Purpose

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There are a few things I have noticed in writing this week that I thought I should mention in a separate post and they have to do with how I process this information and what I think about after I publish. I mean, I’ve had some of these posts in my drafts for 4-5 years. There’s this side of me that worries that if I write something, my world will turn upside-down. Because for almost all of my childhood, if I had ever told anyone even a slight hint of what I was experiencing, often times, there was some of that disbelief (“that sounds odd, are you sure?”) and if I even tried to push back directly to my mother, there was the reaction that I was “a liar” or I had grossly misunderstood — “how can you even think that is what I said?” or perhaps my sharing with someone outside of the family led to embarrassment of her, and I would definitely pay for that. All of that led me to stay silent on the issues going forward/for the majority of my childhood.

First and foremost, I deal with some anxiety. I have it under control, so it’s not all-consuming. But the reason I’ve been reserved regarding this part of my personality on this blog is because it’s not a comfortable thing to put out there. I’m not going to lie, for all the years that I’ve been inspired to share this information about myself, my family, my life, what has held me back is this nagging question: “What is the purpose?” Secondly, and to continue on the anxiety train of thought, I have worried about whether it’s all too personal to share with the world — after all, I am one of five children who lived this life — though we all took different paths through adolescence. I’ve tried to focus only on MY experience and MY feelings and tried to avoid projecting that onto my siblings. But, there’s the worry that it’s not enough. Finally, (and this is my torment), I think about what my mother would say to me, or what she will say to me, the next time we talk.

Most of my conversations with my mother are one-sided — she usually spends time talking about my two siblings and their families that live close to her. She will tell me how awesome of a family my sister and brother and their 6 (#7 due in a month) children are. She intersperses it with, “I just don’t know how she does it with all those kids!” and then she usually inserts some comment about how she relates so well to us kids since she raised five “all on her own!” Then she’ll gush about my brother and his wife and their four boys. Most likely, she’ll remind me of the miracle of their 4th child and how she was there to stay with the other three while my brother and his wife stayed at the hospital through a procedure designed to mitigate/eliminate the damage from lack of oxygen during childbirth. At some point, she’ll say how she just can’t keep up with the number of birthdays for all the grandkids, “there’s just so many of them!” finally, she’ll wander off in the conversation explaining the newest computer or gadget she has purchased or the litany of reasons that she hasn’t been to see us since Dominic was about 11 months old (he’s now 8), or how they are planning to attend this or that reunion for her husband which will require quite a bit of travel — but that travel to come this way is just too difficult for them. A few years ago she changed up their diet to eliminate sugars and processed foods and I got to hear how the weight was just melting off of her, she just can’t believe how thin she is and how great she looks…yada yada yada. Additionally, she will search for affirmations from me — whether it is about what a good mother she was/is, or that can I believe that her sister is so mean to her, or that even her husband was not impressed with how so-and-so was treating her, and (I could go on, but I won’t).

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So having written a bit more personally this week has had me wondering how our conversations might change and I realize that they probably won’t change one bit.

And now, I ask myself again, “What is the purpose? What do I hope to accomplish?” (with this particular string of writing/posts)?

I’ll admit that part of the purpose is self-serving — it makes me feel better to write about it. Why publicly, though? I mean, I could write about this in a journal that I keep entirely to myself. I would be writing about it. So what is it about writing it here for others to read and share the experience?

  • Validation. I think in my heart of hearts, seeing it written here — taking the action of sharing and writing it here — helps me remember that it is real, that what I experienced actually happened and it wasn’t just “in my head” and I am not overreacting or overly sensitive.
  • Support. On my Blog’s Facebook page for my most recent posts, I had 9 “likes.” That’s a record, by the way. And every person that “liked” it helped me feel as though it was okay and even good that I wrote it.
  • Call it out. How many times throughout my life have I excused away bad behavior? I could not tell you. I still do it. I still excuse people for their poor choices in words or actions, even (and especially) when their poor choice in words or actions hurt me. (Interesting side note: I never seem to excuse it away if it hurts my children.) But writing here helps me call out the bad behavior — name it, process it, assign my reaction to it and finally file it away or gain closure.
  • Finally, I think using this space helps me heal. Writing in a journal where no one can see would continue to keep it hidden, in a way. I’ve hidden how I feel all of my life. I’ve ignored it. I’ve berated myself for not feeling more affection for a woman for whom all the world tells me deserves my devotion and abiding admiration.

