Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Mayonnaise Jar Lesson

Have you seen the Mayonnaise Jar Lesson being passed around Facebook lately?  I had heard it before...I think at a conference for college students getting a degree in non-profit management, but I can't be sure (and really it isn't important).  It was a lesson that made sense when I heard it, but somewhere between then and yesterday, I had lost track of it.  In fact, lately, I have been trying to sort out my priorities and not really getting anywhere.  Then someone posted the lesson and a few things became clear to me.  Among them?  I need to say goodbye to this blog.  I have not felt a strong desire to write posts for a while.  I thought it was because I had too many other things to do, but really? If it was important to me, I would have made time for it. 

As mothers it seems like we have a very limited amount of free time.  In the free time, we should be doing something that brings us joy and happiness and rejuvenates us so that when we go back to our kids, we are more sane than when we left.  This blog did that for me many, many times. 

In fact, this blog started as a way for me to connect to other people, to share my story, to get advice, and to attempt to make sense of the changes I was going through.  While I still don't have most of the answers, what I do have is a wonderful set of friends that I see on a regular basis, that provide support and comfort unconditionally.  It wasn't until I read the Mayonnaise Jar Lesson that it occurred to me that maybe the reason I haven't wanted to write posts lately is because most of my needs are being met elsewhere.  This does not lessen what I have gotten from all of you.  Your advice and encouragement has meant the world to me.  It is merely an interesting ah ha moment.

So all of this made me ask myself, "What will bring me joy?" and the answer I found is that I want to learn more about photography.  I don't know what that is going to look like exactly, but I have been taking a class at the local community college and I have signed up for a couple workshops in the next couple months.  When I grab my camera and am able to create a picture exactly how I envisioned it, I am overjoyed!  When I am able to share those pictures with my friends and family, I feel proud.  This is what I need to be doing in my free time.

So for my final question to all of you, what brings you joy?  What are the things that you want to make time for because they give you what you need (on a regular basis) so that you can be a better mom?

NOTE: I am keeping my Facebook page and Twitter account open and will continue to post on them.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Needing a Parenting Reboot

I don't think I am "supposed to" admit this, but I have not been enjoying parenting my 2 year old lately.  Everything requires more talking, more energy, and more time than it has in the past.  If you have a toddler, you likely know what I mean. 

On particularly "special" days things to go this way:

He wants a snack?  First I have to decide WHAT he wants to eat.  I usually give 2-3 options. Then he decides WHERE we are going to have the snack (upstairs, downstairs, outside, inside, at the table, in a snack trap), then we have to decide if he is going to HELP or not, then we have to decide what CONTAINER to put it in, and finally there tends to be a particular way that he wants it prepared (banana in or out of the peel, cheese cubed or in strips, apple cut up or whole).

Take this same level of decision making and apply it to every.single.thing I do all.day.long. And you have a typical tough day in my home.  

Some of you are probably thinking that you would never give your child so much control.  You are probably thinking that you would pick a snack, hand it to your child, and that would be it.  Either you don't have a toddler or if you do, you are the luckiest person on the face of the earth.  Don't get me wrong.  Everyday isn't like this.  But there are days, man, are there days, when he is taking being a "terrible two" seriously, when it is way easier to give him a voice in the decision making than to deal with the tantrum afterward. 

I was really starting to get down on myself.  I wasn't looking forward to playing with him and especially not looking forward to playing trains or cars for the 50th time that day and I thought that made me a bad mom.  But then I realized something.  I don't actually have to like everything that he likes.  I know that sounds obvious when I say it, but it really hadn't occurred to me before.  Part of my job as a mom is to play with my kid and to love it, right?   Not exactly.  I think I should want to spend time with my kid.  I think that most of the time I can find activities that don't drive either one of us insane.  And the rest of the time?  Well I don't have a solution for the rest of the time.  Grin and bear it, I suppose.
So given my level of exhaustion with these particular type of days, there have been several moments lately where I have not been too proud of my parenting skills.  I have snapped at him when I was trying to finish something and he got in the way.  I have spent too much time on Facebook when I should have been playing with him.  I have told him "in a minute" too many times so that I could finish what I was doing, even if it wasn't that important or crucial that I finish it then.  Finally, I have had too many days where I am overly grateful for nap time and bedtime. 

