Our Adventures Thus Far

So, I had every intention at the beginning of the year, to really be more consistent with the blog. I am just not feeling the writing stuff as much as I am listening to Podcasts and I have thrown around the idea of starting my own, with just Punky and I talking. We have some crazy fun conversations sometimes. But, I think since I’ve been following most of the same people here and on Facebook/Instagram I don’t really have anything new to talk about that I don’t already do on Facebook/Instagram.

But, I did come across the most amazing thing this month. It started with me being gifted a Birchbox subscription for Christmas. I love it. I am not a big make-up girl, but I love getting mail that’s not bills and it’s always like opening a present every month. I get stuff for my hair, perfume, and then random make-up things I play with or give away. All in all it’s been a pretty awesome thing. Upon seeing Mommy receive these fun boxes in the mail, Punky expressed that she wished people sent her mail.

So Kim and I looked into subscriptions for kids. There are a lot of them to choose from, but man, this one is my favorite. We got Koala Crate and I’ve been eyeballing it since I first saw it many moons ago in a Facebook promoted post or something. But, I’ve always been kind of skeptical about doing subscription stuff for Punky. She flakes out pretty easily. I bought a subscription to ABC Mouse and while she loved it, she needed a lot of help or had to use one of our computers when we needed it and the subscription soon lost its value. We got her a subscription to an android app for books. And she spent a great deal of time with it, I don’t remember what its called right now, Owl something or another, but it’s just books for all ages and topics and she just had to touch the picture and it read the book her. She played it for about a week and that too went off on the wayside.

So imagine my skepticism when I read I was going to have to spend $20 a month just to send my kid some trinkets in a box. And I didn’t get to pick the topic or the theme for the month. I didn’t know what would be coming until she opened it. I can’t prepare. It’s a bunch of crafts and I’m a crafty mom, but I don’t want to make a mess or have to do too much that I have to be involved in. So, all in all, this seemed like a bad idea, but Punky really wanted mail. They had a special for $10 off the first box and since I pay $10 for my Birchbox a month, I figured, we could try it out and see what came of it. And if Punky really didn’t care for it, or wasn’t engaged enough, I would just say $10 well spent, no more needed.

Our crate came today and I did a huge post on Facebook about how much I love and how awesome it was and it was only after the first of THREE activities. Now, I’m blogging about it, because I needed a better space to give me the time and attention our fun today really deserves.

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Punky immediately noticed there was a package on the porch and while she didn’t know it was for her, she sure loves opening the boxes that come to the house. She just loves it, no matter who it’s from. THEN, I read who the box was addressed to and it said her name and she was so excited that she got a package in the mail. She was just delighted.

We opened it up and found all these neat things she couldn’t stop touching. But, all the pieces were durable and kid friendly. So that was nice. She man-handled the latches on the cardboard for the windcar and it didn’t rip or break, and I was impressed. Because she is good at destroying stuff.

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We put the car together and there are four sails to go with it, made with different shapes, sizes and materials. She was able to follow my simple step by step instructions and put the car together, ‘mostly’ by herself. Which was awesome for me, because while I like to do things with my kid, I am not a sit down and play kinda mom. I really liked that everything came in the crate. Like, literally everything was in there. From the stickers to hold it together, to the oil pastel crayons to decorate. Once I sat at the table with her, I didn’t have to get up again to go get tape or scissors or whatever else might have been needed. It just came with it.

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So, I balked at the $20 a month when I went to check it out originally. But, since the box has come; I realize the $20 is probably a lot less than it should be priced. It’s affordable for the quality, attention to detail and the genius idea they have. It’s tailored to my kid’s age, so I don’t have to worry about it being too big for her or too little. They made WIND fun for my kid.

With the windsock, the second activity we did, she was able to see how the wind outside moves things and in what direction it moves. All the stuff came with it, down to the string you need to tie it to something. Seriously. Every piece that you need for these activities is in the crate. It’s so easy to use and it’s exciting to see her eyes light up when she makes something on her own and then gets to play with it.

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We took the windsock outside and let it blow in the wind, talking about how the wind moves and such. The final activity in the box was a “weather chart”. It has a laminate type surface and re-useable stickers with the different weather on it. Sunny, Windy, Snowing, etc. she gets to change her chart everyday to show the temperature and the weather and then check her windsock to see how windy it is. She’s absolutely delighted.

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As a mom who’s not hands on all the time, this is the perfect amount of activity and engagement for me. The supplies are phenomenal and the quality of the items inside are both kid friendly, simple, and well worth the money. I am looking forward to the next crate to come. I am hoping to blog on this each month, because this Koala Crate is not just teaching my kid about different things, this month being wind, but it’s teaching me ways to spend time with my kiddo that doesn’t involve disingenuous Barbie dialogue or playing an app on my phone.

So, if you are intrigued and you want to try it out, I think you should! They have crates that are specific to the child’s age. We have the Koala Crate for 3-4 year olds, but you can get crates for up to 16 years of age I believe.

If you want to try it out and you want the $10 off your first month. If you are skeptical like I was, use my code and you can get that $10 off using my code to refer you to this awesome company. http://doodle.kiwicrate.com/Refer?i=RachaelF6

I’m excited to go on this Koala Crate journey with my kid and hopefully you will join us! #koalacrate

 

 

Three has entered the building

SO when Punky turned three last year everyone said, “Oh, everybody says two is bad, blah blah, but THREE they are worse.” I can’t even tell you how many times I heard, “It’s not the terrible twos, it’s the terrifying threes!” So, like all fun mom antecedents, they never come with flowers or rainbows. No motherhood stories from other moms are not ever fairytales, but war stories. I swear, could I have gotten one nice labor and birth story when I was pregnant?

