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Racking Up the Mom Points

Today is Mother’s Day.

Today was hard. Challenging.

I hadn’t had my kids for about a week because their dad had some vacation time. So for a week I went to work, ate what I wanted, did what I wanted when I wanted, and got used to silence. I unknowingly became used to a calm and quiet house. I certainly missed them, but I relished the quiet. I also do not sleep well when they are away, so I did not like the quiet at night when I was laying in bed. Even if they are sound asleep, there is still a sound of quiet breathing that can’t be heard when they’re not here.

I missed them. And they returned. And the first day with them back is always great. I hang onto every word and expression that they make. I take in their every emotion and eat up their stories. By day 3, which was today, I apparently missed the silence. A few things added up to break me down today.

  1. I was trying to talk to my own mom, and both of my children would not stop interrupting. I rarely talk to my mom. Having a conversation with her is valuable these days, and my kids were taking that away from me. I started out with patience and landed with complete annoyance with the by the end of the phone call. Even after trying to let them talk to her, I was just irritated by the lack of privacy.
  2. The end of my phone call was caused by a call by my ex husband. I took the call because he was trying to schedule what time to pick them up today. As I’m talking to him about how bad our 4 year old has been lately (and trying to come up with some realistic solutions), he says that his girlfriend wants to talk to me. UH, what the fuck? And before I know it she’s on the phone wishing me happy fucking mother’s day. I was nice to her. I wished her happy mother’s day back, but it quickly turned to awkward silence and he took the phone back.
  3. I finally decided to start cleaning. And in an effort to occupy my very energetic son, I asked him to help me clean. The kid was in heaven getting to vacuum and dust. He loved it. He even stopped mid-way through to go potty (instead of poop his pants). Mom win! And he continued to help and be excited. As I finished up cleaning, I heard his sister ask him to play. I was so excited that I could have little “break” just to clean in silence while they played. Nope. Before I knew it he was in “annoying little brother” mode and she was yelling at him to get out of her room. He really was being unreasonable, so I had to physically pick him up and put him in his room while he kicked and screamed and cried. After a couple of minutes he calmed down, and I tried to talk to him. He was distracted by playing with some toys in his room. I left him alone and finished up my cleaning. I heard a small noise, but didn’t think anything of it. Next thing I know he’s crying and coming down the stairs with blood everywhere. He had a bloody face and hands, blood dripping on his shirt and all over the wooden steps. It took me a minute to comprehend the scene and start helping him. I got him up to the bathroom as he wailed and cleaned him up. I feared the worst – that he had jacked up something inside his mouth and hurt his gum or teeth. After cleaning him up I realized he had just busted his lip and it was just continuously bleeding. I consoled him, cleaned him up, and took him downstairs for a cold popsicle. I put on the TV for him and he spaced out. Okay then.
  4. After the commotion was over, I put his bloody clothes and mattress cover in the washing machine. Now there’s a little quirk with our washer – it has an error code almost every time it is started. It beeps within 5 to 10 minutes of starting it, and it won’t stop until you go repress Start on it. So as I am helping son, my daughter appears and says “why didn’t the washer drain the water?” Huh? Well, when the washer is done washing, it also beeps. She thought it was done, even though it had only been on for 5 minutes, and she put the soaking wet soapy load into the dryer and then wondered why it was so “wet”. There was water everywhere – floor, dryer, still in washer…. lord. I lost my mind. I just started yelling about how she KNOWS about the error code and the DAMN STORES JUST AREN’T OPEN YET FROM THE PANDEMIC TO ORDER A DAMN NEW WASHER YET. I was shaking, yelling, freaking out. I’d had it. It wasn’t a fun mother’s day. Today sucked. Then my daughter, after cleaning up the water and restarting the washer, comes out the living room where I’m sitting, and looks me square in the eyes and says “Why do you have to overreact and cry mother” … she proceeds to tell me that “Daddy will be in here in half an hour.”

