Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Five Things I Learned While Resetting My Life in Therapy


I’m not one for keeping secrets on this space and place. I usually bare it all out there, gracefully, hopefully. When I’m struggling,you’ll know. ‘Cuz I’ll share it.

And so was the case with all the things that happened with Aiden’s other parent resurfacing andthe residual effects of that – dealing with my PTSD, dealing with Aiden’s feelings being played out in real life, and e’erthing in between.

But after months of weekly family therapy sessions, and individual therapy sessions, and monthly visits to the psychiatrist, here we are. Still standing. And Aiden’s doing really, really well. (More on that in a later post.)

Needless to say, I spent time talking. A lot. And reflecting. A lot. And processing. A lot. I took some time to reset. To listen. To learn.


Here are five things I learned from taking some much needed time to reset in therapy:

People grow and change and evolve over time. And that’s quite fine.
“I’m really unhappy with my life right now and, honestly, I feel guilty for even saying that out loud.” That was one of the first things I said to my therapist when I sat down in her office. After a little probing and processing, I discovered that since I worked so hard to create this life, I feel like I should bask in it, appreciate it, and work to sustain it. I mean, I put in the hours. I did the work. I went to grad school. I pushed and pressed and I got my dreams. So I should enjoy it now, right?

For the most part, I do. But I’m at the point in my life where I’m working towards the next step… in my career, with how I’m reaching folks through my blogging, with where I’m choosing to live and raise my babies. The next step… period. I created this life, yes. But now there’s a space between what I’ve created and where I want to go. And that’s okay. I don’t have to feel guilty about that.

It’s time for me to grow. I receive that.

Activate your village
Growing and learning and slaying in life and love and my career is village work. Caring for my babies and raising them up to be thoughtful, kind, curious, and smart and productive members of society is village work. There’s really no way around it. I’ve been through the “Do it all by myself” phase, and real talk: it ain’t where’s it’s at. Just as I can’t get to work on time without first dropping Aiden off at my girl’s house so she can walk him to school, I can’t grow and get from here to there with out activating my village and letting the folks who care love on my babies and me. I’m okay with that because it’s a sign of strength.


It’s okay to show people who you really are.
Before every therapy session, I would always do my hair, put on a nice outfit, and put on some make-up. Why? Because if I was getting ready to bare my soul and be all vulnerable and whatnot, then I could at least look put together going into the session. But that was just the armor that I used to show her how “put together” I was. Even when I felt like I was falling apart. Even when I was falling apart. But, you know what? Being perfect doesn’t stop folks from judging you – it just stops them seeing you. Like, really seeing you and getting to know the real you.

So just as I can bare it all out on this blog while hiding behind my keyboard, I’m learning to do that while standing in front of people. In real life. Because I deserve to have as many authentic relationships as I can take.


There really is a season for everything in life.
I just went through a season of standing still so that I can listen and learn, but because society tells us that something is wrong with us unless we’re always go, go, going somewhere, there were many times where I felt uncomfortable with where I was. But you know what? I was exactly where I was meant to be. Standing still. Listening. Learning. Waiting… until the time was right to make the next move.

And that was (is) quite fine.

Standing still is a pre-requisite to leveling up
After standing still, listening, and learning, it’ll be time to take what you’ve learned and level up. Just like one of my favorite quotes says, “What got you here won’t get you there.” When I first heard it, it hit my like a ton of bricks because there’s so much truth to it. In order to get to a new level, I need a new level of grace and grind, a new level of determination, a new strategy, and a way to press and push and go get my dreams. My new dreams.

I’m excited. It’s time for me to grow. It’s time for me to glow. I receive that.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Yes, I'm THAT Parent

I'm already at work and HEB is on the way to drop August off at daycare. I shoot a quick text to HEB. "Don't forget to bring the snacks and lunch that I packed for the baby!"

No answer.

"Hello!" I text again.

He texts back. He remembered to bring the snacks and lunch for August.

A few minutes later, he texts me back. "Why can't he have the snacks and lunch from the daycare."

"Send me the menu and I'll decide," I replied.

He sends me a picture of the menu.

My response? "Umm... no. He can have the lunch on certain days, but I'll pack his snacks. No fruit juice and no apple juice. Just water is fine, which is what I pack anyway. Also, he's gonna drink organic milk (which is what I pack) and not regular milk. And no super sweet snacks -- that stuff is filled with high fructose corn syrup! And no sugary cereal for breakfast -- just feed him the oatmeal before you drop him off."

