Tag Archives: children

All My Guilt Tucked In A Suitcase

All My Guilt Tucked In A Suitcase…

There are two sides to every story, two sides to every coin, and two sides to every single parent.

I constantly feel torn between the mother in me and the single woman in me.

How do I balance it?

Am I giving each side enough attention?

I am grateful that my kids have fathers in their lives that allows me to have a break, but there is still a tremendous amount of guilt for taking advantage of that time. I go on dates, I visit bars, and I attend concerts all while trailing behind me in a suitcase is my mom guilt. All tucked nice and neat are the little what ifs and should ofs of my life. I always tuck away my wish I would of thoughts into my guilt suitcase and carry it along with me, every shift at work, every date I go on, and every night when I fall asleep without little toes in my face.

l’ll always wonder what my children do when they are away from me, even though I know they are safe and happy at their dads, I still wonder. It’s a part of being a mom! I’ll always tuck away my wish I would of thoughts into my guilt suitcase and carry it along with me, every shift at work, every date I go on, and every night when I fall asleep without little toes in my face.

I’m a strong 27-year-old woman who’s succeeding in her career and raising 3 children, but there are days I still doubt myself, and doubt the balance of it all. I’ll be standing in the middle of a dance floor and flooding me are the thoughts of what are my kids doing right now and begin wondering why I’m even out to begin with.

On the other hand, there are days I’m standing in the middle of a pile of laundry and wishing for that mixed drink in a loud bar.

There’s no magic formula for being a single parent or trust me I would trade my guilt suitcase in for it. It’s a crazy ride, and I’m riding it with my hands up. I’m proud of how far I’ve come post-divorce but there are still days of struggle and doubt. I must force myself to take a step back and see what I’ve accomplished and see what happy and healthy kids I have and know that I am doing the best I can.

I’m their mother, their strong courageous mother, I’m also a vibrant beautiful 27 year old who needs a little fun every now and then.

~Serendipity

Who We Are And How We Got Here

This is who we are and this is how we got here..

My eldest son, James will be 19 in December. He is on the Autism spectrum (High Functioning). When we had James diagnosed at the University of Washington Autism Center almost 9 years ago one of the things the neuropsychologist told my partner and I was the best thing we could have done for James leading up to his late diagnosis was to treat him “normally”. What this meant is that James had chores and household responsibilities appropriate for his age and was held responsible when his behavior needed correcting even when we knew something was different about the way James was seeing the world and digesting experiences.

I went home after that visit and cried for two days. I couldn’t even look at my son square in the eyes. See what the doctor at the UW thought was great about how we had parented James up to the point of diagnosis, was exactly what had me riddled with guilt. Guilt for every nag and fuss and sarcastic response or impatient look or tuned out tangent. I felt embarrassed for every time I pushed him to be involved in an organized sport or sit through a loud movie or make eye contact with a stranger. And the more I read up on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) the worse I felt.

And then one day I got over it. I think it was during a conversation with my sister where she pointed out that I hadn’t been even close to being abusive or bad to James. I had been loving and firm, just like our father had been with us. And I knew I was doing my absolute best so on that day I decided that I was going to use my own parental compass and parent my kids exactly the way that I wanted to. Always attempting to lead with love.

For the most part, for the last 18 almost 19 years James has been nearly angelic. When my friends were having issues with their adolescent sons I was boasting about the cake walk I was on with James. The biggest challenge I had was securing supportive services for him through school. And the funniest part about that is I would work my butt off to secure a service and James would work even harder to prove he didn’t need it or very little of it.

It’s been my experience that finding support for non ASD presenting kids is hard. And let’s be clear, finding services for non neurotypical people is a monster effort and should be way easier than it is. But I feel like diagnosing and finding support for a non verbal child with classic ASD signs and symptoms is more straightforward than diagnosing and supporting a child that presents as neurotypical but does really quirky and sometimes dangerous stuff off and on. Most of my challenge around getting supportive services after our diagnosis was that at around age 13 James asked that we stop participating in the local Autism Awareness campaigns and walks and to stop advertising that we were an ASD family to our neighbors and on social media. I agreed but I found that after a while I felt closeted and shut off from other ASD parents and resources. The only support I had was on Facebook and the groups I joined never seemed to have parents or ASD members having similar experiences as us.

