Moms will totally get this…

I am writing because I am in a pretty good mood. It’s Monday, but I didn’t have to go to work today. I have had three cups of coffee. I went to the gym with some co-worker friends. I came home, put the kids down for a nap, and the hubby and I had some… alone time. I showered, shaved, and now I’m not wearing a bra, so yeah… I feel great.

I didn’t wake up this way. I woke up the normal way, with my two-year-old screaming for milk and wanting to snuggle in our bed to watch Octonauts. And by snuggle, I mean he turns into a freakin octopus, and every limb was shoved in between my ribs, under my back, so… that means okay, fine… I’m up.

First cup of coffee goes a little something like this: I brew it and make it delicious with absolutely no carbs I might add. I take a sip. “MOMMY!!!” “Mhmm…” “Play trucks with me!” “Sweetie, Mommy wants to drink her…” “But MOMMY!” So what do I do? I freakin play trucks with him because he’s adorable, and the mom guilt sets in about him only being this age for so long and then he’s grown and gone. I turn on Super Why, and if you have not watched that show, don’t. The meaning behind it is fantastic. Super Why has the power to read. Someone else has the power to spell. Someone else has the power to help, yada, yada, yada. It will make you want to claw your eyes out. Don’t do it.

So, I turned the show on, got him some breakfast and chugged my room temperature coffee. Yuck, but whatever. So I brew another cup. About the time I sit to enjoy it, here comes my sweet four-year-old, who by the way, is not a morning person. “Good morning, sweetheart. Do you want some cereal?” I got a grunt. “I’ll take that as a yes. Here, go watch Super Why with your brother.” “Awwwwwww… I don’t want to watch that show! It’s stupid!” Before I could say the words I was thinking, “Yeah, I know, but please leave me alone for like five minutes,” I said, “What do you want to watch?” BIG. FREAKIN. MISTAKE. Do not ask a four-year-old what they want. It’s a trap.

We went through several minutes of “Nope, not that,” until I finally said, “I’ll put live television on with commercials if you don’t decide right now!” They watched another round of Octonauts, and I chugged another cup of room temp coffee.

So, I brewed me another cup, determined that this would be the satisfying taste Mama desires. The husband gets up. I keep making my coffee. As soon as the kids start asking Mommy to do something else, I walk by and whisper, “They’re yours,” and I call out, “I gotta poop!” But did I poop? No, I did not. I went into my room, closed and locked the door, flushed the toilet a couple of times, and I enjoyed that damn cup of coffee because dangit, I earned it.

The kids were finally settled, and we played and then I realized that it was already 9:00 A.M. Goodness me, half the day is gone! I’m totally being sarcastic if you can’t tell. I’ve just been up that long. I decide, “You know what… I am going to the gym. I need some endorphins, and I need to do me.” So I posted on my work health and wellness page that I was going to the gym in half an hour if anyone wanted to join. Not expecting it, I worked out with four friends, and it was great!

And here I am… still in a good mood. The kids are still napping, and I am drinking a HOT cup of coffee, and I don’t even have to rush!

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A Complicated Relationship

My mother. As a daughter, this can be a double-edge sword. She is concerned and loving and she means well. However, she can also be nosy and condescending without realizing it.

For as long as I can remember, my mom and I have had this roller coaster relationship, as I’m sure most mothers and daughters do. Sometimes I have pulled her in, letting her into many intimate details of my life, while other times I push her away, and the sight of her name popping up on my phone is annoying. When I push, I always think, “Why am I doing this? Deep down, I want to be close to her.”

In fact, I crave what I call the “Gilmore Girl relationship.” I want that funny banter back and forth with sarcastic, but loving remarks, sharing intimate details of our lives over coffee (LOTS of coffee). Sometimes, my mom and I almost get there. I can literally feel us getting closer, making that connection, and then something happens, and it’s just not there. My therapist says that I should just accept this, but it’s hard to. I think I’m always going to want that closeness.

I have tried finding this in other women– that certain warmth of a friend and a mom, the woman who I can trust with sensitive emotions without feelings of judgement or guilt, the woman I can laugh and cry with, that accepts me for me (flaws and all). I want someone to shop with, get our nails done together as we laugh over the latest gossip. I want someone to just hold me when I’m down and play with my hair and tell me that I’m pretty and smart. Have I found this in my own mom? Sure, a few times. Like I said, there have been glimpses of this relationship, but then that connection is gone as fast as it appeared.

I also feel like when I have tried to “hang out” (for lack of better words) with an older mom-like figure, sometimes it feels weird– Almost like I’m cheating on my mom. I know that sounds crazy, but hear me out– Now that I’m a mom with a little girl, I try to think if I would be jealous if I found out that my daughter was hanging out a lot with a woman my age. I’d like to think that I’m more mature than that, and that I know she loves me, too. I don’t think I would be jealous or upset, but I don’t know. So, that’s part of my dilemma.

