Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year. A New Start.

It has been three months since my last update. I've been stressed, busy and more busy. Trying to keep up with the demands of work and family in addition to the holidays. I have survived the holidays and have started a new year. A new year, a new decade, a new start. One more chance to make things better.

Ten years ago I was just graduating with my Master's degree and still trying to find a job. Now, I am returning to that same university for a job. It is a part-time temporary position, for the Spring semester only. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I was there before in the same position, the semester before my son was born, so this isn't completely new to me, just three years later.

We are still working on our home. I have made lots of progress with the clutter in our home but then there was Christmas. Now I feel like I am starting all over again.

As I type this, my husband is outside working to put up an awning on a portion of the back part of our house. It will serve as a covered patio area and it will provide our back door with shelter from the elements. After the awning is finished, the plan is to replace the back door and add a storm door.

My beautiful son will be three in February. Thankfully, he is napping right now. I'm not sure how he got so big, but he sure has grown a lot in the last few months. His personality is really growing too. He laughs and teases and plays. He continues to be a constant challenge but at the same time he is the most beautiful child I have ever seen. I am so proud of him and I pray for continued help and guidance in giving him what he needs.

Hmm...speaking of prayer.....time to get ready for Saturday evening church!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunny and Weary

It's a beautiful day in South Central Louisiana. A breeze is blowing, the sun is shining and it is 79 degrees at 11am. My clothes are drying on the line and I've spent some time decluttering my living room this morning. My son has been playing outside for most of the morning. I have tomatoes growing in my backyard. Ahh, so nice!

Despite all of that, I'm weary. Emotionally, I feel numb and physically, I'm tired. I've had a lot to deal with over the last two weeks. Two deaths in my extended family and two elderly family members in the hospital. A lot of stress for me at work.

Husband and I took our son and his parents to Wadill Wildlife Refuge in celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Day, this past weekend. A good time was had by all. The heat must not have agreed with me though because I woke up Sunday morning with an upset stomach and haven't been quite myself since. I got overheated and was having a hard time staying hydrated while we were there. No one else was sick, so I don't think it was anything that I ate.

Funeral home tonight and then I'll be working the weekend and Monday. Hopefully I can rest/relax some next week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Small Victories

My husband and I have been working like mad to put our home office back together or just together....I'm not sure which it should be since we had to move in and out of there three times and it has never been completely together. We still have piles and piles and several boxes to go through, clean out, get rid of and organize what is left but we have come so far! I'm so proud of us! And my dear son, 2 years 7 months now, has been terrific about putting things in the garbage and the recycling box for us.

Next month will be 5 years since I was horribly ill, couldn't get well, found out there was a leak in the slab of my home and there was mold growing in the carpet. I had to pack everything up to move it out of the house. It's been a long journey - finding physical healing, moving my husband home from Texas, Hurricane Katrina, a difficulty pregnancy, a flooded home, a difficult journey into motherhood and Hurricane Gustav are among the biggest highlights. But today.... Today I unpacked the box with my diplomas, my national certification and my state certification. Today they are hanging in my home office.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A "Revelation" in Mothering

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a mother. My opportunity for motherhood came much later than I anticipated. I always figured it would come naturally to me. I have always been great with children and had an instinct about the needs of children. That instinct has made me very successful in my profession as a speech-language pathologist, so much so that I sought specialized training to work with children with multiple and severe disabilities. I worked with the infants and toddlers that no one else knew how to treat, the ones that intimidated even the really good therapists. My typical clients were hearing and visually impaired and had cerebral palsy, or were visually impaired and had cerebral palsy, or had feeding difficulties along with any combination of the above. I thought that this would serve to make me a better mother once I had the opportunity to be a mother.

While my instincts about children and the specialized training have been helpful to me, my own child has presented me with challenges that I could never have anticipated. No one warned me that mommy hormones mixed with sleep deprivation could cloud my judgment and make me doubt my own ability to give my child what he needed. No one told me that my child would have needs that even a seasoned mother would have difficulty meeting. No one told me that those initial feelings that shook my confidence in the first few months of my son's life would still be with me two years later. I find myself struggling almost daily. I am hard on myself. I feel like I should be better at this, that I should be better able to meet my own child's needs, that I should be a better mother to him, that I should have more patience, and the list of negative thoughts goes on.

I've learned that being a therapist is a lot easier than being a mother, even with the most challenging of patients. When I went back to work when my son was 5-months-old, I realized just how much harder it was to be a mother than it was to go to work and see my patients. It was shocking to me. I never consciously compared those two parts of me before going back to work. Of course being a therapist is easier than being a mother, but I never thought about it before. Nothing in my experiences has led me to believe that anything is harder than being a mother.

So why, oh why, did I think that mothering would just come so naturally to me? I have no idea. Naivety, the essence of youth when I started that thought process so many years ago (naivety), or just plain cluelessness?

My "revelation"? I realized that it is OK for me to struggle with being a mother. I realized that I am way too hard on myself. I didn't have any specialized training in motherhood prior to becoming one so how could I have expected that I would just know how to do this?

