Archive for the 'new motherhood' Category

Feelings go Up and Down

This seems obvious, that feelings go Up and Down, but you would be surprised at how often people forget this.

The nature of feelings is that they’re sometimes intense. Sometimes you can anticipate them, sometimes not. Occasionally something catches you by surprise. When you can anticipate them, they’re easier to deal with, if you’ve anticipated them accurately, that is. But we as humans are really bad at that! We don’t anticipate how we’re going to feel very accurately at all.

We’re not very accurate predictors of feelings

I’m not going to hunt down a study and prove it to you at this moment. Instead think about the last time you thought you would feel a certain way when you knew some big event was coming up. Let’s take Graduation. We’re coming up on Graduation season. Most people anticipate feeling really, really happy, ecstatic even, giddy, joyful.

But most people will also say afterwards that it was a bit of a let down, or they expected to feel better than they did. That’s because they anticipated feeling a certain way and didn’t anticipate the mix of feelings that they may experience. So chances are they felt really, really happy but also nervous and perhaps a bit sad. Those last two brought down the happiness a bit.

Generally, Feelings go Up and Down.

Yep, so you’ll feel some happiness and then it will go down a bit and you feel more normal/neutral. And then you’ll feel happy again, etc, etc.

But this also applies to negative feelings. So when we’re sad, we’re bad at predicting that we’re going to feel better. We think we’re going to stay sad forever. But generally speaking, that’s rarely the case. We feel sad, then we feel closer to “normal.” Then sad again, then neutral, then maybe even a moment of happiness happens, then more neutral.

We go up and down and a bit around with our feelings. They key here is to talk to yourself about them. So when you’re in that sad state, tell yourself that you will feel happier again sometime soon. Sadness is not going to last forever. Just knowing that and reassuring yourself will help you feel better, less sad. Knowing that it will pass truly helps.

Talking to a counselor or psychologist or psychotherapist also helps. They help you figure things out. They help teach you strategies to deal with and handle sadness and other feelings. They help you notice what helps and what doesn’t.  And they help you talk about the feelings. If you’re in South Florida or Broward County and need a counselor, then feel free to contact me at 954-309-9071 or visit my Florida Psychotherapy website.

Fears about being a Good Parent

Most people with a baby on the way have fears about being a parent. There are those people who either had younger siblings (alot) or are teachers or work with kids all the time who seem to have less of them. But then there are the rest of us.

I see this come up in my Prenatal Yoga Classes allllll the time. Pregnancy is the time when those fears come to the surface and really rear their heads. Here’s the question . . .

“Will I be a good parent?”

Yes, big one –  big, giant question.

Most of us are decent parents most of the time. Most of us are great parents some of the time (think Christmas morning). And most of us are, well . . . not the best parents some of the time.

We get tired and snap at the kids. We get exhausted and just want to sleep. We run late and have to pick up dinner or throw something together. We get lonely and just want to talk to our friends. We get bored and feel like we’re going to die if we have to play that game or read that book even one more time.

So let’s reframe this question. Let’s ask it a different way.

How about “Can I be a good parent some of the time?”

The answer is probably Yes. Now let’s ask, “When I’m feeling less than about 75-80%, can I get some help, ask for support, take a break, take some time to myself to regenerate?” That’s the way you get back to “good” parenting. Not by pushing through it or working until you snap.

Hopefully your answer is Yes, yes, and yes again. In the meantime, give yourself a break. We’re not perfect all of the time. We’re human. Human parents.

Mama Madness

Here’s a quote about motherhood from “The Sunday List of Dreams” by Kris Rasdish. This is an experienced mom who is talking to one about the transformation that happens when you have children.

“First of all, you are scared shitless,” Connie tells Mattie. “Even if you’ve had other babies and can bounce one on your leg while you  write poetry and cook dinner and save the whales. Then, you look at them and see this wonderful pathway into the universe. This transforming tunnel that is like an electric charge that turns you into a raving maniac, a protective lioness, someone who could push over a car, rip off the face of a stranger, kick ass form one end of the world to another, to save your baby. You go mad. Mother mad.”

Yes, that’s Mother Mad! Mama Mad! Mommy Mad! And it does feel like a tunnel. Sometimes it’s immediate on the moment of birth, the tunnel being labor. Sometimes it’s gradual and happens over weeks and months. Sometimes it takes something like a car accident or an old lady at the grocery store reaching in to touch your baby (not!) or a doctor recommending something you know in your gut is not right for your baby. But eventually it kicks in for almost all moms. It’s what bonding truly is.

Most moms have moments where they feel like they could drop the baby off in the woods and never look back. But then their Mama Madness kicks in and the moment passes them by.

I also believe that the opportunity is always there for moms who have never felt Mama Madness. Yes, they’re out there, sometimes feeling like they’re keeping a dirty secret. Those secrets often come out in therapy. Once it’s told though, we have an opportunity to work with it. Not to judge it, but to work with it. To figure out how to get to that Mama Madness feeling. Yes, it can be created, even with a child who is 10 or 20 or 30. It takes work, but it’s work worth doing, and it’s possible.

