Wednesday, July 30, 2014

News Flash

In a not-so-perfect world, I'm not-so-perfect.

Regardless of your circumstances, motherhood - parenthood is hard work.

Here's a rundown of my week:

Monday is my more relaxed mornings, but many wouldn't call it relaxing either.  One of the two boys are up by 5am on a daily basis.  Mike leaves for work at 5:45.  So for fellow parents, you know, that an alarm clock is not a necessity when you have young children.  They are your alarm clock and whether you went to bed at 9pm or five minutes prior to their waking, you need to be up and ready to go, too.

I digress.. Christian wants a "snack" (breakfast) as he settles on the couch complaining he's still tired, yet he refuses to go back to sleep.  I serve him breakfast and dash to the shower.  IF I'm lucky, I know I have fifteen minutes before Jacob wakes up and a whole new definition of ready to go is defined.  On occasion, I'm able to shower, get dressed, and have a cup of coffee prior to his waking. But this is rare.  Usually, Christian wakes him because he just can't wait to give his little brother a big hug and to play.  Which to me translates to, He just can't wait to terrorize his little brother so that they're both clinging to me on opposite legs, and I can't even so much as put deodorant on without an issue arising.  

I then have three hours until my mom comes to care for the boys and I'm off to work.  Mind you, Monday is my "long" day, meaning that I work a 12 hour shift.  I kiss my beautiful babies a million times before walking out the door, always remembering to tell my mom to "call me if you need anything".  Which, she won't, because why would she need me? She raised three of us on her own, and did a damn good job at that.

Monday nights I usually get home between 10 & 11pm.  At which time, I've gotten my second wind, shower and then struggle with insomnia for the next hour or so.  Only to be awoken at 5am...

Onto Tuesday.. actually forget TuesdayForget everyday thereafter.  If you're a parent, you know, all days revolve around one simply factor.  Your children.  The most important task you will ever take-on in your life, caring for your children.  Ensuring that they have everything you had as a child and more.  Worrying about their day: if they missed you, if they liked the lunch you packed, if they're learning something new and you weren't there to witness it, if someone kissed their boo boo when they scraped their knee because they were too anxious  to get on the playground.  No matter where you are or what your schedule consists of, if you're anything like me, your children are constant on your mind.  I am that parent.  The one who has pictures on her bulletin board at work; the one who sneaks in a story about the new thing her child has mastered in the middle of an unrelated topic.  But the one downfall about this quality - which often is considered to equal great parenting - is that you, the parent, forget about yourself.

I remember when I first took Christian home at two days old.  My mother gave me the greatest piece of advice that I would later (and still continue to) share with new parents; care for yourself as you always have.  My mother told me to ensure I kept my daily routine (which consisted of taking a shower, doing my hair and makeup, and getting ready for the day).  Nothing over-the-top, but even through this, I still forget something.  I forget to take TIME for myself.

Any free time that I have, I like to spend it with my family, or vegging on the couch, or doing something productive (catching up on schoolwork... or maybe catching up on the newest episodes of Pretty Little Liars).  But what comes along with this, is built up stressors.  Not only the stresses of everyday life, but the stress of not reminding yourself of who you are.  Being a mother is part of who I am, but it does not define me.  I am Amanda Lynn, born and raised in Rhode Island, lover of: Oreos topped with peanut butter, a good romantic comedy, a night around a campfire with good friends, an evening filled with dancing,  laughter, a little retail therapy, and love. 

So what happens when I forget about me? I come to a point, where I need a little help.  It's not unwarranted, but it is unpredictable.  I never know when my breaking point will come, because time and time again, I seize to take the appropriate steps to avoid it.  No one is to blame but myself, but I think it's important to remember, that regardless of who you are or what you do, everyone has a breaking point.  The difference? I know well-enough to ask for support when I need it most.

Does it make me a bad mother? No.  Does it mean that something is "wrong"?  No.

It simply means that this mother needed a little time to herself.  Whether she take a thirty-minute hot shower, grab a latte in a quiet coffee shop, or drive around for an hour.  Silence.  Independence.  The ability to be selfish; for that short period of time, to be able to do absolutely... nothing.

So when a parent, or caregiver reaches out for help.  Don't question it.  Don't panic.  Give them that thirty minutes of selfishness.  And respect them for having the courage to ask for it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

"...but you're so young."

