Friday, January 14, 2011

Beautiful Picture

I thought I'd share this lovely photo card created from pics of my amazing husband and girls. I am beyond blessed.

Mommy Guilt

I used to feel that mommy guilt is a complete waste of emotion. I used to ignore it. Yet the more I ignored it the worse I felt, the more anxious I felt, and the more guilty I felt even though I thought I was doing the right thing in ignoring it.

The worst case of mommy guilt for me is when it's related to medical issues. Salem is 8 and has Noonan Syndrome. When she was first diagnosed I often felt that somehow it was my fault. I did IVF and she was a surviving triplet. I would often look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I had a hidden case of Noonan Syndrome and unwittingly passed it on to Salem. The geneticist reassured me it was a spontaneous mutation (awful term huh?) and that it wasn't my fault. Thus we began the process of medical intervention, speech/PT and horse therapy, etc and I threw myself into being the best mommy I could be to give her all the help she needed. She's now a thriving 8 year old in 2nd grade and while we still deal with issues related to NS she's amazingly on track.

I have felt mommy guilt often over the years since Salem's NS diagnosis. Especially at times when I've lost it and screamed at my kids, broken a promise or broken their hearts by doing the right thing in disciplining them. But it was never as intense as it was when Salem was so medically fragile. I learned to stuff it thinking it was unfruitful.

Today I had to deal with the intense mommy guilt feelings all over again but this time with my youngest. Raina is 5 1/2. The kiddo has issues not quite so medically defined as NS. She has extreme social anxiety. When she was 4 they thought she was autistic but later we all decided that her social anxiety was mimicking a lot of autistic symptoms. So we started working on her speech, social anxiety and sensory issues. Now she's 5 1/2 and honestly she's come a long way in developing social skills but her sensory issues can at times be off the charts and I've not seen a huge improvement speech wise even though she's seen a speech pathologist twice a week since May 2009.

In December she failed her hearing screen at school. We went to the audiologist and we were referred back to her doctor to clear up fluid in her ear and then instructed to come back. That second appointment was this morning. We now know she has mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears. Neither ear drum responded today either. They'll send the report back to her doctor to get a referral to an ENT to see if she has fluid in her middle ear that we cannot see or if there is nerve damage or a bone issue.

I made it all the way to the car before I gave in to the guilt. It literally over took me. I just cried and cried and felt sick at my stomach. I could look back and see that what I thought was inattention or her zoning out was actually a hearing problem. So of course I feel guilty. Intensely guilty. I should have noticed this sooner. I should have been more in tune to her. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.

And when I gave in to those feelings and let myself cry and feel sad and overwhelmed something amazing happened. I self-talked myself out of it. I told myself I was being ridiculous. There as no way this was my fault. I am not an audiologist or a speech pathologist. There is no way I could have known. I am a mommy not a super mom - slash audiologist - slash speech pathologist - slash all around know it all (even though sometimes I may act like an all around know it all).

So I talked myself down off the ledge of mommy guilt by letting myself experience it without stuffing it deep inside. Then I remembered something Ty (my therapist) once told me. It's good for me to feel ALL emotion. Even the overwhelming ones or intensely sad ones. And I did. Probably for one of the first times. I didn't try to judge what I was feeling. I didn't try to stuff it. I just simply felt it and when I did the Leah that knew better spoke up. Now the anxiety is gone. It may be something major yet it may be something minor. I just have to trust God to mark our path regardless of what happens when we see the ENT.

So for today - at this moment anyway - I am not going to worry about it. Of course I am praying it's something as simple as needing tubes but I am choosing not to obsess over what if's. It is what it is - my emotions are what they. Rather than stuff them - I did the right then and began to experience them so I could process them. Before I always tried to process without experiencing them. That doesn't quite work.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You." Isaiah 26:3.

Monday, January 10, 2011

No Super Mom Here

Growing up I dreamed of being a wife and mom. I wrote out my name as Mrs. John Smith (or whomever the love of my life was at the moment) on spiraled paper and came up with baby names for the children we'd have - 2 boys and 2 girls of course. I'd fantasize about the perfect home we'd have to raise our children in and the amazing wonderful life we'd life. I was going to be a Super Mom and have the life I always dreamed of as a child.

Then I grew up. As often happens, my life took many unexpected turns and by the time I was married and finally having children after years of infertility, I realized how ill equipped I was. I didn't know the first thing about mother hood or cooking or cleaning, etc. I simply had been playing house. So I started looking at the moms in my church that seemed to have it all together and I began taking mental notes. Their homes were spotless, their children well behaved, their meals home cooked and they seemed to have time for everyone and everything.

Thus the definition on how to become a super mom began formulating in my mind. It was fairly unconscious but it happened none-the-less. I was still working when I had Salem but quickly went part-time as we dealt with her health issues during her fragile first year of life.

I left work to become a full-time stay at home mom when she 16 months old. My dream come true. But the super mom part of the dream often became a part of an ongoing nightmare. I struggled to keep the house clean and the laundry done. I was tired and struggled with what eventually became a rigorous speech/PT schedule and it only got harder when Raina came along. Throw potty training and nursing a newborn at the same time in the mix while Brian was working long hours and I guarantee you would NEVER have thought super mom when you looked at me. Or perhaps you would have because I hid behind a well groomed mask. But I guarantee you I was a super fake.

Now Salem is 8 and Raina is 5 1/2 and I am learning an important lesson - I wasn't meant to be a super mom. (Yes I can be a slow learner). That nagging sense of trying to be one still lingers. If you don't know me well and come to my house today you'd be welcomed into a nice clean living room. Every night the girls toys go up and the two rooms you see when you come in are clean.But if you REALLY know me you come in through the side gate of our yard and into the back door of the kitchen and what you see depends on the day. It might be a nice clean kitchen if I have had time to clean. If not who knows. If it's laundry day you might see laundry all over my kitchen floor as my laundry room is really a closet in the midst of my kitchen. And to the right of my kitchen is my office which is in a constant state of disarray to my husband's eye but actually I know where everything I need is. Usually.

For the most part I am ok those close to me seeing this. I still want things to be perfect. I still struggle with how to be a Proverbs 31 woman and what that really means. But in an effort to make the "main things" the "the main things", I decided I could be the best mom and wife possible by being simply being present in the present rather than the empty headed muti-tasking I had often done to simply get it all done.

My home can be warm and inviting without being spotless although you might see me cringe if you ask to see my bedroom. My goal is to concentrate on the relationships with my husband and daughters. More importantly I want to believe in the memories I am making with them. That matters so much more than what I got done on any given day. My to do schedule certainly won't completely go away, but some things can wait or be said no to. My girls won't remember a spotless house unless I turn mommy dearest on them. But they will remember me spending time with them as they play the Wii, as we scrapbook, as we play, or as we do whatever we do that day.

I am often guilty of tuning out. Thus, my goal in 2011 is to tune in. You won't find a super mom here. I didn't even get this new year's post posted until January 10 (my goal was the 1st of course). But you may find a mom who just wants to be the best mom she can be while sharing how she's figuring out the whole Proverbs 31 thing. You might also find some stories of how this ex-super mom wanna be became a the wife and mom God called her to be as she shares her successes, misfires and lousy moments.

For those that may have read my 90 days of solitude blog - I am sure that will creep in here. That's why it in the archives. I know that those 90 days of solitude coupled with my long surgical recovery last year brought me to the place where I am today.

Leah's Other Blog

My "other" blog is more about day to day life with my husband and kids and rants and raves about a variety of subjects. Hope on over.

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