How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves

How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves

As parents, anxiety and stress often come with the package, especially before big and special events. It’s also relatively common for people when they are faced with new situations or something they may have a fear of. The good news is, one way to help you relax and soothe your nerves may already literally be laying at your feet!

That’s right, your pets and domestic animals can be great stress busters. Even better, sometimes you’re not even really consciously aware of how your pet’s presence may be helping you get through the tough times. In this article, we take a little look behind the scenes at some practical ways your pet may help your mental health.

How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves

black and white english shepherd dog

Pets Help You Think About Something Else

If you’re feeling anxious and stressed, a common tactic recommended by health professionals is to find a distraction or diversion to focus on. Call it dog diversion, cat deflection if you will, but the presence of your pet can help you re-frame your thinking away from the thoughts or the situation that is bothering you.

This can be particularly helpful for people with fears and phobias. If you’re anxious about being alone in the house, the presence of a pet with their super-sensitive radar to anything out of the ordinary will soon alert you if there actually is something or someone nearby. In the same token, if you have a fear of getting out and about, having a dog walk alongside you can help overcome those anxieties.

Pets Make You Move Around

Exercise is good for both our minds and body. Most of us already know that. What we often don’t realize is that even the very basic act of taking care of feeding your pet forces you to move your body. Combine a few yoga stretches when you’re reaching into the cupboard, or placing your pet’s bowl on the floor and it’s a win-win mind-body situation for both of you.

If you’ve got a dog, no matter what size, they’re going to need regular exercise. Likewise, a cat, even though we tend to think they look after this themselves, a piece of paper on the end of a string can help you both move and entertain yourself at the same time. Take their cue. Many pets instinctively know when it’s time to get moving (aka the cat crazies!). Take the time to get a little exercise at the same time your pet does, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Pets Help You Relax

Pets can help you relax in so many ways. There’s the physical act of stroking and patting an animal. This is a repetitive motion that both of you will are likely to find very, very soothing. There’s the humor in seeing your pet do something that is so outside of the behavior that we are conditioned into as humans that you can’t help but laugh. If you’ve ever clicked on any funny dog/cat/rabbit videos online, and who hasn’t, you’ll know what we mean.

Pets Can Help You Love

The love and companionship of a pet are unconditional. Their affection for you is based on knowing you treat them well and love them to bits. The look that a pet may give you, with soft knowing eyes full of love, believe it. It’s real. Studies have found that the same bonding process and endorphins that are firing between a parent and child happen between people and their pets. So yes, it is indeed mutual. Both you and your pet feel the love, and more relaxed and warm and fuzzy as a result!

How Having a Pet Can Calm Your Nerves

Pets Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Studies have shown that people with pets tend to have lower blood pressure. That’s got to be good news for anyone whose blood pressure potentially rises with their anxiety and stress levels. Even better, just your pet’s presence helps with healthier blood pressure. Anytime you do pat, stroke, or get in some daily exercise with your pet is an added bonus for your BP.

Pets are Social and Emotional Support

As many pet people will attest, a pet often intuitively and instinctively seems to pick up on when you are out of sorts. They may seek to reassure you or keep their distance. Both of which can be a good indication that you need to address your anxiety levels.

People who love animals also usually consider pets as a part of their family. If you’re feeling a little disconnected with other people, it is entirely possible to have a close connection with your pet and know that you’re not alone. The friendship of a cat curled up on your lap, or a dog by your side can do wonders to help with any worries around loneliness or isolation.

Pets Are Good Listeners

Did you know that there are therapy animals that help kids and adults with reading difficulties? There are many schools and libraries that recognize that the quiet non-judgmental presence of reading to an animal can help people with learning difficulties gain confidence and new skills.

What’s more, if you talk to your own pet they will respond. Okay, maybe not a specific answer that you’re trying to work out, but many pets such as cats and dogs love communicating with the people in their life either vocally, or through an affectionate rub, full body lean, and even the gentle head butt of a cat.

