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!  ❤

Advertisements

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

I am awful at staying up to date with this, I know I keep saying I’ll get better and I’m so sorry I haven’t.  I do keep little sticky notes around my laptop, though, with ideas of what to write about.  If you have any topics you want me to discuss leave a comment and I’ll do it 😀

Soooo ghosts.  The paranormal world is one of those almost taboo subjects that people like to hear the stories, especially if they’re real-life experiences, but then don’t want to believe them.  I’m one of those in-the-middle people; I’ve experienced things that are completely unexplainable despite me trying to debunk them or find solid reasoning that they couldn’t be paranormal.  I’ve mentioned before (at least I think I have) that I’m atheist so the idea of believing in ghosts and spirits but not believing in God, Satan, angels, demons, etc. is odd.  I will say this, despite my disbelief in God and His posse, when I used sage to smudge our new house I also carried a rosary and an amethyst with me.

That’s another thing, I like stones and crystals!  Not only are they pretty, but I love their significance and healing powers.  Even if it’s all in my head, it doesn’t hurt to like them.  That’s not really related to this entry, I guess, so I digress and will get back to the topic 😉

Growing up I always loved when my mom would tell me scary stories; she’d tell me some of the experiences that our family or her friends have had in regards to ghosts or paranormal and I would listen, totally mesmerized.  As I grew up, though, and started to gain a better understanding of life and all of that good stuff I believed it less and less, mainly because it didn’t make sense; there wasn’t a solid reason or evidence that ghosts were here so I just didn’t didn’t believe.

However I have had a few things happen with me and now with my daughter (who just turned three and doesn’t even understand what ghosts are) so I thought I’d share those:

Happening #1 – Part One:
I’m from western NY and we had a serial killer in the 70s (Arthur Shawcross a.k.a. The Genesee River Killer) who targeted prostitutes.  He dumped their bodies in various spots, but two of the bodies he dumped in the same park (Turning Point Park).  As a junior in high school a few friends and I went down there around 11:30 pm.  The way the park is laid out (the part where he dumped the bodies) is like a giant oval on it’s side.  The parking lot was about smack dab in the bottom part of the oval and the path to the left lead to a big opening (roughly 1100 sq. ft.) and then the path continued down hill to the Genesee River.  Reports have it that he dumped one decapitated body in the water and the second he threw in the woods just past this giant opening before the path continued down hill.

Well I was a smoker at the time and as we were walking I had a cigarette in my right hand (imagine how one holds a cigarette) and on the palm of my hand and in between my fingers my hand got tingly, like it had fallen asleep.  I shook it off and didn’t pay any attention to it, just tossed out my cigarette.  We got to the giant opening and something literally stopped me.  I was the only girl in the group and my friend Bob* (names changed for privacy) was at the front of the line holding the video camera that had a light on it.  I spoke up saying, “Guys, I don’t feel comfortable..something isn’t right!” and they all stopped and came around me trying to calm me down but Bob had the camera light right on my face and it was blinding, so I told him to turn the camera away.  We talked for a few minutes but I just couldn’t (phsycially) move any further forward and so we turned around and called it a night.  A few days later Bob called me and said that I had to get to his house – I wouldn’t believe what was on the video.  So my boyfriend at the time (who was with us that night) and I went to Jim’s and we crowded around his TV.  You could hear us talking and joking and you could see a little bit of my cigarette smoke floating in front of the camera.  Then you hear me say, “Guys, hold on..” and a blue orb floated past the camera screen (totally plausible that it was dust, but wait for Part Two) and went into the woods to the right and then you could see this gray transluscent mist come walking up the hill (from the river) and it stopped at the top of the hill facing us (none of us saw it because the camera was facing that way while everybody talked to me).  That’s when you could hear Bob say, “Okay, let’s just leave.” and he closed up the camera and we left.

Happening #1 – Part Two:
So now it’s 2006 (four years after part one) and some new friends and I go down to Turning Point Park to walk the whole thing since it was afternoon.  I had just gotten a brand new digital camera, charged up the battery and was excited to test it out.  My friend Tom* (names changed for privacy) was the only smoker in the group and in the one picture where he had a cigarette I was about 50 feet away testing out the zoom feature.

