Tantrums Get You Nothing…or Do They?

I cannot count how many times I have told kids, be it my own or my students, that tantrums accomplish nothing and will get them nowhere. Something I failed to recognize until yesterday was the inaccuracy of that statement. Tantrums do accomplish something. Whether that something is getting energy out, expressing a feeling, or learning a lesson about self or life, ultimately something is gained. What is gained may not always be positive but it is still something.

So how did this change in understanding occur for me? What prophetic moment sparked and brought this topic to mind? I wish I could say that it was just something that popped into my head, or that it came up in conversation, but both of those things would be a lie. The truth is, it came about because I, yes me, a grown ass adult, threw a tantrum yesterday.

Okay, so what was this tantrum over?

Well, it was over my workout at the gym. Yes, that is correct, I threw a tantrum at the gym.

What seems like forever ago, but in reality was just 12 short weeks ago, I had major surgery. A hysterectomy at 26 where not only my uterus was removed but pounds, yes pounds (12 to be precise) of scar tissue was removed. This scar tissue had attached itself to my uterus as well as my bladder, causing my stomach to expand as my bladder was slowly ripped in half as it was being stretched across my body.

During the time prior to my surgery I had been working out through my pain and hoping to keep energy and momentum in order to get healthier. I was proud at my progress and found determination in hitting awesome benchmarks. The one I had found myself most proud of was being able to complete a 3 minute and 9 second plank.

Cleared and feeling good at 8 weeks post surgery I went back to working out. Frustrated at a huge amount of weight gain my body experienced post surgery I was ready to get back at it. I had gained over 30lbs. For me that type of gain was unheard of. To be fair any gain was unheard of. Prior to my surgery I had to actively focus in order to not LOSE rapid amounts of weight, gaining weight for me was impossible. Post surgery that is definitely not the case.

So back to that tantrum.

Here I was at the gym. 12 weeks post surgery. I came in ready to push myself and feeling confident. It was AB day. Push-ups, planks, bicycle crunches, planks, burpees, planks, leg lifts, planks. That was my workout. For an hour. 90 seconds a piece. 2x.  And there I was unable to even make a plank for 30 seconds. I found myself comparing myself to pre-surgery me. I could do over 3 MINUTES before surgery and now I couldn’t even make 30 seconds. I felt defeated. I felt sad. I felt ultimately like I was failing because post surgery me couldn’t plank like pre surgery me could. And no matter how much prior I had heard, “you just had major surgery, you’ll get there” I couldn’t get that to make me feel any better. I felt as though if I wasn’t making that then I wasn’t trying hard enough.

The 2nd plank hit in round one and I dropped to my knees about 20 seconds in. I felt the tears coming. They weren’t sad tears. They were angry tears. I was getting angry. By the end of the first set I was pissed. The 2nd plank was worse than the first and I decided that if I couldn’t do those than I would put everything I was feeling into my other exercises and so I did. I hit my burpees with anger, with determination, and I think in the hopes of somehow telling myself it was me making up for something I felt like I was failing – my planks. I slammed my feet into the ground hard with each burpee I hit just trying to work out the extreme amount of pissed off I was feeling and when that 3rd set of planks came around my trainer called me aside, and called me out on what ultimately had been a bit of a tantrum.

He reminded me again that the body takes time to heal, it had only been 12 weeks, and that I can only do so much right now. And I hated those words because I knew it wasn’t what I could do. I had planked for 3 minutes before I could do more than 20 stupid seconds. I felt fine so why couldn’t I work like I was fine? Why wasn’t it showing? That is when I said that I was feeling defeated but bottom line I was feeling like a failure. Like I wasn’t pushing hard enough because I wasn’t meeting previous work expectation. And to me that meant I was failing. Failing myself and failing him. That it meant I wasn’t working hard enough because I wasn’t back to where I knew I could be. He reminded me that I needed to work to my CURRENT level to avoid injury whether I liked it or not and I finished my workout with that in mind.

So what did my tantrum get me?

