motherhood

Circling Up: How to Create a Mother/Daughter Circle

It’s simply a fact: studies and common sense show us that continuing to connect with kids in all stages of their lives leads to: healthy relationships, better boundaries, greater self-confidence and a more connected family.

However, as a society this transition/teen phase of life is when we see so much disconnection.

Throughout the early years of pregnancy and toddler hood many of us have access to a new community: pregnancy classes, mom groups of all different shapes and sizes, music classes, mops etc. We share our exhaustion, our embarrassing stories about how Tommy bit Jimmy, or what to do about teething, sleeping, temper tantrums and discipline. However, as the kids get older, enter school and all of the other activities and adult commitments, we begin to split. Many of us become ships passing at pick up and drop off with a nice hello and I gotta go.

Here we are entering into a BIG transition phase of life the tween/teen and we are without community.

There is no one meeting to talk about the teen temper tantrums or “bad” choices. Many of us even hide those things out of a fear that our tween’s choices are a reflection of bad parenting. We are lost at sea, as we deal with bigger issues that many of us didn’t receive guidance on even when we were teen ourselves. How to talk about: sex, puberty, what boundaries to lift and what to stick with, how to talk about social media, what about pornography? All of this on top of jobs, driving around to this game and that activity, your own social life and relationship to a loved one, not to mention any downtime and self care.

So what do we do?

We circle up! We gather a circle of people who are intentionally coming together to surround the younger ones as they grow. A circle for support, questions, connection and to show you your way back when it seems so very hard.

Studies have shown is that it is thru connection and parental involvement, parent’s “leaning in” that teens are able to develop healthy boundaries, less eating disorders, good communication and less risky behaviors. Due to the natural focus shift from family to peers that happens during individuation, adults can circle up around them and maintain the connection while providing influence through others. This offers a safe and fun place to be while talking about important topics that they are dealing with.

I do want to say YES it takes commitment and YES it is another “to do” and one that is easy to want to put to the bottom of the list, just as we do with self-care. However, caring for these relationships in this intentional way in the end helps EVERY AREA of our and theirs.

In the end the time that we put in and intention that we put in makes everything EASIER!

The how to:

  1. Put the call out: It’s pretty obvious that you need to start by finding the community that you wish to surround yourself with. Will it be your daughter’s best friends from school? A random group that you find by putting it out on meetup.com or some other connecting service? Or even a combination of the two. What age group?

    Suggestion: You can’t start a group to young!!! In fact it is easier to start a group BEFORE middle school, as the girls are less resistant and haven’t entered into the bigger transition phases. Of course you can and should start a group for older girls if that is the phase you are at! The big suggestion is to keep the age groups tight, meaning if you are doing a younger group than do a younger group only. 8-13 is to wide of an age gap, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13 are good ranges.

  2. Meet as moms FIRST and for a few months: In order to make this a circle that will be long lasting, it is good to come together as moms first and for a few months. You will need to set “ground rules” including: the tone, the where, the who, the flow for the group. You will want to talk about how you are going to handle group group dynamics and what each individual mom’s strengths are. You will want to decide who will lead or if you will spilt it up. Who is the main point person to gather everyone up? Setting up a group with a solid foundation will help with the longevity.

    Suggestion: Map out an entire year “plan” dates/times/locations, as well as topics that maybe covered inter mixed with fun meetings filled with art work or other fun activities for everyone. It is nice to have a theme for the year based on the girls development and build upon that theme in each gathering.

  3. Bring in the girls: Once you feel that you have met enough to set up the foundation of your group as moms, it’s time to invite the girls. You will want to create some sort of ceremony or intention setting activity with the girls as they enter this new space. They need to “get” what this is all about. Share with them that the time together will be fun and that there maybe time for seriousness as well; that it is a safe place to be together. For the first few meetings you will want to keep it light and fun. Of course for girls that don’t know each other you will want to do fun, bonding activities.

  4. Moving Forward: As you continue along the journey together, I suggest regular mom’s only meetings. To support each other as you are going through this phase in your child’s life. There maybe times where a mom/daughter relationship is struggling and gathering together without the girls to feel heard and supported will help. It requires a lot of vulnerability and showing up and through this is how we are able to keep on being opening and leaning into the relationships that matter to us.

I am always available to help out with questions or ideas for mother/daughter groups. If you would like to connect further simply reach out!

I was a really good mom before I had kids

Ever since baby #2 arrived over 10 years ago I have had this desire to write a book called, "I was a really good mom before I had kids".  It was going to be filled with funny stories and anecdotes that I have heard mothers tell over the decade and a half of being a mom and midwife.  I love to joke about motherhood because, well when you nurse, are pregnant or have a toddler for almost 14 years STRAIGHT, a little humor is needed.

Before having kids I worked as a midwife, a nanny, a teacher, and several different programs with teens.  I love kids and was always great with them.  Moms would come up to me and ask me how I got their children to behave so well, to sleep so well, to act so different than they do with them.  I thought I was amazing; that I had a super power with kids and parenting was going to be E.A.S.Y for me, and then I had kids of my own.  Mine didn't (and still don't) sleep, they have been known to hit each other, through tantrums in the middle of a store, yell.... you get it.  For a few years I would  beat myself up about these things.  I wasn't doing it right, I couldn't figure it out, I wasn't a good mom, I had to try some new thing or book.  After baby #3 I realized, the things that they do, DOES NOT make me a bad mom or make them bad kids, it just makes us all human. We are all learning and growing and that is NORMAL!

What I really wished I would have know BEFORE having kids is this

1.  They don't come with instruction manuals.  Yeah, I actually did know this but I thought if I read every book on the subject that would substitute.  It doesn't.  They are each unique and changing it up ALL THE TIME!!!  Your intuition and connection to them is KEY and even then, YOU WILL MESS IT ALL UP sometimes.

2. Putting your oxygen mask on first SHOULD NOT just be a cute saying you hear but don't honor.  We can all 'yes but' our way out of taking care of ourselves but parenting is a LONG HAUL and as much as we want to pour it all into those little bundles; if we don't pour it into us and recharge first we get burned out, overwhelmed and stressed!

3. Earplugs are THE BEST present anyone can give you.  Forget cute baby clothes or the latest contraption; earplugs are where it's at.  Not so that you ignore them!!!  So that the sensory overload isn't how you react to them.  Kids are loud, they are suppose to be loud, inside voice are great but for me the glee filled giggling of 4 kids is enough to send me over the edge. 

4. Your heart will be pulled and tugged in a million directions.  You want to do the best for them, to give them all you can but you can't and that's okay.  

5.  You will mess up....a lot.  Don't judge yourself or other moms.  Acknowledge your mistakes, say your sorries and truly love on you and other moms

6.  It's easy to be on the outside looking in; to offer advice, criticize, judge.  What we all really need is someone to hear us and laugh, love and tell us that we aren't alone.  We all struggle in some ways as parents and humans.  #adultingishard

7.  You may never sleep through the night again.  Although I am told that this may just be a phenomenon in my house.  

8.  If you let them, your kids will help you transform in ways you never knew were needed or possible.  Your personal growth, self development and evolution is spurred way more by kids than ANY self-help book or latest trend.

So now that I am deep into this parenting thing with kids in the teens, tween, and toddler stages.  I no longer desire to write the book.  What I realized is that I am a really good mom, that despite falling down sometimes, not always wanting to parent,  I continue to show up for myself and for them.  To learn, grow and be a good mom.  I define what that looks like not anyone else.

  

We must feel weakness to experience strength.

It is often a shock for people to hear that I have not always felt comfortable in my own body.  Whenever I share this nugget of vulnerability, more often than not I am met with utter surprise. 

"But your a midwife and more than that you are so passionate about empowering women and girls to feel comfortable and stable in their own bodies?" 

I am currently comfortable in my physical body and becoming more so each and every day.  Dang, it has taken a lot of work on self-acceptance, self-love and digging through the depths of what got me to the feeling of disconnection in the first place.  In fact, it is one of the reasons that I do this work, to share my own journey and wisdom that I have uncovered along the way AND so that I continue to walk my own walk and grow in this way.  I know many of the struggles that you go through because they are my own, We are on a journey together my friends.  

A few months ago I met my four best friends for our annual girls gathering.  One morning one of my friends suggested we all work out.  I am the queen of NOT WORKING OUT.  In fact I have been known to say I hate it.  I gave into peer pressure and did it with them.  I felt incredible after.  I felt present in my body and full of energy. In the 6 months prior to this I had been working on embracing my new body.  It seems to have been rapidly changing as the big 4.0. has come, things sag, touch and moving independently of me.  Rather than fighting against it, I decided I was going to let myself and my body take up more space in the world and it felt liberating.  I began to love my curves and undulations.  What the work out taught me was this, I can love my body, embrace my curves AND cultivate deep inner strength.  I have to say that first learning to love before starting to change was an important step for me. 

When I returned I decided that I was going to get strong, not to loose weight, or to be a certain size or weight, not to judge my body but just to feel strong from the inside.  That declaration was met with daily work outs that I love, dancing, moving my body and doing some exercises that help me feel connected to that deep inner core of my physical and emotional body.  As all things that we declare after some time I went through a slump; kids got sick, I got my period, the energy of the house and world seemed heavy and I went to the underworld for awhile.  I was doing a different type of strengthening work.  In the past this would have made my recovering perfectionist self feel horrible, "I can never finish anything, I will never be strong, I can't do it, another thing started and not followed through".  This time those thoughts were seen with awareness and called out for what the hell they are...bullshit.  I went through a slump, people got sick, I was on my period and needed a rest, I was strengthening in a different way.  Now this isn't some fake think positive bullshit activity that I have done in the past.   Just think happy thoughts and they will come into manifestation.  No, this was a complete shift of reality, and embracing what was and not letting the thoughts that aren't true win. 

