Monday, February 2, 2015

Best. Day. Ever.

...And it's only 8:30 am!  I made some decisions last week about taking control of my health again after being on hiatus for a couple of years and this morning got myself out of bed in the dark at 5:00 AM to get to the gym.  (More on that here.)  And by the time I got home, I had a new perspective.  I cannot even begin to describe the weight that I feel lifted off my back, but I'm going to try.

There have been a few experiences that have lead me to this place.  One of them was a few weeks ago when unbeknownst to me my oldest, who is 17 was asked to speak in church.  Most kids that age can be asked directly to do something like that without the parents knowing, and it can get done.  Ryan has mild Asperger's Syndrome and I really don't know how much of that has to do with his horrible memory and follow-through, but it was no surprise at all that he forgot all about it and didn't prepare.  We got to church and sat down and Ron got a text message from a counselor in the bishopric asking if Ryan was prepared with his talk.  We of course were panicked and Ryan started his typical freak-out at realizing he had forgotten or procrastinated something important.  The decision was made that Ryan would just get up and bear his testimony.  (Had it been me texting the counselor, I would have just said, "He's not prepared.  Sorry, no-can-do" just because I have been in the habit of protecting him from consequences all his life.)  So for the next 10 minutes of sacrament meeting Ryan went through For the Strength of Youth booklet on his smartphone and prepared some thoughts.  He got up when it was his turn and totally knocked it out of the park.  He chose to talk about "Agency and Accountability" because it was so applicable to his situation in that moment.  He talked about how we really make our lives harder and more stressful when we don't make smart choices and do it as soon as possible.  Watching him say these things was the biggest gift he has ever given me.  Knowing that he knows those things lifted the weight of his choices off my back.  I really had never been sure if he understood that concept yet.  He said it.  I have proof that now he knows!  I can relax a little and just support him now.  Make suggestions, encourage, enable.... but I don't have to force it anymore.  He knows.

I've really put myself and my needs in a drawer over the last couple years because of the ages of my older kids and the fact that they weren't yet making the responsible choices on their own.  I have been carrying them and kinda my husband too.  I put on 15 lbs, quit working out, spent my extra time in the office helping and then my usual work at home.  I have felt like I have had to do everything for everyone because they couldn't handle it.  All I really am doing though is enabling them all to be lazy and protecting them from the consequences of that.  I think the reason I started doing that is because of how my mom was with me.  She was so detached and didn't help me at all.  It made me feel really unloved and alone.  I think though that I have realized that the problem wasn't that she didn't do enough for me, but that she didn't show that she was emotionally involved.  I realize that it's not that I needed her to actually wake me up and get me out of bed and get me to school.  All I needed was her to notice when I didn't go, ask questions, help me feel less insecure and scared, talk to me, make suggestions on how to change the way I was looking at my experience so that I would WANT to get up and try again.  Just show and express concern and care.  She was just so emotionally detached that I felt completely alone and scared and incapable.  I realize that as long as I am involved in my kids' lives and supporting and talking to them about their feelings, I won't need to carry them.  They'll be able to do it.  WHEW!  That is such an easy lesson for most but honestly, I started this mothering thing with a lot of baggage to let go of, I'm finding.

Ryan (17) got himself up today but Noah (14, almost 15) didn't.  For the first time I was fine with it.  Without guilt I just took Ryan to school and let the consequences fall on Noah's shoulders for not getting up.  We'll talk about it, some perks will be taken away, he won't get what he wants for his bday next month if he ever doesn't get up again.  I. Don't. Own it!  I'll remind, encourage, show love... I won't do it for him.  He'll be better for it and I'll be much happier.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Class is in session.

Lessons my kids have taught me about how I fit into the Gospel plan is really on my mind lately.  I just felt the need to write it down.  Knowing my kids has helped me come to know myself.  Who'da thought?   We read and hear so often the idea that you have to grow up and "know who you are fully" in order to be able to be a parent and guide someone else.  It has been through parenting that I have grown up and know who I am.  We hear the same advice about marriage.  "You have to fully know who you are and fully love yourself before you can love someone else."  Also the opposite turned out to be true in my case. But that is a blog post for a very small private audience. :)    I'm going to speak for myself here, to my experience.  I know everyone has their own.  We all learn our lessons differently on different paths.  Not everyone is going to get married and have kids.  This is just how my life lessons have happened.

