And Then Things Change

We met on a beach. In Italy.

I had gotten kicked out of Austria for not having a work visa. I was on a spontaneous vacation.

He and his friends had just been promoted. They were on a spontaneous vacation.

I waded into the Adriatic Sea and introduced myself to the “hot army guys” playing football in the water and from that moment on, he and I were inseparable.

June 1, 1996 Jesolo, Italy

June 1, 1996
Jesolo, Italy

At least for those three days. And then we didn’t see each other for nine years.

I had a career. I got married. Had a son. Got divorced.

And then I Googled him and found him, by this time stationed back in the US. We emailed back and forth, updated each other, discussed a possible visit.

And then, without asking, I booked the tickets to go see him and sent him the flight confirmation.

A year later he moved up here and we were married.

And then we had a daughter.

We’ve been married for nine years this month.

But things change.

This month he moves out.

I will not place the blame on any one thing or any one person, although my inclination is to say it’s all my fault. That’s because I’m the doer.

I introduced myself. I Googled. I called. I flew. When indecision strikes, I think DOING SOMETHING is better than waiting. And that’s not always the case.

Out of respect for my very private husband, I will not blog our divorce.

But for me … I just need to put it out there. At least it feels like I’m doing something.

H

***

P.S. I’m ok. Fine, even. I’ve done this before and know how to put the kids first.

P.S.S. Nor am I going to become an anti-man, anti-marriage, angry person …

P.S.S.S. I really have no idea what I’m doing. Obviously.

Fighting For Yourself

I was in the garden yesterday afternoon with my six-year old daughter and she stood from the middle of a big pile of soil and said “I need to go get gardening gloves, mommy.”

“No you don’t,” I admonished, “You need tougher hands.”

As she considered her dirty, sore hands, I considered what I’d just said to her.

IMG_2281

Why exactly had I reacted that way? It wasn’t in anger and I hadn’t made fun of her, I just stated something I thought was obvious. Tough, strong hands are good for a girl to have.

“Go ahead, find your gloves, sweetie,” I relented.

Up until that moment, I don’t think I’d really considered how differently I parent a boychild and a girlchild. Even before I had my daughter I stated I was terrified to bring a girl into this world. “You can teach a boy to respect girls … but it’s damn hard to teach a girl to respect herself!”

In a world where we still have not solved the problem of stupid gender stereotypes in advertising and the media … I still find the prospect of raising my daughter to be terrifying. I know that I cannot protect her from everything, I can’t shield her or prevent her from making poor choices once in awhile, so it seems my alternative has been to coach my daughter into Being Tough.

Because if you are tough – no one can hurt you. No one has to be your shield because you wear your own armor.

It’s why I say things like “Hey beautiful girl, look how strong you are!” or how my heart jumps with happiness when she says “let’s go exercise our legs mommy!” and how she knows the difference between a burpee and a push-up and a thruster.

Ah this beautiful, strong-willed, powerful little child of mine. I spend half the time thinking “Who is this child?” or “How have I created this?” and the other half saying “Hell yes, that is my daughter!”

I spent my teenage years feeling like I did not fit in anywhere. Not in my family, where I was the angry, explosive child. Not in school where I was so terrified of rejection that I didn’t try out for a team – I had already been told I was too fat or not good enough, why risk the rejection? (I made the swim team in high school but was so uncomfortable in my own body by then that I quit.)

I put on my armor where it was safe. I hid in the woods of school where I felt most vulnerable.

And now, without saying it, I am teaching her one lesson:

You have to know how to be tough and fight for yourself because there may be times you are the only one who will.

I was five or six years old when my parents left my brother and I to be babysat by a cousin. Oh I adored him. I remember being so excited because he was older and cool and let us do all sorts of crazy things … at one point he cranked Billy Idol’s White Wedding and we all raced around the house and jumped on the beds. Oh the thrill of hanging out with a cool kid.

And then it was time to go to bed – and he climbed in with me and tried to get me to touch him.

I said no and tried to sleep on the floor.

He laid behind me and tried to touch me, I resisted by curling into the tightest ball that I could but he was older and stronger and forced my arms behind me and my hand between his, now naked, legs. I kicked and screamed and fought like he was killing me. He pinned me. I fought. He covered my mouth. I bit.

At some point he gave up and I went to bed – he left my room and I can still see him silhouetted in the hallway light, looking nervous and afraid.

I had won.

But I’d also lost parts of myself.

