Seeking help ~Noe-Marie

Every week I start off Monday morning ready to kick the crap out of the day and week. By Monday night, I’m ready to fall apart.

 

I hate living back at home, I hate not having my own space, I hate being in a house full of people and animals and being so alone.  I turn to food to cope. I’ve put on at least 20 pounds.  I diligently go to crossfit. I run. I teach multiple group exercise classes per week. My whole body hurts. My soul hurts. I’ve been making promises to myself week after week and day after day to clean my act up. The problem is, I was silently making these promises and then promptly dismissing them. I can’t afford to do that anymore.

 

This week, I took to Facebook with a really honest and humbling post.  I still feel sort of dumb for posting it, but the support that it’s generated and the sense of accountability I feel has been worth it. I feel like although I might not straighten out perfectly and absolutely, it’s going to help me heal.

 

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One thing I know for sure about myself is that I am an externally referenced person. In a way, I’ve been taught to see this quality as a negative. With my post on Facebook, however, I finally feel like I’m changing a negative into a positive. I broke some of my cardinal Facebook rules for this- don’t swear (okay, I break that one sometimes anyway) and don’t air your dirty laundry (okay, there’ve been a few PA posts in my FB past)- but it’s been incredibly helpful. Friends have reached out to me and given me some tools for coping and support that I just can’t find in self-help books and websites.

 

I guess using my qualities- particularly the ones that I fall back on and consider weaknesses- as strengths, is going to be what gets me through this period of my life. Drawing on my own tendency to be an externally referenced person is one such quality. Being a planner is another.

Honestly, I am so thankful that my parents have given me a home to live in, that my own home sold quickly, that my child is so incredibly loved by both of his parents, and that I have work that I enjoy, but I really am at my rock bottom. Planning and looking ahead are cornerstones to my very existence as a busy, working mom. The divorce- and all that comes with it- is forcing me to utilize my planning abilities while simultaneously taking one day at a time; I’m planning all the pieces of my life that I need to change in order to move forward and I’m learning to cope in the meantime. I can’t say it for certain now, but I think someday I’ll look back and find that there were a multitude of important lessons for me in this time.

 

I’m certainly not “better.” Now I feel like I can at least get there. 

 

 

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It’s been a crazy summer, to say the least. While most parents take time to vacation and relax, my household is full of screaming banchees wanting nothing more than to be let free to roam the world — and roam the world, we have. At least, it certainly feels like it.

Summer has us doing loads of new activities. Our weekends are full of zoo visiting, pool jumping, and back yard playing insanity. All of this dedicated outdoor freedom has led this Mom of three to a new, horrifying reality: Raising boys is a brutal bliss.

I don’t know about you, but my daughter, while active, is content playing with her dolls, coloring, and reading a favorite book. My eldest son (who celebrated his second birthday last weekend), however, is a go-go-gadget machine. He’s always on the move. This is a wonderful thing until you find the words, “get off the kitchen counter” or “we do not put our toys in the toilet” uttering out of your mouth, while turning your back for two nano-seconds.

As if chasing after my boys isn’t work enough in itself, busy bodies often means lots of bumps and bruises. We’ve already had two ER visits this Summer – both for my boys. Evan fell off a pew at church, cut his head open and – BAM! – to the ER we go. There was also that one time that we went on a family vacation to Hollywood and stayed in a rental house and Evan found a way to dangle two stories high, hanging-off-a-cliff-style, in between staircases… Yeah, FUN.

While I often think it’s my boys that will give me a hernia or worse – grey hair – it is twice as rewarding when they stop to hug you and say, “I missed you”, or “I helping Mommy” while pushing the mop around, or my most favorite of them all, “I lou you too, Mama”. Hearing those words is like that part in, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”…

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I am complete.

So, the moral of the story is this: hug your boys tight, let them roam free, and mend those bumps and bruises on the way. Nothing is more pure than the love of little boys!

Bitter-sweet by Michele

I knew this day would come, and I knew it would be hard.  What I didn’t know was how much I was going to internalize my feelings and just be well, a wreck!!!

 

I’m leaving today.  Starting our great adventure to Tennessee.  I take off today in a Honda Accord, 2 kiddos, a dog and what’s left of my sanity!!!!  

 

We have had many o’ good bye’s this last week, but none hit me as hard as last night. 

