Mom Jealousy

Oh jealousy, you fickle fiend, always rearing your grumpy green head at the absolute worst moment.  As if I wasn’t stressed enough – planning my son’s first birthday and traveling back and forth between the Florida coasts to visit family – that familiar feeling decided to come creeping up recently.  Logically, I know it’s just my own insecurities making me feel like I’m losing some imaginary mom competition (Mompetition?), but that doesn’t seem to help me shake the feeling.

Just can't shake it!

Just can’t shake it!

I’ll be honest.  I get jealous.  A lot.  I get envious of moms who appear to have it all, moms who seem to be able to do it all, moms who don’t worry, healthy moms, moms who have all the answers.  You name it, I’ve either been jealous of or insecure about it.  But I don’t really linger on the jealousy.  It’s more of a fleeting thought that flickers across my mind when I see a woman at the grocery store, hair perfectly in place, bright eyes, carrying multiple things with ease, that I wonder to myself how I must look in comparison.  Messy ponytail with strands pulled undone by little hands, bleary eyes, struggling to find where I last put my debit card.  How could I not feel a little twinge of envy?

yup

Riiight?!

It’s not all pity party, though.  Sometimes I get these “epiphany moments” where I’m inspired by some random BuzzFeed article, convinced that I’ve found the ultimate life hack to turn me into Super Mom or a Pinterest board with the perfect sensory play project to guarantee my baby will be the next Einstein.  I’m full of optimism that I can finally be the best mother my child deserves and the best me that I deserve.

Such blind optimism

Such blind optimism

Of course things never turn out that way.  Something will inevitably go wrong and then those insecure feelings come back.  It can be a vicious cycle.  And normally, if I find out that I’m not alone in my self-doubt, I’ll start to feel better.  Yet somehow this isn’t one of those times.  I’ve heard every woman I know, chronically ill or not, vent about their issues of Mompetition (I’m trying to make this word happen, if you can’t tell).  And sure, we get together for a GNO and all chime in with our own horror stories and commiserate with each other, but most of the time we still go back home full of angsty sighs that would make a 90s grunge teen look like sunshine.

Angela Chase ain't got nothing on me

Angela Chase ain’t got nothing on me

But you know what snapped me out of my ‘Envy–>Self-Doubt–>Repeat’ cycle?  It may seem totally insignificant, yet it was a game-changer for me.  Not too long ago I was out to lunch with my best friend and my son.  On paper he should have been fine; he had just eaten, napped, and been changed.  Except, right around the time when I was getting ready to eat, he decided to have a meltdown.  So there I was, in a restaurant full of judge-y eyes, feeling the “shame sweat” begin to bead up on my forehead, trying to gently bounce him on my knee and maintain a smile as if he wasn’t letting out a demon-summoning shriek.

...basically

…basically

And you know what happened?  My best friend, God bless her, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Hey, you are doing great right now.  We all need to feel validated and I’m here to tell you that you are doing great.”  At the time, I just shrugged, nervously laughed, and mumbled out an awkward thank you.  But as I drove home, with my untouched lunch in a to-go box and my mini-monster blissfully asleep in the car seat, I let her words really sink in.  She saw, as only another woman can, the exact kind of panic I was in.  And she didn’t try to flatter me with superficial cliches nor did she avert her gaze and pretend not to know me (which I wouldn’t have blamed her for).  Instead, she told me exactly what I needed to hear.  It’s not about comparing yourself to someone else; it’s about being told you’re doing great, warts and all.

Gorgeous

Gorgeous

So to all the women (mothers or not) who have validated me, I sincerely thank you.  And in case no one has told you yet, you are doing great.

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What Your Parenting Style Says About You

In our four-part series on parenting styles, we looked at four very different kinds of moms.  We talked about everything from being super-strict (like the Helicopter Mom) to ultra-lenient (like the Laid-Back Mom) and hippies (like Crunchy Mamas) to geeks (like Techie Mommies).  And whether you identify fully with one style or just pick out a couple of similarities, it says something about you.  So what does it all mean?

Besides the obvious judging, of course

Besides the obvious judging, of course

 

Let’s take it back a bit first.  The whole idea for a series about different kinds of parenting came about in a rather serendipitous way.  I was at a local mommy & me type play place and couldn’t help but notice that there were so many different kinds of moms there – moms on their phones, moms hovering, moms talking about amber necklaces, moms “asking” their kids to obey, etc.  And it got me thinking: where do these habits come from?  Are we just carbon copies of our own childhood, mirroring our parents?  Is it instinct?  Or is it a combination?

