Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Month: June 2017 (page 1 of 2)

The Uncanny Similarities Between Kids and Pets

Every now and then I run across a post imploring pet parents to stop comparing dogs to babies. I usually give a small chuckle, roll my eyes, and scroll on. Inevitably, about four seconds after I see such a post, one of my four kids needs something from me. I put the phone down, rush off to solve whatever problem they have, and wonder why so many people have this view.

 

pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, comparing dogs to babies, i love all my kids the same

My four kids.

 

I mean, I get it. Being a parent to a small child is a lot of work. As far as I can tell, kids are a walking self-destruct button and keeping them safe requires constant vigilance. Once you have a child, your entire life is centered around teaching them to be acceptable humans and keeping them alive. Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibility, but it also brings an overwhelming amount of love.

The thing is…stay with me…so do pets.

Now, I know this is an unpopular opinion, but as someone with one human child and three furbabies, I don’t see much difference. This is particularly true if you’re kids are still toddlers.

 

pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, comparing dogs to babies

Pictured: A fur-less dog.

 

Similarities between kids and pets.

  • You spend a great deal of time keeping them from eating non-food items.
  • You spend even more time finding food they’ll willingly eat. This is especially true if your furbaby is a cat.
  • If you want to get away for any length of time, you need to find a sitter.
  • Play dates are necessary.
  • They both destroy your property.
  • Finding a form of correction that works is a pain in the you-know-what.
  • The unbelievable sense of pride you feel when you finally teach them to obey a simple command.
  • They can’t always tell you what’s wrong.
  • You can’t help but smile when they fall asleep in your arms.
  • Bathtime can be a nightmare and results in more water on the floor than in the tub.
  • You have to clean up after they have an accident on your floor. (Potty training, anyone?)

Still not convinced? Here’s the biggest similarity between kids and pets:

You’ll do anything to keep them safe and healthy.

If you’re like me, you love your furbabies just as much as you love your own child. Keeping them fed, healthy, and safe consumes a large portion of your mind.

This is something that struck me when we acquired the newest member of our family, an adorable kitten named Cleo.

When we got her, she was a 9 week old ball of fur. Like any other kitten, she was full of energy. For the first few days, we watched with joy as she batted around her toy mice, hopped from one piece of furniture to another, and attempted to scale the blinds. We’d let her “fight” our hands and giggle as she pounced towards wiggling fingers. She’d play hard for awhile, and then she’d crawl into our laps, purring away as she settled in for a nap. In short, she acted as we all expect a curious kitten to act.

 

pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, my kitty is the best kitty

Cleo the Strong. Her hobbies include climbing into boxes, begging for your food, and giving snarky looks to the camera.

 

Then, a few days later, she was struck with a mysterious illness.

At night, we put her in the bathroom to keep her safe and to ensure she has easy access to food, water, and her litter box without the oldest critters taking over. We had brought her into our family on a Sunday night, and the following Saturday I woke up and went to the bathroom to check out her. She was sleeping quietly on her pillow, as usual, so I gently picked her up and brought her with me to finish her nap on the couch. She curled up on my lap and continued snoozing, just life as normal.

A few hours later, she was still sleeping. I couldn’t get her to really wake up. When I did, we couldn’t get her to stand. She’d just kind of flop over and cry. The few times she did take a couple steps, she was very unsteady and seemed to be in pain. We couldn’t get her to eat or drink, and we were certain she wasn’t going to make it.

Upon Googling her symptoms, we found that nearly every possible medical issue in cats listed these concerns. We called around until we found a vet who was open on weekends. We ran down her symptoms and the doctor advised us to keep an eye on her, and pretty much said it could be anything.

I spent the next few days feeding her canned cat food, sometimes mixed with pumpkin and water, with a baby spoon. We gave her water with a baby bottle. We administered lots of snuggles. Each day she improved a little more, and finally she was back to normal.

My guess is, this mystery illness was malnourishment or dehydration. Possibly constipation. Now that she’s better, she can get her shots and everything, and hopefully we won’t have to deal with anymore scares!

