Category Archives: Mommy time

How being a Slytherin is saving my life.

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Two weeks or so ago I wrote about how I came to terms with being sorted into Slytherin, which you can read here. But before that nasty little business with Ravenclaw (see the previous post), the real story that I wanted to get to about embracing being a Slytherin is that it might be saving my life.

slytherin my intention to be the best

That last sentence was only a little bit hyperbole.

After I got married, I slowly started to put on weight, as I think is pretty common. But after my daughter was born, I gained weight more rapidly. This is something that did not happen overnight and there are a thousand different factors, but one of the main factors is that I always put myself last.

I was so busy taking care of all of my external responsibilities- making sure I was the BEST mother, the BEST wife, the BEST friend, the BEST therapist, etc, etc, that I forgot to take the BEST care of me that I possibly could. I didn’t listen to my own advice to others- that if I didn’t take care of myself, I couldn’t do my BEST at anything.

I passed all of the usual indicators that make people take notice and take action- numbers on a scale, BMI, moving from regular clothes stores to plus sized clothes stores, taking medication for high blood pressure, taking medication for high cholesterol, seeing multiple family members go through major heart surgeries. None of those did the trick.

What really got me was that the pain in my lower back was so bad I couldn’t do simple things like walk to the end of the block so my kid could ride her bike without excruciating pain. That and the humiliation I felt when I was too big to ride several of the rides with my daughter at Legoland. What got me is that my health was impacting my ability to fully engage in and enjoy the world with my daughter.

But still. I felt powerless over this element of my life. I have never had a healthy relationship with food or exercise- not even when I was thin and LOOKED healthy. I have been very successful in many things in my life- but never that. And I felt afraid of change.

And then one day in September last year, when I was trying to figure out WHY I couldn’t get a handle on this, I said, “Fuck that- You are a Slytherin. There is NOTHING you can’t do if you don’t put your mind to it.”

And so I did.

I called my doctor the next day and made an appointment. I have been taking medication to help, but more importantly, eating healthier and exercising. Little lifestyle changes that are becoming bigger. In 5 months I have lost 40 pounds, which is great- but what is better is that I FEEL better. I have energy. I can do things again. I can walk miles now- much father than the end of the block. I enrolled my daughter and myself in martial arts classes. Last week I even started bringing my walking shoes to work with me in case I am able to slip away for a bit.

By taking care of myself, I am being a better mother, a better wife, a better therapist, a better friend- a better me- and hopefully one that will be around for a long time.

When I start to get frustrated or disappointed, I use a little self-talk and remind myself that I am a Slytherin- that I can do this. You just watch me. But- when I indulge- which I do on occasion and without guilt (this is a lifestyle I’m living- not a diet) don’t even think about saying anything to me or raising an eyebrow. Remember- I am a Slytherin- I will bite and I have sharp fangs.

slytherin I will win

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I will never* homeschool my kid.

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Don’t worry. This isn’t a post critical of the concept of homeschooling. I fully accept it as a valid educational decision that works really well for certain families. Mine is just not one of them.

Sure, there are plenty of families who choose to homeschool for really, really scary reasons. And plenty who say they are homeschooling but there is not a lick of education actually happening. Just as there are really messed up family situations for many kids in public school or private school. And believe me, I have seen all of those kids at some point in my career as a therapist.

But this post is just about knowing yourself and your limits as a parent.

There is nothing, not a person or thing, on this entire planet that I love more than I love my daughter. I love watching her learn new things and explore her world. There is nothing better than cuddling with her. But, by the time Monday rolls around each week, we are both ready for a break from each other.

I know home schooling is not for our family because I would not be the best mom or teacher I could be. I know my limits and the limits of my patience. The healthiest relationship my kid and I can have is one where we have a healthy amount of time not together. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

One of my good friends from high school home schools her 2 kids. They live out of state and though I end up seeing my friend every year or so, I haven’t seen her kids in several years but was able to hang out with them last weekend. I can say that her 2 home schooled kids are deliciously weird. They have social skills and all- they aren’t “weird” weird. And I don’t really thinks it’s because of being home schooled. My public school educated kid is pretty darn weird too. Five years old and she announced yesterday that she wants to be a cryptozoologist when she grows up.

 

*I do know to never say never. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I would probably homeschool.

 

 

Making the commute work for me.

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Like many moms I drive a lot. At a minimum, I drive 40 minutes each way to and from work, and that is if I don’t have to take Newt anywhere. Add in a stop for her and I tack on another 20 to 40 minutes depending on the day and destination. In my world, where there is never enough time in the day to get everything done, this commute was just the ultimate of wasted time.

Until I made it work for me. I discovered Podcasts.