Nope. Anyway, to say I was a little concerned that my sweet, usually well tempered two year old would suddenly get a demon gripped into her little body and wreck havoc on our life, is an understatement. I was terrified for three.12369093_10154430312624148_3232621469315260783_n

But then three came and nothing really changed. She had a sassy mouth and a big personality, sure. She was a little spoiled, probably a lot entitled and yet, still there wasn’t much for her to tantrum about.

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We have been the kind of parents who talk to Punky. About everything. We talk it out, we discuss, we reason. It’s why she could tell me she was frustrated when she was two and ask for help. She literally said, “Mommy, I’m FR-uster-ated! Can you help me?” So there was not real tantrum, maybe a yelling match or a stomping the feet, some pouting. I won’t say she was an angel, but she was a pretty good kid with probably 95% of the time, a sweet, loving, kind little girl.

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***Cue the last couple weeks***

She will be four in March, meaning she has been three for 10 whole months. Without too much issue. Then suddenly, every day is THREE. I totally get it. But I wish it would have happened sooner. It’s like she has held in her three-ness and suddenly its combusted and it’s leaking out by the gallons and exploding all over her moms, the house, the world.

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I swear, I say one little thing and she’s gone down stairs for “alone time” (which is really just her self induced time out). Just the other day I said, “Love, be careful on the chair, you will bonk you head.” and she looked at me like she took it as a personal insult that came out of my mouth and hurtled at her at lightning speed. To which she crossed her arms, gave me a very hurt look and stomped off to her bedroom.

Leaving me looking at her like she’s lost her damn mind, because I don’t know what I said to offend her.

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When she’s not huffy, pouting or whiny; she’s outright mean. Like full demon child mean. I don’t know where this came from! She’s not in daycare, she’s not in school, she’s barely around other kids her age, and we certainly don’t talk to each other the way she talks to us right now.

Oh and the hitting! Goodness gracious, if we tell her no or we take something from her because she’s done something wrong, look out for flying fists, swinging feet and the ever so awesome attempt to bite enabled. (AND she’s never bit anyone in her life, unless she’s been mad. She wasn’t a biter as a baby.)

Most recently, we have had a severe regression in the potty training. We’ve been potty training for over a year. She was doing really well. In the last couple weeks to a month, she’s decided she doesn’t need to pee in the potty anymore and just pisses on everything and anything that isn’t the potty.

It’s frustrating as hell and I’m trying my best not to enact the spanking tactic that older generations used. I pride myself in not shaming her, trying to be understanding and being as patient as I can. But when this kid stands in the middle of the living room floor, 2 minutes after I asked her to go to the bathroom and she argued she didn’t need to, and then pisses right there on the floor, my patience is at the end of the rope.

She looks cute right?! SO sweet. Think again. LOL!

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So we have a rule that she starts the day with underwear, if she pees in them throughout the day, she must wear a pullup the rest of the day. She hates pullups. So when she pees in her underwear and I start for the pullup, she’s yelling how she didn’t know and Mommy is mean and she’s not fair. Of course, I just reply with “you know the rules and we will try again tomorrow.”

At quiet time before she goes to bed, she gets to have her tablet if she hasn’t peed in her pants all day. Night before last, she peed on the floor right before quiet time and was informed she didn’t get to have her tablet. She began hit me in quick succession. Of course, it was more like a toddler slap fight that I wasn’t participating in. Then she kicked my shin. I told her it was bedtime and we needed to change her clothes.

We marched down to her room  (Luckily, I didn’t have to carry her down the stairs kicking and screaming this time). While on her bed, putting her arms through her nightgown she lunged at me ….. with her MOUTH. Like a tiny little piranha.  She’s screaming how I’m a mean mommy and she hates me and I’m not a nice girl. All while trying her very best to bite me. To the point where I pulled my arm away and she’s grabbing at my arm with her hands to bring it to her gnashing mouth like she’s ready to tear into the flesh of a turkey leg! Wild eyes and all.

I finally got her dressed, didn’t attempt the hug or kiss, because goodness I didn’t want to get close enough to lose an ear. I said goodnight and I love you, to which she retorted “I hate you, mean mommy” accompanied by a blood curdling scream. I closed the door and waited outside.

She says the meanest shit behind her bedroom door. I’m not sure if she says it because she knows I’m out there or she does it because she thinks if the door is shut, I can’t hear the stuff coming out of her little mouth.

Like, I don’t know where she gets the angry words she says in there, but I let her go until I hear her come to the door, open it and try to escape. I simply point at the bed and say, “It’s bedtime.” She gets pissed and starts the hitting all over. It’s like a damn ball of fire has ignited and it doesn’t stop til she’s all burned out.

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I pick her up this time and put her back in her bed. She’s kicking me by this time and trying to hit me in the face. It’s very difficult to restrain little hands and carry a child safely back to the bed. All while trying really hard not to smack the shit out of her and keep my composure and patience.

After a few more rounds of that, she gives up, because really, Mommy is bigger and more stubborn than she is. She’s climbs in bed and once she’s able to talk to me, I will sit on her bed, hug her close and tell her I love her even when she’s mad.

