One day at a time…

Remember a few weeks back when I made the joke that I needed an exorcism?  In my mind, that kind of activity would be an explosion (or implosion?) in the vein of Linda Blair.  A massive and sudden expulsion of energy that, when the dust settles, results in things being returned back to normal.  But perhaps what I need to set my sights on is more of the slow, fizzy release of negativity like a pressure cooker.

I’ve resumed therapy visits, and finally it seems as if we’re getting somewhere.  Without going in to too much detail, I’ve been doing my homework.  Every. Day.  Working on slowly emptying the anger from a very deep and wide reservoir that would make the Hoover Dam seem weak.  Yes, it will probably take a while, but I’m doing my best to be patient. It’s hard to dedicate yourself to working on something and see yourself stumble back and forth in the process.  I think I just hoped that after a few therapy visits, I’d land happily back in to my old shoes.  It’s taking longer than that.  In this Immediate Gratification era, it seems like anything that takes a long time isn’t worth doing.  Not true though, right?

At dinner the other night, we started showing Mr. B a video of him when he was around Miss P’s age, singing the very song she had just sung to us.  One video led to another, and on our media journey back in time, we stumbled on video taken from my baby shower when Mr. B was in-utero.  Looking at this younger version of myself, I got pretty depressed.  Not for the aesthetic part.  But because this younger version of myself hadn’t turned sour yet.  Her expiration was very far off in the distance.  She didn’t have that large crease in between her eyebrows from a constant scowl.  She hadn’t let motherhood and life and anger and resentment turned her in to someone you had to walk on eggshells around.  Man, I miss her!  I want to be that person again.  She’s in here, somewhere.  I know it.  So why am I holding on to this other version?  The one that thrives on misery and bad moods and passive/aggressive behavior?  Does anyone have a large, yet humane, trap we can put her in and ship her off to a place far, far away?  Preferably like this: 

mouse trap One day at a time...

And then, I came across a blog this afternoon that made me want to change with the snap of a finger.  I don’t even remember the history of how I found it (I think maybe Erin from My Nuggets of Truth?) , but Choose Joy is a blog written by Sara, a.k.a. Gitz, as she struggles with a chronic and debilitating illness.  Unfortunately, Sara lost her battle this weekend.  I only found her blog this morning, but I spent the better part of Miss P’s nap reading posts from the past year or so. While she eloquently chronicles her battle, she also makes a point of not complaining about it or placing blame.  How is that possible?  I’ve read other similar stories from people dealing with much bigger issues like this (rather than the petty ones I face on a daily basis like “You couldn’t unload the dishwasher?” or “Why am I the only one that picks up around here?”) and they all say the same things.  They don’t let the small stuff get in the way of their happiness.  They don’t dwell on the bad things, or at the very least, they don’t let shit just consume their livelihood.  Here’s a quote from Sara that sums it up:

I choose the joy. When something is going badly and I’m dwelling on it, I think instead of something for which I am grateful. I swear to you, it’s as simple as that. You just have to decide today, and again tomorrow. And before you know it, you’ll have an attitude of joy more than any other attitude you have at your disposal.

One day at a time.  One moment at a time.  Small bursts of focus that, compounded, could make things appear easier.  Who’s with me?

One v. Two…

I had heard this before having Miss P, but never thought it couldn’t be as challenging as folks were telling us.  Jon and I are strong, capable people!  We can take the load of a second child!  Well, Parenting one child versus two?  It’s not just double the work, as you’d think.  It’s more like triple, or quadruple.  Some days, the energy it takes to wrangle two small ones is overwhelming.  Other days it feels like survival of the fittest.  But on those awesome days when everything just clicks along, we’re all in a great mood, and no one pitches a fit?  That’s also exponentially satisfying.
Patience in parenting.  I’ve been reading a little on this.  I came across this great website called Zen Habits, and they recently featured an article called How to Become a Patient Parent.  I won’t go in to all of it, and while it reiterates a lot of what I’ve read or thought already, it also offered some helpful tips.  I know that, in general, I need to slow down and realize that not everything has to be stressful.  Part of this means questioning what my motives are for each moment.  Am I rushing the kids because I took too much time farting around on the internet and now we’re late?  Do I want them to calm down while they’re playing and having a good time because I don’t want the noise, even though they’re not really doing anything wrong?

Out of the tips the web article mentioned, here are the ones that struck a chord, and what I’m trying lately:

  • Pretend someone’s watching. I forgot where I read this tip (a couple places, I think), but it’s effective. Pretend you have an audience. You’re less likely to overreact with your child if someone’s there watching your every move.

This one is the one that works for me lately.  Not that I’m a perfect parent out in public but then turn in to Mommy Dearest in the privacy of my own home.  But I do know that I take more liberty to just blow up at home than I do when we’re out and about, or if we have guests over.  And if I don’t want strangers seeing me react that way, why would I want my own children to?

  • How does this help? When I’m about to say something to my kids, when I can remember, I ask myself, “How does this help my child?” This helps me to re-focus on what’s really important. Yelling or getting angry rarely helps any situation.

By far, I think this one is the hardest one on the list.  If you know me, you probably know that curbing my tongue is not one of my strongest attributes.  I’m more of a microwave than a slow cooker.  React first, rationalize last.  But if I can remember to stop and ask this question, perhaps I can nip that in the bud.

