I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

World's Okayest Mom

     I've been thinking a lot lately about "shoulds" when it comes to motherhood and why mothers always feel like they need to be better, no matter how amazing they are. This is something I've been struggling with and working through. I also have recently read two books that made me think even deeper about this issue: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin. If you go to my book review blog then you can see my review of one of them and the second review is soon to come. Both of these books have mothers who consistently feel inept and as though their children deserve more from them, even when they're trying their absolute best and doing all they can. Why do we do this to ourselves? 
     Three thoughts have helped me work through solving this problem within myself:
   1. You are enough! There isn't a day I can remember living when everything went according to plan and I've always been hard on myself to varying degrees when it comes to what I did or didn't do. I've often found myself saying things like, "I would be a better wife/mother/etc. if I had just done X or done X this way." Now, at the end of the day, no matter how much I have or have not accomplished and no matter how I did the things I did do, I accept the day for what it was and say to myself that I was enough - I am enough. Even if it wasn't really a good day, there are always better and worse days ahead and that's okay - it all evens out in the end. Also, I think it's true that we learn something new everyday and I often have to learn things the hard way, but that doesn't mean I'm not a good enough wife/mother/etc. 
   2. Don't should on yourself! I stole this wording from a friend of mine, because it made me laugh. I often pile "should" statements onto myself. "I should do X because that's what good mothers (other mothers) do." It took me a long time to realize how damaging these statements were because I didn't really think about the second half of the statement. I would just go around thinking about all of the tasks I should be doing, but neglected to think about why I thought I should be doing them in the first place. Most of the time these shoulds aren't things that are necessary for myself or my family, they're just extra things I'm putting on my shoulders and expecting myself to do when they don't actually need to be done at all. 
   3. It's okay to be the world's okayest mom! (click the link to see some awesome mugs if you need a daily reminder of this) This point is from my therapist who, after listening to me whine over and over again about how much I want to be the best mom I can possibly be, said, "Sometimes okay is enough." All our kids really need and want from us is to make sure their basic needs are met and that we're there for them. They won't implode if we spend all day in the house and let them watch more TV than usual because we're sick or depressed and can't imagine doing anything else. They don't need to be involved in extra activities everyday to be happy, or go to an elite preschool that so-and-so says is the first necessary step for your child to get into the best universities. All kids really need is love and support, just like the rest of us and if that means that I'm striving to be world's okayest mom instead of the worlds best mom (because focusing on more makes me and my kids more stressed) then that's what I need to do. 
     Moms everywhere take on unnecessary stress when often those stresses, meant to help us become better or our best, actually lead us to lose sight of what really matters. What really matters, in my opinion, are the little things. Appreciating the time together that is fleeting because children grow so quickly, being simply grateful that we have what we have when we have it. This appreciation and gratitude takes effort too, but I think it's much more worth while and rewarding than all of the extras. As long as your children are loved and know it, they're happy and you're doing everything you should be doing - I promise! 
     So, tonight when you're trying to go to sleep after constantly chasing, policing, cleaning, bribing, playing, feeding, and doing everything else that comes with being a mom, I hope you look back at the day and say to yourself, "I am enough, in fact I am the world's okayest mom!" Say it loud, say it proud Momma! 


       
  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mom on the Run

August 22nd, 2015
My first 5K race! Time: 29:37

Before I start I'll just say that the title of this blog was inspired by The Little River Band's "Man on the Run" and Paul McCartney & Wings' "Band on the Run". So, this post might be slightly (greatly) more awesome if you listen to those songs while reading it. 

I've run off and on since I was in high school and it has helped me through bouts of depression, times of anxiety, and given me an outlet of forced meditation. Even though running has always been these things for me, I've had a hard time making it part of who I am and committing to it with consistently. The longest stretch of time I called myself a 'runner' was after I graduated high school and through my first semester of college, it was during that time I found out that I could go farther than I previously thought (the longest run I did was about 6 miles) and how much I enjoyed long distances when I didn't hold myself back. After giving birth to Squeeker I went running maybe three times. Even though I knew it would help me to work through stress and feel better, I've always had a hard time making it a habit.