“I’m just upset Mommy!” I will nod my head and say, “I know, my love. And it’s ok to be upset. But it’s not ok to hit your moms or bite them.” she snuggles closer and replies, “I know. I was just upset. I’m sorry.”

I tell her I love her, tuck her into bed and remind her to stay in her bed unless she’s got to pee. And she does that. Usually. All cried out and exhausted, I think, she simply passes out.

I tell that story, because last night, we had a similar incident. Its happened so frequently with the potty training regression that I’m prepared for it, waiting for it. I can basically feel the tantrum boiling up inside her until it explodes all over me.

My little princess is about to be possessed by the angry demon inside her tiny body!

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Last night, she had gone all day without an ‘accident’ (for lack of a better word, because I really don’t think they are accidents) and she was allowed to take her tablet to quiet time. About 30 minutes into quiet time, I hear her cry out and her tiny voice is dismayed and upset. The whining started and I knew ….. she peed herself.

I sighed, and waited. Yup, Kim called me downstairs and I told Punky to give Mama back the tablet that she can’t have it anymore. She was so mad, she screamed and yelled. I went to get her new clothes and when I came back, she had relinquished the tablet. Not without a barrage of mean words or screaming, but thus far had not hit anyone or thrown anything.

I braced myself for the worst when I bent down to put her underwear on her, expecting her to smack me in the head or something. Nothing happened, she just said, “I hate you and mama. You are not my favorite mommy.” to which I said, “I understand, love.”

She said, “I’m mad at you!” I said, “I know, love.” She responded with “I hate you and I don’t like you!” I said, “I love you even when you’re mad.”

She headed to her bed, climbed in and I thought, I don’t reward the good stuff enough. I know she just pissed in the middle of her bedroom floor, but she didn’t HIT me or BITE me – that’s something.

So, I sat down with her and said, “You peed on your floor and you know you shouldn’t have. SO you can’t have your tablet tonight.”

“I know. I’m mad about that.”

“I know you are mad, but do you know what you’re not doing?”

“What Mommy?”

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“You are using your words and not your fists. You aren’t hitting anyone. See, you can be mad and upset, but you don’t have to hit people.” I kissed her on the cheek and said, “I will let you watch one movie before bed, because you handled your anger appropriately.

Kim of course said, “Didn’t she just say she hated us?!”

And she did. But for me, I want Punky to know she can tell me when she’s mad at me, I want her to feel comfortable talking to me about anything, including those negative feelings and emotions she might have. So, for me, I would prefer she said mean words, than lash out with violence.

So, it was a win last night in my book. Hopefully, it will spark a change in her dealing with her anger, because it’s tough being three. I sure hope four is better. (Cue the horror stories……)

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New Year, New Beginnings

Well, we survived 2015. It was a rough and pretty tough year. We had a lot of things that went wrong and not too many things that went right. I am not ashamed to say, I’m very glad to see 2015 come and go.

In 2016, I will be working at home and spending more time with my kid. Hopefully, I will find the reason for my funk and crawl my way out of it. Who knows, I might even take my meds consistently for more than half the year.

Social anxiety and agoraphobia took its hold on me in 2015, the causes are yet to be seen; even though I attend weekly therapy sessions. I’m not finding them to be any help really. But, I have a beautiful kid and she’s smart, and funny, and kind. She will get me through whatever rough patch my heart and mind have teamed up to battle me with.

In the meantime, I went through my pictures from 2015; the ones I have chronologically put in my hard drive and pulled out my very favorite of the year. As always, by month, here are my favorite 12 pictures.

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I don’t generally make New Year’s Resolutions, I’m terrible at keeping them. So I am not doing that. I’m just going to go with the flow of the year, as always and try to be grateful for the things that do create happiness in my life.

Hope your family has a happy new year. 2016 will be the year things all turn around (I hope).

 

Christmas Eve “Eve”

The kid is in the tub, so I have a minute of quiet to myself. I never realized how much I craved that until this last couple months. It’s been so long since I looked at this blog or read anything on it, wordpress didn’t even remember my login.

For that I’m sad. Maybe the new year will bring a better blogger out in me. Because this year has brought a not too awesome person out in me. I’ve spent the last few months feeling like a failure as a wife and a mother and in general … a person.

I’m not really sure why or how that happened. I’m still trying to figure it out. I have so much in my life to bring happiness and love in my heart and yet, it’s heavy with sadness, riddled with anxiety. And most days, I am finding it harder to get out out of bed or breathe than it is to simply live.

I’ve spent a good portion of the last couple months on my couch. Binge-watching Netflix, maybe that’s true what they say, those who binge-watch Netflix are the most depressed. I don’t know. It seems relevant today.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an excellent job and I love doing it, when I’m there. When I can make myself get out of bed and actually go there. Luckily, this job has been so compassionate about my anxiety and agoraphobia, giving me health days and working with me to get set up at home. In a few short weeks, I will be able to work from home. That’s a step I’m hoping pulls me out of this funk. Will it? I don’t know anymore.

I look at this kid.

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I’m more in awe every moment that we have a kid. And an ALMOST four year old at that. Everytime she calls me Mom I just melt. But, I can’t bring myself to stop cocooning myself in my computer and my couch to enjoy her. To really show her how in awe of her I am. To tell her just how in love I am with her. I hope she knows. I wish I didn’t wonder if she knew that.

