Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Bobbing Years that Transition

Growing up is hard. Navigating life and emotions is even more of a difficult task. There's always a tight rope balancing act from one stage of maturity to the next. Pushed into the forward direction, while simultaneously and frantically trying to hold your grip on to the previous stage. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, I have never felt such indifference between stages.

Early twenties life was so carefree and easy without children. At that point in my life I thought it was incredibly overwhelming. Working non-stop while blazing through a full college schedule in order to get to my overall theme of professionalism. Paying my tuition in stacks of one dollar bills that were earned honestly waiting tables. I had a solid support system of friends that I worked with and spent countless hours traveling back roads in the fall air screaming music lyrics. At the time I didn't know it, but it was the most carefree time in my entire life. All I had to do was work and absorb knowledge. Mike had just started policing, so him and I were splitting stages in life. He was into his professional career and I was busy rolling myself in poison ivy and sipping sweet tea with our best of friends Keri and Clay. What an amazing time.

My mid twenties were messy. I'm not fully ready to describe how difficult and messy they were in Graduate School. Being away from home. Having children. That is a completely different story.

Now I find myself in this weird mid twenties life. I am a full professional so I am launched into daily life of older professionals who have accomplished everything in life for the most part, while I am at the baby beginning in the scheme of work life. At home I am the full time parent who is always there. Since Mike works nights him being home with our boys especially in the evening hours is few and far between. My boys rely on me to be their protector, provider, and nurturer. I am their everything in that regard. As if these two aspects of life aren't enough, I still have this crazy idea in my head that I will have some time for myself or some time to socialize. I am still being pulled into the younger crowd direction of no responsibility.

Mike and I have more appropriately deemed this the Bobbing Stage. I bob at the surface of the water.Water pulls me down into great responsibility and the other half of me floats with the fresh air for clarity in times of leisure. Some times a fish pulls me under, but mostly likely I'm bobbing between realities. I bob from the younger free and immature self to the older professional one. I don't really fit in either sections fully, but still have aspects of my life that fit perfectly. I think it is very important to keep both sections of your life and not to lose too much of one for the other. Life is all about balance.

This integrates into my next point from a different blog day.

When you're young and dreaming about the possibilities of your life, you tend to dream unrestrained. Life seems limitless with your abilities. Traveling the world or saving lives with your hands, every child dreams of great futures that require nothing but a smile to produce happiness. Efforts are flawless and life falls into place.  As we age and grow older we realize that life is not limitless. In order to turn our lights on to our most prestigious ambitions, we have to darken others. Sacrifices are made and a great deal of effort has to be provided in order to keep these dreams viable. I consider this the whole concept of a coming to age story, which was a term I historically did not understand. I would ponder this concept as I read a book or watched a movie, but the whole time I never understood fully. I understood the struggle, but thought deal with it, it isn't really that bad.

I've had many instances where my life has developed clarity and appreciation for the transition from a young mind to a more mature one and will probably have thousands more of them as I take on each year of growing older. There has never been such a moment of clarity as when I had children. I used to be exceptionally closed minded and decisions were very black and white based. I was quick to judge others, felt like my opinion was the only opinion, and I was exceptionally self centered. As I have gotten older I have realized that this is an incorrect way of life, even though I want to be selfish daily. The task of raising children has put much into perspective for me. I can no longer be as selfish as I want to be and I have learned that others needs really need to come before my own. 

At a younger age I would judge others parenting techniques and balk at my parents own decisions, but have quickly shifted to the notion that everyone is different. Parents make certain decisions based on foresight that no other person can see. Unless you come from a neglected or abused house, your parents are just trying to get by and provide for you the best they can. I can even give partial sympathy to some parents that don't take care of their children because maybe they honestly do think they are taking care of their children appropriately. Maybe they have lived a long line of generationally ingrained decisions that have led them to believe that the path they are taking is the right or best child rearing one. I often think of this when I see young mothers in my office who have children who are unbathed or covered in pet hair. Mothers who I used to classify as not meeting my good parenting standards. I often wonder if they have lived a long childhood of being unbathed or that the only thing they could confide in as a child was a pet because they were abused? Are they providing just a step above what they came from, so they consider themselves a better parent than their parents? I get conflicted with this idea because I try not to judge these mothers, but I get caught up in what parenting looks like to me.   

I digress. 

