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Real Talk Round Table

Family dinner has become a part of our regular routine since the girls and I got our own house. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a mood or they aren’t hungry we are going to sit down together. I’m not perfect it doesn’t happen every night but we strive for 4-5 night a week. Some weeks we do it every week night and sometimes we are lucky to get a meal or two in but it’s something that has become important to all of us.

Our dinner conversation is so random and usually wildly inappropriate. My parenting style is a direct reflection of our family dinners I let them be kids, theirselves, without judgment or expectations on how they should behave when at home. They have to act appropriately in so many situations throughout the day they should be able to just be them at home. I want them to feel safe and accepted as they are. We aren’t going to be pretty and proper dinner companions and I’m so ok with that. The dinner table has become a place where everyone can feel heard. A place where you can check in and let everyone know what amazing things are happening in your life and what you hate, need to work on, need help with, or what joe blow said to you in 6th period that really pissed you off. We do what we call “positives and negatives”. Everyone gets a turn and no one gets a pass. With 6, 7, sometimes 8 people this little round table of ours, ADHD, and the comments from the peanut gallery we use up the majority of our time making sure everyone gets a turn. If you’re visiting, guess what…you join in. It’s not an optional activity. The only rule is you have to name at least one positive. One positive thing that you experienced that day. If you have 10, awesome, let’s hear it! Negatives are not required but if you’re struggling this is the place where you let it go and feel heard. I’ve found it’s so easy to focus on all the negativity in our brain and in our lives that we forget to be grateful for and see the positive side of things. I wanted the threefold to not get so caught up in the negativity and start looking at the better side of life. At first, I got a lot of push back. It was like pulling teeth to get them to list just one good thing but the negatives were listed in long winded releases of frustration. Now that we are more focused on finding positives so we have some at dinner to speak about our positive lists are growing and some days we even get to say NO to negatives. It’s been a great way to get everyone talking and listening.

Aside from our positive and negative discussion, we laugh so hard at dinner. We pick at each other. We talk about the most insanely inappropriate things. Here lately, my oldest daughter’s sex life seems to be a particularly favorite for everyone to focus on. Her poor boyfriend. He is just along for the ride most nights, but a really good sport about it. The things a mother shouldn’t know, I know. (If you are appalled that my 17 year old is doing the dirty I do beg you to recall your former years and remember you were a walking, talking hormone too. We take all the precautions. Thanks for your concern.) Sexuality is a big one. Politics, lady cycles, religion, death, murder, mental health honestly nothing is off the table it’s actually laid all across that kitchen table. If you can’t take a joke or handle a snarky comment thrown your way we won’t be saving you a seat. Anything you could possibly not want to hear at the dinner table you would hear it at my house. I’m ok with it. In fact, I’m an open participant and encourage it. If they can’t have real talk at home with their mom and siblings or with their significant other then who can they talk to it about? Do they say some rather embarrassing and cringeworthy things? Absolutely, but it also promotes dialogue and honesty, acceptance and validation. I’m from the what feels like the minority of people these days that think kids should be able to express themselves and feel love and acceptance of their authentic selves. I don’t believe in putting these unrealistic or cookie cutter expectations on my kids. My job as a parent is to love them unconditionally for who they are not who I want them to be. We’ll keep the real talk round table and all of the topics of discussion that are brought to it. It is one of my favorite parts of having my threefold, they always keep things interesting!

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Learn to Earn

Another day, another dollar for my kids to spend. Sometimes I wonder where all the money goes. It’s gone before it ever hits my account most weeks. Then I remember oh that’s right we spent $300 in groceries. We paid bills so we would have previous internet service. TV streaming services. Make up. Hair treatments. Clothes. More food. Red Bull. Monsters. Gas. Toys. More food. Coffee. Medicines. Therapy. Psychiatry. More food. The list could go on a full page. Everything costs money and when you have a limited amount and have to work for every dollar you become more stingy with it. I don’t buy for myself. I don’t get mani/pedis bi weekly, get my hair done, frivolously shop for clothing or things for myself, hell I rarely get myself my favorite things at the grocery store. I’m not a martyr. I love doing things for the people I love. If I have $1000 I guarantee that 85% of it will go towards things for the people I love. However, if I have $100, you better believe I’m going to hold it like I’m not sure when I’ll have another. I’m usually quite stingy with money. I think and overthink what we need, what is due next week, next month, and I plan accordingly. I don’t like being broke. It’s a stressor and a trigger from years of financial insecurity. When money is off, I’m off.