(This picture below is without the zoom)

CIMG0115

(The picture below is with the zoom)CIMG0112

These two pictures are taken at the bottom of the hill (the water is the Genesee River) and this pier that they’re on is where one of the bodies was found.  As you can tell it was getting dark so we started back up the path and I kept feeling like something was following us.  I kept checking but nothing was there.  Finally my friend suggested taking a picture so I did:

(The picture below is of the path behind us – note: the blue orb was the same one we saw on Bob’s video camera four years earlier)

CIMG0145

We got to that giant opening and both my friend Marie* and myself felt really weird.  I kept feeling tinglies on my body (remember from part one I said it felt like my hand fell asleep?) and Marie said her head was pounding, she couldn’t think straight.  We stopped (Tom was going towards the car, not with us at this point).  I kept hearing something in the woods and I took a picture:

(Below is a picture of the woods where the blue orb disappeared to in part one)

CIMG0146

At the same exact moment both of our cell phones shut off, Marie’s watch stopped, and my camera flashed once and then completely died.

(Below is the last picture that was captured by my now-dead camera)

CIMG0149

Marie and I ran to the car and locked the doors and sped off.  At the end of the street our phones turned on, her watch started and my camera turned back on.  I haven’t gone back to Turning Point Park since this happened.

Happening #2:
This one happened in a dream so I don’t know if it counts in the way that other ghost stories do but I think it is really special.

When I was a senior in high school one of my older friends (who had graduated and joined the Army) had commit suicide at the park right up the street from my house.  His little brother found him.  It took everything in me to go to the wake and I was just so drained that I couldn’t get the energy to go to the funeral, so I stayed in bed and just cried.  

About a week later I was feeling so guilty that I missed the funeral that it was just eating at me.  I was becoming physically ill because I felt so selfish that I couldn’t just go say goodbye.  Well one night I went to sleep and I had this dream that I was walking through the halls of my school and Steve (my friend that died) was in the back corner (where a lot of us hung out) and he was just playing hackey sack.  I smiled and waved and went to class.  In class an announcement came on over the PA and said we were to all meet in the bleachers on the football field (Steve played football).  I walked out there and everybody was already there so I found a spot all alone in the bleachers and looked down at the field and there was a casket with the flag draped over it.  I couldn’t stop staring at it and then Steve opened up the casket and climbed out, walked up the bleachers and kneeled down in front of me and said, “It’s okay…I’m okay now…you can let go.”  

It was right then that I woke up and I instantly felt lighter and like I could breathe easier.  I went to the cemetery that morning and I sat down on the still fresh grave and I told Steve my dream.  When I got done I told him that I’m sorry I didn’t go to his funeral, that I love him and just didn’t want to say goodbye.  Right then a cardinal came and landed on the headstone and sang his little song and flew away.  Something just told me that everything was okay.

Happening #3:
There was an old house in my hometown that everybody used to say was haunted and that at midnight it’d glow green – I never witnessed that – but I was fascinated by the house because it was a huge and beautiful and it didn’t fit in with the other houses in the area…or the whole town for that matter.  Well, anybody from that area can tell you that the Easter of 2004 was so hot that people were already swimming at the beach!  Mike* (names changed for privacy), my bf at the time and the same guy who was with me at Turning Point Park, and I decided to go for a walk and as were nearing this house, we decided to walk around the property since it was vacant (and had been for years). 

We started with the barn (to the left of the house) and as we were walking on the far left side of it we could hear and smell horses.  We could hear them kicking in their stalls and neighing.  Around the far back side of the barn there was a balcony of sorts but the wood looked all burned and charred.  At the top of the balcony there was a set of french doors that had stained glass windows and the doors themselves were fine – they even looked new – but the wood around the doors was completely burned up like the rest of the balcony wood.

On we went.  Behind the barn just to the left (if you’re looking at the front of the house the structure is to the right of the barn, behind the main house) there was a smaller house (it has since been torn down but I learned that it was the servant’s quarters) and we were able to look in the windows.  There was still furniture in there and there was a small kitchen table with glasses and plates still on it like somebody was about to set the table.  There was one door off the kitchen that looked to be a bedroom (I could see the corner of a bed).  We switched windows and were looking the other end of this house now and I could see a middle door (kind of separating the kitchen and living room) that was a bathroom; my eyes suddenly caught a rocking chair moving and the third door (at the far end of the living room) slammed shut.  We jumped back from the window and kept walking.

