my pregnancy story

I remember the moment I found out that I was pregnant. I showed my husband the positive sign on the pregnancy test, and we both started to cry. We sunk down to the floor, hugging one another, and knowing that this was the start of something wonderful. It was the start of my pregnancy story, but I had no idea what was to come.

Events were about to unfold at the same time as my pregnancy. Little did I know that, like parenting, nothing would ever be the same again….

MY PREGNANCY STORY

I mentioned HERE that I found out that my husband started abusing alcohol during my first trimester. He was terrified that I would have a miscarriage. An occasional drink turned into two which quickly turned into him pouring alcohol into iced tea bottles during the weekend. When I finally discovered what was happening, I asked him to leave. 

I remember sinking down to the floor, but this time, it was not a moment of overwhelming joy. It was a feeling of complete and utter helplessness. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I now had a responsibility to protect this baby.

My husband stopped drinking alcohol, and I thought the worst was over. Unfortunately, his addiction turned to sleeping pills. I discovered that my prescription sleep medicine was missing pills, to which he always had excuses. He told me that he  tripped while bringing them home and they fell down the drain. I was told the pharmacist must have given me less pills, and I was told that the TSA workers must have taken them when we went on a plane. No, I did not believe any of his stories. However, I knew little about addiction and did not understand what was happening.

All I knew was that I wanted him to stop taking them. I felt angry and betrayed that he kept lying to me and wouldn’t admit that he was using them. He would stop for a little while (during which time he was getting prescriptions from doctors or asking his parents to give him pills), and then start with mine again.

My husband also lost his job while I was in the end of my first trimester of pregnancy.

He never used anything while at work, but it still didn’t help our circumstances. I was struggling to figure out what was going on with my husband on top of him no longer having employment. We were currently living in a place that had no space for a crib, and we needed a bigger apartment. It was terrifying. I knew all the stress wasn’t good for the baby. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel calm under all of these incredibly stressful circumstances.

Fast forward a few months and we found a three-bedroom rental in a two-family house.  The rent was similar because it was an older home, but we were still struggling financially. I unpacked boxes as quickly as I could, wanting to feel some sense of stability and normalcy in my life.

A few weeks later, I started breaking out in hives. They were all over my back. Big, red hives. I had no idea what was causing them, and I would wake up covered in them. I went to a dermatologist, who informed me that the likely cause was an allergic reaction to (wait for it…) bedbugs.

HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING?

BEDBUGS?! I couldn’t believe my ears. How did I get bedbugs? I was a clean freak. He explained that bed bugs aren’t an indication of how clean your house is, and I could have gotten them from anyone or anything. They could have come from the moving truck, from a person’s item of clothing, or even from the fabric on a seat (movie theaters are a breeding ground for them, especially in New York). I inspected my house, particularly my bed, as they often are on mattress tags or near the bed.

I can’t even begin to articulate how itchy I felt in the car ride home. The last place I wanted to go was back to my house, which was supposed to be my haven amidst all the chaos in my life. I silently said a prayer as my husband inspected our bedroom.

To my horror of horrors, he found one bed bug on the mattress tag.

We immediately contacted our landlord, Ted, who informed us that we must have brought them into our home. When we asked if it could have been there beforehand, he scoffed at the mere suggestion and basically hung up on us.

We proceeded to find an exterminator who said he would not spray the house himself, but he would purchase the necessary chemicals for us. Every inch of the house had to be sprayed because we did not know the extent of the infestation. In terrible cases, they could be everywhere. We were also told that every item of fabric that we owned needed to be washed and dried at extremely high temperatures. Bedding, stuffed animals, and clothing (basically anything) were bagged and methodically cleaned.

I could not stay where the chemicals were sprayed due to my pregnancy. As a result, I lived elsewhere for a week to allow the spray to do its job. My husband basically saturated the house in those chemicals, and then did it again for good measure.

He inspected everywhere. When he opened up the old cable box (which was used by the prior tenants, as we had a different cable company install their own equipment when we moved in), he found a few bed bugs. There was nothing found in my cable box, which means they had to have been there before we moved there. After further inquiry, we discovered that the prior tenants had thrown out their mattress a few months before they moved.

We realized that the prior tenants must have had the bed bugs.

The house wasn’t occupied for a few months, but bed bugs can survive for awhile without eating (a not-so-fun-fact that I learned through this process). My guess is that most of them were on their old mattress, and some of them were in the cable box.  

We told our landlord what we had discovered. He went from being outraged to volunteering to waive a month’s rent. This didn’t help much, as the cost of all of the pesticides, dry cleaning, plus the horror we endured far outnumbered a month’s rent. I went to bed each night terrified to sleep, as bed bugs will bite in the middle of the night. My stuffed animals from childhood were destroyed, as they were not meant to be put in a high temperature dryer. I had my clothing in a portable clothing rack in the kitchen because I was fearful of putting my clothing back in the bedroom.

I was in my third trimester, and I was a mess.

my pregnancy story

My husband still didn’t have a job, I was constantly examining myself for any bug bites, and I had no idea if my husband was sober. My life was a tornado, and I had a child on the way. I was terrified, and I felt completely alone.

Luckily, there weren’t many bed bugs after the prior tenants left, and my husband successfully got rid of them. The knowledge I learned about this topic is one I would never forget, however much I wanted to erase it from my brain. I still cringe whenever I hear someone say, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

My husband found a job right before I had my daughter, so that concern was rectified. Unfortunately, his struggle with addiction is one that outlasted my pregnancy. I am so proud of his sobriety for the last five years, but it is still a big part of my pregnancy story, and one in which look back on with sadness. I wish things could have been different, but there are some things in life in which we simply don’t have a say. What I can control is how I handled myself during my pregnancy, and I am proud of that. 

I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on August 3rd, 2012.

My pregnancy, with all of its horrors and pain, still allowed me to bring a beautiful soul into this world. Although my story is filled with hardships, it is one that I tell with my head held high. I went through a series of traumatic events during a time where I wish I could have been on cloud nine. Although it wasn’t one in which fairy tales are born, it showed me that I am far stronger than I realized. I was going to need that inner strength to raise my daughter and to get through my husband’s struggles. I learned that I had no idea where life was going to take me, but that I would be okay no matter what life (or cable boxes) threw my way.

favorite memories of my husband and daughter

This past week was a very special week for me. My husband and I celebrated 12 years of marriage on August 2nd, and my daughter’s 9th (!) birthday was on August 3rd. In honor of these events, I’d like to take a stroll down memory lane. These are a few of my favorite memories with my husband and daughter.

Favorite Memories with my Husband

Our first date, our engagement, and our wedding are definitely on the top of the list. However, I’ve already discussed those in length in a prior post, so I won’t list them again. Here are some other favorite memories that always put a smile on my face:

(1) The first time we exchanged “I love you”

We went to a club with some friends, and I took Matt’s advice to take a shot after having a Long Island Iced Tea. For those of you that don’t drink much, do NOT combine different types of alcohol. Also, a Long Island Iced Tea is very strong, especially for someone who up until then only drank a few sips of wine/fruity drinks socially. I remember dancing quite enthusiastically on the dance floor, and repeatedly saying, “I’m not drunk, I’m not drunk, I’m not drunk.” I remember everything that happened and didn’t vomit or get a hangover, so perhaps I wasn’t drunk? That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it, folks.

After being a dancing queen late into the night, we took a cab back to Matt’s apartment in Manhattan.

I was feeling very dizzy, so he carried me to the bed so I could get some sleep. After he gently placed me on the bed, I looked at him and said, “It’s okay, Matt. You don’t have to say it. I know that you love me.” Did I mention we were only dating for three weeks at this point? Liquid courage/a very limited filter is a powerful thing.

To my surprise, he seemed taken a back for only a few seconds and responded, “You’re right. I do love you.” Well, that made my highly tipsy/perhaps drunk self very happy. I told him I loved him as well, and I went to bed with a very big smile on my face.