With my "revelation", I have made a conscious decision to stop being so hard on myself, to stop my negativity. I know that this is not something that I can just turn off and that it is going to be a process, but I feel relieved already.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nap Time

It's 4pm on Saturday afternoon. My son (2yrs, 4months) has been asleep for almost an hour now. On a super duper amazing day he goes to sleep without a fuss and is asleep in less than 30 minutes. On a good day it takes around an hour to get him down for his nap. On a day like today and at least 2 days out of the week it takes over an hour and there is a lot of crying and screaming involved and, no, it isn't me doing the crying and screaming, although I may feel like it and some days I am brought to tears and even yelling over it. And let's not even talk about bedtime - bedtime makes nap time seem like a joke.

We have had issues from birth with his sleep. While these issues have changed over the last 2 years, they are still a great challenge to us. We do not believe in Crying it Out, although sometimes our son gives us no choice (continue reading for an explanation). We have a nap time routine and a bed time routine. Nap time involves eating lunch, I make sure he starts eating lunch no later than noon, so that I can have him in the bed absolutely no later than 1pm. After he finishes eating, he puts his plate in the sink, I take him to go potty, put his nap diaper on, and get him in the bed. If he isn't already screaming and crying at this point and he will let me snuggle him some, I love on him - hugs and kisses, kind words of praise and encouragement, sit with him and get him settled under the covers - those are the super duper days and sometimes the good days. More often than not, he starts fussing about nap time before we even get to the bed and won't let me hug him or kiss him or stay with him. He has a royal melt down and yells "go Mama." So I have no choice but to leave him and let him cry by himself. If I don't leave his screaming fit only worsens. I usually let him have his melt down for several minutes and then I go back in and if he lets me console him then I will. Sometimes that works and he settles in and goes to sleep. Sometimes after the crying and screaming has stopped he still doesn't go to sleep, but rather plays in the bed, or gets out of the bed and then I have to go and tell him to get back in the bed, causing yet another round of crying. This can go on for over an hour, some days over two hours. What he does is so much more than your typical two-year-old tantrum.

Today this lasted for over an hour. As usual, I am frazzled, tired, frustrated and angry. I don't know what to do and I am sure that with all of my professional training I should know what to do. Since I can't figure out what to do to help my child or to help myself from feeling this way then surely I am the one with the problem, that I am the one doing something wrong. I tell myself that any mother dealing with this would feel this way, but that doesn't make me feel any better.

I can tell you what will happen once he falls asleep. He will sleep soundly for at least 2 hours, sometimes up to 3. Thankfully, once I can get him to sleep he does take a good nap. When he wakes, he will be hungry because it will be almost supper time (because he took so long to go to sleep and then slept 2-3 hours) and he will immediately be fussy, irritable and crying. He won't be ready to go to sleep on time because his nap lasted so late into the afternoon.....and then we start all over again.

I feel alone and isolated. I've tried talking to other mothers, even my own family. My sister makes a point to tell me that she doesn't have any trouble with my son, it's just me, that I can't handle him, even to go so far as to tell me on a regular basis that I shouldn't have any more children since I can't handle that one that I have. She has never even tried to keep him during nap time, or over night, or for more than three hours at a time for that matter. I don't feel like my in-laws understand why we don't want to plan to do things that interfere with nap time. We've tried to tell them but they don't seem to understand. I've had friends tell me that when their child(ren) act(s) out it is because they need more loving attention. If my child would let me give him more loving attention, I would give it to him, but that is impossible to do when your child is screaming and yelling and is only upset more by your trying to touch or console him.

And just in case any of you are starting to wonder if my child has any sort of social interaction disorder, don't worry, he does not. He loves to be around people and other children, is loving and caring, kind and conscientious - just not when it is time for his nap or time to go to bed. Mind you, he is stubborn and strong willed all of time, but that we can deal with, it's the behaviors that center around sleep that are so extreme.

I'm not expecting anyone who reads this to have any answers, I just felt the need to write some of it today. The stress of this day after day just wears on me and sometimes it just feels like too much for me to keep all on the inside. I'm taking my vitamins and lots of omega supplements, exercising regularly and trying to get enough sleep at night to help me manage the stress, but I sure wish I knew how to make this better for all of us. It hurts my heart so much to see him so upset and hear him so distressed.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Adventures in Cleaning, Cooking and Frugality

Cleaning: Wow, have I been busy the last few weeks! I've been working my usual 2 days a week in the hospital and spending the rest of my time working at home. I am following FlyLady daily routines more closely and it is making a big difference in our home. I feel encouraged and hopeful. I feel as if I really might get back to some sort of normalcy in my home. What a wonderful feeling! Just today I cleaned all of my kitchen cabinets, door frames and trim. I wiped down the refrigerator and the louver doors of my laundry room. I had two loads of laundry out on the clothes line before 10am.

Cooking: We did something new this past month, we ordered a fruit and veggie box from Angel Food Ministries. They have a new "Latin Flavors" box, and it was well worth the money! We have very much enjoyed it and have already ordered our "Latin Flavors" box for June. On Sunday, I cooked Chicken and Chayote with some of the chayote squash, onions, garlic, potatoes and calabacita that came in the box. I also made Calabacita bread for dessert. Oh my, it was good! I made the Calabacita bread with unrefined sugar, organic eggs and organic whole spelt flour. It was not only good to eat, but good for you. Husband and I even had leftovers for lunch at work yesterday.

