All Articles Tagged "motherhood"
Training to be an Olympic gymnast is no easy feat. Years and years of long hours doing intensive cardio and weight training, eating a strict healthy diet, and possibly making personal sacrifices represent a portion of what it takes to make it.
And even though the road to the Olympics sounds tough, Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Dawes says there is something more challenging—motherhood. Twenty years ago Dominique and her fellow gymnasts the “Magnificent Seven” won gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics. Today, Dawes is still winning but instead of gold medals, it’s the love, joy, and experiences of motherhood. The stay-at-home mom, wife, and motivational speaker has two daughters Kateri, 2, and Quinn, 10 months.
Here are a few excerpts from what she shared with TODAY’s Terri Peters about how being an athlete has made her a better mom and why motherhood is harder than Olympic training.
She said: “Obviously, as an athlete my goal was always to qualify for the Olympics or get a scholarship or win a gold medal. But as a mom, my goal is to make sure I have happy, healthy children. When it comes to the words that come out of my mouth, or what’s on TV or the radio or kind of food that is going into my kids’ bodies — sports have prepared me to think about those types of goals.”
And when asked about training being harder than motherhood she shared, “When you’re training for the Olympics, it’s all about you. You’re at the gym, you have to work through any issues you have with self-doubt or anxiety. But it was always about me being mentally and physically strong and listening to my coach, or finishing up the assignment and learning to persevere through difficult.But when you’re a mom, you don’t have full control and you have to learn to let go. And that is very difficult for many gymnasts, because gymnasts tend to have a controlling nature and a level of perfectionism. We were always striving for that perfect 10.”
“Now, as a mom, I’ve had to learn to really let go of that nature of perfection, because the minute I walk in my house, the mini-tornadoes have already taken over. I can try my hardest, but the minute I let my toddler or infant go, there are things that are going to be out of place, and I’ve had to learn to let go of that and be patient and keep focused on the most important thing: having happy, healthy children.”
Dawes is not only passionate about her children, she’s also passionate about helping young athletes too. On Dominiquedawes.com she offers motivational coaching to help empower young athletes where she helps them develop:
-Stepping stone goals – to help them achieve their long-term goals
-A personal motto that will help them keep stay focused on achieving their goal and keeping a positive, winning attitude to overcome peer pressures, setbacks and moments of self-doubt
-A positive self-esteem that will allow them to be happy and confident in all that they pursue
Before motherhood, the latest rap song would play repeatedly in my head and I jumped at the chance to try out the newest fashion trends. But as of late, an upbeat tempo with lyrics that explain primary colors is seared into my brain, and I’m just happy to have clean, ironed clothes to wear at a moment’s notice. To say that my responsibilities as a parent have left me pretty busy would be an understatement. Consequently, taking care of myself can sometimes feel like the least of my priorities.
A British survey reported that it takes about 18 months after birth for a new mother to “feel like a woman again.” The 3,000 female participants mentioned in the survey said that they struggled with a loss of independence, body issues after having a hard time with weight loss, and overall, just letting themselves go.
This may be true for many mothers. However, with a little effort, it’s easier than you think to feel like yourself again — and in a much shorter time frame than 18 months.
Write Down Your Goals
Just because you have a little one at home doesn’t mean that your lofty career aspirations have to disappear.
I get it. If you’re like me, you created a vision board two years ago, hung it up on your wall and never updated it. Well, it’s never too late to finally do so. You might have the best intentions of getting back into the groove and chasing your dreams, but actually seeing the words will help you implement the changes needed to make it happen.
According to a study done by Dominican University of California psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews, people who wrote down their goals accomplished more than those who did not.
Go a step further and actually make a to-do list each day. In order to not feel overwhelmed, I write down my list nightly so that I have it ready for the morning to encourage me. The key is to make your list realistic and only add items, maybe three to four, of which you know you can and will get done.
Make Time for Yourself
Dr. Christina Hibbert said that alone time is essential for emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health. “By ‘alone time’ what I really mean is time away from your role as a mother—Time to be you, to unwind, relax, rest, revive,” she said.
Although some of her alone time suggestions include taking a nap, reading, hiking or doing a project, I believe that even simply going into the bathroom and locking the door to have a moment to yourself can go a long way. Of course, based on a conversation that I recently had with a few friends who have children at the toddler stage and older, this still might be impossible due to so many distractions.