People Can Help With Your Pets Too

If you do have a mental health condition such as anxiety, stress, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), domestic animals can be recognized as part of a treatment plan. Check out information on emotional support animals (ESA). Your ‘ordinary’ pet can be elevated to be an ESA for you if its presence alleviates and helps you manage symptoms that limit your quality of life. Aside from the benefit to your health, there is some legal protection from discrimination for having an emotional support animal in rental housing and during air travel.

Do you have a pet?

Tell us about your furry friend in the comments below!

 

Chuck E Cheese Birthday Party Review

Chuck E Cheese Birthday Party Review

I’m so excited to share my experience with hosting our first Chuck E Cheese birthday party! I’m a bit of a control freak, so I can’t say I wasn’t worried about how this party would go down, but it was even better than I could have expected.

It’s important to note here that I’m in no way affiliated with Chuck E Cheese nor am I receiving anything in return for this post. It’s simply an experience worth sharing with other mommas in need of party planning help!

How does a Chuck E Cheese birthday party work?

When my daughter announced she wanted to hold her 4th birthday at Chuck E Cheese, my frugal brain immediately went to the cost. So I went on the Chuck E Cheese website and was pleasantly surprised by the affordable options. Even when we go the party-at-home-DIY-route (like we did for our Dr. Seuss birthday party!) there’s still the stress and time planning it all.

I truly love to throw parties, but not necessarily during the cold days of February, which happens to be my daughter’s birthday month. So this time I handed over the party planning reigns and here’s what happened…

Chuck E Cheese Birthday Party Review

chuck e cheese birthday party

What’s the schedule like?

We arrived at Chuck E Cheese about 15 minutes before the party was set to start. Everything was set up in the back already and our host greeted us. She handed over a bag of play passes as well as a birthday bracelet for my sweet birthday girl.

Our host then went over our order (we opted for extra pizzas and drinks for the adults). From there, she went over the schedule, which looked like this:

12pm – party starts, kids play

12:45pm – pizza time! Our host served the children and made sure they all got what they needed.

After pizza, Chuck E himself came out to dance with the kids. We then sang “Happy Birthday” while the host cut and distributed the cake. Since we got the Mega Super Star package, it also included Dippin’ Dots (yum!!)

Chuck E Cheese dippin dots birthday party

From there, it would’ve been gift time, but we nixed that to do gifts at home.

After cake, it was ticket blaster time! My daughter wasn’t too keen on it, so her big brother stepped in.

Do they have to do the ticket blaster?

Our host was kind enough to show my daughter how the ticket blaster worked, but even then, my daughter wasn’t interested. My 5yr old son was all about it, though, so he stepped up to get those tickets. That said, there was also the option to skip the ticket blaster and simply collect 200 tickets (plus her 1000 bonus tickets as a part of the party package).

After the ticket blaster, the kids are then welcome to go back to playing.

Chuck E Cheese Ticket Blaster

Can you bring your own cake to a Chuck E Cheese birthday party?

Absolutely! While Chuck E Cheese offers a number of gorgeous cake options, you can also bring in your own cake and ice cream.

Do you tip for a Chuck E Cheese birthday party?

I’ve actually reached out to Chuck E Cheese to see if they have a policy/common practice on this. While I in no way felt pressured to tip, there’s no doubt our hostess deserved it! Our total party cost was $300, on which we tipped $40. This might seem like a bit much to some (like my husband…hehe) but I’ve worked in food service before and the tip was well earned.

Is the Mega Super Star package worth it?

It really, really is. It was so nice to not have to worry about goody bags or ice cream, plus the unlimited play for the 2 hours really helped parents better enjoy the experience and not worry about watching (or having to re-up!) their child’s play points. I also love that the goody bags allow for every child to leave with something, regardless of how many tickets they earned.

chuck e cheese goody bag

What happens if you have no-shows?

