Category Archives: babies and bugs

about babies or bugs or both

Day 8 – Guilting your way out of love

I figured I would just go ahead and finish out my thoughts on love and move on from there…I don’t promise not to go back to it, but the other posts will probably be a little lighter than these 🙂

One of the things that I have realized with my son is the problem with guilt and regret. I used to believe that regret was an okay, or possibly even an important part of life. So I began to have issues with regretting what I had done that night. I never regretted Jack, but I certainly regret the way he had to come into this world. I hadn’t provided a perfect home-life. I had given him a father-less existence. I had acted upon frustration, immaturity and impatience, not love. I felt like I had very little to offer to him other than guilt and regret.

My guilt was tremendous and drenched in unforgiveness. I couldn’t forgive myself for doing what I knew not to do. I couldn’t forgive his father for choosing to leave. He did attempt to try, sort of, for a little while, but he ultimately chose to leave. In my mind had he chosen to try it would have made things better. It would have made my choices better. It would help make up for the choice we made that night. We could undo the wrong by choosing to do right.

But the problem is we cannot undo wrongs. We cannot change any of the things we have done with our lives. We cannot change the thoughts we had in the past. We cannot change the actions we took in the past. We cannot change the good. We cannot change the bad. The control over the past is existent only in our past. It does not exist today.

This realization left me with quite a problem. I didn’t know how to move forward, because I was holding on to what I had done wrong. I felt guilt and sadness. And even as I was realizing this in my life, I had to let go of that regret. Yes, it was wrong. I chose to put my need to find temporary relief from one overwhelming relationship by frantically diving into another ahead of anything else. Instead of standing strong and putting my son’s future being into consideration, my actions resulted in him being born to a broke, single-parent who didn’t really know how to make things right.

The night he was born I spoke more to the boy who I was trying to get away from, than I did to my child’s biological father. His father never said a word, even though he was informed of what was happening. I was bringing a child into chaos in my personal life. I loved a boy, who in all honesty I believed should and one day would be my son’s father. And even though I did everything I could to try to help my son’s biological father, I came up empty. He shut down. He was terrified. And all I really had to offer was a relationship with his son. But I was still figuring out who I was, and whether or not I was capable of loving my son, and what that even meant. I couldn’t really help my son’s father anyway.

I thought if I was sad then I wasn’t really loving Jack like a mother should, because with unconditional love there is no sadness. There is no fear. There is only trust. There is no worry. There is only love. But I was scared and worried for him all the time. I was sad that he didn’t have the life he deserved. I was sad that I couldn’t offer it to him. And as time has moved on, I do find that I still feel sad sometimes about the things I cannot give to him.

But I did find that I cannot regret what I have done forever. I can know it was the wrong choice. I can learn from it and choose to do things differently. I can choose not to live in fear and not to give in for temporary happiness.

If I want what is real and what is right then I must do things that coincide with that. I must be real in my interactions. I must make the right choices. I have to be the person that I want to be if I am ever going to look back and see what I want to see. So when it came to figuring out how to let go of the guilt and the worry and the sadness, it turned out that my issue was not truly regret, so much as it was forgiveness.

I could not forgive myself for what I had done. I could not forgive myself for the choices I made that night, or many other nights for that matter. I could not let go of who I was in that moment long enough to see who I needed to be right now. The shame that I felt in letting my son down was so intense. The fear had covered me whole, and finding how to love again was incredibly difficult.

I looked over my actions with my son. I wasn’t being a bad mother. I was completely devoted. There must be some love in there, right? I do everything I know to do for him. I care for him the best way I know to. I teach him the things I know how to teach him. I play, I laugh, and I sing and dance with him. I feel joy when I just think about him. Surely there must be love there, right?

It’s funny how easily we are willing to choose to feel guilty, instead of letting go and feeling the good things that life has to offer, especially love. I was told by a lady once in a class that guilt was a useless emotion. Each day I am more and more certain she was correct. Any thoughts?

Day 7 – The only power we actually have

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One of the most important things I’ve come to realize is that the only power we actually have is over ourselves. By this I mean it is impossible to make anyone else do something that they don’t want to do or be something they aren’t willing to be. They have to consent as well. They have to be open and willing as well. And there isn’t anything that I can do to force this. With my nephews and my son it was easy to be open to their love. It was easy to trust that I wanted to love them and wanted them in my life. When it comes to other kinds of relationships, both friendships, but more importantly with intimate relationships it is a lot more difficult for me to be willing to be open. I’m not sure that it hasn’t gotten harder since learning that I can’t make someone love me. It simply has to be something that they choose and something that I have to trust. Although I also find it a little bit easier, as well, because I’m less confused about what needs to happen and what I want in order to make anything happen. And I think that knowledge is extremely beneficial.