Also, it’s really hard to find someone who fits all of that mom criteria.  I don’t trust easily, and the few older women that I love, most of them have daughters of their own, so maybe they feel the same way that I do about hanging out. (Maybe I’m overthinking this…)

When I look back at my childhood, I see a hard-working woman who raised me. She taught me values and morals. She took me to church and made sure that I went to the best schools in our district, even if that meant finding alternate ways of getting there because of being zoned somewhere else. She never missed a play or a chorus concert or a dance recital or a talent show. She worked a job she didn’t like to make sure that we had the things we wanted. I have a great mom; it’s not that I don’t. There’s just… something missing.

Hell, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the one that’s subconsciously pushing her away and causing the wedge. Maybe I don’t realize the fence I’ve built around my heart. I don’t know, but I do know that it’s just not the relationship that I desire.

My questions to ponder: Am I thinking up someone impossible? Will I ever have the relationship I desire? Am I too hard on my mom’s and my relationship? How can I change my situation?

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Drowning a Bit

I’m swimming along. Life is pretty good, but then it’s like I get this cramp, and swimming is getting more difficult. All of sudden I look around, and there is no land in sight. No boat. No float. Nothing. I feel like I’m drowning a bit in this thing called life.

First of all, like I’ve mentioned before, I hate winter. Like, I literally cannot stand being cold. Second, my youngest child, who is only 2, will have to have tubes put in his ears soon as well as have his adenoids removed. Last year, he had about eight ear infections, and he hasn’t slept through the night… ever. That means I haven’t slept through the night. I’m tired. All. The. Time. I’m also terrified of him being put to sleep. I know it’s a “routine procedure” type thing, but he is my baby, and nothing that anyone says is really going to make me feel any better about him having to be put to sleep and having surgery. That’s just scary.

Work is also piling up. As a fourth grade teacher, I am having a slightly overwhelming school year. I just moved up from second grade this year, and it’s a lot different. It’s a big testing year. My students will go to middle school next year, so preparing them is really stressful. I work in a Title I school within a high poverty area, which has its own set of issues that comes with that. It’s tough to teach kids that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. My boss, who I love, can be pretty strict sometimes to where the school gets pretty tense. And selfishly, all I can think of is, “Of course… right now while my son is having health issues, work picks up more.”

I also got put in charge of a weight loss challenge at my school because I am the Health and Wellness Coordinator. It’s a lot of information and money and time and one more thing on my plate.

On top of all of this, I keep having my blood pressure checked, and every week it is consistently in the pre-hypertension levels. I’m trying to watch that while also being a mom, writing lesson plans, teaching, planning, drinking more water, eating healthier, grocery shopping, cooking, going to the gym, going to therapy, trying to put aside time for friends, and oh yeah.. my poor husband, who usually gets put last. I want to do it all, y’all. I really do. I want to be the best wife and mother and teacher and friend and daughter, but I’m just not. I’m running on empty. I’m tired… and cold.

I forget to text back. I forget to set out dinner for the next night. I forget to grab more milk at the store. I forget to sign papers from my daughter’s backpack. I forget to update my lesson plans sometimes. Y’all… I am trying. I really am. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I do know that it feels like I’m drowning right now.

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It’s Only Tuesday

A desktop lamp

A stained dry erase board

Pencils scattered across the ugly blue carpet

Shavings left behind from personal sharpeners

The sound of the Smart Board machine humming

Hmmm…

Bing! The messages pop up on the screen

She stares and waits

Waits

Waits.

One kid left his jacket.

Another left a lunch box.

She sighs as she looks around the

Bing!

She wants to leave but feels chained.

Chained to this desk

To this chair

To this screen

But she just sits in silence

After a looonnnggg day.

She is tired.

She is weak.

She is…

.

.

.

me.

And it’s only Tuesday.

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i hate winter.

Winter.

I hate this season. The only good thing about winter is Christmas. I love the parties and the family gatherings, the children laughing, the giving (and receiving), the lights, the movies, the tinsel, everything! I LOVE CHRISTMAS…

But I freakin hate winter. Once Christmas is over, I notice that I start to feel really down and sluggish and just… depressed. I lose interest in a lot, and when it starts getting really cold, all I want to do is be in pajamas with big, fluffy socks, my house robe, AND a blanket wrapped around me as I scroll through my phone or mindlessly watch T.V. I hate being cold. I hate doing things while I’m cold. I hate going to work cold. I sometimes even just hate moving while I’m cold. It’s like my body just wants to hibernate when winter really sets in.

