Notes to Self

June 29, 2012

I am what I am (and it’s not in a dress)

My daughter loves water. She loves to play in it, splash in it and, I guess drink it (she is still a baby and gets mostly milk!).

She will splash in puddles, loves to have the indoor and outdoor faucet’s turned on (she gets completely soaked when outside!), she loves her baby pool and bath time and if you have a bucket or glass of water, she will stick her hand or arm into it!

I am pleased with her love for water, and for her lack of fear of the water!

I used to swim competitively. I used to puddle jump and walk in the rain for hours. I still love sitting on the porch when it’s raining. I rarely carry an umbrella.

Last night it rained.

This morning my daughter wanted to go outside (as we usually do before leaving for work/daycare). I couldn’t say no because she put on her jacket and then brought me MY shoes and then brought me HER shoes, and then sat down so I could put her shoes on her feet! There was no saying no to this 15 month old!

So we played and thankfully only her jacket got wet (daddy saved her from sitting in a puddle!). There was still some time before we could leave (waiting for daycare to open) so I decided to show her what happens when you shake the branches on a tree after it has rained.

We stood underneath the tree – her in my arms and I shook. The water rained down and she smiled. I shook again. She giggled. This is living.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

“Again” she signed to me. So I shook again.

She squealed in delight, she closed her eyes and put her face to the sky, she opened her mouth to catch the rain.

Needless to say we were pretty wet. I wasn’t wearing a jacket (she was but her hair was wet).

I arrived at daycare with a wet shirt (like I had been caught in the rain). I explained myself to a few people and they all thought it was great.

I walked to the car smiling – I had given my daughter a wonderful moment that I will always cherish.

I realized that I am, always have been and always will be, a gal in jeans and not a dress.

Makeup runs in the rain and high heels get stuck in grass. They just don’t fit into my life.

I would rather sleep or cuddle with my husband, daughter or cat than spend that time doing my hair or makeup. I’m a wash-and-go type gal and I should just embrace it!

More importantly, this doesn’t make me less feminine or inferior to other women who do chose to (or need to based on career/office dress policy) spend more time on their appearance.

Maybe, if they had the choice (or more courage?) they would also shake the branches of a wet tree upon the heads of their children.

So keep your pantyhose and your foundation. I’ve made my life without them (and one could argue that I’ve directed my life so I could live without them!?).

I am what I am and I think I am beginning to like me.

Loss worth losing

As our children grow and mature, with every step taken, we lose a little.

Mothers no longer needed for nourishment: loss.

Babies no longer wanting to constantly be held: loss.

Toddlers walking without holding parents’ hands: loss.

Toddlers no longer needing to run to mommy’s arms when novelty appears: loss.

When children sleep through the night in their own bed, peel and hold the banana all by themselves and successfully use a fork or spoon for an entire meal: loss, loss and loss.

Ever since she stopped nursing my daughter has been sleeping better – rarely wakes up (vs waking every 2-3 hours), and sleeps in her crib (vs in the bed with us). We have begun trying to get her to fall asleep in her crib without us holding her.

However last night my daughter fell asleep in my arms. I thought: this may be the last time she cuddles me like this. I grew sad (and am tearing up now) and felt such a sense of loss.

But I know that it is loss worth losing. I know it means we have done a good job as parents – we have provided this little baby with what she needed and she is growing up well.

That is the fundamental purpose of parenting. To give and let them grow.

“With all of its glories and all of its faults, life is but a bittersweet waltz”

June 28, 2012

Passing the baton

Last night my husband put the baby to bed- well, sort of. We both started and I left the room and he finished.

I was tired and was growing more and more frustrated as time went on and she was not falling asleep.  I get upset that things don’t go smoothly because, in my mind, it means I have failed.

My family (both mine and my husband’s side) have put their 2 cents in since my daughter was born and all I hear is them saying you should do this; or you shouldn’t do that; I’m telling you from experience….; you’ll be sorry later on if you keep doing…..

Yes, I let her fall asleep at the breast. No, I never had a bedtime routine.Yes, I held her as much as I possibly could (I still do).

Is she attached to me? Most definitely. Does it sometimes cause me stress? Absolutely. Would I change it? Never.

Yet I cannot be at peace with what I have done, and chose to do. I feel criticized  and judged all the time. I hate family gatherings and wish we could move far away. As if that would matter – even during phone conversations I get judged and criticized.

My mother never really supported my choice to breastfeed and especially didn’t support me going past 6 months. My father wasn’t as vocal about it but he also kept saying I could stop anytime I wanted to.

So when I am not around for my daughter I feel guilty. I feel like she thinks I have abandoned her and no longer love her. This morning my husband took her outside to play while I got her food ready and then showered/got dressed. I found myself rushing (as I always do) because I had to get back to her. I have to be with her all the time (if I am not at work, etc).

