Head On

              There was so much preparation for this. So much overthinking, or in this case I can call it, just-enough thinking. I knew I had to address some things within myself. Like how I’d respond when I was triggered, how I’d look deeper into what triggered me and how I’d have to identify whatever resentment I had left to be able to let go and coexist. You see, our relationship has never been easy, at least not during anything I can clearly remember. My mind goes blank before 5th grade, the only vivid memories dating before then have been repeated and painted into my memory through conversation like story time at family gatherings. It’s weird to think that I feel fear in hearing that it wasn’t always like that, that when I was my daughter’s age we had a beautiful relationship. The fear of the possibility that my own relationship with my daughter could turn into this blinding emotional rollercoaster that is ours, mine and my mother’s.

              We cannot live in fear though. We can live with resentment, but we won’t live easy. That is not freedom nor is it truly living. So when I say always, I mean as long as I can remember. We’ve bumped heads. It wasn’t all her fault. Especially now as a mother I see how the decisions she made were for my best interest according to what she knew at the time. That she was doing the best she knew too, I don’t like referring to it that way because it sounds like she didn’t do THE BEST or like she could have done better. That’s not what I mean, she did everything and although I hold resentment, I am learning to respect everything she has done for me.

              At the time I just simply didn’t understand because I didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was what I was living. All I knew was that she had moved to another state and my little brother went with her and at 11 years old, all I saw was that my family was broken and because she was no longer where we all lived together, it was solely her fault. All I knew was that in a huge transitional period of my life as young girl/woman I didn’t have my mother close by to turn to. All I knew was that I was so sad and I couldn’t pinpoint why on my own and I was offered medication because it was wrong to be sad without a sole reason. All I knew was being put in the middle between my parents’ disagreements, “Ask your father, tell your father, well it’s your father’s decision, tell him I said this, and tell him he better…”

              I’ll never know how their separation would have affected me if they had only been a little more transparent. I’ll never know if they had shared a little more about why or had given me (us – my brother’s and I) more notice if that would have eased the transition and possibly eased the misunderstanding. I’ll never know how they could have handled it differently to have saved me some trauma. I guess that’s what it was? I built up so much resentment based on a lack of understanding. It didn’t help that when I started to ask questions, I still got little information, that little information had me investigate more which made me feel like that little information was really just some lies to conceal the reality that might have helped me understand.

              Moving to live in the same household with her for the 3rd time since she “left” us in California, the other 2 times being a sort of failed experiment to regain our relationship, I knew there were going to be disagreements, arguments even. I knew there was a possibility that it could completely tear us apart, but I also knew that as a mother now this is such an important time in both my children’s life for them to get to know their grandmother. (Creeps in regret for moving away from my father, a best friend – it’s hard when your parents aren’t together. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m giving one more of an opportunity than the other).  My feelings upon our relationship were discussed with my significant other. After a few years of getting to know me, encounters with my mom, or hearing conversations between us over the phone, he had a good understanding of our dynamic. He didn’t agree to moving our family a whole state to live with her blindly. We knew the possibility and the struggle, but we didn’t anticipate the mental toll it temporarily took on our relationship or the way we parent or the way I speak to him while we learned how to respond.

              I had hoped for the best. At one point I wasn’t sure if I had dreamed too big or if I just set an unrealistic expectation. That’s because I thought I had just grown past it. That I’d suddenly just move into her house and be the bigger person. That because I told myself over and over that I wouldn’t talk back, that I wouldn’t argue, and that I’d only say graceful, kind and thought-provoking things during an icky encounter. About 2 months in I realized that I had so much more to face head-on.

              I realized that I hadn’t disclosed my resentment. I hadn’t let out what I felt I needed to. I hadn’t asked the questions I felt I needed to as an adult, once I did, I definitely didn’t get the answers I expected. I hadn’t yet pinpointed what actions or words of hers triggered me. The 3rd to the 5th month where the hardest. I started understanding where I needed to just listen, where I needed to count 3 seconds to think before I respond. I started understanding that much of my resentment towards her was hindering me from helping the situation. There was no effort going into mending but making her look stupid or feel stupid like I had felt when “my mom had left me to get my menstrual cycle on my own at school and call her friend to pick me up because she was a state away and I had to then ask my dad to take me to buy pads when neither of us knew which ones to buy.” So many instances from multiple transitional periods that I experience during a time where she was trying to do her own healing. Only now as a mother do I realize how hard that is. How hard it is to be fully present to your children when you are struggling, when you are trying to heal, especially after a separation. That I do not understand, I don’t understand what she was going through and no matter what, especially now that I see a little more clearly, it is not fair that I hold so much against her.

