Tag Archives: motherhood

Protect your time like a tenacious two year old

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Mother’s often have unrealistic expectation from others. We should get up and care for others all day long. It should fulfill us and complete us. In a lot of ways it does. It doesn’t mean though that we don’t need time for us.  We can not keep caring for others continually without caring for ourselves. The problem is a lot of Mother’s feel guilty for taking that time for themselves.

I have found I need a mixture for my personal time. Time that renews and restores me.

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I take a walk twice a week with a friend. Not just for health reasons but it helps mentally as well. We walk outside which has it’s own health benefits. It gives us time that we can actually take care of our bodies and still vent about what a tough morning it was. This works for me. It will not work for everyone.

The thing is, this kind of me time is not enough for me. I need  some time to just to be alone.

I also go to the school sometimes a half hour early but mostly fifteen minutes. . Not because I don’t have other things to do. I do. I could get quite a lot done in that thirty minutes. However that time is mine. I sit in my car and read. Sometimes I drink a soda with it. Sometimes I don’t get much reading done.  Sometimes I find myself staring out the window watching the trees blow in the wind or birds frittering here and there. It is my quiet time. I can settle my mind from the million and one things I do when the kid is in school and get myself ready to be fully involved in whatever my daughter needs me to be.

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You can get this kind of stress relief in as little as five minutes of reading.

I tried not protecting it. I tried saying its nice if it happens but its not necessary. Seriously I can’t set aside even fifteen minutes for just me? Where if I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t have to. I have found myself when I am really stressed out, going to my reading spot early. Sitting there with the windows down, the sun streaming in. Vitamin D is something that a lot of people are low in. Five minutes of sunshine does wonders for you mentally.  Soaking up that sunshine is literally working on my happiness at a cellular level. Think of it as taking a vitamin if you have to.

 I protect that time like a two year old who is determined to hold on to a toy. It is mine. I won’t share. I won’t give it up. If I miss a day, it is not the end of the world. I do however feel the difference. I will say it is not always easy. It took a good six months of literally scheduling it, to achieve it , let alone get it to a regular basis. Just when I had it down. School was letting out. This year I am hoping to fall back into the routine much faster.  I refuse to feel selfish doing this. I refuse to feel guilty.  I know what I need and I am going to hold on to it like a two year old holds on to their toys!

Must be nice to lay in bed all day

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I think this is the number one comment that drives me nuts.It must be nice to lay in bed all day…to stay in bed…..and things to that effect. If you are just lazying about and can get up and down whenever you want without the slightest hindrance…..maybe. If you have no problem being upright when you need to move because you are getting sore from laying in the same position…..maybe.If that is all you are planning on doing and you are pushing things aside because you WANT to …..maybe.

I really struggle with the whole resting part of chronic illness. I know I need to. I know my flares would be less. I just have never been very good at doing nothing. I struggled for awhile trying to balance not working , saving energy to parent after school and having a life. If I stay home and rest, it is really hard to get up and moving after getting the kid because I expelled more energy than I realized trying to rest. I am home so I should be doing dishes, or laundry, or getting the kid’s room organized again. Maybe I could reorganize the pantry. I could even sit in a chair for most of it. For the record that is not resting.  I can’t sleep during the day if I want to be able to sleep at night, so a nap is out of the question.

When I do force myself to take a rest day and stay in bed. It helps. Imagine that. It may take me eighteen hours or so of resting to be able to function again but I can function again! The trick is not to go crazy and clean the house and do to much and exhaust myself all over again. This is where pacing comes in , another area that I am not so good at.

It is a constant battle though to keep myself in bed because I know thats what my body needs. The guilt starts to eat at you that the house is falling apart. That you can’t keep up the house because your body requires so much rest. If I did clean the house and push myself then I often have nothing left to do anything with my daughter after school, again the guilt.

When I say I need to stay in bed all day, it is not a luxury. It is a requirement. It is not one that I admit to and concede to often. When I do it is serious. I have probably pushed myself for too many days in a row.  I am better at forcing myself to take these rest times or days. I still have progress to be made here.  I still need to let go of the guilt. I still need to stop while I am ahead. When people say this to me I struggle to be nonchalant about it. I try to just shrug it off and not let them know how hard it is.

