Before I even had kids, I know I was never going to fit into the cookie-cutter, Hallmark greeting card, Pampers commercial type mom. It just didn’t seem to fit who I was, or who I wanted to be. Unfortunately, the pressure of being the “best” mom can get to you, and you find yourself trying to be all of these things you aren’t, because if you don’t, people judge. And they judge a lot. Think about the meanest, judgiest girl in highschool- the one that made fun of you if you wore your hair in a ponytail twice in a week– we’re talking Regina George level asshattery here. Now give her a baby.
It’s just as bad as you’re imagining. Maybe worse.
It didn’t last long for me to stop trying to force myself into a mold I’d never fit into (much like my skinny jeans from before I had kids). That’s not to say it was easy. It’s tough to give up on everything everyone wants you to be, to know that from that point on, you’re going to have people disagreeing and shitting on every single decision you make because it doesn’t line up with theirs- but it comes down to happiness. Yours and your kids.
My happiness has always started with allowing myself to be myself. As easy as that sounds, I think we all know it isn’t. Especially since who I truly feel like is authentically me is way out there.
I’m loud. I overshare because I don’t really believe in TMI. If a kid is being an asshole, I call them on it. I don’t censor myself in front of my own kids because I don’t think curse words are that fucking serious. I don’t sugar coat anything. All of those things I can generally keep under wraps if I’m in a PTA type situation (of which I still refuse to join out of principal. YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE, COPPERS!) because I have learned to read my audience over the years- but my personality and my brain aren’t the only things that make me up. I also decorate my outside the way I see fit.
I love having crazy ass hair, I collect tattoos like people collect shells at the beach. I wear whatever the fuck I want, whenever I want, which GASP sometimes includes a bra showing. Or a shoulder. Or enough thigh to where I get “the look” (doesn’t matter than I’m 90% legs)- and if you’ve ever not dressed for the age older folks think you should dress for, you know the look. The judgy one. The one that says “what is wrong with her?” The one that says “I feel sorry for her kids.” The one that ultimately boils down to judging what kind of parent you are simply by how you look. They don’t even get to know your personality before making the call that you must be a trashcan of a parent.
Yes, I knew this would happen. I know I don’t look like a mom “should” according to some people, and I thought I was prepared for it, because once I adorned myself how I saw fit and became comfortable in my skin enough to dress the way I wanted and feel free, I accepted it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. As prepared as you think you are, sometimes those looks can still sting. People don’t give chances anymore, it seems. It’s all knee-jerk reactions and assumptions. That’s when this little voice pops up in the back of my head whispering that maybe I should consider my kids more in how I look. Maybe I should think about how people might treat them because they have the “weird” mom. At this moment, I stop, and smack myself in the face.
If I were to fold based on other people’s pre-conceived notions they have of the kind of person/parent I am based upon how I look, what would that be teaching my kids? I want my kids to always march to the beat of their own drum. To love what they want to fucking love. To enjoy whatever the hell they want, no matter of people tell them it’s not “right”. I want them to be confident in their choices, to explore life, to never let someone else ruin how THEY feel in their own skin- and if I did that, I’d ruin that for them.
So I’m gonna keep fucking being weird. I’m keeping my potty mouth, I’m recoloring my hair, I’m finishing my sleeve, and I’m telling my kids that I do it because I want to, it makes ME happy, and that is what matters.
This time of year is the hardest, I think, for parents. Not only are you still trying to get back into the swing of the back to school routine, but you’re also having to gear up for 3 months of holidays barreling at you like a freight train.
Halloween costumes, Thanksgiving prep, Christmas lists are all suddenly in play, meanwhile, a barrage of pamphlets and forms are coming home from school. Fundraisers, PTA meetings, back to school nights, homework guides, clubs and after school activities, picture days, and a whole slew of other things that you honestly weren’t prepared for when you already have so much on your plate at all times.
Overwhelmed is an understatement.
You want to let your kid do all the things they want, because… well, as a parent it feels like your job to let them have a childhood, explore their interests– even if it means paying a stupid amount of money only to have them fucking hate it and drop out after you’ve sold a kidney on the black market to fund the season. You want to give them experiences, fun and educational. You want them to have “the childhood you didn’t”- even if yours was great, you ALWAYS want theirs to be better. It’s natural.
