Does anyone care what I have to say? Validation

Validation
We all want it! Don’t we? Why exactly is it so important to thriving in our work, home, relationships? Is it that we want to be heard? Understood? Encouraged?

Maybe you long for your boss to acknowledge how hard you work. Or is it your boss that needs to feel important and respected in his or her position? Do you wish your spouse (or maybe a roommate) would thank you for doing all the dishes, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and doing the laundry after a long day at work or taking care of the kiddos?

Think about your conversations with your friends. This topic and awareness of the human need for validation keeps smacking me in the face. A friend reminded me this weekend that everything we talk about can be debated. It made me think. When I was younger I used to love to get in heated discussions, sometimes without a leg to stand on. The ironic thing is now that I actually am educated or have life experience to back up my perspectives, I find myself more annoyed by how argumentative people get if they don’t agree with you.

A few years ago my husband brought to my attention that me an my loud Italian family constantly cut each other off when we’re talking and don’t actually pay attention to what each other is saying. To me, this fact was just our way of showing we were participating and caring about the topic of conversation. To him, who comes from a family of amazingly active, attentive listeners, us cutting each other off was rude! This awareness made me realize why I thought his family was so compassionate and soft spoken. The result: I started working on listening more and asking more questions.

Now, here is the crazy thing I’ve found (most of the time): people get defensive with questions (confirming that his family is on a different spectrum of effective communication than the rest of the world). We’ve become so confrontational as a society and so quick to give our opinions. When someone asks us a question, we think they’re getting ready to tell us what we’re doing wrong. As more studies are done and an increasing amount of information is available to us, we’re becoming more ignorant and close minded. This information should foster an environment for people to make their own educated decisions, but instead it’s stirring up fights all over social media. What are we trying to prove?

Take parenting for example. My friend who’s expecting a baby in a few months posted a comment asking if anyone had a couple specific baby information books she could borrow as she prepares for this amazing and exciting journey. I was appalled at the responses. Her simple question was followed by a floodgate of people vomiting their opinions on those particular parenting philosophies; sharing how wonderful their kids turned out because of everything they did “right”. One person went as far as saying one of the philosophies has actually killed babies.

It’s just not fair! Parenting is one of the most rewarding adventures, and everyone thinks its their right to tell moms what they should and should not be doing. My favorite is when other moms tell me how easy I have it compared to them. When I wasn’t a mom I got the you-just-don’t-understand tone, “oh just wait until you have a baby.” Now that I am a Mom I get, “oh, just wait until he’s older, now is when it’s easy,” or “just wait until you two kids,”the best was, “you’re not really a mom ’til you have two.” Really? Is me thinking this is extremely rude because I need validation as a mom? Or are these moms so under appreciated they need to put other people down so THEY feel validated? What moms really need is to support each other and, yes, learn from each other, but not judge how each is raising her child(ren)!

Does this need for validation come from insecurity? Or is it just apart of the human experience of community? How do arguments or misunderstandings happen in the first place? Is it because we’re so anxious to be heard that we’re not listening to the other person.

Recently, my friend was going through a really difficult situation and needed to process her thoughts and talk out how she was feeling. Rather than allowing her to express herself, her other friends turned the situation into how they were emotionally affected by the circumstances and how upset it made them. Empathy and sympathy are both necessary at times, but so is discerning when its best to simply be quiet and let someone else talk.

What would happen in our relationships if we all just stopped thinking about the next thing to say and started appreciating the way other people think? We’re taught to ask good questions, which is important, don’t get me wrong, but are we spending too much time thinking about the next question that, again, we’re not actually listening? If everyone is seeking to be heard and understood, then questions really aren’t that important because we already have our mind made up of what we are wanting to say, right?

I’m not by any means claiming to be the best in this area. In fact, maybe because I’ve seen it as a personal weakness is the reason I’m so passionate about it. So, I’m getting off my soapbox now, but I really want your validation opinion on this topic! 🙂

Well, until my munchkin’s next nap time: I encourage you to smile, lighten up, start listening, start loving, start appreciating differences. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone! Please, no! Autonomy is boring! Just look at the person talking and hear her heart rather than the subject with which you may or may not agree.

What a Ride!

