Thursday, September 11, 2014

And God Said, "Slow down!"

 Once upon a time, I was in the school counselor's office trying to figure out how to graduate from community college by May 2015. It was decided that I would take 17 credits Fall '14 and 15 credits Spring '15 so that I'd be ready to graduate and transfer to ASU.

I chanted the, "I can do hard things" quote in my head over and over again as I signed up for 6 classes and tried to figure out a schedule that worked for my life.

Sigh...

It took most of the summer. I kept leaving the task for another day because it was stressing me out.

Sometimes being a single mom sucks. It was so dang hard to find a schedule that would fit the classes I need and keep us in a mostly normal routine.

I finally did it and signed up for all Tuesday/Thursday classes, all during the day---except for one stupid class that I could only find on Thursday nights.

I figured the sacrifice would be something I could handle for four months. And the thing is, it was possible.
But right when school started, I decided to go back to work. And right when I decided to go back to work, Spidey started preschool.

And right when all of this happened, Spidey started crying a lot when he would get dropped off to babysitters.

And my mom guilt became a huge burden because all I wanted to do was quit everything and stay home with him all day, every day.

So let's recap:
A week into my new job and school starting, I was ready to throw it all away.
A week.
 Well, God knows me. He knows I won't just quit, even when things are really frickin hard. He knows I'll kill myself until I get everything fit into our crazy schedule.

I'm the least perfect perfectionist in the entire world. Our house is crazy, our schedule is crazy, and my kids are sticky-faced and wearing mismatched shoes.

But I'm really hard on myself and I try to fit it all in and get it all done.
 Well, due to some unforseen circumstances, I was dropped from my Thursday night class. When I found this news out, I had a moment of panic and I just wanted to crawl in a hole. But following my panic, I felt an incredible amount of peace come over me and I felt like God was saying, "Slow down!"

He knows how busy we are. He knows that it's hard for Spidey to get used to having a working mom. And I feel like he found a way to teach me that it's ok to slow down a little bit.

I can't be a super mom. I can be the mom that my kids need but I really can't be much more.

Most days, I'm just hanging on by a thread. I've been struggling a lot lately and I just can't seem to find my bravery that everyone else seems to believe I have within me. I'm not giving myself breaks. In fact, I've been pushing myself harder than ever before.

So God said, "Slow down." and all I could do was nod my head and realize that He is right.
I have my whole life ahead of me. I'm only 26 years old and my kids are still young. We can slow things down a tiny bit sometimes. As much as I want to rush through school and be able to provide a better life for my kids RIGHT NOW, I feel a whole lot of peace tonight as I think about how rushed we already are.

I can do hard things...but I don't have to push myself farther than I need to right now.

It's ok that I need to slow down. It doesn't make me weak. It just makes me human.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back To Work!

 Four years ago, I was faced with a really hard decision.

Keep working or quit my job.

At the time, Petey was 2.5 and Spidey was 9 months old. It had been really difficult for me to continue working since Spidey had been born but I knew that is what our family needed me to do at that time.

But 9 months into his life, the possibility of staying home became more of a reality. I prayed about it and decided to put in my two weeks at Gilbert Pediatrics.

And for the past four years, I have been a stay at home mom.

I have loved so many things about these past four years. I have loved being with my children and taking them places and having more freedom to make our own decisions of what our day would look like. I have loved watching them grow up from babies into school-age children and being their main influence during these times. I realize just how lucky I am to have had these past four years.

Then a year ago happened. And when a year ago happened, I was faced with another heavy decision---keep staying home or go back to work. And again, I found myself on my knees, pleading with my Heavenly Father to find a way for me to continue to be with my children. With all of the issues they have had, they needed me this year. I don't doubt the decisions I made.

But now I am in a different situation. A year has gone by and I have a child in school full time.

Then my baby decided to go and start preschool...
Really? Is he really old enough for this?

And last week, my sister asked if I would be willing to help her catch up on some billing things down at Gilbert Ped's and I told her that would definitely be a possibility for a few weeks.

And I can't even describe to you how everything has fallen into place. From the preschool schedule to the babysitting to the timing of this job, it has all kind of worked out.

I could do it for two weeks. I knew I could. Even though I wouldn't be there to pick up Spidey from his first day of preschool, we would get through this and he probably wouldn't even care.

But after working most of the day on Friday, I started thinking about how much I love working for my dad's office and being in that environment and I started budgeting and looking at the financial difference it would make.

And so I made a proposal to my sister and my boss and asked for a part time job.

So now I work.

I am a working, single mother of two and a FULL TIME STUDENT with 17 credits.

