23 and Jen

I have always been fascinated by the past. Where I come from and the history of how my family came to be. Being from a Latino descent I know from stories and history I am a mix of cultures, and I love it. It just means that I am an amazing blend of diversity and history.

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When I was little, my grandmother would tell me the story of my great-grandfather and how his father was Spaniard who fell in love with a Taino women and her native island, Puerto Rico. He stayed and raised a family there on a bit of farmland. I never knew how accurate the story was and honestly, I still don’t know all the details. But on my journey of finding out a little bit more about my melting pot of DNA, I fell a little bit more in love with myself.

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When I found 23 and me I knew it would help me piece together so many questions I had regarding my ancestry. How much of me is from where and who? I mean, who doesn’t want to know where they’re descended from? But I actually may have more questions now than before taking the test. I have 2 parents; so who is more of what? Where and when did the Spanish descendant come to Puerto Rico and is there any real truth to the stories I was told as a child?

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Taking the test was fairly easy; just spit into a test tube, seal it up, and send it in. I chose the Health and Ancestry test because I wanted to know it all. I registered my kit on the site and took a few of the questionnaires they provided – which are totally optional. I filled out a few each day to help ease my desperation while waiting for my results. When I received the results, it was honestly such a rush. Seeing this map light up all over the places that I am from just confirmed my cultural mutt theory.

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My grandmother, as much of you may know, is in the early stages of dementia. Asking her too many questions about the story that she told me as a child just isn’t possible. So 23 and Me is giving me the opportunity to fill in some of the blanks. Although I am the only one in my home to take the test so far, I think I will eventually purchase the kits for my grandmother and my children, too. 23 and me allows you to link your test with your relatives so you can see your family tree. And they find other relatives that share my ancestry that I’ve never met, never heard of, never known existed. 3rd cousins, 5th cousins – people I am distantly related to who I never would have found otherwise.

Because I can now connect with these people, I have a real chance of finding some more answers. I can find their stories and see how it blends with my own to discover a bit more where I come from. And considering how much of that world is lit with my ancestors, I can tell I have plenty of stories to find.

Anxiety, Depression oh my!

I wrote this post before the holiday season. I am not the same person I was when I originally wrote this post. I feel so much better now and have for a few weeks. But I know I can get back to feeling this way so I always tread lightly with myself. Keeping busy helps me. Why didn’t I post it then? Honestly, I was embarrassed about what my friends or family would think. That is so sad that I cared so much of other peoples opinions I didn’t share something so raw and true. But its here now, please read and be kind. 

The last few weeks I have been struggling with anxiety and some depression. I suffered silently for the first week. Then I realized my thoughts were getting away from me. So I told somebody. I found someone to listen and I vented. All my fears out on the table. It felt great, but I’m still not “better”.

I feel myself zoning in and out of reality. Like the whole day will go by and it’ll feel like a dream. I get a same headache around 3pm. So when it’s time to pick up the kids and start dinner I am frustrated and exhausted at the day I had lost. At night when I finally hit the bed and I toss and turn till I fall asleep till I’m up again at 4am.

I don’t know what’s happening or what’s causing it. I can only hope that it’s a phase and I will get over it.

A friends advice was to make list and that has started to help. Feeling a little more organized helps with my anxiety. Being honest with my significant other also helps. He knows and console’s me when I need it and gives me space when I need that. He is a great hep in pitching in with chores and meal times but sometimes that makes me feel more useless. I feel more inadequate when I can’t do it all on my own and at times I resent his help.

I have faith that these feelings will fade and I will be “better” soon. I thank god that I have people in my life that help me and can tell when I need help. I know it is not so, for many people. So maybe writing this can possibly help someone, pay a little more attention to those who smile through the pain or hide when they need an ear to just listen. I hope this post reaches someone who needs it.

This may be life for me from now one but I will not let it define me. I will work hard to get up and do everything I can to keep the dark thoughts from my head.

If anyone needs to talk I’m here.

