I’m a Gentle Parent…Not a Passive One

gentle parenting not passive parenting

I never planned on having kids so, like many non-parent adults, I had views on parenting that I was certain would work best.  Those views were very traditional, strict parenting: spanking, time-outs, yelling, like hell the kid would sleep in my bed, etc.

Then I became a mom.  A mom who suffered from postpartum anxiety and OCD (my post about PPA/PPOCD)) and man, did my views change.  In helping heal my PPA I found that taking a gentle approach to my life truly helped me; I started meditating, I stopped stressing about things I couldn’t control,  I would practice my breathing and control my emotions before I responded to a situation and I found that it worked!  While I still have general anxiety, I’ve learned to regulate it without medication and, for somebody who has been struggling with it for almost 20 years, that’s a big accomplishment.

My daughter was very attached in her infancy; I had to babywear if I didn’t want to listen to her scream because if she wasn’t near me then she was just miserable!  I found that I loved babywearing, though, so it turned out to be a win for both of us.  As she got older and more mobile it became harder to wear her while trying to do things around the apartment so she’d just follow me and scream, out of frustration I’d yell at her to leave me along for five minutes, if she touched things she wasn’t supposed to I’d smack her hand.  Every time I did something like this the look on her face would break my heart but it’s the only thing I ever knew in regards to “discipline” and teaching.  She was a very high-needs baby, but also very sensitive, and that has carried on with her now that she’s a preschooler.

One day we were getting in the car at the mall after a play group and after telling her to wait by the car while I loaded in the little boy I watched my daughter darted into the road and a car had to swerve to miss her!  She thought it was funny and giggled as she ran, but out of complete fear I raised my hand and I spanked her butt.  I hit my child.  I was angry and so scared, more scared than I had ever been in my life, but I hit her.  I buckled her into her seat and I sat outside my car and I cried.  Man did I cry so hard.

While most people will read that and think, “Good, she deserved a pop for that!” I am still feeling guilt because of it.  It broke me.  I was spanked as a child and I grew to fear those spanked me.  I never felt respect for them, I never felt that I learned anything, I grew to be cautious of them; if I stepped out of line or said the wrong thing I could get hit.  I never wanted that for my child but there I was, hitting her in a parking lot.

Something needed to change after that.  I started applying my “gentle life” techniques to my parenting and it was like an instant change in our daughter.  She started listening more, she was more curious about life and was much more excited to show me things that she found in her world, we were interacting on a different level and it was incredible, I don’t even really know how to describe it.

I’ve shared that I’m a SAHM/childcare provider, my husband works long hours and, as a result, isn’t around much so it took a long time for our daughter to get used to him.  For the first year and a half of her life he was active duty but then after he got out of the USMC he took another government job with equally as long hours, often getting OT on the weekends.  Charlotte wouldn’t go to him much, she was wary of him because he has a strong presence; a stone face, doesn’t show much emotion, strong voice, and loud when worked up about something.  He was raised in that traditional, strict home as well and then joined the Marine Corps. where emotion was pretty much banned, so, in a nutshell, the man is far from Mr. Rogers lol.

I’ll never forget the day that he and I reached our breaking point in parenting.  While I had started to filter gentleness into my style, he remained the strict one.  We were packing our apartment to move to our first house and our stress levels were much higher than usual; Charlotte happened to touch something that my husband didn’t want her to and instead of saying, “Lets not touch that, we could get hurt,” he shouted, “NO!!” and smacked her hand and snatched up the case she had touched.  Instantly she came screaming to me, red, puffy cheeks and eyes, shouting, “Daddy scare me!”  He heard it.  As I hugged her and calmly said, “Daddy didn’t want you to get hurt,” she just cried and wailed, “No, daddy scare me!”  He acted preoccupied but I could see that her words were hurting him.

yelling silences message

That moment caused a fight between my husband and I (and in our five years together I can count our fights on one hand).  I described his actions as listening to a TV when the volume is too high: you can hear the noise but the words aren’t clear.  That’s what was happening with our toddler, a tiny human who was still learning how things work – she was exploring and instead of learning why not to do something, she was basically told to fear it because she couldn’t understand the message.