I knew that the only way out of this rut was to look at the things in a new way...focusing on the things that were going well.  So I started writing down the things I am proud of, with regard to parenting  It was an amazing experience.  At first, I stated the easy ones.
  • I remember to tell him that I love him throughout the day (and not just when he has done something good).
  • I give him hugs and kisses every time the opportunity arises.
Then I started really thinking about the things we do on a fairly regular basis and that I view as good decisions as a parent.
  • I model playing creatively and I encourage him to play along.   
  • We go outside almost every chance we get.  
  • I include him in the things I do around the house. 
  • I don't forget to get really silly with him at least a couple of times a day.   
  • I give him jobs so that he feels useful and experiences the success in accomplishing a task.
  • I have nurtured his love for reading by having books accessible to him and we read books together several times a day.
  • I make him clean up his toys (most of the time).
  • I have begun to feed him real food as often as I can (95% of the time).  How can I let him grow up without goldfish crackers?
  •  Sometimes, even when we are in a rush, we stop everything and just cuddle.   My favorite time to do this is getting in and out of the car.  Why?  Because it makes a remarkable difference in reducing my crankiness in those rushed moments.

Then I started thinking about the tough things I do as a parent...
  • When he goes into tantrum mode, most of the time I remember to meet him where he is.  I give him hugs, use kid language to describe what I think he wants, get him to take a deep breath, and then we talk about what we need to do instead.  
  • When I sense a struggle coming on, I give him two-three choices so he feels like he has some control.  
  • When he starts to whine for something, I remind him to "try again" and ask me the correct way.   
  • I tell him "no", I tell him "yes", and I tell him "ABSOLUTELY".  However, I also tell him, "in a minute", "after I finish ___", and "maybe later" so he begins to learn about being patient.  
  • We have found a discipline system that works for us (right now) and is predictable for him.  
 Finally, I reflected on my actions specifically.  What am I doing to model being a quality human being?
  • I exercise regularly and he is part of that routine.
  • I model using "please" and "thank you" and remind him to use them as well.
  • I love my husband and we are appropriately affectionate in front of the kids.
  • I am not afraid to show him a full range of emotions, but I be sure to use words to describe how I am feeling so that he understands.  I use these opportunities to model how to recover from a bad mood or how to embrace the happy times. 
  • It took me a while, but I found hobbies that didn't involve him. I think it is important that he sees that I have interests outside of being mom. 
  • I admit when I have made a mistake.
If you compare the moments where I have been a less than stellar parent lately with this list, would you describe me as a good parent or a poor one?  Are we allowed to have moments as moms and dads where we don't have our A game on?  I suppose that is for each person to choose for themselves, but I have decided that I need to cut myself some slack.  I do very few things poorly, but a whole heck of a lot of things really well.  I AM a good mom and now?  I know it.

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    A rough patch in my SCD world.

    I have not blogged.  I have so much to say and no time to say it.  I also don't seem to have time to clean my house, but that is another rant.

    What am I doing that is taking up all my time?  Well, being a mom first and foremost.  But the reason that I feel like there is no time in my life for anything that I used to do? Well, that would be because I now live in the kitchen. And if that wasn't enough, just when I got into a groove with what I ate, life through me a curve ball.

    About a week ago I started to not feel so great.  Some of my old symptoms were creeping back into my life and I couldn't figure out why.  My gastroenterologist had given me info on FODMAP and after looking that over, I thought that maybe I was eating too much fructose.  Apples were a staple in my diet, so I decided to remove them first.  I felt okay for a couple of days, but then the symptoms returned and today was the worst day yet.