The other part of the challenge is that my son’s high functioning autism (HF ASD) has what we in my family call Cloudy Days. Meaning, we can go months without any significant spikes in characteristics commonly found with people on the spectrum and then one day I will notice that James is pacing (that’s how he stems) or he is having a hard time articulating his thoughts. When these “cloudy days” happen usually there is something that has lead up to it: over indulgence in processed foods, being overwhelmed at school, having a bad day at work, not feeling well or friend issues. I used to be able to anticipate these days because I was more in touch with what was happening at school or with friends but since James has started having more and more experiences that don’t include me, I am usually blindsided when his autism has spikes.

James is hyper aware of the stigmas that come with people’s lack of understanding of Autism as a spectrum and is sensitive to being treated like any other young person. So, I’ve tried to help him in any way I could. In some ways it has been a blessing that I was a very young woman when I had him. We share many of the same taste in music and pop culture and it’s not a stretch for me to understand his perspective on many things. Between my daughter (James’ younger sister) and I, we’ve become his social queue and societal support. My daughter specifically was great about breaking things down for James. And as he got older and learned behaviors became more automatic, James became a terrific social support to her too. They have a very special bond. In fact as I write this blog entry they are in the dining room cracking up over some YouTube video that they’re watching.

But over time, as it happens in every household with children, James has gotten older and includes me less and less in his decisions and requires more and more freedom. Freedom in his decision making and freedom physically from home.

You should know, I grew up in and around Los Angeles county in California. I’ve been around shaky situations and sketchy characters my entire life. I got a very normal 80’s baby city kid upbringing. But as a parent, I work really hard to raise my kids in cities with low crime rates and good schools. My kids have had very little exposure to all the danger that awaits them in the world. So the idea of my somewhat naïve 18 year old navigating around the city with his friends shook/shakes me to my core.

I’ve always been really honest with James about my concerns. And he is been great about navigating his new freedom with care. But like a boomerang coming back to it’s owner it appears that some of the heartache I dished my parents is coming back to haunt me.

Recently, I’ve been forced to wake up and think about the “support” I’ve been giving James up to this point.

  • Was I helping him when I agreed to lesson my involvement with the local Autism resource groups?
  • Was I helping him by not forcing him to socialize with other people on the spectrum?
  • Have I been a helper to him by being in every nook and cranny of his life, so much so that he may have had to keep secrets to have privacy?
  • Have I been the best mother to him without the tools of other ASD parents who have traveled this road before me?
  • Have I given him too much control over how we will live as an ASD family?

I’ve lost a lot of sleep and consumed many a cocktail mulling over these questions in the last few weeks. I’ve searched the internet and reached out to support groups in other states and none of what I find seems to speak to where I am or the questions I have. James is capable of taking care of himself. But do I believe I’ll need to provide a moderate amount of support for possibly longer than most parents of newly launched young adults? Yes. I believe he’ll get to any place he wants to be in his timing. But I can’t help but feel like someone out there has launched a teen with HF ASD into adulthood and being able to pick their brain for a while would help me so much.

I’m going to start a new blog series on my page documenting this journey of launching James into adulthood. Maybe someone that is parenting a younger child similar to my James will find these entries and they’ll help them. Or maybe I’ll just write these entries to get all the concern running through my head out and on paper so I can sleep at night. I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

*Life Thief is a “real life” lifestyle blogger with a sassy mouth and real woman and mother sensibilities.

You can find her other blog posts at: https://thestolenlifechronicles.wordpress.com/

Confessions In A Communal Mirror

I put my makeup on at work today in front of the mirror

Standing in a public bathroom in unflattering lighting.

Annoyed looks from the younger women.

Sympathetic looks from the older.
I want to tell the youths that I’ve been up since five thirty.