Like everything else in our relationship, we had our own unique set of circumstances that prompted a faster than normal progression. I knew I was going to marry him after our first date, so isn’t it possible to know 21 days after meeting someone that you love them? I’d like to think that with love, anything is possible. It may not have been the most romantic way of exchanging those magical three words, but I wouldn’t change a thing. However, I never took drinking advice from him again. 😉

(2) Living in Manhattan

Some of my favorite memories with my husband took place while we were in Manhattan. Matt lived in a studio apartment on West 97th Street and Central Park West. It was a nice sized apartment given that it was a studio and its location. When I officially moved in, figuring out where to put my clothes resembled a game of Tetris. There were only two closets, one for coats and one for clothing. He had a dresser that I took over, but until this day, I have no idea how I even managed to get a shirt into his already cramped closet space. Where did we keep our towels? Where did I keep my shoes? Somehow, we made it work.

I actually loved the times I had with him in that apartment. It was small, but it was where we merged our lives together. The entire experience of living in Manhattan with him was wonderful. We had many picnics in Central Park, had an array of restaurant options in different neighborhoods, and the sweet doorman would greet me each time I entered. I remember making many a terrible meal as I tried to learn how to cook.  I had no cooking experience as I knew it was time for dinner growing up when the smoke alarms went off. No joke. I remember Matt putting a smile on his face and eating/choking down the food I prepared. Most of all, I remember feeling like I was home.

(3) The trips we took before we had Brielle

These are some of my favorite memories. It wasn’t about where we went; it was about going somewhere new and relaxing with my favorite person. We wore ridiculous hats in the Dominican Republic, we ran away from drug dealers in Jamaica (they were persistent!), and I gasped at chocolate fountains in San Francisco. We would sit on the balcony and hold hands in silence. No words were said, because everything that needed to be said was done so in those moments.

(4) Our apartment in Kings Highway

From 2008-2010 we lived in an apartment in Kings Highway (in Brooklyn). It had a flat roof with a staircase that led to it. We would often climb up the stairs and sit on the rooftop. One of my favorite memories with my husband was on July 4th. We went to the roof and sat there while watching the fireworks. For some reason nobody else ever ventured there, so it was very romantic and our own private viewing party.

(5) Our overnight getaways

Once we had Brielle, it was very difficult to have extended periods of time that were just the two of us. One of my favorite memories with my husband was the first time we went away for the night. We went to Manhattan where we ate at a beautiful restaurant and then went to a place that had AMAZING desserts. Afterwards, we walked around before heading back to the hotel. We have only gotten the night to ourselves two other times, and each time I missed Brielle, but enjoyed every second of our time together.

(6) Our day trip to Athens 

In September, we drove to Athens while my dad was visiting from NY. We had the whole day to ourselves. We went to the University of Georgia and walked around the campus. It was a beautiful day, and we explored the area. We took pictures, tried some local coffee (it was good!), and just enjoyed each other’s company.

I could give dozens of my favorite memories with my husband, but these are a mere glimpse of some of them. Although we don’t always see eye-to-eye, I still light up every time I have the chance to spend quality time with him. He still will put on music and ask me to slow dance, and he still looks down at me with the biggest smile (he’s 10 inches taller than me so there’s a lot of me looking up and him looking down).  I’m often sad on our anniversary knowing that our daughter is getting one year older the next day, but I appreciate and cherish all of the wonderful times we’ve shared together.

Some of my Favorite Memories with My Daughter

As a mom, all my memories with my daughter are bittersweet. They are reminders of things that touched my heart deeply, but also reminders of things that have passed. I can close my eyes and play them in my mind like it was yesterday. I have more favorite memories of my daughter than I can count. It has been a privilege watching my daughter grow into the amazing girl she is today, but each of these memories make me both smile and cry:

(1) Brielle’s first word

Brielle was nine months old, and I handed her to Matt so I could make dinner. I was cutting at the kitchen counter when Brielle leaned towards me, arms outstretched and said, “Mama!” I basically leaped through the air, grabbed her, and hugged her with all my might as tears streamed down my face. The look she gave me and the magic of her first word being my name is something that I will never, ever forget. Without a doubt, it is one of my favorite memories with my daughter.

memories with my daughter

(2) You missed it!

Determined to record the first time Brielle sat up, I followed Brielle around with a video camera basically attached to me.  I would hold out the video camera, ready to press the record button each time it looked like she was about to sit up.

One afternoon I lay Brielle down right next to me in the hallway. I had to take clothes out of the washing machine and put them into the drier (the washing machine and drier were in a hallway closet). I looked away for no more than thirty seconds. She was lying down when I reached into the washing machine. When I looked back at her she was sitting up at me with an innocent expression on her face. I couldn’t believe I missed this milestone the one time I wasn’t watching her. At the time I was so disappointed and frustrated, but now I find it funny (while still crying that she’s no longer a baby). In true Brielle fashion, she did things her own way in her own time.

(3) Brielle started twerking before it was a thing

She was about 18 months old and loved this song called, “The Ice Cream Song.” The first time I played it, she danced by sticking out her rear and moving it up and down. I thought it was hilarious and called them “tushie shakes.” This soon became her go-to way of dancing when she wasn’t shifting her weight from one foot to the other (my husband’s signature/only dance move). I have a video of my daughter dancing this way while visiting my in-laws.

(4) My daughter’s ten minutes of fame

Brielle took ballet lessons when she was three. I volunteered at the recital, waiting with her class and trying to keep them occupied until it was their turn. There was a very large audience, and it was her first time performing. When it was her group’s turn, I told Brielle that she may not see me sitting there, but I would be watching her and was super proud of her. She did a great job, as did all the other girls.

When it was over, the audience clapped loudly. Brielle smiled along with the other kids. However, when it was time for the kids to exit the stage, my daughter remained, still smiling, and still soaking up the applause. The audience began to laugh, which only encouraged her to continue to bow and smile. Matt and I had to rush to the stage and basically force her off of it. A star was born.

favorite memories with my husband

(5) Is she giving us the finger?

Brielle will shake off falling from her scooter or getting major scrapes when she is enjoying an activity, but a paper cut is a different story. When she was four years old she got a papercut while reading. It didn’t bleed, and I reassured her that she’d be fine. We had to go in the car, and I strapped her into her car seat. She continued to complain about her papercut, and held it up to demonstrate the injury. Did I mention the papercut was on her middle finger?

She held her finger up the entire car ride. I thought ignoring it might make her stop, but she’d only stick it in my face even more. She spent forty-five minutes flipping the bird. For some odd reason, her papercuts are often on her middle finger. Until this day, she will give me the finger when it happens. Perhaps it’s time to tell her what that means?

(6) It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Peeawaka

Brielle went through a phase where she was obsessed with Play-Doh. However, what she particularly loved was a girl on iPad who played with Play-Doh. I have always limited her screen time, but when she was allowed to watch, she was fascinated with “Peeawaka.” I have no idea if that was her actual name or if Brielle made it up. She would watch these videos and then sit down with her Play-Doh and want to “play Peeawaka.”

Brielle would reenact the entire video, word for word. She would take out the same Play-Doh set as the girl, get comfortable, and say, “Hey guys, it’s me Peeawaka and today we are going to play with…” I would often watch her with fascination as she would replicate every enunciation, every movement, every syllable of this girl’s video. She watched other videos prior and after, but this was the only one she reenacted. When she stopped watching Peeawaka, sadly her love for Play-Doh faded along with it. However, I will always remember her Peeawaka renditions, and I miss them greatly.

 

 

As a mom to a now 9-year-old daughter, I cannot fathom where the time went.

The saying that the days are long, but the years are short is so very true. I remember every laugh, every tear, every time her hand reached out for mine. I have 9 years of favorite memories with my daughter that all are etched into my mind and my soul. It was nearly impossible to narrow down my favorite memories with my daughter to six. I cannot turn back the hands of time, but I find comfort in knowing that these memories will always live on in my mind and in my heart.

 

 

challenges of parenting a child with adhd

Parenting is no easy task. As the parent of a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), I have gone through my share of parenting challenges. Although there is always more to learn when parenting a child with ADHD,   I have learned many lessons along the way. This post discusses strategies and tips to help children with ADHD. I hope you find these suggestions useful in your parenting journey:

parenting tips for children with adhd

 

(1) Be open and honest with your child about their struggles so there is no shame associated with it.

Children need compassion, empathy, and support.  In order to ensure that, open lines of communication are crucial. My daughter, Brielle, is aware  of her challenges, which include focusing and  impulsivity. However, she understands that who she is as a person is what defines her. While struggles are important to address, it is just as important to emphasize your child’s strengths and skills.

