Finding My Way Through Motherhood

Today was a day I had to remove myself.

My son decided to take his sweet time getting ready for school this morning. This meant cajoling, bribing, threatening and any other maneuver I could think of to get him out the door. I dropped him off 10 mins after the bell because he just couldn’t get it together this morning. Then when we pulled up and I opened the van door, a snail couldn’t have gotten out of the van any slower than he did. I teetered on the edge of completely losing it and becoming a screaming maniac in the parking lot.

I held it together long enough for him get out and shut the door and I drove away without looking back. And I didn’t want to see him again until the end of the school day. I was seeing RED.

Today I had to remove myself by shutting down my “Mom” side for the hours my children were at school and focus on the “Calleen” side of me or I wasn’t going to be any good for them, me, or anyone else.

Did I feel guilty for feeling like this? Absolutely! But more importantly, I understood that it was okay to feel this way as long as I wasn’t taking it out on anyone and I was actively taking the necessary steps to change the way I wanted to react. My son can’t help that sometimes the Autism, ADHD, and just being a kid get in the way of him doing what he wants and needs to do. There are times when that not only threatens to but does overwhelm me (and him!). I am human.

So days like today I have to let everything go and concentrate on what will bring me joy. Spending time walking along the beach, reading a book, baking, playing the piano… What will help me calm down so I can be my best self for my children and husband? That is what I need to be concentrating on. School gets out in a few hours and I need to be ready.


Yesterday Was a Win

A Win

Yesterday was a win. I was feeling well. Anxiety was held at bay. I accomplished so much and words just flowed on to the page. I think I wrote 4 articles, I (finally) got the last of the Christmas decorations down and actually in the shed. I was patient and kind with my children. I was happy to see them and my husband.

Today is not. Anxiety is a crazy unpredictable thing. Today I have to rest or I will be writhing in pain from the pain in my eyes that comes now with my anxiety attacks. There is a huge feeling of doom I cannot shake. I keep trying to push myself forward and get things done. Trying to focus on the good things, telling myself not to listen to the lies my brain is telling me. Anxiety pushes me back. Slamming me back down, telling me that I’m not good enough, and that bad things will happen unless I worry about everything and make a plan to find a way through. It is a war within myself as I struggle to gain back control of the body and mind that often loses control and will make me hyperventilate, make the room spin, make me feel detached and separate from all that is going on around me or some new trick this part of my body named Anxiety likes to play.

30% of all adults will at some time in their lives experience an anxiety disorder. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is here to stay with you for the rest of your life, just that you could go through it for a period of time. If you are a woman, you are about a third more likely then men to experience an anxiety disorder. It is only once you have had a period of anxiety attacks and they go away and then come back again, or it never leaves that you are diagnosed with a Chronic Anxiety Disorder.

Chronic Anxiety disorder sucks.

Yesterday was a win. Today is not. Tomorrow is a question mark.


Finding Your Tribe

Shortly after D was diagnosed with Autism he started Occupational Therapy (OT). For as long as I live, I will never forget walking into his first appointment and feeling such relief as I observed the other kids there. As one boy came careening around the wall and then crashed into it, I realized that I had found D’s tribe. There were other kids out there just like him! He wasn’t alone!

Not only did he find his tribe but I found mine in the other parents in the waiting rooms who were all going through similar experiences. This brought me hope and information I was searching for.

Finding your tribe is probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your child after receiving a diagnosis that knocks you off your feet. They help you regain your balance, feel accepted and not crazy, (because sometimes you really wonder about your sanity). It helps your child deal with the loneliness that comes with discovering you are different and all your friends don’t have medical procedures they have to do every day, that they have jokes that you don’t understand because to you, speech is very literal, or that while their friends are playing after school, you’re at doctors appointments, therapy or just too exhausted to play.

To my tribe, THANK YOU!

To those of you who aren’t in my tribe yet, I can’t wait to meet you and help you in the way so many others have helped us.

