And, She Was Set Free

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       It is safe to say that I had a tumultuous past year and what not. It has caused me to wall myself up, become a little more recluse, and definitely more outspoken. Those all sound like bad things, but I do not necessarily think so. It has made me learn to depend on myself a lot more and to be a stronger person. Maybe some think I have pushed away but I just want to be independent. It has also taught me the value of my relationships with my friends and family. Needless to say, this past year has been an eye opener.

I have found that I need to be happy. No more putting everyone else in front of me. I have to take care of me before I can take care of anyone else. –But none of that will happen unless I speak up…some times YELL to be heard! After all, the way we treat ourselves bounces off of those around us and I do not want my loved ones to feel the way that I some times feel. Nor do I want them to bare the brunt of my negative behavior. This was an a-ha moment, but a constant challenge that I am learning to practice daily.

I have learned how to love differently and that the extent of my love is unreal. I have gained a new perspective for love and in being able to love. It has taken my whole appreciation to a new level and has heightened it. Love absolutely feels more amazing now when I connect with my relationships. I cannot help but to look at my loved ones faces and think, “damn, I just love ’em!” –and truly feel every word.

One of the best things I gained is the value of life. We live it, but most of us do not really LIVE it. We do what needs to be done, but do we bother to understand that we cannot get back that moment our child asked us to read them a story while we were cleaning up? Some things can wait. Life passes by too quickly. I want to savor all that I can and try to remember all of the little things. All too soon my little ones will be grown men and I do not want to look back and feel I could have done more. I want to know I did all that I could do and beyond. No regrets.

In a sense I found qualities in myself I would have never thought that I possessed. I found that I need to strengthen areas, destroy other ways, and evolve. No matter my faults and insecurities, I am worth it all. I will be damned to settle for less.

I have seen the lowest of lows in myself and suffered tremendous heartache. A heartache I wish on no one and one that will never be mended. A permanent hole. Yes, those do exist. Time does not do any thing. At least at this point, it has not for me. To me, it feels like time is taunting me. i hope people are right and that with time it eventually gets easier.  All I know is that I discovered my strength even when I thought I had none because of this tragedy. I seen for myself that I am tougher, more resilient, and one hell of a woman.

I have dived head first into a fire and burned for it, but it was in that fire I was forged, and out of that fire a phoenix was born…I found me.

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Small Helping of Gratitude

I could easily be one of those people that over looks the effort my loved one gives to me. Thank goodness, I am not. Every day I am thankful my husband takes the time to play with the boys, or to help me around the house. Through other social networks, I have noticed that I am lucky to have such a wonderful spouse. It seems he is a rare type of father and husband.

When I first started dating my husband his character was very important. I paid attention to the details. How did he treat his mother? How was he with kids? What was his work ethic like? I do not know why I did this at such a young age, but I am so happy I did. I picked a winner. If ever I have a daughter I most certainly will teach her to do the same.

Yet, I still wonder, how can some people take for granted the small things? I know some have O.C.D. and it can greatly interfere with relationships. I was very picky before about a lot of things. After watching the demise of some relationships close to me I learned…it does not matter. If I needed some thing to be cleaned so what if it was not done my way. So what. It was done. Some times I had to walk away while he cleaned some thing so that it would not irk me, but eventually it did not bother me at all.

I learned: Accept the help and be grateful.

Gratitude! What a word. It holds so much meaning and too many are not familiar with the word. Which leads me to believe this is the sole reason why they take people for granted. They were not taught the simplicity of gratitude. Some thing I will take great strides to instill in my children: be grateful. Even the smallest things count.

My husband does not have to be late for work and take the extra five minutes to play with my sons, but he does. Such a small thing to play for five minutes means the world to my son. Who knows, maybe it creates a memory they will have forever. Either way, I am one lucky and grateful lady.

The Family Bond that Feeds

While growing up, my mom taught us kids many things. Her motto was “never depend on any one for any thing.” Basically, do it yourself. If you do not know how, learn how. She taught me to sew, to quilt, do my own laundry, iron, clean, and on occasion I would learn to do some handy man work. I was surprised at the many people I have come across that never learned to iron, or to even cook basic things. To be honest, I hated when she made me cook. I could not stand the sight of raw meat. I mean come on! Hamburger meat looks like a bunch of maggots mushed together. The smell of the flesh, just yuck! Do not get me started on the slimy feel of it all. –But I did it any ways.

For the longest time I did not eat meat or poultry. It really turned my stomach at the thought of it. Eventually, I met my husband at the ripe young age of sixteen. He is Hispanic just as I am–partly. They loved meat. If you do not eat at a Hispanic event it is like a major sin. Needless to say, I ended up eating meat again. I believe what changed my perspective on cooking in general was watching his mother cook. I saw that the family gathered around her food. I saw the love it brought to the house. I saw the importance of her role as the provider of such wonderful meals. I wanted to have that for my family one day. Not that my mother did not cook, she did. It just took me watching an outsider to teach me this different aspect on cooking.

