Posted in 3rdMomof3, Surviving, Third Family

I See You!

To the mom that is bearing her soul to those on her social media, because she doesn’t have friends or family she can comfortably confide in because she has trust issues from being hurt so many times. I see you!!

To the mom at the pool on her phone checking her texts or checking her social media for 5 minutes, because this is the only time your pre-teen or teen kids have left you alone for 5 minutes in days. I see you!!

To the mom that takes the extra 5 minutes in the car with the music blaring, because you just got a text from your husband that your kids are arguing… again. I see you!!

To the mom that feels like she is a failure, because your daughter had to spend 3 months in rehab. I see you!!

To the mom that is afraid her kids will leave her, because she disciplined them or said no. I see you!!

To the mom that watches TikTok and says I can relate to that so much but is too afraid of posting it in her own words, because she will be judged. I see you!!

To the mom that says ‘yes’ to everyone but herself, because she is a people pleaser and saying ‘yes’ is the only way people will like her. I see you!!!

To the mom that craves ‘date night’ consisting of dinner and talking with her husband but doesn’t, because she fears rejection. I see you!!

To the mom that is afraid of letting your teen age daughter stay with anyone except you and your husband, because you are afraid of her relapsing and no one else knowing how to handle it. I see you!!

To the mom that has an illness that no one can visibly see and is told constantly that ‘you’re fine’ or it’s made out like it’s no big deal because someone else has the ‘same’ illness. I see you!!

To the mom that has an medical condition that affects her memory because her ex-husband used her head as a punching bag. I see you!!

To the mom that just wants to be heard have their feelings validated but won’t stand up for herself out of fear of being alone. I see you!!

To the mom that feels so overwhelmed and anxious but has made it a point to start therapy, because you finally decided you can’t do this alone and want to show your kids it’s ok to need therapy. I see you!

To the mom that fears posting this will bring judgement, but posting anyway because it may help just ONE mom feel like she’s not alone. I see you!!

Posted in Third Family

Emma Update #2

We had another visit with Emma and have begun virtual family sessions since my last update. Unfortunately her counselor left the facility (got a promotion elsewhere) but she likes her new counselor. It just so happens this new counselor is the VP of the facility so she is very well versed in all the ins and outs of what is needed to ‘graduate’.

Our last visit was awesome!!! Emma has really made MAJOR life improvements! I am seeing our Emma, our happy & fun loving Emma again! While we were talking to her about her week she let us know they had an assembly that day. When they have assemblies they have them in the gym and the staff along with the girls & boys attend, while they keep the boys & girls separate they attend all assemblies together. This one was a special one, because they handed out awards. Emma was just beaming when she told us that she was recognized in front of everyone and received FOUR awards!!! To say I am proud is an understatement! This is a MAJOR accomplishment for her and she deserves each one of the awards! Which are, Most Helpful, Award for Self Control!!, Most IMPROVED!, and Resident of the Month for May!

There are 4 phases that they have to complete in order to be successfully discharged from the program. She has really worked so hard at each phase and is currently on her last phase which is the Transition phase. That means she will transition to come home.

Emma is continuing to do a phenomenal job at working on herself and using her coping skills, she put those skills to work at the beginning of last week. While she has been working hard, she did have a minor verbal altercation with one of the other girls & a staff member (because she inserted herself into a situation that wasn’t her business). I got a phone call from the Director stating that Emma was saying she was done with the program and wanted to come home. I was able to talk to her, and we chatted for about 30 minutes about how far she’s come in her recovery and she is entitled to have an ‘off’ day but has to refer back to her coping skills and remember what she is working towards. I also reminded her of her Self Control Award and that she has now set a standard for herself that she has to hold herself to. I am happy to report that she chose to continue in her treatment and we ended the phone call on a happy note. Three days later I got a letter in the mail from Emma thanking me for believing in her and just listening. She said she is very happy that she chose to stay because she has worked so hard and doesn’t want to let herself down. She also realized that she is now in a leadership position and has to set an example for the other residents. By far the best part of her letter was the part where she said she had been praying so much, more than she has ever prayed before! Before she went in, when she was at her lowest, she was questioning how God could let so many bad things happen to one person, and now she says she is going to use this to help other people that have been where she has. And that my friends is the WHY!

This past Thursday we had our first virtual family (mom, dad, Emma, & counselor) session. Madisyn & Will will have their own sessions with her and the counselor. It was a great session. We were able to go over what we expect when she comes home and she seems to be very receptive to our rules. We also discussed what things are going to change on our part when she comes home, because, let’s face it, this is NOT just an Emma issue!