But the aspect that has been on my mind lately is how difficult it can be to have to let go. We can’t force others to do well if they aren’t going to choose to. We can’t make our kids do well in school if they don’t want to. We can’t make them socialize with the people we would prefer, or date or marry who we would prefer. We can’t make the people we love have the life we think they should have. And letting go of what we want can be extremely difficult. We can’t live anyone’s life for them. We have to let people make mistakes. And watching that happen with no control over it is hard under any circumstance – parent, child, friend, significant other. So in the end all we can really control is ourselves. And letting go of that need to change the paths that others are on is something that we have to do for ourselves. It doesn’t mean we have to leave them alone, but in some cases that is what’s best. It doesn’t mean we can’t encourage them, or offer assistance. But we have to be willing to allow them to make their own decisions, because no one responds well to excessive pressure. The pot will always boil over in those cases. Excessive worrying is just as traumatic, only we are hurting ourselves. Looking at ourselves, understanding our role, learning how we can best approach the situation in a way that is beneficial for both people is the only way for anything worthwhile to emerge. We have to use the power that we have over ourselves in order to help others who we want to help. We can’t force others to do anything, but we can make the right choices for us.

Day 5 – Unconditional Love

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I’m sort of cheating today. I am in a wedding today, and I was at the rehearsal all last night, so I’m sharing my thoughts on love today, but from something I had previously written. It’s relevant, though I’m not talking about a wedding or a relationship in that sense. I’ve only had bad relationships, so that wouldn’t work too well right here. But I am sharing a story that describes what it was like for me to first encounter what unconditional love really meant. I hope you’ll enjoy it. And I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend, thus far!! Please share any thoughts you have on the topic!

 

I remember when I was a child that I always believed in unconditional love. I believed it existed. I believed it was something we all needed to know. I believed it was powerful. And I believed it was natural. I’m not sure where those ideas came from. I’d mostly call my upbringing one that was somewhat skeptical on the subject. And I remember thinking that there was something different about the way I thought about things compared to the people around me.

Even though I was fearful, I was always also hopeful. Down inside me, I just knew there was something great awaiting my life. I never knew what that could be, although at the time I’m sure I was hoping I’d be a singer. I just knew there was possibility. The older we get the more practical we tend to become. And after having fear wipe away the majority of my notions about me doing anything great with my life, I gave up on the idea that love could exist without problems, mainly jealousy. To that time, I had never known a friendship or any relationship really where there wasn’t some form of disappointment or some form of jealousy involved. 

When I turned 16 all of this changed. Well, maybe not all, but a major turning point did appear. My first nephew was born. When I found out that I was going to be an aunt I was so excited. I couldn’t wait. I was just thrilled. I loved kids. I was always good with them. My patience is at its best with children (at least until they become teenagers!) And to have a baby around after being the youngest child gave me the chance I never had before. I always wanted to have someone I could teach. I never had anything to teach my siblings. They were both older than me, and we were all always right. You couldn’t tell any of us anything. My main goal was simply to be better than them when it came to academics. Maybe that’s why I’m still in school. I should probably talk to someone about that. But, again I digress.

My nephew was born, and my love that I had so wanted to share with someone finally had a place. My nephew was a perfect little baby, and the day he came home from the hospital I got to spend time alone with him. I sang him Winnie-the-Pooh and hoped he didn’t cry, because I had never fixed a bottle before and wasn’t sure I could follow the instructions without burning the bottle on the stove. It was terrifying and wonderful all at once.

But I knew as I sat there with him that night that there was nothing that he could do that could possibly shake my love for him. And I wasn’t jealous. I wasn’t disappointed. I was just filled with love. I wanted great things for him. I wanted to do everything I could to help him be his best. I was excited to know him and to help him with his future. I wanted to take care of him, and I wanted him to be able to function on his own. I wanted everyone to love him. I was terribly upset at the thought that someone might ever be mean to him. I wanted to keep him safe and have him know only love, and even now sometimes I still think it’s unfortunate that life doesn’t work that way. But he was the first person who I was allowed to care for in such a way, and his presence along with my other nephews’ has helped guide me to the path I want and need to be on today.