Sure enough, on the day of the party we had a couple children who suddenly couldn’t make it. Luckily Chuck E Cheese offers a 2-child no-show policy so we weren’t charged for the absent children.

The Easiest Birthday Party Ever

Overall, I truly could not have been happier with the whole experience. I did EVERYTHING online on my own schedule and it was the smoothest, most relaxed party I’ve had. Frankly, I’m considering hosting my own next birthday party there – they do have beer, after all! 😉

chuck e cheese birthday party review

Have you had a Chuck E Cheese birthday party experience?

Would love for you to comment below and share your thoughts!

GhostBed Luxury Sheets Review

GhostBed Luxury Sheets Review

As a parent, it can sometimes be hard to keep your head above water when you feel like a hamster on a wheel – spinning fast, getting nowhere faster. That said, one of the best ways to ensure you’ll do better tomorrow than you’ve done today is to get a solid night’s sleep.

Now I know sleep doesn’t always come easy (hello – mom of two preschoolers here!) but when it comes to feeling more rested, there are a number of things you can do to wake up without feeling like you need a coffee IV.

But the #1 way to sleep better? Make sure you have quality sheets! This is why today I’m suggesting you check out GhostBed Luxury Sheets – sheets built to keep you comfortable and sleeping soundly throughout the night.

GhostBed Luxury Sheets Review

ghostbed luxury sheets review

When it comes to sheets, it’s never easy to find ones that stay cool and also durable. The great thing about GhostBed Luxury Sheets, though, is the Supmia cotton and Tencel fiber blend, which makes them breathable and light-weight! I’ve washed them several times and they are only getting more comfortable!

And while GhostBed Luxury Sheets are best paired with a GhostBed mattress (seriously – the best mattress for back pain!!) you can use them with pretty much any mattress.

ghostbed sheets review

Sure she looks peaceful now, but just wait until 2am when she’s throwin’ elbows!

Oh and the best thing? They have what they call a “GhostGrip” – a lining on the inside of the sheet that allows it to stay on securely and never pop off. As someone who often has a tossing-and-turning 4 year old in her bed, this is SUCH a major deal for me. It’s so nice not to have to worry about trying to fix my fitted sheet in the middle of the night (or worse, sleeping with one half falling off!)

[click_to_tweet tweet=”An honest review of GhostBed Luxury Sheets – the supernaturally comfortable sheets that come with free shipping and a three year warranty. @theghostbed #sweetdreams #sleepcomfy” quote=”Sweet dreams tonight, a better day tomorrow.”]

ghostbed ghost grip sheets

Each GhostBed Luxury Sheet set includes:

  • A unique & luxurious blend of Supima Cotton + Tencel Fibers
  • GhostGrip, so your fitted sheet will stay on securely and never pop off!
  • Free Shipping
  • Industry leading 3 year warranty

Yes, you read that right: FREE shipping + a THREE YEAR WARRANTY. And we’re not talking 4-6 week shipping; I got mine in just THREE business days!!

Don’t just take my word for it – try out GhostBed Luxury Sheets today and dream better tomorrow!

35 Uses for Vinegar

35 Uses for Vinegar

When not turning into wine, vinegar is my second favorite use for grapes (and getting that nasty gunk off ’em!) Vinegar also makes for a fantastic part of a salad dressing and it’s a nice way to marinate some meat, but it’s a high-performer elsewhere in the house as well. That said, please note that my suggestions below are just that – suggestions. Don’t use vinegar on something without spot-testing first as I am in no way liable should you use vinegar in a way that causes unfortunate results.

With that out of the way, we use so much vinegar in our house that we have to buy huge jugs of it from Aldi almost every week so we can use it on things such as…

Vinegar Uses – Home and furniture

De-decal your windows – If you like to put up window clings during the holidays, or your children love to put stickers on…everything, you can use vinegar to remove all traces! Simply apply undiluted vinegar to the grimy aftermath of the stickers or decals and let it sit for 5 minutes. A credit card or other thin piece of plastic will help you scrape off the bits and then a good scrubbing should remove the rest of the remnants.

