Monday, December 17, 2012

This is me. This is what I believe.

It seems to me that we are a country that wants to have it both ways. The have your cake and eat it too mentality.

* We mourn the senseless killing of school children but refuse to change gun control laws. I'm not a hunter nor do I shoot for fun but I still don't see why ANYONE in this country needs to own a semi-automatic assault weapon. I've seen posts saying that the teachers should be armed. Really? Where does that mentality stop? Because you know when the next shooting happens it will be at a hospital or a day care center. Do we arm all those workers too? How about the 15 year old taking your ticket at the movie theater?

And while we are talking about regulating things, how about rules for the media? Instead of competing for ratings, respect the family and friends of the victims instead of ambushing them looking for quotes or photos, clogging up their streets and churches you send one person -- for all of you (like the AP) -- and let them grieve in peace?

* We are a country founded on religious freedom, as long as it is our religion everyone is following. The theme of "put God back in school" has been popular. Sorry, I believe in God but don't ever recall praying in school. We said the pledge of allegiance but that was all I heard of God in school. Two recurring themes in the Bible are for people to teach their children/next generation about God despite what people say around them. The other is that not everyone will follow God and that's ok. He's not happy about it, but (if you believe) when the time comes and we are all judged He will sort it out. We are encouraged to share our beliefs and not be scared to voice them from the mountaintops, NOT to force them down people's throats.

* We mourn the loss of the unborn, but shun those alive and in need. You fight for an unborn child to be saved and then once it's parent can't afford food or clothes or can't find a job, turn your back because they're "mooching" off of the system. That's not pro- life, that's pro-birth.

* We cry for parents that leave their children too soon due to undiagnosed conditions and cancer but refuse to fund programs that would have found it in the first place. How does that make sense? As any of our parents have told us, money doesn't grow on trees. If you want to play, you have to pay. Literally. You want better healthcare? Better schools? More police? It costs money. The dreaded T word -- taxes. We have all seen the alternative and very few seem happy with it.

* We are a country that prides ourselves on being "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." We could not be a more divided nation short of a second civil war. I've already covered the under God part. There is no liberty for those enslaved to bills, or mental illness, or any other number of things that we fall subject to. As far as justice? I don't believe the victims families of Newtown will ever feel like justice has been served.

We are a nation that rallies together when tragedy strikes. We donate our time and our money, we organize food and coat drives, and we pray to God on behalf complete strangers -- act as many would term Christian.

Imagine what an amazing country we would live in if we did that everyday.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Stand - I'm failing

It's been almost two weeks. The first night went well as I already posted. Since then, it's been all downhill. No trying new goods. Instead I get "that looks yucky" and "I think there's bugs in it."

And to make matters worse, when she doesn't eat, her brother watches and (usually) wont eat either.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas is for giving

Despite my complaints, I know that I am lucky. I have two healthy children, a roof over my head, food on the table, and are relatively debt-free. I do my best to give to others during the Christmas season and want to teach my kids to do the same. See, they're a bit spoiled. They have three sets of grandparents and aunts and uncles who all hear "I like Jake" and next thing you know there's Jake plates and t-shirts and toys and books. Admittedly, sometimes I'm not much better.

This year I'm starting a new tradition with the kids. They will be receiving a letter from their Elf, Jack. The letter is from Santa looking for their help to give him toys for other children who don't have as much as they do and to put the items in a special sack he has sent. Once they're collected, I plan on donating them to a local church.

The letter is kind of cheesy, but here it is in case anyone else wants to use it. Obviously, Santa still needs to sign it. You can get your own Santa sack here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The stand - night one

It was a mixed day.

At lunch I served my daughter the chicken nuggets and applesauce she didn't eat the night before. Yet again, she hemmed and hawed and didn't eat. The consequence was no snack/drink for school. It was a risk having her be the only one in her pre-k class without a snack, but actions have consequences. I even put a note in her backpack so the teacher would know what was going on and not give her a snack from her stash.