For fucks sake.

Their dad showed up and away they went. And I still miss them. I miss them terribly. It is now dark and their little beds are dark and I will be able to hear every noise again tonight when I try to fall asleep. Sure, I got to eat dinner in peace and quiet, talk to some family members, and drink some wine, but miss them. I miss the good and the bad and just want them to be safe and healthy and loved, no matter what a pain in the ass they are.

I feel like I earned more points on my mom card today. I get them back tomorrow. No time to get used to the silence. We’ll see how I’m doing this time next week.

Stifle Me Not.

Falling Forward

And just like the wheel is turning forward again. More baby steps into the great unknown…

I gave myself until November 1st to have a down payment ready for a house. After saving my butt off for the past two months, and venting to my sister that I can’t wait for time to speed up one night, she graciously offered me a “gift” of the rest of my down payment (and that I can pay her back as it makes sense).

Uh, what? Just like that my little sis is ready to write me a check. I would have never asked her for money like that ever. She’s the little sister. I’m the big sister. I hinted at it to my mom, and to my dad, but they didn’t bite…but I was simply whining to her, not asking for a hand out.

I took it, with full intention of continuing to save my butt off so that I can pay her back sooner than later. And just like that I was pre-approved this weekend to buy my own adult house.

The house hunting has yet to begin. That likely starts this weekend. I’m full of all kinds of emotions – excited for sure, a little scared (I’ve never owned a home on my own), and just a tiny bit anxious about the market and the pressure and the stress. I’m in a good place with my stress level in life. I want this to be good stress. I don’t want to settle. I want to make a good decision for me and my kids. I’ve been “homeless” (okay, a 40-year old living with her parents) for the past 1 year and 1 month. The time has come.

I’ve come so far. I can’t give up now. “Life’s a journey, not a destination”… yea yea, I know, but getting a nice cozy comfortable home where I can be me (and my kids can be them) is somewhat of a destination for me. It’s a destination of a new beginning. It’ll be proof to myself that I broke the cycle of bad decisions (or lack thereof) and that I’ll be living for myself, finally.

It’s the first day of fall, and I’m falling forward… It’s my own movement that will take me to where I need to be.

Stifle Me Not

Setting Myself Free…Again

I’m so tired of being stuck in other people’s lives. I want my own life.

In high school, I was naive and of course always wanted to be who I wasn’t and who I couldn’t be. I wanted to be like miss popular her or her or her. People liked me just fine for who I was so I just blame that on being young and dumb.

In college, I desperately wanted to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do when I grew up. I settled. I figured out what I didn’t like and settled for what wasn’t terrible to me just so I was comfortable. I didn’t push for what I really wanted.

After college, I moved home with the parents for one year. I spent every weekend an hour away with my then-boyfriend (now-ex). After a year, I moved 5 minutes away from my then-boyfriend (now ex). I have literally been making major life decisions and living my life around his every since then. The night that I kicked him out, I set myself free, and entered a world of uncertainty for the first time because it was all about me and what I wanted.

Or so I thought.

When I moved in with my parents last summer to make sure my kids had a decent roof over their heads and a consistent daily lifestyle, that’s what I got. As well as being inundated with all of their beliefs and habits and patterns. They mean well, but after all of their years on earth, they aren’t about to change now. They know what they like and don’t like. And I try to respect their routines and wishes since I’ve overstayed my welcome here.

But it’s getting old. I went from living one person’s life to living another’s. This is what I was trying to get away from when I moved away the first time. And somehow I managed to do a 360. Right back to the start of the circle. Everything from how I load the dishwasher to how quiet or loud I am when I walk up the stairs is affected by others right now and I just want to be free in my own space and my own skin.

I feel like I’m in therapy with myself. I start to make a decision, and then I overthink it because my perspective of what this person or that person will think overwhelms me. And I keep having to pause and remind myself that I get to choose what I want. I’m 40 years old damnit, I know what I want.