Last night as I tried to rest in bed and wait for her to fall asleep I kept getting up and heading toward her door – thinking that she needed me, she needed to know I was there and would cuddle her and love her always. But I also know that she needs to feel that from her daddy as well. She needs to attach to him as well (if I am absent she will stay/play with him. If I am present it is only to me). And it is getting better – she is attaching more and more. But as it gets better I also feel a sense of loss and worry.

I never want her to feel the way I felt from my parents – unloved, un-liked and unsupported. Chances are she will never feel those things but instead may feel smothered – he he.  But the fear is still there.

Ah, so here is another thought that needs examination. Letting other people (i.e., her da-da/my husband) care for my daughter means I am not being a good enough mother and am abandoning her (or something like that). I’ll have to work on this one.

June 27, 2012

Therapy – Week 5

This post has taken me several days to write. It is hard to be so honest and also put words to the feelings and figure out what I am thinking. I cannot bring closure to this post now – I don’t know how to end it. So here is the first part.

My therapist asks me if I know whether or not I believe the negative thoughts I have. There is a difference between believing in and merely thinking something (ha! merely, as if thoughts are that innocuous!).

Apparently if you dissect a thought well enough, and examine the data, one might find many reasons to refute the routine/ubiquitousness of said thoughts.

So let’s give it a go.

Negative thought regarding the other mom’s/families at the daycare which my daughter attends. In the mornings I see BMW’s, Mercedes’, Volvo’s and the like lined up outside of the daycare. Parents in their fancy clothes unload their children in their own fancy clothes. Women have nicely done hair and makeup. They go to their (assumed) glamorous jobs in the city and hoboken (via train, which I know because I overhear them talking about it) and many of the parents in my daughter’s class appear to know each other from playdates, etc. Meanwhile, I drive my dirty Honda (inside and out because I can’t be bothered to clean it) and wear jeans and sneakers. My hair isn’t primped. I don’t wear makeup. I have had no playdates with these girls and their mom’s. They have not emailed me despite my attempts to connect.

I feel that I am inferior to these women (and to the imagined wives of the well-dressed men driving the luxury cars) because I am not as “put together” as they are.I am not as feminine. I am fat, they are not. I don’t have as nice clothes nor the self-esteem to wear them. I don’t have (assumed) as much money or income. I live next to multi-family houses, an apartment complex and near (this is relative because really so do they) a not-so-nice neighborhood. Our public school isn’t great. Theirs town’s is I feel that I am inferior because they aren’t emailing me to get together. I am somehow not worthy of their friendship (and thus my daughter is not of their children’s).

The reality is that I know very, very little about these women and their families. I don’t know a single truth about their lives, relationships and financial states. All I know is appearance. I don’t know what kind of mother’s they are (which is very important to me). I don’t know if they are happy or just pretending to be. I don’t know a thing about these “glamorous” jobs. I would hate to take the train and would hate even more to work in the city!

The clothes I wear are really the best I can do (or are willing to do because if I go out of my comfort zone I feel too uncomfortable) and I don’t have time to iron and dry cleaning is too expensive (and when would I find time to drop off and pick up!). I work in an office of 3 and everyone dresses down. We are banished to the most remote corner of the campus and I sit in front of a computer all day. There is no need to get “dressed up”, except of course for my own benefit.

I cut my hair after my daughter was born and it is growing out. I haven’t been able to get a haircut in several months. I hate the bangs in my face. So after I shower I throw it up haphazardly into a barrette and spray it with hairspray to seal the deal. I don’t blow dry it. I don’t curl it. I hardly brush it more than once a day (it gets very straight and flat if I do). I was wearing makeup before I got pregnant, and even then was often wearing eyeliner. Then I stopped and haven’t gone back. Time, desire…why bother?

On the other hand, there are women I see and I say to myself that I am better than they are (no worries- the double standard and potential hypocrisy isn’t lost on me). For some reason I feel compelled to judge myself and others so definitively.

Last weekend my husband, daughter and I attended a fair. There was a band. Standing near the band was a woman and her daughter (about my daughter’s age) – her husband was standing a bit behind with the stroller. I decided to take my daughter to stand next to the other little girl in hopes that they might dance together. The woman was thin, nice hair, sunglasses, pretty dress. Her daughter was in a pretty dress as well. My child was wearing jean shorts and a cute tank top. She had on a hat (that didn’t really match) and keen sandals. She was sucking on a pacifier because I was trying to get her to nap (pacifier is a relatively new addition since we stopped nursing a few weeks ago).  The little girl leaned in to see the pacifier and the mother commented something about how she doesn’t know what that is. Meanwhile the little girl is sucking on her thumb. Neither the mom or child were dancing. I started dancing with my daughter (even got down on a knee to be at her level) and not only was my daughter dancing, but the other little girl began dancing as well! And giggling!