We had our weekly Sunday night dinner just magnified by 10!  My Dad came over with his fam, our good family friend Di with her fam and the 11 of us in the house!  I didn’t shed one tear, but wish I had because I’m feeling it now!

 

I just feel like this nervous ball of unwound energy!  Couldn’t sleep very well last night (which is not going to be good for driving) have some stomach upset, which could be food related, but none the less, sucks!!!!

 

I guess I just needed to hold it together for my family.  Problem is, I am internally feeling it and I think that’s much, much worse!

 

I really knew it would be hard to say goodbye but you just get these foreign feelings that just don’t feel good, ya know?

I just keep trying to remind myself of the reasons we’re leaving and try to hear over and over again that we will never know if we don’t try!

So happy trails and I would really appreciate your prayers and thoughts on our journey!

 

Until we meet again, 

On the Road!

 

Father’s Day and Coping Mechanisms– Noe-Marie

I guess this is where I could reflect on my son’s father– my ex. There isn’t much to reflect on there. Cole loves his daddy and his daddy loves him. They ride bikes and play and go to Bagel Street Cafe on the weekends for breakfast. All good things.

This father’s day however (stupid flipping’ Hallmark holiday that it is!), I just keep thinking about how much I’ve disappointed my own father.

We can stop at this point, together, and realize that all of my posts have been filled with wallowing, self-pitying garbage, by the way. Alright, now back to my point. 

My point is that I did a lot of really good things, but they weren’t good enough. He won’t say it, but I know the level of disappointment is huge. I know I really screwed up.  I often wished I had a sibling, and now I really wish I did. I really wish there were someone not screwing up so heavily, so that my dad could see he did good (and yes I meant “good,” not “well”).  He really did. He did excellent, actually.

So this Father’s Day, I’m reflecting on my own screw ups. The embarrassment- it’s ever-present. Does it go away? I’ve written about it before, but it’s so much worse when you’re embarrassed in front of your family. My one year anniversary of my wedding is next weekend, what do I have to show for it? A divorce. Moving back home. Being a burden on those around me. Helplessly watching as my own child has to go back and forth and not live with his mommy and daddy under one roof.  I’m so embarrassed. My parents raised me so much better than to screw this up like this.

 

Oh, and coping mechanisms. I was going to address those, as my post title suggests.

 

Honestly, I’ve got some healthy coping mechanisms (planning for the future) and I’ve got some unhealthy ones (eating large quantities of almond butter while feeling sorry for myself). I’d like more. I’d like suggestions.  I’m a work out fiend, I generally eat well. I try to take care of myself. But– I’m stressed. I’m being run into the ground emotionally and physically. I’m running those around me into the ground in the same way.  I’d love to know what other divorcing mamas did when they were me.  So, I ask for suggestions. I’m asking for help.  Leave some in the comments below?

 

Living back at home by Michele

Well, I most definitely never thought I’d be living back with my parents in my 30’s, much less my in-laws.  We sold our house in April and moved in temporarily with the rental units until shipping off to Nash in July!  I know what your thinking, oh that must be fun, or oh, how’s that goin’? (in a sarcastic uppity brow raising tone), or WOW, FUN!!!!!  Honestly though, I love it!!!!!

I’m not sure if it’s the financial freedom, the constant companionship, the small amount of space I’m now responsible for or what, but I truly love being here!  

I sort of thrive on chaos and crazy, so when there is 11 people living under one roof, and maybe just half of them come down to share dinner with you and there is love, laughter and talk, I just love it!!!!!

<insert explanation here please> 11, yes, I didn’t not mis-type, 11!!!!!!!  We are the oldest to 4 kids in each of our families and it just so happens that we were the only ones in this family who had left the nest, so we have

  • mom
  • dad
  • 3 sisters
  • 1 nephew 
  • and 1 sister’s boyfriend
  • oh, and of course us
  • oh and I forgot to mention 2 dogs, a cat, a bird and an occasional chicken!

All this to say, I do think that this is going to make me miss here even more than before!  Bitter sweet really.  I’m happy for the time that we get to be here and for putting the relational time in, but I am going to be devastated when we leave!  Not sure if they will feel the same, but it’s going to be a big adjustment I think on all our parts!

We are still super gung ho about moving, just feeling sad that we won’t get this opportunity for a while, maybe even ever again!

As we look desperately for a place to live in Tennessee (still haven’t found one), I will try to enjoy my fun time here at the parental units and remember that these are the precious moments!

