Facebook Jail

I know that I change directions a lot, but I really was going to write about something totally different today. I can’t, though, because I am angry.  Yep, that’s right! I am angry today.  Facebook has taken it upon themselves to remove all posts from my Anchored Piece by Piece page containing links to this blog.  They did this without warning or explanation.  I only realized it yesterday when I couldn’t load my newest post.  At that time I got an error message saying “Query Error.” With no idea what that even meant, I began a problem report after having to Google how to even do that because nothing is easy on Facebook.  It was then that I realized that everything had been removed from the start of my blog until now.  I then tried to make the post again without the link to the blog to just trouble shoot and it actually posted, which was puzzling.  I then tried to edit the post to add the link in.  Only at that time did I get a message that popped up stating that I was unable to use the link because its contents went against their Community Standards.  I have since read their Community Standards in its entirety and cannot for the life of me figure out what could possibly go against their standards, especially when I think about all of the horrible things that are on Facebook on a daily basis. How can my little blog with less than 20 followers, where I share style and organization tips along with life lessons I have learned with the intent of helping women be their best selves, possibly go against their standards? Can anyone that knows Facebook better than me, please explain this to me? Oh, AND they have removed the link from my Instagram bio as well.

If that in it self isn’t infuriating enough, I think the worst part is that there is no way to contact anyone. There is no way to get an explanation. There is no way to get it resolved.  At least I can’t find a way.  I found a place that said, “If you think this doesn’t go against our Community Standards, then let us know.” The problem is that when you go to the page to let them know, it says, “While we aren’t able to review individual reports, the feedback you provide will help us improve the ways we keep Facebook safe.” Basically, you can file the report, but we aren’t going to do anything about it because we can’t respond to just you. How absurd is that? If you are going to do this to someone, you better notify her, give her an explanation, and provide a way for her to be able to resolve the matter. I am more than happy to fix whatever it is that they think I have done wrong, if I only knew what it was. I really am just sick over this because I have no idea if it will be resolved or not and I feel helpless.  

I know that I have loyal readers that will still come check in here each day, and I am so grateful for that.  I just want to be able to share with more people.  My goal with this blog has always been to share my life with others so that maybe, just maybe, it will help brighten their day or feel like they aren’t alone or just get joy from my style and organizational skills. I can’t imagine what is offensive, vulgar, aggressive, discriminatory, or inappropriate about that. I will get over this.  I will move past it.  I am going to pray that it gets fixed.  Until then, I am angry, but I am going to choose to smile through it!   I hope Facebook can make this right. 

Anchored,

This Too Shall Pass

I am currently sitting at our new house, which is completely empty, waiting for Closet America to arrive. It is kind of weird to be here with it so quiet.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we can finally begin to move in.  I have said this a million times, but I am ready to be settled.  Nine months of living in a house that never felt like home has been rough.  I’m so ready! I am also sitting here struggling with what to do with my youngest child.  I believe I have mentioned before that due to all of her medical conditions, she has developed an anxiety disorder.  She doesn’t do well with change.  She really struggled with the move here, and now she is struggling with the move to the new house even though nothing is changing but the address.  She will still be in the same area, same school, same cheer gym, and same everything else.  It is just enough of a change, though, that it is about to send her over the edge.  That, coupled with the ever-amazing daylight savings time and adding a couple of classes at her gym, has her in the worst mood possible.  I am seeing her anger and irritability return, and she and I are like oil and vinegar when she gets like this.  It had really gotten under control and things were better, but not this week. I am the one that she takes it all out on.  I am the one that bears the brunt of it all.  She claims that she hates the new house but can’t give a reason why other than she prefers our current house.  It is simply that she doesn’t like change.  Something about change scares her.  

In an attempt to make things easier for her, we allowed her to choose new bedding for her new room as her birthday present. We are also letting her choose the color to paint her room. We were hoping this would help ease the transition, but it doesn’t seem to matter with her this week.  Knowing that we were officially getting the house this week has sent her anxiety into overdrive.  I wish I knew how to help her.  I think it is tougher for me not only because I am the one she attacks, but because this was my job. This was what I did for a living for 17 years, and I was darn good at it.  I worked with kids like her that had difficulty with change and transitions. I have worked with so many kids that have anxiety.  Somehow it is different when it is your own kid.  All of the tricks I have up my sleeve just don’t work with her.  Maybe my delivery is different because she is my kid and I live with her day in and day out.  I don’t know?  I just seem to make it worse. My husband handles her much better than I do when she is like this, but I think that is because her anger is directed at me and not him. Dealing with it day in and day out wears on you, and I admit that I loose it with her more often than not.  I raise my voice and then she just gives it right back to me and we get in a yelling match. It is really sad.  In the moment I am just frustrated and angry too, but then afterwards I feel horrible because I let an 11 year old get to me.  I would never respond to my students that way, so why is it that I do with her? I wish I knew the answer.  I do think, though, that overall I have come a long way with her in the last year or two.  I have really made an effort to do better, and I see an improvement in her behavior for the most part. I think that part of the improvement is due to me changing my approach with her, and the other part is that she is getting older and maturing a little bit. Then weeks like this one happen, and we take two steps backwards. I really am at a loss yet again.  Being a parent is hard.  Being a parent of a child with special needs is even harder.  The struggle is real.  You want to be able to just fix it, but you can’t.  There is no easy fix.  It is not like a scraped up knee that you can just put a Band-Aid over. It doesn’t work like that.  It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of worry, and a whole lot of prayer. I can do hard things. I may not want to, but I can. This season will pass and we will be able to move on. I know that.  It is just hard in the thick of it.  It is going to take some time and a whole lot of faith, but this too shall pass!