So…I’ve been gone for what seems like eternity to me, but the reality is only a couple of weeks. I’ve missed you WordPress and fellow readers and bloggers! Here’s why I’ve been MIA:

Last week I learned what being a Mom really is all about. MIA in my world is redefined as Mommy In Action. Up until two Mondays ago at 4:30am I had been enjoying all the amazing thrills of smiles, laughter, and watching my baby boy achieve all the developmental milestones.

I woke up startled by a shrilling scream. This was not a normal cry; I knew something was terribly wrong. I ran into his room to find him burning up. I immediately pick him up and try to feed him and minutes later he proceeded to projectile vomit all over me, him, the rocking chair, and the floor around us.

I took his temperature, 102 under his arm which is typically a degree less than accurate. I carefully carried him to give him a bath. His temp dropped suddenly and he started to shiver and throw up more as he’s sitting in his little bath. I immediately wrap him in a towel, dry him quickly and call the doctor.

I got an appointment first thing when the office opened. Of course, once at the doctor’s office, my son’s temperature had dropped to 99 degrees. I was instructed to keep monitoring him, give him infant Tylonal if his temp went up, and make sure he stayed hydrated; since he’s only breastfed, he needed to eat frequently. A long day of fluctuating temperatures and throwing up almost everything he ate, he finally passed out.

At 2:30am Tuesday morning I’m awoken to that same shrilling cry and a fever of 102 again, I feed him and he keeps it down this time, so I bring him to bed next to me to make sure he’s okay. Not long after I wake up startled because he was radiating heat next to me to find his underarm temp was 104!!! I gave him Tylonal and put him in the bath, and here we go again. This time I wake my husband to hold him while I call the doctor and my poor baby throws up lime green all over him. We are instructed to get to the ER within the hour.

As a new mom I’m doing everything I know and my poor little baby is rapidly getting worse. They set up an IV at the emergency room to hydrate him and he shows a good response, sigh of relief, but his fever was still above 103, eeek!! Still? He was severely lethargic; they decided to admit us into the hospital.

Test after test. Blood tests, full urine analysis, X-rays, ultrasounds, he got the full gammet. Everything negative; which in the medical world is a good thing.

My first reaction that Tuesday morning was mommy-to-the-rescue. After that didn’t work I sat in bed paralyzed by anxiety and fear. Every negative thought went whirling through my head like a tornado taring apart my faith and confidence that he was going to be okay. Holding him sobbing; I felt so helpless. The one thing I can always do that no one else can is nurse him, but he was too weak to eat. When I woke my husband his first question was, “did you call the doctor?” My teammate, my partner, my point of reasoning. The calm in his voice reminded me of where our strength comes from. We prayed, and this overwhelming peace and call to action took over.

Two nights and almost three full days in the hospital we were at complete peace. The love and support of our family and friends was the most overwhelming. Being reminded of how important relationships are. Our community was praying for us, calling or texting us, offering words of encouragement as simple as, “take a shower, it’ll make everything just a little better” (which saved me the second day of no sleep); some brought food and even a care package with a toy for my little munchkin.

Don’t get me wrong, it was the worst feeling in the world to helplessly watch my baby lie in the crib, hooked up to wires, unable to hold him without beeps and alarms sounding. He was exhausted, sick, lethargic, and pale. I had to tell the doctors he was supposed to have his Dad’s beautiful olive complexion, because they looked at me and thought his pasty skin color was normal. My husband and I just held each other with tears streaming down our faces each time they had to hold him down for another round of tests. Our happy, bubbly little boy was screaming in pain. In spite of the tears, there was still this covering of peace knowing that we were blessed with the miracle of our son, and he was going to be okay.

Sitting in the hospital I had so much to write about, so I sat awake at all hours jotting my thoughts, excited to share with the world!

We arrived home Thursday night with a little boy on his way to being healthy again. He was finally able to eat and we wanted to come home so he could actually sleep. I had family coming in town for Mother’s Day weekend and I was eager to clean house and then finally sit and publish my blogs from the hospital. I plug my phone in to make sure it would be fully charged as I awaited a flood of messages from people arriving and my phone decides to no longer charge. I lost all of my information, along with the pearls of wisdom I wanted to share 🙂 So here I am (with a new phone that I now backup regularly), back on the horse again to embark on this journey. There will be bumps in the road, hopefully not as terrifying as this last one, but I thank you for joining me on the ride.