(2) Limit screen time

I understand we all need a break. There are times that we put our kids on the iPad or TV so we don’t lose our minds. However, kids tend to be so enthralled with the stimulation from the screen that it often becomes a huge battle to take it away from them . Children with ADHD become hyper-focused on what fascinates them, and the transition from screen time to no screen time is incredibly hard for them (additutemag.com, 2021 ) . My daughter acts possessed after I take away the iPad. On the weekends, I allow her to pick between the iPad or TV for thirty minutes each time. I set a timer on her iPad that goes off in thirty minutes. I then give her ten-minute and five-minute reminders.

(3) Discuss strategies in advance that your child can use for emotional regulation  

I created a “calming corner” for my daughter that is comprised of a bean bag chair, a weighted blanker, squeeze ball and some books. Make a chart of different options/tools your child can use, and place it in various locations throughout the house that are easily accessible. Encourage your child to use the tools when needed.

(4) Stay calm

I know how hard that is, believe me! However, if we want our children with ADHD to learn strategies to emotionally regulate themselves, we have to model how we emotionally regulate ourselves. Teach your child to identify their emotions by labeling your emotions. Let your child know that you need to use one of your calming tools, such as taking a time out or doing some deep breathing.

(5) Advocate for your child

As I discussed in 6 strategies and tips for parenting a special needs child , it is important that you are on the same page as your child’s teacher and school.  Make sure that your child has a 504 plan or an IEP (individualized education program).Strategies need to be implemented in the school as well as the home to set your child up for success. It is also necessary to communicate with your child’s teacher on a regular basis.

(6) Educate yourself about ADHD

Join support groups. Read literature about ADHD. Speak to your child’s pediatrician, psychologist, and any other related professionals. Knowledge is power, and knowledge will allow you to make informed decisions about what is best for your child. Have an open mind, and be willing to explore different options. If medication is suggested, find out about all possible side effects and be in constant communication with the psychiatrist. There is no shame in your child needing medication, but make sure you are well-informed before choosing any option.

(7)Make sure your child has a comprehensive evaluation so you are in the best position to help your child.

ADHD can accompany other issues such as executive functioning delays, processing issues, anxiety , or autism. A complete evaluation will give you pertinent information to better support your child. 

(8) There is no one-size-fits-all solution

Be humble enough to seek help and gather information from others, but also trust your own intuition. Nobody knows your child better than you.

(9) Take time for yourself

We love our children so much that we often take our own well-being for granted. You are in a better position to support your child when you aren’t pouring from an empty cup. In order to properly care for your child, you need to love and  care  for yourself. Make sure to implement a self-care routine daily. 

(10) Mistakes are inevitable

Parenting is a challenge with any child, and children with ADHD require extra support. There will be times where you will say or do the wrong thing. Own up to your mistakes. Set a good example that flaws are part of life, but we can learn and grow from them.

challenges of parenting a child with adhd

the biggest takeaway of parenting a special needs child

As parents, we have a responsibility to support our children, advocate for them, and love them for who they are, not the labels they have. Teach your children to accept themselves and to love all parts of themselves.

Be your child’s biggest cheerleader and fan. Try to instill in them that although some things are challenging for them, they are capable and wonderful just as they are. Parenting a child with ADHD is challenging. As in all aspects of life, some days will be easier, and some days will be incredibly challenging. The journey of parenting is a bumpy road, but I feel blessed to be along for the ride with my daughter.

things you should not hide from your kids

We hide things from our kids. Each and every one of us does this. We do this for a variety of reasons, and our intentions are usually good. We want to protect our kids, we may feel certain topics are inappropriate, or we ourselves are doing something that contradicts what we tell our kids. Despite our hearts being in the right place, the very things we hide from our kids are sometimes what would help them navigate through life. For each of these suggestions, it is important to be mindful of the age, language, and the extent of information we share with our kids. There is a line between exposing our kids to the realities of the world and putting adult problems on their shoulders. With that in mind, these are the 14 surprising things you should not hide from your kids:

(1) Making mistakes

Oops, I’ve done it again. I said a bad word, forgot to call my friend back, misspelled a word in a professional email, or a myriad of a million other things. As tempting as it may be to gloss over it and go about your business, showing your children that you aren’t wonder woman (or superman) is actually a good thing.

You are going to mess up. All of the time. You are going to make mistakes repeatedly throughout life, and so will your kids. Despite our best intentions, we are never going to get everything right. What we can do, however, is show our kids that making mistakes is natural, inevitable, and okay.

The next time you make a mistake, you should not hide it from your kids. Let your kids know that you did your best, but that mistakes will still happen. Show them that being disappointed or frustrated is totally okay, but that nobody is perfect. This shows your kids how to handle their own mistakes.

There are also mistakes we’ve made in the past. Don’t be afraid to share the lessons you had to learn the hard way. Perhaps they won’t make the same choices if they are given the opportunity to learn from the error of your ways.

(2) Healthy conflict

I want you to have a disagreement in front of your kids. Yes, you read that correctly. I know many of us go to great lengths to curtail our conflicts with others. I’m certainly not suggesting you have heated arguments or conversations that are of adult topics while your kids watch. However, showing your kids how to respectfully manage a difference of opinion with your spouse, friend, family member, etc. is actually to their benefit.

If you never expose your kids to any disagreements, then how are they going to have the tools to manage conflict when they are older? Additionally, how will they know if conflict is healthy or unhealthy unless we model for them the proper way to resolve differences?

Show your kids how to listen to another person and work together to compromise. Model empathy, validation, and compassion. Set an example for how you should be treated by others, and how you should treat others. It is a lesson that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.

(3) Resolving problems

If your kids have witnessed a more intense conversation, what should you do? Many times we will stop in the middle of the argument and take it elsewhere, or put a pin in it and finish after kids are asleep. The problem is that once that bell is rang, it cannot be unrung. Your kids have seen and heard something that they will not forget. We cannot turn back the hands of time, but we can do our best to make it a teachable experience. Do not hide resolution from your kids.

Although I am NOT advocating your kids witnessing explosive tempers, if your kids do witness a heated conversation, let them see how you resolve it. That means expressing your feelings in a respectful way, apologizing, and kind words, hugs and/or expressions of love.

There will be times in life when we don’t calmly express our discontentment with another person. Our children need to know the importance of taking ownership of our actions, asking forgiveness, and working to repair our relationships.

(4) Apologizing when you are wrong

I grew up with a mom who felt that because she was my mother, she did not have to apologize. She feels that kids should always apologize, but parents should not. I think that is a load of crap, to put it bluntly.

Apologies are something that anyone of any age should express. It is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing, intentional or otherwise. Let your kids see you apologize to those you have wronged, whether it is a neighbor, a friend, etc. Apologize to your kids if you have done something wrong to them.  This models for your kids the importance of taking responsibility for your actions, and teaches them to admit when they are wrong.

(5) Managing finances

Again, this is something many of us do in private. We discuss our finances away from our kids in an effort to protect them, and/or because we feel it isn’t their business. While I do agree that your kids do not need to know all aspects of your finances, managing finances is something you should not hide from your kids.

Let your kids see how you create with a budget. Teach them about the importance of paying your bills on time. Discuss with them what a credit card is, and how it shouldn’t be used to buy more than you can afford. Explain what interest is and how it works. Navigate them through the importance of savings and setting aside money for the future. How do we expect our kids to navigate bills, loans, etc. if they are not given the knowledge to do so? As long as you tailor it to the age and level of the child, finances can and should be discussed.

(6) When you are emotionally struggling

I’ve discussed this in numerous posts, and I keep mentioning this for a reason. I’ve witnessed so many parents who feel they need to hide their feelings of sadness, anger, grief, or any other negative emotion from their kids. They put on a happy face, and act as if they are fine no matter what the circumstances.

I know you mean well and are trying to protect your kids. You don’t want them to worry about you. However, it is okay to not be okay. It is imperative that your kids see that life is not a bed of roses. If you do not show your kids that life is full of disappointment and an array of positive and negative emotions, then they will not be equipped to handle their own difficult emotions.

