All Articles Tagged "motherhood"
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.
By Judith Ohikuare
mater mea is an online magazine that profiles the lives of working moms of color through gorgeous photography and compelling features.
Speculative fiction writer Ibi Zoboi (pronounced e-bee za-boy) has a life that closely echoes the radical and personal transformations seen in her favorite genre: She changed her name in college; had an intense, whirlwind courtship with painter Joseph Zoboi; became a mother of three children before she was 30 years old; and has garnered a number of accolades for her writing, which melds folklore, mythology, and fantasy.
While Zoboi often uses the word “magical” to describe important moments and milestones, serendipity is only part of her story.
What was being a new mother like for you?
Most people don’t know how hard those first few weeks are for a new mother. Eventually, you make it through, but I know a lot of mothers who say those were some tough months. It was really, really hard because [we had] virtually no help. Because my husband is so [present], his family would come and play with the baby and think everything was fine, but Joseph was tired, too. I think what happens when you’re a married couple is people see a helpful husband and think you have it made. But he’s still a dude. He gets sick of the dishes and will be like, ‘I’m going for a walk!’ The hardest thing was not having a community of women coming to help.
I [also] had a home birth for all three children, so I didn’t get [those] two days in the hospital where you just chill and everybody else takes care of everything. In the past, I had taken ownership of my health — I changed my hair, was vegan, and juiced. A home birth would be taking ultimate ownership of my body. [We] didn’t even consider a hospital, but my mother was like, “Are you crazy! We came all the way from Haiti for this?!” (Laughs) She was scared, but after the third child, I saw that she kind of had a new respect for me.
To read the full interview, click here.
Your kids just did or said something that has your feeling like you are about to flip out. Don’t do it, though. Relax, take a deep breath and wait. Although parenting is hard and most people get that, there is no excuse for managing a behavior problem in a way that will do your child more harm than good.
Most moms, myself included, have a lot going on. And it always seems like your kids push you to the limit on the days that have you stressed out beyond belief. It’s ridiculous how it often works out, but that’s just one of the parts of parenthood we have to deal with.
So what do you do when your kids have you so upset you just want to spaz out? How do you keep cool?
Do you grab a glass of wine to help you calm down? Do you grab a cup of coffee to take the edge off and give yourself the energy to deal with them? Do you start screaming and basically make them pay for all the crap that’s been stressing you out all week?
I hope you don’t do any of those things. Sure, we all have our moments and it’s part of life, but those moments should not become our norm. Here are a few healthier ways to help you keep your cool when your kids are about to send you over the edge. I hope they help.
Call a mommy friend. When you know your child has brought you to your breaking point and you can feel the anger rising, take the time to call another mom who gets you. Chances are they have been in the same space before, and they can help you calm down. As mothers we have to be able to pause before we act, because reacting purely out of anger can lead to regret. No one understands that more than another mom.
Go workout. A good workout can help you clear your mind, calm down, and gain perspective. If you are able to walk away from the situation and leave your child with their dad or another trusted adult, do just that. Take a walk or run, or maybe even hit the gym. Doing something for yourself that will get your blood pumping (in a good way) and get you away from you initial emotions is a very good thing.
Work on something you enjoy. It really doesn’t matter what it is, just find something that makes you happy and walk away from the kids. If you love to cook, go cook a meal. Baker? Then bake a cake. You enjoy writing? Pull out the laptop. Just try to redirect your focus until you are calm, have seen things from all perspectives, and are ready to disciple your child with a clear mind—not from a place of anger.
Meditate. Meditation is a great way to just relax and access a peaceful place. We love our children so much that when they do something wrong, we aren’t always prepared to address it properly. There are tons of meditation apps, like Calm, that can help you relax in just minutes. Take a bathroom break and use a meditation app to get your mind right.
Give yourself some space. You know how we give kids a time-out to help them relax and gain perspective about what they just did wrong? Well sometimes adults also need a time-out before they can address a situation in the best possible way. Tell your kids that mommy needs a minute and just allow yourself to be still for a while. Think about all your options, think about the real results that will come from each option, and make a decision.
Moms, what other healthy tips do you have for keeping your cool when your kids are driving you nuts?
Martine Foreman is a life coach, freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, and speaker. To learn more about her work and get great tips on how to create a life you love, check her out at CandidBelle.
mater mea is an online magazine that profiles the lives of working moms of color through gorgeous photography and compelling features. Sarah White, a Minneapolis-based musician, shares what she wants for her two daughters, Izabella Simone and Micaela Sol.
After two big moves — one from Brooklyn, New York back to her native Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then from one house to another — musician Sarah White’s home life finally seems to be settling down… Her work life, though, is another story.
