Adulting · Anxiety

A Mom’s Anxiety

Have you guys seen Ariana Grande’s brain scan? The one showing the PTSD she has after the Manchester Bombing? Yeah I think I should scan my brain too. No joke, seriously.

It all started 4 or 5 years ago. See I just have one cousin my age growing up. She and I were born 1 month apart. We grew up together, went to playdates and birthdays together, and went to elementary school together. Later on we did grow apart a bit as she went to a different high school and university and we both had different groups of friends.

But then we got closer again as we got older. She actually set me up with my husband as he went to the same high school as hers. We got married months apart then life and kids happened .. and we weren’t as close as before though we tried to keep in contact as much as we can.

Fast forward a couple of years later .. got the shocking news: my cousin, who just had twin babies, has leukemia.

I think I blocked those days from my brain but now that I am writing this, I’m starting to remember the day. I was living at my moms with the kids as my husband was doing his 9 months masters course abroad. I remember it was before 8 am, I just came back from school drop off when I saw my uncle walking around in circles in front of my mom’s gate. When he saw me he hurried off. I didn’t know why but now I know he didn’t want to face people. Now I know .. he was devastated.

After that I don’t remember exactly what happened, as I said I blocked a lot of things from my brain. But I do remember clearly my uncle telling my mom: after our mom (my grandmother) passed away, you’re the only person I have left in this world that can give me strength so please help me .. I don’t know what to do. From that day us three girls knew we had to be strong for our mom, just like she had to be strong for her brother.

Looking back now, there’s a lot of things I don’t remember. I don’t remember who told me she passed away. I don’t remember that date she did. I don’t remember if I was pregnant with my 3rd or not (why cant I remember?)

But I do remember her birthday, Nov 4. And I do remember her first crush and the code name she gave him. And I do remember us trying to fake injury and go to the school nurse together to get out of class.

I also remember that I did not cry in her funeral when everyone else was crying. I remember thinking: what’s wrong with me? Why am I not crying?! It took me an entire month to break down, alone in my room.

And to be honest, I still don’t think I dealt with all my emotions. Being a wife and trying to be the person your significant other needs, having a household and trying to juggle all the responsibilities, raising 4 kids to the best of your abilities .. you just cant breakdown and deal with your emotions.

This is why we moms have perfected the “I’m fine” syndrome. Just sweep everything under the rug and deal with it later because no worries .. of course I’m fine.

But then .. anxiety started to creep in.

Ten year ago, they found a polyp in my colon that was just the type that could’ve turned into cancer. I was very lucky and I did the needed follow up after it. I’m due to have a check up soon. Oh my God .. what if it came back? And already grew into cancer? It’s called the silent killer for a reason! My God .. what will happen to my kids?

I felt a bump in my breast. I’m breastfeeding but still went to have it checked. The ultrasound showed that it doesn’t look cancerous and the doctor said she would rather wait till I finish breastfeeding because it was close to a milk gland and they’d rather not prick it .. especially when it’s looking so reassuring.

But what if the Dr. is wrong? What if the ultrasound technician missed something and was wrong too? What if I had breast cancer?! Would my husband remarry and go off with his new wife forgetting our kids (just like her husband did?) My God .. what will happen to my kids?

My arm hurt the other day and I had a tingly feeling in my hand. It must be that the breast cancer spread to my lymph nodes and cause this tingling. Forget that I slept on the rocking chair holding my 10 kg baby .. no it must be cancer.

Then my shoulder hurt for a while. OMG how didn’t I see it. It’s a symptom of lung cancer, along with a recurring cough, which I did have throughout the year.  My kids .. my four beautiful kids .. what will happen to them if I die??

Think it would be best for me to go to a doctor. But if I do go to one and ask for a colonoscopy because I believe I have colon cancer, a mammograph because I just know its breast cancer, and a chest x-ray because yes I do, I think I have lung cancer too. You know what, just throw in a brain scan in there too because it wont take me much time to diagnose myself with brain cancer.

I think most probably, this doctor will refer me to a psychologist .. which yes by now I know I really should go see someone professional about this.

The first time I had a full on anxiety attack, it was 9 pm .. sitting on a rocking chair with my baby. My older 3 sleeping soundly in their beds. I was going through my phone and saw a video of a little girl who was being abducted by a predator.

