Sunday, December 18, 2016

All in Good Time

I love doing life with this guy. He makes me smile!
Patience isn't always a virtue I possess. That being said, Jesse has taught me that sometimes it is best to let people figure things out in their own time. Deep down I knew this, but times it is hard to sit back and let things happen.

I have always loved Jesse. I honestly think the first time I talked to him on the phone I knew there was something special there. It would be three months before we ever met in person, but I already knew I loved him. It didn't take me seeing him in real life to figure that out. The fact that he had a few pounds extra around his middle didn't phase me when it came to my love for him.

We both love food. For both of us a large part of our upbringing was centered around food, family and love. Jesse has always loved food, and loved it in large portions. How could he not? His mom loved to cook and bake, and she was AMAZING at it. I remember when we were dating and I visited him in Texas I kept liking one thing more than the other.

BUT, while we both loved food, over the years I grew to know how important staying healthy and exercising was to my overall well-being. Unless it was a holiday or something I tried to watch my portions and exercise regularly. On the other hand, Jesse does not like to exercise and usually had the theory, "Go big or go home," when it came to food.

Over our 10 + years of dating and marriage, the topic of Jesse's weight has come up on multiple occasions, and I know it was at times a source of tension. While I knew the decision to live a healthier lifestyle had to be on his own time, at times I was impatient. I wasn't sure if I was suppose to encourage him or leave it alone. I always prayed he knew I encouraged him not because I want a husband with a 6-pack, but because I wanted to inspire him to think about his quality of life in the years down the road.

The Decision
Needless to say, I was shocked when after Thanksgiving he took the plunge and joined Weight Watchers. I have a guess, but I'm not entirely sure what spurred that decision to be made. I wasn't going to complain! Needless to say I have been blown away by Jesse's dedication to the program. He has been diligent with entering all of his points, and he is doing an amazing job. I'm so happy for him, and SO PROUD to say that he has lost 18 pounds since Thanksgiving! Portion control...portion control...portion control...

I guess I haven't been all gushy about this at home or overwhelmed him with high-fives or gabbed about it endlessly for fear of jinxing it, but I wrote this blog so he knows that I'm bursting inside with pride, with joy and so much more! There are times it is rough for him. For instance, last week someone at work had a birthday, and he said no to a piece of cake because just one piece of cake was 23 Weight Watchers points. When he told me he turned that down I did a happy dance inside.

There are so many reasons I'm proud he is my husband and father to our children. If it is all possible, I'm now more proud of him than ever for choosing to take charge of his health. I'm proud of him because in him choosing this journey it has me looking at my eating habits as well and making appropriate changes. I'm proud because I know this is NOT easy for him.

Better Together
Jesse's change to improve his health has spread into other areas of life as well which are also having a positive impact on me. He started to do more goal setting and scheduling with things both in his personal and work life. Knowing that I need to make a change both at home and with my It Works business as well I'm ready to get 2017 off to a great start. Check back for a future blog on that topic as well!

It is crazy to say, but I honestly think that with these changes in our lives it is bringing us closer together. I think we are communicating better than ever, Not that we were ever down in the dumps or gave each other the silent treatment, but it seems like our overall moods have improved as well. There have been more laughs, more stories shared, more special moments, etc. I thank God for this, and so much more, every day.

Simply put...I'm excited. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

In One Fell Swoop

The counselor gently asks her, "Do you think you have a good relationship with your parents?"
The young girl sheepishly looks at her mom and quietly answers, "No, not really."

And in one fell swoop, the pieces of this mom's heart come tumbling do her tears.

The Unexpected Journey
When one dreams about being a parent, you know there will be challenges along the way. One would be naive if you thought parenthood would be a walk in the park. You throw out various scenarios to prep yourself, and in your mind you think, "I got this. WE got this." I mean, our parents survived, so we should be able to, correct? I always thought that if I could be just HALF the mom that my mom was to me, I'd be doing OK.