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I don’t feel connected to anyone in my life. Including my wife. The one person I love more than any other.  I don’t communicate, I don’t move, I don’t do anything. I feel more like a shell of a person than a living breathing person.

I hope to change that in the new year.

So with that, my 2016 goals are simple to most people, but sure to challenge me in every way.

  • Take Punky to more playdates
  • Perfect Attendance for at least half the year at work
  • Take my meds consistently
  • Communicate with my wife
  • Spend less time on the computer

I don’t know if there is any chance I will actually do these things. But hopefully, it will make me a more happy, less angry person. I don’t know the person I have become in the last few months. I don’t know how I got here and I’m not sure I see the light anywhere at the end of this path.

But, I have hope. And I have resolve. And … I have support. More support than I should have in my life. This too shall pass. How ever long it takes, whatever needs to be done, this too shall pass.

I know this post is heavy. Not exactly in the spirit of the season. But I had to get it out, put it somewhere. This is the only place that’s mine alone. So for that, I’m sorry. This too shall pass. It’s just a moment in time. May the new year be better for my heart, for my mind, and for my relationships.

Happy Holidays everyone and may your new year be bright.

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Abandoned Corner of the Internet

I know I have simply abandoned my blog and for that I’m super sad. But lately, lots of things make me super sad. It’s a sad life to live when you find victory in just getting out of bed and going to work. And staying there. Mental struggles in my head are pretty rampant right now. I absolutely love my job and it’s sooooo much less stress than the old job, I just have no idea what the problem is. I’m working with a therapist to figure this shit out, but so far, I just feel like I’m floating around, buoyed by the sense that I have to keep going, just because that’s life and that’s what you are expected to do as an adult.

But, somedays, I feel like a disservice as a wife and a mom. It’s been difficult to engage in much. I having more and more anxiety and less nights of sleep. More nights of nightmares of shit that won’t actually happen and less pretend smiles. It really frustrates me that I don’t have a reason to be “depressed”. I have no reason to be the way I am.

I just am.

And there’s no reason for it.

Not when I have so much more in my life that is worth every bit of happiness I should be experiencing.

I do the best I can and I don’t feel like it’s enough. But, we have had some adventures, so I suppose that’s something.

We have been enjoying the nice Fall weather that looks like it might stick around finally.

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We have been spending time with friends in the Pumpkin Patch and carving pumpkins.

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And we have been counting down the days to Halloween. Punky is really looking forward to Halloween right now. When I asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween and she responded with “Kitty Fairy”. I was dumbfounded by what that meant, so we sort of pieced things together.

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There’s so much we have done and I can’t find much joy in any of it. It’s the hardest thing to admit. To myself, to the world. I just don’t know how to get out of this funk. It just gets worse. I can’t make myself get up off the couch and actually leave my house. It’s a struggle to get to work. A job I really like. It’s a struggle to dance with my kid. It’s a struggle to do anything but sit in my own thoughts and wonder where things went wrong and how to get back on track.

I have so much that I should be light about, and yet, my heart is too heavy to believe any of it.

Maybe a new year, god it’s already almost 2016! Maybe a new year will wash my slate clean – I don’t really want to wait that long, but dragging myself out of this hole of anxiety and depression has been a battle for several months. I am hanging on by my fingernails, for dear life.

Just making it. Doing the minimum and doing my best to not effect my kid with this funk.

Not So “Microblog Monday” – Teaching Consequences Without Fear

I started this blog as a way to connect with like minded parents who might be raising their kids without religion. I know I mostly don’t touch on it. The reason for that is mostly because that aspect of our parenting has very little effect on us or our day or our relationship with our kid. The absence of religious teaching in our parenting, is just that, an absence.

The fact that we don’t include religious teachings into our parenting, doesn’t change how to we parent much. We will instill the concepts of right and wrong; cause and effect; and rewards and consequences.

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We still teach her manners and using please and thank you, not interrupting adults, and using “nice words”. And none of these have to be done with religious upbringing.

I don’t blog about our lack of religious upbringing because it doesn’t effect how our family functions. I still go to work, Kim still stays home with Punky. Punky still has rules and chores. We still sit at the table as a family at dinner time and discuss how our day was. We still dance around the living room or have picnics at the coffee table while watching a movie.

The point of this blog wasn’t to rant and rave about how religious upbringing is bad or the reasons why we don’t do it, but to simply show, that raising your kid without religion, doesn’t change the fundamentals or parenting dynamics. Our way isn’t any better or any worse than those who choose to parent with religion being the focus. It’s just different.

I bring this up, because our family is a lot of different things. But labels don’t define us. A “None” family. A two mom family. A free thinking family. A family of choices. A family of technology. A family of questions. A family who eats fast food. A time out family. A family who has no limit on screen time. A cry it out family. A family with mental illness. A family without labels or boxed in expectations.

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I bring all of this up, because generally when I tell people that we are parenting without religion, the number one question I get is: “How does your daughter learn there are consequences for her actions without the fear of consequences?” And to that I simply say, “Why does there need to be an essence of fear?” I feared my dad growing up. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a house of fear. I want my daughter to know that she can come to me with anything. Any questions, any problem, any choice. Any reasonable and respectful argument. Anything.

So, to make it about fear … to me, religion is equated with fear. Which is pretty much why I personally don’t want her raised in a religious household. Fear of “the consequences” are scary when you are a kid growing up with religion. Hell is a scary concept. Especially for a kid. Fear of rejection. From a loving God, but if you do wrong things, you are rejected. Unless you are forgiven, which you can ask for forgiveness for everything, so then your ‘sin’ doesn’t matter anymore. So those bad things you did, it’s ok, and you can keep doing them and keep asking for forgiveness.