When was the last time you….

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Stopped to smell the roses. Wait, no I am serious.

As parents we have a unique chance to always enjoy the little things. We just have to remember what it is like to be a child, when everything is new and wonderful.

Does it really take that much out of our day to

……Stop and smile as you watch a butterfly flit around.

…….splash in a puddle or two after the rain.

…….wore something just because it made you happy.

I find that when the pain is the worst or the most annoying that if I focus in on what my daughter is involved in, the pain isn’t as bad. It may mean that I have to get down on her level. Let’s worry about getting back up when it comes time.  Sometimes with chronic pain and parenthood we are so focused on doing that we forget to just ….be. That it’s okay to slow down. Sometimes just acknowledging that I am in a lot of pain and to slow down is enough to lessen it.

One of the joys in my life right now, is that I am an auntie and a family friend to enough other kids that I have my pick of age ranges. I can immerse myself in the infant stage or just chill with some eight year olds. If I am feeling really adventurous I even have a teenager or two I could annoy. I regularly get to enjoy my friends five year old as I help out by taking her to Tae Kwon Do. I am so immersed in the life of a parent of an eight year old that I forget what five was like.  Sometimes it is not that thrilling. I completely forgot how at five my daughter was slow as molasses on doing ….well….anything. I forget how determined to do it themselves they are at one.  I forget how exciting and perplexing a bird is to a nine month old.

Its amazing to me how much even just five minutes focusing on them can help sort us out. The pain is a bit more manageable, the stress is still there its just less. Does it always work? Nope. If I am really honest with myself though, its because I have not been slowing down enough. It is because I am trying to do everything all at once. There is so much guilt associated with being a parent who is in chronic pain that we tend to push our limits, all the time. It doesn’t help us. This is something I work at remembering every day.

When was the last time you……..

Sat in the grass and examined it for bugs?

pulled a part a flower to see what is inside?

stopped to blow on a dandelion?

took delight in watching the birds fly around?

As I think about the last five years dealing with chronic pain and parenthood. There were times that it was so easy to ignore everything around me and focus on the pain. It has been a slow  journey to find myself again. The things that stand out in my mind are when I was basically hyper focusing on my child/family instead of my issues. Unplanned moments that just stick out in my mind.  Will my daughter look back and see a parent in pain or a parent involved?

I hope and strive for a parent involved.

The quiet grief

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It is so subtle.

It is just a little niggle in the back of your heart.

People talk about a ticking biological clock but, who thinks it is still ticking after you have had a baby? It didn’t even occur to me that is what I was feeling.

After all the years of infertility, after the miscarriages you would think I would recognize it.

People talk about aching ovaries, but they don’t tell you it is your heart that aches.

My biological clock is screaming tick tick tick tick. It has me thinking about what a second child would look like. Would this baby be such a complete blend of both my husband and I as our daughter is? Would this baby have blue eyes I could get lost in like my husband and daughter do? What kind of bond would my daughter have with her newest sibling?

My brain tells me that it is not responsible to get pregnant any time soon. Financially or even medically,probably both,  it would be a disaster.

I have said I am done having kids for awhile. I mean it. I know in my brain that we are done.

Then a friend is pregnant, or someone has a baby.

I thought I had worked through this and was on my way to I don’t know….. worrying or grieving about something else. When all of a sudden my biological clock says HELLO, I want a baby!  It just adds a little melancholy to otherwise sweet moments snuggling others babies.

It is only made worse when people ask when are you having another one. When someone complains about how chaotic it is having more than one kid. When someone asks how many kids I wanted. Just a little nudge, just a small twist. Its like a barb that is lodged in your heart and words can just nudge it just a bit, make you wince.

It is not something I bring up often because I am truly and completely happy for my friends with new babies. I am completely thrilled with hearing all the details of pregnancy and breastfeeding and all the cute little newborn things. I don’t want anyone to think they can’t tell me that stuff. I was at that place once, when we were dealing with infertility. I don’t want that strain on my friendships.

It really is this quiet grief, a grief of what can not be.