When I picked her up from school, she immediately asked for a snack. I told her that was fine as long as I chose the snack. A handful of grapes were eaten faster than I've ever seen.

At dinner, she really resisted. There was one thing on her plate I knew she'd eat -- diced pears -- but the chicken pockets and mixed veggies were new. I'm not sure what flipped the switch for her (maybe me telling her how she would never try pizza but then when she did she loved it) but sure enough, she tried both and liked both. She had about 5 bites of each. Not a lot, but it's a start.

Trying not to get my hopes up!

The stand

Anyone who's ever had a meal with my daughter knows that she's the world's pickiest eater. I'm not saying that she arrived to that all on her own -- I know that I had a lot to do with it in raising her. I probably should've pushed more of a variety of foods (especially when she couldn't talk) and been stricter with her trying new things. But all the woulda, coulda, shouldas won't change it.

Shes always taken a long time to eat as well. To get her out of the door by noon, lunch is served at 11:15.

Now we've reached a new problem with eating. She's gotten very specific about what bowls, plates, and silverware she'll use.

Last night it hit the pinnacle. She wouldn't eat the four chicken nuggets and apple sauce that she specifically asked for. Why? Because I had moved a toy away from her on the table so she'd focus on eating and not playing.

It was the last straw. After being put in timeout for not eating, she was told no more food for the rest the day. While she was in timeout, my husband and I discussed how this is an ongoing issue that needs solved. I may have put my foot my mouth with this one, but I told her when she came back downstairs from here on out she is going to eat what is served. No more short order cook meals.

This morning, she had cereal. I put in the bowl and give her her spoon. Because her brother had the same kind of bowl, it became another battle. "This is a baby bowl. I'm not going to eat from it."

Ugh. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Enjoy the Moment

Motherhood is a multi-tasking adventure. (News flash, right? Ha ha) On top of mom duties, there's wife duties, and household duties. Most days it's a manageable flow. Semi-predictable.

But then things happen like your 19-month old suddenly stop sleeping through the night. Then bigger things happen like friends and family losing power, losing cars, losing homes.

Suddenly you remember your life. Not the bills or the groceries or the screen full of game reminders. The moments if real life. Snuggling with your kids instead if answering an email. Enjoying an electronics free dinner talking and laughing about the day. Making simple construction paper crafts. Enjoying the silence of your home, the one you still have that is full of food and electricity and laughter and live, even if its because you were woken up at 1am.

I've seen people who have gotten wrist tattoos that say "breathe" to help them remember to keep calm and keep it all in perspective. Because I have little kids, my reminder is to enjoy the moment. Put down the phone, focus on what's going on around me and enjoy it. As people are fond if saying, they don't stay this little forever.

My wonderfully talented friend (and fellow Jersey girl and Army wife) Wendy made me a custom bracelet to help me remember to enjoy the moment. Here's hoping there are plenty of moments to enjoy.

PS -- you can enjoy your own items from Wendy at Homefront Metalworks on Etsy -- -- or search for Homefront Metalworks on Facebook.

Monday, October 15, 2012

100 to zero and back again

Ah, post-deployment. It's a time of adjustment. Of changes and confusion. Of learning what life is like together again and how you fit in. And that was just me!

There's a lot of focus within the military community about helping service members readjust to life back on the homefront but nothing that I have seen for spouses. I went from being everything to our two kids to being replaced in an instant. It went from "mommy, mommy" to "daddy, daddy" and it felt weird. What about all I had done for the past 7 months? Doing all the chores, all the driving, all the bedtime stories, and kissing all the boo-boos? Did they not notice?

But then a few days passed and suddenly my husband was the one thrown to the back burner. It was "mommy, mommy" again. For a little while it felt good -- they do need me. But them the calls for daddy got less frequent and even if he was standing right there with nothing to do and I was elbow deep in dishes, I heard "mommy can I have" or "mommy will you get" and I felt my blood start to simmer. Why not ask dad? Is it because "mommy, mommy" was our pattern for so long or do they prefer me for certain things?