At that moment I questioned the idea of me being inferior to this woman.

I realized I didn’t understand my logic and reasons for comparing myself in this regard. Maybe my premise is flawed.

What is my premise?

June 22, 2012

Eyes, Fragile

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

I can’t remember where I found this statement, but it gave me goose bumps and a chill up my spine.

In high school I seemed to attract older, skeevy men. The guy from the recycling plant (which I walked past every morning on the way to school) who ended up following me and my friends around for several years. The weird freaks walking around in the middle of the day that insisted on walking me home… And my father commented to me about this ‘attraction’ I possess as if it were my fault. And I believed him that it was. Something inherent that was wrong with me.

In later years I noticed that I could be one of eight people in an elevator and the weird person would talk to ME. And it’s not like I solicited the conversation. I figured maybe I had a kind face/eyes that made people comfortable around me.

I now think otherwise.

This makes me sad. Sad about all that has happened to me in my life. How little I loved (love) and respected (respect) myself and how little I felt (feel) loved and respected by my parents.

As a mother, I worry about my daughter and all the creepy men out there. Of course I think she is an incredibly beautiful little girl and is sure to be a drop dead gorgeous young woman.

However, the above statement gives my fear pause as I realize that if I can keep her from being damaged, then maybe I can keep her from being a victim.

My gut feeling is that Self-esteem is fragile. But that, I believe, is because I always had so little of it and whenever I would venture out of my comfort zone (and inevitability felt shot down or like I didn’t belong) I felt that I ended up lower than when I began.

But maybe self-esteem is not so fragile if it is developed early enough and has a strong enough foundation.

Maybe little girls can grow up to doubt themselves only rarely and believe in themselves unconditionally.

Maybe mirrors are not enemies and buying a new pair of jeans is not a journey into all that is wrong with me and my life.

Maybe those of us without the well-established self-respect can still impart this in our children.

Maybe we can learn from our children and use our most primitive desire for their well-being as a stepping stone for healing ourselves.

Maybe we can become un-Damaged.

June 21, 2012

My boss is going to give me an aneurysm

Filed under: Whatever — Tags: , , , , — me2self @ 4:55 pm

This post is all about how stupid my boss is.

He is a procrastinator and a compulsive liar.

He’s a terrible manager and a worse employee!

He doesn’t do his work, he backpedals on everything he says, he says the most inappropriate things and calls me “kiddo” – WTF!

He blames everyone else for why something isn’t completed, he never actually answers the question asked, and he always says he will do this or that and never does.

He loves to tell stories of all the work he has done and isn’t he so smart and no one else knows what they are talking about because he has done this and that for eons. Everyday he is a different kind of professional (first he’s a pediatrician *BTW he does not have an MD!*, then a forester, then a geneticist, then an expert in virus’s… on and on).

I once told him how I didn’t like the eye exam I received the day before and he tells me how he has detached retina’s.

He’s always name dropping and how everyone is such a good friend of his – NOT!

He’s untrustworthy and I think a little two-faced.

But the bottom line is that he is so fucking infuriating to work with. Do your god damned job and shut the fuck up. I am so tired of the bullshit.

It’s just amazing how many incompetent people are still employed while many competent people are jobless. What the fuck is wrong with society!

June 20, 2012

You can’t always get what you want….

Filed under: Breastfeeding, Then again.... — Tags: , , — me2self @ 2:30 pm

Last night I think my daughter wanted to nurse.

I should note that she hasn’t nursed since this past Friday evening. I am so glad to be done with it although I am nervous that maybe she wasn’t 100% ready and somehow is feeling that something is missing from her life and it is causing her unrest. I simply gave her a pacifier before we went up for her nap and she didn’t need to nurse to fall asleep. I did the same for the evening and she even cuddled up to read a few books (which she has never done so I figured we were done with the nursing).

But last night she was not her normal self – well, she was her normal “I now want to nurse” self. But I didn’t let her. I sat there thinking it through and thought it would be a slippery slope and she just needs to get through this phase. But then I wondered if I was denying her and wouldn’t she just give it up again easily enough so what’s the harm….but what if she didn’t? I didn’t want to return to nursing regularly. I am done with it. Oh the torment I put myself through over this. I kept cycle through what if, shouldn’t I just, and but then again. I got so frustrated and irritated.

And then I started in on what a terrible mother I am and why don’t I know what to do and how I am already screwing up my kid.

She cried – didn’t want to go to sleep, wanted to play. I had to enforce a bed time (8 PM is late enough kid!) so I had to let her cry. It wasn’t a terrible cry but it wasn’t fun. I remembered that setting rules and boundaries is just as important as making sure they get plenty of hugs, kisses and giggles. Eventually she just settled down and fell asleep and that was that. Let’s see how tonight goes.

