Monday, February 28, 2011

I just wish my life would change!

"I just wish my life would change!" is a phrase I've been hearing a lot lately, spoken from my seven year old daughter. This is a phrase no child should ever have to utter. Even though it's her father she feels this way towards, in the end it's my fault. As her mother it's my job to see that she never feels that way, and I've failed. I've allowed my own fears and insecurities to crowd out the needs of my child. As a mother, I feel like a complete failure. The saddest part is that I know one day she's going to want to know why I allowed things to continue for so long and I don't have a good reason to give her. He's not physically abusive, the damage he does is verbal and emotional. In the end maybe thats even worse. He doesn't enrich our lives in any way yet I've kept him around. I was researching earlier the effects of verbal abuse on young girls and felt devestated. If I don't do something soon, she's going to grow into an insecure woman who thinks it's normal and there for ok, to be treated like crap by men. I wrote before about breaking the cycle but I need to take my own advice. My children are better than that!
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Sunday, February 27, 2011

How does the story end?

I came into this world on a cold winter day in 1983, from what I've been told the first thing my mother had to say was "If it's a girl I don't want it." She was 18 and my father was 28. It wasn't exactly a match made in Heaven. Mom had had another baby two years earlier, a boy, which she gave up for adoption. My father also had a son from a previous relationship that he had next to nothing to do with. I think my mother was trying to escape her old life and looking for her happily ever after. She picked the wrong man for that.
It wasn't long before my mother had to go to work as a dancer since my father wasn't exactly keen on the idea of working. Unfortunitly, he wasn't very useful when it came to caring for me either. Most of the time I was left in the care of my 11 year old aunt. Luckily for me she was wise beyond her years. Without her I don't know what would have become of me.
I don't have too many memories of my parents when I was little. When I wasn't with my aunt I was bounced around between other family members. Stability wasn't something I was familar with. I remember calling my aunt Mommy instead of calling my mother that.
Eventually when I was 8 I went to live with my dad's brother and his wife. We didn't exactly get along. My uncle had the habit of talking bad about my parents and even though most of it was probably true, I still defended them. During this time my mother, who had given birth to another boy, barely had anything to do with me and my father moved to Arizona with his girlfriend. The month after I turned 11 I flew out there to live with them, thus beginning another chapter of my life.
At first everything was great. I was thrilled to finally be living with my father. It wasn't long though till his girlfriend became very cruel to me. She slept all day when she was suposed to be caring for me, yelled at me, told me I was going to turn out just like my mother. And my dad never defended me. It didn't take long before I despised her. Unfortunitly, being so far away from my family, she was the only mother figure I had. So despite my hatred for her I also loved her and wanted her love in return. Eventually right before I started the 6th grade they finally split up.
It seems like it didn't take too long before he started a relationship with another woman who later became my stepmother. She had a young son who was 5 years old. I adored them both. It was the family I had always wanted. We had actual homecooked meals together sitting at the table like a family should. She would fix my hair and help me with my homework, all the things I had been yearning for a mother to do. And my new brother was a joy. I didn't even mind when he wanted to hang out with me and my friends. He was a great kid. Eventualy my "parents" had a baby together, the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. She was such a good, easy baby. Other than the normal teenage problems, life seemed to be wonderful. Until the day came that my father changed all that.

To be continued...

Like father, like husband

I've been noticing lately that no matter how hard we try to fight against it, the men we choose to have relationships with, are in at least some way, reminders of our fathers. This can be either a good thing or a bad one. If your father was a kind, loving, hard working man, and you choose a spouse who has those same qualities, then you're probably ok. On the other hand, if your father was prone to not working, being decittful, or abusive in some way and your spouse acts the same way, then you're continuing the cycle. It seems like we naturally gravitate towards what we know, even if it's not good, it's our comfort zone.
Unfortunitly, it's not just our own lives this affects. Our children also suffer from this cycle. If we don't do anything to change the circumstances of our lives then our children learn the same things we did. Change is scary but it's also a nessesary part of life. If you want a better life for your kids, then break the cycle. Don't condem your children to the same life that you've been so unhappy with. Give them a chance at a happier more productive future.
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Happily ever after?