“Every day is really different,” White says of her three-fold hustle (she’s a singer, DJ, and a freelance photographer). “Some days I don’t work at all, and other days I work multiple jobs. It’s a really crazy schedule. You just kind of [have to] flow with it.”
It’s this adaptable nature that brought White, 32, and her family, partner Rico Mendez and their daughters Izabella Simone (8) and Micaela Sol (2), back to Minneapolis in the summer of 2012, after five years of living and making music in New York.
How do you hope your daughters will manifest their creativity in the future? What do you hope for them as human beings?
So much, obviously. They mean everything to me. I hope that they learn to be able to communicate their feelings without being afraid of what anyone thinks. That’s something I feel like a lot of women have to deal with [and] I don’t want them to even second guess it. Right now they’re both pretty confident with what they have to say and they believe in themselves, and I want them to stay that way. I want them to be able to tell me anything and do what they want to do without fear. I feel like many times it would be easier for me to fall into a different career to have more money and to be more dependable, but I keep pushing towards my art because it’s my journey, and I want them to do that too.
For the full interview, click here.
There was a moment a few months ago when I was getting ready for an event, standing in the mirror with a tube of lipstick, wondering why I was about to paint my face. I’d done it a zillion times without question, but this time, I just felt silly. What I really wanted was to go completely as I am. Now, I don’t mean butt-naked, but naked-face. Is this what it means to get older? Still, I went ahead and did it, and when I got to the event and posed the question to a few friends they looked at me like I was smoking crack. Wanna clear a room? Start talking about age.
Soooooo when Alicia Keys started popping up all over the place sans makeup I suddenly felt vindicated. I mean, Alicia is a mom, like myself, and she’s getting older, we all are, and well, now we can start talking about how we really feel about this makeup thing.
I start with one of my favorite California girls, Angie B. T.
A model back in the day, Angie never left home without a fully made up face. In fact, sometimes she wore makeup to bed. How does she feel about it today?
“I still love makeup, and lashes, and adorning myself with jewelry,” she says, “but what has changed is I don’t feel the need to wear it all the time. I appreciate my beauty without it.”
She says the change wasn’t so much an age thing, but more about the different changes in her life. She broke up with her finance, her mom and sister both passed away in the same year, and not long after she fell, fracturing both of her ankles.
“It was hard at first, not to feel sorry for myself,” she says looking back, “but being in that space where I was literally crawling to the bathroom with no makeup on for such a long period of time stripped away all the pretense I had in my life. I had to find my inner strength and what re-emerged was this beautiful woman that I am today.”
Last night, I was conversing with a friend about the stressfully entertaining things that our children do. She jokingly mentioned how she still gets a case of “mom guilt” from time-to-time and I had to use Google to find out what that was. Apparently, mom guilt is very common; but it’s a paradigm that I can’t relate to at all. I did a little research and then asked a couple of my friends who are fathers if they share some of these sentiments.
Mom Guilt is the constant and crushing self-blame for not being perfect. Busy mothers think to themselves: “I should be home with my kid instead of working too much.” When having a well-deserved night out with friends or date night, the thought is: “I feel bad for leaving my child at home. I wonder how they’re doing? Maybe I should call and see how they’re doing?” If your child’s feelings are hurt from being reprimanded when they don’t listen, “Damn, I feel terrible for hurting their feelings.” I know I’m being a guy by oversimplifying a complex emotion…but with good reason.
No man wants a woman without any flaws because the quirks are some of the qualities that we as men find attractive. After dating for a while, those little imperfections begin to seep out–because people can only be a representative of themselves for so long–those are the moments when men think to themselves “she’s human.”
For every personality trait that we aren’t fond of, there is a positive aspect of it that makes for part of our charm. For as obnoxious as mom guilt can be, it’s the yang to the nurturing yin. Sometimes–ok, often– moms care too much. That’s part of what makes them who they are. For as much as it seems that fathers don’t care, that trait is part of the process that helps them screen out what really matters to protect and see the big picture.
Seven out of 10 things that cause the mom guilt aren’t that big of a deal, and now that I know what it’s called (moms know this too) that is what perpetuates the cycle of worry.
We knew and had a long-lasting love affair with ourselves decades before we had children. When we become parents, something changes in us and taking care of self becomes secondary. However, one can’t be the best parent they can be without some self-maintenance. I’m not trying to spend the rest of my life with my children. I want them to grow up, have their own lives, get married, have their own families, and let me be the obnoxious grandfather who says whatever he wants because I can. We still have our own lives to live. Being a parent shouldn’t be our identity, only a part of it. Don’t feel bad for indulging and putting yourself first every once in awhile … kids put themselves first all of the time without one ounce of guilt or shame.
