Read on, folks – because deep within the words following, there are instructions for a giveaway – but I wouldn’t want you to skim over the message… so pay attention:
I was a Women's Studies minor in college. In most Intro to Women’s Studies courses, you learn about an important document in the history of the feminist movement, Betty Friedan’s book “The Feminine Mystique,” and her theory regarding “the problem that has no name.” It is essentially what I described in my previous post. The notion that mothers everywhere are charged with the task of seeking fulfillment in their roles as mother’s and wives and frequently find themselves losing sight of their true self in the process. It truly isn’t a new concept. That said, as a young Women’s Studies minor at Gustavus Adolphus College, I heard the concept, and shrugged it off. Maybe I even laughed hysterically at it. How depressing. How completely unlike me. Certainly I would never feel this way. Certainly I could never feel this hopeless. Certainly I would always be able to achieve balance as a wife, mother, and professional (whatever profession I would choose). What I have learned from this – 18 year olds are adorably hilarious.
Here’s where it gets complicated. I see myself as an optimist. I wake up every morning excited to be me. I like myself (for the most part. Though, I’d probably like myself just a smidge better if I had thinner thighs and looked a little more like Gisele Bundchen. Come on, like you haven’t thought that.) I have a wonderful life and really don’t want for much. I am a firm believer that our thoughts can create reality. However, that’s where I get tripped up a little, because I think with the popularization of the Secret (which is truly a study of an age old Universal Law, the Law of Attraction – like attracts like, and we are all energetically connected to everything we desire) has left out something very important, or at least, neglected to stress something very important. It’s this: All the optimism, intending, attracting in the world can do you no good if you don’t claim your feelings for what they are, honor them, and then do the hard work to get through them. Moving around your feelings by trying to change an attitude, without dealing with the feelings is a shortcut, and will end in a return visit to the same issues time and again. What I mean is, bad stuff happens, difficult feelings arise, challenges occur in life, and it’s not because you didn’t “intend” the right thing, and it’s not because you weren’t “positive” enough, it’s because we are living a life here, and we have lessons to learn, and pain to face - and unless we avoid the shortcut and trudge through the muck like pioneers claiming our land, we won't get anywhere. The key is in the reaction to the pain. The key is in owning who we are in the moment and making a choice about where we will go next while honoring our true self in the process.
“What on earth is this chick talking about?” Here’s what I’m saying: These feelings of not being completely fulfilled are real. They are common. Dare I say, to some degree, they are “normal,” but they are NOT YOUR FAULT. These feelings do not mean that you are not a wonderful mother, that you are not a caring soul, or that you do not adore your family. They say that you are a human being, and when you have to be everything to everyone, something gives - and it's usually YOU. The important part is not that it happens, the important part is your reaction to it.
You all had some amazing ideas on my last post about how a person can deal with the overwhelming task of being a mom; making and taking time for yourself, venting with girlfriends, getting involved in church or mother’s groups. YES! (It bears noting that people who read this blog are darn smart and savvy - give yourself a high-five for being seriously awesome). But how do you do this? Here are some ideas:
If you’re an online type person and you want to connect with people from the comfort of your BUPs (this is a term my old room-mates and I coined in college – it stands for Big Unflattering Pants - we both know you were wearing your favorite pair last night), there are a number of online mom sites. Of note:
These are very general, but it’s very easy to find online support networks dealing with whatever your parenting passion is, whether it is children with special needs, attachment parenting, breastfeeding moms, mom's who have an unhealthy but totally understandable addiction to Target, you name it.
If you’re a little more ready to get out in the real world and find a playgroup – why not search for a meet-up group? You can find just about any kind in just about any area on this site. This requires some bravery and a willingness to just get out there.
If you’re looking for some “in your pocket anytime" support – find amazing resources and awesome podcasts from Erin and Marti Erickson, a mother/daughter parenting expert team who together make up the Good Enough Moms. Founded on the concept that we don’t have to push ourselves to the point of perceived perfection, we only have to do OUR best, and that is good enough (a message that, if you ask me, is real darn important, and comes with a whole lot of wisdom).
Most importantly, if these feelings are sticking around a little too long, or including fantasies or hurting yourself or others, then it’s not the equivalent of having just “a day.” If you or someone you know are within the first year following the birth of a child, it could be postpartum depression, and SHOULD be taken very seriously. Feel no shame about calling your doctor or asking for a loved one to assist you in finding help. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS! If you are beyond the first year following the birth, still feel no shame about calling your doctor or confiding in a friend to help you find support if you are having intense feelings of hopelessness. It may not be “postpartum” depression, but it will no doubt be treatable, and it’s necessary that you get help.
If you are expecting a baby, or have just had a baby, one way to defray some of the overwhelming feelings of being a parent, is to hire help for the first few weeks of the baby’s life with the aid of a postpartum doula (read about my experience using a postpartum doula following the birth of the Twinstroms here). Here in Minnesota, the go-to experts on new baby care are the folks at Welcome Baby Care, if you’re not from around here, they still can help you in a variety of ways, so give them a call, and when you do, say thanks to them for giving you a chance to win an awesome gift:
A Trader Joe’s Cookbook along with a $25 Trader Joe’s gift certificate! This giveaway closes at midnight CST on Monday December 20. Winner will be chosen at random and announced at 8:00 am CST on Tuesday, December 21 and the gift (a $55 value) will be mailed Tuesday afternoon, with the intention that you may receive it by Christmas. So, give it as a gift, or keep it for yourself, either way – it’s easy to enter. Here is what you have to do: Leave a comment affirming yourself (or someone you love) as a mother (just do it -- tooting your horn is cool!):
THEN earn some extra entries by leaving a separate comment to let me know that you have done each of the following:
"like" Welcome Baby Care on Facebook (1 entry)
"like" Keeping Her Cool on Facebook (1 entry)
post a link to this posting on facebook (1 entry)
post a link to this posting on twitter (1 entry)
follow @keeping her cool on twitter (1 entry)
(Oh yeah, and do me a solid and either include your email address in your entry or link to your website so I can get ahold of you if you are indeed the winner!)