My threefold however have grown accustomed, especially since my divorce, of getting everything they want. And they constantly want. I’ve given in to a lot of things I wouldn’t have before because I want them to be happy and I feel like this year has been so awful for them. Things don’t fix feelings, I know this, but it’s something I wanted to do. I want them to smile. I want them to not feel like I’m struggling even when I am. If this little give, give, give has taught me anything it’s that they have to learn to earn. Nothing is ever handed to you in life. If you didn’t work for it you better believe someone did to make it possible for you to have it. These little broke best friends of mine are going to have to learn to earn. Having an attitude of expectation without ever having to put in the effort is entitlement. No one likes anyone that thinks they are entitled to something. You’re not. There isn’t a damn thing you’re entitled to. Having an entitlement attitude is not going to serve you well in life. Sure kids have a right to have their basic needs met, but I learned long ago I have to offer (they don’t have to like it or eat it) three square meals a day even if it’s pb&j all day everyday! You need a bed, running water and electricity. Clothes and shoes, name brands not required. All the other stuff is a privilege. That tv, Netflix and Hulu, internet, the phones, tablets, computers, and game systems. Privileges. We give them because we want them happy. I wouldn’t rip the doors off the hinges and lay a mattress on the ground and lock all the food up, but I’ve thought about it at times…probably even threatened it. It’s so hard to find the middle ground between too much and not enough. I feel that they should keep grades up and show effort, help with household responsibilities, and have decent attitudes towards me and each other in order to earn certain things. I’m not a yeller. I don’t like to be down their throats and on their backs all the time. I want them to relax, unwind, enjoy being a kid without ten tons of responsibilities. They have all of adulthood to clean house, get jobs, and pay their way. So where is the balance? When is enough, enough and too much, too much? It’s time for some real talk about expectations.

My threefold have become far too used to asking mom and mom delivers and if I don’t I’m sure their dad will. I don’t feel like they are taking advantage, I just feel like they are losing the respect and appreciation of the money it takes to do all of these things and to have all of these things. They know where it comes from, they know I work hard for everything we have. I’m just not sure they know what that looks like. It’s feels more like an inability to see value in the everyday privileges that they have and the effort that goes into making sure they have it. I don’t have a lot of help financially I work more than forty hours every week to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for our family. I don’t get child support. I don’t have a big hidden money stash when things get hard. I get up everyday, whether I’m tired, sick, hurt, over it, overwhelmed or just no wanna, and I work my ass off. We live in a nice house, in a nice part of town. They have nice clothes and shoes. They have rooms that are decorated to their tastes. They have nice electronics. Internet service, televisions, streaming devices, and streaming services. They have seen me struggle when they were young. They were excited about a trip to McDonald’s once upon a time. It’s easy to forget the value of money if you don’t have to put in the work to get it or struggle to have it.

I’m probably hyper focused on making sure we have everything we need and want, but it’s something I pride myself on. I work extremely hard and excel at my job to provide the lifestyle I want them to have. They aren’t spoiled brats. They just don’t understand what it takes. I was blindsided the first time a mortgage came in the mail after buying my first house. I didn’t have that money. I didn’t even know how to cook my own meals. After I grew up…more or better yet matured and started raising babies I vowed I would not let my threefold grow up not knowing how to do their own laundry or fix a meal or keep a house. I was going to SHOW them. After losing my first home, being in massive debt, struggling to keep us housed and clothed and keep the electricity on I promised myself I would never make them feel insecure about our money or wonder where we were going to go. I don’t want them to struggle like I did when I started out. I don’t want them to lose everything and fight for every dollar and stress over paying the light bill or buying food for the week. I want them to understand the value, work for their part, and have the knowledge to budget for the things they need and want.

I didn’t need that book “What to Expect When you’re Expecting” I need a book about how to teach your children how to be responsible, balanced, good, and grateful people that become stable adults. I’m in the thick of it with raising my threefold. I’ve got one really close to being an adult and two others that won’t be far behind her. It’s hard knowing if you’re screwing it all up or if you’re on the right path as a parent. I don’t think there is any tried and true path to follow on this journey. I think it’s all subjective and trial and error. Mommin’ ain’t easy, but like all moms tend to say it’s worth it. I know my threefold has amazing adventures and lives ahead of them. I can’t say what those are, but I see the potential and it’s the most amazing view.