It's confusing, I know, but bear with me

It’s confusing, I know, but bear with me

I think we can’t help but bring some of our experiences into the process of parenting.  If you were raised never to eat meat, and you continued that lifestyle into adulthood, then chances are you’re probably going to pass that on to your children, too.  Yet I also remember poring over countless books and online articles during my pregnancy, bound and determined to learn everything I could to raise the most perfect, well-rounded little person… and then I clearly remember forgetting everything I ever read or experienced the moment I held my son on my chest for the first time.

Similar reaction, basically

Similar reaction, basically

So what does it all mean?  Obviously I’m not a doctor or an expert by any stretch of the imagination (unless you count my own, then yes), but I believe that all mothers instinctively want what is best for their child, and that may mean something different to each mother.  For the Helicopter Moms out there, they show their unconditional love by being a constant presence in their child’s life.  And for many of the self-professed Hoverers I’ve talked to, it’s because they themselves felt unsure or distant from their own parents as a child.  So they have vowed to do the exact opposite for their children by doing everything they can to be there for and protect them.

Not all moms share in the same upbringing or ideology, and that’s okay, too.  A lot of the more “hands-off” or free-range parents I’ve talked with don’t even dig that deep when I ask them about why they parent the way they do.  For them, it’s not something they even have to devote that much thought to – it just came about naturally.  Though they may tend to do their research when it comes to important issues (like health or education), at their core they care more about living in the moment with their child than anything else.

As I finished up the last of the four-part series last week, I was already wondering how I wanted to tie up the whole thing.  And wouldn’t you know it, the idea came to me in the same place that started it all.  Back at the play place with my fellow moms and my baby’s bffs, I stopped (subconsciously or not) putting parents into categories.  I stopped seeing “Crunchy Mamas” and started seeing the beautifully complex women that they always were.

You are amazing, don't ever forget that

You are amazing, don’t ever forget that

So that’s my takeaway from the whole thing.  You may have some helicopter tendencies or geek out from time to time, but that’s kind of the point.  We differ a little bit in our parenting styles, but when get right down to it, each and every one of us just care about helping our little one make it through this crazy world.  What do you think?

What’s Your Mom Style? Part II

In last week’s post you met the “Helicopter Mom” – and her associates, Tiger Mom, Lawnmower Parent, and Peacock Mom – which might’ve felt like looking in a mirror or perhaps reminded you of someone you know.  Now for a swing in the other direction, we’ll be looking at the…

Crunchy Mama

Like the name says, these mamas are as crunchy as the granola they love to munch on 😉  Sometimes mainstream media gets a kick out of making “hippie” puns for a quick laugh, but to Crunchy Mamas, their parenting style is no joke!

 

Profile:

Crunchy Mamas can range from the casual, cloth diaper kind to the all-natural, green extreme.  But in general, most of these mamas shun mainstream parenting traditions, reject hospital births and circumcisions, and opt out of processed food and synthetic materials.  They prefer discipline-free parenting, use essential oils and homeopathic remedies, choose home births, and highly esteem breastfeeding and vegetarian/vegan/paleo diets.

Well when you put it that way...

Well when you put it that way…

Pros:

There’s a lot to be said for giving your children a technology free and fruit ‘n’ veggie filled childhood.  Crunchy mamas strongly value health and wellness in their household.  If being “crunchy” means teaching your children to eat well and respect the environment, then that’s not so bad (even if that means poppin’ a placenta pill or two!)

Look at the healthy puppy!

Look at the healthy puppy!

Cons:

Some criticize Crunchy Mamas for being too far off the grid when it comes to the extremes of this parenting style.  Breastfeeding your child well beyond their toddler years, rejecting public school and traditional education settings, and perpetuating a general mistrust of modern medicine could potentially lead to issues for both mother and child down the line.

Dependency is a possibility

Dependency is a possibility

Subtypes:

Attachment Parenting Mama: 

Where the Crunchy Mama focuses on physical well-being, the AP mother emphasizes emotional healthiness.  Even before the baby is born, the AP Mama is already preparing herself by eliminating any negative energy prior to birth.  Baby’s cries are viewed as non-verbal communication to which the mother should always respond sensitively.  Skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, and co-sleeping are all trademarks of Attachment Parenting.

A perk of baby-wearing: Adorable costumes

A perk of baby-wearing: Adorable costumes

Ahimsa Parenting:

The Crunchy Momma focus on physical well being and the AP moms emphasize the emotional side of things, but the Ahimsa Mama strongly values spiritual wellness.  This yogi mommy is all about bringing up socially conscious children in a mindful environment.  Ahimsa, popular in Eastern belief systems like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, is a Sanskrit term meaning “non-violence.”  Just like Ghandi, this peaceful parent wants nothing more than harmony and respect amongst all living creatures.