Let’s Talk About Travel

More specifically, let’s talk about traveling with kids.

I suppose there are other, more creative and descriptively accurate ways to describe the endeavor than simply using the bland term “traveling with kids”. Frankly, anyone who has done it can tell you that there is nothing bland at all about the experience. But as I sit here hiding in the corner of a darkened hotel room (on day 9 of a 9-day family trip) and praying that the clickety-clack of my keyboard doesn’t wake the kiddos sleeping just a few feet away, I can’t help but reflect on the full extent to which this past week has become a collection of unintended memories utterly distinct from those we had hoped to create in the first place.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a simple beauty to how life unfolds in the unpredictable, even if occasionally turbulent, fashion that it does. And I wouldn’t trade any of the memories we’ve made this week for the other, probably less colorful, ones that would have been created if things had unfolded in a smoother way. But that doesn’t mean I won’t still daydream about the days of pleasant, worry-free, hassle-free, temper-tantrum-free, travel and adventure. Those days, glorious in retrospect, when travel actually meant seeing and doing and exploring… rather than simply attending to the thousand different parental requirements small children demand every hour in a different place than usual.

If only the rest of my family shared that daydream. Obviously the kids are too busy being kids to care (and they’re still young enough that that is precisely the way it should be). And my husband, Mr. Family Man, actually loves family vacations and embraces with open arms the extra-kid-drama that they necessarily bring. He sits smiling and unfazed by the cycles of ups and downs the kids experience with each new adventure, happy just to have the extra time with them. And it drives me crazy how much he gets to enjoy that. Because I want to enjoy it too. More than anything. And I try so hard. It’s just that sometimes, as a stay-at-home-mom who regularly deals with these same issues day in and day out (and day in and day out), the added stresses of these trips can just make the whole thing just feel like over-time without the benefit of pay and a half.

But the thing is, focusing on the frustrations is the easy part.. and the foolish part. Though it might be significantly easier to dwell on the missed opportunities and exasperation that comes from traveling with kids, it undermines the value of what is experienced by everyone. Regardless of the parental stress and fatigue, new experiences and new places are valuable events for every kid. I might be bitter that I don’t personally enjoy many of the trips we take these days, but I choose to take comfort in knowing that my kids will be more balanced for having taken them.

Beyond that, though, focusing on the negatives closes you off to truly recognizing and welcoming the better moments that their ridiculousness can create. Because amidst the moments of mind-numbing frustration, kids still amaze with their generosity, curiosity, and compassion. Yes, there might be spilled water all over the dinner table, there might be three different tantrums about which kid gets sit on which side of the restaurant table, and there might be ceaseless demands to pick up the crayons intentionally thrown onto the floor (just to name a few of the all-too-familiar experiences from our most recent dinner)… but there might also be an unexpectedly sweet request for a hug, or any number of other heart-melting statements that flow from a place of childish honesty all adults would be lucky to recall.

Traveling with kids is always challenging, never boring, and most likely an exercise in sustained frustration. But it is also an experience that boasts significant rewards and underestimated value for those willing to pause and look. Tonight I am fortunate enough to take that time and look on the bright side. If only I’d been that capable earlier in the week… or if only I can remain so for the duration of our five hour flight home tomorrow!

Living in the Shadows ~ Noe-Marie

I know divorce is hard.

Everyone tells you this all your life, regardless of if you ever will/have/could have any association with divorce. The reasons for it being hard seem obvious: losing your partner, losing faith in love, the tearing apart of a family, starting over.

The difficulty I never imagined, however, lies within the expectations set forth by others. How you should feel. How you should act. How sad you should be. How happy you should be. When you should date. What you should do with your free time. What you should say. How long you should heal for. How you should heal.  Apparently, these aren’t things you get to decide how to handle on your own. You have to conform to the expectations of others.

For instance, I’m not allowed to decide how I cope. If I eat too much- or eat large quantities of foods I crave (I do this)- then I’m not coping well. If I don’t eat enough- I’m not coping well.  If I work out too much- I’m not coping well. If I don’t work out enough- I’m not coping well. If I dress nicely- I’m not feeling my feelings. If I wear sweats- I’m not trying to heal. If I decide to date- it’s too soon. If I decide to be alone- I should get out there.