Since that day I’ve noticed an incredible change in my husband.  He is so much more patient with our daughter, he takes the time to show her how things work and explain why we do things.  He even invites her into the garage (his personal sanctuary) so they can work on his project truck together.  We had snow a few months ago and he went outside and built a snowman with her.  He encouraged her walk along side him while he put some chemicals on the lawn last weekend.  She gets so excited when she wakes up and realizes that he’s still in bed and not at work, because it means she gets to hang out with him.

I know that it made him sad that our daughter was scared of him for so long, his family would comment on it, he even made a remark to a friend of ours at a Fourth of July BBQ that our daughter would never want him to play with her the way our friend’s son was playing with her husband.  I’m so glad to say that in under a year that has changed all because of his new gentle approach to parenting.

We are often criticized for our choice to not spank or yell, because we choose not to isolate our daughter in time-out, that we still hug her when she’s sad or hurt or scared, but to those people I say, “Oh well.”  We are raising a child who is confident in her choices, who knows that it’s okay to be wrong from time to time, a child who isn’t afraid of an accident.

be it to teach it

I found this quote recently and I quite like it:

“When a child hits a child, we call it aggression.
When a child hits an adult, we call it hostility.
When an adult hits an adult, we call it assault.
When an adult hits a child, we call it discipline.”
– Haim G. Ginott

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.  Were you spanked as a child?  How do you feel about it?  Do you spank as a parent?  Have you asked your child what they think about being hit?  I hope y’all have a great weekend!  ❤

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

I started reading Harry Potter 17 years ago, at the same age Harry was when he and his peers started Hogwarts. I remember exactly where I was when I started reading it (in the car on the way to an amusement park), who I was with (my best friend at the time, Lisa), and how I felt (annoyed at first because I forgot a book for our hour drive but I was sucked in quickly). I grew up with the characters in those books.  I was picked on so often growing so I had such a connection to Harry, Ron, and Hermione because they were picked on, too.  I adored them, their talents and quirks, their friendship.

I remember where I was when I learned about Professor Severus Snape’s true identity (on the way to a camping trip in the Thousand Islands), who I was with (my boyfriend and some mutual friends), and how I felt (I was sobbing uncontrollably!). I had already graduated high school at this point and my car full of friends was teasing me about crying over “kid books” but Harry Potter, Hogwarts, was always my happy place. As Dumbledore said, I entered a place that was entirely my own.  They offered me the magic that my life lacked.  

Reading the news yesterday morning and seeing that Alan Rickman passed away just broke my heart, there is no other way to describe it.  It was like a piece of my childhood was gone.  It’s kind of poetic, in a way, that he passed after a battle with cancer.  You’re probably wondering, “Poetic?!  What the hell is lady thinking?!” but let me explain.

Voldermort was the death of the series and Snape worked with him as long as he could, he manipulated his odds against the monster, he shaped lives in the process, mine included, and he taught lessons that many will pass on.  In the end, though, the monster may have taken his life but Snape won, he was the bravest man we knew.  Alan Rickman made such an impact in the world that many generations are feeling the impact of his passing.

I was telling my dad about how sad I am about Rickman’s passing and he asked, “You still like that stuff?!” It was the perfect time to give the best answer…

Always ❤

RIP Alan Rickman

il_570xN.709244688_cw38

He’s a Dick…Addicted…

I was four and it was winter it upstate NY. My mom was at work so my recently fired father was in charge of babysitting me, a chore that he hated. My uncle was in town visiting, the first of three times I’ve ever met him, so my dad decided it would be a good idea to take me to the playground at the end of our street, I could play and they could talk.

He forgot my jacket.

While he zig-zagged back to our house I told my uncle to play with me. “Well, what should we play?” my single, mid-20s, kid-fearing uncle asked me. “Let’s pretend mommy and daddy still love each other!” I told him as I flew down the slide.

My dad never came back with my jacket, he decided it was too cold and we’d be home eventually. That was my uncle’s first memory of me.

That summer I was invited to a birthday party. I was only invited because the whole class was, but nobody really played with me. They were playing house and told me I could be the neighbor since my mommy and daddy weren’t married I wouldn’t know how to play house the right way. I cried until my mom picked me up.  Kids were mean, even in the early 90s.