My heart started beating very fast, I started sweating, I couldn’t breathe properly and felt dizzy. I put my baby down and started breathing long deep breaths. I had to talk to myself and reassure myself over and over again: it’s ok .. my kids are safe .. it’s ok .. my kids are at home with me .. sleeping in their beds.

After I calmed down, I went to each of my kids and kissed them on their foreheads. Then I saw how crazy this all was. The incident in the video was in another country, in a place that we never visited. But deep down, I’ll always have the “what if”” .. “you never know” .. “it just takes a sec” .. “it can happen to anyone”.. that I just cant seem to shake off.

So yes .. I believe I suffer from anxiety. And yes .. It is getting worse by the day. And yes .. I am very worried I might transfer my anxiety to my kids (which is making me even more anxious). And yes .. I know I know .. I really need to go see a professional and get the help I desperately need.

But for now .. I’ll take my antibiotics for my throat infection while giving my son his dose of Ventolin on the nebulizer and while I just remembered that my 3 year old needs to wear clothes from a different country tomorrow to preschool and did my daughter remember to put her homework in her school bag?

I promise one day I will get the help I need but for now .. I’ll just sweep my anxiety under the rug and smile .. and always reply I’m fine .. absolutely 100% fine.

Parenting · School

Snowplow Parent: Failing to Prepare Kids for the Real World

It’s been a while since I wrote a parenting post (writer’s block maybe?), but reading a very interesting article in the New York Times made me think, and rethink: Am I preparing my kids for the real world?

The article calls our kids age the “everyone-gets-a-trophy generation” which is absolutely true and frustrating. See it started in kindergarten sports day, there is no winner or loser. You think it’s ok, they are just kids and who wants to deal with 20+ temper tantrums on a day that’s supposed to be fun for the kids?

Then it slowly, without realizing it, started creeping to the older kids. See in our school we have houses with different colors. These four houses compete against each other on sports day and the winning house gets a reward like a pizza party or something. Three years ago it was the blue house (not my kids team), two years ago it was the reds (yay our team!), but last year and this year .. there were no winners. It wasn’t like announced that it’s not a real competition and ‘everyone wins’, but the lack of winners/losers seemed to make everyone happy.
failureisnolongeranoption

And it’s not only that. Last week we had the IT fair in our school. There were 15+ teams showing their robots that they created. Some were better than others but at the end, every single team won. Every team was called up on stage and given a certificate and a medal. They had different categories like: most creative, most innovative, best looking robot .. etc. I feel bad for the person who had to come up with 15+ different categories, just so everyone could ‘win’.

I asked one of the judging teachers and she said that they had to do that because of the amount of angry complaints from parents they get each year.

I for one don’t like the everyone wins policy and kind of felt like the school was a pushover for giving into parents complaints .. until I saw for myself first hand how ruthless it can be.

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Just three days after having that conversation with the teacher, my daughter took part in the awaited Battle of the Books. Each year, our librarian chooses a list of 20 books for the grade to read. Five students from each class are chose to compete (this is done by student voting in class). These five students have to read the list of 20 books between themselves, so each student reads four books (you can read more if you like) in almost two months. (My daughter read Pippi Longstocking, Loser, Mostly Ghostly: Have you met my Ghoulfriend?, Holes, and Hatchet).

So anyways, we moms were excited as this is the first year we get to participate (only grades 4 and 5 have it). We created a booklet with questions so they can summarize their books in, took them to Starbucks so they can have book discussions and so on. It was so much fun and in the end, all we wanted is to build a love of reading in our kids.

Fast forward to the morning of the battle, my girl was very nervous. I told her it doesn’t matter if she wins or loses because in my eyes she is already a winner as she did a great job in reading and summarizing all those books. And I’m proud of her for stepping in and helping her friends when they couldn’t finish reading all their books. So as a reward for all her efforts, I am taking her out and buying her a gift, no matter what the outcome of the battle is.

I really really wanted my daughter’s team to win. They hot a couple of questions wrong, and it was nerve wracking but did end up winning in the end. What surprised me was the amount of temper tantrums/crying the other teams had (keep in mind they are 9 – 10 years old). What surprised me even more was the amount of temper tantrums the moms had!