I expected things to go differently. That the everyday stuff would be more evenly divided, like it was before he left. This is not a dig at my hubby in any way -- he is more than willing (and wanting) to help but there are moments the kids literally won't let him.

Maybe I'm not back at 100. But definitely at least 92.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The "talk"

About two weeks ago, I had a very awkward conversation with my 4-year old daughter, Samantha, over lunch. It went something like this:

Sam: "Mommy, you grew me in your belly, right?"
Me: "Yes."
S: "And you grew Danny in your belly."
Me: "Yes."
S: "And you grew Daddy in your belly."
Me: "No. I did not grow Daddy. Grandma K did."
S: "Oh. So, Nana grew you in her belly?"

(And this is where it gets awkward...)

Me: "No. Grandma A did."
S: "No Mommy, Nana did."
Me: "No Sammy, Grandma A did."

(She's clearly not following this conversation at this point. And them my feeble attempt to explain adoption went something like this...)

Me: "Sometimes people grow babies in their tummies but they don't keep them because they can't take care of them. So they give hem to other people to raise the baby and be that baby's Mommy and Daddy."

(Still looking confused...)

Me: "Grandma A grew me but Nana and Grandpa raised me, so they are my Mommy and Daddy."

(Long pause...)

S: "But you definitely didn't grow Daddy."

Ah, 4-year old conversations...

Friday, September 7, 2012

The constant compromise of me

I definitely have a hard time letting things go. When I'm fighting with you, I want to finish it. When I have a problem, I want to solve it as soon as possible. This has proved problematic in two areas of my life -- my daughter and the Army.

While my husband has been deployed, my daughter has been acting out. I took the proactive approach and got her into counseling. It took a long time, but we are finally in a better place. That's not to say all is perfect. She still has the occasional freak out and tries to argue with me. The therapist has told me to ignore it. Let her freak out and get it out of her system as long as she is in a safe place. As I've written before, sometime the freak outs get ugly with hurtful phrase thrown at me. In those moments I'm supposed to send her to another room and let her come back when she is ready to make reparations. I'm also supposed to welcome the apology and move on in a positive way. THAT is the hard part. When you hurt me, I can't bounce back immediately.

The Army is another offender. I'm a planner, a problem solver. But the Army rarely works on hard deadlines. Everything is subject to change. Plans need to be in pencil and most civilians don't work that way. We can't just pick up and go at a moment's notice (especially with kids). There are vacation request forms, arrangements for babysitting/pet sitting/house sitting., not to mention the how you're getting there. It's like a thousand piece puzzle that's always missing that one last piece.

Life will go on -- I just wish it was simpler.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weekly wake-up call

My 4-year old daughter has some speech issues. They're nothing too out of the ordinary, but her pediatrician and I agreed that early intervention is best.

In addition to her working on her sounds, it serves as a weekly wake-up call to me to count my blessings. You see, we were referred to a facility off-post that specializes in working with children and adults with cerebral palsy. No matter how I feel each week when I drop her off, by the time her 30 minutes are up, I once again feel blessed to have two healthy children.

I hope the universe sends you a reminder of how blessed you are!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

S'more cookie bars and some qt with my cutie

While D took his afternoon nap, Samantha and I baked up some yummy treats to bring to CT this weekend. I originally found a recipe on Pinterest but it called for a lot of butter, cinnamon, etc., some of which I didn't have on hand. So, we improvised a bit and it came out great!

Without further ado, here's the recipe:

1) Heat oven to 375.

2) Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, topping with graham crackers.

3) Make cookie dough (Nestlé toll house)
2-1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 C granulated sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, both sugars and vanilla in large mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chips, 1 cup at a time

4) Add one cup of mini-marshmallows to cookie mixture.

5) Spoon 1 tablespoon of cookie mixture on top of each square of crackers. I found that I had extra, so I made a small batch in a loaf pan, lining with parchment and crackers just like the first.

6) Bake for 8 minutes.

