Where Have You Been?!

So, funny story…

I’ve been hella MIA.

I wish I had a really cool reason, like I’ve been traveling the world or tucked away in some hidden Air BNB finishing my novel…but I don’t.

The truth is – I lost my mojo, baby. I lost my motivation, my inspiration and my control all in one swoop. I hadn’t written in months. My life swam by me in a blur. I was drowning within myself, and I was painfully aware of it. I would wake up in the morning and within two hours, be ready to sleep again. I was emotionally exhausted all the time, anxious, on edge, introverted. All things that were just…unlike me.

It’s never easy to sit down and look at yourself in the mirror and ask the question, “What is going on with me?” But I had to. I realized that life is far too short to get sucked so far into yourself that you can’t see beyond the door. So I did.

Backstory-time.

I have willingly chosen not to pursue medication for the majority of my adult anxiety/OCD journey. Mainly because I’m terrified of medicine, but also because I wanted to learn practical coping methods for myself first. Turns out, for the most part – I could, and had been, managing my anxiety and OCD on my own.

Until recently.

For whatever reason, unbeknownst to me, my normal tools weren’t working. Meditation, nope. Yoga, negative. Breathing exercises, nada. The list goes on and on with the things I’ve tried. I was falling into habits that I hadn’t done in years. I caught myself picking at my cuticles until they bled, chewing my lip until I could run my tongue along a visible swollen spot. The tipping point was when I realized I couldn’t pull myself out of my room.

I woke up on the morning of the Equality March – something I had been looking forward to for months. I knew. I knew instantly that it was an off day. My fan was so loud I swore it was a helicopter taking off when I woke up. The sun seemed unyieldingly bright behind closed blinds, even though it was a cloudy morning. My heart raced and my hands trembled when I thought about leaving the house. Fear consumed me. It consumed me to the point that I felt like walls were falling in and I couldn’t breathe.

That day – for the first day in nearly twelve years – I let fear trap me in my own home and in my own body.

I missed the march. I missed standing up for something that I have always fought for.

And I said, ‘enough’.

I talked to my doctor about everything, what I was experiencing, feeling and doing to combat all of it. There were blood tests and sleep analysis questions. Finally, the step I never thought I’d be willing to entertain came up – medication. My doctor was patient and listened and knew that I was afraid and she talked me through it.

I thought back to the march. To what I had missed, to what I could miss in the future – and I got the hell on board with it pretty quickly, and I feel confident about my decision.

I say all of that to say this – It’s okay to need, and ask for, help. 

It’s okay to not have it together all the time. It’s okay to not be okay. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or unable to manage, I promise. You don’t have to suffer in silence or try to fight a battle on your own. There are people, sometimes even total strangers, who support you – no matter what your journey may look like. Promise.

One thing I swore in the beginning was that this blog would be a safe space for all of my readers, and I felt like it would be unfair for me to not use it as mine as well.

So that’s where I have been. I’ve been healing and learning and fighting myself and repairing.

I’ve been feeling more inspired and there’s new content, series and funny stories on the way!

Thank you, lovelies. For being a community and a support system I never knew I needed until I had you!

The Things I Want My Boys to Know About Women and Relationships

I started thinking about the things I want my boys to know about women and by extension, relationships. I journeyed down this particular path after my oldest tiny-human brought home the dreaded permission slip. You know the one, the one that I have to sign allowing permission for the school to teach him about…puberty.

They also teach them about the opposite gender’s reproductive system and body changes, which made me incredibly nervous. Not for the fact that he is going to see boobies along with the dreadful Texas Longhorn-ish photo we all know too well depicting our uteruses; but more because we as women, are so much more complex than our reproductive organs.

There are things I want my boys to know about women that go beyond physical changes. I pride myself on being a mother who teaches my boys to be open minded, emotional, freethinking men. I don’t want them to have a misogynistic view of the world and I don’t want them to feel confused by women or relationships.

And so, in the midnight hours, I started jotting down my list. It grew from my thoughts on women to my thoughts on relationships as well.

  • All women are beautiful. It does not matter what size they are or what color skin they have. Repeat after me, all women are beautiful.
  • Beauty is also on the inside. Trust me when I say that not everyone has this quality, beware. Guard your heart, but stay open to love.
  • Women are not delicate creatures. Women are tough, strong-minded and powerful. It is okay to have powerful women in your life. Encourage them to stay that way and support them, always.
  • Women are EMOTIONAL – and that is okay. Remember, it is okay for you to show those same emotions.
  • Women are not always right. Admitting that in text on a public forum tastes a lot like crow. You are not always right either. Know when to stand your ground and know when to stop an argument.
  • Chivalry will never be outdated. It will always be appreciated so don’t let this wane, even as you grow with another person.
  • In relationships you become another person’s rock. But they should also be yours. Supporting one another is key.
  • Relationships are hard. Like, really hard. It takes two people working day and night to make it last. Don’t give up on things easily, even if you might want to.
  • Lies are lies. No matter how small they may seem, lies and closed doors are toxic to a relationship. Stay open and communicate effectively with one another.
  • Be yourself and let your partner be their self. Accept both and remember you can never fully love someone else until you love yourself first.
  • One day you will say, “I love you,” to someone other than your relatives. ALWAYS mean it, and NEVER take it for granted. Don’t say it just to say it or because you have nothing else to say…there’s a word for those moments, and it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

There it is. My motherly list of simple things I want my boys to know in these departments. At least these are the things I think are important right now. Like most things in my life, I expect this list to grow and change with the seasons, but for now, this will do just fine.