The part that trusted others easily. The part that was able to give myself wholeheartedly with unreserved adoration and say “Hey! I like you! Be My Friend!”

It’s three decades since that day.

I still cannot stand White Wedding.

I still feel panic rise up if I’m overpowered or pinned.

I still have difficulties being a good friend because I’m afraid what my vulnerabilities will let them do.

But. However. Nevertheless. 

I have forgiven him and I am no longer angry. I’m simultaneously saddened by the event and …  aware of the positive aspects I chose to gleen from a very negative experience. It took a lot of time to mine the positive out of the negative, but I’ve chipped away at it and now I can see how it’s made me the parent I am today.

I can teach my daughter to be strong, tough, resilient … and I can encourage her to trust and be vulnerable. She doesn’t have to learn my lesson to benefit from the knowledge. I may slip up now and then … the older neighbour boy tried to kiss her and I had a momentary freak out … during which I taught her how to loudly say “NO!” … and to place an uppercut on the soft underside of his jaw. Sorry, Neighbour Boy, I am sure NO would suffice …

But I want her to know she’s more than capable of looking out for herself.

That it’s ok to be in the woods when you’re your own warrior.

That she can still trust others – because she trusts in herself first.

That vulnerability is actually incredibly courageous.

That she can have tough hands and a soft heart.

###

School Daze

Yesterday I spent the day with a fellow EMT at a local high school. We had four classes to talk to about CPR, what it looks like, how to do it and how to recognize an emergency. I think it’s an important thing to talk about because these kids totally have the ability to sustain a life until higher care can arrive … they just need to know that others know they can do it!

The day was pretty tiring and I did leave with a renewed respect for teachers.

But I really, really had a renewed respect for my own kids! I think about my son and all the times someone has told me he has had a “rough afternoon”. No kidding. Our morning presentations were pretty awesome, but by the afternoon I was ready to shove a few cell phones down the throats of a few select teenagers. The saving grace was that some kids were really tuned in. We had videos and cool stories and, well, my buddy and I are pretty awesome.

But how in the heck does my kid pay attention in the afternoons? I was tired! Cranky! Yawning! My mind struggled to focus and my temper was short.

No wonder he has rough afternoons… I didn’t want to be in school either.

It would be wonderful if school really adjust to the individual learner.

It would be wonderful if I didn’t know what teachers REALLY say about kids in the staff room.

It would be wonderful if I could say angina in a room of teenagers without the accompanying chorus of giggles!

All I could think was how tough it is to buckle down and learn. There are so many competing subjects these kids need to worry about. Math, science, health, gym, social, humanities… and here I sit, making sideways googly eyes at my A&P books, knowing I need to finish up this post and study.

Yet I’d rather nap. I’d rather go for a run. I’d rather go to the grocery store.

Competing priorities again.

How can my kid do it if I struggle myself?

Fear-Based Parenting

There was a time in my life when parenting was EASY. There was nothing I couldn’t do. That time was 1977-2001… also known as BEFORE I ACTUALLY HAD CHILDREN.

I could have told you everything parents did wrong and what the right choice would be. I could have fully explained proper discipline, correct bedtime routines and what constitutes a healthy meal.

Then of course I had kids.

This week there is one thing running through my head.

“This is haaaaard.”

But even now, I look at other parents and think that perhaps they have it easier. Thankfully most of my closest friends are parents and they are there to hold my proverbial hair back while I purge all the complaints and whines of the day.

You can tell me parenting isn’t rocket science, but I could probably find you a rocket scientist that’s as confused about it as I am. He or she is probably wondering how they can figure out the vector something something of a rocket leaving orbit something something… but can’t get their kid potty trained.

I sit down defeated some days and wonder how I can learn to read an ECG but can’t figure out the hockey championship schedule for minor hockey.

There are some things that parents just can’t do. For example,  I can hold my son accountable for his chores and homework and how he treats other people. But I can’t *make* him behave at school. It doesn’t matter what treat I dangle in front of him, he still makes some poor choices. And in some cases, it makes things worse because he thinks “not only have I lost my footing here at school, but now life at home is going to be horrible” because of whatever privilege he imagines he’s just lost.

And I sit down, head in hands and try to remember: How does the wise man learn to make good choices? By making bad choices.

And it doesn’t just work for the kids, that’s kind of how parenting works, too.

How do I know that yelling at my kids doesn’t work? I’ve yelled at them, and it didn’t work.