7) Remove and press one square of a Hershey's bar into cookie mixture. It took approximately 2-1/2 full size Hershey bars to do both pans.

8) Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until marshmallows begin to brown.

9) Let cool completely and cut into bars. I find a pizza cutter works best.



Friday, August 3, 2012

Another food adventure

Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm a semi-homemade kind of gal. I do occasionally make things from scratch but with two small kids (and a tendency to mess up recipes) if I can use something pre-made I will.

With that said, tonight I tried another Pinterest inspired recipe -- corn dog muffins. I've been a big fan of using my muffin tin to make individual portions. Plus, they're easy to freeze!

All you do is make cornbread batter according to the package and then chop up hot dogs and add to the batter. My cornbread package was for 6 muffins so I added 1-1/2 hot dogs to it along with a 1/4 cup of shredded Mex blend cheese and baked according to the cornbread package. They came out great and D loved them too. Unfortunately, I forgot how crumbly corn muffins are, but Hershey certainly enjoyed the pieces that fell off of D's clothes as he got down from his high chair!

Here is a pic. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cooking for me. And D.

As some of you know (or have read), I have struggled with D and his eating habits. I am happy to report that we are no longer struggling! The kid has turned into a human trash compactor for the most part. He has eaten pierogies, sesame chicken with noodles, mac and cheese, and stuffed cabbage just to name a few. I figured since he liked the stuffed cabbage, I'd give another ground beef dish a try.

I love meatloaf but the leftovers can be daunting when it's just me and D eating since my daughter is uber-picky. I took a cue from Pinterest and made it in a muffin pan. This isn't the greatest picture, but here's my leftovers:

For those who are interested, here's the recipe:

1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup soft bread crumbs
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
1 tsp dry mustard (or ground mustard)

Heat oven to 350. Reserve 1/4 cup tomato sauce. In large bowl, all ingredients (except the reserve tomato sauce), mixing lightly but thoroughly.

Spray pan with Pam. Scoop mixture into muffin tin and top with reserved tomato sauce.

Bake in over for 30 minutes or until no longer pink. Mine were a tinge pink (sorry Toni!!). Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

I made some of them without the tomato sauce on top for D and he loved it. Hope you enjoy them too!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The second time around

You would think that after having the first child, that the second would be easy. You'd remember all the tricks of the trade so to speak. Yeah, no so much.

Some of it I think was my brain protecting me. Like forgetting about having the catheter after you give birth. But there are also more day-to-day things like I've forgotten to check to make sure I have diapers and wipes with me. A change of clothes for the kid in case there's an extra bad diaper or food everywhere. A bib. Toys to occupy the baby.

Today, as I sat at my dining room table trying to feed baby D his dinner, I realized that I don't have the slightest clue what I tried feeding his big sister as her first foods. I actually broke out some of my parenting books to try and jog my memory. Of course, she is a super picky eater so I'd like to try and correct that this time around.

So far we've tried Cheerios (hates them), grapes (so-so), apples (so-so), pineapple (so-so), fries (loves), chicken nuggets (loves), ice cream (loves), yogurt (loves), pancakes (nope), broccoli (nope), plain pasta (likes), and rice (so-so).

What am I not remembering????

Friday, July 13, 2012

Don't take it personally

I've heard that phrase a lot recently, mostly in regards to my daughter. As I've mentioned before, she is really acting out with her father being deployed. Part of the acting out is saying awful things to me and doing things she knows she shouldn't do. Here are some examples from yesterday alone:

- I don't want to live with you. I want to live with... (grandma, aunt/uncle, nana, etc)
- You're a bad mommy
- You don't love me all the time
- This house is yucky and it's your fault
- But it didn't hurt, he's not crying (in response to being yelled at for hitting her brother with a toy)
- You're mean, you won't play with me (not true btw)

Then there were the countless times she pushed or hit her brother, stuck her tongue out at me or misbehaved in some other way.

Her bad behavior is making me act like an abused spouse. When I hear her call me, I involuntarily cringe. When she starts in on me about whatever, I sit there and take it. I cry quietly in the bathroom. I count the hours until she goes to bed.

