Moving sites…please follow

I took the plunge yesterday and entered the world of “real” blogging.  I purchased my own domain and feel very official.  Thank you to everyone who reads and follows the blogs that I have shared so far.  By moving up in the blogging world, I have more options with what and how I share our story.  Please click on the link below and pick up where this blog left off.   I am off to great things!

Link to new blog

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Enjoy the Moment…With Cookies

I sit here today wanting to write but my mind is all over the place.  Then I realize, for the first time in many months, I am on the verge of feeling content.  For so long I have been trying each day to keep my head above water.  Most days, I look calm on the surface, but beneath the water, my legs are paddling with lack of control.  Right now, my head is firmly above water, however, the water could rise quickly and without warning.  Years ago, the thought of the water rising would have been enough to keep me fighting for the guarantee of no more water, but today, though years of experience, I am able to handle the calm when it happens without too much worry about what could happen in the next moment.

This moment of content isn’t without a long list of “what ifs” and “must dos” but I am able to embrace and enjoy the moment.  I look over my right should and I see J in the kitchen attempting to make chocolate chip cookies independently.  I do not know where J will be going to school or where I will be working.  I do not know how we will continue to pay her therapy bills or if she will be able to regain the friendships lost during the school year.  I do know that life is going to be OK…J improves daily and continues to make me laugh, my husband is off work for the summer allowing us endless days of family time, and my son amazes us with his compassion and understanding.   Who knows what chaos could befall us in the next few minutes, hours, or days, but in the meantime, I am going to listen to J make fresh cookies in the hopes that they are edible!

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Mr. Rogers Gives Me Guidance

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Oh how I wish Mr. Rogers was next to me, giving me words of encouragement and daily reminders as I navigate the uncharted territory of parenting a 13 year old girl.  Today’s children are stuck in a social media web, constantly seeing what they perceive to be “the perfect” everything…perfect hair, perfect bodies, perfect boyfriends, perfect vacations….the list is never ending.  How do I compete with the social media star portraying everything as if all that is seen by the viewer is truly how his or her life exists each moment?  My daughter doesn’t want to hear that the post could be photo shopped, staged, or that it took 30 tries to get the image/video just right.  My daughter doesn’t want to hear that simply because a social media star says it to be true, it may not actually be the whole truth.  My daughter doesn’t want to hear that what happens off of the screen may not be nearly as rosy as it seems.

I look at my daughter and I see big, beautiful eyes full of curiosity….she sees eyes that need make up tattooed on permanently.

I look at my daughter and I see her slender curves and defined legs while she simply sees herself as “not skinny with a fat stomach”.

I look at my daughter’s shiny brown hair with envy and she sees hair that needs extensions

I look at my daughter’s full lips and gorgeous smile with appreciation and she sees lips that need “Kylie Jenner lip kits”.

How do I compete with popular, cool, idolized social media stars as a totally not hip mother of a teenage girl?  I turn to Mr. Rogers.  I may not be cool, fashionable, fit, or rich like she wishes I was, but I can show her daily that she is enough just as she is.  I can model the importance of self love, gratitude for what I have, and that uniqueness is to be celebrated.  Someday, I hope she can look in the mirror and be thankful that she is who she is.  Until that day, I will make sure that she knows she is special and that there is no one quite like her!   My daughter is one of a kind and I will be forever thankful that she is mine.

My Child Doesn’t “Fit”

Last school year, each day was a battle, ultimately won by anxiety and the attempt to squeeze my round peg of a daughter into a square box.  Each day, I saw a little more of my daughter wilt under the pressure to conform, even when her mind begged her to accept her for who she is.

My child, whose incredible compassion for others reminds me of good in the world, doesn’t fit in with her peers.  She asks too many questions, she lives in the moment, she doesn’t make decisions based on the current fad.  My child, whose sense of humor is top notch, doesn’t fit into the traditional school environment.  She struggles to focus when too much information is thrown at her, struggles to read text with auditory assistance, struggles to keep pace with her classmates.  My child, whose attention to detail and innate curiosity can change our perspective on life, doesn’t fit into the rapid pace of our day to day life.  She has difficulty switching tasks, planning long term, rushing from one thing to the next.   Every time I look into her sweet face, I see the beauty and mind of a person who makes this world a better place.  I am certain that if more people were wired like her, our world would be a happier, more relaxed place to live.