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The Spin…

Ever get that pit feeling in your stomach like something is wrong and your head instantly starts going 90mph trying to figure out what it is? That’s what it’s like to have anxiety. Except that feeling doesn’t go away, it intensifies. You’re second guessing everything all the time. The thoughts don’t stop. You replay everything from the past day, week, month, year. It’s like you have all of these thoughts fighting eachother for the spotlight. You can’t focus on any one thing. There is no rhyme or reason, rational or irrational, it all blurs together. It’s the spin. It convinces you to find problems everywhere. Tells you you’re failing. Badgers you with the lists of things you can’t do and will never accomplish. It labels you worthless, a failure, and a complete screw up. You can’t do anything right. It demands attention and feeds on negativity. It’s really quite exhausting. You can have a perfectly good day and just like a thief in the night anxiety comes and steals your peace, your joy, your sleep, your voice, and your ability to see reason. It makes you feel like everyone is against you. No one loves you, not really. You’re tolerable at best. Anxiety is a mean vindictive bitch.

Having anxiety is so difficult. Some people will never understand it and the toll it takes on your mind and your body. It’s difficult for people to explain it. My anxiety personally stems from trauma. I wasn’t always this mess of a person. There was a time when I was optimistic, confident, outgoing, bright and shiny. Trauma, abuse, making myself less than, not prioritizing myself, and not feeling safe enough to be open about my feelings has done more damage to my psyche than I would ever want to openly admit. I was a shell of a person in the thick of it. I shut down everything that made me…well me to please others. I am the ultimate people pleaser. I hate conflict and confrontation. I don’t like talking about feelings or sharing problems. I like everything to have the appearance of being completely put together. Inside it truly feels like everything is about to explode and one wrong move or word could trigger the land mine that sets that explosion into action. I became very good at playing pretend and wearing the mask everyone expected.

My anxiety has gotten so much better over the past 6 months. It’s stayed in it’s lane and I’ve stayed in mine. It comes and hangs out for a bit every now and then, but I try to be quick to put it back in it’s place. I can pinpoint it. I know I can’t trust my gut instincts. I know my triggers. I can call on my rational and positive thoughts and place them in the spotlight. I’m quick to counteract it before it takes over. I center myself. I find the trigger and the reason I was triggered. I remind myself that my negative thoughts do not define me. I remember that my anxiety is a compulsive liar that feeds off of my insecurities and self doubt. I take time before responding to those around me so I can speak with confidence and not anxious irritability. I breathe into the current moment and repeat my rational argument to my irrational thoughts. The feeling passes, sometimes not immediately but it does pass. Recognizing your symptoms, your triggers, your why, and figuring out how to focus on your truth is key. I still have extemely bad days where I can’t fight it, but I don’t hide it anymore. It’s a part of me. I can work on it and try to continue to improve but my anxiety is a response to difficult situations, unsavory emotions, triggers from trauma, and an emotional response that you can’t always figure out. It may always be with me. I have had to learn to understand it.

I allowed my anxiety to control my life for many years. It was a miserable way to live. Anxiety isn’t a choice. No one wants to feel like that. No one chooses it and I honestly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It’s hell. I’ve stopped allowing anxiety to take the wheel. I have my days that it gets unmanageable but I can find my way back out of it. Finding coping mechanisms, strategies that work, learning to manipulate the feelings, and THERAPY! It takes a lot of work and a lot of resurfacing old wounds, but it’s worth it. It doesn’t happen over night, but slowly I saw myself changing behaviors. I wish I could erase and rewrite but if anxiety has done anything for me it has made me realize the strength it takes to live with it. I’m stronger than anxiety.

Behind these eyes are a thousand tears, harboring all of the darkest of fears. Spinning lies in the ocean of irrational thought, the waves of emotion make their unrelenting assault. Fighting to emerge from the overpowering tide, beaten broken and battered inside. A test of strength to survive such brutality. Breathe in deeply and come back to reality.

