Mommy Blogs

Finding my calm

This morning before my doctor’s appointment, instead of rushing from dropping off my daughter to sit in the parking lot and steal internet from the doctor’s office so that I could work on things for school, I decided to take a moment for myself and go to the beach. It’s incredible how much a little salt air can refresh the soul. 

It’s been a long time since I slowed down and appreciated the world around me.

I have been stressed out worrying about finding a sub for my students, ensuring their lesson plans are ready, and wondering if they’ll be all right. All while our house has been under construction for longer than I wanted.

I allowed that to stress me out instead of letting go and just rolling with it knowing my husband was working the fastest his body would allow. We are still entangled in the kids participating in sports nearly every day of the week. I truly was having unrealistic expectations of what we could complete and it nearly caused a mental breakdown several times.

This pregnancy has been much different than my first with my daughter. I cherished all the small moments and let myself relax and enjoy what was going on while this one has seemed to be a strain on my mental and physical health. But standing here watching the sunrise over the surf rolling in has reminded me of the amazing little creature living inside me.

I’m excited about my maternity leave this time. Unlike with my daughter, I will not be working at all through it.

I’m blessed that Bennett is arriving in the fall, so we can spend more time outside, not sweating to death.

After recovering from surgery, I plan on spending as much quality time focusing on myself, the new little baby, and my family. Work will always be there, but little moments like watching the sunrise with my kids or just enjoying coffee alone will not always be there.

Mommy Blogs

Pregnant at 35

I’m not sure what’s going on with my generation of millennial moms, or maybe it’s just my group of friends, but I’ve noticed a spike in parenthood for women in our mid-thirties. Perhaps we’ve just all gone crazy and decided that we no longer like sleep, money, or the freedom to leave the house without having to tote along a giant bag filled with everything your little one could possibly need in life. But whatever the reason, maybe a bunch of us are starting the baby journey again.

    My baby brain didn’t just pop out of nowhere. Since I had my daughter five years ago, I have randomly discussed having another child with my husband. However, we were always at a different point in our lives each time I brought it up. First, we had just bought our first home, we were getting settled in with our daughter and son, and things were a bit chaotic. Next, we started potty training. We figured if we decided to add to our family, we would possibly do it when we only had one diaper expense. 

More time passed, and suddenly my daughter was no longer in diapers. She was out of daycare, and we could go on vacation anywhere we wanted without packing a nursery for the trip. You’d think I’d be happy with two wonderful kids and finally feel financially stable to enjoy life.  And I was, for the most part, but a small piece of me would come up randomly, not monthly. It was more than ovulation. It was an emotional tugging that my children’s smallness was ending. I don’t think I was ready for their independence, but I didn’t have any choice in the matter. Our kids grow up and will always need us differently; however, I still wanted the tiny finger wrapped around my hand, cooing and not back-talking me about something ridiculous. 

Throughout the last five years, I had gone back and forth, asking my husband to either get a vasectomy or a baby. He never got the vasectomy, not because of anything to do with his balls but because of the tiny mental breakdowns, I would have throughout the years, especially when one of my friends would get pregnant. He said he’s gone to war but was more terrified of what I would do if he actually took the choice of having a baby. Although I would joke around with the idea of having another baby, I think I only actually said yes, let’s do it once.

We both agreed that if it happened, it would happen. I kind of left it up to God and the universe and said by the time I reached my mid-thirties, he would probably get a vasectomy since we didn’t want to be in our mid-40s with a surprise child. I felt that was a fair compromise, and we actually tried. I wasn’t sure if I was pregnant, but I was late. 

I got extremely hopeful and excited. For about a month, I was giddy, thinking there might be a little one living inside me. I’m not sure why I allowed myself to be so happy, thinking it would only take a try to convince. It was probably because it was that easy with my daughter, but I was younger, and things tended to work faster. Well, it turns out I wasn’t pregnant. I sucked up my emotions and stuffed them down deep. My husband asked if I wanted to keep trying, and I told him no. It seemed like it was a message that we were just supposed to have two kids, not three, and I went on with life. 

A few months later, I got in a car accident. I ended up with a torn disk and a few herniated discs. To me, it was more of a message saying it was a good thing I wasn’t pregnant. Though it was a low-impact accident, I could have lost the baby if I had been pregnant. I know for certain I wouldn’t have been able to get the imaging I needed to find out how badly I got hurt. I spent months in PT trying to get back to normal. I went back and forth with the idea of expanding past the idea of physical therapy, getting more invasive, and receiving an epidural to help alleviate my pain.