After my parents split up my mom got sole custody, my dad was given every other weekend and a pathetic amount for child support. I remember getting so excited on his weekends, I’d pack my weekend bag and sit on the front steps waiting for him. For hours.  If it was raining I sat outside under an umbrella.  Just waiting.

He’d call and tell me he was having car trouble or he was helping a friend. Sometimes he wouldn’t call at all and my mom would encourage me to go play with friends, promising to get me as soon as he got there. She never told me the truth: he was too drunk to show up. She never talked poorly about him either. I give her credit for that.

I’ve been struggling recently with my father. He is an addict. He is an alcoholic. His functioning level, his bare minimum, is twice the legal limit. If his BAC drops below that he starts experiencing withdrawals. He has liquor everywhere, secret compartments in his vehicles, stashed around his apartment, he even has bottles hidden in the woods around his home.

I’ve seen my father sober once in my life. It was October 2009, six years ago; he was at Strong Memorial Hospital after having a tumor removed.  I touched on that in another post (“Daddy Issues”) so I won’t elaborate fully here, but he is very much not the same person when he drinks.  When he was taken out of his coma, 100% sober, it was like he was hollow.  He was looking around the room but not really seeing things, he was watching me speak but I don’t know that he was absorbing the things that I was saying.  His body was so used to drinking and taking swigs from bottles that he would go through the movements of reaching behind his pillow, unscrewing the lid, putting a bottle to his mouth, throwing his head back to swallow, smacking his lips a certain way that I will always identify as my dad’s “drunk lips,” screwing the lid back on, and stashing the bottle back under his pillow.  There was never a bottle, though.  He did the same thing with cigarettes.  The doctors said that, physically, he was sober and that he could live the rest of his life like a sober man but he would need therapy; he would need treatment that would help him unlearn his motions, basically.

He never got help.

One of the most frustrating parts of his addiction is my support circle.  I know with every ounce of me they mean well and I love each one of them more for that, but I don’t think any of them fully realize just how far gone he is.  He has been an alcoholic for roughly 38 years.  That is longer than I have been alive.  He is so far gone that he has “wet brain,” which is medically known as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.  Basically, WKS is brain damage that’s caused by a lack of the B1 vitamin and it’s common in chronic alcoholics.  I spoke with some specialists and I was told that, while he’s been suffering from WKS for a good 20 years or so, his hospital stay in 2009 exacerbated it because it got his brain functioning on a “normal” level, like a restart, and there’s glitches because all of the proper components for functioning aren’t there.

He doesn’t remember much; his short term memory is gone and to fill it in he just makes things up.  He likes to tell people things about his amazing life that he’s had but he uses bits and pieces from other people’s lives.  Many of his stories contain info and accomplishments from his dad’s life, his younger brother’s life (the uncle from the playground), and others.  It’s hard to know what is the truth and what isn’t.

I mentioned my support circle before and in that circle is the aforementioned uncle who I have developed a great relationship with.  I said before that I’ve only met him three times in my life and the last time I saw him was in 2004 when we went to Costa Rica.  After that trip my dad told me all of these horrible things about how much shit my uncle talked about me, how he thought I was scum and trashy, I was a failure to the family, so I never went out of my way to speak with him.  Due to my father’s most recent hospital stay I got in touch with him and we talked for almost six hours!  Now, I look forward to our phone calls and having that relationship with him that I never would’ve had otherwise.  He’s a really cool guy and it sucks that he lives in Arizona, but at least we keep in touch.  He’s a great pillar in my sanity when it comes to my father.

A faulty part of my support circle is my grandparents, my dad’s parents.  They are noble people, not your typical lovey-dovey grandparents, they don’t BS, and they don’t discuss their problems.  Therefore, they don’t believe my father’s addiction actually exists.  They give him an allowance still.  He’s almost 60!  I think their logic, though, is “out of sight, out of mind.”  Their allowance enables him to buy all this shit he doesn’t need, including alcohol.  I have told them, doctors have told them, their other sons have told them, my dad is an alcoholic.  They don’t believe anybody, though, because, “Barry said he stopped drinking!”

