Tag Archives: Motherhood

Be Careful How You Judge

When I used to read of other women’s desires to return to work–even though they loved their children–I would shake my head knowingly:  They just don’t understand motherhood.

Even though I would wake up, terrified, knowing I would be home with my kids, I told myself to remain faithful and eventually things would get better.  I mean, I was doing what was right for my kids and fulfilling the role I agreed to take on when I became pregnant–that of being a stay-at-home mom.

Gradually, I saw my life swinging out of control.  No amount of happy pills can make someone enjoy something that is chinking away at their sanity.

So when I saw our money dwindling away, and realized that I would need to find a job ASAP, I jumped at the chance.

I don’t have a job, yet, but will be interviewing in the next few weeks.  Anxiety is creeping in as I realize this is really happening.  But, for once, it isn’t negative anxiety, it is eager anticipation as I think about leaving the house and everything that entails: no more cleaning up after messes all day long; no longer will I hide behind the gate in the kitchen, trying to seek some moment of peace; and I will finally have company–besides my own thoughts–for at least 7 hours of the day.

Here’s the clincher: I feel horribly guilty for my excitement. I thought, for sure, I would be a stay-at-home mom and I would love it.  I guess I did not foresee that my husband would be in medical school, I would have two very active toddlers at once, and that I would be solo parenting for 16 + hours a day.

And yet I find myself wondering, am I giving up too soon?  Will I regret this decision?

I do have one necessity: survival (if I don’t get a job we will be in a dire situation soon); however, it is more than that.  My emotions are crumbling.  I can feel myself sinking into a place that will soon leave me alone, angry, and unapproachable.

Coming from my very judgmental past (personal experience only), I find myself rolling my eyes at the excuses I give for embarking on this new adventure.  Excuses that I once flippantly ignored or arrogantly berated–in my head–when I heard them from other women and chalked up to their obvious weakness.

But now I understand where they are coming from and I will soon be joining the ranks of working moms.  Guess what? I’ve never felt surer of a decision in my life.

Yet my past is coming back to haunt me.  Excited though I am, the guilt for wanting to leave my children at a daycare or babysitter’s house, is slightly overwhelming.  I worry over being condemned and/or looked down upon by friends and relatives.  I am also worried that my kids will resent me. And, to top it off, I feel that I am giving up on a dream I had for so long, which makes me feel like a huge loser and clearly incapable of setting any type of goals.

Clearly I am conflicted and it is painful.  Even though I am much more assertive now than I once was, and I will not be backing down from my decision, I am still worried about what other’s will think of me and wondering if I am a failure after all.  However, I will continue forward, even if it means angst for a little while, because I know I will be better off–mentally–when I get a job.

For you working moms out there, my kids will be fine, right? Did you experience the same angst? And how do I go about finding daycare? 

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15 Comments

Filed under Feminism

Closing Shop and Other Housekeeping Items

After I went public with my disaffection/break/discontent (whatever you want to call it) from the Mormon church–the church of my upbringing–I have had conflicting feelings.  On the one hand, I want to talk about my experiences because it shaped me as a child and continues shaping me as I grow older.  (My entire mindset is Mormon–I see things from a Mormon worldview; I view religion-related things from a Mormon perspective; and many of my friends are/were Mormon.)  On the other hand, I do not want to isolate those who continue to believe in the tenets of Mormonism and, in my mind, religion in all its forms.  It isn’t that I am trying to convince people to join me in my agnosticism/atheism, it’s that I am working through my past beliefs in order to integrate them into the person I am now and the person I am becoming.

I don’t feel I am being anti-Mormon, but understand the Mormon mindset which makes certain topics uncomfortable.   But, to be frank, it isn’t just Mormonism that I have issues with.  It is God, Jesus Christ, the scriptures, and the history of all Judeo-Christian religions.  I am open to exploring different religions and am also open to opinions that are different from my own. Heck, if you have an experience that is or was similar to mine, and you stayed faithful to whatever religion you currently are, tell me about it!

However, you are formally warned that I will be sharing my religious experiences and why I feel the way I do now.  It will be thoughtful and may also be hard to read.  So if you are uncomfortable with that and wish to say something that is not conducive to respectful conversation, do so at your own risk.  That is to say, I will not respond to hurtful comments.  In fact, I will delete your words forever.  At the same time, I have a forgiving heart.  Just be respectful to me and my views (and, by all means, disagree with me!) and I will be respectful to you.

All this is a lengthy explanation for my new Facebook rules.  I will be trimming down my current friends to those who are close friends and/or relatives.  I will not be talking about my religious angst, my political opinions, or anything that might be controversial on that account.  Instead, I have opened a new account that is dedicated to all the above plus a few other things that I will discuss a little later in this post.  You are welcome to friend me.  I am not picky and will accept everyone, who is not crazy and/or a friend whore, who asks.  I might seek you out because I am interested in what you have to say.  Again, you can find that new account here.   If you are not into that sort of thing, you are also welcome to “like” my blog.  It won’t be nearly as fun as my new account, but will apprise you of new blog posts.

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My second piece of business is more momma-related.  Y’all know that I struggle with intense mental illness, right?  (If you don’t, where have you been?) (Kidding.)  As I am figuring out how to handle it (yes, my medication does not make it all better, I must do other things to keep me level), I realize that most of my current stress comes from being a mom.  To two toddlers.  To help me see the bright side of some crazy days, I will be posting quotes and/or experiences from the day to my new Facebook account‘s wall.  So if you are annoyed by that kind of thing, be warned.  It is something I realize helps me see things in a less hazy way.  I love my kids.  Oh I love them.  But mental illness often clouds my perspective and I need a metaphorical Windex-like product to wipe my windows clean.  And this is the idea that came to me.  So I’m going to try it.

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Numero three.  I am revamping my weekly supporting parents write-up.  Look for more details soon.

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And finally, I am taking a short break to recuperate and tackle this enormous to-do list I have.  I will most likely continue reading your blogs but need some time to gather my own thoughts before returning to writing. This whole exploration of my new feminist/religious/philosophical self is exhausting.  Literally, I pass out every day quickly because my mind is teeming with information, comments, ideas, etc.  Also, my to-do list is full of things with actual deadlines.  Deadlines that are coming up real fast.  Yikes.  So I must dedicate more time to completing these tasks (which include some exciting new adventures, I’ll keep you posted) before the end of the month.  I will continue with the Supporting Parents posts because I really do believe in my original idea and because it helps me look over my parenting with an objective magnifying glass.

If you are still reading this long post, kudos to you.

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Filed under Random Thoughts

A Birth(day) Story

My dear Emily turned three this month.  While I am amazed by all she is blossoming into: a thoughtful pre-schooler, a loving sister, an ornery monkey; I am thinking more about her birth.  It is time I write her story down.

To Emily: Your Arrival

Though I was a week late on my period, I refused to take a test.  At least until I could surprise Ben.  Naturally, as soon as he heard the test wrapper–at 4 am–he couldn’t resist tumbling into the bathroom.  Since it wasn’t a secret anymore, he sat with me as we waited for the results.

And there they were: two pink lines.  A perfect gift to your father on his birthday.

At exactly 22 weeks, while I was sitting in my morning class, I felt the first kick.  I had waited, somewhat impatiently, to feel those movements.  The location of my placenta–directly in front (behind?) of my belly button, insulated my skin from feeling your movements sooner.  Anyway, I felt the first movement and immediately stopped paying attention to the lecture.  I could hardly wait until I could call your father.

Two weeks later, I had an appendectomy.  It was a terrifying experience.  I am extremely glad nothing happened to you.

Finally, things settled down.  I eagerly awaited, and prepared, for your birth.

At 38 weeks, 10 days before your official due date, I took castor oil to get things going.  Within hours, I was having regular contractions.  Per the birth training I had used (hypnobirthing), I breathed through them.  They were intense, but I did not feel any pain.  By midnight, your father convinced me to pack our bags and head to the hospital.

Once there, we settled in for the hour wait to see if we would be admitted.  While I continued to breathe through the contractions–the peaks continued growing while the time between was shrinking–your father watched the Olympics.  At that time of night, the only event on was speed walking.  Talk about thrilling.

Though I had not progressed too far, the nurse convinced my midwife to admit me because clearly my contractions were not going to slow down.

The nurse wheeled me to our room and Ben turned on calm music.  I used a variety of breathing techniques to keep my body relaxed and felt as comfortable as I could.  Between contractions (which were happening every 30 seconds), I dozed.

Although I should have felt exhausted, I could not wipe the smile off my face; nor rid my body of the adrenaline.  I was to meet my little girl soon!  I would be seeing the face I had pictured so perfectly for the last 9 months.  I was ready.

As with most first pregnancies, the labor was slow and intense.  I was admitted in the hospital at 1 am.  By 7 am, I had progressed to a 6 and the midwife encouraged me to have my membranes ruptured.  I was too exhausted to argue, so she went ahead. Though things had progressed calmly, once my membranes were ruptured, the pain rocked through my body.  Sending me into spasms.  I tried everything.  I went to the bath, walked around (the hospital’s strict policy of constant fetal monitoring did not ease my sufferings), and had Ben massage my back.  I breathed.  I pictured calm images.  Nothing worked.  At 9 am, a different midwife (one who I did not like) looked in, checked me, and insisted I start on a Pitocin drip.  Her reasoning was I had slowed down.  Since I was clearly in pain, and not in a condition to respond rationally, I agreed only after requesting an epidural.  My plan of natural birth went out the window, and I was okay with that.  And so was Ben.

I hunkered down, waiting for the anesthesiologist.  When he arrived, he asked that I stay still.  Since my contractions were still overlapping, with only a few seconds break in between, I knew this request would be utterly impossible.  With Ben’s stabling hand, I held still long enough for the doctor to insert the needle.

Once the anesthesia spread through my blood, my body relaxed.  I was able to breathe slowly again and finally able to rest.  After a few hours, the nurse checked me and, much to my surprise, announced I had progressed to a ten.  She called the midwife and everyone else who is involved with the birthing part (I don’t even remember who was in there, I just remember it was a big group of people).

Unfortunately, the midwife was not patient and holistic like she had learned in training.  After only one push, she said she would need to perform an episiotomy.  I refused.  Each push she would say the same thing and I would vehemently disagree. I knew I didn’t need one.  I held her off long enough to push you out.  By that time, only 15-30 minutes had passed and I had pushed maybe 5 times.  When I felt your head and feet come out, heard your cries, and saw your face, I had a rush of emotions.

The silly midwife did not give you directly to me.  Instead, she handed you off to the nurses for your first bath as she sewed my few tears up.  Your daddy and I had to wait until almost 10-15 minutes after your arrival to hold you.  Everything felt surreal.  I couldn’t quite grasp that you were really mine; that I was your mom and Ben was your dad.  I held you and, between exhaustion and fear, felt disconnected from the moment.

When I finally sat down to nurse you, it was both beautiful and incredibly painful.  I bore the pain and successfully managed to nurse you almost the entire time in the hospital. (It took 4 months for the pain to finally subside, but I grew to really love it and have never regretted sticking with it.)

There were many things I felt angry about with your birth.  As time progresses, the pain, anxiety, and fear of those first negative experiences fade.  I now look fondly on the labor and birth.  You were the first; as such, there are many special moments that are incomparable.

That first night, Ben held you.  I was physically and emotionally spent and needed some sleep.  You were awake that entire night, just looking at everything around you, exploring your new world.  As I woke up sporadically throughout the night, I would see you and your father gazing at each other.  You with curiosity, your daddy with amazement, and I fell in love with you and your father (again).  I knew those moments he had were moments that would be repeated–with both of us–over our lifetime.

There are many moments that I worry I have let you down.  As I grow more confident, I feel I am growing into being your mother. From birth to now, I still feel this sweet connection with you.  I love to hug, kiss, and snuggle you.  Thank you for loving me despite my many imperfections.

I remember our small family then.  You were–still are–the center of our attention.

Even though you share our time with your brother, my love for your has never divided.  Instead, it has multiplied the more I come to know you, your nuances, and your amazing personality.  I love you to pieces, now until forever.

