Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Life Is A Balance...

It feels strange trying to go back to writing about when Jordan was young, after she just left for college. This was (and still is) a HUGE, emotional, poignant time in our lives. A time that I have dreaded since she was a baby. Yes, long ago, there were some nights when I actually cried to Adam, because I knew one day my kids would leave me. Now you tell me, is that normal? (She asks with a hint of sarcasm.)

But so far, we have all survived. Jordan has totally stepped up and is taking care of herself beautifully. She's finding her way, finding herself, and get this... eating salads. Green foods! Leaving for college and beginning her journey, is exactly where she should be.

And now that she is getting acclimated, enjoying herself, and the first few (very) emotional days are behind us, I think I am better able to understand the quote at the top of this post. What's even better... I don't think I hate it anymore. :)

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Please bear with me while I rant. Because this is hard.

Waves. This word kept coming into my mind, so I looked it up. Here's what I found on the Physics Stack Exchange site. This site can be answered by random readers, so I'm not 100% sure of its validity, but this explanation works for me. Well, except maybe for the propagate part.

"Imagine a point in the middle of the sea where waves with different directions are created. They will propagate away from this point until they hit a shore, therefore they can only move towards the shore not away from it."

So... Adam and I have created three (beautiful) waves. And all three continue to move away from where they were created, and towards their own shores. Deep, right?

In two days our first born child will be moving out. Yes she will only be a half hour away, but that is still away. Her room will always be her room, but we all know it will be different. Not worse, but different.

One minute I'm so excited for her, and so proud of her, that I want to shout to everyone I know. She has calmly been packing her clothes in the meticulous way that only she can do, and as she phrased it she is "as ready as she'll ever be." But then I get hit with this aching pit in my stomach, and that's when the tears begin to flow.


I never really shared with her the other moments in life, when I was sad to watch her move on. There were a few: pre-school, kindergarten, first grade (which was all day) 6th grade (because it was middle school,) and then 9th grade... well, because of this. High school only lasts four years. I always cried after she got on the bus. But this is different. For this I'm not holding much back.

It's like I picture my adult heart having four compartments. One (big one) is for Adam, and each remaining part is for Jordan, Kayla, and Kevin. Don't worry. I realize that the entire heart is mine, and fully represents me, but this analogy helps me work things through.

Right now it feels like one-fourth of my heart is kind of being ripped out. Dramatic, I know. This quarter of my heart will continue to exist, but it will need to change. It will have to toughen up, let go, be more independent, and become open to finding different ways of reaching its "love capacity." (Good luck, Adam, Kayla and Kevin. It may be an interesting year. ;)

This time consists of a very strange mix of feelings all wrapped up into one big mess:  Sadness, joy, fear, excitement, thankfulness, pensiveness, independence, closeness, relief, love. I know the past 18 years have been about THIS.

So here we go.

Thank you.

Us Too

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Breathe (2 AM)

First things first. I need to share that Jordan got her license yesterday! Exactly one week before she leaves for college. She has conquered a huge fear, and couldn't have phrased it any better when she said: "Anxiety doesn't have anything on me." Yay!!

The second thing I wanted to share came to me on a hike. I was asked (and this is not the first time) by another soul-sister-mother, "So what are you doing for you?"

Well... I run, and it's still a life saver. But what else? Then I mentioned Us Too. I knew there was something else that I do "for me". I write.

I told her if I saw there were 0 (zero) followers for Us Too, obviously I would stop blogging. But I would never stop writing. I would continue writing in my journal.

Just this morning I poured my heart out, writing how I feel about Jordan leaving for college. Afterwards, at Adam's suggestion, I shared these feelings with her. Because why not? Why shouldn't she be told how important she is to me, how she's my buddy, how happy and sad I am at the same time, and how much I love spending time with her? I've gotten much better at sharing my feelings verbally, mostly because of Adam. She told me I'll always be her mother, and she's not not going to find another one to replace me with while at college. I guess there's that. ;)

Back to the thought provoking question I was asked. When I was talking to Adam about why I write, a verse from the awesome song Breathe (2 AM), by Anna Nalick, kept popping into my brain:

2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer
Inside of me threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
'Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them however you want to

I love this! Obviously I'm not writing a song, and I certainly don't (and would never) perform in front of a crowd, but these lyrics still make total sense to me. There were quite a few times when I have been violently shaking before writing in my journal. After writing, and getting it all out, I'm always calm and able to Breathe again. Well, not always, but that's when, and why, I decided to get professional help.

