11 April 2014

Always with the Roller Coaster Analogies

I think man created roller coasters as a simulation of real life.  Of emotion and events of a person's lifecours.  I know, I know, it is so cliche to say Oh life is such a roller coaster, but I mean it is so accurate - the ups and downs, the turns, the loops.  Roller coasters were made to be fun, are the ups and downs what make lief fun as well? If you think of the other cliche quote, Without the rain you wouldn't appreciate the sunshine, this makes a little sense, we appreciate the happy days more because we have to experience the sad ones, too. The ups and the downs.  If it was all ups, it would be predictable and we wouldn't appreciate them nearly as much. Maybe?
 
So I could start off by saying things have been a rollercoaster around these parts, but that's to be expected because hey - it's life! A close family member of mine is experiencing some extreme hardships.  Due to their privacy, I'm not going to really get into what's going on, but I would like if you would send some prayers and happy thoughts to my family, we could really use some uplifting during these tough times. 
 
While my thoughts have been mostly preoccupied by my family situation, I was pleased to have a couple of the "ups" of life's roller coaster this week as well.  I found out a few days ago that I was selected to be kept on as a permanent employee at my job.  I was hired as a temp, but a few spots opened up and I was one of those chosen to be kept.  I was pretty stoked to hear that, because I was just preparing for the transition of going back to not working. Phew.  Then yesterday, I got some exciting news that I have been waiting for  and can't keep to myself any longer - I applied for graduate school and got accepted!  Starting in the fall, I will be on the journey towards a Master's Degree in Professional Writing. I waso so excited to receive that letter yesterday and then reality came crashing into me when I thought - CRAP how in the world am I going to swing this.  Thanks to my awesome mom, I'm pretty sure I will make it work. I'm a lucky gal with a great support team. I want to show my daughter that it is okay  to strive to be better in life and that anything is possible.  Hopefully when she is older she will think of me as a hard worker who followed her dreams and I will inspire her to do the same.
 
I didn't think much could take me down from the high of opening that letter yesterday, but life through me through a loop, yet again.  After dinner at my mom's, my mom brought over the wishbone they had drying out to A and I.  She told  A she needed to make a wish and then we'd break the wishbone and whomever ended up with the larger piece would get their wish granted.  I made my wish in my head, and then encouraged A to do the same.  She, being a 4 year old, spoke her wish outloud.  "I wish... I wish.... I wish for my daddy to come back to us," she proudly announced.  Insert instant heartbreak.  I guess it wasn't fair of us to insuate that her wishes actually could come true.  I really thought she'd wish for a swing set or new toy or vacation.  That's what I get for thinking.  I choked back tears as we both pulled the wishbone together.  And you know what happened? No one won.  The wishbone snapped, the top piece flew off and she and I were left holding equal sized pieces.  Balance. The laws of the Universe.  It wouldn't have been fair to tell her flat out no, but of course there was no way she could win, so in the end what needed to happen happened.  How it happened, I will never know.  Coincidence? Fate? Universe balancing? Who knows.
 
It certainly put me in a funk for a bit.  She's been talking about him more.  After we broke the wishbone, she told me, I really miss my daddy.  My little girl misses the dad she never got to meet and it breaks my heart.  She tells me often how she wants a daddy.  Sometimes she'll say things out of the blue like I don't have a daddy. I remind her that she does, he's just in Heaven, but he is always, ALWAYS with her.  It's hard to make a 4 year old comprehend this when she just wants her daddy. Sigh. I wish I could take the ache of his loss away from her.  No, actually I don't. Our pain makes us who we are, and missing him reminds us that he was here and that we are so loved.  I do wish, though, that she could have had the life we were planning on, that she could have grown up with her daddy.  Since that is yet another wish that can't be granted, my practical wish is that I can do my best for her.  That she will always know that she is loved.  Maybe, that I can find an earthly dad for her since her dad has to be in Heaven.  Those are my practical, possible wishes.
 
After that, she and I enjoyed the rest of our evening.  It went really well actually, another "up" so to speak.  I can't stop thinking about her dad and her though. I can't stop thinking of the realities of life's fragility.  And above all else, I can't stop trying.

