Friday, July 11, 2014


As a young adult, when I witnessed a mother nursing in public, I would feel embarrassed because I wanted to look. I wanted to see how it worked because my mother was a breastfeeding mother and I remembered a time long past when my sister was an infant. My mom be sitting somewhere in the house and would latch her on with her shirt up. My mom would be drinking water or talking on the phone as my baby sister nursed. I would then follow suit and lift my shirt, holding my doll "Mary Mary" to my chest too. It was then that I knew I wanted to nurse my own children someday.

While I was pregnant, I took every effort to educate myself on breastfeeding. I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital where I planned to give birth to my son, I frequented, I tweeted Heidi Murkoff (author of my pregnancy bible What to Expect When You're Expecting and I would ask many nursing moms about how they got started and what they did to keep a strong nursing relationship.

As a first-time-mom who gave up breastfeeding far too soon, I would feel twinges of guilt when I saw a mother nursing her child.  I hated myself because I was a quitter. It took a long time to accept that what happened is in the past and that no matter what happened, I love J more than words could possibly express, and that at least I fed him. However, this is not what this post is about.

My post is about a controversial topic: NIP or Nursing in Public. Honestly, as a mom who fully supports breastfeeding, I do not see the reason for controversy. Here is my take on it...

Motherhood is never easy and breastfeeding often takes work. For some, it comes naturally whereas for most it does not. Every mother that I know who breastfed one child or more says that it takes 6 weeks to perfect latch, for the soreness to go away, for it to get easier in general. Many mothers get discouraged before that time is up then say they "couldn't breastfeed." For what it's worth, only 3% of women have a true medical reason why she cannot breastfeed. For the others, they either chose not to or gave it up and that is okay. All moms love their babies and want to give them the best and have a right to make their own choice regarding feeding.

Back to the topic of breastfeeding it must be said that the first few weeks are a learning curve as a mother learns how to position her baby, what a good latch looks and feels like how how long it takes for her baby to eat. Mothers nurse around the clock; breastfed babies eat about every two hours (from the time of first feed) and it may take 40 minutes for a baby to eat. That means every hour and 20 minutes, baby is attached to the boob. I still remember fumbling at the breast, trying to latch my newborn J to my breast, listening for sucking sounds, trying to keep him awake, trying to relax and persist until I felt a tugging sensation from within my breast. When I felt that, breastfeeding did feel natural; however, when I did not, it sometimes hurt and sometimes I felt like a failure. But I digress.

Eventually, every new mother must venture out of the house with her baby. Remember, we all need to run errands and get some time outside enjoying the fresh air. That is healthy. And eventually babies need to eat. A mother knows that there are signs that a baby is hungry before crying, which is a late sign and every mother knows how to feed her own baby. If a mother formula feeds, she either has a pre-prepared bottle of formula or powder stored in some way with a bottle of water. A breastfeeding mother has an advantage here: she does not need to pack a thing because her breasts go wherever she does.

Sometimes people turn and stare, sometimes people give dirty looks, sometimes people embarrass or shame a mother either by insulting the mother to her face or by whispering loudly something along the lines of, "I did not need to see that today" or "Why can't she pump a bottle of milk?" (FYI a breastpump is not as efficient as a baby at emptying the breast and a mother establishing her supply must empty the breasts every two hours to avoid engorgement and in order to keep the supply and demand going. Other people are supportive and then referred to as "breastfeeding nazis." Sometimes, the mother then feels ashamed and will try to find some place to hide and feed next time. Maybe she won't feel comfortable leaving the house. Other times, mothers feel indignant and angry, as they should, and fight for their rights. The law in most states says that a woman has a right to breastfeed her baby anywhere at any time.