The coming of age story. When you are just starting out in life as an adult things move exceptionally fast while also remaining slow moving. Tasks get check off the list of things to achieve in life and ten years later you look up from your list of things to do not remembering how you arrived there. Time seems locked for some of your passions and dreams, while the others have aged ten years. This is no exception with my life. My passion for a career aged ten years and so did my ability to handle a growing household with financial responsibilities. My love and devotion to someone for ten years, it has all grown. What has remained time locked are my creative endeavors and passion for hobbies that don't seem like hobbies anymore. People and friendships were left behind.

Its hard thinking about the parts of my life that are frozen and hidden beneath daily life stressors. My mother and I had quite the conversation a couple of weeks ago, which is an amazing feat if you know my mother and her emotional stance on deep conversation. Mike and I had discussed the shift in women when they hit their late thirties and forties. Biologically looking at them one may immediately conclude that women lose their minds in this season of life because of menopausal and hormonal changes. I agree it may be part of why women go off the deep end, but I don't feel it is explained fully with that concept. My mother and I were discussing how many women peak from adolescence into child rearing in one smooth movement. One week you are at your peak and as attractive as you will ever be in your early twenties or late teens. Time seems endless and the world is your oyster. Life is selfish and everything is seemingly only about yourself. Then BAM marriage and early pregnancy. Suddenly you are kicked off your peak of teenage beauty and set into a deep valley of child rearing. All beauty products dissipate and your life is very much one sided. Your significant other works long hours to provide for you and is barely home. You are stuck at home raising an infant. Your only tie to the outside world is grocery shopping. You are isolated. I'm not really sure where this change in child rearing happened. It seems that fifty years ago community child rearing was in. Now families seem to be isolated from one another and there's constant competition as to whose rearing practices are superior.

Mothers get tied down in everyday life and much of what is happening is endless. The same daily rituals of the home are daunting and it seems there is no end in sight. The next eighteen years are going to be the exact same as what they are today. I feel women get lost in this and can't communicate that they feel like they have no workable place in society. They have no personal goals of their own at this point. At least that is the way it was explained between my mother and I. They feel lost and in a sea of low self worth. They lose what is interesting to them because their only hobbies involve their children.

I don't really have resolution to this phenomenon as of yet. This post is more about recollection and growing rather than inspiring with a personal message or working out the worlds problems. All I can say is that life is hard, but all we can do is try to not get lost.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Are you Having More kids?

I find it incredibly interesting when others ask me if I'm having more children as if the crazy and exhausted expression on my face gives them the right to pry into my personal life. I try to be polite and advise them that that is something that hasn't been decided yet as things are still very crazy at my house. I usually get two standard responses. The first being the compassionate women who is typically in the middle of her child bearing years  who understands the struggle I am going through. The ones that know exactly that saying no to more children is shutting a whole avenue down in your life while simultaneously opening a hidden path to explore. You're in the middle of a jump ship situation and you don't know whether to hold on and ride the sinking ship or to jump into the water. The second response I typically get is from the humbled older woman who shares with me that she misses every moment with her children and would give anything to have those moments back or to have shared those moments with a child who either wasn't pr couldn't be conceived or who died young. Their faces get flushed with regret for the children they could have held if only they would have been more patient or open to the idea. The extreme sadness that comes over them as they are teleport-ed to a time I can not relate to. Their faces follow me because no one should feel that much confusion, regret, and misdirection at a passing question or topic. 
 
It is confusing to me that one of the standard responses that I don't get often or have never gotten is someone telling me not to have more children. No one has offered in a response of blatant refusal. I'm not sure if this is because people who chose not to have kids often don't feel that they should share in their philosophy of non child bearing to the general population. That they feel it must be rude to offer this sort of idea. I guess now that I think about it, it would be rude to just say, You should stop. Don't do this again unless you are a medically trained professional who thinks it is in the best interest of the woman. I find it funny though at how many women in passing can make comments or judgement about the number of children you have in public in a rude way and feel justified. This has happened to me more times than I would like when I have my own children and nephews with me, so it seems I have four boys ages 10-19 months opposed to just two young children. I guess it is easy to comment rudely in passing as opposed to direct conversation because I haven't gotten this negativity in direct conversation. 

What drives me over the edge the most are individuals who think they know me on a deep and personal level. The ones who decide that since I have been financially responsible, that I should produce like a rabbit. I have the means necessary, whether that is actually true, so naturally I should have a dozen children. The more children will equate to more love and a large family infrastructure. To pass on the family name and personality so to speak. 

I love this way a thinking. 