Ever since I can remember, when the Christmas lights come down, so does my mood. It’s this weird correlation, and it usually lasts until about the middle to end of March. I will have a good day here and there, but most days, I do my job and come home to become one with the couch.

I’m an elementary school teacher, so all day I am making about a thousand decisions. My mind is just exhausted when the school day is over. Then, I come home to a very loving husband and two beautiful (but loud) kids, ages 4 and 2. I notice myself being more irritable. I just want to come home and not think, not do anything. I just want to be. I’ve noticed that little things that my husband does, such as ask what do we want to do for dinner, and I’m immediately pissed off, and I irrationally think, “I don’t care. Just fend for yourself!” I know it is petty. I know it is stupid and wrong, but it’s like I can’t help it.

I know I’m not alone in this. I have expressed some of this through tearful eyes at work with other teachers. I’ve heard so many teachers, especially those that have younger children, say that they feel the same way. I know that it’s not from being a teacher because I have felt this way even before this career, but I dang-sure know that it adds to it.

I become so weepy, especially throughout the workweek. In fact, today, I was talking to a co-worker, and I’m not even that close to her, and I started blubbering and found myself holding back tears. She just asked about my winter break, and if you’ve read anything I’ve posted about, (Finding the Good and Winter Break–Part 2) you know it’s been tough the past few weeks. Long story short– my mom had a 2nd stent put in her heart. My daughter had the stomach bug and threw up. My son is being tested for c. diff and salmonella poisoning. We had to expectantly travel 500 miles both ways. It’s just been a lot.

My next post may be about finding ways to overcome this. If you have suggestions, I am open to them. Thanks!

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Winter Break–Part 2

I was looking back over my goals for winter break from my post, Winter Break To-Do List. Here is a quick look at what I wrote:

  1. Embrace the little moments. There are so many times when I am at home after work glued to the television, watching mindlessly, because I just don’t want to think anymore. I miss out on little things that my two precious kids of my own do. I am so hyper-focused on my students throughout the day, making twenty decisions a minute, that I am so tired when I get home. So, these next two weeks, I plan to be present. Play with my kids more. Talk to my husband without a phone in the room. Hold his hand. Cuddle more. Sing songs. Be silly. Even if I’m tired. Even if all I want to do is roll up in my weighted blanket and snooze on the couch, I will embrace these fleeting moments that I’ll never get a chance to live again.
  2. Give self-love. I hardly ever take time for myself. I plan to read, write, draw, paint, nap, take a bath, sip some wine, and not wear a bra! Ha! It’s the little things. I might just go crazy and get my nails done.
  3. Go outside. Yes, it’s winter. Yes, it’s cold. But, they say (who? I’m not sure… those really smart research-type people) that being outside boosts energy, helps mitigate pain, boosts your immune system, enhances creativity, gives you vitamin D, restores your focus (hello mom brain), and helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). (http://mentalfloss.com/article/70548/11-scientific-benefits-being-outdoors)
  4. Say no (make that hell no) to guilt! I should not feel guilty for relaxing. Why is that even a thing anyways? I’m not sure, but I feel it, and I know I’m not alone in it. I have such a hard time sitting without doing something. I can’t even watch T.V. most of the time without browsing for lesson ideas on the Internet or folding laundry. My mind is constantly telling me everything that I “should” be doing. But… hell no! I’m going to sit and not feel guilty. Or I’ll at least try.

Let’s see… I go back to work on Wednesday, the 2nd. My students will join me on the 3rd. So in my reflection on my winter break, I would say that because of unforseen events, I did the best I could in making my relaxation goals happen.

  1. Embracing the little moments– I made Christmas cookies with my 4-year-old daughter. We measured ingredients, baked, and decorated. We created memories that will hopefully last throughout the years. We took our kids to an empty parking lot on Christmas day to ride bikes and PowerWheels. We sang and danced to music blasting from my husband’s Jeep. I allowed myself to be silly with them, dancing to “Going on a Bear Hunt.” My husband and I had a few moments of lying in bed next to each other, holding hands without the T.V. or phones on, just talking and laughing. Without getting too mushy, we actually kissed, only focusing on each other.

When we went to my mom’s house because of her having to get a heart stent put in, I embraced the conversations that my mom and I had during our time alone. With us being over 500 miles apart from each other, we don’t get that time very often. We shared secrets. We laughed. We cried. We hugged and prayed. I really made myself be present because so often, I focus on too much at once.

