I felt it was my time to share last year, but apparently it was still not quite time. I hope to share more one day, but for now, all I have time to do is write a quick post. It’s driving me a little insane to leave this website all wonky, unfinished, pages askew… oof. But it will have to wait.
So, then… the reason for this post?
My best friend and I have had many many talks about self care. We’ve had many talks about a lot of things lol, but as we’ve grown, gotten married, and had kids, mostly on similar timelines, we’ve learned a lot, and one of those things is that self care looks a lot different than most people imagine it to be.
When you’re on a budget and a 24/7 caregiver for very young children, it’s not exactly possible to go take a weekend trip to a Cali vineyard, or even go get a pedicure alone, lol! So what does it look like, to refresh and energize one’s self? To pour back into our cup that gets drained in just 47 minutes every morning from changing diapers, cleaning up endless messes, balancing budgets, chasing after kids, running a household, scheduling appointments, grocery shopping, cycling through mounds of laundry, changing out seasonal clothes, changing out outgrown clothes, buying new clothes (see a pattern?), wiping noses and hands, calming big toddler emotions, and on and on. Phew! I’m exhausted just writing that, hah….
So we’ve talked a lot about things we do for ourselves, and also things like insecurities that have been around since childhood. A recent topic was creativity. We both have some insecurities about creating… it always feels “not good enough.” After all, we’re no pros. There’s always someone else better. Many someones.
But it makes us HAPPY. Heck, there’s even information out there about the benefits of just exercising the creative part of the brain! Even if we suck at the output, we enjoy the process, and that’s all that matters.
So here I am, on a challenge 🤣, posting some of my recent creative projects.
A bit of background is that I got into digital planning last year. I’ve always been an avid planner, using paper planners of all kinds, and becoming increasingly more picky about my planners over the years, until I came upon Happy Planners several years back, and then refused to use anything else. I LOVED customizing them with stickers, markers, and more. Well, digital planning has digital stickers, and I thought it would be cool to learn to create my own…just for fun. I’ve been messing around on Procreate on my iPad, though I really am not artistic at all lol! I also have had almost no time to learn or practice different techniques or functions of the app, since I usually only have a few minutes at bedtime to play around.
I also love coloring, and when adults coloring came into style (haha!), I thought it was the best thing ever! I loved getting adult coloring books and using markers, colored pencils, and even gel pens to color them in. It was so relaxing, and I loved listening to music or an audiobook while coloring to calm my brain. Well, I thought it would be fun to create some pages to print and color! (you can also import them into a coloring app and color digitally)
So I made a page of free downloads, which you can find in the top menu, or by clicking here.
I hope you enjoy them, or if you’re an artist, I hope they make you feel amazing about your art 🤣 haha!
Now, before you think I’m being dramatic, you should know that this post has played out in my head so many times, based on many interactions I’ve had over the last 17 months of the nightmare I’ve been living. I’ve wanted to rant, to share info that I’ve learned over the last FOUR years, from licensed and experienced therapists specializing in the things I’ve been dealing with, countless books, and a year-long intensive betrayal recovery program (that has been around for a long time and is based on extensive research). People do not understand what I’ve been going through, and I do feel called to share, but every time I’ve tried to share a little bit, it seems I get ridiculed, falsely accused, or shut out of people’s lives. I just know that it’s finally time for me to begin sharing. And some of it isn’t my story to tell, so although I’m an open book, there will be some missing pieces, and I’ve learned that I don’t owe people an explanation for everything (or anything, really).
This is the face of a mom who just got her toddler to sleep at 11:30pm after trying for almost 4 hours. Nursing. Snuggles. Books. iPad. Even a midnight drive. Water. Music. Noise machine. Star projector on the ceiling. Favorite blankie. Rocking. You name it, I’ve tried it.
He was actually a good sleeper, sleeping 7-9 hours at night by 4 months old, without any sleep training. But the day after he turned 5 months old, my life turned upside down, and I was suddenly a single mom. Since that night, he’s had major sleep difficulties. He regressed instantly to sleeping only 1-3 hours at a time, and that went on for over a year. He finally started sleeping 5-6 hours at night a few months ago, and recently started sleeping about 8 hours some nights. He even started going to sleep without an ipad or being nursed to sleep, in his own room a few weeks ago. Then upheaval came yet again to his poor life, and he started sobbing at bedtime again. Plus crying in his sleep multiple times a night. =( Parenting a traumatized kid is SO painful. As much pain as I’ve felt for me, there is NOTHING like watching your child suffer, especially when they’re too young for you to explain things to, to try and reason with and comfort them. It’s soul-crushing.
I’ve been trying to survive on 2-3 hours of sleep a night for almost a year and a half. I finally started getting 4 or so hours. And yes, you can say that I need sleep. And I need rest. And all of this stuff. But the reality is that my kiddo is so high maintenance, that it’s RARE for me to get anything done during the day…it’s a battle to even get food on the table and him fed without a major disaster lol. So my work kind of begins when he finally goes to sleep at night. And believe me, I’ve cut back to the bare necessities. Which has meant not blogging (much less anything else). But I feel it’s time to bring it back, which is why I’m taking the extra few minutes to write this up. There won’t be any editing, so I know it’s rough, and probably has typos, but it’s time to just START. I’m trusting that God does a miracle and turns things around so that I can have time to do more than just survive. But in the mean time, I’m just taking a step out in faith.