Separation bad for the Mama, bad for the Baby!

Occasionally in my private practice in Hollywood I’m called on to write an immigration report. You can imagine that there are plenty of immigration reports  in South Florida. We’re a highly populated port city.

I’m not writing to take a political stance about immigration. I am here though to write a bit about Mom and Baby/Child separation. Assuming there is no abuse, it’s very clear that Moms should not be separated from their children on a permanent basis. I’m not talking about vacations here or even an extended trip that has to be taken for various circumstances. Even then, babies sometimes go into infant depression and children feel effects of a separation as well.

A permanent separation can deeply and traumatically affect a child. It can affect them into their adolescence and adulthood with higher rates of anxiety and depression as well as substance abuse if their mom is lost to them.

Politically, it’s a conundrum – A mom comes here illegally then has children here that are legal but can’t necessarily take them back to her home country if she’s deported.

From an attachment perspective, it’s a no-brainer. They shouldn’t be separated, period. A child, if at all possible, shouldn’t grow up without their mom.

Should I have had this child?

I was recently at a going away party for a mom who has grown children. Most of the moms in the room had children ranging from Littles to teenagers. Several had grown children.

We all talked about those mothering moments when we ask whether we should have had the child. It goes like, “maybe I shouldn’t have had this child. . . . maybe I shouldn’t have had the first one, only the second . . .  maybe I shouldn’t have had the second and was only meant to be mom to one . . . maybe I shouldn’t have had the third . . .” Etc., etc., etc.

They all admitted to having doubts at one time or another, usually during a really hard mama day, about whether they should have had that child.

One, I felt huge relief to hear these mamas talking about this.

Two, I gathered that everyone has these thoughts which means . . .

(three) . . . forget the guilt that goes with them. Just throw it out! Everyone has the thoughts. Everyone has bad mama days. Everyone struggles, whether you’ve had one kid or six.

What the thought is a sign of is not your commitment to your child or your love for them rather that you’re having a bad day; that you’re struggling and probably need a break (at least a 5 minute one!).

It’s only information about your own process so next time the thought comes up, realize that and take the break!

Make it to bedtime

Sometimes you’re having a really bad day and the kids are driving you cra-zee. Here’s a mantra for you  – “I only have to make it until bedtime.”

Now it’s bad if you’re thinking that at 9 a.m. in which case you may want to pick a closer goal – “I only have to make it until naptime.” If naptime has been given up long ago, well then  . . .

You have full permission to decompensate, collapse, freak out at that point. In fact, you have full permission to do that before that point if you need to. I know plenty of moms who go into their bedrooms for a little private time. Make sure the baby/kiddos are safe and go for it.

Some days are just going to be like that. You’ll get through them. Call a friend, get out of the house, go to the grocery store, put the t.v. on for the kids, anything to help you cope. If you have willing relatives/friends, ask if you can drop the baby off for a bit. Nothing horrible is going to happen if you take a couple of hours to yourself. And you need it!

If it doesn’t help, well then contact a professional. Seriously. If the depression doesn’t let up and just keeps coming at you, never giving you a break, and you feel like this day after day after day you need to see someone. It will help like it helps thousands of women every day.

Does anyone “deserve” to be a parent?

It’s been about a month so time for me to blog again in my “barely a blog.”

So you have a baby . . . and then you feel really guilty for having a baby as in, “Omg, I don’t deserve to be a parent! What am I going to do now??!!”

This happens to everyone. Let me repeat . . .  everyone! In fact, only the people who do not have children think they deserve to be parents. Nothing will change a pre-kid mindset (see below) faster than having kids though.

I do think it happens worse if you’re one of the unlucky ones to get hit by postpartum depression or anxiety. I’ve heard women and men say they get obsessed by the thought, repeating it in their head over and over. Stop that! Seriously! Here’s something for you . . .

No one deserves to be a parent. These children come into the world so precious and beautiful and innocent. None of us are perfect enough for them. We all mess up, end up yelling from time to time, don’t get enough “me” time. I could go on and on. O.k., yes, there are the “angel mamas” (aka mothers who seem to be perfect, i.e., everyone but you) but most of us are not them.

I’m going to get all spiritual on you. There are reasons beyond our understanding that children are born to us.

You don’t have to believe in god or vishnu or the great alien to get this. On a purely biological level, we procreate for reasons unknown to us. Parenthood is so hard that it’s a miracle anyone repeats it. And if you do want to go to a spiritual place with it, well then consider that a child may come into your life for spiritual reasons of their own. They picked you for whatever insane reason.

So hopefully that will help stop the obsessions. It’s something you have to learn to live with and despite it, continue parenting.

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Pre-kids mindset – Sense of superiority to all other parents held by someone before they have children themselves; ideas that you have about raising children before you actually have them; something you will think about fondly and laugh at after you have children.