My tantrum gave me some clarity and a whole lot of emotions. I am a still really frustrated at my inabilities right now. I hate feeling as though I am behind where I know I can be. And I hate feeling like I am not ever going to get back to what little strength I had had. I hate feeling like my goals are so out of reach because it makes me feeling like I will never succeed to my end hope. But I am recognizing now that failing is a choice but it’s also a perspective. I am at the gym and I work every moment to the best of my current, sucky ability. I push hard and I always feel my workouts in the morning. That means I have to be doing something right. If I was failing I wouldn’t be there at all. My scale backed up this budding thought process as I hit another 3 lbs down. This is leaving me at only 15 lbs from my pre-surgery weight and 20lbs from my goal weight. That’s progress. That’s progress even though I can’t plank for 3 minutes anymore. And progress is my goal.

The reality is, I may never get back to that 3 minutes ever. And I need to learn to be okay with that. Just like my mind is different today than it was even a year ago so is my body. A body that has been through a whole hell of a lot in its life and has a lot of healing to do. And I need to stop comparing who my body used to be to who it is now. My tantrum helped to remind me that even when I felt weak I wasn’t. It helped to remind me that when I feel like I am failing I am surrounded by people who remind me that I am maybe being a bit unreasonable with myself. It helped to remind me that I’ve been through so much, but there is progress being made inside and out that is positive and that I have to keep fighting for that.

In this I learned that tantrums, they do get you something. Sometimes good and sometimes bad there is always a lesson, always a reason, and always something to be gained. Now that doesn’t mean I recommend them, but it does me that I now respect what they have to tell me. Not just in myself but from my kids, from my students, from my friends, and from my family, because in them is always something more than just those hard landings during burpees, in them is some of the biggest fears, challenges, and struggles people hold in and don’t know how to express.

Thank you to my amazing trainer for never giving up on me. For always pushing me not just to be fierce in the gym but to be fierce in my soul and to recognize the connection between what’s manifesting outside as a result of what is happening inside. For smiling through my tantrum and taking that time to remind me again no matter how many times he has before, that I am not in competition with myself or others in this journey to health and that I am not a failure to anyone including myself. I can’t promise I will always have good days, but I can promise I will always work my absolute hardest, whatever that level may be in order to become a better and healthier me inside and out. Thank you for not giving up on me even when I wanted to give up on me.

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New Plans with Hard Realities

Boy has our family had a week of things not going as planned. We have all had those days, weeks, or even months and while it can be a huge hit to ego and self esteem, to family dynamics and structure it really is a good swift kick to reevaluate and try something new. Sometimes this something new comes in the way cleansing out clutter, or really focusing on true family and true friends, sometimes it comes through prayer or meditation, and sometimes it comes through all of the above.

After I started a family I only ever had one “big” dream. As a frugal girl who always purchased her vehicles outright and old (20+ years), looking for the best deal, and pushed by family to make it work that way, I had always hoped that someday (when I needed it, of course) I could have my “dream car.” Now my dream car isn’t something brand new it’s simply a brand – a Honda Pilot. It’s a car I have always loved and always wanted. Looking in a range of 2008 or newer we were hoping to be able to make this vehicle a new addition to our family before the other new addition to our family arrived.

With SCM working in another state at a brand new job with odd hours plus attending college, me being very pregnant and having a toddler plus my work that takes me away from home, it has been more than a pain to attempt to share one car. In a few months we won’t even be able to do that as we are unable to safely and properly fit an infant seat in our current vehicle from 1991 in addition to LMs carseat and the two or even one of us adults. All of this coming together rather quickly we figured it was time to start looking for that 2nd car. While we found the car, we lacked the financing ability due to the short nature of SCMs new job and because of that had to pass on the vehicle. Our options now for buying seem impossible as the instant cash at hand, like many, just isn’t right there right now and by the time SCMs new job is considered “seasoned” enough for a bank to not be so scared of us new baby will already have arrived into the world. The compounding problems and lack of options was frankly leaving me, at the end of my rope. Frustrated and angry didn’t even begin to describe my very pregnant and hormonal feelings.  Though it seems like a “minor issue”, in our family and with the overload of circumstances surrounding the whole process it made it a big issue that felt even more monstrous by my ever real added hormones.

I needed a reset.

After a night of sleep, or rather a night of tossing and turning and trying to sleep I tried to just push out all the angry, or at least channel it a bit better and decided this morning that we are just going to have to ride the tide.We will make much more serious cuts where we need to and change the dynamics of our day to day to try to acquire that cash in hand ability before little bean makes his/her arrival. But this means some seriously stressful challenges for both SCM and I.

