Saturday, March 26, 2016

Music Really is Medicine

Did you ever have one of those days when you perceive that it would be easier to stay in bed, than it would to go about your day? I don't think I used to have these types of days quite so often, but for some reason, now I do. Maybe it's because there is so much uncertainty within our lives: Adam's job security, our kid's futures (including possible debt and happiness/success) our impending empty nest... Today was one of those days.

These are big things that I realize I have no control over. And I don't like it. So yes, I guess I still battle with anxiety, even with meds.  But, who wouldn't, or who doesn't, sometimes? So I went for a run. I am so very fortunate that I am still able to do this. Being sidelined for only nine days, because of knee pain, helped me to realize just how fortunate I am.

So I listened to Indigo Girls, Get Out the Map five times in a row.

When simple things like planning to go out to dinner with friends overwhelms you, you know it's time to clear you head, and try to take a step. Because any step towards anything, is better than doing nothing. At least for me.

Enough about my worrying. I was psyched that the next song that played while I was running, was Push It, by Salt-N-Pepa. It helped me to push the crappy anxiety away, as best I could.

Here's the song's disclaimer:  This video is... well it's Salt-N-Pepa. In my opinion it's much less promiscuous than many of the videos of today, and it's a blast to listen to!

Holy crap. Jordan committed, like two minutes ago, to Arcadia University!!

Thank you.

Us Too

Friday, March 25, 2016

Finding Leverage That Worked

I probably should have taken more of these.  

To help us deal with all the battles, we really needed to find something that worked. Something we could threaten to take away from her, if needed. Something to help us get her to stop defying and pushing us. Whenever we reprimanded her, she would always have something fresh to say back to us, under her breath. 

Again, we were working at being very consistent, so you would think that the negative behaviors would subside. We tried to follow through with our threats. But no. The behaviors did not subside, and life was not always pleasant in the Beck household. We tried the ever so popular time-out, smacking, yelling, taking a toy away, no T.V. ... We even tried reasoning with her, even though she was only three. None of it worked. Then it hit us. We realized that Jordan loved books more than anything else in the entire world. 

Yes, books. It was that simple. Adam came up with a visual way to represent her behavior. (That's one of the reasons I'm keeping him :)) If she had a good day, we gave her a thumbs-up, and we would read her two books before bed. A thumbs-middle meant only one book. If she got a thumbs-down, we wouldn't read her any books before bed.

Not rocket science, but we needed something, and it appeared to work. We walked around with our thumbs held up in the air, tilting them up and down like the gauge on a blood pressure monitor. And, believe it or not, she would rein in her behavior. Just like that. She usually only got a thumbs down when she threw a full fledged, out of control tantrum. After one of those, I really didn't feel like reading a book to her anyway. 

Here's an example: One day she screamed and cried when we were leaving her cousin's house. Um, sorry... but we don't live there. The struggle of getting my large three year old strapped into her car seat, kicking and flailing, especially when I was big and pregnant, kind of helped take the joy out of the soothing before-bed-time book moment. And having Kayla slide right into her car seat, also didn't help with the whole resentment/anger factor. I know, parents shouldn't compare their children, but come on. We're human, aren't we?

And that night, when we were talking about why she got a thumbs-down, she said "We don't need to talk about that now, Mommy". Um, yeah, we kind of do.  

And then, Mommy will take her own well deserved time out.

Thank you.

Us Too

Monday, March 21, 2016

Love, Accept, and Forgive

Please forgive me if I have already touched upon this topic. I feel as if this is somewhat repetitive. I did let it sit overnight so I could get a different perspective, but that didn't happen. I figured I spent the time writing it, so what the heck. We are starting spring break, and transition times are not my favorite times...

I recently read the research regarding potty training and the effects it could have on children. The results seemed to be a mixed bag of information. Some theories put 100% of the blame on the parents who pushed, and made it an anxiety filled experience. It said that anxiety and depression are direct results of a negative potty training experience. 


Thankfully, there were other theories out there, that claimed issues with anxiety and depression are part of a person's chemical makeup. In other words, they were born that way. Phew. This is what may have led to the difficulties with learning to use the bathroom. Again, it's the nature verses nurture argument.