This thinking takes all emotion out of the thought behind children. It simply puts your body into use by producing. It doesn't take into the account that a major abdominal surgery will follow after nine months of extreme stress and weight gain on your body. It doesn't take into account the amount of joint separation and inflammation that your pelvis will permanently be left to cope with after or the split abdomen that will take you months if not years to bring closed if that does ever truly happen. It doesn't take into account the amount of nights you will spend alone tending to your other children and a new infant while your husband works permanent nights, It certainly does not take into account the amount of money spent on daycare costs because your parents can not help you because they are still working age. Or because they decided a large amount of children was a feasible option only to be over run by helping with the multiplying number of grandchildren around. It does not take into account the limited amount of time spent with each child at night feeding, bathing, dressing, and putting to bed. It is very difficult in my home to spend adequate time with each child, 

Don't get me wrong. I love large families and those that are stronger and more patient than me to accomplish such a grand task, but to me it is not a feasible option for us at this time due to a multitude of extenuating circumstances, The point of my story is that it shouldn't matter how many children you want or do not want. It should not matter to others what you chose for your family and for your body. It is a very private and personal decision, but such a public and intrusive question. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The letter I wrote to a coming of Age girl.

            Enter Girl name here, 

            First of all I would like to welcome you into the greatest world you will ever know. A world of magic and a sisterhood that will provide you with unwavering guidance and support. This is also a world of great respect and responsibility not only to others, but most importantly to yourself. I want to make it clearly known that you will never be alone in this journey to adulthood as you have a multitude of women who will offer you guidance and support at any given time. You just have to ask. Your mother, Aunt, and I will always be there to help you no matter the circumstances. Elders to you we may be, but we are all part of a sisterhood that is here for guidance both spiritually and emotionally.
Respect and responsibility to yourself is probably one of the most important aspects of becoming an adult women. It is also one of the hardest things to grasp a hold of as a young adult or even as an older adult. It takes time and don’t get discouraged with it. As I’m sure you are aware, there are going to be people along the way who will support you greatly, but there will be others who will not support you or who you are. There will be others who will not respect your mind or your body. Be careful, choosy, and stay intelligent with your decisions. It is with utmost importance that I mention that your body was made perfectly in God’s image, which means that he made you exactly how he wants you to be. You are perfect in every way and no one can take that away from you. Furthermore, he made you perfectly so that you should respect and take care of your body. He made you so that you can honor your body as it should be honored. It belongs to you, God, and no one else, no matter what a boy down the road may make you think or believe. No matter what a girl in school may tell you about weight or body shape. It is your perfect form and no one else’s. God also made you with the gift of vast intelligence and creativity. This is yours as well and it will only grow with time. I want you to know that you are limitless with your potential. You can do anything with life that you want to and to not be afraid of where you can go. You can go anywhere.
The coming years are going to be immensely confusing as you navigate where you would like to go in life and how you build relationships with others. There will be extreme times of happiness and extreme times of sadness mixed with a bowl of embarrassment. Do not be afraid to ask for guidance or to ask for advice from us as we have been through equally different and trying times as young adults. We especially know what it is like to have limited guidance and do not want you to have to navigate this different time in your life feeling alone. We will mostly definitely always be there to discuss what is weighing on you whether it is boys, changes, or general everyday activities.
Welcome to the ladies club. Welcome to the wild ride of the coming of age years. I hope you are ready for the greatest and scariest time of your life because it is awesome.

With the Greatest Love I can offer, 

Cristin. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Struggle of Young vs. Older Happiness and Perfection.


When I was young and in a different perspective of life, I made a mental list of all the things I wanted to be. All the things that made me successful and polished. Qualities that I thought I didn't posses as a child. These things would surely guarantee that I would be happy. If only I tried a little harder with perfecting them a magic light would come on and people would flock to me. I would have a tremendous amount of friends who were loyal. I would feel carefree. I would be put together and stress would elude me. I would be loved by someone as I walked the line. I had all of these things in my mind to have accomplished by the time I hit my peak (which I actually may have already hit by my age ;). )



1) I would be polished
      - I grew up in a family where you were expected to be clean even if you are wearing a third generation hand me down that rode up your butt or had on underwear or socks with holes in them. We knew we were poor, but being poor did not mean you were dirty. (Don't get me wrong I've had my fair share of days digging in mud or going to bed without a bath). My mother was meticulous when we were young as to ensure our hair was combed and that our clothes we wore out were clean. Our house may have been a wreck with five children running wild there, but by golly when we went out into the public we were polished turds. My mother spent all of her time and energy ensuring that we were clean and it left little time for her to put on a grand entrance with hair and make up. Very naturally beautiful, but no time for all the added accessories. Once I got old enough to start caring about my appearance I did my best to keep up with it. I told myself I wouldn't be one of those mothers who let herself go. One of those had everything going for her types that now looks chronically tired who can't even be bothered to use eye cream at night.