To obtain my daily dose of alone time, I try to get it in where I can fit it in. I often stay up an extra 20 to 30 minutes, after everyone is asleep, and watch Netflix. Yes, I’m tired, but it’s totally worth it. I even volunteer to run to the store for a small item while blasting non-kid-friendly music loudly in the car on the way.
Make Appearance a Priority
Author and speaker Sheila Wray Gregoire said that it’s important to fight the frump and make the effort necessary to keep yourself up. You shouldn’t feel the need to go all out for your husband, but rather, do it for yourself. “Deciding to look put together is also saying, ‘I take myself seriously. I respect myself,'” she said.
It took seven months for me to get back to my beauty routine after giving birth. It wasn’t a complex regimen, but I was struggling with things as simple as washing my face daily, with a scrub and moisturizer, and taking showers regularly.
Instead of settling with the excuse of “I have no time,” take the time to ensure that you look your best. Go back to the days when you wore your favorite pair of heels, black dress, and adorned yourself in vintage jewelry that complemented your chicest outfit. Do what it takes to feel like yourself again.
There’s no doubt that your child is your highest priority, but in order to take care of your most precious gem, you have to take care of yourself first.
After settling into motherhood, what routines and priorities fell by the wayside? What effort did you make to regain some semblance of self again?
We all know the meaning of self-love, but how often do we practice it? Practicing self-love should be a priority. It’s one of the main ways to keep from falling apart. How often are you focusing your energy on others and leaving none for yourself? It’s time to start showing yourself how much you love you. When you click continue you’ll learn 15 different ways to honor yourself (try immersing yourself in the calm of a warm bath or writing a love note to yourself.) Are you ready to start practicing self-love?
“You are strong.” “You are more than a conqueror.” “You are beautiful.” Honor yourself by saying these affirmations daily.
Honor yourself by facing a fear. This is a another form of self-love. Love yourself enough to conquer your fears and not miss out on what’s on the other side of fear. If you fear flying, book a flight to a place you’ve always wanted to go.
Instead of taking a quick shower, take a bath. Fill your bathtub with hot water, put some of your favorite scented oils in the water and light some candles. Relax, take a deep breath and honor yourself. Repeat some of your affirmations while you’re in there too.
If time permits, take a class and learn a new skill. Take a creative writing, photography or cooking class. Seeking out new experiences is another form of honoring yourself.
Taking care of your health and staying fit is another way to honor yourself.
Honor yourself by letting go of friends that have negative energy. Let go of the friends that are holding you down or back. You know who they are.
Get Serious About “Me Time.”
Honor yourself by giving yourself at least 10-20 minutes or more of “me time.” Spend quiet time alone, do a few breathing exercises and you’ll feel much better.
Put Your Spiritual Life First
Your spiritual life is important. Honor yourself by putting your spiritual life first.
As the saying goes, “You only get one mother.” But when you fall in love with a man with children, you fall in love with his children, too. And at some point, when things get serious, there has to be room to evolve from being more than just dad’s “friend.”
Every woman who has ever shared her time and love with kids who aren’t her own has had to play substitute mom at one time or another. And while there’s no joy like the kind children bring, sometimes stepping in as a stepparent, when you haven’t officially been made one (by marriage) can be a struggle.
When you encounter these tough situations, how do you navigate your way through? Have you ever dated a guy whose children weren’t so fond of you?
Thinking about changing your travel plans due to concerns over the Zika virus? For women — in particular, anyone planning on having children — the disease has made us a lot more likely to say “Maybe I’ll stay at home.” Even a few athletes have passed up on going to Rio for the Olympics in August over concerns.
Just how worried should you be? We’ve got the answers to all of the questions you have and things you’ve been worrying about when it comes to traveling while the Zika virus continues to make headlines. If you’re worried about the effects that such a disease could have on you and your future family, read on to find out what you need to know about changing up (or keeping) your travel plans this year.
What things are cool to do before you become a mother but not acceptable afterward? It depends who you ask. People will always have an opinion — a variety of them more often than not — on what they think moms should and shouldn’t do. What they should and shouldn’t wear. How they should and shouldn’t spend their time. Sometimes they’re right on point and sometimes they’re just being judgmental.
But motherhood brings about too many changes in life for us not to try and adjust to them at all. Becoming a new mom is an opportunity to grow up, get it together and take life to the next level. And sometimes it’s better to make these changes before you become a mom rather than after you’re tackling diapers, late nights, milk bottles and tears.
