Having Our First Child Almost Ended Our Marriage

My therapist once told me that when people have young children it is the hardest time on a marriage. I never realized this before. My mother left my father when she found out she was pregnant with me and my sister was not even two years old yet and if you ask my mom why, she says she would have tolerated his behavior forever, but realized she could not put her kids through the same. So you think since that is how my parents marriage ended, that I would realize a lot of marriages end around the same time. However, my mom met met my stepdad not long after and they were married by the time I was 10 months old. He had one child already and she had two, so they started their marriage with 3 children and this is the main marriage I grew up seeing. They are still together over 37 years later. I always grew up seeing them the same way, with kids around all the time. It was not until they were empty nesters that I actually saw a different type of relationship. When the grandkids were around, it was a lot like my childhood, but when it was just the two of them only, I think they had to adjust because they were not used to that.

It was the opposite for me and my husband. We met at 14, started dating at 16, were engaged at 21, married at 23 and had Aubrie at 26. We had been together 10 years just the two of us, we did not even have a dog.  By the time we were ready for that responsibility we decided to have a baby.  Now we have two dogs and a 12 year old daughter and are trying for more kids. If we have more, this time it would not be the shock to our alone time it was the first time of course. If anything, now we have gotten used to this and going back to an empty nest would be another adjustment, but one we are well aware of this time. If Aubrie is even gone for a day, we think it is too quiet in the house. If Aubrie and I both go somewhere without my husband, he gets lonely. I picked on him for being the main one to freak out when she went to Kindergarten, but that might be me when it comes time for her to move out, like the mom in the movie Blockers.

When I worked in a retirement community for years, some of the women would often come hang out in the lobby instead of their apartments or homes across the street. They were so used to their husbands working, but now they were retired and home all the time and got on their nerves. My mom and stepdad are both now retired and have my mom’s mother living with them and they all need breaks from each other at times. I am still part of a postpartum support group to help women who are still going through postpartum depression like I did years ago. Without sharing anything that would identify anyone, here are some regular posts from it relating to marriage:

“Mamas who are/have fought & argued with their husbands a lot… does it get any better?... I feel a lot of anger, resentment, & disappointment towards him. I still love him, but I don’t feel like he hears me anymore, or cares. He says he does, but it doesn’t feel like it.”

“Is this normal? Will this likely get better with time? I feel like we’re heading towards divorce, which scares the crap out of me because I am a stay at home mom…”

“Anyone leave their husband while pregnant or with a newborn? I’ve begged my husband for more support, financial and emotional and haven’t gotten it…”

“It was tough emotionally to leave my husband, but it literally burned my soul to feel like a single parent while laying beside my partner. I begged him to help but it fell on deaf ears because he assumed I was just being a emotional woman…”

“It’s been 19 months since I’ve given birth. I feel as if my marriage is falling apart. I feel like my husband is grieving the person I use to be and I can’t blame him. I hate the way I feel now. This isn’t me. It isn’t the person I want to be. Home doesn’t even feel like home anymore. I just want to be the person I was before having a child.”

For those of you feeling this way right now, you are not alone and it can get better. Your marriage can survive this, but even if it does not, you will be okay. At one point I did not think mine was going to, and my doctor even said I grieved the loss of my marriage like a death. I went through the stages of grief and eventually I decided I had to be okay for me, for my daughter and for everyone else who loved me regardless. I could not control the actions of my spouse and it takes two, so yours could still end even if you personally try everything you can to fix it. It was not easy and it took a lot of time and it took both people admitting their mistakes and trying to do better. Ten years later I feel my marriage is so much stronger and better. It is so important to parent as a team. Life has changed for both of you, you are both tired and stressed a lot of the time, both of you might be missing the freedom you had before and the person you were before, and one or both of you also might be missing the person your spouse was before. Whether you both work outside the home or one stays home or one or both work from home, you both need to support each other instead of it always being a competition of who has it worse or is doing the most.