I think… I think that perhaps you have to learn to NOT take things personally with kids. Which is hard, because what is more personal than your children??

Case in point: yesterday I had a fever, was exhausted after three days of 12 hour night shifts, and I took my son to his hockey game. I cheered, I encouraged, I tried to keep his spirits up after a loss. It seemed to be going well.

But our stumbling block was my lack of cash and his deep, essential need to have some ice cream from a specific ice cream machine in the rink. And I said no.

The pouting began.

And the hardest thing in the world at that moment was to control my temper.

What I wanted to say was “I’m your sick, tired, overworked mom and I’m trying my best and have gotten you to hockey, I make sure you get to every hockey game and practice and organize everything I can do to get you to where you need to go…. and yet I’m currently seen as a total failure by you because I can’t make ice cream come out of this machine with $3.75.”

What I did was tell him to get in the van and stop pouting. And then I cried. Which probably freaked him out a little bit more than the previous paragraph would have. But it was an honest emotion.

The paragraph I wanted to say was not an honest emotion. It was a list of complaints detailing why he was wrong and why I was right. How well does that every work when you are in conflict with someone?

Oh, I’m upset with you and so to prove how this is your fault and not mine, I’m going to list my awesomeness and then list your failures. Not a good tactic at any time.

And yet I think parents do this – I know I have in the past.

We react in anger. And anger is just a mask for a different emotion, usually fear.

In this case, I was sad that I couldn’t do everything for him and fearful that he would see me as a failure because I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) buy him the ice cream. The little voice in the back of my head was saying “I bet his dad would buy it for him”. And the fear that being the parent in charge of all the discipline and all the instruction and all the day-to-day worries will result in him overlooking the good things I do… that fear was overwhelming.

I’m done with fear-based parenting. A parent who parents out of fear is an angry parent.

I don’t want to be that parent.

But Lord, it’s haaaaard.

It’s not that I WOULD… but I COULD.

I once read a blog post that started with the statement,”I am an extreme mom”, and it took me a few paragraphs in before I realized she meant “I’m a better mom than you”. The gist of her point was that because she spent almost every waking minute with her baby and enjoyed each moment, she was a better mom, a more extreme mom… like, Ultra Mom. Or Mega Mom. She’s the Venti Mom to my Grande Mom.

I think my response was something along the lines of “um… you have a baby. Sooooo come back when your kid actually, you know, acts like a kid”.

Because at some point, your kid is going to misbehave and actually make you kind of angry.

How extreme is it to be screaming into a pillow and locking yourself in the bathroom for a little r&r?

I think maybe your extreme and mine? They aren’t really the same.

Many people have seen the “creative” way one dad punished his daughter for her disrespectful Facebook post. Here’s the Cole’s Note’s version: he said if she ever repeated a previous egregious Facebook posting error of criticizing her parents … he would put a bullet through her computer. She did. So he did.

His logic was that he was following through with what he said he would do.

Some say he’s being a bully, some say he’s hilarious. Some wish they had the cojones, some think the girl should be taken away from the crazy gun-totin’ Republican. (Cause he has to be a Republican to own a gun, right? And have a drawl. And be an anal disciplinarian. Right? I mean why couldn’t some really cool Canadian do this, eh?)

I think he’s just another example of extreme parenting. And at some point in our parenting career we all have moments of extreme parenting.

“If you ever…”

“I will never…”

“.. grounded until college!”

“… over my dead body!”

“… it will be taken away forever!”

I am pretty sure more than one of these has left my lips over my 10+ year parenting marathon. In fact just this morning I wa threatening to withhold something from my son that I really, really didn’t want to take away from him. As soon as the words were spoken I cringed. I did NOT want to follow through. And that’s the thing with using threats to elicit compliance from your kids. Either they will work or you will have to follow through. And they won’t always work.

In fact, if you were ever a kid like me growing up, you would have pushed past any limit your parents set down just to prove that you knew exactly how to play brinksmanship and you were going to WIN. Yes, it was about WINNING.

I was like the Charlie Sheen of teenagers. Without the drugs.

Or the hookers.

Or, really, the illegal behaviour.

But I had extra helpings of attitude and stubbornness.

Anyway, I am certain my children are my mother’s payback. And the proper discipline of said children is something that I may never, ever WIN at. Because it’s damn hard and frustrating and there are days when I could go off the deep end and shoot a computer. Or hockey bag. Or beloved stuffie.

