Tag Archives: motherhood

5 Ways to Have Fun in Recovery and Motherhood (with free Halloween ideas)

Like many recovering women and moms, “fun” often falls to the bottom of the to do list for me (if it’s even on there). Who has time for fun? I’m WORKING! I’m working being a mom, I’m working being a Psychologist, I’m working running a household!

However, all work and no fun makes … NO FUN! And when there is no fun, this is a set up: for burn-out, depression, relapse, cross addiction, cynicism, unhappy marriages, cranky kids, and wistful fantasizing about times when play included things other than matchbox cars and dressing up like Elsa for the five hundredth time.

Here are some FUN ideas that have worked in our house:

  1. Get Creative in Your Child’s Play by Being Silly Yourself.

(And create a Halloween costume other than Elsa or Star Wars)

If your child likes to dress up like Elsa, and you feel like you are going to throw up if you have to be her sister, Anna, one more time, be something YOU want to be! Put on black clothes, cut out little green dots and be a Black-Eyed Pea! (That is a free Halloween costume idea. You’re welcome. You can now have fun being something-other-than- yet-another-Star-Wars-Princess-Zombie-Superhero walking down the block on October 31st). You can now dance around singing “I’ve Got a Feeling…”

If YOU are having fun, your child will, as well. If they are laughing, that is the goal. Little ones laughing are the equivalent of liquid gold. And who says Elsa can’t play with a singing, hipster vegetable?

2. Have Fun with Literal and Non Literal

My husband came up with this one when he couldn’t take another 2 hours of matchbox cars racing around:11411714_10153358823245120_6846648671725484537_o

It’s a Traffic Jam 🙂

Another thing my little one and I have done is put letters around the house on things that start with that letter. You can play with puns like the letter “T” on the Tea box, and the letter “P” on the potty where your little one goes “Pee.” This can be fun for a few minutes during the witching hours. Every little bit helps.

3. Create a Weekly Ritual 

Our family has movie night every friday. I know some moms that have actually created theme-meals to go with the movie: “poison” (caramel) apples with Snow White or Pumpkin cake with Cinderella. Olaf eggs for Frozen. (More ideas. You’re welcome.) olaf

I myself am too f-ing tired by friday to do this. We order out and have it delivered. Permission to do this. And if you are in recovery and not a Mom, if you have a fabulous (or good enough) babysitter, then by all means go OUT to a movie!

4. Find a Special Place to Visit Regularly.
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It could be a redwood forest or a tree near your house. Whatever this place is, visit it regularly to connect with the-part-of-you-that-knows. This may not be fun in the traditional “Hey, let’s have some fun!” light-hearted kind of way. However, it is the ground from which all creative and fun energy arises. Your Soul/Wise-Mind/Intuition will appreciate having a regular place where you breathe, rest, and reflect. Find a Grandmother tree or create an altar in your home where you can be still. This is that quiet place that is under all the noise of Busy-ness. It is the ocean that all the waves crash back into. Let your mind rest there.

5. Connect with a Friend to Do the Fun Thing You Never Let Yourself Do

Take a moment to ask yourself what you really like doing, but never allow yourself to do. Now: create a date with a friend to do that. Whether it be collage-ing, making art, painting, dancing, yoga, or getting a pedicure, making a date with a friend will make you more likely to actually do it. This accountability can help give you both permission to take having fun more seriously 🙂 Do it before you reach this place, because when you reach this place, you are no fun:

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Many Blessings and Have Fun!

 

A Letter To My Belly

 

Dear Belly,

Every morning my little one pulls up my shirt, kisses you, and says, “I came from there!” You are fleshy now, stretched. I feel warmth and softness when I touch you. Mother. You hang over my jeans a bit. My sagging muffin top. I try not to mentally airbrush you out of pictures- the little traces of shame that still linger, the empire cut shirts, even though I haven’t been pregnant for five years.

Twenty years ago disgust for you filled my world. And crushed my spirit. All the self-loathing, anger, fear and shame were stuffed into you. I’m sorry. So many apology letters written to you in those first years of eating disorder recovery. But I did grow to accept you! And fed you. And then you created an amazing child! (Ok it was my womb, but you are the flesh that stretched to accommodate). You grew and stretched beyond what I thought was possible

Belly, I’m sorry that there are so many images in the world that don’t look like you. I know those images make you feel unloved, disgusting, flabby. I’m sorry those images make you feel wrong.