A lot of times as parents, we try to push through exhaustion, sickness and everything else to take care of our kids. Every once in a while though, if you do this for too long without a break or help, you often reach a breaking point, and when someone helps you even just in those breaking point moments, it can make all the difference in the world. Now my husband and I do a better job of recognizing when the other one is at that point. I try not to keep score anymore on who does what. I do what I can when I can and if I get too overwhelmed or tired or sick or anything else to do it, I know now that my husband will probably realize it and help me, and I try to do the same for him.  Of course our marriage is still not perfect. My husband is not even thrilled about my book and blogs, never has been. He is not as open of a person as me. He will give you opinions about politics and current events and religion all day long, all of that controversial stuff, but when it comes to talking openly about the worst year or two of our lives and marriage, not so open. I had him read my book before publishing it and asked if he suggested changing anything. I even wanted him to write his own chapter or allow me to based on what he told me, but he had no interest in doing that. He tries to be supportive regardless, because he knows for me, the sharing helps me and it helps others too and it is something I feel I need to do.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor or listen to her podcast here Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine • A podcast on Anchor . You can also find her on Instagram here Amanda Dodson Gremillion (@justbuyheradress) • Instagram photos and videos.

When Even Home is Not a Safe Space

I was recently in a situation where I was a Nanny in an abusive home. Of course, I did not realize this right away. What is weird is when I try to google this happening to others, mainly stories about abusive nannies or babysitters come up, but I feel this should be talked about more (even if the names and certain details are kept confidential), because it was a horrifying experience. Of course it is always easier to go back and look in retrospect at what you could have or should have done, and if you have anxiety, that is all you do after being in a situation like this. Even on medication, it is hard for me to let stuff like this go and not forever bother me, but I am trying, and writing this blog is one way I am trying to do that. I even asked my husband, is this my fault, like sometimes you start to feel you put yourself in bad situations and could have prevented them, and in retrospect, there is a little truth to this, but it is also sort of like victim blaming, but you are the victim.

You are still a victim and you still did not deserve this, just like a girl does not deserve to be raped if she wore a certain outfit, or got drunk at a party, or was in a bad part of town, but I also would not blame her for being scared of doing these things after it happened. I used to not understand why some people seemed so guarded and closed off to you. You try to be friends with them and they get weirded out at how immediately nice you are to them. Now, I get it. They probably have experienced what I recently did with this family and with others before this, so many times that they just could not put themselves through it anymore. I will say in 21 years of working I have had mostly great coworkers and bosses, but the ones that were bad, were so bad it affected my mental health, and no job is worth that. My husband says I just give people the benefit of the doubt and want to believe the best in them, and work with them beyond what they might deserve.

With this family, I tried to make personal bonds. I really cared about the children and wanted to have a close relationship with them and the parents, but the parents made it clear pretty quickly that I would never be more than the help and was treated as so. Not that I had never kept children for well off people before, but this time eventually turned into an absolute nightmare. I once babysat for an old boss years ago. She lived in a very nice house and neighborhood, but we were friends and she trusted me so much that I kept her kids often. I once even spent the night at her house while she was in the hospital, picked up her children from preschool and school and dropped them back off. She had two year old twins and a 6 year old. I didn’t even have a child yet at this time and she even paid me well for it. I live in a house just as nice or nicer than the people I recently nannied for, but they lived in an area where prices were so much higher that their home was probably worth 3 or 4 times more.

These people look like they have the perfect life on Facebook and are probably very respected in the community, but I soon learned their true home life was a nightmare. I only kept the job as long as I did because it paid well and I had lost my previous one due to COVID-19. There were red flags early on. Even the person who referred me to the job did not want to keep the kids anymore because they were difficult, and only did it for a short time because it paid well, but she was a college student and I was a 38 year old mother, I could surely handle this. I love a good challenge and I wanted to help the kids and quickly got attached despite the hard parts. I thought I could make a difference in their lives if even for a short time. We had a lot of fun together at times, but these kids often lied, did not listen, hit each other, hit, kicked and punched me, yelled at me, would hide my phone and purposely steal my stuff and hide it because they thought it was funny. They were older kids, who probably could have even stayed on their own if they had not acted like this, but instead if you did not watch them every second like a toddler or baby, they were into something.