Mark & I took turns telling her what we love about her and the counselor had to keep reminding her to just say ‘thank you’ after we gave her a compliment. I could tell that it was very difficult for her to hear positive things about herself, even though it’s things we tell her anyway. She has had a very hard time seeing the positive in herself. Then it was our turn… She had to say things to us that she loves… And I was not expecting the things she said to me. She said she loves that I put everything on a calendar and write everything down, because it keeps our family organized and she loves that I had the strength to leave my ex and chose Mark to have our family with. She told Mark she loves that he loves her and has always been her dad. And for both of us that despite our health we always make sure we take care of them.

I can’t say that I have done a lot right in my parenting. I can’t even say I’ve done 50% of things right. But hearing those words from her I know that I am doing something right! I see more and more of myself in her each time we talk. She is so strong and resilient! I love that sweet girl of mine! I can’t wait to see what amazing things she does in this world!

Posted in Third Family

It’s Graduation Day!

Congratulations son! I am so very proud of you. You told me at the beginning of this school year and all throughout the year – “Don’t worry mom, I’ve got everything under control. I promise I will graduate!” And here we are! You kept your promise.

Your life started off so rocky. You were born into a life of turmoil and fighting. I never wanted that for you. I always promised to keep you safe. You were my saving grace, your smile is what kept me going each day. You made all the pain I felt worth it. I was keeping you safe.

You found your daddy at 3 years old. The first time you met him you had a connection with him. A connection and a bond that you and I will never experience. A bond that is between a father and a son. I have loved seeing you two on the soccer field, playing video games, him teaching you to drive, and do all the things a dad is supposed to do. It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses through the years but you two have always come back to each other. I know dad’s diagnosis was hard to take and having to see him go through what he had to go through could not have been easy. You were a positive force for both of us during our struggles this year.

You’ve been an amazing big brother. I know it’s been hard having 2 little sisters. But when push comes to shove they know you have their back. You have shown that this year with everything that our family has endured. You have really been a rock for Emma and for Madisyn. They look up to you and I know that they are proud of you.

Senior year is supposed to be the best year ever! But I know that yours was a little different. With dad being diagnosed with a tumor, having brain surgery, having a rough start to recovery, still recovering, still going through doctor’s visits & tests. And then seeing your sister go through all of her struggles and not being here for your graduation. I know you wanted her there and I know she wanted to be there. However, it warmed my heart so much when you said that you did not want to have a party to celebrate until she is able to be home with all of us.

So, you did not have the typical senior year, or a typical/normal life for that matter, but, Son… you made it! YOU did it! And you should be so proud of yourself!

I love you so big! Love, Mom

Posted in Third Family

Living with Epilepsy

Some of you that know me do not know that I have a disability. A disability that I have been told, is not a disability. A disability that sometimes makes it difficult for me to function. A disability that affects my everyday life. A disability that has begun to affect my memory so bad that I am finding it difficult just to remember the most mundane information, let alone my children’s childhood. Epilepsy is a disability, it is not just seizures that you can see, it’s what goes on inside the body as well. It is also the after affects that people don’t understand, unless you deal with it daily.

You see, many many years ago, when I was married to my first husband there was a night that he became the most abusive. He shoved me into the stove so hard that I thought I broke my arm, it wasn’t broken, but the muscle is forever damaged. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he chose to then punch me in the back of the head. He punched me in the right side of the back of my head. I lost consciousness. I’ve experienced deja vu since high school and Epilepsy runs in my family. But my neurologist is leaning more towards my Epilepsy not being genetic but due to Traumatic Brain Injury, due to my him punching the back of my head. In doing so he damaged a part of my brain that controls my memory, called the Hippocampus. For those of you wondering, no I did not leave him at this point. You can read more on this story in this blog post

I didn’t have any Tonic-Clonic seizures (aka grand-mal) at that time. Although, I was having a lot more deja vu sensations, which I would find out later on from my Neurologist that this is actually seizure activity.

Fast forward to 2012. I was cleaning the garage and stepped on a rusty nail. It went almost through my foot. I had to go to the doctor for a tetanus shot and they also gave me Tramadol for the pain. I didn’t want to take medicine, but there was a hole in my foot and it was hurting pretty bad. So I took a dose and laid down. Next thing I knew my husband was on the phone with my dad and I was on the floor. I had no idea how I ended up there and my entire body was tense and sore. I eventually was able to gain enough consciousness to realize that I had bitten my tongue. I went to the neurologist a little while after that. They were able to regulate the seizures for a little while.

However since 2012, I have had 4 Tonic-Clonic seizures and too many Simple Partial/Focal seizures (Auras/Deja Vu feelings) to count. I have even had a weeklong hospital stay where they’ve take me off of my medication to force a seizure. And while I did not have a TC seizure, I did have quite a bit of seizure activity. We’ve tried about 10-12 different medications and they’ve either not worked or I have had an allergic reaction to them.

