Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ode to the mamas

It's been on my mind a lot lately. The mommy wars thing. Specifically the working mom vs. stay at home mom topic. In my short month back at work, I've heard a whole gamut of comments. I truly don't understand why it has to be this way. I mean does it truly matter what another family is doing? Especially since most families are just trying to do the best they can for their own family. I never in a million years imagined myself as a stay at home mom. Yet the moment I held my baby boy, I knew that is what my heart desired. We weren't able to make that happen until he was three years old and we had a baby girl. The thought of being separated from my baby all day long and trying to breastfeed her while working was unbearable. But there are moms who do it all of the time. I did it with Harrison. I was already staying at home when Sam was born, so it wasn't a choice I had to make. It didn't make sense for me to try to go back to work after his birth. Then we were homeschooling for a bit. Honestly, I felt comfortable in that role and I felt that is where I'd be forever. I imagine there are many women who find themselves in this situation. Moms who have no choice to go back to work because they find themselves newly single, whether it be because they are divorced or widowed. Moms who are supporting the family while a spouse deals with a job loss, a career change, health issues, or perhaps going to school for a period of time. Maybe they are moms like me. Moms who could keep staying at home, but knowing that the goals for the entire family will be better reached when mom is contributing more financially. Or maybe it is a mom who knew she'd be going back to work as soon as her youngest reached a certain age. There are also plenty of moms who never desire to leave a fulfilling career and that is totally fine also. Just as there are moms who stay at home with their children for the whole shebang....and that is also great.

Bottom line is that is really doesn't freaking matter. I don't love my family any more or any less than I did when I wasn't working full-time. I love them the same. I will do whatever I have to do to make sure our family is happy and healthy. I'm doing my best. Just like I was doing my best when I woke up every day to teach my children at home. Just like I did my best when I spent my days playing with toddler and a baby. Just like I did my best working with one child who was in daycare. I didn't make any of these choices to try to make another mother feel badly about herself. I made them for my family. Why do women feel judged? Why do we feel we have to justify ourselves if we do something differently than someone else? 

Here are some examples of the comments women have to endure. 

The Homeschooling Mom might hear:
Oh, I could never teach my children. They drive me crazy. We butt heads. More power to you. I'm glad to send my kids to school. I enjoy them way more when I'm not with them all day.

The Mom Who Sends Her Kid to School might hear: 
Oh, I could never send my kids away for 8 hours every day. I enjoy being with my kids and I want to know exactly what they are learning and exposed to at school. I only have them for 18 years and I want to savor it. 

The Working Mom might hear: 
I don't know how you do it. I could never send my baby to daycare. I would miss them too much and I would be afraid they'd stay sick all the time. I don't want someone else experiencing all of their firsts.

The Stay-at-Home Mom might hear: 
I would get so bored staying at home. There's no way I'd be able to sit at home all day. I need adult interaction. I need to feel like I'm contributing to my family. 

Some of these comments are true, but I feel like women say them in such a way to try to belittle another mom's choice. 

Why can't we just say.....

Oh, that's great! I'd love to hear how that works for your family. How can I best offer you support? 

If you've been there and done that, you can totally empathize with another mom. If you've never been in her shoes, you could just ask her what her day is like. It doesn't have to be a comparison. It isn't a comparison.

I can honestly say that I've been on both sides of the spectrum now. It's all hard. The hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Raising humans is hard work. I think we all go to bed at night wondering how badly we are f@#king them up? How many years of therapy they will need to survive adulthood? And thankful that God will fill in the gaps where we truly and utterly suck at life. 

Ladies, we have to love and support each other. This isn't a competition. It isn't a race. We are all trying to raise decent humans who make a difference in this world. It is much harder to do that if we all aren't on the same team. Let's work together and raise awesome humans with the support of one another. #teamMom #TheWorldNeedsAllKindsOfMoms

~Peace out homies.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Changes all around

I haven't written or updated in a long time, so here goes.