So, this helps me to heal. It helps me to remember that I can’t change anyone. It helps me to move forward with proper expectations for my relationship with my  mother. Maybe the fact that it matters to me is all I need.

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There’s a level of abuse that is sometimes the byproduct of going through something like a divorce. Then there’s the level of abuse handed out by a person who never learned how to love her children at all. An abuser who only knew neglect and abuse in a dysfunctional family growing up only knows how to abuse, but doesn’t see that behavior as abusive in the least. What’s unfortunate about the timing in my situation was that I became a full-time recipient of bad behavior at a point in my life where I had not learned to set boundaries.

Speaking of boundaries…as an adult looking back on my upbringing, I can tell that my mother did not have a concept of boundaries. Based on the limited knowledge I have of her own family unit, I’m pretty certain she didn’t learn about boundaries. My parents divorced when I was young enough that I don’t remember if boundaries were set within our family unit. My experience growing up with my mother and also in dealing with m y mother as an adult leads me to believe that if anyone tried to teach her about boundaries or set them with her, she did not learn and/or she overstepped on a regular basis.

Therefore, beginning at age 7, the dominant parent in my life was one who had no concept of emotional, physical, intellectual boundaries. And of course, being 7, it wasn’t like I could actually set or enforce boundaries. I think that’s important to understand when thinking about my life at home after the divorce of my parents.

I grew up not knowing how to set boundaries, not learning to respect the boundaries set by others and not having any concept of boundaries myself. The relationships I entered into in high school and college were not healthy. And much of that can be traced to the fact that I didn’t understand boundaries. First and foremost, I dated boys/men who took advantage of the fact that I didn’t know to establish boundaries. I couldn’t make decent friendships with other girls because I didn’t recognize the boundaries they set and I didn’t know that I put them off with my behavior. when I did enter into relationships with people who set boundaries, I didn’t know how to respect those boundaries and those relationships were not successful. Ultimately, when I did start to establish boundaries and respect those set by others…I still didn’t understand that these were boundaries, per se. I just started to take some cues in my relationships and through trial and error, finally started figuring out how to behave.

This epiphany about boundaries took place about 2 years after I broke off my final “long-term” relationship with a man when I was 22 years old. That particular relationship was rocky from the start. I spent four years of my life in a relationship that was never going to go anywhere. The biggest reason it would never last was me and my inability to understand boundaries and that I was worthy of more. However, it never would have lasted four years if I had nailed down the concept of boundaries. yes, having a little higher sense of self-worth would have helped, too, but I really think the baseline issue was boundaries.

When I think about the years growing up after the divorce, there are the years BEFORE the move to the east coast and the years AFTER. During all the years before the move, my mom was attending nursing school, I was going to a small Catholic school where I was protected from some things, but where my siblings and I were bullied relentlessly. During those precious formative years, the lack of boundaries set and/or respected by my mother set me up for my missteps after the move.

Part of me wants to detail for you the lack of boundaries between my mother and my brother and my mother and me and my mother and each of my younger siblings. But, I think it should suffice that when I say my mother does not seem to have any understanding of boundaries — I mean that fully. There was nowhere in the house that anyone could feel was private. Even the bathroom, where a teen should be able to feel s/he can “escape” to for a few minutes alone, was not safe from invasion without a even a moment’s notice. Discussion of private matters was unheard of — everything was discussed — everything. I would imagine I’ve even blocked out some of the more painful events from that time. As an adult, I can recognize a lack of boundaries and see in the memories the blatant lack of respect for the personhood of each of us, and it’s easy to see how it led me where it did. It also makes me sad for the friendships I screwed up because I didn’t know any better. And it makes me regret the dating relationships I entered into, while at the same time angers me because there’s no way I would have entered into those with proper understanding of boundaries and if I valued myself.

The lack of boundaries, and the resulting lack of respect and devaluation of us in our own home/family is a sad state of affairs. I remember growing up believing I was ugly and that I was fat. Those were the usual adjectives I would have used to describe myself from age 8 until about 15 or 16. I was ugly because my hair was short and a crunchy, dried-out mess from it’s daily chlorination during swim practice. I was ugly because I had the most hideous glasses. I was ugly because I dressed in frumpy clothes. I was ugly because my dad didn’t want me. The thing is, my mom would try to tell me she thought I was pretty, but usually only after I had stated that I thought I was ugly. My mom had always obsessed about my weight. At the age of 2, my parents put me on a diet because I was “chunky” and when my mom started me on the swim team when I was 10, she said I was “chubby” and needed the activity. I often was subject to “conversations” with my mother about how much she ran (3 miles at least 3 times a week!) and in the locker room at the Y, she would weigh herself and show me how she was less than 130 pounds. She was very proud of that. I can’t tell you how many times she would say, “I think I look good for a woman who’s had five kids, don’t you?” Or, “I don’t know any other women who run three times a week, take full-time classes and raise five kids all by themselves!”

