Table Talk Tuesday

The Unspoken Prayer of Mother(Parent)Hood

God,

In all your wondrous, majestic splendor and creative power, I can't tell you how grateful I am this morning for the gifts that you bestow upon us.

You give unto us one of the most miraculous, precious, and loving gifts only You could give:

You give us children.

Lively, sweet, courageous little beings who inspire us to do better and remind us of what's important in life.....

Little beings who are giggling, silly, hilariously entertaining one minute.....

and then loud, screaming, meltdown-inducing, bewilderingly difficult little terrors the next.

And that is why, O God, I am most grateful this Tuesday morning,

for those who you've graced with the creative know how  and authoritative power

to have such shows like The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets, Kelli & Chica,  the ever questioning Dora and her globetrotting cousin Diego,

The Bubble Guppies, The Fresh Beat Band,  The Wiggles, Sesame Street, countless others and yes, even the always weird but somehow cool Gabba Gang who leaves me feeling like I'm on an acid trip,

From the Disney Channel to Nick Jr to Sprout TV & PBS Kids,

From Disney to Pixar to Dreamworks Studios,

to every animator, illustrator, computer programmer, and creative director,

to every person who modifies their voice to bring life to all of these characters,

to every adult dancer and singer who makes a fool of themselves dressing in costumes and "going bananas",

(*cough The Wiggles, Hip Hop Harry & The Fresh Beat Band cough*)

to every CEO who makes money off of me for being a cable subscriber and a toy consumer

Bless them God. Seven times over. Bless them financially and more importantly creatively so they can continue to get better, more innovative, more fun!

So that we, the parents, the mamas, can continue to have our sanity held intact. So that we, the parents, the mamas, can have the brain cells we lose

every minute of every day

restored during those moments when the shows these valuable people put on

calm the wild barbarians children

that rage, and yell, and scream, and cry, and whine and pout,

and leave us totally clueless as to what's wrong with them ,

when it often turns out they are perfectly fine,

they just want to see us squirm and sweat, and get flustered, and cry, and gnash our teeth in frustration because

they are our offspring, our legacy, what we are leaving behind and we should NEVER

want to throw them through the wall like Mr. Incredible did to his boss

RIGHT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(sigh)

I digress.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

God.

Bless those who you've blessed to create such awesome programming that entertains our children

while we use those precious moments to replace the brain cells that we've lost.

Let them know that they are indeed the best bench team I've ever had.

Their shows always come in the clutch when I need a game winning shot to keep my parenting hopes alive.

Let them know they are appreciated.

Let them know they are loved and celebrated.

Let them know that what they do is important to our national security.

Let them know that without them, the quality of a parent's mental health would be far worse,

and let them know that as a parent who struggles greatly in the mental health department,

their shows play a key role in helping me be a good mother.

They are part of my coping arsenal.

Bless them God.

Bless them.

Amen.

Oh wait: God? I don't know how this whole afterlife & "who gets into heaven" thing works per se, but could you please make sure Steve Jobs is comfy

where ever he's floating around  at?

THANK YOU for the gifts you gave him, because if it weren't for his iPad invention.....

I would've lost it in the middle of Wal-Mart on several of occasions...and I've only had the thing for like a month.

Anywhoo, please bless Steve Jobs.

Thanks.

Amen.

* a Tuesday morning prayer by a frazzled, worn out, on the edge mama whose brain cells and sanity were saved this morning by Dora and her never ending stream of questions...

and the Bubble Guppies whose constant singing and dancing helped soothe my sick, cranky 19mo old. *

Table Talk Tuesday: College Mama pt 2

Last week I posted about my then upcoming Weekend of Welcome at my university & my concerns about how immersed I felt I could or should be because I'm older & a mama. Well, my ex agreed to stay at my place and watch both boys so I could attend all the festivities I wanted. (I know, even though he's my ex, he's awesome) So I attended various events last Thursday-Saturday. The mandatory ones were tedious & boring, my academic meeting was informative & gave me the dose of reality I needed (I'm going after a dual degree program), & some of the fun festivities were pretty rad.

