The last few days have been a rollercoaster. Mostly things I cannot control, yet rain down chaos and frustration from the heavens. I have had several not-so-proud mama moments. I have yelled. I have given mean looks. I have threatened. And I even flipped my shit exactly once.
I went through something similar to this a few years ago. It was not pretty. I did not like the person I was during that rough patch, let alone the parent I was. But I managed to soldier on and learned a lot from it. Namely, the warning signs that shit flipping was imminent so that I could head it off at the pass. Trust me, that is a HUGE deal. If not for me knowing those signs, I might be curled up somewhere quoting The Mad Hatter. You know, after flipping my shit...times infinity.
One of the things that has stuck with me a lot lately is this:
I have calmed the storm in my mind by thinking of these words. I do need to focus more on what is going right than wrong, especially in times like this. It leads to less shit flipping, as previously stated.
I remember in 8th grade English class that we did a project in November where we kept a list and wrote 5 things daily that we were grateful for. At the time, I was dealing with crappy family situations and the death of a close friend. I truly NEEDED that daily list, it helped me through.
The teacher kept emphasizing the importance of recognizing these things in our life that we were thankful for because it was good for the mind and soul. My first few days were filled with "typical" things: parents, siblings, home, friends, food. But it evolved to more: the cool crisp in the air, the warmth of the autumn sun, the acrobatic leaves swirling through the sky. Focusing on the mini-blessings helped to ease the burden of the big picture.
As I have struggled the last few days, I have found my soul reminding my heart of little things that have had a positive effect, even if minute. Hopefully listing them will help me lift my spirit a little further out of this funk and maybe help someone out there in the Interwebz.
So here is my handy dandy Gratitude List (TOO much Blues Clues lately, it is affecting my handy dandy vocab) from the last few days, in no particular order.
1) I am thankful for the gentle and positive parenting pages I have grown to love. I am a hybrid, a work in progress, and I am still making conscious efforts to do better. But I have loved having these parenting tools at my disposal the last few days. When I am pushed to my limit and snap out something like, "If you don't stop tapping your foot, I'm going to glue it to the floor!!!", it is very helpful to follow that statement with, "Mommy is sorry, I am just VERY frustrated, and it makes me very irritable. I am trying very hard to NOT be irritated and know that you are not doing this on purpose to upset me. Would you please try to not tap your foot and I will try very hard to not be so easily upset, ok?"
And YES, for those out there doubting it, I do speak to my girls like this. I doubted it would work a few years ago when I started trying it out, but it has great results. The more I explain WHY I want something done, the more they UNDERSTAND and COMPLY. Not always, but more often than not. In this case, it shows that their mama battles the same emotions that they do that seem so controlling and overwhelming at times, so it teaches them empathy as well.
DOUBLE BONUS MAMA POINTS!
2) I am thankful for forgetting to eat. My first meal of the day the last few days has not occurred before at least 1pm. This means that I am not hungry again until around the time the kids are going to bed, but I try to eat around dinner with the rest of the family. Yes, I understand that this has added to my stress and foul mood. I understand that it is not healthy. I understand that if I lost any weight from this poor nutrition, I will gain it right back.
BUT, I have eaten less junk food because of it. I have eaten more "real" food. That has to count for something. And it has renewed my determination to get a share in our local winter CSA for the first time. Don't rain on my parade, I'm all about silver linings.
3) I am thankful for my Diva Cup. Yep, on top of all the outside stress and turmoil, my lady lining decided to vacate my womb a few days early to join the party.
But on top of forgetting to eat, I have also forgotten that I was even on my period. Two days in a row. Now, this is a big deal for two reasons.
First, my body was under constant guerrilla cramp attack when I was using tampons. It could be a coincidence that my debillitating cramps basically disappeared when I switched to a non-toxic feminine product. Or it could be that all the chemicals and leeching of moisture from my body was the biggest cramp culprit, so those days are over. Who knows, it is probably a bit of both. But the fact that I totally forgot that I was on my period because I had no "period" symptoms is pretty damn awesome.
Second, the fact that I forgot that I was on my period did not cause any embarassing issues thanks to my menstrual cup. With tampons, I had to change every 2-3 hours tops to avoid leakage. With a menstrual cup, I went from around 8am to 11pm without doing anything. And had no issues. Disclaimer: Most menstrual cups say in the guidelines that they are ok for up to 12 hours before being emptied. I'm not recommending you go 15 hours. I'm just pointing out that I did by accident and did not deal with any of the negative issues I would have had if I had been using a tampon instead. WOOT!
4) I am thankful for Autumn, the Gestating Giraffe. Have you heard about Autumn yet? She is a giraffe at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina. She is getting ready to have a baby. SQUEEE! But the best part is that the zoo has teamed up with EarthCam to stream live footage of Autumn. HOW COOL!
So, you can go to this link HERE to watch Autumn all.day.long. I have not been watching Autumn all day long, just checking in a few times during the day. I check out the "Hall of Fame" pics. I see what she is currently doing. I might look at the archived video briefly to see what she was doing earlier in the day. I basically check in once in the morning, once or twice in the evening. And a few times at work. I have just kept one browser window open to the live cam and flip over when I am on the phone on hold or need a wooooosahhhhh moment so I do not strangle people. Because who would strangle people when they can look at this?
