Till Chores Do Us Part

Every person has grown up being told to pick up after themselves. I know at this very second you may be questioning if your spouse was ever taught these foundational life tools butttt let’s not get into that just yet 😉.

Some of us grew up with strict parents who oversaw that we followed a very specific chore chart. Others had a more lax environment that only required the major chores to be done. Either way, you’re well aware that 99.9 percent of bickering in a family is over who does the most cleaning. We all feel that we do more than we get credit for and each of us are guilty of overlooking tasks that our partners do behind the scenes.

If you ask a mom who does the most work she might answer that she does because she does both domestic duties and takes care of the kids. If you ask a dad, he might explain that it is him because he works a 9-5 and then also does strenuous outside chores. Most of us feel that we do the bulk of it all but we can’t all be correct! Obviously someone has a more physically taxing job and someone spends more time “doing”. But how can these things really be measured? Not only do couples disagree on how much they each contribute, but also on HOW the other person should be doing each task.

I’ll be the first to admit I like control and I prefer to have my spaces fairly specific to my liking. I like my towels on the shelf with the loose folded layers facing the back wall and the perfectly rolled part on display. It is very very hard for me not to reposition towels that aren’t set up like this. But this is what relationships are. Allowing someone to clean in a way that seems counterintuitive to you can take a lot of self-control. You want so badly to speak up and voice your solution but is it always helpful?

Maybe you experience this in your workplace as well. If you work as a team member and you are often told to “collaborate” towards a goal, you may be all too familiar with this. My job position is very straightforward and everyone does their own thing with little room for variance. But I know that some of you have to swallow your pride and let your coworkers do things in a way you would never consider to be the best route. Shouldn’t your spouse get the same respect and autonomy?

It is hard in relationships to fight the urge to fix the other person. Tell them how to set the table. Correct the way they pair socks together. Suggest they alter their recipe. We insist we are well meaning and even the most in-love couples tend to do it. It’s so natural to assume our way is the best way.

And while it is perfectly fine to offer an alternative way of doing a chore, it can be unhelpful to redo a chore someome just did. Not only does this make for double work but it could stir up some frustration in the spouse that catches you doing it. I am guilty of doing this occasionally and I am not entirely sure if Brian has ever noticed it or if he is too gracious to comment on it. Buttttt I try my best to refrain, haha.

There are lots of things that he does that makes me roll my eyes and I’m sure there are tons of little things I do that he shakes his head at as well. However, we are both very agreeable people and it is not really in our personality to make little things into big arguments. We accommodate and adjust to one another the best we can and move on without saying much about it. You can attribute us getting along so well to the newness of us living together but I like to think it is deeper than that. Anyway, here are some of our “differences”😉:

1) The way we load the dishwasher.
He insists that only plates go on the bottom so that the water can easily make its way to the dishes on top. I think it is fine to put some other things on bottom-otherwise we are running it with far too few dishes in there. I mostly just do plates at the bottom though because I know it bugs him and it’s not worth aggravating him over.

2) Boxes near the trashcan.
I really don’t like that he puts pizza boxes or cereal boxes near the trashcan way before it ever makes its way in. However, I don’t seem it necessary to tell him every single time. I simply break down the boxes and throw them away. He does things like this for me as well.

3) Bill organization.
Once upon a time our bills were kept on the counter and then I’d get sick of looking at them and transfer them to the top of the fridge. Brian wanted easy access to them but I wanted them out of eyesight. I think he got sick of fighting me on that one and so now they are nearly tucked away in a drawer.

4) Coffee pods.
He had big boxes of coffee pods on the counter and since we have little counter space, I saw this as problematic. He though, saw no point in putting it in the cabinet since he needed it every single morning. Soooo against my very nature I decided to leave them out for him to make his mornings happier. But in Catey fashion. I put a little organizer bin beside the coffee maker and sorted them by flavor and added his green tea beside the coffee. Now we are both satisfied and nobody is irritated.

There are more examples I’m sure but those are the most recent compromises that I can recall so we will just leave it at that. Here is guide to gauge whether or not you should interject your opinion about how your spouse does a chore:

1) How urgent is the matter?
How life altering would it really be if they tucked the sheets precisely like you do or whatever it is that differs between you two. Unless it truly saves your family significantly more time with each other or money, who cares. Life is too short to yell at someone because they take four business days to fold a basket of laundry. Either develop a different system or just accept the reality of the fact that your spouse’s strong suit is not laundry. Some battles are simply not worth rehashing over and over.

2) Are you approaching them with kindness or harsh words?
Saying “have you ever thought of doing it this way?” is much less likely to put someone on the defensive than “why would you do it that way” or even “it makes more sense to do it this way”. Suggesting they are not intelligent for how they do something is only going to add tension to the house and make that chore an ongoing argument.

3) Always look at your intention.
There is a reason you are approaching your spouse about the way they wipe the counters down. Is it really because you believe a certain way will be more beneficial or is it because you have leftover anger from a hard day. If you are grouchy and suddenly have the urge to point out all their “errors”, you may want to approach the topic another day. You’ll probably find that when you are in a good mood, these same things don’t phase you a bit. We often use tiny differences in how we do household chores as outlets to release built up emotions over unrelated things.

Your spouse is your teammate, not your enemy. Work to find ways that make your house a cozy environment of give and take. Household chores do not have to be poison to a marriage but instead can be something that brings harmony to your relationship.

Cook together while you can, and create memories trying new dishes. Fold clothes side by side as you discuss your thoughts from the day.

Don’t let the little details of house maintenance overshadow the big reasons why you fell in love and committed to your person. You can both thrive with your individuality in tact, you will just have to compromise along the way.

Resources

Here are some of my favorites I have found for pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond.

