Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Personal Post: Julia Roberts, The Film 'Wonder', A Reflection of Parenthood, Marriage and Self. A "Therapy" Session.

*This post is unabashedly self centered. I would highly recommend, if you have come to my blog for self help or advice, to read almost any other post. I have many posts in the label section that are focused on telling stories to enhance the world while still giving my perspective. This isn't one of those posts. This is more of a therapy session for myself that my husband encouraged me to put out there for some baffling reason. It is all about me, without redeeming self help encouragement sprinkled inside, which is what I typically try to do because that is typically who I am. But not today apparently! Fair warning... Also this post is filled with throwback photos to the mid years of parenthood when I had braces, hormonal acne, and my children either had red eyes or something always on their faces.*

Each time we watch a Julia Roberts' film my dad will remark, "She reminds me so much of you." And my husband will heartily laugh. To which my dad will ask, "Do you not think so?" My husband will then say, "Oh yes, I am laughing because I agree with you. It's rare that a role she plays does not remind me of Kiss..." This happens every time. I don't look like Julia, but I think I know the connection that they see. It is my very loud laugh, similar facial expressions and my larger than life smile (which as a teen I would practice only showing half my smile to minimize the effect...a habit I still sometimes do when the camera comes out, even though I readily embrace whom I am now.) Julia Robert's has a big smile and ready 'give it all you got' laugh. She also plays roles that are often similar to how I would act in the world.

My father has also mentioned that Sarah Jessica Parker reminds him of me too...and both of those ladies are very different. Although I have only seen SJP in 'Footloose', 'Glee'and 'Did you hear about the Morgans?' and have not seen in her in any other film besides "Comedians in Cars." But again, SJP has a boisterous laugh and she seems quirky, ...He mentioned this fact while we were watching the episode of "Comedians in Cars" with Jerry Seinfeld and SJP.

I think we are reminded of people we love in film with certain personality traits or characteristics that stand out. I am always amused by what others relate back to me because the information shows me what lens I am looked at through. What I find the most interesting though, is that my children and husband tend to always find a character in every show they love and say, "She is SOOOO mommy!" or "That is something mommy would do." They don't do this as much with themselves or my husband or anyone else. Sometimes if it is an uncanny portrayal they will mention someone else, but often I wonder why they see me in so many other people? It's a question I actually don't have an answer to but I am flattered by none the less.

The most recent happened in the film "Wonder." The kids and hubby kept cracking up at whatever the mom did or said and would look at me from the corners of their eyes. Especially the moment when the father whispered in good humour that he "is afraid of mommy." Or when the mom snaps at her daughter when she is just offering to help out, then catches herself and is sweet. Sigh. Sometimes seeing myself through another lens, tells me the truths that I need to face. I laugh too but I tuck the information away to either work on or embrace.

My daughter felt she could relate to being in orbit around my two sons. I felt devastated by this telltale statement, even though I knew she would say it. It is true, that because she is/was so accepting, easy going and helpful, I defaulted to her help. I overlooked her at times because the boys demanded more. She cried through all of Olivia's story on "Wonder." When I first watched it, I knew this would happen. I felt the ball in my stomach tighten, culminating to the part of the movie when the mom had a flashback to her daughter's fourth birthday. I swallowed back tears because that is what has happened to me before. Seeing, all too clearly, my precious angel all grown up yet remembering her sweet toddler face, and knowing that I sometimes relegated her to back seat...Not because of loving her less, but because she took it better. Because there were so many demands on our time and we were young. I hated parenthood for the most part in the early years due to Post Partum Depression. I look back and don't recognize the person I was due to the trauma of PPD. Luckily, that turned around and parenthood is one of the most beautiful facts of my world. But some of the damage was already done.

In early childhood, my daughter's closest (in age) brother looked similar to her and since she was tinier than most, after he passed about 8 months, they were the same size. They were both in diapers and baby food at the same time, hit many milestones together or only a few months apart, and both were verbal early. In the first six years of their lives, I often was asked if they were twins even though they were 18 months apart. But my son was more demanding from day one. He didn't cry, he screamed. We knew to get him diagnosed at four because many differences stood out. But my daughter had her own diagnosis that I did not even begin to see until years later. She had her own anxieties, quirks and needs that would be noticed, but because she made a less louder fuss, I put them to the back burner. I try to make up for it now. I began to put her on the path to her own diagnosis when her weight at nine years old went from being a short pixie that weighed nothing to triple within a few months. I knew she had anxiety, but I didn't realize how much she was struggling to deal with it on her own until that physical manifestation. She suddenly became the front runner for my attention.