Why do we feel the need to shame a women feeding? Here are some common anti-NIP statements I have heard along with my rebuttal. (italics for argument against)

  • Breastfeeding is natural but so is peeing. I don't pee in front of everyone, so why should a woman breastfeed in public? When we urinate, the urine comes out in a stream into a toilet bowl. Sometimes it splashes and we need to wash our hands to wash away the germs. Technically our own urine is sanitary to ourselves but we do not need it in order to nourish ourselves. Babies need to be nourished. Breast milk is nourishment and and full of antibodies and actually protects against the illnesses that germs lead to? When in your lifetime has a mother expressed her milk by hand and squirted it at you? 
  • I don't want to see a woman whip out her tits. Most nursing moms nurse discreetly with little tricks that they have learned along the way. When a baby latches on, baby's body and face covers the breast. When a baby is properly latched, all you see is the top of her breast, the same thing you see in cleavage-bearing tops. 
  • What will I tell my child who sees a nursing mom? How about you tell your child that she is feeding her baby. The child may not ask questions. Or you can explain that a mother's breasts create milk made for babies. 
  • It's indecent exposure. Is it now? Do breastfeeding moms walk around topless in public while nursing? Does she strip out all of her clothes, grab a breast and flail it around while announcing on the top of her lungs, "I AM NOW BREASTFEEDING MY CHILD!"? No? Didn't think so.
  • Why doesn't she pump and bring the milk with her? Pumping is not as efficient as letting a child suckle and empty the breast. Women who do not empty the breasts frequently enough get engorged which is painful and can lose their supply. Besides, who really wants to lug around bottles of breast milk that they then need to wash later when they have milk on tap?
  • I don't want my husband/boyfriend/fiance to get turned on. Breasts have more than one purpose. They are both sexual and used for pleasure, but they are also used to make milk and feed another human being. Learn to separate the two. Mothers do not feed their babies to turn on men. 
  • Why can't moms just cover up before they breastfeed? Have you ever eaten with a blanket over your head? It gets hot and feels awkward. Most babies like to gaze into their mother's eyes while eating; that goes for both formula fed babies and breastfed babies. As babies get older, they may pull the cover off because they just don't like it. Some are fine with a cover but others are not. Mothers have a right to feed in whatever way works for her baby.
  • Breastfeeding mothers flaunt what they are doing. No, they don't. They are trying to do the same thing that a bottle feeding mom is doing. They are trying to feed their baby. Would you rather hear a baby cry because a breastfeeding mom doesn't want to offend you? By the way, why is it that a breastfeeding mom is "flaunting" what she is doing but a formula feeding mom is just feeding her baby? 
I'm sure there are many more arguments against breastfeeding and when a breastfeeding mom tries to defend the right to NIP, she is attacked as being a breastfeeding nazi or as a show-off. Maybe formula feeding moms feel attacked or judged, when all a breastfeeding mom is trying to do is feel pride in her accomplishments as a nursing mom and defend her right to feed her baby. This post has been written by a mother who only nursed for four days then formula fed; I have been educating myself because I believe that knowledge is power and someday I will try to breastfeed baby #2. I wanted to share what I have learned with all of you.

One last thing, if you say "I support breastfeeding followed by the conjunction "but," you do not support breastfeeding. Whether or not breastfeeding makes you comfortable or not, we as mothers need to support one another. 

Nursing moms, share your stories with me! I would love to read them.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Threenage Year

There is a popular meme being shared on social media sites alike that defines a "threenager" as "a three year old possessing the attitude and demeanor of a teenager. I am here to tell you that the threenager is a real thing. I know because my J is in his threenager year right now. Maybe the two's were "terrible" for you or maybe they were a breeze. Well, parenting gets more challenging when you have a three year old on your hand. It will be as if a flip has been switched, and you are met with attitude and a brand new set of phrases and  stubbornness.

Remember, this too shall pass. From what I am told, your child will suddenly be easier to handle on the fourth birthday. In the meantime, just take it in stride. A three year old has just had a giant developmental leap! No longer a toddler, he or she is considered a preschooler even if you don't send him or her to preschool. Your child has a bigger vocabulary, a new way of understanding things and wants to push the boundaries to see if they still exist. Your child may find it a frightening time and lash out at you because "we always hurt the ones we love." Your threenager wants to be a big kid now but doesn't quite know how. Your threenager will sigh, roll eyes and make every day interesting, to say the least.

I am a patient person yet I have had to step away from whatever is happening to take a deep breath and regain my composure.

Here are my threenager's top phrases:
"But I don't want to."
"It's too hard."
"Go away Mommy!"
"I run away."