So to my kids...  My oldest has mild Asperger's.  It was scary when he was about 5th-6th grade.  We had no idea what his deal was or how to parent him.  The hardest part for me was watching him hurt.  He felt so left out and alone.  I could write volumes about the wrongs done to him and how Mama Bear pissed off half the neighborhood.  I opened his journal one time and read some really painful disparaging thoughts that scared me and made my heart just ache for him.  I would listen to him cry about how he works so hard to be a good friend to those around him, but nobody ever reciprocates or showed they cared about him.   I knew how worthy he was to be cared for.  I would tell him what a caring good friend he is, how smart he is, how compassionate he is, how lucky anyone would be to have him as a friend.   What was interesting about that time is that I was feeling the same way as Ryan...  Really isolated here in St. George, hadn't made friends, etc.  Just kinda feeling left out and alone, LIKE RYAN.   I realized for the first time that I was looking in the mirror.  It was like I could hear HF echoing my words and thoughts to Ryan back to me.  There wasn't anyone around at the time that could relate to Ryan.   I could see that easily, but he couldn't.  I hadn't thought that was also the case for me.  There wasn't anything wrong with Ryan then, and there wasn't anything wrong with me.  Parenting Ryan has taught me countless lessons about friendship and the importance of just being good regardless of what comes back to you.  The strength to stand alone.  That was the first time I could see what a great divine teacher Family is.

Lesson number two, my second son, has what I guess would be just an ADHD personality.  He struggled in school because he couldn't sit still and listen or work.  For ALL of elementary he was scolded and told he was the bad kid.  He was always getting in trouble.  Somewhere in 5th grade we decided to medicate him mostly because I was so sick of him being treated poorly by adults.  I just wanted him to feel like the good kid that fit in and did what was expected.  It helped, but he was so far behind by that time that he still has a hard time keeping up.  He still struggles as a ninth grader with reading and just studying in general because he really didn't learn those skills at the age that most kids do.  I used to get frustrated with him until I realized again that I was looking in the mirror at me in Jr. High and High school.  I mastered the art of covering up how hard things were for me.  Changed Fs to As on midterm reports, just skipped the classes that I didn't want to take the tests for, signed up to be in this or that club so that I could just conveniently be gone serving the school in some way during the class that I didn't understand.  By high school I was so far behind that I just had to take the easiest classes offered in order to get a decent grade.  I've always been really self conscious of my lack of academic achievements... until I saw Noah in the mirror.  I realized that because I can relate to how he feels and what he is going through, I know how to guide him.  I know what he needs.  I believe in him and his ability to be a success... so why not me?  Why do I call myself stupid when I know with every part of me that HE ISN'T.  I know the things that he is great at that other kids getting great grades AREN'T good at.  He will be a success.  It's too late for me to do Jr. High and High school again, but I can still be a success at what I am good at.  He has taught me that.

My third son is testing me in a whole new way.  He cannot be positive about a situation to save his life.  He worries about everything.  He's depressed on Christmas because he feels guilty about the money we've spent and that the Christmas season is almost over.  He's depressed on the night of his concert when he got up in a club and sang and played the bass and guitar perfectly at 11 yrs old because he said one lyric wrong (that no one knew) and because his friends didn't tell him that he did awesome then he must have been terrible!  His mood is entirely dictated by his circumstances and other people.  And even if the other people and circumstances are positive, he will find a way to make it negative.  "I won't write a song for reflections because I know it won't be as good as so-and-so's.  Which means it will be terrible."  So you can guess that more than a few times I have been listening to him complain to me about some worry or sad event, and I start to roll my eyes and tell him how silly it is to feel that way and tell him how talented and handsome and kind and awesome he is, when I realize...  Yep, I do this sometimes too.  I will compare my life to others', put theirs in the best light possible and mine in the worst and then tell myself I suck.  My life isn't even worth living.  I'm not even going to go to the lunch because I'm not worth knowing.  No one will like me.  Crap, I. AM. JOSH.  yikes.   Gotta stop it.  This one has been my most recent effort and is coming along like the others.  I still catch myself losing patience with his negativity and have to apologize a lot.  No number of years in therapy with the best therapists could convince me these truths about negative vs. positive thinking.  I had to realize it through seeing it in someone I love and helping them. 