But then, my youngest son was struggling with school, and even though we had obtained a diagnosis for my daughter, he took center stage. My youngest was a bit of a puzzle. He spent a few days in diagnosis and they said he was one of their trickiest children to figure out. They actually did not end up getting the full picture. A few years later I took him to another diagnostic clinic and finally he saw a friend psychologist who figured out that he had insanely slow processing speed...on top of DCD or Dyspraxia, learning disabilities and ADD (the ADD was the first diagnosis that I felt did not fit well because he lacked the H. Plus, it did not explain the issues that were prominent.)

 (He was always asleep- anywhere, anytime... sooo cute:)

My youngest needed help from dressing to brushing to anything he attempted...even though he was fiercely independent...but any self care took triple to five times as long as it should and he demanded the most of my hands on time up until about age nine...and still does sometimes. He was my most easy going in personality. A sweet, albeit stoic, child with a happy nature but from toddler hood onward he needed my physical attention the most. My daughter had our attention when we could give it, but once again, because she was so understanding and helpful, she would often be the star orbiting the boys.

Parenthood has been the most enriching, but toughest, learning curve of my life. I know I am an excellent mother for the most part. My therapist, the children's relatives who know them well, and my friends and spouse have told me over and over again that I am incredible at perceiving needs, making the tough calls, changing the environment to fit the child, and specifying information for each child. But I struggle at the physical care taking. My husband usually does that. Which was why single parenting for a year and a half while he checked out, was initially one of the hardest times of my life. Luckily, he still provided the meals or else I don't know how we would have survived. I am thankful he takes care of our basic needs in that way and still did when life got weird. But that year and a half, looking back, tied me to the children in a forever way. We became a unit, stronger than ever, and now we are adjusting back to adding my husband back in. I am finding this hard. Making room for him when I had to adjust to living without his support, even though we were living together. I got used to making all the decisions, overruling any dispute, structuring the days, and being on high demand. I also became the buffer between him and the children. I had to protect them from his enraged Jekyll and Hyde moments. Even though he was not abusive physically, his yelling and unpredictable anger required me, at times, to be a solid wall between him and the children. Now, I don't know what to do with myself when he steps in. It takes all my self control to allow him to do some aspects of parenting his way, which is often quite different from mine. When he gets a little bit angry, I have to stop myself from going into strong, over protective mode.

My children have become my life. But I still have plenty of time to myself and am dedicating a huge slot of time to this new phase of marriage. I am re adjusting to the man I originally married which takes time. Actually, the man I married is very much like the husband in "Wonder." Generally he was good natured, funny, allowed me to make most of the calls, and was my partner in everything. Owen Wilson's character struck my parents as very much like my guy. Minus the year and a half he went on his Wolverine trek.

Marriage is about sharing everything. The more that is shared, the easier it is to stay together. From information to experiences...yet having our own personalities and distinct down time is important too. If I live until the children are out of the house, I will probably have the biggest grieving period of my life. I also wonder how they will do, because they have been given a slice of film worthy childhood the last 6 years or so...and the reality outside of our created beauty is rarely that kind.

On the TV series,"This Is Us" the twins remind me of my three children. They are each other's best friends. They come to each others defence quick. They sleep in each others rooms almost every night. We bought moveable twin comfortable mattresses from Amazon because this was happening so much and we knew as they grew they would need better sleep support. Most nights these mattresses are dragged from room to room. They are made up with blankets, pillows and stuffies to form a temporary home in whomever won out to have the "sleepover" in their room. I use the term "sleepover" with humour because it is rare they are ALL sleeping in their own rooms so co sleeping is more of a regular event than a special one.

It would be rare for most people to understand my children's bond. We home school differently than most I know. I know one other friend, Marissa, whose children seem to have a bond like mine. Even though Marissa lives on a farm and conducts her life quite differently from mine, I find our ideals often line up. The core of how we raise our children is the same, which is rare for me to see otherwise, and how our children treat each other seems similar. I have never actually seen children relate like mine, other than what she portrays. Marissa also is a sort of unschooling (but with more structure than me) INFJ. Maybe that is the uncanny connection I feel at times?