07 February 2014

Work and What To Expect

Hello people of blog land! How goes it after all this passed time? Life in the land of Mrs P has been quite thrilling as of late. The biggest news I have to share is that for the first time ever in my life, I have a full time job. I work 40 hours a week, 8 to 430, Monday through Friday. I often wondered if I would ever see the day! I'm still very new at the working mom experience, and so far, if I had to sum it up in one word it would be hectic. In the mornings, I rush to get myself ready and suitable for work and A ready enough to travel from my house to my parent's. I am super lucky having my parents so close and so willing to help me out while I try out this whole working full time thing. My job is pretty interesting and I am pretty excited to see how it will go. Not really going to get into all of the specifics so let's just leave it at it's a pretty neat experience. Once we're out the ready(ish) and out the door, I drop A off with her favorite people and I head to work for the day. So far, I've met some really neat people which always makes new situations easier. I am, and always will be, the weird kid, and I am finally at a point in my life where I'm totally okay with it, in fact I embrace it. I think I make people laugh for the most part. I probably annoy them a little, too. I'm trying not to, sometimes I have a pretty big personality - ha. After work, I pick A up and head home to have some dinner. Some mornings I feel extra ambitious and make crock pot meals that are ready when we arrive home and other evenings I just cook when I get home. I have cooked every night that I've worked except one, though, and I feel super accomplished when I realize that I am somehow doing "it all." After dinner it's some playing/chilling out time, then bed time. Rinse and repeat for 5 consecutive days. Add in dance class for A on Friday nights. That's the jist of my life these days.

The transition from stay at home most the time mom to working full time hasn't been the easiest. Getting up super early (AKA before my kiddo) is definitely not my favorite thing to do. I often feel rushed and overwhelmed. But along with that comes this awesome feeling of pride and accomplishment. Somehow I am finding a balance and handling this. I do tend to get a little grouchy in the evenings, and that is definitely on my agenda to work on. I think as I adjust to the changes in sleep and the tiredness from working and using my brain again (not that I didn't use my brain with my kiddo, but you know, different brain usage).

Before working full time, I kind of envied working parents. Not that I am not crazy in love with my little princess, but sometimes hanging out with a four year old nearly 24/7 can be a little exhausting. She is an amazing little kid, she entertains me, I learn from her, we have a great time. But sometimes it's nice to feel like a grownup. To have a little bit of something that's for me. It's also good to feel... productive. Not that raising a tiny human being is productive... I can't really articulate but anyway, I just thought it was a little cool and maybe, I hate to admit... easier. Now, I know that isn't the case. It's tough! It's a huge balancing act. BUT stay at home parenting isn't easy either! I always kind of feel SAHMs and working moms are kind of at war. Who's job is harder. Which way is the "right" way. Newsflash: They're BOTH freaking hard. Some in similar ways, and some in their own way. Heck - PARENTING is hard! What I think, is as long as you're doing what's best for you and what's best for your family keep on keepin on. Want to give something a shot? Want to try working? Try it. Want to try SAHMing? Try it. Ok, it's not that easy for everyone to just try something new. Like I said, I'm lucky. I have an awesome support system, my parents are A's best friends and she loves spending every day with them and they love having every day with her. Sooo... here I am, testing out being a working mom... wish me luck.

In other mom news, I have something very exciting to share. I was approached by the folks over at WhatToExpect.com, yes like the book and movie, What to Expect When You're Expecting, to guest post on their blog. The blog went live today and I'm pretty stoked for this opportunity. So if you have a second and want to hear more of my mumbo jumbo, head on over and check out my piece, and feel free (AKA please do) leave a comment for me over there!

14 January 2014

Birthday Blues

Birthdays kick my ass. Apart from the angelversary, birthdays are the toughest mile stones for me since Jonny's death. There's something about celebrating our lives continuing on with him gone that just really, really blows. Obviously. Every birthday since he's died I've, at the very least, cried, and at the most had a complete widow break down.

Last year, I turned 26. I talked about how difficult that was for me, officially "outliving" my husband. I went to Golden Corral with my family, an old family tradition, and I started crying at the table. How pathetic. Right? I was 26, outliving my husband, getting older, sitting in crappy Golden Corral, not unlike the Golden Corral we were at when we found out he was deploying... it was bad and silent tears slipped down my face as the realities of my life hit me. It wasn't that bad though. A bit of moping the week leading up to and the week following and my birthday was over. For 27 this year, I was with my best friend in the world in Chicago. I had a really fun birthday. We went out for dinner and drinks, there was great conversation and a ton of laughing. We got back to my friend's house and I laid in her lap and cried until I passed out. Sobbed. Getting older sucks.