And then come the responsibilities. The obligations. The bullshit adulting throws at you that you can’t avoid. Work, bills, house maintenance, cooking, grocery shopping, other random errands, deadlines. By the time you get done doing everything you HAVE to do to keep your kids fed with a roof over their head, there’s not a lot of time for the extra-curriculars, and you find yourself wearing incredibly thin. You’re tired. You’re irritable. And if all of that weren’t enough, in creeps the guilt. You’re not spending enough time with the kids, they aren’t doing enough after school, their childhood is being wasted- and YOU? You haven’t gone out in forever. “Me time” barely exists, and when you do take it, even though you know damn well you deserve it, something else gets pushed farther behind. Sleep is limited, sleeping in is non-existent, and every now and then you wonder- who the hell are you? Are you being a good parent? Are your kids going to grow up to resent you and their childhood?
All of these things lead to dark unhappiness- and I’ve learned a lot lately about what being “happy” really is, and it’s not always striving to be a “good” parent. I’ve been so busy trying to do everything for everyone lately, while also dealing with my own shit, that I sent myself into a tailspin I couldn’t see happening until I’d smacked face first into the ground. And the harder I tried to push, the more burned out and pained and stressed I got, the more miserable everyone was. It was a domino effect I’m still learning to accept happens even eleven years into being a mom.
Being a good parent, a good mom, a good dad, doesn’t start with giving everyone everything they want all the time. It starts with you, taking care of yourself, making sure you’re healthy, and happy. You can’t really take care of anyone else the way you want to if you aren’t taking care of yourself first. Remember that.
In my mind, I’d hoped that the vacation I had just returned on would be enough to make me feel better than what I’ve been feeling for the past year. I’d hoped it would relax, and reinvigorate me. That it would be exactly what I needed to make me feel “normal” again. I would come back, and feel like myself again, finally. and be able to jump right back in to telling you funny stories about my life, and my kids.
It was a nice thought. A dream. But that isn’t what happened.
Vacation was amazing. Spending time with friends and family was awesome. It was relaxing, and fun. It got me out of the house and away from the stresses of everyday life, which is something I desperately needed, but it also showed me that I’m not well, and that is incredibly hard to admit.
This wasn’t something I was quick to realize. In fact, I’ve been denying it for years. To me, my pain was always just pain. It presented itself, I dealt with it, and I pushed on. I somehow managed to do this for nearly seven years without breaking, and when the cracks started to form, I ignored them. I turtled. I pushed everyone away, I stopped reaching out, stopped trying to make new friends. Without even realizing it, I isolated myself. I guess I thought if I kept my problems to myself, they didn’t exist, and for a long time, it worked. I didn’t think I needed anyone, so it didn’t matter that I didn’t have anyone to talk to. What was there to talk about? I was managing on my own, I didn’t need to burden anyone else with my pain.
Making friends wasn’t on purpose. It’s not that I actively avoided doing so, I just stopped thinking about it after not having any for so long. Having friends who cared again made me realize that the pain had shut that part of my brain off for a long time. It took it away. It took a lot of things away, but I never realized just how much.
I didn’t know that I wasn’t just feeling pain, it was all I was feeling. I felt nothing beyond that. It creeped in and while I was busy “handling” it, took away everything else.
The moment I realized it, was the hour my pain was gone. A new procedure I underwent upon returning from vacation. As soon as the needles touched my spine, I felt a difference. I hadn’t NOT felt pain for the better part of a decade, and to feel it lift off of me felt like I could actually breathe again. I didn’t know I wasn’t breathing. I didn’t know how overwhelming and all-consuming my pain had become. I felt happiness for the first time in a long time, REAL, pure happiness, without something nagging in the background.
After it was done, I sat in my car and cried. I was so overwhelmed by just feeling…. like me. The one I didn’t know was still in there. But the procedure was temporary (which I knew– without getting too far into it, it is a longer process than just one appointment), and when the pain came flooding back, it floored me. It hadn’t been gone that long, but it allowed my brain to relax for the first time in years. I didn’t know until it was gone just how much pain I’d been enduring all this time. I didn’t know just how strong I’d been. And I didn’t know that it was ridiculous of me to expect myself to carry that all on my own.
You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. You have no idea how much your body handles on a regular basis, especially if you are chronically ill or in pain. But never trick yourself into believing that you have to handle it all by yourself. Never let it convince you that you are a burden. Let people in. Lean on them. Ask for help if you need it. Talk. I know they might not ever be able to understand. It’s possible they can’t even come close- but let them be there. They make it a little more tolerable.