Looking back over a year ago when I started thinking about going to work part-time, I can see that we were being prepared for what is now our reality. My family transitioned really well to my working part-time. Chris and I worked opposite schedules and that really was awful. I don't know how any of my friends do that for extended periods. We knew that our opposite shift thing couldn't work forever and that we were growing tired of that arrangement. After the spring, when we had some foundation work estimated for our house, we realized that we had to figure out something. The repairs needed on our home to get it ready for the market were just too many. Even though we had made great progress with our debt snowball and had built up a little bit of savings, it was just too much. We looked at some financing options, but they just didn't work for us. I threw it out there, working full-time that is, but Chris immediately dismissed it. Now rewind to last fall. There was a full-time job that I was very interested in, but sadly I wasn't considered for it. When we thought it might have been an option, we had already considered how that would impact school for our kids and all of those other things. But needless to say, it didn't work, so we went back to what we were doing. So, I kept throwing it out there to get Chris used to the idea. Then I contacted one of my friends where I used to work to find out if they were hiring anytime soon. She contacted another friend to see what was open, and that friend told me that I needed to apply immediately for my old job. So I didn't have much time to think about it. I filled out the application online and worked on my resume, which needed tons of work and updating. I heard back pretty soon and was asked to do a phone interview. I finished my phone interview right before we went on our big summer vacation. During our vacation I had to do complete some more things to be considered for the job. As soon as we got back from our vacation, we registered our children for school at Daisy. Thankfully, because Chris teaches at SDHS, our kids were eligible to go to Daisy without a hardship. Just a few days later we went for our annual 4th of July trip to visit my sister outside of Memphis. I heard back from while we were gone that I was getting a second interview. I had my second interview as soon as we got back from visiting my sister. Then the waiting game started and I started processing what had all happened so quickly. I found out about a week or so later that I had be re-hired. I forgot to mention that we moved back into our old house during all of this.

So just in case that was are all of the changes.

1. I am leaving my part-time evening job and going back to working full-time during the day.
2. We are no longer home-schooling. Our kids are all going to be in school all day long.
3. We moved back into our old house, so we could renovate it over the next year.

I' m a delayed processor so all of this really didn't hit me until early August. Of course, I started to freak out questioning whether or not we made the right decision. Then I had some very dear friends remind me of how absolutely perfectly everything fell into place. And not to be a negative Nelly, but rarely does anything fall into place like this for us. So we definitely feel we are on the right path.

We started the process of moving back into our house on July 17th. It took a couple of weeks though. Chris started back to school on August 6th, which was also my last day at GCC. Sam also started daycare that same day. The older two kids started school on August 13th. My job started on August 17th. We also found out on August 14th, that Sam was accepted into Pre-K at Daisy. He had a couple of phase-in days and then started full-time on August 28th. It was good move for him because he was the oldest by 2 years in daycare, so now he is with more kids his own age. He doesn't love it, but he also doesn't hate it. 

So  I sit here after my first month following all of these changes.  I'm exhausted right now. I'm still processing all of these changes. We are all actually really tired. I can also see that we are going to need to revamp our after-school/extracurricular activities. This is all still very new and we are all still transitioning. We are definitely used to having more freedom and flexibility in our schedule.

Here's the good stuff.
1. All of the children have made friends and they did so very quickly. The older kids both have some "best friends."
2. Chris is nearby the kids at school. He has a student walking them over there each morning and he picks them up in the afternoons.
4. I am alone in my van every day. People, this hasn't happened regularly in over 7 years. I can listen to whatever music I want. I can ride in complete silence. I can listen to Harry Potter audio books without interruption. It's pretty amazing.
5. I am around adults again. I'm enjoying getting to know my new coworkers and making new friends. 
6. I have a full-time income again!
7. We will start renovating this house very soon. Our foundation repair starts the first week of October and then everything else will follow suit.

Here's where we need prayers.
1. Harrison is doing well in school, but time at home is rough because he holds it together at school all day. Therefore, he unleashes the beast on us.
2. Time management in general.
3. Sam adjusting to Pre-K.
4. Some upcoming medical things for Kadie, which I will post about at a later time.
5. Chris transitioning to being with our children a whole lot more.
6. Time to do all of the renovating. Our goal is to have this house ready for the market by late spring/early summer.
7. For me not to feel guilt about going back to work and accepting this was a good move for our family.

Today, Sam missed school because he was sick. In the past, other than illness being inconvenient and hard on our kids, it wasn't a huge deal. It always fell on me and that was okay. I'm still in training and I can't take off time, so Chris had to stay with him and take him to the doctor. That was really hard for me today. I've always been the primary caregiver, so this is a definite change in gears. It was difficult. Really difficult. 