Day 4 – It takes a village (and probably more) just for you and me

Most of the time I have a tendency to feel like it’s me against the world. I don’t think this is abnormal. Many of us feel like it’s hard to find good help in the process of getting to where we want to go. But there were times when I really feel like I’m stuck inside this bubble or there is a force field surrounding me and I can’t push through it to get to where anyone can hear me. I’m trying to say what I need or searching for someone to talk to, but I can’t seem to find a way to break through. When I started thinking about this more the other night, I started to wonder why it was that I felt so disconnected sometimes.

In life we cannot make it on our own. We are dependent upon someone else for survival. I think a lot of times this sort of conflicts with the idea that we are born alone, we live our own individual lives, and we die alone. We are both extremely connected and extremely disconnected all at once. But if we survive past infancy, it’s because someone else allowed for it. If we survive childhood there had to be someone around to help, even if it wasn’t our parents. We learn to speak and to act from others. We depend on someone for food and water… maybe farmers could survive on their own, but most of us these days couldn’t survive without the actions of someone else. We need one another. We need others to care about our well-being on a very real level simply for our physical survival. So when we consider our social needs, maybe they stem from our survival needs, but they are also existent on a very real level.

We need others to care about us. If no one cares, it’s nearly impossible to survive. If we don’t allow others to care, it’s nearly impossible for us to survive. This two-way street that exists is very important. We have to give in order to get, but we have to be open in order to receive. If we don’t allow others in, if we don’t acknowledge how much our lives are impacted by the lives of those around us (and even those not near to us in any way) then we make this life much harder than it needs to be. And it gets really hard at times, because it is easy to feel like you are the only one who honestly cares about you. But a lot of the time, the issue can be that others don’t know how to help you. You have to say what you need. If people still don’t respond, then we probably need to find new people to surround ourselves with, because life is too hard to get anywhere worth going on our own. I think learning to live in this sort of paradox has been one of the more difficult things to sort out or “overcome.” I’ve always felt different. And as I get older, though I very much like who I am, I still find it hard sometimes to figure out how to know what I need from others and what I need to do on my own. My son very freely seeks out others. I am much more introverted than he appears to be. I admire his willingness to interact with others and ask for help. He’s open to others, and this is a skill it has taken me a long time to acquire. So today my goal is to keep up my meditation, which really has been nice these past few days, to find a good song, and to be attentive to (make a list and reflect upon) all the different people it takes for me to survive each day. Despite the stress of feeling like I have to write, these past few days I have really felt more rejuvenated, and that makes me feel like I’ve made a good decision. What are your goals for today?

Day 3 – Music makes the world go ‘round

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Well, at least this is supposed to be day 3. I’ve been at two different houses today and the internet was out at both. Something happened with the line at the cable company, so I haven’t been able to get online all day. It’s been a nice change of pace. Normally I have checked my mail about 10 times by now. It’s just after 6 pm. I’ve been on all of my social network sites. Caught up on everything that I can be caught up on in the world of the internet. But, today I’m somewhat out of the loop, and it’s nice. I used my computer for something I haven’t in a long time, which is listening to my music. So I figured that today, I would talk about music. Because music keeps me sane!

There was a study published recently that talked about how music makes people happy. And I think most people agree that it’s true for them. I love music. When I was little the only shows I would watch on TV were ones that had people singing in them. So as you can imagine growing up in the 80s I watched a lot of Kids Incorporated and Jem (who truly amazed me). My parents even taped Kids Inc. for me so that I could watch it on the weekends while they slept in. I had a light up microphone that I used to sing oldies to, because my parents made us listen to the music they liked. Fortunately I never minded that, and I appreciate it today. Billy Joel was my first concert. I was somewhere around the age of 2. And that was quickly followed by the Beach Boys. The music I remember most from when I was really young comes from that era… It was the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Motown. People find it funny in conversations when the Temptations come on and my response is always that it brings me back to my childhood, because the songs were popularized 20 years before I was born. But that’s the great thing about great music. It lives on.