    In fact, I hit a real low today.  Not only was I feeling sick and completely exhausted, I was mad at the universe.  I was not supposed to be feeling sick anymore!  Why am I doing all of this cooking, all of this modifying of my diet, if it isn't going to do any good?  In fact, I was so frustrated, I almost went out and bought a pack of M&Ms and a diet coke.  But I didn't.

    The only thing that kept me from cheating today was that tomorrow is January 31st.  Tomorrow, I will have done the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for one whole month.  And if today I cheat?  I would be pissed at myself. So I didn't cheat.

    Instead I am making muffins.  Scrumptious blueberry muffins from the Eat Well, Feel Well cookbook (a cookbook that has so many good recipes that I would still eat the food even if I wasn't on the diet).  I am also regrouping with some research.  It turns out that it isn't all that uncommon to have relapses in the beginning.  As far as I can tell, there is no real rhyme or reason for it.  Some think it could be because people are eating things they aren't supposed to and don't realize it (whether it be through contamination or just not realizing a food is illegal).  I am pretty sure that isn't my case, but I won't rule it out.  I am going to watch my fructose intake and limit my apples, raisins, and honey.  I am not going to eliminate them yet though because emotionally, I don't think I can go another week without an apple (anyone that knows me well knows that apples and cheese is my favorite snack).  

    Most importantly, I need to remember that I was feeling better.   Although the bloating hadn't completely gone away, it was gone most of the time.  I have had a lot more energy and I stopped feeling swollen and inflamed.  These results are great steps to my overall health and I need to remind myself that I am in this for the long haul...no throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    A New Approach To My Health

    A friend of mine posted a link to this article, "11 Integrative Medicine Breakthroughs Of 2011" a little while ago on Facebook.  Most of the items seem like common sense to me, but I am glad that they are formally recognizing that yoga helps bad backs and acupuncture is safe for kids.  The article also introduced me to the term CAM.  It stands for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

    Turns out I have used some forms of CAM for several years.  I managed my depression with acupuncture while trying to get pregnant and the first trimesters with Superman, as well as the days leading up to my induction with Mr. T.  I have done yoga to help my flexibility and increase my core strength when my back was hurting me.  I take an amino acid to avoid getting cold sores when I go to the mountains (but apparently I didn't take enough a couple weeks ago because I ended up with 2 after our tubing trip).  I used a chiropractor for my lower back pain during the pregnancy and then Mr. T received craniosacral treatments shortly after he was born.

    It wasn't until recently that I decided to take it a step further.  As most of you know, I am on a journey to feel better.  It started just as weight gain, but as I continued to try and figure out what was going on, my therapist recommended "Intuitive Eating".  As I began to pay more attention to how I felt before, during, and after eating, I began to realize that I was feeling pretty crummy.  Actually, more than crummy. I was downright sick and had no idea. 

    The logical thing to do would be to my primary care physician.  When I decided that I didn't want to do that because of my lack of help in the past from her, I knew I needed to change primary care physicians (and am in the process of doing that but am not having much luck).  I also knew that maybe I needed to look at alternative medicine for the answer...so I began researching naturopathy, found a naturopath (ND), and met with her.  (I did end up at my old primary care physician's office so that I could get lab work paid for through my insurance.  The nurse practioner gave me a flier on how to lose weight and circled the walk at least 10,000 steps a day after I had just finished telling her that I walk between 11,500-13,000 steps a day on average.) 

    All I can say is that for the first time in a really long time, I have felt truly heard when I talked about my medical issues.  I wasn't looked down upon, I wasn't ridiculed for thinking that something else might be going on despite the lack of evidence at the time, I was listened to because I am the expert of me.  What a concept!

    So I have been working with my Naturopath for just over two months and have not only learned why I feel like crud, but how to fix it....for good. I have been complaining to my "regular" doctors for years and been told nothing is wrong with me or that I just need to take x pill for 10 days and then I would be better.  It infuriates me that mainstream practitioners are so quick to blow patients off just because their lab results are within the normal range.

    Now if I could just find a regular physician that works well with naturopaths, I would be golden.