Tag Archives: motherhood

Nature vs Nurture

Why is this important?

I got to talking with a friend of mine after wrapping up a photo session. For the first time, we discussed our particular health issues, treatment choices and just our overall daily struggles. It made me realize that so many women have some of the same worries about the impact of their youth on their adult life.

In my short thirty-something years, I can say with confidence that I have had some pretty bullshit hands dealt to me. I have had experiences that keep me up at night, now that I am a mother.

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            my inspiration

I spent the greater part of my adult life in this cycle of pity, self-destruction and an unhealthy obsession with success and proving everyone wrong. I made terrible decisions; thankfully this was before the ‘cloud’ reared its stupid head.

I really don’t like to dwell on the past anymore; it ruined me. It became this baggage that I literally carried around with me everyday. I was letting it weigh me down and I was letting it become my identity.

At my core, I believed that I would never be anything but that girl who was molested for years and whose mother threw her out like the trash when she was 15. The girl whose father took her in and kept her locked up like a bad secret.

Then life knocked at my door and made me face my reality. And as messy as it was, I did it. In return, I started making better decisions and started fucking sleeping better. In 2011, I started to slowly put the baggage down, piece by piece. It is 100% possible to change your own narrative.

Like anyone who has suffered, you struggle with the notion that history will repeat itself. That no matter what you do, you will become a product of your experiences.

I started to realize that I didn’t have to fight so hard to not become a product of childhood. That I would not become the mother I had or the shitty experiences I endured.

Nature Vs Nurture

Do you ever wonder why you are so different from your siblings? Or how you were able to overcome trauma that others could not? Or maybe you wonder why you do not relate well to your family?DSC_8302-S

Here’s what I know, and I am adding a reference for those who think I pull this shit out of my arrogant ass.

Researchers now believe that genes could have a stronger influence on temperament and personality than perviously thought. This is probably not a news flash, but the genes can influence such qualities such as optimism, depression and aggression. (Nelson, Erwin, & Duffy, 2007)

HOWEVER, “while a child inherits certain traits and tendencies through her genes, the story of how those traits develop has yet to be written,” explains Nelson, Erwin, & Duffy.

So what does this mean to me? We are a product of nature AND nurture. It means that we have genes that have been passed down through genetics that cannot be ignored AND our caregivers have to ability to help shape our personalities.

However, science has taught us that the human brain never stops growing and never loses the ability to form new connections and synapses (cells that join together in a network of connections). It gets more difficult with age, but change in attitudes and behaviors is always possible. Isn’t that a fantastic bit of information!

When have a lifetime of experiences to move past and taught behavior that doesn’t work for you, it can seem impossible. But the magic of the brain is that you have the ability to change your own narrative.

You can take what you learned and experienced through the nurturing phase of your life and use that to fine tune what nature gifted you. 14355531_1279686685397836_7803897842245525869_n

Despite the shit sandwich that was my youth, I am not a stripper with daddy issues who is on Welfare with 10 kids; despite what the statistics say!

Nelson, Jane, Erwin, Cheryl, Duffy, Roslyn. Positive Discipline for Preschooler, For Their Early Years- Children Who Are Responsible, Respectful and Resourceful. New York: Harmony Books, 2007.

 

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The Year I Took for Myself

This will be known as the year I took for myself. I really started this over-due and difficult journey last year, but I am making it my official goal this year. Yes I set goals, and yes I stick to them. It is how my brain is wired. Now before you say, “I wish I was like that” read through a few recent post and then decide.

I am the person who wakes up and really enjoys writing out the days plans with her morning cups of joe. Yes you read that correctly, it takes multiple cups and I enjoy making list.

Anyway, I am taking this year to work on myself, do what makes me happy and find out what else makes me happy.

To accomplish this goal, I have to let go of a few things and change the way I think. For example, for some reason I have put people liking me really high on my list of importance. I must have,  because I really do care if people like me. Way too much. I over analyze every relationship I have ever had, nightly. Ok, not really nightly, but I do it far more than I would like.

I am the person who really wishes Facebook required a reason before they allowed you to use the unfriend option. It’s fucked up Facebook, really, it is. I need to know why this person who has requested or accepted a social media friendship contract and has abruptly ended it without my permission. I have to know WHY!

I digress…

I do know that in order for me to keep myself sane and moving forward I need to stop wasting the energy it takes giving a shit whether or not people like me. I need to stop working on this facade of perfection I have built. It’s wearing me the fuck down. I can’t keep all my ‘friendships’ afloat by myself and I need to recognize a dead friendship when I see one.

During our 6-month apartment stay, I was on a low. Let’s call it that. During that time I was forced to deal with some real mental health type issues. After losing too much weight, having a couple panic attacks and bickering day and night with Chris, I knew it was time to get my ass in gear and deal with this issue I knew would surface one day.