This morning I checked my emails for fires, then roused two children and corralled them to school. That I had to issue 20+ reminders to my ADHD son to keep him on task, because his meds hadn’t kicked in yet. And that I had to remind myself to be intentional about paying equal attention to his brother so he wouldn’t feel ignored. That I hadn’t had my coffee yet.
That I had a 7:30 parent teacher conference with a team of devoted educators. And that afterwards I finished my grocery shopping, on my phone, while sitting in the parking lot.
That on my commute this morning I called the vet, the pediatrician, the pharmacy, and an electrician, because there’s a light in my basement that is always on and won’t turn off. I ate my breakfast at red lights and finished caffeinating in a parking deck, and  I will likely eat my dinner standing at the kitchen counter.

I want to tell them to be careful of the partners they choose, and life has no assurances so be smart when you pick your path. I want to tell them that even if their world burns down one day, they have the power to rise and to create something new.

I want to tell them that I’m proud of myself, and of my kids, and of our messy beautiful busy life. I know that if they knew these things, they’d be proud of me too.

But instead I just smile and nod at those whose I eye I catch while applying my make-up in the mirror.

~Leona

Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and mirrors…

I spent some time – (can I add a big hooray to that by the way) with one of my favorite humans this weekend helping her find a dress for a wedding. We started talking about relationships and appearances.

We are both on the later and earlier side of our 40’s and 50’s respectively. She was sharing conversations she had with another group of girlfriends all in different phases of relationships and how their partners talked to them.

If I’m being honest – this is fascinating to me. We live in a society that definitely plays both sides. Pinterest is FULL of inspirational quotes around loving yourself. When a magazine cover features a model who isn’t a size two, it’s revolutionary. YET the backlash is REAL. Even from those who love you.

Little comments… you’re going to wear that? That’s an interesting color. All those tattoos make you look tacky.

I have written about this before but I was picked on. A lot as a kid. I was the smallest, had problems with my teeth, glasses, and a skin condition. So even though I’m not that little kid anymore, I’m always going to be that little kid.

Which makes me super sensitive and very aware of how I look.

Throw in a marriage where EVERYTHING about me was picked apart. Followed by a long term relationship with a guy who scrutinized my appearance.

The internal struggle is real. I am a big hearted person who wears my heart on my sleeve. So unfortunately at 47 I’m still putting bandaids on some hurts.

But you know what? It’s unfortunate but it’s ok. We all have our stuff.

Here’s mine:

I am the lady who only recently started wearing leggings in public. I just bought my first pair of sweatpants. I also, always at a minimum wear lipgloss and mascara when I leave the house.

I realize as I typed that it’s pretty crazy pants. You want to know the even crazier part?

I don’t push any of this on my daughter.

Thankfully she doesn’t read these because I’m about to truth bomb…

Showering – umm do twelve year olds feel it’s not necessary? She has BEAUTIFUL hair, which she refuses to even put in braids! Please let your Mom style it? No. Ok. Doesn’t want earrings. The last time she wore a dress was for a play. She loves lipgloss however- ok that might be me a little. She has only mentioned her weight once and it was never mentioned again when we talked about how it’s about being healthy. She is so tall. Her favorite thing to do is show anyone and everyone she is taller than me.

She is solid in who she is.

And it’s magical. I love it and want to bottle it and spray that on me.

So even though inside I’m continuing to fight the age old battle of not feeling like I’m enough

because of how I look or even sometimes who I am, yes I realize how ridiculous that is. The smoke and mirrors are working and I’m somehow magically showing my daughter she is more than enough. No matter what she looks like, because that is absolutely not what it’s about.

Sidebar my magical creature recently had a birthday and donated almost all her birthday money to charity. And FYI this was the first year she got birthday money but felt that strongly she needed to help.

#proudmom

Mommas we are more than our outsides. We are Moms. That’s a hard job.

On my end I’m trying. I have a magical twelve year old who can get things off shelves for me looking at me and how I handle things. I gotta show her I really am the badass I pretend to be.

Much love Mommas

<3 Caprise

Can You Get That For Me?

Can you get that for me?…

I was all set to write about my California adventures but something more important has happened.

My daughter is now taller than me.

I’m gonna need a moment.

Now granted I’m 5ft 2in so I am a small person, but she’s eleven.

Eleven (!)

I already feel like our lives go a million seconds a minute now this.

She of course is elated.