Anchored,

Introvert…Yep! That’s Me!

To say that I am an introvert is an understatement.  I am very good at making it not appear that way when I have to, but those that know me well, know that it is true.  If you observe me with my friends, you wouldn’t believe me because I can be loud and joke around with them.  I really have a hard time in groups of people that I don’t know well.  I think that is why it takes me so long to develop good friendships every time we move. I have even had friends tell me that when they first met me, they thought that I was stuck up because I didn’t talk or interact with them much.  When they finally got to really know me, they saw that wasn’t the case at all.  I am just very shy and awkward around people I don’t know well.  I like to stand back and observe and not really interact until I am more comfortable. I keep to myself.  It is why I don’t like to talk on the phone even to my friends and family.  I would much rather text or email you any day of the week than talk to you on the phone. I am much better with talking on the phone when I initiate it than I am when someone just calls me and I wasn’t expecting it.  I don’t like parties and most social functions unless it is with my very close group of friends.  I would rather hang out with my best friends inside a beach house than go out and party any night of the week.  It was the same way even back in college.  As a military wife, we have to host and attend a lot of parties and I hate every one of them.  I would rather just stay home in my little bubble. Social gatherings make me uncomfortable.  It is kind of funny because my husband is the exact same way.  He will even go as far as saying that he just doesn’t like people. We are both awkward and extremely introverted together, and that is why we work so well. We can both sit in the same room for hours and not speak to each other and be totally ok with that. We both like our space and our time to ourselves.   It is just who we are.  

This is all on my mind after this past weekend at my daughter’s cheerleading competition. I have a really hard time interacting with the other moms on our team.  It isn’t because I don’t like them.  It is just about me being shy and uncomfortable in the situation because I don’t know any of them that well.  I tend to stand off to the side with my husband or by myself and just observe.  I know they all probably think I am anti-social and stuck up, but I’m really just awkward.  I don’t know what to say or do in those situations. During the weekend my husband walked away from the room we were in at one point (he couldn’t stand the crowd himself and had to leave), but I was really trying to interact the best I could with some of the moms.  I was putting in a solid effort even though it was hard. Anyway, there was a point where most of the moms kind of scattered and I was left with just a couple of them. I suddenly felt like I was the odd man out in the conversation and became VERY uncomfortable. I was just kind of standing there awkwardly, so I made up some excuse about needing to leave. I left and tried to locate my husband.  There were a million people at this event and there were people EVERYWHERE.  The more I couldn’t find my husband, the more anxious I got for some reason. I did not like that feeling.  I wanted out of the situation and I wanted to find my comfort zone and couldn’t.  My husband was getting annoyed with me as I was sending text after text trying to find him. It was ridiculous.  I am a grown woman and should not feel that way! 

When I was younger, it was even worse. I used to make my little sister do stuff for me all of the time because I didn’t want to talk to people.  For example, if I was at Chick-fil-a and needed a refill on my drink, I would make her go up to the counter and ask for it because I was too afraid to do it myself.  I was that painfully shy. I will sometimes still make my husband do things like call and talk to the insurance company or something when I am too shy or uncomfortable to do it myself. It’s crazy, I know! I was forced to get over some of that, thankfully, because of my husband’s career.  With him deployed so much, I was forced to learn to do things on my own and overcome my fears of interacting with others.  When he is home, though, I do sometimes revert back to my extreme shyness like I did this weekend.  I just can’t help it.  It is who I am. I wish I could change it, but I don’t know how.  

I see myself in my oldest daughter all the time.  She has the same awkward shyness that I had as a kid. Sometimes I think she is even worse than me. She is almost 15 years old and ordering food in a restaurant is nearly impossible for her. At the doctor’s office, the doctor will ask her questions and she won’t say anything. Instead she looks and me and waits for me to tell him how she feels like I know what it going on inside her body.  It’s sad. I also see her making her little sister do things that she is afraid to do herself just like I did. I worry about her. I wish I knew how to help her overcome that so she doesn’t struggle with the same things that I have struggled with my whole life. I wish I could give her boldness.  I wish I could take away the shyness. I wish I could convince her that it is ok to talk to others.  How can I do that when I can’t even do it for myself sometimes, though? 