What I want.

I’m trying to move up the plan for starting my house-hunting journey. Wish me luck.

Stifle Me Not

Expectations Low, Hopes High

My laptop has a funny smell. And sometimes it overheats. I’ve had it for a few years now. It’s well past its warranty. I’ve even had it repaired once at a PC shop. They did a good job. But all good things must come to an end. I’m pretty certain it won’t last too much longer, but I’ll guess I’ll keep typing and just expect the unexpected. Normally I’d be happy that I’d have an excuse to buy a new electronic toy because an older one was done, but money isn’t endless these days, so I hope something works out in my favor.

I’ve learned to approach life that way these days. There’s an ideal in my head usually, but I’ve learned not to get too bent out of shape if things don’t go as planned, or imagined. Many times we may not admit that we have an idea in our heads of what we expect out of a person, situation, or just life in general. In almost 40 years, I’ve learned that the unexpected is inevitable, no matter how well we plan or control anything.

I have an aloe vera plant that I bought last summer. I bought one for my sister and ended up getting one for myself too because it was cheap. I don’t usually do well with plants, but I figured I could keep something related to the cactus family alive. When I moved, I forgot about it and it started to go a little brown and the soil really dried out. Great, only I could kill an aloe vera plant. Well, despite the look of it, I watered it and put it near a window. I’ve been slowly take care of it week by week and month by month. Today I noticed that it looks pretty good. It’s green and seems to be actually growing.

I feel like that plant – like a dried out lonely little brown plant, but I’m slowly improving day by day, week by week, and month by month. i keep taking care of myself and reassuring myself and turning negative thoughts around. I’m not sure what the future holds. All I know is that I’m okay today, I have a green plant, and tomorrow doesn’t look too shabby. Maybe if my laptop dies I’ll have money for a bright shiny new one. Or maybe not, but I’ll keep going.

Stifle Me Not

Withdrawal from My Old Motivation

It’s like I was super hooked on a drug and I’m still having withdrawal. I don’t even want the drug anymore, I was just used to it. It was my way of living. It became who I am, and so I just accepted my life that way. Now I’m lost and confused and lonely, and even though I don’t want that drug anymore, I’m not quite sure what else to do.

I’ve never been on drugs before, but I know reason for dependency on a substance is to go after the feeling that the drug gives you.

At first, I was going to make this analogy about my almost ex-husband. Then I realized it applies to my career. But I really think it applies overall to the way I’ve been feeling, or wanting to feel, for the last 15 years.

I have been a hooked on a feeling. A fleeting feeling.

I am driven not by who I am, or what I really want, but what I can do for people. I have been caught up in the stress of imbalance between doing what is best for myself and using that energy to make others happy – in my marriage, in my career, and even when I was a little kid.

I have been hooked on doing well in life to help others, to make others happy and proud. I went to college, I acquired skills, and I have always done well at nearly everything that I do in my career. The same thing in my marriage. I paid attention and strove to be the best wife I knew how to be for my husband (no matter how much he’ll say that I did not). If he wasn’t happy, I’d overcompensate or corrected my behavior the best I knew how. We wouldn’t fail, we would prevail despite the bills and the stress of raising a family. I could make this work. “I”.

I am of the “pleaser” variety. I get honest joy out of making others happy. It’s not bullshit, I’m not making it up. I didn’t fully realize the extent to which I like this until it was too late and I had served so many others in spite of myself.

I have served others in spite of myself.

And I lacked the boundaries to look out for my own well-being.

Others do not question it. Why shouldn’t they? They aren’t responsible for my boundaries. I am nice. Nice, and smart, and oh wait, I’m pretty too. I’m “perfect”. I take these compliments and I accept them because I like feeling like I did something good and I helped someone else. I like the approval, even if it doesn’t last long.