I’m probably late to the party, but I’m here now. I think for me, podcasts allow me to engage in my curiosity. To think about grown up things again (that aren’t work related). To lose myself for 40 minutes or so. You know- what I used to do when I had time to read a book. I found myself actually looking forward to driving again. And traffic jam? No problem, I may actually be able to finish this podcast before I get home. So, in no particular order, some of the podcasts that I have enjoyed listening to:

Grown-up Time Podcasts

  1. Serial– Ok, this one is pretty obvious, but it is the reason I even bothered to explore what that mysterious pre-loaded podcast app on my phone had to offer.  I heard about this podcast EVERYWHERE and I wanted to know what it was all about. In what is arguably the most well known podcast to date, Serial began as a spin off from This American Life. It has only had one 12 episode season so far, but is already confirmed for 2 more seasons. Serial is amazing. Just really engrossing, sometimes maddening story telling about a real murder and a possible miscarriage of justice. After I finished those 12 episodes, I have listened to another podcast, Undisclosed, which uncovers even more information about the case, but from a more biased point of view.
  2. Invisibilia– This one is all about the invisible forces that control human behavior- ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Well done and very interesting. My favorite episode was Fearless- which explores the function of fear and sometimes dysfunction of fear. For a super anxious person like me, this made perfect sense.
  3. Stuff You Should Know– I love this one because I feel like I am learning something and there are so many episodes to choose from about a variety of topics.  Some of these episodes are only 5 minutes long, some 40 minutes or more. Some of my favorites: How Albert Einstein’s Brain Worked, What happened to the lost colony at Roanoke, How Ouija boards work, and What’s the deal with Rasputin’s Death.
  4. Really anything from How Stuff Works– Stuff You Should Know is one of the podcasts from How Stuff Works. Other podcasts are: Stuff You Missed in History Class– discussing history, Stuff Mom Never Told You– discussion of issues relating to women, Stuff to Blow Your Mind– just anything and everything, Brain Stuff– science behind how stuff works, and Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know– fun times for conspiracy theorists. What’s great about all of these are that so many different topics are discussed you will always be able to find something of interest.
  5. Lore From the time I was a youngun, I have always loved a good spooky story. Each episode focuses on a different folklore or scary tale and explores the “truth” behind the lore.
  6. The Black Tapes Podcast–  The official site for this podcast describes the series as follows, “The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.” For me- another place to explore some good scary stories- at least during my day time drives. This is not one I listen to after dark!
  7. The X-Files Files Ok, so this one is a little more niche, but I still love the X-Files after all these years. Each podcast discusses a specific episode from the series. But it is funny and smart and hosted by Kumail Nanjiani, who plays my favorite character from HBO’s Silicon Valley! One of my favorite parts of the show is when he goes back and reads posts from message boards from the week the episode first aired.
  8. You Must Remember This–  This is about the “secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” I found I don’t even have to be familiar with the film or star discussed in an episode to be transfixed. Featuring some dramatizations, film clips and awesome music, this podcast is perfect for this pop cultured obsessed mommy.

Don’t Forget The Kids

It didn’t take me long to realize that there are some really great options for listening when Newt is in the car with me. If given the choice between listening to a podcast or listening to music, my kid often picks the podcast, and my kid loves music!

  1. Stuff You Should Know– Yup. This is the same one I mentioned in the grown up section. With offerings like, Scooby Dooby Doo, Where are You?, Oh No, Snakes!, and Why does toothpaste make orange juice taste bad, it also presents an opportunity for the kiddo to learn something as well. Though it is not geared towards children and many subjects are probably not appropriate, the podcast is not crude and does not have bad language. Some of the scientific concepts probably go over Newt’s 5 year old head, but she understands enough of it to be engaged.
  2. Audio Books For Children– Developed by Templeton Institute for Neurology, “Enhance your child brain imagination ability by focusing on auditory stimulation through audio books specifically developed by our neurologists at Templeton Institute for Neurology. These stories are written by cultures all over the world, refined over many generations of story telling. They are amazing adventures with powerful values and invaluable lessons.” The best are tales from 1001 Nights and from the Myths of the World entries.
  3. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm The classic tales available to hear in the car. Great narration. Some stories are 4 minutes long and some are over 20. Loyal Books has many many classic tales available for free in audiobook or e-book form. Not just stuff for kids, classic novels too.
  4. Barefoot Books Podcast I have a couple of these gorgeous books with classic stories so when I saw the podcast I had to listen. I was not disappointed. Very good story telling and some songs, too. Even younger children would enjoy these tales. I noticed that they have not added more content since 2013, but there are plenty of things to enjoy.