It is funny to me that I can write about all of this and put it out there into the world for everyone to read, but I could never have this conversation with anyone in person.  I guess you could say that I hide behind my computer and my phone. It is much easier to type than it is to actually interact in person for me.  Maybe one day I will get over it, but I certainly won’t be holding my breath. I think I just have to accept that it is a part of me. It is who and I am, and I just have to continue to learn to cope with it the best I can.

Anchored and Introverted,

Virtual Friends

I was lucky enough to see 4 of my very best friends that I haven’t seen in a long time this past weekend at a gymnastics meet.  It just so happened that their kids were competing at different sporting events in the same location that we were in. What are the odds of that?  Anyway, we didn’t get to talk very long, because we each had to watch our kids, but it was just enough that I was able to recharge myself. I honestly didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw them.  Being in a new place is always tough, and I haven’t made many real friends here yet. My husband says that it usually takes me about a year or two before I find a good set of friends each time we move. I’m thinking it could take longer than normal here since I am not teaching.  I have written about my tribe of friends before and how each group or individual has impacted my life. Some of them come and go and we loose touch, but there are those few that I keep in touch with virtually or by phone and see every now and then, and I know they will always be there for me.  I have managed to add to my tribe in each location we have lived. Typically, my friends have always come from teaching.  Now, I spend much of my day on my computer at home alone with our dog and my afternoons and evenings running carpools to practices.  It has been hard to connect with people when I don’t ever see anyone except my family.  I have a few people that I have met through my kids’ sports that I think could become part of my tribe, but we are no where near that stage yet. I guess I didn’t really realize how much I missed actual face-to-face interaction with my friends until I saw some of them the other day.  We chat with each other all the time through Facebook messenger or text, but it just isn’t the same as face-to-face interaction. It’s just not. This is something that I am struggling with in this phase of my life.  The older you get, the harder it is to make really good friends.  I have been so lucky in the past to have had such amazing friends and people that came into my life.  I still have them, but it’s not the same as being there in the same place with them and seeing them all the time.  Now all of my friends are essentially virtual friends.  It’s weird to think that, but it really is true.  Other than my family, I interact with everyone through social media or text.  I guess that is part of the world that we live in now, and I am grateful that I do have that means to connect with them and keep in touch. It’s just weird. 

I consider myself an introvert and I am happy to be by myself and left alone most of the time. I would rather text you than talk on the phone with you. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.  However, I think no matter how introverted you are, you need real human interaction away from a device with true friends. You need it for your own sanity and wellbeing, and you just really need human contact outside of you family. I fear that our kids will not develop those real human relationships that are so important because they are glued to their devices 24/7. I can probably count on two hands the number of times that my kids have had a conversation with a friend or peer that was actually talking on the phone.  They only communicate through a device with typing and pictures. Oh and they don’t even use real words.  It’s all acronyms and Emojis. It’s insane! They even do it at school.  My high schooler’s teachers encourage them to bring their phones and computers to class, and they do most of their work and interaction with their teachers and partners for projects all online.  My own kids communicate with me through text from the same room! I worry about what the world will be like when our kids are adults with their own kids. I worry that we are doing wrong by our kids by letting them have devices all the time.  What do you do, though? How do you find the balance when EVERYONE communicates that way? It’s kind of scary.  It’s almost like we are creating robots who don’t know how to interact with real humans. It’s something that I am craving right now, but that they don’t even think about. I do love that my kids are so involved in sports because all of the hours at the gym are hours that they are off of a device and are forced to interact with others. At least they are getting human interaction somewhere. I’m just not sure it is enough.  While I miss human interaction with my friends and struggle with just communicating virtually, my kids don’t. They have never really had that kind of relationship with many others.  Their relationships have always been developed virtually. While it is tough for me, it’s all they know.  It’s all that most kids really know.  My daughter had great friends from her previous gym. Does she keep in touch with any of them now? Nope! Other than watching their Instagram stories and sending them random pictures to keep up their Snap Chat streaks, she doesn’t interact with any of them at all now. It’s sad.  I don’t know how to fix it in this society, though.

All throughout my childhood, I had one very best friend.  We did everything together. We were always at each others houses and we even went on vacations and to camps together in the summer.  Neither of my kids have ever had a friend like that. They hardly ever get invited for sleepovers and they rarely ask to have someone come to the house. Part of that is from moving, another part is their crazy practice schedules, but the biggest part of it is that they just don’t interact with people like that.  They don’t make those deep, long lasting connections with their peers. They only have superficial virtual friendships. It really makes me sad.  I think they are missing out on so much. 

I once read something that said that virtual friends are like imaginary friends. That’s almost true. It’s sometimes like you are talking to yourself and you don’t really know that there is someone that cares about what you are saying on the other end or if they will even respond. Some would even say that a virtual friend is better than the real thing, but I would have to disagree with that.  I want to the real thing. I want the real human interaction. I am craving it. I want that for my kids.  I am thankful that I actually get to see my virtual friends from time to time. I sure do wish it were more often, but I will take whatever I can get.  I really hope that we can find a balance, especially for our kids. We need to unite as moms and take the devices away and force real interactions. We have to be in this together, though, or it will never work. We have to take a stand together. Moms for Real, Meaningful Connections (MRMC)! Let’s do it!