But then the unexpected happens. This young girl, my own daughter, who has always loved school comes home on the first day this fall in tears. Over the next few weeks and months those tears turn into emotional and physical outbursts of varying degree. She holds it in everywhere BUT at home. The thought of someone seeing her "exposed" and "real" terrifies her. The result is that home is her safe place to let her explosion of feelings emerge. The explosions leave remnants everywhere, whether emotional or physical in nature. Some days are good, but some days there are multiple episodes. Then the episodes end by her "crashing." In tears this young girl expresses her fear of not knowing where this behavior was coming from or why it was happening. Seeing my daughter at her weakest moments of despair has brought me to tears on multiple occasions.

We've often used the term "strong-willed" to describe her, and I don't think that has changed. In the beginning of this escalated behavior we reacted to this behavior with consequences and reactions that matched the behavior. Then the realization that this is more than a strong-willed child acting out becomes very apparent. A professional diagnosis is given and this mom (and dad) starts to see things in a new and very unexpected way. Our daughter is struggling internally with anxiety, anger, and fear. A mom watching her daughter try to cope with some mental health issues was not in the game plan for parenting. 

So, now each day brings the wonder of how it will unfold. Will there be a meltdown over a ponytail that doesn't look "just right?" Will our daughter writhe on the floor in anguish over which outfit to pick? Will there be shouts of frustration over a letter or number not being made perfectly? What if out of 10 assignments she gets only one question wrong, will that result in a night of fretting? Will every little look from her sister send her into a fit? What if our plans have to change....what reaction will there be? What if her candy cane breaks again? What if she gets redirected at school? What if a classmate says something she takes out of context? What if....what if....I feel like I'm walking on eggshells in my home. I have quickly realized that what is a molehill to me is in reality her MOUNTAIN. It is so...very....tiring. 

Bit by bit this mom's heart and inner strength starts to get chipped away. I try to hold strong. A mother's love continues through it all, even when my patience is holding on by the thinnest thread...when my mind can think of nothing else but how to help. It has become all-consuming.

The decision to get some help was made. So here we sat in a cozy office, feeling safe. I slowly felt myself coming unhinged listening to our daughter's thoughts. When the simple question mentioned above resulted in that answer, in one fell swoop this mom's heart most definitely caved in. Crushed. Smashed to smithereens.

At first I thought I was overreacting. Did she really know what she had been asked? Was she being serious with her answer? Moms know their children, their mannerisms, facial expressions, voice inflections, etc. and this was a time that I knew she was sincere. There have been many hurtful things said during these episodes, but this by far took the cake because it hit at the very core of parenting.

Suddenly flashbacks came rushing in, considering how reactions and things perceived all this time quite possibly looked to this young girl. When our impatience and frustration of not knowing what was happening could not be hidden in our voices. Did she think she wasn't loved? A parent's worst fear. I have feared this since the beginning, but now it has exploded ten-fold. These days I think about very little besides this.

The Comfort
There is help. I'm so very grateful we have found someone I trust wholeheartedly to walk us through this unexpected journey. I know it won't be easy, but we are looking forward to finding some trigger points and how we can help her cope.

Our faith....our hope...our comfort is in Him. What a comfort that my life and the life of my daughter was known since the beginning of time. That God knew that the best mom for this young girl would be the very one that stands by her now, loving her unconditionally. Loving her through the tantrums and fears, the writhing and foot stomping. Loving her through the anxious and fearful moments. Loving her and sharing with her that she has been forgiven.

What a comfort for this young girl that even though she worries about making sure things are "just right" with her world right now, that there is one who has made everything right. That while she may struggle for months, maybe years, and possibly a lifetime with some semblance of anxiety, her comfort and assurance comes from our Lord, the promise of salvation and the knowledge that our eternal home will have no fear.

So this mom starts on an unexpected journey. We will build up those pieces that have crumbled down. Step by step. Piece by piece. Hug by hug.

Simply daughter, you are loved.

I was contemplating various titles for this blog while I picked up some toys.  Jesse had constructed a rather tall Lego tower with the girls.
At the exact moment when "In One Fell Swoop" came into my mind, this tower came crashing down on one fell swoop.