A bit of additional reading. I read a great article yesterday about the differences between mature and immature relationships (article linked here). I was proud to say that the Hubs and I fell into the ‘mature’ category. Yay for adulthood!

Potty Mouth: One Mother’s Fall from Potty Training Grace

There are moments in motherhood that we can all look back on and say, “Well that did not go as planned.” Unfortunately for me, potty training my youngest son Miles has been that moment. I honestly don’t even know if we would call it a moment at this point. It has become my Everest, and if I do not get a cover spread on TIME Magazine after this process I will be utterly disappointed.

I should start with what I have done in the past with potty training. I have three boys and two out of three are potty trained. My oldest, Jack, was disgustingly simple. He literally woke up one morning ready to be potty trained – and so he was. The Gods had shown me mercy at the tender age of twenty.

Our next son, Fisher came two years later and was a little more of a challenge. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase, “It’s great he has an older brother! That will make potty training so much easier!” I would have a college fund paid for or bail money for getting me out of jail after publicly shaming the people who told me this tale. Maybe this adage is true for some, but for me it was hogwash.

Having an older brother did not make Fisher want to pee on fruit loops in the toilet anymore than it made him want to eat dinner that night. He had his mind made up about potty training and was a little later coming around to the idea of it. However, after we talked to his daycare and they mentioned his love for routine, we knew we had it in the bag. Routine worked for Fisher, he liked the anticipation of things – we just needed to make him aware of it. So with the help of his teachers and an egg timer, Fisher was potty-trained.

Enter Miles, sweet baby Miles.

Up until this point, all of the boys were potty-trained before their third birthdays. We are about three months out from Miles turning three and there is no sign of being potty trained on the horizon. Ever. I saw a funny meme about a gag-gift cloth diaper that you can buy in adult sizes online. Only when I laughed I cried on the inside because I instantly realized that Miles may end up being the one who wears this and lives in our basement when he is thirty if I can’t get him potty trained.

Short of sending him to a potty-training camp for puppies, I have tried EVERYTHING. Let’s recap a list of the things I have tried just for kicks:

  • New fun big boy underwear
  • Videos of his favorite cartoon characters teaching potty training
  • Songs about potty training
  • Books about potty training
  • Sticker chart rewards
  • Reminders and polite asking

This is where the list takes a dark turn…

  • The “look your brothers and daddy go potty – don’t you want to?” speech
  • Letting him run around naked – TRUST me when I say he was vengeful on this one and it was not a pleasant experience for Mama or his big brother Jack who’s room took the hit.
  • Bribery – “If you go potty I’ll buy you a new toy”
  • Extortion – “If you don’t go potty, you can’t play with that new toy”
  • Lastly – Begging. Sheer pleading on my knees while he giggles in my face and runs away

As you can see, the second half of the list is where my sanity took a slight dip on the Mom-Scale. The thing is, he is too smart for his own good. He knows I tell you, that we want him to potty train. I know this because he has done it a few times – mostly with bribery and rewards of cookies and Mommy dancing and clapping like a fool. But he realizes that he holds all the cards in this poker game. And by golly, he’s not bluffing.

It wasn’t until after I cleaned up a pile of Miles-poo he had politely left during the naked-phase that I was sitting in my bathroom floor crying and eating half a bag of Milano cookies that it hit me. I just have to stop. No more asking, begging or videos. I have to ignore it completely. Not just because I was letting him win, but because if I didn’t I was going to end up placing puppy training pads all around my house and quit.

And so I did. And so did Miles. Now I ask him every once in a while if he would like to go to the potty in a very nonchalant way. Sometimes he says yes, and sometimes he says no. That’s ok, Moms! It’s progress. Aside from birth, I will say potty training a strong willed child who is hip to your ways is the hardest thing you will do as a parent.

Much like the epiphany we had with Fisher about routines, the epiphany with Miles was a combination of both Jack and Fisher’s methods. Like Jack, he is going to have to come around to it on his own terms, or it just isn’t going to happen. But like Fisher, we are going to have to give some gentle nudging in the direction that works. So far, treats seem to be our best working option.

* Note: For those parents who will inevitably say, “you shouldn’t use food as a treat, it will make them fat,” You can shut up and walk away, or come potty train this kid yourself.

I say all of this to say, it will get better. I know, I’ve been there. I hit rock bottom with potty training when I thought I was at the top of my game. I begged a two year old to pee in the toilet for thirty minutes while shouting swear words in my head. I get it.

I apologize for not having the end-all be-all answer for potty training a strong willed child. But I have this. Listen to your child and notice what works for them. As I have painfully learned, not one child is the same when it comes to potty training. Take advice from other parents with a grain of salt. And when all else fails, buy yourself some wine and Milano cookies and hide in your bathroom.