Momming

It seems to be the trend with my fellow bloggers today, to talk about the condition of their “Momming” or “Wifing” or “Womaning” in general. Although I do a pretty darn good job at juggling, I am not satisfied with about 40% of what makes me, Me. Please walk with me, I’m sure you’ll recognize the scenery.

  1. I’m a working mom. I work full time and it makes me feel like a jerk to my kids and husband. But once I tried being a stay at home mom, and I hated it. Part-Time is not an option, as my husband’s job on the rail, though it makes very good money, is inconsistent. We were once furloughed (a temporary lay-off) for almost a year. The grass is always greener, but it often makes me unsettled. I am a hyper-performer at work and feel validated by the product I am able to present. But I get home and my sitter has put a hairband in my teeny baby daughters hair. I am thankful but it broke my heart that her mama wasn’t the first person to do her hair. Or when my son says or does something amazing and new or learns a new joke, my husband will say “Oh I taught him that.” or “He’s been doing that for a while.”
  2. Working 5 days a week, I feel guilty for wanting to be alone because I have been away from my family for so long. But my sanity is worn so thin. I get resentful of my husband who will take a train to another state and sit in a hotel for a day, IN SILENCE! With no responsibility, no one to clean up after or cook for or feed. I have been begging for this since before Mother’s Day. Just a day off. But then for all the reasons of #1, I take both kids out somewhere by myself so that my mister can get some sleep.
  3. I am fat. I’m so damn fat. I am not attracted to me and it makes me unhappy. I’m going to leave it at that. I have lost weight in the past but baby #2 and my aging metabolism has changed and now I must as well to get this under control. That’s all I’ll say about the subject.
  4. MY HOUSE IS ALWAYS FREAKING DIRTY!!! I cannot stand it. My freaking dog cannot hold his pee, my base boards haven’t been touched in over a year I am sure, and I could bake a cake with the amount of dust is on my ceiling fan. But Working 5 days a week away from my family, the last thing I want to do is ignore them to address these things.

But then there are the things I love about my life

5. My husband does his share of chores, and watching of children. He stays home and cleans, does dishes and laundry and doesn’t complain about playing all day with our babies. I am extremely fortunate to have this man.

6. I have a hobby that I love and have the opportunity to escape to this writing world pretty regularly, if not daily.

7. I have good, easy kids that I don’t feel ashamed for finding a sitter for. My son is so sweet and loving. He is still learning to navigate social interactions with peers, but he has learned so much and come so far. Just this morning, although I desperately needed to sleep in, he woke up and came to my room to snuggle. I could not pass up the opportunity. My daughter’s face when I come home from work is probably the single most rewarding thing I have ever experienced in my life.

8. I have an awesome steady job that pays well for what I do. I have my own office and a lunch break that I can spend with readers. My benefits are awesome and I truly believe in the organization I work for. They do amazing things and create honest miracles for the people in our community. I’m humbled daily by the strength and diligence of the people I work with.

9. I like me. I really do. I think I am funny, and fair, and just, and nice. I would want to be my friend. I have big strong feelings and am passionate about the people in my life. I am cannot stay angry for too long. I absolutely have to work things out in order to get back to the happy me that I am. Even if that means telling hard truths, but only in constructive ways. Even though what I see in the mirror is not how I feel inside, at least my insides are pretty.

10. I can say that I have made the most of every opportunity that I have ever been handed. This is in regards to ever aspect of my life. I never let the horrible, terrible things that I have seen and experienced get me down. I might cry with my head up, but I have never stopped moving forward to better myself for me and my family.

