Friday, December 17, 2010

Mom and Therapist

When I was completing my Masters in Counseling, we were required to take a class on Parenting. I was fine with this, as I have wanted to work with parents as a counselor for a while, but I wondered if everyone felt the same way. I wondered if this was going to be as helpful for someone who had a vision for working with a different population. As I have continued to practice as a counselor, I continue to see just how beneficial understanding parenting really is to the practice of counseling.

I see my role as a parent as coming alongside my children to help them become the adults they are meant to be. My role is pretty much the same thing as a therapist, except I am working with adults. As a therapist, I come alongside my clients as they work through whatever brought them into counseling and help them to become the extraordinary people they are meant to be. My job is not to do all the work for the client but rather to work with them so that they can figure things out. I provide them with acceptance and a safe place to process through life. I challenge them when appropriate to think, and sometimes act, outside the box. I help them move in the direction of their goals. Just as I look forward to the day when my children leave the home, prepared to deal with whatever life throws their way, I rejoice when a client has worked through their issues to the point of no longer needing my services. I know that, if I am doing my job right, the client won't need me forever, just as my children shouldn't need to live at home forever. I rejoice with the client at their achievements, proud that they have accomplished so much and wish them well on the journey. I remind them that I will continue to be a safe place if they ever need more counseling at another stage in life, just as I will always be a safe place for my children even once they have left the nest.

I certainly see my clients in a different light than I see my children, and have different expectations of them both. I don't see my adult clients as children or patronize or condescend to them, but then again, I don't do that to my own children, so why would I? Just as I believe in raising responsible adults as a parent, I believe in treating my clients as responsible adults. So while there are certainly differences between my adult clients and my own children, my role isn't as vastly different. I guess that is why I find it so easy to transition between the two roles.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Passion Meets Mundane

One "weakness" of passionate people is a struggle with the mundane. The things we are passionate about, we pursue with fervor while often the details get brushed over or missed altogether. For instance, as a passionate mother, I can spend hours pouring into my children playing with and teaching them, snuggling and talking with them. However, the mundane chores that come with children, like the never-ending pile of laundry, are so much easier to ignore or hope my husband takes care of them.

The other day my 11 year old asked me if a particular rich and famous person had an assistant. I told her he probably had several. Some days I wish I had an assistant. Someone I could pass off all the tasks I really don't want to do. This assistant could do my laundry (my least favorite chore), go through my email inbox to help me find the ones that actually required reply amongst the junk, make appointments for me, help with marketing for the counseling business, remind me of phone calls I need to make, etc, etc. I am sure I could give this person a full time job, if only they were willing to work for free. But alas, these are my responsibilities and I must find a way to balance the things I really want to do with the things that seem more mundane to me.

This is my current challenge. I hope that I do a good enough job teaching my kids to balance their passions with the more mundane requirements of life so they don't end up trying to learn this process in their 30s.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Closer to 1st Birthday than Birth

Samantha turned 6 months yesterday. This means that at 6 months and 1 day, we are officially closer to her first birthday than to the day she was born. She has grown and changed so much so far. She now sits unassisted quite stably, only falling over when she gets really excited and throws herself back or tries to reach for something just out of reach. She has learned many new sounds, though is still a pretty quiet little girl. She loves to jump up and down and play with all of her toys on her supersaucer. She has done all of her growing off of mama's milk and is about to start trying other foods more regularly. She has learned that food is yummy though by randomly reaching out and grabbing mommy's food- yesterday she grabbed my ice cream sandwich...ooops, but boy did she love it! She also went on a swing at the playground yesterday which she seemed to really like, though every time the swing came forward she closed her eyes and looked like she was going to fall asleep. She is much more interested in her environment and definitely wants interaction, though she is also still a snuggle bug.

In less than 6 months time, we will be seeing crawling, all sorts of food, first teeth, and maybe first words and first steps. In less than 6 months, we will be taking the traditional birthday cake mess pictures. It is crazy to think that a year ago, I was still struggling with first trimester issues, wondering what this little bean inside me would look like or even if it was a boy or girl. Now, I know my beautiful little girl has a great personality, gorgeous observant eyes and enough hair for pigtails. I am excited for the time to come.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sleeping Like A Baby

I have always found that phrase to be misleading. Everyone knows new parents don't get to sleep much thanks to their little bundles of joy. Rather, these little ones come out sleeping for 2 hour stretches, waking to nurse and meet their snuggle needs. New mothers are told to "sleep when the baby sleeps." Nice in theory- if you are capable of napping but unfortunately I do not have that skill.
Then, magically the baby starts sleeping more, like a 6 hour stretch and we are told we are lucky that the baby is "sleeping through the night." I don't know about you, but I have never thought 10pm-4am was a good night's sleep. But since we just came from a land of only 2 hour stretches we appreciate what we can get.

Along comes the wonderful world of sleep regression and many moms find themselves up every 1-2 hours or if they are lucky 3 hours. To me, that 6 hours I was enjoying the week before now seems like a mean tease. I pry my eyes open wondering how it could be possible that the baby has already forgotten how to sleep. I hope it is just a stage...but least not a short one.