Let’s be real for a second. The odds have always been stacked against me in the mental health department. What I mean by this is that I am genetically predisposed to anxiety and depression, and I have enough childhood trauma to fill a two-day Dr. Phil episode.

Let’s not ignore the other elephant in the room. Having a child really pushes you to the edge sometimes. Having a tiny two-year old who knows everything and loves to hide really really well is tough you guys. With the sleep deprivation, constant mini-heart attacks and putting yourself on the back-burner (or what you perceive as the back-burner) can really begin to wear even the sanest person down.

So, in 2016 I have made it my point to get mentally strong, physically strong and emotionally strong. The plan to get myself there is pretty simple. Stop putting other people first, say no when I really want to, no more one-sided friendships, simplify my life (more to follow there) and spend time doing things that feed my soul like working out, going on dates with my husband and learning how to garden. And read, I remember enjoying that too.

My mom would be proud of me and that makes me feel good. So far my confidence is returning, my marriage is stronger for it and damn it feels good to sit in traffic and not want to take my skin off and walk home.

So join in my journey, take some time for you, and maybe learn a thing or two.

 

That was totally an accident and totally lame.

 

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Things they don’t teach you in parenting class

When the glitter wears off of your first-born and you have had real-time to assess the situation, facing reality can be ugly. I have to say I considered myself well prepared for motherhood, I mean about as ready as anyone can be. I was 32, had hands-on experience with my sisters when they were babies since we have a 17 and 15 year age difference, I attended every recommended class and read all the damn books and articles I could get my chubby pregnant hands on.

Once the dust settled though, you realize that there are some pretty big chunks missing from those parenting classes. Maybe because some of it falls into the category of common sense and perhaps because some of it is situational. I can’t be sure. But I suspect an updating might be in order.

Maybe it’s me, but I think we could have skipped the diaper practice and perhaps skimmed over lopsided tits or how a onsie can be correctly removed when cleaning a massive blowout instead of how many men in the class can correctly put a diaper on an unrealistic doll under pressure for a fun size Snickers. I am sure a large percentage of the class, predominantly those with breast, know how to change a diaper and am positive they can teach it to their partner if for some reason they cannot figure it out on their own throughout the course of that child’s life.

Here is a quick list of things I sure wish we discussed in at least one of the classes or countless appointments I attended.

1. There is no “getting your old body back.” Once you have grown a human being in your body it is forever changed. Your hormones may go back to normal and you may even get back down to the same weight, but your body is not the same on inside after you carry a baby and it won’t look the same on the outside. I apparently sacrificed my ass and now get migraines.

2. If you breastfeed, your tits will be lopsided at some point. Well maybe I shouldn’t generalize. If your normal breast size on the smaller size, your tits will be lopsided at some point. Everyone has a champion milk producer. Mine is my right, and by the end of the day poor leftie just looks defeated. And tired. The poor thing.

3. Sex is different after kids, and I am not just referring to the fact that it is mostly hurried sex.

4. Everyone is an expert, except you. You already know you will receive an unnerving amount of unsolicited advice. And mostly you don’t mind, some you actually appreciate receiving. But mostly the tone you receive is that they are the expert because they produced life before you and no matter what you think you know or learned in school doesn’t really measure up. Once you accept this, you can move on.

5. Kids have personalities and everything you thought you knew before hand is pretty much null and void. Unless you are some sort of medium or something, you are meeting your kid for the first time in the delivery room. Sometimes your parenting plan doesn’t work out. I would dare say most of the time. At the minimum, you can expect to make some alterations to your parenting plan. Daily alterations. Sometimes hourly.

6. Sometimes pumping milk is a challenge. I can sit there for an hour with my premium grade Modela pump and get mere ounces will my friend pumps bottle full. I am quite sure there is an explanation for this phenomena but I failed to hear it in any class or follow-up doctor’s appointments, and as a new mom I was unaware that maybe I should ask.

7. Surrounding yourself with a mom village is so important in those first years. Having babies means more time home and more time at home means less time with friends and family so slipping into a depression or feeling lonely in common. It is pretty well accepted that being a mom is the hardest job you will have, so having like-minded moms you can lean on is oh so important.

8. Educating yourself is important. Times have changed, advances have been made and information is more available than ever. I am baffled by parents who do not use the tools available to them. I am most certainly not saying “google” everything, but knowledge is power in every other avenue in our life, why do we not include parenting? Go to websites, books and local groups should be included in the information packet you get during your hospital discharge.

9. Onsies fold down from the shoulders. You may know this. I did not. If you don’t, you’re welcome.