Me….

My heart is breaking.

She already doesn’t need me to tuck her in.

She will ask me if I’m going to leave when I go in her room after work to say hi.

Is this going to make her need me less?

I already have not the stage where things I do embarrass her. Although by virtue of who I am that feels like a challenge.

Also I am pretty sure the people in the car next to us at the stoplight DO enjoy my singing along loudly to Jump Around.

Even if she doesn’t.

I realize we are hitting those years and I am scared. I feel like I haven’t done enough. I’m not ready.

I’m not ready for her not to need me.

I’m not ready for her to be taller than me.

Or maybe I am.

Now I have someone who can get stuff off the shelf for me.

So there’s that.

She’s an amazing kid and I knew this day was coming- just maybe not this fast.

For now I’ll take solace in the fact tonight she still wanted a hug at bedtime.

We got this Mommas

Or at least we’re gonna pretend we do.

<3 Caprise

The Kitchen Is The Place To Be At Our House

The Kitchen…. I finally bought a house about 3 years ago for my kids and I. I bought it thinking that everyone would have their own room and it had a family room in the basement. I thought this would be great, all of the kids could play and hang out. Do you think they ever use it? NO! I just didn’t understand it at first.. I would almost push them into the basement to use it. For the love of God, why do they not use this nice family room…

But my kids love to be in the “kitchen”… the kitchen is the place to be and it’s what I love. Growing up, I would hang out at my best friends house with all of her sisters and their friends. It was great and I loved it. I have such great memories of all the fun we had throughout high school. Late night movies, laughing, games, and telling stories.. That is what I remember.

After I had my kids, I wanted to have the house where my kids hung out out with their friends. I wanted them and their friends to feel comfortable and loved at our home. And I finally have it…I love that my kids friends feel comfortable in our house. They will get their own snacks or know where I keep all the glasses. I love that they know how to unload my dishwasher and clean up after themselves. Sometimes they do it better than my own kids. I love that my kids friends will go play with one of my younger kids than their own friend. I love that they have sleepovers at my house all the time

My house is nothing special, it’s older and outdated. However, they don’t seem to care and I love that. It means that kids don’t really care about all the material things, they just want to feel comfortable or familiar. Sometimes I will come home and they will all be sitting in the kitchen laughing and talking, all different ages and grades, just laughing about life, as they see it.

My kids, their friends, and my mom friends will sit in our kitchen for hours laughing and hanging out. I love this! Sometimes I will ask the kids, why do you want to be around us mom’s, why don’t you go and find something to do… but they continue to hang out.

Today’s kids grow up so different with all the technology and apps. I try and make sure I know what is going on in their lives as much as I can…I do all the parent checks on their phones and apps. But I also give them some freedom and independence, which is important. I grew up writing notes and passing them in class and my parents never read them. I also grew up talking on the phone until all hours of the night and my parents did not listen to my phone conversations. So, I do think my kids need some privacy, freedom, and independence growing up.

I do not know how I did it, but maybe it was from always making sure I have their favorite snacks…but I have always felt comfortable talking to my kids and their friends, asking them about their day, school, other friends, maybe teasing them a little…I also just talk to them in normal conversation and I think that is important.

Snarky divorced gal (www.snarkydivorcedgal.com)

You Got This Mommas

You got this mommas…

Every week late Sunday afternoon I curl up somewhere with a beverage, music, blanket, and my iPad and start to write a post that will appear here.

I always try to find something I hope that will resonate with someone. Maybe help. Make someone laugh. Feel better.

The irony that my maternal instincts kick in, even when dealing with something like a blog post isn’t lost on me.

As I write this – it’s Mother’s Day. I will share with you that while I was never a 100 percent about getting married I always knew I wanted to be a Mom.

I am far from a traditional Mom and my own daughter sometimes compares me to a teenager on occasion, but I have always and will always put her first.

I worry and overthink when it comes to her. I try not to Tiger Mom her too much. I maybe get too much joy out of singing loudly to a song she doesn’t like in our car rides together.

Meals can sometimes be more like snacks.

She definitely gets too much time on her iPad.

I let her have two swear words a day.