How to Help Your Kids Have Healthy Eating Habits

I started out my children’s life by feeding them healthy food as most parents do. I trained them to be good at eating their fruits and vegetables.

Once while visiting family, (my children were 1 and 2 at the time), my sister tried to be a bad Aunt and entice them to eat dessert first before our meal, but my kids turned her down flat and asked for the freshly steamed green beans instead. Victory! I was teaching them to like healthy food and be healthy eaters!

Fast forward to current day- My children are now 10 and 11. They are much more likely to turn up their noses at green beans and go straight for dessert. What happened??

My son balances his diet out more than my daughter with vegetables and fruit. He will scarf down a Costco sized container of blueberries or tomatoes in one sitting. But he is just as likely to eat all the sugar straight out of the sugar bowl.

I think almost worse than losing their taste for good healthy food is the complaining that happens when I cook. Every night of the week, unless I’m ordering Pizza, someone is complaining about what’s to eat. And not just about what’s to eat, but how its cut, cooked, smells or looks like (and it’s not just my kids…) Wailing about every single meal. I can’t keep anyone in my family happy. Food is becoming a 4 letter word for me.

What they don’t understand is that I’m cooking them these homemade meals out of the kindness of my heart, and for argument’s sake, I’m not a bad cook. People enjoy what I cook usually. Yes, I could let them eat pizza and fast food 3 meals a day, but I don’t believe that is healthy nor is it economical. And I have my Mother’s Scottish blood running through my veins which compels me to be frugal.

I have learned a few things along the way that have helped and I want to share those with you so that you can have a better experience than I did.

  • Cook with your kids. Involving them in the process teaches them a necessary life skill and exposes them to different foods and their favorite foods in different forms. They get to see that tomato that they love to eat whole, made into the salsa they have previously refused to even look at.
  • We have a rule in our family that you need to try one bite of everything on your plate. If you don’t like it you don’t have to eat anymore. (This excludes food that you are allergic to or have food intolerances for of course.) After two years of trying salmon in this way, cooked different ways and probably served once a month, my children both decided that they loved it. But it took two years of continually asking them to try it. If it is a particularly repulsive food to them, start with them first just having it on their plate. Once they can handle that, have them touch it or put it on their utensil. Then moving on to the one bite rule.
  • Don’t, or only occasionally buy the food that you consider unhealthy. If it’s not in the house they won’t eat it (and neither will you) and likely they won’t like it when they do try it. But if you do, don’t feel guilty about it. It’s not going to ruin their life. For example, I grew up drinking Kool-Aid, and grape was my favorite. It’s filled with sugary goodness. My children have never had it as I give my children 100% juice. One day I was feeling nostalgic and bought some, brought it home and had my kids try it. They thought it was awful. They had never had it before. My children would much rather have juice than a punch. Pro tip- Instead of soda, mix juice with sparkling water. Then they won’t need soda either.
  • Spend some time thinking out of the box, instead of chicken nuggets and pizza. Children can surprise you and enjoy a sophisticated palette if given the chance. Give them hummus to dip their veggies in and play with. Or make it fun. As one nutritionist told me- Ketchup is full of lycopene. Let them have ketchup on everything.
  • Do NOT become a short order cook. Even the Mayo clinic recommends that. Let them be the bad guy. “The doctor says you should stay here in your seat, even if you don’t want to eat, and just spend time with us.”

Use good judgment when determining whether it is a bigger problem and discuss the issue with your child’s pediatrician

This food thing is hard. I know. I’m living it. But for the sake of our kids, we have to win this marathon.

Faith That My Daughter Will Find Her Way

One of the hardest things as a parent is taking a back seat and letting your child take over and drive their lives. Really they have been doing it all their lives but they have let you believe that you had some control over their lives. This is just when you realize that they really are in charge of their life.

Ever since R found her voice as a baby she has sung songs of her own tune and lyrics. She would be up until midnight singing her heart out in her bed every night as a toddler and preschooler. I don’t know that she will ever be the next big thing in music, but this child has always had music in her soul.