Deep down, I know that it's not me. She's reacting to this incredibly difficult situation and she's frustrated because she can't change it. But that doesn't make it hurt any less. All I can do is keep surviving and hope that today things are different.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Is it them or is it us?

Hang around any group of married women for more than say... 30 minutes?... and you're likely to hear at least one of them complain about their husband. If said couple has children, it might only take 20 minutes. I'm not going to lie and say that I never complain about mine. I think it's human nature (and too many TV shows, movies, songs, etc. that make life out to be perfect when the truth is far from it but that's a blog for another time). 

Anyway, I got to thinking today -- is the real problem them or is it us?

I've heard my husband tell me time and again, leave the dishes I'll do them. Or, why don't you make plans with your friends, I'll watch the kids. But how often do I take him up on the offer? Maybe once every twenty times. (I'm kinda surprised he keeps offering with as many times as I've said no.)  Could all the times I've said "no, I've got it" be why he doesn't jump in when the kids need a bath or he doesn't drop everything when he hears the "I'm hungry" call from across the room? Have I inadvertently trained him to wait for me to ask him to do these kind of things instead of just doing them?

I remember a long time ago, probably right after getting married, having a conversation with a high school friend of mine. We were lamenting about being newlyweds, taking care of a house, having full time jobs, etc. The gist of the conversation was that as women, we have been told from the time we were little girls that we could have it all, do it all, be it all, but that nobody told us how. Were we just supposed to learn by watching our moms who managed to work, run a household, and still stay sane?

Do we, as a gender, have a Wonder Woman complex? You know, the "I can handle it all on my own" borderline control freak behavior that exhausts us day after day, yet we don't stop and ask anyone for help and even when we do ask, we feel like we've failed?

Well, I for one am hanging up my golden lasso. If people are willing to help, I'm going to let them. And honey, if you're reading this, I'm going to take you up on your offers more often. Maybe one out of ten ;)

By the way, if you're a mom like me who likes to laugh and could use some good old "yeah, that happens to me too" check out the Momastery blog or follow it on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's just routine

Just about everything I've read and/or been told about parenting is that establishing routines are good for kids. It gives them a sense of consistency and they take comfort in knowing what is going to happen next. When my daughter was younger, I really took that to heart and we still follow a routine each day.

But what happens when the routine turns on you?

Before we moved, each night my daughter would get her dessert, go to the bathroom, brush her teeth, get her PJs on, get a book read to her and then it was lights out. I'd say 90% of the time she did it without much hassle.

Post-move it's been another situation entirely. She fights going to the bathroom. She dawdles picking out her PJs. She mulls over her book selection like her very life may depend on reading "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" instead of "Dear Zoo". And then there's the questions. What's the weather tomorrow? What are we doing? and so on. I went so far as to institute a three question maximum as part of our routine so that she can't suck me in to staying in her room longer than necessary.

I don't know what my next move is. Do I make a new routine and hope that it breaks the bad behavior and risk it upsetting her "comfort"? Do I stick to what we know and suck up her being a pain?

Ah the mundane yet critical decisions of parenting...

Friday, June 15, 2012

I want you to know...

It has taken me a long time to be comfortable with who I am. But, here I am at age 38, and I can finally say with 100% honesty love me or hate me, take me or leave me, it doesn't matter to me. Here are a few of the "life lessons" I've learned that I want my kids to know.

Be you.
I know, this seems to be an obvious one but how many people can honestly say that they are true themselves all of the time? I know for a long time I couldn't. I tried to change my look, my hair, my clothes, the way I behaved -- all in an attempt to fit in. But at the end of the day I wasn't being me. So, it should have come as no surprise when the people I changed for or no longer my friends because their friendship wasn't with me, it was with an alternate version of me.

Don't try to change anyone.
On a related note, don't try to change someone else. People only change when they WANT to change. as much as you want the other person to be happy with their job, their career, their relationships, it is up to them to make the change. That's not to say that you can't be supportive or offer opinions and suggestions, but in the end they have to do it, not you.

