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A Letter to My Daughter About Christmas Stress

As prime Christmas stress-time seems to be approaching, I am reminding myself of the advice I would share with my daughter when she is an adult. It’s helpful writing this out so that it will help me get through it, just as it’s important to share these words with her one day.

Dear Charlotte,

Christmas is a very magical time of year! You get to sing Christmas carols, eat yummy foods, bake Christmas cookies, and share this magical time with your family. But, there are also hard times you have to go through this time of year. Sad things can happen, or we may not be able to celebrate with someone in the family because they are no longer with us, or someone in the family may make you feel sad by something they say to you.

My mom always tells me that she wishes her wealth of knowledge that comes from going through life can just be passed along instantly to her children because it would make those hard and sad times easier to get through. With all my heart, I wish those exact same things from me to you…but you still have your own life to experience these things, so I have my own words of wisdom to pass along to you.

When you have your own family, you will be pulled in many different directions on what to do around Christmastime. Since you spent your childhood with Mommy and Daddy’s families, now that you are an adult you will start spending Christmastime with your children, your significant other’s family, and your own family…which will seem like a lot! Of course your dad and I hope to see you lots around the holidays, but you simply need to coordinate what is comfortable for your family. Don’t do too much.

It is harder to get through this time of year if sad things weigh you down, so you need to focus on what makes you happy. Right now, you make me happy. You are such a happy, healthy, beautiful little girl! Watching you laugh at Daddy when he puts on a Santa hat is the moment I want to live in this holiday season; leaving all past year stresses and sadness behind.

I wish that for many years we have wonderful Christmastimes together…full of laughter, baking cookies, sharing traditions, and so much more. 

I love you very much,
Mommy

Originally published on Her View From Home

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Yes, Moms – We Can Do What We Love

Children are raised to believe they can grow up and do anything. I was raised believing this, and I plan on raising my own children with the same mentality. This is my story, and how I’m able to say that “I do something I love.”

When I was younger I loved writing, drawing, and doing crafts; anything that brought out the creative side in me. Most of my friends and family would have guessed that I’d grow up to be a writer. I knew deep down that I wanted to grow up and do something that I love…something that I would enjoy doing every day, but when I graduated high school I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. 

I struggled a bit in college and changed my degree a few times, but I ended up with a degree in health and fitness. I look back, and it’s what I enjoyed doing throughout college: taking gym classes and going to the gym. My mentality was, “If I enjoy working out, why not do it every day for my job?”

Truth is after I graduated, I eventually grew out of it. So I was on the search for a career. Everything that was ingrained in me as “grow up and do what you love” was taken over by:

  1. Find a job; even though it’s not that easy to find a job.
  2. Make money; because I have bills to pay.
  3. Receive benefits; because I’m not on my parent’s health insurance anymore.

I finally landed an office job and was making a career for myself. It was professional, it was challenging, and it was rewarding; but it was stressful! I got to a point where the stress outweighed the rewards and it made me realize I wasn’t doing something that I enjoyed every day. I wasn’t doing something I loved.

I left my last office job when my husband and I were ready to start trying for our first child. I was a stay-at-home-wannabe-mom trying to find my next job placement. Deep down I was hoping that something would just happen for me.

I started working part time at a doggy daycare, which was easy and low stress. I continued working there through my pregnancy. After my maternity leave, I cut back my hours to only work weekends so I can stay home with my daughter.

Wow, I’m able to stay home with my daughter!

Staying home with my daughter gave me a whole new outlook on life, and that’s when I started writing again. Why did I stop writing for all those years? I love writing, and it reignites a passion inside of me that I haven’t seen in a long time. This is what I love. This is what I want to do.

The best part is I can stay home with my daughter and write. After I started a blog for my writing and met so many other moms who do the same thing it gave me hope that this is something I can do! I love it so much, why not?

Looking back at my high school graduation, it should have been clear to me what I wanted to do. I eventually figured it out; it just took going through college and having a few stressful jobs to help me find it. I am sure my daughter will go through the same type of realization on her own, but I will be her number one cheerleader for whatever she decides to do.

Originally published on Her View From Home

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How My Counselor Made Me Happy Again

I did it. I signed up to see a counselor.

It’s been well over 8 years since I last met with a counselor: I was in college with bouts of depression and eating disorders. With counseling available through my university, it was an opportunity to speak with someone about my troubles and for free. I was also taking anti-depressants because, to be honest, it was what my regular physician prescribed me for the depression.