Erase pen marks – Undiluted vinegar and some elbow grease can remove your children’s artwork from hard surfaces. It may take a few applications and some assurances to your kids that you still love their art, but it works!

Undustify your blinds – Venetian blinds are the worst to clean, but you can make it far less terrible with vinegar! Get a bucket of equal parts vinegar and water, wet the fingertips of a cloth glove or a rag, and use your index finger and thumb to glide along each slat. The vinegar helps get rid of the oil and dust incredibly well.

Spruce up wood (haha, “spruce”) – Wood ages like anything else, be it paneling or furniture. A mix of 1 cup warm water, 4 tablespoons of vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil will help bring it back to life. Mix it up and wipe it onto the wood with a cloth. Let it sit and soak for a few minutes, and then buff it up with another dry towel.

Hide scratches in wood – A mix of undiluted vinegar and iodine (small amounts) can conceal scratches in wood. Use more vinegar for lighter woods and more iodine for darker woods, and then apply with a small brush (a nail brush works well).

Keep your computer clean – Get rid of oil and dust buildup on your electronics with a mix of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar. Use the mixture to dampen a cloth and wipe down your electronics and accessories. Don’t use a spray bottle, and don’t overly saturate the cloth. Again, I’m not liable for bad results, so be smart here and use common sense!

Clean carpets – A mix of 1/2 cup vinegar with 2 tablespoons of salt will remove minor carpet stains. Simply mix the two together and rub into the stain with a cloth and then let it dry. Once it’s dried, vacuum it up.

Vinegar for the Kitchen

Pickle EVERYTHING – If you have a bumper crop of peppers, onions, or (of course) cucumbers from your garden on a budget, you can whip up a pickle in an instant. Mix 1 cup vinegar with 1 cups water, 2 tablespoons salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar, and bring it all to a boil. Chop your veggies and add them to jars (you ARE re-using jars from the store, right?), and pour the brine on top. Let them cool to room temperature and then store in the fridge. After about 3 days they’ll be delicious and pickley.

Perfectly poached eggs – Poached eggs are really delicious but it’s super easy to obliterate the egg on accident. Adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar to your water along with 2 teaspoons of salt, and adding your egg in just before the water reaches a boil will help keep the egg together. Cook for about 2 minutes for a nice soft poach, or 3-4 for if you like them a bit firmer.

Clean your garbage disposal – You can’t really scrub your disposal for at least several good reasons. Fortunately, lemons and vinegar will do it for you. Take an ice cube tray and put a wedge of lemon in each cube. Then, fill each cube up with undiluted vinegar, and freeze them. When they’re good and frozen, pour 1/2 cup of bakin soda into the offending garbage disposal, add 3-5 lemon cubes and run the disposal until they’ve stopped rattling. This will do a great job of deodorizing your garbage disposal.

Unclog your drains – 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, poured directly into the clogged drain (you can use a funnel) will help unclog drains. Once the commotion and bubbling stops, run hot water from the tap. Wait about 10 minutes, and then run cold water. This is also a great way to deodorize your drains (particularly if they’ve been clogged for a while).

Fight that grease! – Getting rid of grease from your hard surfaces doesn’t require harsh cleaners. Simply wet a cloth with an equal mix of water and vinegar and wipe down the greasy surfaces. It may take some muscle, but it will work. It’s also a great idea to mix up a spray bottle of 1/2 cup vinegar, 2 cups water, and 3 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid. Use this daily on surfaces to keep them clean and repel grease.

Clean your nasty microwave – If microwaved food explosions have you in the pits, place a bowl with 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 cup water into the microwave, and then turn it on for 5 minutes (on high). The steam it creates should loosen any food or stains and they should easily wipe away with a damp towel or sponge.