Those images tell you all kinds of crazy sh*t:

“Be smaller! Be flatter! Do this to be loved! Be big and full of yourself until age seven and then be flat and hungry. But don’t feel hungry! Just look thin! Don’t get angry! Hide your intuition. Don’t listen to it. Be attractive by not being yourself! Don’t get stretched. If you get stretched, get sucked and stitched back in.”

I just want you to know, Belly, they’re wrong, those messages. Contrary to what the images tell you, there is nothing wrong with you. Let me say it again as you have received those other brutal messages so many times.

Belly, there is nothing wrong with you.

The Doctor Within and Wild Medicine

 

Guest blogging today is Dr. Marilyn Steele, A Jungian psychologist, dream consultant, author and artist. Marilyn is a dear friend and colleague with whom I have consulted on my own dreams, in mining for wisdom. I am so excited to share some of her medicine with you!

The Doctor Within and Wild Medicine

A few weeks ago I dreamed I was in labor but my OB-GYN, Susan Griffin, was out-of-town on vacation. After an initial moment of panic, I remembered that I had already birthed three children naturally. I know how to do this.

Although now I am laboring to birth a book The Way of the Wild Feminine rather than a baby, the dream includes three themes of my own awakening to feminine power: Dreams. The creative process. And motherhood. I had not actually planned on growing up to be a woman, since it seemed they had very small, boring domestic lives without much power or freedom in the world. But in birthing my first baby forty years ago, I felt in every cell of my body a deep love for the lineage of birthing mothers, and the shocking revelation that we were magnificently powerful. Amazed and angry, I was determined to tell a new, truer story of the self in psychology from a woman’s point of view. Along my weaving life path have been brilliant thinkers like my dream doctor –visionary, feminist author of Woman and Nature (1979). Making art and writing began to root me in my own inner authority, and helped to open a channel to Spirit. My strongest medicine came from dreams. And so became my reclamation of the wild woman.

We begin our search for the wild, whether as girlchildren or as adult women, because in the midst of some wildish endeavor we felt that a wild and supportive presence was near…We sensed the sound of a familiar breath from afar, we felt tremors in the ground, and we knew that something powerful, someone important, some wild freedom within us was on the move.”     Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Because the Feminine has been in exile for so long, we must go down to the roots, to the realm of the imaginal, mythic and archetypal unconscious to retrieve her stories, her values, her visions. Dreams are a direct pathway to this realm.

There is intelligence in the Universe- call it the Great Mystery, Spirit, Higher Power, Goddess, the holy – that wants the best for us and calls us to healing, to wholeness, to holiness. To wake up, we dream. Dreams help us grow soul, strengthen body and mind to house the bigger Self, so that we may bring a new story to ourselves and the world.

We can learn to trust, too, that the symptom or illness, the uncontrollable or irritating or even dangerous behavior has some gift to bestow. Soul speaks through the body. These are signs of a future pulling us in the direction of our divine destiny.

One of the great cosmic jokes Spirit has made through me is developing me into a feminist, an artist who loves science when I had never planned on becoming a woman, certainly not a “feminine” one, and had nearly flunked out of UC Berkeley due to the science requirement. I have learned to trust my dreams, to strengthen the dialogue between ego and Self, and to continue to find and empty those stubborn pockets of perfectionism which squelch the joy from my life.

Some gifts you can find in your dreams:

  • A truthful self-portrait of your psyche
  • Meaningful dialogue between Ego and Self
  • Creative renewal
  • Animal allies and spirit guides
  •  The secret wishes of your soul
  • Initiation to your vocation and calling
  • The playful and loving presence of the Great Mystery

The archetypes of the collective unconscious function like strange attractors in a quantum field. Our brains are like tuning systems, tuned in to our collective memory and our collective becoming. We are not our past. We are not our present. We are always in the process of becoming and we carry this process into being. We wild women carry the emerging possible.

The journey to a wild Feminine wisdom is a weaving way, a sometimes harrowing path, until we can become self-earthed, rooted in our natural feminine sourceground. We are the weavers and Wayfinders for a different kind of world, one in which it will be easier to love.