My daughter.  Anyone that knows me for any amount of time knows how in love I am with my daughter. The most spiritual experience of my life was giving birth to her.  Fullness of Joy is the closest I can get to describing how that felt.  The craziest part of the whole experience was that at the same time that I was experiencing that euphoria, I got the worst case of Postpartum Depression I've ever had.  (This was also, by the way, the same time we were dealing with the Asperger's and the school problems with my second.) By the time Sarah was a year old I was suicidal.  I would look at her feeling the purest love I could imagine, and be feeling so much shame and self loathing at the same time it was unbearable.  When I realized that I was actually contemplating leaving this perfect beautiful girl without a mom I reached out to the right D.O. for help. *SIDE NOTE: I have asked for medication after deliveries before and the doctor and therapist told me to get a gym membership instead.  It is part of the reason it took me so long to ask for help this time, and one reason I was feeling more shame than before.  I will be forever grateful to my provider for looking into my eyes and saying "That would be terrible if your children didn't have you." and just writing the prescription.  I didn't believe her yet, but the medication helped me understand her in time.*  So one day I was holding Sarah looking at her perfectness, and there was a little voice in my head that said in feelings, not really words, "Sarah is to you as you are to me.  This is how I feel about you.  You are perfectness.  You're beautiful.  Even when you screw up I love it because it's you!"  It hit me like a smack in the forehead.. or a hug, or both.  I just sat there with Sarah crying at the realization that someone loves me the way I love Sarah.  I knew that there was nothing she would ever do that could make me not love her.  Nothing she could ever do that would make it difficult to be her mom.  I felt for the first time that there is someone that will never ashamed of me or wishing I was different in any way.  Just enjoying watching me grow and sometimes screw up, there to help and guide.  I had never understood it before until Sarah.  (I guess because Sarah is a girl?  I don't know.)  I still had to retrain myself how to think normally for years after that and learn how to turn off the depressive thoughts. I continue to catch myself today when I feel it coming on.  It takes practice to pull out of depression.  It's hard work, but it can be done.  Anyway -  Sarah taught me about my relationship with my heavenly parents.  It helped me understand the depths of the love they have for me. 

I wasn't at all ready to get married and I wasn't "prepared" to be a parent.  But it's a good thing I did them both or I never would have grown up and figured out who I am.  I am so indebted to these souls that took the risk and gambled that I would figure it out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trip to the beach!

 We took the trailer to Carlsbad State Park at the beginning of June.  We're not really beachy people.  We get bored quickly of sand and sticky and cold waves.  We enjoy exploring more. BUT we haven't done the beach in quite a while, so it was fun to do it again.
 The beach we were on is not really one that the people that stay there usually hang out on because it's so rocky.  You sort of have to drive up the road or down the road a few minutes to Encinitas or Mission Beach for sand.  The first day though, we needed to jump out of the car and see it.  So we hung out on the rocks.  My kids are really into rocks.  They scoured the beach for a couple of hours bringing me the prettiest ones to bring home, which I did.
 This picture of my man-child freaks me out.  He's 14, 5'10" 1/2, size 10.5 shoe, and check out his muscles!   It's scary.  I'm pretty proud of him.  He's a good kid with a good spirit.  Alot like Sarah in that he wants things to always be fair for everyone and loves his friends.
 It's funny how well my boys get along out of the house.  I don't think there was a single argument while we were gone.  But they fight like dogs at home.  Right before I snapped this picture (above) Ryan had his head leaning on Noah's, who was leaning his on Ryan's shoulder.  It was so cute.  I wanted proof that they loved each other once, but he moved it right before I could take the picture.
 Blueberry "pancake," Me style.  This was heavenly.
 This kid is so handsome and sweet.  Joshy.
 Misson Beach is incredibly beautiful.  This cool pathway that goes on for miles in each direction.  I'd like to go back there.
 The neighborhoods in Mission Beach reminded me of Brazil, only pimped out.
Couples smash ball.  A blustery day on the beach.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Iron Man

I really love watching the Iron Man in St. George every year.  This is the third year they've had it here and it will be the last year they hold a full race.  The next two years that they are contracted to hold it here it will be only a half Iron Man.  I had a couple of friends that did it the first year and I was so tempted back then to try and do it, but I knew at the end of the day that I just didn't have the time it would take that I could be away from the house to train.  Now, three years later,  I kinda don't want to ever be that narcissistic.  Not that my friends that do it ARE, but I would have to be to do it.  I'd have to ignore a whole lot of other people and things that need me.  I still am in awe of these people though.
The woman that took first place, I was happy to see, was kinda short and stalky and not stick thin.  It makes me happy to find people I can compare myself to physically (yes, I am that self conscious about my body) and see them do awesome things. 

I put a lot of miles on after I had Sarah when I was in my postpartum depressed stupor and gave myself a few injuries.  I have been thinking that maybe it's time to switch to lower impact cardio.  I've been biking and swimming, which I have enjoyed a lot, but nothing will ever compare to the running high and I've missed that.  I came across an article in a running magazine the other day that said that you don't ever need to give up running at any age, but just change the way you train to avoid injuries. That may or may not be true in my case, but I'm choosing to believe it because I need to.  Running is one of my few pure joys in life.  One thing that is always sure to make me feel happy and uplifted.  Peace.