 

So all that being said, I will leave you with this. Last night I attended a comedy show put on by a couple of Nebraskan ladies who are hilarious. It was a late night show an hour away. I had planned the trip, bought the tickets, and I drove to and from the venue. Stone.Sober. All I could think about was how cute all these skinny moms looked, how tired I would be for work, and how much more funny it would have been if I had maybe even one glass of wine. Instead I felt awkward, uncomfortable, and wanted no more than to be home with my two booger factories. But there were somethings that I needed to hear last night. I needed to know that other women had my back. The two ladies that came with me did not drink either out of solidarity. My sitter(s) who are my dear good friends at work had unloaded my dishwasher and washed all the baby bottles (a task the husband and I both hate.. Dr Brown’s bottles are completely  impractical to wash). I was floored. The woman who usually watches my kids while I work, was on vacation this week and took it upon herself to find a back up rather than leaving me to figure it out on my own. I could go on and on and on. (Happy Birthday, Swamp Witch). My network of help is endless even though I live an hour and a half from family and moved to Denver three years ago knowing absolutely no one.

Women really do have each other’s backs. All my railroad wives stick together. No one “gets it” but us. All my Veteran friends stick together. No one “gets it” but us. Moms stick together. No one “gets it” but us. So find your tribe and hold on. It will save you. 😉

Not me. Not this time.

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I have never been the one to mess with. I have either always knew the rule or researched it enough to know whether my stance on the matter was right or wrong. Health/ dental insurance don’t mess with me.  I know my contract in and out. I know what I am “entitled to”.

“But Dacia, you’re a millennial, you’re not entitled to anything!

I am a ten year Army veteran. I have earned my health and dental plans. (But really they are my husband’s work’s so shut up. Yes I have ‘earned’ them)

So let me tell you women something. You do not have to agree with what they tell you.

You don’t have to go along because you don’t know any better

You can learn negative and detrimental things of you own past that bring to light something you held at high regard.

You can learn that ‘”protection” might not have actually saved you from the danger of your own family.

You can learn that after 32 years of existence, what you thought you had built your own foundation  on was a lie or was kept a secret from you, in hopes that it would go away.

I feel ashamed and defensive. I feel like I am owed the truth on the matter before I go chiseling at the details.

I feel that being so comfortably removed from the situation has, yes, saved me from the physical hurt that others have experienced but also left the remaining victims silent in their recovery, personal remorse, and unable to anonymously share their side of the story.

Ladies- You are not alone. Many have felt this pain. It is not my story to tell, but if you can help others by stepping up, then maybe it’s worth it.

It is time that you have felt this validation. That YOU know that you are loved despite the things that happened to you.

I grew up so far removed. My memories are locked in the photos I own. I try to apply principles to my own little family that has very different dynamics.

If you can please help me to understand why women lay so vulnerable to men;   not allowing their own voices to be heard. Why do you place your husband above the love of your children? Then I may be able to sleep tonight.

Choose Life

This essay was shared with me in confidence, and my dear friend will remain anonymous by her request. This very subject brings out ever primal instinct in me to fight and protect and cry all at the same time.

Friend- I can find no words. You have always been a strong personality in my day to day, but I shamefully underestimated what was underneath. You are strong beyond measure. You chose to overcome rather than be defeated. You continue to look for ways to build yourself against all odds. You are beautiful and worth every ounce of respect given to you. Thank you for choosing life.

Choose Life

Note to readers: I feel like my heart is out in the open as I write this, but at the same time, I feel empowered now that I have the courage to share what was once considered shameful, something that was never to be acknowledged as events that actually happened. This. Actually. Happened.  Sadly, it’s happening to someone else as you read this. I hope sharing my story helps raise awareness and gives another survivor the courage to reach out, get help, and regain control of their life.

“Either you can tell them, or they can find out when Child Protective Services comes to your house tomorrow.” my youth pastor told me.  I felt my heart pounding in my chest and my eyes welled up as I shook my head.

“No, no, they can’t know! They can’t know, please don’t do this.” I responded fervently.  My pastor and I were talking outside of my youth group and people were around, but my surroundings quickly faded at the urgency of the dialogue.  How could I tell my mom that her father, a man loved by all, had sexually abused me from ages six to twelve?  And furthermore, how could I tell my parents on Mother’s Day? I knew my mom would believe me and that she wouldn’t be mad at me, but I didn’t want our “perfect world” to be flipped upside down.