Those statements are just more examples of her lack of understanding about what a person should and shouldn’t say or talk about with their children. Back when I was trying to make my mother into someone she is not, I used to explain it all away with the idea that she was lonely, she didn’t have a husband anymore to share these things with and was forced to share them with her kids. But now, as an adult, I don’t say stuff like that to my husband…I mean, I rarely talk about myself when I see friends, and I think it’s poor social form to continually talk oneself up about how much one does, good or bad.

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That brings me to one of the most important realizations of all of my life: My mom will never admit that anything she has ever said or done is wrong. And my mom will never be someone different than she is and has been. I have begun to accept that the relationship I will have with my mother will always be limited. I can’t make her into the mother I want her to be. She is who she is. I love her, as I mentioned before, and I care for her and want the best for her. But that doesn’t mean I have to listen to her say negative things about me, my father, my siblings or my children. Ever. I started putting a stop to it years ago — I set some boundaries. Every now and then I have to remind her of my boundaries. She will try to run over my boundaries with some sort of “No, you NEED to LISTEN to ME ON THIS…” or “YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND…” And I have, in the past 10-15 years, been able to say, “No, Mom, I don’t and if you insist, then this conversation is over.”

Thank God I finally figured out what boundaries were and also built up the strength to enforce them.

 

 

Flash Forward and It Really Is All Okay

After writing the other night, and also starting another post hashing through my “issues” it occurred to me that I should insert a little bit of reassurance. My life is okay. I’m not angry or depressed over these “issues.” Not right now, anyway. They are what they are and I deal with them as they occur (as my self-induced counseling throughout the years indicates).

While I didn’t have the proper parenting examples or relationships growing up, ultimately, I made good adult choices that have ensured that I have a stable marriage and provide a loving and consistent example/relationship for my children. I may even write sometime about the Grace of God evident in the lives of my siblings and me based on how life has evolved for all of us.

It is strange to write about parents who behave badly. People who do not have parents who behave badly often do not believe what is said about parents who do behave badly. I can’t tell you how many times I have softened a message about my relationship with my mother when I say it aloud because I don’t want to hear someone say, “Michelle! That’s your mother. She’s the only mother you have!” Or something to that effect. So I often say something like, “I don’t have a close relationship with my mother.” when what I really want to say is, “I don’t like my mother much.”

Throughout my life, I was told that my mother “did the best that she could.” And I don’t doubt that. The hard part is that for us kids, the “best she could” was nowhere near good enough. I’m sorry to have to say that, but it’s true. My own mother will talk over and over again (and over and over again) about how much she sacrificed for us kids. Over the years, I’ve learned to agree with her and just move on because there’s no way she’ll see it differently. And yes, she did sacrifice, but the thing about true sacrifice is that, when it’s a true sacrifice, you don’t continue to remind everyone about your sacrifice to serve your own self-interest.

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As I explore this new term I have learned recently (narcissistic abuse) in my writing, I want to be able to share without apology.

I want you to know that yes, I love my mom. There are many times I don’t like her very much and there are scars that run deep. But I love my mom the way Christ loves us all, I want the best for her and I have compassion for the fact that there is hurt inside of her that causes her to be the way she is.

I want you to know that I can only take my mom in small doses. I don’t talk with her all that often. Eventually I guilt myself into calling her to check on her. Honestly, it’s easier if I just call when I think of it because she never calls me at a time that I want to talk with her. So, to keep it more on “my terms” I call her sometimes.

I want you to know that Mother’s Day is the most horrible-confusing-wonderful (because of my own kids)-torturous-sucky-notfun day for me.

I want you to know that even as I am able to write a bit about my relationship with my mom now, that I am still working through it every day of my life. I don’t get to have a mom like most other people have one. I have recently started to think of myself as an orphan of sorts. The things my daughters come running to me to talk about and work through are things I had to do all on my own and there’s still some anxiety and anguish about that.