Thursday night,  I wrestled over mattresses Steal the Bacon style with people 10 years my junior, got rained on repeatedly, & leap frogged the entire length of a soccer field during a crazy long relay race. My thighs started cussing me out halfway and were dead by the time I low-crawled over the finish line. (My team came in third place-GO BLUE! AUGUSTIVUS WOOOOHOOO! PBU! PBU!)

Friday there were more meetings and I was still barely able to move from the night before. When it came time to go home, I stayed home with the boys instead of going back out for that evening's social activities. Besides, Irene was on her way, so I had to prepare, grocery shop, you know, do Mama stuff.  Speaking of Irene, I should have listened to my gut Saturday morning when it told me to stay home instead of go to Philly with the rest of my incoming class. It was just a bad idea. Irene started pre-gaming in our area with lots of rain that left us all soaking wet....which pissed me off. Plus I've been to center city plenty enough this summer-I was less than enthused to be staring at the Liberty Bell & slogging my way to Reading Terminal dripping wet. The icing on the cake and perhaps the biggest indicator that I should have stayed home was the fact that I was in a reflective state of mind. Not really anti-social, but just withdrawn. I wanted to read & stew in my own thoughts....not really what I needed to be Socialite Sally for the day.

All in all I'm glad I was able to partake in pretty much everything. It gave me the chance to meet people & myself the chance to exercise some gut following. I automatically started to see what would work for me, what I could be involved in, & what I couldn't. I learned that when it comes to something like this, it's always best to follow your instincts-I know mine will tell me where to navigate to as I move forward this year.

Speaking of moving forward, let's skip over Irene & just stop at yesterday: my first day of classes. It was hectic, it was usual first day stuff, it was even surprising-some of the classes I thought would be heavy hitters & require hundreds of hours of writing this semester actually aren't. I was able to tie up loose ends around campus (like parking passes & financial aid)...but here's the thing. It all felt like a blur. Like it wasn't really happening. By the time I got home and fed the boys dinner, I couldn't even remember how I had managed to do so. It was only then that I realized my heart was pounding and that my thoughts were racing-had been all day. That I had been moving (and probably speaking at) the speed of light. The frantic pace and anticipation that came with the first day of classes had raised my anxiety to a certain level & I hadn't even realized it, because I felt so great the whole day. (Which, sound a tad like the euphoric feelings of mania, does it not?) And even though my body was tired, my mind was wired & in a very weird space, a little panicky, but I don't even think I can articulate it actually. I just know that I didn't feel right. I could also tell immediately that I wasn't going to be able to sleep. But that's just what I did. I put the boys to bed and then forced myself to sleep....at 6:30.

This morning I woke up and realized that I'm a little scared about what it's going to take to tackle this semester. It's going to take me being on my A game, and I know I'm not. Not mentally. I'm still trying to get there. Medication is starting to help, and I start therapy next Tuesday....but trying to manage college life, motherhood, life in general, AND trying to get a manageable hold on a mood disorder (meds, exercise, therapy, etc)? MAN. That's alot. And I didn't even mention blogging.....

Can I do it. I believe I can. But the question, is how? I think my therapist will be able to help me develop some strategies (she's a cognitive behavioral therapist), but do you have any suggestions on how I can approach this? How do you balance it all & stay afloat? Especially you readers who do or have battled a mental illness, how did you take care of everything but also manage to take care of yourself at the same time? Any advice you can offer a mama?

 

Table Talk Tuesday: College Mama pt 1

First, before I write another word, I want to play and sing along with this song.....(ahem, clearing throat for serious belting out)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISgr8SgCYbY]

"WHOOOAAA OHHHHH OH OH OH, OH OH...." Ok, got that out of my system. When I buy my ukulele (which is on my life list) this will be the first song I attempt to play. I'll tell you the second one in another post :)

Second, I'd like to say that I just took my meds for the day, SO, their effects are having an affect on me. In other words, physically, they make me lose my balance-ALOT. So for the first hour after I take them, I'm a complete klutz and I feel funny in head. Not in a bad way, but just in a "I just took a dose of nyquil" kind of way. So I apologize for any typos, ramblings or nonsensical  things that spill forth from this paragraph on...