After giving birth to Goose things were different. As I posted last time, I've been going through a lot of family troubles this last year and having two kids at home is definitely different than only one. I felt split in two since the moment Goose was born, part of me wanting to put all of my energy and care into this newborn - like I was able to do with Squeeker when she was born, but the other half of me knew I had a beautiful toddler who I wanted to continue to put all of my energy and care into as well. How could I love so deeply and put so much of myself into two separate beings? This love, as all parents can attest to, is different than any other kind of love. It's distressing at times; when you see your child in pain something primal takes over and everything inside of you aches to fix it, to see your child happy again. The love of your child becomes an extra appendage, physical and emotional in its control over you. Having Squeeker was intense enough, although I didn't have any depression after having her, but when I had Goose I did get depressed and more overwhelmed than I had ever felt in my life. I wanted to give both of my girls everything I had, but there's only one of me and I needed to take care of myself too. Not to mention giving all I could to my marriage and my love for Husband as well. 

It was an odd time and I felt like I bounced out of it fairly quickly, we moved into our first purchased home only about twelve days after I gave birth to Goose. That was a good outlet, although an extra stressor, and I used it as a distraction from my feelings. I continued to put myself aside and everything/everyone else first. That's when I started to break and I knew I needed to run. Something instinctual rose up inside of me, telling me to run. I didn't want to run away, I love where I'm at in my life and all that I have, so I started to run towards something instead - a healthier and more balanced me. 

Now I'm slowly strengthening myself, pushing my body, and I love it. I never thought I'd enjoy running the way I do now, it has become what I need in order to stay grounded and gain perspective in life. Two things drastically helped me in finding this enjoyment: 
     #1) I bought a new pair of good running shoes (Asics GT-2000 2, if you're interested), but I also run barefoot sometimes. To a certain extent I buy into the barefoot running philosophy and I do think going barefoot every once in awhile gives me immediate feedback from my body, so I can correct my gate and run more pain-free. However, I also really love running in shoes, they're like running on clouds and I can think about things other than my feet and gate when I run with them on, unlike running barefoot - which in my experience is fun, but also grounds and focuses your attention on your feet and gate completely. Running shoes can be really expensive, but if you do the research and look at all of your options then you can usually find a deal. My Asics' MSRP is $120, but I got them for $67 from Running Warehouse online. This Runner's World article will help you  with some guidelines to buying a good pair as well. 
     #2) Using the zen labs fitness C25K (stands for Couch to 5K) free app. This training program pushed me, but also worked my strength up at a comfortable pace. I liked having the app tell me when to run and when to walk so I didn't have to keep track of it myself and it also informed me of how many runs I had left in my workout as I went. The app is based on running three times a week and workouts vary in length. I highly recommend this app to anyone who is trying to work toward a 5K, whether you have been a runner in the past or not. 

Those two things have helped me to prevent injury, which I did get while using my old running shoes and not having a training program, and they have made running more comfortable/doable/fun. Until this last Saturday I hadn't participated in an official running event, but I'm never looking back now. I am planning on running in many more and making running part of who I am from now on. I'm also going to run a marathon in the fall of 2016, so you'll get to read about that insanity as I train. 

I have read the following books about running and found them helpful and inspiring: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall & What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. These are two very popular running books and I think it is with good reason. I am still working my way through other running books, so I will share others I find helpful in the future. 

Sometimes I run without listening to anything, but other times I listen to music or a podcast. The podcast that Another Mother Runner puts on is great and I love their work in general. There are running apps and music apps that can put together play lists based on your running pace, which is awesome. I like the app runkeeper for keeping track of my distances/pace while I'm out, but I also keep a journal that I write things down in the moment I get back from a run. I write my distance, time, pace, route, how I felt (physically, mentally, and emotionally), what I encountered, and anything else that stood out. 