I don’t know that there was a specific point to this entry, more of just a way for me to vent and document this frustration.  Maybe one day my grandparents will be surfing the web (lol!) and they’ll stumble across it.  Why they would read a blog of all things, especially one titled “Yoga Cups and Coffee Pants,” is beyond me, but hey, stranger things have happened.

I guess if you’re going to get anything out of this, please be mindful of alcoholics.  Of all addicts, really.  There comes a point when the addiction takes over the body and the person loses all control.  Alcoholism is the only addiction where the withdrawal can kill you.  Sometimes I wonder how his disease hasn’t killed my father.  It killed his best friend of 45 years, it’s tried to kill him more than once, but somehow he always makes it out.

Anyway.  I’ll share a couple pictures, you can kind of see the deterioration in my father.

dad in hospital

This is my dad in February 2011.  He’s wearing reading glasses that he found on a bench and he wears them because he thinks they make him look smart.  He’s holding a crossword puzzle in his left hand and was using a cotton swab as a pencil in his right.

dad in wheelchair

The picture above is my father in February of 2011 (same trip as the first photo).  He is in a wheelchair because the room we had to go to was too far and his lungs couldn’t support that kind of exertion.

dad holding isaac

The picture above is my father in November of 2010 awkwardly holding my nephew.  That right side of his face is where they removed the tumor.

dad at wedding

This picture is at my wedding in April 2012.  If you look at my dad’s face you can see where half of it is missing.  The only reason he made it to my wedding (smelling like booze) is because of the woman on the far left.  She’s his ex-girlfriend.

dad at sticky lips

Okay final picture!  This one is in June of 2013 – you can see how much my father has withered away just over the few years shown in the pictures.  I haven’t seen him since this photo was taken.

Till next time ❤

As Simple as Do Re Mi, A B C-Section

A very dear friend of mine is scheduled to have a c-section next month; both of her pregnancies have been high risk but her first resulted in such a disastrous labor that it’s unsafe to go natural again, so a c-section it is.  Naturally (no pun intended) she is having fears and anxieties and has come to me with many questions since I had a c-section with my daughter.  As we were discussing it yesterday she had mentioned that she took to the internet (dun Dun DUN!) to help learn more about what to expect.  Not surprisingly, she didn’t find many positive things; as a matter of fact, on a mom group that she and I are both a part of a whole slew of moms commented with how horrifying it is, to expect the worst, it was just awful, etc.  There wasn’t a drop of support on the whole thread!  Actually, there doesn’t seem to be much support on the whole internet either.

I’m here to change that!
::insert superhero emoticon::

I was not planning to be a mom so when we found out I was pregnant I told the OB that we could just go ahead and plan the c-section to get that done and over with (I’m a very detail-oriented person with a love for schedules so the idea of a spontaneous labor is just not terrifying to me).  After being turned down I went home and started looking up the process of a c-section, watching videos, etc.  Having had the same results my friend is having now, I was TERRIFIED of having a c-section and quickly changed my mind.  I opted for a completely natural, unmedicated labor.  Well then I was given the news at 38 weeks that my daughter was transverse, butt-down, and that a c-section was an option so I left that appointment with my labor-date (if baby was head-down and ready to go we’d go ahead with an induction but if not then I’d have a c-section).

The morning of I arrived at the hospital on time, having not eaten anything since 6 pm the night before as instructed, and found out that baby was head-down.  Talk about relief!  Well, fast forward 24 hours, an arrested 7 cm dilation, a broken water, and two epidurals that didn’t work and I was singing a different tune.  I was practically begging for surgery!  Because I hadn’t slept at all they tried a third epidural so that I could get some sleep and hopefully dilate some more.  Unfortunately that didn’t work, though, and my daughter’s heart rate was rapidly dropping and my blood pressure was rapidly increasing – they did a quick ultrasound to find out that my daughter was actually moving backwards in the birth canal and, while still head down, had positioned her body just so that her shoulder was preventing proper access into the birth canal.  It was decided that I needed a c-section immediately.