My heart hurts when she is at her Dad’s, even though when she’s home we are rarely in the same room.

I love being silly with her. That she is almost taller than me.

Being a Mom is the best thing, deciding to do it alone was one of the hardest decision I ever made. I still worry about it, but I also needed to be a healthy, happy Mom for G. I still have my moments…

I will never be a PTA Mom. I send gift cards and emails to school. I am thankful for her teachers and her grandparents who have helped me to raise such a beautiful, funny, smart and kind spirit.

I don’t look like the other Moms with my tattoos and piercings, but I look like her and when she asks me to I dress up or down – I do. I love that we both like Vans and fun t-shirts.

In all of this ramble this is my point… no one is the perfect Momma. She doesn’t exist. But what you are is a Momma who is doing amazing on her own terms with her whole heart and that’s what it’s all about.

At least I hope so.

You do got this Mommas

<3 Caprise

The Truth About Infertility

I’ve just recently started opening up about my miscarriage and infertility. I think it’s extremely important to to talk about these things and shine a light on a topic that can sometimes seemingly seem “taboo”.

Not all of us are built to conceive or carry a child. Infertility does NOT discriminate. Personally, I have no trouble “getting pregnant”- staying pregnant that has been a problem for me.

My issues tend to start early on when the baby is still a teeny tiny tadpole alien. Most people have heard of the pregnancy hormone HCG. Well if you’ve ever had a baby before, then you know that in early pregnancy your HCG levels double every 24-48 hours in a healthy pregnancy. It’s also the hormone that causes your home pregnancy test to turn positive. But the other less talked about hormone needed to have a successful pregnancy is Progesterone.

If you’re like me, then you had probably never heard of it before becoming pregnant. Progesterone is a female sex hormone. It’s produced mainly in the ovaries following ovulation each month. It’s a crucial part of the menstrual cycle and for the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy. So in other words- it’s super important, and like the HCG hormone it’s number needs to be going up and doubling as well.

Remember when I said I don’t have a problem getting pregnant? Well once a fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall, progesterone helps maintain the uterine lining throughout pregnancy. Basically it keeps the lining thick enough for the baby implant and grow…or as my doctor so delicately put it “favorable conditions.”

For whatever reason, my body just doesn’t make enough progesterone on it’s own to maintain a pregnancy. My number stopped going up which resulted in miscarriage at 6 weeks and an almost miscarriage this pregnancy at 6 weeks as well. Fortunately, my doctor monitored my levels weekly starting at 4 weeks pregnant. She caught the progesterone early on and put me on suppositories twice a day until I reached 10 weeks, which was supposed to be the safe zone.

That’s when it got super fun..

When I went into my 12 week check up, I was feeling pretty good. Any mom who has suffered a miscarriage knows that the 12 week mark is a biggie! Chances of miscarriage drop tremendously at this point…in a normal pregnancy. She did a couple routine tests and broke the news to me that I still wasn’t making enough progesterone to maintain the pregnancy.

As frustrated as I was, she dove right into an action plan. She prescribed me a progesterone injection once a week in my hip to keep my levels high enough to carry the baby to term. Attachment.png

With my first pregnancy I had the hardest time not delivering early. I had a different doctor back then, who never thought to check my progesterone levels- so I was constantly in the labor and delivery room having my labor stopped. At 28 weeks I started dilating. By 33 weeks I was at 4cm. By 35 weeks I was at a 6. I was placed on bed rest and a contraction stalling medication for the last month of my pregnancy, ultimately delivering her at 36 weeks. She was healthy- but the whole ordeal was a bit stressful for me and Brett.

This time around is proving no different. My doctor has been super proactive and covered everything preparing for a premature baby..it doesn’t take my fear away..but it helps a ton. This week I had a serious of steroid shots that are designed to mature the babies lungs and get her ready to breathe on the outside. As painful as they were to actually get- I’m so relieved to not have to worry about my baby having breathing troubles if she decides to come early. Along with those shots, they gave me a shot to boost the baby’s immune system- since premies tend to be more susceptible to infections.