2. Give self-love– To be honest, this is where I really struggled. I felt like I had to take care of everyone else, so I didn’t really find much time for myself. I didn’t read a book like I wanted to. I took maybe two bubble baths. I didn’t drink much wine. I didn’t get my nails done. In fact, I really don’t think I took many real showers this whole break. This is disappointing. I drove from Arkansas to Georgia with my husband and two kids, took care of my mom before, during, and after her heart stent procedure. I cleaned some of her house. I made sure her laundry was finished and that she had enough groceries. I even contacted people who will check on her now that I am back home. I also took care of my son, who had a little stomach bug while we were in Georgia, and then my daughter woke up our first night back in Arkansas throwing up. I’m not even feeling relaxed enough to go back to work this week.

3. Go outside– I did go outside as much as I could. It did rain a lot, but we were fortunate in both states that when it did not rain, it was in the 50s and very pleasant. I played with my kids outside and sat on the front porch, sipping coffee with my mom a couple of mornings.

4. Say no to guilt– Welllll, let’s say that could have been better. I mean, my mom (as much as I love her) kind of made me feel guilty when I was visiting. She made me feel like I had to make sure that everything that needed to be done got done, even though my younger brother, who is 24 and very capable, lives there with her. Saying no to guilt is something very hard for me to do. I feel shamed for just sitting down and relaxing, and I hate that about myself.

So, in all actuality, my break from work wasn’t really the break that I had hoped for. It definitely could have been better. I did have to adjust to some unfortunate events, and sometimes I made the best of it, but it wasn’t as relaxing as I wanted it to be.

This last day of 2018 is a chance (a small chance) to relax. I plan to sit on the couch and watch cartoons with my kids and finish watching Bird Box when they’re napping. #breakgoals

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Finding the Good

I recently read a quote while sitting in the hospital with my mom. It said,

“Everyday may not be a good day, but there is good in every day.”

As I’ve been climbing out of my hole, my comfort place where all my real feelings go… you know, the ones that you just don’t share with others, I reflected on the past few days. I am so guilty of immediately seeing the negative in the day or  the situation. My mind automatically goes there. I start with, “What’s the worst-case scenario?” I mean, I think this has been helpful at times, but I also desire to be a more positive person on the inside.

Here is a layout of the past few days:

As I’ve said in previous posts, I am a teacher and a military wife, which means that I live away from my family, but I also get little breaks during the school year. My husband and I were so excited to stay home for the whole two-week winter break because we are always the ones traveling. We traveled to see his family over Thanksgiving, so my mom was going to come to our house for Christmas. Well, my mom was having to have her second heart stent put in so that meant no traveling for her.

So, what do we do? We pack the kids and the car up and head 500 miles that way the day after Christmas. I can’t help but to selfishly think, “Why me?” I was really looking forward to having a real break that didn’t involve being in the car for 10 hours. I push those selfish thoughts aside and start to focus on my mom and the reason why we are traveling. I know that she feels bad about us traveling again.

We have our short Christmas celebration with my mom and brother, and everything seems to be going well. Then, it’s heart cath day. We head to the hospital, and by we, I mean my mom’s boyfriend (that I’m not too fond of), my mom’s best friend, my younger brother, and me. My husband kept the kids because they would go stir crazy. I am a bundle of nerves because this is my mom’s second heart procedure this year, and I know what it’s like to lose a parent already. My step-dad that raised me with my mom died about nine and half years ago. So here I am… thinking what’s the worst-case scenario.

I occupy my mind by journaling, drawing calligraphy, and chatting with my mom’s best friend, who is basically a bonus mom. I hear the nurse call for my family to come back because she is out of surgery. My body jumps up before my mind has time to catch up. We walk in her room. She looks tired, but she is doing fine.

Back to the inspirational quote from above.

“Everyday may not be a good day, but there is good in every day.”

Yesterday was not a good day. My mom had to be put in the hospital overnight. I stayed with her on this awful, uncomfortable cot. My mom’s boyfriend drove me crazy with his stupid comments.

But…

there is good in every day. My mom’s main nurse was fantastic! She was so personable. She checked on my mom periodically at just the right times. She was so helpful. She was a light in this depressing cardiac wing. She even brought me coffee! It’s the little things that really do matter.

Also, my mom’s doctor was so patient and nice. He explained the procedure in a non-condescending way that I could understand. He answered all of our questions with professionalism. I mean, the staff here has truly been amazing!

Another good thing is that my mom and I had time alone to reconnect. With me being 500 miles away, it gets hard to really have a conversation with her. Sure, we talk on the phone, but there’s something about seeing the other person’s facial expressions and being able to touch them. We reminisced. We shared stories. We laughed. We cried.

So in all of this tragedy, there has been good. I could have chosen not to see it, but finding the good is a new priority to me. The outpouring of love and support from friend’s messages and phone calls has been amazing, and God has shown His love through each and every one of them. Just having people call and check on my family and me makes me feel important and loved.

It wasn’t a good day, but there was good in this day.

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