I also want you to know that even though words I may write could sound whiney or ungrateful — the fact that I even write that is a symptom of my own abuse survival — I am still glad that my mom was able to do “the best that she could” and that I was able to emerge from the firestorm that was my teenage adolescence into a life that honors God, my parents (however unworthy they may be), my siblings, my husband, my children and myself.

 

 

The Stuff I Thought I Wouldn’t Want To Write – 1

I’m going to write about something I haven’t written about much, if at all, in this space. As I’ve gotten going, I realize that there’s no way everything is going to be in one post. This is part 1.

When I had just turned 35 years old, I decided it was time for me to go to counseling. What spurred me into the office of the Catholic Charities-subsidized therapist’s office is not the thing for which I ultimately sought counseling long-term. Like most things, a trigger of sorts brought me in there, but the unraveling of the layers was the real reason I believe God brought me there. The trigger was the death of my granddad. He died suddenly on New Year’s day of 2008, after being the picture of longevity for quite some time. My Nana had been ill, suffered heart problems, and various other things off and on for some years before that. So when Granddad died before she did, it took me by surprise. During the grief that followed, I realized that I didn’t know if I had another man in my life to whom I could look up to the way I did him. Because my parents had divorced when I was young and I had never lived in the same house as my dad since the age of 7, it occurred to me that I could not look up to my own father with that same sense of admiration and love. This troubled me because I wanted very much to believe my dad was at least half the man my granddad was, but I hadn’t contemplated where he stood with me for a long time. Therefore, I decided that it was high time I got myself into some counseling so that I could deal with the fallout of my grandfather’s death and move forward in life — I figured that no matter what, I needed to figure out where I stood with my dad and our relationship.

So “Daddy Issues” brought me into counseling. “Mommy Issues” kept me there far longer than I had ever anticipated. I had always known that I had “Mommy Issues” as well, but I had never truly thought about them because I figured the real issue was with my Dad. What I learned is that once I settled my “Daddy Issues” I uncovered far more “Mommy Issues” and a deeper level of complexity existed than I was ready for. Even today, in 2017, I believe I am still un-layering and learning to deal with those things. I also feel certain I have completely dealt with my “Daddy Issues” and my relationship with my dad has grown so much better than I would have thought possible before beginning counseling.

During counseling that year, I progressed through my issues surrounding my relationship with my father rather quickly. I began counseling in February 2008 and by June, I had arranged a solo trip to visit my dad and simply spend the weekend with him. Interestingly enough, it really only took one word and one sentence from my therapist to “click” for me — ABANDONMENT. I believe the statement was, “Michelle, your father abandoned you. That is what it’s called.” I had always chosen to block the black-and-white meaning of the term when thinking about what had happened when my dad left. There’s so much emotional baggage that comes with divorce, that throwing an emotionally-charged term like abandonment on top always felt like too much to handle. I couldn’t believe my dad had abandoned me — after all, he sent child support like clockwork. I knew we had it better than lots of kids with divorced parents — at least financially — because my dad never missed the payments. I have a sneaking suspicion he sent more than he was required to and I know on several occasions, he sent extras when the need arose. Because financially, our family was able to stay off welfare and my mom was able to feed us while also going to nursing school full-time, I was grateful to the point that I would never believe my father abandoned me — or at least, I couldn’t put that word to it.

While in counseling, however, the therapist said it one day as I was searching for the right way to name what I’d suffered when I was so young. I was a “Daddy’s Girl” through and through, you see. When my parents told us about the divorce, in my mind, I heard only a loud whooshing sound with what seemed like a muffled scream coupled with the fervent prayer, “Daddy, take me with you!” Divorce was a popular enough option by the time we went through it that I’d seen movies or TV shows (or at least I thought I had) where some of the kids stayed with the mom and some went with the dad — why would we be any different? And, when the moment came that the subject was broached, I can’t remember the words that were said, but I knew from the tone and sound of them that I had better not speak my honest-to-goodness mind about it. Based on the things said throughout my life, my memory pieces what might have been said together…something like, “I cannot live without my children!” or “Your dad thinks he can take you away from me!” and “You all HAVE to stay together, so if one of you wants to go live with him YOU ALL HAVE TO GO!” Whatever the accurate words were, they were emotionally charged enough to control the tongue of an 8-year-old girl with a huge sense of responsibility for her younger siblings and a need to be accepted by her parent (whichever one was in front of me).