Eventually, January rolled around, and five months after the accident, I was scheduled for the epidural. But what wasn’t showing up was my period. We had one small accident when I just so happened to be ovulating, and I was hopeful again but nervous. I didn’t take a pregnancy test, and I wasn’t going to waste the money when I knew that the facility I was going to would test me anyways. So for two weeks, I played the what-if game in my head. I knew there was a possibility that stress was causing my period to be late. But I didn’t want to be rational. Hope is a powerful drug. 

So the morning of my procedure finally came. For some reason, medical facilities were still under the covid rule of no visitors even if you were knocked out and needed someone to drive you home. My husband was told to wait in his truck, get breakfast, or do something at seven in the morning besides in the lobby and wait. We kissed goodbye, and I sat nervously in the lobby by myself. I hate medical anything, and waiting thirty-plus minutes by myself just let my brain think of everything that could go wrong. When I was finally asked back, the nurse asked if I might be pregnant, and I beamed, “Maybe.”  She was not thrilled because if I was, I could not go forward with my procedure. 

After being fully checked in, she handed me a cup. It now did or die. I was going to find out if I was pregnant or not. I peed in the cup, returned to the hospital bed, and waited. Not too long later, the nurse comes in with a big smile. “Guess what! You aren’t pregnant. We’ll send you off to dreamland in a few minutes, and you’ll be feeling better.” She shut the curtain and left. I texted my husband and said, “I’m not pregnant. You need to get snipped; I can’t handle this emotional roller coaster.”

When we got home, I was a wreck, shoving all my feelings and emotions down deep to where I didn’t have to deal with them. I didn’t realize how bad my hormones were and how bad I was PMSing. My husband made a comment that had been a running joke for the last five years about how the only reason he married me was because he was medicated, which was true. He was going through PTSD therapy, and the VA had him on a cocktail of drugs. Well, after years of joking and never bugging me, it did. I wrote him a note the next morning and left my wedding rings on his desk, saying he didn’t have to stay married to me because the only reason he married me was because he was overly medicated. It was our anniversary, and I was in the middle of a mental breakdown. Instead of talking about any of my feelings hiding, I was running away, partly because hormones do wonderful things to your psyche and partly because I wasn’t even sure why I was freaking out. 

I was teaching, and he was working from home. We spent the day texting, and I was also texting with a girlfriend about how I freaked out and was not even sure why I was freaking out. I was not stable, to say the least. I didn’t want to get a divorce. I was now sucking up tears, trying to sort my life out while dealing with the drama of nearly 100 middle school students while trying not to fall apart. Then finally, I sent my friend a text saying, “I felt so alone at the stupid outpatient place.  All my hopes and dreams were smashed, I couldn’t call anyone, and I was sitting there feeling like my world had fallen apart when he said he only married me because he was on drugs. I felt that alone again and wanted to leave everything.” She responded with, “Well, did you tell him that?” I answered, “No, I just figured everything out.”

I eventually told him. 

When we got home, we talked. Well, not right away because the kids had sports, we had to make dinner, and I didn’t want to fall apart in front of our kids. He asked me why I didn’t tell him I wanted a baby. Why did I keep pretending that I didn’t want one? He said he never got a vasectomy because he was terrified I’d kill him in his sleep or something.  After how I acted, I don’t entirely blame him for having that fear. So we decided to really try, not just a one-and-done type thing, leaving it up to fate but actually paying attention to my ovulation cycle. 

After the window closed, we ended up going to Orlando for vacation. We had friends from California visiting and thought it was a perfect time to see them. We joined them for a day at Universal, and the next day they were going to Disney, but before we even purchased our tickets for the park, I looked at my husband and said we should get year passes. He said, “We’re trying to have a baby.” I said, “Well, we don’t have that kind of luck to be pregnant right away.”  He shook his head as he handed the credit card off to the woman and told me. “I swear to God. You are going to be pregnant because you’ve finally convinced me to buy these stupid things.” So we spent the next day as a family riding roller coasters on a Monday with nearly no one in the park. I was super happy. 