What I do know is the following:

  • I will likely be spending much more time confined to my home with my toddler and soon my infant and that means I rapidly need to think of more activities (seasonally appropriate) for LM and I to do. And for LM to do when new baby arrives. (so if you have some please send them my way.)
  • I will miss out on activities more often than not, because SCM’s work & school schedule must come first and therefore his ability to have the car, must also come first. This means such things as my work parties, church, play dates, visiting friends or family, errands or recreational fun fall and holiday outings being limited or eliminated depending on SCMs schedule.
  • I will take this time to downsize and concentrate on myself and my immediate family and the things that are important to us.
  • I will no longer be allowing people that only support me and my family when things are done their way or according to their guidelines to be such a bombarding force in my life. If you don’t like how my family functions, feels, thinks, or believes and feel the need to voice it at every turn and moment then realize the relationship there is changing and if you don’t like it then maybe you should change your attitude.
  • I will take the time to blog more, plan more, focus more, and get lost in the haze less.
  • I will enjoy and bond into my pregnancy more than I have thus-far.
  • I will take the time to evaluate for myself my relationship with my creator and my family’s relationship to Him and take the steps that we feel we need to in our family to be the best people we can be on our terms as a family unit and not anyone else’s. And if that bothers anyone I really don’t care and don’t want to hear about it because it isn’t your family it’s mine worry about your own.
  • I will work my business to the best and hardest of my ability within my constraints and still attempt to make the goals *I* set for myself, and not goals that anyone else sets for me. I work my business for myself and my family and not for anyone else.
  • I will still take the time to do at least one thing a week just for myself, because I deserve it and I need it.

This reset was a long time coming and definitely not prompted solely by our disappointment in not being able to obtain our car right at this moment. Here’s to the hope that it gives us the focus we need, the accomplishment we need, and the family time we deserve and that things start looking up from here in every aspect. I am praying for some sanity and motivation as I approach a tight and confined shift that may make me crazy.

 

What are some things you do to “reset” when you need to? Is there one thing in particular that always calms you down and helps your refocus? If so, what is it? What are your favorite almost 2yr old inside activities for those stuck in the house times? 

Growing Up is Hard to Do…for both of us

This week I was reminded that growing up is hard work, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a tragedy.

LM has been on the go for months, teetering on the brink of walking independently, exerting her extreme desire for independence – even if it means a boo-boo here or there. She shouts when she wants something, signs please and thank-you, even says “Hi”, “Daddy”, “yay”, and even occasionally “Mommy”. She nurses only a few times during the day of her own accord and wants “mommy eats” the rest of the time. She has also become a pro with a straw and loves her water and the occasional drink of Eggnog.

My baby is turning into a toddler before my eyes. Growing, changing, molding her own little personality that has many traits of SCM and Me but also some that are just so independently her. In fact, she is turning the big “1” in just a matter of days, we are officially in the single digits until my baby is a toddler.

I keep saying to people

“I am not sure how I feel about her birthday”

that isn’t because I am sad to watch her grow up, it isn’t because I don’t want her to, the sadness stems from something else entirely. I am sad because her “baby” period is over and Daddy missed it. That is what hurts my heart the most that Daddy missed so much of her baby-hood. I know he will be here for Toddler-hood, and the challenges of Adolescents but for some reason it is hard for me to know he missed that short little baby window in so many ways.

Sexy Czech Medic, while sad in some ways is so happy she is growing up into her own little person despite having missed to much of the early times. He has a much better attitude about “missing out” then me. And upon reflecting that exact phrase … “missing out” I realized that it only feels that way if I let it feel that way. SCM is just blessed to have her and see her when he can and hear all about what she is doing, LM won’t be able to look back and remember, and I, I am mommy, so I am piling on feelings enough for all three of us.

So I have been trying to just enjoy LM and be excited for her growing up and her birthday, and make it as much fun for her and as recorded and noted as possible for Daddy. Because I AM glad that she is growing into the wonderful little lady that she is and I want her to feel and know that.

LM’s “growing pains” have been much more flamboyant than my own, though they do have similarities. Such as random fits of tears and meltdowns.

Little Miss has become very daring as she climbs things such as the piano, coffee table, and even the dishwasher. She has no fear and it has cost her a couple bumps and bruises this week as she tried to jump onto the coffee table and broke her fall with her lip. It didn’t hold her back at all though as she attempted it again just minutes later. She loves attempting to take down the Christmas Tree, eat the dogs toys and scream with flying arms if she doesn’t get her way.