I’m not allowed to follow my own trajectory; I might get hurt that way. I’m not allowed to decide what’s right for me; I might be wrong. I’m not allowed to stumble; it’s not healthy. I’m not allowed to make decisions that could be wrong; it’s too painful for everyone else.

My friend traveled to Mexico for 6 weeks and built houses. My friend got married the day after her divorce was final. My friend went back to school and became a shark divorce attorney. My friend is still fighting her worthless ex for custody, even though he drinks nightly. Everyone else’s experience somehow matters to your own, according to everyone you talk to.

 

I don’t even know if this makes sense. What makes sense to me, is that I can’t live according to what everyone else says/wants/thinks/feels. Divorce- and the varying societal expectations that accompany it- create a sickening, suffocating world of shadows that ultimately try to shape your reactions, feelings, and behaviors… and I can’t have that.

 

Child Rearing isn’t for Wimps! by Hannah

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…She who must be obeyed…Ha! If only!

There is no doubt about it, child rearing isn’t for wimps. I always laugh at the individual who asks, “Oh you’re a stay-at-home Mom? What do you do all day?” As if the sleepless nights, early mornings, and entire “catering-to-others-needs-before-your-own” nonsense wasn’t difficult enough, I’m also the person responsible for forming character and teaching everything from how to wipe one’s own butt to the meaning of right from wrong.

The best gift I can give my children is to teach them how to be respectable human beings. This includes: Teaching them how to say, “please” and “thank you”, how to be honest and kind, and how to apologize sincerely for wrong behavior. Discipline has definitely been a work in progress in my house, but we have finally established a system that works for all of us.

1. The Countdown

We use the countdown system, which sometimes can avoid the need for timeout. We count to three, and threaten with another form of discipline if not followed through. For example,

“Amelia, you have until the count of three to pick up your toys and then you will get a timeout. 1-2-3”

The best part about this discipline tactic is that it can be used for a plethora of different scenarios.

2. The Timeout

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As you can see, this is a concept we are just introducing my almost-two-year-old to. He sees big sister doing her time, and joyfully joins in for the party.

All joking aside, time-outs work – most of the time. We set a timer to age, (3 minutes for three years, 1&1/2 for one and a half, and so on..). When the warning doesn’t work, my kids have a designated corner in which to place their little hineys. When that timer is set, Momma means business!

3. The Spanking

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I love my Husband but……..by Michele (country spice)

I do, I really truly do!  We have almost been married for 10 years, together for 17!

We were high school sweethearts, and have never been apart those 17 years!  There is just something magical about our relationship that keeps me coming back for more, and I love it!

So, what’s the but for? Well, I will tell you……

We recently moved to the in-laws house after selling our house to save up some money and let the kiddos finish out school here in Ca before heading to TN.

About 2 weeks before the big close date, my Hub’s took some time off to fix up the things we needed to get done prior to closing of the house.  This was the week that my daughter was on Spring Break.  Poor thing, she’s bored out of her mind, has nothing to do, and Dad’s busy working on the house.  Well, he had finished most everything toward the end of the week and told her she could choose something for them to do.  She wanted to go ice skating (we have a rink like 2 min. from our old house) and Daddy so lovingly complied.

Last time she wanted to go ice skating, I took her and nearly broke my tailbone with a bad spill on the ice!  Needless to say, I was out to go on this adventure with them.

So Dad goes and is showing off his skating skills, highly impressing Daughter Grace!  Until……..yep, this is where it happened, he chest planted into the ice, knocking the wind right out of him and later finding out that he separated the cartilage that holds your ribs in place or some sort of non-sense like that!  The poor guy, I mean, really, did this have to happen 6 days before we had to be our of our house?  Well, it happened and there was nothing we could do about it.  There was also nothing he could do to help us move, except of course organizing and directing.  But the poor thing, he’s such a go-getter and here he had to sit, while his whole house was being packed up and do NOTHING! He could drive luckily so that was good, but couldn’t lift, pack, or move hardly!

Of course this was not a quick healing thing, so he’s been home. For. 4. Long. Weeks.

This is where the but comes in.

I love spending time with him, we vacation really well together, we have a lot of fun being together and prefer that to anything else really.  But what I have come to realize is we are usually spending time together on the same wave length.  For example, when were on vacation, were both on vacation and relaxing and having a great time, when we come home in the evenings, we both have worked all day and tired and exhausted and know our limitations with getting things done.  Well, when one of you is home all day, bored, probably annoyed with kid’s and chores, and the other is working all day, it’s not so mutual, the wave length that is.