The following weekend we ended up getting a kitten. Something my daughter and I have been wanting for years. As we brought the tiny fluff ball into the house, he just looked at me and said, “You’re going to be pregnant, and I’m going to have to clean this little box, aren’t I?” I told him no way. It didn’t take. I feel normal. I feel fine. He looked at me and said, “I don’t believe you.”

For the next month, I had no signs of PMS or pregnancy. At least, that’s what I thought. For the last week, I had left my classroom keys in my door. I was miss placing things and dropping things left and right. I felt like a space cadet and couldn’t figure out why I always felt drunk. Then I was helping my husband cook dinner, and I don’t know what I said or did, but he looked me dead in the eyes and said, “The last time you were this spacey, you were — have you gotten your period yet?” and I said no it’s supposed to show up tomorrow. 

We didn’t wait. I sent him to get a test, and thirty minutes later, we discovered baby brain hits a lot harder at 35 than it did at 30.

Mommy Blogs, Short Stories

Changes in Kindergarten

We sat in the long parent drop-off line, cars idling in the Florida heat. It was only 7:20 in the morning, but the sun was already making its presence known. 

“Do you want your sunnies?” I asked my daughter, who was standing up in the back seat.

“No, mommy, I’m good.” She smiled at me through the rearview mirror.

It was nice to see her smiling after the rough morning we had. She did not want to go to school. After weeks of adjusting from VPK to Kindergarten, I thought we were over our morning meltdowns. But just after a three-day reprieve, the tears began again, and she begged to return to her old school. The cause of this frustration was a letter sent home by the school informing me that my daughter was selected to join the newly formed class, allowing for smaller classroom sizes. 

“Mommy?” asked two sparkling eyes, still staring at me from the mirror. She liked to pretend she was a spy when she talked to me through the mirror. “Since I’m getting a new teacher, can I just go back to my old school?”

My heart breaks as she turns to face the blue dinosaur playground. Tail lights come on as cars shift from park to drive. I curse to myself, having to think of something fast before we start to move, and a safety patrol is opening her door, leaving her wondering.

“No, baby,” I try to say in the most reassuring way possible. “You’re too old and too smart to go back to VPK.”

She sighs, not taking her eyes off the playground. “What if this teacher thinks I’m too smart and moves me again.”

“That’s not going to happen,” I promise.

My daughter, who can hold a conversation with air, is silent once more. The cars begin to roll forward. I drop the sun visor down. Even my polarized sunglasses are no match for the early morning sun. 

“Are you sure you don’t want your glasses?” I ask, holding up her purple, sparkly sunglasses. 

She shakes her head and sits down in her brother’s spot, slipping on her oversized backpack straps. “I was quiet yesterday, so I earned a house for my desk pet.” She proudly before sighing. “I was really, really good, do you think I can stay with my teacher now? I promise I’ll listen better and not interrupt her while talking.” 

I gripped the steering wheel. I’m beyond fucking pissed, not at her but by how purely this whole situation was handled. A letter on Wednesday announcing she will be moved that upcoming Monday. There wasn’t a phone call from the school, the same school that has left millions of other non-important calls that could have been handled with a shitty copied letter. Nope, this was handled with a cold, black-and-white letter uprooting my kid just as she was finally at peace with her new lot in life. 

We’ve reached the stop sign now. The brake lights of the six cars ahead of me torment me. Their tiny passengers disembarking, ready to start their day. I can only pray that they feel better than my daughter does. 

“Angel baby,” I try to laugh off her worry, “You aren’t being moved because you were bad or talked too much. Just a lot of people were moved because the classes were too big. I’m sure your new teacher will be just as fun as your old one.”

We roll forward. She doesn’t say anything, just simply stares out the window as we creep closer to the little boy donning a bright green crisscross safety patrol belt. He opens the door and wishes us good morning. For the first time in these four short weeks of kindergarten, my daughter freezes instead of rushing out of the car.

I turn to the back seat and give her tiny hand a squeeze. “I love you, baby.”

For the first time in months, she doesn’t correct me, telling me she’s a big girl now. “I love you too, mommy.” And with that, she steps out of the car.  

I watch her readjust her oversized pink backpack. As the safety patrol shuts my door,  wishing me a good day, I overhear my daughter talking to a teacher. 

“My stomach hurts,” she tells the woman. “I think I’m going to get in trouble again today.”

woman in red long sleeve writing on chalk board
Writing

Teaching during the strangest time ever

I entered teaching at probably the strangest time ever. On my first day, I wasn’t standing in front of a classroom full of kids that I had no idea who they were, and they had no idea who I was. Instead, I wore pajama bottoms and a professional-looking shirt and had a steaming cup of coffee next to me as I logged into my computer. 