Where is the consequence or lesson being taught there? The circle is maddening and it is (for me) simply a way to instill control on children at a young age and to keep people in a box. To make sure they do what their told, when they are told, and don’t ask any questions about anything, because it ‘just is’; ‘just have faith’; ‘you don’t believe enough’. All of which, in my mind growing up, equated to “You aren’t good enough if you don’t just believe in what we are telling you is right and true.” “You aren’t a good person if you don’t believe in this, if you question it, you question God and that makes you a terrible person and you are going to Hell. Repent now.” These are not the self esteem boosters I want for my kid.

Morals and ethics are not taught by religious leaders. That’s the job of a parent. Parents teach their children what is right and wrong in the world. What’s dangerous and what’s safe. Parents, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof teach their children what society finds acceptable, what boundaries are in place (laws and social norms) and where those boundaries can be crossed or JUMPED (gender roles, pfft) over.

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As a kid who grew up with a Christian background, I remember a time when my Sunday School teacher told the class, “Be wary of those who don’t believe in God. Those are not friends to keep.” And I raised my hand, I was about 12 or so, and asked, “But how do we spread the word or tell them about God, if we can’t be friends with them? Doesn’t it push them away from God to shun them from our friendship?” The teacher had no answer and didn’t answer it. She simply gave me look that made me instantly realize I shouldn’t question what she says. And I didn’t question again.

That’s the thing with religious teaching. There’s no questions. There’s blind faith. There’s no answers. There’s no thinking for yourself, only believe what’s being told to you or you are doing it wrong and you MAY end up in Hell. Scary shit for a kid, right? I know it was for me.

I refuse to subject my child to that kind of teaching or upbringing. coloringWith that said, I do have people who tell me “She has the right to believe if she wants to.” And to that, they are absolutely correct. She does have that right and I won’t be the one to take it away from her. My hope is that we can do our best to facilitate and foster an environment in which she can ask questions, think for herself, and really come to a conclusion on her own. One way or the other in which she believes, I will support her. I will love her just the same.

However, right now, she’s too little to understand the things being taught and she doesn’t know any better than to simply believe – without question. She doesn’t know she can question. she doesn’t know what questions she should ask. Until she is old enough to understand, facilitate and make those questions heard and thought through, she will not be subject or introduced to things that are religious in nature.

Her cousins are Jewish. We don’t really talk about it, it’s not something that comes up. But if she had questions, I would make a point to sit down with my sister in law and we could discuss what being Jewish means and how that effects Punky’s world view. Her grandparents are all (primarily) Christian. I have no problem with her being exposed to “Gram’s friend Jesus” on a necklace, or telling her that some people believe that their loved ones go to a place in the sky when they die. Some people do in fact believe that and I want her to respect other people’s beliefs and views. But, I also want her to question why people believe that, where that belief comes from and if she does in fact also believe in that.

When she’s old enough to make up her own mind, she will be free to do so. She will be able to explore the possibilities of belief and what that means to her. Growing up with an absence of religion, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the choice to seek it out and be respected for her own growing belief systems. But I do want her to examine, question, and think about what she believes in. I want her to be able to stand up and confidently say what she believes and be about to articulate it intelligently – not “That’s what the Bible says” or “My Mom told me it is so, so it must be”. As it stands, at this age, she is not able to do that to the extent in which I would like her to.

So instead we teach her about family, about tolerance, about love, and respect. For everyone. And at the core, that’s what religious teachings do too, we just do it without a man in the sky or a guy on a cross, without a fiery damnation or a cycling guilt and forgiveness.

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Another Half Birthday Has Come and Gone

When I was a kid, I always thought it would be so neat to have a half birthday. Like, then I could celebrate twice! That’s not something that happened for me, but when Punky was born, I was determined to have half birthday for our special ONE. We only have one after all, why not make it as special as possible. Yea, she’s a bit sassy, a tiny bit spoiled, but she’s the sweetest three and a half year old I know.

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Half birthdays don’t come with presents (unless you are me and my best friend, then small trinkets) but she does get a cupcake, we sing the song and she gets a special dinner she picks out. She’s gotten better at eating the cupcakes since the first half birthday!

This year I asked her a series of 20 questions. She wasn’t really paying attention, because she had better things to do than pay attention to me, but she answered them:

  1. Who is your favorite person in the whole world? Gram
  2. What is your favorite color? Pink and Green and Purple
  3. What’s your favorite TV Show? Daniel Tiger
  4. What’s your favorite thing to wear? Everything except for a cat
  5. What song do you love the most? Ballet music and Jumping music
  6. What’s your favorite food? Applesauce and cheeseburgers and chicken
  7. Who is your best friend? Everyone, including Mama and You.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? Changer Girl
  9. What’s your favorite word? Three
  10. What are you really good at? I’m really good at playing and coloring
  11. What’s your favorite toy? Minnie and Mickey toys
  12. Where do you want to go on vacation? Searching for animals.
  13. What do you dream about? I can’t tell you.
  14. What do you like to do with your family? Play!
  15. What makes you happy? Watermelons
  16. What makes you sad? The corner makes me sad and not having fun
  17. What do you want to learn about? Computers
  18. When I was little I used to? Play with computers
  19. What’s your favorite day? 90-30
  20. What is your biggest wish? The biggest present for my birthday is for Bubba (her godfather) to come

And for those of you who aren’t following me on Facebook, here is the photoshoot we took for her half birthday at a nearby garden village in town.

