A Letter to My 20s

Dear 20s,

You were a decade of ups and downs, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be. A time of choosing paths and wondering if they were the right ones to take. Asking, “where do I belong?” in this fast-paced, YOLO (thanks 2011) life was what my 20s were all about.

Attempting to live life like there was no tomorrow ruled the beginning of this era. I thought never growing up and staying young forever was a good goal at the time. While some of my peers found themselves in their junior year of college, I decided to take a break from school and find a job to save money for an adventure.

You see, I had this grand scheme of becoming famous.

I’d been doing art since I was five, I’d participated in theatric productions, I’d taken dance classes and modeling classes, I attempted to play the keyboard, the trumpet (coronet) and the guitar at various times – I wanted to do something ‘artistic’ and school wasn’t doing it for me…

A job as a waitress was the first thing I landed, so the world of late night shifts in a downtown restaurant began. I had a goal, and although drinking and shenanigans took place every evening, I ended up saving more than $2000 after a few months of work. Deeming this enough to move to Austin, TX (proclaimed music capital of the world & halfway point to LA and future possibilities), in May 2009, I packed up and moved out.

There are a whole bunch of stories from Austin that could and probably will fill a book one day, but we will skip most for now. I did end up joining and forming an Indie-Rock band for almost 3 years, I played shows (including SXSW one year), I found and lost love, my ‘dream car’ was destroyed in a wreck, and I learned a little bit more about myself.

But before I turned 25, I found myself in a rut. I couldn’t handle the immense stress, inside my head or not, and I left Austin. I moved in with my grandmother who lived back in my hometown of Mobile, AL. I tried school again, only to realize that I was mentally incapable of such structure and responsibility. I hadn’t achieved much inner-personal growth when I could and should have, and it was starting to really show.

Ignoring my past issues was catching up to me, and I was falling. These realizations only pushed me farther down the deep dark rabbit hole of self-destruction. I found myself starting 2013 in a haze of wine and negative thoughts. Finally having enough, at rock bottom I decided to jump into a life of therapy, sobriety and meetings. For a couple of years, I tried to make myself a better person (not that I don’t still do this, it was just more of a huge step at this time). I tried to get my head on straight and tell myself that things were going to be alright.

In Fall 2013, I started school again. This time, I found out that I actually loved it because I chose a major and minor that made me want to attend classes. I wrote and wrote and joined the radio and learned and it felt like I was accomplishing something. I was!

In April 2014, I met someone who would change my life. Mark (I didn’t know his name at the time) took my order at the drive-thru at Starbucks and gave me discounts on caramel Frappuccino’s. It was a harmless crush until we went on our first date. After 7 hours of talking, eating humus and smoking hookah, we decided that more dates were in order. Well, I think you can see where that led.

In December of 2014, we got engaged. In January 2015, I found out that I was pregnant. Having moved to Odessa, TX for his first job out of college, it only felt right that I should be with Mark during this life changing time. And since I could, I did. I still wasn’t as strong (or at least I wasn’t giving myself enough credit) and I couldn’t do it alone.

So again, I found myself in the Lone star state. Odessa was okay. It was mostly desert, people seemed to only live there to work in the oil industry and my pregnancy hormones were raging, but we were together. Those months were spent by Mark working 12-24 hour shifts, us playing video games, making lots of food, going on walks, visiting our favorite Sno-cone place and my almost monthly airplane rides back and forth to my gynecologist in Mobile.

Lillian Adele was expected in September 2015, so I moved home to Mobile in August to celebrate with a baby-shower and eventually her birth on August 31, 2015 (she couldn’t wait to get out). Around this time, Mark landed a job with Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) in Montgomery, AL. So we were moving from Odessa during these events as well. I stayed in Mobile until October, and then off to Montgomery to live with Dada. We were a little family now.

In January of 2016, I started writing freelance for Montgomery Advertiser and felt better about my career path. Mentally, I was still getting a handle on life, but that’s what my 20s seemed to be all about. We moved again, for good this time (at least for more than a few years), in August 2016 to Mobile when Mark was able to transfer. I wasn’t able to stay with Montgomery Advertiser, but I finally finished school on December 10, 2016. It’s September 2017 and I can say that life has not been boring.

I’m not currently working in a ‘dream job’ or living in a ‘dream house’, but I have my dream family and things will change. I’ve had experiences that no one can take from me and I have a beautiful daughter that learns and grows everyday. Hell, I grown and learn everyday.

Life has proven itself to be on a constant change, and I can deal with that. I always strive to be a better ‘me’ and I work hard towards making our lives happy and fulfilled.

All of the inquiries about “who am I?” and “what path should I take?” are now just naïve thoughts. It’s not a clean-cut explanation.

Life doesn’t lie out its rules and guidelines for you like a readable map.