I hope you enjoy this song, and please remember to find something that helps you to breathe. Oh, and thank you for reading Us Too. Yes, I would continue writing in my journal if I saw there were 0 followers, but I cherish knowing that some of you may be using my words "however you want to." :)

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Swimming Lesson Stubbornness

This would have been the perfect pool for Jordan.

As I mentioned before, Jordan wanted to learn how to swim. I'd like to think it was because we did a Baby and Me class when she was an infant, but there's probably no correlation. It would have been crazy for me to not put her in lessons, because if Jordan wanted to try something, if it was her idea, then she would actually try it. It was nice to see that her usual self-defeating thought processes and self doubts, were not present before the lessons began.

Originally, I put her in a small group lesson, assuming that having only two other children in the beginner's class, would be fine. It appeared to be, and the lessons were progressing nicely. That is, until another child accidentally splashed water in Jordan's face.

Here we go.

She was so angry. Afterwards, she refused to do anything the instructor asked of her. The instructor looked over at me. I shrugged my shoulders. I didn't have any suggestions. When Jordan made up her mind, that was it. And she was done swimming for the day. This may have been one of the shortest swim lessons on record. In retrospect, perhaps individual lessons would have been the better choice. Ugh.

On the nights before her lessons, she worried and talked incessantly about what could possibly happen, especially if she knew she would be asked to jump in from the side of the pool. But when she did jump in, she was so proud of herself. It was adorable.

Not surprisingly, when we took breaks from lessons, her confidence all but disappeared. I would take the kids swimming at the YMCA pool, and she acted like she had never taken a single lesson. She would refuse to go under the water, and she would insist on wearing a tube around her waist.

Remarkably, I said nothing. I know, right?! I could put an anti-cringe here, because keeping my mouth shut was not easy. After all the time and money put into her lessons... I may have kept my mouth shut, but that didn't stop a girl about Jordan's age from speaking up. She wanted to know why Jordan was using a baby tube. Ouch. Jordan immediately looked at me and said “I want to eat lunch now.”

And just like that, pool time was over.

Thank you.

Us Too

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Bus Didn't Stop. Twice

Our kids were fortunate that their elementary school bus driver stopped directly in front of our driveway. This is unlike the middle and high school bus, which blows right by if the kids are not within an inch of the designated stop.

How great was this for a kid like Jordan? She never had to worry about finding a place for, or even worse, opening, a stress-inducing umbrella. She didn't have to look both ways before crossing the street. Things were going great, until there was a substitute bus driver.

Because apparently, substitute bus drivers weren't made fully aware of the small acts of kindness, that the everyday-bus driver, so thoughtfully did. For instance, he may not have been told that the stop for the cute, silent, kindergarten girl, had been moved to the end of her driveway.

So the bus drove right by our house, and Jordan didn't say anything. It just kept on going. Thankfully, her friend yelled out for the driver to stop. At this time, I'm sure I had assumed that if her friend hadn't spoken up, she would have. Eventually. Because there was no way she would have said nothing, while traveling further and further away from her house.


Obviously, I didn't fully understand how debilitating the symptoms of anxiety were/are. Actually, the word anxiety wasn't even a part of my vocabulary back then. I did realize, and admit, that she was a shy child. I did write down my concerns regarding how she appeared not to be able to take care of herself like some other kids were.

But not in a million years would I have guessed, that thirteen years later, she still wouldn't be able to ask the bus driver to stop the bus.

I'm not exactly sure what my main point is. I guess it's this:  Mental differences (that's how I'm now going to describe the term "mental illnesses", after reading Glennon's blog ), actually have the potential to be disabling. As in an actual physical disability.  Because if your brain doesn't allow your body to do what you want, and ask it to do, that's a problem.

Mental differences may be harder to see than physical differences, but that doesn't make them any less real.

Thank you.

Us Too

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Frozen Again

If ever I have doubts that Jordan has been graced with hard-core anxiety, I can always remind myself with this little anecdote. We were having our upstairs bathroom remodeled, and Jordan got locked in our bedroom. When I say locked in, I don't mean that the door accidentally locked from the outside. I guess a better word would be she got "stuck" in our bedroom.

