Thursday, September 2, 2021

Does it ever get easier?


A few months back I wrote this post about a perpetual state of sadness in the world, a collective "downness" that most people have experienced in the past year and a half (consider yourself lucky if you haven't). 

I, like many other people, have suffered the effects of the world shift that we have absolutely no control over.  A pandemic, a tense political climate, and an overall hostile environment are some of the things that have touched our lives in recent times, and in my personal life, I have also struggled with my kids experiencing anxiety and some form of "sadness" that is hard to define. 

But pandemic et. al aside, the world is just "different" now, and I am not referring to acceptable societal definitions of gender, family, norms, etc (that's a whole different topic); I am referring to the way in which we see ourselves and others. Somewhere along the way we all lost respect for humankind, we lost grip of the concept of common decency, we learned to be hateful, we embraced the possibility of running people over with our beliefs and minimizing what others think or ignoring what they have to say. I am having to teach my children basic values, things that at some point seemed obvious, I find myself having to say things like "a teacher shouldn't go through your backpack without your permission" or "you don't have to say yes if you don't agree", or "it's ok if you want to be super girly", or "it's ok to believe in God and say it proudly". When did this happen? When did the world become a place where people have to be afraid to stand up for themselves?  

In an attempt to be more "accepting", we have become "blind".  Blind to the fact that the world is a diverse place where people still have a mind of their own and it's ok if they don't go with the flow.  As a conservative, I have often felt harassed because of my beliefs; I am often "boxed" by people who don't even know me. When I got the vaccine, I had someone ask "why would you get vaccinated? aren't you a Republican?"...what does that even mean?.  On the flip side, I've also had people tell me "I'm disappointed in you for getting a vaccine, I thought you were smarter"...what does THAT even mean?

Do I really have to constantly defend who I am? Do I really have to explain why I think the way I do? Why do we live in such a judgy place and does it ever get easier? Why do the ones that preach "respect" are usually the least accepting?

The truth is, I am exhausted... I have a very hard time being the "happy mom". I'm tired of living in a world of passive-aggressiveness, a world where I have to measure my words even among "friends", a place where I have to always wonder if I'm offending anyone by simply being me. I'm tired of having to question people's true motives, of not knowing who to trust, of having to read into memes because people simply don't have the backbone to just be real!

And this has nothing to do with the pandemic, this is all on US and the constant need to outdo each other, the complacency with the idea of living in a "toxic" world and not taking responsibility for it. I know we can do better! I want a better tomorrow for my kids!

Does it ever get easier?

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Olivia is 14!

When I got pregnant with Gaby and realized my kids could potentially share a birthday, I didn't know how to feel. Granted, we had planned for them to be 2 years apart but we didn't think it was going to be that exact!

It turns out they didn't end up sharing a birthday but their birthdays are close enough for them to share the spotlight (although they hate it sometimes!)

Today Olivia turns 14 and even though she's probably going through the most difficult years a person can have (at least according to me), she is walking through them with grace and rocking the teenage stage like only Olivia can do. She has the best sense of humor and is a social butterfly; she enjoys meeting new people and always finds common ground with everyone to make friendships. 

Olivia is a shopaholic and loves a good bargain; she is a lover of Starbucks and enjoys hanging out with her friends, always coming up with the next best hangout and begging me to drive her around town for her social commitments (slow your roll, girl!) She loves life and that makes me so happy!

But this past year, her busy social life did take away from her other responsibilities; she slacked a bit in school as she wrapped up 8th grade and lost her study habits which directly affected her once "straight A" report cards. I had to go as far as disconnecting her line because, like a typical modern teenager, her phone became a priority and blinded her for a while.  There was pouting and complaining but she got over it and was able to get back on track. She also had her first boyfriend and first heartbreak but her poise and easy-going personality helped her through it and the experience was good for her.

Olivia is sweet, caring, loves to travel the world, and worries so much about everyone.  She makes me so proud and I can never thank God enough for choosing me to be her mom.  She makes me a better mother and a better person and I am so happy to live life with her. 

On your 14th birthday, please know that I will love you forever and will always support you even when I think your ideas are crazy. Never stop loving life and always dance like no one is watching!

Happy birthday my sweet girl! 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Gaby is 12!

When I was growing up, I never thought of myself as the "maternal" kind; I didn't play "mom" with dolls, didn't think of what my kids' names would be or how many children (if any!) I would have.  But here I am, 3 kids later, with the complete certainty that having children is the biggest blessing of my life so celebrating their birthdays is naturally one of my favorite things to do. 