So. I graduated in May with an Associates in Arts. I'm so appreciative and grateful for those who supported me through that journey, but I want to take a moment and thank my therapist at the Postpartum Stress Center in Rosemont. One of the first assignments she gave me when I expressed my icky feelings about how the school had messed up my credits, was to go to the dean and asked to be "grandfathered" into the program, because they messed up and I REALLY needed to graduate. I looked at her like she was crazy....cause, I hate doing things like that. But. I went. I did it. AND IT WORKED. They adjusted some things, had to pick up an extra class, and I GRADUATED.

During this time I also took a step, no a LEAP of faith and decided to act on the pull in my gut to change my major. I love social media, but I had been feeling the urge to pursue my passion-helping people. Helping women. Mamas. Veterans. People like me who have been through what I've experienced. I'll write more about that in part 2 of this post....but as I was saying, I took a giant leap of faith and applied to a school I had been told & advised had the best counseling program in the area. And it was a Christian university. The pull grew so strong, it overrode my nerves and I applied. I GOT IN. *cue the celebration music*

Well today is Tuesday. Orientation starts on Thursday and goes through the weekend. And I'm a little (re VERY) freaked out about it. Excited to be in a place where I can grow spiritually and really let my inner bible geek feast off of the knowledge of my professors, go deeper into the bible and firm up what I believe? Nervous but determined? YES very. To say I need to be here at this time in my life is an understatement.

But I'm nervous ya'll. Of course most schools these days have "non traditional" students who take classes....but will they be in my classes with me, during the day? Not taking night classes because, hey my boys need daycare. I'm 28 with 2 kids. I know millions of women do this everyday and make it happen. I know I can make it happen, especially now that I'm taking care of myself mentally. I just...I don't know. I want to really experience that whole "going away to college thing". I want to be a part of the community. Get involved. Not to the point where I'm overworked or neglecting my mamahood responsibilities,but I want to be active, engaged, go to homecoming,  sign up for projects and ministry outreaches. That's why I've let go of things like consulting. Why I've let go of other duties & responsibilities at my church. (I have other reasons for this too, but that's a WHOLE other topic) Why when things with my ex ended, I transported myself out here to an apartment I'm renting through the campus.

I feel so strongly, that I need this. I know I'm out here where I essentially know no one. I know I'm "on my own" in a sense, away from family, church, and everything that was familiar to me. But....I just can't shake this feeling that this is how it's supposed to be. And by feeling, I mean not some fickle matter of the heart. I'm talking destiny here folks. That whole "I have to make a drastic change in my life to progress" feeling. And while others may disagree, I'm believing that it's God's will. He's working it out so far.

So my question that I pose to you is this: As a mama, am I being too unrealistic here with wanting to get the full college experience? And if I'm not, any suggestions on how to juggle, balance, manage this? I know because of my situation I'm not a traditional student...but does that mean I'm wrong or delusional for wanting this? How do I make this work for me and my boys? Anyone out there been through this? I'm taking any and all suggestions.

GO PBU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Table Talk Tuesday: Blogging Identity, Labels & Envy

Ok so I'm sure every blogger at some point in their blogging journey experiences blogging envy. You know where your insecurities make you stalk other blogs' content, designs, etc and try to convince you that your own blog sucks the big wad? That what you've got in your little blogging corner of the digital world ain't cutting the mustard, so to speak. At least I can be honest and say it's happened to me, especially this summer as I stepped further into the "Mommy Blogging" universe. And by stepping further I mean reading some of the really famous ones and those on the "Top 50" "Top 100" lists those parenting websites generate to feed your insecurities to tell you who's worth checking out. Even when it comes to those that are PPD related, man, there are some INCREDIBLE mamas out there who are rocking it and kicking PPD & it's stigma in the arse on the daily with every word they type. I admire these women. I've even envied them for fleeting moments. And I've sat back, looked at my blog and wondered: where do you fit? and when are you just going to bite the bullet and get a design that identifies your "brand"?

See how I just used the word "brand?" That's the social media consultant in me speaking. The business side of me that's been doing blogs for other clients, who understands all the SM mumbo jumbo (ie SEO, Metrics,Branding Identity, etc) and has been using those critical eyes to view my little space here.

I think what the question I've been asking myself is: where do I belong in the blogosphere? What's my niche? Why do I do this? What's the purpose?  I don't have a great design. Or ads. I'm not syndicated on BlogHer. I've never been to a blogging conference. I don't chat with the 'who's who' of the Mommy Blogosphere on Twitter. I'm a mama who wasn't diagnosed with or in treatment for PPD til my youngest was a month shy of 12 months. And I'm a mama who now is realizing that while I may have had PPD, I was experiencing symptoms of BPD2 & anxiety before I was pregnant. I'm also a Christian but I don't always talk about my faith-if anything I talk about how much I struggle & muddle my way through it, so I'm definitely not one of those Christian bloggers who has amazing insight & can build you up with truths revealed to them. I'm working on rebuilding my self-esteem and my body image sucks-I care about those issues and how they impact myself & other women but I don't want to just blog about that....and sometimes I feel like my blog meanders, kind of up & down depending on my mood which might be too much or too confusing for people.

But you know what I realized? Why I stopped envy and my blogging identity crisis dead in it's tracks? What made me take off the consultant glasses I was viewing myself, my writing with? I'm not the labeling type. Categories & boxes are not what I fit myself easily into. I never have. I'm not stereotypical. I love diversity & variety too much. My closest friends have always said I'm like Baskin Robbins-only with more flavors. I don't like being told I have to be this way or be like this person. I never dress in season, shoot while I like trends, I never even know what to buy-I just wear what I like. One day that may be a pair of chucks with a funked out graphic tee, the next it could be a pair of ankle boots from Aldos with a stilletto heel. It just depends on my mood.

I'm nerdy. I'm a goofball. I'm a music junkie. I'm eccentric. I'm a Jesus chick. I'm up and other days I'm down. I'm a mama. I'm only 28 but I've been through abuse in every shape & form and have seen some things growing up I wouldn't wish on anyone. I'm trying to recover from a self-esteem that has always struggled to stay on the healthy side and I'm just now wrapping my head around & getting treatment for something I have to live with for the rest of my life. I'm the chick who never fit in and yet I still at 28 find myself trying to wiggle my way into networks or circles or groups of "friends"...this latest case being blogging.

I'm a myriad of alot of things, as am most people. And while I understand from a "branding" perspective I should focus on maybe just one thing-dude, are you kidding me? I just told you I'm bipolar-my attention span is like...nil, ok? (laugh)  So I've realized for me, that just like what I say in my Who ? section (which I'm sure could use some work,but I suck at trying to be witty while writing my own bio) this blog is where I write about my life. That's my niche. My life. And all the dimensions, nuances, corners, shelves & closets of it. Being transparent about my life. That's my niche, because in my heart of hearts, I want to help people. Encourage people. Talk to people. I love people, even when I'm struggling to have faith in them.

So yes, my blog may be random, it may cover several topics, so if "one size fits all" subject matter is what you're looking for, you're just not going to find it here. And finally, after weeks of wrestling with that, and letting my insecurities telling me I have to be like blogger so & so or only talk about X, I'm at peace with it.  I may not be in with the "in crowd" in the blogosphere or the daunting universe that is the world of Mommy Blogging. But I'm in and okay with me and what I write about, good or bad.

I hope, that if you're a reader here, that you are too. And that you at least get something out of what I spill here.

Ever suffer from blogging envy or have a blogging identity crisis? Struggle with the concept of "branding?" Does the term "Mommy Blogger" or the frantic pace of the Mommy Blogosphere seem overwhelming to you too? Why do you write?  Feel free to share :)

Table Talk Tuesday:I Refuse to Recycle the Garbage

There's a lot about my 4 year old, Brennan that I admire. There's also a lot that annoys me sometimes (like his incessant chatter and compulsive need to ask me the same question 5-6x in a row) but there's so much more about him that I admire and respect...envy even.