We approached the main house and started in the back.  There was a set of concrete stairs that let to nothing…literally just a wall.  Then there was a a big ditch that lead to the basement of the house – kind of like there was supposed to be cellar doors there and they just weren’t anymore.  There was a piece of wood that was placed inside the house and attempted to board up the opening to the basement, but it didn’t cover the whole space (so there was a triangular opening to the basement).  As we walked by that there was a huge blast of cold air..so cold both Mike and I saw our breath (keep in mind, it was at least 90 outside that day).  We kept walking by it trying to feel the cold again, Mike even climbed down the slope and put his arm inside the building and the cold was just not there.  So we walked on to the east side of the house (in the picture it’s the right awning) and as we approached the concrete slab (all the white fencing was not there) we could hear kids laughing followed by a door closing.  We walked on towards the front of the house and near the front left window we got a really strong smell of bourbon.  It was so strong we actually looked in the bushes to see if a bum had left a bottle there!

Now, I was talking to a town hall member about this experience and he told me that in the mid-1900s a man lived there with his family but suspected that his wife was having an affair and so he killed her along with his kids.  He remarried and his new wife loved horses so he bought her two horses for the barn and things were good.  Then he suspected her of cheating, too, and locked her and the horses in the barn before setting it on fire.  That front, left window was rumored to be his study where he’d go to drink and reportedly took his own life there.  The servants didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to be accused so they fled.  I have tried researching this story and can’t find anything to validate it, all I could find is that it was a working farm and the owner owned a local coal company and the Rochester-Buffalo-Pittsburg Railroad.  The property is now offices and for sale. 

(The below picture is a semi-recent picture of the house)
Yates Thayer Mansion

Happening #4:
We recently bought a house and where we moved to is about 30 minutes from major stores; a trip to Wal-Mart is about a half hour and through farm country. One day after leaving WM my daughter (who was two and a half at the time) started screaming, “Stop! He look at me!” and seemed truly upset. Naturally I pulled over and jumped out of the car to search the back and there was nothing, I finally concluded that she just saw her distorted reflection in the shiny handles and that was that. She acted this way in the car for a few weeks, but it was lessening. Finally one day we went out to the car and I opened the door and she goes, “Hi! I miss you!” and chatted with nothing during all of our errands. We got to the grocery store and she pointed at the side of the car that originally scared her and said, “Okay, I be back. You wait here!” That’s when I started getting curious so I took pictures of the car, the inside, outside, each seat, and I posted them in and paranormal group I’m part of. I told them no details, nothing about my daughter’s behavior, just the photos. One woman, who is a an empath and can connect with spirits, responded and said that my daughter has the gift (now mind you I told her no details, not even that I have a daughter) and that our area is rich with history and it appears I picked up hitchhikers, of sort, in my travels, that we had an older woman and her grandson in the car and they were using our vehicle as their portal to get where they needed to go. She suggested driving around the area to see if it made a difference so we did that one day and after about 20 minutes I heard Charlotte say, “Bye! I miss you!” and she hasn’t mentioned it since!!

Happening 5:
I was at the jewelry store here in town and the owner had her dog there so Charlotte kept petting the dog but kept looking in the back room asking about the other dog, the big white one. I didn’t pay much attention to it and told her that the other dog was back there sleeping and she had to stay out here because the back room was only for employees. As we were paying I asked the owner about her other dog in the back and she said she doesn’t have one back there, that the little French Bulldog was the only one in the store. I looked at her confused and asked about the big white dog that Charlotte was talking about and she told me that her white lab died there in May.

Happening 6:
I had just got done donating blood and afterwards was strapping Charlotte into her carseat.  She was watching me more than usual and then suddenly put her hand on my cheek and said, “God will bless you mama.”  Keep in mind, I’m atheist so I’m not discussing God or blessings with her, I work from home so she’s with me all the time so I know she’s not hearing that from other people, so it was a very bizarre thing for her to say.  I asked her to repeat what she said and she smiled and said, “You be blessed mama,” and then went back to playing with her toy.  Odd but I shrugged it off.  So recently, about a month and a half after the post-blood donation thing, Charlotte was playing and kept talking about Sophie.  Sophie this and Sophie that, Sophie loves God, we be blessed, etc.  Weird things!  She doesn’t like watching “Princess Sofia” so I knew it wasn’t that (and I asked if her if that’s what she was saying) but, again, I shrugged it off and chalked it up to toddler imagination.