Me, myself, and I – Threefold
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Trauma Drama

Trauma. Trauma. Trauma. Yuck. I wanted this to all fun and games and shenanigans with me and the kids but that wouldn’t be the REAL us. We have got some major trauma in this house. We make fun of it, we joke and laugh about it, we cry about it, we give it all of our attention or we ignore it completely. We’ve got it. We acknowledge it. Doesn’t everyone has some sort of trauma though? I mean no one gets through life unscathed. You have childhood trauma and if you don’t I’m sure you will experience it as an adult from a relationship or experience. If not, wow, that’s awesome, here’s your bumper sticker and trophy! I’ve got trauma. All the kinds. My kids have trauma. I can admit I’m completely screwed up and probably a few fruit loops short of a full bowl. I’ve been through a lot, especially as an adult. We are all in therapy, don’t worry! We are working on healing from our trauma. You don’t have sayings like “Realize, recognize, reality check” or “that’s trauma talking” without loads of hours of therapy. My kids love their therapist so much they have deemed her their personal lord and savior. Honestly, her nickname is… “K-Christ, lord and savior” it’s hilarious to me their loving nickname of their “live, laugh, love leader.” She really is awesome though. We’ve learned a lot more than just to “relax, relate and release”. It’s been a very powerful, positive, and healing journey for all of us.

Trauma is the result of deeply disturbing or distressing scenario or physical injury. My list of scenarios would bore you, so I shall summarize my trauma. I’ve been abused-in every way, more so as an adult than as a child. I didn’t choose partners very well as an adult. My mom passed away when I was 23, suddenly, while I was pregnant with my second daughter. 11 years ago, I was hospitalized at an inpatient psychiatric facility after having a severe reaction to a medication combination which caused what my physicians diagnosed as “medication induced psychosis”. Thirty days inpatient and six months of a nightmare to recover from. My ex husband is a total narcissist extraordinaire. The Exhole, as I so fondly refer to him. The trauma after 17 years of verbal, mental, emotional, financial, and physical abuse is HELL to work through. I honestly believe this trauma has scarred me the most. I’m just not the same, never will be. How I wish I would’ve taken my balls out of purse and used them much sooner and got the f out years ago. I thought I was doing right by my threefold, little did I realize I was hurting them.

I am mom and woman enough to admit that I haven’t always been the best mom, role model, protector, provider, or advocate for my kids. I’ve managed to screw up royally and passed down some not so great mental health genes. I definitely had a negative influence in regards to their coping mechanisms. My oldest has ADHD-attentive type-mild, anxiety and depression. My middle has ADHD combined type-severe, ODD (oppositional defiance disorder for those that don’t know-yes it’s a thing I didn’t think it was BUT IT DEFINITELY IS!), anxiety, depression, and exhibits self-harm behaviors. My youngest is perfect. I’m so kidding! If she comes out unscathed I would be surprised. She shows symptoms of different things, but due to age and all of the ongoing change she is experiencing in life, her team is reluctant to diagnose anything at the time. We’ve been inpatient, outpatient, partial inpatient if there is a mental health checklist we’ve been through it-if not all then at least one of us has.

Right after leaving the Exhole, I decided that we ALL needed therapy. I wanted my threefold to have a place where they could feel safe to talk about their feelings. K Christ Lord and Savior gave them that place. I will be forever grateful for her allowing me to call her at 11:00pm on a Thursday night to help through crisis mode with 2. That she has given them space to be little people with big problems and allowed them every opportunity to heal. I am most thankful that the girls have privileged her with their deep dark secrets and pain so that she can guide them and me through it. She is actively saving them from allowing their trauma to destroy them. For the gift of smiles I thank her. For giving them the tools they need to function and live with mental illness I will be forever in her debt. If you allow mental illness to run your life then you aren’t living a full life. It took me way too long to come to that conclusion. I allowed Anxiety, depression, ADHD, and C-PTSD to control my every mood, action, reaction, my everything. I needed a place to vent about EVERYTHING without feeling like I was causing a fight or going to be told I was crazy for feeling a certain way. I needed my own safe place. I needed my own time to bitch. We are all still very much works in progress. It’s slowly turned less into bitch fest and more into a space where I talk about what is going on in my life. I don’t just vent, I problem solve, I identify my issues and triggers. I brainstorm how I can handle things better. There is a lot of talk about realizing my own self worth, that’s still in need of a lot of work. I’m still uncovering past issues and taking responsibility for my own actions. I’m never going to be bright and shiny and all put together, but I’m okay with being beautifully broken and healing. I hope we can all be healthy and be the best versions of ourselves. More than anything I pray that we can put the past behind us and focus on building a better future, together. It’s not impossible it’s just a lot of hard work to get there and a lot of cuts and bruises to bandage along the way. We all deserve the best versions of each other. I aspire to be that version of myself for my threefold everyday.