I was quickly prepped and rushed into the OR and was given my anesthesia that numbed me from about my ribcage down to my toes.  The staff was exceptional and I remember the doctor making jokes with me and warning my husband to not look over the curtain.  I had an oxygen mask placed over my face (nose and mouth) and I had my arms strapped down (like a T) – the doctors said that was to both help blood flow and to prevent me from reaching for the surgical site (which I guess happens out of reflex).  I felt some pushing and pulling but it was nothing major; the doctor said I’d feel something like my skin unzipping and, oddly, that’s exactly what it felt like.  Being 100% honest period cramps hurt more than anything I felt during my c-section.  If it weren’t so dang cold in the room I probably could’ve slept because, for the first time since labor started, I was in no pain, the meds were making me spacey and the oxygen was almost therapeutic.  As I laid there it was almost like the doctors were off in the distance and I could hear the steady whooooosshhh and tsssst of the oxygen, I couldn’t nap, though, because the anesthesiologist was there asking me questions (to check how coherent I was) and monitoring my vitals.

All of a sudden the doctor said, “Okay, you’re going to feel a big push!” and it was almost like this giant fart had finally released this pressure that I didn’t know was there, and I heard it: the cry of my daughter.  The doctor smiled and said, “Hey, you had a little girl living in there!” and she was brought to my face while they started cleaning stuff up and stitching me up.  That took about 15 minutes and then I was brought to recovery while my husband followed our daughter to the baby room (where they gave her a bath and all that good stuff).

In all honesty, the recovery room was probably the worst part.  It was me and two other women (but room for six of us) and two room attendants.  One girl was throwing up because of the anesthesia and the other was other was talking to her friend who was in the room with her.  I had terrible shakes, was starving (I was allowed to eat something small around 11 am the day before – it was now 1:45 pm a day later) and SO THIRSTY (I wasn’t allowed anything more than one small Dixie cup of ice chips during my entire labor) but the attendants wouldn’t give me anything until the shakes stopped because the anesthesia could make me throw up.  After about two hours I was cleared to go to my room, so they got my husband and wheeled me down to the room I’d call home for the next two days.

I feel badly now because the nurse was trying to tell me how things worked on that floor, what to expect, etc. and I wasn’t really listening, I was eyeing the GIANT ice and water machine right outside my room.  My husband filled up a cup for me and I chugged three cups so fast that frat boys would have been proud.  Then my daughter was wheeled in and I honestly told the nurse that I wasn’t listening, this is the first time I’d really seen my daughter, that I was going to pick her up, and I did.

To kind of summarize, here’s a rough timeline:
12:30 pm – brought to OR
1:17 – my daughter was born
1:40 – I was brought to the recovery room
3:30ish – I was brought to my room
4:00ish – I got up and started walking
4:30ish – my catheter was taken out
5:00ish – they gave me a stool softener/laxative (be prepared for that thing lol)

From there on out I walked as much as I could around the floor and tried to sleep.  It’s hard, though, because people are coming in every 30-45 minutes to check the incision and lactation consultants come in to help with breast feeding, it’s far from relaxing.  I was able to shower the next day.

When I was discharged I slept the entire 90 minute drive back home and we adjusted pretty quickly.  My husband didn’t do any night feedings so I was up every two or three hours to feed and change our daughter, I was able to shower fine, do laundry (yeah, I kept up with that, too), everything I did before – just not much heavy lifting.  I lifted our daughter, though, so that was the most I lifted.

Make sure to take care of your incision properly, change the gauze regularly, wash it gently with warm water, and things will go smoothly.  If you have to cough, sneeze, fart, hiccup, etc. make sure you hold a pillow to you tightly to help with that pressure.  When you fart and poop don’t push too hard, let it come on its own.

Oh!  The best part?  The doctor was able to suction out most of the blood that comes along with labor so I only had postpartum bleeding for probably three or four days.  That was awesome.

So there you have it.  The true life story of a c-section survivor who actually didn’t hate her surgery lol.  If you’re about to have one or you think it might be in your future, don’t be scared!  It’s unnecessary worry and there’s not much you can do about it.  If you have any questions, though, then please feel free to talk to me.  I’ve got nothing to hide and nothing bad to say 🙂

Have a great day, y’all!