The amount of abuse the organizing teacher got was ridiculous! He put the effort from his personal time (he has twin babies btw so I’m sure he could’ve spent this time in many other ways) to organize the competition, come up with the questions, and host it, all to provide the kids with an enjoyable event and to promote reading. And what did he get in return?! Screaming, angry parents accusing him of cheating, neglect, and being reckless with kids emotions. Looking at all their angry faces I don’t think they realize how ridiculous they look!

So we took out the winning team to dinner and on the way there I had a talk with my daughter about what happened. I asked her to think about what happened and how Mr. S must’ve felt. And I told her if she participates again next year, if her team doesn’t win, I want her to be an example for the rest and congratulate the winning team and lift the spirits of her own team. As for me, I promised to take her out next year to celebrate as long as she finishes her four books and summarizes them, because I reward effort and not just medals.
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So, what are we teaching our kids by bulldozing all obstacles they face? I know it’s hard to see your kids fail, not win, be disappointed, but shouldn’t we teach them how to deal with these emotions? Shouldn’t we model behavior instead of screaming at a teacher? If a child sees his mom doing it, what will stop them from doing it and disrespecting their teachers in the future?

I’m sure these parents don’t mean to do wrong towards their kids and their parenting. On the contrary, they believe by doing this, they are protecting their kids and always ensure they have a leg up on anything they want to accomplish. But by doing that, they rob their kids of experiencing failure.

The NY Times article points out that failure teaches kids to “solve problems, take risks, and overcome frustration.” These are “crucial life skills” that kids need to build up in order to face the real world. The article goes on to list examples of students who got accepted to top universities like Stanford but dropped out after the first semester because they didn’t have the tools to cope by themselves.

My oldest is just 10 years old and I still feel new to all this and trying my best to figure it all out. I’m sure I made a million mistakes on the way that I really hope doesn’t mess my kids up forever. But I am happy, after reading this article, that I didn’t send my daughter’s math book to school when she forgot it at home after doing her improper fractions homework. I told her a million times she is responsible for her books and schoolbag. Now she will always remember to put her homework back in her bag and I’m glad I didn’t bail her out (even though I thought about it). This might seem like a small thing but hopefully, it’s a correct mindset and heading towards the right direction in a world where everyone-gets-a-trophy.

I am writing this post after just coming back from my niece and nephew’s birthday party. My daughter won the book “Oh the Places you’ll Go!” What a fitting book to end my discussion with her, and to end my post too.

So will conclude this with the wittier of the cleverest.. Dr. Suess:

Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best                                                                   Wherever you go, you will top all the rest                                                                            Except when you don’t                                                                                                          Because, sometimes, you won’t                                                                                                      I’m sorry to say so                                                                                                                            but, sadly, it’s true                                                                                                                           that Bang-ups                                                                                                                                    and Hang-ups                                                                                                                                    can happen to you …

But on you will go                                                                                                                      though the weather be foul                                                                                                             On you will go                                                                                                                             though your enemies prowl …

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

Here’s to hoping all our kids will move their awaiting mountain, and we just be proud parents with as little meddling as possible.

Because just as we should be proud of our achievements, they should be proud of theirs too!

School

Our School System has to Change!

Amazing video that all must see.

Whats going on in schools is crazy!

I have two kids in school, with two different temperaments and two different abilities. They are expected to take the same exams at a certain age and get it right .. or what? They are .. inadequate? Special needs? Or just unworthy?

Everyone reaches goals and milestones at different times, when they are ready. That’s why we don’t expect all babies to flip by 4 months and walk by 1 year.

People don’t say things like: “he didn’t achieve the required ability” if a kid doesn’t walk by 1 year. Then why do it to an 8 or 10 year old?

Hope the world wakes up and creates “a world where fish are no longer required to climb trees.”

Till then, i will always tell my kids they are good enough, no matter what their scores on a test says.

Parenting

Am I Crazy?

The other day, we had a big family lunch at my mother’s house. My older brother and mother were casually talking about a distant relative who just graduated university.

Bro: I can’t believe how attached he is to his parents. Every time I see him he is either out with them in a coffee shop or out to dinner .. with his parents.

Mom: I find it cute. Not like you when you were his age.

