Work in progress

In my last post, I vowed to be non-reactive, and instead thoughtfully respond to the people and situations in my life. That has definitely proven to be easier said than done, and will continue to be a work in progress.

However, it has already paid off in many ways. My children are more respectful, and even massaged my feet and put toothpaste on my toothbrush for me (instead of throwing it behind the toilet, I’ve been buying a lot of toothbrushes lately).

All areas of my life are already changing for the better. It’s amazing how well you can relate to people when you let them actually finish their sentences.

The only problem I’ve had is that I’ve resorted to comfort food again when starting to stress. For example, when I had to spend a rather lengthy amount of time getting the toothpaste out of the  toddler’s hair. She is still in her kids aquafresh loving stage. Still not sure how half the tube ended up on the back of her head. But the important fact is that I did not overreact, just quietly went to work on the mess. Then hid what toothpaste we had left.

I’ve done better with letting the kids fight their own battles, until it physically turned into a kicking, screaming fight. Then I stepped in. (I knew all those parenting books that my mom recommended would come in handy someday). And my house is spotless because when I wasn’t in the refrigerator I was cleaning it, trying to tune the arguing out.

So my goal for today is to put it all together, to be kind, loving and responsive, not reactive, but without diving headfirst into a hot fudge sundae or pizza.

Home should not feel like jail

A lecture from my two year old recently got my attention. Among other things, I was told that I was ‘not being nice, screaming, and acting like a baby.’

Turns out she was right. Following that was the startling revelation that I am the most reactive (and overreactive) person alive. Ok, so that was probably only startling to me. Anyone who’s known me for more than 5 minutes is probably well aware of this fact. Even a wrong glance in my direction has me as prickly as a porcupine.

Let’s just say that yesterday at my house was not fun. The kids argued with me and with each other for about five hours straight. And I reacted to every single look, sigh and comment. Man am I exhausted today. On top of that came the feelings of guilt over being a single parent and wondering if my kids were going to grow up hating me. Their dad is the ‘fun one’ and I am the warden/drill sergeant. Things have got to change.

So today I’m making it my goal to employ the golden rule with my children, listen thoughtfully and instead of reacting, take a few moments to use my brain and respond to the situation. Calmly. Without yelling. I’m also trying to pick my battles, and let them fight their own battles, without jumping in. It’s a daunting prospect. Usually I live my life one day at a time, but at the moment I’m living it one second at a time. Anything more seems too overwhelming. But a home should be peaceful, relaxing and not like jail. It should not be a place that you dread going.

And since I’ve started to change my behavior, they have already calmed down quite a bit. Funny how that works. Now I just have to keep doing it. One day and one moment at a time.

Tales of an almost relapse

Just as I was congratulating myself on the progress I’ve made with avoiding comforting junk food, temptation struck big time.

I had just spent the entire afternoon listening to my three usually well behaved young children whining and bickering nonstop. In addition, they all had to argue with/ignore me every time I spoke. Then I found the two year old’s leftover macaroni under the couch, and had to clean up the four bottles of flavored water that somehow spilled/got dumped all over the living room floor. The final straw came when a tv remote was launched at me (but at least no one tried to mute me with it, so I guess that’s progress).

Since we needed more kids toothpaste due to the toddler’s aquafresh eating stage, a trip to the store was in order. I left the house fully prepared to buy and scarf down all the candy/chips/ice cream that I saw. Maybe that would relieve the feeling of wanting to tear my hair out or climb the walls.

But, as we stood there looking at the aisles of sugary, salty treats, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even bring myself to touch them. I couldn’t negate all the weeks of hard work and hard earned self confidence just because I was having a frustrating day (and life). I had vowed to be done with letting external circumstances define who I am and what I do or eat. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I bought almost every flavor of sugar free gum ever made. And it worked. After chewing so voraciously that my jaws went numb, I felt amazing.