The last semester of college, I met my husband. He made me so happy and the start of our relationship was a whirlwind of getting to know each other, fun times, and lots of lovey-dovey feelings. I almost immediately stopped seeing my counselor and gradually discontinued taking my anti-depressants. Life was good!

Five years later we got married, and now we own a home and have a 1 year old daughter. Outward appearances would suggest that “life is (still) good.” I guess it’s not that easy.

My tendencies towards depression are still there. While I can confidently say I am far away from my college eating disorders, I can’t hide the fact that lately I’ve felt so sick to my stomach that I simply don’t eat. What is happening to me?

I don’t want to feel depressed, I need to get my appetite back, and I want to scream out loud that “Life is good!” 

So, realizing that I can’t do it on my own is the first step.

The second step is finding out where to call and who do I see for counseling? I wish I could just walk through campus and make an appointment for the first available slot, but I am not a student anymore. Now I am a wife and mother.

Ugh, reality hits. I’m not doing this just for me anymore: I’m doing this for my marriage and for my daughter. That, right there, is my motivation.

I could have (and should have) made the call I did today a lot sooner. I started by reaching out to my medical insurance provider, and was directed to EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Thankfully this is included in my husband’s work benefits, and after speaking with someone, I found out that I get so many free counseling sessions a year. Deep down I was worried about money, so making this call was a blessing.

EAP gave me a list of local counselors that participate in the program, so my next to-do was call names on the list to find my counselor. I had to make sure that the counselor also accepted my insurance because after my free sessions are up, I need my insurance coverage to help where it can if I need to continue seeing the counselor.

Luckily, the first name on the list was closest to my home and seemed like a good fit. So, I was able to make my first appointment with them. Third step complete.

Fourth step is preparing myself for what comes with counseling. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of work. I need to remind myself that being open to change and listening to what the counselor says is important. I’m not going to magically come out of my depression just by going, I have to take the time to work on myself.

One of the few things my college counselor said that stuck with me was, “You seem to care a lot about yourself because you’re here right now seeking help, and that is very important.” 

Who knows, maybe I’ll hear this same line from my new counselor because it’s something they all say, but it’s something I need to hear. I need to believe that I care about myself enough to take the time to work on me. In the end, it will benefit my marriage and my child.

Even though I’ve already done a few steps, it’s really just beginning. I’m scared, but I’m happy that I realized I can’t get through this on my own.

Originally published on Her View From Home

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I’m Not OK Today

After a long day at work, my husband bursts through the front door loudly singing an upbeat song which I’m sure he heard on the radio during his drive home. Heck, I heard him singing all the way up the front steps, he doesn’t even need to announce, “Honey, I’m home!”

He is the perfect picture of a happy guy coming home to his girls.

I, on the other hand, had on my grungy clothes, messy hair pulled back, no makeup, fussy baby on my hip (who didn’t take an afternoon nap), a barking dog, two cats howling at me for dinner, and the tune of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse going through my mind over and over and over again.

I think this is the perfect picture of a SAHM.

I quickly hand over the baby and corral the animals to their feeding places so a little peace and quiet can be enjoyed…except that my husband keeps loudly singing.  I give him a glance, so he asks, “Are you OK?”

I wish I could go through the list of everything I didn’t get done around the house today, I still need to fold laundry, cook dinner, feed the baby, take a shower, and enjoy just a little peace and quiet.  Even though I haven’t talked full sentences all day, my mind is mush, so all I can mutter is, “I’m not OK today.”

My vision for the day did not go as planned.  The unexpected happened, and it continued throughout the day.  I was lucky enough to stay in a state of mind to not beat myself up about it, but now that my husband is home I start to feel unaccomplished, messy, and I mentally start to beat myself up.  How do I explain this to him?

As I’m fumbling through the kitchen to put something together for dinner, he sets the baby up in her highchair and feeds her dinner.  OK, that’s one thing that’s no longer on my to-do list.  After we eat, he helps me fold the laundry and put the clothes away, so another thing I no longer need to do.  He then offers to put the baby to bed so I can take a shower. I sigh…there’s my peace and quiet!

At the end of the night, he was the one who stepped up and helped me get past my difficult day. He didn’t come home expecting a clean house, he came home to be with his girls.  I wish I could go back to his arrival home and jump into his arms, give him a big kiss and start singing with him!  It’s a great reminder: some days he will need me to be the loud singer to lift his spirits.

The perfect picture of a SAHM includes someone special to be there and understand when your day doesn’t go OK.  I didn’t have to explain why my day did not go as planned, or what I wasn’t able to get done…all I had to say was, “I’m not OK today.”

Originally published on Her View From Home