I'm also very thankful. I'm thankful that the older children LOVE school. I'm thankful that everything at my job is coming back super quickly. I'm thankful for the love and support we have received during all of these transitions. I'm thankful for the peacefulness that I feel knowing that everything is going to be alright. 

In other news, we saw the Avett Brothers this past weekend and they were AMAZING. Seeing them perform never gets old. They played a new song for us and I cannot wait to hear the rest. Fall is approaching and I'm super excited about the fun fall weather things to do. 

Well that is all. Until next time. 

~Peace out homies.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Not giving up...

I've learned some pretty neat things over this past 18 weeks of finding joy in my daily life. I realized in this journey that part of why I don't always feel gleeful is because I feel so terribly all of the time. I can't really pinpoint when this  happened, but it has been getting progressively worse over the past several years. I know the summer I turned 36, I felt like my health went down hill. I lost my will to do much of anything. I thought it was because of the knee pain I was experiencing. Then my knee surgery didn't really help me feel normal. I've been asking my OB/GYN to test my thyroid for several years and they always test the TSH and tell me I'm normal and send me on my way. I have known that something is not right. I literally have every symptom of hypothyroidism (no energy/stamina, low body temperature, always cold, depression, hair falling out, dry skin, gasping for air, brain fog, weight gain, inability to lose weight...the list goes on). It isn't normal to feel like an old lady at my age. This past winter, my health continued to decline. I had days where I could not even get out of bed. Seriously, I'm not quite 38. I have 3 young children. I homeschool. I can't have days like that. It really isn't okay. So I went to a different MD and told them about my joint pain, stiffness, inability to live a normal life. They ran some blood tests and told me my vitamin D was low. He put me on an antidepressant and told me that I was stiff and had joint pain because I was depressed and gaining weight. He blew off the fact that I've gained a ridiculous amount of weight over the past few years despite eating mostly healthy and not large quantities. I demanded more bloodwork. They ran more tests and discovered that I had a positive ANA, which could mean I have an autoimmune disorder. I have been referred to a specialist to see what is going on with that. Meanwhile, I continued to search because  I still knew there was more to it. A friend recommended a NP to me and I saw her in early April. She ran a very comprehensive blood panel. A week later I was in for the results. She confirmed that my vitamin D was low. She also discovered that my hormones are completely out of whack, which I've suspected for years because of my mood swings and crazy menstrual cycles. She discovered I have the MTHFR  (C677T/ A1298C) gene mutation and that I have issues with my thyroid that a TSH test will not find. So the very  next day I started using bioidentical hormone creams, taking a natural dessicated thyroid supplement, and started taking methylfolate because people with the MTHFR gene mutation cannot handle folic acid. Honestly, the information on MTHFR gene mutations is a little overwhelming and I'm just starting to comprehend it. I'm 32 days into all of these supplements and I feel better than I have in years. Sadly, I still don't feel great all of the time, but I have faith that I will continue to progress because we have finally identified why I was feeling terribly. I know that it won't happen overnight and that there are many pieces to this puzzle. I will follow up with her again this month for bloodwork and we can adjust whatever needs to be adjusted.

This leads me to my next point. I have been wanting to start running again for years. Between a bum knee, a broken foot, crazy menstrual cycles, pain, and quite frankly just feeling like crap, I haven't started. Over this past month, I have more good days than bad. I can count on one hand how many days I've had horrible joint pain. So now's the time. I started my journey to running again. I'm using the Couch to 5 K because that is what works for me. This morning was slow and sweaty. It was hard, but I did it. It is a 3 day a week program. I haven't decided what I will do on my off days, but I'm definitely shooting for 5 days a week of something. I do not actually care if I lose weight. I just want to run. It's always been a dream of mine. I have started this journey several times and this time I want to do it for good. I'm excited to see where this journey takes me (hopefully some cool 5Ks). If you are a runner friend, please encourage me. I actually do not like running with people because I am a loner when I exercise, but I definitely respond to words of affirmation. This is a 12 week program, so by the beginning of August, I will hopefully be able to run a 5 K and not at a snail's pace.

I'm not giving up. I'm determined to feel healthy again and hopefully I'm closer than I've been in a long time.