If a kitten and puppy can get along, so can we

If a kitten and puppy can get along, so can we

 

 

So there’s the second installment in our series on the different parenting styles of moms.  What did you think?  Is this “Green” style up your alley or is it too “hippie-dippie” for your liking?  Share your thoughts below and make sure to check back next Monday and see if the new post is more your cup of tea!

What The First Week Is Like With A Newborn

Even though it was almost seven months ago, I can vividly remember what the first week was like with our new baby.  It was exciting, scary, emotional, and – oh yeah – exhausting!  I’m sure you probably could have guessed that having a newborn while living with a chronic illness wouldn’t be easy, but there’s something different about once you’re actually living it.

Too bad this isn't a real card

Too bad this isn’t a real card

This isn’t meant to scare you, of course.  I just want to give you a little heads up (no pun intended) on what your first week might be like.  Here are five things you can expect:

5. No Wonder Sleep Deprivation is Used as a Torture Method

Apparently your newborn has not yet heard of the Geneva Conventions.  If he or she had, then they’d know that sleep deprivation is listed as one of the forbidden methods of torture.  Yes, you read that right, torture.  And that’s just what it can feel like in the first few weeks when you are still adjusting.  Sleep deprivation can cause memory lapses, hallucination, confusion, irritability, headaches, and an overall case of the yuckies (not a scientific term).  So it’s no wonder that getting up to feed your baby every 2 hours, be coordinated enough to change diapers, and calmly console your baby takes a toll on your mind and body.

 

No joke I could fall asleep in 5 seconds

No joke I could fall asleep in 5 seconds

4. Sometimes Babies Just Cry

There really is no nice or easy way to say it, but there will be times that your baby just cries.  You go through the checklist in your head – Okay, the baby isn’t hungry, wet, too cold or too hot, doesn’t have a fever  – but still your little one is crying.  Like any new parent, I probably made unnecessary calls to the pediatrician wondering if there was something wrong that was making my baby cry.  After all, newborns can’t talk yet, so how would I know if my baby’s appendix was bursting or something?!  (Which is actually a real concern I had)  And just like every nurse, mother, and grandmother told me, sometimes they just cry.  Don’t ignore your instincts, though.  If you really think something is wrong, then please call your doctor.  But do know, that even if you’ve tried everything and your baby is still crying, it’s okay.

Foolproof method

Foolproof method

3. Now is The Time to be Selfish

As I’ve said in posts before, my tendency to be stubborn and even a tad prideful when it comes to dealing with Lupus and a connective tissue disorder has never had a good outcome.  Sometimes if I bend over, my hip dislocates.  Sometimes during a flare-up, my joints are so stiff it hurts to sit in one position for too long.  And as I’ve also said in previous posts, once a baby enters the picture, don’t turn down help.  So with a new baby in the picture, now more than ever is the time to accept any and every offer you get.  Whether someone offers to come over and watch the baby for an hour so you can sleep or someone wants to bring you dinner, SAY YES!  You won’t regret it.

Why, yes, I will take that sandwich

Why, yes, I will take that sandwich

2. Play Nice

With hormones and tensions running high, your filter may be a little more lax than usual.  You might find yourself snapping and speaking more harshly than usual.  And the little things that were once just mildly irritating are now cause for WWIII.  If you have a partner, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to try and speak sweetly to them during this very crazy time.  Studies show that the first year of having baby is one of the toughest for married couples.  So while it’s completely understandable to worry about finances or to be grumpy about whose turn it is to change the diaper, remember that a little bit of kindness can go a long way.

cam feel to much

Let it out, honey

1. Routine is Your Friend

All the adorable Pinterest boards and all the articles with perfectly-styled nurseries left out one little detail: it’s just not realistic.  When it’s two in the morning and you need to change and feed the baby, you won’t be thinking about how cute your changing station set-up is.  In reality, the most convenient set up in the first few weeks for me was having the bassinet in the living room where I could crash on the couch.  The living room was right next to the kitchen, where I set up bottles with pre-measured water in them.  It may not seem classy, but having some semblance of a routine – something easy that didn’t require much effort – made a world of difference for me and my sanity.  I’m not saying my way is right, but just find something that works for you.  You don’t need to make things harder and you certainly don’t need to worry about appearances.  Do whatever fits you and your baby’s needs and I promise it will make things just a little smoother.  And if all else fails, just relax and think of this adorable kitten massaging a little pug dog.

kitty massage