Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not about weight, but life

Today I got to thinking about a lot of things, one being the fact that ever since I was a little girl all I wanted was to get married and have kids.  As a little girl I was always finding stray animals I wanted to take care of, and I would have had a zoo of pets if I could have (still would if we could afford it and had the space).

There is just this part of me that has always wanted to take care of things, and I don't know why, exactly, it's just how I have always been.  Well, I do have a couple theories, which I'll get into a bit, but I just wanted to talk about this.

If you don't have kids you may not want to read this or understand what I am saying, and that's totally fine.  I realize not everyone wants children and I am all for people doing what feels right in their own lives.  There are some people who want to do other things, or maybe they aren't suited for kids, so for whatever reason, they are childless, and I have no issues with that.  Oprah Winfrey said that she chose not to be a mother because she didn't feel she could be a mother and have her career and do an excellent job at both, and I respect her for that.  I do think you can be a great mom and also have a great career, but I can imagine without help you'd be stretched thin.  Anyway...

What I have an issue with are things I sometimes read online where people who don't even have kids are SO completely judgmental about other parents.  Some of the things they say are so off, and they don't even seem to realize it.

I know it's said over and over, but being a parent is hard.  I'm not just talking about the physical grunt work of parenting (like all the diapering, feeding, bathing, laundry, good Lord-the laundry!) but it's a constant emotional roller coaster.  You have the responsibility of raising these people into being functional adults, and it's hard.  It's hard to know whether you are always doing or saying the right thing.

No one (well, hardly anyone) talks about the tough parts of being a mother.  It's almost like if you seem unhappy about things at all, it's like people don't think you love your children, and that isn't true!  All you see on facebook are the cute pictures and how happy people's families are.  Not many people openly talk about their struggles.  They might post a picture of their toddler drawing on the wall with lipstick, but it's meant to be cute.  They don't talk about the daily frustrations of trying to teach children, well, everything.

Aidan is in 4th grade now and has a hard time in school.  His grades are good, but he has ADHD, so he has a hard time focusing for long periods of time.  I knew as a toddler he was not "normal" by how he acted, but I ignored my gut instinct because everyone said that's just how boys are.  It's not because he's a boy, ADD or ADHD is a problem in the brain.  He had such a hard time in Kindergarten and 1st grade that I knew we had to do something, or he'd end up doing poorly in school.  I've read several books and tons of stuff online, and they all say one of the worst things about ADHD is a child losing their confidence.  They have such a hard time assimilating (especially in the public school system) that it's hard on their self-esteem.  I've already seen this with him.  He isn't able to do the math hall of fame (where they do math problems very fast to get in the special club) and he feels bad about it.

You hear parents who have "normal" kids criticize parents who give their child medication.  I did not want to medicate him and we didn't just go to his Dr and ask for ADD medication.  We took him to two specialists and got him tested (and they said his lack of concentration on the very first test was so poor that they knew he had an attention problem just by that and his score was barely chartable).  We got him counseling and we went as a family, too.  Children with ADD are harder to parent, and so they helped us learn different ways to relate to him.  Then we did decide to give him a low dose medication, and it did help him do better at school as far as finishing his work.  It's not a cure, but it helps.

I hear people say that parents only drug their kids so they don't have to deal with them.  I resent hearing that, because we give him a low dose, so by the time he's home from school it's pretty much worn off.  This is why homework time is so frustrating, for all of us.  We've made a choice not to over-medicate him because I don't want him being one of those kids who doesn't sleep at night and is cranky and then can't behave or concentrate at all.  It's not always easy to know if what you're doing is the right thing, but I know it's harder for him at school, so the teacher is one who reaps most of the benefits of the medicine, not us.  We don't give it to him on weekends or every day in the summer. I do think there are some people who just have bratty kids and label them without really knowing and some Drs are willing to fork over meds, but that's not the case with us.

We all have our judgments about people, but how often do we really wonder what the reason is for things?  I admit when I hear babies in stores screaming their heads off, it annoys the hell out of me.  I know it can't always be helped, but sometimes I do wonder why people take babies out at 10pm to leisurely shop.  I also hate when people bring babies or little kids to movies meant for adults.  So, I am judging there, I guess.