Life is too serious to be so serious. Based on our experiences and ideals, we raise our children based on what we know. We are all going to fall short. Even if we are the most perfect parents of all time, we’re going to mess our kids up. Truth be told, it’s part of the fun. The best that we can do is raise them to make informed and smart decisions. When they screw up, we’ll be there for them. But eventually, the choices that they make are not reflections of us.
If anything, the mom guilt can be teachable moments. Sometimes we all have to indulge and come first. If you don’t want to join the PTA…so what? If your child doesn’t go to sleep while you’re out on a date and wants to stay up…oh well. They will still have to wake up early for school the next day and it’s their fault. Concerned whether or not your kid is getting on the babysitter’s nerves? You’re paying them for your child to temporarily be their headache while you enjoy yourself. Their feelings get hurt because you yelled at them? They should have listened.
Acknowledging and accepting being perfectly imperfect is one of the most valuable lessons they can acquire. And it’s one lesson we must constantly relearn because ultimately, it’s the key to happiness.
Like every parent I live under the guise of complete and total adoration for my daughter, which often veils my vision and judgment when it comes to some of her behaviors. With her second birthday just around the corner, many of the things she should probably be reprimanded for are often dismissed because she’s cute. Although I know better, there are times I just cannot bring myself to discipline her, and as much as I hate to admit it, she just might be the b word. No, not that one, but BAD.
My precious little toddler is really more like a 30-year-old midget. She has full command of sarcasm, and actively uses it. She has been rolling her eyes since she was about five months, and most recently has added huffing, puffing and sighing, and “reaaallyyyyy, mom” to her repertoire.
She is a handful.
Her feisty personality coupled with inherited mellow dramatics, makes for comical and frustrating days. As easy as it would be to attribute her behavior to terrible twos, I know better than that.
Lately, I have been working an inhuman number of hours, so our time together has been limited to car rides between pickups and drop offs, and the occasional bedtime story. It seems that rather than growing pains, my daughter’s most recent affinity for adverse behavior may be her desperate attempt at hailing my attention. She grows increasingly demanding by the day, and out of frustration and fatigue, I often take the easy way out and succumb to her will to skip temper tantrums, and her over the top crying.
As the fog of an overbooked schedule begins to clear as I close out the semester, I am beginning to see the monster I have created for who she is. I am fearful for what’s to come knowing I must be more strict, stern and consistent in order to correct the behaviors my recent lackadaisical parenting has reinforced, and wonder if the damage is irreversible. They always say you get back what you gave your mother, and the universe is cashing in on that for sure.
Here are a few things I plan to implement to give my daughter more quality time and consistency.
- Activities: plan together time, not necessarily an itinerary of “here and there” but rather intimate one on one time, reading together, unwinding together, cuddling in bed and just chatting before starting the day. Small things like this will make children feel like the center of your world in these moments.
- Put at home work on hold: waiting to the children are asleep to get at home work done will allow you the serenity you need to focus, as well as saving children from feeling overlooked and ignored. If for some reason work can’t wait, have your children sit down with their own “work,” so they feel included, and not bothersome.
- Stick to your guns: as hard as it may be, don’t give in! (Preaching to the choir, no?) No matter how intense, and how long a temper tantrum may be, whether at home or in public ride it out. Consistency is always key, children pay attention and following through on your word with punishments and rewards is more important than we often believe. I have learned in my short time of motherhood that children do what they see not what you say. As they absorb information from their surroundings they quickly master the art of manipulation, from fake crying to lip poking, don’t let your kids catch you slipping!
You’re trying to share a post with one of your friends on Facebook, but for some reason you can’t find her. You check the spelling of her name for the third time. Nothing. Wait a minute, did she unfriend you? Why can’t you find her?
It’s a familiar scenario. Friends who were staples on your Facebook page, suddenly vanish. This time, however, you investigate further to discover that your friend has gotten off of Facebook. “I needed a break,” she replies to your text. “I needed to spend more time with the kids.” It sounds similar to your bestie who took a month off of social media to gain control of what she called a ‘social media addiction.’ She used the time to be more productive and present with her twins.
You’d be lying if you said that it didn’t make you feel just a little bit jealous. Walking away from Facebook is like walking away from a caramel sundae with nuts. Most times, it’s complete overindulgence, but knowing that fact doesn’t make it any easier to say no. Yet, some moms are doing just that. Dare you say it’s a trend?
What’s up with moms quitting Facebook?
You ring your friend T., a mom of three who got off the social media platform, but recently popped back on. For her, the issue was privacy. “I would meet people I barely know and they would mention some of the things I mentioned on my Facebook status. I felt uncomfortable with the notion that we live in a glass bowl and everybody can peek in.” The break ended up being a year, (who knew it was that long!) and it took the death of a childhood friend to bring her back. “My last interaction with her was on Facebook, so it was a way for me to reconnect.”