I am a firm believer that the basic personality, what makes a child daring, shy, insecure, crabby, mellow... it's inborn. Just like how some kids are born with blue eyes, allergies, or curly hair. If parents take the credit for the difficulties in their child's life, than they should also get the credit for their child's successes. And that's not fair to the children.

Ultimately, I guess it really doesn't matter why people are the way they are. What does matter, is how they themselves (and also those around them), learn to make the best of what they've got. Keep continuing to try, and figure out how the situation can be dealt with in the most proactive way possible. It's important to find the skills and the ability to accept the way things are. But remember, accepting a situation doesn't mean you are resigned to do nothing.

It's certainly not always easy to find this pathway to acceptance. but I hope we can all agree that it has to be better than living with feelings of blame, anger and guilt.

Thank you.

Us Too

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Looks Like We Made It

This will be the final entry about potty training, I promise. 

The process did slowly begin to improve, although I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said it was 'typical' in any way. shape, or form. 

First of all, she complained each and every time, that her "butt hurt".  As any good mom would do, I looked, and as far as I could tell, there was nothing wrong with her butt. To placate her, I would slap on some A and D ointment, which miraculously solved the problem.

Secondly, she would yell and wail every time she went to the bathroom. Loudly. Every time. As she got more accustomed to this whole potty process, she began asking me if she could cry before going. I kid-you-not, she would say "Can I cry?" I always said yes. Hey, I would rather her cry (there were no actual tears) and go, as opposed to have her not go, any day. One day when she asked me, I said she should try not to cry, because she may wake up Kayla and Daddy. And this time... she couldn't go. It was almost as if, no actually it was as if, she couldn't go without yelling and wailing.  Woah.

She continued this behavior for about two and a half months. That's a lot of loud trips in the bathroom. It was a good thing I was a stay at home mom. If she would have been heard wailing in a public bathroom, I fear that family services may have been called on me.  Fortunately (I guess) she never used the bathroom at school, because she was only there for a couple of hours. The other preschool kids would have had some interesting stories to share with their parents, if she had.

I knew that this was probably atypical behavior, but she was our first. Plus, parents tend to get acclimated to things that they never believed possible, before having kids. So that's what we did. We got used to her behavior, so it became the norm for us. 

The Becks finally made it through!

Thank you.

Us Too

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Self Reflection

I imagine there are a number of you wondering why I didn't just give in, and let Jordan wear diapers until she was ready. Some may feel that I was very much in the wrong, and pushing her the way that I did, could have contributed to her psychological issues.

I would be lying if I said that these thoughts haven't entered into my mind. Especially when you look up the definition of anal retentiveness in Wikipedia, and the origins of the word are said to focus around:

'toilet training. Freud hypothesized that children who experience conflicts during this period of time may develop "anal" personality traits, namely those associated with a child's efforts at excretory control: orderliness, stubbornness, a compulsion for control.[2] If these qualities continue into later life, the person is said to be "anal-retentive"'.

Can we all say it together?  ******CRINGE!******

Because we had our fair share of conflicts during this period, that's for sure.

So, why did I act the way that I did? Why did her bathroom habits become my issue? Well, why do parents make any of the decisions that they make, regarding their children?

I think I actually may have at least a small part of this answer. (drum roll, please!)  It's because... making decisions for our children is all that we have ever done. Since the minute they were born, we decided what they wore, whether they drank from a bottle or breast, when and where they slept, who watched them, where they went, when they bathed, when they got a diaper change...   Screech!!!!!  That's me coming to a complete halt.

This is certainly not an excuse, but do you see the dilemma here? All of a sudden, parents are supposed to leave it all up to a three year old. Give all the control and decision making responsibility, to their three year old. (While still, most likely, having to clean up a literal mess, afterwards.)

For some (me) this was a hard pill to swallow.
It could be the reason why I acted the way I did, fifteen years ago.

Or maybe I was just stubborn. Or stuck. :)

Thank you,

Us Too

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Strong Willed Child, Mom, or Both?

In retrospect, this probably would have been a helpful read...

After Jordan 'went' on the carpet, she was more than happy to put on underwear. She was a clever little one, and knew there was no chance of having an accident. After all, she was empty. Jordan happily wore the underwear until she needed to go "number 2".  She then asked to have a diaper put on.