Anchored,

Mama Tired

Those of you that are moms will understand when I say that I am “mama tired.” Let me try to explain it to all of you non-parents that don’t understand, but it is likely impossible to truly put into words.  Being a mom is a job. It’s a job that you do 24/7. It is a constant state of being. There are no vacation days, there are no sick days, and there is no time off.  I had the flu last week, but that didn’t matter. I still had to do the mom thing. The job of being a mom never ends. It also isn’t an easy job. It’s honestly the hardest job in the world. There is no instruction manual that tells you what to do in every situation. You can’t go to college and study how to be a good mom. You basically have to make it up as you go and pray, cross your fingers and your toes, knock on wood, and say all the “Hail Mary’s” and hope with every fiber of your being that it was the right decision. Sometimes it is, but many times it isn’t. Then you have to live with the consequences and spend your life trying to make up for it or fix it.  

Being responsible for the well being of another human being and the kind of person they become is like no other pressure in the world.  You are constantly stressed. You are constantly worried. You are constantly second guessing yourself.  Some days you want to curl up in a ball under the table and never come out.  That’s just how it is.  I don’t know a single mom out there that wouldn’t agree.  We all love our kids to death and wouldn’t want to loose them or take back having them ever, but it is exhausting.  It’s not just a physical exhaustion either. It is mental exhaustion just as much as physical.  Your mom brain NEVER turns off.  Even when you are asleep, your thoughts and dreams are about your kids.  There is no off switch.  

Some, actually most, moms even go through an identity crisis more than once. You begin to loose who you are as a person separate from a mom.  You are so wrapped up in your children that you forget who you were before they came into your world.  You become mom only, and you loose the rest of you.  It’s so easy to do, and it just adds to the exhaustion.  You are no longer feeding yourself.  You are no longer able to see anything beyond your job as a mom. You need a break, but you can’t take one because there is no such thing. Even when you are away from your kids, you can’t shut off being a mom.  You still think about them. You still worry about them.  You talk about them constantly.  You cannot escape.  A real escape does not exist when you are a mom. It just doesn’t. 

Moms can feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, and that world is our kids.  You can see it in our posture. You can see it in our eyes. No make-up or concealer can cover up mama tired.  We all know it is there.  We can recognize it in each other, but many moms don’t talk about.  They suffer alone. This is where you can go wrong. You have to have someone that is in your same shoes that you can talk to, vent to, and commiserate with.  It is so important. I am lucky enough to have friends that I can do that with.  We have even been called “the mommy council” by one of our husbands because we are the first people we turn to for advice.    We bounce things off of each other. We tell each other about the things we are struggling with. We plan a group gathering when we know that one of us is really struggling. We support each other. We don’t judge. We are each other’s relief.  Even when we are miles apart, we are still there for each other every second of every day.  We have this Facebook Messenger group that we have had for years.  It is one long thread of unending support and nine mamas who are in a constant state of exhaustion.  We celebrate each other. We cheer each other on. We know that we aren’t alone. We love each other unconditionally.  I am certain that if I didn’t have this amazing group of friends that I would be under the table curled up into that ball all the time.  I encourage all of you to find that person or that group that you can be “mama tired” with because it makes being “mama tired” okay.  It lets you know that you aren’t crazy.  It lets you see that how you feel is normal and okay. It lets you rediscover who you are outside of being a mom.  It helps you get back to you. Whether you are new at being “mama tired” or you have been doing it for years, you aren’t alone. There are millions of us out there that feel the exact same way and it’s all going to be okay. I promise!

Anchored and Mama Tired,

MORE

I just want to say that although this country is not in the best state and there is a lot of dissention and unrest among people on both sides of the line (no, I am not going into a political speech), there are truly good people in this world.  I have a friend that has the kindest, most generous heart of anyone that I have ever met.  She would totally give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. In fact, she literally even gave her kidney to her son to save his life, and she would give him her arm if it would help him. Life with her son hasn’t been the easiest path, but I cannot think of a time when I have seen her that she hasn’t been positive and had a smile on her face.  She really is a shining light on earth. She has raised some pretty incredible kids too who have already adopted her giving heart.  She gives so much to her kids, but she also gives to the community.  She is part of an incredible direct sales company and does the most amazing things with it.  Every single cent that she makes is given back to the community.  She doesn’t keep a dime of it. I am not sure that there is anyone else that could say the same thing.  She is truly a role model to me and someone that I look up to and strive to be like.  She is one of those people that I know without a shadow of a doubt will go to the gates of heaven and hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Would someone say that about you? Can I say that about myself? I’m not sure. Could I do MORE? Could I give back MORE? The answer will always be yes, but I am really working on those things right now.  I am trying to do my part in giving back.  I have been blessed beyond words and I believe with all my heart that I need to give back to those that haven’t been as blessed. Does that mean that I need to give away all my money? No, I don’t think so; but I do believe that is part of giving back along with acts of service, bringing awareness, education, and so much more. 