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It Takes a Village…

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes motherhood is this blissfully amazing experience where you’re completely rocking this mom life, everyone seems good, you’re coasting along like you actually have your shit together, and you totally rock that side part and the mom jeans. Then…BOOM life decides to be like that sixth grade bully and kick your ass and steal your lunch money. One minute I’m announcing how amazing I am doing at remaining positive and living in gratitude. I’m over here shoving the whole “live, laugh, love” mantra down everyone’s throats and living my best life. All of a sudden I get thrown the curve ball of being unable to juggle the work-kids-my own life balance and everything goes to hell. Negative Nancy decides it’s time to show her face and I’m back at square one. I’m wallowing in my inability to do everything on my own without any help. I’m throwing attitude, spewing negativity, and projecting my anxiety onto everyone that attempts to help me find solutions to my all or nothing state of being. When you don’t have a support system nearby and you have spent the past umpteen years not fostering relationships outside of your home it gets lonely and hard to manage everything. You become self reliant and are trained to do it all on your own. Well they say “it takes a village” and they are so right. What do you do when you have no village? I snap out of my negative Nancy personality once I wake up the next day, but not before making sure everyone in the house knows what I do for them. It’s hard to admit that I’ve made this life this hard by trying to do what I thought I was supposed to for so long with very little help from anyone else. I work full time in management. (Fancy right? I’m a boss ass bitch!) I have my three girls high school, middle school, elementary school (all the stages at once…THREEFOLD) Divorced from a narcissist who could definitely run the local chapter meeting of narcs each month. Engaged to an amazing man who is beyond understanding, patient, and willing to help when he isn’t busting his ass (that ass though) and parenting his own teenage daughter. My family has moved away. Friends weren’t an option when I was married before and starting new relationships and finding moms who don’t have toddlers, eat meat, drink alcohol on occasion, cuss, and can let loose without telling me all the ways I’m screwing my kids up that ACTUALLY want to hang out is like trying to find my Milky Way I left out on my nightstand. It’s not happening. (My kid most definitely ate it and probably hid the trash under her bed in a futile attempt to hide the evidence.) I would love to hear how other people find friends close to 40. I go to work, I come home, shower, have dinner with my kids, watch some new episode of “Snapped” and go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. Maybe that’s what I need to do…create where you can find like minded moms to hang out and see if you could potentially be friends. I always figure it out and I think we as moms don’t give ourselves near enough credit for being the glue that holds it all together. No one can do the job you do for your kids. You know them best and therefore are the best person to be with them. You’re allowed to have bad days. You’re allowed to be overwhelmed, stressed, angry, or impatient sometimes. Just because I decided I would be more positive and that I would live with more gratitude doesn’t mean that every moment of everyday will be perfect or that I will be able to catch every curve ball that flies my way. And that’s ok. We as moms tend to hold ourselves to these high standards that we would never look at our friends, our sisters, our daughters, or our own mothers and expect the same level of perfection. We all need help sometimes. Find your people. Find your tribe. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness or admitting defeat. Through my anger, tears, frustration and my feelings of failure I realized something major that I hadn’t even considered before…my refusal to ask for help and my trying and failing, or even when I do it but I’m stressing about how to do it is actually doing my girls a major disservice. If I’m stressed, pissed off, angry, stretching myself too thin I’m not giving them my best. My not asking for help is adding more stress to me and taking away the mom they need. They need to know it’s okay to ask for help when they need…I would expect it and if I can’t take care of it, it is my job to ask someone else for help for them. They can count on me. We always figure it out because we don’t give in to bullies. We fight back. Today I will be thankful for my people the ones I can count on no matter what. The ones I know that when push comes to shove they will be there. My tribe. I am grateful for my village. Even if we do need an expansion pack or some additional villagers from time to time. I know the people I have now are the ones that will always be there whenever I ask.