Does happily ever after really exist or is it just an illusion that fairy tales fills little girls' heads with? When we're little we're told "innocent" stories of beautiful princesses waiting for their prince charmings to come and resue them. They're filled with pretty dresses, catchy songs, evil villians and handsome princes, but they give little girls the wrong idea about life and about love in general. These bedtime stories we tell our daughters give them the impression that to be important and to be happy they have to wait for a man to save them. I know that these are just stories but do they all have to be the same? Can't there be a few stories about smart, funny, strong girls that work hard and make their own lives meaningful? Then later when they know who they are and what they want they meet a kind, caring, hard working man and work together as a team to build a life. Young girls need to know that there are other kinds of happily ever after besides just sitting around and waiting to be resued.
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A Superhero Birthday Party

               Red and blue streamer hung from the ceiling in sweeping arches, fluttering softly with the opening and closing of the front door. Green, red, yellow, blue and orange balloons also dangled in bunches from the ceiling. Dozens more balloons danced across the floor with every step that was taken. Everywhere you looked there were superhero decorations; Spiderman, Ironman, and Transformers. A three year old boys’ dream birthday party.
                In the middle of the blue tablecloth covered table was the main attraction, a blue cake with Batman riding a motorcycle that my son had happily picked out himself. The rest of the table and countertops were filled with food. Chips with a homemade cheese and salsa dip my husband had made. Football shaped chocolate chip cookies. A tray full of colorful veggies and dip that all the kids greedily devoured. Candy in Spiderman wrapping. And on the stove came the aroma of fresh baked peperoni pizzas.
                Eight giggling, screeching children ran amok in our two bedroom apartment, obviously having a blast. Balloons flew through the air and noisemakers blew. Even the baby was in on the madness, crawling and laughing after the bigger kids.
                When it was time for the presents to be opened, all the kids gathered around the birthday boy and his pile of gifts. Three adults were ready with camera phones to capture every smile over each new treasure. The messiest yet possibly the most fun new toy, was the Spiderman Web Shooter. Adults and children both squealed and laughed as they were sprayed with blue silly string. There was blue “web” hanging from the streamer, covering the tables and toys, and dangling from pony tails. After the new toys were played with came a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Dizzy, blindfolded kids tried to put a sticker tail on a donkey taped to the door. They had so much fun that even when the winner was announced, they continued to play.
                Next, came a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” as the guest of honor blew out the flame on the number three candle standing next to Batman. Staying with the superhero theme of the party, was Superman ice-cream.
                At the end of the day popped balloons were on the floor, the streamer sagged, the trash can was overflowing of superhero plates and napkins, and Ironman wrapping paper lay bunched on the floor. The veggies and pizza were devoured, the juice spills cleaned up. My house was a mess, I was exhausted, and my son was blissfully happy. Hunter’s third birthday party was deemed a success!


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Thursday, February 24, 2011

LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table

When my oldest daughter, who is now seven, was a baby she got the LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table as a present. It's an awesome toy! Other than just playing music, it also teaches colors, counting and ABCs. The legs pop off so that a baby who is just learning to sit up alone can play with it, or put the legs back on and they practice learning to stand up. It has a volume control on the bottom which I love and the batteries don't seem to wear down quickly. This toy is so durable that it was passed on to my younger cousin, then on to my three year old son and 11 month old daughter. It's made it's way all through our family and held up wonderfully. My seven year old and her friends still love this toy. It is definatly worth the money!


My youngest daughter got the Playskool Weebles Treehouse this year for her first Christmas and she loves it. It's got a handle on the side that takes the weebles up a staircase then they slide down a slide which has a button at the bottom that plays music when the weebles land on it. There are different sets you can buy and they are very durable. She has a ball playing with the people in her highchair while I'm busy in the kitchen. And it's not just a toy for babies either, my three year old and seven year old play with it just as much as the baby does.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Raising a daughter

Repost from earlier this year and a much needed reawakening.              