Any path can be the right path, ‘who you are’ is who you want to be, and all that really matters is that you tried. Keep on trying and keep on fighting, never giving up and finding your own joy is what life is all about.

Thanks for the ride 20s.

From, 30s

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Spanking

Whether you agree with spanking or not, it’s important to know the actual science behind it. I mentioned spanking briefly in my Tantrums blog (Here) .

Let’s go more in-depth about spanking.

When I was little, I remember only being spanked once or twice. These spankings came from my father (my parents divorced when I was four) who my sister and I would visit on occasion. I was probably around 5 or 6 when I was spanked for leaving my grandparent’s yard. My dad had told me to stay inside the fence, and being the inquisitive person that I am, not understanding his reasoning and him not being around often, I was inclined not to listen. When I was back at my grandparents house, he proceeded to take me into the bathroom and spank me. I don’t know if he explained why I was being punished or not, but I remember my butt stinging and being emotionally hurt that he hit me. I was always more emotional (whether it be happy or sad, etc) then other children I knew, so the spanking didn’t really help. I’ve heard people say things like, “well, without my daddy spanking me, I would have been worse!” … did they ever stop to think that maybe they were so “bad” because they got spanked in the first place?

Misbehaving or rebelliousness is normal for children. They test the limits because they want to see what they can accomplish. Kids don’t even know “limits” unless they are explained to them anyways. Words are stronger than any spanking, the parents just have to be adamant and strong when it comes to setting rules. The rules should be able to be reasoned. If there is no reason for a rule, it can’t be explained to the child. Telling a child to “not do something” just because a parent is lazy, is not a good reason to set a rule.

Example: if a parent tells their child that they can’t go outside, there should be a good reason accompanying that rule- “you can’t go outside because there’s a thunderstorm” instead of just “you can’t go outside”. The child might whine about it and whining can cause some people to think they require a spanking, when really they just don’t understand why that can’t go outside. Sure, this causes more work for the parents, having to explain everything, but how else will the child learn? (And who said raising a child was easy?) They are new to this world, and everything around them is a chance to express themselves.

“…there is a worrying body of research suggesting that parents who spank will later use harsher forms of punishment.” (Article Here)

It’s important to remember that in the long-run, explaining things to children rather than using brute force is much more successful. They will be less inclined to have behavioral issues and the parents won’t feel like tyrants for beating their kids. With science, a whole lot of things can be accomplished, we just have to listen and learn.

Sleep

Timeline: Sleep Basics

One of the most important things for a child to get is sleep. Without enough sleep, their brain development can be stunted. They tend to be cranky and moody, and possible long term issues might arise if they constantly get less sleep then needed. Of course, this happens to adults too!

Babies are affected: Sleep Deprivation in Babies

Adults are affected: Sleep Loss in Adults

Sleep Training and How We did it:

I can say confidently, WE ARE NOT SLEEP DEPRIVED ANYMORE.

When Lillian was younger, about four months old, we started sleep training. She was in a bassinet or slept with us (when no other sleep could be accomplished) until we deemed her ready for a crib.

She cried for about an hour the first three nights. A few more nights of whining after that and soon she was sleeping alone like a champ. Of course, there would be nights when she would cry, but she always calmed down and got good sleep. I was in an a panic half of the time during the first few nights, thinking she would hate us forever for making her so upset. (I was completely wrong.) Sometimes I would stand at her door, (we left it mostly closed) listening in to make sure she was really okay. We would check on her every now and then, but we also had a video monitor which was very helpful when she got older. I can admit, without my extremely insightful husband, I would have just slept with her. It’s not easy hearing your baby cry like that, but in the long run and for her health, it was the best way.

She now takes naps and sleeps in her crib wonderfully. Some nights she even asks to go to bed. Without sleep training and enduring those hard nights, she would not be as adapted to ‘night-night’ time. Not everyone can do it the way we did, but I recommend training your baby to get used to sleeping alone. Not only does she get better sleep, I get better sleep. My husband gets better sleep, and all of us are not grumpy when we wake up. Now, at 22 months old, she won’t even take a nap with me (which we used to do before she turned one). She just tosses and turns and whines until I put her in her own bed with her baby doll lovey. I get a little sad that my baby is really growing up, but it’s good that she likes her own bed.

It’s great! No more worrying about sleep.

Societal and Social Stigmas:

These are placed on many parents, and some parents (depending on how they grew up or who they associate with) are more prone to listen to these stigmas. Sometimes that means striving to make all social occasions whether it be partying or family gatherings. Sometimes it’s putting a parent’s want over a child’s need (like skipping nap-time because of a previously planned engagement).