I’ve recently learned that I am now 24/7, 100% responsible for my son. So yes, I’m WIPED out. Though I received little help before, it’s now all on my shoulders. Due to a very long and complicated set of circumstances, I’m also left to try and sort through and declutter a garage packed full of stuff, not to mention my house being full of more of it. I have to get this in order before I move, because I need to downsize.
Oh, and did I mention I have to schedule more doctor’s appointments and surgery for cancer? I know 2020 has sucked for a lot of people, but my personal hell began in July of 2019, and has just continued to get worse.
One thing God’s been challenging me on is to just take a step forward in faith, and trust that he will work it out. I don’t even know what that looks like when you can barely survive, but I’ve been trying to also work on things like asking for help. Heck, just accepting help that is straight up offered is hard for me LOL.
Now, what are some things I wish I could tell people?
Praying that “it’s not cancer when they take it out” doesn’t help anything, literally. I still need surgery, and my health is utter crap, cancer or not. I can barely function because my body is shutting down, so even if it somehow turns out to be benign, it doesn’t fix things for me, it just makes you feel better.
Telling me stories of people you know of who survived thyroid cancer doesn’t help. Most people catch it early, but mine has been around for a long time, it’s been affecting my breathing significantly, and we don’t know how far it’s spread or if it’s metastasized, and even if it’s “mild” and contained, it doesn’t change the fact that it or the lack of treating it has destroyed my health to where I’m barely surviving day to day.
Please, stop telling me to take care of myself. I KNOW this is important. If someone has the resources and energy to practice self-care, but just needs a reminder, that’s one thing. Even then, you should probably ask if you can help them do something for themselves. But for someone like me (and there are many others in similar situations), it’s literally IMPOSSIBLE to practice self care. Due to finances, time, energy, circumstances… What you should be asking is at least “are you able to practice self care?” And if not, “how can I help you get some self-care in?” You can offer to bring (or send via delivery service) a meal, watch their kid(s), do some dishes or fold some laundry. Maybe pick up groceries. Take things to a donation center to help them declutter. Bring wine and chocolate and sit and listen to someone’s pain. These are all just examples of some practical ways to actually be there for someone who is in survival mode. And if you think you know what survival mode is like, but you didn’t already know exactly what I just wrote in this paragraph, I promise, you’ve never been in survival mode.
Along the same lines, when someone is breaking down crying over the stress of not being able to stand up long enough to cook meals or do the laundry, or clean the toilet, please, please stop telling them to “just let it go!” Yes, there are some people who are anal retentive, neat freaks who need to control their surroundings. Even if that’s them, they likely need that organization level to feel calm and be able to function. But there are some of us who HAVE let it go, to the point where no one even wants to come over and see it or help, because it’s SUCH a disaster. To where we are walking around naked in the morning trying to hurry a load of laundry because there’s nothing clean to wear. To where you’re worried about ants because the kitchen needs cleaned. To where there are no clean dishes. There are only so many things you can let go, for so long. At some point, these things need DONE. Instead of telling people to “let it go,” offer to come help. Offer to bring paper plates and plastic ware and sit and fold laundry while watching a movie together or something. Offer to come clean toilets while they nap (another thing I hear frequently is how I need to prioritize sleep, but factoring in stress and the amount of responsibilities resting on my shoulders alone, it’s not possible to “just prioritize sleep,” it’s not that simple).
There are more things I could say, but I do actually need sleep, and I need to get a bit of work done before I sleep. 🥴
Our society has lost the ability to meet people in their needs, to listen to HARD and awkward situations without trying to minimize or reason them away, and to sit with people in their pain. To practically help. To witness people in their messiest, crappiest, realest nitty-gritty circumstances, and jump in with real love.
This is my plea to you: Consider the people in your life. Are you actually sacrificially loving them? Are you helping them in practical ways? It’s worth re-evaluating as we enter the new year.
And to those of you who have loved me in real and practical ways, and done the messy, not fun, thankless things that have blessed and helped me survive, THANK YOU. I’ll never be able to repay you, but I do hope one day to be in a position that I can pay it forward. ❤️
It’s Elderberry Syrup time again! We don’t want the sicknesses floating around lol!
Here is a really cool (and short, don’t worry 😉) article explaining how it actually does prevent and treat the flu! We have had great success in preventing (and shortening the duration when we’ve slacked on preventative lol) sickness with this! https://returntonow.net/…/study-elderberries-block-flu-vi…/…
Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed by allllll the pressure on social media.
The “better than you,” the unsolicited advice, the shaming, name-calling, and on and on.
Now I’m not saying don’t be PROUD of yourself, mama, for an achievement you worked hard for.
Or not to celebrate your birthday.
Or to not post that ADORABLE pic (or 372) of your kid.
I’m all for that.
But when people start acting like they have it all together, or are better than others, people everywhere (especially women, and especially moms) start feeling incredibly inadequate. Like something is wrong with us.