Books:
1. <The Calm Birth Method by Suzy Ashworth>
I can not praise this book enough. It provides you with tools that are honestly invaluable. It introduced me to the idea of “hypnobirthing”. The author teaches you breathing techniques and affirmations such as “All is calm. All is safe. I am well.”. The book suggests a shift in how you subconsciously view birth as something to be feared into something to look forward to by: immersing you in calm positive birth stories that encourage and empower you and by changing the vocabulary you use about birth because words have power etc. My favorite affirmation to use during childbirth is: Each surge (contraction) brings me closer to meeting my baby. My favorite affirmation to use to prepare myself for what will come next is: An amazing mother lives within me.


2. <What to Expect when Expecting>
This is called the “Bible of American Pregnancy” and for good reason. It covers every month of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the postpartum period. You’ll learn about hormonal changes, physical symptoms, what to expect at doctor’s visits etc.


3. <The Womanly art of Breastfeeding>
This covers the how and why of breastfeeding. It includes a plethora of information on the scientific benefits of breastfeeding and also builds a compelling case for as natural of a birth as you can have. It discusses other topics too such as inductions, sleep issues, going back to work etc. Just a fair warning: this book is highly geared towards going all natural. If this offends you, this book is definitely not for you.

Podcasts:
1. <The Birth Hour>
An amazing podcast that covers hospital births, home births, water birth, c-section, vbac, hypnobirthing and all the in betweens. Whether you want to figure out what your gameplan is or prepare yourself for whatever may come, this podcast has something for you. It normalizes all the awkward experiences that can occur during and after birth that you may have never heard of before. It also takes away the pressure of a perfect birth by sharing stories of women who had things go completely different than they imagined.

The website thebirthhour.com covers topics of pregnancy, breastfeeding, birth, postpartum, motherhood, and meditation. They also give you resources for each topic. Here’s a blog post from the motherhood tab:

Advice from their postpartum after vaginal delivery section under the motherhood tab

A book they recommend from their motherhood tab

Places for advice and tips:
1. <babytalk.birthnurse on instagram>
This has facts about delivery, after delivery procedures etc.

Uses legos to depict couple and baby

The two screenshots below are the caption for this post which are informative for first time moms who are unaware of just how deeply their emotional state will be affected




2. <pregnancy.zone on instagram>
This page features funny relatable pics about pregnancy/birth that you could recreate using your own photos props. Or simply relate to with a laugh. It also has some pregnancy facts and tips mixed in as well.


Lighthearted example of what it is like raising kids

Fact about the way a women’s body changes to accommodate her sweet baby

A cute onesie you can buy from the link in their bio


3. <bumpbirthandbeyond on instagram>
Warning: this page includes very graphic pictures of women giving birth. They leave nothing to the imagination. If this doesn’t phase you, then head over for tons of info on feeding baby, birth, hormones, and pregnancy. This account is extremely imformative.

Touching post about the way a husband perceives his wife’s postpartum body. https://www.instagram.com/p/B4w9tGQnYt_/?igshid=1tp9is43gi6av

Post discussing when syringe feeding might be helpful. https://www.instagram.com/p/BofuoKOla-9/?igshid=q4qjf4g4qlya


4. <prenatalnutrionist on Instagram>
Although I did not find this page until recently and I have not been overly cautious about my diet-this is a good source to have. It discusses what eating for two means, ideas for meals, how to get specific vitamins etc.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7omvmTF5iR/?igshid=1kivbh7zhayw9



5. <feedinglittles on instagram>
This account has it all: keeping language positive when talking about your childs eating, serve pb& j in new ways, creating a bite line for kids who stuff an entire piece of food in their mouth, calorie boosting strategies, repurpose leftovers etc. So helpful!!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7vy6Yfl1MW/?igshid=1x29kyfntnya3

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7rPPHDFnAH/?igshid=vlmdyybnqiem


6. <themompsychologist on instagram>
This page is filled with ways to be more mindful in the things we say to our kids and how we react to certain situations. Examples of this mama’s posts include: 10 things to say instead of “shhhhh it’s okay”, 10 things to say other than “be careful”, top 11 parenting practices to start today, 10 tips for encouraging cooperative play.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8MBMXVF0-k/?igshid=14scr43svbbon

Clothing:
1. patpat.com has the cutest baby clothes ever! I went on a shopping spree early into my pregnancy and bought several adorable sets for Emersyn. Think: boutique clothes for baby but at relatively low prices.

18.99 for this adorable set

16.99 for this cute girly outfit

This goes for 14.99

This comfy set is only 9.99

This is 14.99

17.99 for this stylish outfit


2. minimeoutfits on instagram takes you to pat pat but allows you to buy matching outfit sets for the whole family. You can pick out a swimsuit for mom, swim trunks for dad, and a matching suit for baby. how adorable!
3. motherbeematernity.com has beautiful dresses for maternity shoots or baby showers. Their dresses are typically around $40 but if you search them a few times, facebook will give you ads of their dresses when they go on sale to around $20 dollars. I have bought two dresses from them and a top. The material is extremely soft, the colors are pretty, and the fabric is cut so that it lays just perfectly to accentuate your cute bump!

Currently 44.95 but I got this dress in red for about $25


4. burlington.com is where I got my maternity jeans for $10, $13 and $16. I got the brands vintage violet and famous maker. Two pair I got were more jegging style material but totally looked like jeans. The other pair was jean material and had holes/distressing. Who said you couldn’t be comfy and cute?!
5. Walmart is where I got my maternity leggings from. I don’t remember what I paid but my store has them for $8 right now in the time and tru brand. And let me tell you, I live in these.

Hypnobirthing:

1. <Hypnobabies albums on amazon music> I got interested in this concept after reading the calm birth method. I considered buying that birth program online because I did like the book quite a bit! However, I could not find hardly any reviews on it so I opted to look for something else. I remembered a friend telling me that she used the hypnobabies course and I have seen it recommended a number of places.

It is $180 for the entire program and from what I have been told, it includes mp3 affirmations, birthing techniques etc. to help you achieve a calm and positive birth. The goal is to help you become confident and excited for birth and to avoid unnecessary interventions. Their philosophy is that our bodies were designed to do this and so it is possible to minimalize or even completely eradicate pain during birth by using hypnosis.