Now, I cook a lot and I love it! I absolutely adore making food especially from as close to scratch as possible. I get major joy from hearing it was delicious and an even greater pleasure when my picky little eaters love it, too. Whomever said, “the way to a person’s heart is through the stomach” was not lying. I see the way it helps keep my family together around the table. Even some of my fondest memories from growing up are of my family eating together. It makes perfect sense.

I cannot wait until my three boys are old enough and not so picky to enjoy most of my food creations. I am sure they will eat me out of a house and a home, but I hope they understand I do the things I do as a mom, as a wife, with love and intentions to keep our family bond closely knit. After all, as I have said I learned meals do feed the heart and soul of a family.

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The Anti-Peggy Bundy

Let me start off with this– I know my chosen path in life is not what some would deem desirable, but I’ve always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. It may not be glamorous, a monetary rewarding job, or the easiest at times, but it’s the path I’ve chosen to take.  I saw the impact my mom had staying home with us kids (five of us). I liked the interaction we had with her compared to some of the other kids I grew up around. I’m lucky that after graduating college, I was able to have kids and stay home. I understand there aren’t many that have the luxury. I would hope that my blog helps many see that staying home isn’t easy. We don’t just sit around like Peggy Bundy. There are many things to do and when there is “down time” it is extremely appreciated.

I became a mom at an older age than most of my friends. I grew up in Detroit and it is a common thing for there to be younger mothers than myself. I was aged 26 when I had my first son, and boy I did NOT know what to expect. The idea of becoming a mother was wonderful and exciting. No one informed me of pregnancy, child birth, or a great many things that motherhood contained but I was ready. I did a lot of reading to educated myself on subjects, but what is literature compared to the actual experiences of another woman? I admit I was kind of disappointed that certain things were not explained but I vowed to myself if ever i have my own daughter, I will inform her. The one thing that I feel will be important to explain are the major changes your body goes through. Not every one bounces back to “normal” sizes after and not many are stretch mark free. It is possible to lose the baby weight and it may take longer than usual, but it is a discouraging and difficult path when you are unaware of the trials of motherhood and have a lack of supportive network around you. I feel that once you are able to accept this major change with yourself than every thing that follows after is minor.

It amazed me with how much energy it takes from you. Motherhood uses every bit of energy you have. The physical, the mental, the emotional…every thing! It truly is a 24/7 “job” and you can never put it down. I would have never thought that I could worry so much about one human being, and now I have three beings to worry about…but it is definitely worth it when all of the hard work as a mom pays off. I do think it gets easier with each child. You do learn from previous experience. You also have what I like to call a “life phase change” in friends. (These are the new friends you make, or renew because they are at the same phase in life you are. Good-bye party friends, single friends–well, most any ways). You have their advice and if you’re lucky, some of them have older kids to alert you of what’s next. I am absolutely grateful to the other parents that confirm their child is just as rambunctious, sneaky, or silly. I’m not losing my mind after the laughs another mother has to share. And yes, it is okay to want to scream some times, or need to get away.

If some one would have told me my college days were not the sleep-deprived, physically, mentally challenged days of my life I would have given them the dirtiest look ever! They would be right. I cannot believe how drained I am. I do have toddlers and a newborn, but still. I’m young (in my opinion) and I should have the energy to keep up. Not so! I workout a lot for my health, my sanity, and my overall well-being. It is not enough. Some days I need to sneak a nap. Thankfully, my husband is the hands-on father and spouse. He helps a great lot when he is home. Even at that, there is so much to do some times. Some days are neater than others. Some days are calm, the kids are in good moods, the baby sleeps well and meals are a snap. Then there are those days when the kids are chaotic, bouncing off of the walls, and the baby will not leave my arms for any thing and I feel like I will never get them fed. I even forget to eat some times. Aye! Those days, my night cap is usually wine and a movie.  A great thing I encourage other moms to indulge. If that is not your forte then find an outlet, we all need one. I often wonder what the mom in Family Circus might have done once the kids were asleep.

I do not want to sound like a nut cracker when it comes to motherhood. There are many wonderful things to cherish in parenting. I would keep having babies if I could just to repeat the first moment I get to see my baby. I am on my third child and I thoroughly enjoy having a baby MUCH more than before. The first child was a guessing game and chalked full of surprises. The second child was hoping he was not a colic baby like my first. He was easy and is very passive. Now, my current youngest is laid-back and I just enjoy every minute even the crying! I know what to expect, I no longer worry about colic because I have been through it, and I have a stable support system around me. Plenty of mother friends, ample female family members, and most importantly, a husband that is present in every way. What more could I ask for?

~Valerie