Blog Posts

New Puppy? Here’s 5 tips on how to add them to your pack!

We have just recently become a 4 dog family, and this got me thinking about the best ways of integrating Jack into the pack. The status of the existing pack is very clear. First there was Lucy, and then about a year later, I adopted Oscar. About seven years later, we met Kobe. They are on the totem pole if you will, in that order. And now, one year later, enter Jack. How can I be sure we keep our perfectly happy homeostasis while welcoming this little guy to our family?

Whether it is your first dog or your fourth dog, adding a new furry friend to your family can be tricky. Following a few important steps can help make sure everyone builds a loving relationship with each other. I’ve listed below what I feel are the 5 MOST important tips to adding a new pup to your pack.

#1: GO SLOW!

I cannot emphasize this enough. The #1 rule with introducing a new pet to any setting is the 333 rule:

3 Days: Compared to the shelter, your home is a bright and shiny new world. Your dog is going to be overwhelmed with all the new sights, scents, and space. There’s likely to be a lot of excitement, a lot of energy, and a lot of unpredictability. This is their main focus for at least days 1-3.

3 Weeks: After about 3 weeks, your pup is starting to understand your routine and getting more comfortable in their new home. Their personality will start to shine through and they will really start playing with their new pack members. They should still be monitored closely during this time. Don’t let your guard down just because everyone is being friendly so far.

3 Months: Your dog knows that your home is their home now. Yay! This is a great time to sign up for a group obedience training class if you haven’t already. Training is a fantastic way to bond with your pup, and it helps them continue to be introduced to new settings, people and dogs. I signed Kobe up for basic obedience when he was 6 months old (3 months after we adopted him). When we started, he was terrified to be in the car, to meet new people, of basically everything. By the end of the 6 week course, he was so much more confident!

The timeline is different for every dog. They are individuals and should be cared for that way!

#2: Respect your other dogs.

Your other dogs may not be ready to be BFFs with the new puppy right away. It is important that you know your dogs, and that you read their signals. They are depending on you to keep them safe! For my pack, Oscar is always a go to when it comes to introducing a puppy. Puppies are HIS JAM. Kobe is very friendly with other dogs, but he is HIGH ENERGY and a very rough & tumble pup. Lucy is vision impaired, and she always wants to lick other dogs faces, so to keep her safe, she is always the last intro. For the first couple of days, I always keep the puppy (the new, unpredictable friend) on a leash when with the other dogs. This helps me keep control of his actions and allows me to quickly remove him if needed. I also only allow individual interactions for at least the first day or two. This again helps keep control of the situation, and lets me watch both dogs carefully. If anyone gives the slightest indication that they are not happy, the play time is calmly but quickly stopped. Interactions should be done in short, small spurts, with the time increasing a little each round. Be mindful of cherished toys or space. If your dog has a favorite spot on the couch, do not let the puppy come running full force to jump in that space. If your dog is having cuddle time with you, make sure the puppy is not allowed to leap into your lap and steal your attention. This will help make sure you are keeping the new friend safe while respecting your pack.

#3: Set everyone up for success.

Know what you’re getting into! If your dog doesn’t do well with in-your-face, high energy dogs, then maybe don’t adopt a working breed as they typically are bouncy energetic friends. If you have a human baby, look for dogs who are more mellow and less vocal. Don’t get a dog without really considering what this means for you and anyone else in your family. Are you prepared to keep your pets separated for awhile until they are comfortable with each other? Do you know how to recognize when your dog is unhappy? Do you know how much more money this new pet will cost on a monthly basis? For example, a large breed dog eats a lot more food than a small breed. If you adopt a dog on a whim, you may very well be setting yourself and/or your pack up for failure. Be mindful of what it means to your existing pack to bring home a new dog. Are you prepared to give the time it takes to ensure a long lasting, successful relationship for all involved? No matter how friendly your dog may be, do NOT expect them to love every dog they meet. Some dogs just do not mesh well. Research, be aware of the attributes you are looking for in a new dog, and be patient to find the right one!

#4: Provide clear boundaries for everyone.

It is important for your new pup to have boundaries. He needs to know where his space is, what he isn’t allowed to do, etc. But it is also important to reinforce any boundaries for your existing pack. They need to know what your expectations are for them now that there is someone new sharing their space. It is also important for them to know that just because there is a new baby around, they haven’t lost your love and attention. Some dogs may not need any extra attention. Take Lucy for example. She could care less when new friends are here. She is a very confident dog and never waivers in her self appointed status of Queen Bee. Oscar is a mama’s boy and he will ALWAYS check in with me when a new dog is around. He does a drive by pounce to make sure he’s still my #1 guy, and then he goes back to puppyland. Kobe also likes some 1:1 attention. As I mentioned above, it’s so important to know your dogs. Because I am aware of Oscar & Kobe’s needs, I make sure I give them some individual time with the Mama so that they don’t have to be jealous of the new baby getting attention. I also make sure the existing pack still gets time together without the puppy, to reinforce their bond and remind them that everyone is still friends!