Of course, it helped also that I happened to run into some friends who I haven’t seen in a while. And it helped to feel like someone cared how I was doing and seemed happy that I’m still alive. And the next time that I feel like I’m about to break down, I have no less than 10 kinds of gum to choose from. That should tide me over until I figure out a better way to handle things.

I (finally) have my pride

As I was reading a novel today, I had the uncomfortable realization that one of the characters is just like me. The old me, anyways.

Of course, it had to be the character who is an emotional mess. The person who is constantly devastated and bereft when the object of her affections doesn’t call her, not caring that she’s only known him for a matter of hours. Beautiful yet crazy. Yep, that was me.

Actually, looking back on it, I was certifiably insane with my lack of pride and self-respect. I would spend all day and night obsessing over the man of the moment, wondering why I hadn’t heard from him in a certain amount of time, and that was how I would keep track of my life. Thinking ‘oh I haven’t heard from him in two hours’ or a day. You get my point. But the worst part is I wouldn’t just think it. Oh no. If too much time passed I would track him down and try to find out what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t desirable enough for him to want to be with me. Forever. The fact that most of these men were married or otherwise spoken for didn’t seem to compute. Neither did the fact that I only went for the ‘bad boy’ type but constantly was mystified as to why I was being treated so poorly. I’m beginning to understand now why I was a 99% match online for the crazy schizophrenic guy.

Somehow over the past several weeks my life has done a complete 180 physically, mentally, and emotionally. It wasn’t a planned metamorphosis but has been the most amazing journey.

I still have to be on guard against old habits returning. For example, one of the ‘men of the moment’ that I’ve been trying to get over for months now is still passing in and out of my life. The difference is, I’m done obsessing over him, chasing him or wondering (or even asking out loud) what is wrong with me when I haven’t heard from him in over a day.  I’m also done immersing myself in the closest bag of candy or chips while wondering why I’m so crazy and unlovable.Instead, I live my life independently, try new things, live in a junk food free house and don’t beat myself up (too much) over my nonexistent love life.

I finally have my pride and self respect, which is priceless as it took 32 years to acquire it.

Conquering fears

After facing the idea of life without junk food and surviving, I felt like I could do anything. I have always wanted to take my kids to do fun new things but as I have no sense of direction that has been a very scary idea for me. I always made excuses varying from, ‘I’ll wait until I have a boyfriend’ (um yeah, not seeing that happening in the next century or so), to ‘I’ll wait until I lose 10 pounds’ (really can’t explain what being skinny could possibly do with finding my way home easier).
After seeing some rather awful pictures of myself from about 12 years ago, yesterday I realized that I’ve never looked or felt better and that if I’ve made it this far in life (through the wild party phase, an awful marriage, losing a parent) then I should be intelligent enough to find my way to and from the zoo.

So, I took my toddler to the zoo today. We made it there, eventually. Only drove around, lost, in the rain for half an hour. All of my near panic attacks were worth it the moment I saw the gigantic smile on her face when she saw the flamingos. I even took some amazing pictures of her next to tigers and snow leopards (with safety glass in between). We even had fun arguing. She thought the red pandas were kitty cats, and was convinced that caribou were in fact kangaroos, and that I just was too stubborn to remember that. At the monkey exhibit she treated all around us to a rendition of ‘five little monkeys jumping on the bed’. And of course she loved roaring at the lions and bears. This is the same child who walks up to geese at the pond and starts hissing at them, not caring that they’re bigger than her. Fearless.

I was able to navigate my way through the zoo, and back out to the car, so didn’t end up trapped overnight in the zoo with wild animals (yet another irrational fear I harbored). We even found our way home without too many wrong turns. Apparently it really helps to pay attention to signs and arrows.

Next on my ‘facing fears’ list: a museum downtown. Even the thought of one way streets makes my heart skip a beat. Think I’ll save that for next weekend.

A day in the life of Morgan part 2

Another crazy yet very entertaining day. I woke up still sunburned from yesterday’s parade and carnival, and was sweating so profusely while getting ready for work that my makeup melted off and streaked down my face, thereby requiring me to sit in front of two fans while attempting to repair the damage.