Additionally, when my parents divorced, it wasn’t like they lived in the same city. My dad lived a good 2-days-drive away as he was in the military and stationed on the east coast and we lived in the middle of the country — the “bread basket” of the United States. I can think of more than one time that it was 2+ years that I didn’t see my dad. Back then, long distance phone calls cost 10-cents a minute only on Sundays (and only if you had Sprint!),  so I didn’t get to talk on the phone to my dad much either. Therefore, in the truest sense of the word, yes, my father abandoned me and I was left to live with my mother and my siblings. He was not a part of my life growing up.

The other thing that was important that came to light in my counseling was that I realized my father had no choice but to abandon me if his mind was made up to divorce my mother. You see, it was the early 1980’s, my mom was a stay-at-home mom who had given birth to us and raised us all at home while my dad had attended and graduated from law school. To anyone on the outside of our immediate family (so that includes extended family, too, on both sides) my dad was doing the unthinkable — leaving his wife with five children, to fend for herself. My mom had no college education and no job. The kids were 13, 8, 6, 3 and 18 months. Two kids were still in (cloth) diapers. We lived in a rundown 100-year-old house in the inner city. But even though he was divorcing my mom, he couldn’t fight to keep us kids. I guess he could have tried, but it would have been a losing battle for that time. The courts would never have awarded full custody to a father who hadn’t been rearing the children all along (he spent so many hours away from home during law school). He would have had to prove my mother unfit, and by court standards of the definition of “unfit parent,” there’s just no way that would have ever happened.

So what I had to come to grips with during counseling was that my dad DID abandon me, but due to the nature of the decision he was making, there was no other way. He was leaving an abusive relationship (most definitely emotionally, if not at least somewhat physically abusive), but it was the kind of abuse that is invisible to anyone on the outside of the immediate family/relationship. It’s the kind of abuse that I only know about because I also grew up with it. It was the kind of abuse that you can’t name and deal with while you’re inside of it. Only when I finally moved out on my own and worked through many other things could I understand what it was…what it still is. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had my indignant moments when I think, “My dad took a vow to stay ‘for better or for worse’ and he didn’t do it.”

I don’t want to make it sound like my dad was a saint, here (though my mother will explain her martyr-sainthood to you any chance you give her). He gave up on the marriage long before he actually made the move to divorce my mom. That’s evident in the relationship he began before the whole thing was said and done. But, finally taking the time to understand the severity of the circumstances helped me accept that part of the situation and move past it. Over the years, I’ve been able to look at my dad’s marriage to his second wife and it’s been a healthy realization that my dad was not a “commitment-phobe” or anything like that. He’s been married to my step-mother for 30+ years, it’s clear to me that he believes marriage is something sacred and something worth fighting for. Over the years I have also been able to reflect on my mother’s behavior and my relationship with her and it is there that I’ve been able to see that the course of my life was set in motion by two broken people both playing their parts: my father was running away from that which was hurting him, most likely feeling as though he simply didn’t have a choice, he could not continue living that life; and my mother and her inability to relinquish any amount of control in every situation, manipulating the emotional atmosphere in such a way that no one knew which was was up or down, and providing the unspoken threat that she was not to be contradicted.

There were many hurtful statements said over and over during my formative years that I had to say out loud, analyze, name them and learn from them. The most definitive statement I hear over and over in my memories and one I needed to take a full grasp of and deal with: “Your dad didn’t JUST divorce me! He left you kids, too. He didn’t want you.” This statement was at the core of my “Daddy Issues.” I had nothing to counter with. I couldn’t tell my mom “You’re a liar, he does want me!” because why wouldn’t he have taken me with him if he wanted me? (pre-adolescent brain here). This wasn’t the only hurtful thing I heard about my dad growing up, but it’s the only one that I always remember word-for-word. Because the worst thing for a child to hear is that she is not wanted by one of the two human beings responsible for bringing her into the world. Even into our adult years, my siblings and I have heard this said to us on more than one occasion — “Your dad didn’t want you kids.” Often she would spit it at us, always with a tone of disgust. Sometimes, she slipped and said it like “he left me here with you kids!” as though it was the most horrible circumstance ever. And then we felt the full effect of having neither of our parents want us. That sentiment was the most hurtful thing ever, and even though I know now that it wasn’t true that my dad didn’t want me, the memory stings. Every time. I could try to remember the other hurtful words and actions I suffered at the hands of my mother, but I am not sure what good it does within the context of this post.