I had an appointment with my doctor last week because I have been living a nightmare lately. I cry silently because I can’t remember a lot about kids growing up, thank God I force them to take so many pictures. I have been having multiple Simple Partial/Focal seizures a week. And with each one my memory fades even more. While at my Neuro appointment last week I was informed that I am running out of options, because the only reason those aren’t TC seizures, is because I am taking my medicine. We are trying a new combination of medication. If that does not work then we are going to try one more medication. If neither of those work then I will have to have surgery. My Neurologist wants to remove the right temporal lobe of my brain and possibly the Hippocampus depending on the damage.

Not only does Epilepsy affect my memory, but my anxiety & stress has increased, I have more headaches, am tired more often, have more mood swings, there are days where my body just cannot function. So if you see me having an ‘off’ day or I’m not my usual bubbly self please don’t take it personally.

What I have learned from this disability is that just because you can’t see someone’s disability does not mean that they don’t have one.

Also there is unfortunately times where this disability claims the life of people that we love and adore. And unfortunately it does not discriminate against age, we lost a young lady in our community to this awful disability. We need to raise more awareness for Epilepsy, and not just in November.

Posted in Third Family

Emma Update

I know everyone has been anxiously awaiting an update on our sweet Emma! I am happy to report she is doing AMAZING!!!

Mark and I have had 2 visitations at the residential home. The first one was a little awkward, trying to navigate all the rules and regulations. But once we got past all of that, it was a great visit. She was so eager to tell us about everything. Her grades have drastically improved! She went from failing every single class to now making A’s & B’s! She has not gotten below an 80 on any of her quizzes/tests! It warmed my heart to see her so confident. Responsibility has never been her strong suit, as I have pretty much done everything for all 3 kids since the day they were born. But, she now gets up at 5am every morning, showers, sweeps & mops her floor in her room, and gets ready for school. Along with that, she does her own laundry twice a week & even deep cleans her room. One thing she told me was that I’d be so proud, because she cleans it the way I would. She also is responsible for doing other chores at the home and seems so proud of her hard work.

The second visit was a little different. We had to pick her up the morning of the visit as she had an orthodontist appointment. So we were able to spend most of the morning/early afternoon with her. It was a little tough dropping her back off, because she wanted to go back but also wanted to spend more time with us. Thankfully we had visitation that evening. When we saw her we already could tell she was not as happy as she was earlier. She was struggling being back. So we took that time to reassure her that we are so proud of her for working so hard to accomplish her goals and ‘phasing up’ (which they have to do to be able to come home at their 90 day time). She has already phased up to Level 3. This time she had to write and read an essay in front of the staff. She said she was terrified… BUT she did it!!! By the time the visit ended she was in better spirits.

Along with visitation every other Thursday, she is able to call home once a week for 20 minutes. We look forward to this call each week because we get to hear about all of the wonderful things she is accomplishing.

Today’s call was AWESOME!!! I have not heard her genuinely laughing, (you know that cackling, belly laugh that she does) in so long! It made my heart do cartwheels! Her schooling is improving even more, they had and ‘Ice Cream Social’ that she was so hyped about – she said she even danced, the other girls taught her a few dances, she gets along so well with the staff. I could hear her laughing and joking around with her counselor (who has to be present with every phone call). She has always had a way of bonding with the adults in her life and everyone LOVES her! The director at the home pulled us aside after the first visitation and told us that Emma is awesome and she is one of his favorites. The way she just creates happiness wherever she goes makes my mom-heart smile. I just hope and pray that she now sees what we see when we are all around her. One of the best things I have seen from this time away is, Emma is starting to LOVE EMMA!

Posted in Third Family

The Changing Phone Call

*ring ring*

Here is a synopsis of the phone call that changed our family FOREVER!

Hello, Mrs. Third. Can you come to the school? Emma was turned in for vaping in the courtyard so we had to search her belongings. We did not find a vape on her, however, we found something more disturbing. We found a ziploc bag of pills in her backpack.

At first, the school thought they were Emma’s pills. But eventually after speaking with me, got to the bottom of the fact that she got them from a ‘friend’. You see, the night before this phone call Emma refused to come home from school. Instead of forcing her to come home, we chose to allow her to stay with her friend for the night. While some may see this as a bad decision, I think this choice was a good one. Because it led to where we are right now. I always say “Everything happens for a reason”.

When we got to the school to pick her up she was disrespectful & non caring towards dad and I. She had this ‘I don’t care what you say or think’ attitude. At one point Mark asked for her phone, she then looked at him in disgust and said ‘Uhm, why?’ To this one of the counselors that walked to the office with her took the reigns of explaining to her that she didn’t deserve to have her phone at that point because of the choices she was making. She complied with his request, reluctantly. Once we got the go ahead we left the school with Emma.

During our family therapy session that Wednesday… We found out that she had been using Ibuprofen, my seizure meds, etc to snort to get a *high*. Madisyn told us that she actually witnessed this while she, Emma and Emma’s friend were hanging out in our neighborhood. Emma blew up at her during therapy and Madisyn broke down saying she just wanted her sister to live and not hurt herself.