It feels strange getting to know this person that I am in this 39-year old body. I start to have regrets about what I could’ve done, should’ve done, would’ve done in my 20s or early 30s… but I’m recognizing the same “mistakes” in others as I’ve made. Who’s to say it’s a mistake? I’m the only one saying that. I’m trying not to beat myself up and label everything I did or didn’t do that led me to this place as a mistake… because at the end of the day, I’m learning from it.

If you learn from it, it’s not a mistake. It’s a lesson. Learn, move on, and do something different the next time is what I keep telling myself.

So here I am, having an eerily similar feeling to when I was 18 and first on my own at college. I didn’t know who I was – I was just out in the world trying to “make it”. However I’ve learned that if you don’t recognize your own wants and needs, your own purpose, you can wander aimlessly and stumble into serving the purposes of others instead of your own. That happened to me. I let that happen.

I’ve been cautiously taking each step like its the first time. I’m paying attention to my feelings. MY feelings. I’m trying not to discount the reason for my feelings – that is what they are for. If I begin to feel similar to before and don’t like it (fearful, anxious, unhappy, etc.), I’m trying to take a new direction… set a boundary – even if that means straying from the comfort of known territory. What I once was is no more – I can’t be that person anymore or I will be miserable. I can’t use those drugs, the happiness of pleasing others can’t be my reason for existence. I have to find what makes me want to live on my own without pleasing others as my primary motivation.

I’m searching for my new motivation. I buried it within me long ago and it’s just taking time to emerge. I suppose it will surface when I’m ready.

Stifle Me Not

 

The Irony of Life

So my last post was a bit of a plea for a break. I was so “whoa is me”. It turns out that my daughter being sick drove up the demand on my house. Such an ironic little twist of fate.

On Sunday, I e-cried to you all via this blog about how I helped my poor puking girl all night long. It was a rough next day as I tried to entertain my 3-year old son and wait on my sick daughter in bed. Around Noon, I took my son outside to play. All showings had been canceled so I thought nothing of hanging out in the driveway. Then I see a realtor car and another car pull in the driveway. Clearly they didn’t get the memo.

I greeted them and let them know I had canceled all showings due to my sick daughter. They didn’t go away. I was annoyed. Of course I wanted to sell my house, but I had a mama bear attitude. They both parked their cars and walked up. They started surveying the outside and asked if they could see the backyard. My son started being chatty with them. I told them they could take a peek at the first floor and basement but they couldn’t go upstairs. They respected my request. I told them to please come back and see the rest in a day or so.

Later that day, my realtor calls to tell me they put an offer at asking price contingent on seeing the upstairs. I almost died. Asking price? Without seeing the upstairs? I never thought we would get that for it. It was priced it where it was because we wanted cushion if we had to drop the price.

So today there were multiple showings for people that had to reschedule from the day before. We got another offer, just above asking price. Like what?

Tomorrow afternoon is the cut off and then we decide on the best offer. This is amazing to me. I asked, and I’m receiving. I know its not over yet, but my bad night turned into something good. If my daughter hadn’t been sick for me to cancel the showings, the demand wouldn’t have been so high. Maybe it would have, but I don’t know, I like to think things happen for a reason.

Stifle Me Not

May 1st Lesson: I Need My Son to Nap More Than He Needs to Nap

Today started out with the typical routine of fighting with little man to wake up, nagging my sassy girl to get ready, and then dropping her off at school. Then little man and I watched cartoons until it warmed up a little outside to go play. Thank goodness it was warm and sunny today because I don’t know if we could take one more episode of anything on the Disney Channel.

Little man enjoyed every second outside. He lives for being outside. I talked and played with him in between cleaning out the sun room and doing a little yard work. By the time lunch was over, he was more than whiny and my nerves were frayed. I love my son to the moon and back, but he is a handful – he is 2 years old. It had been a nice morning with him, but it was nap time and his whining was proof.

