I want to live in a world where parents don’t have to choose between career or family or self; a world in which all parents have meaningful, flexible work, and have ample time to simply be with their families without constantly rushing. I want to live in a world where parents feel fully supported by society and by their communities and by each other. Yes I know it sounds Utopian, but...
The truth is that we don’t live in this world unless we create it. We have to build community, make time for ourselves and demand flexibility from our jobs, or create businesses of our own so we can design our lives to work around our families. It’s challenging to live life the way we really want, but I truly believe we can do anything we set our minds to. So strive for happiness, work less, play more, put yourself on your priority list, and enjoy life as much as you possibly can!
Because really, how many of our kids will ever think, If only my parents had worked harder and made more money!?!
Parenting is really, really hard. I've got 2 kids, 2 years apart, and I'm still humbled daily by the endlessness of parenting. Nobody told me I would have these feelings, but I swear every mom feels them. Even if you don’t admit these things to yourself, guilt may be secretly wearing away at your very core, threatening to take you down. Here are Five Mom Taboos, with correlating Guilt-Liberation Tips.
1. We feel like failures at everything. Whether we work at home, outside the home, or we’re the primary caretaker, we feel like we’re never doing anything good enough. I know you’ve heard these voices in your head: I’m a terrible mom, a lousy wife, a bad friend and I’m so tired, I can’t even do my job!
Guilt-Liberation TIP:Resist multitasking, cultivate efficiency, and re-program those negative voices! You’re not a failure; you’re a mom, you’re doing your best, and that IS good enough. Pinky promise.
2. We let our kids watch more TV than we admit. I’ve finally stopped agonizing about this now that my kids are 4 and 6, but I am guilty of lying to friends about how much TV they watch, and I know the lies are reciprocal!
Guilt-Liberation TIP:Chances are, if you’re reading this, your kids have very well-rounded worlds and have a LOT of stimulation. Give yourself a break, and worry about something else!
3. We want to run away. OK, maybe it’s just me, but some days I seriously feel like I just can’t take it anymore. Last week I was feeling particularly cagey from caring for sick kids ALL WINTER, and I thought, if I hear Mommy! one more time, I’m going to die, or leave, or both!
Guilt-Liberation TIP: Thinking about leaving and doing it are different. If your kids are driving you nuts, go away with a girlfriend for a day or a week, so when you come back you, want really want to be there! (I go away with a girlfriend for a week every year and it’s amazing, try it sometime!)
4. We have violent feelings sometimes. Yes, it’s true. We all have them. It’s those moments when your inconsolable baby is screaming at 3am, or your toddler is having a tantrum and hitting you.
Guilt-Liberation TIP: Relax, it’s normal. Yes, you might lose your cool with your kids, and feel TERRIBLE when you do (been there!), but beating yourself up about something you merely thought is a waste of energy.
5. We’re not interested in sex. After childbirth (or c-section), 24/7 hour breastfeeding, between the full time day-job or childcare-job (SO much harder); between laundry, groceries, poops and puke, I’m sorry man, sex isn’t on the priority list!
Guilt-Liberation TIP: You don’t have to pretend to be interested, just throw him a bone every now and again. Or trade for a massage if necessary. It will help your marriage, I promise!
Before we have kids, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us have NO idea what we’re getting into. As new couples, we look at families with children and we think warm, glowing, happy thoughts. We name our hypothetical babies in bed as we cuddle with our partners. We dream about becoming mothers ourselves, but don’t truly understand what’s going to happen if and when that happens. In the media, motherhood looks beautiful. Expectant mothers “glow”, they instantly fall in love with their babies, they giggle and play with their kids in the park – they look happy! And maybe many of them are, but as a mother of two young children, I see the another side, and I worry for all the moms who think they should be happy, when they’re really not. I see a lot of moms who are pretending, because it’s not socially acceptable to be an UnhappyMom. What about those of us who hated being pregnant, hated breastfeeding; those of us who didn’t instantly bond with our babies and really felt (if we’re truly honest with ourslves) that having a newborn was more of a trauma than a difficult childbirth? What about those of us who really miss our former bodies and sleeping in and having private time and reading novels and having our own identities beyond mom/wife/worker? The societal pressure to be Happy Moms is driving many women into a deep, dark depression, and we need more honesty and open dialogue about how we’re really feeling. If not for our own sakes, for our children – to become better, more honest mothers and role models. It’s OK not to feel all the things the media tells us we should feel. And it doesn’t make you a Bad Mom if you don’t love motherhood 100% of the time. I’m curious to hear from moms about this. How many of you feel like a Bad Mom at least some of the time? Please tell me I’m not alone!
Due to the astronomical cost increases of medical malpractice insurance, nearly all of the birthing centers in NYC have disappeared. With the exception of the birthing center at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, New Yorkers are primarily giving birth in hospitals, with shockingly high intervention rates (see intervention rates on The Birth Survey for more info). I had both of my kids at the late St. Vincent’s Hospital, and we all survived, but both experiences were frankly very medical. That said, I chose medical births because I was wanted epidurals, and that, I now know, restricts your options for how you labor (see next week for tips on birthing with an epidural). But if you’re planning a drug-free hospital birth, here are five basic human rights that should be observed. You may need to fight for your rights, but hey, you’re New Yorkers, so you should be thick-skinned!