We need MORE people like my friend in this world.  While I am comforted in knowing that there are others out there like her trying to make a difference, we need MORE. We need MORE people to stop thinking about themselves and what is good for them.  We need MORE people to care about the world and what happens to it. We need to turn the “me, me, me’s”and the “I, I, I’s”into “you’s!”  We need MORE people to take action to help others that are in need.  We need MORE people to take a stand for what is right. We need MORE parents teaching their kids right from wrong and that you aren’t always handed what you want on a silver platter.  We need MORE parents to raise their children to have a generous heart, to care for others, and to not only think about themselves.  We need MORE people to step up and make a difference.  We need MORE people to put their political parties aside and come together to do what is right.  I have faith in the human race as a whole.  I think that there are people out there like my friend that can continue to be role models for the rest of us, and that we can all strive to be like them. 

As my good old friend, Rachel Hollis, says, “I am made for MORE.” YOU are made for MORE.  We can all do MORE. We can all love MORE.  We can all be MORE. We can all help MORE. We can all make a difference. Together we can be MORE.  Are you ready to step up? I am!

Anchored,

Stress-aholic

As I sat down to write this morning, my mind was wondering.  I clearly wasn’t focused on the task at hand. Instead, I was thinking about the 1,000 things that I have to do today and feeling overwhelmed, while also scrolling through Facebook to see what everyone is up to and trying to come up with some brilliant thing to write about. It just so happened that I scrolled past this little gem above that one of my friends had shared.  I stopped long enough to read it and immediately laughed because that totally describes me right now…emotional, distracted, overwhelmed, and completely obsessed with cleaning and purging. LOL!

Anyone else ever feel that way?  You have all of these things going on in your head and with your emotions all at the same time, and it’s making you crazy.  I think it is a woman thing, though. Obviously, men don’t go through the PMS part, but I don’t think they also have the OCD and ADD all together at once either. I don’t think they worry about all of the things that we as women and moms worry about.  Of course, I am sure they worry about some things, but it’s never to the level that women do.  It’s quite unfair, don’t you think?  I know that I put this immense pressure on myself in all aspects of my life.  I have told you before that I have this weird, unhealthy notion that I have to be perfect all the time.  While I am working on it and getting better, it is hard to completely change your mindset when it has been skewed for so long. 

Here is an example. Last Friday, my husband and my oldest daughter flew to Texas for a gymnastics meet, and my youngest daughter and I drove 2 hours away for a cheer competition.  As I was waiting at the school to get my daughter so we could get on the road, I checked my email.  There was an email in there from a real estate agent contacting us on behalf of our landlords for the current house we are in.  She was asking if she could come by on Saturday (the next day) to take pictures of the house since it would be going back on the market for rent because we were moving out in a few weeks.  Anyway, we were totally not expecting to have someone come take pictures (Why can’t they use the same pictures they used when we rented the house?), and we certainly weren’t planning on that occurring so soon as we had just notified our landlords of our intent to move out the day before. Anyway, for some crazy reason, that sent me into a frenzy.  I panicked. I knew that the house was nowhere near ready for someone to take pictures. I knew that the girls’ rooms both looked like the aftermath of a tornado; the basement was/is a war zone with unopened boxes and half opened boxes and stuff everywhere, and the office was the same way.  I have mentioned before that we never really settled in this house because we knew that we wouldn’t be here long. Because of that, the house is not picture perfect and there are a lot of boxes everywhere.  My husband thought it was no big deal and that we didn’t need to worry about it, but my crazy ideas of perfection kicked in and my stress level went through the roof. I knew that our schedules were crazy and that there was not going to be enough time for us to get the house ready for showing so quickly.  Obviously, the agent couldn’t come on Saturday because we were all out of town, so I emailed her back, and we agreed upon a time on Wednesday (tomorrow) for her to come.  Again, I knew that wasn’t enough time, but what choice did I have? I have not had enough time to finish my pre-move purge, and there is so much left that I want to do before the move.  The point is that I spent the entire two-hour drive totally distracted and very stressed out. My OCD was kicking in with the perfection idea.  Oh, I can’t forget to add in that my daughter, who gets very carsick, also puked 2 times on the trip! Needless to say, it was a miracle that we made it safely to the hotel that evening.

