When I first had my son, and he would get fussy while breast-feeding, my very sweet mother-in-law would say “he’s feeling you” or in Spanish “el es muy nervioso” which meant “he’s a nervous baby."
I am one of the rare women that actually adores her mother-in-law. My own mother passed away and she came all the way from Peru with her husband and stayed with us for 3 months. I am ever grateful for that love and support, but even I was ticked off.
What mom wants to hear your child is nervous and that he’s not feeding because of your energy?
I mean really?
As new mothers, inadequacy comes with job. An experienced Mama telling you “you are doing it wrong” is like putting vinegar in a really open wound. It hurts.
Doesn’t matter if you are breastfeeding, potty training, or teaching your kid to read, some how, it feels like your self-worth is directly linked to your child’s performance.
So when your child is hurting or not “normal, where the other kids are” it can feel like you are royally F’n up.
Which is pretty much how I felt my whole first year of motherhood.
It felt like no one was going through the challenges that I was going through, some how my situation was different. Especially, since I had a preemie.
When I finally went back to work after 6 months, yes that long and with 3 months of grandparents and a stay-at-home dad for child care (don’t hate me), I still felt over-whelmed, under supported and really off.
Now if I was feeling that way, I cannot even imagine what some of you mamas are feeling.
It got so uncomfortable that I finally put down my cape and asked for some help.
I went to see a life coach about my career because that’s what I thought was the biggest problem. My job was a big source of my un-happiness. The truth is, it takes a lot of your time and energy trying to juggle pumping, being a wife and a career woman, it felt pretty impossible and unsatisfying.
The minute I asked for help a lot happened, I actually quit my job, as the breadwinning super overachieving professor and I didn’t do it to have more time for my son. In fact, we put him in daycare 3 days a week and my husband started to work. Our income was a lot less and I chose to invest in housekeeping and parking (we lived in NYC.)
I will save you the details and time and money.
Here is the short of it, my mother-in-law was right.
I’m sure a sentence that can feel like nails scratching on a chalkboard.
People were feeling me. Life was feeling me.
I was depleted and didn’t have the esteem to believe it was okay to need more help and time for myself. I had no models for mothers that really nurtured themselves.
If there is anything that you take away from this awesome blog (yes I did just say that) it’s that: your unhappiness is causing a lot of unhappiness in your life.
Just take that in. It’s Big.
I know, a lot for a first blog. But this is why, I am going there.
I am on a mission to help you to be a happy mama because this is the key to a flourishing family.
After intense self-investment to “fix” myself so that I didn’t mess up my son’s life, I realized it was because I did not want him to go through what I went through.
Honestly, this is what drives most mothers; we try to protect them from our own pain.
It’s a brilliant theory but unfortunately it doesn’t work because our children are not mini-me’s (I know gasp). Their personality, environments and life lessons are not the same as ours.
I grew up with an unhappy mother and I didn’t know this until I went on my fixing journey. As an empathetic kid I really felt her pain and I took responsibility for it.
I tried everything (unknowingly) to be the daughter that would make her happy, because I loved her so much, and I hated seeing her in pain. I even chose my career, which I realized 17 years later, was, her dream, not mine.
My story is not uncommon.
Daughters in particular feel their moms and will try to compensate for a life unlived. Sons will try to be the support that the mother never had.
Either way, the child does not live their own life if they are nursing their mothers wounds.
You are a wonderful mom to want them to grow up healthy, thriving and have a good childhood. The most effective way to do that is to be happy yourself.
This can feel really selfish because it may mean that you need more support, nurturance, self-investment and time to yourself and “your family needs you.”
This is true.
They need YOU, not what you do for them.
All profound journeys start with one step.
So what’s one baby step (yes pun intended) that feels self-indulgent (yes you read right) can you take for yourself without justification?
IDEAS (depending on your selfish tolerance these may seem small or big so I will give a variety of options)
Allowing your partner to give the kids a bath.
A latte or treat without an ounce of guilt.
Take a long bubble bath while your kid watches TV (age appropriate)
Say No to a request without giving an explanation
Invest in a course, class, workshop just for fun or inner-peace (painting, yoga, coaching, meditation)
Erase some items on your to-do list (especially if they are for others)
Ask a friend or partner to watch your baby/ies for even just 30 mins to indulge in a book, nap, or something else pleasurable (not work/cleaning)
Take a nurturing getaway/retreat just for yourself.
Join a gym that has child care
I leave you with this oh so mighty quote that I am not sure where I got from even though I want to give credit where credit is due (if you know the source please message me.)
"Love yourself, you’re worth it. The ripple effect of self-love is generations of your children to come to be whole, fulfilled and complete.”
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