#5: Celebrate all successes, big and small!

Remember to give yourself, your pack and the new puppy some grace. Celebrate all of the things, big and small! If playtime doesn’t go well today, try again tomorrow. If a little tiff happens, calmly separate and try again later, and give TONS of praise when it goes well. I truly believe dogs feed off of your energy. If your pack feels a vibe from you that they are being good doggos, then they will be more likely to have a successful integration with any new friends. If you are feeling anxious, nervous or jittery, your dog WILL feel this. They will think there is a reason for them to be nervous too…and this may affect how they feel about this new friend you’ve brought home. So take a deep breath, feel the calm vibes, and celebrate each success your pack has!

Bonus Tip: Foster for a local shelter or rescue!

If you are thinking of getting your dog a friend but you aren’t sure if they are ready for that, or you aren’t ready yourself for a new perma-dog…I highly recommend fostering! I fostered over 25 dogs for Last Hope Rescue, and I learned SO much about dogs. But most importantly, I learned so much about Lucy & Oscar (my only pack members at the time). Fostering helped me see what Oscar & Lucy each needed when being introduced to a new dog, how to communicate with them that a new friend is a good thing, and so much more. I never saw myself as a 4-dog person. In fact, for 7 years of having just Lucy & Oscar, I insisted that I would always only have the two. But certain circumstances allowed me to consider adding a new pack member, and this has been successful twice now, all thanks to my fostering experience! And please, please, PLEASE don’t say “oh but I’d adopt them all” or “it would be too hard to say goodbye”. Trust me, you can do it, the dogs need you, and your soul will be so glad you did!

Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions about fostering, adopting or dogs in general!

New Kid on the Block

Ready for some life updates? Lets go!

#1: Lucy turned 10 in May! This golden girl has slowed down a lot, but she still gets frisky from time to time and jogs around the yard after the other dogs. She still has some peripheral vision, but otherwise is mostly blind. She does really well getting around though! Every now and then she seems to have an off day, where I have to give her lots of warnings to keep her from bumping into things, and she sleeps so deeply now. We also had a little health scare. She has a growth under her chin, but after doing a biopsy, it has been confirmed that it is not malignant…thank goodness! Lucy is still Queen Bee around here, and I don’t think she plans on giving up that title anytime soon.

#2: I never formally introduced Kobe, and he’s just celebrated his one year adoptiversary with us! Kobe is a small Shepherd Terrier mix. His has long legs which makes him taller than Oscar, but he has a small little body. He is a high energy, super active dog! Thankfully I bought a house in June, with a giant yard. Kobe runs like a greyhound, daily, only stopping to chase lizards or harass the other dogs. He would be outside 24/7 if I let him. He LOVES it out there! Oscar & Lucy cannot keep up with him, and most days don’t want to, but its not for lack of him trying! Kobe graduated puppy training class, but it was politely suggested that he redo the class for more training. LOL Other than his energy, he really is very well behaved, loves dogs, and is a great cuddler!

#3: Oscar is doing well. I think he is around 9ish now. I’ve had him for 8.5 years, and I’m pretty sure he was around 6-8 months old when I adopted him. Anywho, he is losing muscle mass in his back legs due to age. This makes him a little wobbly, and the wood floors are his nemesis…but I have placed rugs strategically throughout the house, and that seems to help him. Other than that, he’s the same ol’ clingy, me-obsessed, lovable boy he’s always been!

#4: Ok, NOW to the new kid on the block…we’ve added a 4th pup to our lives! You might be thinking: are you crazy? 4 dogs is a lot! Yada yada yada. But here’s the thing, I work from home full time now; I own my home and have a giant yard; Kobe needs an active, young companion; Lucy & Oscar need a break from Kobe. So all of that being said, I had very loosely been thinking about adopting another dog. I hadn’t looked online or anything like that. I wasn’t looking at all actually; it was just something I had started contemplating. Anyway, I was out running errands and had a little free time, so I decided to swing by the humane society because it was only a few minutes away. (I do this often to give the homeless pups some attention. Highly recommend if you are looking for an easy way to help homeless pets!) I wandered through the dogs, saying hello to the ones who wanted attention. Then, I turned a corner and saw two kennels full of Lab puppies. I went in to see them, and these sweet puppy eyes got me! I met this fellow, and decided that he was exactly what Kobe needs…and so, here he is!