I live a life of stress. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t stressed.  Even when I have no reason to be stressed, I am stressed.  I don’t know why, but I can always find something to be stressed about. It’s almost like I am addicted to stress in a weird way, like I’m a stress-aholic.  It’s certainly not because I like stress or that I strive off of it.  It’s just in my nature to be stressed. Is there a recovery center for stress? Maybe I should start one! My doctors always tell me that I need to get rid of stress in my life.  Ya’ll, I try, but it never works.  Everything makes me stressed.  My neurologist thinks that some of my migraines are brought on by stress.  On top of that, I have also begun to have another physical reaction to stress over the past 4 years or so.  My hands and arms go numb and tingle.  I’ve been to the doctor several times about it and at least 2 different doctors have told me that it is related to stress.  For the entire drive to the cheer competition, both of my hands and my arms up to my elbows were numb and tingling. That’s how stressed that one email made me.  My body is fighting hard against me. Now, did I really need to be stressed over it? Maybe a little, but certainly not to that extent!  Was my husband stressed about it? Nope! Why did I let it get to me so much? I wish I had the answer to that.  I wish I could let things go easier.  I am going to continue to work on it.  I have to for my heath. I am going to continue to force myself to be still, to take deep breaths, to pray, and to let it go.  I have to learn to let it go. Maybe I will get there one day. Maybe not. I just have to keep trying. 

Anchored and Stressed,

Be Present

Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with Facebook memories? Most of the time, they make me smile or remind me of something that was challenging that I overcame.  Then there are those days like yesterday that remind me that my baby is growing up way too fast.  It was this picture of her standing outside of our house with a sign showing that she was her school’s student of the month back when she was in the first grade.  Her shoes are untied as they always were back then, and she was so little.  She looked more like a kindergartener than a first grader. Now I look at her and she is almost as tall as I am and in high school.  Where has the time gone? Maybe I am feeling sentimental and nostalgic because I saw this picture right after sitting at my youngest daughter’s middle school parent night for all rising middle schoolers. How is it possible that she will be in middle school next year? Both of these things happening last night really made me think about their lives.

As a parent there are so many times when we think, “If I can just make it past this stage, things will be easier.” At least I know I have had that thought more than once and have even said it out loud many times.  “If we can get through these sleepless nights…” If we can make it through the terrible twos…”  “If we can get her potty trained… “If we can make it through puberty…” This list goes on and on.  We often want to rush through those difficult times to a point when things would be easier. I don’t know about you, but easier never really came.  When one difficult thing was over, a new one came along that I wanted to rush through too. Parenting is hard and it is something you can never really prepare for. There comes a time, though, when you start to look back on those difficult times and realize that maybe they weren’t as bad as you thought or it felt at the time.  You realize that maybe you shouldn’t have tried to rush through those times because you will never get them back.  

I know for me personally, I get really sad when I think back to all the times my girls were little and I rushed through it.  I didn’t take the time to really savor those moments.  There are many times that I feel like I wasn’t really present in their lives.  Even though I was physically there, I wasn’t all in emotionally.  Part of it was because I was working full time teaching at a job that was slowly killing me, and I was so exhausted that I didn’t have the energy by the time I got home to deal with what was happening there too.  I was giving EVERYTHING to my students, and I had barely anything left for my own children.  It is hard to admit that, but sadly, it is true.  It’s honestly why I was so good at my job. I was making a difference in the lives of my students. Unfortunately, though, it came at the expense of my own children. I’m not sure I was making a difference in their lives. I clearly didn’t have my priorities in the right place. My focus was too much on my job and not on my family.  I was all in at work, but I wasn’t all in at home.

The other part of it was that I was beyond overwhelmed. With my husband deployed all the time, my youngest daughter’s medical issues, my job, and everything else that comes with being a parent, I often felt like I was suffocating. No one ever knew that, though. I was good at hiding it from everyone. I was good at hiding it from myself. This is the first time that I am really admitting it to myself or anyone else. There are parts of me that really regret that I didn’t stay home with them when they were little, especially now that I am home all day and stress free.  I regret not being fully present.  Without the stress of teaching and all that came with it, I feel like I am a much better mom now than I was back then when it really counted.  A stressed out, overworked, overwhelmed mom is not the mom I wanted to be; but it is the mom I was.  I was the mom with a short fuse. I was the mom that yelled. I took out my frustrations and feelings from life on my kids. It is sad. It makes my heart hurt. It makes me feel ashamed.

I wish so much that I could go back to that day in the picture. I would do so many things differently.  I know that there are some of you out there that feel the same way.  I know that even some of my friends feel that way or have felt it before.  Talk about it.  Don’t hold it all in like I did.  Don’t wait until it’s almost too late like me to be truly present in your kids’ lives. Don’t live with regret. Don’t let your job and other stuff take away your chance to be a great mom. Be present. Make those memories that will pop up on Facebook for years to come that make you proud of who you are and who you were. 

I can tell you that when I sat down to write this post today, I had no idea where it was going.  That has been the thing with blogging for me.  It is forcing me to reflect, to grow, to change.  It is forcing me to look inside myself and figure out just who I want to be. I certainly hope that it will be a better version of who I was. I hope that by sharing my story and my feelings, it will maybe help just one of you to change and become who you were meant to be.  I feel like I am getting there myself.  I feel like I am finally becoming the mom that I was meant to be all those years ago.  Yes, it makes me sad that I missed out on so much, but I have to believe that I can make it right now.  I can be fully present in my kids’ lives now when I wasn’t back then.  I regret so much, but I can only move forward now and make a change for the future.