Here are some practices to reclaim your own wild feminine power and wisdom:

   Welcome your dreams. Take action on them.

   Walk in Nature.

   Do yoga, dance, swim.

   Begin each day by writing three pages.

   Read inspiring spiritual prose or poetry.

   Be quiet for a half hour every day to listen for the still, small voice within.

   Create something, often. A poem, a song, a dance, a collage, a drawing.

   Be alert to the synchronicities around you.

The more you practice the more you can begin to trust and be peaceful, rooted in the faith Spirit will let you know what needs your attention, what is flourishing as well as offering creative possibilities for your future.

 

About the Author

Steele Bio

A Jungian psychologist, dream consultant, author and artist for over thirty years, Dr. Steele has taught extensively in the Bay Area and abroad on women’s psychology, the wisdom of dreams and the essential role of the wild and sacred Feminine archetype in the evolution of consciousness. Her office is in Lafayette, and she consults via telephone and Skype.

She has published creative nonfiction and spiritual memoir in numerous journals and anthologies such as Psychological Perspectives: A Jungian Journal, SageWoman, Zone 3, and Left Curve.              

In 2012 she published a deck of Wild Cards, poetry to empower and awaken women. A memoir, The Wild Feminine: Stories to Inspire and Embolden, was released in May 2013 and recently chosen as one of The Spirited Woman Foundation’s Top Book Picks. A second book, The Way of the Wild Feminine:Tell a New Story, Draw a New Map for the World, is forthcoming in 2016.

For further information, go to theWildFeminine

Happiness

Although she is not a Psychologist or recovered person (those I often look to for wisdom on recovery or motherhood) I absolutely love the work of Gretchen Rubin. In her Happiness Project book series, she researches and then implements the wisdom she discovers. Though the nature of the topic borders on self-help, I never feel “preached to” (ex: You should take the following steps to get to where you want to be) while reading her work. She is permission-giving. Her main truth is “Be Gretchen”- be YOURSELF.

There is no better recovery guideline than that.

Here are some of her other Happiness Truths:IMG_1486.jpg

  • To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth.  
  • One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
  • One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.
  • The only person I can change is myself.
  • Happy people make people happy, but
    I can’t make someone be happy, and
    No one else can make me happy.

I was so inspired by her yearly themes that I have implemented my own for this year. January was, of course, Visioning.

February is Clarity. Stay tuned for more on this month’s theme as I read about the life changing magic of tidying up.

What are your happiness themes? What makes you happy?

 

 

On Huf Post!

Check it out…

Motherhood as Rite of Passage

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Fantasy Island

For those of you who are old(er 🙂 ), you may remember a television show titled “Fantasy island.” In it, there was a fictional character Mr. Roarke who ran an island that visitors flew into to fulfill their personal wishes. A mentor of mine calls this place in your mind “the island.” In this magical place, all of your “If____, then___’s” are accomplished, and you feel relief from whatever your particular form of suffering is. Some common versions of “fantasy island” type wishes include:

“If I lose weight, then_____”

“If I am out of debt, then______”

“If I earn (fill in amount of money), then______

“If I am in the right job/career/livelihood, then________”

The Alcoholic version:

“If I find exactly the right way to stay relaxed and socially confidant without blacking out, getting a hangover, or having any other negative consequences, then______”

The New Mom version:

“If I find the right formula for getting my baby to sleep and eat exactly right, have lost all the baby weight, and am not comparing myself to any other mothers, then_____________”

The Eating Disorder version:

“If I don’t eat any ‘bad’ foods, my stomach looks this way, my arms looks this way, my thighs look this way, then____________”

The Romantic Relationship version

“If I am in a relationship (in a married relationship, could change my partner, am no longer in a relationship) then ___________”

Note the irony of the last one. See how the mind creates suffering? As Oscar Wilde famously said:

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

You can fill in your personal versions “Ifs” and “thens.” However, the “thens” are often harder to fill in, because they are usually more intangible, like “be happy” or “stop feeling anxious or not enough.” Apparently, even in the fantasy island tv series, Mr. Roarke attempted to teach the guests life lessons through assisting them in seeing errors in their thinking or living in their fantasies.