              Only now as a mother do I see how she felt the decisions she made were for the best for herself so that she could be a better mother in the future. While there is a lot I am still not sharing about our relationship and a lot I feel that I am uncovering just writing this…

              I now understand that this move to Arizona in fact WAS the best BEST DECISION I could have made for my family and myself, only not in the way I had intended. This move has allowed me to face the greatest center piece to my trauma, something that therapy in CA would not have even scratched the surface of because I hadn’t yet uncovered what it was because only NOW have I faced it head on. Only now have I opened my heart to release the retained anger, sadness, and misunderstanding. Only now am I able to get to know her at a deeper level, not just as MY mother, but as A mother. Only now can I see how similar we are yet how different. Only now am I able to learn to respond to her with better judgment and not just the anger I’ve built up. ONLY NOW AM I ABLE TO HEAR HER how she means to be heard and not through the autotune my mind set for her.

Only now am I able to heal this part of me for the future relationship with my children and my partner. Also, a huge part of being able to heal in my own relationship with myself.

              2020 was about breaking free. 2021 has been about healing. 2022 will be about action.

I cannot just grow past my trauma & resentment. I must growth through it. That means facing it head on, thinking before I speak, and turning to gratitude when I have nothing positive to say. I must remember that those who have hurt me may never understand so their lack of understanding should not be my burden, but I may also never understand their misunderstanding and lastly, it is not my responsibility to shift anyone’s opinion of me and vice versa.

              ****I am aware that some of this may sound like it still comes from anger and resentment, that’s plainly where it’s from. Hiding that would be silly and contradict exactly what I’m going through, however, reading it as I type this I am identifying those instances.

Mom Guilt is Real

This photo means so much to me.

Mom guilt is real & comes in disguise. Sometimes even unnoticed completely until that one moment you really sit down to uncover what’s been hurting. I haven’t shared everything going on lately and I won’t bother rewinding to try to get it all to align with what you know, but let’s start here.

Bonding has been difficult with Olivia lately. I can tell she’s begging for my attention specifically because the majority she’s had is everyone else’s. She respects that I have to feed Oliver with my breast, but has a difficult time respecting the intimacy. She yells my name until I answer and you best believe I answer at the first call, now. I couldn’t before because honestly I couldn’t even hear it over Oliver’s cries, my own mental fog, my physical exhaustion.

It’s been tough trying to balance how and when to split attention, trying to incorporate both kids into everything we do to encourage unity and bonding between them.

She’s been hitting, scratching and screaming at him a lot to wake him up purposefully. It’s pretty common for the oldest child to digress in someway. Even though I’m clear from the fog, I still can’t always respond to her immediately, there are times where I have to tend to Oliver first. Literally having to choose which one to help first. I can feel her feeling of loss and uncertainty. Yes, she’ll be totally fine. Oliver will be totally find. I know that this period does not define how their relationship will be in the future, but oh my gosh!

I tell myself it would be different if we weren’t living with so many people, so many people with their different styles of dealing with her or responding to her behavior. Responding in reactionary ways that are much different than my own parenting. I can tell that not only this adjustment, but so many changes and  differences during the adjustment are affecting her. Plus, we moved an entire state, even though she may not fully understand that… Her home, her kitchen, her outdoor environment is totally different. It’s not just where she sleeps, but the landscape of the homes we walk by. She doesn’t see the same children, the same trees or the same park we’d visit, just her and I. She doesn’t have her own little space where we’ve incorporated toddler accessible activities. Her whole routine was thrown out of whack. Kids thrive on routine, on certainty.

And fine, it’s not how I pictured this stage to be. I pictured that I’d be more in control, that we’d have our own home and our routines could continue, only now her & I would care for the baby together while dad was at work. Okay, so it didn’t work out that way and we are blessed to be in such an abundant, giving and loving household… So we weren’t able to get our own place right away and we made decisions that would be best for the future that feeling restraining in such a way now.