While watching the first season of "This is Us" I could not get over how closely the twins bond resembled my three kids. They know when the other is hurting, they make up for the lack of friends in their lives but when they have friends, they ultimately will still choose each other if things go sour. They share everything...from thoughts to feelings to dreams. I often can hear them yelling at each other over music or through the bathroom door to the kitchen, telling each other stories or making up another game to play.

I love that I can be alone downstairs typing on the computer but still hear their noises upstairs. I am alone for a few hours each day but never lonely. It is ideal for this INFJ soul. We have carved out a way that works for us. It's my heaven on earth. My temporary Utopia. But, it has been a long road to get here. I have always loved aspects of my life, since I can remember. I can recall sensory hell in my youth, but mixed in are thousands of little moments I am eternally grateful for. I try to wake each day with three thoughts of gratitude within my mind. It's a little game I have played, like Sara Crewe on the Little Princess, since I was about four or five.

(Below: Me at five with Grandpa. See Roots and Legacy label for more family posts and history...)

I would pretend whatever I disliked about my situation away, and then I would focus with all my heart on the few things I had. Luckily, I mostly had a lot but the sensory onslaught and not knowing I was sensitive and different came with it's own set of demons. My children don't really know what that is like. I made sure they didn't for the most part. I wanted them to feel understood and always know the WHY and HOW of feeling and circumstance. They have been exposed to harsher realities, they have been through deep grieving, they have seen the differences of school life and our home life and tried out a few extra curriculars. I hope that what they take is how to carve out their own unique life that can be the same as the masses or completely counter cultural or somewhere in between. I hope I gave them the bravery to do whatever they want that brings a certain amount of responsibility and joy to the world. I disagree that we have to prepare our children for the harsh realities of life. The harsh realities happen regardless and we don't need to speed up or force situations that show this. Instead, we need to protect innocence while providing tools of support for the times life does deal a heavy hand.

'Wonder' was an excellent film, even though it was pro school. I believe a similar story could have been told about a different child navigating life, without school as the center of it all. Those stories are just tougher to tell because school is a mostly universal concept which the majority of people can relate to. There are also many lives intersecting at once with common ground, so the story has a more cohesive line. Regardless, if a child has to be in a school situation, 'Wonder' shows how this should be, with an insightful forgiving principle, a well informed teacher whose passion is his job, and children who have the general guidance of fairly supportive parents to their peers (exceptions to everything of course) and that each child is fighting a battle and kindness is one of the most beautiful gifts we can give. But school is unfortunately, a lesser alternative to many other ways our society could go about the need for education. For more thoughts on why the school system does not do most of us favours read, "Dumbing us Down" by John Taylor Gatto- link found in My Library.

My way is not the only way to live. I know I can come across strong. I often have to intentionally tone myself down because I know that my confidence, portrayals, voice tone and writing tone can come across as, "Here are all the answers- Now just go live it." Which is never my actual intent. Instead what I truly aim for is "Here are the places I have struggled, but within that, some steps that have worked for me...some choices I believe in strongly for a reason (like unschooling) but I also know they are not for everyone. Change is slow and there are many choices we each have. Diversity is the spice of life thus your choices can be different from mine. But if you are dissatisfied in your life, I am a testament to the fact that choosing tough, different decisions CAN enhance a life once a groove is found. It's not easy, but think outside the box, and happiness can often be found. That said, if you are truly happy in the box, by golly, stay in it!"

I realize that, unless I state the above, I rarely come across that way, unless I am speaking to people who are similar to me or can relate on some level or whom know me well. I don't even know where I am going with this post? It is more personal than usual. It would be the type of post I used to regularly put out on my old space. I think it may be therapy for me.