The first place male winner.  He gave me a high five as he was rounding this corner to the finish line.  I took it as a sign.
These two klassy ladies were standing next to me watching.  One of them wreaked of pot and their banter was, I hate to admit, hysterical.  They were both in their early sixties, admiring the athletes bodies and flirting with the volunteers.  I couldn't help but think about the fact that I am closer to their age than I am to the age I was when I graduated from high school.  I still feel like I just graduated from high school.  How can it be that I am now done having babies and am officially exiting the 30 something young mom club?!  It's insane.  Where did my 30s go?  At the same moment I'm happy to be almost 40.  Finally no pressure to look perfect.  It actually kinda looks sad to me when I see someone in their 40s trying to look 20 or 30 something.  For instance, after these two women left, there came up an older woman, in her 70's, obviously an athlete herself because she was wearing Iron Man garb.  She said she was cheering on her son that was competing in his first Iron Man.  I asked her about her obvious involvement in Iron Man events and she told me that she was a 4 time champion at Kona in her 40+ divisions years ago, but that she is retired now.  I remember thinking that she, with her leathery tanned skin and sparkling healthy eyes and muscle toned 70 something body was more beautiful to me than any smooth botoxed exfolioated lazered lifted tucked nipped or injected woman I had seen. Hers was real beauty.  I don't know if any of my friends that do those things will ever read this and take offense.  Please know that I mean this for ME.  It's not that I think it's wrong for someone else to do it.  I honestly don't think that.  It's just that it's not the look that I think will make me feel beautiful.  To me the more natural, the better.  I was embarrassed to ask her if I could take a picture with her.  She inspired me to what I want to be doing when I'm in my 70s.  (My mom died at 71.  Ugh.)  Not that I'm ever going to be competitive with any sport, but just that I'm going to keep going with it and stay healthy.

Summa time...

Summer has become more and more about Sarah than ever, if that's possible.  Now that she doesn't have school she is in constant need of entertainment.  I really would not rather do anything else but hang with her, but it is nice to also be able to get some things around the house done.  Here we are having a "picnic" at the park in her play tent.

 Picture #2 is just her early in the morning with low blood sugar.  I have to admit that even when she's throwing temper tantrums (which are really rare, I think) I still think she's perfect.  When she is freaking out, I feel like we understand each other even better in that moment.  She is able to express exactly what I am feeling.  It's awesome.  She also is starting to copy my behavior, see pic #3, which is both cool and scary.  I realize I need to be a good example more now than with my boys even.

  #4 is at Mission Beach Park.  Everywhere we go, she sets out to find friends.  She is always looking for friends, and everyone is her friend, whether they like it or not.

 I'm so proud of how friendly and outgoing and open and loving she is to all kids.  She wants all of them in her life.  It's a gift.  I'm also afraid for her because people like that are bound for more pain in life.  Putting yourself out there more automatically increases the times in your life you'll experience rejection and hurt from your "friends."  I still have alot of scars from those lessons, and if I had had Sarah earlier in my life I'm sure I would have ruined her by protecting her from it all and fighting her fights at every turn.  It was a tender mercy that I had her last and later in life, so that I am mature enough to be able to see the big picture.  Just be proud of her and watch with confidence in her ability to get through it.  I'll be able to be a sideline coach instead of the backseat driver of her life.  My oldest son is like her too, and I mistakenly have tried to tell him to quit trying to make friends with the jerks that are mean.  Then I remembered that all 12-15 yr olds are jerky to each other and he'll get through it.  I had friends growing up with over protective parents that told them they are perfect and their friends weren't good enough for them anyway.  It didn't do them any favors.  They grew up really believing that instead of working on just being someone that people liked to be around.  I AM proud of her and her happy openness.  Every little girl is her "sister."  Every group of strangers we come upon anywhere, she'll blurt out "Oh, Hi guys!!" and they are friends.
This was a date night last weekend that Sarah invited herself on.  I love time alone with Ron, but I will admit to having separation anxiety.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Voted "Most Imaginative"

Sarah graduated from Bloomington Preschool today.  Mrs. Morris is wonderful.  She taught all four of my kids.  But she always gives out these awards at the end of the year that make me wince a little.  My kids always get an award like "Free Spirit" (Noah) or Sarah's "Most Imaginative" which are both nice ways of saying "Lost in their own little world and don't listen to instructions very well."  I'm okay with that description.  My kids are going to change the world.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Weekend in Laguna and graduations

Something we all need to remember more often.  I saw this a lot when I was serving a mission in Brazil.  It really changed the way I live my life, knowing I don't really need "stuff" to be happy.

On a lighter note,  Ron and I went to my nephew's wedding in Cali last weekend.  We turned it into an anniversary trip for ourselves as well.  We had a great time!
 Outside the Newport Temple.

 My nephew, Curren and his new wife, Brooke.  (With my sister, Melanie and the rest of their family.)

 At a mexican restaurant called Javier's.
 On vacation with Ron is ALL about the food, as maybe you can see.

 We went somewhere that I picked the last night.
 Edamame potstickers.
Ron got a buffalo burger that came with cooked kale and sweet potato.  Hee hee.

 Graduation from Title 1.
 Leading the Funky Chicken.

A little Tom Petty.