I did not have $180 to spend at the time and decided I probably would not be that faithful in putting the work into learning the whole curriculum. Instead, someone recommended I just pay for Amazon prime music which is 9.99 a month and I can get access to all the affirmations and spa music that is great for practicing birth breathing. Since they offer a 30 day free trial, I am only paying 9.99 for several very informative/relaxing songs that retrain the way I see birth and my ability to intuitively know what to do when the time comes. I HIGHLY recommend searching for each of these album names on amazon music: pregnancy relaxation and health, release all fear of birth, rainbow relaxation for birth, anesthesia for easy birthing, your birthing day guide, audio guide, and birth music. If you just search “hypnobirthing”, only a few albums will pop up. And if you are earlier in pregnancy like early on in the second trimester or before and are dedicated to putting the time and effort into learning the curriculum, I’d recommend it. I’ve just heard too many good things.

2. <The positive birth company on YouTube> https://youtu.be/hxzFeISqv0g describes how certain birth positions help you labor easier by using gravity to your advantage.

https://youtu.be/skCJaoFSSOg
Up breathing technique for early in labor when your uterus is pulling up and the surges are smaller. This is when you are still dilating.

https://youtu.be/dbAx5GgYL2Y Down breathing technique video (used when surges are stronger and your uterus muscles are pushing down to push your baby out).

https://youtu.be/_8k24TYMhmc
Explains how birth does not need to be painful.

Nobody told me: Pregnancy Edition

**This was written at 31 weeks**

Going into pregnancy, I pretty much just knew what was portrayed in movies: morning sickness in the first trimester and back pain when you are about to burst in the third trimester. I was unaware of pretty much every other symptom I would encounter. However, every symptom I’ve had has come into occurence so gradually that I can’t tell you a specific day that it started. I also only deal with one or two of these at a time so it’s really not bad at all😋

Honestly, I’ve had a very easy pregnancy thus far. It is not over by any means and I know things start to progress rather quickly in the last few weeks. But I feel blessed to have had it so easy up to this point so I might be due some hardships haha!

Here’s some stuff nobody warned me about:

<<<<FIRST TRIMESTER>>>>

Extremely sore breasts. This is the first symptom I encountered and for a week or so it felt like they might fall off. Yay for hormones! Little did I know this was my body’s way of telling me I was pregnant before I even took the test.

-Vivid dreams. I woke up many days with such bizarre dreams. A lot were fears I had about pregnancy or raising a baby. I’ve always been a worrier but never had so many realistic dreams about something before.

I was starving. I ate all the time and treated myself out to eat a lot. I ate Stoby’s and Tacos for Life SO much. I’m not for sure if this was because I was stress eating and coming to terms with the fact that I was pregnant, or because of whatever happens hormonally in the beginning. Plus I’m sure me not having morning sickness like most people do factored in as well. All I know is I was a bottomless pit.

-Sore Tailbone. At first I thought I was going crazy. Actually, I’m in the third trimester and just found out that this is a real common complaint among pregnant women. Relaxin and hormones cause your pelvic floor to stretch. This makes your coccyx (the joint at the bottom of your spine that sits behind your uterus) move and causes soreness. Not to mention, the baby pressing against it as well. Often women will mistake tailbone pain for lower back pain. I would say this is my worst symptom.

<<<<SECOND TRIMESTER>>>>

Round ligament pain. This seemed to last only a few weeks before I stopped noticing it. I was definitely unaware this was a thing so you can imagine my surprise when a very sharp pain hit my stomach and I was like well I know it’s not period pains sooooo what could this be? Then good ole google explained the phenomenon.

Hip cramps and leg cramps at night. This hasn’t happened in awhile but it sure was weird to wake up to! It happened more towards the beginning of pregnancy and I’ve moved on to other symptoms since.

Baby kicks. This was the most precious feeling I have ever known. The first time she kicked me, I was laying in bed playing on my phone. I felt a small tap tap on my belly and I immediately knew it was her. I texted my fiance within a few minutes telling him that she was kicking and how much I was enjoying getting to feel her. Everything started to become so real then and that’s when I started to fall in love with my baby.

Now I can feel her hand or foot push up and it is so cool to feel like I’m holding her hand if even just for a second. Her squirming at night however is finally getting less cute. Like last night when she kept balling up in my ribs which I did not appreciate at all Haha.

Your belly may not be proportional to your midline. My belly button is off center to my right side. It is as if it is tilted in one direction which is actually quite common. Every women is built uniquely and her belly is no different. Some simply have a more prominently lifted side.

Eating large meals makes your ribs hurt. Apparently a full stomach can push your uterus up against your ribcage-causing you to feel uncomfortable. I also wake up at night with my sides aching so I will have to flip over to the other side before drifting back to sleep. This is one of if not my worst symptom (along with the sore tailbone).

Feet expansion. My feet would swell and hurt pretty bad back when I was still in college. My first and second trimester had my feet hurting more than they do now! It occured on those days were I had classes all day and then went straight to work.

Now I do not work as much and I’m graduated so that lessens the amount of walking I do. My feet occasionally hurt a little but it’s pretty rare. However, they do seem to be bigger. My size 7.5 shoes just doesn’t work anymore.

Sure, my tennis shoes are fine because I can loosen them up quite a bit. But my cute shoes? Not really working for me. They are all too snug which I assumed was a temporary problem. I’ve learned though that the loosening of foot ligaments can be permanent which means I may need to buy some bigger shoes!

Clingy to my fiance. I am not sure if it is because this is the time I started doing so much research and realized how much change we are about to go through in both our relationship and lives in general. And how much I will need him to be in my corner rooting for me through the birth process. Or because I just started getting bigger and everything seemed more real. Or maybe I just had a surge of hormones that made me want to be cuddling 24/7. Could also have been that I was dealing with school, work, and pregnancy. It did get a little overwhelming at times.

All I know is that I wanted him to be in the same room as me constantly. Not that I verbalized this necessarily or acted on it but it was still very real nonetheless. Now I have calmed down and don’t currently feel that clingy but you never know how the last few weeks will go.

