The Hanger is Real

Ask anyone who knows me & they will tell you I am not a pleasant person when I’m hungry. Unfortunately, it’s a trait I have passed on to Bear. He’s even more of a bear when he’s hungry. Since he was four or five, he has known & been able to use the word hangry properly in a sentence. It’s funny, except when it’s not.

I got the boys from M this morning & everything was going decently well. They were respectfully quiet because J & BK were still sleeping. They were super excited to tell me about what they did the past weekend. They saved up some money & bought new Nintendo cards because they wanted to get new games for their switches. M asked me last night if I was able to give them permission [all hail Nintendo’s parental controls; they are an absolute god send] to do so, but I was busy at work, so it had to wait until this morning.

We have this rule in our house. It’s something I saw on Pinterest so I can’t take credit for it, but the kids each have a chore list. They also have a list that they have to accomplish together & after everything on their lists are done, they can have electronics as long as they’d like, or until the parental controls turn their devices off. It’s something that has worked for two summers & their lists include spending time outside & doing something creative, so please don’t @ me about my kids’ screen time.

After BK woke up this morning, the kids immediately wanted to get on their electronics. The first question is always, “Are your chores done?” If they’re not done, they don’t get electronics. It’s really quite simple. Spoiler alert: this morning, their lists were not done. Butter & BK immediately jumped on what they had to do. Bear had a bit of a meltdown. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he had two things on his personal list & the entire joint list to do. [He did not have the entire joint list to do, he had one thing to do.] He was laying on his bed pouting.

It took me 0.000562 seconds to figure out what was wrong, but I still asked him if he’d eaten breakfast.

Of course he hadn’t.

He had some fruit, he had a waffle, & he was like a brand. new. kid. I [absolutely, 1000% jokingly] told the other two kids, “When Bear gets like this, feed him.” All you have to do is throw a snack or a string cheese at him & I promise he’ll start to feel better. J kind of rolled his eyes at me when I said that. I just stared at him pointedly & asked him what he does first when I’m cranky.

“I feed you.”

The apple did not fall far from this tree. Sorry, Bear.

Finding Myself

My cousin asked me to post about finding my worth rather than losing myself to an unhealthy situation.

Before I start, I have to put this in black & white. M & I are friends. Good friends. We get along & we coparent well. I realize how blessed I am to have this kind of relationship with the father of my children. Whenever anyone asks about why our marriage didn’t last, I just let them know that we were really bad at being married to each other.

It took a lot for me to find myself. I was in an ugly mental place before I deciding to split from M. I was depressed [I have a mostly official diagnosis now & I take medication to help my brain chemistry behave]. I have suffered with anxiety for a long time. It dates back to before M & I got together, but I didn’t realize that my rage cleaning & freaking out when things weren’t going the way I planned were symptoms of anxiety. I was accused of being controlling & mean, but for the longest time I never understood that my anxiousness was just the way my brain is wired, not who I am as a person.

I promise I am not mean. Don’t ask my kids, though. They’ll disagree with you & tell you I am the meanest mom to walk the planet. I tell them I had to sign a piece of paper that said I would be the meanest before I was allowed to take them home from the hospital.

I am an introverted empath who suffers from anxiety. I over think things & worry about over thinking things & feel the things the people around me are feeling & sometimes I’d just like to be alone to figure this stuff out because it’s too overwhelming, thanks.

Up to us calling it quits, I knew something was inherently wrong with me. I took on too many tasks & genuinely didn’t know how to say to “no” to people, to the point that when I did say no, I was called a bitch by someone with whom I was very close. It was tough for me to fit all of the things I said I’d do in one day & I was always, always exhausted. It didn’t help that I’d already had two brain surgeries & that contributed to my mental fatigue.

I had, at one point: four jobs, two kids, a husband, friendships I was supposed to maintain, a house to take care of, & a literal mountain of laundry at any given time.

I. Was. Exhausted. All of the time.

That didn’t stop people from piling stuff on to my plate. There is a quote often attributed to Lucille Ball that says, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do.” Lucy, I genuinely love you, but that isn’t always true. Asking a busy person to add one more thing to their To Do List might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

After I moved, I started working on who I was as a person. I have been working on the art of saying, “No,” when I need to & gained a backbone I thought was gone forever. I purposely take time to sit down & read books or do something that I enjoy doing. Even if that task is making something for someone else via knitting or cross stitching, it’s a thing that allows my brain to turn off if it chooses to & allows me to enjoy my time.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I feel bad when I take time for myself. But I have learned to prioritize my mental health & time with the people who love me over, say, the neatness of my house. So what if it’s cluttered? My children are making memories & the LEGOs on the floor will keep for another day. The toilet can be cleaned tomorrow, but my son may not want to crawl into bed & read with me tomorrow. Who cares if I spend half of my day off in bed if I’m allowing myself to heal from a headache I previously would have forced myself to work through?

This stuff came to me through a lot of reading & even more self reflection. I wrote. I have notecards somewhere with messages that remind me I am strong, I am wise, & I am courageous. I used to pull them out when my head got to an especially dark place, but I’ve memorized them so I don’t often need to look at them any more.

I started therapy.

I desperately need to continue with therapy. I am absolutely not ashamed to admit I need therapy, either.

I am a work in progress & at 36, I am no longer ashamed to say that.

Blending Our Families

J & I have known each other for years.

We met ages ago, when I was working at a theme park & he was the [self proclaimed] weird kid who would come to the park as often as possible. I’m 1000% oblivious, so I never really ‘got’ that he had a crush on me back in those days, but to hear him tell it, I was the pretty girl he was obsessed with seeing when he’d come to the park for the day.

In 2017, we reconnected in a mutual interest chat room. I posted a selfie of myself & there was an onslaught of comments & questions. “Hey did you work at [theme park]? Yes? Do you remember me?”

Y’all, I’ve had two brain surgeries. I don’t remember much from before 2011. Just saying.

Anyway, when M & I made the call to split, I needed a place to live when I figured out I was moving to Virginia. I had offers from friends to stay with them much closer to my restaurant while I worked out my situation, but because I knew where I wanted to live since my mom had offered to take care of the boys, I chose a different direction. I chose to move into an apartment 45 minutes away from the restaurant.

J had been subtly pursuing me for months. We didn’t start dating casually until September 2018 & I absolutely thought it was too soon. But because I was thrown into an awkward situation when I brought the boys back home for the 2018-2019 school year, I decided to say, “Screw it.”

From the start, we said if our kids didn’t get along or agree to our relationship, it was a done deal. We both sat our kids down for a frank discussion. “I am choosing to date [name]. How do you feel about it? If you don’t care for them, this entire thing is off.”

Luckily, Butter, Bear, & Bonus Kid get along famously. BK adores me & my boys genuinely look up to J. They get into little spats sometimes, like all siblings do. I assumed incorrectly when I made the call about which one of my boys would be closer friends with BK, but they all play together really well & they’re a great team.

Anything I didn’t touch on? I know this seems super hastily thrown together, but it took me literal ages to write it because I wanted to word everything the right way.