Making the Parenting Jump From Surviving to Thriving

Hey guys! I’m sorry, so sorry … I know I need 1,000 updates on my car, but right now just do NECESSARY SERVICE. Also, M puked in there this morning. I aired it out best I could, but true story … it smells AWFUL. Maybe work in high ventilation? Oh, AND the gas gauge is like going past E, so let’s not blast that A/C, okay? Wait, does A/C affect gas usage, or is that just a random fact I made up? Anyways, I’ll be typing over there.

Oddly enough, this isn’t a very abnormal greeting in my world. My life travels at a million miles a minute with a guaranteed backstory to everything. M is a feisty, precocious almost 2-year-old, and I’m a full-time working mama. It’s just us. Think Gilmore Girls with more potty training and less snow. Life has come hard and fast at us both, and it seems everyday simple tasks {like car service} can take such crazy twists at any moment.

For example, this past month…

Car Sickness ::  Trying to get to work, then get my oil change, and the kid projectile vomits from car sickness as we arrive at daycare. On herself. The car seat. Me. Daniel Tiger. You get it.

Work Conflict ::  Having my first big break at a lecture series I’ve wanted to take over for years … and daycare calls with explosive diarrhea 20 minutes before I talk.

Random Acts of Nature ::  Going for a quick walk before the children’s museum visit on a Saturday morning, and in the two seconds I look away, M finds, befriends, and claims she pets a stray bat in the middle of the driveway in BROAD. DAYLIGHT. {For real you guys. Yes, I say you guys … I’m from Ohio. I am sorry. I suspect the heavy winter clothes mask all identity, and at some point this became the gender neutral for us.}

Being a single parent with newborn was definitely not the plan, but we all know what they say about plans. Year one was a mix of survival, stress, and paralyzing anxiety at any mini {or major} disasters. “Year 1 Me” was struggling to SURVIVE.

Here is how Year 1 Me would react…

Car Sickness :: Probably cry … and then curse at how difficult life has become. I would then vomit as I deal with her vomit because I just can’t do vomit. Of course she’s a puker; I’m a puker. You look nothing like me, and this is my one trait you got? I’d call into work and say she was sick and there was no way I can come in, and I’d cancel the critical oil change appointment thus creating a potential car breaking down situation, leading to another crisis situation down the road.

Work Conflict :: Maybe cry again … and then panic. I would then beg and beg someone to watch her or simply give away my precious lecture to someone else, thus admitting defeat and missing my chance. And I might be caught quite possibly overreacting or underreacting to M’s needs as I was already keyed up.

Random Acts of Nature :: Lose my ever flipping mind.

The parenting learning curve is steep. The single parent learning curve is like jumping out of a plane possibly with or without a parachute. You better figure it out and fast. I needed help. I didn’t want to merely survive anymore … I was exhausted, isolating myself, and always tense. M deserved better than this. Change needed to happen.

We slowly began rebuilding our tribe after ours burnt down. We began asking for help when we needed it. I got help to work on myself. I stopped worrying about what “might” happen and instead relied on knowing I could handle the day as it came. By nature I am a fly by the seat of her pants, it’ll all work out kind of person … but I learned to become organized and prepared regarding M’s needs.

Here is how Year 2 Me reacted…

Car Sick ::  Calmly removed her from the car seat, wiped her down {I learned to fight my own gag reflex by slow mouth breathing}, and tidily put everything in the bag I keep in my car. I tossed on her spare clothes and calmly explained to daycare she was carsick. She has done this 4 times – every time I took her home she was fine. I have never taken her sick to daycare, and they know I wouldn’t do that. I have built credibility. We also have a doctor’s note on file regarding this and Zofran on hand. I shot a text to work, waited the agreed 30 minutes with daycare to make sure she is no longer sick, and then arrived at work. I checked on my students/patients, ran down to our surgical center to borrow a scrub top to replace my ruined shirt. I checked in on her at noon: Perfect! She was 100%, so I got my car serviced where we discovered a dangerous nail in a tire and a battery that would fail. Future crisis averted.

Work Conflict :: I quickly texted my contacts. I have learned to ask for help and who I can get it from. This process has been painful for me as I am a do-it-my-selfer, but I have learned. I have a long list of students, staff, and colleagues who are on call for me only for work emergencies. I have everything I need in my office – pack-n-play, meds, snacks, food, water, milk, potty, probiotics. It has saved me numerous times

Random Acts of Nature :: I lost my ever-flipping mind. I mean a bat? Come on. SERIOUSLY? And WHY would you go near a hissing creature of the night. HAVE I TAUGHT YOU NOTHING? Sigh. We earned a series of rabies shots. Yes, it was awful, but I called a friend who came with us for support. {Don’t worry… I’m toying with a “What to do if your toddler befriends a bat” how-to in the future.} I also went all mama bear crazy, and armed with a broom and rage, I caught the bat {alive} and secured it. Y’all {I’m testing this Southern thing out} … the ER doctor’s and nurses’ faces when I said I had the bat with me and how I caught it… THE BEST!

So if you feel you are just surviving from situation to situation, that’s okay! I am still there with you. It’s taken me so much to get to the point I am at TODAY. What everyone told me would get easier honestly has just gotten crazier, but I have gotten better! I know my kid, I see patterns, and I have the confidence of handling crisis at this point. Thriving will always be the goal, but I know not every day looks pretty. So if me handling stuff some days is rolling in with a near empty tank of gas and vomit on the floor mat that I can laugh at … I’ll take it.

**No Daniel Tigers were seriously harmed in the above-mentioned events. Well… as far as M can tell. Luckily, I passed a Toys R Us on the way back from the dealership.**
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Ana T. enjoys sharing her life observations with a healthy dose of humor as she navigates life with her pint size sassy sidekick M {November 2014}. She comes from a loving, loud Croatian family raised in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2008 she made the jump to Houston where she full time practices and teaches optometry. 2014 - 2015 was a blur of survival for her: difficulty conceiving, a rough pregnancy, a seemingly happy marriage shattered in a Lifetime Story–esque way. Being alone as full-time single parent/career woman with a newborn living miles away from her family definitely wasn't the plan. Despite all this, Ana T. and M are tearing up play spots, eating their way through town, traveling all over, and THRIVING. Ana T. is into trying out and laughing at fitness fads, ridiculous Facebook statusing, and at 34 still searching for ANY craft she could have a smidgeon of talent in {currently it’s knitting… stay tuned}.



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