Hey Mamas: Ditch the Directions

Pssst… Hey Mamas, can I talk to you for just a second? Okay, maybe 10. If you are reading this, it is likely not the first blog or social media post you have ever clicked on. Chances are, if you see something that starts with “Hey Moms” or “Parenting Tips” or “How to Potty Train Your Kid in 12 Minutes” you jump on it like a 5-year-old on bubble wrap.

They are all over the web. Parenting tips, tales of woe, warnings for the masses. My recent favorite is “5 Things you are probably doing that are harming your children”

No, I haven’t read it. I don’t read them. You probably shouldn’t either, at least not without a grain of salt (or a glass of wine).

Let’s make sure we are all clear on this now. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PARENTING EXPERT. Sure, there are expert parents, and maybe you can learn a thing or two, but just because they got their Sally to sleep in a big girl bed by 18 months with no problem, does not mean you are a horrible failure because Timmy is three and still clinging to the bars of his crib.

Tips are great, but when I see something about potty training, or how to stop temper tantrums written by a woman with a blog and a 5-year-old, I giggle. She hasn’t experienced the terrible 8s yet. She hasn’t had another child, she hasn’t begun to uncover the world of temper tantrums. More importantly to my way of thinking, she doesn’t know how her methods will effect him as an adult.

Or how about this; all the coverage “getting your body back” is getting. I’m sorry, where did my body go after children exactly? Did I donate it? Have I lost it somewhere between Aldi and Target? I didn’t lose my body, I got more of it. Most of the women posting pictures of their post-baby bods either have a genetic advantage or 26 hours in the day to fit in their workouts. Kudos to them, but ladies, that is just not going to work for everyone. That doesn’t mean you give in to a lifestyle of pizza and couch sitting, but for heaven’s sake the next mother I know who posts an “inspiration” photo to Pinterest of a 5′ 10″ woman with rock hard abs and an obvious aversion to all things carbohydrate is getting a personal phone call from my therapist. Rock your mama body! You grew a human. Even Superman can’t boast that particular power. (Even mamas who didn’t actually give birth will see some changes, it’s a mother thing, be proud your biology is responding to what your heart already knew, you’re a mom!)

No mother is going to be perfect and I honestly think we are all making ourselves neurotic reading all of these articles on the way our daughters will grow up with self esteem issues if we let her play with princesses, or how our boys are going to grow into violent, confused men if we don’t allow them time to play with dolls (do you see the weird dichotomy there?). Turn off the noise and learn your kids! Forgive the grammar, but it’s an appropriate phrase. Stop looking at all the “advice” and start letting your kids show you who they are. Let them tell you what works and what doesn’t. Give them the grace to be human. Realize they are not just miniature versions of you or your spouse. They are individuals. They will fail, so will you. That’s not a negative, just a fact. Show them how to get up, dust off and try again, and then drop to your knees and thank God for his grace as you extend it to yourself and your family.

You click on these posts because you want to be a better parent. That’s commendable. You’re not likely to find the answers here, or anywhere on the web. Listen to your kids, pray about it, ask a trusted friend who actually knows your family. Don’t let a woman you’ve never met (like maybe me) tell you that you aren’t up to par. Chances are, her kids need therapy too.

Until next time, keep calm and mama on!

(PS. I do realize this whole post is slightly hypocritical. You don’t have to pay attention to me. Isn’t that great?!)

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Attack of the Average

I am writing this post in the throws of an anxiety attack. A lot of emotions have been stirred over the past few days, so I am not surprised. I do believe this fun little side of me may be another reason well meaning folks have been a little concerned about my choices over the last few months. I had my first anxiety attack when I was in the third grade (my teacher was fierce), and I dealt with them every once in a while until a few years ago when, like we do in America, I upgraded, to a more intense and more aggressive panic attack.

Panic attacks are horrible moments where a person loses, hopefully just for an endless few minutes, the ability to be rational. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. It’s like being an indentured slave to your own emotions. No control, no power to stop them.

I spent several years trying different tactics, and by the Grace of God found freedom almost 4 years ago. I was never quiet about my struggles. I am not quiet about anything (except maybe my love for Bon Jovi and Regency novels). My hope then and my certain belief now is that those struggles were given to me so I could help others going through the same thing.

Recently, several close friends and an acquaintance familiar with my other blog reached out to let me know they were dealing with panic/anxiety. We do this in low whispers and private texts. If anyone finds out they will think we are crazy.

We are WOMEN! Ladies, please hear me: after dealing with this myself and talking to countless others, I have got to tell you. You are not special or unique…well you are, but not in this way. In this way, you are very, boringly, average. If you ever took a health class and/or are over the age of 12 you know that a woman’s body cycles every single month producing amazing amounts of hormones created TO SUSTAIN LIFE! The majority of our lives are spent preparing and then un-preparing (again, I fear I am not using a real word) to sustain a life in our bodies. Maybe that’s why Mrs. Dugger always seems so happy. That’s a lot of progesterone, but I digress.
This is an amazing feat, but the downside is that your hormones take you for a roller coaster ride every month or so. Some people are just better at tolerating it. Add this to the fact we are getting extra hormones in the form of hormone-enhanced meat and dairy, and in estrogen producing soy and we have ripe pickings for manic meltdowns. To tie it up with a bow, let’s also remember that until quite recently medical science was made up, almost entirely, of men who could not possibly understand, and you have a packaged picture of why every other person on this planet thinks they are nuts.

Inhale, exhale

Okay, I am breathing again.

Yes, my children are likely to see that their mommy has moods that can shift , but they will NOT see me controlled by my emotions. They will not see me ashamed of them either. They will see their mom deal with it. They will see me pray when I get sad, they will see me apologize if I get mad. My boys will see what a woman looks like, so hopefully they’ll understand their wives (gulp) someday. My daughter, will in turn, not have to be ashamed of, or be victim to her own emotions.

Here are a few tips for the one or two (million) women out there who deal with depression/panic/anxiety

1) Tell Someone Talk to a friend, a parent, a counselor. Do not be ashamed to let people know you are struggling.
2) Watch your diet Caffeine, refined sugar, hormone laden meat, will not be your friends if you are riding the emotional roller coaster. This doesn’t mean you can never eat them again, but give your body a little help and ease up when you feel anxious.
3) Stop Thinking Haha, I giggled writing that. That request is nearly impossible. If you are by yourself for long stretches of time whether at night, at work, or at naptime, you may need to find a way to get outside yourself. Focus on helping someone else. Sometimes dealing with other people’s problems lessens my own.
4) Exercise and God said let their be serotonin. Doesn’t have to be a lot, but just a simple walk can go a long way. Take a friend if you can.
5) If you have more downs than ups or you start noticing truly erratic behavior, please seek help. 800-273-8255 is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. They are open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Even if you haven’t gone that far, but need an anonymous ear, call.
6) Pray maybe should have listed this as number 1, but I struggle to pray when I am in the grip of anxiety. I firmly believe that this is evil’s way of trying to keep me separated from the One who can help. If that’s you as well, reach out to others who can pray for you. Intercession is an amazing thing.

Women, we are beautiful and complex creatures, capable of deep emotion that allows us to connect and empathize with those around us. For moms, this is what makes us amazing mothers! Don’t fear your emotions! Learn to harness them.

And in case you were worried…I am fine now. 🙂
Praise be to God!

I promise, tomorrow we return to our regularly scheduled (non-soap box related) programming.