Be honest.
Sometimes the things you will say will, quite frankly, make people mad. You might as well have them be angry with you for your honest opinion and not for something that you think they want to hear.

Stand up for yourself.
Nobody in your adult life, and I mean NOBODY, will ever stand up for you 100%. People will always talk behind your back. It's in our nature. But when you know about it, stand up for yourself. No matter what is said make sure that everyone knows the truth about you.

Stand up for others.
Not everyone has the strength to do for themselves. It's okay to do it for them until they can find their strength.

Be kind.
It's been said that if you gathered a hundred people and everyone put their problems on the table, nobody would trade problems and everyone would walk away with their own and I tend to agree. Yes, you will have days (maybe even weeks) when you feel like the sky is falling. But that doesn't mean you have the right to treat others poorly. Everyone's problems are their reality and even if they seem happy on the outside, their world could be crumbling behind closed doors. So be kind. Be generous when you can. Not just with your money, but with your time, with your patience, with your love.

Trust your gut.
Even when the decision seems right in your mind or your heart, listen to your gut. It will never steer you wrong.

Have faith.
Even when everything is falling apart around you, have faith. It could be faith in your family, in your friends, in your spouse, in God. You will get through it.

Know you are loved.
People will come and go in your life. The people who leave will go not because of who you are but because of who they are. Those who are meant to be in your life will be there, no matter what.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My heart hurts

Deployments aren't easy on anyone -- the service member, their spouse, children, parents, etc. For the past few weeks, my 4-year old has been taking her anger and sadness out on me. It's been incredibly frustrating and, quite honestly, hard to take. You don't expect a 4-year old to look at you and tell you they don't want to live with you or try to hit you or kick you. You tell yourself they are hurting and can't express it properly but it doesn't make it easier to accept, especially in the moment.

Today, she broke my heart. We were at the birthday party of a friend of mine's son. She was hesitant which was understandable because she didn't know the other kids, only the birthday boy. As we stood there in our "stand off" about if she was going in or not, she started to cry. But it wasn't the defiant cry I've grown used to seeing. It was a cry of pain, of hurt. The crying turned into sobbing and she finally muttered "Mom please don't leave me never ever." It took every ounce of me not to sob with her (even writing this, I'm fighting tears). Apparently she blurted out to my brother this morning "My dad is in the Army. He's far away." I guess it has been on her mind all day.

The worst part is I know there are no words to make her feel better despite me promising that I'm not going anywhere. I know that no matter how much I hug her and tell her I love her I can't fill the void of her Dad being gone.

I can't stop her heart from hurting and I can't stop mine either.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Being a brown-eyed girl, I have struggled with choosing the right shadows to give my eyes some pop. Recently, I've really done some more investigating and spent a little more money and have been so happy with the results. I figured I'd share!

Smashbox Photo Op eyecolor trio

Screen Shot
I use Screen Shot for a more natural look without eyeliner. You can also glam it up with some black eyeliner for a smoky eye.

Telephoto is obviously more colorful so it leans more toward the glam side but can definitely be worn during the day.

The Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer is excellent to make sure it "sticks" all day long.

My other new love is L'Oreal False Fiber Lashes. I've been suckered by advertising before, but this REALLY works. My eyelashes look so much longer and thicker!

So there you have it. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dear news media

Dear news media,

You suck.

No, really. You nearly gave me a heart attack this morning. "NBC news has learned there was an attack on a military base in eastern Afghanistan. We will report more as details come in." I did a Google search. My hubby is in eastern Afghanistan. I didn't get my usual email from him this morning. Is he ok? Is his unit ok? Was it near him? I searched USA Today, CNN, AP. Nothing. Like I somehow imagined the news anchor telling me there was an attack. Thirty minutes passed. An hour. An hour and a half. Finally I see the news. It's not in my husband's province. I can breath again.

But you still suck.