My therapist's wife recently died. I have not missed more than a month of therapy for over 12 years. I was one of the lucky few who found a therapist who fit my life. We both mutually benefited from the sessions. I found most often, I was able to verbalize the feelings or struggles in my life in the monthly session. I would get a bit of feedback (apparently I talk fast and lengthy- picture my writing times three...poor guy...but he found me amusing and insightful which is probably good considering I am probably his longest standing patient.) He was also a family friend and my grandmother was one of his wife's dearest companions. Thus, it is with deep feelings of remorse and feeling for him and his loss, mixed in with stressed feelings for myself (selfishly) that I find myself in a place in my life that I have not been for over 12 years. He graciously assured me that he plans to still see me, as one of the few kept on, once his grieving period is over. I am grateful for this even if life changes. There is also a part of me that wonders with humour, "How messed up AM I that a grieving widower needed to assure my grandmother that I would be kept on, and then write to me in HIS hour of need?" How different DO I come across when my grandmother is relieved and worried about me during her own crisis and that my mother and father are relieved too...and my husband and friends?? Do they just know how important it is to me? Or how regular ingrained habits sometimes will destroy me once broken? Am I that much of an anomaly? I think I hide it so well at times?? I mean, I know I am SO different from most people I know, but I thought that most people get the impression I "do life well." Which I do in some regards, but it doesn't take much for me to be overwhelmed on a microscopic level, even if I bounce back from major trauma. It's both sweet and slightly sour that people are so concerned about me...I mean, I am concerned about myself without the counter balance of therapy too, it is one of my largest coping mechanisms for life. I don't use any forms of medication, self or otherwise, besides my cocktail of iron and supplements. So therapy IS my only support in life.

I have realized how important it is for me to have an outlet of verbalization. I verbalize to feel. I feel and then verbalize. Yet it is not enough for me to just have a private journal. I have always liked a moderate amount of feedback. Mind you, I dislike a ton of advice...I tend to give it more than I take it...This is simply because I am SO in tune with myself, that I often just need to hear myself out to come to my own conclusions. I also invest a lot of time into putting feedback into my soul through books, mentors, and artistic outlets. But I DO love to hear affirmations, questions or kind challenge or morsels to chew on from time to time. I honestly believe the few comments on each post, often enhance the post more than I could. A rich wealth of perspective always improves things.

We made a decision once I found out about therapy. I am apprehensive and excited about this plan of ours. It has to do with finances and if it works I will write about it in a year's time. I needed to have some crazily structured plan and have my husband on the same page, to take down extra stress in our life during this time. I also need to be at my best physically. My therapist also took care of my iron and blood work needs. He fit me well because he was also a family physician (MD) and surgeon. He delivered both of my boys into the world. I mostly like to talk about medical and physical concerns because my body is so out of sync so there couldn't be a better fit for me. We once again changed up our diet to a more gut biome building focus. I am regularly seeing my physiotherapist whenever I inevitably injure myself (today I am confined to laying down because I put out my shoulder and part of my neck attempting to lift weights to which I was told not to do...but I thought a few pounds wouldn't hurt...ha ha.) I make sure I walk on the treadmill almost every day. Little steps that I have to be even more disciplined in because of the lack of therapy in my life currently.

I thought I would have an entire crisis, maybe it's coming, but as of yet, I just feel a light chaos in my life or a void that has briefly opened. Yet, even within that, I feel I have goodness abounding. I am at a phase in life that is bountiful. My children, even within a few failures regarding parenting, have built up resilience to deal with my mistakes and their own misfortunes. Watching 'Wonder' I realized more or less, what I do right. Which was a nice validation to experience. Within that, I looked back and saw what I already knew I didn't quite manage to pull off as a victory. My husband reminds me that my daughter was also demanding. She constantly needed emotional validation and attention ( and still does.) As a toddler she was a destructive force of nature. She had high needs, but my son's were higher. I had to pull her out of preschool because she screamed for months at drop off, went to the bathroom in the corner of her room out of protest and anxiety, and ripped any paper within her range to shreds and drew over walls, dolls ect. I made sure I paid attention to her, and my husband who has better memory recall than I do, tells me I was amazing with her. But I can't help but look back and see that I should have gotten her diagnosed first or at the same time as my son. Instead of ignoring issues. Because even though in one way she was demanding, in all others, if I did explain to her or emotionally connect, she would be placated and be emotionally in tune. Phrases from her would often include, "It's ok mommy. I understand. I feel bad for him mommy- you need to help him." And I would go off to deal with the meltdown while she followed my shadow and found her own entertainment beside me for the next couple hours of mother to son calm down counselling.

So why does my family think of me in almost any media form? Why do they see me in so many people...and usually it is all positive or flattering...Although I found it flattering when they thought Raven from 'Teen Titans Go' fit me to a T, so maybe I am just easy to please? Because I easily embrace the personalities other people would not find flattering? I find them funny or truthfully accurate so I guess I am flattered in the end, that my family KNOWS me. But why am I such a force for them? Am I larger than life or do I have larger than life issues thus stand out? With a sense of chagrin, I think it could be more of the latter. To which I do not feel bad for myself but happy that I made such an impression in the first place. At least if I fail, I am teaching them to embrace that, right? Ha and Hmmmmmm...