1.You have the right to movearound freely when you labor. 2.You have the right to be detached from an electronic fetal monitor. 3.You have the right to eat and drink during labor. 4.You have the right to refuse an IV. 5.You have the right to accept or deny any medications/interventions.
Remember this is your body, your baby, and the choices are yours. So discuss everything with your birthing team in advance. Be sure you’re all aligned, and have an advocate (partner, doula and/or family member) help you stick up for your rights on D-Day.
If you’ve moved beyond pregnancy and childbirth books, you might begin to notice that there’s a HUGE theoretical divide amongst parenting experts about how you should care for your baby. On one (very popular) side, there are credentialed individuals who advocate for attachment parenting, based on Dr. Sears theory that we should sensitively respond to our babies cues, feed them on demand, and be physically attached to our babies at all times (including co-sleeping and baby-wearing). On the other side, we have Dr. Weissbluth and many other credentialed individuals who recommend exactly the opposite, based on theories that parents should take the lead, foster independence, sleep-train, and create feeding and sleeping routines our babies. Both sides of the theoretical argument suggest (roughly) that if we DON’T follow their advice, we will have needy, and/or emotionally insecure children. If you’re already getting heart palpitations, take a deep breath, because it gets worse. You will soon learn that EVERYONE has an opinion about how you should care for your baby, and most of it is conflicting. Seriously, in the hospital with our first baby, one nurse responded to our babies cries with, “No wonder she’s crying, it’s so cold in here!” and she swaddled her up. Moments later another nurse came in and scolded us for having the baby swaddled and said, “No wonder she’s crying, she must be so hot!” And that was just the beginning of the unsolicited advice onslaught. The one thing that the experts aren’t saying, is that thereis no single theory or book that has all the answers. There is no right and wrong way to care for your baby. So take that stack of newborn and parenting books, and read it all with a grain of salt. YOU are the only expert you need to care for your baby. And don’t worry – despite your deepest fears, you’ll be a great mom!
You’re expecting a baby, you’re reading a lot, and you’re getting confused about what to believe. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. If you Google “recommended pregnancy books 2010”, 47,600,000 links appear, including hundreds of top-selling books (yes, you read correctly, that’s 47 million, six hundred thousand links)! New moms, beware. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, and you will need a strong filter to weed through the crap that doesn’t apply to you, and a tough skin to endure the things that may make you feel like a bad mom, even before you become one! The politics of sleep and baby-wearing are the biggest bones of contention in the reading stack. On one side of the fence, you have the Attachment Parenting theory (which advocates co-sleeping and baby-wearing); and on the other side, you have a variety of Get-Your-Baby-to-Sleep-Through-The-Night theories. Both contend that if you don’t follow these methods, you will have a difficult, needy baby, and potentially inflict some sort of psychological trauma. Here’s what I recommend: Don’t buy it. Read all the books if you must (regretfully, I did), but don’t buy into the orthodoxy in any of these theories, unless it really works for you to follow one method 100%. One of my favorite Buddhist quotes applies very well to new parenting, "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and common sense." My advice is to read what appeals to you, but take it with a grain of salt, and integrate a few different theories into your new life as a parent, with a good dash of your own instincts. Because generally, nothing works 100% for everyone.
If you’re having a boy, will he be circumcised? Have you thought about it? The U.S is the only industrialized nation that routinely circumcises boys, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in their 1999 policy update that there’s no medical necessity for it, Holland basically denounces male circumcision in their 2010 statement, yet American boys are still routinely being circumcised in hospitals. Why? Female circumcision is considered “barbaric” and commonly referred to as genital mutilation, so why are our boys still being cut? I understand religious reasons (I’m half Jewish, and a briss with a mohel is far more humane than hospital circumcisions), but many Americans don’t even question it. You need to tell the attending pediatrician in the hospital if you don’t want your son circumcised! When I was pregnant with my son, I deferred to my husband, who instinctively thought that our boy would feel strange if his penis were different than his dad’s, and that it would be a locker room issue. I asked him to do the research and be in charge of the decision, because ultimately, I don’t have a penis and don’t understand the pros and cons and politics of foreskin. Ultimately, we chose NOT to have our son circumcised because we couldn’t find any medical reasons for it, and well, most of our friends did the same, which took away the locker room argument! What are you going to do?
Anyone reading this is probably “expecting”, an “expectant” mom, aka pregnant. She has probably read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, perhaps even has some of the chapters memorized. This term, “expecting” has always puzzled me. What does it mean? Expecting what? Of course a baby, but that’s only a small piece of what’s going on. We all know that when we become mothers there’s going to be a BIG CHANGE, and many well-meaning people offer truckloads of unsolicited advice (and horrifying childbirth stories--why do women do that?). But the single most important piece of wisdom I can offer to first-time expectant moms, is to expect the unexpected. Be prepared to be surprised, and accept the fact that many things about your childbirth and/or life with your new baby will probably not be as you expected. Embrace the fact that there will be things beyond your control, and enjoy the surprises along the way!