I’m having to let other’s “parent” her when I can’t. I’m watching her take so many steps backwards on the knowledge she’d gained because the spaces just aren’t prepared or accessible for her. I’m struggling because I’m seeing her independence being stripped from her with every “no”, “don’t do that”, “you can’t”, “this isn’t for you,” “let’s go to time-out.”

So THIS. This photo means so much to me.

First, that I’m her new swim teacher & not only do we get to spend that time together, but it’s another activity together that has to do with trust.

She still trusts me, thank God. My heart literally cried this. If you couldn’t feel the mom guilt in all of this, hear it now. I was able to overcome my slightly irrational fears involving water and drowning to be that teacher for her and in that I gained a new trust for myself as her mother.

Second, she sat down herself willingly & actually peed for the first time in the toilet in almost 3 months. A few weeks ago we went to our storage & she saw this toilet, took her pants on and off repeatedly sat up and down to go. She was reacquainting herself after whatever happened that made her stop her progression. We sat outside so long to not break her Sensitive Period that she kinda got sunburnt. I finally convinced her to bring it inside and she’s still sitting on it, 1 pee down, hopeful for more. It’s been almost 45 minutes and I’m here for it.

Pregnant, again!

This year is weird. It’s beautiful and hard all at the same time. Mentally I’ve never been clearer, but yet I still lack determination in aspects of my life. It seems that lately my actions towards priorities come together much slower than usual. I think it’s all the anxieties that have shown face during a double isolation. The isolation as a mother and another social isolation in the form of ‘social distancing’. Any other mamas reading this and can relate in anyway?

Easy to say that this pregnancy has been such a different experience emotionally than the last. The uncertainty of the care/delivery procedures during a pandemic, less partner-inclusive visits creating a slightly less intimate experience, the lack of sociable and relative mom groups and even our recent change of insurance has us feeling a little disconnected without initial ultrasound printouts. I need to know if any other moms are pregnant during this time, who’s had a hospital birth during covid?

Okay, but it hasn’t been ALL a cloudy experience. Our second child is on the way! We are incredibly stoked for that, something we were trying for and talked about since our first pregnancy. Having children closer in age, similar to my boyfriend’s family, not at all like the 6 to 9 year gap between myself and my brothers. We just wanted them to be close from the beginning and also maybe knock the childbirth out of the way ASAP? Not sure, but either way, we are here for it. The first few months I didn’t love being pregnant again, I think it was a mix of things. The change of insurance, finding a new doctor and getting accustomed to knew routines and less visits than last time. Additionally, I haven’t worked since March so our income is one + minimal from our secondhand shop. BUTTTTT four months in now, I’m rocking my new pregnant-mom bod and living my life to the fullest. Preparing to move states (another while-pregnant move), trying to keep determination and will to keep up with school, taming a toddler and making time for myself and intimacy with my man. It’s a lot for me to juggle honestly, I was really stressed out throughout the summer.

The end of October I told myself I’d let go of what wasn’t serving me. I did just that. I had NOTHING to show for independent study school work for the month of November. While I put myself a month (6 papers, 8 observation hours, and 4 meditation hours) behind, I have never felt so caught up and mentally free now that it is December. I’m more energized, made it through a rocky first trimester, settled and prepared to continue. It’s a vicious time-on/time-off cycle I’m trying to squash, but powerful baby steps are being taken towards a well-balanced lifestyle. I have the balance in my self-care, school, and family routine now. Self-care including the return of all the long lost hobbies I outed while stressed and depressed lol.

Physical differences from the last time? So we didn’t know the gender with our first and don’t know now. I can tell you that this one for sure is physically different. I’m more physically energized then I am mentally. Heartburn started early in the second trimester instead of the third, like with our daughter. While I wasn’t mentally prepared to be pregnant again, I feel beautiful, less bloated and more motivated to get dressed daily in the second trimester especially. I was nauseas for 3 months straight and had some early hemorrhaging that healed itself. This didn’t appear in the first. I’d like to tell you I think I’m having a boy! I was pretty sure with Olivia, so I’m going to take it that I’m pretty sure/right this time around. Let’s see 😉 What do you think?