Disinfect all the things – Undiluted vinegar is a very potent antimicrobial. If you read my post on interesting ways to save money, you know that we use vinegar as a cleaning solution every day! Wipe down surfaces you cut raw meat on, especially counters and cutting boards, with undiluted vinegar. Creating a spray bottle full of undiluted vinegar for optimal disinfecting is another way to help kill nasties like staph, e.coli, and salmonella. A solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar is also very good for disinfecting kids’ cups or sippies that can harbor mold growth. Just let them soak and wipe them down.

Make metal magnificent – Silver soaked for a few hours in 1/2 cup white vinegar with a tablespoon of baking soda will regain it’s luster. Be sure to wash it off in cold water and dry with a soft washcloth. A paste of vinegar and baking soda (equal parts) can be applied to copper and brass to remove tarnish. Again, this might take some elbow grease but it’s very effective.

Sanitize water bottles – If you use BPA-free, reusable water bottles day-to-day, you really need to keep them sanitary. Every few days, fill it 75% full with equal parts vinegar and warm, soapy water. Shake it up well to get into all the crevices and then let it sit for half an hour. Rinse it thoroughly with warm water and let it air dry.

Clean kitchen shears – Don’t use water to clean your scissors or kitchen shears – it will rust them. A better idea is to use undiluted vinegar and wipe down the blades and then wipe them dry. This will also disinfect them. You can use this for regular scissors as well, as rusting is not good for them, either.

Ungunk your can openers – Can opener blades are disgusting, let’s just admit to that. You can make them reasonably not-disgusting again by using a toothbrush and undiluted vinegar to scrub in all the nooks and crannies. You may need to scrub a lot, but a douse in cold water should remove all that gunk afterwards.

Get rid of gnats (fruit flies) – Whatever you call them, those tiny little bugs are the bane of kitchens everywhere (especially if your husband forgets to leave a dry piece of cardboard over the top of your DIY worm farm…) Make a vinegar trap to catch and eliminate those little buggers! Take a jar with a lid, poke some holes in it, and fill it about halfway with apple cider vinegar, and place it where they’re the worst. If your kids eat yogurt a lot, you can also re-use those cups before they hit recycling – pour about a 1/4 inch of ACV into a coffee mug, poke two or three holes into the bottom of a cleaned yogurt cup, and then put the cup into the mug. It should do a fantastic job of getting rid of them, no matter what you call them.

Clear the air – If you burn food or simply cook something smelly, you can boil 1/2 cup vinegar with 1 cup water until it’s evaporated (or very nearly). It will get that smell right out of the air and remove all traces of that sardine-and-cabbage casserole your husband burned yesterday.

Clear away mineral deposits in a teakettle or coffee pot – Boil 2 cups of undiluted vinegar in your tea kettle or in a pan to then pour into your coffee pot. Let it sit for a minimum of 4 hours but overnight works well, too. Rinse it out the next day and it should be sparkling clean.

Naturally non-stick – Boil a cup of water until it evaporates in a frying pan to give it a natural non-stick coating that lasts on average about a month.

Homemade cottage cheese – Bring 1 gallon of whole milk to a near-boil (around 190 degrees Fahrenheit), then pour in 1/2 cup of vinegar. Once the mixture is cool, it will be separated into curds and whey. Pour it through a strainer and add the curds to a bowl, mixing in salt and whatever other spices you want. A smidge of cream here makes it smoother, but it’s not necessary, and it’s read to eat!

Clean Your Car with Vinegar!

Prevent frost in the winter – At night, spray your windows down with a solution of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water. This will help prevent frost from forming and it will help reduce the impact of ice buildup. It’s not going to stop snow from building up, but at least you won’t likely have a hard layer of ice to deal with after clearing snow away.

Windshield wipers – Dirty wipers will streak your windows and that’s pretty much the exact opposite of their intended use. A cloth soaked in undiluted vinegar, wiped up and down the blades a few times will get rid of the grimy buildup and get your wipers back to fully functioning fabulousness.