J's Memorable Threenager Moments

  • J told me, "I want iPhone. My response, "No." J, "Why?" Me: "You don't need one." J: "Mommy and Daddy have iPhone." Me: "Daddy bought his a long time ago. Mommy's was free. You are three. Three year olds don't need iPhones. You have a Thomas phone." (A toy phone) J then rolled his eyes at me, sighed loudly and pretended I was no longer in the room with him.
  • The other day, I told J to try and use the potty. Expected response, "I don't want to." Then after I try to persuade him, I got an unexpected response: "Go away Mommy!" Followed by his running to the bathroom, slamming the door and barricading himself against it.
  • J has been known to intentionally drop whatever he is holding onto the floor, roll his eyes then demand, "Mommy get it." In case you're wondering, I then take away the toy because we have a rule that toys should be treated nicely so they don't get broken. Then we move on quickly with a new activity so that a meltdown doesn't happen.
I can look back at these moments and laugh. J is a threenager now and keeps me on my toes. One minute he is hugging me and telling me, "I luv woo," and the next he is yelling at me to go away. One minute, J wants my help with something and the next time he wants to do it himself. I navigate each day patiently, with an upbeat attitude but stay firm when it comes to rules and limits. No matter what J says, I know he loves me and is doing his best to try and exert some control in his life. No matter what, I love J. Nobody ever said parenting was supposed to be easy.

I have some tips and tricks  for letting your child feel that he or she has some control and promise to share some other time. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hey there, other mom

Hey there, other mom, you and I do things differently and I know you think that I judge you. I know that you see my different parenting style as a slap in the face or perhaps it makes you feel guilty. That was never my intent. You see, we are two different people, you and I. What works for me and my family may not work for yours. Sometimes, I see a look on your face that says you're defeated and maybe think you want some advice. If my advice is ever unsolicited, I am sorry, because I have been there in your shoes and gotten unsolicited advice. There have been times I wanted to lash out and yell at the person who gave unsolicited advice that I disagreed with; but, I just smiled and nodded and now you do the same thing.

Hey there, other mom. Maybe you practice cry-it-out with your child and I don't; I don't think poorly of you but if you tell me that's the only way, I will fill you in on my technique. To be honest, when I hear a baby crying out, it makes my heart ache but I don't judge you at all. I try to understand you because all moms need to be understood and appreciated.

Hey there, other mom. I see your child throwing a tantrum in the store and I can tell that you're embarrassed. Everyone is staring and it makes you feel like a terrible mom. Guess what, kids tantrum and mine does too sometimes. I want to step in and give you a great big hug when you look like you're ready to cry. I want to try and help you diffuse the situation. I don't because I don't want to overstep my bounds. When you see me looking at you, please know that it is with a mutual respect and understanding because I've been there and done that with my child.

Hey there, other mom. I see you with a crying infant in the store and my heart goes out to you. You look like you really need a nap and for someone to give you a break. I see people stare and whisper, "Who brings a baby to the store when the baby cries?" I understand. You see, my son was a colicky baby and cried no matter what I did. Sometimes I cried with him. People stared and gave dirty looks, or told me to feed my crying baby. I get it. You do what you need to do and don't worry about anybody else.

Hey there, other mom. You are trying to discipline your child and have a different technique than I do. I practice gentle discipline so that my son learns natural consequences and I explain things to him. Maybe you do time-outs while I do time-ins. You think I don't discipline my child and you think I never lose my cool. Guess what, I've lost my patience before because I'm human just like you. I know that what works for my family may not work for yours, and I accept that. Can you accept it too?

Hey there, other mom. You and I aren't all that different. We both love our children and would do anything for them.When it comes down to it, parenting is not an easy task. We love our children so much that it hurts and we make decisions on a daily basis about how to handle each and every situation. Sometimes, we wonder if we have made the wrong decision and sometimes we pat ourselves on the back. Sometimes we fumble along the way. Sometimes we don't.