Their punishment was so inconsistent it confused me, so you can imagine how much it confused the children. I think more than anything it was based on the parents’ mood. If they felt bad at the moment for the times they thought they were too hard on their child, they would be easier other times, but then when that resulted in more bad behavior they would eventually lose their cool again. I believe both of the children had some mental health issues, I was not told this initially but this was often used later as a general explanation or excuse by the parents for any behavior, although I was never given the details of what exactly was wrong so I could be prepared or properly handle it, or even be aware of it at first. What the kids were allowed to do and eat was pretty strictly scheduled. I was even told to keep electronics from them until they had certain chores, schoolwork etc. done but once when I did this, one of them just spent 4 hours looking for where I hid them, and repeatedly harassed me and got nothing done in those 4 hours. The kids told me the parents were already considering military school for one of them, because when a lot of strict discipline doesn’t work, the go to is ironically, becoming even stricter.

One parent was always there working from home and constantly micromanaging, but also constantly changing moods. One minute he was telling me to watch out for his daughter being manipulative at times, but then did not understand why I was frustrated when I thought she hid my stuff my last day, and then she repeatedly ignored me when I asked her about it. I could not just get it the next day as I always had because she had done this regularly before. I know when these children went to school, their teachers handle them more the way I would have liked to, because otherwise they would never make it through a day of school without the parents being called. The frustration of not being able to handle it in any way that worked, was bringing out a frustration in me I had not felt since my daughter was very young. It took time to figure out how to best discipline her and what worked best for both of us and was not easy at all at first. In this case though I knew what to do, but I could not do it, I could only tell the parents and their usual reaction, as I said before, was either to do nothing or to go the other extreme by yelling, or in one case, even abuse, while I was there. The kids said things that concerned me at times about possible abuse in the home. Once I had been at this home for two or three months, I am pretty sure I heard one parent throw one of the children into a door while they screamed, “I am sorry” repeatedly, while the other child and I ran upstairs scared with my heart about to beat through my chest. The child eventually came out limping and bleeding. The kids seemed to hint once the other parent found out this happened “again” they would be upset about it. I ended up telling the other parent and leaving the job. I am not sure if I would ever feel comfortable in someone else’s home like that again. I normally keep kids in a preschool controlled environment.

I have never felt so relieved that my home feels so much safer than that one for me and for my child, my spouse and our dogs. One of our dogs gets scared and hides under the bed if we ever even slightly raise our voices because of past abuse she both experienced and witnessed in a former home. It is so sad that so many children do not have a safe space anywhere, not even in their own home. I even feel bad for the parents though because who wants to live in that constant stress, and they probably are just mimicking what they grew up with. I think one of the parents is even a therapist. I know none of us are perfect, sometimes parents yell, sometimes they lose their temper. When I was going through the worst of my postpartum depression, a lot of yelling was going on, and our home was not a safe space for any of us. If yelling and/or hitting is a regular thing in your home, break the generational curse and please get help for the sake of your kids, future generations, yourself, your pets, and even your babysitters. Here is one good source I have found for those looking to parent without the constant anger and losing their cool and who want to enjoy parenting more. This one is aimed at mothers but currently, due to COVID, I think everything is online right now anyways through zoom, podcasts, etc. Even when in person they probably allow men, or could supply some other good resources for fathers as well I am sure.  Help for postpartum depression, anxiety and rage | Happy as a Mother

 

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor or listen to her podcast here Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine • A podcast on Anchor . You can also find her on Instagram here Amanda Dodson Gremillion (@justbuyheradress) • Instagram photos and videos.

You Can Watch a lot of TV and Still Be Successful

I was recently finally reading through a ton of paperwork I got from the school a while back regarding my gifted child. Most of it was very helpful and I think the school overall does a great job in trying to keep gifted children from getting bored and in helping their families understand and navigate their giftedness. However, there was only one thing in the paperwork I disagreed with. I do not fault the school solely for it though as this thought is common in our society. There was one part where it showed things successful people do and things unsuccessful people do. All of it made sense to me, except that under successful people was “read books”, while under unsuccessful people was “watch TV.”  Do not get me wrong, reading is great. I mean this site is based on a book I wrote. Also, I am sure they do not mean if you ever watch TV, or have that you will be unsuccessful. I think I get the main point they are trying to make. If you sit and watch TV all day every day, I would guess that is not the best for you physically and mentally.

I personally have always watched a lot of TV and still consider myself to be successful. I also do not think if I had not watched as much TV I would be even more successful, or would have gotten there faster, or would get to whatever more success might await me in the future faster. I could be more successful, but I still do not think TV has held me back from great things. If anything, I think it has been a great stress and anxiety reliever at times, and I think I have learned a lot from it. I have not only been educated from TV and movies, I feel I have gained traits such as empathy from it as well. It is also so nice to relate to characters at times and realize someone wrote that for a reason. You must not be alone in certain thoughts, feelings and experiences. It is also a great opportunity to bond as a family sometimes. We love family movie nights!  We also love board game nights though.