Sometimes I feel like a failure in a way, because all I ever wanted to be was a mom and I don't think I'm that good at it.  I lack patience, especially when it's something I've repeated over and over and no one seems to be listening.  I go back and forth between worrying I am too hard on them, or not hard enough.  Aidan has a hard time in school, but he's managed to get pretty good grades, in part because we work with him a lot at home.  We can spend 2 hours on his homework some evenings.  I feel bad for Abby because I have to spend so much more time helping him.  Thank goodness she doesn't have the same issues, because I don't know how I'd handle it.

There are times I feel resentful of my own kids.  That sounds terrible, doesn't it?  They have the childhood I wish I'd had.  I didn't have parents who were there.  My mom always worked 2 or 3 jobs and my dad worked nights, so we were left with my grandmother a lot of the time.  I didn't have anyone to help me with school work past the 4th grade, because my parents were not educated (both having dropped out in middle school).  There were times I remember my mom literally sleeping all day on her days off, or not even getting up in the morning to take us to school.  We would eat sugar, mustard, or syrup on bread because there wasn't any food in the house.  I remember being Aidan's age and sick with a cold.  My parents were at work and my grandmother didn't drive and was too obese to walk very far, so I walked the two blocks to CVS to buy my own cold medicine.  From the age of 8 when we moved and began taking the bus to school, I got myself and my younger brother up on my own, and got us to the bus.  My mom was at work and my dad would be sleeping because he worked nights.  So, even though it's wrong of me, I think of these things and almost feel angry because they don't realize how good they have it compared to how I grew up.  I don't expect them to at this age and I certainly don't expect them to be as independent as I had to be, however, when I ask them to do something easy in comparison, I expect it to be done.  Maybe that's too harsh, but I don't think so.  If I could do all that, they can pick their shoes up or make their bed without acting like I am ruining their lives. 

No one supervised me as a kid and I basically roamed the neighborhood.  Bad things happened to me because no one was keeping an eye on me, and now I think of that whenever my kids are outside playing.  I do not trust people.  Recently, Aidan had make up school work for a class mate who lives in our neighborhood.  He'd told the teacher he'd take it to him, and he wanted to ride his scooter over.  It's probably about a quarter mile from our house and our neighborhood is small with only one entrance in and out, but it still made me nervous for him to go alone where I couldn't see him.  I had to remind myself that he's 10 now, so he went and he came right back like I told him to.  I was 7 or 8 and riding my bike miles from home to a busy shopping mall with neighborhood kids and I don't know how worse things didn't happen to me.

There are so many things I wasn't taught as a child, even proper manners and things like that, and I had to learn them on my own.  As I got older I saw how other families interacted and I learned from that.  I didn't have a mom who taught me how to cook or bake, because she didn't herself.  She never fixed my hair in pretty bows like the other girls had, because she herself didn't wear makeup or anything like that.  I think part of why I wanted kids, and especially a daughter, was to do all the things for them that were not done for me.  I wanted a real family.  Most of my childhood memories are of my parents fighting and us all feeling miserable all the time. 

I am told that one day when my kids are grown, all these things I worried about will seem like they don't matter, and I hope that is true.  I just want my kids to be aware of things and learn to think for themselves.  I want them to grow up to be good people, and for them to be happy.  I want them to have kids so I can have grand kids who come over on the weekends and I can make them cookies and we can play at the park.

The world is constantly changing and it's hard to figure it all out sometimes, all I know is I am trying my best, and I hope it's enough.  




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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"This is not the end, this is not the beginning...

Just a voice like a riot rocking every revision
But you listen to the tone and the violent rhythm
And though the words sound steady something empties within them
We say yeah with fists flying up in the air
Like we're holding onto something that's invisible there
'Cause we're living at the mercy of the pain and the fear
Until we get it, forget it, let it all disappear..."

Hey everyone!

I posted some of the lyrics to the song "Waiting for the End" by Linkin Park because the lyrics sort of mirror how I feel sometimes, so it feels fitting.  It's one of those songs I heard, but never really listened to.  Anyway...

I hope you're having a great week so far and doing well.  We're getting some spring like weather and I like to have the windows open and get fresh air.  The bluebirds will be nesting soon and the hummingbirds will return, which always makes me so happy, especially when I spot that first one.