The Thin Ideal

Carolyn Costin, a leader in eating disorder treatment who recovered herself calls these illusions the thin ideal. The thin ideal goes something like this: of if I were thin, I would be (happy/accepted/worthy/not have uncomfortable feelings…) Many of my clients recovering from disordered eating or body image distress know, intellectually, these beliefs about body image to be not true. They know what they are really looking for is not in there. What they are seeking in the desire to be thin doesn’t provide what they are actually looking for. They know “being thin” is not really going to give them freedom from ever having feelings of anxiety or grief or anger. They know being thin is not really going to give them meaningful relationships. They know that being thin is not really going to give them confidence, contentment, or a sense of purpose in their life. However, this part of the mind gets attached to its beliefs and stories. And when one is challenged, it comes up with new scenarios of “if, then.”

Reality check:

When I was never-thin-enough in my eating disorder 17 years ago, I was unhappy. When I finished my Master’s degree, supposedly “accomplishing” worthiness, I felt disappointed. And when I finished my doctorate, mostly what I felt was tired! After having a baby, I did feel content (amidst the exhaustion). However, none of these experiences provided me with an ongoing and easily accessible “You have now arrived” stamp of approval, feeling of contentment, or belonging in life.

I joke with my mentor about this island not actually being an island, but a mountain. Once I have climbed the mountain, reached the top, I will have “arrived.” Another illusion. One of my favorite authors, Pema Chodron writes: 

In the process of discovering our true nature,

the journey goes down, not up.

It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the

center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky.

Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures,

we move toward the turbulence and doubt.

We jump into it. We slide into it. We tiptoe into it.

We move toward it however we can.

We explore the reality and unpredictability

of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away.

If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes,

we will let it be as it is. At our own pace,

without speed or aggression,

we move down and down and down.

With us move millions of others,

our companions in awakening from fear.

At the bottom we discover water,

the healing water of compassion.

Right down there in the thick of things,

we discover the love that will not die.

It’s not about the island, it’s not about climbing anywhere, and it’s definitely not about going up a mountain. It’s about going down, right down into the thick of things, with your heart.

What provides the experience of “then” for me are:

Meditation

Relationships with people who value the gifts I bring and with whom I value the gifts they bring

Being of Service helping others

Making art

Dancing or moving my body

Looking at things that scare me in a straightforward, nonavoidant way

Writing

     I would love to say it IS about the product and there IS an endpoint! Here is where it is and here is how you get there! I have created a map! Just follow it and you will arrive at fantasy island! But the name kind of says it all, doesn’t it? This is not a fantasy. This is real in the trenches imperfect life, with all of its ups and downs every day throughout a nonlinear journey called your life. What provides the experience of “then” for you? I’d love to hear it!

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Many Blessings

Motherhood, Body Image, and Disordered Eating in Middle Age

I remember going to my first ObGyn visit when I was pregnant. The Doctor put “AMA” in my chart. Having worked in treatment settings for eating disorder recovery for many years, I thought she meant “Against Medical Advice,” the term clinicians use when a client is choosing to leave treatment despite their providers’ recommendations. I quickly said to my Doctor:

“I just want you to know am willing to implement any medical advice that you give me regarding my pregnancy!”

She gave me a blank stare.

I explained that I noticed she had written “AMA.”

She smiled. That means “Advanced Maternal Age.”

“Oh.” Long pause. “Oh.”

Being a mother of “advanced maternal age” is becoming more and more common in developed nations, as women work toward completing higher education, solidifying their careers, finding the right partner, and doing personal growth work prior to having children. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports:

Delayed childbearing in the United States is evident in the 3.6-year increase in the average age at first birth between 1970 and 2006…The dramatic increase in women having their first birth at the age of 35 years and over has played the largest role in the increased average age of first-time mothers…many other developed nations have observed increases in average age at first birth with some now averaging near 30.0 years of age. 1

What does this phenomena have to do with disordered eating and body image?

Although data regarding body image in middle aged and older women remains sparse, a study published just this past month in the International Journal of Eating Disorders suggests that body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness do not diminish with age. In a survey of 715 women just out, of which 76.5% were married with children, 4.6% met full diagnostic criteria for an Eating Disorder and 4.8% met criteria for Subthreshold Eating Disorder (SED). 2 Together, that makes roughly 10%. So that means 71 of those women with children are suffering with disordered eating.