Everyone said that this would be the hardest thing I have ever done. In reality, starting teaching virtually where I wasn’t genuinely face-to-face with these kids was really easy and probably the more comfortable way of transitioning into this career. 

Now it’s my second year of teaching, and kids are at school for the most part. We have kids that are constantly being quarantined and missing out, but I’m not logging on setting up a Google Meet.  If these kids are truly sick, I want them home recovering, not worrying about school. 

What I do miss from that first year of teaching virtually is if the kids who didn’t want to participate in class turned the cameras off. They weren’t disrupting class. They weren’t being rude or disrespectful or screaming in the hallways or kicking my door. They just didn’t answer when I called on them. And sometimes, I would like to go back to not having those disruptions in class, which allowed those who truly wanted to learn the chance to learn. But there’s a catch. When they’re at home avoiding class, not learning, playing video games, or zoning out binge-watching TV, something is being missed, and it’s not just an education. 

Some students genuinely need their teachers, and it has nothing to do with what’s in a book. Teachers see your student every single day. We may notice something is off with a child before a parent ever does. Schools give kids a chance to learn and grow socially, whereas when you’re at home and have a device stuck in your face, you’re never going to do that. People are braver behind a keyboard when they don’t think anybody can see what they do or experience the hurt they may cause someone with their words. So while I wish I could go back to last year and not have to deal with some of these students who drive me up a wall, I wouldn’t. 

I have seen how much help teachers can give students. I have seen how much guidance teachers can provide parents who are lost and don’t know how to help their child. I have been an advocate and have seen other teachers be advocates for students who need help with learning disabilities that their parents don’t realize that their child may have.

When I worked in news, I turned off my computer and went home. I didn’t think about anything else. The show was over, and there was nothing I could do to fix it. However, you turn off your computer at this job, and things stick with you because sometimes these kids only have their teachers to take care of them, even if they drive their teachers crazy most days.

I read an article the other day that said they expect 20% of the teachers to quit by the end of the school year. I get that. I see how much these people love their job and love their students, but the shit that teachers deal with day-to-day would have most people quit their jobs. Teachers don’t just come to work and teach. Aside from creating their lesson plans participating in parent teacher conferences, they must also complete a variety of continued education courses and district-wide compliance courses. Some of it makes sense, and some of it is complete bullshit. Most teachers walk on a fine line about what they can talk to their students about and what they can’t. I have seen videos of teachers losing their absolute minds and being downright disrespectful to their students to the point where if it happened to my child, I’d be taking the teacher to court. However, at the same time, many parents allow their children to be disrespectful to their teachers, scream at their teacher, argue, and fight, and when a parent hears about it, their very first reaction is to blame the teacher. 

No adult wants to put up with this kind of mental abuse on a day-to-day basis. Many people wouldn’t last a week in this field. They would look at their paycheck and say, “Fuck this. I’m out.” And guess what? A lot are about to do just that. 

I used to joke and say, why do kids get so many days off school. Well, now I know they’re completely burnt out. A large part of the students’ education, crammed into their heads, seems to be solely for a test, not something practical. There are so many standardized tests that these children must pass and, half the time, it’s just reflecting on if the teacher was able to spit out what the district thinks the kids should know in that particular window. There is nothing that focuses on what the teacher has truly taught them or even if the kids are learning and retaining. Some kids are great test-takers while others aren’t, and those test-takers earn the school district a better grade. 

In these two short years, I’ve learned that those days off aren’t just for the kids, and they are there for the adults who have to watch your kids while you go to work and have free time away from children. So while these teachers and administrators love their jobs and want to take care of your kids to make sure that they become well-rounded adults, most don’t have the support from their community. They could be like Palm Beach County and have an entire school board filled with people who have never been inside a classroom making decisions for teachers. 

These are things that I would never have known sitting in a newsroom. These are things that I would never have known as a parent when my daughter enters kindergarten next year. 

Something has to change because the people who take care of your kids when you’re at work will be gone soon. And while I may still be here, six other teachers might be gone. Something has to change because we can’t keep saying that this is the strangest time ever to teach because eventually the strangest time becomes routine, and people don’t won’t put up with this kind of bullshit for long.

anonymous woman demonstrating burning paper sheet with title
Writing

Undone… My mental state, not the sweater song

For the last few months, I have felt as if I’ve come undone. 