I was on the phone with my mom just a couple days ago (we’re states away) and she was telling me about the psychic fair that she and a friend went to; they go regularly so it’s not out of character for her.  She had been really stressed out about some work and family stuff so she felt like that stress was blocking her energies, but one of the readers told her that a motherly figure was visiting but since my mom’s mom and her mother-in-law are both alive she felt like it wasn’t accurate and went about the fair.

As my mom was telling me about her day it reminded me of Charlotte talking about Sophie, so I mentioned how I’d love to bring her to one because of it.  I asked her if we had anybody in our family tree named Sophie and she got really quiet for a few seconds and asked, “Why do you ask?  That’s a really strange question…”  so I told her about Charlotte mentioning Sophie and the things she said about her, to my surprise my mom started crying!  She then told me that her grandma, my great grandma, Charlotte’s great great grandma, was named Sophie and she was an a spunky Catholic woman who went to church every day and said the rosary every night, she always used to tell my mom that she’d be blessed!  So the psychic was right – a maternal figure was visiting, she was just visiting my daughter!
So that’s that.  All of these things I can’t really explain but are interesting, at least to me.  Do you have any experiences that are paranormal or unexplainable?  If so, I’d love to hear them!

 

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 ❤

Tic Tac Totem

Man it’s been a long time since I’ve written, for that I am sorry!  I’ve been completely preoccupied with appointments and family and pets and visitors…oy!  Well now you have my undivided attention (except for when my toddler summons me).  So I thought I’d talk about some “weird” stuff today.  Stuff I think is normal but others often stare blankly, blink slowly, and change the subject over.

I’ll start with the aforementioned “visitors” that we’ve had.  I think I mentioned in another post that my husband and I recently bought a house (yay!); well with buying a home comes a bit more out-of-town visitors (wahh!).  In our case, it’s almost everybody – we live a good 500+ miles away from almost all of our families.  Well, since we’ve moved to Virginia (in 2011) we’ve had a rule: no out-of-town guests can stay with us unless there’s an extenuating circumstance. When our daughter was born my mom stayed with us because she was there to help, but everybody else has been asked to get a hotel.  So many people gasp at that – how dare we ask people to stay in a hotel, especially family!  Well, in the apartment it was much easier for people to accept our rule because we only had two bedrooms with one bathroom – it was the perfect size for us but super cramped with any more.  Now we’ve bought a house and nearly doubled our square footage and people are assuming they can stay with us just because we’ve added a bedroom (that’s actually already in use) and a bathroom.  Well, here’s why (we think they’re very good reasons) we have that rule:

  1. We are a family who thrives on schedule and routine.  My husband wakes up for work at 3:15 every morning, has his AM routine, and is out the door by 4:30.  Often times he doesn’t return home until 7 or 8 (he gets overtime quite a bit and then twice a week he has night school through his job), eats a quick bite, and is in bed by 9:15 each night.  Our daughter wakes up around 6:30 or 7 each day (after waking 1-3x/night), eats breakfast watching her cartoons.  She’s incredibly shy and fearful of strangers, so having new people at our house as soon as she wakes up, throwing her from her routine, makes her grumpy, clingy, and just not happy.
  2. On top of that routine, I work out of my house; I do in-home childcare.  Can you imagine going to drop your kids off at the sitter’s house and there’s -x- new people passed out on the living room floor?  Not only that, people that you don’t know hanging out around your kid all day?  Not cool.  Personally, as a mom, I wouldn’t feel good about that.  Our third bedroom is the daycare room; I keep the extra car seats, diaper bags, cribs, craft supplies, etc. in there so it’s full, there’s no room for people to sleep there and we don’t own an air mattress (for a reason) so that leaves our couch.
  3. If those two reasons aren’t good enough for you, that leaves me with our final reason: anxiety and introversion.  I know I’ve written before about my anxiety, but both my husband and I are also introverts.  We absolutely love having family come and visit, we love seeing everybody, but at the end of the day we need our quiet, alone time to just…wind down.  If I don’t get that my anxiety flares up and I lash out and say things I don’t mean to people.  I truly don’t mean it, it just happens (think Cady Heron in “Mean Girls” with her word vomit).  I know my husband my gets all tense and quiet, but then he’ll lash out later (not physically or anything, but you know men are typically emotionally constipated creatures, so he’ll usually bottle it up and then yell about something silly later).  So many people think that anxiety and introversion are curable things, but they’re not.  They’re also a nuisance and hinder the fun that you could have with your guests.  Regardless, people staying here intrudes on our personal bubbles and then that, in turn, messes with our moods and whatnot.  We’d be much happier and more fun during a visit if people just didn’t stay with us.