Do you see the spot she has that looks like a heart turned sideways? <3
5) I am thankful for Monkey's imagination. Monkey has learned how to be a dog. Or at least pretend to be a dog. He crawls on all fours. He growls and barks. He pants with his tongue out. LOUDLY. He picks up balls and toys in his mouth and will bring it to you. He will sit and lay down. He will fetch toys (in his mouth only). I seriously do not remember the girls having this depth to their imaginary play at this age. Don't get me wrong, they definitely had great imaginations. I just don't think they were using them so actively at 21 months. But it is very heartwarming to see Monkey pretend like this so effortlessly. He just "gets" it and his imaginary play will last for 10-20 minutes at a time, which is just astounding to me.
6) I am thankful for Me Time. Hubby knew that I have been in this funk and how trying my days had been. When I told him that I would love to take a bath, he took over the bedtime routine for the night, ensured I would not be interrupted, and I was able to get some Me Time. It was greatly needed and allowed me to recharge, at least a little bit.
So I retreated to the bathtub with my iPad and my Eye Pads. I laid in warm water. I did a quick treatment on my feet with my pedicure set. When I got out, I did a spa facial. And then I went to bed. In case you check out the links: YES, these are Beauticontrol products. YES, some of these products have changed my life since I started using them in July (more on that at a later date). And YES, I loved them so much that I signed up as a consultant. So if you would like more info, email me.
7) I am thankful for breastfeeding. Yep, I'm still that weird breastfeeding mom, nursing my 21 month old. Monkey is down to usually no more than 2 sessions a day, but sometimes doesn't nurse at all. He might nurse in the morning, not nurse that night, not nurse the next morning, but then nurse the next night. We are in the slow gradual weaning dance. I'm in no rush for reasons I stated in my previous post, so I will just follow his lead and meet his needs as he makes them known.
But the last few days, I have been very thankful for breastfeeding. Monkey must have picked up on my stress and has been glued to my side the last few days, even signing for milk in the middle of the day a few times. We have stayed at our normal AM and PM sessions, but I have loved those sessions. For those that are not aware, when a breastfeeding mom has a "letdown" (when milk starts flowing out of the ducts), it is caused by a rush of oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as the "love" hormone, which is why most breastfeeding moms will describe themselves as being super relaxed and happy when nursing. Breastfeeding releases all these happy love hormones, which is something I have DEFINITELY needed the last few days. Little doses of love hormones have done wonders to stop my homicidal urges. Trust me.
Did I mention that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Breastfeeding reduces your risk of breast cancer?
8) I am thankful for new friends and kind words. During the last few months, I have joined a team of women that include such caring and thoughtful people. Some of these women seem to always know the perfect thing to say, inspiring and motivating me to higher goals. One evening this past week, I spent several hours with a few of these ladies. And due to circumstances out of my control, my children tagged along.
Let me set the stage. After barely eating and feeling like crap for reasons I mentioned above and after running around putting out fires at work all day, I picked up all of my children and pizza and drove 30 minutes to go to a training in a team member's house. My girls had been at school all day. Monkey had played hard with my childcare provider all day. And now I was asking them to disrupt their entire routine at the last moment and trying to emphasize the importance of good behavior while they were guests in someone else's home.
Overall, it didn't go too badly. But it didn't go great. We tried to keep them in a TV room next to the room we were working in. The girls were bored and did not want to watch their brother, so I spent a lot of time going back and forth. I broke out the Boba to try to get Monkey to stay calm and sleep. I resorted to giving him some Kool-aid to placate him. I did learn quite a bit, but it was very disjointed due to the constant interruptions from the kids. Hard to pay attention if you are listening to see if someone is hurt or breaking things in the next room, right?
But, my friends on my team understood completely. We worked around it. They kept complimenting my kids, kept asking me questions. And one lady in particular kept saying how well I was doing handling it all. I truly believe her compliments kept me from a crying jag that night. <3
9) I am thankful for Large Caramel Swirl Iced Lattes with espresso shots. Nuff Said.
10) I am thankful for upcoming surprises. Diva just celebrated her 7th birthday. We are having a Zumba Dance Party at a local place this weekend. We have delayed nearly all gifts until her actual party, with the exception of the American Girl doll that Grandma gave her.
Last April, Mama*ology held a Babywearing Workshop in my town. Diva thinks that wraps and slings and carriers are the Coolest.Thing.Ever. She has used scarves and small blankets to create her own mini-wraps. But since the workshop, she has been asking for a wrap and carrier. So I ordered her a child-sized Moby wrap and Ergo carrier. And a new doll to go with them. I cannot WAIT for Saturday so that I can see her face when she opens the gifts and realizes that she has her own babywearing options.
So, this is my little Gratitude List. This has kept me sane the last few days. Yep, some of it is trivial stuff. Some of it is deep. Some of it is funny. Some of it is not. But these are all things that I have been very thankful for during these trying days because of the positive effects they have had on my daily life. Which is what being grateful is all about.
The last few days have not been good days, but this list includes the things that have been good in those days.