Already someone’s mom? How did your life change in ways that you expected it to and in ways that you didn’t see coming once you entered motherhood?
Not too long ago, the wisdom was that it was better for a mother to listen to her biological clock sooner rather than later. But times have changed. With different advancements happening and many women having healthy children as they get older, shutting those beliefs down, the number of women having children in their late 30s and 40s is higher than ever. More and more women are taking advantage of having more time.
As things change, we’re all finding out more about motherhood than we knew before. And we’ve discovered that there are actually many benefits to being an older mother. From health benefits for mom, to an education jump-start for the kids, here are a few reasons why putting motherhood off until a little later is becoming more of an attractive option for women.
This is the moment in which I realize that even if my daughter does not have a themed birthday every year until she’s off to college, plays every sport, or has mastered the violin by age ten, I am still a good mom. A notion that can be hard this day in age where everyone is scouring Pinterest for the next best DIY project or updating a Facebook status with the rehearsal or practice they’ve taken their kid to that day.
I am from the era when kids participated in after-school sports. Everyone and their cousin was signed up to play Pop Warner football, to be a cheerleader, or donned a soccer smock. I, on the other hand, the daughter of a single mother who did not have extra money for these activities, did not play organized sports until I was in middle school. And yet here I am no worse for the wear, educated, and well-rounded enough to converse with neighborhood block boys and executives alike.
A friend showed me an article called “I’m Done Making My Kids Childhood Magical”, and I agreed with the author wholeheartedly. Now more than ever mothers are sent in a tailspin because we fear not being able to keep up with the Joneses, Johnsons, and Walkers. When the truth is, we’ll never be perfect moms. Our children could probably care less about any of the things we put so much emphasis. Would they be any less happy with a simple cake and pizza to celebrate a new year? They probably wouldn’t mind getting rid of the calendar for all of their activities, and I have a feeling they would prefer to play around the house more often.
Growing up, I can remember having three or four birthday parties – total. There were never any themes unless I came up with them myself. See, that mother I mentioned earlier was not the Type A mother who planned everything down to the last detail and lived for coordinating the goodie bags and cake. In fact, any time I had a party I pretty much planned it and just asked my mother for the money to sponsor said desires. I think that’s the reason I’ve found myself caught up in the “Supermom” contest: some part of me as a kid resented not having one of those “go all out” mothers and I remember pouting over the things I watched other kids do. Now as an adult and a mother myself, I recognize that I hardly recall the parties, I don’t remember the flavor of the cakes, all I think now is thank the Lord I made it.
I have become the mother who volunteers for every party in my child’s classroom and the one who tries to ensure she looks like a GAP ad while still managing to stay clean all day. There are moments when I wonder if this longing for perfection is affecting her. I ask myself if the pressure I am feeling is wearing on her young mind as well. How I wished my mother could have been in the crowd at every basketball game or how I just wanted her to show up at my school and be the mom everyone knew. But the truth is she wasn’t; she didn’t have the time. Yet, I became class president, team captain and got accepted into my first choice for college. So while the anger of not having her do all of those things I thought would make her the perfect parent was real, the grown up Leslie understands that my mother did the best she could with what she had…and I am grateful.
I want to relinquish myself from the idea that if my daughter doesn’t have regularly scheduled play dates or a fully decorated bedroom and playroom that her childhood will be incomplete. If these are things that bring me joy because I love to do them, so be it. But if I am running around trying to create a blog-worthy life for us so we aren’t left out, then I have to stop.
The most important thing for our children to feel is loved and to know that we are there for them when they are scared, tired, or just need to cash in on a hug. If we spend every waking moment trying to mold them into caricatures of perfect Stepford children then we are failing them. I want my daughter to recall the days of her childhood with fondness, not with me pouring over a craft she won’t care about in a day or an activity she had no interest. As mothers, we have to know what is best for our children and adhere to the old adage, “What is good for the goose is not good for the gander.”
Just as all children are not the same, every mother is different as well. I am going to give myself a break from trying to make up for the things I didn’t get as a kid by forcing my baby girl to participate. I will pledge to just be a good mom without all the bells and whistles. Because long after the glue dries on the macaroni masterpiece, the balloons are deflated from the blissfully whimsical birthday bash, and the trophies have been handed out when the season ends, I want my girl to say as she always does, “You’re the best Mommy I ever had” and that is worth far more than anything.