The next time you are struggling, teach your kids the importance of acknowledging your feelings. Label your emotion, show them that it is necessary to accept how you are feeling without judgment, and then model how you cope with your feelings (for example, doing yoga, taking a few minutes to yourself, writing in your journal).

I’m not suggesting you share your life’s problems with your child. However, letting your child know that you are feeling anxious about an upcoming meeting and need a few minutes to do some deep breathing helps your child learn that feelings are nothing to run away from.

(7) Prioritizing yourself

I want you to make your happiness and needs a non-negotiable. That doesn’t mean ignoring their well-being or not parenting them. However, I want your kids to see that you  take time for yourself  and your well-being.

Implement a self-care routine daily. Take time to do something that brings you joy, whether it is reading a book, taking a hot bath, or lying on the couch and doing absolutely nothing. Make sure your kids are somewhere safe and then focus on you.

Part of prioritizing yourself is setting boundaries. Do not hide from your kids that you say no to something that isn’t in your best interest. Teach your kids to never apologize for setting boundaries and expressing your needs to others.

Demonstrating the importance of prioritizing yourself shows your children that their well-being is their responsibility. It also teaches them that their own self-care should be prioritized as well. We cannot be the best versions of ourselves if we neglect ourselves on behalf of everyone around us. That only causes burnout, emotional, physical, and psychological duress, and resentment. Openly take care of yourself and encourage your children to do the same.

(8) Asking for help

Many of us see asking for help as a sign of weakness. Our society promotes a mentality of us being able to do it all, no matter the cost to our well-being. On the contrary, I believe asking for help is a sign of great strength. It is being vulnerable and humbling ourselves to the reality that we all need others. Asking for help is something you should not hide from your kids, whether it means getting professional help or asking your spouse to help out more. Encourage your kids to be honest about their struggles, feelings, and needs. Teach them to reach out and ask for help if they need it. We want our kids to try their best, but we also don’t want them to feel they are failures if they need assistance from others, whether that means getting tutoring or coming to you with their emotional struggles.

(9) Seeing us fail

Just as mistakes are par for the course, so is failure. We are not going to succeed at everything, no matter how hard we may try. Teaching our kids how to deal with failure is necessary for the hurdles they will face in life. If we hide our failures from our kids, then they will not be prepared for the failures they will inevitably face. Let your kids know when you have failed, and be honest about how it makes you feel. Let them know that all we can do is try our best, and that the rest is out of our hands. It is important for our kids to know that we cannot have success unless we also have failure.

things you should not hide from your kids

(10) Resilience

Just as it is important to not hide failure from our kids, it is also important to show our kids the importance of resilience. Life will knock us down innumerable times, and we must keep getting back up again.

I wrote a children’s book, and I have been querying agents for awhile now. I have gotten rejection letter after rejection letter. My daughter asked me why I keep trying, and my response is that I will keep querying until I get an agent. I may never get an agent, but I can keep giving it my all. I want my daughter to know that she should always believe in herself, and that she needs to keep fighting no matter what life throws her way.  

(11) Eating junk food

I am a huge junk food lover. In the early years of my daughter’s life, I would wait until she was asleep to eat my chocolate. However, I realized that there is no need to hide this from her. Instead, I want to teach her the importance of eating in moderation. She can absolutely have sweets, just as I do. She also sees me eating healthy foods and exercising. I want her to have a healthy relationship with food; therefore, I model healthy eating habits and show her that eating junk food in moderation is perfectly okay.

(12) Puberty and sex

My daughter is 8, and I have been very open with her about what is is like when I get my period. She understands that changes will happen to her body in a few years.

If children ask questions, answer them honestly. Give more or less detail depending on the age and development of the child. For example, you can explain that adults use a razor to get rid of hair on their legs, face, underarms, etc. The important thing is to encourage your children to come to you with any questions they have. 

As your child gets older, explain puberty and sex. Let them know how their bodies will change and how it will feel. Discuss the importance of not being afraid to say no, birth control, and that they can come to you with any questions. It is necessary to discuss sex so that they understand the responsibilities that come with having sex, and the importance of having safe sex. Knowledge is power, and you want your kids to have as much information as possible. 

(13) Death

We all will eventually lose someone that we love. However, death is something that we should not hide from our kids. The extent of the conversation should vary based on age and development, but even young children should have the opportunity to ask questions and be able to understand the concept of loss on some level. Just as it is important to teach kids that difficult emotions are part of life, they need reassurance that feeling grief is normal and healthy.

When my husband’s grandfather passed away two years ago, it was the first time my daughter dealt with death. She saw me and my husband cry, and we explained to her that her Great-Grandfather had died. We discussed how she felt about it, and I answered any questions that she had. I told her that there is no right or wrong way to feel and experience loss, and I reassured her that she could continue to come to me with any questions or feelings.  I reminded her that we keep him alive in our minds and our hearts by thinking about him and talking about him.

(14) Prejudice

We live in a world where discrimination and violence take place. Children are naturally curious, and they ask about differences out of pure observation, as opposed to contempt.

I remember the first time my daughter met a person of color. She looked at him and asked him why his skin was a different color than hers. He explained that people are a variety of colors, and that those differences are what make the world special. My daughter nodded, her eyes big, and then she gave him a hug.

When my daughter saw a man in a wheelchair for the first time, she asked me what it was and why he was using it. The man saw her looking at him and asking. My first thought was that her questions were making him uncomfortable. It took me a few seconds to realize that wasn’t true. I was the one who was uncomfortable.

Differences are not something that we should hide from our kids. I realized that if I shied away from her questions, it was sending her a message that others that are different than us are to be avoided. Worse, it could portray those differences as something to be disliked or feared. It is important to talk to our children about prejudice and that it is not okay to mistreat others who look or act differently than we do. We need to stop ignorance and promote change by encouraging open dialogue with our children.

 

 

The suggestions above are by no means easy to show our kids. It is very understandable why we hide these things from them. However, it is often the most uncomfortable topics that lend themselves to the greatest life lessons. However, when we stop hiding things from our children, we allow them to have a better understanding of the world and be better equipped to handle whatever life throws their way.

choosing to have only one child

Yes, I chose to have only one child

I remember the first time someone asked me when I was having another child. Brielle was about a year old, and I was pushing her on the baby swing at a nearby park in Brooklyn. A woman looked at me and asked, “So, when are you having another child? She needs a sibling.” I was completely taken aback at this stranger’s question. I politely said that I didn’t know if/when I was having another. She then started telling me that she had four children, worked, and that it was my obligation to have more kids. I felt my face turn red as I felt a combination of anger and shame. Choosing to have only one child was my decision. What right did this person have to meddle into my life and tell me what was best for my family?

I wish I could say that was the one and only time I was asked to justify my choice of having only one child. Honestly, I always imagined I would have two children. It never occurred to me that life would have other plans for me.

I love my daughter with every ounce of my being. From the moment she was born, I have had my hands full. Taking care of my child is my number one priority, and my husband’s inability to help due to his addiction resulted in me having to take care of her by myself for many years. It wasn’t until she was four that he got clean, and by then we already saw the warning signs of behavioral and learning issues.

enough with shaming parents for their choices

I think about the women who didn’t think they could have any kids, and were blessed with one child, and how they must feel to be interrogated about it. I certainly don’t think I should have to explain my husband’s addiction or my daughter’s special needs to people; yet everywhere I go, it seems to be a question that people think they have the right to ask.

One time that stands out to me was was at the airport. The TSA agent looked at the three of us and our passports and asked, “Where’s your other child?” to which I replied, “There is no other child.” The look of confusion and bewilderment on his face made me feel like I wanted to crawl under the covers and hide.

When did it become okay to tell people how many children they should have? When did it become appropriate to question people’s life choices? What if I was having difficulty conceiving another child? Why is it ok to judge and dictate what women do with their own bodies?

Not only have I received questions about why I don’t have any more kids, but I’ve also been told that at this point it would be detrimental to Brielle to have a sibling because of the age difference. Say what?! I’ve also had gynecologists tell me that I better try to conceive now because the clock is ticking (I’m 38). 