Growing up changes you, motherhood changes you. I used to (and still do sometimes) get jealous of women who have hair salon appointments every six weeks with fill in manicures every three. A radiant glow with perfect make up and not a hair out of place. Those graced with fashion sense for their body types. Those who exercised into oblivion. They look so put together. They looks so confident and happy. I get caught up with jealousy at how easy it would be to let all the other aspects in my life go to the wayside while I primped to perfection.

Despite everything that I have accomplished. I will never be this woman. My hair hasn't been cut in over a year. It gets washed every two or three days if I'm lucky and I can't begin to tell you when my nails were put to a file. I go through spurts of wanting to wear make up, but in the end my natural skin always wins because it is too much work to take it off at night or to put on in the dark on my way to work. My clothes are usually from second hand stores because I still can't get into the frame of mind that I have money for new things. I'm also beginning to think my flabby koala pouch will never go away. I'm facing facts that I will most definitely probably always look disheveled, a semi-polished turd. I will never live up to that expectation.



2) I would be punctual and structured.
      - I'm one of those worrying types that shows up 15 minutes before the early period of time one should be there for fear of being late and/ or embarrassed. That part of my personality is there and is a prominent portion of me. Its funny though, how much of your personality and innate abilities are trained to be one way and your life pushes you the other. I'm not sure how any mother is punctual with children. I'm not sure how life can be structured with one child throwing up and a husband whose schedule changes. I have drifted from a punctual person to racing to work daily in order to be two minutes late instead of ten. Going from making everyone's schedule a month in advance to flying day to day. Seams fall apart and structure no longer holds. My life cup runs over with the tasks I'm to complete in a day.

3) I would be educated and competent
     - It may be true that I am educated and competent in the field of Audiology. I have a degree and praxis score to prove it, but not all education and competency comes from a college degree. You know those women who always have the right suggestion or rational for a problem. Those friends who always know the right thing to say in order to make you feel better. People who have experience in many different aspects of life and can offer up the exact phrase or scripture in order to remedy the situation. I will never ever ever ever be one of those people. I find myself socially inept at many instances and failing at bringing comfort. I quite honestly have no answers for 99 % of the problems I face or others who confide in me face each day. I will also never be that woman who is flawless in wisdom and execution of wisdom.

4) I would be a faultless mother
   - I will never meet this category in any way shape or form. I'm not sure I ever really honestly thought that I would be a faultless mother, but there used to be this voice inside me that said. You will read to your children x times a day. Everyone will have many fruits and vegetables and picky eating is not an option. I dreamed that I would be that calm mother you see in a store who has four boys walking behind her in line. The one who whispers to her child and they seem to be right in line with a command. You know the one who seems to have no problem with the size of their family because everything floats graciously and god has granted them gifts of being fruitful times 10 without worry of financial or scheduling issues. There isn't a care there because everything falls into place as it should. I would ensure that my children would always on point with their development and would treat others with compassion and kindness.I just knew I would grow up to be a successful mother who would be level headed and embracing to my children at all times. They would love me endlessly and find comfort in me because I was such a calming spirit.
   I'm not really sure where that idea ever originated. I, obviously am not a free flowing calming spirit who dances with wolves. I AM the wolf most days. Mike classifies me as the black wolf in the story My Many Colored Days. A book of emotion and color.





 This isn't something I'm proud of. I tried very hard to curb it, but in the end I'm always the yelling Tasmanian devil who can't understand why everyone can't pee in the toilet instead of the floor and just eat their dinner without complication. Most days I feel genuinely graceless when it comes to mothering. Chicken nuggets/ Chicken fries with a side of fruity snacks is what happens here. Wearing not matching clothes and socks is what happens in the morning. I'm not sure that I have that cute jean that requires my kids to wear matching nautical outfits with skinny jeans or designer anything. I am seriously lucky if I can talk Gavin into wearing a pair of denim anything. We are genuinely a as Gavin says, "sweater pants" family.  I really didn't notice how out of fashion reality we really are until recently when one of the daycare providers commented on how Mike must be color blind because my children come to daycare wearing clashing colors daily. I laughed it off, but in all honesty it isn't Mike. It is me, and it's all I can do to make sure that they have clothes on before we make the drop at six am. A pinterest mother I am most definitely not.