In honor of my 24th birthday just passing, I figured I would address the infamous saying that makes me cringe.  I've been hearing this statement since I first began my journey through motherhood, nearly five years ago.

I was in my second semester of my freshman year in college when I found out I was pregnant with Christian.  I had just returned to campus from attending a conference over spring break, when I decided I needed to go to Health Services.  I had experienced a good deal of nausea and headaches the week prior, attributing the symptoms to the stomach bug.  The nurse advised me that they were going to run a pregnancy test, "just as a precaution".  Then she sat down to tell me how I could overcome the nausea. 

Minutes later, she stood up and walked over to the test.  As she turned around, the words slipped out of her mouth.. "Honey, It's looking positive."  It was a surprise to say the least.  Immediately, she started rambling off my options, "You could look into adoption. Or there's always termination, the University can assist you with that." Never in a million years would I consider that an option, and I was appalled that it was said so easily.  I stormed out of the office, and began walking back to my dorm. I knew my life had changed forever, but I never thought of it as a negative change.

I called Mike. He wasn't answering, and then I called my mom.  I didn't have to say a word.  She knew I was going to the doctor that morning and when I was silent she simply said, "I know. But it's okay. You'll finish school. We will do whatever we have to do to be sure of that. I love you. I support you."  The words never had to be said and yet my mom knew exactly what to say to calm me. She has and always will be my rock, and my number one supporter.

Over the next nine months, I would be faced with a lot of judgment and looks of disappointment.  Luckily, I had the love and support of so many around me, and the backbone to stand up for what I believe in.

I was only two months pregnant when I spoke on my pregnancy in one of my classes.  We were studying the 1950s versus today.  The topic of discussion was family. The class was filled with mostly female students.  Most of them with the belief that they would never put their career "on hold" for a family.  As words spewed throughout the room, I felt my blood boil.  "It's not acceptable to have a child before you're thirty." And that one statement put me over the edge.

I stood up and made my proclamation.  I disagreed and I wanted everyone to know why.  I know that this child wasn't planned. But this baby was my child and I would do anything for my unborn child, but I would also fulfill my dreams.  I knew that it wasn't what everyone around me envisioned as ideal, but I would make it my ideal. And five years later, I can tell you, I wouldn't have it any other way.  The negativity and doubt only pushed me harder.  I would finish college.  I would find a job that I was passionate about. I would have this baby and care for him in the best possible way.  And I would do all of this despite of what people thought of me.  Despite of the people believing I was too young.  I through around scientific statements regarding the "biologically appropriate age for childrearing".  I claimed that maturity, not age is what defines a person.  That a 19 year old could take care of a child, just as there are 30 year old women who cannot.

Five years later, I still hear it. "You're so young." The difference now? I look back at them and smile. Yes, I am young, but I have made a very happy life for my young family. I, we, have succeeded. All the while, I still have my whole, young life, ahead of me.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

And I'm back!

In case you haven't guessed it, a lot has happened over the past three years, since I've last posted.  Life has been a whirlwind (as always) and this blog has gone to the back of my to-do list.  Honestly, I had forgotten about it entirely, until I recently decided I wanted to journal again.  So here I am, world. Once again, but I'm not making any promises this time.  I'll post to reflect on my chaotic, but blessed, life when I can. :)

So for those of you whom I have not befriended on social media, or to the newcomers of the blog, here's a recap of the past three years. I'll try to make it short.

Since my last post, I have graduated RWU with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and begun my Masters degree in Education (leading to BCBA licensure, but more about that later).  It continues to be a challenge, but as always, it's possible.  I have married my best friend, Michael.  June 28, 2012 was one of the happiest days of my life. In September, we welcomed our second child, Jacob.  He's such a mellow little guy, whose eyes smile and speak to your heart.  And most recently (in December) we purchased our first home. 

Christian has continued to grow and become an amazing little boy.  He is a spirited child (once a fussy baby, always a fussy baby) whose smile melts my heart.  His raspy voice expresses such passion.  He has a wild side that drives me crazy, yet his kind heart makes it all worthwhile.  I have learned so much from him and he continues to help me slow down and cherish all of the beauty in life.

I'll post glimpses of all of the "missed" events that have so drastically changed our lives (and for the better) as time goes on.  But for now, welcome back to my unconventional journey!