This morning I was thinking about last night and I thought that if I could just learn to relax and not worry so much maybe I could have a lighter attitude and maybe that would make her less stressed/upset/unhappy (as I perceive her to be)? Maybe I need to adjust my “aura” to prevent such situations.

But then again, you can’t always get what you want and we all have to deal with it – whether we are 14 months or 36 years old. Still, I feel as though I have failed her. Good thing I go to therapy today!

June 19, 2012

The Top Down Approach

This morning I was able to get up before my daughter did.

I went downstairs and as I entered the kitchen my eyes were drawn to the muffin pan and cooling rack that still were still unwashed and cluttering up the counter.

It occurred to me that I should actually see this as a good thing, because even though, in my perfect world, they would have been washed by now, the fact that I have dirty muffin pans means I am “doing”.

If I didn’t make her homemade breads with flax meal, whole wheat flour and black strap molasses (to boast her iron intake), then I wouldn’t have pans to wash.

If I didn’t make min-quiche’s for her (so she gets egg and vege’s in the am and I may not have to scramble an egg every morning) then I  wouldn’t have pans to wash.

If I didn’t make her risotto with ground chicken thigh or turkey or chick peas and a variety of vege’s and brown, wild and arborio rice, then I  wouldn’t have pans to wash.

So instead of seeing my dirty dishes as a shortcoming and failure, I should see them as a victory and be proud that I am doing.

Mind your mind

Filed under: Irrelevant until it isn't, On Purpose, Then again...., Therapy — Tags: — me2self @ 12:56 pm

Mindfulness.

The answer to my problems.

In high school I found the book Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Jon Kabat-Zinn but I never finished it. I thought that if I got the end of book and hadn’t applied any of the lessons to my life then I would have failed (again). So I didn’t finish the book (and I started it like 5 times). But it all made sense to me.

 

My therapist has me learning mindfulness. The idea is to be able to look at a thought and decide that I don’t want to own it.

Initially I am to pay attention to all my senses during routine tasks, such as brushing my teeth. I have done this to the best of my ability for almost a week now. Unfortunately my mind starts to wander to things I need to do during the day and next thing I know I have finished with my shower (yes, I brush my teeth in the shower).

But it occurred to me the other morning that the concept is very simply, albeit hard to employ. Basically, if you are focusing on your surroundings and the information coming in to your senses, then you simply cannot expend any mental energy on self-bashing or judging. Feel the water running down your body as you smell the soap – no room for “I am so fat and disgusting”.

 

Enjoy the moment for what it is, and not for what you think is isn’t or should be or why it isn’t better.

My daughter is smiling and cuddling me. Feel her weight on your lap and her fingers around yours. Smell her and kiss her and hear her lovely voice.

Here I am and now is what matters.

Therapy Week 4: What my parents taught me

Filed under: I asked "Why", Them vs. Me, Therapy, Why must you insist on.... — Tags: — me2self @ 12:42 pm

It is amazing how the more you look at something the less appealing it becomes.

Take a quick glance and it isn’t all that bad. Keep uncovering the layers and it’s a pile of shit.

I finally figured out that my internal mantra goes something like this:

Whatever I do is not good enough.

I’ve done it wrong.

I always do it wrong.

I have failed.

I will always fail.

Therefore I am no good and I, as a failure, deserve nothing.

Ergo I am not worthy of anything.

This, I believe, is my fundamental negative thought. I no longer have to actually say it to myself, I realized it has become so second nature that all I have to do is sigh and it encompasses all the dialog.

I realized how often my parents criticized me, told me what I was attempting to do wouldn’t work, that I didn’t approach it properly and I don’t think things through. How I didn’t know enough to accomplish that task or how since I didn’t ask for help I would have to go it alone (and of course end up with nothing of consequence because I wasn’t doing it their way). My way or the highway. Phrases like “you always____”; “you never learn”; “why must you insist on ____”; “tell my why you ___”; “you know what your problem is _____”; and “I don’t understand why you must ____”.

My parents didn’t teach me to be proud of myself or to believe in my potential. They taught me I don’t have any.

My parents didn’t teach me that goals are something positive and rewarding when achieved. They taught me I will never be good at anything so why bother.

My parents didn’t teach me self-respect or that I am beautiful inside and out. They taught me that I am only as good as my worst mistake.

At the ripe age of 36, I am left with more self-hatred for being so fucking stupid and believing the things they were telling me. But then, as my husband likes to say, we all do the best we can with what we have at the time. I guess an 8 year old doesn’t have much with which to work. Not sure that really means a lot to me right now – maybe some day I can also shrug and say those words and not feel the anger and sadness in the pit of my stomach.

So what’s next?

Mindfulness.

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