bunch of them. When we got home, the hubby did most of the hard work with getting the soil ready to plant and setting up the edging. I helped more with the decorative side instead of the manual labor as I'm still feeling not-so-great some days. The munchkin toiled around and picked up any trash left behind and helped to pick the rocks out of the flower beds. We all got a lot of much-needed sunlight! I think I'm the only one who didn't get burned. (I will admit I hid out in the shady areas as much as possible to try to protect my poor eyes that can't take the sun full-on these days...)
Now it's back to the work and school weeks and hopefully back to our normal lives.
Fingers crossed that this week brings good things.
This has been one of those weeks where I wish I were a bear and could go into hibernation.
Talk about being kicked when you're down. I am so beyond frustrated, and annoyed, and overwhelmed that I don't know what to do with myself. I've been trying different tactics to get rid of any of the stress-energy I have. And by energy, I mean those short bursts of panic in between the random narcolepsy that has been plaguing me these past few days. I've tried cleaning different rooms in the house from top to bottom. (Moving very carefully.) I've tried reading, and knitting, and drinking all different types of tea. Occasionally I'll sit down on the couch and just crash for an hour or two. I've had to limit the physical things due to tearing my brand-spanking-new scar tissue a few days ago, so that's been fun. Absolutely nothing is good enough.
I shouldn't say that. The love and support and countless hugs I am getting from my husband are helping more than anything. I am so glad that he is able to hold it together in times of crisis at home, because I am completely useless. I lose my sh*t when it comes to anything going wrong with my family. The tough Marine facade is crumbling into a heaping pile of snot and tears.
Sorry if I just flung myself off that pedestal you had me perched on.
Mother and wife by day, psych RN by night. So many different ways to view life. I try to take everything in and be very slow to judge.