Raising a daughter is one of the most rewarding, life changing things you can ever do, but it is also one of the scariest. It goes beyond making sure she’s fed and has clothes and shelter. A young girl’s confidence and self-esteem are so fragile. Everything you say, do and show her tells her something about herself. And sometimes the message she gets isn’t the one you intended to give her.
I never had very much confidence or self-esteem myself when I was growing up. Perhaps this is in part why when I was nineteen I hooked up with a man nine years older than me. I was young, naive and insecure. I had no idea who I really was. Within a month of being together I was pregnant. I gave birth to my daughter when I was twenty. She was a huge shock to me. My tenseness and insecurity seemed to get passed on to her right from the beginning. She and I both spent many days crying our eyes out. I think the fact that I wasn’t comfortable with myself told my infant daughter that I wasn’t comfortable with her and was the breeding ground for her own insecurities to start building. So before she had even reached her first milestone, I had unintentionally taught her a lesson that she never should have learned.
The relationship between my baby and me didn’t seem to be getting any better over the years. I was still trying to find my place in the world, and even though her basic needs were met my patience didn’t always extend to playing with her as much as I should have. It was easier to tell her to go play with her toys or with her cousins then it was to actually sit on the floor and give her the one-on-one attention she needed and wanted from me. When I did try to devote more time and attention to her, her needs seemed to be unsationable. She couldn’t get enough attention. I dressed her in adorable clothes and fixed her hair pretty, showed her off at work on my days off, but to actually sit and listen to what seemed like non-stop rambling, was just too much. In this way I taught her that it was important to look pretty but that what she had to say wasn’t important to me. And if her thoughts weren’t important to her own mother, why should they be important to anybody else. Another lesson better left unlearned.
Then came the day that her father and I, who had been separated since she was seven months old, got back together. She was three and a half by this time and had never really known him. Even though he was older than I was he didn’t have much patience for her non-stop questions and stories either. He was a better playmate for her than I was since to him this was all new but his limits were quickly reached. Then she was sent off to her room to play. It wasn’t long before we got married and I became pregnant with a boy, which is what my husband had always wanted. I was learning to be more patient with my daughter, while her father seemed to get less patient. His lack of patience seemed to get worse the older our son got. Everything was about Daddy’s little buddy. The lesson here, her brother was more important than she was.
Now we have a third child, another daughter, who my husband lavishes attention on. Luckily, our first born seems to truly love her younger brother and sister even though her father treats them better than he does her. She and I still have times when we but heads, she still requires more time and patience then my other two children, but in a way we’re closer because of it.
My daughter’s insecurities were made painfully clear to me just last night. She had gotten in trouble for something she did at a friend’s house, which I handled just between me and her. Unfortunately, her father found out about it and she got in trouble again, even though I told him I had handled it. I went to her room to talk to her and what she had to say shocked me. She said that she wished her life could be different. No seven year old child should ever have to feel that way. She proceeded to tell me that she felt like she was always in trouble and that it didn’t matter how hard she tried to be good. She felt that her dad was always mad at her and saying mean things to her and that she didn’t feel like he loved her. I agree with her that he’s not as nice to her as he is to her siblings. I get on to him about it all the time, sometimes quietly sometimes with shouting and arguments. In the end he usually apologizes but it always ends up happening again. She forgives him because she wants his love and attention but you can tell by the look in her eyes that she knows it won’t be the last time. Even though I say something to him about his behavior I’m not actually doing anything to stop it from happening. This is teaching her that she’s not important and not as deserving of love and affection.
I love my daughter dearly, but the things she said to me last night made it very clear to me that I’m not doing my job as a mother. It’s my place to not only teach her, but protect and nurture her as well. Physically, she’s perfectly healthy and cared for, but emotionally she’s being neglected. I lost sight of what my job was, to help her build the confidence and self-esteem she needs to grow and function in this world. To give her the tools she needs to find her place in this world. Raising a daughter is very rewarding but it’s a huge responsibility too. Never again will I forget how fragile and insecure they can be.

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Facebook and texting

I'm almost ashamed to admit it but Facebook and texting have become my lifelines. Physically I spend all my time either with my kids or at school. Sometimes the need to talk to somebody over the age of seven is almost overwhelming. Since having an actual conversation can be difficult while chasing a baby, taking a three year old potty, and answering the limitless amount of questions a seven year old can come up with, I find myself either texting or posting whenever I get the chance. It's easier to check my phone or computer in between kids and studying. They also come in handy since a lot of my friends live in Arizona and with the time difference, kids, jobs, and school, talking isn't very easy. I never thought it was possible but I'm completly addicted to my phone and computer! There are some drawbacks to this though. I get so used to texting and posting that sometimes I don't even bother to walk next door to talk to my neighbor! Cell phones and online social networks can be wonderful ways for busy parents to keep in touch with the outside world, but they can't completly replace having coffee with a best friend.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

From bottles to sippys

From bottles to sippys, sippys tocups, kids grow up so fast. My youngest is getting ready to turn one on the 1st and I can't believe how fast it has gone. It seems like only yesterday she was this little newborn snuggled up against me. Now she's walking on wobbly legs and chasing after her siblings. She'll stop to snuggle for a minute but then she's on the move again.
My middle child just turned three, so he's moving from the sippy to a regular cup and from diapers to undies. Almost overnight when he turned three, he started wanting to do more things on his own and telling me that he's a big guy. Luckily for me he still likes to give lots of hugs and kisses.
Last, there's my seven year old. Most days I swear she's going on seventeen! Sometimes it seems like life has made her wise beyond her years. I know in a way that's my fault.
My kids are getting so big so fast. One day, I'll wake up and they'll be grown. I was given a reality check today about my kids and the things I show them. It's time to make a change cause one day in the not so far future, the bottles, sippys and diapers will be gone and my snuggly little babies will be adults. At least some of what they do then depends on what I show them now.
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My favorite time of day

I used to live for my kid's nap time, but that never seems to work out right. I put my three year old down, then the baby wakes up, I get the baby down, then the three year old wakes up. It's a vicious cycle. Now I live for 8 o'clock at night. The older two kids lay down in their beds for an hour of tv time, the baby lays down in her crib, and other than the snoring my husband does from the recliner, all is quiet. I love this time. It's when I get to watch what I want on tv, read without being interupted, or take a hot shower without my three year old coming to the door to ask if I'm ok. I love my children, but the thought of 8 o'clock is what gets me through the day sometimes.
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