When we arrived home from the school, she was not happy that we were upset with her. So much so, that she decided she was going to run away. We were informed by the School Resource Officer if she did this to call the non emergency line and have an officer come out and take a report. So we did exactly this. But by the time the police arrived she had came back home. They took a report and talked to Emma anyway.

Mark and I decided that we would start going through her room, this was the last straw for us. She had ‘drugs’ on her at school and was possibly facing expulsion and because she now has a history (what we thought was a 1 time thing) of actually using pills. As we were going through her room we came across a make up container & 2 other containers FULL of powder, but it wasn’t make up. It was crushed up pills! We also found a whole ‘cutting/snorting kit’, marijuana vape cartridges, & 3 vapes. Because I have allergies to different medications (even to the touch), we decided to call the non emergency number again to file a report and have the stuff destroyed.

This time when she spoke to the police they spoke outside, she told the officer that she didn’t want to ‘go out like her bio father’. She wanted to ‘go out’ like his mom, and that was an intentional overdose. She told them she intended to line up ALL of the powder and snort it at once. So they Baker Acted her. This was her 5th Baker Act.

She was at the facility for 5 days. They wanted to release her sooner, but we fought for her to stay there while we worked on getting a treatment plan in place for when she was released. Prior to her release the doctor had contacted us about getting her into a residential treatment facility. [If you know our family, you know that we have been looking for a residential facility for suicide attempts for her for about a year now. There had been no help with that. Financial or otherwise. The least expensive facility that we had found was $10,000 a MONTH out of pocket.] When the doctor recommended residential treatment, we were devastated, because we knew this but haven’t been able to get that help. However, because there is now drug use, and Emma informed us that it’s been going on for 5+ months, there is hope.

We were told to contact a facility we haven’t contacted. I made that phone call, halfway thinking I’d get the same news, about the cost. But when the lady told me that they work with payment plans and it’s a ‘pay what you can, when you can’ because they are there to help place. I broke down! I just cried, I apologized to the lady, but told her that she just didn’t know what it meant to us to hear that we were going to get the help our daughter needs! This is why I said ‘Everything happens for a reason’. The facility is 100% voluntary, so Emma had to agree to go.

When we spoke to Emma, she took that first step! She agreed to go. She admitted she needed help and couldn’t do it on her own or at home anymore. So we picked her up from the first facility (because we had to transport her to the rehab facility on the 8th). We spent the evening together and let her know how proud of her we are.

On the 8th, Mark and I took her to begin her treatment. We toured a little bit of the facility and are pleased with the set up. The staff members were very welcoming and helpful and reassuring. We spent a while doing all the necessary paperwork, etc. When it was time for Mark and I to leave, Emma was so strong. I kept telling her how proud of her that I am and she is going to come out of this so much stronger and healthier. She didn’t cry. I didn’t cry. I didn’t want to cause her any emotional stress.

This was the hardest and most sickening decision we have ever made as parents. Being away from my daughter is going to be debilitating! I know this is what is best for her in the long run, but without her being home for a minimum of 90 days is going to be the toughest thing I have ever had to go through as a mom. I love my daughter with my whole heart and I want to see her go to high school, graduate, go to college, live out her dreams.

In closing, don’t take one day with your kids for granted! Please be mindful & kind to others. You may think that you know what they are going through, but unless you have lived it, you have no idea. If you used to see a lot of a friend, and you don’t anymore, reach out to them… They could be dealing with more than you know but don’t want to burden you with their problems. Especially your mom friends, you know we all try to keep it together for fear of being judged! Well I am here to tell you, this MOM is falling apart! This mom is without one of her kids at home, there is no cure for this illness that my daughter is suffering from. She will always suffer from this, but with therapy and support she can be a survivor instead of a statistic!

*I did ask my daughter if I could share her story, and she is okay with it.

Posted in Third Family

Glomus Jugula…What???

‘I will go to the doctor later.’ ‘I don’t have time to go to the doctor.’ ‘Something came up so I need to cancel my appointment.’ ‘I need to go to the doctor but I’m not important enough to take care of.’ Okay okay, so the last one wasn’t actually something my husband had said to me. But aren’t we all really saying that when we make the other 2 statements or something to that effect?

On November 9th 2021 our life as we knew it would be forever changed. My lovable, yet stubborn husband finally came to me and told me that he was having trouble closing his left eye completely, having trouble with his ear that he attributed to sinus problems. So I called my primary doctor to see if I could get him in asap, they had me look him over and do a couple of ‘tests’, i.e. having him smile, close his eyes, etc. I immediately became concerned because when he smiled I could tell something was off (I hadn’t noticed before because he doesn’t usually do a huge smile, so it wasn’t that noticeable). Once I told the receptionist this she told me to immediately take him to Urgent Care.