Anchored and Present,

Letting Go

I know I am not alone when I say that 90% of what I say to my teenage daughter goes in one ear and out the other.  I would even go as far as saying that most of it actually doesn’t even enter her ears at all and just flies over her head in space somewhere.  I’m not kidding.  It is so frustrating. The look above is the one that I get a lot. It’s the “Ok, whatever mom” look. I honestly don’t know how to get through to her sometimes.  I really wish that I had a magic wand I could wave to get her to care. This is especially true when it comes to school and academics.  I cannot get her to care about school at all.  This has been her whole life, though, not just as a teen.  Don’t get me wrong, she makes good grades for the most part, but she really has no care in the world when it comes to school.  I keep thinking that one day she’s going to grow up and mature enough to start caring, but I am starting to loose hope.

Her attitude towards school is the total opposite of how I was growing up. I was the kid that would get upset when I got a grade that was low (and my standard of low for myself was much higher than most people would think was low).  I studied a lot. I cared about what classes I was taking.  I cared about making grades that would get me into a good college.  I didn’t want to disappoint my parents by not being near the top of the class. My parents never put that pressure on me, though. They didn’t have to.  I put the pressure on myself to always be perfect. It was just my nature to strive to be the perfect kid. I know that is one of my flaws.  I have always had this idea of what perfect looks like and that I had to be just that. My child, on the other hand, could care less about college and getting into a good school.  All she cares about is trying to do gymnastics in college, which is a highly unlikely scenario. I think it frustrates me so much because I just don’t understand how she could not care about these things. She gets a bad grade and it doesn’t faze her at all, even when she knows that she will be in trouble when we see the grade. It honestly makes me want to pull my hair out on a regular basis. 

I will go on record to say that I think part of her feelings towards school is a result of how hard school is for her.  She has a mild learning disability in reading and writing which makes those things harder for her.  She takes regular classes and doesn’t get any extra support in school anymore because she doesn’t need it.  I just think her struggles in her early years with reading turned her off from school and learning.  Another part of it is that school just isn’t a priority for her.  Gymnastics has been her life since she was one year old. That’s her priority. That’s what she cares about.  That is her sole focus in life.  Maybe we messed up when we pulled her out of regular school to do virtual school those two years of middle school.  We did that mainly because the schools where we lived at the time were horrible.  She certainly wasn’t getting the best education there where she had to evacuate the school for 2-3 bomb threats a month.  In her mind, though, we did it so that she could train more in gymnastics.  While that was a part of the decision, it certainly was not the main reason.  Maybe that sent her the wrong message that school was less important than gymnastics.  I don’t know.  As a parent you are always second-guessing your decisions.  I still believe it was the right decision for her education, but maybe it wasn’t the right decision for her mindset.

All of this has been on my mind this week because we had to put in her request for classes for next year. I was really trying to encourage her to take more honors and AP classes, and she was fighting me on it every step of the way.  She doesn’t take it seriously at all, which drives me nuts. I know that those harder classes will be difficult for her and that she will struggle, and I know that she doesn’t want to put in the effort it takes in those classes. BUT…I also know that it looks better on her transcript for college if she takes those classes and does well in them. She doesn’t care, though. She doesn’t think ahead to the future.  She only cares about the here and now. My struggle comes with how much to push her. How much pressure do I put on her? Is it worth it? Do I just accept the fact that this is who she is and let it go? Being a parent is so hard.  I honestly sit in my car driving the carpool to practice in the afternoons and listen to my daughter’s teammate talk about all of her homework and how she stays up to 2:00 AM doing schoolwork after practice.  I see how stressed and overwhelmed she is about school because she is in all honors and AP classes.  Do I really want that for my child? I don’t want her stressed out and up all hours doing work.  There has to be some kind of balance for these kids.  Ugh! Why is it so hard? 

I guess the only thing I can do is to continue to pray about her and what the future holds for her, and then just try to make the best decisions I can for her. I am coming to realize that I have to let go of my idea of who I think she is supposed to be and accept who she really is.  It is clear that I can’t change her, and as I think about it, I am not sure I want to anymore.  She is who she is and she will become who she is meant to be.  Maybe my previous expectations for her were never realistic. Maybe I was projecting my idea of perfect on her just like I have always done to myself.  I have talked about learning to accept myself for who I am, imperfections and all, but I have never considered until now that I was projecting that same idea of “perfect” onto her. I think it is time to let that go.  My thinking is flawed.  I have to change my mindset. I have to let her be who she is meant to be.  My idea of perfect is wrong.  She is perfect just the way she is.  Yes, I still need to guide her, but I don’t have to force her to be like me. I have to let go. I have to let her choose her path and make her own mistakes. I have to let her be. It’s hard, but it is how I have to go forward. I have learned that when you finally let go and let God take control, great things/magical things will happen. That is what I have to do. I’m letting go and letting God.