The love I have for my husband is deeper and more exciting than the love I have for my kids. He is my lover, my confidant, and my biggest fan. I am the same for him. It is so clear to me as a wife, mother, and psychologist that if I do not have a strong, healthy, and connected marriage, my mothering abilities are not on track.
Many of the couples with younger children that I see in my private practice find themselves exhausted, angry, and disconnected in their marriage. This is often because the woman focuses on the kids while the husband throws himself into his work.
This may seem like a good idea for a time, but as this goes on, the relationship will begin to suffer greatly. When we get married and before we have kids, as couples, we have the time, energy, and money to devote to our relationship.
We go out to dinner and a movie without a second thought. We can have sex any time without worrying if a baby will wake up or a toddler will come crashing through the door. Once kids enter the picture, we forget what being loved and honored by our partner (without spit up on us) feels like.
The mistake many moms make is they believe that if they are a good mother, their husband will be fine and he will understand.
In reality, the husband may feel pushed out of the parenting role and begrudgingly give up trying to have a relationship with his wife. As a result, they each become resentful of what the other “isn’t” doing in regards to both the kids and the marriage.
In this scenario, the man will continue to retreat and do less and less for the kids, while the woman becomes angrier at this turn of events. She then gives less and less energy to her spouse, which makes him disconnect further and further.
The descent into divorce has begun.
One of the mistakes reality parents Jon and Kate Gosselin made was putting their kids first. Every time I heard them say that phrase, it was like nails on a chalkboard to my ears. If they had just devoted some time to their relationship, I believe they wouldn’t have found themselves divorcing and creating such trauma and drama for the entire family.
Good mothers and fathers must start by being a good wives and husbands.
If your emotional needs are not being met by your husband, you will try to fulfill these needs through your kids or elsewhere, which isn’t healthy or positive for the marriage or for your kids. Your husband will also reach outside the marriage to get his emotional and physical needs met. Remember, your esteem as a partner is not the same as your esteem as a parent, but they do directly impact each other.
Do not think your marriage can survive until the children are 18 and off to college unless you start dedicating real time and real energy to your relationship.
I always tell my couples that you are not just setting an example as a mother and father, but even more importantly, your children are watching you to see what being a good wife and husband means.
Recently, during a conversation about children with my new neighbor, I was accosted when I revealed I had a C-section to deliver my daughter. “You punk! What kind of mother are you?” he said. I was furious inside but held it together, the nerve of a man to boldly make such accusatory and judgmental declarations. The nerve of every “natural” mother who feels the need to shame another woman for what most times could not be avoided. I can’t imagine why someone would willingly choose to be cut open. I am curious as to why a C-section, a major operation, is socially stigmatized and seen as taking the easy way out.
Throughout my pregnancy other than a growing and itchy belly, I experienced no typical pregnancy symptoms. No heartburn, never felt a contraction, no morning sickness, nothing! So when I woke up on my due date, May 15, to find I was not in labor, I didn’t think much of it. I assumed my baby would come eventually, and called my doctor to ask if I could dye my hair. Before getting off the phone with the nurse practitioner, I asked if it was a big deal if the baby hadn’t really moved all day.
Thirty minutes later I was at the hospital for what I thought to be just an ultrasound. But what would happen next is not what I had in mind for my delivery day. Within 20 minutes of arrival, I was hooked up, admitted, and on an operating table. My placenta had hardened and my baby wasn’t getting any oxygen. As fearful as I was, alone in a room full of strangers, I had no choice but to entrust our lives to them.
At 24-years-old experiencing my first pregnancy, the possibility of not having a “normal” delivery had not even crossed my mind. The possibility of my daughter not being well was something I could not fathom even as doctors explained that my baby had brain swelling due to lack of oxygen, and would need to be admitted to the NICU. I cannot wrap my head around the idea that a terrifying and potentially tragic situation like this could ever be looked down upon.
While there are women who may for whatever reason freely choose to deliver their child by C-section, how does this make them less of a mother? What business is it of ours to judge them?
A mother is a woman of love, nurturing and selflessness. The means by which you come into motherhood–whether it be by C-section, adoption, fertility treatments or traditionally–we are all a life sustaining force in this world. We are literally the epicenter of life as we know it. Mothers are a tribe of women, unique and set apart. It takes a divine strength to make and sustain a life inside of you for 40 weeks, and then rear that child to a sufficient level of independence. How our children got here makes no difference, the glory is in their being at all.