I did read a lot when I was younger. Eventually when I was forced to read for school though, I lost interest for a while. These days I do not enjoy reading Fiction as much as I used to, and I prefer Non Fiction now. I still prefer TV and movies over both though to be honest. Maybe my book will eventually be made into a movie, or at least a made for TV movie or a TV show, for those of you who feel like me.  My daughter loves to read and always has. She is getting to that point where she is forced to read more for school, so that same temporary loss of interest I had, may be coming soon for her.

I feel like parents worry too much about screen time. Don’t get me wrong, I know every child is different and I am not telling anyone how to parent their own child. You may need to restrict screen time for some. I just do not think parents like me should be shamed for not doing it. I just never had this done to me and do not do it to my daughter. I of course said I was not going to get her a cell phone until a certain age. This quickly changed the second time her school canceled after school art practice without telling us, and she ended up getting off the bus and my mom was not there. I think she was only 8 or 9. She is now 12. At 8 or 9, she not only got a phone, she got a smart phone because the cost for the plan was the same. She did not use the internet though. She had no desire and my husband had everything parental controlled. She just played free games on there sometimes but she always knew to ask first if she could download them etc.  She eventually got a mini iPad as well. We never restricted them and she never used them obsessively. I almost feel like restricting them makes them want to use it more.

Of course now that she is older she does use electronics a lot more, but up until recently they were only a last resort when she had nothing else to do. We still do not have to worry about what she gets on that she should not get on, because she comes and tells me about everything she does, or makes me watch it one. I know this will probably soon change. The teenage years are coming. She has been out of school lately due COVID-19 and is already staying up late and sleeping in like a teenager. I did that too as a teenager, but I don’t do it now. Maybe occasionally on vacation, but I usually cannot lay in bed until the afternoon like I used to, or I would not be able to move. I did learn to enjoy naps in college though.

Being productive is great, but it is also important for my daughter and I to have down time. We both need it to recharge and it makes more productive at other times. If I had been raised with a strict schedule and little or no screen time, I feel like this would have affected me negatively honestly. I have hit some bumps in the road in life for sure, but I have yet to link of any of them to watching too much TV. Despite all of that screen time, I graduated college and had my own insurance and a 401k at 21, owned a house at 22, and was a manager by 25. I have since been an HR Director, self published a book and blogs, have been a wife and mother and a preschool teacher.

I am at a point in life where I am making the least amount of money I have made in a long time. However, I am also at a point where I have the potential to make more money than I ever have, and more importantly I am happier than ever. Early in our marriage, I was often the breadwinner. My husband was still in school when we first got married. Over the years he has been repeatedly promoted and is now in management and is expected to continue to move up in the ranks. I am very proud of him, and guess what? He watches a lot of TV too.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

You Are Only Supposed to Put One Space Between Sentences Now?

So my cousin, who is a little older than me, posted a meme on Facebook the other day about her surprise at learning it is now expected that you leave only one space between sentences not two. Wait, what? I am currently writing a book and have a blog and this was news to me. You might notice this is the first blog I used one space instead of two and boy let me tell you, what a hard habit to break. I started learning on a typewriter and two is just what I was taught. I was also taught to sneeze in my hand though and we have to in our arm now. Occasionally, I will accidentally sneeze in my hand and my child gets onto me.

I have also been nannying recently and helping a 2nd grader and 5th grader with their school work due to my work closing and them e-learning from home due to COVID-19. I also occasionally help my 6th grader, but she is pretty independent. Recently, while relearning 5th grade language arts, I realized some more edits that needed to be made to my book. I am not sure if it was me not remembering the rules, the rules changing since I was in 5th grade or a combination of the two, but I kind of felt like I needed to repeat every grade like Billy Madison. I especially feel like this when I do not know the answer to one of the 2nd grade questions. I would feel worse, but the dad was trying to help the 2nd grader when I showed up one morning, and they had already gotten one or two answers wrong on something as well.