I come home after a long day, on my feet, talking my head off and making people beautiful and he’s like, let’s play chess (our new found game), let’s watch a movie, let’s hang out, let’s do this, let’s do that……..

STOP!!!!!

I need some ME time!!!!

I never knew how precious this was until well, for the last 4 weeks, I have not received any!  I didn’t want to hurt the poor guys feelings, so I let stuff go and swallowed all the things I wanted to blurt out when he was like, want to go on a bike ride later (after working 10 hours and moving our whole house last week). Sure!!! That’s exactly what I want to do!!!  NOT!!!!

Well, this last Monday, it came to a head.  I couldn’t take it anymore!  I, as nicely as I could, told my precious man, I needed some time for ME!!!  He is such a wonderful guy, he did just that and allowed me to have a day for me!  See, I knew I loved that guy for a reason!  I feel so much better now, just rejuvenated, and alive again!

Made me start to think, as Mom’s do we not take enough me time?  I can almost guarantee we don’t.  But next time your wanting to pull your hair out and wonder why we ever thought it was a good idea to get married, or have babies or get a job, etc, you fill in the blank, take a time out and do something for yourself.  Whatever fills you up and gives you energy again.  A little goes a long way and I think you will wind up better for it!

You are doing good work.

To all the (exhausted, loving, over-worked, dedicated, lonely, and brave) moms:
 
You are doing good work.
You are doing important work.
You are doing hard work.
 
And you don’t get told that nearly enough.
 
The truth is that unless you are one of the few, lucky enough to have an established and ready support network at your beck and call or are hard-wired to love all things child-rearing, parenting small children sucks a good amount of the time. 
 
Yes, your kids are brilliant and adorable, but there are still too many tantrums, spills, and cries to count. There is still the endless sleep deprivation and constant reasons for fret and fear. There are too many lost friends and lost personal goals that fall by the wayside as you tend to the demands of daily caregiving. Relationships take tough hits that require time and strength to rebuild. But perhaps more disheartening is the constant barrage of negativity that comes from other people and society at large who are all too eager to tell you that what you’re doing is not good enough.
Of course, many parents out there really don’t give their best and refuse to put the needs of their kids first. And those selfish failures, evident by their neglect, abuse, and disdain, are rightfully condemned and criticized. But a good number of us try every day to do right by our children — to patiently teach them all they need to learn, to manage their daily needs (and demands), to heed the advice of pediatricians and development specialists, and to maintain a loving and nurturing home. And for all of you struggling to do the right thing in challenging conditions, this post is for you.
 
No matter what form the negative feelings you experience from time to time may take, they can actually be embraced as indicators of your parenting strengths. Your exhaustion means that you gave up sleep to help your child get theirs. Your fears mean that you worry about your child’s well being so they don’t have to. Your loneliness means that although you have no social life of your own, your kids have the attention and love that all kids deserve. And regardless of the situation you find yourself in, your bravery and dedication shine through in every sacrifice you make for them. While this might not make the frustrations any easier to bear, hopefully it can help remind you that you are not alone in this.
 
Children will always deserve more patience, love, and time than many ever know. And parents should strive to be the best versions of themselves that they possibly can. But each and every parent consciously working to give their kids a good life, should also know that despite the constant judgment and criticisms leveled by others, you have more people rooting for you to succeed than you know. 
 
Whatever stresses you face and however out of balance you feel, your kids depend on you. And that means you bear the unbelievably heavy burden of shaping them into intelligent, emotionally stable, and self-sufficient adults. Mistakes will undoubtedly be made. But there is no guidebook for how to do this and the needs of every family are different. 
 
Never forget, that wherever you are in the process: You are doing good work. You are doing important work. And you are doing hard work. It matters. And every sacrifice you make today, every time you find a little more patience to teach rather than criticize, and every constructive moment you spend means they grow into the stronger, smarter, and healthier individuals who make our communities better. 
 
So the next time your frustration spikes or someone you’ve never met decides to criticize your child’s behavior in public, please pause for a breath and remember that what you are doing matters and that there are plenty of people around you who have walked similar paths and who want you to succeed. We are rooting for you and for your kids, and we are empathetic to your monumental challenge. Your efforts are appreciated and you are not alone.