Posts Tagged 'new 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.

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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.

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.

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.

Parxting

Parxting texting at the park; also known as a way to stay sane as a mom or dad; yours truly coined this one while “parxting” my friend in Seattle, Jill Gross. She’s a great psychotherapist  in Seattle if you ever need one, btw!

I used to complain about “cell phone moms.” How they never paid attention, never played with their kids, were always on the phone at the park. Then my kids passed the age where I needed to be hands on. They were happy playing and making their own friends at the park. I was (and am) still available should they need me but alot of the time I found myself just sitting around. Can anyone say boredom? So that’s why all those moms were on the phone!

The ideal is to have a friend (or lots of friends) join you. But what do you do sitting at the park if you’re alone? Here are some ideas for you.

  • Read a book
  • Drag your quilting or knitting with you
  • Take a notebook and write in it (yep, like actual hand writing . . .). Plan your world domination or at least how to escape the kiddos for a night to yourself.
  • Call a friend (yep, on that cell phone I used to complain about!)
  • Call their dad for some uninterrupted chat time.
  • Exercise! You can do some laps around the park or do lots of exercises with the actual playground equipment.
  • Do some Yoga
  • As long as we’re talking about activity, play chase with your kids. That burns off some calories.
  • Or . . . the ultimate entertainment . . . parxting :)!