The kids were in rare form as well, getting into a fight on the way out the door, whereby the 2 year old shoved the almost 9 year old against the kitchen cabinets, and made him hit his head.

My car went back into the shop for repairs and one of the staff was nice enough to give me a ride to work. Thankfully not the one who invited me to go to Italy with him after knowing me for all of an hour. (He’s the real reason why I put off getting my car fixed for the past 6 months). This man was very nice, but stressed as the car was on ‘E’ and he was afraid we wouldn’t make it to the gas station. After filling up, he drove me to work…slowly…going 40mph on the highways while all other cars on the road went flying past us. He only ran one red light.

Work was quiet, as the doctor wasn’t there, so I invented ways to entertain myself. We didn’t have lunch brought by any reps and instead had to rely on leftovers. In my past food and attention focused life this would have devastated me, as the awesome lunches were my primary reason for going to work. But today I resigned myself to eating leftover salad and tried to convince myself that grazing on a big pile of lettuce was satisfying. After lunch I went for a walk outside which I cut short for two reasons:
1. My sunburn. When you look like a lobster with a farmer’s tan, the last thing you want is more sun exposure.
2. My stomach growling no more than 10 minutes after ‘lunch’.
So I went back inside and ate a blueberry protein bar which tasted amazing (maybe even better than my coworker’s cheeseburger…no, not really).

The driver from last Thursday (not the Italy guy, hooray) actually hand delivered my car to me at work. I had brought the car in last week due to the check engine light being on (for over six months), and was fortunate enough that the director of the shop listened patiently to my fears about my car, and even looked under the hood, explaining what everything was, and took me on a drive in my car (we went almost 90mph in a 30mph zone, which was awesome). Turns out most of my car’s ‘symptoms’ were invented by my overactive imagination, prompting the mechanic to wisely tell me that most of the time the problem is ‘not a broken car, but a broken customer’. The man who delivered my car to me at work left with these parting words which were so sweet to my ears: the car is ‘covered under warranty’. Great end to the work day!!!!!!

A day in the life of Morgan

To give an example of how my life is never boring or normal, here’s actual occurrences of one Monday.

My 7 year old daughter had lost yet another tooth (the second one in a week), so I was on tooth fairy duty at 1am searching for it in her room. She never just leaves it under her pillow.

Last week she had placed the tooth in an envelope, which I had finally found on the floor under her bed in the middle of the night. Imagine my surprise the next morning when I was getting ready for work and heard her say ‘oh no!!’ then started crying that the tooth fairy didn’t take her tooth. Apparently she had taken the tooth out of the envelope and hidden it at the foot of her bed under a pile of blankets for safekeeping. We then had a discussion of how she shouldn’t confuse the poor old tooth fairy.

So, back to the 1am search. The tooth was not under the pillow, as the pillow was not on the bed. The room was a mess, clothes everywhere. At 2:40am I finally gave up the search and tucked a $5 bill into my sleeping child’s hand, as that was the only money in my purse that night.

After sleeping for all of three hours, during which time I had bizarre dreams about serial killers and chicken broth (??!!!), I had to get up and get ready for work. Time to deal with the maroon hair. What was supposed to be deep auburn had taken a turn for the worse, but at least it had lightened from a deep purple to maroon. Since there was no way to fix it, I decided on sparkly eye shadow to try to divert attention to my eyes.

With that being done, the final step was to brush my teeth. Easier said than done, as I couldn’t find any toothbrushes. I finally found mine behind the toilet where one of the kids had hidden it.

The day ended with a trip to the mall, where I got stuck in no fewer than 5 dresses, as my 2 year old repeatedly snuck under the dressing room door and went to make friends with all of the sales women who worked there. Thankfully my 7 year old was able to free me from the zippers of the dresses and I found two beautiful dresses that actually fit right.

So that was a day in the life of Morgan. Thankfully not all days are so eventful, but at least I’m rarely ever bored.