Song Choice: Hold on Forever- Rob Thomas "Another night and here we are again. All our faults lay out ahead. Let it out then let it right back in. All those voices in your head. And we both know everything but we can't learn to live. So I'll tell you what you need. First thing we make you feel better, next stop we pull it all together. I'll keep you warm like a sweater, take my hand I'll hold on forever. Just fall apart if you need to, I'm here and I won't leave you now. Don't look down. Hold on forever."

Better Together- Jack Johnson


calledtoquestion said...

Wonderful post my love, though I may be partial since I lived the history. I think you have been fantastic.

Kmarie A. said...

Thank you:) Well, we have come far have we not? I'm just glad my life is with you.

S said...

What a wonderful journey you have taken ! Although you wrote this post as your own therapy and own journey, I am pleased to read this because I can learn so many things from your journey, mainly human emotions. We share so many similar emotions. I have to admit that your children's childhood/toddler year photos are damn cute !! I enlarged most of them to see them more clearly and are they cute ? No, they are incredibly cute !!!! :) I feel it when you say that you feel sad that they are growing up so fast. I wish and hope if you could hold on to those moments/forever and never let them grow so fast. My childhood was also idealistic and I was also protected so much by my mom that I must confess today, it had a very difficult consequence. I was innocent and the world was too different and it took me a long time to adjust with the complicated world. But would I change the way my mom bought me up ? NO, not at all because she herself was innocent so she did not know of any other way of bringing us up. Also, I would have lost the sense of wonder and magic that I still have/ use to navigate through this world. Does innocence,wonder and magic help ? sure it does. Does it fail us too ? Sure it does, sometimes. But should I have abandoned it -I dont think so. It was more harmful for my mom though as she was/is too naive. I am naive too but I have seen both the worlds. My mom couldn't because of the times she lived in. Just like you, my mom also protected us when my dad used to go into rage (he has anger issues). I sometimes wonder why men suddenly develop anger issues ( I have not understood the reason's behind my dad's issues till date. My mom was too meek,kind and passive, It was not about her. It was also not about his job, he had a good paying job. My mom also worked and brought home money. My dad was also not the authoritarian type. He was kind,generous, passive but had anger at times ). Anyways, back to your post. Just as you have mentioned, Julia is my favourite too, so is Sarah Jessica Parker but for some reasons, Julia seems more like me and Sarah is more like you although they are so similar in many ways. That's my take.
I must congratulate you for this post because you have been through so much difficulties all these years yet, see now, all your children are grown up and the struggle seems to be getting lesser and lesser. Good to hear that the therapist would take you back as you have said therapy is very important to you. I wish I had a kind therapist like yours as we need to verbalize and express our intense and confusing emotions to cope in our day to day life. Maybe, your family/other people find many resemblances between you and many t.v. characters they see, because you ( and me or people like us ) are perhaps 1 in 100, we are different and unreal , and can be found only in movies or books or t.v...In real life, people are not so dreamy and ideal, they tend to follow rules a lot and are often defined and influenced by group behaviour or they are not like innocent children...they are already adults, growing up really fast. This is what I feel.

Kmarie A. said...

S: I always read your comments at least three times because they are full of additional thoughts, emotion and they also make me feel so great!:) U are such a beautiful support on this space and in my other spaces. Thank you for noticing whom I am and wishing to engage. I also feel the same towards you. Yes we do share many similar things.:)
YES!!!! They could have been child models at some parts of their childhood ( my youngest not until he had glasses but then oh my word!) but I had the opportunity and did not want or believe in that for them. Protection and innocence and loads of free time to explore and do what matters- matters more to me. But the people who loved them - loved having their pictures....I do have a hard time letting go of some of the inbetween years sometimes. They are precious and what I love in my life above all things.
I love how you say a sense of magic helps and can also fail us...but would still choose it...
Men do struggle more with anger because it is easier to them and due to their hormones a faster pathway in their head even if they are feeling something more akin to guilt or shame...which there are alot of cultural expectations on men in other ways that I do think contributes to this...little boys that suddenly are expected to be men and are given less emotional support or financial support learning to help them adjust. I try not to do that with my boys as much.
Yes I am very lucky to have my therapist. But I know life is changing in that regard too and I am holding no expectations.:(
Lol maybe that is it! I don't know. That is a good theory:)