I’m not gonna lie, y’all- I’m feeling a little guilty. ALL week I promised I’d write you more content this week, and then my health took a downswing. I spent one day in bed with a migraine, and once I recovered from that, my neck went out (yes, again).
As much as we have things we want to do, sometimes our health has to take priority- and sometimes when we don’t give it the priority it deserves, it TAKES the priority from us. That is unfortunately what has happened here, and while I know you all understand, you’ve followed my journey for years, you have read about what I’m going through– I still feel bad for not giving you the content you deserve as readers.
Unfortunately, my neck going out once again coincides with the beginning of my vacation- which is quite possibly the WORST timing ever. This means that not only can I not sit down and focus on writing a funny, or story-based blog for you, but that I now have to embark on what is supposed to be a really fun time with friends & family on a 5-day cruise in some of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I’m stressed.
Either way, I have people counting on me, the money is paid, and I have to go. I WANT to go, I’d just love it to be on better terms- and while I will yet again be neglecting this website (I am so sorry) I want to tell you, once again, where else to find me, as I will be posting & attempting to live stream while at sea/in port.
If you’d like to follow along my adventures (and I hope you do) you can find me here:
Holdin’ Holden on Twitch (for live streams)
and of course, Holdin’ Holden on Facebook
I’ll miss y’all, and I’ll be back on the 6th- hopefully feeling much better in a multitude of ways. Thanks again for hanging in with me through this rough period.
“Thomas married you so he must love you.”
I was just joking around with a friend, and it came out. I’d never thought it before. Never realized it. It hadn’t once crossed my mind, but it must have been festering back there for longer than I know. But it’s the truth, the real truth. When I married my husband, I wasn’t in pain. I was just me.
In my mind, I thought I was still just me- until that came tumbling out of my mouth. I’m not the same. I can’t be the same. Chronic pain doesn’t allow me to be.
I don’t get to just go and do whatever I want anymore. I have to think about if it’s going to hurt me. I can’t even allow myself doze off on the couch or I could hurt myself. Pain gets considered before everything else. What I wear, what I do, how I sit, how much I can walk. Literally everything.
Pain effects my moods, and my emotions. Some days so much that I don’t even recognize the person I am anymore. My temper is short, or I’m overly emotional because the pain gets so overwhelming that I can’t mentally handle it.
Explaining chronic pain is confusing. Experiencing it can be even more confusing. It’s never the same from one day to the next. Sometimes it shows up in different places. Sometimes it’s sharp, sometimes it feels like a pull, or an ache. The only thing I can be sure of is that it will be there. Always. It’s been there, always, for over 7 years now. In those 7 years, it’s transformed me into who I am today, and this person isn’t who my husband married. It’s not who I wanted to be.
Most days, I miss that me, and not just because she wasn’t in pain. I wonder what kind of person she would be today. If she’d be a more patient mother. A more loving wife. A more supportive friend. I wonder what my body would look like. I wonder if I’d still be writing, if my hair would be crazy colors, if I’d have all these tattoos. If I’d have the same dark sense of humor, or if I’d be lighter. If I’d want to try skydiving, or those wacky ass trampoline parks. Would I like the same things, the same music, the same shows?
Who would I be, and would I like that person? Because… as much as the pain has tried to destroy me, it hasn’t. I’ve grown stronger. I know what I want. I push my limits all the time, which I might never have done before- maybe I’d have become complacent, or bored, but no. I challenge myself, because I refuse to let it win. The pain is a part of me but it does not define me. It doesn’t own me. It will never own me.
I've been wanting to tweet lately in support of how AWESOME y'all have been despite my audio issues. AND I think we have it fixed! Let's see.... Live now on #twitch playing #deadbydaylight twitch.tv/holdinholden
Planning for the Holidays at Disney (AND a Giveaway!) goo.gl/fb/7jE77C
@Chelsea_momma I know them feels
@turb0z See also: Booger bulbing (way back in the baby/toddler years)
What I say: Your hair is a mess. I'm gonna help you brush it What my kids hear: Although you've never actually been injured any of the previous 1,000 times I've brushed your hair, this is it. You're definitely gonna die this time. Please proceed to scream at the top of your lungs
@firebirdblog With Disney I got lucky, we're all massive Disnerds. Other movies have not gone so well, though.
@firebirdblog Trust me when I say I will dropkick a fellow 30-something if they come near me with that 😂 I'm taking my kids to enjoy with me, although I am sure I will enjoy more. End of the day- they are kids movies. You don't want kids in them, go to a late showing. ez