The pressure felt it real, but physical and mental health (especially for the child) are more important. It does no good to take a screaming baby out to a party and expect to have a good time. I mention this because a lot of people in my generation (I suppose we are referred to as ‘millennials’) are trying to do everything all at once: get the great career, get the great house, the great partner, the great baby, the great whatever, all while bringing the baby along to a drinking soiree with a few fellow baby-mama’s at 8P.M. when the baby should really be asleep. (This is just an example of one circumstance that could arise.)

I used to be there- hoping that I could live my own life while also giving proper care to a baby, but all I found was failure. In truth, I was being selfish. I was not able to party all night, then get up at 5A.M. with a baby (if she had slept all night) and be the best mom during my day as a SAHM. It was not healthy, and it was not conducive to my relationships. I started getting over-tired and down right depressed. I didn’t like living that way, and maybe some people can do it? But being a parent doesn’t only involve posting pictures and chatting about how awesome the baby is, it’s more- so much more.

I choose to spend most of my time with my husband and my toddler because I love them and I love me. My values and my priorities have changed since I tried to be a party-person and a good-mom all at once. Both is not possible, and that’s okay. Frankly, I find that it’s good, at least for me. I try to remember that preconceived notions about parenthood are often incorrect. I didn’t know how difficult being a parent could be. I was unaware a colicky baby meant crying for hours and hours with no reprieve. I was unaware that taking care of a human being would take so much out of me.

I was also unaware that I would gain so much insight and so much love.

Lillian is worth all of the turmoil I personally went through, whether that be mentally or physically. And without all of the personal work I have done during this journey, I would not be this content presently. I am always working towards my values, and trying my hardest to not get upset when things just don’t go my way. Life often doesn’t go the way we wanted, and that is okay too.

 

Tantrums

Parenting is a learning process in every realm of life, this is just another hurdle to overcome.

My daughter is now 22 months old. With her birthday coming up, I’ve noticed that the “terrible twos” are slowly and sporadically becoming a thing.

The best example of this is when we go shopping. Whether it be grocery or retail, she wants to walk. She loves being independent and walking is one of her ways of exuding this. As a SAHM, I often bring her to stores (or other places like the the library) just to get out of the house and experience different things. Before now, she would usually ride in the cart or her stroller and be fine with me pushing her around. However, as of late, she has not been content with Mama doing all of the walking. “Walk!” is often a shouted word at some point during our excursions. I’ll explain and say something along the lines of “Sweetie, you can’t walk right now, but how about you help mommy pick out some groceries.” Sometimes this works, for at least a little while, until she sees something interesting (like shoes…Oh, this girl loves her some shoes) and wants to walk some more. (I mean, shoes ARE for walking…)

Herein lies the problem of parenthood discipline. I find myself getting frustrated with her. I often compose myself before we start having a shouting match, but her attitude becomes intolerable. She will continue to yell and whine when I tell her that she needs to “calm down” or “you won’t get a snack if you keep yelling”. These tactics don’t always work when she’s already on a tantrum roll. Even when I ask her last resort things like, “do you want to hold onto mama’s phone?”, she yells “NOOooooo!” then scrunches her face and arches her body in frustration. I get it, she’s not even two and she understands a whole bunch of words but can’t express herself. I understand that it’s difficult being confused in this huge strange world. What frustrates me is purely selfish: I don’t want others to see her tantrum and think negative things, I don’t want to have to leave the store, I want her to be happy 24/7 – but these are just unrealistic thoughts. And on the other hand, if I give in to her tantrum, it only prolongs the issue.

Example: I once let her out of the shopping cart to explore the store. After a few minutes of her staying near me, she soon saw an exploring opportunity and was off. I was forced to run after her and leave the cart unattended. I saw that she was happy being “free”, but running into people and pulling things off of shelves was not good. She screamed when I picked her and people looked wearily in my direction, but they can just shut up. I have to remember that I’m a parent doing my best, and Lillian is an almost two-year old testing her independence. I don’t spank, it’s proven not to work and I know it would only make the situation worse. (Plus, I’d feel extremely guilty. I will most likely write another post about spanking, but here is a quote from a science-based article- “They found that spanking was associated with 13 out of a total of 17 negative outcomes they assessed, including increased aggression and behavioral and mental health problems as well as reduced cognitive ability and self-esteem.”Article Here. ) I explained to her what I was doing and then I gave her an option. She could sit in the basket or go home. She chose the basket (with a bit more yelling–hence prolonged issue and next time she might not be so compliant because I let her out), but she calmed down and we didn’t have to leave the store. I was spent after this episode and utterly appalled at the situation because she hadn’t really thrown a big tantrum in a store before.

Later, I realized that my feelings weren’t important during that moment. What mattered was making the right decision (which is not always the easiest) and making the circumstance better for all involved. Each and every situation that arises while being a parent is a lesson, whether it’s hidden or yelling at you in the face.