So we recently had visitors (my SIL, BIL, FIL, niece, and nephew) and at last minute we found out that FIL would be staying with us, not in the hotel like we previously thought.  Boy was my husband not happy!  We talked about it about and ultimately decided it was okay since my husband was so excited to see his dad, but also they would be arriving on Friday and leaving on Sunday, leaving no overlap with my daycare kids.  We also found out the day that they arrived that my husband wouldn’t be working so FIL sleeping on the couch wouldn’t interfere with any morning routines.  I am so glad to say that the whole trip went so great!  I am lucky to have such a cool sister-in-law.  Our daughter got along great with our niece, they played together so wonderfully and our daughter was actually sad and confused to not find her around our house (that was a concern for us since daughter is so shy; last time we saw them our niece was very excitable so we were worried she’d be a tad overwhelming..I am so happy there was nothing to be worried about!).  I suck at apologies when it comes to having to say sorry for my anxiety because it feels like I’m apologizing for who I am, but if my SIL is reading this I want you to know that we are so glad you came, I hope you understand where we were coming from, and we truly did have a blast.

Now on to the “weirder” part.  I have this book that I swear by, it’s kind of like my bible.  It’s called Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by Ted Andrews.  Here’s the book:

animal speak

It is truly life-changing, at least for me.  I promise I get no benefit from promoting this book, I just love it and think everybody should buy a copy, or at least read it.  In the beginning of the book you create a totem based on seven questions; each question will give you a different animals and those animals make your totem.  However, in reading about the power of each animal you find that there are additional animals you should study that sync up, so to speak, with the first animal.  Ultimately, at the end, you have a slew of animals that represent your animal totems.  These can change, too, based on your life.  My totems, for example, are: dog, wolf, deer, spider, coyote, swan, horse, and raven.  You may have more or less because some of your animals may overlap and that’s okay, too.

As I was reading about the coyote today, actually, I realized how similar I am to them.  Animal Speak says, “Oftentimes…the coyote makes things more complicated than they need to be….Are you…being too serious?…Are you complicating what is really simple in some area of your life?”  The answer would be yes!  I know that we complicate things like family visits because we’re so set in our ways of life, we have a hard time loosening up about things.  That’s where the wolf comes in; “They live by carefully defined rules,” says Animal Speak.  The deer is the most common prey of wolves, and ravens have a connection to them because they often fly over wolves, moving with their hunt, so that they can prey on the animals the wolf hunts.  The deer is one of my totems because it’s one I most often see in nature and I love to see them, and the raven is another because of its connection to wolf and coyote.

Did you know that “The raven is a member of the corvids family, to which belongs crows and magpies and other such birds[?].  In truth, the only really significant difference between the crow and the raven is the size, the raven being much larger.  It would be beneficial to study the information on the crow for anyone who has a raven as a totem,” a direct quote from Animal Speak.  When reading about the crow, the book says, “The male and female build the nest together.  The nest is built high up for protection and it is kept very clean.  Even the young crows do not foul their own nest.”  I think this speaks volumes about me because clutter and mess trigger my anxiety like you wouldn’t believe.

I know to many it sounds silly, and when I tell people about it they often look at me strangely, but I do believe we have a connection to animals and I believe that they resonate within us.  When I have dreams about certain animals I look them up.  If I encounter an animal in an area that is abnormal to their life I immediately look it up.  There has never been a time that this book has steered me wrong and, more often than not, I’m amazed at what this book tells me about the animal.  At the very least it’s interesting to read about certain animals find out more than what TV tells us about them.

Well then.  This concludes another blog post.  I honestly was thinking about writing for so long but was trying to decide what to write and when to write it.  I want to write for me, but I also want to write things that are gripping to readers, too.

I also love to hear your feedback.  Do you have this book?  Have you read it?  Would you ever?  If so, what are your totems?  Do you feel they’re an accurate depiction of you?  Feel free to comment!

Until 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.