And today my "little" Gaby turns 12 so this is a big day for us! Gaby is definitely my most difficult child; she is stubborn (I wonder where she gets it from!?! LOL), hot-headed, irritable, and impulsive. But she's also sweet, inquisitive, kind, compassionate and so many other good things that would take me hours to list.  I just love her so much!

This year has been a difficult one for Gaby; at age 12 she is constantly struggling to define herself and find her own space. She tends to gravitate towards solitary activities and has had many issues with sadness and lack of motivation. The isolation from the pandemic put a damper on her personality and she has been trying so hard to come out of the funk. I know she's getting there but I would be lying if I said it hasn't been a challenge. I know it hasn't been easy but I also trust her resilience so much and have seen so many positive changes lately. 

Gaby is a very family-oriented girl, incredibly affectionate, an avid reader, very analytical, and such a great sister to both Olivia and Oliver.  She is an organizer and loves to make plans to get her friends together.  She is a cat and sugar lover, who loves cooking and painting. So many traits that make her who she is and make me such a proud mom!

Gaby, on your birthday I'd like you to know that my love for you has no end and that even when the road seems tough ahead, I will always be here to help you push through it so you come out stronger on the other side.  You are a blessing to me and if I did nothing else right in my life, being your mom would be just enough! 

Happy Birthday my sweet girl!

Monday, June 21, 2021

When anxiety catches up...

I promise I don't purposely abandon my blog for 3 months at a time, but sometimes life happens and my days are overcome with more pressing matters, although writing about those "matters" probably would help more than I'd like to admit. 

I have a way of dealing with things; I am blunt, I don't mope, I tend to focus on problem solutions rather than problem analysis. I don't get too attached, or offended, or sad about things.  Some might call it "cold", others might call it "practical", either way, it's what works for me and I'm ok with that. 

But because no one is invulnerable to stress and anxiety, my pragmatism can only get me so far and I too have suffered the effects of the uncertainty of these times, particularly when it comes to my two daughters. I've always been wary of the teenage years; the challenges that come with this stage of life are nothing to laugh about, especially during an era when they have access to insurmountable amounts of information and misinformation; it's hard to convince your child of something when the whole world tells them otherwise; it's hard to expect them to behave a certain way only because that is what has worked for us; it's easy to assume that their personalities will develop according to their surroundings and hard when we are faced with the opposite of that. 

In the past few months, I've had to deal with teenage heartbreak (first boyfriend and subsequent break-up), isolation, panic attacks, anxiety, school neglect, a transition to high school, the realization that friends change and you can't possibly please everyone, therapy and much more; and even though these things haven't happened to ME, it definitely feels like I'm living them right along with my kids and that adds a whole new layer of complexity that I wasn't ready for. How could I truly understand all these things if it's not me they're happening to? and how could I truly help if I don't know what they really feel like?  

My teenage years were a "walk in the park"; even though I moved to another country at the ripe age of 15, the fact that there were no phones and no way to bombard kids with "crap" probably made it a lot easier. Influencers, political correctness, #empowher, and the constant and exhausting need to prove yourself to others were not a thing and the world was a much happier place (according to my perception anyway!).  The amount of pressure modern kids have to deal with is no joke and that in turn translates into added pressure for us parents, it really is NO JOKE! Never in a million years did I think I'd have to fear my kid committing suicide because she was bullied online, or that I'd have to fight for my kids to have a "normal life", or that I'd have to convince them of things that at some point were so obvious, or the fact that therapy is probably a "necessary evil" if I want to come out alive on the other side. And even with all that, my kids have "easy" but it does come with a cost, and anxiety catches up because just when I think I've got it all figured out, in comes the next thing to worry about, the next threat, the next issue, the next pain...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that anxiety is REAL and sometimes I fail to voice it and wait for the triggers instead of finding a shoulder to cry on or calling on a friend for a venting session.  I know I'm not alone...

Tips to handel anxiety?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Hypocrisy: the loss of authenticity

I remember when Facebook came out in the early 2000's; I used to "friend" everyone I remotely knew and for a while, it felt like a big happy friend reunion.  I started reconnecting with old friends, getting to know new friends and feeling like I was part of everyone's daily life, it was literally the best invention anyone could come up with. And for a while IT WAS all sunshine and butterflies...until it wasn't anymore. Gosh how I miss the years of well-intended and genuine people!