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She loves fountains. She loves water. She loves to put her hands in the water of the fountains.

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She’s sassy and she’s inquisitive. She’s creative and she has an imagination like no other child I’ve seen her age. The things she comes up with are so crazy!

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She’s silly, loving, and easy to laugh. She loves to play and she gets bored easily, but she’s independent enough to find something to do to entertain herself. To say I have a unicorn of a child, I probably do. She’s not perfect, but she’s mine!

HAPPY HALF BIRTHDAY to my PUNKY MONSTER.

Trapped Inside My Racing Mind

Dear Punky,

Mommy is so in love with you. So in love with your smile and your laugh. With your imagination and your creativity. Mommy is so in love with being your mom. So thankful to have that chance. But, while I sit here and think about all the things I am so thankful for and so happy to have, a weight lays heavy on my heart.

I will never be the mom who participates in school functions that involves ‘fitting in’ with other moms. I won’t be the mom who chaperones your dances (I’m sure you will be thankful for that). I won’t be the mom who is actively involved in a play date group. My mind doesn’t allow me to feel comfortable in any of those settings. I hope that when you get older, it will not weigh on your heart as heavy as it weighs on mine.

As you get ready to turn 3 and a half, AND A HALF (where did the time go), I wonder what I have done to facilitate friendships for you – or have I contributed in isolating you. I try. I hope you know that I try. I intend to do so many things with you.

Even a trip to the park makes me uncomfortable. Makes me tired. Makes my hands sweat and my mind blur out of focus.

Will that strange mom I don’t know try to talk to me? Did I encourage her to come over with some look or something? What is so interesting about me that she has to come over here and talk to me? What do I possibly have in common with that woman? What does my face look like right now? Oh my god, I know I must be the most awkward person on the planet. This woman thinks I’m weird. Oh look, I’m the weirdo who came with her kid to the park by herself and doesn’t make any attempt to talk to adults, just her kid. That mom says you are adorable, of course you are. Did that come out snotty? Shit, I didn’t mean it to. “Your little girl is brave!” Is she secretly judging my parenting, letting my three year old climb this gigantic damn tower. A tower that the sign clearly says is made for 5 and up! Is she waiting for me to fail. Am I waiting for me to fail? Do I look fat in the shirt, I probably shouldn’t have worn this color, the pattern is too much. Maybe I can go sit on this bench over here, oh, now the whole park can see all my rolls. You’re the kid with the fat mom, awkward mom.

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All these thoughts go through my head, in a matter of mere minutes in the park. I want to enjoy my time with you. I hide behind the camera instead, so that I don’t have to engage with random people. Oh, but look, now I’m the mom on the cell phone, not paying attention to her kid. The park is exhausting.  So when you ask me to take you, I want to say yes, and in most cases I say, “Yes, baby, we can go later.” Because I have every intention of getting off my couch and out of my laptop and taking you outside to play with other kids. But, my dear one, Mommy buries her head deeper into her own thing, so she doesn’t have to think about what will happen when we step outside the door and greet the day you are sure to have a blast in. SO we don’t end up going.

Let’s don’t forget the ride to the park.

Are you buckled in right? Is the carseat proper? Oh jeez, don’t post that picture, someone will surely have something to say about the way she’s sitting in there. It’s probably wrong. Look both ways as we drive across the street, what if someone side swipes us? What if she unbuckles herself back there? Those M&M’s you just had to have at the store and just couldn’t wait til we got home to open, I opened it. But then all I could think about is – it could choke her and then I won’t be able to get back there fast enough. Then I will have a wreck and I will kill my kid. Knowing my luck, I’ll be the one to live. I can’t live without this kid. And if we don’t crash, what if I leave her in the back, no baby don’t stop talking back there, I zone out sometimes and I don’t want to forget you back there. Sing me a song, tell me a story, and though I don’t sound like I’m listening, I am. Oh I am. It is reminding me that you are back there – because there are so many times that I have looked in the back seat and expected you back there and you aren’t. It only takes one slip of the mind. No matter how precious you are to me.

Sweet girl, I know you get sad when I go to work, I get sad too. Believe me – it takes every ounce of my energy to push myself out the door every morning. A battle, a war inside my mind. And I love this job. Don’t you know, this job is the best thing that could have ever happened to Mommy. But I still war with myself about leaving and driving there and being gone and not seeing all the things you are doing here. I would rather be sitting on our couch, watching you build a fort or serenade with a new made up song. But mostly, I would just like to zone out and not be in a car on my way to work, away from you.

What happens if someone tailgates me too close in the morning traffic? What if I sneeze too hard and close my eyes, veer to too much to the right and cause a wreck? What happens to you when I die? What happens to your mama? If I don’t make it to work, we don’t have the money for the new house we live in. If I don’t make it to work, you don’t get food in your belly. If I don’t make it home, who will tuck you in at night? If I don’t go to work, I can’t get you presents and fun stuff. But why go to work, it doesn’t pay enough to get you into preschool, where you could socialize, where you could be with other kids and not be sitting at home, bored and stir crazy. But to work I must go.

My mind is not that of a calm and peaceful stream. Instead it is a raging rapid of thoughts and worries. irrational thoughts. It should probably only get worse as you get older and though I am so thankful for all the things you bring to my life, I’m sorry you got me for your mom. Because it won’t be easy. It will be frustrating. For both of us.