Now, sleep is unpredictable at best. Samantha is now trying to learn to sleep and this means I am getting even less sleep. For her, at six months old, sleeping like a baby means going to bed at 10 and me praying "please god let her sleep!" The last several nights it has been anything from 30 minute stretches to almost 4 hours. I miss terribly sleeping longer stretches. I know the day will come, in the not too distant future hopefully, when she is sleeping for 10-11 hours straight but that seems like a dream at this point.

Tonight, I will go to bed, praying that she will sleep hours, plural. And I dream of the day when she doesn't sleep like a baby, but instead sleeps like a teenager- when I have to wake her up instead of the other way around.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thrifty Mama

I am always looking for ways to make life a little more affordable. This year, I plan to consign a bunch of Brianna's gently used clothes through the JBF Sale in Denver. I also like to look for good buys for both my girls. Personally, I don't see the point of spending an arm and a leg on children's clothes and items that they are just going to outgrow tomorrow. Check out the information below and join me in being a thrifty mama this fall.

Just Between Friends of Denver will hold it's Fall & Winter Kids' Gear & Clothing ReSale event Sept 17-19th at the National Western Complex. This event provides families with the convenient opportunity to buy and sell quality, items for preemies through teens. From Gymboree clothing to Jumparoo exercisers and from Little Tikes playground equipment to Little People toys, Just Between Friends sales events offer pretty much everything needed to clothe, entertain, teach and enjoy your children. Consignors make up to 70% on their sold items and volunteers, who shop first before the public and earn a higher percentage on their sold items, help make the sales run smoothly for everyone. Just Between Friends brings the community together for a fun, unique and environmentally–friendly event. Please visit the JUST BETWEEN FRIENDS website to learn more:

Redeeming God- Adopting Father

Over 11 years ago, my daughter Brianna and I started a journey. The two of us set off as a family, navigating this world ahead of us. I loved being a mom, and personally thought I rocked at it most of the time. However, we both dreamed of a day when there would be more than just the two of us.

Even as I was pregnant, I prayed that my daughter would one day have a father. Her own biological father hadn't stepped up for the job and I believed that God had a plan for her to have a father. I taught her that God was her father when she was little as asked about a daddy. When she was three, in the fall of 2002, she prayed that God would bring her a human daddy, a prayer filled with faith, without a single doubt that God would indeed answer her prayer. The next day a gentleman came up to us at church and without thinking said, "what a cute family! Where's your daddy?" She looked at him as if he had just asked the most absurd question. "Silly, I don't have a daddy yet. God's still working on him." How right she was!!! At that point in time, while I was in my first year at Seminary, the man who would step up for the job of "daddy" was in his senior year of High School. God was indeed still working on him. It would be years before he would be ready for the job God had for him.

Over 5 years later, I met a young man who I almost wrote off due to his youth. However, he was surprisingly mature for a man of only 22, almost 23 years. We hit it off and he was great with Brianna. It wasn't long before we both realized where it was heading. In the morning of April 27, 2008, Mike approached Brianna in secret to ask her if she would be ok with him proposing to me, and then becoming my husband and her father. She was definitely ok with it. September 28, 2008 Mike said vows to me and then turned and said vows to my beautiful daughter. I don't think there was a dry eye in the church.

It took forever it seemed to complete the process of Mike officially adopting Brianna, but on Monday, August 9, 2010 (Also known as 8-9-10) Brianna walked into court with my Maiden name as her last name and walked out as a Wheeler. She had officially been adopted. Mike has been a great dad to her for almost 2 years anyway, so it was mostly just a formality, but he is now her father in every sense that matters.

It reminds me of a journey we all take. We wander around for years looking for something to fill a hole in our lives- often a "daddy-sized hole." When we find God, it is the perfect fit. He adopts us as his own and as we accept him as our father, then he gives us his name. I am no longer just Amy...I am God's child. Brianna knew God as her father long before she knew anyone else as one and I pray that she will always know just how much both her Daddies love her.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Daughter's Surprise

I came across an old journal entry with a great story. It was dated 9/27/05, Brianna would have been 6 and i was still a single mom.

I hated seeing Brianna cry. The sound of her disappointed wailing so easily penetrated my heart and made me want to immediately fix it, tell her everything was alright and then make it so. I had scheduled a weekend road trip to cap off the summer before Brianna started first grade. Unfortunately, silly me scheduled it for the first weekend after school started again and she would have to miss the first Friday of school. I wasn't too worried as it was only one day of only the first week of first grade and I knew the trip would be well worth it.

All summer long we talked about our upcoming trip. We talked about the states we would visit, the fun we would have spending time together, the things we would do, and I kept telling her there was going to be a surprise on the Friday night of the trip. She tried to trick me into telling her what we were going to do. I was so excited and knew she would love it, but I knew it would be more fun for both of us if I could just wait and surprise her.

The first week of school came and Brianna, not surprisingly at all, made new friends quickly. She would come home exhausted but happy to tell me what she did at school and who she played with that day. I was thrilled that she was enjoying school so much. Things were going along great until Wednesday evening when she excitedly told me about something fun that her class was going to be doing on Friday. "Wow, that does sound like fun! I am sorry that you will be missing it."