I might lose all of my hair by the end of the semester but I know that this is what needs to happen right now.

My mom guilt has set in and I made a phone call to Spidey when he got to the babysitter's house after school today to see how preschool went. Of course, he talked for about 5 seconds before handing the phone back.
 It is REALLY hard for me to think about the fact that I am leaving him 5 days a week between work and school and then I have to give him up every other weekend. I am going to miss our leisure mornings together, snuggling up on the couch and talking about life. This kid has been my life for the past four years. My identity has been mother and I have loved it. I still love it. But now I have other identities.
 Just as it was hard to let my big girl go to school ALL DAY, it is going to be an adjustment to get used to being away from my boy.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have the opportunities that I do and there may be a day where I am a stay at home mom again.
But for now, I will make the most of the afternoons I have with my kids and the weekends we get to spend together.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bright Effects

 In the past year, I have been through a hell I didn't think I'd ever have to go through. I just didn't. But really, who plans their divorce before it happens?

Anyway, I realize how much I've been focusing on the hard lately---mostly because lately it has been hard---but there have been some pretty incredible things that have happened in the past year.

In January, the word I picked for 2014 was brave. I knew I would need to be brave as I pushed forward through a divorce and school and motherhood. I knew I would need to find myself this year and battle my eating disorder more than I've ever had to before. I knew I woud need to face my fears and make grown up decisions by myself.

It has been a year of hard and it has been a year of brave.

A month or so ago, my friend, Jacy, posted something on her blog that caught my eye. It was a special day her and her friend, Shay, had been planning for a while that they were giving away to two lucky women. All I had to do was send in an email stating why I could benefit from this day.

I clicked off of Jacy's blog and was so excited to see who would be announced the winner. I never intended to email her. I just couldn't see myself spending a whole day with two people who intimidate me because of their awesomeness and then have a photoshoot of MYSELF at the end of the day.

Nope. It wasn't happening. Not even a little bit.

I would think about that giveaway a few times a day and would see Jacy and Shay post about it to get entries but I just kept pushing it to the back of my mind. I probably wouldn't be picked anyway so there really was no point in writing an email.

But on the very last day of the giveaway, I saw Jacy post a link to it and I decided I should just send a quick email. What could it hurt, right? I realized the day of Bright Effects was just days after my one year anniversary of being on my own so I chose to write about that.

Here is the email I sent:
"On August 24th, it will be exactly one year since the day my husband left me. This year has been full of pain and heartache and feelings I DID NOT want to feel. There have been beautiful days and some of the ugliest days I've ever experienced. I have struggled to find my own self-worth and figure out who I am as a person, and not as the other half of a marriage. I am struggling to believe I am good enough and that the people around me truly do like me as a person. It's hard when the one person who should've loved you decided you weren't worth their eternity.
But because I am hopeful and trying and brave, I am going to write down what I have learned about myself this year.
My name is Suzanne and I have learned that I can do hard things. I can sleep in a bed by myself, in a house where I am the only adult and still feel safe. I can pay my bills and budget and work as hard as possible to still be able to stay home with my kids most of the time. I can be in school full time and juggle a half day kindergarten schedule, a preschool schedule, and a crazy dance schedule. I can hold church callings and maintain friendships with women who don't exactly understand what I'm going through but love me anyway. I can help other women who are struggling and in need of a friend. I can love people that I don't quite understand.

I can be a brave warrior.

I am a brave warrior.

In the past year, I have learned more about doing hard things than ever before and although I wish my painful journey was over and that the light was shining brightly ahead, I have hope that someday I'll find that light and that I can share that light with those around me who need it as much as I do."
 
Days later, I received an email telling me I had been picked as one of the lucky recipients.
 
Panic. Happiness. More panic. A lot of smiling. A little more anxiety. A photoshoot? No way. I couldn't do it. Someone else should do it. Someone skinnier. Someone more beautiful. Someone who has been through harder things and deserves it more.
 
But Shay talked me through a little bit of my panic and I was set.

As the day approached, I was stressed out about finding a babysitter since my ex-husband AND my parents were out of town that day. I kept thinking maybe that was a sign that I should forego the day and stay with my kids but because I have some pretty amazing friends, a few of them took my kids that day so I could enjoy myself.

It was finally noon and as I pulled up to Jacy's house, the front door opened and Jacy and Shay were both hugging me and voicing their excitement for the day they had planned out.

We started the day with a group therapy session with Angie Whitman. I wasn't sure what to expect because it's taken me TWO YEARS to really open up to my current counselor {true story} but it went really well. Angie is very relatable and friendly and I loved the things we were able to talk about.

