January 2, 2017

Again I am cozy in my warm bed but have committed to an early morning outdoor activity. So (again) I pull myself out of bed and put on my long johns to head out into the cold. Is it possible that it is colder than yesterday?

There is one thing I know to be true. NOTHING is better than a two hour hike in the snow with friends to balance you and put you in the right head space to face a new year of challenges

With topics ranging from work ethic to hair color to parenting to life motivation, nothing is off limits out there. Frustrations are vented and there is no judgement. I heard myself saying many times .

“I know just how you feel.”

In the afternoon I had the misfortune of attending a gathering to honor the mom of another friend who had died on, of all days, Christmas Day. I am now officially in the generation of people with old parents who are dying and it sucks.

Having just lost my mom a couple of months ago it was all very fresh for me. As I hugged my friend I quietly said.

“I know just how you feel.”

The Best Thing in Life is knowing that so long as you have your friends, you are not in this alone.

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Sleep Anxiety

anxiety

Sleep is a beautiful thing.  Nothing feels better than sinking into your comfy bed, closing your eyes and getting a good solid nights sleep.  It’s rejuvenating.  It’s blissful.  It’s therapeutic.  So when sleep won’t come,  life can be turned upside down.

Over the past few months my daughter has developed what I can only describe as severe sleep anxiety.  She’s never been a great sleeper but this takes it to a whole different level.

It started out pretty low key.  At some point in October she started to say that she could not go to sleep.  Not just that she wasn’t tired.  But that she could not get to sleep.  She would get out of bed a couple of times every night to tell me.  I’d give her a hug, ask if she needed anything and tuck her back in.  But then it changed.

Slowly over the next few weeks it escalated to all out hysteria at bed time.  And by hysteria, I mean a couple of hours of crying, shaking, yelling, pacing and ultimately, exhaustion.  And that goes for all of us.  Yes, I yelled.  I’m not proud of it but at some point (okay,more than one) I just lost it.  It just seemed so simple.  Get in bed, close your eyes and eventually you will fall asleep.  But yet, she just couldn’t do it.  Not wouldn’t.  Couldn’t.

I remember one night in particular when she refused to get out of the bath.  She said that getting out of the bath would mean that she would have to brush her teeth and put her pjs on.  That would mean that she would need to go to bed.  And that, ultimately, would mean that she would have to try and get to sleep.  And in her mind, THAT was not going to happen.  Thirty minutes later the bath had drained and I was sitting on the floor begging her too just step out of the tub.  Again.  Simple.  But she just couldn’t do.

It got to the point where she would pace around her bedroom saying over and over again.  “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t go to sleep.”  I would sit on her bed praying that I could find just the right thing to say that would convince her that she could go to sleep.  I tried positive encouragement, bribery, meditation apps, consequences but nothing would sway her from her stance that she couldn’t go to sleep.

sleeping girl

My husband and I were confused and desperate to understand what was going on.  To see our smart, capable little girl so upset was heart breaking.  So physically agitated that she wouldn’t even let us hold her to try and calm her down.

The emotions that have run through our little family in the past months are difficult to put into words.  We’ve been angry with each other and unsure of why.  We’ve been confused.  Why is this happening?  We’ve been heartbroken and sympathetic.  The need to comfort your child is so strong that when it is of no help, it can be devastating.

The fact that this is, apparently, quite normal in children this age is at once comforting and distressing.  Comforting in that others have solutions that have worked for them and I know that we are not alone.  Distressing in knowing that so many other kids suffer the way that my daughter has suffered.

Recently we have started to give her melatonin at bed time and it seems to have helped calm her down.  She still wakes up a few hours later though and is convinced that she has yet to fall asleep.  What must be going on in her brain to create this anxiety and confusion?

Why, you may ask, am I telling you ( and the world) all of this?  I’m not sure.  Maybe I am hoping that it will help somebody else going through the same thing?  Maybe I am hoping that it will reach somebody who can help me understand it better.

I’m not sure I can end this post with a Best Thing in Life.

 

You Can’t Pick Your Family

familyThis past weekend my daughter and I spent the day with some friends in Whistler. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and while our girls played in the water park we had lots of time to catch up. We talked about lots of things. One of the things we talked about was family. More specifically our parents and siblings. We both admitted that if we had a choice we probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time with them. It got me thinking on the drive home about my relationships with my parents and siblings.

I wouldn’t say we were a close family. If I had to use one word to describe us it would be judgemental. Don’t get me wrong, I include myself in that statement. We each judge each other and my parents judge everybody. It’s weird though because they are very accepting of other cultures but judgemental of people who don’t live life the way they do. I know that probably doesn’t make sense does it. For example, they are accepting of somebody from Japan or somebody who is Muslim, but not accepting of the guy who lives down the street who doesn’t like to garden and has his front yard paved over so he can park his RV.  Over the years I have tried to be less judgemental but at last I come by it honestly.

My sister and I have never had a solid relationship. I was the youngest and was kind of spoilt. I wanted to be just like her but she wanted nothing to do with me. She never let me borrow her clothes so I just took them. I wanted to hang out with her and her friends so I just tagged along. That didn’t make her very happy and I was often told to go home. When she was in college she suddenly decided we should be friends. After years of being pushed away, I was not interested. We’ve had periods of time when we’ve gotten along but it always seems to be at arms length. At least for me anyway.

My brother and I used to get along really well but have drifted apart over the past ten years. We have very different approaches to life and tend to butt heads a bit. We live close to him and his family and sometimes I feel bad that we don’t see them very often but the reality is that I don’t have an over abundance if time and would rather spend it with my husband and kids. Ya I know you are all shaking your heads thinking how selfish I am. I’m guessing some of you feel the same way but just don’t want to admit it. I’m right aren’t I?

Getting back to being spoilt. Yes, my mom spoilt me. I’m not sure why. (Okay, I was pretty cute). The problem is that I think she still thinks I’m a little girl who isn’t capable of looking after herself, despite surviving a divorce and having two children of my own. I am grateful for all that my mom has done to support me through some very difficult times, however, not returning her phone call in an acceptable amount of time does not mean that there is a problems in my marriage. Being tired and stressed from working and having a husband who travels a lot does not make me depressed. And no, I haven’t lost weight in the seven days since I saw you last.

When I was little my dad worked a lot. He owned his own business and it required time and dedication. I admire that in him today. What I don’t admire is the fact that when he did come home from work we, as his kids, were pretty much taught to be seen and not heard. It’s a British thing. As soon as his car hit the driveway we had to turn off the TV. There was not a lot of affection. He taught us a lot. Skiing, fly fishing and how to tell a spruce tree from a fir tree. But there wasn’t a lot of playing and laughing.

I know all of this may sound harsh but at the end of the day we do all love each other and have supported each other through the years. We don’t fight. We just judge from a distance. So is it wrong that I don’t want to hang out with them? The saying about how you can’t pick your family couldn’t be more fitting for me. The Best Thing in Life though, is that you can pick your friends and enjoy spending the day hanging out with them in Whistler.