Tuesday Tidbits: Parenting, Help, and Early Motherhood

From The Doula Guide to Pregnancy and Birth’s website (book previously reviewed here), I learned about an upcoming free childbirth and parenting virtual conference. I keep signing up for things like this and not really “finding time” to actually participate in them, but this one looks like it has a pretty amazing line up! Making time to READ something is almost always possible for me (though I have a backlog there too), but making time to listen to or watch something just never seems to actually happen. I wonder if I’ll ever stop signing up for them though–so alluring, so intriguing, so free…and yet, then I get daily emails about the call/talk for that day and feel a nagging sense of “guilt” (or something) for not participating and also like I’m “missing out.” An exception is the Life Balance calls Renée Trudeau used to do from her book The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. I did make time for those and never regretted it! :) (I should get that book back out again.)

Thinking about parenting and self-care and help brings me to several other posts that I’ve enjoyed recently:

To parents of small children: Let me be the one who says it out loud

There are people who say this to me:

“You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!”

I usually smile and give some sort of guffaw, but inside, I secretly want to hold them under water. Just for a minute or so. Just until they panic a little.

If you have friends with small children — especially if your children are now teenagers or if they’re grown – please vow to me right now that you will never say this to them. Not because it’s not true, but because it really, really doesn’t help.

The reason I liked this acknowledgement is because it is so true that they grow up so fast. It hurts my heart how fast. However, in the moments in which people choose to make this comment or when it is used against yourself or against others as a way of shaming or guilt tripping, it really, really doesn’t help. One comment on this post says, “I hear the first 40 years of parenting are the hardest.” ;)

And, speaking of things that DO help, actual help from actual people helps quite a lot. As a work-at-home mother that blogs, I particularly enjoyed this post from Girl’s Gone Child:

Girl’s Gone Child: Help is (not) a Four-Letter Word

So what’s this big secret we’re trying to keep and who do we think we’re fooling?

And what is it doing to people who read our blogs and books and pin our how-tos and think that all of these projects are being finished while children sit quietly on the sidelines with their hands in their laps.

What is it doing to you?

We write disclosure copy on posts that are sponsored, giveaways that are donated. We are contractually obligated to label and link but where is the disclosure copy stating how we work from home with small children?…

We have help, that’s how!

My help is naptime (quickly fading!), Minecraft, and grandparental cherishment (one mile away, two hours a day = good for kids, I hope good for grandparents, and great for mom!)

And, speaking of blogging, last week Talk Birth hit 400,000 hits. I celebrated by posting this on Facebook:

“Women around the world and throughout time have known how to take care of each other in birth. They’ve shown each other the best positions for comfort in labor, they’ve used nurturing touch and repeated soothing words, and they’ve literally held each other up when it’s needed the most…” –The Doula Guide to Birth

And…they’ve gone looking for support and information on the internet too. Talk Birth hit 400,000 hits today! Woohoo! Thanks, everyone :)

I very much enjoyed this quote that I saw on Facebook this morning:

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I just finished reading the book The Art of Family and she addresses this tender transition in a way that also felt familiar to me from my own experiences:

What new parents lack most is perspective. They have no idea how fast they are to be catapulted through these early stages. How can they have a perspective of speediness when the nights are endless? It seems apparent to everyone as soon as the baby arrives that this is it—right now is what parenting looks like, and it looks pretty bad. It is a terribly tender, fragile time, akin to sex for the first time. Your first experience at parenting will haunt you in the same way.(emphasis mine)

Yes! I’ve written a lot about my postpartum experiences and I do feel “haunted” in some ways by my introduction to the parenting journey and the process of being forged into a mother. The author goes on to muse that perhaps it is more difficult to parent a boy first (as I did)…

But I had a philosophical breakthrough. Luckily I had a girl first, otherwise it might have taken me a few more years to work through to it. Forgive the tangent, but I have often wondered about the differing routes into parenthood, either having a girl first or having first a boy. Random accounts I have collected tend to confirm the easier route for moms is having a girl first. In part, I wonder if this reflects, as one mother stated, “With a girl I felt immediately in the driver’s seat. I knew all about being a girl.’’ Having a boy first, moms tend to talk about the strangeness of having a truly “other’’ little creature in their care and especially the fear of unintentionally emasculating a son.

And, she takes a look at something that, while not uplifting, was something that I also experienced very clearly in my first months of mothering…

These are, of course, just more thoughts to muse over in the rocking chair. Rocking, rocking, I kept thinking, “But if I am investing my total self in her so that she can take off and fly and reach her full potential, what happens when she becomes a mom, cut down in midflight, so to speak? It can’t be that I am pouring myself into her so that she can turn around and sacrifice herself to her children. Hey, what about my mom—what does she want for me? Was she secretly raising me just to reproduce? Is there life for me past parenting? It has to be that I’m worth more than the second I give birth and the rest of the time I’m downsized to slave.’’ Oh, yes, parenting is slave labor, but only for the opening act, and it’s a long, long play. Once I got a hold of the possibility that being a mom meant staying personally alive through all this, I got some relief from the voice, “It’s Over. My life is Over,’’ whimpering in my head…

–Gina Bria (2011-11-28). The Art of Family : Rituals, Imagination, and Everyday Spirituality (p. 159). iUniverse. Kindle Edition.

I really felt “deconstructed” by early motherhood and often found myself thinking thoughts of this type. I also used to pace around the house with my cranky son in a sling crying and singing, “who am I, I’m Lannbaby’s mama, who am I, I’m Lannbaby’s mama,” over and over again.

The “agony and the ecstasy” of parenting begins with birth. If you’re in the mood for a powerful birth story, here is a triumphant one that I enjoyed reading just tonight:

The Agony and the Ecstasy : The Birth of Santina Maria

 “The natural process of birth sets the stage for parenting. Birth and parenting mirror each other. While it takes courage and strength to cope with labor and birth, it also takes courage and strength to parent a child.” –Marcy White

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