But this post isn't about social media (I think I've already said my piece on that topic) but about how we have become hypocrites in the name of "political correctness". My grandma used to say "la educación tiene un dejo de hipocresía", which would translate into something like "manners and education have a touch of hypocrisy". I will admit to that phrase not fully synching in until modern times happened, but now I GET IT!
Everyone talks about diversity of everything, but no one mentions diversity of thought. It seems like such a foreign concept to some to not have to always agree with each other. We are all individuals, we naturally think differently and while I am sure we all feel more comfortable around people who think like us, isn't that really boring?
Are we really just tolerating each other? Are we quickly slowly losing our authenticity and becoming the biggest hypocrites? Are we playing a role?

In my case, people who know me well know I am "radical"; many of my opinions are black and white and I can come across as arrogant and self-righteous.  People who know me well also know that I am passionate, understanding and compassionate. Despite my "radical" beliefs, I can appreciate diversity and I actually love a good debate. 
But it does get tricky because there is a fine line between blunt honesty and cruelty. I used to be an "I don't care what people think" kind of person but with experience and maturity, I have come to realize that caring about what people think shows empathy, which is a necessary (and very useful) quality. We all need to be empathic, everyone could use a little kindness in their lives.
But then I think "how much should we care?" Are we willing to lose our authenticity for the sake of empathy?  Am I a hypocrite too?  Do I want to be one?

I know people from all walks of life, I have friends that cringe at the thought of me voting for Trump (and I did!), friends that think my pareting approach is totally off and friends that completely disagree with me on every possible relevant subject, but I'd like to think those friends love me for who I am and embrace diversity of thought (I know I do!).  But some days I have my doubts!
I have lost faith on the idea that "everyone has the best intentions"; we have become slaves to political correctness and in the process we have lost our authenticity and traded it for "social hypocrisy", a quality that our society promotes and has turned us all into single-layer individuals that no longer have the backbone to stand for something but can surely fall for anything so long as it avoids controversy and prevents disagreements. We have come to believe that thinking differently and not going with the flow is evil, that it somehow turns us into rivals. I hope we snap out of it soon!

So to end, I want to say THANK YOU to the real, authentic people in my life, to the friends who are willing to stay in my corner even when they think what I say makes no sense and they'd rather run and hide but decide to stay. Thank you to the ones that can tell judgement and concern apart, to the ones that value honesty and aren't afraid to challenge me when they deem it necessary, Thank you to the ones whose love and friendship don't depend on political views or feeling hurt by a differing opinion. Thank you to the ones that hold on to their authenticity and will never give into hypocrisy! 

Happy Blogging! :)

Edited to add that I've been saying this all along, as evidenced by THIS OLD POST 

Friday, March 12, 2021

Perpetual Sadness

Disclaimer: This post is about a state of "Perpetual Sadness" in our world and not indicative of personal depression or other mental health issues. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, please seek professional help.

There is something about coming to terms with raw emotions that tends to be intimidating. When I'm sad, all I want to do is sleep or be alone for a bit. 

But facing struggles is part of life and I wholeheartedly believe that a good support system makes all the difference in the world. I often tell my friends and family how blessed I feel for having them in my life; how knowing that a comforting word is only a phone call away makes everything so much easier...some days that comfort is needed more than others.

I have a good life, a life filled with happy moments, amazing memories, an awesome family, and many things going for me (thank you, God!) but lately, there are times when I can't shake that feeling of perpetual sadness that often floods my days. I know sadness is a normal reaction to a loss, disappointment, problems, or other difficult situations and feeling sad from time to time is just another part of being human; but sometimes I feel like the world's current state is just so overwhelming. 

I find myself crying randomly when I pick up my kids from school and see all those children in masks; I know it sounds silly but it just makes me so sad to see what things have turned into and I wonder when we'll be able to go back to some sort of "normal" (I know many people feel this way too). 

I see people around me losing their common sense by the minute and our natural reaction is now to avoid physical contact or personal closeness; the very things that make our hearts beat faster, the things that make us feel loved and connected. I miss the normal and abundantly happy times that we were all so used to.

When I turn on the TV, all I see is a polarized world, a world in which feelings don't matter and the best opinion is the one that matches your own, even if it makes no sense at all. Outside of TV, I see people misconstruing intentions, trampling over moral values, imposing ideas without hearing the other side of stories, spewing insults to strangers, ignoring priorities, and simply not loving one another. 