Now, I tell you all this not only to show how much work can go into being a pet parent, but to give the next example some context.

To further illustrate the similarities between pets and kids, look no further than my willingness to put my own medical issues on the backburner to protect one of my babies.

A few days after Cleo started getting better, she started to jump off the couch. Since she’d been having trouble with coordination, I was sure she was going to get hurt and I lept from my seat to save her, landing on my injured knee. Of course, my husband reminded me to take care of myself, but like all mothers, I put my young above myself.

If that isn’t love and devotion, what is?

So, what is the difference between pets and kids?

The only real difference I can see is that kids talk back, pets don’t.

Well, now that I think about it, my furbabies can be pretty sassy in their own right. They definitely have their own way of talking back. So, let’s try this again.

The only difference is the amount of money you have to spend.

That’s not to say that pets don’t cost a lot of money. There’s vet bills, food, toys, and whatnot. But, kids come with the need for clothes that they outgrow as soon as you buy them, more expensive toys, more food, fees for activities, school supplies, college tuition… Let’s face it, kids are money pits.

In the end, the biggest difference is simply breed.

I may get some flack for saying this, but I love all the members of my family equally. So go ahead and compare your dogs to babies. I won’t judge.

 

Linked up at: No Rules Weekend Blog Hop

 

 

 

The Truth About…Being A Work At Home Mom

Since I spent several years as a mommy blogger, I still follow a lot of parenting blogs. Every now and then a post comes around that highlights the struggles of stay at home moms. I usually find myself nodding along and feeling for the writer, because, let’s face it, being a stay at home mom isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. A few days pass and I come across a post about working moms, and having been a working mom as well, I empathetically nod along. Working moms have it hard, too.

In either case, once I’m done agreeing with the author,  I head to the comment section and, even though I know it’s coming, I stare at the screen, stunned into silence at the verbal carnage taking place. Everyone starts arguing about who has it worse, ignoring the fact that it shouldn’t be a competition. We all have our individual struggles and what works for one person won’t work for another. Sometimes what appears easy as an outsider turns out to be incredibly difficult once you give it a go.

In this war between working moms and stay at home moms, I feel that one group of mothers is largely overlooked: work at home moms.

Now, the point of this post isn’t to say that this group has it any easier or any harder than the other groups. I just want to point out the unique struggles we work-at-home-mothers face and erase some myths that seem to be prevalent.  After all, the first step towards peace is understanding.

Myth #1: You have all the time in the world.

As a work at home mom, my day starts at 5 AM. I jump out of bed, get some caffeine into my system, and immediately fire up the computer. The first few hours of my day are devoted to writing, which isn’t always the easiest of tasks. Generally, my daughter sleeps until 9 or 10, so I have a good chunk of time to use productively.

However, occasionally my work time is cut short when my child decides to get up early. These days are incredibly difficult. An early-waking child means I must stop working for a while or attempt to form coherent sentences as I field unending questions and demands from the tiny terrorist I so lovingly created.

Most days, I’m working in spurts. I work on writing, promoting, networking and so on for a little while, then stop to fix a meal or snack, work a little more, stop to load the dishwasher, work a little more…you get the drift.

 

work at home moms, working moms, stay at home moms, myths about work at home moms, the struggle

There’s certainly no time for fancy tea.

 

The point is, as work at home moms, our time is precious. We still have to get in the normal 8 hours of work each day while doing all the things people expect of a stay at home mom. We’re not just sitting around the house doing nothing. Our career is not something we do in our “free time”. There are still deadlines to meet, meetings to hold (even if they are via phone, Skype, or email), and a slew of other time-sensitive tasks.

Plus, you still have to find time to squeeze in some sleep. Most nights, I hit the hay around 11 PM. Six hours of sleep probably isn’t ideal for anyone, but it’s a necessary sacrifice at this point. Many of us work at home moms only function by the grace of caffeine. Like I said, time is precious!

So, no, we can’t always agree to your spur of the moment requests for childcare or a lunch date. It’s not that we don’t want to. It’s just that we have to work as well!

Myth #2: Work at home jobs aren’t “real jobs”.