I started my work out routine again and it was rough and hard.  As I did it, I felt like I was in labor.  I was counting, roaring and pushing myself, knowing I could do it.  It didn't hurt but it was intense and I felt oh so weak and then... oh so strong.  Afterwards I cried and cried.  I did it.   Later my husband, who had walked in at the end of the work out told me how proud of me he was.  He reflected on a conversation we had had the night previously and said these amazing words, "You are just going through a slump but after the slump you come out every time stronger and more present". 

He is right, it's about feeling it when it comes, staying aware within it, embracing it and coming out on the other side.  When I feel empty and try and fill it with whatever I can (food, stuff, busyness) it stays empty, but when I jump into the emptiness I end up being filled up.

We are all on the journey friends.  Keep being weak every day so you can see the strength.  Keep embracing the pain, sharing the vulnerability and being with one another.  

What to do when things fall apart

Sometimes in life things falls apart.  There are days, weeks, and seasons in life where everything goes “wrong”.   We have this idea of what this day, week, or season of our life was supposed to look like and everything is just wrong!  It often feels confusing, sad, horrible and very uncomfortable. 

When things feel like they are falling apart it’s often because what is occurring feels so incongruent with what our plans were.  We are judging, fighting and kicking and screaming inside against what is actually happening.  Of course we are because most likely, it SUCKS!  When we aren’t accepting the moment, we are actually pushing against what is.  In order to move through the moment we must continually come back to accepting it for what it is. These are wise words that I have heard, read and occasionally actually practice and what I know is this, it is so easy to say and so freaking hard to actually do! What I also know is that acceptance does create peace!  From peace can come a peaceful action if need be and a shift occurs either way.


As a midwife I have seen countless mamas fight against their labor.  One of my favorite stories was a mama who had had many babies before.  She was well aware of the pushing stage and she already knew this was a stage she didn’t like.  As her body began to push she said, “Please God I will be ready to push if you just give me a break”.  She said this over and over again.  I stepped in and said, “Your body is telling you it’s time, there is no controlling this, you’re safe and what if you just went with it”.  She looked me in the eye with an angry all knowing face and pushed her baby out in one push.  All was better! Once laboring moms are able to get out of their own way and accept what is occurring the labor becomes “easier”.  Mamas describe it not that the contractions change in terms of pain but by no longer fighting them, they accept and rode along with the feeling and it became a part of them.  It became easier. 

Life is the same way!

When you are experiencing yourself or one of your loved ones falling apart; have a temper tantrum, experience something incredibly hard, acting in a way that hurts them, it is hard to stay present and in the moment and let the emotions pour out.  It is hard to sit there and be present to not think how the heck did I f#*k this up.  Where did I go wrong on this one? Did I give enough space, enough love, enough……   To watch your child go through any hard time in life is like you are dying with them. They are a part of your heart and you feel it all right along with them.

Recently I had such a day like this.  My family was literally falling to pieces all around me.  The teenager had his first teenage EPIC temper tantrum filled with so many emotions that he and I couldn’t even name.  The baby was teething, the toddler was being so naughty and the 9 year old was a ball of NEEDS. We went from one melt down to another and all along I had an idea of what the day was going to look like and it wasn’t this! I felt like everyone was going INSANE!  In the beginning I felt like a strong oak tree.  This is something that I call upon when days become really windy with emotions.  Then I reached my breaking point and thoughts and feelings of the day being horrible, grumpy, and resentment all flowed.  I caught myself and retreated to my sacred space for 15 minutes and breathed.  In the bathroom I worked on just letting go.  Letting the day be what it was and riding the wave.

So what do you do when things are falling apart?

The most common paths that people take are: to check the heck out, to stop showing up and unconsciously retreat, to spiral and engage in self-blame and bullying talk, to ignore, to think it’s all roses or to be the fixer and try and fix it no matter what. There is always something you can do to make things better right?  Yes and No.

Have you ever tried just letting them?

What if I told you that the best thing you could do when things are out of your control and falling apart is just to breathe and let them.  In that space that you create if there is solution it will come otherwise you just keep on breathing.  You may have been hoping that this post was going to give you the 5 steps you need to survive when things fall apart.  If it was I would say that step number one is to accept that things are falling apart and step two is to let them.  These two things are so simple and powerful!  They are however not EASY!  It requires a great deal of self-awareness and commitment to accept and let go as a way of life.  There are other things that will help like: taking breaks, regrouping, centering, connecting, grounding yourself and giving some self-love.  But what if the best thing you can do is just to let it all fall apart.  To trust that there is a lesson, some wisdom, something you are meant to be getting from this experience and the best way to receive is just to let go.

Giving birth is hard, parenthood is hard, life is hard AND it is joyful and beautiful.  It is this and that.

So when things are falling apart, when it’s the best of times and the worst of times stay with it mamas, accept it, feel it, show up to your bruitiful life, and show up with each other.