  • Teach. This is something that helps me a lot. I remember that my kids are just kids — they are not perfect, they do not know how to do things, and they have a lot to learn. I am their teacher. I must be patient, and teach them how to do things — even if I’ve tried to teach them 10 times before, it might be the 11th time when things click. And remember, none of us learn things on the first try either. Find new ways to teach something, and you’re more likely to be successful.

This one also comes in handy while making dinner or fixing something around the house.   The more I can get the kids involved in what I’m doing, or what they are doing, the better things seem to go.  Especially now that Miss P is in her “I do it!” phase.  Would it kill us to be two minutes late while we patiently watch her struggle to lock the door with my keys, all the while dropping them about a hundred times?  Probably not.

  • Just laugh. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that no one is perfect, that we should be enjoying this time with our kids, and that life should be fun — and funny. Smile, laugh, be happy. Doesn’t always work, but it’s good to remind yourself of this now and then.

Now, this one I can do.  And I feel like I’ve been doing more of this laugther-thing lately, which is great.  Let’s face it, kids ARE funny.  They embrace life.  And have no filter.  A great recipe for comedy.  And laughing helps with that whole Happiness thing.  Fake it till you make it! 

  • Bonus tip: just love. Instead of reacting with anger, teach yourself to react with love. Your child spills something or has a messy room or breaks your family heirloom? Yells at you or gets in trouble at school? React with love. It’s the best solution.

Right on. 


Trying to become a good or better human being sounds like a commendable and high-minded thing to do, yet it is an endeavor you cannot ultimately succeed in unless there is a shift in consciousness. 

- Eckhart Tolle, “A New Earth”
So, maybe I exaggerated a teeny bit when I used the word “daily” in my last post.  Perhaps “regularly” is a more appropriate term.  But I find that for me, seeing something in print and the exercise of writing/typing out an idea helps plant it deeper in my mind.  I’m less inclined to forget about it.  
This week’s experiment involves Acceptance.  Accepting whatever situation I am in for what it is.  Not in a passive way.  But by creating a peace within myself.  This is just so fucking hard to do and is WAY easier said than done.  
For example:  Dishes need to be cleaned and put away.  Laundry needs to be folded.  Asses need to be wiped.  I can accept that these need to be done and do them willingly, or not.  If I choose not to do them, what will happen?  Perhaps they don’t get done, or someone else does them.  OR, even better, I choose to accept that these things need to be done and perform them without resentment, bitterness or anger.  Those last three feelings?  They are intense.  And they make me miserable.  Which makes those around me miserable.  How fun is that?  In the end, will my frustration and pissy-ness at doing the dishes get me anywhere or anything, other than a few more wrinkles and a headache?

P for positivity…

In my effort to be a better person, I’ve tried my hand at a few things.  I’ve read several books on positive thinking and positive energy, and that can ride me through a few days, but then I find myself falling fast back in to old habits.  I’ve tried meditation, both self and guided, but I’ve never been able to stick to it regularly to get any centering results.  Oprah’s gratitude thing?  Check.  Therapy?  Yep.  Anti-depressants?  Still on ‘em.

Speaking of which, I’m contemplating weaning from the drug.  For those who don’t know, I battled a case of postpartum depression after Miss P came along.  It didn’t strike immediately, but as the months went on and the sleep didn’t come, I became frayed at the ends.  Not really weepy or withdrawn, but more like a loose cannon.  I ended up seeing a psychologist that my OB referred me to, who said I had mild to moderate postpartum depression, but that my edginess was more likely caused from anxiety and stress, to which he gave me a prescription for Klonopin, urged me to join his womens group (at $400, thank you very much, but I declined) and sent me on my way.  The Klonopin (which spell check suggests should be ‘Klingon’…awesome!) was very much the wrong way to go.  Here’s a terribe idea:  give a depressed mom of a newborn and a three-year old who is already sleep deprived a drug that she has to take three times a day that makes her so groggy she is left depleted.  It only made me more depressed.  So I stopped taking it.  And Miss P’s sleep became a little more predictable, so I thought I was on my way to recovery.  But after the New Year, that black cloud came back and I sucked it up, called my OB and asked for a prescription for Zoloft, and here I am today.  Within a week, I felt back to my old self.  And with that came the guilt of having deprived my family of my normal self all of those angry months.  Thankfully they were able to overlook my behavior.

I’m feeling much better now, and had the intention of stopping once I had weaned Miss P from breastfeeding.  That didn’t happen until she was 18-months in November, and I could tell that my seasonal depression was creeping in, so I postponed my own weaning.  Now it is spring, my mood has lifted with the bitter cold, and I think it might be time to take the leap.

However, before I do, I want to have a back-up plan.  Something that I can rely on to shake me out of a funk.  I need an arsenal of sorts.

To that end, I think I might use this little blog.  Make it a priority to come in here daily and state something positive that I might think throughout the day or find inspiration from.  Not really an affirmation, but a reminder.  Loud and clear and on the Grand Interweb so that I might be held accountable.  The road to becoming a more calm and centered person means making small changes on a daily basis.  I can’t expect to just wake up tomorrow and start living the cliches:  Live every day as if it were your last!  Stop and smell the roses!  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!  Carpe Diem and all that crap!

But I can at least try to see the good in everyone and everything at every possible moment.  This is my journey, and I want to make it an enjoyable one.

To quote Sir Patrick Stewart…