And yet the myth persists that eating disorders primarily affect adolescents. Why?

There is a reason why the myth that eating disorders affect young women in adolescence exists. According to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders (ANAD): Over one-half of teenage girls…use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.3 Adolescence is a huge rite of passage for a woman. When a rite of passage is not celebrated, ritualized, or supported, the growth required to complete crossing the threshold of this rite of passage goes underground. Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (2005), writes:

“I think anorexia is a metaphor. It is a young woman’s statement that she will become what the culture asks of its women, which is that they be thin and nonthreatening…Anorexic women signal with their bodies “I will take up only a small amount of space. I won’t get in the way.” They signal, “I won’t be intimidating or threatening. (Who is afraid of a seventy-pound adult?)” 4

Similar to adolescence, both parenting and middle age are rites of passage in a woman’s life. When not honored, seen, and embraced, these can also turn into eating disorders and body image distress. Ageing women also face the cultural taboos of not taking up too much space, speaking too loudly, or being seen and valued. They face the task of loving themselves and embracing aspects of the beauty of mortality, power, and wisdom that western media culture is terrified of in women: wrinkles, thick middles, saggy boobs, gray hair. I remember reading one article on “objectification theory” in my doctoral research that linked media and female body image obsession with western culture’s fear of mortality. Female body objectification may veil unconscious existential fears. 5 Other stress factors that affect women in middle age that are similar to adolescence are hormonal changes. However, middle age women also face different stressors such as: medical scares, death of a parent or a spouse, divorce, and career challenges. 6 Margo Maine, co-author of The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to be Perfect, writes:

Women in their 30s, 40s and beyond face increasing pressure to look slender and youthful despite years of childbearing, hormonal changes at menopause and the demands of careers, parenting and caring for aging relatives…Some researchers call it the ‘Desperate Housewives effect,’ referring to the cultural influence of the hit TV series, in which improbably thin women in their 40s prance around in short shorts. 7

It is an interesting journey being “advanced maternal age.” Sometimes I look at young(er) women or young(er) mothers and I think You look so not tired. Or Wow your stomach looks so not stretched. I remember that. That feels like a long time ago. Or I envy younger moms who are more likely to have their grandparents be present for their children’s growing up. My child will already never meet one of his Grandpas. He died before my baby was born. However, there are gifts I have being “middle aged” that I couldn’t have come by earlier in my journey. I had not yet solidified my eating disorder recovery in my twenties. I had not earned a doctoral degree in Psychology in my twenties. I had lots of ideas and lots of difficulty with follow-through. I thought being earnest would pay the rent. The concept of income needing to match or be greater than outgoing expenditures was not a concept I truly understood or felt applied to me. Because I now have financial clarity, I don’t have to “deprive,” “restrict” or  “binge” or “purge” with money, like I used to do with food in my twenties. Interestingly, though I hated my (flatter) stomach in my twenties, I now love my (stretched) stomach in my early middle age. I also have much more capacity to pause and come back to difficult interactions in relationships rather than avoid, hide, or leave. I would not have been ready for marriage in my twenties. I would not have had the “distress tolerance” skills to go toward a young child and stay emotionally present through individuation-attempting tantrums. I would have been inadvertently shaming or stuffed the discomfort with food. I can tolerate it now. I would not have been a good, or frankly even good-enough, mother in my twenties. I wasn’t ready. I remember studying for the Psychologist licensure exam learning that the executive function of the brain (the part that fully understand cause and effect and is able to therefore pause impulsive actions) is not fully developed until the late twenties, or even 30. Does that mean all women should only have children after age 35? Or that only women over 35 are good (enough) mothers? Of course not. And not all women are able to. One always has the potential to become a good (enough) mother. In fact, the eating disorder recovery process mirrors the journey of becoming a good enough mother to one’s self: allowing and embracing imperfection, listening to and honoring emotions, communicating clearly, getting enough sleep, eating in a balanced way, practicing mindfulness or spirituality, connecting with support. And THAT is always possible and always a work-in-process, regardless of one’s chronological age.