Why can’t we achieve all of that?
Why do I feel like a failure for not having a huge and complicated home cooked meal on the table every night?
How come I can’t have a gym perfected body?
How come my kid won’t sleep through the night?
Why do I always look like a wreck?
What you don’t know is that Susan LOVES to cook, and making the fancy meals is her happy place. What you don’t see is that she feels fat, and is embarrassed about her lack of home decor, so she posts her lovely meal instead.
What you don’t know is that Sally works out because she has 7 children, and catches her husband looking at other women (don’t get me started on this, by the way. It’s unacceptable, no matter how “common” it is). She feels like she isn’t young or pretty enough for her husband, so she posts her gym selfies to get praise and love from her friends instead.
What you don’t know is that Sarah loves being a stay at home mom, but she feels like no one values her because she doesn’t work outside the home, so she posts about her direct sales business all the time. She constantly hears demeaning comments about how “lazy” stay at home moms are, even though she is frazzled from doing the work of approximately 42 people 24/7. She can’t complain because they won’t understand, so she tries to show you she can work for money, too.
What you don’t know is that Sherry has chronic health problems that limit her energy to that of a 115 year old, but she is tired of trying to explain it to people, who then just counter with advice, even though they know nothing of her conditions, so she tries to appear as normal as possible. She tries to put on makeup for outings, so no one can see how tired and haggard she is, but it takes all her energy, so she rarely accepts invites to get togethers, and then people stop inviting her. So she posts selfies online when she’s done-up, because most of the time, she’s lying in bed in sweats, praying for the strength to get up and do some laundry, and who wants to see that?
I could go on, and maybe I should.
I’m not ready to share the extent of my current circumstances with the whole world just yet, but here’s my current day:
I’m sitting on my bathroom floor, with my kid in a playpen next to me.
I’m trying to have a few minutes with God (seriously, trying to plan quiet time with a baby is 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️) before I get in the shower. Heck, that’s IF I get a shower.
I’m drinking coffee I put in the fridge yesterday and warmed up this morning, dressed up with fresh whipped cream. 😂
I have greasy hair, a wrecked complexion from stress and hormones, and I just want to curl up in bed and cry.
See that crap behind me? That’s my bathroom counter. 🙈🤦🏻♀️
I need to clean and organize, but my kid is needy, because he’s had a rough life (for as long as he can remember), and needs to be reassured that I’m not going to disappear.
So I try not to compare when I see other people’s lives.
I try to remember that everyone is different, that we see highlight reels, that everyone has some struggle they either can’t or won’t share.
That it’s ok to love Jesus because I NEED him. Like… NEED. Because I’m a wreck. (I don’t love Jesus because I’m better than anyone, I love him because phew! Have. Mercy. 😂🤦🏻♀️😫)
I know this is long, and part of me doesn’t want to even post it because I fear people will take it the wrong way. That I’m saying only post crap and bad stuff, or air your dirty laundry on social media. Lol
I’m not saying any of that, and I hope my heart comes through.
You, who are reading this, are doing amazing. You have strengths as well as weaknesses, but just because people harp on your weaknesses and may not acknowledge or praise your strengths doesn’t mean you aren’t lovable. It means we’re all human and struggling and doing our best.
Celebrate the good times.
Hang in there through the bad.
Don’t forget that it’s ok to reach out for help (preaching to myself, too 😬).
And social media doesn’t paint the whole picture, so don’t let it set the tone for what you need to live up to. ❤️
K now it’s time to feed and change the kid again, so I hope someone needed to see this, and it isn’t just my mad, sleep-deprived ramblings, because I’m putting off (possibly giving up altogether lol) a shower for it. 😂😂
Several people have asked me about traveling with cloth diapers, since it does seem daunting. While some people prefer to just use disposables on the go (understandable, or even necessary, depending on many factors), we have been able to use cloth on our few trips. I’ve even washed them in a hotel bathtub lol! More on that coming down the road, but for now, here is how I packed for a quick 4 day, 3 night trip…
24 diapers (mix of prefolds/flats and covers, and pockets with inserts)
4 nighttime diapers (1 extra because inevitably some weird poop will happen right after being put into the nighttime diaper lol)
5 travel wet bags
2 changing pads
5 extra prefolds/flats for good measure
I also brought a collapsible bin and our cloth diaper plunger-washer thing (see links below) just in case we needed to hand wash a few things-they’re super easy to use in the tub. =)
It worked out really well, and we ended up not using everything we brought, but it wasn’t super overkill, either, so I was pretty happy with it. As Gidz is still mostly breastfed, we didn’t have to worry much about poop, however, I plan to use disposable liners when we travel in the future to help cut down on rinsing needed, and I might need to use the ol’ dunk ‘n’ swish method, oooo fun. *insert eyeroll* lol
Anyway, I have loved traveling with cloth, as we never have blowouts or leaks in them, as opposed to the horrible time we’ve had with disposables at home (I can’t imagine traveling in them, honestly). =) I highly recommend! Have you traveled with cloth? What is your system/process? Any recommendations or suggestions?
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