Frugality: Since making my own laundry detergent was such a success, I decided to try making my own liquid hand soap. I used the recipe found here. I used two 3oz bars of Nivea soap that I found at Big Lots. It was some that I bought for the bath, but didn't like it as much as other bath soap, it was a wonderfully moisturizing bath bar so I thought it would make a great moisturizing hand soap. I was very surprised, it was easy to make and made the mose luxurious feeling hand soap.

Here is a picture of it when I just finished making it. You can see how much it made, that is a gallon size ice cream bucket.

And here is my beautiful, frugally made, hand soap in the dispenser on my bathroom counter. It was fun and easy to make the soap, not very different from making my own laundry detergent, but a smaller batch.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Moving On

Over the last several years, we have had multiple issues with our home, further complicated by life's events. Let me give you a sort of time line of events so I can preface some of the things I am dealing with now.

Dec. 2003 - got married. Husband living in another state, trying to finish school. Spent all of 2004 working and traveling back and forth, preparing for husband to graduate and for us to move into one home together.

Oct 2004 - I am sick, I cannot get well - I have something like chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic sinus problems. I find out that there is mold growing in my carpet, there is an undetermined leak in possibly the slab of my home. That is why I am sick.

Nov 2004 - I pack up everything in my home and move it into my garage. The flooring is removed so the leak can be found. The concrete slab in my home is treated with a bleach solution to kill the mold. Move only the essentials back into the house as is possible, a little at a time.

Dec 2004 - Husband is supposed to graduate. He failed a class. He is moving out of our apartment and to our home. Everything goes into the garage. We start trying to find the leak and fix it.

2005 - Took about 6 months to locate 2 leaks. Then to let the slab "dry out." Husband not working - repeated class via correspondence. Graduated in May.

Aug 2005 - Hurricane Katrina. Roof and exterior damage to our home.

Nov 2005 - Finally FLOORING! Finally we can start putting our home together. Sorting boxes a little at a time. I am working 40-50hrs per week, husband is not good at organizing, so not much is getting done.

June 2006 - find out that I am pregnant. Husband is still without work. I am working, really not getting anything done at home now.

Fall 2006 - Finally get roof replaced from hurricane. Husband is working, but not in his field and no benefits.

Dec 31 2006 - Valve gets stuck on toilet, floods 3/4 of our home with water in a matter of minutes. All flooring has be to removed and replaced. (6wks before my due date).

Jan 2007 - Hallelujah! Husband is hired with a full-time job in his field with benefits. The bad news is that he has to commute 1 1/2 hrs each way to get there.

Feb 2007 - son is born. From the time we brought him home, son will not sleep unless he is held, will wake up if you put him down.

March 2007 - son diagnosed with reflux, medicines help with crying/screaming/colic, but not with sleep issues.

July 2007 - I am diagnosed with an abscessed tooth caused from grinding my teeth in my sleep. What sleep? My son still won't sleep if he is not held. I am exhausted. I am also diagnosed with anxiety and depression caused not so much by postpartum as extreme stress and sleep deprivation. Stress? What stress?

I've come a long way since then, even though it doesn't always feel like it. No more antidepressant medicine for almost a year now. My son has started sleeping by himself, just in the last few months, so I am finally getting some sleep. He still wakes up during the night at least 3-4 nights a week but my dear husband gets up and puts him back to bed. I am exercising and eating better. I've lost 15lbs since this past October. I have learned to sew and to crochet.

BUT, there are boxes in my garage that have yet to be unpacked. There is clutter in piles in every room of my house. The chaos makes me want to yell and scream at everyone sometimes. I hate it. If there is a stronger word than hate, please insert it here.

Where did the clutter come from? From trying to unpack and not getting to finish, from a big mess when the house flooded right before my son was born, from not being able to clean and organize regularly or maintain any organizational routines that I had in place before my son was born, from being too tired to be motivated to try to do anything, etc, etc.

So what am I doing now? Daily de-cluttering efforts, cleaning out and getting rid of excess, setting up daily routines and organizing areas of my home. In addition to my own efforts I have started using FlyLady's techniques and tips and am tailoring them to fit my own needs. It is a slow progress but I am finally starting to feel encouraged - like maybe, just maybe my home won't be cluttered for as long as I live and maybe, just maybe at some point in the future I can think about putting baseboards down.

I have recently realized that I am scared to feel encouraged. After everything that has happened, it is as if I don't dare be encouraged that I might get out of this mess and move on with my life. I know in my heart that this chaos and mess and clutter is NOT God's plan for my life.

I am learning discipline through daily routines and exercise. I am learning to persevere and I am teaching my husband a few organizational techniques along the way. I am also teaching my son to pick up after himself and to help with the daily routines as much as a two year old can. Just this afternoon he delivered the folded clothes to the bedroom in his Tonka dump truck. These are good things!