Remove old bumper stickers – If you’ve got the ghost of an old bumper sticker sticking around, undiluted vinegar applied directly on top and to the sides will help get it off. Use a thin piece of plastic like an ice scraper to remove the paper parts, and then reapply the vinegar to get the sticky icky glue-bits off, too.

De-grime wheel wells – If you’re prone to muddy driving, chances are good your wheel wells are less than sparkling. That’s okay, because a solution of 1:1 vinegar to water will help clean them off and also aid in repelling dirt!

Laundry Room + Vinegar

Deodorize that washer – So it’s not doubt that washers can get stinky. You could use bleach but vinegar is far safer and not likely to ruin clothes if it doesn’t get washed out completely. Run an empty small, hot wash cycle and add 1 cup of undiluted vinegar. If you can, add a second rinse cycle to make sure it’s all gone.

Pre-treater for stains – Mix 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, and 1/3 cup borax in a spray bottle, directly apply to stains, and then let it sit for at least an hour before throwing in the washer.

Deep-cleaning towels – Mildew buildup can still leave towels smelling awful, even after being washed. To remedy this, toss your towels by themselves into the wash. Turn the water on hot, and use 1 cup undiluted vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda to wash them 1 full cycle. This will banish your mildew and get them smelling like things you’d want on your body again.

Destinky stinky shoes – Spray the insides of the offending footwear with 1:1 vinegar to water solution and let it sit overnight. Then, add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice to a cotton ball and put it in the shoes and let THAT sit overnight. The vinegar solution should kill odor-causing bacteria and the cotton ball should give your shoes a much more pleasant scent.

Miscellaneous Uses for Vinegar

Remove dry skin from your feet – This one is weird and I know it’s going to sound weird, but bear with us. 1 cup of Listerine and 1 cup vinegar with 2 cups of warm water makes a foot soak you’ll soak in for about 15 minutes. Then, apply a pumice stone or foot file and the dry, dead, gross skin should come right off.

Non-toxic weed killer – Fill a spray bottle with undiluted vinegar and then add 1-2 teaspoons of dish soap, and apply to weeds and the ground around them. The acetic acid in the vinegar will burn the weeds and alter the pH of the soil, killing the root, too. This solution is non-toxic, but it will murder any plant it touches, so be careful what you spray it on. Dish soap helps it stick to the plant, and the pH imbalance will wash out after a good rain, making the ground suitable for planting again.

Disinfect your mops – If you have mops with removable heads, you can use vinegar to disinfect and deodorize them. Simply toss them in your washer, add a cup of vinegar and wash on “hot”. They’ll be whiter, brighter, and actually CLEAN.

Everyday scented spray cleaner – Take an empty spray bottle and fill it with 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar, 1 tablespoon of dish detergent, and the peels of lemons, oranges, or other assorted citrus. Let that soak for a few days before using and you’ll have a great, all-purpose cleaner that smells divine.

 

I’m Not Selfless Because I’m Good, I’m Terrible…

I’m Not Selfless Because I’m Good, I’m Terrible…

“You were a TERRIBLE baby!!!”

I truly cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told this throughout my life, it’s pretty much my family’s motto. And it’s only now – at nearly 31 – that I’ve started to recognize how to be grateful for those angry words.

My mom was only 20 years old when she had me and while she did briefly marry the guy who knocked her up, it wasn’t for love but rather a fear of judgement, mainly from her parents.

She was lucky in that her parents let my mother live in their basement, providing her with a tribe of caregivers that included her brother, her parents, and her grandmother. I would include “Dad” in that situation, but he once “forgot” to tell anyone he was leaving the house and ended up leaving me alone for an entire day when I was only six months old – a story my family loved to tell to reinforce just how awful a human being he is (as if I didn’t know that…but more on him later).