"What?!!" The tears immediately welled up in her eyes and started to choke her up. "I have to miss school on Friday?!" I was surprised at how quickly she had forgotten about our trip and our plans to leave on Thursday after school. I tried to comfort her as I reminded her of the fun trip that we had coming up, but it was too late. She had lost it!

She ran into her room wailing and burying her face in her pillow. I went to console her but she wanted nothing of it. She was barely intelligible as she raged into her pillowcase. Every once in a while I could make out a "But mom..." or a "what if..." as she tried to bargain with me to stay for Friday. But I wasn't going to budge. Hotel rooms were paid for, tickets were purchased and I KNEW that even though she had to miss out on school on Friday that when the surprise was revealed, she would be thankful. I gave her space to mourn her loss and when she had calmed a little, I promised her we would have even more fun.

Less than 48 hours from that very moment, on Friday evening, I sat across from her at dinner in the hotel restaurant in Salt Lake City. This was the moment I chose to reveal the surprise. I passed her the tickets to the concert she had been begging to go to but wasn't coming to our town. "What is it mom?" "Read it." When she did, her face lit up as I have never seen it before. "Really?!!" "Yep" That night at the concert was one that neither of us will forget. As we danced and sang to the music, I knew she had long since forgotten about the disappointment of missing school.

I journaled this in my notebook I used for different spiritual things and while at first glance it is just a story about a mother and daughter on a fun trip, it was really about what I was learning from God. Sometimes, I throw temper-tantrums when I don't get what I want. I scream into my pillow, and plead with God, with "But God...." or "What if...", foolishly trying to convince him that my plan might be better. He lovingly stands by, comforting me and promising me that his plan is better, looking forward to surprising me when the time is right.

Just one of the MANY spiritual lessons I have learned from life as mom.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Arrival of Samantha Grace

Twenty minutes after my husband Mike arrived home from a night out with the guys, at 12:50am on Thursday, 2/18, my water broke. Knowing we had a long road ahead of us, I made my husband go back to sleep and wait it out. I couldn't sleep and in fact started cleaning. Four hours later, I finally caved and called the on call nurse- she said to go on in to the hospital. We waited even longer to wake up Brianna and then finally left the house at about 6:30ish. We stopped at Starbucks on the way for some much needed caffeine and caloric intake. I had only slept 3 hours since waking up Wednesday morning and it would be a while before I would sleep again.

We arrived at the hospital at about 7am, they checked me and confirmed my water had indeed broken- unfortunately, my contractions weren't very frequent still. I spent the next 6 hours trying to get my labor to progress- walking, bouncing, dancing, squatting, relaxing and other natural techniques. I enlisted the support of Brianna, Mike and one of my best friends, Liz. At twenty hours past my water breaking I was only dilated to 3 cms and pitocin was necessary- I cried, a lot. I wanted a natural birth and I knew all the complications that pitocin can bring and I didn't want that to happen. Mike was a rock and let me cry all over him. I finally surrendered and the pitocin started at 1030pm on 2/18. The contractions picked up quickly and painfully and they kept upping the pitocin. I started really needing my support. My migraine also picked up and I started getting sick. After many painful contractions, I was checked at 1:45am and was only 5.5cms. However, that seemed to trigger something. After passing out several times from pain and getting violently ill, the doctor decided to check me 7.5 cms. More extreme pain and only minutes later and I started begging for my epidural, signed the paper consenting for it, even though everyone around me knew I wouldn't last long enough to need it. The doctor decided to check me again and sure enough I was complete and ready to go. Three pushes later and my little girl made her way into the world, screaming and perfect at 2:14am on 2/19.

She was 5 pounds 12.2 ounces, 17.5" long and a head circumference of 13". And she didn't have a name. Immediately after the birth- I was given percocet to kill my migraine. I was in a haze as everyone kept asking me what I wanted to name her... Our front runner name or our second choice, looking at her we all decided it was actually our second choice that fit her more- Samantha Grace. Samantha is the feminine form of Samuel, meaning "God Heard". There were many years that I had prayed that God would prepare for me a husband who would be a great dad to both Brianna and any future children. I love being a mom and I so longed to grow my family. The birth of this baby was a symbol of God hearing and answering prayers and so Samantha was so fitting. We knew we wanted Grace to be her middle name as we are both daily reminded of the grace of God.

We were finally released from the hospital on Sunday evening after treating Samantha for jaundice and learning she would have to be under phototherapy when we arrived home. She had to be under the lights all the time except for diaper changes and nursing. Other than her jaundice though, she was perfectly healthy, which is amazing at 4 weeks before her due date. She was released from the lights on Thursday night 2/25 and has been happy to be held whenever she wants. (So are we!) Brianna is a great big sister! She even changes diapers. Mike is great at taking care of baby and mommy and we are all doing well. I am thrilled to be able to be home with both of my girls now and look forward to getting in to the swing of things. I know without a doubt that being a wife and mom is what God created me to do.