But we do have a few rules regarding discipline in our house:

1. No punishment is valid if handed out in anger.

2. Parents should apologize when wrong.

It would be wonderful if these two rules prevented poor parenting behaviour, but they don’t. Just like rules for behaviour don’t prevent misbehaviour. They just help get back on track when things have gone off the rails. Before these two rules were in place, I felt like such a parenting failure when I’d have to half-heartedly enforce some punishment I felt bad for doling out in the first place. Because if I’d been calm and had my wits about me, I would have done something a little smarter and more effective.

The epilogue of the gun-toting father is kind of a funny one.

Truthfully though the social attention has helped her and I both deal with it. We had our discussion about it after she returned home from school. We set the ground rules for her punishment, and then I let her read some of the comments on Facebook with me at my computer. At first it was upsetting. Then as we read it became less so, eventually funny to both of us.

At the end, she was amazed that other people had such amazingly strong reactions. Some said she’d grow up to be a stripper. Others that she’d get pregnant and become drug addicted because of the emotional damage. She actually asked me to go on Facebook and ask if there was anything else the victim of a laptop-homicide could do besides stripping because all the posts seem to mention that particular job and she wasn’t so keen on that one.

The fact that they were able to sit down and have a conversation and deal with the aftermath of misbehaviour-punishment-reaction is very hopeful. It’s hard to judge a parent-child relationship from a brief moment in time when you see it in real life, nevermind out there on the interwebs.

But when you think about it, the dad went out into a field and shot (oh, bad pun) a video to show her (and the world, apparently) of the punishment. Can you imagine the reaction if he’d drug his daughter out there with him… and the laptop… and the gun… and let this all play out in real time? With emotions high and possible anger waiting to erupt?

That would have been a recipe for disaster. And the more I think about this dad’s response, the more I see it as calm and calculating.

I’m still not employing the use of any type of firearm in my parenting arsenal.

And I’m trained on the C-7, so let’s be clear that I could handle one.

And it would have been a whole lot more impressive than an ittybitty handgun.

gun-totin' mama

gun-totin' mamawww.

 

If That Were My Child, I’d…

I’ve written here several times about my struggle with being judgmental. There are times when I forget that a great deal of grace has been given to me and it’s my responsibility to give grace to others.

No where is this more applicable than in the parenting arena.

Before I had kids I think my favourite phrase was “when I have kids…” because I was pretty damn sure I wasn’t going to repeat my parent’s mistakes. Or the mistakes I saw in the world around me.

Oh no, not me. In fact, what I was going to do, it turned out, was make whole new ones.

And the first was assuming I knew better than another parent.

I knew how long someone should breastfeed, until I had to do it myself. I knew whether parents should work or stay home, until the choice was mine to make. I knew that a child’s bad behaviour was a sure sign of poor parenting, until I had to parent my way through said behaviour.

Now, however, I notice a new trend. Parents who feel that it’s somehow their right or duty to judge good or bad parenting simply by looking at a situation from the outside. They aren’t even backseat parents because that would imply they are along for the ride… no, they are the drive by parenting experts who see a situation from a few yards away and think “oh dear, bad parents”.

This seems to be particularly prevalent with NEW parents. As though the birth certificate issued to your child came with a rider that said “authorizes parent to judge other parents”.

We can all agree that there are certain things in the bad parent category: beating your children, subjecting them to physical or sexual abuse, abandoning them. But I would caution anyone from even sitting in judgment on those situations. That job is for the police and the courts to do, that’s their job… not yours.

Most often I find young, immature, new parents to be the culprits in drive by parenting expertise. They think parenting a willful toddler means they know what it’s like to parent a willful ten-year old. They don’t. They don’t even know what it’s like to parent someone else’s willful toddler.

There came a point in my parenting career, shortly after my second child was born that I realized that whether my child was “easy” or “difficult” had a lot more to do with the personality, gifts, and challenges he or she was given than whether or not I was a good parent. And this caused me to look at other parents with the knowledge that I had no earthly idea what it was like to parent their kids.

If I see a child misbehaving in public, my first thought is, yes, irritation. But shortly after that my conscience kicks in and I remember that I am not their judge. Their behaviour has a reason and it’s isn’t always one I am going to know about.

For example, a child is throwing a fit in the store about a toy he can’t have. I could just label it bad parenting because of the language the kid is using or the disrespect he’s showing. “If that were my kid, I’d…”

What if that kid lost his sister two months ago to cancer and is still processing the loss? What if the parent has been so overcome with grief that she’s been giving in more than she should and she’s just now trying to bring back a sense of normal to their family’s life.

