6 Quick Takes On Blogging, A Southerner Living Up North, Being a Mother and Deciding a Path

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I have been writing on this blog, This M Word, for over a year now! It’s been a chance to reflect on the struggles, joy and mysteries in my life. I never saw myself as someone interested in having a voice beyond my circle of friends and family, but as I’ve had the opportunity to engage with people chiming in on what I have written, it’s been encouraging. So, the blogging continues, in fits and spurts, and I hope you won’t mind the inconsistency of posts. As time wears on and things in my life die down, due to the lack of renovating, and unpacking, or even of finally deciding the direction I will take for school (more on that later), I hope to make this a more routine affair. Thank you all who have journeyed with my family and I, as we continue to live this life out and seek our dreams in the process.

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I am a southerner. It’s a fact. I don’t sound like one and I tend to not think like one (if there happens to be a singular way of thinking for southerners). However, I have lived the vast majority of my 28 years of life in the south and here I am in the frozen tundra of the north wondering on these particularly snowy and chilly days, “how did I get here?”. I have lived in Texas where 100ºF was nothing, and in North Carolina where the humidity would rival anything my current residence could boast. My first year living this far north (for a period of time I lived in Washington D.C.) I didn’t know there was such a thing as carseat covers for babies, the kind that zip them into a cozy cocoon of warmth, or that a pea coat doesn’t actually work when the windchill hits below, say, 30ºF, which is all the time. My toes most certainly froze daily as I walked to the grocery store from my car, I had no wool socks and yes double socking does not actually work, I tried! My ski clothing from when I was a teenager was my source of immediate warmth as I learned the lay of the land, and I was happy to know having one child didn’t prevent me from fitting into some clothing of a warmer nature. Now in my fourth year up here, I’m much better equipped and thankfully have proper warm clothing for myself, husband and my children. I can even go to the store in my boots equipped for -25ºF temps, because that actually happens, or de-ice the car before I get out of the driveway (although my windows have frozen shut…no hot dunkin’ donuts that day). Despite my acclimating to this icy land, it is strange for me to think, and I can imagine any southerner would agree, that my kids are both northerners. They were born here, walk around in 40ºF temps as if it’s nothing (I do too but that’s not the point!) and may live here a while yet, learning all these handy northern ways at an age where I had never even seen a foot of snow! Oh the pain 😉

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Before I became a mother I knew so little about being a parent it was shameful. I knew babies ate, slept, and used diapers. Beyond that I had next to no skill. Sure I babysat as a kid, but I watched kids who knew where the bathroom was and used it no problem, and could get themselves food, with a little assistance. Being a mother now, looking back nearly four years ago I am in shock….seriously, shock, that I survived. The kids? Oh they are fine, and I never worried for a minute for them (sure… a little here and there) but somehow I knew that part of the equation would work out. There are doctors we’d check in with, friends we’d meet and play with on occasion, plenty of books for me to read and the internet to search on… indefinitely! But for me, as a woman, my survival was something I wasn’t sure of as much. Being a mother today is one of serious isolation. I have a few suspects in mind as to why, and this is by no means a black/white issue, but I believe social media is partly to blame for the isolation. As society becomes more heavily dependent upon it to communicate, the tried and true methods of friends coming together daily is waning. I’ll be the first to say that social media can be wonderful, I’ve found great support groups for how to help my son, and like-mind moms who are both “crunchy” and Catholic. However local community is stingy, hard to access at times. It could also be how transient the population can be in a college town, but I tend to believe that people are changing the way they interact on a whole. We are out of practice talking face to face and that can be seriously isolating.

Have you noticed this? What have you seen?

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I’ve seen around the web that Spring is quickly approaching and it’s true. Hard to believe with nearly two feet of snow on the ground around our house, but Spring will be here and so will the garden. I get giddy thinking about the garlic coming up and I wonder how our asparagus will do since we moved it. I’m fairly certain our rhubarb bit the dust sometime this winter, maybe even before hand. Spring for us doesn’t tend to really “be here” until May, but April brings plenty of moments for us to start planing out garden, what we will grow and how it will serve us best for our budget. How do you plan your garden?

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It was just the other day, that I noticed one of J.’s friends drawing monsters on her paper. She moved her crayon around so perfectly, making shapes that were fantastic and scary! She hardly even thought about the tiny muscles in her fingers, hands and forearm moving in unison to create these creatures. “She is even writing some letters now” her mom told me as she caught me looking at her daughter drawing. I smiled a big smile, and told her how wonderful that was, and it truly was. All the way home I tried very hard to not think about this, and now, even a week later, I am still pondering over this interaction. You see, as I look back at this completely harmless moment, my heart breaks. You never see this coming, as a parent of a child with special needs, you rarely get the luxury of knowing when your heart will break, but it happens….often. I looked at my little boy once we got home and wondered, when would he be able to draw and write like his friend. I just don’t know the answer to that, and it hurts me more than I thought it would. I’ve spent countless hours to date, reading articles, peer-reviewed journals, speaking with doctors and therapists to know as much as I can about what to expect and how I can help, what to let go even. All of this still never prepares me for the human moments of just wishing that your child didn’t have to deal with this at all. That it was never an issue in the first place….

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Normally this is “7 quick takes” but this time I’ll be sticking with 6 as I don’t like to add fluff. To that point, I tend to do my research, I don’t like too much fluff, and make sure I am as well informed as I can be on a subject I am passionate about. So, naturally, as I have been reading more about healthy eating and stumbling into the world of paleo, clean eating, and a myriad of other diets that have cropped up, I have done my research. The more time I spend in this area, the more I have been pleasantly surprised that I am using my degree and I can actually remember the material. You know, the one I tucked away for safe keeping, after my kids were born….yeah that one!  Well, it turns out there is a field out there for this called dietetics. This pretty much peaked my interest and for those of you who know I am heading back to school, you know nursing was on the radar, well, now this is too!!

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