She does not “fit the mold”, “fit in the box”, she is” unconventional”.  Everyone of those mentioned phrases brings a negative connotation to mind, yet she is exceptional.  There is nothing negative about her…she is kind, honest, driven, supportive, respectful, intelligent, and loving.  Everyone of these phrases is an advantage to her, to our society, to our family.  Why then, does her “unconventionality” get met with a million roadblocks when it comes to her success?  Public school, while trying to meet the needs of all learners, fail those children who simply are wired differently.  If schools were created to fit those who see the world in a different way, every child would succeed.  Exploration while learning would be encouraged.  Task and assignments based on interest would be the norm.  In depth learning with freedom of time would be available.  Every child’s confidence would increase.  Every child would experience the value of creativity, individuality, perusing personal interest over rote learning.

School starts in nearly 6 weeks.  I have 6 weeks to miraculously find a school option where my child can be engaged with peers and teachers to feed her social relationships, a place where she can learn at her pace, given that she is academically below grade level due to her anxiety and dyslexia, an environment where her emotional needs are nurtured and she is positively supported in times of need.  Add to this that my husband and I both work full time, out of financial necessity, ruling out home schooling with social extracurriculars, ruling out online schools since we are not available to be at home with her, ruling out private schools due to cost, ruling out schools located across town due to transportation issues.  Where does that leave us…public schools ruled by state standards and testing who out of created necessity force my child to slowly lose pieces of who she is meant to be.unnamed

 

Humor…A Must to Stay Sane

 

 

Mark my words, J has the ability to be a Saturday Night Live star someday.  Yes, she is my daughter so I may be biased, but she is incredibly witty with a wicked sense of humor.  She does spot on impressions and can create a sketch for us to watch on a moments notice.  I am grateful each day that anxiety has not wiped out her sense of humor.

We use humor daily to fight the stress brought on by the anxiety.  My husband and I find that taking a minute, after dealing with a stressful situation, to go back and ask ourselves, “Did we really just answer that off of the wall question to help alleviate J’s anxiety???  I bet that is the first time that question has ever been asked.”  We then spend some time laughing about what just happened.  It instantly relieves some stress.

Similarly, when J was in IOP ( Intensive Outpatient Program ) for her phobia of vomit, one of our tasks for treatment was to create realistic vomit with safe to eat items, place it in our mouths and “vomit” into the toilet.  How disgusting…but we knew it would help our child (and it did) so we found the humor and got to work.

Within each day, there are moments of humor.  We must make an effort to find them, latch on, then sit back and laugh.

Fight Like Hell Everyday

I awoke this morning to a Facebook post that a friend from years ago passed away from cancer last night.    She was only 39 years old.  While this was not expected, it still hit me in the gut and reading her husband’s post brought me to tears.  I met this incredibly brave, strong woman within days of finding out that I was pregnant with our first child, I was 24 and she was 25.  Her husband worked with my husband.  I remember my husband coming home from work and telling me that he was certain he found a new friend for me.  We laughed because I have a hard time making friends, especially back then.  She was a teacher, I was a teacher.  She was trying for her first child, I was barely pregnant with our first child.  She was a homebody, I was a homebody.  We would be a perfect match on a dating site!  As a couple, we got together soon after and found that we enjoyed each other’s company and had quite a bit in common.  And then she got the devastating news that she had breast cancer.  She was only 25 years old.  Her hopes of becoming a mom in the near future were dashed.  Our new friendship changed in that moment…because of me.  Here we were discussing new babies and starting families, me with a baby growing inside and her with cancer growing inside.  How truly unfair.  I felt constant guilt when we were together.  Why did I get the family and she didn’t?  Our friendship continued over the next 5 years until we moved out of state.  It never really deepened or grew though because I was so uncomfortable and guilt ridden due to our opposite circumstances.  She however showed grace and confidence in herself, not allowing cancer to get in her way.  She was at our children’s baby showers, visiting after they we born, going to dinner with us as a family, and sending us off to our new adventures with wishes of good luck.  Never once did she let her circumstances change her, yet I let them affect me.  I look back and regret that I didn’t try to find ways to help myself move through the guilt I felt and openly discuss her diagnosis.  Our friendship was so new when her diagnosis came, that we were still getting to know each other.  There had not been time to develop the ins and outs of a deep friendship.  I was also selfishly consumed with my life as a new mother, not realizing how important it was to not lose myself in motherhood (even though at the age of 25 of I still really didn’t know who I was).   I should have tried harder

Over the years, we stayed “friends” through Facebook, and I have followed her journey of motherhood and subsequently her return of cancer.  I cried when I read her cancer returned, and chastised myself for not being a better friend early on because I once again, had no idea how to be a friend at this point.  Her bravery, courage, and hope inspired me daily.  Facebook doesn’t allow us to know what truly happens in a person’s life, rather showing us smiles and happiness through pictures and posts, but I could see that in the midst of battling cancer, she enjoyed every moment she had with her husband and daughter, knowing that her time was limited.  The strength it took to fight can only be attributed to her strength as a mom.  She wanted to be there for her daughter and she fought like hell every day for one more day.  This is what parents do.  We fight with everything we have for our children.  Every time we think we cannot give anymore, we find a reserve deep inside and fight again.  J and J…you know who you are.  If you are reading this, know that your love and fight for life are inspiring.  You bring hope to anyone fighting a battle.  J, although cancer took away your life last night, cancer did not take you.  You will always be in my memories.  I will think of you as I watch your daughter grow.  She will have you with her always, constantly reminding her to be brave, kind, and silly.