3 Unexpected Challenges Transitioning to Stay-at-Home-Mom

Both my kids are in school, but I’ve been told being home is still considered being a stay-at-home-mom, so I’m taking it. I’ve always worked and neither of my kids can remember a time prior to now that I’ve been unemployed. They have both have had to deal with late nights and Mama working on the weekends. So when the opportunity came for me to be home full-time I jumped at it. I thought this was going to be amazing; I could finally be a “good” mom. Staying home, to me, meant more home-cooked meals, a cleaner house and that I would always be there for my kids. Some of that is true, but I learned pretty quickly,

Being a stay at home mom isn’t all its cracked up to be.

Just as with everything when you become a parent; the idea of something is completely different than what it’s like in actuality. You think you’re going to be an amazing parent with perfect children… Until you have children and realize no one knows wtf they’re doing.

I have three constant battles I fight with being at home I had no idea would be so hard.

Meals

I thought cooking meals for my family every day would be amazing. I’d make healthy, amazing meals the family would love. The first week was great! I had so many meal ideas; some hits, some misses. But by week 2 I had no idea what to make anymore. I was running out of ideas and enthusiasm. Cooking is exhausting!

Cleaning

How do people keep there homes immaculate. I spend one whole day cleaning one room they come home and its like a bomb goes off the room is a mess again. The laundry basket is always full and the dishes are endless. How is it even possible that this doesn’t improve with me staying home? I am constantly doing laundry and dishes. Does my family make more dishes now? Are they sneaking clothes directly from their drawers to the laundry baskets? How did I do this while I worked full-time?

My Sanity

I feel like I am losing myself. I have always wanted to be this strong, independent, working woman and now I’m not. I feel less than equal to my peers when I have to depend on someone to support me and my children. My guy is doing a great job of it, I have to admit and thankfully, he fully supports my staying at home, but I just feel like a mooch.

I’ve been told by other stay-at-home moms that I’ll get used to it. I’ll get in the swing of cooking and cleaning. I will start to realize that there is no his and mine in a family. But the “Give it time” mentality isn’t doing a whole lot for my adjustment period right now. 

Self-care for the next generation

A few weeks ago my friend’s daughter ran up to me in tears crying because she had fallen and her sister didn’t help her get up. I hugged her and told that it was OK and that people aren’t always going to help you get up. You have to pick yourself up sometimes. I wiped her tears and she ran back down to the playroom and it was all better. If only it were always that simple.

Here we are now and my own 5 yr old comes home upset because she tripped at camp and 3 of her friends ran right past her and didn’t help her up. I gave her the same speech I gave my friends daughter but my sassy queen wasn’t having it. She looked at me and said, “Well from now on, then when I see someone down I’m not helping them get up!”

I stopped and couldn’t even believe what I was hearing.

I got down to her level so she knew it was important (Pro-mom move) and I said “No we don’t do that. You will continue to help people who need help. Don’t ever give up helping others because you didn’t get helped.” She may have understood or  she may not have but she agreed and she skipped away.

I am still left bothered by both situations. Both girls thought someone needed to pick them up. But why? I didn’t raise my kid to think that she was entitled to people at her beckon call. Let me tell you, if you met my friend you would know she definitely didn’t raise her daughter that way either. Still, my question goes unanswered.

Why assume that someone has to help us up when we fall?

Now don’t get me wrong, if I see someone down I am the first one to offer a helping hand. I think anyone who sees someone down should help them back up, always. No matter the reason. But, if I fall I don’t ever expect for anyone to pick me up. Nor should you.

Life is full of so many messed up things and people. There will always be times when you will fall down; literally and figuratively. And when you are down, it’s OK to be down. Take your time getting up when you can. As long as you remember, that you don’t need anyone to get you up. It’s nice, of course, but you shouldn’t always depend on others to help you up – no matter the reason for the fall.