The baby's birthday is even harder. In fact, I'm pretty sure that every one of her birthdays has lead to a sobfest post festivities. Her dad should be here, watching her grow. I distract myself with throwing a grand party, making sure she has the best day possible, going all out with invitations and decorations. But as I've learned along this grief journey, there's only so long you can hide, only so long until the distractions are over before it's time to face the overwhelming sadness and pain that we have celebrated every single one of her birthdays without him.

Four years ago today I was told by my OB at my 38 week check up that I would probably be having a baby today. She told me to go home and eat because they won't feed me once I'm checked in to L&D and then head to the hospital in an hour or so. I was 4cm and 100% effaced and Ariana was banging on the doors to get out. Three hours and a Mario marathon later, my mom was practically dragging me out of the house telling me it's been far longer than one hour. We checked in to the hospital and began the wait for her arrival. A lot of strolls through the halls, forcibly broken water, stolen McDonalds fries, and several hours later Ariana Ralyn graced the world with her presence at 1:44 in the morning on January 15. Jonny was on the phone, present for her delivery. He was beyond happy for her arrival. He was the proudest dad I had ever encountered. He just couldn't wait to be a dad and it was finally his time, all he had to do was get home and meet her.

Fast forward four years. It's the third party I'm throwing without him. The third cake we'll be eating without him. She'll blow out the candles surrounded by our family and friends, she'll be happy and excited and the party will be awesome. And a little piece of me will break away, as it does every year, every birthday without him. It's just not fair. And it sucks.

I keep myself with the thought that even though we miss out on him, he's not missing out on us. He'll be watching and he'll still be the proud dad he was. He'll know how hard I tried to give her the most awesome birthday possible. He'll be proud of how I've done, even when I feel I'm barely treading water. He'll be routing me on and I must focus on that fact, to keep from drowning in the sorrow of his absence.

Now, I will focus on the party prep. I'll go above and beyond, more than you probably "should" for a four year old's birthday party, but it will keep me focused, and moving, and partially happy. Not grief or sadness free, but if I have a purpose and can make it good for her, it can be mostly good for me. I'll celebrate as hard as I can, and I'll probably cry, too. It doesn't get easier. Grief just doesn't go away. It gets different, it gets "normal" but I wouldn't say it gets easier. But each year, we deal, we move forward, and we do the best we can.

Today, I'm reliving the day I went into labor. I'm missing Stink and I'm missing my tiny little girl. I'm also reminded of how far we've come since this day four years ago and I am proud. Proud of my own achievements, proud of the awesome little girl I have, and proud that through the pain we continue to live.

08 December 2013

Blizzard Conditions

Holy cow has it really been over two months since I've posted?! And the award for worst blogger goes to.... RJP for Inconsistency!!

Well a lot has happened since October, but I really don't feel like recapping everything. It's crazy that I find myself on here on a blustery blizzardy Maryland day that marks 4 years since I last saw Mr. P in the flesh. I thought today would be pretty rough but I think the combination of pretty snow, snuggles in the Love Sac, and delicious chocolate have kept me pretty mellow.

As 2013 comes to a close and I approach a new year of my own life (my birthday is in 4 days!) I have been doing quite a bit of mental recapping as of late. Things in life are pretty hectic right now and for a minute I thought the stress was going to crush me. Somehow I've managed to  continue to see the silver lining and keep on truckin' though. Thank God for optimism and a pretty stellar support system.

On Friday I had a little birthday party for myself. It turned out to be a lot of fun with some really great people. My bf made it more wonderful than I was anticipating and I'm certainly so thankful to have him in my life. I think everyone had fun and for once I executed an event where nothing super crazy happened! Hooray.