After group therapy, we headed over to a pilates studio...what?!! The funny thing is I wasn't as nervous about this part since I go to the gym a lot and feel like I'm in better shape than I have been in years. But oh my goodness gracious, when we walked in the machines were super INTIMIDATING. I have never seen contraptions like those before! But wow. Wow. WOW! Melissa Olsen of Core Body Pilates is seriously incredible. I am still sore.

We finished our afternoon at Kneaders for a delicious lunch before heading back to Jacy's house for the next part of our day.

I hopped in the shower and when I got out, the hair stylist, Thom, and make up artist, Nella Brenner, were ready for me.

Breathe...you can do this, Suzanne.

I was so nervous!


But as you can see from the bottom left picture, I did it. The hair stylists took off an inch or so of damaged hair and then styled it and the make up artist gave me a new look.

I think the funniest part is when she said, "Suzanne, you're probably going to freak out when you look in the mirror because you aren't used to filling in your eyebrows." Umm, yeah, she was dead on. It was something I had to get used to. But she did an AMAZING job and I felt incredible when it was over.

And then it was time for the photoshoot.

EEEEEK!

I want to sit here and tell you that I was excited for this part or that I was overjoyed when I got the pictures back. I wasn't. I'm pretty hard on myself and I wasn't a fan of the pictures when I first looked at them.

The talent I was a HUGE fan of...Shannon was absolutely incredible and her work is amazing. But me IN the pictures? Not. So. Much.

But I have since embraced my pictures and I posted my favorite one on Facebook.

I know my Heavenly Father loves me. I also don't doubt that my friends and family love me. The tricky part is loving myself. I'm not there today. But I hope I get there soon.

I picked a few pictures to share with you today.



^^^favorite^^^

Sylvia was the other winner of this special day and I am so glad I met her. It was nice to be doing this with someone else.
The photographer snapped a few pictures of us together at the end and we had a bit of fun with that.

Sylvia is TALL...and when I leaned in to her, my head was on her boob. So we reenacted that moment but switched it around below...
...because I just can't be serious all of the time! :D
Sylvia is gorgeous inside and out. I loved being with her most of the day and getting to know about her life and all of the bravery she has faced.
We ended the evening with a gift from Jacy and Shay which was a picture frame with an amazing quote in it.

I am blessed.

Today I know I am blessed.

I was so lucky to be picked for such an incredible gift from Jacy and Shay. They are some really incredible women and I am so glad I know them.

With this new beginning and this new year of being on my own, I know I can do hard things. I know I can be brave, even when it feels so dark and lonely around me. I know I can fight for myself and give my kids a good life.

I can do this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Goodness

I feel like Suzanne today.

Even among the depression and the heartache and the painful memories, there are days where I feel like me. The real me.

The girl who loves to make others happy and doesn't tell herself she is selfish. The girl who reads books to her children and gives them extra snuggles at night. The girl who exercises because she loves her body, not to punish herself.

This is me.
School started yesterday.

School started and my anxiety kicked in full swing. Ok, fine, the anxiety kicked in the night before.

I went to my math class and was welcomed by a bubbly, tiny young woman who made us decide what shape we identified with most and then showed us a Ted talk on having grit. I really hope her personality, as cheesy as class felt, will be helpful to get me through this math class. Have I mentioned I hate Alegbra?

Then I headed to the class I was nervous to start---Philosophy of Sexuality. I know it's going to help me become a better therapist. I know I need to take this class. I am just not excited about the sometimes explicit material and the open discussions about SEX. Part of the reason is because it's intimidating to talk about sex with people I don't know and trust but a bigger part of the reason is in regards to the trauma from my failed marriage.

But I did it. I focused, I read through the required material today, and I finished my first assignment. And if you're waiting for me to stop tooting my own horn, it might not happen yet.

I have spent my morning doing things Suzanne does. Spidey and I jogged the neighborhood at 7:15am. We played with our bunnies and fed them breakfast. And I finished my work out while my boy watched PBS.

I even cleaned the family room.

I'm figuring life out. I hate it some days. I love it other days. But at least I seem to be figuring it out.

There are two parts of me and today I am Suzanne.

TODAY I AM SUZANNE.

That is such a victory, friends.

Because depression and anxiety have taken so much from me. When I feel like me, I NEED TO CELEBRATE THAT!

So today I celebrate who I am. I celebrate the brave things I conquer and the good things that I do. There is good within me---a lot of good. And it doesn't counteract the bad, it isn't a replacement for the bad...it is it's own thing. I am good because I am compassionate and funny and loving.