Bro: Oh when I was his age I couldn’t wait to get away from you .. haha. I just wanted to go out with my friends and explore everything.

Mom: Oh don’t remind me! At that time, there were no mobile phones or anything. I had to look for you from one place to the other just to check that you were safe and ok. See these grey hairs? You’re responsible for more than half of them.

Then I started to think. And the more time I spent thinking, the more I panicked. What am I going to do when my son wants to go and “explore everything”?!

My husband also went through crazy teen years. What if its a gene? OH GOD my son must of got the strong gene from both my bro and DH! Yes now they are responsible adults but not when they were 17 .. Noooo they were anything but responsible. Oh God what am I going to do!

We reached home and DH could see there was something troubling me. He asked me what’s wrong and I told him. He looked at me like a crazy person.

DH: You do realize our son is 5 1/2 years old.

Me: Yes I do. Don’t look at me like that. My concerns are legit.

DH: (laughing) Don’t worry, I don’t think there are any drug dealers in the 1st grade.

Me: (thinking of “Bid Daddy” scene where Sandler was questioning kids in the playground)

DH: So forget about it, we will deal with it when the time comes.

But I couldn’t forget about it.

The next day, my son saw me lying down on the couch as I wasn’t feeling very well. He covered me with my favorite blanket and sat on my lap and asked: Are you ok, my love? (yes my 5 year old son melts my heart and calls me his love).

Me: Yes as long as you’re with me I’m ok.

DS: I will always be with you mama don’t worry.

Me: Always remember that. Even when you’re older and have your drivers license ..

I can see my husband staring at me like a crazy person but I ignored ..

Me: and you go out with your friends .. when you see me calling please pick up your phone and just let me know you’re ok and having fun.

DS: Of course mama! If you want me I will tell my friends to go home and take you out to a restaurant instead.

Me: (wishing that statement will still be true when he is 17) I love you so much .. you’re the best boy in the world!

My husband then hands me his phone with a Google search open. It has the numbers of all psychologists and psychiatrists in the region.

I’m not crazy .. Am I?

Life · Parenting

The Gift of Health

My son was sick for an entire month.

 He had a stubborn fever that would not go away. At the beginning, he had a bit of a cough and runny nose, but after that, he didn’t show any other symptom except for the fever.

 After the second course of antibiotics, the fever came back and his pediatrician said we should do a blood test just to make sure, so we can rule out the “big and bad” diseases.

 After the torture of taking blood from a child and tears from both of us, we went to the Doc’s office to double check everything. Throat, ears are ok .. chest ok .. bodily functions ok .. no rashes .. no inflamed nodes.

“So, Doc, why this fever without any symptoms?”

“Well, the symptoms can be inside and we can’t see them. That’s why we did a blood test so it can tell us if there is anything going on that we can’t see.”

“What are these ‘big and bad’ diseases we want to rule out?”

I regretted asking the question the moment he started to answer. After hearing a couple of big names thrown around, I felt like the room was spinning.

The Doc seeing me like that said: You know his chances of getting these things are just like any other healthy kid walking around so don’t worry.

Nope, didn’t really help. I still felt like I wanted to throw up. I think he felt sorry for me and told me to wait here for a sec he will run down to the lab and grab the first numbers, they will give us a better picture.

After what seemed like an eternity, he came back and said: I have good news. His blood count is in the normal range, white blood cells good, no sign of inflammation or bacterial infection. He’s fine, looks like it’s just a stubborn virus. The rest of the results will take at least 3 – 4 hours to come out. You can go home now and I will let you know the rest of the results later. But till now, all the results I can see are great!

I felt like a huge rock was lifted from my chest and I could finally breathe. At that second, I thought about the moms who were in my place and didn’t get the results they wanted to hear. Those moms who couldn’t breathe a sigh of relief and I prayed for them. I still pray for them every day.

I hugged my son so tight and left the hospital.

 Sometimes we forget the important things in life. We worry about grades and homework, money and bills, work and so on and we forget the one most important blessing God gave us: good health.

So thank you God for giving me three healthy babies. Thank you for giving me the strength to raise them. Thank you God for giving me the chance of watching them grow. And thank you God, a million thank you, for making it just a virus and nothing else. You have blessed me with so much already, and I am forever grateful for you love, kindness, and generosity.