Reflecting on the journey I've made in the last few years has been interesting. I'd say one of the biggest changes in myself would be the ability to live and let go. I am learning in my adulthood that people come in and out of our lives and we can't always hang on to them. There was a time not too long ago that I struggled to hold on to each and every person in my life. If I felt a friendship was failing or distance growing, I would exert all effort and a lot of heartache to find the whys and figure out how to fix it. Fortunately for my sanity, I've come to terms with the ebbs and flows of relationships in one's lifetime. Sometimes, it's just time to let go. There's no use in wasting time and tears on people that are no longer supposed to be in your life. Maybe that's a harsh truth. I'm sure not everyone will agree with this assessment but in my eyes, it is what it is. Sure, try to fortify and grow relationships that are important to you, but when it comes the time that the relationships are just constant fights and neither party is benefitting from the relationship itself, what's the point anymore? I think that's where I've seen my biggest change and growth - the ability to learn when enough is enough, wish the other person well and move onward. And that's the part that counts the most - wish the other person well. Just because our relationship isn't what it once was doesn't mean I wish ill upon you, it just means separating is best for all those involved and I hope your life and mine are more productive and fuller without the added stressor of maintaining a crumbling resemblance of friendship. I have also learned which types of friendships are made to last and which are more of the superficial variety, best friends versus acquaintances, I suppose.

Speaking of best friends, can I just brag that I will be spending my birthday this year with my best friend? I can not wait. Although I am pretty nervous about the Chicago weather conditions considering we're experiencing a pretty fierce winter weather day here, I imagine it's tenfold in the midwest. That whole thing has me up in arms but besides that I am anxiously awaiting the reunion with my one and only bestie and one week of much needed bestie ridiculousness! On top of that fabulousness, said bestie's sister is getting married so not only will what should be a national holiday AKA the day of my birth be getting celebrated, but another should be national holiday, the union of these two fine folks, will be celebrated as well. Can you say week of epic proportions?!

I must say I am also pretty excited to be taking a break from my house. Literally, my house. Anyone else experience constant home ownership struggles?! Sometimes I really think buying a house was the worst decision I made in my adult life. I mean seriously, when I rented and things went wrong, I called the realtor or rental company and they figured out a solution and took care of it. Boom, done. When you own, there's no one above you - you're it. So guess what, bud? YOU have to figure out the solution. So gross. For a house that isn't even 10 years old, I'm certainly experiencing my fair share of homeowner's nightmares. Luckily I've got a great network (and a super awesome dad) and it appears we will be able to get these issues fixed up. I just have to keep my woosah going until everything is finished. And then maybe I can take a breath (but not too big of one or something else might go awry!)

What is it about winter weather that puts people in a Christmas mood? I guess it's because Christmas happens in the winter (a-duuuuh), so it's easier to "feel" the season? All I know is now with all this silly snow I'm getting pretty excited about finishing up the decorating (although is this weather continues decorating outside will not be happening) and preparing for Santa's visit. I'm getting super excited for all of our holiday traditions and for sharing them with my daughter who at nearly four is much more excited about things this year and my sweetie. Speaking of my sweetie, bet ya wanna hear more about him? Let's just say he's pretty fantastic and our relationship has been a long time coming and after knowing each other for years it's so wonderful to finally be together. That's all you're gonna get for now - don't be greedy :-P

Well folks, I hope you stay warm and I am wishing everyone the happiest of holiday wishes!

Semper Fi,
Mrs P

08 October 2013

The Journey

Here's the funny thing about life. It is a constant, unending journey. Sure, it appears there's a beginning, middle, and end; much like a story. But is it really that simple? No, I don't think so.

If you pay attention, in life you are constantly changing. I can't imagine any human that's ever truly stagnant, even a recluse locked up with his or her own thoughts. And I'm no recluse, so the opportunities for change are constant.

The hard part is, just when you think you've finally figured things out, that you've finally got a handle on this crazy life journey, you are often reminded that you don't. A new challenge is thrown your way. A new revelation or discover. A new person to shake things up. It's completely naive to believe that you are the same person today that you were yesterday.

The best thing we can do with this journey is try to learn from it. Learn from our mistakes and attempt to continue to grow. Sometimes, that's so much easier said than done. Sometimes, you learn things about yourself that you wish you never knew. So you strive to fix them but in the process are you fixing anything or are you just circling back and making the same mistakes again?

It's hard to face your flaws. It's also necessary. In order to develop and grow, you have to face your shortcomings and overtake them. And that is no easy feat. You think you're doing well and then you realize how much farther you still have to go.