When she was 5, I enrolled her in a Children’s Choir with a phenomenal director. She sang with them for two years and at the end of the second year, her Director died suddenly due to returning cancer. This was the first time my little girl had ever dealt with the death of someone close to her. It was a hard lesson and we took a bit of a break from Choir afterward.

We ended up moving and I thought a fresh start with choir would be good. She joined the school choir as she was now old enough.

img_0617-1I then enrolled her in a new Children’s Choir. The Director was less than impressive and although she enjoyed the choir I didn’t want to pay for something when I felt like she wasn’t learning. Since we now live in a big metropolitan area, I found a different choir for her that I felt would teach her the things she needed musically. However, last year at Christmas time the pianist of that choir also succumbed to cancer suddenly. Adding insult to injury in their last concert of the year they were going to be singing a song that her first choir had sung at her Director’s funeral. This was more than she could handle and we limped (she very unwillingly) to the end of the season. She was determined she would never sing in a choir again.

She would frequently say she hated singing. She stopped singing at home and at church. My heart ached to hear her sing again but I realized she needed to not be involved in choir for a while and despite a very strong desire on my part to make her continue with it because it is innately who she is, I backed off. I tried to give her space and help her find other ways of enjoying music.

After the summer passed and school started again, unbeknownst to me she joined the school choir again. Then recently she was asked to sing in a children’s choir at church and sing a duet. She was SO excited.

She still resists my attempts to pull her back in, and I still miss hearing her voice around the house, but she is finding her way back. And that makes me happy and more able to trust her to figure out and tell me what she needs, and a little less anxious about her taking control of the wheel.

Writing and Soul Exposure

A year ago I decided to go ahead with the idea of writing a blog about the things I had had percolating in my brain for a while. I thought about it off and on for probably 6 months before I pulled the trigger and started. So that I wouldn’t overwhelm myself, I made a goal of posting once weekly, which I have consistently met and sometimes exceeded every week this past year.

The feedback from my blog was largely positive and it fed the creative part of my soul as well as the opinionated part of me. (Pretty much all Lyman’s -my maiden name- are VERY opinionated.) About 6 months in, I decided to see if I could reach a larger audience and started submitting my work online to publishers that would get my work further afield and that was the only compensation. The first published work that wasn’t on my blog got 8.1K ❤️. To date, it’s been my most widely received post. Due to this post and others, I decided to try submitting to paying publishers.

This is a whole new world for me. I don’t struggle with writer’s block ever. Not that that won’t one day be a problem.  I have plenty to write and to say. What I have a problem with now, is freezing when it’s time to send it out into the world. Do I send it out to a paying or non paying publisher? Would it fit better with this publisher or that publisher? It’s paralyzing.

My sister recently visited and was having a conversation with my daughter. My children desperately want to make You-Tube videos, and their father and I don’t feel at this time it would be appropriate. My daughter was explaining this to my sister, and my sister made a comment something to the effect of, “No, the goal is not to have your name or picture on the internet.” That made me stop and think. I am putting my name, my image frequently, and my very soul out into the world for everyone to judge, discuss and respond to. If you google my name now… People will find me and know at least a small part of me. There’s no more hiding.

This is at the same time, both freeing, exhilarating, and terrifying. Knowing that there are people out there who feel I can write, and write well and that my thoughts have enough merit and value that they will publish them so others can read them, and even further still, pay me for those thoughts. It’s incredible. Fortunately, I haven’t met with much blowback yet on my opinions and thoughts, but I know as I grow my audience, it is coming. The trolls won’t skip me. I’ll get my share of nastiness. It takes some measure of courage to put yourself out there with some of your most inner thoughts. An instrumental musician can compose or play a piece and expose their soul through music, but no one will ever completely understand and it’s likely it will mean something completely different to the listeners. But with writing, the words are there. The meaning is clear (Hopefully!). There’s no more hiding behind a piano for me.