Once at Urgent Care, the doctor looked him over briefly and sent us straight to the Emergency Room. They were afraid he was experiencing stroke symptoms, or possibly Bells Palsy. He immediately had a CT scan done once in a room. And since it usually takes a while to get the results we each thought that would be the best time for me to run home to switch out vehicles and to comfort our girls who were very worried about their daddy. I wasn’t gone very long, but the look on my husband, my comforter, my protector, my rock’s face when I walked back into his room made me instantly wish I’d never left the hospital. In that short time I was gone, they came into the room to give him his CT results, there was a mass on his Temporal Bone. They couldn’t tell what it was and an MRI was needed asap. But because they don’t do them overnight at the hospital and because of his symptoms they wanted to admit him.

In all of our years together, I’ve been in the hospital, each of our kids have had visits to the ER but not him. I couldn’t leave his side, I just couldn’t. He had the MRI the afternoon of 11/10/2021. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long to get the results, we got them the next morning. November 11th will forever be the day that changed my husband. He is still the same man that I married, but I know that this was one of the hardest days of his life. The MRI confirmed what the ENT Specialist had suspected, the mass was a Glomus Jugulare Tumor. A rare, benign tumor, however, it was affecting his facial nerve and causing his eye to not close.

From November to the end of January we attended more doctor’s visits than he has had our entire marriage. Over those few months the paralysis in his face became a lot worse and more noticeable, and the tumor had increased in size. So surgery was decided upon as the ONLY treatment. But it wasn’t just going to be ONE simple visit.

On February 3rd he went into the hospital for what was supposed to be easiest part of the surgery. This was the Embolization of the tumor, so that he doesn’t bleed as much, given that this is a vascular tumor. What was supposed to be a couple day stay turned into a 4 day stay in the hospital. He spiked a fever and was in a lot of pain. Thankfully there was no sign of infection and he was discharged soon enough to spend some time with the kiddos before his major surgery.

Mark, his mom, and I stayed in a hotel the night before the surgery so that we wouldn’t have to rush to get to the hospital by 6am on February 10th. They started the surgery at 8:40 am. One surgeon had to go in and loop his carotid artery. And then his primary surgeon started his portion of the surgery. Once they opened him up, they saw that the tumor had eaten COMPLETELY through his facial nerve and that is why he has the paralysis. It took them 3 hours to get to the point to where the tumor was exposed and they could see all the damage. Once they removed the tumor they took a portion of a nerve in his ankle and sutured it to replace the nerve that was damaged, only time will tell if this will work. The surgeon then had to place a gold weight in his eyelid so that it would close, because it would not close on it’s own anymore due to the damage to the nerve. The last part of the surgery was to unloop the carotid artery. All in all the surgery took 7 hours. 7 long hours! But what made it bearable is the nurse would call me from the operating room and give me updates constantly.

After 3 days in the hospital… we were able to bust out of the hospital. YES 3 days, after brain surgery! He was determined to get out of there and worked so hard to get up, sit in the chair and walk around the hallways.

He’s had countless doctor’s visits since his surgery. And still not fully recovered, recovery could take 2 years or more. One of the problems with this tumor is it is fast growing and there were pieces that were on his carotid artery so they weren’t able to get that part out without it being fatal, so he has to have scans every few months to see if there is any change.

I will say, through all of this, he is still my comforter, my protector, & my rock. But I also found my strength to be those things for him.

Mark, I will always love you the MOSTEST!

Posted in Third Family

We Can End the Cycle!

I want to preface this blog post by saying that I love my parents (all 3 of them) dearly. This is not meant to be a bashing post. I have prayed about how I would write this. I have had major anxiety about it. Writing has always been a way for me to cope with anxiety and trauma. So with that being said I feel that if just one person can read this and relate and realize that they can break the cycle then something good came from my experiences.

I have always had a fear of speaking out about my childhood because I don’t want to hurt my parents but I feel like in order to grow as a mom and a wife I need to be honest with myself. Also I hope this post helps others see that you can overcome your struggles through childhood and still be a better mom.

As I mentioned in my last post, my childhood was not easy and I was very lonely and sad most of the time. I was bounced from my mom & dad’s (my ‘stepdad’ but I refer to him as my dad) to my grandmother’s (my biodad’s mom) throughout my entire childhood. I never felt settled. As a child that was very confusing. The worthless feeling of having 3 parents yet none truly wanted me 100% of the time. My choices as a mom are because I never want my kids to feel the way that I felt.