So, if you're finding yourself feeling adrift or needing an excuse to be alone outside for awhile, go for run! If you really don't think you're a runner, and frankly don't want to be, then find something else that will help you in similar ways: yoga, swimming, biking, etc. 

I have also recently joined a group called MOMS Club, they have different chapters all over the United States (I don't think they are an international group, but they could be). As part of my chapter one of the moms started a Get Fit challenge, which I decided to join as well. As part of this challenge I have the opportunity to earn five points everyday. Each of the following things will earn me a point: 
   - Taking a multi-vitamin (it's especially good for mothers to have extra iron and folic acid, calcium doesn't hurt either)
   - Drinking 64oz of water 
   - Being active for 30 minutes, trying to get your heart rate up during that time. 
   - Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (not 5 each, just all together)
   - Completing a me-time activity (reading, meditating, going out to a movie without your kids, etc.) Which has to be separate from your 30 minutes of activity, even if it's something that helps you to de-stress and is personal time. 

As I focus on doing these five things everyday I am boosted and feel stronger. I never realized how hard it is for me to set aside time for myself, or to eat five servings of fruits a vegetables, until I was doing it. I'm so good at making sure Squeeker gets her fruits and vegetables, but I neglect my own health all of the time. 

Anyway, these are few things that have been giving me what I need to strive for better personal health. Comment if you have any questions that I didn't answer. I hope this helps you find what you need to get through the happy times and the tough times too! 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Let's Try This Again

It has been awhile... I'll say a few things by way of explanation and then let's just put this time behind us, eh? 

Soon after my posts stopped I found out that I was pregnant with our second child - *Goose (now 5 months old). That pregnancy was more difficult in many ways than my first, with *Squeeker. I was more tired, depressed, sick, we were nervous she only had one kidney and I had to go in for more ultrasounds than the first time, etc. It was overwhelming and in some ways I wish that I would have kept writing through it because this blog always was a good outlet for me, but in the moment it was hard for me to even will myself to take Squeeker to the park, I always slept during her nap time too. That is reason number one.

Reason number two, I have had some personal family difficulties. I don't want to get too personal or whine about my privileged American life, but I will say that my biological father has had many health problems and is unsuccessfully battling cancer. My biological mother has also faced many difficulties that have been emotionally draining for me to support her through, including her and my step-father divorcing this last February (they had been married since I was 5), but she is getting better - she is slowly healing and so am I. 

Basically for a long time I've been doing a lot less of what I used to do, floating in and out of depression. I'll be candid and say that I have been going to a therapist regularly, she has been a gem and I'm grateful for her. Along with therapy, *Husband has been my base and helped me to gain perspective when my vision has been the cloudiest. I'm grateful to have such a wonderful person in my life to write this adventure with and have a family with. My girls, they have made things so much better too, but I wouldn't be completely honest if I said they haven't made things more difficult some days too. It's a good difficult though, I think. Most days when I felt like I couldn't get out of bed and all I wanted to do was disappear, they forced my attention away from myself and helped me to focus on the more important and immediate concerns of daily life. 

So, here I am again. A mother of two now, taking life one day at a time and struggling more than ever before. But I think I'm succeeding more than ever before too, because I appreciate the good more than I used to and I'm finding more ways to make my life feel happier, fuller, and stronger. 

I hope you forgive the long interlude and enjoy the new to come, I'm writing for all of you too. I'm sure I'm not the only struggling mother out there and we need to stick together! 

*I've decided to stop using my family's actual names while online and will refer to them using these substitutes. Although, Husband may appear as 'Engineer' or 'Hot One' from time to time as well. 

There are A LOT of pics to catch up on, but this is a good start: 






Squeeker is so big! (2.5 now)

Goose's Baby Blessing























I'm also still working on the Folded Pages Distillery, writing book reviews from time to time, so go there if you are looking for a good new read.