HEB responds, "OMG! You're THAT parent!"


I mean... I guess you could say that I'm THAT parent. Like, when it comes to things that really matter to me. Like with food and developing somewhat healthy eating habits for Aiden and August.

I'm THAT parent who asks the daycare how often they clean off the tables after mealtime or arts and crafts. I'm THAT parent who wants to know how often toys are disinfected and if teachers are kind and caring and what exactly do they do when babies are crying. (I mean, they need to comfort my baby boy when he needs comfort.) I'm THAT parent who wants to know all the details all the time... because I need to be in the best possible position to advocate for my boys.

But I'm also THAT parent who feeds Aiden pancakes or waffles for dinner (without syrup) because I'm too tired to actually cook. Or... who lets him forego a night without showering because I'm too tired and lazy to fight him on it. Or... who goes hard for certain things while letting other equally important things fall at the waist side.

In the end, balance is key.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Year, New Normal


"Am I still gonna be myself?" 

This is the first question Aiden asks me after we leave the psychiatrist's office with a prescription for meds for him. Matter of fact, this is the first thing that comes out of his mouth after being silent for a block and a half. He was definitely thinking deeply about it.

We've been going to family therapy every week for the past few months. He's had individual therapy, and he's had regular sessions with his School Psychologist. And we still haven't quite figured out the right combination of tools to help him cope. Survive. Thrive.

So eventually I make an appointment with a Psychiatrist. I insist that I need to get him a psychiatric evaluation. For an official diagnosis. To see what I'm dealing with. Because... I'm in over my head and this ish is above my pay grade. After several sessions and countless rating scales filled out by his teachers, his School Psych, and me, we have a diagnosis.

Kinda. Sorta. The Psychiatrist gives him a prescription, but wants to see how it affects his mood/ the quality of his life before giving him an official diagnosis.


And he wants to know if it's going to affect his personality. (And rightfully so.)

"Am I still gonna be myself?"

"Yes! Of course," I tell him.

This is all new for me. For us.

But I'm hopeful. So hopeful.

I tell him that he has a Ferrari engine for a brain, but bicycle brakes. I tell him that he needs help to regulate his engine, and that, if nothing else, the medicine will help him do that. (It's an analogy that I read about a while back.)

It works. For now. He's satisfied. He runs down the block, jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk, a game he always plays. #CityKids


Again, this all new for me. For us. The weekly therapy sessions. The behavior plans to help him focus on his frustration tolerance. The subtle things that I must do to make him feel like he has some sense of power even though it's taken away from him each and every time he tells me that he doesn't want to go to his scheduled visit with his other parent... but I make him go anyway. The tools to help him deal with his post-trauma and stress. The psychiatrist. The evaluations. The medicine.

All of it is new.

But I'm committed to figuring this out for him.


At some point this year, I'll have a complete diagnosis for him and know exactly what I need to do in order to help him overcome. At some point this year, I'll be educated and confident and equipped with all the skills to give other folks the tools to help him. At some point this year, I'll be equipped enough to remind Aiden of all the tools he needs to help himself. At some point this year, I'll find him a village so strong and so solid that he'll feel the love and support all around him.

Yes, he can be difficult. Yes, he can be resistant and defiant. Yes, he can push boundaries. But, you know what? They'll love him anyway. Whole-heartedly. And with endless compassion.

At some point this year, along with his teachers and team at his school, I'll have his IEP all figured out. At some point this year, I'll teach him about his own triggers and he'll know them so well that he'll be about to proactively deal with them.

At some point this year, he'll feel successful. Consistently. At some point this year, he'll feel like he has some sort of control over a few things. Consistently. But, most importantly, at some point this year, he'll feel worthy. Consistently. And loved. So loved.

We will continue with the behavior plan, the therapy sessions, the consistency, the extracurricular activities that'll make him feel successful and good and competent. But, we're adding one more thing to the mix.

It's a new year and a new normal for us.

But I'm hopeful. Oh so hopeful.

Monday, December 19, 2016

One Year Down!


Ain't gonna lie: it's been a very trying and exhausting year as first-time mom of two. But... we're still here.

Surviving.

Thriving.

Totally giving new meaning to the term on-the-job training.





Above all else, this past year has really been such a joy to parent August. He has the biggest smile, the brightest personality, and when he's been in a room, everyone knows it because he leaves his mark!





Over the weekend, we celebrated August's birthday in an intimate and loving way, which, if you ask me, was pretty darn perfect. There were way too many pictures to share on social media so I'm compiling them all here.




