Really, there are no words.
Real Relationship Advice
As a therapist, I view life a little skewed. I see obstacles or people who annoy me as opportunities for personal growth and bad days as challenges to find what the deeper meaning is. This is not to be confused with being a Pollyanna, wearing rose colored glasses. It is much like the idea of searching for the silver lining.
Having kids is a great opportunity for personal development. Kids are a great mirror to show us how others perceive us. Our kids do not just have a genetic link to us but also are a great projection of our personality. Yes, that same personality where we like some parts and cringe at others. A great example of this is our friend Jessica Rosenberg from It’s Jessica’s Life. She says, “I knew I was in trouble when my kid crossed her arms, looked up at me and said ‘you can’t MAKE me tell her’ when I told her I was going to make her explain to her teacher how she lost her book. She is 5. Parenting your mini-me is a bitch every day because you constantly want to strangle her and give her mental ‘you go girl’ high fives. Sigh.”
Sometimes those very things about our kids that we butt heads on are the very parts of our own personality that we don’t necessarily like. For example, few parents like stubborn children but the reality is that that stubborness comes from somewhere. They witnessed it and have seen that it works for Mom/Dad! It becomes a battle of wills. Your offspring is acting just like you. Here lies the opportunity; dealing with your miniature doppelganger is a true test of growth!
Trust me, I have three kids; two biological and one adopted. The adopted child says things that I swear are verbatim silly things I have said in the past. My boys are a strange amalgam of me and Paul. All three have a way of showing us on a daily basis the ways of being we are currently working on. For example: Our middle child is extremely bright. No, this isn’t parent folly, he has been tested. Recently we noticed that his multiplication tables were lacking. He could do some with difficulty but did not have them memorized. Since he is already past that in Math and is studying probability in the third grade, we suggested he take some time every day and brush up on his multiplications. His reaction was to cry. Why the tears? He thinks he should know everything by now. He feels he is failing.
Now, I don’t know about you but perfectionism is a nasty virus in our home and we need to remind each other almost like sober coaches to let things go. Excellence is not perfection. His behavior and reaction to needing to ‘slow down’ was seen and felt like a failure. Perfect people don’t slow down! Now, in the case of this certain dysfunction, I take the lead because this reeks of me. The need for speed and winning is a Mommy issue, so Daddy is spared (unless he comes up with ‘I’m not doing enough’ then it’s all Paul).
So, yeah, the blessing of a child is not just the smiles and frustrations but also the challenges to our own ways of being. Kids: they keep us awake at night, exhausted throughout the day running around and then thinking constantly about how we are failing them or not being enough. Isn’t parenting fun!
Real Relationship Advice
Postpartum Depression is very real. My own experience pales at what I have seen as a clinician. My experience of PPD occurred after my last baby. I had no feelings of joy or happiness. I was terrified every moment of every day. The thoughts that ran through my head went from the typical parental fears to such severe perseverations of death and dismemberment that I feared being alone with the baby. Some women are blessed to never go through this. Some women go through milder forms of PPD and some even worse.
If you are pregnant, know the signs.
If you think you are experiencing Postpartum Depression, reach out now. Tell your family. Call your OB GYN. You are not alone.
Real Relationship Advice
I know this will come as a shock but sometimes babies are made accidentally or even show up as a surprise. Even if they are planned, some parents are terrified. That is completely normal. In fact, I worry if a person feels no fear when they are going to have a baby. The prospect of becoming a parent is daunting and to feign being calm or completely at peace with this is crazy. Heck, even when you have kids you go through terror at least once a year! What are some of the prospects of parenthood that should scare the crap out of you?
No, we are not saying to be terrified of childbirth. We are saying you should be prepared. It isn’t easy. And then again, for some, it is a breeze. Whatever the case, be prepared. Don’t go into it thinking it has to look a certain way. Many a woman gets hung up on the idea of natural vs. c-section vs. no drugs vs. no pain vs. no v-bac vs. water birth vs. silent birth vs. hospital vs. midwife…. Whatever fantasy you have in your head about giving birth, get rid of it. The baby will come when it wants in the way it wants even if you schedule a c-section. We have known too many women who get all hung up on these ideas and forget the purpose of birth is to have a healthy baby.
2. The baby is crying:
The first time your baby cries for no apparent reason you will remember this. You will get scared. Your brain will rifle through every disease and terrible bacteria before settling on colic or ear ache or even just the baby is hot or uncomfortable.
3. Waiting for results:
The hardest part of an amnio or CVS is not the discomfort or fear of losing the baby. It is the 2 weeks you have to wait to find out if your baby is O.K.. That fear is unprecedented. You have never felt this before since you have never been responsible for the life of another human being.
4. Will you be enough?
If a parent tells you they have never questioned this, they are liars. A parent will always wonder if they are doing a good job or are they up to the challenge. You would be surprised at what you can do.
5. First boyfriend/girlfriend/bully:
You would be amazed at how angry you can become when someone does anything to your cubs…I mean babies. The image of a grizzly is not a silly reference to Sarah Palin but a real inflamed reaction to a threat to your child. The first time it happens you will feel so much anger that you can see why someone can murder.
So, it’s O.K. to be afraid as long as it doesn’t transfer to your kids. That is the worse.
Real Relationship Advice
When a couple decides to have a baby there is so much to do. Yes, making the baby is the obvious first step but even before that, you should be mentally preparing for a child. Here is a mental checklist a couple should go through before even contemplating making a baby:
1. Is your relationship strong enough to handle a constant interruption?
You know those days of lounging in bed all day or going out to eat after 9pm because you decided to take a nap and then fool around but who care because you’re adults and no one can tell you what to do? Yeah, those days are gone. Now, this does not mean you won’t get to go out. It just means you need to rethink what fun is and reschedule couple time.
2. How will you parent?
How will you discipline your kids? A united front is the most important aspect of parenting, next to consistency. Also, how will you deal with your respective families when they decide to ‘give you advice’? What are the rules?
3. What if your child needs extra assistance?
None of us expect to have a special needs child. When it happens, the stressors have destroyed the best of marriages. Being prepared is the best weapon you have against the unexpected.
Who will pick up the kid? Who will be responsible for taking care of the children while the other works or will you both work? If so, who will care for the baby? Who is ultimately the one who will handle these issues? You can say that you will share the duty but that usually is not realistic. One of you steps up or somehow gets the job by default. If you are honest about it from the beginning then one of you can make the choice thus resentment is thwarted. Paul and I have always shared all duties but when it comes to babysitting and stuff like that, I am the boss.
5. Why are you having a baby?
There are plenty of channels on cable to keep you entertained. There are great games on the Wii or computer to occupy your time. Why have a baby? So many couples neglect to discuss this crucial topic.
If you can get passed these questions, come back tomorrow for more baby stuff.