I would understand if I asked someone’s opinion, but why is it open game for anyone and everyone to tell me what is best for my family? I have had strangers ask, parents ask, doctors ask, as well as friends and family. It seems like it is a hot topic for everyone.

to the mom who chose to have only one child, you are not a lesser mom

you are not a lesser mom

For those of you that chose to have only one child, or no children, for whatever personal reason, I want you to know that you shouldn’t have to justify yourself to anyone. If any of you have a clever retort to the endless questions about having children, please send them my way.

I wish I could say that I’m used to people inquiring about my procreation. Unfortunately, that would be a lie. My latest response is, “If and when that happens, you’ll be the first to know.”

The truth is, I don’t know what life will bring, and I hate to use the word never. Maybe I will have another child. Maybe I won’t. I do know that whatever happens, it is a decision that will be made because it is the right choice for us, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Until someone has walked in my shoes, other opinions are simply white noise.

“Ignore the noise and follow your own choice.”- Anonymous

the benefits of music

Monique Bathis is a registered music therapist, and she provided the information for this article. This post describes music therapy and how you can use music on your own to benefit your overall mental and emotional health.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MUSIC THERAPY?

“Music therapy is a research based allied health profession in which music is intentionally used to actively support people as they aim to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing” (Australian Music Therapy Association, 2012).

Music therapy programs are tailored to meet each individual’s needs and goals across various domains such as cognitive functioning, speech and communication skills, social skills, physical functioning, emotional development, mental health, pain management, or to enhance quality of life.

To be a music therapist, an individual has to complete a certified university course in music therapy. They also must be registered through the professions association in each country (for example, the Australian Music Therapy Association in Australia). To maintain registration as a professional, music therapists must engage in ongoing professional development each year to keep up to date with current evidence in the field.

THE BENEFITS OF MUSIC THERAPY for the mental health of CHILDREN AND ADULTS OF ALL AGES

music therapy can help heal children of all ages

Music therapy can help support people of all ages and abilities. You do not need to have a musical background to engage in music therapy. The use of music can stimulate and activate all areas of the brain simultaneously. It has huge potential to support anyone who engages in the therapy.

Music therapy can be practices across a variety of settings such as hospitals, educational facilities, mental health facilities, nursing homes, health programs within communities, correctional facilities, and private practice.

Some specific benefits of music therapy as outlined in the research include (refer to the Australian Music Therapy Association website www.austmta.org.au for more details):

  1.        Help manage anxiety and stress 
  2.        Improves emotional regulation
  3.        Improve communication both verbally and non-verbally
  4.        Improves physical speech function 
  5.        Foster self-sufficiency
  6.        Improves relationships
  7.        Improves gross and fine motor function and control
  8.        Helps regulate heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure
  9.        Increases coordination
  10.        Improves core executive functions
  11.        Helps with memory and focusing
  12.        Increases the body’s production of endorphins 
  13.        Improves recovery speed from injuries

Music therapists use a range of music therapy interventions and techniques to support the individual to reach their goals. Interventions may include:

Singing or instrumental play

This can help work on various speech/communication, cognitive, and/ or motor goals.

Songwriting

Songwriting can help support emotional development, mental health, and/or communication goals.

Listening to music either recorded or played by the music therapists

This can help support an individual’s emotional regulation and facilitate relaxation, or alternatively to boost mood and motivation.

Movement to music

Movement helps support sensory integration or physical functioning, e.g. balance or coordination.

the benefits of music

examples of music therapy interventions for children and adults

One particular strategy music therapists use with children with developmental and speech delays is called Development Speech and Language Training through Music (DSLM). The goal is to enhance and facilitate speech development for these children. For example, if the goal was to improve the child’s articulation of specific sounds, you should use or write a song that has the target sound/s within the song. The child would sing along and practice this song to learn those sounds. This could be recorded for the parent to use outside of sessions and the long term goal would be for the child to be able to say these sounds with greater clarity. Assessments take place at the commencement of music therapy programs so that progress can be tracked.

When working with children with autism, the benefits of the strategic use of music and rhythm can improve motor functioning, such as those associated with oral-motor skills or gait. Rhythm is key when working with people who have neurodevelopmental disorders. It helps because rhythm it is not only predictable (which the brains loves), but also helps to reorganize the brain and synchronize movements.

There are some interventions that are specific to people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s/Dementia, brain injuries and neurodevelopment disorders such as autism. To use these specific interventions (there are 22), a music therapist has had to complete their Neurological Music Therapy training.

TIPS AND STRATEGIES TO USE MUSIC ON YOUR OWN TO AID IN YOUR MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLNESS 

Music can be hugely beneficial when supporting infants and families. For example, singing can connect parents with their medically fragile baby. Parents can also use music to support their baby or child who may be irritable or unsettled (for example, through the use of carefully selected recorded music or using voice/singing).

Music can be adapted and tailored to be age appropriate and suit the needs of the individual. Here are some ways that you can use music in your home to support yourself and/or your family:

(1) Create relaxation playlists to use when you or your child needs to wind down or calm 

Try practicing taking slow deep breaths along with your child to some calming music. This provides opportunities to learn self-regulation skills and helps your child to maintain regulation. For younger children, you can use visual props like placing their favorite toy on their tummy and watching it rise and fall as they practice slow belly breaths. 

(2) Create mood booster playlists and have a dance party to release any pent up energy 

Moving to music through different movements and actions like spinning, jumping, clapping, and tapping different body parts can help with motor functioning, provide sensory input that helps to regulate their nervous system, and also teaches younger kids their different body parts.

(3) Sing with or without recorded music

Singing helps to calm the nervous system and releases oxytocin (our love hormone). This helps to boost feelings of connectedness and other feel-good hormones.

(4) Play instruments or drums together while you sing along to music that has a strong beat 

This can support your children’s motor development as well as sensory development. Drumming, in particular, can be incredibly beneficial to support emotional regulation. Since it is a rhythm based instrument, it provides that much needed predictability to which the brain thrives. If you don’t have any instruments, you can make your own. Rice and plastic water bottles create great shakers, and plastic tubs and wooden spoons are a fantastic drum alternative.

(5) Use music to support routines and transitions 

Power struggles can occur during daily tasks (for example, brushing teeth or getting dressed), as well as during transitions (such as packing away toys, leaving the house, or bedtime). Singing songs that relate to the task or transition is a great strategy. It adds playfulness and connection in those moments and helps your child prepare for the upcoming task. This increases the chances of cooperation and aids in transitions.

(6) Play or sing songs to support learning opportunities 

Music activates memory centers of the brain.  Therefore, songs can help children learn various concepts such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, days of the week, seasons, timetables, etc. Songs support speech and language. It also helps it to retain and recall information with greater ease. How else would young children be able to remember 26 individual names of letters if it weren’t for the Alphabet Song?

(7) Play music to create a more positive auditory home environment 

Turning off the TV/device and other unnecessary noise and replace it with music. This can help to reduce overstimulation. It can also help to reduce meltdowns and create a more calm, relaxed household for all.

(8) write your own song to aid in anxiety

Songwriting is beneficial as a way for an adult or child to express themselves in a creative way. It also is helpful to put thoughts and feelings into song format.

 

 

Music is a great tool to use at home in various ways; however, only a board-certified music therapist provides music therapy. When seeking out a music therapist, it is crucial to find one with whom you feel a connection. 

To get more information about music therapy, or to get in touch with Monique, you can contact her via social media as well as email:

Instagram – moniquebathis.rmt

Facebook – www.facebook.com/moniquebathis.rmt

Email – evolvewithmusictherapy@gmail.com

There are many benefits of music. I hope this article inspires each of you to incorporate music into your lives in different ways!

 

lessons learned in life

Life is filled with obstacles, but my aspiration is that my child navigates it with courage, determination, and grace. Some life lessons she will have to learn herself, but my hope is that my words can guide her along her journey:

15 powerful LESSONS LEARNED IN LIFE everyone should know

(1) Don’t be afraid to use your voice

There will always be people who won’t agree with what you are saying, and that is okay. If you believe in something strongly, keep standing by your convictions. Don’t allow anyone to diminish your feelings or beliefs. Stay true to yourself and let you head and you heart be your north star. If you are willing to follow them, they will always lead you in the right direction.