This right here drives me up a wall. Some of us, like myself, aren’t making buckoo bucks at our work at home gigs, but I know plenty of women who are. Regardless of pay-grade, it seems that a lot of people are under the impression that these types of jobs are somehow less demanding than traditional careers. It seems that there’s a lack of prestige that comes with saying you work at home. Sometimes it feels as though you must drive to another location to do your job in order to be a real adult.

The thing is, working at home is often more demanding. Sure, you can set your own schedule, but you also have to work around life’s other tasks. You have to be great at switching gears to pull it off, as you’ll more than likely be working in small chunks spread throughout the day.

This isn’t to say that flexibility isn’t a perk. Knowing you can make it to a doctor’s appointment or hit the bank before it closes is wonderful. However, juggling all of life’s demands with the requirements of your job can be a hassle. This is especially true if the people in your life don’t take what you do seriously. When you have others interrupting you or making more demands on your time, it gets hard to keep things in balance.

Make sure your family and friends know that work hours are off-limits. Remind others (and yourself!) that your job deserves the same respect as anyone else’s.

Myth #3: Work at home moms can (and should) do it all.

This myth comes to us in many forms. Whether it’s a spouse who feels you should do all the housework sense you’re home all day, your own hang-ups, or “helpful” family members who suggest you just need to manage your time better, this idea is pervasive and damaging.

 

doing it all, exhausted moms, work at home moms, work at home mom, working mom, burn out, stress, mom life

Exhaustion. That’s what it will get you.

 

You cannot realistically do everything yourself and still keep your sanity. If you can afford childcare, get someone to watch your kid while you work. If you need help around the house, let your family know they need to do their share. If there’s job related tasks you can delegate to someone else, do it. You absolutely cannot be expected to take care of everything all by yourself.

Remind people that although you don’t have an office to show up to everyday, you still work.

The truth about being a work at home mom is: it’s hard.

All forms of motherhood are hard. We all have our struggles. Work at home moms, stay at home moms, and moms with traditional jobs all face these issues to some degree. However, it is the work at home moms whom I most often see struggling to have their voices heard. It seems that everyone is quick to point out the ways in which work at home parents have it easy.

I’d like to end this post by reminding all moms that we gain nothing by tearing each other down. Invalidating each other’s experiences or playing the “who has it worse” game adds nothing of value to the world.

Let’s end the debate once and for all, and instead focus on hearing each other’s voices. Let’s lift each other up and help one another find solutions. We can all work together to form a more inclusive social narrative and make real change.

 

Linked up at: Share with Me

Mommy Blogging Throwback {With Video!}

Every now and then, I miss being a mommy blogger.

I left that circle to pursue writing full time and design a blog that better fit me as a person. I needed to throw off the shackles and have more freedom to write about topics outside of the parenting niche, and all in all, I feel like it has been a great move.

However, sometimes I miss the community that came with that particular brand of blogging. The years I spent building my first blog were definitely well spent and offered a lot of lessons that have helped me with this project. They also gave me the confidence to branch out.

A couple years ago, I made a silly little YouTube video about life as a mommy blogger. I recently watched it again, and found that it still applies to the way I work now. Being a work-at-home mom is definitely a unique lifestyle!

Today, I thought I’d share that video, along with the post I wrote around it, exactly as it originally appeared on February 24, 2015.

Enjoy!

 

The Truth About Mommy Blogging

 

Awhile back I touched on the realities of being a mommy blogger with a post that outlined a typical day in my life.

As a stay-at-home-mom, I need this outlet to keep me sane. Spending every minute of my day catering to my little one is exhausting and has a tendency to make me feel more like a robot and less like a person. Having a little chunk of the internet to call my own where I can express myself as an adult is seriously amazing, even if it is hard to squeeze in the time to write.

writing, mommy blogging, blogging, funny video, work at home mom

In the time that’s passed since I wrote that first piece, I have learned a few more things about mommy blogging. Namely, that it takes a lot of work. There’s pictures to take, networking to do (ugh, I hate that word!), research, site maintenance, linky parties, and of course all the social media hullabaloo. With all the time and energy that goes into it, I would say that blogging is less of a hobby and more like a lifestyle.

