The other night, I was a little stressed out getting Choo-choo’s bath ready. It was the end of the day. Choo-choo and I had already put his toys away. Dinner was over, yet I still had so much to do.
I had to clean out the bathtub, fill it with the perfect temperature of water, add Choo-choo’s favorite bath toys, and gather the necessary linens. So, there I was, digging through an embarrassingly large pile of clean laundry, searching for Choo-choo’s pajamas, towels, and washcloths.
I made a lot of trips from the bathroom to the living room and back. All the while, Choo-choo was doing the best thing I could have hoped for.
Not what you’d expect me to say, but it was great actually. (Yes, even though the toys had already been cleared off the floor.) You see, he wasn’t whining or crying. He was using his plastic dishes and food to make me “tea” and “cereal” while I pretended to eat and drink and dig through the clothes.
A few months ago, Choo-choo having taken toys out after the were put away would have bothered me to no end. I probably would have scolded him and told him to put them in the box again. This recent night, I not only didn’t yell but I played along with him. I would call that a big step in the right direction.
I think it very timely that I reached the gratitude section in the book I’m reading about the neuroscience of depression one day after my therapist suggested I start a gratitude journal. Now, I have heard this information before about how good it is for one to keep track of what they are grateful for, and I even tried it with no success or improvement. Journaling what I was thankful for every single day actually added to my stress.
However, I have decided to try it again, once a week this time. Today is the start of my therapeutic outlet, and I would like to share this first entry with you.
I am grateful for so many things, but I will narrow it down for now. I am grateful for God loving me no matter how much I feel like a failure. I’m grateful for my son, always. I’m also grateful for my husband and for my loved ones who fully understand, or at least attempt to understand, me and my struggles.
Finally, I am grateful for all of you out there who choose to join me every day or even once in a while as I climb up the path toward peace. Thank you so much!
Watching birds with a two year old is a fascinating activity, to say the least. Honestly, before Choo-choo was born, Diesel and I never really gave a second thought to the birds in our yard. We often made bird feeders and houses for our loved ones but never added the same to the outside of our house.
Then came our son. When he was about four months old, Choo-choo started noticing things outside our large picture window. It was winter at this time, and the cardinals were very noticeable in the bleakness of empty branches. Diesel decided to finish our lighthouse bird feeder for Choo-choo, as it has a solar light that glows after sunset. It was an instant hit.
From there, we added several other feeders, including one specifically for woodpeckers, one for orioles, and one for hummingbirds. Choo-choo became enthralled with each birds’ activity. We can even bribe him out of bed in the morning now with promises of watching the birdies eat their breakfast.
Choo-choo often reminds Diesel when the birds need more food and happily offers to help him refill the feeders. After it rains, we are also gifted with the sight of the robins bathing in the puddles outside.
It’s so cute to hear Choo-choo calling out their names, too. “Cardinal! Woodpecker!” Diesel and I even bought a guidebook so all three of us can learn which tiny visitors we have in our yard. Choo-choo will stand at the window and see a bird fly by or land in his view. “I look it up,” he will say, grabbing the guide and flipping through until he finds what he is searching for.
This week, we even had a new development. Diesel took Choo-choo out to the garage to see the robin’s nest up in the rafters. Choo-choo was never big enough before because it’s so high up that Diesel has to stand in the bed of his truck and hold him up there.
Seeing the robin’s nest was the only thing Diesel and I used to pay any attention to when it came to our birds. We checked on the nest all spring until the eggs hatched then checked every so often to see the babies grow. I love that we can now make this a family tradition every year.
I had a few conversations the other day, conversations that echoed thoughts and opinions I have heard since pregnancy and most especially since Choo-choo was born. These interactions with others included a common thread, a much loathed sentiment: “I think you’re doing great, BUT…”
There’s always a “but.” It can be as benign as “but I don’t think you see it that way.” Usually, though, it is along the lines of “but this is how/where/why you need to fix your parenting.”
I am well aware of how I might be screwing things up. I see every little moment that I suck as a parent. However, I also know that I am a good mom. I am not hurting my child or endangering him in any way. I tell him a thousand times a day how much I love him and how special he is. He is learning respect, kindness, and love from me. Frankly, I’m the best damn mom I can be right now, and I work every day at getting better.
I can understand the above sentiments coming from people who have never been where I am. It’s the most hurtful when those who know exactly what I’m going through pass judgment on how I am navigating all this. They seem to believe their wisdom from their own experiences will help me end my suffering.
While I fully respect and appreciate the concern and effort to save me from my own personal hell, in the end, I am not them. I will do my best to accept help and encouragement when I need it, but I have to find my own way to peace and happiness.
So, the other night, Choo-choo was finally done with his dinner. We had washed his hands, but I forgot to clean his face. We walked back to the bathroom, and I started cleaning off the chili and yogurt. Choo-choo, however, had other ideas.
He bit me. He just straight up bit my finger and screamed because heaven forbid his mouth and cheeks weren’t crusted with food. Of course, I was mad at this point. Fine, I thought, have a dirty face. What do I care?
I ushered him back to the living room. He continued to cry and ask for a tissue. I started handing him the box when he shouted that he wanted to get it himself. So the box of tissues sat on the chair, easily within his reach, only he now wanted me to get the tissue for him. Then, the icing on the cake: he begged me to wash his face. You know, the thing I tried to do and he bit me for.
I just have to say I hate this age he is in. I so very much hate it. Everything from him is a contradiction. One day he likes a certain food, the next he despises it. If I say his food is too hot to eat, he says no, it isn’t. Anything I say to him is met with a completely opposite statement or opinion. Anything he previously liked, he hates until it is about to be taken away from him.
And yes, I do understand about the whole toddler autonomy thing and how he’s learning how to speak his mind, so on and so on. But why on earth does he have to disagree with me about absolutely everything?
I will tell you this much: If I still have hair by this winter, consider me lucky.
This is what happens when you let a toddler take pictures with the camera:
I love it, though. I save every picture Choo-choo takes, even the crooked ones of the floor or the ceiling. I especially love the ones that are taken not randomly but from his perspective. When he is actually looking at the screen and capturing what he sees.
I have been trying to apply this to my life. Capturing and remembering the moments I see, not just what I feel or what my depression tells me I feel. I want to recall the times when Choo-choo is blissfully happy as we play with his toys or take a walk to the park. I want to remember all the expressions on his little face, not only those he shows for the camera.
I hope when his is older, he will understand that I have been trying to shut the negative out and keep the positive, happy things in. I hope he knows that I have been doing the best I can and will continue to work on getting even better. I hope he knows despite all of my issues, I love him more than I could ever fully express.
For now, I keep trying to imprint our days in my brain. I know that right now, he still knows how much I love him. I tell him every day. He tells me he loves me, too, which means more to me than he will ever know ❤
Sometimes, I have a burning, almost uncontrollable rage inside me. I’m angry about so many things. I’m angry about my past. I am angry about my birth plan being shot to hell. I’m angry about having suffered for so long with no help. But most of all, I’m angry about not having felt understood.
It might be a total cliché, but I often feel like Bruce Banner, who turns into The Hulk when stressed or ticked off. I really do think sometimes if one could see me in the moment, I’d look like a bulging, green monster.
The normal me feels weak and unappreciated but hates how enraged and emotional my other side is. The alter ego me is brimming with palpable frustration to the point I feel as if I might implode and hates my normal, every day weaknesses.
I have tried many different ways to deal with my anger. I do the deep breathing, of course. I also take a moment to step out of the room when Choo-choo is safe so I can have a bit of a calming break. I have tried cardio workouts, including cardio drumming, in order to express my rage in a healthy way.
The one I have really been thinking about going back to is Yogalates. It is a combination of yoga and Pilates that I have found in the past to be extremely relaxing. I often napped after a full Yogalates session.
In the end, no matter which calming exercise I try, I know I will not be “The Hulk” forever.