-Nesting. This can become a whole new level of crazy. My anxiety is sometimes on steroids. My energy level will go extremely high for no reason and I plan plan plan and research for hours. Or I will clean and organize everything at once. Now that my energy is slowly declining, I don’t do this as much. I feel pretty calm now and more prepared by the day.

My abs disappeared. I don’t mean physically because I obviously knew that would happen. I mean that I have very little core strength anymore. Yoga is so different right now and I struggle with poses that seemed effortless pre-pregnancy. If I’m laying on the couch in a weird position and seem to be struggling to get up, my fiance will give me a helpful push😅. I never imagined I’d need help sitting up but it’s definitely a thing.

<<<<THIRD TRIMESTER>>>>

I have no belly button!! I guess this makes sense that as your belly expands your belly button naturally stretches to virtually nothing. But these are things I’ve never really thought about before so it came as a surprise to me🤷🏼‍♀️.

Tingling feet first thing in the morning. It’s uncomfortable to walk on and then fine within a few minutes. According to the wise google engine, this is due to my uterus pushing on the nerves in my legs and feet.

Tingling up under breasts. I thought it was my bra moving or coming unattached but nope it is just the baby! I had no idea the uterus would expand to be that size. I guess I sort of knew but I was just taken aback by how she once was way down low and all of the sudden she’s journeyed to the top of my body. Apparently the uterus expands to 500 times its original size during pregnancy. Then, about 6 weeks postpartum your uterus should be back to where it was before. How cool is pregnancy?!

Everyone interprets your body growth differently. I’ve had a woman tell me I look so tiny and that she could not believe how far along I was and then have a man no more than five minutes later continue to ask if I have twins inside of me. And say, “Are you sure?! Because you look so big!”.

Depending on the day, my inner responses vary widely. Most days I like being told I still look small-I mean I am a woman haha. Other days I would be frustrated that people couldn’t even tell I was pregnant until I told them because I wanted people to notice my baby bump. After all, I was working hard to create this baby!

Some days I would laugh at the people that called me “so huge compared to what I used to be!!” knowing that they meant no harm. And, it is also a very accurate statement. If I wasn’t getting bigger, that would be alarming. Other days I would roll my eyes thinking “Okay, I guess you’ve never had a wife because you certainly would’ve known to NEVER insist to a woman that she has to be having twins because she is so big.”

Pregnancy is a weird time of learning body acceptance in a body that feels foreign and changes too fast for you to keep up. Deep down I know these people were just trying to make conversation. And I don’t want to be one of those bloggers that writes “20 things you don’t tell a pregnant women” and then scare people from ever talking to us. I’m just saying your body image can be up and down as you stare wide eyed at what is supposed to be your reflection yet looks like a stranger.

A lot of women beat themselves up for how big of a belly bump they get or how much weight they put on. This is crazy when we consider how individualized pregnancy is for everyone. Some women have an anteverted uterus which means it is tilted outward. Others have a retroverted one that tilts backward-making their bump appear much smaller than most peoples.

As far as weight gain goes, a woman is expected to gain anywhere from 15-40 pounds. 15 is recommended for overweight women and 40 is recommended for underweight women. Here is the breakdown of 30 pounds of weight gain from the American Pregnancy Association:

-7.5 pounds is average for your baby.

-2 pounds goes to the amniotic fluid.

-7 pounds goes to the maternal stores of fat, protein, and other nutrients.

-The uterus accounts for 2 pounds.

-4 pounds is due to fluid volume increase.

-1.5 pounds is the weight of the placenta.

-Breast tissue increases by 2 pounds.

-An increase in blood volume makes up 4 pounds.

As you can see, weight gain is not simply because we are gorging ourselves with donuts as we cry over silly things. True, we do some of that. But eating for comfort really doesn’t explain why our bodies grow so much. They are designed to adapt and adjust to bring forth life. How amazing is all the rapid changes we go through to create a mini us?!

So, for my fellow pregnant women, do not beat yourself up if you are packing on the weight. Most of it will fall off postpartum. Don’t beat yourself up if you keep the majority of it. You are still the same you as before pregnancy. Love yourself in whatever body form postpartum brings. Be proud of those stretch marks and realize your baby doesn’t care how many pounds you weigh. Neither should you. ❤

Intense sudden urge to pee that goes away suddenly before I get to the bathroom. Then, I realize it was just Emersyn giving my bladder a nice tight hug! Or kick. Whichever. All I know is that it is an odd sensation that had me running to the bathroom as a precaution. Now I know to wait a minute or so to see if the feeling passes.

Stress incontinence. Yikes, I guess I’ve heard you needed to pee more in pregnancy but I had no idea that you would actually pee your pants!! I’m convinced I have a weak bladder to begin with. Combine that with a baby pushing on it, there’s bound to be an accident eventually. There’s also hormones that interfere with the way the uretha relaxes and contracts. You produce 25% more urine in pregnancy and the pressure of the growing uterus is another contributing factor. Basically what I’m saying is: invest in some pantyliners.

Women smile at you more. In a world where women are always competing against one another and being told to do better and look better than everyone else, pregnancy sure brings us together. There is something about a baby bump that catches the attention of others. They look at you more warmly, smile sympathetically, and just give you that understanding look that they have been there. Anytime I see a mom or pregnant woman, we seem to exchange looks that say “we are all in this together”. It makes me proud to be a women. I feel very connected to complete strangers these days from sharing the commonality of motherhood.

Constipation. I already suffer from the worst digestive system known to mankind so I’m unsure if mine has gotten worse or if it is pretty much the same. I hear that postpartum can get pretty bad and that I need to start looking at meds now to develop a regimen. So you better believe I already went to GNC for some psyllium husk to stay on top of it😆.

I am losing energy rapidly. I didn’t struggle at all with this in my first trimester like lots of women do. I think my mind was going rampant going over all the changes to come that my body was left wide awake all the time. Now I can fall asleep in a car on almost every roadtrip to my parents house (don’t worry, I’m not the one driving).