In fact, I think one of the biggest truths about blogging is that bloggers mostly write for other bloggers–particularly if you own a “mom blog”. Sometimes this truth can be a little disheartening as you wonder how on earth you can be successful if you can’t reach a broader audience. However, I think this is one of the biggest perks of blogging: the sense of community. Over the past few months I have made some amazing friends through this adventure. We support each other, we share our life experiences, we talk each other through bad days and celebrate the good ones. If you had asked me a month ago if it was possible to have real friendships over the internet, I would have told you no. Today, I can tell you I would have been wrong.

If it wasn’t for these wonderful blogging comrades, I never would have had the guts to do what I did yesterday.

You guys, I put a video on YouTube.

It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. Spilling my guts in writing? No problem. Showing goofy pictures of myself to the whole world? Easy-peasy. But video? My voice and mannerisms on display? Terrifying.

I’d had this idea kicking around in my head for the longest time and feeling emboldened by my new-found clan, I decided to bite the bullet and just do it. Aside from technical issues and the horrors of editing, it was a great experience and I’m pretty proud of the result, if I do say so myself.

So, here it is, the realities of mom blogging in video form!

Can you relate?

 

Lessons From My Torn Meniscus

For those of you who don’t know me in real life, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I’m kind of klutz and extremely accident prone. Barely a week goes by that I don’t acquire some kind of injury. It’s been that way my whole life and my family often laughs at the odd ways in which I manage to get hurt. Whether it’s giving myself a black eye with a mop bucket or walking into a wall or burning myself with every meal I cook, I’m always dealing with some sort of boo-boo. Sometimes, these injuries force me to pause and really think about my life. My most recent injury falls into that category.

About three weeks ago, I went to bed like any other night. My husband was staying up to finish a show and after getting my bedtime kiss, I made my way to our bedroom and crawled under the covers, taking my usual spot on the outer edge of the bed. We had had a long weekend and I was beyond ready for rest. I didn’t even have time to overthink the upcoming week’s schedule before I was pulled down into a dreamy abyss.

I don’t remember what I was dreaming, but I’m sure it was something wonderful. What I do remember is being ripped from my blissful slumber as pain shot through my leg. I woke up screaming and sobbing, my husband’s face coming sharply into view as he hovered over me. He jumped away quickly, frantically asking me what was wrong as I continued to cry, unable to move my leg or form proper words.

“My knee!” I finally cried, forcing myself to breath through it. “You smashed my knee!”

He immediately checked it out, helping me force my leg straight as he apologized. The motion was pure agony.  I took a deep breath and settled back against the pillows as he climbed in beside me, holding me tight.

Looking back, it’s funny as hell. Like any other night, my husband walked up to the edge of the bed and prepared to crawl over me to get to his spot. It just so happened that instead of placing his hand on the mattress beside me, it landed on my knee, shoving it all out of place as his full body weight pressed into it.

The next morning it still hurt and we assumed it was a sprain. We decided to let it go for a day or two and see how it felt before bothering the doctor with a minor injury. By the end of the day, I was still in pain and getting worse. Every time I tried to step, I could feel something catch inside my knee and it would pop loudly, sending even more pain through me. The next day it was even worse and I broke down to call the doctor.

They got me in that afternoon, took a few xrays, gave me pain pills and crutches and sent me on my way. This first doctor didn’t know what was going on and referred me to a specialist. Of course, they couldn’t get me in until the following Monday, so I had plenty of time to worry about how bad it was and whether I was causing anymore damage.

The next doctor took some time listening to what was going on with my knee, twisting and bending my leg in every possible direction, and told me what I was already thinking: I had torn my meniscus. The next step was to get an MRI to determine where the damage had occurred and if it was severe enough to warrant surgery. He wrote me a script for some different pain meds and sent me on my way.

 

torn meniscus knee brace injury lessons in gratitude

Nevermind the pet hair, it’s an unending battle. At least I can still write while I’m down!