My biological father is an alcoholic. He was MIA for my entire childhood and now into my adult years. My grandmother took over his visitation schedule and I am forever grateful for her and the love she showed me. She has always been the one constant in my life. He always had a different girlfriend and she (and even her kids at times) were a priority over me. He does not know my kids, I can count on 2 hands how many times they have seen him. My youngest has only seen him once and she was a baby, so she doesn’t remember him. The one memory that I have of him that stands out the most from when I was growing up, was when he got into a horrible car accident caused by him drinking and driving. His best friend at the time bailed him out of jail and brought him home to my grandmother’s. I just happened to be there for the weekend. When he arrived he had a brace on his neck and his face & body was badly bruised. I still remember the way he looked to this day! He made a promise to me that night that he would stop drinking. That, was just the first of many broken promises.

As I said, my grandmother took over his visitation schedule. I would go to her house on the weekends and in the summer. He was never around. My grandmother made sure that when I was there I didn’t feel like I was less than. I feel she tried to overcompensate for him and give me all the things and love that he should have given me.

My mom and dad have been together since I was almost 2 so I don’t remember a time where my (bio)parents were ever together. I have always been closer to my dad though. Out of all 3 parents, I have always been more comfortable going to him if I have a problem. I wanted that kind of relationship with my mom but unfortunately due to her upbringing she just didn’t know how to be that mom. I understand that now as an adult, but it doesn’t take the pain away that I felt as a child.

I have 2 brothers. My mom and dad have a son who is 2 years younger than me. My biodad and (former) stepmom also have a son that is much younger than me. I don’t have a relationship with either. I have not seen my youngest brother since my early teens. It used to make me sad, but now it just makes me hurt for my kids. They have 2 uncles that they don’t really know. I have tried in the past to reach out, but I don’t want my kids to feel that they have to beg for a relationship with their uncles.

Throughout my entire childhood when I lived with my mom and dad I never felt like I was good enough. When I was younger my biggest longing was to feel loved by my parents. I would act out, but not anything above normal acting out. I just wanted them to notice me. My brother was more athletic, smarter, more popular, just all around a better person. I constantly felt compared to him. If I got good grades, his were better. If I tried out for a team and made it there was always a ‘reason’ my parents wouldn’t allow me to do it. When I lived with my grandmother I ran track and I was really good. I won races, I enjoyed it, I made friends. But when I moved back to my parents I wasn’t allowed to run anymore. I started working at 15 because I had to, it wasn’t an option for me not to. My entire paycheck would go to my parents, I didn’t see any of it.

I have tried so hard to use my experiences as learning tools in how I choose to parent and raise my kids. I check in with them to make sure they are not feeling the things I felt. Especially Emma. She reminds me a lot of me growing up. The route I have chosen to go with her is when I hear her cry out for attention I listen. I reassure her that I will always be here for her. This has not always been the case. I did not truly see her anxiety until this last year (See How Did I Not Know). I refuse to have her feel like she cannot come to me. I never want any of my kids to look back on their childhood and feel sad or unloved.

There was a point in time that I voiced my feelings from my childhood to my mom, dad, & brother. I was met with blame, no understanding and guilt. My brother has told me that if I just would have done everything “right” and the way my parents told me to, then I would have had the same treatments he did. As I said before I did 90% of the chores/housework. I cleaned up after the dogs. When I vacuumed the floors there had to be lines in the carpet that all went the same way. I did the dishes and when I was old enough I cooked dinner. It doesn’t seem like a lot right? However, I was required to do all of that, work, and go to school. This is where my obsessive cleaning comes from. I have to constantly remind myself that a dirty dish in the sink, the carpet not being vacuumed a certain way, etc is not going to make my kids and husband love me any less. I know that back when I was growing up the times were totally different, both parents worked, we were latchkey kids, etc. However that doesn’t take away the favoritism that was shown. If my kids are feeling that there is any sort of favoritism going on in my house that I make sure they know they are all loved equally.

I had a great group of friends in high school. My parents didn’t like any of them. I have caught myself judging my kid’s friends unfairly. Only one or two of my friends saw firsthand how my childhood was. It was not pretty at times. There were major fights, screaming (from both sides), etc. Most fights led to me being asked to leave the house. Because of this I spent a lot of my ‘free’ time alone in my room. There were many nights that I cried myself to sleep just wishing that tomorrow would be different. I know my parents loved me. But that didn’t change the hurt thatI felt. I promised myself I would do better than my parents. Just because my kid’s friends haven’t always necessarily been who I’d pick for them doesn’t mean they are bad kids. I noticed a problem and vowed that I would be the end of that problem. I let my kids choose their friends and (within reason) let them find out who is good for them. I am proud to say that they are pretty good judges of character.