It’s a 45 minute drive and I just can not resist the urge to lay down and take a quick nap. Used to, I could never sleep in a car because I worry too much about not being in control and I like to watch the road alongside the driver. Now, I am too tired to care.

I also feel like I am ready for bed about supper time. At 5, 6, 7, 8 etc. I am willing to call it a night.

Back pain. I knew pregnancy caused back pain but I thought it was solely from the weight of the belly pulling you forward. Now I know that our backs shift to accommodate the growing uterus that puts pressure on it. Posture change from accomdating to your growing belly can lead to back strain. That fun hormone relaxin that seems to be to blame for every symptom in pregnancy also takes the fall here. It causes the back ligaments to loosen in preparation for the birth process, causing discomfort or pain.

Doing cat-cow, downward dog, child’s pose, frogs pose, and bridge all give me some relief and make me feel refreshed. Another thing I’ve noticed is that I hurt more on days I am inactive and sitting at home curled up reading a book. When I am out and about shopping or at work, I don’t notice hardly any discomfort because my spine is being stretched and used.

-I’m surprised by the lack of advice I’ve gotten along the way. I’m not for sure if advice for pregnant women is seen as unhelpful because every mom ends up deciding how to raise her kids in the end anyway. Or if this society is just sick of everyone getting so offended all the time that they avoid conversations surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting all together. I was hoping to get more advice from women who had been pregnant before or who have had kids and have lots of wisdom to offer. However, everyone’s experience of pregnancy alone is so dang unique that it is hard to know where to start. ( I am sure I’ll get PLENTY of parenting advice from family members after they watch my kid and determine what I should be doing differently😉. Oh welllll haha)

Why Yoga?

Moms are often told they have to be all and do all. The truth is, you can only be successful in so many areas of your life at a time. I know this sounds defeating. So many authors and influencers try to drill into our brains that we can learn to be superwomen that juggle a million and one things if we buy their guide on how to do so. They insist that we are simply not using the right formula.

Well, I have news for you. You can NEVER be 100% in all areas. And if you ever get close to managing that many things at once, you’re probably not emotionally stable. You can not be meal prepping every week, working out daily, running a blog, involved in community service, hanging out with all your friends, attending every school event, participating in every church retreat, having the house cleaned 24/7, cherishing every moment with your child, couponing, crafting, having regular date nights with your spouse, etc. all the time. Something has to give. You can’t do it all. But you can do less, make it mean more.

Sometimes I feel like my quiet time with God is at top notch and I am so intimately close to him. Other times I feel more distant from him. One week I feel my house is really tidy and I’m killing it at staying on top of chores. Yet, other times I’m more focused on going out with friends and I delay doing the laundry. Life is all about ebb and flow, this is natural.

There is always some chore we moms will be behind on and there will always be some area we could self-improve. Motherhood is about the art of balance. Not balancing it all, but balancing how much we sign up for. How much we say yes to.

There is such a trend toward embracing “the power of no”. This trend is in response to our obsession with doing it all at once and posting updates on social media on how well we are doing it all. We have albums on facebook for each vacation we managed to save up for, each kid we spend quality time with, each milestone we have hit. Instagram lets us organize our “stories” so we can display that we have good taste in music, we take fun road trips, and we also dabble in photography of sunsets.

This balancing act can drain us mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s important to set boundaries.


Based off of those realizations, Suzannah Neufeld wrote this excellent source for moms: Awake at 3 a.m.: Yoga Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Pregnancy and Early Motherhood https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075615Z4W/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_-EDiEbTQ0E3S8

The author talked on a podcast about how her book is simply an invitation for moms to take time for themselves. The last thing she wants is for the book to feel like another obligation or thing added to a to do list. Even doing a few minutes of breathwork or doing one pose as the baby sleeps is considered a win.

Just take some dang time for yourself, lady! You deserve it.

“You can’t do it all. But you can do less, make it mean more.”

Why yoga of all self care routines? I’ll get to the scientific reasons in a bit but first I will share why I am addicted to it.

Yoga is so versatile with a little something for everyone! You can choose between a fast paced vinyassa, a gentle restorative practice, or a mixture of the two. Here is an example of a yoga practice called “synchronize” and it heavily focuses on breathwork as opposed to a lot of poses: https://youtu.be/LGEMzfXfj-g

The main concept of yoga is finding out where we are and meeting ourselves there with no judgment. Tight shoulders? Heavy heart? Yoga can help.

It is about showing up and being grateful we set time aside to work on ourselves. No matter how that may look or feel at the time, the act of simply doing something for ourselves is a powerful step in the right direction. Yoga is not about forcing poses or pushing ourselves beyond what we can do. If we allow, it can be more of mental and emotional work than physical.

As Adrienne from https://yogawithadriene.com says, it is about getting to that comfortable edge. In other words, don’t focus on what you can not do but focus on what your body already can do. Play with that and have fun! Then you are guaranteed to leave the mat happier then when you stepped on.

Yoga makes me feel empowered and strong. This is not because I can do fancy poses because I’m actually quite inflexible. Just by doing SOME type of movement vs. opting for netflix on the couch, I am making progress.

There is something in us that resists change and growth and that is what the quiet of yoga requests of us. That we take time for ourselves to be calm and focus on how we feel. It can be downright uncomfortable at the beginning. But I promise you that if you stick with it, you’ll come to crave your practice. You will want that daily reset from the world.

I used to think 15 minutes was a long time to be doing yoga. I thought it was too slow paced to be beneficial. Boy, was I wrong! Now my 30 minutes zoom by and I’m still thirsting for more time on my mat. It’s definitely my happy place.

Here’s a few benefits of yoga:

-Stretching improves flexibility. Flexibility is important because our body is one whole working part. For instance, if your knees hurt, it impacts other parts of your body. No area is completely independent.

