Posts Tagged 'dreams'

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.

Lonliness Relief

Motherhood can often be very lonely, particularly in the early days of motherhood. Everyone says to get out of the house (ideas for that are below), but sometimes that’s truly not possible. Either the baby is napping or it’s raining or snowing or it’s too hot or maybe you just don’t have the energy to actually leave the house. So what can you do?

Get Creative.

For some reason, creativity feeds your soul in a way that soothes lonliness. You don’t have to be Picasso. Put the “critical-artist” in the closet and make some art that you don’t have to show to anyone. Here are a few ideas:

  • Simply cut up some magazines to make a vision board.
  • Make birth art. Make something that reflects the feelings you had when you gave birth or something to remember it by. You can paint, draw, crayon, sculpt – use any medium that speaks to you.
  • Fingerpaint
  • Sketch out a new “something” (quilt, art project, teenager room!) that someday you’ll have time to make.

If you can get out of the house, there are a couple of things can help with lonliness:

  • Try to form mama friendships before you have the baby. Take prenatal yoga or a pregnancy fitness class. Reach out to other moms in the class and get their emails/phone numbers, etc. These moms will be a life-saver in the newborn days!
  • Go grocery shopping, to the mall, sit at the park. Try to do anything where you can be around people some.
  • Take a mom & baby class. These are where new moms congregate! Go and make friendships! An added benefit is that you’ll get mom ideas. Yes, you can read a million books about what to do when your baby won’t sleep. But there is nothing like being able to talk to other moms about it and get in person “expert” advice. The teachers of mom & baby classes have heard it all and usually have very good ideas to help you.

New Mom Self-Esteem

A new mother’s self-esteem goes through radical changes after she has a baby. A friend recently gave me Virginia Satir’s poem, My Declaration of Self-Esteem (below). Print it out, paste it on your fridge, the back of the stroller, wherever you need it to be so that you see it regularly.

Remember that you do own everything about you, including your body. It may not feel like it when you’re giving it over to a child month after month, so you need the reminder.

Remember to be friendly and loving to yourself. You would want that for your child, right? So model it for them by giving it to yourself as well.

Here it is:

I am me.

In all the world
there is no-one else exactly like me.

There are persons who have parts like me,
but no one adds up exactly like me.

Therefore, everything that comes from me
is authentically mine
because I choose it.

I own everything about me
My body,
including everything it does;
My mind,
including all its throughts and ideas;
My eyes,
including the images of all they behold;
My feelings, whatever they may be . . .
Anger, joy, frustration, love, disappointment, excitement;
My mouth,
and all the words that come out of it,
Polite,
sweet or rough, correct or incorrect;
My voice, loud or soft;
and all of my actions,
whether they be to others or to myself.

I own my own fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears.

I own all my triumphs and, successes, (all my failures and mistakes.)

I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me,
and other aspects that I do not know.

But as long as I am friendly
and loving to myself,
I can courageously and hopefully
look for the solutions to the puzzles and
for ways to find out more about me.

However I look and sound,
whatever I say and do,
and whatever I think and feel at a given moment
in time is me.
This is authentic and represents
where I am at that moment in time.

When I review later how I looked and sounded,
what I said and did,
and how I thought and felt,
some parts may turn out to be unfitting.
I can discard that which is unfitting,
and keep that which proved fitting,
and invent something new
for that which I discarded.

I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do.
I have tools to survive,
to be close to others, to be productive.
and to make sense and order
out of the world of people and things outside of me.

I own me,
and therefore,
I can engineer me.

I am me and I am okay.

Oz and Back

Ashley Gates Johnson is a friend of a friend. She has a beautiful piece about being diagnosed bipolar and how she handled it.

http://souldivers.net/SoulDivers/OzandBack.html

The piece brought to mind for me a discussion I had last year with a close friend. Namely, that one hundred years ago depression was considered “melancholy.” Sounds more beautiful, yes? Melancholy. And something you can descend into and then arise transformed.

Escapist Fantasies

A friend and I were talking about the anxiety part of postpartum depression. Her anxiety was so bad that she wanted to literally just run out of the house.

Ah, yes, the run out of the house fantasy! Raise your hand if you’ve had this one. There’s not a woman with PPD that I’ve spoken to that hasn’t had these strong urges to just outright escape, run away, run off to some other country and become a librarian.

In fact, there’s not a mom out there that doesn’t have the escapist fantasies from time to time – to leave it all behind and just be “free.” What makes it different when it’s part of a postpartum mood disorder is that it’s much, much stronger. It’s overwhelming. It feels very real. Like when you lock the doors and windows, you’re doing it to keep yourself from escaping, not to keep the bad guys out.

Occasionally you’ll hear of a woman who actually does it. She leaves her children and runs off somewhere. Most mom will have a sharp intake of breath, an instant of “I wish I could,” and then the heartache that comes with the very thought of abandoning their children.

Sometimes PPD moms will be stuck between the “I wish” and the heartache. They feel frozen. I have a theory that the urge to escape not just the child or children but the postpartum depression itself is what fuels the fantasy. If only everything could feel better if they just went away. If only you could outrun your feelings.

The trick (if you could call it that) is to instead sit with the feelings. It helps some women to just know that they will pass, that they won’t last forever, that this will get better. This will get better. This will get better.

If nothing else, please know that. Seeing a psychotherapist can help that process along. There’s plenty of research to support that. But even if you can’t afford to or choose for whatever reason not to, just know that this will get better even without treatment.

Peace out.

Hope


Hope is not something that most depressed people have, almost by definition. Particularly when postpartum depression hits, hope goes out the window. What happened to all those hopes for motherhood that you had? Where did they fly off to? The dreams of the happiest time of your life, the lazy days and staring in the baby’s eyes and milk faces. The dreams of enjoying motherhood.

Now you just feel like a big mess, with a body that isn’t yours. It seems to belong to everyone but you – your partner, your baby, other children if you have them. It’s certainly not yours.

Yes, motherhood.

You may retain some hope for your baby’s future. It may even make you cry to think that someday they will have to work or they’ll be a famous doctor or they will have kids or . . . or . . . or.

But hope for yourself is pretty much non-existent. That’s o.k. right now. Sit with it. Let it be. You’ll have a hard time believing this right now, but it will return. Hope will slowly creep back in and hide under the rug and then peek it’s face up at you. Another day it will be flying around the room and you’ll catch it. It will be there in your pocket or the diaper bag for you to take out when you need it. Hope will return.