It seems in my blog reading I keep clicking on others, others about rainbow babies, and infertility and new babies. Not to say I am not happy for them, Not to say I don’t get the warm fuzzy feelings that are meant to be conveyed. Its like that small smile of happiness that doesn’t quite chase the sadness from your eyes.

I debated even publishing this. I thought well I wrote it, I got it out, so maybe now it won’t be so heavy on me. Then I thought about my readers, others who struggle with multiple chronic illnesses at a young age that know they can’t or shouldn’t have more babies.  It is a personal look deep down but so much of what we deal with is super personal. So here it is.

Pacing is a must

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It is a must! As in not an option.

Sometimes pacing is:

Take the stuff out of the dryer. put the washer to the dryer .new stuff in the dryer…and lay down. Sometimes you have to lay down the entire 60 minutes that the laundry is going.

Sometimes it is setting an alarm for fifteen minutes and chipping away at the housework then setting an alarm for thirty minutes of rest.

What is not pacing is what I tend to do…..

Get up take the kid to school go clean a house, go to lunch with a friend hit the grocery store pick up the kid, come home make dinner, get the kid to do homework and take a shower and read and get in bed. At which point I collapse into bed in an exhausted pile of goo. Brain function left somewhere around dinner time. I may be ready eleven hours later to maybe contemplate getting up to take the kid to school. Maybe.

Then there are days like yesterday

I got up got the kid to school, even packed her a lunch, came home, RESTED for about an hour, then did some work on the church facebook page, got up moved laundry along, sprayed down the shower with limescale remover and a dash of bleach to the tough area, set the timer for twenty minutes, did some dishes, rinsed shower off when timer went off, RESTED for about twenty minutes or so, ATE lunch, a good balanced lunch, Did the floors, went to church meeting where even though thinking was involved it was two hours of sitting, worked on church facebook page a bit more for twenty minutes, went and got the kid from school, sat in the field while the kids played for a bit, picked up the husband, went to have frozen yogurt, went to target(where i kicked it with cartwheel) and then we went to a friends house where sitting and relaxing and talking happened, then home for dinner shower and bed. I really don’t think I was awake any more at 745. However I put my bedtime at 815 because I responded to a text then.

It was busy, It was productive but there was lots of resting times worked into it. I didn’t feel overworked or burnt for more than ten minutes at any point. I RESTED.

I would love if my days looked more like this. Productive busy but also a lot of self care worked into it.

Of course even that might have been pushing my boundaries a bit as this morning was spent mostly in bed,sleeping, however that could also easily be my med changes because I added prozac yesterday. Hard to tell which.

As a mother it is hard for me to work in self care. To schedule it into my day. It is a must , it needs to happen. Pacing is self care. It really is. I found if I scheduled it, I had less guilt about it. I was sticking to my schedule, nothing was being put off. If you have to …schedule it. Pacing is just as important as remembering to take your medications, get that bloodwork done, go to the doctors.

 If you have to, wake up earlier so that you can get up, get dressed, lay back down. get up take pills, drink coffee, lay back down. Believe me I have done this. I have been there. Days where even just standing up is exhausting.  At one point I was taking my morning medications when my husband had to go to work, at 545 am and then going back to sleep so when the kid got up at 630 I had a chance of actually being able to get up with her.

The more time we take to balance what we are doing with resting , the more productive we are.  It takes time and dedication but you can increase how long you are able to be productive. At one point twenty thirty minutes was my max before I would crash and need to rest for often hours, now I can get away with a fifteen to thirty minute rest most of the time.

Of course for those of us with multiple chronic illnesses there is only so much you can prepare for , however pacing is still just as essential, almost more so. I know I can keep my fibro pretty happy between meds, supplements, pacing and resting.  Degenerative disc tends to like to listen to barometric pressure changes more than me. However if I have been diligent with meeting my fibro needs, the degnerative disc flares are easier to handle and often less intrusive than they could be. All bets are off when IBS flares though, nothing makes that monster happy. I know how to manage it and I know when I am cheating on managing it , I will pay. It has a way of making you pace yourself though, only so much can get done between running to the bathroom.

