Posts Tagged 'postpartum adjustment'

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.

It gets easier

Recently I was having lunch with some women who are slightly older than I am. Their kids were teenagers or grown. They were remembering how hard it was when their children were small and they were trying to work part-time. How childcare was always an issue – who, how much, when, was it worth it.

One of them turned to me and said directly, “it gets easier. It gets a lot easier.”

Sometimes you need to hear this every day during motherhood. Like during those first six weeks after a baby is born. If you can make it to six weeks, it gets easier. Then six months. Six years old is a breeze compared to six weeks old (16 is apparently a different story).

At some point, motherhood does get easier and you need to hear it less. But it’s nice to keep it close, to say it in your head or even to say it out loud when you need to. It gets easier. Say it now. See how it feels and then keep it in your pocket for when you need to pull it out.

Shake that Bear Cub

There is such a focus these days on gentle and aware parenting that there seems to be no room for practical parenting. As mothers we’re supposed to be gentle, kind, never raise our voices, always keep our cool. We even are expected to talk to our children as if they’re mini-adults and have the capacity to understand reasoning on an adult level.

Where did practical parenting go? I sometimes have to remind myself that these are children we’re dealing with, not adults. And that it’s o.k. to treat them as such. Right about now you’re probably wondering what that translates to.

This came up when discussing a particular problem that is happening with one of my friend’s children. We were talking about how she felt ineffective with her “calm, reasoned” voice. We discovered that perhaps she should try out her Mama Bear voice. Think Roseanne Barr right here. As in, “DJ, stop bugging your sister and go straight to your room.” Now keep your Roseanne Barr voice and add in the aware parenting piece . . . “DJ, I’m so sorry you’re feeling so angry today that you have to take it out on your sister. But go straight to your room and don’t come out until you feel like you can handle yourself.”

What does this do? It helps the child contain himself, because they’re incapable of doing that themselves. They’re children and we’re their parents and that’s part of our job – setting limits with them when they can’t. It helps them feel better about themselves in the long run because then they don’t have the guilt of beating up on their sister.

My friend laughed and said “that’s like picking them up by the scruff of the neck and giving them a shake.” Yes, it is. And mamas all over the animal world do that without a second thought. Go Mama Bear.