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We will butt heads, we are similar in that way. Stubborn, strong willed, whatever you want to call it. My psychiatrist (that’s the fancy doctor who gives me medication for these thoughts that don’t quiet) just says I might be made to be irritable. Basically, this moodiness, this reactive nature I have is not going away, it’s not something we can medicate. It’s his clinical way of saying, your Mommy will always be a bitch. Always lash out and always react to the most ridiculous of things. So in some ways, I’m a lost cause, in that way. Something we just have to live with – work together with. My patience is thin, my nerves are short, my worries are plenty.

But I will always wrap you up in my arms when you are hurt. I will always tell you that your drawing is beautiful, even as you beat yourself up because you “messed it up” or “ruined it” because to me, all the things you do are beautiful. You are the beauty of my world. You bring the bright spots to my mind. I will always hug you and kiss you as I tell you that you can’t lock your Mommy out of your bedroom. Not because I don’t respect your need for space or “alone time” or even privacy at three years old; but because the only thing I can think about when I can’t get to you is that if you get hurt, I can’t be there at a moment’s notice to kiss it away, make sure you are alright.

When you jump off the side of the couch, I don’t scold you because it’s wrong, or that I don’t want to encourage your adventurous spirit. My heart catches in my throat every moment. And while you are having the time of your life, flying through the air, the end result for me is seeing you face first on the hardwood floor, bloody lips or worse.

I’m not the mom who will toss you up in the air and catch you. I’m not the mom who will encourage you to swim in the deep end. And for that, I apologize. Its selfish of Mommy, it’s not fair to you.

May you always keep your creative spirit. May you always keep your adventurous spirit, in spite of me.

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May you always know that I love you in the best ways I know how. May you always know that I want to keep you safe from harm, but I recognize I’m not able to do that. I also recognize you aren’t as breakable as my mind makes me think you are. You are a strong little girl. A smart little girl. Sometimes too smart.

So as you grow, let’s grow together, love. And hopefully, I won’t damage you. I won’t break you down to where I am. My hope is not to teach you to be afraid of the world. My hope is to help you venture out and see the world. My hope is not to teach you to mistrust everyone, to second guess a compliment or a friendship. I hope you don’t grow up to wonder what your friends really think of you when you aren’t around.

And maybe, just maybe, even when we fight and butt heads, because we will; oh we will, my love; you will know that I love you more than any person on this planet. In the whole universe. I keep you with me, you lighten my burdened mind and my worried spirit, even if it doesn’t appear that way.

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I’m a mom with agoraphobia with associated panic disorder and PTSD. It’s a part of who I am. It’s who I will always be. I’m the mom that is described in this letter and so much more that I can’t put into words. My mind doesn’t stop, my world doesn’t stop spinning, but my sweet sweet little girl keeps me grounded, here in the present and as light as my mind will allow me to be.

A Month of Settling In and Smoothing Out.

We have been in our new house for almost a month. We have gotten most everything unpacked and our place feels like a home. I got to work in the morning, come home to dinner at the table with my wife and kid. It’s almost suburban. Punky sets the table and helps clear the dishes after dinner. She asks to be excused and tells me about her day.

Our kid is settling in. (her bed did break and now she is delightfully sleeping on her ‘pull out couch’ on the floor) She dances around the living room, makes up stories about ‘her kids’ and plays with the new sandbox in our backyard.

We have a backyard!

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Watching all the kids on my Facebook feed headed off to Pre-K and Kindergarten; I get all sad that we can’t afford to send Miss Punky to preschool. I wish it was about education though. It’s not about education when you look into preschool. It’s about “daycare” – and we don’t need daycare. I’m not paying for daycare and education should be free.

So instead, her teacher is Super Why? And Daniel Tiger. Would someone think that inferior? Yea, probably. She gets “too much screen time” and then again, she’s learning a ton.

  • She knows how to write her name (backwards, but it’s all the letters)
  • She knows how to spell her name. (she can name the letters, when not prompted, because she’s not a monkey on command)
  • She can count to thirteen, she can recognize 1-5, and on a good day 1-10
  • She knows her ‘number’ (age) and her birthday.
  • She’s mostly potty trained, though the minute I type it out here, she will have six accidents on my new stairs. She’s not night trained. Without a washer and dryer (waiting on one soon!) we aren’t overly worried about it.
  • She’s known all her colors and her shapes since she was one.
  • Animal sounds are in the bag.

She pretends like no one’s business. She has ‘kids’ that she plays with. Not sure if it’s because she’s an only child or she is just a three year old with imagination and imaginary friend(s). She’s such a cute storyteller. She says all sorts of fun things.

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She’s currently into babies, fancy dresses and magical lands. We have made the ‘trek to the Magical Land of Potty” at least four times a day in the last week. She’s all about adventure. Climbing. Dancing. She asks questions, questions I’m not prepared to answer – but I do.

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She collects rocks and fairy stories. She watches the stars and asks the big questions. The questions on religion hasn’t come up. She’s not really been exposed. I have been thinking alot about that. When it comes. Because she has SO many questions. I don’t want to indoctrinate her one way or the other. I don’t want to give her my truth or their truth. I want to teach her to think and to question and to make up her mind.

That’s just too much for a three year old – so for now, I give her answers to the questions she asks, and prepare myself for the ones she hasn’t thought of yet.