I’ll just end this with a prayer to all mom’s out there. Hope whatever is worrying you is just the never ending laundry baskets and bills, and nothing else.

God bless.

Parenting

Why I don’t Read Parenting Books

My eldest was born in 2009. I was terrified. But I was determined to not fail my baby. I prepared myself mentally for the sleep deprivation, constant crying, and even lack of outings.

 What I wasn’t prepared for though was the constant judgement and what I like to call “bullying using fear.”

After going through a scary emergency C-section (my baby’s heartrate went dangerously down), trying to work through the guilt of that, and having hormones all over the place, I wasn’t ready at all to face these constant criticisms. And they started straight away.

  • Why isn’t she latching properly? Are you sure you are holding her right?
  • She lost a lot of weight, are you sure she is getting enough?
  • She is choking! The milk is coming out of her nose! You are not burping her correctly. You should hold her upright after a feed.
  • Don’t leave her in her crib by herself, you won’t know when it will happen again, and she won’t be able to breathe.
  • Don’t hold her long while she sleeps, her bones will grow out crooked.
  • Don’t pick her up every time she cries, she is just manipulating you and you’ll give her the wrong message.
  • She is one year old and still not walking?
  • OMG, you taught her how to suck her thumb?
  • Are you sure you want to keep breastfeeding your daughter while pregnant? You do realize that all the nutrients will go to your milk, and none will be left for your unborn child?
  • Don’t you think it’s gross that your breastfeeding your daughter and she can walk and talk? Will you do that to your son also? Don’t you think he will remember? And forever have an unhealthy relationship with breasts, or women in general?

And it goes on and on and on. It’s like every decision I made was not only second guessed, but I was told, unintentionally (I hope), that I am doomed to mess up my kids forever.

So here is my story.

My dear daughter (DD) did not latch for the first three weeks. I was devastated! I had a lot of milk but I can’t even give it to my own baby. I must be a terrible mom! I pumped and gave it to her in a bottle. Before every bottle, I would try unsuccessfully to latch her onto my breast. I HATED pumping (still do and cringe every time I see a pump). After three very long weeks, and no sleep at all, I gave up. I sent my dear husband (DH) to buy formula. He quickly came back with the wrong one. DH, it clearly says stage 2 on the front how can you not see that?! But before he went to return it, by the grace of God, DD finally latched. And we didn’t stop until she was 2 ½ years old.

The reason I love breastfeeding (you’d think I will say because of its nutrients and all these things) is that it is easy for me. Personal preference as I am a germ freak when it comes to my newborns and always scared things are not clean enough. No washing bottles, no sterilizing, no heating water, no waiting for the right temperature, no fumbling with measuring spoons and cups in the middle of the night. It was always there, always sterile, always the right temperature.

Now if a mom chose not to breastfeed, if she chose bottle instead, who am I to judge?

 I hate crying. I can’t stand to listen to it (funny coming from a mom of 3). Do you know how people cringe when someone runs their nails on a blackboard? Yeah that’s exactly how I feel about crying. Maybe that’s why I snap at my older kids and ask them as nice as I can to use their words and not their tears. That is the exact reason why I could not and did not use the cry it out method. The economist in me will say there is always an opportunity cost to every decision. You have to decide: sleep deprivation vs. baby crying. I choose sleep deprivation.

 But if a mom chooses to use the cry it out method or any baby sleeping methods for many a reason, who am I to judge?

never judge

I like routine, a flexible one. I can’t follow a rigid schedule or timeframe for the life of me. The other day I had to attend a function at my DS’ school at 10 a.m. sharp, I was already in full panic mode at 8 a.m. so I can’t really follow a strict hourly routine with my kids. We do have a normal flow to our day, though we mostly go with the flow.

But if a mom chooses to have a neat schedule for herself and her kids, who am I to judge?

I never gave my kids pacifiers, mainly because of my germ phobia. I don’t know if its clean enough or how many times I have to sterilize it. But if a mom uses pacifiers, even at an “unacceptable pacifier age”, who am I to judge?

Who are you to judge? Or Mr. Fancy Doctor? Or Ms. Parenting Expert? Or Mr. Parenting Author? Who are you all to judge?