So many things have changed over the years. For one, kids are learning things earlier than we did. I feel like the math my daughter did in elementary school was algebra.  This was not even in her gifted class, just regular math. Pluto is no longer a planet and there is an extra ocean that did not exist when we were kids. Do not even get me started on common core math. Thank goodness my daughter just gets it, because I know parents whose kids don’t, and they cannot help them with it because we did not learn it that way. My daughter’s teacher did give the parents some homework once at an open house in 4th grade, and it helped me to finally understand common core. They still learn the way we do, they just learn many others ways as well.

This all being said, if you ever notice errors in my writing, please feel free to private message me and let me know. I stare at it so much, sometimes I miss even the most common errors. Other times, I apparently did not know the rules have changed, so don’t feel bad if you did not know either. I actually had a friend help me make a correction the other day to a blog, when he got stuck on one sentence for a bit due to a comma error.  Have you ever read a best selling book and noticed a common spelling or grammar error? I have more than once and now I realize how that happens. I am currently having my book professionally edited before republishing, but if you catch something, even the professional did not catch once it is out, please let me know. You will not hurt my feelings. Apparently, we are all still learning new things every day.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor or listen to her podcast here Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine • A podcast on Anchor . You can also find her on Instagram here Amanda Dodson Gremillion (@justbuyheradress) • Instagram photos and videos.

When Others’ Opinions on Your Parenting Become Overwhelming

Don’t we all sometimes get tired of other people’s opinions?  Especially when you are a first time parent and everyone has an opinion on everything, it can be overwhelming.  Of course, now I realize most just get excited about babies and want to help, even strangers.  Now that I work in a preschool, I see the same thing even happen among teachers.  Some of these teachers have their own kids already, some do not, or do not yet at least.  Some have one kid, some have many, some already have grandchildren and everyone has different opinions about how to parent these kids while they are under our care.  We jokingly call them our work kids and ourselves their work parents.

Of course, the daycare has rules and a schedule laid out we all try out best to follow, while also trying to follow any reasonable special instructions from the parents that are possible to follow while caring for so many children at once.   When it comes to certain things though, like using pacifiers to comfort them or picking them up every time they cry, or whether or not to give them their milk or food first or at the same time, things like this seem to be sometimes as much heated as they normally are when parenting your own children.  Unless the parents give me special instructions in these cases, of course the assumption is to do what I think is best while following the rules and guidance of my employer.  However, I am often in a room with three other teachers, and if the three of them think what is best is different from what I think is best, and it is still within our employer’s rules and guidance,  I sometimes may have to give in to that way so the children have consistency, at least while under our care.  We of course have no control over how the parents parent the kids go home, nor should we.

Since I have become a parent, I have been guilted more than once for spoiling a baby too much, not letting them cry it out, etc.   At my job, many even joke I am the first one to pick up a baby and the babies love me because I spoil them.  In their defense, this is usually in the form compliment and not an insult, but I have to admit sometimes I cannot help occasionally take it the wrong way.   If more than one baby is crying at one time, or one baby is crying even though they seem to be changed, fed, safe, etc. while another truly needs my help with something, part of our job is prioritizing their needs and dealing with the most important first.  So,  I do sometimes let a baby cry if they are okay and another baby needs me more, but if they are crying and I can pick them up, I guess I feel why not pick them up?   Unless the parent has told me they are trying to wean their child off of their pacifier or not to give them their milk until I have given them a certain amount of time to eat their food first, I figure just give them their paci and milk when they want it.

When I experienced this guilt parenting my own child, it came from other parents, our own parents, family, friends, non-parents and even my own spouse.  The thing is, when it comes to everyone except my spouse, I can parent however I want to and don’t have to listen to them.  However, I feel that if I want them to keep my child, I should probably give them the freedom to discipline the child how they feel is best or what works best for them personally, unless it is something I am against and in that case, I probably should not let them keep my child unless they are willing to not do it.  When it comes to my spouse though, we have to compromise and work together when it comes to the things we disagree on it, and that can be very challenging, and can even lead to divorce.  Divorced parents still have to co-parent though.  It is not always as easy as each spouse or parent just doing things their own way.  Again, children need consistency.

The same is true for work spouses.  To a certain degree, there may be things you all do your own way when others are not around.  However, you have to compromise on some things, and sometimes when you do, you realize they may have actually been right about some things, and you and the children reap the benefits.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor