self care

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.


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.

Saying NO can change your life!

How many of you out there have said yes to something that you really wanted to say no to?  How many of you would like to change this habit in order to create more space for ways you do want to serve others and yourself?  I assume that all of your hands are up because we have all done this at least once in our lives. I was once a serial YES offender!  I by all means am not cured but I am definitely well into recovery.  Do you want to know how I did it?  Follow these 5 easy steps and you to could be on your way….oh wait there are no easy steps, it takes focus and work people!  I can however, offer you some great food for thought and even some tools that have helped others and me!

First of all it is a process my friends!  No one has ever been cured of being a Yes woman over night.  Most of us were brought up in this way; it is ingrained in us.  Here's what I want us all to consider, when we say yes to something we don't want to do we often feel over extended, bitter, or angry and NO ONE wins…truly NO ONE WINS!  Here come the yes but’s…yes but I have to do it, yes but its my responsibility, yes but, yes but, yes but.  Here is the thing I want to make really clear, when we say yes to something we really don’t want to do we are also saying no to things that we really want to do, it's just that simple!  

So how do we begin the path to recovery?  First we must truly want to make the change! I suggest doing this each and every day, maybe as part of your morning routine.  Bringing it to your awareness each day will enable you to change your habit patterns.  In order to change a habit we must create a new habit and that takes dedication and work.  Then we need some tools.  The best tool we have at our disposal is already present in us, self -awareness.  Start with taking stock of all the times in your day/week when you catch yourself saying yes when you really didn’t want to.  Start to become aware of how your body reacts in that moment.  What do you feel in your stomach, throat etc. when you say yes but mean no.  That is your bodies inner guidance system telling you that you don’t want to do this!  Pay attention to your guidance system for a few days, a week or longer to become more aware and friendly with it.  You may feel resistance, just be aware of that.  Next, find yourself a trigger.  What’s a trigger?  It’s something, often an object, that you use to help you remember.  Brene Brown, the author, talks about her own struggle with being a yes woman. She shares that she bought herself a ring that she turns 3 times and says her own self created mantra before saying yes or no.  Her ring allows her the time to check in with herself and see if she really wants to put her energy towards whatever she is being asked to do.  She then has a canned response to saying no.  This canned, rehearsed response will help you feel more powerful when you say no.  You will need to create your own trigger, as well as response.   Ideally your trigger it is something that physically reminds you of your new mission.  Something like these custom temporary tattoos on etsy could be helpful.  It could also be as simple as writing a word on your wrist.  Finally, celebrate your successes and be gentle with your hiccups.  It’s a process, right?!  You will not always say yes when you mean no but you should make sure you keep coming back to it.

If you aren't convinced yet, why the heck not?  Try it for a week and see what shifts!


Getting through your FUNK!

Do you ever have those days where you wake up in a funk!  You just can't fathom the day ahead and ADULTING seems like the hardest task ever?  You want to crawl back in bed pull the sheets over your head until the storm passes!  Oh but maybe you forgot YOU ARE THE ADULT!  You have to get up because who is going to make the breakfast, answer the gazillion questions, give all the kisses and cuddles, take out the trash, wipe down the counters and on and on.

We all go through these days!!!  I have gone through more than I can ever begin to recall.  In fact for a period of life I think I lived there daily.   After a few decades of this adulting thing I have finally found an answer!!!  I get up anyway!  I put breakfast on the table and then retreat to my bathroom!!  I turn on the shower and emote.  Sing, cry, sob, shout, sometimes any of the previous turn into laughter.  I just let it out...whatever is in comes out, unquestioningly of where it came from just that it needs to come out.  Then I start tapping to get to the root of my funk.  I imagine that my bathroom is a magical place that holds me, wrings me out and releases me.  I rise from the ashes to to speak.

The smile returns and most of the time the funk lifts.  On the days that the funk doesn't life the emotional charge has been released allowing me to function to put on a real smile and show up to my day.