(2) This world can be a cruel place, and people may judge or comment about how you look

It is okay to take pride in your appearance, but remember that your looks should not define you. Strive for kindness. Unlike beauty, kindness does not fade with age. There will be times that it is tempting to combat cruelty with cruelty. There is enough anger and hate in this world. Allow the light within you to lead you out of the darkness.

(3) Weight is simply a number on a scale

It is easy to fall down the rabbit’s hole if you focus on those numbers. Instead, strive to be healthy. Eat fruits and vegetables and exercise. It is okay to enjoy a snack or eat a bowl of pasta. Remember to do things in moderation. Take care of your body as opposed to trying to change your body. This is a very important life lesson.

(4) You can be anything you want to be

Really. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Reach for the stars, and do something that you feel passionate about. It is okay to have high ambitions. Don’t allow yourself to settle for anything less than what will make you happy. Always believe in yourself.

(5) It is okay to be emotional

That may make some people uncomfortable, and that’s on them. Some may tell you to “stay strong”. Expressing your emotions is what truly makes you strong. Trust your emotions. Don’t bury your feelings or let others tell you how to feel. It is normal and healthy to express your feelings. Care. Care deeply and feel deeply. If more people were like that, the world would be a much better place.

(6) There is no weakness in forgiveness

Like everything else, this needs to be applied in moderation. Forgive those who genuinely care and respect you. There will be people who will mistake your kindness for weakness. Those people will try to take advantage of you. Don’t have those types of people in your life. People will make mistakes, and you will make mistakes. That is par for the course. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Don’t allow the weight of mistakes to crush you.

(7) Have respect and compassion for others and for yourself

Accept and love all parts of yourself. Remember to always treat others the way you want to be treated. Set boundaries and hold yourself and others accountable for respecting those boundaries.

(8) It is okay to be different

Stay true to who and what you are. It is difficult to be different in this world because there is a lot of judgment and ignorance. That doesn’t mean you should allow those types of people to dictate how you live your life. There are enough sheep in this world. Be a leader, not a follower, and always march to the beat of your own drum.

respect yourself as well as others

(9) Your body, your choice. Period.

Don’t let anyone tell you what to do with your body. Hug those you want to hug (if they want to be hugged). Kiss those you want to kiss (if they want to be kissed too). If you don’t feel comfortable doing something, then don’t do it. Just as it is better in life to say “no” rather than go along with what others say or do, the same applies to your body. You get to decide when, where and how you use your body.

(10) There are others in this world who may be afraid or unable to stand up for themselves

Just as you should use your own voice to stand up for yourself, remember to speak up if someone else is getting mistreated. Remember that saying nothing speaks volumes.

(11) Love is a gift and a privilege

So is trust. Both should only be given to those who earn it and treasure it. Love wisely, but don’t be afraid of loving. Love is the only answer in a world of endless questions.

(12) Try your best at everything you do

If you are only willing to put in partial effort, it isn’t worth any effort at all. Don’t confuse effort with perfection. Nobody is capable of perfection. Your best will sometimes be better than others, and sometimes others will be better than yours. Do the best you can and accept that your best is all you can strive for. Whatever the outcome might be, be proud of yourself for trying. I will always be proud of you too.

learn from lessons life teaches you

(13) Life is comprised of a series of choices

Often the right choice is the harder choice. Choose right over easy every time. It is worth the extra effort to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are.

(14) Inevitably life will knock you down

The truth is that life is a series of curveballs. No matter the circumstance, always get back up and keep on going. Learn from the lessons life teaches you. Perseverance and believing in yourself are essential ingredients to navigate through the murky waters of life. It may feel like the world is turning its back on you, but determination and hope will always help you find your way.

(15) Remember to not just live life, but to experience it

Remember to see the forest through the trees. Have fun. Spend time doing things that make you smile. Enjoy your own company, but also enjoy the company of others. Life is an adventure, and it is up to you how you live it.

 

 

There are many lessons I have learned in life. My hope is that these lessons will remind my child (and yours) that life has so much wisdom in it, if we are open to learning from our experiences.

how it feels to have adhd

My 8 year-old daughter watches me write often. She requested to write a post about how it feels to have ADHD. The following is written in her own words (with some spelling and grammatical assistance) on behalf of parents and children who live with ADHD. She also provided some strategies she uses to help her.

HOW ADHD MAKES ME FEEL

Hi. My name is Brielle. l am eight years old, and l am about to tell you how it feels to have ADHD.

I started to realize I had some difficulty in school when I was in Kindergarten.  l had a really hard time understanding number bonds and how they worked. I was confused and couldn’t do schoolwork on my own. The other kids during learning center would sit at the desks and do their work, but I couldn’t do it.  I had a hard time understanding new things because of trouble paying attention. I would think about other things. The teachers thought I didn’t know anything. I would go home, and my mommy would explain things to me a few times before I understood it. I was able to learn number bonds because my mommy taught it to me. She was able to teach it to me in a way that made sense to me. 

My mommy now homeschools me. When my mom is teaching me l still have trouble focusing. l am still thinking about many things all at once. A lot of times I rush through my school work and I don’t want to double check to make sure I did it correctly.  I just want to finish everything quickly.

Having ADHD makes me feel like there is constant noise going on in my head.

The next day l don’t remember the things l just learned the day before.  My mommy has to review what I already learned.  ln kindergarten everyone else would do their work when the teachers told us to do our workbooks. l had no idea what to do. l felt confused all the time. l like my mom as a teacher because she explains things to me well and helps me to understand.

I AM HYPER ALL THE TIME AND MY MIND IS ALWAYS ACTIVE

When l am hyper I’m often rough with my cats and my dog. l will sometimes jump on the couch and on people. I run around and get hurt. I have a hard time stopping myself. My body is always full of energy.

l never get tired.  l could get three hours of sleep, and l would not be tired. I get sick often because I don’t get enough sleep. 

At night I think about a lot of things, so I have trouble falling asleep. I leave my room many times to go into the hallway. Sometimes I have to go to the bathroom, but other times I feel like I have to go but I really don’t. It’s hard for me to get comfortable.

It can take 1-2 hours for me to fall asleep once my mommy leaves my room. When I wake up in the middle of the night l stay up and go to the bathroom every few minutes or l go play with my cats. No matter what time I fall asleep I will wake up the same time each morning. l think l do that because it is so hard for me to sleep and I’m bored.

Sometimes my brain tells me to lie and to do the wrong thing like climb on countertops and sneak downstairs during the night.

my mommy tries to help me to stop and think before doing something, but I always act first.

I understand that doing some of those things can get me into trouble. I’ve gotten hurt a lot because I always run around, and I fall many times.  I still do it anyway because my body acts before I am able to think and stop myself.

 

TECHNIQUES THAT I USE TO HELP MANAGE MY ADHD

techniques i use to help manage my adhd

I try to tell myself, “l am going to fall asleep.” Many times that doesn’t work for me because I’m not tired. That is what having ADHD feels like. It can make sleeping very hard sometimes. l wear an eye mask, and l try to imagine things that make me happy when I’m lying down. That is helpful sometimes. Maybe it can help you.

You will have ADHD forever and you cannot change that, but what you can change is what you are doing now.

Putting my feet on the wall and listening to yoga music relaxes me. You can do that along with your kids if they are hyper. My mom does that with me and it helps. If you have a child with ADHD, this is helpful to calm down and focus. My mommy calls it a legs up the wall pose.

Sometimes when I am hyper, I go into my playroom and push on the wall for 20 seconds. I also run laps pretending that there is a wolf chasing me.

During school when I am having trouble focusing, my mommy gets my attention and says, “1-2-3, eyes on me.” She also tells me to put on my listening ears and my looking eyes. That gets me to pay attention, and then I am able to listen to her explaining things to me. She will give me breaks when I need them, and she sings songs about what I’m learning to help me remember things.

My mommy also gives me reminders to always double check my work before handing it in. When my body tries to tell me to do something I shouldn’t do or I try to rush through my work, I tell myself and my mommy tells me that ADHD isn’t the boss, I am! 

I have two favorite breathing exercises to help me calm down. One is where I start by squeezing my feet and let it go, then my legs, then my tummy, chest, arms, and face. At the end I squeeze my entire body at the same time. The second exercise is what my mommy calls 4-7-8 breathing. You take a deep breath in and count in your head for four seconds, then hold your breath for seven seconds, then let out the air for eight seconds. You can do this as many times as it takes before you feel relaxed.