Through this journey I've learned so much about myself and I've had to face some pretty harsh realizations and seriously man up about some of my own short comings. Each day I feel I work a little harder to mold myself into the person that I want to be and then BAM I'm forty steps back and I feel like I am starting all over, conquering the same obstacles again and again.

What holds me back most often? Fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of love, fear of happiness, fear of life. I know I've felt like I've conquered it before but then these setbacks come and they really get to me. I was recently told that I can't live life being afraid of life, and that is so true. I get so scared that I put up these stupid walls, I continuously push people away - most often the people I actually care the most about, I try to hide behind my grief and my loss so that I don't have to feel anymore. Because if you don't feel, you don't hurt. What I forget is that I end up hurting even more in the end. All because I try to hide and pretend and block. Always because I am scared. And even though I can realize this, typically when it's too late, I still end up right back at this spot. Grasping to survive because my fear has held me back once again. With people, with opportunities, with life lessons.

I realize that I get inside my own head and I displace assumptions. "I can't finish that..." "This person won't like this..." "No one can handle that..." When really, it's me inside my own head, scaring myself. In a crappy attempt at protecting myself, I am destroying myself.

When will I be willing to give up the fear? When will I let myself just live, the way I know deep in my heart I deserve to. So why am I so scared to?? Am I afraid that I will forget? Or leave him behind? Or am I just afraid that another loss will completely wreck me?

Some days, I just want to feel normal and not so damn complicated!
Please let tomorrow be sunny.

24 September 2013

It's Because You're Home

Summer 2013 has ended and I must say it was quite more than I had anticipated it would be. This year opened a little strained. It seemed a lot was going wrong and I was pretty sure that unlucky 13 would strike the whole year into a constant crap show. I was pleasantly surprised to see how wrong my assumption had been, particularly about the summer. While there were some rough moments, especially with my uncle's illness and some other crazy things that kept happening, the summer ended up wrapping up beautifully. My uncle is seemingly doing much better, my family seems to be in a good place, and I have had a lot of fun. I say seemingly, as not to jinx anything, but I'd like to think that the good things will continue on.

Last weekend, I went to the Jason Aldean concert to celebrate my sorority big sister's birthday. I had such a great time, as I had been having quite often with those girls much of this summer. In a state of happiness I voiced a truth that had been surfacing throughout July and August... "This is one of the best summers I've had since Jonny died!" Without skipping a beat, my friend Shannon replied, "That's because you're home." Her comment shocked me. I tried to deny it. For some reason, I always deny that this is home. That this place I've returned to, that I've grown up, is in all actuality, my home. I can't explain why, really. I never thought I'd come back, to be truthful. It's not that there were loads of bad times here; in fact, I have such great memories here. It's not that it's filled with crappy people; many of my closest friends were found right here. I don't know what it is, but I always denied being happy here. I thought on her comment for a moment. Finally, I gave in. "You just might be right," was all I'd give her after trying to deny it. She just might have been right.

There really is something about the place you grew up, being around the people you've known for what seems like forever. I know these towns and these streets, I have history here, roots here. I met my love here and our story begin here. It's quite possible (and highly likely) that Ariana was conceived here... It all comes back to here. She juuuuust might be right.

As much as I deny and I try to escape, I've made a home and a life here and maybe that's what's good about this summer. I'm finally settling in. Don't get me wrong, I still love to travel and escape, and this sentiment of home could change at the drop of a hat, but for now this is it. I might live somewhere else and feel fully at home there in months, years, decades down the road but right now I'm here, surrounded by people that love me and that know me - better than I'd care to admit sometimes.

Not only am I settling into a place, though, I'm settling into myself. I'm finding a home within myself. I'm finally enjoying the person that I am. Although I am extremely flawed, I'm kind of starting to like me. And that, my friends, is pretty rad and super liberating.

It seems much of the last few years I've been wanting to be happy again. I was so happy with Jonny that I sought out a relationship in which to find joy and happiness. If only I could be with someone who made me happy, maybe I'd be able to feel some of the happiness I once had before I lost it all.  Much to my therapist's delight, this summer I gave up on that quest and reached within myself. I realized that I did not need to be with another individual for happiness. That my happiness I had when I was with Jonny wasn't only because of him (not that he wasn't amazing) but also who I was when I was with him. I'd lost so much of myself through all this that I've been trying to find it in another person without even glancing at myself. And this summer I totally said "Fuck it."