Sleeping at night has become a challenge as she has started waking up screaming. I pray it is just her teeth and she isn’t taking after Daddy in having nightmares. We’ve been co-sleeping again more and more to try to get her to sleep through the night but often I become a jungle gym, so I’ve had to make the choice to put her down and let her work it out, sometimes with me – sometimes in her crib.

Often during the day she becomes bored with Mommy and being in the house and it leads to more power struggles during the day than I would like, and a much more frazzled mommy than I would prefer. I’ve started trying to remember to get out of the house, if only for a walk or quick trip to the store or Grandma’s house. The change of scenery, the activity, does wonders for us both.

With LM’s pains I have come to realize the following 5 things in particular:

1. Patience Really is a Virtue: She is struggling with this transition to Toddler-hood just as much as I am struggling to adjust to her being there. If I look at it that way and NOT like a malicious attack on myself I am able to better evaluate the situation and find a solution that is much more appropriate then reacting out of hast.

2. Some Days Just Suck: Yup I said it. Some days just aren’t good days. BUT – that is Okay. Those are days to take a deep breathe, snuggle when I can, give her space to just do her messy thing and breathe. Tomorrow will be better, it isn’t the end of the world, I didn’t fail as a parent.

3. My Cues are Her Cues: This is a big one I have noticed. When I am in a crappy mood for whatever reason, chances are she is in one too. And then it turns into power play because I am cranky and she is cranky and it turns into one of those “sucky days” when maybe it didn’t have to. If I remember to make the effort to wake up on the “proper side of the bed” chances are she will have a better day then if I didn’t. We are human and we feed off of one another’s emotions, even if we don’t intend to.

4. Let the Mess Happen: It is vital to allow children the ability to play on their own. To explore, test their boundaries safely, and yes make a mess. So those times with LM decides to empty the pantry, or the cupboard, or dump every toy box in the house I remember to let it happen and worry about the mess later. I let her play with the curtains and offer gentle reminders “not to pull” if she starts, I let her bang on the piano and explore her musical side (so much like Daddy), I let her bang on the washer and dryer, and even pull my yarn apart because saying “YES” has more developmental and sanity benefits than all the “No’s” in the world.

5. Find Laughter: No matter what the day holds, if it’s a “sucky” day or an “awesome” day. Laugh. Laugh for yourself, for your children, for everyone. Find something to laugh about because laughter lifts the spirits. So especially on sucky days, find a a reason to laugh. I found today that LM LOVES when I tickle her with my toes, but only if I have socks on, we had a blast today. She was full of so many giggles from sun up to sun down. Her laughter made me laugh and it turned what started out to be a sucky day into a pretty darn good one. 

What were your hardest moments as your children transitioned? For you? For them?

7 months later …

When Angel Girl was born I had a fantastic birth. Quick, fantastic, vaginal birth. With LM it was VERY different and I have noticed that I am very scared by it, both physically and emotionally. Read more about LM birth story.

I wasn’t prepared for a c-section, I didn’t want a c-section, and while I know that in this case it was probably best that I had one – LM is 7 months old and I am STILL hurting from it. Not only emotionally am I a mess because I had my stomach sliced open and my child ripped out, but physically I still have intense pain around my scar, shooting pains around my hips. When LM kicks me I want to cry it is so tender.

At 7 months old I figure it’s time to go back in and speak to my doctor about it. SCM and I plan on having more children, but honestly the thought of EVER having to go through another c-section scares the living hell out of me.

I am hoping for an ease and an answer to this pain this week – and I am hoping it is good news because I don’t know if with SCM being gone – I can handle it being bad.

Looking back I wish I had advocated better for myself and explored my options a little bit more. I wish that on the FIRST day I KNEW I was in labor that I had held strong and gone with my gut. I know now that next pregnancy I will be completely different in how I approach it so that I can have the birth I want and hopefully have a much better entrance into the world for our next little one.

Despite the trauma and the struggle I remember that I have a beautiful baby girl and she is healthy and happy. In the end that is the most important.

We had a photo-shoot done before daddy left (tomorrows blog) so here is a preview of those photos. A vivacious – blue eyed – 7 month old Little Miss!

Did you have an unexpected “traumatic” birth? How did you handle it? How have you advocated for yourself and your child in a hospital setting?