 

Of course, at first my insurance wouldn’t approve my MRI, so I was told they would call me back after resubmitting it to set up an appointment. I got the call the following afternoon and was scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday, with a follow-up appointment with my doctor on Thursday. Groovy. Now we were getting somewhere!

Wednesday I drove the half hour to my appointment, got my MRI and headed for home, excited to be closer to having an answer. I ran down every possible scenario, working out the best way to handle things like child care and household chores while being off my feet.

By the time Thursday came around, I was ready to hear my fate. I made the half-hour drive again, hoping they’d tell me it was an easy fix. I stopped at my mom’s office to drop off my daughter and she was on the phone with my doctor’s office. They had been trying to reach me to let me know that the MRI never got sent over and I’d have to reschedule.

Yesterday, I finally got to see the doc. I walked into the office, scrounged up a quarter to buy my daughter some candy from the little vending machine in the lobby, and barely got my butt in the seat before they called my name. I hobbled on back and sat in the room, fielding a billion questions from my four year old as I anxiously waited for the doctor to join us. After a while he appeared and we went over my images.

Luckily, the injury wasn’t as severe as I’d thought. The tear is in a spot that should heal with time and no surgery is required. I’ve got to do a few weeks of physical therapy and take some meds for the fluid that’s built up in the joint, but it should be back to normal before long.

I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I am. All I could think about was how hard it was going to be to have to stay off my leg and still accomplish all the mom stuff that I have to do on a daily basis. Of course, I still have to give it plenty of rest and take it easy, but I won’t have to do 6 weeks of being immobile.

Over the last two weeks, I have struggled with staying off my feet. It’s funny, because despite having two office areas to work in, I generally spend all my writing time in my bed or on the couch. I spend hours working on stories and blog posts, and even more time doing research for various projects, responding to messages and scheduling my social media posts. I lay around and read. I even create my weekly doodles in bed!

 

weekly doodle, drawing with a knee injury, non sequitur, gratitude, still bored

They’re not always winners.

 

However, most of the time I’m getting up every few minutes to help my daughter with one thing or another or do a quick burst of housework. I run up and down the stairs getting various items for crafts and things. Our backyard is only accessible through the door in our basement, so I have to go up and down the stairs to let our dog out. Before I injured my knee, I had started a new workout routine. Cooking, running errands, showering…all things that require standing. I really moved more often than I thought!

The thing is, being forced to stay down is much different than choosing to do so. Suddenly, all the things I want to do seem to require movement. I want to work on projects that are waiting for me in my upstairs office. I want to clean out the basement. I want to go out and dance. I want to chase my kid around the yard.

And I want to do all these things without pain. Of course this means I have to not push myself, which is extremely hard for me to do. Once I get an idea in my head I run at it full speed, sometimes to my detriment.

All in all, this injury has been a great exercise in accepting things as they are and letting go of the need to control everything. I could fight it and take on more than I could handle and do more damage, and fret about the things I can’t do at the moment, but what good does that do? Instead, I can work within my limitations and focus on what I can do. I can look forward to the things I can do once I’m all healed up.

Hurting my knee also made me realize how much I take mobility for granted. It’s crazy isn’t it? When everything is in working order, you don’t give it a second thought. There’s no appreciation for the fact that you can walk across the room to get a glass of water or that you can go climb a mountain or whatever. In fact, most of us probably don’t get out and use our bodies to their fullest extent. I know I don’t. I spend way too much time sitting on my ass doing practically nothing. I could probably take more advantage of the fact that I am able to use my damn legs.

It has also provided another example of finding inspiration in every day life. Instead of wallowing in self-pity over the level of pain I’ve been experiencing and how much it’s inconvenienced me, I chose to find the lessons within and express them here.

And that’s really the key to finding happiness, I think. To find lessons within our misfortunes and try to see the bigger picture. I firmly believe that bad luck is usually good luck in disguise, showing up to teach us a lesson or as a refresher course for things we’ve already learned and maybe aren’t applying. Our focus should always be on growth. Learning something new, whether it be about ourselves or a topic we are interested in, is always a step in the right direction.

 

 

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Also linked up at: Share With Me, Wine’d Down Wednesdays

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