Oh My Gosh, Becky, Look at That MOM!!!

Hey hey hey!  I was told not to do a post like this because it’s so controversial and it would immediately turn people away from wanting to read my blog at all and make them hate me.  Extreme much?  As much as I appreciate you reading my blog, I do it for me so if you don’t like this one I’m sorry, but feel free to skip it 🙂

I’m going to talk about “bad moms.”  In mommy world it seems like this giant battle where we’re all against each other instead of trying to help each other.  Silly me…I always thought it was the latter.  I quickly found out that I was doing things wrong from the start.  I mentioned in another post that I delivered in a military hospital, so all of my prenatal care was done in the same setting.  I didn’t do any prenatal classes (like Lamaze) or anything, I just read a lot of books, because the closest base I could do them at was 90 minutes away.  Strike one.  Then, I was induced instead of going into labor naturally.  Strike two.  That one, though, they kept insisting I had gestational diabetes even though I passed all of my blood tests (I even had a diabetic kit that I used to test at home and still passed!  Except that one time I binged on ice cream and pretzels…), but they kept telling me my baby was pushing nine pounds and if I went the full 40 weeks she’d absolutely be over ten.  So they induced me at 39 weeks and 1 day.  My baby was born at 7 lbs. 10 oz.  Anyway..that was strike two.  Then after 27 hours of labor – yes, 27 HOURS OF LABOR with two epidurals that DID NOT WORK, I had an emergency c-section.  It doesn’t matter that both my and my daughter’s BPs were dropping and I was starting to black out, the fact that I had a c-section at all is strike three.  So, by the time my daughter was born I already had three strikes against me!

Lets not forget that I used formula (in my defense I tried breast feeding, and after three months was still only producing an ounce each time – which my daughter did get, turns out my prolactin levels were all sorts of messed up), I co-slept, I did baby-wearing, attachment parenting, I used jarred food, I do not like (actually, I HATE) the cry-it-out method (oh, excuse me, that’s called “ferberizing”), I use disposable diapers.  So that’s more strikes against me.

I find it funny that I actually felt the need to defend myself for having used formula.  That’s what other moms do to you!!!!

I remember one time I was returning a ton of breastfeeding stuff to Babies R Us, all of it was unopened and I had the receipts for it, but the cashier looked at me then at my daughter and went on to tell me, “You know..breast is best.  It’s much healthier for babies.  It makes them live longer.”  I was so taken aback and upset about her comment that I made up a terrible lie to make her feel even guiltier about why I was returning this stuff.  I think my awful lie is excusable since she just butted into my business like it was hers.  Another time I was at Food Lion buying groceries and a lady commented on the shape of C’s head, “Oh surely she was a c-section baby..her head is just so round!”  What in the world makes people think they can talk to you about this stuff?!  I looked at her and responded with, “Well actually, after about 18 hours of labor she descended, ready to come out, but got stuck because she twisted her body.  The lightening crotch I experienced during pregnancy was nothing compared to feeling a human get stuck in the birth canal!  Since she was stuck for so long she had this horrible cone head, but the doctors were able to help mold it to the correct shape.”  She turned so white.  But really, if she wanted to get in my business I’d share the juicy details that even I don’t like thinking about just to make her uncomfortable.  I know…mature.

I’m a SAHM, too, so that’s another strike.  However, if I was a working mom that’d be a strike so there’s really no winning on that topic.  I tried to join a few mom groups in the area because I really didn’t have any friends here (I don’t know if I mentioned it before but we moved to Virginia for my husband’s duty station so I didn’t know many, hardly any, people here) and I wanted to be able to socialize C as well as myself.  Well I tried one that was a walking group through a historical part of town – I figured moms, exercise, scenery..it’d be great!  No.  It was not great.  I was glared at because I didn’t have a jogging stroller and then they left me in the dust because apparently “walking group” means “steady jogging group” and I wasn’t even fully healed yet and I just don’t run.  So after a few times doing that I just gave up.  The moms didn’t even bother greeting me anymore when I showed up so it was clear I wasn’t welcome in their clique.  Then I tried another group in the area and they walk around the mall on Fridays then let the kids play in the play area, so I figured that’d be a safe bet, right?  No.  The first one I went to they barely spoke to me gossiped amongst themselves.  Whatever, I was new.  The next week I came and they all were trash-talking another mom who wasn’t there and then looked at me and very dramatically said, “Oh, don’t think we’re always like this..but this woman!” and went on to talk more.  Real classy, huh?  The final straw was when I invited a fellow mom I had met a few weeks before so that I’d at least have somebody to talk to when I walked.  This was frowned upon so much by the other moms and I was told, “That’s not allowed at all, you have to get permission to invite her!” so I said fuck it and we walked on our own, I never returned to another group with them again.  I tried a third group and they required I join this site where I pay a membership fee (only $20 annually) and then I had to host two playgroups each month, including one weekend day, and they got together 2-3 times each week.  I lived in a two bedroom apartment, there was no way I was hosting that much, especially on a weekend when it was my only time for my family to get together.  So that didn’t work.

Now that my daughter is two I get criticized because she’s not baptized, I don’t think that we’re going to do a preschool (actually, I’m near certain that we just won’t), I still haven’t left her with anybody, I won’t pierce her ears until she asks me to and is old enough to clean them herself, I still don’t let her cry-it-out, we still co-sleep, I just do what works for her and for myself and, really, that’s all any mom should do.

Unless your child is in harm’s way, I don’t care how you parent.  If you want to breastfeed in my living room, do it.  If you want/need to work, go for it.  I’ll offer to watch your child.  If you need to vent about how long your child has been crying and you haven’t showered in three days and there’s dirty dishes in the sink and two-day-old laundry in the washer and you’re just so tired…go for it.  I get it.  I can relate.  I am here for you.

We’re parents.  We need to stick together.  We need to help each other out.  Who the hell cares how you’re parenting?  If they don’t care for your child 24/7 then fuck their opinion.  You do what works for you and for your family.

I will not judge you for how you parent.  Unless you use your car seat wrong.  In that case I’ll offer to help you fix it, give you ways on how to improve the situation, but if you don’t then you’re failing your child.  Car seat safety is so important.

Other than that..you do you, boo.  And have fun because being a parent is so amazing and so rewarding 🙂 ❤

Happy trails, parents.

Daddy Issues

My dad has always been a drinker for as long as I can remember.  It wasn’t until the past few years, though, that I realized exactly how much.  He and my mom were never married and she left him in the early 90s – shortly after my brother was born.  She met M, my stepdad, they dated for a while, moved in together, and then he proposed.  She didn’t tell me about it, though, I found out because I saw a new ring on her finger and, as a curious 6 year old, I asked about it.  Anyway, I always thought my dad was cool because he let me do anything.  He let me play with tools, drive his truck, drive the lawn mower, play football in the house, etc.  As I got older, though, he kept up with that and would provide cigarettes and alcohol to my 14 year-old-self.

I remember my mom’s lawyer pulling up to the house one day before we moved in with M.  I remember her asking me if I wanted my mom’s last name or my dad’s last name (when I was born I had my mom’s because he refused to accept that I, a girl, was his but when my brother came he insisted his name be passed down and my mom said only if I could have his last name, too.  So that decision fell into the hands of a child); I chose his last name because I’d be living with my mom so, in my adolescent eyes, it was only fair.  Aside from the simplicity of the spelling, I wish I never made that choice.

My mom was granted sole custody and we were supposed to be able to see him every other weekend, plus he was to pay $50/month for two kids in New York state.  I think he stopped paying child support when I was around ten or so, and he saw us so infrequently that when my brother was six (the age I was when they split up) he asked our father during a rare visit, “So…you’re my real dad, huh?”  To this day my father wonders why there’s a nearly nonexistent relationship with his son.

There were so many times that I’d pack my bags for the weekend and I’d sit on the front stop with my duffel and my black teddy bear (a gift I got from my father for my fourth Christmas…the only gift he’s ever given me) and I’d wait.  And wait.  And wait.  My mom would bring me my lunch on the cold stone steps and tell me that maybe he got stuck in traffic, maybe he had to work, she’d suggest I go play with friends and she’d call me as soon as he got there.