I don’t remember much about what happened that Mother’s Day.  I told my mom that Grandpa abused me every time he saw me for the last six years, and I recall silent tears streaming down her face.  She didn’t have a chance to tell my dad, so he found out when CPS and the police officer knocked on our door.

The first time it happened, I was in the shower when my grandpa came in.  My whole family was on the other side of the bathroom door. Grandpa was bold. I remember asking my grandpa, “Is this sex?” He answered yes and told me that if I ever told anyone it would tear the family apart.

People were around a lot of the times when he abused me. He would ask me to get something from the garage, but I wouldn’t know until we got there if he wanted to touch me or if we were actually getting something.  Other times it would be just me, my brother, and cousins in the house and Grandpa would take only me into his room. Later, my brother admitted that he and my cousins often excluded me because they were jealous that Grandpa spent so much time with me.

Eventually, my own behavior starting manifesting warning signs.  I used to pretend that my dolls were having sex, and one time I put a towel over my and my younger cousin’s head and began kissing her; thinking that nobody would notice since the towel was over our heads.  The abuse was literally right under my family’s noses, and from a young age I was exhibiting “red flag” behaviors.

Strangely, my family’s perfect Pleasantville never altered after they learned the truth.  My family did not want to treat me like a victim, so they acted like nothing ever happened to me. They could not bear to hear the details, so nobody asked me what happened, and I never told.  It felt as if my family thought I should be “over it” since the abuse was over. The police never heard the full story either and my grandpa was never charged for something that would have caused him to spend many years in prison. It also didn’t help that CPS sent a man; I did not feel comfortable speaking with him.  Instead, I spoke with the female police officer, but I was never asked to share the details of what happened to me.

My parents thought they were doing everything right, protecting me from seeing my grandpa until I was ready and taking me to counseling. I attended therapy throughout high school and it helped, but it was always situational conflict resolution instead of addressing the core issue.  I remember working through my relationships with my dad as well as an abusive boyfriend. Both byproducts of the abuse—my hesitancy to get close with my dad and being overly submissive with my boyfriend.  It was as if therapy addressed the aftermath of the abuse, but not the abuse itself.  Imagine a broken glass jar.  Therapy cleaned up the tiny shards of glass on the floor, but did nothing to repair the shattered jar itself.

I was a high functioning teenager and learned to cope without ever having to verbalize the things my grandfather had done to me.  Looking back on my late teen/early adulthood years, it seems everything was normal, including my mental health. I graduated high school with good grades and studied nursing in college.  However, during college, I felt strong emotions resurface about the abuse.  Pediatric nursing taught me about play therapy, how kids reenact what they’re exposed to, and that psuedoseizures often correlate with molestation.  Suddenly, I was filled with anger toward my parents, wondering how life would have been different if they’d recognized my warning symptoms and intervened.

I managed to graduate from nursing school and marry an amazing man, but anxiety always loomed in the shadows of my mind. I remained a victim to what I now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I suffered alone, not realizing that my mind was constantly functioning in a state of high alert; seeing threats, causing panic at every turn.  I was scared to walk down sidewalks by myself, afraid to shower unless my husband was around (lest someone break into my home and abuse me).  My brain worked like this—always on guard, and if I let my guard down, then I’d be vulnerable.  I had nightmares, panicked at the sight of fathers kissing their daughters, was anxious because a male doctor cared for me as a patient, and felt dirty inserting a urinary catheter in an elderly man.  I felt alone, like nobody else was experiencing what I was going through.

When I realized that PTSD was affecting my career, I sought further counseling.  For the first time, I endured the painful memories so that I could reconcile my past.  I had to relive my childhood, as a grown woman, and think about events that hadn’t crossed my mind in over a decade.   It was as if I rewound time, passed the “recovered” stage of college and young married life, and resurrected the memories of a child trying to hold it all together.  For the first time, my story was heard.