He has this joy to him that's unlike anything I've ever seen, even from a kid. He just gets in these spaces where he is so in awe of life, so enthralled by his environment, so intrigued by what's going on around him that he exudes this energy that's static with little electrodes of joy. Bliss. Wonderment. And this joy makes him inquisitive, bold, fearless even, which catches me off guard sometimes because he's naturally shy like his mama.

Until he gets to know you that is. Then its game on and he loves to have your full attention-just like his mama. The introverted facet of his personality is just an observational tool he uses to feel out the people and environment around him. While he can be content playing by himself, being the social and playful butterfly is where he's most comfortable. It's in this zone where all the rich dimensions of his personality and vivid imagination truly get to be on display-Again, just like his mama. In fact, I think that's what amazes me the most about him-in him I see myself, which I'm sure is something all parents experience at some point.

I see the child I was-but only at school, with my step moms, or when I went to visit my mother in the summer. I see who I was in my mind, because that's the only place I was allowed to live and grow, especially creatively-my mind. My father kept me muted. Silenced. He controlled everything from what I ate, to how I wore my hair, to what I wore to school. I wasn't allowed to ask questions. My learning about life came from interactions at school, observing people quietly at restaurants or in stores, or watching my father go through five marriages. It came from the books I read to escape, from listening to songs on my radio when he wasn't home.  It came from listening to artists like Prince when he was home. It came from spending lots of time sitting alone outside, just staring out at the world around me.

So now that I'm a parent, and I see all these aspects of his personality & thought patterns that remind me of myself, I have to make a conscious choice every day, (sometimes several times a day) to not suppress who he is or what he expresses. Boundaries? Yes. Discipline? Yes. But a silent, muted, expressionless, inanimate child is not what I want him to be....or even the type of parent I want to be. I want his wildly vivid imagination to thrive & be an environment for his creativity & love of music to grow. I want him to be able to talk, tell me how he feels, even if he says it in a way I don't understand, or it's a fictional story about how him and a friend from school slayed a yellow dragon & then ate chocolate cake. I'm not going to lie. It's not easy. Especially because what was modeled for me was garbage.

That may sound harsh, but look. I know that there is no instructional manual for parenting. I get that for the most part, as parents, we're just doing the best we can with what we have. But as with everything, there are exceptions, and my dad was an exception. Everything he taught me about parenting was garbage. His "children should be seen & not heard" approach to parenting me, forcing me to walk around with my head down, never allowing me to make eye contact with him or anyone else? Garbage. Pure garbage that impacts me now, even at 28.

So my point, is that when I look at my son, I see him for the individual he is, but I also see the little girl who wasn't allowed to live, to express, to be herself, make her own choices. So I refuse to recycle the garbage that was modeled for me, that was dumped into my life. I will work on tossing it out, untangling myself from it, and turning it into powerful lessons to help myself & others, but I. WILL. NOT. RECYCLE or dump it on my children.

It's not easy. When he wants to wear things that don't match, I have to reign in the urge to force him to wear something else. He's only 4 and for crying out loud he has better fashion sense than I do. Oh-and did I mention I never wear socks that match? :)

When he is talking 500 mph and asking me a slew of questions I don't feel like answering, I suppress the words that want to shut him up and have been trying instead to just listen to him.

Be engaged with him. Give him what I wasn't given. Attention. Nurturing. Love. Creative expression. An environment that fosters that fearless joy & inquisitiveness he has.

Yea, I'll say it. I admire the hell outta my son. His view of life motivates me to keep going.

Is there something about your kids that you admire? Something from your childhood you refuse to recycle? Feel free to share!

Table Talk Tuesday: Why Do Parents Hate Other Parents?

