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Let your soul be wild and free my little one

I have pondered the nature vs nurture debate quite often when it comes to my anxiety. It always seemed that nurture would win in the cause category until recently. If I were to make a list of MY anxiety, it may still beat out another hypothesis as the root cause, but I am learning, in the parenting game, things are not always what they seem. I know one thing for certain. Someone without anxiety cannot understand another person trying to explain the reasons why and how to them, which make dealing with it quite lonely at times.

I contributed most of my anxiety issues to my grandmother. I learned as an adult, due to multiple tragedies in her life she had much to be anxious about. But when I stayed with her a lot growing up I didn’t understand that. As my anxiety began to take hold, I thought it must be because I was exposed to hers so much. Then I learned my daddy has it too, which would make sense. Except, except I never knew growing up my Daddy had anxiety.?

Now I see my seven year old experience it. She has exhibited signs since a young age and it manifest in different ways. But, I make a very contentious effort NOT to expose her to my anxiety. So much so that I have other family members help rationalize situations for me so I do not let it get the best of me. Believe me, I’ve come a long way since she was an infant! But to see her with it breaks my heart because I know how she feels. Could it be a manipulation at times? Sure, I am aware of that, just as I am aware of what true anxiety looks like on the face of my seven year old.

My husband, as great as he is, is not someone who understands. Oh sure, he understands my anxiety for the super Center and that look I get when I am about to melt down. But he doesn’t understand this gut wrenching, deep breathing anxiety. The kind that has kept me up all night to write this at 4:15 a.m

I only hope she can hold on to the parts of her soul that are wild and carefree. The parts that laugh at everything with a giggle that can warm the coldest of souls. The wander I see in her eyes as she studies something with her mind working on how it may operate. I want her to hold onto the part that operates on stuffed animals with ketchup and gloves and leave the heavy burden of anxiety to me. I’m her mama, her keeper, I can carry the load for us both.

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Of course, dreams come true my dear child

 
As we were taking a bath tonight, I made the water turn purple and the penguin giggled with delight as she said, “Mama! You’ve made all my dreams come true!” For a brief moment I thought not only was this a bit dramatic, for which I smiled because that’s ‘all me’, but also I thought how I wish it would always be that simple. But then she paused and looked up with my blue eyes and asked, “do your dreams always come true mama?” There was no hesitation as I smiled back and said “of course they do my Penguin “. 

The world is not always nice and she will learn on her own sooner than I would like. As long as I can, I will make her dreams come true and more importantly, I will continue to teach her that her dreams will come true.

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My Holiday OCD is having to be tamed


I understand this might not make sense to some. I also understand some people probably don’t see me as having any OCD tendencies seeing the way I live now, with the laundry in piles and all, and I get that. However, those of you that are skeptics would be interested to find I have quite a few quirks that I’m sure a psychologist would love to figure out. Most of these I do keep within some type of ‘control’, or I had to adapt to having a penguin almost seven years ago. 

One of the biggest ones has been my holiday OCD issue. Before the penguin was born, I had holiday rules that had to be followed or my mind would just explode. Not just your run of the mill don’t-put-Christmas-out-before Thanksgiving issue either. There were no clothes to be worn except for that holiday, no movies to be watched, no food to be ate. One did not watch “Charlie Brown The Great Pumpkin” outside of the month of October, or occasionally the network would throw me off course and save it for November. All of the sacred Christmas movies were saved for December only! 

Then the penguin was born. As she got old enough to watch movies, one of her favorite groups to watch was “Frosty the Snowman ” and “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer”. In ANY month. It took me a lot to get used to. I actually tried to talk her out of it. 

Now, I look down and find myself in July wearing Halloween socks. Gasp. What was once unheard of is just pure survival because the Halloween socks are the ones I can find clean. I just find it amusing that I’ve changed that much all because of my penguin. The best thing ever. The love of my life. I am still holding a strong front against wearing Christmas socks though.

Am I the ringmaster or the monkey?

This morning I was trying to take a bath and shave my legs before someone thought I was an extra for a Wookie. The penguin was sitting on the edge of the tub, Tommy was standing at the edge scrolling on his 📱. I asked “when you are in a mental institution, are there this many people watching you all the time?” Of course in my most sarcastic tone. Tommy replied, “yes, especially if you have a razor”. OMG! Somebody please help me. I’m in a cage.

#southernbellegoingcrazy

#southernbelleoncaffeiene

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.