Besides learning patience and how to breathe in stressful situations, I gained such a respect and appreciation for the people in my life. I hope I never take them for granted! I hope I can be the friend to them as they have so graciously and selflessly been to me! It is so true that you can look for friends everywhere and never find any, but the moment you are a friend to someone, you’ll find your friendships are incalculable.

Until my munchkin’s next nap, or maybe a little longer:) :
I hope my experience has helped you find peace in whatever crazy circumstance you might be facing. You’re not alone, and if you ever feel that you are, I’ll be a friend.

What obstacle are you facing today? Can I offer you some encouragement? Let’s chat!

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Scream, Cry, or Laugh: Mom on the go

Warning all readers! I have been asked by several friends to write about my working-mama-on-the-go-pumping. So, this is about me, a mom on the go, who pumps on the go…so if you’re not a Mama (or a husband who could learn some perspective on what working Mamas do in order to feed their children)…well, you might want to skip over this one.

I have the Madella double pump with the on-the-go travel tote. I highly recommend this pump by the way!!!! I’m a hairstylist with back to back clients and few breaks during the day, so being able to pump both sides in about 15 minutes saves me a lot of pain, if you know what I mean?!? They sell these amazing strapless bras that can hold the pump attachments; I can pump hands free. Not only do I pump with speed, but in that short 15 minutes, I also get to scarf some food down. Now that’s efficiency Mamas!

Now on with my story:
On any normal day I dread saying bye to my munchkin, so you can only imagine after a long day how eager I am to come home and see his precious little face; with this anticipation, every spare second counts. With unpredictable Southern Ca traffic it can take up to an hour and a half to get home. Can you see where this story is going? I have mastered pumping “on the go” like the tote promises.

So there I was sitting in my car, no one was around (I double and triple checked!), all businesses had closed, I locked up the salon. Time for set-up: put on “hooter hider” as my friends call it (aka nursing cover), put pump attachments together, start driving, and begin pumping once I get to the freeway.

I’ve timed it perfect. I pump while on the freeway because its less likely that anyone will notice what I’m doing. I’m usually done pumping by the time I exit the freeway for my last 20 minutes of driving. I detach one side on the first red light, the second at the second red light, take apart all the pump pieces at the next, then off comes the bustiér, I readjust my shirt, take off my cover, and am done and ready to give my baby kisses as soon as I park my car.

I was a frustrated, in a hurry and a little anxious! I had started work before my baby had woken up in the morning and I was running late getting out of work. Missing him like crazy, I’m rushing which is never a good thing! My cover is in place and I get ready to “set-up”. This was one of those pre-summer evenings where, even though it was after 7pm, the sun was still lighting up the sky.

All if a sudden this truck pulls up to the curb facing the wrong direction, and there’s a man and woman staring into my car. “What the heck are they doing? Why are they on the wrong side of the road, and why, of all times and places are they in front of me? They’re messing with my flow! Literally! Go away!” Then sloooooowwwwwlllyy they get out and start unloading, staring at me the whole time like I was doing something wrong. I mean…I was getting ready to pump…but they couldn’t really tell, could they? Was my gray and white zebra nursing cover that obvious?

I then realize its the business owners from the photography studio upstairs. Great! I’m going to have to see these people again! I wait a minute for them to leave before proceeding. They don’t leave. Come on people! I want to go home!! Go upstairs already!!

They leave finally. I finish set up. Start my car. Pull out to drive. Dang it!!!! The sun is in my eyes and I was in such a hurry to get out the door I left my sunglasses on my work station. Do I bear the pain of the setting, beating, Southern Ca sun in my eyes for an hour? Or can my nursing cover wrap around me enough to just run in a grab them really quick? I choose the latter.

With milk now dripping all over me…wait, how is milk dripping? Aahh! I didn’t put the bags on? At least I hadn’t started pumping that way or I would’ve been a mess…and us Mamas know how precious that liquid gold is for our babies! We don’t want a drop wasted! Especially since I felt like my supply was dwindling.

I grab my glasses, speed walk to the car, check my surroundings, off I drive. Let the pumping begin!