My “Mommy Issues” run far deeper than just the divorce anyway. There’s a level of abuse that is sometimes the byproduct of going through something like a divorce. Then there’s the level of abuse handed out by a person who never learned how to love her children at all, an abuser who only knew neglect and abuse in a dysfunctional family growing up and only knows how to abuse.

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Even though it was my mother who said these hurtful things, it was these words that perpetuated my “Daddy Issues” and it was my ability to put these words in the proper perspective that healed my “Daddy Issues.” What’s unfortunate, however, is that putting the words in the proper perspective did nothing to help me move past my “Mommy Issues.” As a matter of fact, realizing that 1) these words were never true and 2) these words came from a dark place of anger, jealousy and bitterness and 3) my mother would never own the true spirit with which she said these words simply made the “Mommy Issues” into something that needed to be tended to and could not be avoided. And that is what kept me in counseling for another 1-2 years after I resolved what I thought I’d gone into therapy for in the first place.

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Nailed It

A year ago, we made the decision that the 2016-17 school year would begin with all of our children in the public schools. Sarah had been in the public high school for her Freshman year and had a great experience and done well. There were things we learned that might have been beneficial if she had been in public schools before high school. Her Catholic school education was good and had prepared her well for the academic load, but there were things like band or orchestra or theater or, or, or. Because she played volleyball, she had the opportunity to make friends with that similar interest. It just so happened that almost all the girls who played volleyball also shared a similar commitment to academics, so that worked out well.

So, we took the plunge and decided to put all of them in public schools. There were a couple of things right off the bat we were looking forward to: bus transportation and having all five kids on the same academic calendar. The bus was great because with Craig’s job at the Ford plant, and the changes that can take place with scheduling, knowing the kids could be dropped off close to the house (about 1.5 blocks away) at a time of day when there would be a parent home within the hour (my workday about 15 minutes after they get home), I didn’t have to worry about them being picked up at school. Even though we lived really close to the parish Catholic school, having the kids walk home seemed to be a bigger hassle than it was worth, so we always tried to have a ride home for the kids. Having all of the kids on the same school day calendar needs no explanation. 🙂

There was sadness from the kids when they learned they would change schools. There is still some wistful longing to spend the day with close friends instead of in a new place. But the kids have thrived in their new environments.

When Craig and I attended the Volleyball banquet for Sarah, I sat with Craig and watched as Sarah sat at a table full of other sophomore ladies. The week before had been the assembly to award Academic Letters from Sarah’s freshman year. To earn an Academic letter, the GPA must be 3.75 or higher. Of the full table of sophomore girl volleyball players, every single one of them had also been awarded an Academic letter the previous week along with Sarah. Watching Sarah interact with them, Craig and I realized how happy she was. She has continued to make excellent grades and is on track for a second Academic letter for sophomore year. On top of that, class ranks came out and she’s sitting in a really great spot. Going to Parent-Teacher conferences is almost an occasion of sin of my pride because I enjoy hearing the teachers tell me what a great kid I have. It’s clear that she is happy, she is healthy and things are looking to get even better.

Dani was in that weird spot for a switch. 7th grade. Sigh. It’s just not my favorite. But she’s also adjusted well. She made friends quickly and was involved in Cross Country in the fall, Drama in the second quarter, did the school musical for third quarter and is doing swim team this quarter. She’s had a few hiccups and had to learn a couple of lessons the hard way. One thing I have thought about all year with Dani is that there is quite a bit of lee-way and freedom granted to kids in middle school at the public school. The teachers are more likely to handle things directly with the students than they did at the Catholic school. I learned about some things at parent-teacher conferences that I figured I would have heard about WAY sooner at the Catholic school. But I was impressed with the fact that they work closely and directly with the students to handle most problems and when parents get involved, it means it passed over to a more serious nature. I have seen this as an opportunity for Dani to grow up a bit and take some accountability for her own actions. A couple of things have been painful, but I think it’s better to learn the lessons she has learned now at the age of 13 than later when she is, say, 16 and there is more on the line. Watching Dani in the musical gave me goosebumps because I could see how happy it made her to perform. She has become much better at tracking her own assignments and ensuring everything is turned in, and that’s a big deal, too. Overall, she also appears to be happy and wants to do well.