The last week has been good, but hard.  I've worked out a lot in the last week and run twice.  My first run last week was hard.  There was still ice on the ground in spots, so I had to be careful.  I felt so slow and sluggish.  That's what happens when you go from running 3-4 times a week to taking a couple months off and only running sporadically.

I did a little over 2 miles that first time.  I didn't wear my Garmin because I knew if I saw how slow I was, I'd feel even more defeated than I already do.  There is a lake near me and once I've passed it, that is one mile.  So I decided that was what I'd do for my first run of "starting over" or whatever you want to call it.

It's not really starting over, I guess.  I mean, it's not like I gained back all or most of the weight I've lost.  I've gained back a little over 20 after losing 150, so when I think of it that way, it's not the end of the world, and losing over 130 pounds collectively is still amazing.  The thing is, it sucks when your pants are tight.  A few of my shorts from last year I can barely get on, so I want to get the weight off off before summer, or I won't have clothes to wear.

Also, I can still run, just not as fast.  Part of that is because I haven't run a lot lately and part of it is my ankle.  I feel ok for the first mile or so, and then it tightens up and I have to stop and stretch it.  It's a crappy feeling to have to stop a couple times for 2 miles when before before that was my easy run.  There is that longing to be able to run the way I did before, but I know it's going to take time.  I am sure that I will improve, I just can't give up.  It's so annoying having to baby my ankle.  I'm icing it after running and elevating it, because it's usually sore and stiff after every workout, but then it starts to feel better. 

As hard as my runs have been this week, I am glad to get out there and do it.  It makes me feel alive, even if it feels miserable at times. 

I've realized a few things about why I've had such a hard time lately. 

I can't have junk food in the house in large quantities.  If it's a pack of something that will be eaten quickly, like one 6 pack of cupcakes, then that's ok.  Multiple containers of ice cream or boxes of cookies or bags of candy just can't happen.  My food addiction will not ever go away and it seems that no one gets how serious that is.   They just say, "Well, don't eat."  That's like dropping an alcoholic off at the bar and telling them not to take a drink. They think because you lose a lot of weight you have it all figured it out, like you're invincible, and that isn't how it is.

Being sick sucks.  When you feel really bad, it's hard to get up and do anything productive, so I wasn't spending the time I normally did preparing my meals and snacks.  I barely had enough energy to keep laundry washed and do the basic everyday stuff.  Jeff would make something or he'd pick food up.  My body just will not allow me to eat out a lot without gaining weight, so being sick for weeks was awful. 

Being depressed makes it harder, too.  I know people who've never been depressed don't understand it, but it feels like you have chains holding you in place and you can't move, and you really don't want to sometimes.  It's scary to feel that way (after you really think about it), because it's not something you can control.  For a while, part of me just didn't care, and I didn't feel like anyone else did either.  So it made me feel worse and worse.  Sometimes you do have to get up and do your best to choose to be happy.  It doesn't always work, but I am trying to remember each day the things that I do love and the kind of person I want to be.

No one else is really going to care how hard it is for you.  That may sound harsh, and it's not that I think no one cares for me or wishes me well, but how many people actually make an effort to be healthy with you?  People don't care that you are trying to eat better.  They send you food or ask you to dinner at places where there are no healthy options.  They eat 4 pieces of pizza in front of you or ask you if you want more food, and you do, but you can't.  They don't understand how tiring it all is, and how frustrating it is to see other people eat and not have to work their ass off just so they can have a roll with dinner.  No one gets it unless they've gone through it.  It's like people with no kids assuming they know how much work it is to be a mother, and wagging their judgmental fingers thinking they could do it better.  You realize how hard it is once you do it, and losing weight is a lot like motherhood.  It's worthwhile, but at times it feels like a thankless job that never ends (because it doesn't) and that you never get a break from (because you don't).

I'm feeling better emotionally and physically, and the working out is helping.  I'm also reminding myself to drink more water.  I think sometimes I get a bit dehydrated.  My body often doesn't seem to realize it's thirsty, so I need to make sure I drink before I even feel thirsty. 

I really hope all of you who've reached out to me (by e-mail or here with a comment, or wherever) are doing well in your own lives, whatever it is you're trying to accomplish.  Hang in there.



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