Hey there, other mom. I've got your back.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Unexpected Phrases

Before I became a mommy, I had an idea of some quirky things that kids say and do. Not only have I attended college where I studied elementary education, but I worked as a nanny for many years and babysat; not to mention, I come from a large family! I was aware of the stages that both Piaget and Freud outline that everyone goes through. I've also witnessed and have been a part of the "why" stage when children incessantly ask, "Why? Why? Why?" in response to everything that a person says. What I wasn't prepared for was the little phrases that I would be saying either to reprimand J or to converse with him. I've definitely had some WTF moments. Here are some unexpected phrases that nobody prepared me for:

  • Peaches don't belong in your ear.
  • Don't lick the window. That's yucky.
  • We don't walk up the walls with our shoes on.
  • There's nothing inside of your belly button. It's just a little hole in your belly.
  • No, your penis doesn't have a boo boo. The hole is what the pee comes out of.
  • Mommy is too big to sit on your lap.
  • Please don't put rice down your shirt. It only gets into your belly when you eat it with your mouth.
  • Cat litter is not food.
I'm sure there were many other crazy phrases but those stick out most in my mind. What kind of WTF moments have you had with your kids? 

Painful Memories

When it comes to my own childhood, I have some painful memories. You see, my mother was mentally ill like I am but it was with a different disorder. My mom had bipolar disorder a.k.a. manic depression. Everyone has mood swings but my mom's were extreme. Sometimes my mom was happy and energetic and created amazing happy memories. She would wake up early in the morning, open up my curtains singing, "Good morning sunshine! Rise and shine with the sun!" I would groggily sit up and rub the sleep from my eyes; or as a teenager I would pull the covers over my head and groan at her to go away and let me sleep. My mom would cook a full breakfast with my favorite foods: pancakes, turkey bacon, turkey sausage, toast, and fruit. Then she would say to me, "Let's have a hooky day today, girlfriend!" She would call school and tell a little fib that I was running a fever, then my mom would take me shopping for a brand new wardrobe. My mom had so much money, or so I thought when I was a child. Her wallet was full of magical plastic cards and she used as many as she needed to buy me the things that she said would look good on me. Later, we would go out for lunch, again with plastic cards. Sometimes we would take a random road trips to Cape May or to Clementine Water Park or even to Pennsylvania.

Late at night, my mom would stay up crafting. She would crochet blankets or doilies. She would teach herself to pain on glass. She would paint beautiful pictures on glass vases to give as gifts. She would make crafts for every season: elaborate wreathes, decorations to put outside and around the house, trinket boxes that she painted then dry brushed then decorated with dried flowers. Sometimes she would antique her art. During the day, my mom taught me how to do the crafts that she did. Other nights, my mom stayed up baking a lot of goods: brownies, cookies, cakes, fudge, and so on. I would wake up to find a kitchen full of delicious treats that she was gifting to the people whom she cared about.

One day, I would wake up all by myself and things would be different, which would lead to painful memories. My mom wouldn't be the one to wake me up and she wouldn't cook me breakfast. She would still be asleep and if I tried to wake her up, she would yell at me to let her sleep or she would promise she would be up in five more minutes. I would have to make my mom's coffee and I would pour myself cereal and milk for breakfast. Sometimes Mom would get up and other times, she would stay in bed crying. If I tried to hug her, I was told that I was being manipulative and selfish. I was confused about what was happening. Why was I selfish? If I was a good girl, maybe my mom would be happy.

Sometimes after work, my mom would come home and pour a drink with her friends. They'd smile while having tonic and gin, and laugh loud. When I got out of bed to ask her to tickle my back, my mom would tell me to go back to sleep. Or sometimes, she would invite me to stay up and play cards while she and her friends gossiped. Sometimes they talked about things that I didn't understand: sex, marital problems and the "sluts" they didn't like My sister learned that she could stay up too provided she rubbed my mom's back.

Sometimes my mom had a new boyfriend. They all had one syllable names: John, Jim, Dan or something of the like. Of course, their names were pretty common and there was more than one Jim, more than on John, and so on it would go. My mom would accuse me of running the men out of her life when I asked when they were going to marry my mommy. You see, my dad remarried when I was eight years old, and it only made sense to me if my mom would too. I thought if I had a stepmom that I should have a stepdad too. It was only logical in my mind. When a boyfriend cheated on her, it was her fault or it was my fault or it was the "slut's fault." I never understood why men would spend the night then leave in the morning, and why we would see them for awhile then they'd never come around again.