He never came and she never talked bad about him.  I’ll respect my mother forever because of that.  She let me, and my brother, form our own opinions about the man who fathered us.

I was 18 when I graduated high school and I was proud of myself, I wanted my family there.  I invited my dad, too, even though he lived about an hour from the venue.  He promised he’d be there.  He wasn’t.  So I was angry with him, as to be expected, and I distanced myself from him.  The distance could only last so long, though, because a month later I was set to travel to Costa Rica with my paternal grandparents and him (they wanted to celebrate their 50th anniversary and paid for their children and their families to visit a fun country).  The trip itself was beautiful, the country, food, culture, wildlife, everything was exceptional and I will forever be grateful to my grandparents for providing me with such a memorable experience, but my father ruined a lot of it for me.

We flew out of the Boston and had to drive from our home in Western NY to the Massachusetts coast to get to my grandparents.  My father, never without a drink, decided to leave on our eight hour journey in the late evening to drive throughout the night, so we could arrive at breakfast to spend extra time together before the trip.  His car broke down before we even got out of the state and the tow truck brought us to the nearest hotel.  That hotel, however, wouldn’t let us stay there because my father had no money and I was under 21.  Since good ol’ dad was clearly intoxicated the night clerk even locked us out!  My father passed out on the bench outside, leaving me and my 12 year-old brother to sit on the gravel, alone, in the middle of the night.

Not a lot of people believed me when I told them about it but I recently found this photo in my Costa Rica photo album – my father passed out on a bench in front of that hotel.

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His parents were certain I lied to them about this incident so they told me never to bring it up again.  In Costa Rica my father would down bottles each day of vodka, charge drinks to the room I happened to be staying in so that I’d be blamed for the upcharges to the rooms that my grandfather was paying for, then on the flight back he punched me in the side of the head because I told him I wouldn’t smuggle a bottle of vodka from the duty-free shop in my dress.  He then told my grandparents that I was, indeed, trying to bring home liquor and that he was trying to prevent me from it.

They believed him.

So years went by and we’d talk on the obligatory holidays, we’d never see each other.  I was finally starting to see my father for the man he was – a stupid, rude, careless drunk.

In 2009 a very close friend of mine lost his father to brain cancer.   On his deathbed he told me that he wanted me to rekindle a relationship with my father, so after his funeral I did that…I called my father for the first time in almost five years.  Guess what happened?  He told me he, too, had cancer.

So, because I felt like I owed it to my friend’s father, I stood by my dad’s side through his whole ordeal.  His alcoholism hindered much of his recovery and he spent two months in a medically induced coma.  By the time he left the hospital he was, for the first time in my life, 100% sober.

That lasted until he got home.

That was six years ago and he’s recently done another two months in the hospital that sobered him up again.  He was supposed to go to a rehabilitation center upon discharge but the occupational therapy team deemed he was competent enough to go home.  Keep in mind, he had pumped them full of lies and was sober while they were observing him so of course things seemed okay.  I warned them that if they discharged him to his apartment that he’d be drunk again before nightfall.  They did it anyway and guess what?  He’s back to drinking.

His recent adventure is that he was given a DWI.  FINALLY!!!!  He’s orchestrated this lie that is so detailed that I’m actually amazed by it myself.  I hope that his lawyer, the prosecuting lawyer, and the judge all look into said story because he deserves this charge.  He deserves to lose his license.  I’m honestly surprised he is still alive.

I realize this is way longer than any of my other posts thus far, but it’s something that’s been plaguing me for years.  Nobody really talks to me about it except my uncle (who I’ve recently formed a relationship with since my father’s most recent hospital visit and he’s really cool, I’m so glad to have him be a part of my life) and he feels awful for me which isn’t what I want.  It’s nice, though, to have somebody else who sees my dad the same way I do.

I think that having an alcoholic father helped me become who I am.  I battled my own demons and addictions, but at this point in my life I know who I am and who I don’t want to be.  He is a huge reason for my choice in abstaining from alcohol.  I don’t ever want to look like him and I don’t want my daughter to see me that way.  I hate that she’s going to know her grandfather in that way.

I think that’s a good amount of reality for now.  I’ll be back, though 🙂

Happy trails ❤