A 13-year old boy is running roughshod through a public venue, talking rude, being disrespectful. The parents are no where to be seen. Maybe it’s a mall and they are shopping and he’s been left to his own defenses. Oh, bad parenting. “If that were my kid, I’d…”

What if that child faces jeers and laughter every day at school? He’s bullied mercilessly and tormented because of his second-class clothes and worn out sneakers. He’s on the autism spectrum, just enough to be socially awkward and maybe unsure of how to act appropriately. He’s gotten a chance to go shopping and his parents, knowing he’s a good kid, have given him some freedom to spend his $20 birthday money. He’s trying to act cool… afterall, all the cool kids at school act this way. His dad says these things, drops the f-bomb all the time. It’s ok, right?

A mother spanks her child in the dairy aisle. Easy one, huh? Obviously a bad parent. Who hits their kid? Or who hits their kid in public. Or, even if you think spanking is ok, obviously the kid’s behaviour issues aren’t dealt with properly or she wouldn’t have to hit him in public anyway.

This mom is working two jobs, close to losing her home. She rarely spanks her kids but today she just snapped and swatted him. She was awake most of the night, worried about the rent coming due. Worried she has no one to turn to since her ex left and her family lives so far away. She will go home tonight and cry. Apologize and phone a crisis line to learn how to better deal with her stress.

How are you to know any of this?

You aren’t. You won’t.

Why would someone choose to judge the situation harshly when erring on the side of grace costs you nothing?

I will tell you.

Oh, that's what I look like as a parent.

Some people find that they can define themselves as being “ok” and in a good place as a parent simply by defining what is wrong or bad parenting. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle of parenting rules where the piece missing is your own self as a parent.

 

This way you can put all the pieces in place and know what your shape is as a parent by the exact lines and contours of those around you.

Please. Don’t.

Don’t spend time judging other parents. If you think there is a real concern, a real bad parenting issue involving abuse then by all means, take a step. Do something, don’t ignore it. That takes courage. Do it.

But if you just judge and walk away, then you’ve done nothing except construct your own safe haven of useless, judgmental thoughts that will eventually erode your confidence as a parent.

Because I guarantee you that when your kids get older you will face challenges you could not even imagine as you look at your little sweet baby in your arms, or hear the laughter of your adorable toddler.

And your judgments will return to you tenfold.

…. aaahhhh all better now…

This weekend found me feeling… discombobulated. My week had very high highs and very low lows and by the time Friday came around I was ready to drown myself in a bottle of wine and top it off with several martinis.  I spent several hours on the phone with a good friend who helped me to see clearly… good friends are awesome.

But still, Saturday was rough. I wasn’t feeling well and it was cold and I was tired and wah wah wah…

Sunday fixed it all. It wasn’t just any one thing that fixed my attitude it was a combination – I decided to suck it up and do something (anything) productive. So I attacked our basement area – the place we’ve reserved for the kids but it’s always in a state of disarray so they don’t always like to hang out there. I moved lights, threw out stacks of paper, vacuumed, dusted, moved furniture up and down stairs and now I feel better.

My kids want to hang out in the room… heck, I want to hang out in the room. My upstairs has been reclaimed for the parentals (just in time for football!) and I feel like I’ve gotten stuff done.

I don’t know about you, but for me to feel better as a person, mom, wife, woman I need to check things off of lists. I need to Get Things Done. I need to improve something.

Because now I can sit down with my feet up and laptop warmly ensconced in its rightful place and watch some football with my husband and feel like today I did something good for my family. Small thing, cleaning, but it makes me happy…. when it’s done.

And then? I'll have your babies.

As part of the regular spring ritual, I signed up the boychild for soccer and t-ball. He likes both. This will be year three of soccer (meaning he can actually run with his head up about half the time) and year two of t-ball. We’re not 100% sold on t-ball but we had fun last year.

Every time we sign up there’s the “where would you like to volunteer” section. The crafty little buggers don’t ask IF you want to volunteer, but WHERE. So I usually choose something like communication or assistant-manager, figuring that I can step in somewhere if needed.

But this year I got an email from both t-ball and soccer mucky-mucks with the “hey, you volunteered to coach” line. Um. No I did not. Not even close. I cannot picture me and a toddler trying to coach anything while Major Man is still working nights.

(Which he won’t be doing any more because he got THE JOB!! But I digress…)

So I kind of ignored those emails… and then the t-ball guy contacted me again. He was wondering if I’d could do the division coordinator position. I asked what the duties were.

