Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Little Bit of Insomnia... On Becoming a Mother

I needed a little break the past few weeks, as some things are going to be happening in my life here in the next few weeks. Change is always an exciting thing, albeit anxiety inducing. I'm up in the middle of the night and have things on my mind. What better to do than to blog on them?

Once I was responsible for nurturing and nourishing another life, the one inside of me, something in me changed. Becoming a mother 15 months ago was not something I could ever prepare for, but I sure tried. I decided long ago, that no matter what, I would do everything I could to be a good mother. There isn't anything I won't do to ensure my daughter was given every opportunity at a happy, healthy life. In a day in age where most people are just trying to survive, maybe my goals are a bit lofty, but I want better than just survival. We deserve better than "just" survival.



Children first learn to love from their parents. Those that have had difficult upbringings, whether it be neglect, physical or emotional abuse, they don't learn to form healthy attachments with others. They have poor self esteem and poor interpersonal relationships. These people become adults- and these adults either become productive members of society or not. They either learn from, and break the cycle or continue the cycle and perpetuate it. Ignoring things and pretending they did not happen does not make it all better. It does not allow for healing. It does not help others move on. Pretending you were not physically abusive, pretending you were kind, and pretending you were emotionally stable does not mean things are okay. However, we cannot expect others to admit their faults. We can only try to forgive them and seek peace within ourselves. You can only blame your childhood so long, and then, at some point, it's time to accept responsibility.

I refuse to perpetuate the cycle. I have spent a large majority of the last two years reading about physical health and wellness, emotional and cognitive development, as much as I can about the brain and neurology, while taking this information and relating it to experiences I have had through my interactions with people daily though my work. Seeing how families interact when they believe their loved one is days from their death, utilizing the psychological training provided in school to increase productivity with difficult to motivate people, even seeing the sense of accomplishment someone gets from just being able to shave their face again, by themselves has given me more knowledge than any books can lend. We cannot control others, we can only control our how we respond. And through our actions, can we shape the interactions with others.

These things have all helped shape who I am. I knew I had to figure out who I am as a person, despite my history, in order to ensure healthy emotional development for my daughter. Figuring out who I am is always an ever-evolving thing. I have become passionate about physical health and well-being, principles of natural, gentle and attachment parenting, and being environmentally responsible and living as "green" as possible. Our bodies are our temples; without taking care of ourselves, positive emotions and mental health are impossible- and sometimes, we need help to get there. Natural, attachment and gentle parenting are similar parenting styles that have much overlap with one another and it is often hard for people to differentiate between them- but each has touched me and spoken to the mother I strive to be. Through parenting my daughter, I became passionate about breastfeeding and have become an advocate for breastfeeding mothers. Also, being environmentally responsible is important for our children- not only are added hormones, pesticides and other substances hurting the Earth, they are hurting our children. We need to be able to leave an Earth for our children to raise their children in, and at the rate we are going, there isn't going to be much to leave.

Though many think that this little world I live in is just my little ideal world where all live with rose colored glasses, and not how things actually work, I disagree. Your world is what you make of it.

Why mention this? Why mention what I am passionate about? What is the point? Am I perfect? Heck no! I get frustrated and need a break, I have my unhealthy vices, I drive a gas guzzling SUV. Those of you that read my blog know my passions. Those of you that know me know that I live to serve others.

Through my work, my mission is to help others live their lives in the best way possible, as independent as possible and as healthy as possible. One thing that many people might not know is that I run support groups for people that have had weight loss surgery. The groups I help to run vary from men and women in the preoperative phase of their journeys, all the way to post operative support groups for pregnant women and those that are breastfeeding their children. The women of the breastfeeding support group I help to run have  INSPIRED me to learn and grow from this experience, and through that, they have encouraged me to continue to help others. Knowing I help make a difference keeps me going. The beauty is that I have made friends all over the world, of all ages- and I learn from them, every day.

Recently, I have been told that I come off as if I only care what happens in my little world, that I appear hypocritical and that people should only subscribe to my beliefs. The thing is, the very people who have said this to me are people that I considered the closest people to me on this planet. It hurt hearing that, and hurts writing it. That is not who I am. Maybe years ago, I would judge people, but I have learned much patience and am much more tolerant than I guess I appear. Just because I share information about topics I am passionate about does not mean I will not have open and honest discussions about opposing views.

Just because I am passionate about breastfeeding and have been able to successfully breastfeed my daughter does not mean I am going to think any less of the mom that cannot make it work, or simply chooses not to. Not everyone is as lucky or stubborn as I am... And most importantly, it is not my place to judge them. I support you, I support your choices. I may not always understand them, but that does NOT mean I will not be there to lend an open ear. To moms working on increasing their milk supply, I help them figure out how much and what to supplement with. To moms that are done nursing, I give them a high-five and a pat on the back- because no matter what, they tried and deserve the recognition. This breastfeeding thing isn't easy.

Just because I come off as a pro-breastfeeding, cloth diaper using, baby wearing, co-sleeping, pro-equal rights, pesticide free, organic eating, free range animal supporting, home gardening, pro-GMO labeling, crunchy hippie yuppie, that does not mean I do not support my friends that are not any of those things. And if you want to continue to throw labels on me, and make assumptions of the woman I have become, the mother I have become, go ahead. I have spent much time reflecting on who I am, on who I want to be and on how I want to raise my daughter. I refuse to perpetuate the cycle of mental illness, I refuse to blame others for health problems and I refuse to let YOUR labels define who I am. I believe all those labels you want to toss on me will teach her to be a good and well adjusted person. That's all that matters.

I know, heavy. I have had a lot on my mind lately. So, you see, I told you I couldn't sleep.

What do you think about the labels people want to try to put on us? Do you think it makes any difference to who we become? Do you think you're breaking the cycle and helping your kids become the best person they can be- labels or not? How about you- are you the best you that you can be?

7 comments:

  1. VERY well said! So much wisdom here - especially realizing that we cannot control others. And the fact that you run support groups speaks for itself. What do I think about labels? I think they have a negative effect. Bad OR good labels. And am I the best person I can be? Definitely not - but I AM trying.

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  2. I have discovered that parenting takes a much thicker skin that I thought. I have come to realize this, and 20 months into this parenting business, I have decided I don't care! Lol. I mean, like you, I had a harsh environment growing up. I am still dealing with that at 41. I suppose I always will. But 2 things have come of being a mom- I have grown closer to my mom, and that has been healing, and I also decided I did not need to continue to try to form a relationship with my Dad. You surround yourself with what you need, make the best life you can for that kiddo, and try not to do the things that you hated that your parents did to you. And everyone else.. blech.. who has time for that? I may be a crunchy momma, and that is ok too:)
    http://itzybellababy.blogspot.com/

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  3. It is not just parenting where labels happen - I have been labelled at work as well, which often made it more difficult to achieve what I wanted. However, you do need to stand up for your principals and persevere!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your stresses of motherhood. It's good for all!

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  5. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Period.Do people have to agree? No! That's what makes us individuals. I try not to force my beliefs on others and won't tolerate them doing it to me. You just learn, in certain company, what not to discuss.

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  6. Well said. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

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  7. Thanks for sharing your insight into motherhood. Glad you are looking after yourself.

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Thanks a bunch for your comment love!