There’s also your friend Susan, a mother of two young’uns under the age of three, who cancelled her Facebook account because she felt completely overwhelmed. She believes her absence from social media makes her a more fully present mom. “I feel like I’m in the camp of those moms who don’t feed their kids processed foods or non-organic produce. Like I’m looking out for my kids in an extra-special way.”
She did, however, venture into the YouTube vlogging pool recently, with a certain amount of trepidation. “I go back and forth all the time about featuring my kids on my channel. Do I mention their names? Do I include their images in videos? Do I tell cute little stories about them that could mortify them later when they get older.”
These are definitely valid concerns for any mom who uses social media platforms for work. Exactly how do you strike a healthy balance between mothering and social media when completely cancelling your accounts is not an option?
Dr. Kristin Carothers of the Child Mind Institute says that there are a few things moms can do to find that balance whether using social media for pleasure or work.
1. If you think you’re too often engaged in social media it might be a good idea to keep those apps off of your phone so you’re not constantly getting notifications and posting all day.
2. Give yourself a certain amount of time, say 30 minutes a day, to engage on social media. That way, you’re not getting off of it altogether, which might make you feel deprived and cause you to binge.
3. Give yourself rules about the things you post. If you have 1,000 friends on Facebook you might not want to share intimate details about your family. Know what you’re using it for. Is it to communicate with your closest friends and family? Knowing that will help determine the types of things you post.
It looks like moms have been quitting (and returning to) Facebook for various reasons for a while now. So is it a new trend? Not really. The good news is moms don’t have to completely vanish. Hopefully, more of your mommy friends will stick around, even if less often. Honestly, it’s not necessary that you see them posts every day, a simple status update every now and then will do.
As you may remember, singer Melanie Fiona gave birth to a son, she named Cameron Lincoln, this past March. Throughout her pregnancy, she kept a vlog detailing her experiences. So naturally, after her son was born, people wanted her to share her birth story. And in the video below, she finally does just that. But it wasn’t without much thought and contemplation. Turns out, her actual birthing journey did not go according to plan. In fact, it was the complete opposite of everything she wanted for herself.
While she would have been happy to deliver at home, Melanie’s boyfriend, fellow singer Jared Cotter, insisted on a hospital. Still, she had no intention on using drugs or having surgery to deliver. But it took both of those things to deliver her child safely. And in her most recent vlog, “It’s Time To Tell The Truth,” Melanie talks about the feelings she experienced during her labor and once she brought her child home.
Check out a few excerpts from the video and then watch the whole thing below.
On her boyfriend convincing her that, against her wishes, she would have to have a c- section. He told her:
“‘I have to leave the hospital with both of you.’ Until that moment, I didn’t realize how severe my situation was.”
“In retrospect I realized that I was already a mother, that I would have risked my life for Cameron’s.”
Once she got home.
“Post baby that was a whole other set of emotions that I was not prepared for.”
Melanie realized that she was not going to be able to “jump back into the life that I thought that [she] was going to be able to jump back into.”
“Life just kind of said, hold on.”
Hormones and feelings
“I wouldn’t say that I was as far as depressed. But I was really trying to understand what happened.”
“There was almost a moment of numbness where I felt like someone gave him to me and was like, ‘Here’s this baby. Take care of it.’ I was disconnected from the whole process.”
“I had to deal with feelings of disappointment and feeling like a failure. That sounds so crazy because how could I even look at this beautiful child and feel like I failed. But I felt my body failed me.”
“It’s still taking me time to process who I am now and who I’m becoming. And I just think that’s something that we don’t talk about now.”
“I’m looking at myself now with completely new eyes, trying to understand who I am. What is this new body? Who is this new woman? who is this new mother?”
“Everyday I just try to be honest with myself and forgive myself and be patient. And I look at my beautiful son and I don’t regret any of it. I don’t regret a thing. I would do it all over again.”
“If it’s one thing that I can say that I learned clearly throughout my whole pregnancy is the feeling and the word, the true meaning of having to surrender.”
“Women need to know that you have to talk about it. You have to be willing to share.”
“I am thrilled about being a mother. Cameron is the most amazing, amazing child.”
Weight Loss and Comparison to other women
“I put on 74 pounds. That’s like carrying around another person. I didn’t know how small I was. I didn’t know what type of body I had before. I never put so much value on it until my body changed and then post baby body, I’m looking at myself like ‘I’ve never seen my body like this.’”
“I’ve learned that if I allow myself to compare my story, my journey, my child, my growth and evolution as a woman to any other woman out there, to compare it, I will be losing the joy that I should be feeling in my process.”
Preach the word Melanie!
You can watch her full vlog in the video below.