I got tired of dating and relationships and games and boys and.... all of that. I quit. And I enjoyed myself. And I enjoyed my daughter. And I enjoyed my family. And I enjoyed my friends. I am surrounded by awesome people and I realized there was no need to keep searching for more when I had what I needed for this given moment. It hasn't been the right moment for me to be "out there" (if only I'd taken the advice I have heard myself give more than once to friends...) it was the right moment for me to work on me. Truly work on myself and appreciate myself and my own strengths and qualities without having to find balance with another person.

Here in this state, it appears I've found a bit of myself again. Maybe not my whole self, I mean who really knows exactly who they are and has their entire self together? But a big portion of myself has been reclaimed. With the help of friends, family, and country music, of course!

So cheers! To being home, not only physically but emotionally. May the rest of 2013 bring joy and peace and fun and self discovery. Whether it be "alone" or with another if and when the time is right, may I always appreciate what I have and find happiness within myself, and may you, my friends, do the same.

02 August 2013

"I Don't Have a Daddy"

My daughter is 3 and a half years old. She turns 4 in January. And I thought I still had so much time before we had to broach this subject. Certainly, I knew it would be coming and I knew it wasn't going to be easy no matter when it happened but I didn't plan on it being so soon. No matter how soon it came though, would I ever have been really ready? Are we ever ready to explain death to our kids and why her father who loves her so very, very much had to leave her so soon and so permanently? Probably not.

We went out for ice cream tonight at Rita's. When we were done I was strapping her into her car seat and a truck pulled up next to us. A man, a woman, and a teenage girl got out. The teenager walked ahead and then the man and woman stopped and said something to one another, took hands, spoke a little more and then walked on. I wasn't really paying much attention except for being aware that they were there until Ariana asked why they stopped. I looked up and saw them take each other's hand and talk and I answered her they stopped to hold hands. She wanted to know why and I answered well because they love each other - still not sure where this was going or why she was so curious. They live together? she then asked me and I felt something more was coming as this question hit me. Yeah, probably I answered, bracing myself. And then she said it. "I don't have a daddy." Ouch. Enter the striking pain of an arrow in my heart. "Yes you do baby girl, he's in Heaven you know that." She sounded a little defeated when she answered "Yeah. With Georgie (my dad's dog)." I asked if she was alright and she said she was and I asked if she was sad and she said she was again answering then that she misses her grandma and papa (who she just spent the night with last night - silly girl) and just like that subject was over and we were talking about grandma and papa and seeing them tomorrow.

As parents, we strive to give our kids all they need and most of what they want. We know there are some things we aren't going to give our kids, like endless supplies of chocolate ice cream or a herd of pink ponies, but within reason we want to give to our kids. So when it comes to something that you want so badly to give to your kid that you just can't... well that frankly sucks. It really freakin' sucks. I wish I could give Ariana her daddy back so badly. Even though she doesn't express it often, I know that time is coming and I just wish she didn't have to face this. It's not fair, in the slightest.

The next hard part in addition to her statements or questions is maintaining my own collected demeanor. I can't just fall to pieces just because she asks about her dad. I am totally okay with my daughter witnessing emotion and her knowing it's okay to have them, however if I fall to pieces whenever her dad is brought up, what does that teach her? That she shouldn't ask about him because she doesn't want to upset mom. That he is a "taboo" subject. No way, I've got to keep it together so that she can express herself and so that she is comfortable talking about him. I don't ever want to take that part away from her, because it's really all she has of him now, discussions, memories, photos...  I wonder if her grieving process will really begin later when she can understand. Or if it will just be every day to her since that's all she's known. Oh I am not prepared...

I feel like tonight's conversation was just a small precursor to what is to come. One day the statements and questions are going to get harder. The "I don't have a daddy" statement is going to be less statement of fact and more sadness or confusion, maybe even anger. And then what am I going to do? All I can do - assure her she does have a daddy. And that he does love her very much. And that it is none of our faults that he had to leave. And that he didn't want to leave.  And until then, I just have to make sure she knows all of that in her heart. Tell her about her dad, like I do and make sure she knows all of it, deep within. But it still sucks. Oi...