Yogajournal.com explains it this way: “Tight hips can strain the knee joint due to improper alignment of the thigh and shinbones. Tight hamstrings can lead to a flattening of the lumbar spine, which can cause back pain. And inflexibility in muscles and connective tissue, such as fascia and ligaments, can cause poor posture.”

-It relieves common aches and pains from the every day by “working them out”. Yoga is not only a workout for the body but also a massage for the soul. It helps you to let out any frustration you are gripping. Moving the body is shown to release locked up emotions.

“Yoga is not only a workout for the body but also a massage for the soul. Moving the body is shown to release locked up emotions.”



-Lowers cortisol levels, leaving you happier. Likewise, it increases serotonin levels and is often used to treat depression.

-It allows you to bring awareness to your body and breath. Yoga helps you to master the art of checking in with yourself. You will be able to better understand your emotions in a stressful situation because you will know how to pause and asses your breath. Is it shallow? Is it rushed? Maybe you are feeling anxious. Explore that. What you learn in yoga practices goes far beyond those walls and can travel with you into the every day.

-GABA was shown to be significantly higher in the brains of those subjects who had been doing yoga. The study also compared GABA levels directly before an after an hour of yoga, and showed a 27% increase! What is GABA and why should you be excited about it? GABA is a neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect in the brain. Those that suffer with depression, panic disorder, anxiety, and seizures often have low levels of GABA.

-GABA released over a period of regular yoga practice may boost baseline levels of this calming chemical. This could help the brain rewire itself to have a calmer, less anxious response in the face of everyday stressors. Heck yes, I’ll take a large dose of GABA please!

-Improved respiration, cardio health, and energy levels. Who does not want more energy?! After all, we are the society that bonds over coffee shop conversations and sport shirts that say things like “full of faith and caffeine”.

We have the busiest schedules jam packed with activities and take little time for rest. Yoga is rest and an energy boost packed in one! It lets you have moments of guided breathing to restore yourself before you go back into poses that get your blood flow going.

-Prevents cartilage and joint breakdown by taking joints that wouldn’t typically be used through a full range of motion. This squeezing and soaking of cartilage allows the joints to receive fresh nutrients. Without this, cartilage wears down.

-Protects your spine by giving it the movement it craves.

-Yoga drops blood pressure.

-Consistent meditation increases grey matter in the brain. Grey matter includes brain regions involved in muscle control, sensory perception, memory, emotions, speech, self-control and decision-making.

-Daily meditation reduces inflammation, anxiety, and stress. It also improves sleep.

-Twisting the abdominals helps reignite the digestive system, and can help prevent a sluggish tummy

-Yoga twists increase circulation and bloodflow to organs.

-Roughly 80% of visits to primary care doctors result from emotional distress, and a recent study demonstrated that workplace stress accounted for up to 38% of differences in longevity across workers in different professions. Again, yoga has been shown in a plethora of studies to reduce stress and decrease the likelihood of disease.

-Dr. Ryan Hall of the University of Central Florida has found that as many as 47% of problems for which patients seek psychiatric treatment have a physical cause.

Through physical postures in yoga, you can reflect on how your heart feels AND strengthen your muscles, tone your body, build your strength and endurance, etc. Beachyogagirl on instagram has talked for years about how the ONLY relief she has found for her fibromyalgia is a daily and regular practice of yoga. She also discusses how her depression was interlaced with her disease.

-Yoga increases blood levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps the brain tune in to subtle social cues and promotes social bonding. Simply put, yoga makes you feel happier and more likely to seek out experiences with people that increase your happiness further. When we feel good and strong, we feel more confident. We are less likely to isolate ourselves and more likely to seek out more of what feels good for us-social interaction. That is why yoga is so useful against combating depression. My positive psychology professor held that it is impossible to be depressed and have a regular workout routine.

Adrienne likes to say that yoga makes us all connected. She says that she practices in her corner of the world while we practice in our corner but we are all getting better together. We are all in this together.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/quilted-science/201209/is-your-brain-yoga%3famp

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/long-fuse-big-bang/201604/late-breaking-news-about-your-mind-body-health-connection

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/minding-the-body/201311/putting-your-mind-yoga

Natural Birth?

As Pediatric ER nurse Shannon Tripp explained, natural birth can result in a much quicker labor if you go unmedicated. Three out of her four unmedicated births had a very quick recovery. In fact, she was up and showering within an hour.

During nursing school is when Shannon resolved to have her babies the natural way. While doing her rounds, she was awakened to the harsh reality that hospitals are indeed a business. Do nurses and doctors care about their patients? Without a doubt, that is why they chose their profession. However, she just never thought of the business aspect of it until she got into med school.

The nurse to be would overhear doctors and nurses asking each other to go to certain rooms to coax moms into drugs they already voiced they did not want. She heard the frustration in their voices as they discussed what was easier for them on that particular shift vs. the requests of the moms.

The turning point for Shannon was when she witnessed something she was totally unaccustomed to in the birthing unit. She saw a mom up beside the bed doing her own thing, completely in control. It looked so calm and peaceful that Shannon decided she wanted her future babies to be born that way. She wanted to feel as strong as that woman looked!

You can find the whole podcast full of her birth mistakes and insights here: https://thebirthhour.com/homebirth-experience-within-walls-hospital/
If you go through the website, it says you need to pay $5 to access all the podcasts. Or, you can do like me and get the free app podbean and listen to it there on episode 423.

Several doctors support the mom in whatever way she chooses to give birth and I have heard that hospitals are becoming more accommodating. Yet, I can not ignore the fact that someone very close to me has a sister-in-law that was almost injected with shots she not only didn’t want-but simply did not need! My friend told me how alarming it was to hear about her brother catching nurses whispering and planning to give his wife things that she directly said she did not want.

No matter what I choose, I do want to know that what I say is heard and not taken lightly. I want my people to be vigilant in making sure nothing like this happens to me. I would be devastated if I thought I was doing one thing, just to find out they had secretly done another because “it won’t hurt you” or “it is not a big deal”. That is never okay!!