Oh, you think it’s over…not yet! I pull up to the house after not having enough red lights (you never catch them when you need them!), and I hurry as fast as I can to put everything away and go inside. Rrriippppp! Yep, I rip one of the storage bags at the top so now I can’t zip it. Lets see, can I make it inside without spilling? Of course! I’m the master of making one flawless trip inside (because two trips is unthinkable); however, it looks more like a balancing circus act than a graceful catwalk. I hold my salon bag with my teeth, prop my purse against the wall with my knee, sling my tote over my arm, hold the open and ripped plastic storage bag in one hand, carefully pull the screen open and prop it open with my hip, begin the classic search for my house keys in my abyss purse, pull them out, open the door and walk in to my baby’s smile welcoming me home. All of this without spilling the milk or setting anything down on the cement like any normal person might have done. Success! Haha, not so fast!

Eager to hold him, I rush to put everything down and wash my hands. All I have to do is finally pour this milk into a new bag. I proceed to pour. Ta-Da! I’m ready to seal it. Label it. Freeze it. Yay! Its Cuddle Time. I grab the new, now filled bag, and I somehow manage to knock it over and spill half of it all over my in-laws’ white carpet.

Holding breath to prevent screaming something regrettable! Tears streaming uncontrollably! Exhale! Remember labor instructions during intense time of stress: take a deep cleansing breath.

“Breathe! You can’t control anything but your reaction,” I tell myself. I walk into the next room to be greeted by my bundle of joy and realize he’s completely unaware of any of this chaos and irrational emotion. Yet another reason to breathe…and smile, because THAT’S how I want him to see his Mommy after being gone all day. I reach out and get my long-awaited hug and slobbery, drool-filled kiss. Mission Accomplished!

Yet, another reminder to breathe, let go and let God…

Until my munchkin’s next nap time: slow down, breathe, smile and laugh at yourself.

I know I’m not the only mom this crazy. Do any of you have pumping-on-the-go stories? Let’s hear them!

Conquering Anxiety When It Rears Its Ugly face

Anxiety! It’s a weird thing. For some, just reading the word, your heart is already pounding and palms starting to sweat. Maybe your eyes are getting blurry; there’s a knot in your stomach. Can you tell I’m quite familiar with the ugliness that peers it’s ugly head at me all too often? My best friend, who I call my sister, says, “let go!” And then we often remind each other its better to,”let go and let God!” But even that concept feels so distant at times.

Last Wednesday I boarded a plane out of a small Southern CA airport and headed up to what i like to call “the better part of California” to help throw my sister a baby shower for her second baby girl. With my munchkin in my lap, [sorry am i making you anxious thinking about the classic screaming infant in confined spaces?] we got ready for his first of probably many plane rides.
—- That’s not really why I’m writing, but i must say I’m not likely to do another 5 hour [which turns into 8 hours with feedings and diaper changes] car ride alone again after this trip! Flying was a breeze! We just bounced and played the whole way there and on the way home he slept in my arms. ——-

The past 6 years I’ve been on a journey of growth, overcoming setbacks from my past and characteristics about myself of which I’m not a fan. As I’ve become more self-aware, ridding fear, anxiety, and negativity (to name a few) from my life has been a long, emotional journey. I bring this topic up because this weekend I felt all these parts of myself that I thought were gone creep back in a take over. My responses to people were out of stress, my view of people was extremely judgemental, and my ability to organize and articulate my thoughts went completely out the window.

Its embarrassing to admit, but the only way to press forward is to admit when I’m wrong. All of the above come from my intrinsic desire of having control over every situation. When I finally realized that I am not the one in control of my life, I was able to release the negativity.

Do you ever find yourself so far beyond your past, then all of a sudden after coasting or even pressing courageously through life, you get sucked back into your old way of thinking?

I had a fabulous whirlwind of a weekend, but it was a great reality check for me. I can’t become complacent. I need to constantly be stretching myself so that I don’t sacrifice my relationships. Thankfully I have brilliantly talented, absolutely wonderful family, who takes me as I am. Even when I’m a mess sometimes!

With all that said, we put on a great shower! I look forward to embracing the next family gathering that guarantees a wonderful cocktail of stress, chaos, creativity, laughter, friendship, and a bond that will never be broken! Check out the pictures; my cousins deserve the credit! i may have been there with my hands in the mix, but my mind was too dysfunctional to pull this off:)

Well, until my munchkins next nap: remember, freedom comes from humility, even if that means admitting to yourself there needs to be a change. Sometimes that change simply starts with a smile.

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