It’s almost as if people are keeping score of who did something nice and who didn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong, if somebody wrongs you, you have every right to stay away from that person. But we shouldn’t bring that into our other relationships, and human interactions. Being kind shouldn’t reflect on how many people have been kind to us. I don’t want my daughter, at 15 years old seeing some on the ground and walking right past them because she thinks, “Well that one time at summer camp my friends ran right past me.”

So many people give up on kindness to total strangers because of one (or several) bad experiences, fear of rejection or just plain laziness. And it’s not to say that everyone is deserving your kindness but we shouldn’t be so quick to give up on all of mankind. Your kindness is a reflection on you; not of how many times you’ve been neglected.

I want to raise my kids to be strong and independent and not need picked up by anyone.

I think most parents want that of their children. But I also want them to be kind and thoughtful. You can be a strong individual and still help other people. Maybe in their kindness, they can help others grown their own kindness.

Why I’m a bad friend

Over the weekend two of my very close friends texted me, one of which I haven’t spoken to in more then a year. I cried a little both times when the messages came through.

I missed them, and I didn’t even know it until that moment.

How focused on my life had I been that a mere hello text would leave me in tears over these two women? Talking to them both was so refreshing and made my heart so full. Clearly, I’m a bad friend and I don’t deserve them.

I have about four decently solid friendships that I have had for more than a few years. I don’t live near any of them anymore, and I think we are starting to, or have already, drifted apart. As is expected, when we grow up, we change. These friends were those I had when I was a still just a kid. They knew kid-Jen and don’t really know me as I am today. Because even as adults, we continue to grow and evolve. I don’t have the same interests I had even just four years ago. Nor do expect them to have their same interests.

And then, how do you keep a friendship when you are so far away? I can no longer run over to your house for a glass of wine and complain about life. I can vent on a chat or through texts, sure. I could even call and get at least their tones and inflections. But it isn’t the same kind of escape we used to have with each other.

Plus, I don’t want to push the blame elsewhere; I know that I’m lazy and I just don’t try hard enough. I fully understand that is the biggest reason we’re drifting (or have drifted) apart. Adult friendships take more work and I just haven’t put the work in for these relationships. And it’s genuinely sad to think about.

Because I miss them, everyday.

And I didn’t realize it until this weekend. It’s not an overt and obvious feeling. I don’t consciously think “I miss her!” But it’s still there ever day. It’s in the feeling of loneliness when I see besties on the street or the way I relate to the girlfriends on my TV. I hear something that will remind me of an old friend and not consciously remember why it brings a smile to my face, but I know that it does. I’ll hear a song that reminds me of her and it will lift my spirits. But I don’t call. And I don’t text. I don’t even always know who’s memory it was that made me smile.

I don’t mean to be a bad friend but I can recognize that I probably am. I never know if I’m doing too much or not enough. I have always been the friend who’s broke. So when everyone is planning trips I had to either borrow money or op out of going. I’m inconsistent; I will talk to you every day for a month and then forget to reply to your text messages for the next month. I make plans and last minute I decide I just don’t want to go.

Of course it doesn’t help that I have a partner who is an introvert and he doesn’t understand my need or want for solid friendships. So I feel bad when I ditch him to hang out, anyways. (Not that it’s his fault that I’m a bad friend.)

Then something happens and it hits me like a ton of bricks falling on my heart. I haven’t called, texted or responded to messages from someone I care about. I say to myself, “Make sure to call after this shower!” But I don’t remember and another day passes and I forget once again. Then a day turns into a week and then a month and then I’m just too embarrassed to face how long I’ve forgotten. Then that awkward feeling that maybe I shouldn’t even try at all anymore takes over because I’ve ruined a good thing by losing touch.

I want my friends back!

I want to have solid relationships with people who love me. I want those moments that I had in the past again. I know that I have to make and effort to mend the time we’ve had apart. Yes, we’ve changed and I know that we live apart, now. But all those excuses I’ve made for being a bad friend have to turn into reasons why I should try even harder to be a good one.

So here is to me trying harder to call and text; trying harder to listen and pay more attention. I love you girls and I always will.