Posts Tagged 'motherhood'

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.

Positive and Negative Spirals

Our partners in life are one of the biggest influences on our growth, development as a person, and happiness (parents are the other big one). If you’re having trouble, you and your relationship are worth improving!

People tend to underestimate how much of an influence your love partner has on your life. Stop for a minute. This is the person you see every day, who you usually live with, who you talk to about everything (hopefully).

They can help you grow as a person and support your dreams and hopes in life.

They can also influence you in ways you’re not even aware of. Research studies have shown that couples’ rate of breathing, heart rates, and walking paces synchronize when they’re together. Their communication styles also synchronize and they become very efficient at communication. Someone who can do all of this to your body also has an influence on your emotions and mind.

One study showed that negative interactions between couples also synchronize, which means that the “negative spiral” is a real effect! It’s not just in our imaginations that we hit a rough spot. It really does happen. It also means though that you can enter a “positive spiral” and hit a really good spot.

Positive spirals build on each other and help protect the couple when they hit a rougher patch. If you haven’t had a positive spiral in a while, talk to your marriage partner to see if you can shift it together. Do some things you enjoy together to help shift you into a positive spiral.

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.

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.