Now I don't know about you, but in my opinion, I think she had a pretty good grasp of how the whole using-the-bathroom-thing was supposed to work. She understood it, but she refused to participate in it. Aargh.

Adam and I told her she should try using the potty before she put a diaper on, since she knew she had to go. She got so angry. When she tried, only a little pee would come out, and the whole time she smacked at her legs and yelled "I don't want to!" She was actually holding it in on purpose. We didn't want her to get constipated (see, we were not total ogres), so we put her in a diaper. And minutes later, guess what happened? You got it. She pooped and peed in her diaper. Nice.

A week later, the saga continued. At 2:00 pm, she was taking a nap in underwear, but hadn't gone pee all day. Not once. Again, she was holding it in to avoid using the bathroom.

Stubborn or stuck? Well, at the time, I would have bet a million dollars that it was stubborn. She kept saying "I don't have to go", and "I don't want to use the potty". Really??

The next day she used the potty three times, but she screamed and yelled in anger, and only let out a little bit at a time. By the end of the l o n g month she was sleeping overnight in underwear, but when she woke up, she still wouldn't use the bathroom. Who does that? Who doesn't go to the bathroom when they wake up in the morning? I'll tell you who. Jordan.

We continued to worry about her getting constipated, so we would continue to put her in a pull up. And each time, she would immediately pee in it.

Again, aargh.

Is it just me (this may be the question for the next post) or does this constitute as some pretty severe control issues?  Now, if you will, try to imagine raising a teenager with those same intense control levels.

It's a miracle that we all made it this far...

Thank you,

Us Too

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How You Can Help Spread the Word

Guess what? Our school district is offering the Youth Mental Health First Aid class again. The same class that Adam and I attended in January, and I wrote this post about. They are also offering the class to twenty of our high school students. These students will be trained to recognize signs and symptoms and possibly help their fellow school mates.

How great is this?!

In a previous post I told you that one out of every four children will struggle with some sort of mental illness. These kids should not face this alone.  In fact they rely heavily on the adults in their lives, for help and support. But there are still many adults out there who are unaware, overwhelmed, or too embarrassed to reach out for help. We were certainly in that situation not too long ago.

We all need the tools and skills to cope, and they are out there!  This course is a great way to get started.  Don't forget that 80% to 90% of people with mental disorders are treatable. Treatable! So why wouldn't we do what we can to help?

I am writing this to you, because I need you to help me spread Us Too's message.

If all of you share this post on Facebook and just one person gets the message, then we did our job. It may help someone they love take that first step towards healing.

Please click this button to share -->

Thank you,

Us too

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Stubborn or Stuck

To this day, Adam and I still talk about Jordan's level of stubbornness. But was/is she really being stubborn? When she was young, I was positive that yes, she was behaving the way she did on purpose. And it drove me nuts.

Just the other night Adam described it in a different way. He feels as if she actually gets "stuck", which goes way beyond being stubborn.

I agree with him. Why would anyone choose to not eat enough, to the extent that they feel like crap? Or, why would someone choose to stay in bed until 3:30, while the rest of the world is going on around them?

I am positive that she doesn't choose to suffer from the symptoms of dermatillomania, and recently, trichotillomania, which involves her pulling out some of her eyelashes and eyebrows during very stressful times (like packing for a Disney trip).

But she still does these things. She really must be getting stuck.

I can't imagine not having control over my decisions and my actions. Just the idea of that scares the living crap out of me. So sayings and quotes such as this one, written by the poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace), kind of take on a whole new meaning. 

Because for so many people who suffer from things such as addiction, depression, OCD, ADHD, anxiety, Aspergers, anorexia, bulimia... they actually don't have the ability to rule their minds. So I guess sometimes, their minds end up ruling them.

Ultimately, whether a person's actions are a conscious choice or not, doesn't really matter. For whatever reason, it's a part of their reality. So it becomes the reality of the loved ones who surround them.

For those who are lucky enough to have the ability to "rule [their] mind", their mission should be to help, and be patient with, those who are not so fortunate.