Mental health acceptance..a personal choice

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Accepting you have a mental illness is hard. It is really hard. It takes different people different lengths of time.Some never get there. Its a process. Its even scarier when you have a family history of mental illness. Of multiple mental illnesses. It is always looming there. You wonder if it is actually happening or if you are just so afraid of it happening. Family says ” oh we are just a family of worriers. Nothing wrong with that.” There isn’t. Until that’s all you do.  Worry is different from anxiety.  I was even at one point told by a doctor for years.. Mother’s worry. Its what they do. It is not a concern. When worry keeps you up at night, wakes you up at night, interferes with work its a concern. It’s a big concern.

I was lucky. I had a change in insurance.  I was forced to change doctors. I am not sure if I had not changed doctors if I would have made the progress I have made. I am actually pretty sure I wouldn’t have. I would have continued burning myself at all ends and continued to destroy myself. My next doctor did medicate… that is all I did for awhile. I didn’t need help. I had this. It was just a chemical imbalance. I didn’t need counseling.

Then one day I was sweeping my daughters already clean room. I barely had any dirt to sweep into the pan. I remember that day so clearly. My eighteen month old daughter was clapping saying. Clean room. I knew something was wrong. This was not what an almost two year old should be happy about.

I don’t think I made any progress that first year. Not really. Tiny little baby steps.

I made progress. Four years or so in therapy. A lot of talking. Walls came down slowly.

Strangely enough I was not able to do some of the things until my therapist retired. I was suddenly at a loss. I didn’t want to find someone new.  I had  enough therapy. Stuff was still not completely fixed. I burned some bridges I know that. I don’t think for me it could have been done any other way. It was messy. It was quick. While it happened. It was the longest time of my life. Ugly cry does not even touch what happened. I was sure I had just destroyed my life. My daughters life. I had just destroyed my marriage. I was sure of it.

None of those things happened. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who said we will make it work. It will be okay.  My daughters life is not ruined. In fact I think it has been enriched by the experiences we went through. In ways I could never have imagined. Instead of destroying my life I had found my life. Again.

I thought about all this as I talked with a friend about mental illness.  In a lot of ways she gets it. She understands. She has supported me in some of that rough burning bridges patch. In some ways, not so much. They take things personally when its not personal. It astounds her.  They know that they take it personal. I agree with this and I disagree with it. Someone who has been through therapy may know they take it personal. However being able to tell when you are taking it personally and when you are not. THAT. That is much much much harder.

I know I am not the norm. I know I am hyper aware of a lot of my mental health issues. Much more than most people. I talk about it easily, openly. Its just how I work. It is NOT how all people with the same diagnosis as me. It is a very personal choice and it happens at different times for people to be open and honest about mental health issues.  It doesn’t mean it doesn’t blur for me. It doesn’t mean I am always making progress. It doesn’t mean I take a few steps backwards. If I hold myself to be honest then I can say I have done all of those things.  I will probably never stop doing them. I don’t know about accepting that but I am okay with that.  I know when I try to tell myself that I am past that, that is when I get into trouble. Truthful acceptance , its a work in progress.

Social anxiety can be awfully sneaky

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When most people think about social anxiety they think of a hermit afraid to go out into the world.

That is a thing. They were not wrong. It’s just not social anxiety per se.

..its a lot more like this…..for me…not everyone.

….looks around…watches some people

… looks around…..someone caught my interest. Then it happens.

oh god they looked at me okay breathe..

oh god they smiled. NOW WHAT!!!!

okay I can do this..Deep breathe….maybe….maybe if I return the smile a little they will just go away..

They smiled back. They start moving closer to me.

no no no no that was not an invitation to come talk to me.

no don’t talk to me. Did I brush my hair? I bet my teeth look really horrible. I wonder what they see when they see me. I bet they see a person who is a mess. They are clearly judging me. No no now come on they probably don’t think that. ….probably…but what if they do.  Oh god. I don’t care what they think. oh but I do. Even as I am telling myself I don’t I do.

They say Hi

Oh god okay.. um..Hi.

How old is your daughter?

small talk why is there always small talk. No no I don’t care how old their kid is. Oh but she is kinda cute.

Does she go to school here?

Why? why would they want to know that do they look safe. Do I feel safe vibes from them? Am I really flipping out about this question?