Let me pause here to say: Never trust anyone who begins an answer with “Oh, it’s just…”

The duties sounded simple enough, communicate stuff with coaches. Cool.

Then the email went out to all coaches and it soundes something like “and if you need this, email Heather. And if you need that, email Heather. And if you need a pink orangutan in a tutu with red nail polish, email Heather. And here’s every phone number and email address she has. Amen.”

Whaaa?

It’s day one of ‘coordinating’ and I have already realized I need to take the t-ball schedule to and from work on a little memory stick so I can reference the games and practices when the coaches email me… sigh.

But the boychild is sure to have fun. I just have to remember that soccer and t-ball are fun, hopefully my head doesn’t spin around when we’re running ten minutes behind and the baby is tired and hungry and it’s a little cold and it’s been a long day and I just want to sleep…

When I'm feeling judgy

Have you ever had a moment when you are just feeling judgy? You know, when you just want to smack someone or your eyes are rolling so far back in your head that if the wind changes they’ll stay that way?

Today was one of those days.

We went to the zoo. (Note, brother carrying his sister’s coat and sister saying “get me out of this flippin’ contraption, there are animals to squeal at!!)

We did have fun, we had a lot of fun. The kids wore themselves out and they both love the zoo now. M was never a zoo kid, but in the last year he’s started to love it. E is a total zoo kid because there are Animals! With fur! And they are cute! Her favourite is the warthog, I swear. She goes nuts when she sees him.

It would have been perfect if it weren’t for ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE. I don’t mind the kids running around, it’s just some of those parents. The lady yelling at her son because he wasn’t pushing the stroller right (“you just about ran into that lady!”) who five minutes later nearly ran over E with her crazy stroller-pushing-while-dragging-kid maneuvers.

I did feel bad for the one mother who was trying to jam her stroller up a hill and thought she was ramming it over a bump, until she realized that the reason it wouldn’t go forward was her child’s leg was caught against a fence. Yeah, that sucked for her, I did feel bad.

And the people who STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD or, in the middle of an exhibit without pulling over to the side. What is with that? You are not the only person in the zoo today.

But the zoo was fun for the kids. It was a bit chilly off and on, about 6 degrees celsius. Even I needed a nap when I came home.

But the judgy feeling was still there.

I was watching a show, one of those reality shows where contestants try to lose weight. (It’s called X-Weighted, I tried out for it once, but was rejected because there wasn’t enough conflict in my life!) This woman is stressing about going back to work after her maternity leave (which in Canada is one year).

She’s crying and saying “I don’t know how people do it! I don’t want to leave my baby!” Which translates to me as “all you other women must be heartless”. Which, let’s face it, probably wasn’t what she meant.

But my inner judge said “suck it up princess”.

Which I find really sad! I find it sad that when I’m in uber-PMS, judgy mode because it means that my capacity to love anything and anyone is compromised. And my capacity to receive love is compromised.

So this is what I do:

I clear my mind and pray, asking that the spirit of strife leave me.

I imagine the person I’m judging is sitting in a room with me and it’s just them and me… then I try to imagine the words I’m thinking actually coming out of my mouth. I imagine what their face would look like if they heard those words.

I ask forgiveness in my heart for thinking those things. (There but by the grace of God go I.)

I receive the forgiveness (crucial step!!) and I move on.

It can be hard to stop being judgy. I think I mentioned earlier that I was diagnosed with Premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD a few months ago. I take a daily dose of vitamins. Or, rather, I am supposed to. But sometimes I forget. Luckily I have a job that has the side benefit of just enough stress to remind me each day to take my Happy Pills.

But more than a physical reason, being judgmental (well, I call it judgy because it sounds nicer!) can be a habit. And I don’t want it to be MY habit any more. The first step is stopping the words from coming out of my mouth. The second step is stopping them from forming in my brain.

I’m a work in progress.

The Big Question

M.: Can I have one more chocolate?

Me: No, you can’t. It’s bed time. Besides, too much chocolate will make you have bad dreams.

M.: But what about Jesus?

Me: ….

M.: But what about Jesus?

Me: What about him?

M.: Didn’t you say that he can make bad dreams go away if we pray?

Me: Well. Yes. But, um,… well, just no more chocolate before bed.

M.: But, mommmyyyyy…

Me: Did you just call me butt-mommy? (distraction! distraction!)