When I need to escape, when I need to think, or when I need to just smile there’s a song for it. There are usually multiple songs for it. Music is diversified and designed to make us feel. Even without words, music can move us. I think the universe is inherently musical. It’s how it communicates with us and how we respond in kind. When I started writing on May 1st I also decided that I was going to work this month to improve my mental health practices. So I meditated that night after writing. It was brief, just five minutes or so. But I worked to focus my mind on peace and relaxation. I kept repeating the word calm in my head, because well… I don’t really know how to meditate without a focus, and before I can make my mind quiet I have to tell  it what I want it to do.  But we need those moments of calmness, and if we can get there stillness (but relaxing to that point takes me longer, my mind is quite active, as many others’ are). So I’m going to keep meditating for whatever amount of time I get each day to myself to find some quiet and calm. It really does help me focus. And today I’m going to add finding an old song that I used to love and haven’t listened to in a while and playing it. It’s funny how happy it made me stumbling upon some of the songs I did today. Even the sad songs made me smile. Singing is cathartic for me in a way that is similar to writing. Only I don’t sing well, so listening wouldn’t be of much benefit to others. Are there old songs you’ve forgotten you loved? Artists you wish were still on the radio? Everybody needs good music. It livens up the soul!

Pandora’s box (or maybe her jar) of hope

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There are 31 days this month to celebrate “Mental Health” May. Today is day 2.It’s fascinating how much more difficult it is for me to write when I feel like I have to do it. I have actually written very little in about a year and a half anyway. But, one of the reasons I started doing this was so that I could try to renew my ability to write, and hopefully it would have the cathartic effect it used to. I think part of my problem coming back to writing is that I always used to write in the dark. If we were writing in school, I would get under a table so that I could have my own personal, protected space so I could write. At home I would turn the light to my bedroom off and use a lamp or flashlight so that I could write without being interrupted. I developed a feeling of safety when writing in the dark. It’s as though it’s just me and my paper. Or in this case my computer. But once I turned the lights off tonight, I do feel that protection again, which I hope will allow me to write with more ease and creativity than I’ve felt over the past year or so.

I wanted to make sure with this blog that there was a purpose. I don’t want to be wasting anyone’s time. I was to put forth the effort that it deserves for both myself and anyone who may come across it. Life’s too short. It’s too short to waste on a bad book, on a bad day,on a bad relationship, on a bad job. There’s too much to do. Too many chances. Even though most we must make ourselves. If we have to put in effort and time it needs to be in the things that are worth it. The things we believe in.

So today what I believe in is hope. I know that when faith, hope, and love were left, love was picked as the greatest, but I think it’s hard to find love if you don’t have hope. In fact, it’s hard to do more than merely survive if we don’t have hope. Pandora had a box (or maybe a jar), and all of the riches were pulled from it except one. And what was left in the box was hope. Hope is something completely intangible. It’s something completely non-scientific in nature. It’s hard to measure. It’s hard to assess. Someone in a lab can never truly know whether or not a person had hope or just how much the person being studied really had. We cannot measure it, even in our box, so in the world of science it can quickly be cast aside. But on a daily basis, hope saves lives. Hope inspires one to help another. Hope motivates one to pursue a dream or follow his passion. Hope gives those without a chance a hand to fight with. Homer wrote, “There is a strength in the union even of very sorry men.” He may have been speaking of physical weakness, but we all have our own areas where we falter. When we unite together, we do so in hope. Perhaps it’s out of necessity. Perhaps it out of desire. But no matter what, as we unite in hope a strength appears and it is stronger than it was when we were on our own. Hope has the power to transform the intangible fight into the tangible victory. Hope gives us the courage to believe. And that makes its immeasurable existence invaluable. Today my goal is to find someone who needs hope in one area or another (no matter how big or small) and to hope with them. We all need someone on our side. Do you have anyone who needs hope shared their way? Are there things you didn’t realize you were hoping for? An invisible world come to life? Who knows what you’ll find. 🙂

Impressed by you

I am exceptionally impressed by those who are able to blog daily or even regularly. I have no idea how you all are able to keep up so well. It’s a bit inspiring that people have so much they are willing to say and share so often. The psychologist in me wants to do a study on  it. But, the mom in me wants to sleep 🙂 

 

That being said, I do need to work on doing better with this thing. I’m just not certain of what all to say. I’ll have to do some more research. So for the moment I’m going to share my concern: I think my child thinks he’s British. He freaks out about Big Ben. He’s been obsessed with it for almost a year now. He corrects my American English to pronounce it in a British accent. I explained to him, that when I speak that way I have a Madonna accent, and that’s not the same. He doesn’t seem to care. He recently added Downton Abbey to our Netflix queue. This was an accident, but I thought it was ironic. We won a plane ticket to the UK and will be traveling there this fall, hopefully. I think he willed that into reality, as well. Who wins tickets to the UK?  But if anyone has any ideas on what to do/how to travel when there, let me know, my imaginary friends! I can’t really blame Jack. The Beatles (who he also loves) are certainly awesome, and Big Ben is pretty great, too. So I’m hoping this isn’t something I need to worry about. All 3-year-olds have things they love. And his could certainly be worse (because to be fair, I kind of like it). Right?