Obviously she had planned on leaving the room, but she noticed a mess of tools laying right outside our door. In her mind, this meant she could possibly come in contact with the contractor. Between the unorganized tool pile, and the slight chance of seeing the worker, she was petrified. And she couldn't leave our room.

So she gently closed the door, stood by herself, and cried. She didn't yell out to me. She didn't make a quick run for it. She just froze. Eventually I realized she hadn't come downstairs in a while, and I found her standing right behind the door, quietly crying.

Now that's anxiety.

Remember how Jordan ended up getting helplessly lost, when she couldn't pull the cord on the bus ride to Arcadia? Well, after reading the next section of my journal, I probably shouldn't have been as surprised as I was.

Because although there have been many, many positive changes throughout the years, apparently, a lot has also stayed the same.

Thank you.

Us Too

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why the World Needs The Mentally Different, according to Glennon Doyle Melton

After reading this article written by Glennon Doyle Melton, I felt the need to share it in Us Too. Because, "Hell yeah!" The world is scary, and crazy, and confusing, especially since we have the ability to see everything, all the time. I think someone would be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn't wanted to escape, disappear, or "Turn back time, to the good old days", even if just for a moment.

Here's one the best quotes in this article:  

 "Instead of coming at us with the desire to change us because we are inconvenient to the world—come at us with the desire to help us because we are important to the world."


Please enjoy.
Us Too

Click here to read The great article. :)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Let's Be Honest. Parents Don't Always Know What's Best For Their Kids

Too much stress. This became a recurring theme in our lives. We were running around way too much.

We didn't seem like the kind of family who could handle it. One day Kayla began crying during a soccer practice. She was four. That's right, four. Unfortunately, I got angry and took it out on both girls. I said things like “You two can sit in your rooms doing nothing for the rest of your lives if you want to.”

Cringe. BIG time.

After speaking to Adam, and realizing how cruel I was, I apologized to them. They were little kids who were obviously doing too much. Or maybe they were being coerced into participating in activities way before they were ready or willing., Kayla was four. I vaguely remember talking to the coach, and eventually taking Kayla out of soccer. It's not quitting if she wasn't the one who originally committed to being on the team in the first place.

I also spoke to Weeze and Dad about our little dilemma. I realized that our girls didn't ask to join any of these sports, I signed them up. When they were home, they were always busy doing creative, artsy things. So why was I pushing them, when they showed no interest? I only wanted them to be happy, healthy, self assured kids.

Throughout her high school years, and I can say this because, Jordan has graduated :) we still ran into similar issues. If Jordan spread herself too thin (which she tended to do between academics, clubs, dance, musicals, Chambers, therapy. a social life, and, if any time was left, sleep), the crap would slam right into the metaphorical fan.

A major difference was, Jordan-the-teenager, construed our suggesting that she pull back, as a punishment, as a lack of faith in her abilities. In her mind, we were telling her loudly and clearly, how much we believed her to be incapable of achieving success. Many of her friends were taking AP classes. Why did we think she couldn't handle them? Some of her friends appeared to take on everything that was offered. Well, except sleep. I still have no idea how some were able to cope and survive.

We as adults, have the advantage of being able to see the big picture. We realize that our kids will still have successful lives, even without taking five AP classes in one year. That being said, if Jordan didn't work her tail off in high school, and if she had listened to us each time we pleaded with her to stop studying and go to bed, who knows if she would have been awarded the merit scholarship that she did. Ultimately, this is the reason she can attend Arcadia.

Maybe the picture Adam and I were seeing, wasn't quite as big as we thought it was. Huh.

So our concerns, our adult-like-pleas and attempts to help avoid another tumultuous crisis, were misconstrued. Our intentions were good. We were trying to guide and protect her. But as we all know, the older they get, the more we have to let our children make their own choices. This holds true even if it's scary, and risky, and you're positive that your way would be better.

Thank you.

Us Too

Friday, August 5, 2016

When It's Time To Cut Back

I vaguely remember not being thrilled when I had a loose tooth, and not wanting to pull it out. Jordan also didn't like to pull her teeth out, and she waited until they started to discolor. Usually, they fell out on their own. Afterwards, she was always so excited. She would giggle and laugh. I knew it was a relief to her, which in effect, made it a big deal for me.