There is an area of my room that my mommy calls my calming corner. I go into my room and squeeze some of my toys to help me calm down. Sometimes I jump up and down, which gets some of my energy out. I also have a bean bag chair that I throw myself onto. My parents put or roll heavy things on me (my weighted blanket or an exercise ball) to help calm my body down. That helps me to relax because I like the pressure on my body. They also sometimes give me big squeezes to help me calm down.

Since I have a lot of energy, I like to go outside a lot. When my parents take me outside, I run around and I go on my scooter and swing. This helps me because I like fast rides, and it relaxes me a little bit. 

NO MATTER HOW ADHD MAKES YOU FEEL, KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE

For other kids that have ADHD, you are not the only one. There are many other children who have it and have to deal with it like I do. I understand what goes on and how it makes you feel, but it’s just something you have. It’s not who you are. 

So read this post and tell your kids to read this. I want them to know that they are not the only ones who have ADHD. I have ADHD and I understand. They are not alone. This is what it feels like to have ADHD. I hope this will help parents understand what their children have to go through every day.

Thank you for reading my post!  My mom writes to try to help people. Please share my post so that I can help many people.  If you or your kids have any comments or questions then leave a comment or send an email. Don’t forget to subscribe to my mommy’s blog!

lessons i have learned from my daughter

As a parent, it is my responsibility to teach my daughter. However, I have a confession. My daughter has taught me more than I could ever teach her. Even as I homeschool her, the lessons I learn from her far surpass the ones I instill in her. I never expected to learn so much about myself from my child, but I have. There are too many to list, but here are some of the lessons I have learned from my daughter:

(1) Laughter is the best medicine

Being a grown up is filled with responsibility. With all of life’s obligations, it is easy to forget about the magic of laughing. My daughter taught me that there is no more beautiful sound than the sound of your child’s laughter. The lesson I learned from my daughter is the importance of taking the time to laugh daily. In truth, I have never laughed more than when I am around Brielle, and it has done wonders for my well-being.

(2) It is okay to make mistakes

I grew up feeling that making mistakes was a sign of failure. Once I became a parent, all dreams of perfection went out the window. I make mistakes as a parent all the time. My daughter has taught me that it is okay to make mistakes. When she makes mistakes, she doesn’t judge herself. She has never felt that her mistakes make her any less lovable or less worthy. I learned the important lesson that mistakes are part of life, and that all we can do is learn and grow from them.

Learning that it was okay to make mistakes as a mom was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I realize that being a perfect mom is impossible, and that is okay. My daughter shows me daily that she doesn’t want or need a perfect mom. She wants a mom that loves her, supports her, and will be there for her.

(3) I learned the true meaning of unconditional love

My daughter taught me that the love between a parent and a child is unconditional. There is nothing Brielle could ever say or do that would change the love I have for her, and she accepts and loves me just as I am. Of all the lessons I have learned from my daughter, I think this one is the most important.

unconditional love

I struggle with anxiety, and there are many times when I wish I said or did things differently. I lose my temper, and I don’t always model the things I expect of her. She has seen me at my best and at my worst, but she still tells me I am the best mommy in the world. She loves with all of her heart and without any expectations in return. Having that kind of love in my life is the greatest gift I have ever received.

(4) You can’t prepare for everything

This is a lesson that my daughter teaches me time and time again. As someone who feels anxious, I try to prepare myself as much as possible for upcoming events. However, my daughter taught me that nothing I imagined could prepare me for being a mother. I can read every book (which I have) and still something will come up that is unexpected. Children are unpredictable and you cannot prepare for what they will throw your way. My daughter has taught me that life cannot be planned, and sometimes all you can do is go with the flow.

(5) Enjoying the present time

I was always on the go, juggling responsibilities and trying to be everything to everyone. That went out the window when I had my daughter. Children live in the moment. They embrace the here and now, and they give their full attention to the things they love. My daughter taught me the importance of slowing down and taking time to just be. When I play with her, all of my concerns about my to-do list go out the window. Playing with her, snuggling, and making forts with her are some of my happiest times because I am embracing the moment.

(6) You can learn to love yourself by loving someone else first

Although I feel it is great if you love yourself before you enter a relationship, my daughter taught me that that isn’t necessary. I was very much lacking in the self-love department when I became a mom. However, becoming a mom made me want to be better for my daughter and for myself. I wanted to be a good role model for my daughter, and her love helped me to learn to love myself.

(7) The best moments and things in life are the simple ones

Forget about fancy trips or materialistic things. My daughter finds happiness in the little things. She will squeal with excitement about a candy bar, a beautiful bird, and flowers. The lesson I learned from my daughter is that the small things are what matter. Brielle’s homemade cards and her hugging me with all of her might are priceless. I try to enjoy the simple moments because those are the ones I will look back and remember most. The little moments with my daughter like lying in the grass and telling each other jokes are the ones that ultimately add up to be the biggest.

(8) Accept yourself as you are

accept yourself for who you are

My daughter is who she is without apology. She has ADHD and struggles with impulse control and focusing academically. Brielle has never complained about why she has these struggles. She has never felt badly about herself for having ADHD.

I vividly remember her telling me, “I have ADHD. So what? I’m still me.” MIND BLOWN. I spent most of my life feeling badly about myself because of my anxiety that can be debilitating. I allowed labels to define me and make me feel shame and unworthy. I learned from my daughter that labels mean nothing. They do not define you. Who you are as a person is what matters. My daughter is a wonderful example of accepting yourself.

(9) In a world where you can be anyone, be yourself

Brielle is herself unapologetically. She will wear clothes that clash, are too small, or are loud. She will wear a dress when we are at home because she feels like it. She will dance awkwardly, sing terribly, and laugh loudly at her own jokes. She is shy at time when she initially meets people, but once she feels comfortable, she holds nothing back. My daughter doesn’t feel embarrassed or feel the need to act differently to fit in with others. She is not self-conscious and doesn’t worry about how she looks or what others think. Her authenticity is a daily life lesson to me to be true to myself.  

(10) It is okay to not always be okay

I discuss this a lot, and I credit my daughter for teaching me this lesson. Brielle will let me know if she is upset, sad, mad, frustrated, etc. As a toddler, her temper tantrums were her way of expressing her big feelings. She helped me realize that feelings aren’t something to run away from, rather, they deserve our attention. I learned to inquire about her emotions and teach her the importance of learning healthy coping mechanisms. Through this process, I learned to give myself more grace about my emotions.

(11) Being brave is having fear and doing it anyway

My daughter has fears. She hates thunder and used to be afraid of the dark. She doesn’t feel shame or guilt for having fears. She has taught me that feeling afraid is okay. However, I have seen her take a deep breath and do things that scare her. I learned that being brave isn’t being fearless. It is facing your fears despite having them. My daughter has taught me the true meaning of bravery, and it has helped me to accept my fears while trying to face them.

lessons i learned from my daughter

(12) The power of forgiveness and not holding grudges

My daughter will get angry at a person. Really angry. However, she never holds onto that anger. She will address her feelings and speak her mind, but then it is over. She won’t bring up things that happened in the past because she is too busy focusing on the present. She teaches me to leave what happened in the past in the past. Assuming you are not in a toxic relationship and you set healthy boundaries, forgiveness is a powerful thing. Holding onto anger only hurts ourselves.

(13) There is always happiness, if you are willing to look for it

It is easy to get caught up in your own problems and forget that there is so much beauty. Our perspective shapes the way we view the world, and my daughter sees the world with a lens of happiness and excitement. Toys on the floor, paint on the table, and a dirty bike are indications of different things that brought my daughter joy. She finds happiness in everything she does– petting our cat, eating her favorite foods, and writing to her pen pal. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done or all the struggles we face. Brielle has taught me that even in our darkest moments of life there is still light.

(14) Motherhood is messy, hectic, unpredictable, chaotic, and absolutely beautiful, all rolled into one

I have learned that there is never a dull moment once you become a parent. It will challenge you in ways you didn’t know were possible, but it will also change you in the best ways possible. My daughter has caused me sleepless nights while also causing me all-consuming joy.