Anchored and Letting Go,

I Saw the Sign

From the time I was a little girl I knew that I was destined to be a teacher. That was my calling.  I had a huge heart for children with disabilities and being a special education teacher was not a decision that I made lightly. Most people in my life agreed that I should be a teacher, but there were many that tried to discourage me from going into the field of special education.  They thought it would be too hard and that I would get burned out quickly. I had never really ever worked with or been closely involved with children with disabilities other than volunteering at the Special Olympics a couple of times. I just had this feeling inside me, though, that was pulling me in that direction, but with everyone telling me that it would be too hard, I began to doubt myself.  I began to think that maybe I would be better off just focusing on regular education. I was really confused so I started to pray about it. I was trying to find some clarity.  This was during the summer before I went off to college.  I was working at a local restaurant during the day to save up some money for school.  I am from a very small town, and this is really the only real restaurant in the whole town. As you can imagine, most of the customers were regulars. They came in every single day.  I pretty much knew most of them as well since it was such a small town. Everyone knew everyone. Anyway, I had been praying for a few nights trying to decide what my major would be, regular education or special education. Then one night, I asked God for some kind of sign to help me decide. That very next day at work, a family came in to the restaurant that I had never seen before or since that day.  I’m not sure if they were there visiting family or why they were there, but they stood out to me in a big way.  As soon as they walked in the door, I felt a sudden relief and peace about my decision to pursue special education. I knew that was what God wanted me to do. I knew that my instinct was right. God had sent me a sign.  How did this one family do all of that for me just by walking in the restaurant? The family that came in had a daughter with Down Syndrome, and she was the cutest little girl ever. My heart instantly melted, and I just knew.  As my old friends Ace Of Base used to sing, “I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes. I saw the sign.” Don’t you love how I can always find a song to apply to my life? LOL 

I honestly have only told this story to a very few number of people.  I thought that people would think I was crazy or that I was just looking for validation wherever I could get it. I also wanted to keep that moment between God and me. I know in my heart that the family walking in to the restaurant that day was no coincidence. People really may think I am crazy. People may not believe, but I do. It’s the truth. It really happened. Some may say that it was all a lie and that clearly I wasn’t meant to become a special education teacher since I am not teaching anymore. Yes, those things that people warned me about in the beginning were true. It was hard. It was frustrating. The days where I wanted to pull my hair out are too numerous to count.  Yes, I did get burned out after 15 years of doing it. Would I change it for anything knowing what I know now? Absolutely not! Do I still believe that was what God had called me to do? A million times, yes! Although the tough days may have out numbered the good days, the good days were so good that they canceled out all the bad. I loved every single one of the students that ever walked in my door.  I don’t care how miserable or how much of a challenge they were to me or how many times they completely trashed my classroom or the ones that spit in my face. I loved them all.  There were those kids that I felt like I failed because I just couldn’t seem to reach them, but there were some of those kids that transformed right in front of my eyes.  Nothing gave me greater joy than looking at how far they had come.  Each of them was truly a gift to me.  I gave my students everything that I had, many times to the expense of my own family.  I will admit that I was pretty darn good at what I did. That’s not to brag or say that I was better than anyone else.  It is just to show that I gave it everything, and it eventually just sucked the life out of me.  I honestly believe that it would have been the same even if I had chosen to go into regular education instead of special education. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs there is and the demand and expectations on all teachers is unbearable for anyone. Most of my friends are regular education teachers and I can assure you that they would agree. Again, though, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  The students whose lives I was able to touch, the friends I made along the way, and the growth of me as a person are all the things that made teaching such a blessing for me. When I look back on it now, I smile. Even though I got to the point where I just couldn’t do it anymore, I never lost sight of my purpose which was to help those kids. They were and always will be a big part of my heart.

When I received that sign from God all those years ago, I truly believed that I would be teaching for the rest of my life.  I had no idea that He would have different plans for my future. While I am still trying to figure out just what those plans are, I really believe that writing this blog is one of those plans. It is my desire to help other women. I feel like that is my new calling.  Whether it is helping someone to find their style, get organized, or just by sharing my life lessons, I feel like I have something to offer women. I need to have that greater purpose for my life, and I feel like this blog is a great start. The messages that I have already received from people and how what I have written has touched them truly warms my heart.  It has already been such a blessing in my life, but I just don’t want to stop there.  I feel like God is calling me towards more. I want more. A new opportunity has recently kind of just fallen in my lap.  It would allow me to help women across the globe.  I feel the same pull towards it as I did all those years ago when I knew special education was my calling.  I have really been praying about this decision, and I would love another sign to walk through the door to tell me what to do. I certainly don’t expect God to smack me upside the head again, but I do feel like He is pulling me in this direction. Sometimes the sign isn’t as obvious as someone walking through the door. Sometimes we just have to be still and listen.  That is what I am trying to do now.  I am trying to be still. 

I encourage all of you when you are facing a life decision, whether you believe in God or not, to really stop.  Be still and listen. Listen to God, or really listen to what is in your heart.  You will find your sign.  It may not be a smack on the head like I got years ago. It may just be a feeling or a desire so strong you can’t ignore it. Your sign is there.  You just have to look for it and receive it. 

Anchored and Still,