Let me be clear about how much I dread nap time and night-night time: I hate it. For some reason, my son thinks he has to cry before going to bed. The thing is though is that he actually likes sleeping.

Me: Buddy, it’s time for a nap.

Little Man: Noooooooooooooooooooo (sobs and sobs and sobs) – sobs all the way up the stairs to his room

I give him a few ounces of milk, rock him, and he says he wants his doggie in his bed. Great! I tuck him in, and tell him I’ll see him in a little bit.

Typically he falls asleep for 2 hours. Today, all was quiet and still – until it wasn’t. He never napped. I could hear him talking nonstop through the monitor. I left him up there for awhile – until he got impatient.

I am an introvert. I require a lot of me time to recharge. Tonight at 10 pm is the first that I’m getting that time. Even when I’m working I get me time when I’m just at my desk working. Being unemployed and an overnight stay at home mom is infringing on my me time! I miss me. I’m not a lonely person; I don’t mind being alone.

Lesson learned: I need my son to nap more than he actually needs the nap. I need recharge time.

 

Welcome to Stifle Me Not

It’s been a challenging year so far to say the least. It’s not what’s happening, but how you react to it, right? We all have feelings, and there’s a fine line between feeling your feelings and not hurting others as you allow yourself to feel and react. I have been walking that fine line for months now. For 6 months to be exact. I know it’s not going away anytime soon, so I’m starting this blog as an outlet. Writing is therapeutic for me, so I’ll chronicle life stories, challenges and joys, as they come and live life the best way I know how.

My current state of reality can be summed up into 3 main events:  I’m separated from my husband, got laid off from my job, and one of my kids got lice (and then she gave it to me). “Things can always be worse” I like to tell myself. But right now the feelings feel like “This is rock bottom.”

I believe the main thing you need to do with each situation is learn and grow from it. If you don’t do anything with what you’ve learned, then the whole experience, good or bad, is a waste. Easier said than done, right? Right.

I’m trying to take my own advice, so what am I learning these days from these Big 3 Events in my life?

Separation – It sucks. Quite simply, we have agreed to disagree and are working to be the best parents possible. I am navigating the waters by focusing on the positive and handling the negative situations as they come instead of dwelling on the doom and gloom of what could be. The first few months were not pretty. In fact, they were hard and heart-numbing. I’m learning to feel the feelings each day but communicate the facts without letting them collide into a whirlwind of chaos.

Unemployment – Well, this sucks too. I’ve been here before, although I was laid off earlier in my career when I was eager to accept any job that came my way. I now have quite a bit of experience under my belt and actual skills that I’ve worked hard to develop. This time is a little different and more challenging since I have children to support and am about to become a single income household. I cannot accept just any job – I need a secure salary and the next company I work for has to have some distinct values that align with mine. I cannot leave my kids each day going to a place that I dread. I’m learning not to compromise my values for a job and be confident and proud about what I have to offer in my professional life.

Hair Bug Epidemic 2.0 – This one has me hysterical, but I survived this once before so I’m sure I can do it again. I call this “2.0” because Hair Bug Epidemic 1.0 invaded our house early in 2017. I caught it early this time because of what i learned that time. Last time I researched and learned quite a bit about different treatments and prevention methods. What I did not do is continue the prevention methods. My daughter is in third grade with a head of thick hair that is just waiting to welcome the next bug that is in her general vicinity. This time I’ve learned about newer and more effective treatment methods that aren’t so toxic and that I have to continue prevention methods for the rest of my children’s lives – at least through middle school or I’ll have 3.0 in my house in no time. I’ve also learned that it feels gross but is not the end of the world.

I’m calling this blog “Stifle Me Not” because I often feel restricted by different life experiences, but figuring out how to learn from them and grow has been an ongoing theme for me.

I hope you enjoyed this first blog post. I’ve been getting the itch (lol, no pun intended, although that’s pretty funny, go me) to write more often. Stay tuned…

Stifle Me Not