I never knew which days my mom would be happy or which days she would be sad. Life with my mom was like riding a roller coaster and my sister and I learned how to go along for the ride so that we didn't fall off and get left behind.

When I was in high school, I took a psychology class and recognized all of the symptoms that my mom had when we learned about bipolar disorder: extreme mood swings, putting oneself into debt with many credit cards and random shopping sprees, lying in bed all day crying, the alcohol use, the over-the-top-happiness and evading of responsibilities. I tried to talk to my mom and tell her that I believed she needed help. My mom laughed me off at first until I persisted at nagging her into calling a doctor. I wish someone would have listened to me then before it got to be too late.

I am pained when I think about how my mom's mental health declined. Her shopping sprees during manic episodes became more extreme; for example, she would buy twelve loaves of bread on sale then put them in her car and leave them there just in case she may need them at any given time until the bread went moldy and the car smelled bad. My mom would peruse the neighborhood on "collection day" and college random items such as bowling balls or rocking chairs, or would take a trip to the local turnpike rest stop and fill her purse with little packets of ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper. She filled her van with random odds and ends that she may need at some point in time (like the bowling balls). It pains me to say that when I was in my twenties I had to cut off contact with my mom because I started having anxiety attacks when she called me in the middle of the night to tell me she was going to slit her wrists or told me about events that I knew were hallucinations.

My most painful memory is the one surrounding her death. When my mom was 42 years old (I was 22), I walked into my father and stepmother's house and my dad told me to sit down because he had something to tell me. My mother had been missing for a week and eventually her neighbor noticed and called the police. When they burst into my mother's apartment, they found it in complete disarray because she became a hoarder and left her insulin needles everywhere. In her bedroom, my mother was dead on her bedroom floor, her body already in decomposition. My dad had been contacted and he had to tell me this news. The autopsy revealed that my mom had been dead for some time before her body was discovered but the autopsy report listed her date of death as September 14, 2005.

My dad accompanied me and my sister to the funeral home where we had to plan the funeral. We had no money because my mom had cashed out her retirement plans and life insurance policy, leaving behind nothing but debt. My stepmom had to send copies of the death certificate to all the debtors, leaving out our names so that we would not bear the responsibility of paying it all back.\

When we viewed our mom's body, she did not look like herself anymore. She was cold and was missing hair and her face was slightly purple, even with the makeup that was applied. We had to ask for monetary donations in lieu of flowers because we had no money to pay for a funeral, and the funeral director helped us to cut costs by driving the casket to the cemetery in his personal car. I spoke the eulogy and asked the people in attendance to find it in their hearts to forgive my mom for the ways in which she had hurt everyone when her mental condition literally drove her crazy. The person who really needed to forgive her most of all was me, and I am still working on that.

My biggest fear is that I will turn into my mom. Unlike my mom, I sought help when I became depressed but whenever I feel a little too happy, I am afraid that I am manic and call my therapist. So far, he has always said that I am anxious but we are monitoring my condition because you never know what can happen.

I promise that my son will never know the pain that I did, because I will always be on top of things. Someday, I hope to come to terms with the way things had happened; I will forgive my mom, I will forgive the doctors for ignoring me, I will forgive myself for giving up on her. Most of all, I will learn to let go of the memories that haunt me almost every day.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Dark and Looming Cloud

The expression, "This is so depressing,"is commonly used but for someone like me who has depression, that is a careless use of the word. True depression goes much deeper than feeling sad one day. I am about to get raw and give a big glimpse into my mind because I am hoping that somebody somewhere may feel the same way and then be pushed into getting proper help.