So now we are in a waiting game. Hoping she cooks for another 7 weeks at least, but prepared if she decides to come sooner. This whole experience has been so humbling. I’ve had a great support system, and a ton of support from family and friends. Attachment_1.png

Before I went through this, I never realized how common issues like mine are. Why isn’t it talked about more? I’ve spent countless hours online trying to find information and testimonials from other women who’ve gone through this, only to discover it’s fairly common…yet unheard of at the same time!? This needs to change. Early miscarriages, and premature births could go down tremendously if more women knew to ask their doctors to check for low progesterone. Remember, 1 in 4 women will suffer from a miscarriage. That number is way to high. Especially when its something like I have that is treatable if caught early enough. Attachment_2.png

Start talking. If you’re planning on trying for a baby, have your progesterone level checked, most women go their whole adult life not even knowing where they stand. Low progesterone levels cause irregular or heavy periods. I suffered for years, thinking it was normal. So if you’re suffering from either of those- get checked out! It’s a simple blood test, and like I’ve stated before, it’s treatable.

If this helps even one baby or mamma, I’ll be satisfied. Everything starts with a a conversation.

~Andrea

How Do You Do It All?

I get asked all the time how I do it.  “It” referring to working full time, taking care of a household, and raising four boys each with a different personality. I used to struggle and question my parenting style; for example do I parent like I was raised or do I parent like society says I should parent.

Then not so long ago I had an ephiany. I realized I need to keep doing what I’m doing. When my two younger boys, ages 12 and 14, are at each other’s throats, I try and remain calm and ask them what happened. Most of the time they talk and yell over each other and in the end I’m the one yelling.  That is okay because after some self reflection I tell myself I will try and do better the next time.

The truth is there is a combination of things that go into how I parent, work full time and take care of my household.  First of all, I pray for patience, patience, and more patience. Second, I do my self care routine. My routine consists of putting my kids to bed and watching TV or getting on social media.  I also like to go to the tanner or go for walks with friends. I realized long ago self care is not selfish. I know I cannot be there for my job or my kids if I’m a hot mess. Humor is also a very important piece of my daily routine.  I laugh at myself several times a day. Like when I’m looking for my phone while it is in my hand or when I am shopping and jump when I see my reflection in a mirror and say excuse me thinking it was another person.

I have to remember I am human and I am not perfect.  Mistakes are made daily and that is okay, because I am blessed beyond measure and I get to wake up every day and try again.  If I can tell myself at the end of the day that I put everything I had into being the best that I can be I know my kids will turn out okay.

 

Yours Truly,

Anne Smith- A Working & Single Mother

I Am Not Broken

I am not broken.

This past holiday weekend a blow up with my daughter over me wanting to see what she was watching on her iPad resulted in her sharing she feels responsible for her Dad and I not getting along.

I meant to write about how happy I am it’s Spring and how much I love the beautiful weather and I am.

I can not adequately put into words how good it is for my soul to wear sandals and open windows and feel the breeze.

But as much as I want to celebrate the new season my heart hurts that my daughter feels any kind of responsibility for things between her Dad and I.

I think I did things backwards with G.

But let’s be honest, there is no guide when you get divorced. Maybe I did things just right and she’s just hitting the age where she can see it.

Or maybe after nine years I’m worn out from trying to hide it.

Either way my heart sank when she said she doesn’t like knowing her  Dad and I don’t like each other.

She feels like I’m hurt, broken.

I stopped her.

For starters while I’m not her Dad’s biggest fan. I don’t not like him. But he makes some not great choices and G usually tends to be in the vicinity when he does.

I also let her know she is my sun, my moon, and my stars. Being her Mom actually fixed me. Being her Mom is the best thing in the world. She is the best thing in my world.

Not being with her Dad, while it’s not where I’d thought I’d be.

I’m happy.

And Mommas my heart is sinking that she thinks me being alone, not getting along with her Dad means I’m not happy.

This would be about the time I throw in a fun quote or try to lighten the mood.

I’m tapped.

I’m alone on Easter.

The only store that’s open already put their Easter candy away, and somehow I have to get in my daughter’s head and heart absolutely nothing between her Dad and I is her fault.

I thought I had.

Aww Mommas… this is a toughie

<3 Caprise