 Moms, I can only say this now because I have three kids and heard it all.

Breastfeeding? Congratulations! Here is a study that proves breastfeeding increases intelligence. Both breast and bottle? Congratulations! Here is a study that shows breastfed babies need a bottle of formula for the vitamin D. Formula? Congratulations! Here is a study showing that the benefits of breastfeeding are exaggerated.

stats

 Co-sleeping? Congratulations! Here is a study that shows co-sleeping reduces stress and anxiety, and increases quiet sleep. Choose not to co sleep? Congratulations! Here is a study that suggests the dangers of co-sleeping.

 Sleep training? Congratulations! Here is a study that proves it is safe and effective, improves baby’s sleep, and reduces maternal depression. Not sleep training? Congratulations! Any book on attachment parenting will show you are on the right track.

And just like the list of mommy criticisms can go on and on, so can the list of scientific studies that prove one point is correct, or the other.

So moms, it doesn’t matter what the parenting book you read is saying. It doesn’t matter what the “put together mom” on social media is doing. It doesn’t matter what your best friend or sister are doing. What really matters is you, your baby, and your family.

You are the only one who knows your mental state and your needs. You are the only one who knows your husband/partner’s needs and schedule. You are the only one who knows your baby and your other kid’s needs if you have any. And YOU are the only one who can best balance all these needs. No one else knows the entire picture.

 Even if it feels like a juggling act, even if a ball or two slips from time to time, trust your judgement, trust your heart, and confidently move forward.

 And always remember to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” We are all trying our best. And at the end of the day, who are we to judge?

Parenting

Book Update + a ‘George’ Dilemma

The book Middlemarch is not as bad as I thought it would be. It is structured in a way that makes it a bit less intimidating. It is segmented into 8 books, each one has around 100 pages give or take.

I am already almost done with book one and surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard a read as I thought. I thought because it was written a long long time ago (when was it written really?) it will be a boring read in the beginning and will take a long time for the story to really pick up. But no, Dorothea, the main character, had two suitors within the first 30 pages. Good for her.

This got me thinking. There are many things said in the book that still stands today and makes so much sense about the way society works. When was the book written? According to google, the book was first published in 1871-2. I knew it was written a long time ago just didn’t think it was that long. Thought it was in the 1900’s. But good for him for writing a book in the 1800’s that still resonates in the 2000’s. So the article goes on to say “…It is now widely regarded as her best works and one of the greatest novels written in English.”

Her?

Turns out George is not a George, but a Mary Ann Evans. George Eliot is just her pen name as she wanted her writings to be taken seriously, so she published them under a male pen name.

Speaking of George, here is one of the scenes that took place one very fine morning in our household that really tested my patience and sanity:

Me: This will be a great morning. Weather is amazing not too cold, come on let’s all go out and enjoy the weather. Wear your shoes and let’s go!

DD: Ufff there is something wrong with my socks. I hate socks! I wish they never invented socks! UFFF!

Dear son (DS): You’re George! HAHAHA

DD: I am not George! Stop it!

Me: Who’s George?

DS: Yes you are! Nanana you’re Geeoooorrggggeeee!

DD: I AM NOT GEOOORGEEEE!

Me: (Deep Breath) Please calm down for a second and explain to me who George is.

DS: George is Peppa Pig’s baby brother and she is just like him haha!

DD: I AM NOT GEORGE!!

Me: (Deep deep breath). You know George is the next King of England. So being a George is good. He is going to be King.

DD: I don’t care I am NOT George!

Me: Ok you’re not George now can you please just calm down and put your shoes on so we can leave.

DD: No! I want him to apologize and I want him to tell me I am not George.

Me: (Dear God give me strength). Dear dear son, can you please tell DD she is not George so we can go out already?

DS: Ok, you are not George.

Me: Thank you…

DS: But your baby Alexander wahahaha you’re a babbbyyy just like baby Alexander.

DD: This is the worst day of my life! (throwing away her shoes and stomping off to her room)

Shoot me. Shoot me now. The image that popped into my head is the picture I saw on Instagram the other day of a mom starting her day as Mary Poppins, and ending it as Cruella De Ville. The worst thing is, it was just 11 am!