How would you like it if someone called you and said your spouse was in a car accident and then hung up. Questions would be spinning in your head. Was the accident bad? Were they injured? Are they at the hospital? Maybe you'd even call local hospitals or the police.

Please, for the sake of me and other military spouses out there, don't pull that crap again.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Guest blog

I'm going to try and blog on a weekly basis. This week, I did a guest stint on a friend's blog about being a military family. This is something that is very near and dear to me as well as a lot of my friends. I hope I did it justice. Check it out here:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Identity crisis

Recently I have been struggling with my identity. Mostly, I feel like I've lost it. The "old, fun" Tracey has been replaced with sleep deprived, stressed Tracey. Not that there is anything to be stressed about. I mean, we just moved, unpacked, hubby deployed, unpacked some more, my grandmother died, found out I had a heart condition...

With the passing of Mother's Day, I realized that I'm having an identity crisis.

I gave up my old life to be a Mom about 4-years ago. Soon after my daughter was born, I freaked out. Gone were the days of going to the movies, taking a weekend trip, or catching a concert on a whim. Now, everything had to be planned with time built in for feedings, unexpected diaper catastrophes, and all the other things that come with a newborn. This wasn't my life anymore. It was her life and I was somehow entrusted with taking care of her. You would think that they 9 months leading up to her birth would have prepared me but apparently that wasn't the case.

As my daughter got older, however, I settled in to motherhood. I even ventured out of what had become our routine to do things like pilates and yoga. Taking time for myself as they say. Then my son was born and I felt the old feelings creeping back. How am I going to do this? Do I really have to plan my day around naps and feeding times again?

We, as moms, put ourselves on the back burner. We sacrifice our time, our looks, our wardrobe, our plans -- heck, our life -- all for the sake of our kids. And what recognition do we get for our efforts? Awards, pay raises, days off? Not usually. We sit back and tell ourselves that we are paid in hugs and kisses and, if we're lucky, a Mother's Day present. But there are the days when that's doesn't seem like enough.

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

My husband is deployed and my daughter has been acting out. I can't tell you for sure that they two are indisputably linked but I'm willing to bet on it. It started out like any other day. I went to get her out of bed and she started scowling at me, telling me to get out of her room. I'm not one to start the day off with a fight so I kept my cool and asked her where she'd like me to go. When she replied "Wait in the closet" my blood began to boil. Who did she think she was talking to?!? But, I kept calm. We continued with the usual routine -- bathroom, breakfast, get dressed -- and set off for music class.

When we got there, something was off. She sat in her spot pouting as the other kids sang, danced and played around her. I gave her about 5 minutes before I asked her what was up. She wouldn't reply. My rule is if you're not participating, there's no reason to stay. So after another 5 minutes or so I suggested we leave to which she agreed. Once we were out the doors, however, her attitude kicked in. Gone was the pouting and in was the screaming. She was mad that I had her leave and told me she wanted to go home without me. Things continued to escalate as she screamed that she didn't want to live with me anymore and she didn't need me. The fit continued in the car and even in our house. I was livid. Eventually she calmed down. We played, had lunch, and went out to ride bikes. About an hour later, she asked to go to the playground. I told her no -- I had already told her the TV and playground were off limits for the rest of the day due to her behavior. And on came another fit. Worse than the first one. Again she screamed that she didn't want to live with me, that she wanted to live in another state. She screeched at the top of her lungs. Kids from other houses stopped playing and some of them came from inside of their homes to see what was going on. I was mortified.

Is this what I gave up my former self for? To be abused by the very child I love and take care of day in and day out? To feel so unappreciated and hurt that she actually made me cry? We're not talking about a 14-year old. She's 4!

As I write this, I wonder if I'm being selfish. Wanting the recognition of dealing with a day like yesterday. Wanting time away. Wanting to be able to do things when I want to without interruption. Are these the thoughts of every mother? The ones we don't dare speak out loud for fear we'll be judged, or worse yet, be deemed a terrible mother?

What do you think?