I was in elementary school the first time I was molested by a relative, this relative (years later) actually went to jail for doing this to another member of our extended family. I have a lot of guilt that if I just would have spoken up it wouldn’t have happened to anyone else. I never told my parents, at least not until this person passed away. I was already married and had my son when he passed. I was asked if I was going to attend his funeral and I said no. When asked why, I flooded my parents with years of trauma all at once. I was looking for reassurance, for understanding… I was met with anger and guilt. I did not attend the funeral and to this day that phone conversation with my mom rings in my ears. We have never spoken about it since that day! When my daughter told me that she was molested by a classmate when she was in elementary school… I took a totally different approach! All of those feelings came rushing back for me and I vowed she would not feel an ounce of what I felt. We did everything we could to help her cope. She talks about it openly and not once do we make her feel like it was her fault.

Most of what I did when I was a teen was a cry for attention. I drank, I smoked cigarettes, etc. I got attention but it was always negative attention. This negative attention ranged from yelling & screaming to physical altercations. There were times that my mom would just look at my dad and say ‘You need to deal with her, I just can’t’. Sometimes I just wanted her to look at me and say ‘What is going on? What can we do to fix this together?’ When I see my kids making choices that aren’t wise I go to them and talk to them and try to find out why they are making these choices.

As I said in the beginning, I love my parents but sometimes it is best to love from a distance. Some parents have a hard time acknowledging when they messed up, this is why if I handle a situation unfairly or not in the best way with my children I make sure to apologize right away.

I know that my mom had a very hard and tumultuous childhood. I know that has impacted the way she raised me and our relationship now that I am an adult. I see that and I want to make sure that cycle ends with her. I want to learn from the mistakes of all 3 of my parents. I want my kids to be comfortable coming to me with anything. I want to be a stern parent that gets respect, but I also want my kids to feel respected. I want to be the disciplinarian parent, but not physical discipline.

If you are a parent and can relate to my childhood, know that the cycle can end with you.

Posted in 3rdMomof3, Third Family

Anxiety as a Mom & Wife

Do you ever feel like you are in a fog? Like an all day fog?

Do you ever feel like no matter what you do you can’t get ahead? Do you ever have days where every little thing makes you cringe or every small noise makes your skin crawl?

Anxiety is a REAL thing! It is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. It is also one of the things that society views as a weakness. There are so many bloggers and vloggers and social media influencers that are trying to break that view. But, still we look at moms and think… “It is her job to have it all together!”

“You have an amazing life, there is no way you suffer from anxiety!” YES! I have actually been told this! Yes, I do have an amazing life! However, anxiety does not discriminate. I have 3 kids, that means 3 different schedules, 3 different personalities, 3 kids needing my attention at the same time. I also have to make sure that I make time for my husband.

There are mornings I wake up ready to start the day… then there are mornings that I wake up and hope that it’s 2 am so I can go back to sleep. I use to be the person that has to set 15 alarms and even have my husband wake me up. Now most mornings I am the first person awake (before my alarm goes off). I attribute this to my anxiety. My brain’s need for control. My body has adjusted to this need and automatically wakes itself up fearful that I have overslept and then my entire day is off track!

Over the years my anxiety has gone from mild to where I suffer daily. There are many things that are considered triggers for me, as well as ways that my anxiety manifests itself. One of those ways, unfortunately is anger. I try my best to control it, but I am far from perfect. I wish I didn’t have to apologize for being angry and ask forgiveness from the people who mean the most to me. I wish I could control it 100% of the time. I am learning to cope with my anxiety but it is an ongoing journey.

One is of my triggers is my kids. I absolutely LOVE my kids! They are my greatest accomplishments. However, they each have their own ways of triggering my anxiety. There are things that a ‘normal’ mom wouldn’t be so concerned with but I fret over daily. It could be something as small as a wet towel in their bedroom floor. Growing up I had a rough childhood that left me feeling on edge and uneasy. I never want my kids to feel that way and it pains me when I let them down. When I see my kids looking at me, almost pleading for me not to fly off the handle when they make a little mistake, it’s incredibly heartbreaking.

I also have a hard time when others (especially my husband) are critical of our kids. I take it personally and it makes me feel like a failure as a mom. I love my husband and I wake up everyday with the intention of being a perfect wife. Like I said, I am far from perfect but when I don’t reach the level of expectation I put on myself, it triggers my anxiety. The one thing that I would like for my husband to understand (well actually anyone that is involved with someone who suffers from anxiety) is when we are in the middle of an anxiety/panic attack if feels impossible to control. One of the worst things that you can say to someone having an anxiety attack is ‘calm down’… They will not ‘calm down’ they will begin to feel even worse because you’ve now made it known that there is a ‘problem’. This will just be one more thing for us to be anxious about.

Another major trigger for me is clutter. I walk into a room and I say “Ugh the house is a disaster!” My husband’s response is “The house looks great babe!” In his defense my house is very clean. However, when I see dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor, pictures out of place, etc I feel very uneasy. In the 2 years that we have lived in our current house this trigger has gotten worse. I find it hard to get to sleep unless the house is almost immaculate. This goes back to my childhood, our house had to be pristine. Even the carpet had to have vacuum lines going a certain way. I was responsible for 90% of the chores/housework and the feeling of dread (now I know this as anxiety) when my parents came home from work and things were out of place it was all on me. As a mom and wife I have continued to be the one that takes care of 90% of the housework/chores and I still get that same anxious feeling when something is out of place. It is not because of what my husband and kids expect of me, it is what I expect of myself and I feel as though I am letting my family down.