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In the end, we made a move and we got back on our feet and we weathered the storm of our kid in the process. She’s somehow lost her listening ears along the way, but I’m confident we will get them back. Find out where she hid them. I’m hopefully that we will continue to smooth out, it’s already in the works.

Operation Move Out: Bumpy Road Still Traveled

We moved into our new home a week ago. I have not felt this light and stress free in a long time. So, with the new job being the perfect job for me, the new home being the perfect home for me, so far life couldn’t get much better in my mind. I wake up in the morning, I bask in the quiet of the day before I start getting ready. I go to work, I come home to ….

the BUMPS.

Punky hasn’t been adjusting near as well as I have. It makes me feel bad, but she’s been going between fits of hateful, to being her old happy self. To put some perspective on it, she was so little when we moved in with Gram, she doesn’t remember a time when it was just the three of us, in a house, alone. Throw in a few phrases that have been said around her hugely empathetic heart and she’s gotten worried.

She’s transfixed on the thought that Gram and Pop are lonely without her. She’s sad that she doesn’t see them every day. She is bored because she doesn’t get to go outside as much as she wants or doesn’t have a pool in the backyard. She’s pissy because she didn’t get a choice, she didn’t have control over this and it’s all so brand new still.

My first instinct when we decided to move was to make sure she had an awesome room that she could play in. That would be all hers. A place she could go and be and have her own space. And I think she likes her room. I wish she would have helped pick out more of the things, but being a three year old with a small attention span, Mommy was unrealistic in thinking that would happen. But we spent a whole night putting it together and when she got to see her new home for the first time, she got to see her new room.

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It hurts my heart though, to see her go through this. And it makes it even more frustrating, because I want to let her know that her feelings are valid and we value her emotions; but at the same time I want to teach her that there are appropriate ways to express your sadness, that you can can’t go around telling your  Mama you hate her every time you miss Gram.

Of course, reasoning with a three year old is like trying to nail jello to a tree or however that saying goes.

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And so I feel sad that I am so much lighter since we have moved, so much has been lifted off my shoulders (emotionally, the bills haven’t come yet, as Kim liked to remind me the other day) and yet my little girl is struggling. It also sucks to come home to reports of the abuse that Kim has had to suffer at the hands of our three year old.

I know there are a lot of people in the world don’t think that a highly medicated woman with BiPolar Disorder is fit to take on the full time stay at home mom role. And it was never supposed to be the plan when we go pregnant. But that’s the life that we lead now and while I know it’s not ideal for Kim, she does an excellent job. We have had our moments this week, as we do, as all married couples do, but overall, I’m so proud of her for stepping up and taking on the responsibility.

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Living with her mom afforded us a lot of luxury in saving money, saving time, saving energy. Sleeping in when we were sick, staying out if we needed a break. I know this move is an adjustment for Kim as well.

To add a rebellious three year old to the mix – who keeps telling her she hates her and she wants to move out and she hates this house and she wants Gram; it just isn’t making for a great home life for my two girls I don’t think. Add in there the fact that when Punky has a tantrum (which really are so few and far between) she resorts to hitting, anything her little hands can connect with. Kim’s not known for her patience, but she has been doing exceptionally well, given the circumstances.

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I’ve had to resort to telling Miss Punky if she can’t be nice to Mama she will lose the privilege of calling Gram and visiting with her. And until she has a better attitude (because she demands we call Gram when she’s mad or throwing a tantrum) we will not be calling Gram. I don’t like to say things like that, and I certainly don’t want to have to enforce it, but it really seems to be the biggest thing that Punky is responding to. I don’t know what else to do. She has suddenly lost her listening ears and she willfully does the complete opposite of what we say. She’s lost that happiness that exudes from her and the silliness and the manners.

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I’m all about talking it out, figuring things out together, giving her a time and her own space. But there still have to be boundaries and limits. How do you parent with compassion and love and all that hippie dippie nonsense and still have order  and a clear balance in your house? We don’t spank her, often, like literally three times in her life I think. We don’t use physical punishment if we can help it and for the most part, she responds better to verbal talking it out, waiting til she’s ready to talk. Not lately. We haven’t figured it out yet. So it’s about 50/50 ratio of smiles and tantrums in our home.

Where did this kid go? When do we get her back?

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My rational mind knows that a big move is a big change for a kid that’s so small and doesn’t have much control over the things in her life. But, it’s frustrating, sad, and disheartening to see her battle us. Battle Kim mostly. I’m starting to feel a little helpless in how to make things better for either one of them. The only for sure peace we get is when she’s asleep. And she falls asleep AFTER us. She’s up super late, I feel like this may not be the best thing for her, but it keeps her content to lay in her bed and read books on her tablet, so we let her do it.

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So far giving her little tasks and responsibilities has helped. She helps me set the dinner table and it seems to be a really cool thing to her. She likes putting the plates where they go and the silverware. She likes picking where each of us will sit for the night’s dinner. She wants to make sure the ketchup is on the table at all times, whether it’s needed or not. She helps me clear the table after dinner, putting stuff in the dishwasher. It seems to lighten her mood, make her feel like she’s in control.

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I am hoping once we get more unpacked and more settled we will see more of these smiles and more lightness fill the eyes of our little one. Once things starting looking and feeling more like a home and not a massive pile over pile of boxes to unpack, hopefully my wife can feel the lighter load of stress on her shoulders that I feel a majority of the time now.