 

 

The truth is, I have grown and healed immensely because of Brielle. I am a better version of myself because of her. She inspires and motivates me daily. Although I teach my daughter, I am so grateful to have my daughter as my teacher as well. I will always carry the lessons I learned from my daughter near and dear to my heart.

 

lose identity in motherhood

I was asked by @mindfulsauce to write about my identity as a woman separate from that of a mom.  Many moms lose their identity in motherhood. I am no exception; however, my story is a little different.

I STRUGGLED WITH HAVING NO SENSE OF SELF-IDENTITY

Motherhood is something that changes you. Many of us simultaneously embrace our new role as mothers while grieving our old way of life. Staying out late, hanging out with friends, and having free time are things of the past. Our new norm is taking care of children, having little free time, and getting limited amounts of sleep. 

I lost my identity when I became a mom, but that isn’t the full story. Yes, I became enraptured in motherhood, and my life revolved around being a parent.

However, prior to motherhood my identity was also not linked to who I was as a person.

Growing up in a dysfunctional home, my identity throughout my life was linked to others. My childhood identity was enmeshed with my mom. I didn’t know who I was because my well-being and sense of wholeness stemmed from her approval. Granted, I had hobbies, and I always had a deep sense of right and wrong.  However, it didn’t change my need for my mother’s acceptance.  I still couldn’t untie that knot that bound me to her. My identity was being my mother’s daughter and wanting to feel needed and loved by her.

I STRUGGLED WITH HAVING NO SENSE OF SELF IDENTITY

As I mentioned in my article about life through my eyes, my identity was always contingent on others. I needed a friend, a boyfriend, etc. to make me feel better about myself and feel safe. I saw myself based on those roles, but I was never was able to peel back the layers and see who I was separate from others. Instead, I saw who I was based on my relationships. Granted, we all have relationships, and we are meant to have connections with others. However, those connections are supposed to enrich our lives, not solely define it. I saw myself as a daughter, sister, and a friend. I never stopped to think of who I was as a person.

When I got married, my new identity was a wife. I took on that role wholeheartedly, as I did all my other identities. I cooked, I cleaned, I took care of my husband, and I felt it was my job to give entirely of myself.

LOSING AND REPLACING MY IDENTITY IN MOTHERHOOD

When I had my daughter, my identity shifted. I completely defined myself as being a mom. However, this time was unlike the others. Society expects moms to envelop their identity in motherhood. Therefore, as I lost my identity in motherhood (or in my case, replaced my identity), it was something that was considered “normal”. Whereas walking around solely defining myself as a daughter or a friend may have raised eyebrows, nobody blinked twice when I spoke about my role as a mom. I blended right in with the other moms who only spoke about diaper bags, rash cream, and sleep training. I no longer had free time or could concern myself with my hobbies, but neither were any of these moms.  Not only was I being given permission to lose my identity in motherhood, it seemed like it would somehow be wrong if I didn’t.

The demands placed on mothers sets us up for failure. We are expected to do it all. Sweep floors, clean up messes, wipe runny noses, change diapers, schedule playdates for our children, pay the bills, prepare meals, wipe away tears, take our kids to school, help with homework, and take them to extracurricular activities. Mothers are supposed to be their children’s cheerleader, supporter, nurse, nutritionist, advocate, playmate, confidante, teacher, counselor, driver, event planner, cook, housekeeper, and go-to person. Whether you work or stay at home, the to-do list is never ending.

losing identity in motherhood

We are pulled in so many directions that it is impossible not to fall down the rabbit hole of losing oneself.

There is no time for ourselves when we are programmed to believe it is our job to take care of everyone else.

As a result, for a long time it never even occurred to me that it was a problem to not have an identity separate from being a mom. As a stay-at-home-mom, it was my responsibility and job from the moment my daughter was born to take care of her, nurture her, support her, and guide her. The twist was that my daughter has special needs that require additional support. From the age of four I was also taking her to Occupational Therapy, getting her tested, supplementing what she wasn’t getting at school at home, and fighting to get her an IEP. My daughter struggles with playing independently and lacks impulse control, so I was her permanent playmate and bodyguard as well. If I turned my back, she would do reckless things and get very badly hurt.

Her need for constant supervision only reinforced the belief I had that I was supposed to lose my identity in motherhood.

I know my husband had mixed emotions about me losing my identity in motherhood. On the one hand, he was happy to let me run the show when it came to taking care of our daughter. I did it all. From feeding her to playing with her, from teaching her to bathing her, and from reading to her to putting her to sleep, I was a one-woman show.

However, now that my identity was tied to being a mom, that left little or no room for my identity as a wife.  I was too tired after taking care of my high-needs daughter to show him much affection. Before my daughter was born, I was consumed with taking care of him because my main priority and identity was to be a wife.

Now, I couldn’t give to him as much as before because I had my daughter who needed me.

When my daughter started school, I was inconsolable. I cried when she started part-time three days a week. When she started part-time five days a week I cried for a month. When she started full-time five days a week I cried for months. I did not know who I was without taking care of my daughter all the time. Although I did long for time for myself, I wanted it in spurts. I didn’t want her away for hours every single day. As a result, I felt lost. I was still her mom, but I wasn’t needed as much. The truth is, I didn’t know who I was without that constant need. Just as my identity was once wrapped up in my mom, my identity was now wrapped up in my daughter.

HOW I RE-DISCOVERED AND ESTABLISHED MY IDENTITY

I am able to find myself

I think having the courage to go no contact with my mom helped me open my eyes to my need to find myself, separate from anyone else. I love my husband and daughter immensely, but I am my own person separate from them. As a child, I was conditioned to feel that my job was to take care of others. As a result, I thought it was selfish to focus on myself. I am finally able to see how wrong that way of thinking was, and I understand the importance of discovering myself.

I started homeschooling my daughter two years ago. It would have been immensely easy to fall back into old habits. I could allow being a mom to be all I am and all I need to be. However, that would be a disservice to myself, and just as important, to my daughter. I want her to feel encouraged to spread her wings and fly, however it may break my heart. She can only become a self-sufficient grownup if she is encouraged to be her own person. Otherwise, I would only be continuing the codependent cycle of her defining herself based on being my daughter.

One of the reasons I started my blog is to do something that comes from me. It is about me writing from my heart. I write about my husband and daughter often because they are huge parts of my life, but I write about my experiences. Accepting I need them while understanding I am so much more than just a wife and a mom has been a huge life lesson.

PRIORITIZE TIME each DAY FOR YOURSELF

I also learned that whereas I must keep an eye on my daughter for her own safety, that does not mean I cannot incorporate time for myself. I can have her near me while I read a book. In fact, we sometimes sit next to each other and each read our own books.

Just as the cycle of abuse stopped with me, I now know the cycle of codependency must stop with me. I want my daughter to know who she is as a person, and I want her to always prioritize maintaining that identity separate from others. She grew accustomed to my sole focus being on her, and she will complain when my focus is elsewhere. Therefore, I often remind her of the importance of taking care of myself. I explain to her that being a mother does not mean that I am not my own person. I also remind her that I always love her, but it is my job to take care of her AND also take care of myself. She knows that it is a priority for her to always take care of herself too.

FIND OR REDISCOVER HOBBIES THAT ARE JUST FOR YOU

My daughter likes constant attention, and I am encouraging her to be her own friend. She is learning to find comfort and enjoyment in independent play. I will set her toys up in a safe room and let her play in it while I write, exercise, or spend time with my husband. She sees me finding joy in my hobbies and things that are just for me. This encourages her to do the same.

INCORPORATE A SELF-CARE ROUTINE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE

I have instituted a self-care routine. There have been times I’ve neglected my well-being, but each time I start my routine again. Change isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. I hope I am showing my daughter that with determination and a desire to do better, growth is always possible.

 

 

Who am I? That is something I am still discovering.  With more life experience I think that answer will grow and change.  I think like everything else in life, balance is essential. I feel that labeling yourself as a wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister is natural and part of the human experience. However, I learned that the key is to embrace those identities while not losing who you are distinct from those connections.

The beauty of life and of experiences is that I get to unravel more about myself and my identity every single day. I can embrace my identity as a mom with all of my heart and still discover who I am in the process. I am proud to put “mom” on the list of who I am, and I will add to that list as I grow along the way.