Thank you,

Us Too

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Wee Bit of Karma

So the potty training, or maybe I should call it potty battling, began. I now totally understand what the term anal retentive means. Jordan always went poop at the same time everyday, so I told her that she should try to go on the potty at that time.

She sat on the potty, but nothing happened. She was furious and kept yelling “But I don't want to!”. I told her that she could get off and put a diaper on, but only if she put it on by herself. I wouldn't help her.

I knew that she couldn't do it by herself.

This is a HUGE cringe moment for me.

She played naked for a while, and then she decided to go up to her room and put a pull up on. A pull up. You know, those things that make it easy for kids to continue peeing and pooping in their pants? I was angry.

Thinking about this today, I can see that she actually made an ingenious decision. It was a clever solution since she was in a situation that obviously seemed, and pretty much was, impossible for her. But back then, I wasn't so level headed or impressed by the rational thinking skills of my three year old.

After she put the pull up on, I said to her “You don't want Mommy to lose her mind, do you?" Strangely, I said this very calmly, and I told her to take the pull up off. Shockingly, she did just that, with no arguments.
She tried to get a diaper on by herself, and ended up peeing on the carpet. This was approximately thirty seconds after she was sitting on the potty, not peeing. I was not happy. She helped me clean it up.

The word karma comes to mind right about now. Because no mom wants her carpet peed on. Ever.

Thank you.
Us Too

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The One Who Apologizes First

This is a recent short, but meaningful, conversation between Jordan and Me:
Jordan:  "I'm so stressed. I can't pack".
Me:        "I don't understand. It's a fun trip to Disney with your friends".
Jordan:  "Mom, you don't have to understand."
Crap. She's right.
Me:       "What can I do to help you"?
A little while later:
Jordan:  "Mamma, I'm sorry".
Me:        "No, I'm sorry. You have nothing to be sorry for. You're right, it really doesn't matter that I don't understand. And I kind of do".
So you tell me. Who appears to be the more mature, more level headed, less emotional one in this conversation?  

It amazes me how our children teach us some of life's most important lessons.

Thank you.

Us Too

How Things Are Supposed To Be

I'll admit it. Once we started this journey, I was beyond fixated on having Jordan out of diapers. When I think back, I realize that I was pushing her to do something that she was not even close to being emotionally ready for.

Notice that I didn't say she wasn't physically ready for it. Because the ways in which she attempted to control not using her little potty, proved to me that she had more physical control than most adults.

Why was I so focused on this whole process? There were a few reasons. First of all, she was so advanced verbally, that she seemed much older than she actually was. Secondly, she had been battling us in so many different ways since before she was able to speak, that I felt as if everything had become a battle of wills. And in my mind, my will, as the parent, should always have triumphed over hers.

Throughout the years, it became painfully clear that this was not exactly how life was supposed to be. At least not in our little corner of it.

The third reason that I felt she should be out of diapers was; she was a big girl. Changing the poopy diaper of a girl who could pass as a four or five year old, was not fun. It was gross. I was also changing Kayla's diapers and I was six months pregnant with Kevin. None of this was her fault, but in my mind, enough was enough. Now that she was over three years old, it was time for her to learn.

Because that was how it was supposed to be. Wasn't it?

Now thirteen years later, when I think about all of this, I can see that I was way too worried about when she got out of diapers. This was like the other times, when, because she was our first child, I obsessed over her. Did I honestly think that she would never use the bathroom, that she would be wearing diapers in second or third grade? Of course not.

Although at the time, while we were up to our eyeballs in dirty diapers, it was very hard to see anything past the moment we were submerged in. Sometimes it still is, especially when things are not going... well, as they are supposed to.

I continue to find myself over thinking and over worrying about her. My most recent concerns involve wondering if she is actually going to be ready for college. In my mind some basic prerequisites include eating enough to sustain yourself, waking yourself up, packing for a trip, and budgeting your time. Yes, I am concerned. Because high-achieving high school graduates are supposed to be ready to go off to college, and thrive in their new environment. Aren't they?

This time I am trying my hardest to not harp, force, or push in any way. I'm just waiting, watching, supporting, and hoping she gets there on her own, when she is ready. Believe me, this is not easy to do. But hopefully this somewhat new-found way of coping, will help to make a positive difference in her life.

Thank you,

Us Too