Again, something as simple as a loose tooth, really put her through the ringer. She worried about it and talked about it, nonstop. Eating was a real treat. My instinct would be to tell a kid to stop talking about it, and just pull it out. But I knew better than to take this approach with Jordan. Once it did fall out, she would call and share the big news with her grandparents. It was so cute, as if she had won the lottery or something. After the 'Tooth Fairy' came, in celebration, she would begin making something artsy with the dollar bills. I was fine with this until she got out the glue. That's when I would ask her to put the money in her piggy bank.

One morning Jordan almost missed the bus because she was crying over a pair of pants. I'm not sure of the exact details, but most likely she didn't want to wear them, and didn't have enough time to change. Because again, at this point, I knew better than to tell her that she had to wear this particular pair of pants.The bus driver sat in front of our house beeping the horn. Jordan's stress level was through the roof. In a panic, she flew out the door before I even pulled her hair back. She was a wreck. Not a good way for either of us to start out our day.

This is when it hit me. She (or we) may be doing too much. At this time, she was participating in kindergarten, dance, swimming, and gymnastics. Jordan was the type of kid who enjoyed calmly creating things, while using her imagination. Having Kayla toddle behind, and lugging Kevin to all these activities, was anything but calming. And not many organized sports or lessons implemented (or expected) the use of imagination and/or creativity.

I guess we had begun trying to "keep up with the Joneses" (whoever they were). I don't think it was a conscious decision, but the other little girls in the hood were in dance, taking swimming lessons, playing soccer, taking horseback riding lessons... I figured this is what kids and families were supposed to do. Plus, I was a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). How could I have allowed my children to stay home all day long, day after day? I obviously had the ability, and the time, to expose them to any and all extracurricular activities. So this is what I tried to do.

I slowly began to understand the correlation between our lack of down-time, and the amount of stress and disarray we were experiencing. I realized something needed to be done.

Thank you.

Us Too

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The More There is to Learn, the More There May Be to Fear

When Jordan was in kindergarten we began to notice that she started developing certain fears. She would wake up complaining of having scary thoughts and dreams, and saying that it was too dark. She had a night light in her room, but I started to leave the hallway light on, with her door open. The downside of this was when we stayed overnight at a friend's house, she would freak out because it was too dark to sleep.

Before a dance recital she would cry, telling me she didn't know the dance steps. We would have her watch the video I took of a practice, and even write the steps down, so she would feel more prepared. Usually, as far as I could tell, she knew the steps very well, (something that goes right along with being a perfectionist) but without this extra practice and preparedness, she refused to perform.

After a particular recital was over, one in which she did a great job and appeared to have fun, she told me she didn't "want to be an adult.” I had no idea why a five year old would worry about this. Maybe it was because of the dresses and makeup all the girls wore, but I wasn't sure. I reassured her that she doesn't need to worry about that for a very long time. I also explained how I loved being an adult, and a mom, and that's why I chose to stay home with my wonderful kids.

Why was Jordan changing, and worrying more? My assumption is, the more she experienced life, the more she worried about it. Imagine how she must feel at the age of eighteen, a few weeks before going away to college. Damn.

For a few weeks now, I have voiced my concerns to Jordan, regarding how staying in bed after 2:00 pm on the days that I am not home, is well...concerning to me. She told me it's because she hasn't been sleeping well, and she's being woken up by scary, horrible dreams.

Like when she was five. Ugh.

When she was five, what was worse than her having trouble sleeping, was when she shocked me by saying things such as "I hate myself", and "I wish I weren't alive." She was in kindergarten! Where does that even come from? I don't think I got angry at her for saying things like this, at least not when she was so young. But as the years went on, I did get angry. Because...what the hell? Things may not have been perfect in the Beck household, but were they really that bad?

Unfortunately, I eventually, innately, began to take these statements personally. Of course, I realize today, that nothing about chemical imbalances or mental illnesses is personal. Sure, everyone plays a role, but to place blame or develop feelings of guilt, there's no place for that.

But this took me a long time to learn. And as you can imagine, if a child is hurting, and in effect, her mother is wracked with feelings of guilt and anger, life can get pretty rough. And it did.

Thank you.

Us Too