Everyone reading this, hug your loved ones a little tighter today.  Be grateful for what you have, no matter how difficult the day may seem.  There is always a battle to be fought but as a mother, I will fight that battle because my child is worth it and I am worth it.

Thank You Shawn Mendes

Dear Shawn Mendes,

Thank you.  Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.  Thank you for using your “celebrity” to show the world that anxiety is not to be kept as a secret.  Thank you for sharing the realness of your situation.  As the mom of a 13 year old girl, suffering from severe anxiety, I have witnessed her feeling different, weird, alone, slowly losing her outgoing, fun, spunky, social personality.  She has withdrawn into a shell of herself, with no friends or social life anymore.  She worries that this is her future.

I vividly remember a few weeks ago when she told me she had heard your song for the first time.  At that point I had not heard “In My Blood” yet.  I knew who you were and had heard most of your songs.  My kids are big fans and we often found our selves singing along to your songs while in the car.  On this particular day, my daughter and I were riding in the car when “In My Blood” came on the radio.  She turns to me and says, “Mom this song comes on every time I am anxious and I feel like it is talking to me”.  I sat there listening to her and the music trying to understand exactly what she was explaining to me.  I quickly turned up the radio and really listened to the lyrics.  We discussed the song once it ended and she was so excited because she truly felt like your song was talking to her.  She was excited to know that you, as someone she looks up to as a singer ans (she is 13 so of course she thinks you are adorable) she sees you on stage singing, in pictures and in interviews looking  “normal/free of anxiety”.  Your song, and subsequent interviews, have provided us many opportunities to discuss how anxiety doesn’t have to stop you from being who you are or reaching your goals or putting yourself out there.  Anxiety certainly makes it harder, yet you show the world that there are ways to handle it and get on with greatness even after experiencing a bout of darkness.  For that, I am extremely grateful.  Since that song, I have made sure to share with her your interviews where you open up about your struggles.  It makes her feel less alone.  Of course my daughter benefits from your honesty and openness, but equally important, I hope her peers hear this song and see your interviews and think about either themselves, if they are dealing with such feelings, or they can think of others, like my daughter, and have a better idea of what she is dealing with and why she has such a hard time being at school, for example.  I hope it normalizes some of her thoughts and actions when she is around her peers.

I make an effort to share these types of interviews and articles with J…interviews with Demi Lovato, Ryan Reynolds, Carson Daly, and non-celebrities who open up about their battles with anxiety.  It helps her feel less alone and less “different”.   She can see these people appearing free of anxiety, doing something amazing and being successful in their lives while still dealing with anxiety.  She can see that with the right therapy for her, she can control her anxiety, rather than it controlling her, and move forward.  Anxiety is not unique to her, she is not alone, success and happiness still exist, life continues to move forward.

Shawn, and everyone else who shares their story…  Thank you for sharing your story.  Thank you for helping to de-stigmatize anxiety.  Thank you for keeping it real and being honest.  Tank you for providing a song that is hopeful and relateable to those going through similar situations.

Sincerely,

An Appreciate Mother

 

 

 

Lyrics to “In My Blood”

In My Blood
Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood
Laying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing
I’m overwhelmed and insecure, give me something
I could take to ease my mind slowly
Just have a drink and you’ll feel better
Just take her home and you’ll feel better
Keep telling me that it gets better
Does it ever?
Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
No medicine is strong enough
Someone help me
I’m crawling in my skin
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood
It isn’t in my blood
I’m looking through my phone again, feeling anxious
Afraid to be alone again, I hate this
I’m trying to find a way to chill, can’t breathe, oh
Is there somebody who could
Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
No medicine is strong enough
Someone help me
I’m crawling in my skin
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood
It isn’t in my blood
I need somebody now
I need somebody now
Someone to help me out
I need somebody now
Help me, it’s like the walls are caving in
Sometimes I feel like giving up
But I just can’t
It isn’t in my blood
It isn’t in my blood
It isn’t in my blood
I need somebody now
It isn’t in my blood
I need somebody now
It isn’t in my blood
Songwriters: Shawn Mendes / Geoff Warburton / Teddy Geiger / Scott Harris
In My Blood lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Words & Music A Div Of Big Deal Music LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc