Roots can be big in a small town


My earliest memory of wanting to leave my small town was middle school. The feeling probably began earlier than that, but Jr High is when I remember it becoming a day to day goal. Spread my wings, see the big city, go somewhere that my unique personality would be appreciated. All of the cliche “I’m too big for this small town” reasons. 

I left. Graduated high school early and moved away for college. I stayed away for ten years. Then, another cliche event happened-I moved back after a difficult divorce. Cue the Julia Roberts movie now. In the last years of my marriage I actually had tossed the idea of moving back around. It seemed like a good idea. Maturity and life lessons had made me realize the advantages of a small town. But the stars were aligned differently and the blessing of a divorce came, so I packed up and moved ‘home’ to plant my roots.

I’ve been back in my hometown now for almost nine years. Almost equal to the time I was gone. I’ve remarried, built a house on my family’s land, and we are raising our six year old daughter. Our daughter goes to the same primary school I went to with some of the same teachers. We attend the same church my grandmother attended when she was alive. My daddy was born and raised in this small town also. There is a comfortable familiarity that is soothing and at the same time the reasons I wanted to leave sometimes rear their ugly head too. 

But, then this happens. My six year old breaks her wrist and is going to have surgery Tuesday. We have had such an outpouring of support and prayer from the community that can only come from this small town. A high school classmate of mine who no longer lives here has a son who is battling a rare form of childhood cancer. This small town is supporting her with fundraiser help, donations, etc even though she lives two hours away. But, she’s one of ours. Her roots are still in this ground of this small town too. That’s when I realized there is no place I’d rather be to raise my small family than here in this small town. 

Complacency and the F* Word


It’s no secret I have weight issues. Body image issues. Well, yes, issues in general. For the first time in a really long time, I really believed I had found a healthy place with my weight . Healthy in terms or my way of thinking about it most importantly. Turns out, I became somewhat complacent in my journey, and apparently when you struggle with the F* word, being complacent cannot be afforded. 

After a year long weight loss, monitored by a physician, I really was in a good place. Physically and mentally. But, around Christmas, when all of those treats start rolling in to the office I started thinking like a skinny girl and not like a chronic F* one. I am not shaming the thin. I also know there are plenty of thin girls who work HARD at staying that way. I’m referring to the genetically, weird universe joke, thin women/girls who really do eat what they want and amazingly remain thin. And by “eat whatever they want” I am referring to the fact that they may just eat. Period. Or they may eat the Christmas treats, not in excess, but enjoy them like all of the other “normal” people, not like the chronic F* ones. Yeah, so I thought somehow my 50lb weight loss put me in that category. As if the cosmos had shifted and I had never been the 8 year old at Weight Watchers, never been the chronic F* person. I thought I had a handle on it. I still felt the same and mentally I felt great because for once I was being realistic about food and not restrictive. 

For the past year I’ve only weighed at the doctors office. Just a pact I made with myself, that in order to overcome being obsessive about my weight it was best this way. Call me crazy, okay you don’t have to, I know I am, but I decided to weigh after the New Year. No, not because of some stupid resolution. There is no resolution when you are me. There is just life. I’ve learned that lesson over and over. The scale reflected my biggest fear. Weight gain! What? The thin girl I thought I was can eat within reason and not gain but a few pounds, not 15lbs!! That’s when the news flash hit me like the ton of bricks this emotional baggage is. I AM NOT the thin girl. I never will be. Complacency has no place with the F* word.

Now, I am trying to hold on so I mentally don’t tailspin out. Mentally tailspinning will only cause me to gain more weight believe it or not. I’ve got to take over my thoughts again and get back control of this. I have got to resist letting the scars that haven’t completely healed begin to ooze once more with toxic thinking. I realize now it takes more than a year for me to overcome whatever psycholocal issues I suffer from concerning my weight and body image. I realize that half my battle is in my head, not on the plate. I realize I am not and will never be the thin girl and maybe I’ll be okay with that one day. But, right now I’m working on gaining my control back.
**I am not and never would body shame anyone-even if they are the thin girl or the chronic F* girl like myself. These are just the thoughts on my head**

I watch her dreams take flight

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I can hear the small sounds of tiny snore and I know that all is right with the world for the moment. I feel the grasp of small hands and a small arm thrown around my neck that occasionally has a flutter and will pull my hair. The smell of sweat and childhood nestled next to me as the thought passes through Penelope’s wheel that this moment will not last forever. As Penelope turns that around I also pass on the idea that some may not “get” this sleeping arrangement. “She’s just too lazy to make her stay in bed.” “A child needs their own space.” “There aren’t enough boundaries.” But, then the heavy sigh of that peaceful being next to me is heard again, and both Penelope and I decide that none of that matters. The Penguin can stay here as long as she’d like.

Believe me, I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t try to make her sleep in her own bed. So, the “she’s just too lazy to make her stay in bed” thought could apply to me at some point during the last several years of this co-sleeping journey. But, one would have to look at the really large picture, like the Sistine Chapel size picture, to really get the idea of what’s going on. Our family did not go through a divorce, but to a small child the disruption to our family life three years ago defiantly could have some of the same impressions. My husband and I had gotten the Penguin sleeping in her own bed after the crib-to-bed transition and all was going pretty well. Well, if you’ve read any other post, then you may know our world changed, so did the Penguin’s sleeping habits.

The issue of having a child sleep with a parent through the night becomes even more complex in the case of a divorce. Children, especially pre-schoolers and early elementary aged children, are very shaken by a divorce and may become edgy and exhibit somatic complaints. They have lost the presence of one of their parents in their home and they may have great anxiety about losing the other parent, too. They are subject to bad dreams and need a lot of reassurance that things are going to turn out all right. When a parent allows this child to sleep through the night with them, they may believe they are solving the problem by offering a comforting presence. In the long run, the child may pay by becoming overly dependent on the parent and have greater difficulty in adjusting to any kind of change

http://www.beachpsych.com/pages/cc101.html

Yeah, well …….suck it. The Penguin was shaken by the sudden change in schedule with her daddy being gone on the road, hell so was I. Her room is on the other side of a great open space and she has my imagination. Who knows what she could’ve dreamed up was outside of her door? Who cares? In the beginning, I was the lazy mom. I tried making her sleep in her bed. But I was getting up at 3:30 for work. Honestly, between work and the emotional strain the whole change in my husband’s job had on me, I didn’t have the energy to keep taking her back to bed and no I wasn’t strong enough to listen to her cry. So, chastise me all you want. You can point your finger at me later when we are all on Dr. Phil’s couch. I don’t care. Sooner or later it just became routine. A routine the entire family got into. The Penguin realized that when her daddy was home from the road, she did have to sleep in her bed for at least half of the night. She also knows that if she comes to our room too early, she gets sent back to her room. So, there is no problem with adjusting to change or any of that other baloney. Well, there might be, but I can assure you it has nothing to do with her sleeping with me. I did not sleep with my parents, and I do not adjust to change at all, so just chalk that one up to genetics.

I read all of these articles to post and reference. But the main gut of this blog post is the beauty in sleeping with my child every night, especially when it is just the two of us. Right now our family life is somewhat unconventional. Ahem, unconventional does not me unstable or not regimented. We have our routines. She knows what to expect and what to do and how to behave. But come on, she is a free spirit and we eat in bed every night because by the time we get home and do house work and pug work and home work, that’s where dinner is. I make no apologies for it. I get to turn the light off, pull the covers up and smell that child that no one can love like I do. I get to hear her breathe and watch her dream. I get to feel the warmth of her against me when she gets too cold. That’s what I am here for. That’s what I was made for as her mother. We talk about her day, sing songs to one another, read books, face time her daddy, and then we drift to dream land together.

In the not so distant future, this will change. There will be slamming doors. “You are so unfair” yelled across the house. The battle of our wills as preteen looms in the darkness. There will be a “no parents allowed” sign on her door. The same door that she only goes in now to get clean clothes and to sleep in every 10 days. The sweet smell of this child next to me in bed will be exchanged with the overpowering scent of too much fruity lotion and body mist. No songs will be sung, no books to be read. Of course, I can only hope that even the Penguin’s preteen years may be as unconventional as we are now (laughing out loud).

Yes, all of those reasons mentioned above and many more that can’t be put into words. That is why I co-sleep. Because, that innocent picture you read about in the beginning of this post, that will not be forever. I can’t get this back. I can’t slow time. You know that Meredith Grey and I say “the carousel never stops turning”(you must follow my post to get my Grey’s reference). So I will sleep with my Penguin for as long as she will let me. I will let her throw her arms around my neck and hold my hair while I listen to her dreams take flight.

 

 

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Isn’t it my birthday too?


I smell the smell. I can taste the sweetness with a hint of lemon-lime of the Sprite that I sipped that morning to take my daily anti nausea medication. I feel how tired I was and how I really wanted to hurry up and get back home so I could sleep some more. The lights, the denim skirt I wore, the laughter of my doctor, my friend. This is all like yesterday, like it happened only a moment ago. My birthday of sorts. The day I began riding a different carousel and one I will never get off. My free spirited penguin was born on this day, one week earlier than planned, six years ago.

Today is her birthday. The day that God decided to break out the mold he used in 1978, dust it off, and give it another go when he gave me this unending gift six years ago. There is no doubt we not only share DNA, but most would agree that we are the same, I in adult form can see my childhood self daily when I look at her. I am raising myself. That, in itself is a gift. 

Today is my birthday. The day that I was born into a new life, a new person. I became more than just a sole person, more than a wife, more than a daughter. I became a mother to the best thing ever. There are days that I could lay down and scream, and yes, some days I feel I’ve lost myself, but then I can remember that smell, that taste, all of the details of today six years ago. My heart becomes overwhelmed with awe and I am humbled that I was chosen. Chosen to be her mother. What a gift!

Happy Birthday my sweet penguin. My love, the beating of my heart that you dance to. My birthday wish is that you always feel that wind that leads you to dance freely.

I know it seems cliche’, but pass the Kleenex¬†


I’ve always been the strong one. That weird parent, that other than my strange over protectiveness, I really have never gotten emotional at the “normal” emotional milestones for parents. The first birthday I was just happy to have made it to with my hair, the first steps, first words, unfortunately I don’t have a specific memory on because of the crazy stress of insignificant things. Although the past three years have presented so many challenges and emotional stressors for me, it also has provided a wonderful opportunity for my penguin and I to build a strong, unique bond. 

This momentous day, that happens every year, and for parents with multiple children it happens more than once, is happening to me tomorrow. Yes, I know it is not me, but I’m an emotional wreck. I’m trying to keep it together for her because she is so excited. But it’s bedtime, and she just whispered into the monitor, “I’m a little norvous about big school tomorrow.” Boy am I glad that’s not a two way camera. I tried to choke back the tears and press the mic to reply, “it’s okay, you’ll be great.”

This is my penguin. This is the start of it. I will make it, we will make it. But, yes, I am bringing the Kleenex and doubling up on the meds.

Is her kindergarten my eighth grade?

Always reach high my strong willed child


Eating solid foods. Crawling. First steps. First words. Just a few milestones a parent looks forward too and remembers about their children. I have the pivotal one coming up that starts in motion the rest of her life. I know that may sound dramatic, even for me, but as I think about it, I don’t know how else to explain the importance. Kindergarten. Then I realize, my mini me, the almost 6 year old version of myself, sees kindergarten as I saw starting eight grade. And, that makes me sad. And, that makes me excited.

Starting kindergarten for me was no big deal in this rural southern town. At least I don’t remember it being an issue. At that time there was no choice where you went, if you lived in one county you went to School A, if you lived in the adjoining county you went to School B. I already knew many of the children I would be in school with, either from daycare/preschool or church. It didn’t hurt that my daddy was principle at the middle school at the time either I guess. So for the next 8 years (1st grade-7thgrade and kindergarten) I went to school with the same children. Even if we moved up a grade we only went to a slightly bigger school with children who had been at our old school the previous year. There was no anxiety about not knowing the lay of the land. No anxiety about a sea of new scary faces. Until the end of 7th grade. At that time, 8th grade was at the High School, which meant I had 4 months between me and an entire school with 4 whole grades of new people. Older people. Some, like the juniors and seniors, we’re so much older our paths had never crossed paths in other schools before. Scared? I spent the summer outlining reasons why I should be homeschooled. I did not want my independence and free spirit that my class since kindergarten had been accustomed too, to become the punch line for lunch room mean girls table talk. I also knew I didn’t ‘look’ the part. I didn’t particularly want to, and further more I knew I never would. But, of course I made it through high school. I have some bumps, bruises, and scars to help me remember, and that’s okay.

What if, when my precious, free spirited penguin looks at me and says “mama, I am a little norvous about big school”, she feels the same anxiety on some level? I know it seems I’m reaching deep for this one, and yes, it’s perfectly normal for a child to be somewhat apprehensive about a new school. Stay with me though. She has only been to daycare/preschool and church with the same group of children. Now, in the same rural town I grew up in, there are two private schools to choose from which have become quite popular among the parents. My penguin knows that some children went to a different Pre-K and come to her school for after school care. She realizes that not all of these ‘friends’ of hers, and children who know her ways are going to be going to school with her in a few weeks. To top it all off, I have to keep reminding her of all of the horrible things that don’t happen in kindergarten. No changing clothes just because you dribbled water on your shirt at the water fountain (yes, I know we have some ‘issues’), no going to the bathroom on a moments notice which   also means you can’t have ‘accidents’ because you can’t change clothes. And….no naps!!! So yes, my all the world’s a stage, aka her stage, penguin is standing in front of this milestone with quite possibly some of the same apprehension I had about high school. 

It’s okay baby penguin. I know more now and I know what I should have told myself then. That works out well for you since you were made from my mold. I’ll guide you as the older version of yourself and I will teach you and love you like only your mother can. We’ve got this. You. Me. Together. Let’s jump over the milestone ready to see what waits. 

Are you there? It’s me….I’m not sure who that is most days.

Okay, so the title is a bit of a stretch. The fact is I know exactly who I am, but that is part of the problem. I know who I am but I’m unable to be that person. Yes, I am able to be a mom, which I am first, but not always the way I would like. That’s another blog post. But so much has happened since the last time I posted, things have just gone crazy. 

Personally, on the home front, things are great. The truck driver changed his schedule and is home every 4 days. The Penguin is very excited. The two of us haven’t exactly found our groove only because of my work schedule, but it’s still a positive adjustment.

Really this whole post is a farce. There is so much more I want to say. Not about my relationship mind you, just about life and some serious things that have happened. But, it’s just so much. I haven’t processed it all yet, much less tried to put pen to paper. It’s almost too much for even Penelope to bear. 

Sorry to waste your time. I’ll be back when I can sort through it all.