After coping with these horrendous events, I determined that I would not be defined by the abuse.  I chose not to be a victim to PTSD; I chose LIFE! I learned coping mechanisms like: assessing risk versus fear, realizing that nobody can hurt me with their glances or their words (no matter how inappropriate), allowing myself to ask someone to accompany me to a restaurant bathroom, and remembering that what my husband and I do in our bedroom is safe and consensual.

With this change, however, comes new fears.   I need guidance with many things that people take for granted because they grew up in a home with healthy boundaries.  I reformat every thought in my head and assess if it’s PTSD or a rational thought.  It’s a constant change that needs to occur, and success is dependent on this change. For example, I had to be taught that bathing my nephew and teaching him basic grooming skills is caregiving rather than incestuous.  I wish I could say that I made that dramatic change once and it fixed my life forever, but it’s a change that I have to make every day in order to succeed. Now I choose courage over fear. Now, I’m no longer the victim—I’m the victor.

I have overcome many challenges on this journey, but I know there will be many more to face.

Like how will I manage the trials of pregnancy and child birth? Perinatal checks, strangers touching my baby bump, and everyone wanting to hold my baby? How will I feel safe as a patient if I need narcotics or anesthesia? Choosing courage requires me to lower my guard and place trust in my caregivers.

This abuse will stay with me forever, and I will constantly have to change my natural responses in order to have a life worth living.  But I can be a conqueror, overcomer, and regain control of my life.  I don’t have to be known as, “the girl who was abused.”  I am the woman who picked herself up, has a successful marriage, a thriving career, and wants to be a mother someday.  I choose to change my perception every day so I can have an enjoyable, authentic life.  I am worth it.

The Mountain Climb!

Miscarriage is devestating. I know I’ve told my stories about my struggles with fertility, but please know that though it is extremely common, it is heartbreaking to lose a child. I went through a cycle of feeling dead inside and hated myself, too. But we don’t have to suffer alone. This post was written by my sister. Love you girl. Welcome back!

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My husband James and I have been married for 7 years and in 7 years our one goal was to become parents. The sooner we could start planning and making that dream become reality, the happier we would be. I had no idea Infertility was a thing or that we would have issues. The question “Why Me” has been asked and I still ask that question. Every year our resolution is to have a baby. That’s our wish, the one thing our hearts desire for is to be a Mommy and Daddy to our very own children. We have a fur daughter Aubrey but we would love nothing more than for Aubrey to be a Big sister.

We had a hunch that this year would be “Our Year”, the year that our dream would in fact come true. The New Year started and we knew our appointment with a Specialist…

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Three Underrated Baby Items Mama Doesn’t know She Needs

As I sit in my garage selling things my family has grown out of, I can’t help but to reflect on some items that have saved my sanity the past 8 months. Things that before my second child, I had no idea existed. It would be a terrible injustice not to share them with everyone.

  1. The Silicone Breast Pump.

I bought this little doo-hicky on Amazon for about $15. Basically it’s a suction cup that catches your let down milk on the side that you are not nursing. I hated wasting this liquid gold into a nursing pad. It was also helpful in draining after babe was finished nursing if I was not completely empty. This device helped me extend my BF journey 4 more months.

2. The Infant Positioner.

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They recommend this gadget for safely side-sleeping your infant with reflux or flat head. I used this nice little cushioned divider for co-sleeping. It kept her pretty contained for the first few months and offered a snug and comfy portable sleeping mat that I literally could take anywhere. Napping in strange places or friend’s homes was so easy. And to think I paid $3 on a yard sale page for this.. (She was only asking for $1. I left her $3)

UPDATE: While this product was helpful for me and my family, studies show that anything in an infant’s crib is a potential suffocation hazard. The FDA urges to not use infant positioners because of the risk of SIDS. This was ideal for our family, but please be diligent in choosing any item for your child.