For me, I don't just wake up depressed one day. It builds up like a storm on the horizon, and there is always a dark cloud just waiting to rain on my parade. I may start out feeling a little bit tired and decide not to get out of bed. I may blow up at something small that a mentally healthy person would take in stride. I start out feeling blah and every single day it gets just a little worse until one day, I stop getting out of bed, I stop showering, I overeat to try and stuff the emotions down, I snap at the people I care the most and isolate myself from everyone, I blame myself for everything that goes wrong in my life, I cry myself to sleep, I sleep all day and all night, I become that permissive parent with J because I just don't want to deal with him anymore. I start to look in the mirror and see a shell of a person with empty eyes. Behind those eyes, is the hurt that I try to hide as hard as I can. It gets worse and worse until one day I start to feel like a burden to everyone in my life. J starts to throw massive tantrums because my mood is affecting him, and he's crying out for a little positive attention. I ask my husband to get up with J every single morning because I just can't. I sit around crying all the time, even in front of my child. When things get stressful (e.g. money becomes tight or I get bad news), I spiral downward even more. J doesn't understand why his mommy won't play with him anymore and feels neglected.

Eventually, it all gets to be too much and I start to think that everyone in my life would be better off if I could just disappear. I pray to God that he will take me in my sleep and start to fantasize about the ways that I can disappear so that I can burdening everyone in my life. I tell myself that J would be so much better off without me because I am a horrible mother. I can no longer concentrate and don't focus well when I drive. I write suicide notes in my head and I get dangerous to myself. I purposely park on dangerous roads and cross the street, hoping that a car will hit me; if it looks like an accident, my husband can move on and nobody will be angry with me. J can move on and someday be the best person that he can be since I am holding him back.

When it comes down to it, I loved everyone in my life except for myself; and you know what they can't truly love anyone until you love yourself. I actually loathed myself to the core; I was weak, over-emotional, a bitch, a terrible person, a bad mother, a horrible daughter, a horrible daughter-in-law, a horrible wife, a failure of a person, and so on. Anything bad that you can think of, I felt that I was. I may have pasted a smile on my face but inside, I was slowly shriveling away.

I would be in a room full of people and the dark cloud was always looming. I would wonder why I was there, and how the people put up with me. When meaningless comments were made about small things, in my mind those miniscule comments became bullets aimed at me. For example, someone could say something like, "My son has always been on the skinny side" while watching my J play. The story I heard was, "Oh my God. That kid is fat. That kid's mom is fat. Jaime is a horrible mother and she is ruining her child." Was that what the person may have meant? Absolutely not. But for a person with depression, your mind tells you a different story.

One day, I realized that I was hurting J and I could not continue to do that. I recognized that these feelings were not normal after a text message to my sister that was a cry for help, she implored me to call my doctor I informed her that I was too tired of living and that nobody needs me anymore. I told my husband the same exact thing and he called our church's Senior Pastor. The pastor asked me to meet with her so I did, and I sat in her office and cried. I confessed that I was a mistake and that I should not be alive.

 That same day after meeting with the Pastor, I called the mental health number listed on my insurance card and asked for numbers for therapists. I also made an appointment with my MD and she started me on an anti-depressant called Pristiq. The therapist recommended therapy once a week and has been working on coping methods with me so that when life gets too stressful, my mind doesn't tell me the wrong story that sets me back again. My MD manages my medication and she and my therapist have a signed release from me that they may communicate regarding my treatment. Within a couple of weeks, the cloud slowly started to lift and I could see some light, and in about six weeks, I was able to get out of bed again. I get up with J in the morning now and I pick him up from school. I no longer daydream about dying, and I actually play with J. I kiss my husband and tell him I love him, and I reach out to the people who I isolated myself when the depression set in.

My therapist says that my depression is currently in remission but will never truly be gone. I have told my story so that it may help somebody somewhere. Please, if you ever feel the way that I have felt, tell somebody and if you know somebody who acts the way that I did, call for help. It can be a matter of life and death.

I'm back!!!

Good morning! I am well aware that I dropped off the face of the earth, but there is a reason for that and I am about to get very personal. 

All of my life, I have been a people-pleaser. I could not handle disappointing any person at any given time and help myself to the highest standard. My standard was being perfect so that everyone would love me. Now, as you can imagine, it is not easy to be perfect and it comes with a high price. Throughout my high school career, I maintained straight A's, was active in many extra-curricular activities: marching band, concert band, concert choir, chorus, the school newspaper and committees for every single dance that we had at the school. You see, it was ingrained in me that I would never be anybody if I didn't go to college. Not quite in those exact words; more like, "Life is so tough and only people with a college degree can make a real living. Don't be like me. I dropped out/I never went to college/your aunt was the only one who went to college/I am counting on you/You are so smart/You should get your doctorate by the time you're 30/etc. So, I joined every club that I possibly could and volunteered too, because everyone around me knew what was best for me (or so I believed for a very long time). 

