Mixed Emotions

It’s Christmas Day as I write this, and I am officially 50 years old. Seems like I should have a better handle on life by now, but I still feel like I am struggling to get through the day sometimes. My son will be 18 in a few months, which seems impossible to believe, but is true.

Life with the puppy continues to have its ups and downs. He is six months old now and growing bigger everyday. Sometimes I look at him and am filled with regret that I got him because he makes me question my sanity, but other times I am overwhelmed by love for him and thankful for the joy he has brought to my life already. On a sleepless night recently, I went so far as to read the surrender information page on a rescue website and found myself sobbing at the painful thought of giving him up, although I still don’t know how I am going to make it through puppyhood.

A lot of the day is okay. He still takes frequent naps, and a marrow bone will keep him occupied for up to an hour. He gets hyper around 3-4 pm and usually enjoys a trip to the dog park as long as it isn’t raining. It’s hard for me to take him places because he pulls so hard on the leash and jumps on people as well. I took him to the pet store recently and it was a disaster!

Potty training is still hit and miss. He sometimes whines at me to take him out, but other times will just do his business on the floor in the kitchen or the family room. If I catch him, I tell him to stop and then take him outside immediately. I know I should keep him with me at all times, but it is difficult to do that. It would help if we had a way to put a gate at the top of the stairs between the kitchen and family room. But that would require replacing the existing half-railing with a pony wall, and I’m not sure if my husband is interested in doing that.

Other issues include chasing the cat sometimes (although sometimes he will leave him alone), barking incessantly when he is tired of being in the office with me or wants me to play with him instead of eating my dinner, and more recently peeing in his crate when we go out. We don’t use the crate for sleeping, only for when we are out of the house, and it’s not going so well.

I’m sure most of these problems are due to my lack of ability as a trainer. I am considering a private dog trainer to help me learn the skills I am missing and get things under control. We did a group class at the pet store for puppy skills and he did learn a few things but it was difficult to concentrate because he was too distracted by the other dogs. I’m thinking some one on one time with a trainer would be helpful.

So that’s my update for now. I still have hope that I can make it through and keep my sanity intact.

A Little Less Blue

It’s been two weeks since I shared about the puppy blues and how overwhelmed I have been feeling. Things have been a bit better since then – I haven’t had another meltdown, which is a good sign.

I changed my work hours slightly so it would be easier to take Baxter to the dog park after work, and that has helped. He enjoys running around with the other dogs, and I appreciate how tired it makes him afterwards. 🙂

Potty training is continuing to improve as well. Although he has still gone in the house occasionally, there have been several times when he clearly signaled to me that he needed to go out. He is still going every 2-3 hours. I thought the time would be increasing by now, but at least it is getting easier to handle.

He is definitely still in the chewing phase, but he doesn’t seem interested in chew toys very much, unless they are brand new so the novelty is there. He will spend a good chunk of time with a bone that has some marrow on it though. My friend Kim shared with me that after her dogs are done with a bone, she puts peanut butter in it and freezes it to extend its life as a treat.

One good thing is that having to communicate my feelings and needs is helping me become a little more assertive, which is something that has always been a problem for me. It’s still not super easy, but I am forcing myself to speak up so that I don’t get completely overwhelmed again.

Puppy Blues

Let me start out by saying that puppy blues are a real thing. I am overwhelmed and anxious and crying at the drop of a hat.

I don’t seem to be able to manage having a puppy any better than I did an infant. At least he sleeps through the night, something my son didn’t do until he was around four and I discovered melatonin.

On one level, I realize he is just being a puppy. He needs more exercise and training time than I’ve been giving him, but I’m not sure what else I can do when I’m supposed to be working. I can’t just take him outside every time he whines or barks at me, and I can’t let him out of the office or he will potty on the kitchen floor no matter how often I take him outside.

I did change my work hours so I am done at 3:30 and can take him to the dog park before it gets dark. We went today and he seemed to enjoy it.

My friend suggested doggy daycare once or twice a week and that does sound heavenly – for both of us. I just have to decide if I can justify the expense. It would be really nice to have a break sometimes, especially on the days I have conference calls and am constantly trying to keep him quiet while I’m on the phone.

One other idea is crate training, which sounds good in theory but in practice is really overwhelming. Other areas that are really bad are leaving stuff alone that he’s not supposed to be chewing on and pulling very hard on his leash. For the one, he’s already big enough that I’m running out of places to put things where he can’t get to them and, for the other, I’m afraid he will pull me off balance and I’ll fall over.

I wish Joe could walk him because my legs acts up when I try to do it, but he gets home too late due to the involuntary overtime he has to work. Thankfully, Joe gets up with him in the mornings so I can sleep until 6:30. I am always desperate for more sleep and getting up early with the dog was adding more stress to the way I was already feeling.