3. DIAPER STRAPS!!!!!

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If I were to get a new mama a gift, it would be about 4 of these bad boys. A local woman sells these on her Etsy page, in which I will shamelessly tag now. Sew Darn Cute where my friend Molly sells some pretty awesome mom things like door silencers and crinkle paper teething toys (which is my chunky monkey’s favorite toy). But all joking aside, these straps keep my diaper bag together and organized. I don’t have to search for a burp clothe, socks, and I don’t have diapers just floating willy-nilly in the bottomless pit of diaper bag. A good friend of mine is having triplets… I bought her 10 of these. She’s gonna need em!

 

I’m sure other items saved my life but these are just the immediate ones I can think really made a difference. What was your saving grace??

The Generation That Built Us

Having a daughter has completely derailed me. Things that I have kept high on a shelf, have come down to tiny hands that don’t understand the frailty of the memories they hold.

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This bunny has a good 25 years on her new owner.

My father being in the military, we rarely lived close to family. When we did go “home” to visit, we stayed with my grandmother; my father’s mother. I only just recently found out my own mother hated it. But my brother, sister and I loved everything about it. The cookie jar that held snack cakes instead of just plain ole cookies, the “haunted barn” we’d explore only supervised by my aunt, who would later in life become my roommate, the smell of coffee and cigarettes at all hours of the day, and Grandma. Her cooking, her gifts, her love, and her pride in us: the grandkids.

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Always so proud of us (I’m the bottom left of the main photo.. My cousin is the innocent by-standard. Her blog can be found HERE).

My Grandmother was the face of everything that the subsequent generations wanted to be to their family: the Matriarch. There was not a get together that she was not in the center of. Her cooking alone is enough for its own post.  It was never ever about what she bought us. What she gave us, she made with her own two hands. I am happy that even at a young age, I recognized the prize that was handed to me that Christmas.

Hand sewn bunnies, like the one gifted to me in the first photo, were given to all the granddaughters she had at the time. Many MANY more came later, but as her eye sight went, and her arthritis worsened, fewer things were sewn and less gifts were made.

And now as a mother, I treasure more the things my mother makes for me and my children. I want her to be proud of my children like my grandmother was proud of us. I want my daughter to know the line of strong women that she comes from. I also want her to know the value and worth behind taking a few abstract materials, a little bit of finesse and a lot of love and transforming it into an heirloom; a token of love and life that will transcend her own if treated delicately.

Grandma, thank you for sharing your gifts with us. I hope I do well to teach my kiddos of your diligence, your love and your pride in them. Even my littlest little who did not get to meet you. We love and miss you dearly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Snap Shot of Life on the Extra Board.

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Photo Credit: Ales Krivec

This super-short is in response to a writing prompt that is very dear to my heart. You can find the original post at What Inspires Your Writing?

Twelve hours had come way too slow. He had been stopped in the middle of nowhere with no one else but the engineer for ten hours of the day. Not moving. Just waiting for dispatch to give them a green light. Instead they will deadhead in a van with a sketchy driver to their destination: a dirty hotel without consistent wifi. Bored and tired, he was ready for the day to be over.

Ten hours had come way too fast. She really felt she could use a few more hours in the day. By the time dinner for the kids was finished, hers was cold. She did the dishes while she ate, with the baby chatting in her high chair and son playing Mouse Trap upstairs. Bottles washed, diaper bag and back pack ready for the next day. Her own lunch prepped and ready to grab for the morning, she takes a few more minutes to clean up the living room before scooping up the baby and carrying dirty clothes with her upstairs. Then baths, PJs, teeth brushed, stories told, milk refilled, bedtime snack given, cuddling the babe back to sleep, more milk, and finally she is able to take off her shoes and work clothes. Laying in bed, she keeps the TV on for light and mindlessly looks at her phone until sleep arrives. She can hardly make it to 9pm, exhausted. 12am a little boy appears and snuggles until she is able to wake up enough to return him to bed and fulfill his requests. 2am a sleepy girl cries for milk. Twenty minutes to satisfy her hunger and then back to bed. She glances at the clock. 3 more hours until her alarm goes off. She doesn’t even know what day it is.