I graduated with honors from high school as a member of the National Honor Society. However, I was isolated from many of my classmates and every single day, I felt like I was walking on a tight rope. I had to maintain the perfect image for the people whom I was closest to and I could not screw up. Screwing up was not an option, even if I was trying to find myself. I could find myself when I was 62 and retired; I did not matter at all. Only the act that I could put on did. In the meantime, I have always been lonely when in a room full of people as my head and heart were pulling me in different directions and nobody could possibly understand. But I do believe there are readers who do understand and if you do, please share your own experiences.

I was told that I could pay back someone close to me for everything he's done for me by graduating from college. By the way, this was five years ago after changing schools three times and majors four times. I was chasing a dream of being a teacher so that I could make a difference in the lives of children and work Monday thru Friday and have summers off. Why? Because everyone told me that is the best career and at one time in my life, I believed it was too. After student teaching, I can tell you that teaching is not just from 9-3 with summers off because the best teachers, like my cooperating teacher, work their butts off to get to know their students, plans amazing lessons in a timely fashion and either stay late at school or take their work home with them. I could get into a lot more detail but that is not at all what this blog is about. It was reinforced in me that working in childcare was not "a real job." I needed "a real like" which in many people's minds means being a teacher.

I was pregnant when I returned to university and remained a full-time student until J was born. I had the summer off and in September, he was 4 months old and I returned to school once more. I quickly found that it was extremely difficult to be the mom I wanted to be, take care of all of J's special needs, keep up with my school work, keep in touch with my family and most, to be happy. I was burning the candle at both ends with the motto in my head that "winners never quit." I had to be  a winner, even if it mean losing my identity. At night, I would lay down in bed and cry. I really just wanted to be a SAHM or a WAHM but that what would everyone think of me? I would be happy, but everyone else would think I was a loser. I couldn't let that happen.

Determined to make everyone proud, as I started to have anxiety attacks, stopped sleeping, cried at the drop of a hat and started to lose my patience with J from being pulled in all directions, I took the Praxis 2 so that I could so my professional field work and graduate. I also took a class called American Drama with a certain professor who will remain unnamed; one of the best plays we read in that class is Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. What I took away from that play was that you can either work yourself into the ground until your life no longer matters like Willy Loman did, or you can follow your heart as his once-upon-a-time-football-hero son did. I really wanted to follow my heart, but I had to get my B.A. because financially, my husband and I were strained and it all fell on me to bring home the bacon someday. I passed three sections of Praxis 2: Language Arts/Reading, Science and Social Studies. I failed math the first time and retook it four more times. 

After tutoring, reconnecting with God and major soul searching, as well as therapy and medication management for depression and anxiety that caused me an inability to function in my life, I said a little prayer before my fifth time. My husband recently attained an amazing job that pays him well and we are no longer living paycheck to paycheck; we are saving up to buy a house of our own (we live with his parents right now and have since 2008). That means that the dream that I kept a secret from everyone but a select few is now possible and I am going after it. I plan to become certified in first aid and CPR for infants and children once again, get a job as a nanny, save every single penny I make plus part of my husband's salary as well. We will buy a house once we have enough saved up, because my father-in-law works in real-estate with a family friend and they will help us look at all avenues for a good home. Once we buy a house, my husband and I will be trying for baby #2! 

Now here comes the rest of my dream, because that was just part of it. After the baby is born and I am cleared to work at 6 weeks pp, I will be offering childcare during regular hours in my home on the books. I will be doing whatever it takes and caring for up to five children in my home because the law allows it, and I can handle that many children after working in a daycare and as a nanny for 6 years. Someday, I will save up and rent a building to move the daycare to and my current families will have first dibs. 

Love it or hate it, this is my dream and I'm going for it! I'm finally allowing myself to be happy and no longer worrying about anyone else's opinion; I'm 31 and it's time to live for me. 

What's your dream?