What inspired me to even consider something like a natural birth was the book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League. Some of the points it made left me feeling empowered to do what God designed for me to do. The book argued that we are mammals that are made to carry out the purpose of childbirth. It is a natural part of the life cycle that has been going on for millions of years even before there were interventions. Back when there was no epidural, women did it.

Another really helpful thing they said was that in between every contraction is a resting period. They compared it to how our bodies know when to stop during a workout and how it is the same concept with labor. Grossly oversimplified? Yeah, but you get the point. Your body won’t do beyond what it can bear even though it sure feels like it at the time.

Epidurals seem pretty tempting; I am not one for pain. I do know though that if I choose to get one it definitely reaches the baby through the placenta. That breastfeeding book says that this affects the babies ability to find the breast, latch, and suck effectively after they are born. Depending on how long the epidural was used and at what dosage, the effects can last from a few days to even a few weeks.

Not only does it affect breastfeeding, but it affects your natural endorphins. It is a drug after all, so it can make you and your baby feel flatter emotionally and make it harder to respond or connect to one another. By going unmedicated, you will feel better physically as well. There is less of a chance of tearing and a faster recovery rate for moms who get to ride it all out.

La Leche League says that an IV is not supported by research and that it could waterlog you and baby. This could delay your milk coming in which is a supply and demand system that is very important to calibrate in the first two weeks. If the nurses insist, the book suggests that the mom ask for a hep-lock instead so that an IV can be plugged in instantly if needed. Otherwise, it doesn’t interfere.

On the topic of Being Induced from the book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League International:

-It makes no sense to say that your body would not go into labor without intervention. After all, your body is designed to give birth. There has never been a woman who was stuck pregnant forever. So, it is just a matter of dealing with the hardships of pregnancy until baby is ready. We did not used to select a date that was convenient for us or our doctor. Most babies are perfectly healthy and the mom simply decides she is sick of being pregnant.

-If baby is not ready to come out just by a week or even a few days, you are taking away some of the nutrients baby needs. I have a friend who determines the proper proportion of milk for NICCU babies. She says that these babies are extremely sick-not because they are physically small-but because they simply needed more time to soak up all the vitamins they get during pregnancy.

-You know how lots of women are delaying cord clamp cutting because it lets babies get that extra boost of iron and zinc that can last from 6-9 months vs. running out much much sooner? Not to mention several other wonderful perks for the baby..Well, this just points back to how odd it is that our society is so focused on rushing baby. Should we not let the baby take its precious time so that it can be its most healthy and best self?
I think it makes logical sense to let mother nature run its course but these are only my opinions. I also know that every mom does not even have this choice. Some are doing what is in the best interest of the baby by having an emergency induction.

-“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” says the following:

Until your baby is ready, your uterus does everything in its power to keep your little one safely inside. That is why attempts to induce labor with Pitocin (artificial ocytocin-which causes contractions) often fail. “A failed induction” is actually just a defense against premature birth. Attempts to induce labor can cause a painful and long labor possibly resulting in a c section.

A baby who is not quite ready to be born even a few days early may have more difficulty breathing, coordinating and sucking, and swallowing when they try to breastfeed.

“A failed induction” is actually just a defense against premature birth. –The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Tips for Going Through with a Natural Birth:

-Get comfortable. This is YOUR birth. The doctors do this all day every day and it is a routine for them. Depending on how many children you have, this is a once in a lifetime experience. Naturally I am a passive person but I am trying to get better at communicating my needs and wants. This is vital to having the birth you want. Doctors will do it the way they are accustomed to if you do not voice your plan ahead of time.

-When picking a doctor, do not ask if they support unmedicated birth. All doctors will say yes. Shannon Tripp suggests asking open-ended questions such as: What are the pros and cons of going unmedicated vs. epidural. If they can not give you any pros of going natural, then they are probably not going to be very supportive of your birth plan. What she suggests is either switching doctors right then and there or being aware that you will be fighting an uphill battle. I also suggest asking your doctor what they personally did and they will automatically leak their reasons for doing so. By doing this, you can gauge whether they are passionate about one option vs. the other or if they seem indifferent.

-Shannon says that it is extremely important not to say “I will TRY not to have an epidural”. Woops, that is what I keep saying, haha! It does make sense though that you will be more likely to follow through with something you are dead set on vs. wishy washy. I mean, moms do not avoid epidurals because they think birth is painless. Natural birth has to be important for very specific reasons or else it is too easy to back on when it gets tough. And IT WILL. Shannon said you need to go in knowing your “why”.

-Make sure your partner is supportive. Express how much a natural birth means to you and why. Talk extensively about the choices you will face together. Remember that you two should be a united front. Word of advice for you men: no matter how ridiculous some of this may seem to you and even if you honestly could not care either way, it is your job to stand behind your woman. If she finds it important, so should you. Everything done in pregnancy all the way through labor and delivery happens to her body and not yours. So, of course she is going to be more passionate about all the tiny things. Be gentle with her.

Other things to consider:

-Be knowledgable about the possibilities: Epidural, IV fluids, pictocin, C-section, Induced labor, forceps delivery, at home birth, doulas/midwifes, water birth, hypnosis, ect.

-Be flexible. Ugh how I hate this one, but it is so important! I want to have an unmedicated birth but if I go into that hospital room with no mental capactity for a change of plans, I can be sorely disappointed. I also do not want to be distressed during labor if there is a sudden change of events. Yes, the mom should be in control but also acknowledge that life is simply not scripted. Being able to go with the flow to some degree, will allow a more peaceful birthing experience.

-Be gracious with yourself if things do not go to plan. If you give in to getting an epidural or the doctors end up doing a C-section, do not feel ashamed! You can not always control what happens and it is better to learn this early on in motherhood. So many moms feel heartbroken that they did not have their babies “the best way”. It is perfectly fine to have big deep emotions about what happened on birth day. It is a monumental moment in your life.

Be sure to talk about it all with your partner, friends, and relatives. Take time to process everything that happened that day and any feelings you associate with it. All feelings are valid feelings and you don’t need to feel obligated to be happy all the time. Many women face depression surrounding the birth experience and life in the fourth trimester. It needs to be addressed rather than ignored, yes. But it common and you are certainly not less of a mother because of it.