Sometimes that is all it gets too… Sometimes its worse..Sometimes I end the conversation abruptly because of a bad vibe or my own uncomfortableness.  Sometimes after a good chat with this new person I think. Hey that wasn’t so bad.  But every time it happens…EVERY TIME. Why do i get all flipped out about this…my confidence returns a little bit and I can tell myself that what the other person thinks does not matter. Sometimes I even believe it. Its a daily struggle with this for me.

Just because you can’t see how uncomfortable I am doesn’t mean I am not. Sometimes being in a room with a lot of people makes my skin crawl. Even if no one is talking to me. I am sure they are looking at me. I am sure they are critiquing what I am wearing how I look and on and on and on. I feel like there is this big beacon light shining on me. Even if its not. Even as I tell myself its not.

I know some people are much worse. I know some people it triggers all kinds of other things.

I really really really honestly truly wish I wasn’t like this even just in my head.

My daughter talks easily to others. Enjoys others company. Seems to enjoy small talk with other kids or adults. I admire that in her. Inside I am like No no don’t go talk to that kid. The mother/father/grandparent/guardian will feel inclined to come talk to me. At the same time I don’t want her to have my restrictions. In a lot of ways I have put myself in situations that I would have totally avoided because of my daughter. Because I don’t want her to have the same social anxieties I do. Mommy and me groups, School functions/performances, and so on. Its seems when you are a parent a part of you is always seeking out social things for the kids to do, even if it makes you cringe on the inside. Sometimes dealing with the social anxiety from going to the book store at story hour or the library is better than staying at the house all day, again.

I have a few friends that have it worse then me. One who actually has battled agoraphobia and another who if it flares she almost runs out of where ever she is. I get it. I understand. I get through a lot of my uncomfortable situations through gritting my teeth and pure Irish stubborn will. I joke about it. I post about it not just on chronically sick page but on my personal page as well. I try to use photography as a distraction to lessen it. I use sarcasm and humor. I really abhor that I have to take anti-anxiety meds at all. I really hate my dependence on them. I hate that I have to take something that both addresses anxiety and depression. They are separate things don’t get me wrong. They do however like to hold hands ….. a lot.

Social anxiety is not fun but it is also not what a lot of people assume it is either.

The task I dread the most

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Venturing into my daughters room to sort through her toys and books.

You know the nitty gritty every nook and crany search.  Every drawer, every basket, every container thoroughly searched and cleaned.

So this is what I walked into…….

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It took me two hours…Everything is back to nicely organized containers…I did do away with a whole storage area that she wasn’t using properly. We have a church give away coming up that I will save that and the books to donate to. I gutted her book shelve and anything below a first grade reading level that wasn’t a keep sake book went in the bag. The books we are not keeping filled a trash bag.

There was a lot of…what the hell? No…no I don’t want to know.

Of course I had the TV on Criminal Minds and even one episode of CSI Miami ….I need company you know.

This is what it looks like now…

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And to think I do this almost every six months. It is not that she doesn’t clean her room. She does. As good as any eight year old can. I try not to tell her exactly how to clean it. Then I go in and do a through job and take out stuff that she is too old for now and what not. Plus it is typically to get ready for new toys before some holiday or another. So I took some OTC pain meds and two hours later they are no longer effective but her room is spotless. Every little corner.

So now its done….six more months til I have to go through that again. pheew!

I got a box!

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Nevermind the fact that I asked for the box to be sent to me.

I GOT A BOX! It was like Christmas came early!

I tore into it not unlike a kid at Christmas time.

And then the Mamalode exploded on my bed.

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I had to spend some time pouring through them. Laundry and dishes obviously had to wait. This was way more important.

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Not only was I excited by the back copies but I also was touched by the card and that inside it was handwritten. It is rare anymore that anyone anywhere sends things handwritten unless they are among friends.

As Mothers we are pulled in so many different directions all at the same time. This is a perfect magazine to have in the car to flip through while sitting in carline. There are quick little reads as well as longer articles. One thing that really caught my attention was the last page, a poem by a child typically a preteen or teenager. I love seeing things from their perspective.

So I took some to the baby rhyme and sign at the library and it was a pretty big hit. Some of the kids were actually a little more interested in the bright and colorful candy on the front…ooops.