I hope that my family knows how much I love them. I hope they know that when I’m acting like a complete lunatic, it’s not because I’m mad at them. In fact, most of the time what I need in those moments of anger; is compassion, a hug, some alone time or just some kind words.

I said all of that to say this, anxiety is a real thing and it is different for everyone! If you suffer from anxiety please know that you are not alone. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you have a loved one that suffers from anxiety, be a sounding board for them, hug them if they need a hug, take over household duties for the day, take the kids to the park or something and give your partner some alone time.

Lastly, we all need to go easier on each other. We never know exactly what someone has going on in their brain!

Posted in 3rdMomof3, Emma, Madisyn, Third Family

Madisyn & Emma’s Bedroom Makeovers!

We have been in our house for 2 years and we had not painted a single wall. Well that changed this past week!

Madisyn – Before

Let’s start with Madisyn’s room. I began by removing her bed and going through all of the extra ‘stuff’. Her closet was just packed full of clothes she never wears and clothes she isn’t going to grow into for a few years, so needless to say, we downsized. I ended up getting rid of quite a bit of things she just didn’t use. Because let’s face it her 3 favorite things to do in her room are:

  1. Playing school games on her iPad with her friends.
  2. Making and playing with slime.
  3. Playing with Rylee, her guinea pig.

She has been begging for a new bed for a few years now. So we finally decided to take her to Rooms To Go. She chose this one in white, and I absolutely LOVE it! Her need for order and open space was what she put first when searching for the perfect bed, she is definitely her mommy’s daughter! The steps have drawers so she no longer needs a dresser AND it has a built in desk, awesome, right?!?!

Emma – Before

Emma’s room was even more cluttered and messy! Typical teenager’s room *insert eye roll*. She had a whole mish-mosh of decor, stuff she’s collected and just randomness. It took a little longer to de-clutter since she’s more of, what my grandmother would call a ‘pack rat’. Like me she gets bored with the same decor and set up in her room, but we both agreed minimizing the ‘stuff’ and maximizing the ‘space’ would make her feel more grounded. Those that know Emma, know she needs minimal distractions and structure to help with her anxiety.

Madisyn’s room was a bright pink color on EVERY wall, which may work for some people and I love pink, but only as an accent color. Emma’s walls were 2 different colors – 2 walls were baby blue and 2 were a pale yellow. Neither girls were happy with their current colors and I thought about giving them a choice for the walls, but honestly I prefer letting them pick a ‘theme’ for decor on one wall. When we were getting our Palm Bay house ready to sell, I really enjoyed the Greige color that Behr offers at Home Depot. It goes with everything and just looks so clean and sleek! And it is a color that will work in any room.

Normally I really try to get any project I start finished in one day. I get really anxious knowing that there are things out of place. But I am proud to say that we began the process on Saturday after a long morning at volleyball and ended the process last night. So all in all it took us 5 days to complete 2 bedroom renovations. I also added the kids bathroom and then the Master Water Closet (check out my 3rdMomof3 Facebook page to see those transformations) in those days because, well I’m crazy, so my hubby says! It kept me occupied while I waited for the girls beds to be delivered. The girls helped dad and I paint their respective rooms. We only had one mishap, when Madisyn (accidentally) decided to paint an outlet (her roller slipped) and caused the power to go out in her room. Thankfully daddy came to the rescue and changed the outlet!

Madisyn’s bed was delivered on Tuesday so we were able to complete her room first. Originally both beds were supposed to arrive the same day. But I am kind of glad Emma’s was delayed by a day. For Madisyn’s ‘themed’ wall she chose, you guessed it, Volleyball! We call it her VolleyWall! We originally weren’t going to purchase a new bed for Emma, because she has gotten a ‘new to her’ bed since we moved. However, I had a plan in my head to give her more space and also give her sort of a ‘quiet haven’. I decided to get her an inexpensive loft bed. We didn’t want to make a major purchase, because since she’s growing like her brother she will grow out of a twin bed in a few years. She was super excited to pick her themed wall. My Hero Academia and other Anime shows are her passion right now! So, obviously, this was her theme. It’s so awesome that she has her own little space, under her bed where she can cuddle with her dog and read all of her books. We will add her Magic Curtain posters from all of her plays once I get all matching frames, but she really didn’t want a whole lot on her walls.

Overall, I am so pleased with how their rooms turned out! I’m going to add more photos to my Facebook Page. These are just the before and after of the whole room! Let me know what you think!!!

More renovations to come in the near future!