back in time

While l was getting ready for bed tonight I found myself suddenly back in time. It was the first year I moved away to go to college, and everything felt real. It was as though I could even smell the smell of Starkville and my apartment in the air. It was the strangest thing. And I realized the song playing in my head was a song called Godspeed by the Dixie Chicks, and it had come out just when I had moved away. What I had been thinking about was leaving my nephews for the very first time. I had spent so much time with them over the last 3 and 4 years since they were born that it was one of the hardest experiences I had gone through. I remember the first time I heard the song I didn’t make it through to the second verse. I burst into tears and changed it to a different track. It’s one of the only songs that I cry at every time I hear it. It perfectly encapsulated how I felt about them, and how I hated being away from them. I can’t get it out of my head now. It’s ironic to me that the song never transferred to my son. I have different lullabies that make me think of him, but Godspeed brings me directly back to my nephews when they were little. When I have those moments where I am seemingly so lucidly in another place I always wonder what part of us stays behind? What mark do we leave? What traces are possibly woven ahead? It just feels so real. Like I can touch the walls from my apartment. Smell the smell of the roads. If I open my eyes I can see the city and all of the places I used to go. A true testament to how powerful the mind and our memories (and music) can be.

 

Creativity from “the most uncreative”

Sometimes I get concerned that my creativity is simply gone. I figure it’s similar to the: if you don’t use it you lose it, adage. It’s a muscle I only exert in terms a 3-year-old understands. He’s worth the creativity. He forces it out of me anyway, so at least it is being utilized in some form. But, I think sometimes I miss it. Even if in high school I had a teacher (one of my favorites) tout me as “the most uncreative student ever!”  In actuality I only refused to be creative because I didn’t want to be graded on it. I didn’t want anyone to judge my creativity or think it was weird or worse, less than the best. So I opted to simply just do the basics. My point is, I want to be creative again. At least I think I do. So if any of the people I didn’t tell I have a blog can figure out how to make that happen, let me know! Maybe it works kind of like willing things into reality, right? Writing stuff to people who don’t know you are writing it to them, and yet they respond anyway. We’ll see. Of course while waiting, if anyone needs someone to stand on a pretend stage with a pretend microphone and tell stories about whatever a preschooler instructs them to, I’m your girl!

My Tuesday

So you know when you have one of those days. You’re hanging out with your son and your nephew and you notice your nearly two-year-old nephew that you are taking care of has two big bites on his finger and his ear. Naturally you rush him inside certain that it happened while you were out doors, only to find that there’s a lovely queen bee sitting inside the door waiting for everyone to arrive. You freak out because bugs that sting around the 3 and under crew you are taking care of don’t mix well, but find a way to get rid of the bug with no further injuries. You clean off all the bites and try to no avail to find the bite lotion that you’ve certainly just thrown out last month noticing it had expired (a few years ago). So instead you turn your focus to food. You stand in the kitchen, open the refrigerator only to hear the outside porch door open. You think to yourself – well since the youngest has just learned to unlock the door, someone’s definitely outside. Run from the kitchen to find that when the toddler did, in fact, open the door, he also let in two wasps, one of which was GIANT! So again you immediately freak out having flashbacks from when you were stung in the middle of the head as a child in the bathroom of your aunt’s house. In order to keep the kids safe you close the bedroom door and tell them to stay in there while you aimlessly search for the bug spray that your certain is nowhere it the house/garage. As toddlers are amazing listeners, similar to adult males, you find during your search that the toddlers have left the room, one has run back outside and the other has a shoe pretending to hit the window and get the bug. You again freak out, as the wasps didn’t take well to the show banging incident and have decided to band together and stage an attack. So you shut the outside door, and send the other child back to the bedroom as you try to contain the wasps on the porch with no further injuries to anyone. At this point the wasps are taking turns flying at you, so you do what anyone would do in this situation. You run and grab the phone to call your sister to tell her you are trapped in your house and your nephew is trapped outside (I could see him the entire time) because the  bugs have collectively decided that today was the day they were going to take your house down! Fortunately you get some bug spray and some help from your relatives and eventually the 10 minute or less ordeal that felt like it lasted hours finally comes to an end. Screaming children, a pounding pulse, and an exceptionally high stress level are all that remain of the exciting events of the day. This was my Tuesday.

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