Princes P says it tastes just fine.

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So I read some as I was waiting for the girls to get out of school. I kind of just flipped through but got stuck on one about pregnancy loss. It touched me deeply and it took all I could do to not cry in the car. There is a little section in the front called “Because I said so.” very easy to read a submission here in under a minute. Truthfully a friend of mine keeps her Mamalode and other Mommy magazines in the bathroom. You know sometimes that is the only few minutes we mothers get to ourselves.

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The girls were pretty enthralled with the back copies. There were a lot of discussions about pictures and it turned out some of them were advertising pictures. Something that as a Mommy I passed right over.  There was some discussion about what a trailhead was….which quickly digressed into what happened at school today.

However they were drawn back after our trip to the library, yes my second trip today, for reading with the dogs. I looked back at the stop light to see this in the back seat.

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I am pretty sure however from the amount of giggling that they were whispering amongst themselves and using Mamalode to “hide” from me.

On the Facebook page for this blog I call our followers Stalkers. Stalkers in a good way. We support each other and laugh together. This is exactly what Mamalode does as well. So go be a good stalker and follow them everywhere. I do and its nice to see things pop up in newsfeeds and whatnot amongst all the other things that are in my newsfeed. This is one that feeds me. So that I can keep feeding others.

So get stalking already!

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How open is your mind?

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I struggled with what to write about today. So I am going out on a ledge here and just writing what tumbled through my head as we took a walk today.

I recently attended a workshop that is aimed at helping our church select a new minister.

   So my thoughts today have been about how open is my mind really? I really thought I had a pretty open mind. But really leaving what you were raised with and embracing a totally different thought process is hard work. I doubt I will ever really be done working on that.  I am constantly having to stop and think and explore is this really how I feel.

           Some things I don’t struggle with. Somethings I fully embrace and leave behind the restrictions of the past. I fully embrace gay/lesbians getting married , having kids, being “gasp” normal people. I fully embrace people of all color and race and try to keep family members thoughts separate from my own. To look at each person as their own person not based on skin color. That while I would not consider myself atheist I would also not classify myself as a christian. The way we have been raised makes a difference. The whispers that run through our mind.  That’s what I struggle with the most. When will those whispers fully go away?

            The trick has been to know  when the whispers are your thoughts and when it is spoon-fed rhetoric that you were brought up on.Taking time to stop and examine each part of our lives, not just religious part, and accept and own how we feel.It took me years to really know how I felt about gays and lesbians. It was a hard subject to talk about because it was not talked about in any kind of positive light growing up. Neither was mental illness or poor people or black people or middle eastern people or other  religions.

              So openly talking about my own mental illnesses and looking at it and talking about it in a positive light. That has really stretched my boundaries and really opened my mind. Living with and adjusting to living with multiple invisible illnesses and being open to talking to others about that. The boundaries were again pushed.When our boundaries are pushed we are often uncomfortable. I know when I am uncomfortable I either get very grumpy or retreat into myself or both.

             Now when something makes me uncomfortable I tend to stop, think about why its making me uncomfortable. In the past my response was always to run. Run as fast and as far as I could from it. Deny it was happening. Deny that I felt that way. Now when something makes me uncomfortable ,that instinct to run is still there but also a curiosity. Do I know everything I need to know about that subject? Can I expand my knowledge of it? I have often found that finding unbiased information about whatever is making me uncomfortable is a great way to analyze how I really feel.How I feel….not how my parents feel….not how my closest friends feel…..how I feel.

I have found that where I thought I was open minded I am not so much. Where I thought I was narrow minded I am more open. Some of it surprises me. Some of it not so much.

So my end thought in all of this is that I plan on stretching my boundaries a bit more regularly than I have been. That as a parent I feel this is my responsibility to my daughter. Just as important as feeding and clothing her, so is enriching my mind and really embracing what I believe in with knowledge. That maybe if she sees me doing this and being open about how it makes me feel, it will help her to do the same. That she won’t think that when you are an adult you stop growing, stop learning.  So that maybe she won’t have those whispers to distinguish between her thoughts and other thoughts. So that maybe her first instinct is not to judge.