5) I would be a faultless wife/ My relations are unwavering.
    -As I have grown older I have learned to take appreciation in pre-marriage counseling. While Mike and I did not go through any counseling, I have learned to respect it a great deal. This type of counseling tells you the truth. It tells you things are hard and that after the honeymoon phase it is tough and tiresome labor. It isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. When I was in my late teenage years I thought I knew what good relations looked like. I had an idea in my head about how perfect of a wife I would make someone. How I would honor their every need and be fearlessly loyal for my entire life. I would make it my life's work to serve and love someone that served and loved me. In my mind I had this picture of a perfect working nuclear family where I would have a booming career and so would my husband. We would work the same shift and split the chores and our children. It all made sense to me. What I failed to realize is that life events take place. That my version of relationship success would be seriously altered in the coming years. I didn't factor in that our first five years of marriage would be spent living mostly apart. That I would have my first child on my own while working full time for the better part of a year. That we would struggle for at least a year when we moved back in together trying to figure out who we were and who we were to one another. That we would move home together only to still live apart due to opposite work shifts. If it is one thing that I have learned from it, it is that relationships are almost never static. They are fluid in every stage of life. You have to work at it every day. Embrace it everyday because if you don't you drown in the details of what keeps you apart.

It isn't easy and it probably never will be.



Friday, January 15, 2016

We are all Human. We are all Equal. Justification.

Justification. 

To provide or be a good reason for

To prove or show

To provide a good reason for the actions of. 



Justification is a strange and slippery slope. People often feel correct in their actions and prove this through justification. People justify millions of actions based on what feels right to them, what seems to be fair. We feel we should give money to charity, provide the sick with care,and  take in lost animals who don't have a home. We do these things because of justification. We provide these things or do these services because we feel that it's the right thing to do and that it is what others deserve. We use just actions to shine light on problems that need attention. Justification is a beautiful thing when used in this way. It nourishes us to be better people than what we were yesterday. 

Justification also has a very dark and twisted side. We feel justification for our dark actions the same if not stronger than our lighter ones. We feel that others deserve to be treated as less than equal because we have rationalized in our minds that that person is less than equal. We feel like that person has wronged us in some way or taken advantage, therefore malice actions towards them of equal or greater value are the right actions. An eye for and eye so to say. This system works with humans for the majority because of the insatiable need for use to experience things in black and white. We want to make sense in our minds of right and wrong. We want to treat wrong or unjust with wrong, but justified actions. 

In my adolescent state of mind this system does work, but as I've gotten older it is incredibly flawed. People are flawed. People are incredibly aggravated with one another and feel justified in the dehumanization process. They used it daily to make themselves feel better. 

Tonight I witnessed a father and an adopted grown child in a scuffle. I witnessed the justified father feel taken advantage of for having to provide for the grown child who is pushing through his late twenties. The same child who up until the age of nine lived in a highly abusive situation where daily he was reminded that he was born a bastard child. A child who moved on from place to place after high school only to end up in prison and parole from a series of bad decisions and then finally back to the adoptive father.

 The father provides him a place to live and stay rent free for the last nine months all the while waiting patiently for him to get into a grove of employment and adulthood. The grown child is slow moving to find a job and often frequents the fathers home to eat daily. He often does not hold up his end of the bargain when it comes to helping out. Obviously the father feels used. 

Tonight I witnessed the father dehumanize the grown child and feel justification for it. It is quite possibly the scariest of scenarios in my mind.  

The entire family gathered to eat on a joyous birthday occasion.  A table full of food plenty for the taking. Everyone has a plate to eat, but the moment the grown child decides to eat, the father stops him abruptly asking him what he is doing. Father then proceeds to tell him  that if he is hungry he can go home and eat his own food and that he is tired of him taking and taking without thanks. He strips him of his feeling of unity and self worth by telling him he is not welcome to the party that the rest of the family is participating in. The grown child puts his food back politely and rinses off his plate. He doesn't fight back or express himself, he leaves with head low.

Father feels joy that he has won the power struggle. He feels pride that his authority is en-tacked. He is justified in stripping someone of their feeling of community and home. He feels correct in hurting someone and dehumanizing them. He uses it as a punishment to instill in that grown child that he is in control and that he will not be taken advantage of. 

Justification is a dangerous and vicious thing.  

I imagine many people have this concept of thinking as their first line of defense when dealing with the unknown. I often feel this is why people hate one another is because they have justified this hate with what they feel like is rational thinking. I'm not sure I'm always comfortable with justification especially when it is use in the process of dehumanization.