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Dr. Linda Shanti McCabe is a Mom and Licensed Clinical Psychologist who works with women recovering from Eating Disorders, Body image difficulty, Depression/Anxiety, Perinatal Mood Disorders, and New Mommy “boot camp.”You can read about her work professionally at www.drlindashanti.com

Resources:

1. T.J. Mathews, T.J. and Brady E. Hamilton, “Delayed Childbearing: More Women Are Having Their
First Child Later in Life,” Center for Disease Control NCHS Data Brief, Number 21, August 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db21.htm

2. Mangweth-Matzek, Barbara, Hoek, Hans W. et al, “Prevalence of eating Disorders in Middle-Aged Women,” International Journal of Eating Disorders2014; 47:320-324.

3. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders websitehttp://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

4. Pipher, Mary, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls (2005).

5. Grabe, Shelly, Routledge, Clay, Cook, Alison, Anderson, Christie, and Arndt, Jamie “In defense of the Body: The Effect of Salience on Female Body Objectification”, Psychology of Women Quarterly, Vol 29, 2005.

6. Harding, Anne Eating disorders: Not just for the young, CNNHealth.com, June 27, 2012. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/26/health/mental-health/eating-disorders-not-just-for-young/

7. Barton, Adriana, “Are middle-aged women succumbing to ‘Desperate Housewives syndrome’?” The Globe and Mail, March 6, 2013.http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/are-middle-aged-women-succumbing-to-desperate-housewives-syndrome/article578178/

8. Tiggemann M., “Body image across the adult life span: Stability and change,”Body Image 2004; 1:29-41. 9. Slevec JH, Tiggemann M., “Predictors of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in middle-aged women,” Clinical Psychology Review 2011; 31: 515-524.

Myth Busting, Part 2: Pregnancy is glowing and Motherhood comes naturally.

1) Having a birth plan determines the way labor and delivery happens.

Creating a a birth plan is important as a guide, while realizing the baby has not read the plan.

2) Good mothers easily breastfeed.

Breastfeeding can be easy or difficult, and most likely, both.  Good mothers breastfeed, good mothers formula feed, and good mothers do both.

3) You can (and should) get your baby to sleep through the night.

Your baby may sleep at night, may not sleep at night, and may sleep in spurts or have difficulty sleeping. There are lost of tools you can try for assisting your baby to learn good sleep habits and some of them may be effective.

4) Only bad (poor, mentally ill, single, uncaring) mothers get depressed.

Postpartum depression and other perinatal mood disorders affect 1 in 5 women. There is no correlation with level of caring or direct predictive factor with previous mental illness, level of income, marital status. Recovery is possible. You do not have to suffer alone.

5) You can get your pre-baby body back & this determines your happiness.

Your body will change after having a baby. There are various places this happens, some of them may go back to the “way they were” and some of them won’t.  You can still be a happy, fulfilled, sexy, empowered, loved woman. Getting your stomach back is not the key ingredient in this equation.

6) You will be mostly the same person with a few acutraments like a diaper bag after having a baby.

You will not be the same person anymore. Motherhood changes you, in profound ways you can’t imagine ahead of time. And this develops over time. Give yourself at least as much patience, kindness, time, and commitment as you do your baby as you grow your new mother identity.

7) You will and should feel sexy and available to your partner postpartum.

You will most likely feel exhausted, pulled on to care for your baby physically, have challenging body image, and your hormones can take years to re-regulate. It’s ok to include these challenges in assessing your availability for and communicating with your partner.

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 8) Superwoman (aka SuperMommy) lives and the feminist revolution has made all things possible for women to do alone.
Overtly navigating agreements around housework and childcare is a necessary and ongoing part of parenting. You do not have to do everything. Superman and Superwoman do not exist. Imperfect Mama and Super(ish) Papa (Partner) do, if you work at it together. Lower your expectations. Set imperfect goals. Be honest about your shortcomings. Asking for help is the secret SUPERPOWER for parents.
9) Good mothers stay at home.Good mothers stay at home, work outside the home, work part time in the home and part time outside the home. Children attach to caregivers that are available to them. Children of mothers who make choices that keep themselves feeling sane and happy have mothers that are available for secure attachment.