The younger three started attending an elementary school that was awarded the National Blue Ribbon of Excellence in September. It wasn’t due to that award that we knew it was a great school though. My kids felt save and included in everything that was going on at the school. There was a little bit of adjustment, but since there are multiple classrooms for each grade, lots of other kids were meeting new people, too. Helen made a few friends over the school year, graduated from the reading group that requires extra help and started to excel in math, science and all her other subjects. She works hard at school and was recognized for her effort as well as her performance. As we’ve worked through her anxiety this year, it really boosted her to find out she was good at so many things. She continued to do cheer and still hangs out regularly with one of her closest friends who was still at the Catholic school. Dominic also thrived academically and continued to play sports so he could see his friends at the Catholic school. He really missed his best buddies, but the moms made it happen for them to get together a bit throughout the school year. Vincent was starting school for the first time, so everyone was new and he didn’t have to adjust as much. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching him grow this year. He is reading quite well. But math is more his thing. Numbers make sense to him in a way I have not seen with my other kids. We received two “good phone calls” home this school year for Vincent. These are awesome! The school called to let us know that Vincent is “kind to those around him” and that he is a “hard worker” and has made “excellent progress.” He even was selected for a recognition luncheon at Pizza Ranch with the school counselor!! LOVE LOVE LOVE that kid.

One thing we worried about was whether the kids could maintain the fervor for their faith. This year, I’ve noticed an uptick in Sarah’s faith life. She has maintained regular attendance at our Parish’s young women’s group that meets on Wednesdays. This gives her regular access to Confession as well as talks and discussions among the group directed toward women her age — things like boys/dating, vocation, future plans, college, parental relationship — great things for her to get to discuss with people she trusts and respects. All of the other four kids attend Catechesis classes on Sunday nights and Dominic’s prepared for his Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. We continue to pray together and the kids and I are committed to making the Easter Triduum this year (we attended Holy Thursday Mass tonight!) The support from our Parish is great for families who discern that perhaps public school is the better fit for them. We are grateful to have it.

It was a tough decision, I’m not gonna lie. and honestly, we couldn’t know whether we’d made the right decision until well after the point of no return. What a blessing to catch glimpses that let us know we had indeed nailed it!

WW — Week 3

So, a third week is down. I wasn’t as good over the weekend as I should have been. I have got to figure out the weekends and what triggers me to eat too much or drink too much — oh wait…it’s the weekend. Sigh.

Well, the good news is that I lost 2.0 pounds this week! Wahoo!! It was nice to see the scale move and also a surprise (ahem, the aforementioned weekend). Some other good news is that I tracked everything this week. Granted, my weekend tracking took place on Monday, but I did do it (that’s when I realized I went NEGATIVE on my weekly points. Ugh)

The stats: Last week i was 183.8, I lost two and this week I was 181.8.

Overall, I started at 188.0 and have lost 5.2 pounds.

I got my Crossfit workout in all four days that I usually go and got some extra walks in now that the weather has turned. I got 2 miles in at lunch on Monday and Tuesday this week and then I got 1.25 walking miles in this evening with the dog and Helen.

The topic this week was to talk about protein and how important it is in our diets…especially when making healthy changes to lose weight. When Weight Watchers redesigned the point system and went from Points Plus to Smart Points, they took into account that higher protein and lower sugar and lower saturated fat is good for our bodies. So, things like Chicken, Steak, Fish — all went down in points, or rather, you could have a much larger portion for a lower amount of points. And things like pasta, breads and treats (even the “Smart Ones” made by weight watchers that had more sugar in them) went up in point values. This encourages us to eat higher protein and lower sugar and lower saturated fat type foods.

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Fun fact: They (nutritionists? doctors? scientists? not sure who they refers to because I didn’t write it down during the meeting) Anyway, THEY say that you need 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of bodyweight EVERY DAY. That means I should have 72 grams of protein every day. I guarantee you I am not getting that much, so I need to step up my game.Here’s a typical day protein wise for me, currently:

My “parfait” made from 1/3 cup FAGE 0% plain/strained greek yogurt, 1/3 cup Kasha Go Lean! Crunch and a bunch of strawberries (I usually track as a cup, but sometimes it seems more than that). That gives me 7.7 grams of protein in the yogurt, 4 grams of protein from the cereal and 1 gram of protein for the strawberries for 12.4 grams of protein for breakfast. It’s not terrible, but it’s not kick-ass either. BTW, that breakfast is 4 smart points — that is why I love it, low points, but filling and tasty.

Lately I have been eating these high protein meal bars at lunch time. The brand is Think Thin and every one I have tried scans in as 6 smart points. These Think Thin bars all have 20 grams of protein. So — that is a 20 gram lunch. I also have a banana with it and that gives me an additional 1.3 grams of protein.