I am a good person.

This is me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

One Year Stronger


I've written this post a hundred times in my dreams and today it is my reality.

On this day, a year ago, I held the phone close to my ear and begged with the man on the other end to help me understand the lies and the secrecy that I had found out had been happening for months. And the phrase that pierced my soul was the answer I received.

"I don't care about you anymore."

I went numb. I tried so hard to protect my heart from shattering. I didn't yell or scream but tears fell down my cheeks as I looked in the rear view mirror at the two perfect children who were giggling with each other, completely unaware that their lives were about to change forever.

"You don't cook enough. The house is almost never clean. I can't do this anymore. I want to separate."

I barely remember these words. I fought my insecurities. I tried to doubt them. I tried to remember that I am still worthy of love and acceptance.

But I couldn't do it. 

Instead I believed him. And in doing so, I blamed myself for ruining my children's lives. I couldn't see a good life for them with divorced parents. My parents weren't divorced and I had never really seen good examples of divorce situations. My kids were going to be ruined. I was so worried that because I hadn't been good enough, my children's lives were ruined.

I went to my best friend's house and melted in her arms. I could hardly spit the words out. Because it certainly isn't easy to say, "My husband just left me.". I felt ashamed and scared and so incredibly defeated. I didn't know how to react. I didn't know what to say or do.

We ended up at the temple that night. I received a blessing from my best friend's husband. We talked until midnight. And then I drove to my parents where my kids had fallen asleep and I laid awake on the couch, crying and pleading with God to turn back time. 

This couldn't be happening. 
I didn't sleep well for days. I cried late at night as I wondered what was going to happen. 

As much as I tried to keep it from happening, my children have each had their hearts shattered this year too. It happened at different times, in different ways, but it did happen. 
There were so many nights of comforting my sensitive five year old as she pleaded with me to bring him back home. There were nights where she yelled at me and blamed me. There were nights where my four year old would tell me he didn't love me and that all he wanted was his dad. He would scream that he no longer wanted to live with me. 
Each kid has been angry. Each kid has needed me to hold them all night long. Each kid has learned at their very young ages that sometimes life just sucks and it isn't always fair.

I put on a brave face in public but every day, I would come home, fall onto my bed, and literally shake with fear. I felt anything but brave. 
I know without a doubt how I got through this year, even though I often throw my hands up toward the sky and ask Him, "Really?! Now this?!" 

Today as we spoke about faith in Relief Society, I was reminded of how my faith has changed so much in the past few years. God has placed building blocks that have prepared me to get stronger with each trial that I face. I learned through infertility that sometimes even when we desire something really good, like more children, Heavenly Father doesn't always give it to us. I learned to have faith in Him and His plan for me. 

Divorce has been the same way. My faith in God's plan for me has been something I've had to rely on because most of the time, I have no clue what my next step is supposed to be. 

Without faith in God, I would have completely broken a year ago. Without faith in God, I know things would've been much worse. 

God has helped me through some of the darkest nights I have ever experienced. He has helped me to smile when all I wanted to do was spew swear words and punch walls. He has sent some of the most incredible people to comfort me and remind me that I am never alone.

I couldn't have made it through this year without my friends. I don't care if that is super cliche to say, IT IS THE TRUTH! 

With divorce comes a lot of speculation from the peanut gallery. I've heard a lot of advice this year that I just couldn't apply to myself. I've heard opinions from all different sides about whether this was right or whether we are just a couple of really stupid people. The thing is, no one knows but us. And even moreso, no one knows but me. I have prayed so many times this year for things to be different. I have prayed about whether divorce was of the devil. And without a doubt, I can sit here and tell you that it isn't. As much as I believe in marriage and as strongly as I am devoted to the covenants I've made in the temple, Heavenly Father has helped me to face my fears and sign divorce papers, completely separating me from someone I loved so much. This isn't some on a whim decision that was made without faith. It took more faith for me to sign those papers than anything in my life ever has. 

I've done a lot of things alone this year. I've made a lot of grown up decisions and nurtured my children as their hearts broke and learned how to live on my own. It has been a scary year. I have had to face a lot of fears this year.

But I have become stronger this year.

A huge part of me is still in disbelief that it has been a year. I'm still full of anger and I don't always deal with divorce in the right way.

But each day, I get up and I try. I try to be brave. I try to help others. I try to be a good mom. I try not to judge. And I figure for now, that is good enough.

And someday, I won't be so full of grief for the life I used to live and the life I live now. 

Today we are one year stronger. We know we can do hard things. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Grade

I've never really been an overprotective mother. At least not overly protective.