10) You should have the “right” daycare, preschool, college lined up for your child prior to giving birth.

There is not a shortage of schools. Finding the right school is a sorting problem, not a shortage problem. You can take your time, notice your child’ temperament, and re-asses ongoingly throughout your child’s life for the right fit. YOU are the constant that is a safe secure base from which to learn, grow, and be them self.

There are many, many, many resources available for support if you are wanting to challenge these myths!

For a list, see: the “Pregnancy and New Mothers section” http://www.drlindashanti.com/resources.html

Saying Yes to the Miracle

This past weekend, I went on a women’s’ 12 step recovery retreat. It was excruciatingly hard to leave my baby (who is no longer a baby but who will always be my baby, I now understand). There was the mother guilt, something I am familiar with as a Mom who works outside the home.  However, I knew, having not had a full night’s sleep in 3 years now, that I needed replenishing. I knew, as they say in 12-step program,  “you can’t keep it unless you give it away but you can’t give it away unless you have it.” I knew I needed to refill my spiritual tank.

There were other mothers at this retreat. When I shared missing my baby, they all related: those with 7 year olds, those with teenagers, and those with grown children and grandchildren. There was a mother and grandmother; 89 years old celebrating 40 years of sobriety, who said to me “your recovery is the greatest gift you can give your child.” There was a mother, now a Grandmother, who shared the memory of being away from her 3-year-old child and booking the next flight home after hearing her daughter’s voice over the phone; there was a mother who shared about making amends to her grown daughter, now a recovering alcoholic herself, apologizing for the way she raged as a single mother. There was a mother who shared about fiercely protecting her two-year-old (now teenager) from the police breaking down the door for her boyfriend; there was a mother who shared about the almost unspeakable loss of losing her child due to the disease of alcoholism; there was the grandmother who shared about the gift of having a “do-over” with her grandchildren in which she gets to be as present as she wanted to be but couldn’t as a Mom struggling with alcoholism. (Some identifying information changed to protect anonymity).

I do believe, feel in my gut and experience daily with my child, that there is a universal experience of motherhood. I do not mean the over idealized glowing pregnant Mama to be or Virgin with wings in the sky. I mean the gritty and visceral vulnerability and fierceness that comes with being and becoming a mother to an innocent, vulnerable human being with whom you are inextricably and viscerally connected. Recently, my 2 year old got sick with a fever. When I got the call informing me that he had a fever, everything else became simply an obstacle that needed to GET OUT OF MY WAY because my baby is sick and he needs his Mama. I am not normally someone who is described as aggressive. In fact, I may tend to error, shall we say on the pleasing codependent side of practicing expressing anger (though I have worked hard on cultivating assertiveness and direct communication skills in recovery). However, on that day, Look OUT for the person that was in my way because I would have pushed over a truck if it was blocking the path to my baby.

Motherhood isn’t the easy or the lightning bolt transcendent kind of spiritual experience. It is more of a “before enlightenment do the laundry, after enlightenment, do the laundry” kind. The biggest gifts for me in going on spiritual retreat were: 1) No laundry 2) No dishes 3) No diapers 4) No 3am wakings.  And yet many, many, many people choose to become mothers, an unpaid, 24 hour job for a minimum of 21 years (and more realistically a lifetime). And yet we do it. And we do it willingly. Why? Because even with the grit, and perhaps because of it, it is a miracle.  It was a miracle for me, after having survived a life-threatening eating disorder fifteen years ago, that I was able to become pregnant and give birth. http://www.exploringwomanhood.com/mindbodysoul/health/anorexia_fertility.htm

Mary knew that. She knew it when she said yes to the angel. She knew it when she said yes, even though (I would imagine) many people including her husband were saying “Really? An angel impregnated you? Sure…” She said yes to the miracle despite all the disbelievers because saying yes to the miracle was more important than giving credence to the naysayers. Anyone in recovery from any kind of addiction or eating disorder knows that saying yes in the face of doubt and disbelief is a crucial element of recovery. Mary said yes to the miracle, even if it meant giving birth to her baby in a barn full of scratchy straw without pain medication or an epidural. Why? Because it is an honor and a gift to be a Mom; it is truly a miracle. Amen.

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