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Dinner on Monday included 10 oz of chicken breast which was 86.8 grams of protein — holy cow! Well, I highly recommend lots of chicken breast for that much protein! Yow-Zah! My dinner Tuesday night included a Smart Ones which had 11 g of protein and I used 4 tsp of Parmesan Cheese for 4 more grams of protein. Last week (and the week before) I had a 6 oz Turkey burger made from HoneySuckle Ground Turkey Breast and that was 40.5 grams of protein. 6 oz of boiled shrimp at our Parish Fish fry was 38.7 grams of protein.

It seems to me I should definitely go with a large portion of chicken breast for dinner any day I lacked a little bit in the protein department during the day! Some of my favorite high protein foods are Shrimp, Turkey, Chicken and Steak. So…lesson for this week, if you’re following along — eat lots of protein!

My goal for this week is to keep tracking everything every day. Even if it means I have to go back and track a day in arrears. Additionally, I want to get SOME activity in every day. I’ve been slacking on the weekends…so even if it’s a 3 mile walk or run or something non-CrossFit, I want to do something every day. We’ll see how that goes.

Okay, that’s probably enough for this week. I promise, I do have some non-weight watcher related posts brewing, I just need the time to sit down and collect my thoughts properly!

WW Week 2

Wednesdays sure do seem to come fast. Today I weighed in and had gained 0.2 pounds. Blah. I hate that it was a gain, but relieved it was only 0.2 pounds.

This week’s good:

  • I tracked every day. Even when it was not really good to track (the weekend out of town for volleyball tournament, ahem).
  • I drank lots of water.

This week’s bad:

  • I didn’t track my activity points. It’s really annoying trying to track properly for crossfit. For the WOD part it is almost always high intensity for the whole time. But the time of each WOD varies. Sometimes it’s an 11 minute workout and sometimes it’s a 20 minutes workout. Then, it’s difficult to track the weightlifting portion because it’s intense during the times I’m lifting, but of course, I’m resting in between sets and such. But, I’m going to try to do better this week.
  • I went out to eat twice over the weekend for dinner and probably didn’t make the best choices. I mean, I love peanuts and we went to Texas Roadhouse Saturday night. So…peanuts. Then, after Sarah was finished Sunday, I wanted to get food for her and talk/decompress and she picked the local chinese buffet. Yum, chinese food. Not so good for a buffet. Sigh.

 

Last week I was 183.6 and this week 183.8. Gain of 0.2. I am gunning for a better result next week!

The topic this week was “Turn It Around” and there was a big U-turn type of sign on the front of the weekly:

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It had some interesting thoughts on how to ensure a small 3-5 pound increase on the scale doesn’t turn into a full-blown oh-my-gosh-I-gained-20-pounds thing. I definitely need it. The thing is, the number one thing you have to be committed to is the accountability — getting to your meeting and stepping on the scale and “facing the music.” That is my problem. I like to stay away when I think I’ve gained or even if I stay the same. I like to see progress (who doesn’t?) and when I don’t, it frustrates me.

Well, one thing I committed to when I got back on the wagon a couple of weeks ago was making it to every meeting through the June 21. I am on PTO the week of June 26 and will most likely try to make it to a meeting that isn’t at work that week (especially if I make it there and haven’t missed any meetings as I plan). But, there’s no excuse for me not to make a meeting since they are on Wednesdays and they take place on the floor below me in my building and I’ve blocked the time on my calendar so nothing else can be scheduled.

The other thing we discussed today was our goal for April. Well, my goal for April is to track every single day. I don’t care what it is, I don’t care if I use all my freaking daily and weekly points, I am logging it. that should give me a good long period of 4-5 weeks of tracking every day and it should be a habit. One way that I am sticking to it is tracking things before I eat. That way, I keep that mindfulness going about what I am eating and how much and that I need to stop if I haven’t tracked it yet.

One thing I didn’t share with the group today (someone else had lots of sharing to do, so I held off) was that I hit a Personal Record for my Back Squat this week! I squatted 215 pounds. That is a personal best by 10 pounds! I was pretty stoked about it.

Even though a loss didn’t show on the scale, I really worked my butt off in my workouts last week and I am feeling more committed to improvements. I nailed some good kipping pull-ups in the WOD Tuesday and I’m seeing some nice increases in weights I lift with my upper body.