But whose fault is it? Is this the pandemic's fault? Is it the politicians' fault? or is it US?

We have become used to living in a world of perpetual sadness and I often ask myself how long is too long for sadness? How long is too long for hate? When will the world start focusing on what is good instead of what's bad or offensive?

Ironically enough, my blog's name is "Stories of a Happy Mom" and while I do still consider myself a "happy mom", I find happiness incompatible with the current state of affairs and that just makes me sad.  I have lost faith in humanity, I have seen and heard things this past year that I never thought I'd see or hear.  Sometimes nothing makes sense. 

I find refuge in knowing that it's still very much possible to make a "u-turn", that one day we'll all wake up and say "but there's still so much good among us" and will simply act on it and move on from this worldly funk and perpetual sadness we've all become accustomed to. 

I challenge every one of my readers to begin each day with a grateful heart, to make a choice to be happy and focus on the good.  We can all be each other's light in the darkest times and share the joy in the brightest days!

Happy Blogging!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Happy 2021!


It's weird to be back to blogging after so long, only to wish everyone a "Happy New Year" in mid-January; but I guess it's better than not showing up at all and leaving my poor blog to die alone.  

I won't write another post about how "bad" 2020 was or how "redemptive" 2021 will be, because the truth is that we all live different experiences and any given year is what we make of it. In all honesty, 2020 was a bit uninspiring as far as writing goes but life went on, and incredibly enough, a lot of good things happened for us.

As far as updates go, I can say that we've all managed to stay healthy in the middle of this devastating pandemic, the kids have been back to in-person school, Iggy and I have been working the whole time and we bought a house! (yay!)

Here's a recount of the 3 top things that 2020 brought for us and how we managed to turn them into a positive almost every time:

1. Anxiety: Between the lockdowns and the uncertainty, I know I am not alone when I say that my anxiety was through the roof for a good few months. Not knowing what was coming next, and being bombarded with bad news on a daily basis was hard but a lot of learning came from it.  I was able to turn my anxiety into coping and my coping into spirituality and I can honestly say I'm a better person now when the pandemic started... and for that I'm thankful! I can now handle anxiety better and help others to do the same. Prayer was always a part of my life, but now it's definitely the center of it. "Nothing is impossible to God!"

2. Restrictions: Everyone who knows me is well aware that I love to travel, I also love shopping and hanging out with friends, so the restrictive nature of 2020 was rough for me.  Not only were we confined to certain places and spaces, but we were also constantly missing the human interaction and seeing how the world crumbled around us.  The restrictions, however, brought on more family "togetherness" and with that came better family relations and a mandatory prioritizing of life in general. If this pandemic taught me anything, it was the fact that all we need to be happy is each other and I am grateful that we were able to rediscover ourselves and nurture our family life. Board games, anyone?

3. Isolation: We are relational individuals, we are used to sharing our experiences with others and that is a big part of life, especially when you are a teenager and constantly crave interactions with other teenagers and like-minded people, so the isolation part of the pandemic was particularly damaging to both Olivia and Gaby. It was hard seeing the kids so alone and at times very sad; they were isolated and relying on technology to hold on to that little bit of contact they had with their friends and with that came an obsessive addiction to social media that wa verging on dangerous. So about two months ago, we made the decision to do away with phones for the girls and help them in refocusing their energy to do more "productive" activities and we have not looked back! Some of you might remember this post from 2019 where I talked about my regrets for giving Olivia a phone at age 10. As time went on (and especially during this pandemic), I was able to take a closer look at the danger that comes with the access that a phone provides and I am 100% convinced that kids DO NOT NEED PHONES! So in a way, I am thankful to the pandemic for opening my eyes and helping me get the courage to disconnect the phones and restrict social media for the girls in a world where that seems so odd  (I will write more about this in a future post- I call it the "reclaim my child's brain" movement). I must say that the girls now have even better relationships with their friends, as crazy as that sounds! ;)

Anyway, enough for a comeback post.. I promise I'll blog more this year and I hope everyone has a wonderful 2021, filled with great opportunities.  I hope we all continue to be finders of the silver lining and bearers of smiles and good news.  As tough as life gets, I am confident that humanity and love will always prevail! 

I pray especially for anyone who has been affected by COVID whether it was losing a loved one, a job or having their life turned upside down.

Happy 2021! :)