One thing that I find reassuring in parenthood is that both my child and I are learning how...to improve our communication...to support one another during hard times...to be patient with one another...to be mother & child.
Yes, I'm the grown-up, and I have life experiences and coping techniques that make it easier to navigate the difficult times. But that doesn't mean that I'm perfect and that I respond as needed each and every time. In fact, there are times when I expect just as much of my children as I do of my husband! And I'm still learning how to balance those expectations with reality.
I think it's important to have high standards, because we might live up to those expectations set for us. However, there's also a fine line between high standards and unrealistic expectations. I want my older children to speak to me in a voice that is respectful to the situation and to my feelings. That makes me feel good, and it makes me want to meet their wants more than when my children are whining and yelling and "snippy". However, I'm aware of my own limitations in how I respond to others when I'm tired, frustrated, hurt or otherwise unable to respond in a voice that communicates love and respect. And I simply can't imagine having someone bigger and older than me constantly correcting what I'm saying and how I'm saying it and then telling me no!
I'm still learning how to parent and model behaviors that I think are positive and loving and kind to others. I do okay a lot of the time, but there is plenty of room for improvement. I realize that the behavior I'm modeling is often the behavior I see from my children. Am I short in patience or quick to correct behaviors I don't like? Then it's pretty certain you'll hear my son yelling at his sister about not moving out of his way quick enough or you'll witness my daughter talking sternly to her brother about what he can and can't do at the dinner table.
I'm still learning how to respond to questions about puberty and sex, issues between friends and problems in our community and world. And I remind myself that it's okay to admit, "I don't know," or share that I'm still figuring it out myself. I often times add, "but not everyone feels the way I do," knowing that our world is full of differing opinions. I want my children to know that it's okay to admit that we're all just doing what we can and that we're all still learning.
Happy Valentine's Day. Maybe you're pregnant, maybe you're holding that new baby on this cold, wintery day, or perhaps you're an experienced parent. Whatever stage you're in, let this day be about loving yourself. Because when you love yourself, you're better able to love those around you.
So, what does this look like? Well, it's going to look differently depending on your needs, where you are in life, your life's circumstances.
You may find that loving yourself means
Happy Valentine's Day! May you be left feeling loved!!
Finding out you're pregnant can suddenly throw an immense amount of pressure on your shoulders. It's not just YOU to think about now, right? You must also consider this teeny tiny being with everything you do. And with this knowledge that you've got this vulnerable human inside you, it's easy to stress, worry and feel incredibly pressured to "do it right".
Before you go any further, take a deep breath...and exhale. Take another one, this time letting your breath work feel more relaxed, slower....and exhale, feeling the air leave your body, your shoulders drop, your mouth relaxed.
What was that about pressure?
Oh, right...pressure to "do it right".
I've got to tell you; you must come to a balanced place where you're not experiencing stress with EVERY. SINGLE. DECISION. Yes, try to eat well, stay hydrated, rest often, move your body. But I encourage you to take a step back from feeling like you must have this perfect pregnancy, where all you snack on is fresh veggies, practice yoga twice daily, and send only loving thoughts to your little one. Because yes, it's good to have a positive, healthy pregnancy filled with these habbits, but you're also allowed to be human.
Because who you are pregnant is who you were the day before you found out you were expecting! You're going to be imperfect because, well, we all are!
Yes, consider how to make decisions that will grow a healthy baby and set you up for a healthy birth. Both will probably bring you to a place that feels really good, particularly when you're just starting out! But women can make the healthiest choices and for whatever reason, wind up with a birth that didn't unfold as expected. And women can have really unhealthy habits during pregnancy and have a straightforward, healthy birth.
What I'm trying to say is, do what you can to have a healthy pregnancy, but don't feel overwhelmed or pressured in trying to make the perfect choice, all the time. Take time to rub your belly, talk with other expectant moms, eat yummy food, rest your body and stretch your tired muscles. Do all the things that bring you joy and comfort.
Try to be in the moment and be gentle with your expectations of yourself.
No pressure, really.
Amy Beck is a mother, wife, birth doula, and childbirth educator. She values prenatal education and preparation as families prepare to welcome their baby.