I have always been the person who tries to see the good in what happens in life. That they are the reasons why I am the way I am today. But lately, it seems as if the strings of fate have been pulling me into a dark place. I have been lashing out at loved ones or just hiding away. It’s extremely hard to truly disappear, being a mom and teacher means you are always surrounded by people. But inside my head, I have felt alone. 

At first, I have wondered if it was a result of the pain I have been living with. It’s hard to get in a good headspace when everything hurts and no matter what you do the pain is still there. I hoped with my epidural I would start to feel better. I mean physically things have improved. I knew it wasn’t a magic wand to fix everything but I was hoping it would bring me to a better place. It’s still frustrating to know I am physically unable to do things I used to be able to. I watch my daughter, she is hyper-flexible like I am or was, perform an angel kiss with ease. My mom and I used to be able to do these kinds of things together when I was my daughter’s age. But unfortunately, I am unable to even push up into a small cobra stretch without pinching my back and leaving me in pain for a few days. I know it might not seem like much. I should be grateful that I am able to walk. But it’s truly ridiculous that I can’t even stand for a 50-minute class without my lower back spazzing out and my leg feeling like it’s been set on fire.

 I am only thirty-five. 

Thirty-five is not that old. 

So why do I feel like I am running out of time?

Why do I feel like every single day that I don’t spend writing I have wasted a day? But when I do sit down to write and not pay attention to my family, I feel like I have failed as a mother and wife.

Not a single person has told me I have failed as a mom or wife but that’s what my brain is telling me on a daily basis. It’s also telling me to give up writing. It is trying to convince me that nothing I write is worth it.

I can’t tell you how many days I did not open my personal laptop in fear I would delete everything. That the 10,759 words I wrote for book two would just disappear in a dark moment and I would later regret my actions.

When I was younger I would handle my depression with food, more like the lack of food. It was easier to control what didn’t go in my body instead of my emotions. But that doesn’t give me the satisfying feeling anymore. Now that I know what won’t poison me anymore, food is delicious, food brings me happiness. Why would I want to remove what makes me happy? Aside from food, I would also travel. 

I would literally leave wherever I was that was bringing me down and just escape for a little bit. It didn’t solve my issues but usually, it gave me a chance to breathe. 

I can’t do that right now. 

Fucking pandemic and parental responsibilities. 

So now, I am here every day. Working, pushing through the shit that fills my mind, and trying to cope to the best of my abilities. 

About a week ago I didn’t make it. I spent the day crying. I was at work and water was leaking from my eyes. That’s the best way to describe it because I wasn’t sobbing. Just the tears kept coming no matter how hard I tried. For the most part, my students didn’t really pay attention. A few caught it. Others noticed my mood was very different but for the most part, 

There have been outside things that haven’t helped my depression. Students don’t always understand or remember that teachers are human. How they talk to us matters. How they treat each other matters. It’s mentally exhausting to try and better 100 pre/young teens that most don’t want bettering themselves. I have spent many days trying to explain to my female students that they don’t need to rip each other apart, the world will do that to them soon enough. But they don’t listen, they just spit vile words at each other. 

It makes me sad. It makes pushing all my darkness aside to not give in to the feeling of giving up even harder. 

I don’t want this for my daughter. I hope by the time she is this age the mentality will have changed. 

That is probably one of the biggest reasons I won’t ever give into the darkness. Middle school is hard enough.  I don’t want my daughter to go through those years of her life alone, without having someone to relate to or talk to about all the shit she is dealing with.

I could blame a lot of my darkness on just that. Middle school toxicity. But even though I am sitting in a building surrounded by those who are going through their own mental shit, I can’t. I am an adult. They are children. Their problems are not my problems once they walk out of my classroom door. I know that I offer them as much help as possible. If they take it, that’s up to them. 

Now I must take care of myself. I have to be in the best mindset for my family, for my students but most of all for myself.

Compared to where I was a few weeks ago I feel better. I don’t feel like swallowing a bottle of pills to make myself permanently disappear. Now I just want to go to Key West for a few days to get my head straight. I can open my writing and not want to delete every word I read. My skin is no longer crawling every moment I walk into my classroom. So I call this all a win. I may not be fully better, but I’m getting there.