Love,

Momma

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Filed under Letters

On Being a Stay-At-Home Mom

I struggled for a long time with what I thought being a stay-at-home mom meant.  I visualized a day full of baking, putting together puzzles, reading story after story, and, of course, creating art and making crafts.  As many of you know, I detest baking and abhor having to participate in making arts and crafts.  And, with my recent health problems, floor time is very challenging.

In my mind, this makes me atypical; which, in turn, makes me feel highly uncomfortable with my new profession.

It doesn’t help that I don’t fit into any mold.  We live in an apartment, my husband works two full-time jobs, we have one very old vehicle, and our food budget is meager.  I struggle with chronic anxiety and depression and can barely keep our tiny space from imploding from the chaos of two kids.  Not the suburban bliss most people picture (or at least I pictured) when thinking of moms staying home with their kids.

So, when I hear women saying “I’m not the stay-at-home type” I can relate.  At least if their definition is the same one I’ve always used.

What am I to do?

Change the definition.

As with parenting, there are all sorts of moms who decide to stay-at-home.  I have to believe that not every mother delights in the typical homemaking (a word I really dislike) pursuits.  We all have talents and interests, outside of mothering, that spice up our résumé.

Some of my interests include helping the low income, minority, and mentally ill populations find the healthcare they need, continue on to higher education, and apply for jobs directly related to their individual talents;  fitness and helping women and men find their inner beauty and perfect their own healthy body image; and pursuing life long education by obtaining a masters, followed by Ph.D, in some area of expertise and conducting and publishing research in premier journals.

My talents include reading to and teaching my kids all sorts of things beyond picture books; incorporating exercise–whether it’s walking or aerobics on DVD–into our daily schedule; and managing our finances so we do not go over our budget.

These talents and interests make me, me.  Even if it makes me an untraditional SAHM (another term I dislike).  I’d much rather do what I always wanted to do (stay at home with my kids) my way than stay within some defined boundary and feel miserable by not staying true to myself.

What about you?  (I’m sure you can relate this to your own life and whatever profession you have. You don’t have to be a mom to feel as if you are an outlier.)

31 Comments

Filed under Reflections

Becoming the Mother I Want to Be

When I had Andrew, something happened.

I was tired, I was lonely, I was stressed, and I was overwhelmed.  Ben was working, attending school, studying for the MCAT, and trying his best to be there for me and the kids.

My little boy was fussy, very fussy.  He cried and cried, I cried and cried, Emily cried and cried.  I pushed joy away so I could have room for misery.

Emily was growing, maturing, turning into a toddler.  I wasn’t ready.  I wanted her to help me, but I didn’t want her to be adventurous or seek autonomy.  I wanted–I needed–her to sit down next to me, playing quietly.  Not running from mess to mess, taking advantage of me nursing to get into everything.

I was unrealistic.

I found myself turning into an awful mother. I went from using calm tones to relying on harsh tones; being happy and engaging to being angry and distant; patient to impatient.

My husband’s busyness and my loneliness excused me from improving my behaviors.

Until one day I really looked at my daughter.  What I saw was not a little monster trying to ruin my life, but a little girl, a toddler, who was discovering her little world, begging for me to help her.

How I viewed motherhood changed.

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the leaders of my church remind mothers (and fathers) that we are to nurture our children.

Nurture: to feed and protect; to support and encourage, as during a period of training or development.  (Source: Dictionary.com.)

I do feed and protect my children every day, but do I support and encourage? More importantly, do I support and encourage my toddler as she discovers her world?

I am not ignorant.

I knew what I could do to temper her melt downs or aide in her autonomy seeking behavior.  That is what my degree is in. Yet I was neglectful and I took the easy way out.

I have had several impressions reminding me to use my education to help me parent.  I ignored them.  Silly, really, considering I am often moaning to Ben that I can’t use my degree.

I am thankful that God is patient with me.

I can change and I will change.  These changes will not happen immediately, it will take time for me adjust my behaviors.

I feel powerful, I know that I can do this.

How have you grown/changed as a parent?

This post is (now) part of  “I’m Finding the Bigger Picture” event.  Click on over to see more events!

Bigger Picture Moment

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Filed under keeping the faith