This morning while coloring with Brennan, I caught a segment on the TODAY show that discussed co-sleeping & some new study that says it's a-okay to do so. Personally, I don't have an issue with it. I've done it, the first time with Brennan because our living arrangements the first 2 years of his life necessitated us sharing the same sleeping space & the second time with Alex because it just made breastfeeding easier. (Shout out to Breastfeeding Week!) With Brennan it was harder to get him to sleep on his own once our living situation changed when he turned 3. It was hard for both of us-we were both used to the comfort. With Alex, though, even though he stayed in the bed with me as an infant, he's preferred his crib since he was about 4mos old. And honestly, so have I- the kid is a constant mover & kicks like Chuck Norris.

So like I said, personally, I have no issue with it. But just because I've done it doesn't mean I'm a proponent or advocate of it either. I'm also not an advocate of baby wearing, breastfeeding, eating au natural or organic, attachment parenting, or anything else. Nor am I against any of them. My parenting style is kind of a mash-up of what I find helpful. I have a moby wrap and a fly stroller. Bottle or Breast? I do both depending on what my circumstances call for or what my body is able to do. Do we eat organic? Sure if I can find it at Wal-mart on sale (sorry, sometimes paying $5-6 for milk that disappears as soon as it goes in my fridge is just a budget buster)...other times I'm fine with regular brands. I prefer to try and cook as much as possible, but I also have a lot of days where Chic-fil-A, Wendy's, Chipotle, & the Golden Arches save my sanity & worn out self.

What I do advocate for and believe in, though, is the idea that every parent, every family doing what works best for them and not judging them for it, regardless of their choices. And that's what bothered me about the TODAY show segment-advocates from both sides (one a doctor & the other a parenting "expert") agreed with the Matt that the stigma surrounding the decision to co-sleep here in the US keeps parents "in the closet" about their choice to do so. The doctor said that the decision to co-sleep is viewed by some as being a "weak parent or not having control over your own kids".

Excuse me, WHAT?! To me that's utterly ridiculous! WHY do we attach such ridiculous & harmful stigmas to things that don't call for it?  That's what upset me and has been upsetting me pretty much since I became a parent & what I consider "weak": Parents on opposing sides of parenting issues judging each other.

It's ridiculous really because like life, parenting is not a one size fits all situation. Maybe it's the idealist in me, but on this front, I'm pretty much middle of the road on the stuff that seems to make parents pull out the knives on each other. I don't get the obsession we have, especially in the age of social media, with tar & feathering each other.  My motto: make sure you're educated & informed, evaluate your life & circumstances, & then get to the business of doing what works best for you & your family. Whether you go the traditional route or implement an approach that's unconventional, that's not what should matter. What should matter in the parenting community is whether or not we're getting the encouragement, support & advice we need to be the best parents our kiddos need us to be.THAT'S what's important. Not worrying about if a Mama is tweeting too much instead of spending her time being elbow deep in play-doh, bottle or breastfeeding, baby wearing or using a stroller, dads who stay at home,or about parents who choose to circumcise their boys.

I get it. We all have opinions, and we're entitled to having them. But having the right to our own opinions doesn't always give us the right to voice those opinions, much less judge others because their parenting style doesn't fit into the boxes we've constructed for our own lives & children.

So can we put away the pitchforks & torches? Can we stop bullying each other & putting one another on trial? Can we ditch the condemnation & use our voices instead to empower & build each other up?  Let's face it: Parenting is not for the faint of heart, especially in this day & age and kids will often make you want to lose your.....sanity. Wouldn't it feel better to know that instead of making the currents we find ourselves in rockier, we had a community of supportive parents in our boat, picking up an oar, & helping us row?

I know I would. And I could care less whether you do it while breastfeeding your baby, letting him cry it out, or feeding her just-pulled-out of the ground carrots. I just need you to help me keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

I've read some other posts this week by Mamas on this subject: Lauren Hale over at My Postpartum Voice, & a couple shared by James & Jax on her Facebook page by Mooshinindy & Our Crazy Corner of the World.

How do you deal with Parental Judgement? Do you get it more from strangers, people online, or family members? What say you? SOUND OFF!