Well enough venting for one day. Here are some pictures to remind me of how cute he is.

A Motivation Update


I sometimes find it interesting to look back at what I have posted here and see how things have changed. In September 2016, I posted Unmotivated = Overwhelmed and shared about how life was basically kicking my butt.

Things are much different now, partly because of the progress I have made with my medication and therapy, as I posted in My Journey with Psych Meds a few days ago.  Here are the things that were overwhelming me back then with an update on where I am now:

  • Adjusting to being married again – Joe & I have been married for 2 1/2 years now and have bought a house.  I have really settled in to the relationship and feel much more comfortable being myself around him.
  • Continuing existing friendships while being married – Of my three close friends, I still have two of them and those relationships are going very well.  I seem to have lost the other one, who stopped responding to my attempts to connect a few months ago.  I was really upset about it for a long time, but now I am moving on.
  • Getting used to a new church and trying to make connections there – We are now going to a life group connected with our church that meets every other Wednesday night.  There are two other couples in the group, and we have really bonded.  We are all friends on Facebook, and we have good conversations when we are together.  Currently we are reading the book The Purpose Driven Life together and discussing it.
  • Trying to participate in group conversations at lunchtime (can handle 1 person or maybe 2, but more than that gets tricky) – I work from home now so almost all my communication is through email or Skype IM.  I rarely have to talk to anyone at work, and then it is always one-on-one.  I still find group conversations difficult and mostly stay quiet during them, although I am comfortable speaking at the life group I mentioned.
  • Parenting an autistic 14-year old boy – Michael is 16 now and just about to finish 9th grade. We spent 8 months in Family Based Mental Health Services, and it was very helpful in dealing with his depression and anxiety (along with medication that took a while to figure out).  Now he is back in the regular services and sees a mobile therapist once a week.  I feel our relationship is a lot stronger – we talk more and play games together.  He is also more sociable – going to Smash Bros tournaments and having a friend over to play video games occasionally.

All in all, life is good. We are talking about getting a dog sometime in the next few months. Joe & I are going to Boston for a few days this summer, and next year we are planning a trip for the three of us to Illinois to see both my parents and possibly some other family. We have a few unexpected home repairs to deal with, but Joe is very handy and will probably be able to take care of them himself, which is a huge blessing.

So, how are you feeling these days – motivated or overwhelmed?

Unmotivated = Overwhelmed?

Note about the title: I am not saying that being unmotivated always equals being overwhelmed, just that it seems to be a large factor in my recent experience of my own life.

I posted the other day about how my motivation seems lacking lately.  The more I think about the situation, the more I think I have been shutting down because there are things in my life that seem overwhelming and it’s easier to retreat into myself than to face them.  When I get stressed, my default mode seems to be finding ways to escape and isolating myself from others.  While alone time can be a good thing for the right reasons, it’s generally not helpful for me when I’m using it to avoid the unpleasant or difficult aspects of life.

So, what am I overwhelmed by?  Several things come to mind:

  1. Adjusting to being married again (it will be a year on October 2nd)
  2. Continuing existing friendships while being married
  3. Getting used to a new church and trying to make connections there
  4. Trying to participate in group conversations at lunchtime (can handle 1 person or maybe 2, but more than that gets tricky)
  5. Parenting an autistic 14-year old boy

While all of these situations worry me at different times, the biggest one at the moment is parenting.  I remember feeling very overwhelmed when my son was little, and especially following his autism diagnosis at age 2, but somewhere along the way, I started to feel more confident about how to be a good parent to him.  I handled meltdowns and introducing new situations and kissed and cuddled him a lot and advocated for him everywhere he needed it.

Then he became a teenager and everything changed.  He started talking about wanting to make friends and not being able to and about feeling useless and hopeless sometimes.

Here’s where it all breaks down.  I feel terrible for him and worry about him, but I don’t know what to say or do to make it all better.  I know that my life is better now in a lot of ways than it was when I was 14, but I also still deal with a lot of insecurities and miscommunication problems.  I want to project confidence and give strategies that he can actually use, but all I can think is that I also want to make friends and feel useless and hopeless sometimes too.  Then I start to question my own life, as well as my ability to be a good parent, and I just shut down without really responding to him.

I talked with my therapist about this and she had a couple of thoughts.  One was that perhaps it would be helpful to him just to have me listen and validate what he is feeling instead of only focusing on trying to fix things.  She also commented on the fact that I seem quite isolated, and that reaching out to other people, perhaps in a support group with other parents, would help me be in a better place when it comes to relating with him.

I think both of these suggestions could have some merit, but I’m curious what other people think as well.  I would appreciate any comments on the situation and how you think I should look at it as well as how best to deal with it.