Meet Jack!

He is a 3 month old Chocolate Lab mix. He has fit in perfectly with everyone, and most importantly, he and Kobe have become fast friends! Adding Jack to our family has had the exact effect I was hoping for, occupying Kobe and giving the old folks time to just chill without being (playfully but constantly) bullied. Jack ADORES Jayden. He is (mostly) potty trained, crate trained and has learned “sit” and his name so far. Stop by our Facebook and Instagram pages to follow their daily antics & adventures!

Well that’s how things are going with me! How are things with you?? Leave me a comment and stop by our social media to say hello!

xoxo

What has happened to US.

It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since the 9/11 tragedy happened.

As I’m sure everyone does, I remember exactly where I was when the planes hit. I was working at Home Depot, at the returns register. A customer came in and exclaimed “the twin towers have been hit!”

I didn’t know what he was talking about, but more customers were coming in and providing more bits of information. Then the Pentagon was hit.

For several minutes, my family and I were in fear that my brother may have been working at the Pentagon where he was a police officer. Thankfully we reached him, and he was ok. He worked the night shift and was at home now. So many others were not as lucky.

This tragic day will never be forgotten. But what does seem to have been forgotten is the way our country came together afterwards. In the days after 9/11, strangers were there for each other. People came together to help, rescue and support the victims and families who lost loved ones. Political stance, religious belief, skin color, gender preference…none of it mattered. We were Americans. We were attacked. Not only did we lose over 2,000 people from 9/11, but we’ve since lost hundreds of soldiers who joined the armed forces to protect our country in a war against those that attacked us.

But these last 20 years have changed us. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO US?

Why is someone filled with so much hate that they spew venomous words over politics? Why does a mask mandate make a parent threaten another parent? How can someone have hatred in their heart just because the color of someone’s skin? Imagine all of the people we’ve lost because of the events that took place on 9/11. If they saw how our country was filled with so much love, support, and kindness because of what happened to them, I bet they would have been so proud; but man, if they saw how we treat each other now.

I spent much of Friday & Saturday watching the National Geographic special, “9/11: One Day in America.” To hear their stories of loss, of surviving, guilt, trauma and heroism is heart breaking, to say the least.

The last episode ends with a survivor saying “your memory shouldn’t be your name on a wall somewhere. That’s not you. You are the person in that photo album. You are the smiling person, living your life. That’s how you want people to remember you.”

As I read the news and scroll social media, I wonder if we are all living how we want people to remember us. I think we need to do better, America.

David Rose is my Spirit Animal.

I know I’m a little late to the game, but I have recently binged Schitt’s Creek and now I. AM. OBSESSED.

Like, for real obsessed.

I LOVE this show. So much so that I’ve spent way too much time on Etsy and Amazon looking at all of the Schitt’s Creek-related things you can buy. There’s so many good things, like blankets and coffee mugs, shirts and laptop stickers. I NEED all the things, people!

***SPOILER ALERT*** If you are watching, or want to watch, Schitt’s Creek, and you don’t want to have anything spoiled, I recommend you stop reading. I am going to say things about my love for this show that may sort of give some things away about the characters. You have been warned!

So when I start to love a show or a character or a person of any kind really, I like to research them. I look up interviews, and their history, things they do and say and stand for. I want to know all about them. When I started watching Schitt’s Creek, I knew nothing about it other than it had won a lot of Emmy’s in its last season. I decided to check it out, but wasn’t hooked from the first episode. It was good enough though that I kept going, and I decided that I wasn’t going to do deep dives on the show or actors because I didn’t want to accidentally see any spoilers.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that David Rose is my spirit animal. He’s honest and straightforward, dark but funny, loves hard but has been hurt. His sarcastic witty responses are EVERYTHING. His friendship with Stevie is so perfect and genuine, I just love them! And then, he meets Patrick.

Patrick and David. SWOON! I love them so so much! They are sweet and innocent and pure, and they just love each other so honestly. Season 3, Episode 8, “Motel Review,” this is when we first meet Patrick, and this is when I started to truly fall in love with the show.

The way David makes mistakes or does ridiculous things, and Patrick is there for him, to show him that it’s still ok, and that his love is unfaltering. The smiles and smirks they are constantly giving each other. The way we get to see them both realizing how amazing their love is. I love that the show positively reflects a love between two men, without making it a big deal or making it overly dramatic or making you see them go through terrible experiences. Even though there are small mentions to each of their pasts, you get to see their present and future, and how filled with hope and love it is. They just are two people in love, navigating a relationship and life in a small town with a crazy family and hilarious locals. Their families and town embrace them like they do any other couple. THIS is the kind of acceptance that the world needs.

Since my obsession has begun, my son asked me why I love it so much. His exact words, “I’ve never seen you like a show as much as you like The Office” until this one!” So I started really thinking about what it is that I love so much. I mean yes, the characters are amazing. I always appreciate dark, sarcastic people, and the show is filled with love and laughter, but it’s deeper than that.

As a parent, we want our children to be able to be free and true to themselves, right? We want them to live their lives without being bullied or judged. We want them to love and be loved. My son has anxiety, as well as some other things, and while this may not bring on the level of judgement that the queer community deals with, it still resonates in my heart. Jayden has been judged for being overly fearful of things. He’s been considered a jerk, bratty, a pain in the butt, because when being flooded with anxiety this sometimes manifests as anger, unreasonable and reactive behaviors. There have been times in his 14 years that I wish I could protect him from those who don’t understand him. And this is what I love about Schitt’s Creek, and specifically David & Patrick. As David’s mom says when she is telling him to celebrate Patrick and their love, “he sees you for all that you are.” That is what we all want for our kids. For the world to see them as they are, and to love them for it. That is why I adore Schitt’s Creek so much, because it is a show that seems like it is just a comedy about this over the top, ridiculous family, but they are subtly showing the world what acceptance and inclusivity should look like.

Ok, so now that I’ve gone on and on about this show, I feel the need to share my favorite episodes (in no particular order). Not because I think anyone cares, but you know, just in case Dan Levy wants my opinion! I am sharing the “behind the episode” for each one, because again, I love the history and the extra details. Enjoy, and if you are a Schitt’s Creek fan, tell me what your favorite episode and characters are!

And if you aren’t a Schitt’s Creek fan, well then as David Rose would say, I’m very uninterested in that opinion!

#1: The Olive Branch

#2: Open Mic

#3: Meet the Parents

#4: Start Spreading the News

#5: The Jazzaguy

I hope you enjoyed my obsessive, unsolicited review of Schitt’s Creek! Stay safe, healthy & enjoy the holidays!

xoxo

5%.

Hearing your child say that he is filled with pain, and he doesn’t want to hurt anymore; it is the most heart breaking, gut wrenching thing. You know you have to be firm and direct to pull him out of his panic attack, but inside, you are crumbling. Scared, anxious, worried, sad.

Every time he leaves me, I am worried. What if he finally has an attack that pushes him over the edge? What if he decides that he can no longer handle the pain? What if he’s too far away from me and I can’t get to him? Why can’t I fix it?

95% of the time, he is good. He’s happy, healthy, well adjusted and kicking butt. But there is that 5% of time when he wants to stay in bed, when he’s afraid of having another panic attack, when he can’t eat because his OCD has convinced him that food is evil and will make him sick.

When your gorgeous, golden skinned, big brown eyed, tall, athletic teenager tells you that he can’t eat because he is too fat, it makes you want to take every positive, loving, beautiful word and lock it in his head and heart to drown out the negative that he tells himself.

I try to be strong. I try to do all of the right things for him. I try to protect him. But when he has these moments, I feel like I’m failing. It feels like no one understands.

Honestly, I don’t even understand it. In counseling he recently talked about how he obsessively pictures food in his mind after he eats. He can’t make it stop. He sees all of the bad things about the food. Like if it was too greasy, or under cooked, or too well done, or too fattening. He sees it in his head, and then it makes him feel sick. When I told him that this is not normal, and typically you just eat food and then don’t think about it, he had no idea. This is so sad to me. It just shows that even when things seem like they are good, he is still struggling with things that we don’t even know about. He has been doing so much better with his anxiety, that it felt like we were finally passed the major struggles. But now his OCD is in full force, as if to say “you got a little too comfortable, sister. Don’t forget about me.”

In these times, I wonder what I could do better. Does he focus on his weight because of my weight? Is he scared that he’ll be ugly like me? Fat like me? Unaccomplished like me? What can I do to make sure he is better than me in every way possible?

I guess, all I can do is to keep trying.

I will spend every day of my life trying to show him how smart and funny and strong and amazingly beautiful he is.

 

Broken Seashells

We’re all just broken seashells.

seashell-broken

I am single. I am curvy (which is really just a pleasant way of saying chunky, right?). I am tired. I hate cooking. Dog hair is EVERY. WHERE. Life can be messy.

I took a walk on the beach this morning, and was thinking about how people ask me often about my time alone when Jayden is with his dad. Aren’t you lonely? Don’t you find you don’t know what to do with your free time? Aren’t you so bored?

No. No. And NO. I’m totally ok being alone. I may not love myself all the time. And sure, I wish I had a partner sometimes to go through life with. It would be nice to have someone say nice things to me, like that I’m pretty, or look nice, or whatever. Someone to make me dinner or take the trash out. There are no men lining up to fill that open position in my life though. So, I don’t have that.

But, you know what I do have? A son who gets annoyed when I say “wait, we can’t go in yet, I have to put on my makeup.” He huffs at me and says “you always tell me not to care what other people think. You’re beautiful just the way you are. You don’t need makeup.” (yes, my teenager really does say this, often.) This always reminds me that I must be doing something right!

You know what else I have? A full time job, which I love most day. I work hard and feel that my knowledge is valued by most. This job supplies me with a laptop, which I use to attend full time school. I have the capability to manage a job, school, a teenager, puppies, the rescue, and I rarely get stressed. I mean, sure, sometimes I feel like I need a few more hours in the day just to breathe and watch a little TV. But I am so thankful that Jayden is active and loves playing sports; that my puppies are completely content at home; that I have my parents around the corner to help take over child taxi duties when I just can’t get there in time. I have two brothers, two sister in laws, two nieces and a nephew, all of whom I love to pieces. I have a fabulous group of friends. And we’re all just trying to make it through life!

So as I walked along the beach this morning, I was thinking about myself. How I wish I would lose weight, how I should clean my house more, or that I’d see my friends more, or that I’d exercise my dogs more. But then I thought, “hey woman. give yourself a break. be kind. you’re getting through life, and raising an amazing kid. that might just be enough for today.” As I was yelling at myself for being mean to myself, I was looking at the seashells that were peppered in the sand around me.

So many broken seashells. Different shapes and sizes and colors. But you know what else I saw? A ton of perfectly whole shells. But they still had groves and marks on them. When I made a point to really look at the shells, instead of just “ugh, so many broken shells, why aren’t there any whole ones”…I saw the beauty in each one. Even with the holes, and jagged edges, they are all still beautiful in their own way. Just like me and you.

IMG_2397

Rachel Hollis says, “stop comparing yourself to “her”. stop comparing your weight to “her” weight. stop comparing your kids to “her” kids. stop comparing your life to “her” life.” Meaning, stop comparing yourself to some other seemingly-fabulous woman. Do you. Do what works for YOUR life. (PS-If you don’t know who Rachel Hollis is, look her up. She and her husband are amazing!)

Be a broken seashell, and be proud of it. Those holes and grooves and splintered edges are what makes each of us unique and special. Accept them, embrace them, love them.

To all of the broken seashells in my life, I love you, holes and all!

xoxo,

Rebecca

IMG_2398

New Years Resolutions

It’s that time of year when everyone pledges to what they will accomplish in the coming year. We enter the new year feeling positive and hopeful, but are we also setting ourselves up for immediate failure?

The top 10 most commonly broken New Year resolutions:

  • Lose Weight and Get Fit
  • Quit Smoking
  • Learn Something New
  • Eat Healthier and Diet
  • Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  • Spend More Time with Family
  • Travel to New Places
  • Be Less Stressed
  • Volunteer
  • Drink Less

I think the key is to make a resolution that you are passionate about. Something that you truly want to commit to, and that is reasonable for your life. If it is TOO big, or too drastic, is it really attainable? I’m not saying to take the easy way out, or to not push yourself to do and be better. I just think it is important to be honest with yourself.

Last year, my resolution was to reduce my carbon footprint. To do this, I choose a few things that I thought I could accomplish. There are MANY ways we can all reduce our carbon footprint, but here are the ways that I tried: washing clothing in cold water, stop eating beef, use reusable bags wherever possible. Removing beef from my diet was HARD…and while I did do it for a few months, I did not succeed at this one. I am going to try again this year though! I DID however succeed at using reusable snack bags (like these) in place of plastic baggies, and using reusable bags for groceries. I love when the Publix cashiers say “Thank you for using your reusable bags!” I also have almost always used cold water for laundry. The only exception has been when washing dog laundry, because I feel like I really just need that hot water to get rid of the dirt and stink! I feel like my 2019 resolution was pretty successful, and will continue to be successful because these were reasonable, sustainable changes. Here’s a great website for anyone interested in reducing your own carbon footprint: https://www.carbonfootprint.com/

So for my 2020 resolution, I have had a few ideas. Jayden has had his narrowed down for a few months. His resolution is to blow a bubble with gum. Lol! Hey, it’s doable and something he feels passionate about, so I can’t fault him! I have decided that mine will be a few things, in an effort to improve my self awareness and wellness. By this I mean, I will work on bettering myself in every way possible. I am going to be direct about things I need. Like on The Office “Cocktails” episode, when Pam says she’s going to be more direct about what she wants in life. That is how I feel going into 2020! I am going to try to not hold on to things once they have been resolved (ie. grudge holding). I am going to continue working on my bachelors degree. I am taking FOUR classes this semester. <gasp> This means I will be going to school full time, and working full time, and being a full time single mom. I am excited about these four courses though, so I know I will be motivated to get through them! I am going to make sure Jayden and I have dinner at home, at the kitchen table, as much as possibe. This allows us to have great conversations! For example, tonight we got on the subject of drunk driving (thanks to it being NYE). Jayden said that he just doesn’t understand why people would drink that much. “It might be fun for a minute, but then they throw up, and throwing up is the worst. It seems too scary to me.” #proudmommoment

Then we talked about the importance of having a designated driver, and what that committment means, as well as that at any time, anyone I love could call me and I would go pick them up vs. them risking driving, or getting in the car with someone, after drinking. We talked about the risk that people take after drinking and then getting behind the wheel, that it isn’t just their life they are risking, but also everyone else’s who is on the road. I LOVE these conversations with Jayden! I can only hope that they stick with him, and that he continues to grow and be the smartest kid around, and also that he stays safe forever from the fools out there that aren’t so smart.

So, that is my resolution. It seems broad, but that is sort of the point! I want it to be reasonable and doable. Do I want to lose 50 lbs? Ahh yeah! Do I want to buy a house? Yes please! Do I want to never raise my voice at my child or get a better job? Yep and yep! However, I also don’t want to set myself up for failure, so I think having this broad resolution with a few set goals will help me be successful in the New Year.

What is your resolution? Whatever it is, I wish you luck! Please be safe if you are celebrating, and make sure your puppies are inside, away from those scary fireworks.

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020!

photo-1577205339374-4a84463607cc

Growing Up.

My son’s grandfather recently passed away, so I was looking for some old videos to give to his dad. This lead me down the rabbit hole of watching clip after clip of my perfect, chunky, babbling baby. OMG THE PRECIOUSNESS. He was SO CUTE! And ADORABLE! And PERFECT in every way.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the young man Jayden is growing to be. He is almost 14 now, stands at 5’4 and a half, has a hint of a mustache and the witty humor of a hilarious smart teenager-man-child. He is amazing, and I burst with pride that I get to be his mother.

BUT, I am also sad that my needy, dependent, “my mom is everything” child is gone. I didn’t really know how to put the feelings into words, until I came across this article:

“Your son growing up will feel like the slowest break up you’ve ever known.”

 

It perfectly describes how I feel! And I am quite sure if you are a parent of a child in the process of growing up, you will relate in every way.

When I look back at those videos and pictures of Jayden as a baby, I feel almost robbed of time. Even though I was insanely lucky enough to spend most of his first year at home, enjoying all of his firsts. Even though he is still growing, living at home, happy and healthy. I still feel like it wasn’t enough time.

When Jayden was 4 years old, his anxiety began to really show. He had severe separation anxiety, and daycare drop offs were the absolute worst. When I showed up every day to pick him up, it was like nothing else in the entire world mattered. Jayden thought I was his hero, there to save him (from a wonderful, loving daycare), and I couldn’t believe how much he loved me.

Then, I blinked, and Jayden is in 7th grade. But wait! What happened to his elementary school years? They happened, and I was there every step of the way, present and enjoying every moment. But dangit, they are gone now! I need to go back and hug that needy little boy one more time. I need to hear that sweet little voice as he runs into the living room, “Mom! Ok, I just needed to see you were still here.” I long to see him stumbling out of his room, asking to sleep in my bed “just this one time.”

I think kids change so little during the kindergarten to fifth grade years. I mean, obviously they grow and learn new things and meet new people. But they are still very dependent on their parents. We have to guide them, keep them on a routine, dictate every step of their lives. It is easy to be very present in these years, but still have them zip past you in a moment. You are moving through life, growing and guiding these little humans into good, decent beings. You focus on the good, amazing things that they are doing, and don’t realize that the child you know is about to leave. I didn’t get to say goodbye to that roly poly baby who smiled every time I walked in the room, or to the chunky toddler who loved to sing and dance and cuddle. I didn’t get to say goodbye to the quirky, awkward tween that he was, navigating life as he transitioned between child to teenager.

“You never get to properly say goodbye to all the little people who grow up because you don’t notice the growing, the changing. Except when Facebook sends you those bloody memory reminders that invariably make me cry because it’s like showing me the face of someone I can never see again. Not in that way. Not at that age.”

Take high school reunions. They are fun because while sure everyone has changed a bit, they are pretty much still the same adults that they were when you graduated. They laugh the same, their voices are the same, the faces are the same. But a child growing up moves through phases that you will never see again in that tiny human. I will never again get to hold baby Jayden, babbling a bunch of nonsense and expecting me to figure out his every need. I didn’t get to say goodbye to Kindergarten Jayden, as he successfully made it through his first year of school. I missed telling Tween Jayden that I was going to miss this weird phase of his life and that I wished I could freeze him for just a little bit more time.

As friends and family see Jayden when it’s been awhile, they all gasp, “Wow, he’s gotten so tall!” or “He looks like such a teenager now!”. And I smile, beeming with happiness and pride, but also…my soul cries a little. I am extremely proud of the young adult he is becoming. He is smart, manages his anxiety so well, he’s funny, has life goals. He happily talks about his future, and mostly prefers to be independent. There are things he can do now that I thought would never happen because the severity of his anxiety disorder. There is literally nothing else I could ask of the person he is right now. Except, to go back in time so I can get a few more baby cuddles in. Pipe dream, I know.

Motherhood

Motherhood.

It’s a funny thing.

You would think that it would create this special bond between women who are also mothers, but I find more often than not, it creates judgement.

But it’s not just judgement of other mothers. It’s judgement of, well everyone.

I’ll see Jayden at football practice, standing waiting for the ball to be thrown to him, and I’ll think “why aren’t those little brats throwing to him?!” Jayden gets a B on his progress report, and I think “well I know what B stands for…why didn’t that B give him an A?!”

As a parent of a child with pretty severe anxiety disorder, it’s really hard not to judge everyone else in the world. I just want everyone to treat him kindly, with sincere words, and positive encouragement. All. The. Time. Is that too much to ask for?! Jeez. <insert eye roll>

So, I really have to keep my mama-bear-like mentality in check. I am so used to Jayden being afraid of EVERYTHING, and his feelings being hurt by EVERYONE, it’s as if I live on high alert defcon level 5 all the time. Funny thing is, his anxiety is finally semi-under control. He goes to weekly counseling with a mental health counselor and monthly counseling with a psychiatrist. He is on medication. He’s in a new school which is amazing. It took a LONG time to get to this. A time where I can actually run an errand and leave him at home (for a very short time but still!), a time when I can sit in the car while he’s at practice instead of having to be 5 feet away where he can see me at all times, a time when he doesn’t check on me every five minutes as if I might have disappeared from the living room. (Yep. He actually used to do that.) There are still major worries, anxious thoughts, self hating moments. For example, today’s worry was that if I dare to leave during football practice, a gunman will surely arrive and kill him, and I won’t have been there to protect him. It sounds ridiculous. WHY would that happen! But I can’t promise him without a doubt that it will never happen, so did I leave practice? No. I did not. Because even though his anxiety is much more under control, I am always waiting for the meltdown. It’s as if I have taken on the small amount of anxiety that he no longer has. I find myself thinking “what if I do leave him for 10 minutes, and something does happen to him, how will I feel!” Now if you know me in person, you know I don’t really stress about much. I am a go with the flow kind of person. I can take things in stride, figure things out later, it’ll all work out…except when it comes to Jayden.

Motherhood has made me a crazy, controlling, my way or the highway, kind of person. But, I only do it for love. (Is that what psychos say?!) I immediately judge people, when it comes to Jayden. I judge them on their treatment of him, on how they speak to him, on how they handle his little quirks (like, how will they handle him when he says things like No, I can’t use that cup because it has a straw in it, or I can’t eat that food now because the other food touched it, or there’s one cloud in the sky so a hurricane must be coming) I am the only one who knows every single thing about this kid, and can anticipate and handle his concerns, panic attacks and meltdowns. At least, that’s how I feel. And that’s how Jayden feels. He made me feel that way. Am I judging him now?! <insert another eye roll>

Life can be hard sometimes, when you feel like you are the ONLY person that someone else will ever rely on, the only one who can make him feel better when he’s having an “I’m the worst person in the world” kind of day. It’s like I can never take a break. Not a break from motherhood, I’d never want or need a break from that; just a break from holding the weight of Jayden’s world on my shoulders. (I mean, I also have the weight of Oscar’s world and Lucy’s world too…they’re real stressed.)

22688893_10214054348055340_6821940854066498683_n

 

When he was younger, I always just immediately stood up for him. I talked to teachers, told people what to do and how to handle him. But now that he’s older, I’m always at risk of being “so embarrassing”! So I have to stand back and wait, see if people will straighten themselves out, see if Jayden can handle the situation. GUYS. That is so hard to do! For example, he’s chatting with a group of friends, and one kid keeps hanging up on him. I hear Jayden call back over and over, “why are you hanging up on me” and then click. Of course, I immediately think “what is that little shit’s problem!” but I wait…I hear it happen multiple times. Then I walk by his room and see how defeated he looks. So I know I have to say something…I can’t say what I want to say which is “that kid must be a giant snot nosed loser if he doesn’t want to talk to you” but instead I just say “hey, if your friends are being silly, move on and do something else. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out what you did wrong, because you probably didn’t do anything wrong.”

And then I judge myself. Did I say the right thing? Should I have just left it? Now he knows I was listening. Should I text the kid’s mom? That’s right, I have her number! But I wouldn’t do that…or would I?! (Don’t worry, I didn’t!)

Then I think about the card he made me for Thanksgiving, the one that says “I love you. Thank you for always helping me with my enxiety” (hey, it’s a hard word to spell!) I think about how far he’s come in the last year. I think about how often we laugh together. And then, I know, I must be doing something right.

Motherhood is judgement. Judgement of ourselves, of others, of the world. It is tiring. And crazy. It is also rewarding. Fun. Never what you expect!

But most importantly, what all of us mothers need to remember, is this…Motherhood is love.

23472306_10214215701529076_887678240831228091_n

 

Change.

I haven’t written a blog in over a year and a half! Whoa. I thought I’d just quit blogging altogether, but I actually really love to write…I just have different things to write about now. So maybe I’ll still blog from time to time, though it won’t be about the rescue world so much any more.

I started a new job in June 2015, and moved in June 2016. My job keeps me very busy, and I work more than 40 hours on a regular basis, so time for the rescue stuff has been very limited. I am still a board member for Last Hope Rescue, and I still run all of their social media and adoption sites. Because I am renting a house, I don’t foster any more. I do frequently visit the local animal shelter and humane society though. It’s funny how much I miss fostering. The enjoyment of bringing a new pup into my house, introducing them to my dogs, and seeing the dog flourish and then get chosen for adoption…it does something good for my soul.

Jayden is still struggling with his anxiety. Some days are good, some are tough….every day is exhausting. I never know how he will react to things. Will he like this activity? Does he want this to eat? Will he have a meltdown because we’re having chicken again? Will he have a panic attack because there’s too many strangers around? His anxiety causes him to have very low self esteem and a lack of confidence. The only time he can just be himself, without being nervous or overly anxious, is when he plays sports. I am so thankful for that, because I know for some kids with anxiety, sports is a nightmare. But not for Jayden. That’s the only time I see him consistently act without fear.

I get asked all to often why I’m not dating, why I don’t go out more than I do…people just don’t understand. Sometimes I just want to stay home, and watch tv and not have to make any decisions. The thought of bringing someone new into our world is…not easy. I live life in protection mode, always having to explain the world to Jayden. I constantly have to be ready to handle his reactions. He can sometimes have a few weeks that are really good, and then an entire week of meltdowns, and self-deprecating thoughts. No matter how good of a day he may have, at bed time he could be crying and asking why he is such a bad kid. It’s really hard to be his mom, knowing that I can’t fix this, I can’t make him see what a smart, funny, great kid he is. No matter how often I tell him, or how often I point out the positive things, his brain doesn’t let him see it. His anxiety is unpredictable, and doesn’t get any better after he gets through a situation positively. His mind is always focused on the worst possible result, for every day, every situation he encounters, every person he meets. It’s exhausting.

That being said though, we are enjoying our new home town. We live minutes away from my parents, and Jayden loves getting to see Nanny and Papa so often. It also allows us to see my nephew much more often, since he visits my parents a lot, which is wonderful! We love being minutes away from the beach, and the dogs love their frequent visits to the ocean.

I’m not sure how often I’ll write posts…and I should probably change the name of this site, though I’m not sure what to. Anyone have an idea?! Feel free to share! 🙂 Until next time…adios!