I let them figure some of their sticky situations out on their own. Germs don't bother me. Kindergarten wasn't too hard for me to accept.

But there was just something about sending my six year old to school all day long that I wasn't dealing with very well. I assumed my anxiety would get better once I dropped her off that first day but we were late for school on the first day and I didn't even give her a kiss goodbye.

And for the six remaining hours before I'd see her again, I worried about what she was feeling, what she was doing, whether she was eating her lunch and making friends and liking her new teacher. It was a mess.
Of course, she came home all smiles and telling me all of the cool things about full day school and my worries were immediately eased. I even had tears in my eyes listening to how well the first day had been for her.

The second day was another story. My girl came home in tears because she had gotten a stop sign for something she didn't even do and that was a hard lesson for her to learn.
 Because sometimes even when we are telling the truth, life doesn't end up treating us fairly.

I resolved the issue with her teacher and after a ton of worrying about the future on my part, I felt at ease late that Thursday night. Holy rollercoaster day!

Day 3 was it's own kind of mess because Petey came home saying she had received two stop signs (both for legitimate reasons...talking!) which meant she had to sit out for 5 minutes of recess. She said, "I cried for a minute but then I realized it's fun to sit on the wall." Hmm...
So then I became the mother that worried my kid was going to start getting into trouble on purpose.

Gah!
 But my goodness, I am happy to report that although she tried to convince herself that sitting on the wall was indeed fun, she has done really well at following directions and listening to her teacher since then.
 Luckily for my anxiety, she has come home every day since then, all smiles and ready to tell me about each day.
 She excitedly talks about the new friends she's making and the old ones she gets to play with again.
 She tells me about how first grade is so cool because you get to study science and social studies
 and how eating lunch at school is quite possibly the coolest thing in the world.
 She likes to report which kids weren't listening and which ones were on their best behavior that day.
 This week, she came home to tell me she is the hall monitor all week. And boy, is she excited about that one! We had a talk about the responsibility that is in her hands as the hall monitor and how she should always be honest when reporting incidents to her teacher.
It has been an incredible whirlwind of two weeks for us!

And this is just the beginning!

There will be more tears, more fights, more smiles, more frustrations, and more learning opportunities.

I am so proud to be the mother of this kid. She is one of a kind. She is kind, loving, and sensitive and first grade is teaching her so much already.


PS: I took a picture of her every day for the first two weeks, to hold the same tradition as kindergarten. Here is the flashback to last year's collage. She has grown up so much!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

No One is Youer than You

 
I've always loved that Dr. Seuss quote, "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."

Truth be told, no one is better at being you than you are. Even on the worst of days and especially on the best of days.

I have to admit, there have been many times in my life I've wished to be someone else---someone skinnier, someone richer, someone smarter, etc. When I let my insecurities run my life, I become unhappy with the woman God intended me to be.

Although I don't believe God intended me to be a divorced mother of two when He created me, I know that He intended for me to be brave and strong. I know that He intended for me to fight my battles and love who I am. He knew I was going to go through these things and He placed building blocks along the way to teach me how to deal with them.

I firmly believed in that through my teenage years, miscarriage, marriage trials, infertility, and divorce.
But recently, I lost it. I lost some of my faith in allowing God to be in charge. I lost some of my faith in seeing the plan He has and knowing He can help me feel better. Because it just kept getting harder instead of better.

And hello? Not fair!

Amiright?

I needed a change.

Anger has been the first phase I allowed. When I first started to feel all of my anger, I fought it off because I just don't want to be that person. I want to be happy all of the time. But I have realized that I need to allow my feelings to come OUT so they don't stay in.

So I have been writing my anger out and working on the things that cause me to feel hurt.

Booyah, right?

And vomiting my feelings onto paper really did help me to see a glimpse of the hope I used to have. It also helped me to realize that I cannot do this on my own right now. And that's ok.

It's ok to need help. Ugh. Even writing that sentence kinda made me feel yucky. I still don't like needing help but my heart does tell me that it's ok. If I was giving advice to someone else, I'd tell them it was ok to need help.

So it must be ok for me too.

And thankfully, when I start to really doubt and lose my hope, God sends me little reminders that He loves me and has my back...always and forever. Last week, it was in the form of a song a friend sent me.

That song has become this week's theme song.


I hope you know you're not alone. I hope you know that there is a God and that He loves you for you, not for the choices you've made or the way you look.

Even though that's hard for me to believe all of the time, I'm grateful I can hold onto the things I write in my journal and on this blog of the good days, the days where I can fully see how much better it is that God is in control and not me.