Despite a house filled with family, I apparently stressed them to no end, wanting to be held constantly and crying should anyone dare put me down. I was once almost abandoned on a neighbor’s doorstep by my frazzled mother, only to have my grandmother rescue me before the authorities were called.

terrible baby

Now before we get too deep into the dysfunction, I want to make it clear that I’m in no way angry with my family. This is not a post to rage against them or put them in a bad light, but to help others recognize that through the chaos, we can in fact emerge with clarity….even if it takes 30+ years to happen.

Regardless, I do fully believe that part of their lamenting stemmed from deflection – I’m still reminded even now that I was a “terrible baby” and a “spoiled, selfish child.” Neither of which do I believe to be true of myself, but I do think certain family members say it as a way to comfort themselves for their own character flaws.

Now as I mentioned earlier, the male involved in my conception has never been a great guy, but I tried off-and-on over the years to have some sort of relationship with him. It became clear, though, when I enlisted in AmeriCorps (the US version of the Peace Corps) that this guy and I would never be father/daughter…or really much of anything in fact.

Upon learning of my enlistment, I received this e-mail from “Dad” as he raged about my desire to serve my country:

It’s bad enough you’re not continuing on to law school, but now this? You went to college for a good job, not to “volunteer.” If you had any concern for me you would start making money now, it’ll be your turn to take care of me soon, ya know. Ever see the play or movie Hair and the song that asks how can anyone be so cold especially ones that care about justice and strangers…Amber that reminds me of you. Are you trying to find yourself, do you get a real legit sense of purpose and accomplishment or do you have a mask of altruism that makes you feel accomplished when you get others to help others or is it for your resume…I mean how long will you continue to do this to yourself….and forget about the military its one thing to serve as a socialist pawn quite another to be part of cannon fodder for Obama‘s war machine! Have a nice life.

That was the last time we communicated, and frankly I’m okay with it. My lack of a father figure reinforced long ago that I would never marry a man who would fail as a father; and despite my husband growing up without a dad, he’s the best damn father to my children that I could have ever hoped for and then some.

Not only did my family’s lamenting ensure I’d end up with a man who made for a wonderful father, but they also made me an incredibly strong mother.

As a woman with her own high-needs baby (and without a village), I spent the first two years of my daughter’s life with her more-or-less attached to me constantly. Had my family not instilled in me what a “terrible baby” I was, perhaps I would’ve been less tolerant of my child’s needy nature…but probably not.

nursing baby

See I don’t think there’s such a thing as a “terrible baby.” Every baby – every human – has varying needs, some are okay with a bit of distance while others need constant reassuring. No child should be made to feel they owe their caregivers for….well, giving care. If nothing else, I believe most babies will feed off the energy of those around them and clearly the energy of my upbringing was often anything but comforting. And even though it’s taken me 30 years to recognize this – I’m grateful for the dysfunction, because while my altruism may have originally stemmed from a need to prove I’m not in fact terrible, I’m now all the better for it.

I struggle to say this in such a way that doesn’t make me appear to be a braggart but I am in fact a very altruistic person. I believe in teaching children to volunteer and in leading the way myself however I can.

I don’t do it for a “sense of purpose” or a mask to hide behind, but because I want this world to be a better place, not just for my own children, but for all the children. Every person, regardless of country, skin color, religious beliefs, or otherwise, deserves to be able to find peace and the only way that can happen is if we all strive together to do so.

There’s an innate need in me to help others and it doesn’t stem from a need to be recognized (in fact, I’d prefer not to be) nor do I necessarily believe I need to be good to get into Heaven – but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post for another time.

I truly think I’m good because for so long I was made to feel like I was bad. By schoolyard bullies who beat on me for being poor. By my family who berated me for being a child who cried. By teachers who would punish me for my mother’s tardiness. And of course by the man who disowned me as his daughter for serving my country.

I’m not selfless because I’m good, I’m selfless because I’m terrible.