Happy birthday, August. May you always smile big, shine bright, and own the space that you're in.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

12 Months of August Kingston



Whew!

Baby August is one-year-old and officially a toddler! He's a walking, babbling machine without a worry in the world and I love it!




August likes:

  • Food. Any food. From anyone's plate. At any time. Even if he just ate three minutes ago. 
  • Opening and shutting the kitchen cabinets. Over and over and over again.
  • Screaming. Especially on a crowded subway. (He likes to hear his own voice.)
  • Unraveling the toilet paper in the bathroom. (Gotta remember to keep that door shut!)
  • Walking up to mommy, Aiden, and HEB, resting his head on us, which is his definition of a hug
  • All things Mickey Mouse (which was surprising considering Aiden was a total Barney guy)
  • "Reading" books
  • Eating books
  • Pulling down books off of the shelves 

August dislikes:

  • Detangling his hair
  • Washing his hair
  • Whenever anyone touches his hair
  • Whenever someone doesn't share their food with him fast enough
  • Being strapped in his stroller when he doesn't want to be strapped in his stroller


It's been a year of ups and downs, hits and misses for me. But for August, it's been a year of joy, warmth, and love! And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Like my friend, Kelly said, "There's nothing like August in December!" Happy, happy to my little guy! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Grace


Today, August turns one-year-old.

Wow!

I still can't believe that I'm a mother of two. That I've been a mother of two for the past year. That I've survived motherhood with two kids (with equally different and equally demanding needs).

But here I am. Here we are. A year later. We made it.

We're making it.

When I think about this past year -- all the trials and triumphs, ups and downs, hits and many, many misses -- I can only think of one word: grace.

This year, more than ever before, I've learned to extend an incredible amount of grace to myself. I've reminded myself over and over again that I haven't been doing this a long time, that I'm still new to this, that there's a learning curve to this whole thing and that's quite alright.

Grace.

Because sometimes I showed up late for things. Sometimes I was absent-minded while at work or at home. Sometimes I was overwhelmed. Sometimes I was anxious. Sometimes I didn't make time for working out because a nap seemed so much better. Sometimes I was less than patient with my children. Sometimes I yelled at Aiden when I knew that all he needed was a time-out or a nap or alone time because he, too, was feeling overwhelmed.

Grace.

Because if I was kicking ass at home and being an awesome parent, I was failing at work and taking more hits than my Type-A personality is used to taking. Because if I was kicking ass at work, then I was less than stellar at home. Because if I was kicking ass at motherhood and at work, I was a negligent friend and girlfriend, ignoring my relationship with my boo and my girls. No doubt about it, there was always a trade-off. I really learned to stop worrying about being good at one thing and not-so-good at another thing because...

Grace.

But I learned to be okay with the imperfections. I learned to listen to the stress-related tension in my neck and shoulders. I learned to take deep breaths over and over again. And I learned that sometimes, it feels damn good to cry it out, shake it off, and get back up again.

I've learned to extend grace and compassion to myself because this ish ain't for the whips. And more often than not, I'm doing the best that I can.

Monday, November 14, 2016

August Kingston, 11 Months Old



It's official... I've got a walker on my hands! August isn't fully walking on his own, but he's taking more than three-four steps, he's walking across the room without falling, and he's figuring out how to turn around without dropping to the floor. He still crawls when he needs to get to something super fast, but he's very excited to try out his new trick every chance he gets.

He also still likes pulling down all of the things so walking just makes it more exciting for him...


Halloweening 


August likes:

  • Eating food (he's got four bottom teeth now -- and none on top!)
  • Yanking food off of your plate if you don't feed him fast enough
  • Going up to Aiden, HEB, and me and resting his head on us, which indicates that he either wants a hug, wants to be picked up, or just wants a little TLC
  • Making clucking noises with his tongue 
  • Attempting to make kisses noises ("Muah!")
  • Clapping 
  • All things Mickey Mouse
  • When you sing the ABC's to him


What hope looks like... #AandA

August doesn't like:
  • When Aiden closes the door to the kitchen -- or the bathroom -- so that August can't get in. (Can you say, "Waterworks"?)
  • Getting dressed. Still. Ugh... that baby just wants to move around all day, everyday. 
  • Getting strapped into his stroller when he's not in the mood
I had to snap this picture VERY fast because lil dude was on the move!
And... now it's time to start planning his first birthday party! All Mickey e'erythang! Who's ready?!

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