-Do not judge other moms for doing it differently than you. You have your reasons for doing things your way and they have theirs. No matter how a baby is born, it can be a magical experience for mom and dad. The most important thing is a healthy baby, not the way in which the baby enters the world.

-Realize that you may have some tension from your doctor and be prepared to deal with pressure to do things the way the hospital does. Pick your battles but also stand your ground on what is most important to you. Do not be dismayed if the nurses are not 100% elated you are going all natural, they are just going off of what they have seen and experienced.

-A natural birth does not ensure a smooth transition into postpartum. Many moms struggle with intense anxiety as they realize all the changes that are taking place: friend groups may change, sleep patterns, schedules, time in general may slow to a crawl in those first few weeks, or you may be struggling to hold onto cuddle time with your baby as the clock winds down to go back to work.

Quotes from moms who did natural births, wish they would have gone without the epidural, and a couple of moms that are here simply to offer encouragement and support for the journey:

-My sweet mom, Christy who gave birth naturally to me and my two sisters:
“I would say everyone is different. It was important to me. I wanted to be aware of everything and for my babies to be free of any medication. I loved that it was natural-when you were supposed to be born-not delayed. Not scheduled. You came quickly. And it was good for me. Not a lot of waiting. And I was ready to see you. I wanted to nurse well….Everyone has a choice and that is okay.”

“There is no right or wrong way. Just your way.”

-my sweet mom,Christy

-A powerful quote by R.N. and lactation consultant Cristi who had two unmedicated births and the second one at home:
“I love natural birth because it’s empowering. The whole premise of natural birth is that the female body was created by God to grow and birth a baby. Women did it for thousands of years without any interventions. The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. The medical world has made women believe that our bodies are defective. That we can’t carry and birth a baby without “help” or interference. That it’s too hard and too painful. But that degrades us as women. It makes us feel incapable and it strips us of the power that God have us when he created us. We are strong and resilient. We can do so many amazing, hard things. Our bodies are beautiful and will do amazing things when we support them and let them do the natural things God created them to do.

“Birth is not scary like we have been led to believe. It wasn’t created to be scary. It’s beautiful, hard, empowering and insanely amazing. It’s a privilege and it should be enjoyed and looked forward to…not feared and dreaded.”

-R.N. nurse Cristi

-Megan, mother with two natural births:
“Tips for going natural:
-Hire a doula to help educate or advocate for you because your doctor probably won’t.
-I loved using the Hypnobabies program to train my body to relax during contractions. It helped a lot when things didn’t go as expected during my second birth. I was still able to manage contractions while making medical decisions for myself without medication.
-Any medical procedure has risks and informing yourself of those risks with actual studies and not just heresay is important, for instance: you may opt for an induction because your friends did, but if you look into the risks of induction you may decide that investing in a prebirth program (like hypnobabies) or a doula may outweigh the risks that come with induction (or whatever intervention/treatment you’re considering).”

-Kristen, a mommy to two:
“I had an epidural both times and I regretted it both times. It’s hard to say no when they ask lol. If you are set on it, then tell them when you go in that you don’t want it and if you do you will let them know. They kept pestering me about it with Adaleigh and I caved before I was even really in pain and then I was so numb I couldn’t lift my legs by myself. I hated it. With Anthony I went through most of labor without it and it was so much easier. I also asked for a lower dose. I’m not sure if it was because he was my second or because I wasn’t completely numb, but healing was 100% easier after. My healing after Adaleigh was horrendous.”

-Angela, mom to two daughters:
“I had an epidural with my first.It was a horrible experience and left my back sore for literally months. I had my second completely natural with no IVs, no medications, not even so much is a Tylenol. No doubt it was painful, but the moment she was born I had absolutely no pain anywhere in my whole body and was able to immediately get up and walk around and could have easily taken my baby and gone straight home. If I had had more children, I definitely would’ve gone natural again!”

-Laura:
“I went with the natural birth just because I had a high pain threshold and if I didn’t have to have pain meds why would I take them. Gary and I went to Lamaze classes. They were very helpful in learning to distract from the pain. You can have pain meds if during the process you decide you want them.”

-Kendra, mom of two little ones:
“2 no med births! One at home in a tub. The pain was horrendous, but it’s over quick. It was an amazing experience.”

-Paradise, mom of two with one on the way:
“I had an epidural with both girls and absolutely hated it, but felt pressured. With Rowan I made it to 8 cm before getting it and only did because they thought I was being too loud 🙄 I still have back pain to this day because of it so I’m really hoping to be able to go without and not get pressured this time around. As awesome as it is to feel no pain, the aftermath sucks.”

-Somer, mom of two boys:
“I would have not done an epidural either time had I known what it felt like to do it naturally the first time.”

-Carrie, momma of 5:
“The one birth I did with no drugs (epidural or anything) was my fastest and easiest honestly. I wouldnt trade the experience.”

-Angie, mom to three:
“One piece of advice I can give is no matter what, you can’t feel like the you have to compete or measure up to anyone else. I ended up with 2 unplanned c sections followed by one that had to be a planned one. I felt like I hadn’t fully experienced real labor and therefore didn’t measure up. I can tell you that my oldest is now 25, and that was such a waste of emotional stress. I have three wonderful kids, and this many years later I am just happy that I have them. Everyone has their own childbirth with their own memories. Own it and love it and be proud of it no matter how it happens. ❤️❤️”

“You can’t feel like you have to compete or measure up to anyone else.”

-Angie

-Courtney, momma of two boys:
“When it is comes time all you will care about it getting your sweet baby here safe and healthy. Doesn’t matter how 💗 you will be an amazing mom.”

Becoming A Mom

Becoming a mom is a strange journey. This is week 28 and I feel so much purpose, joy, and love within me. Most days I am completely at peace and almost in an euphoric state. Like I was built to mom. I’ve loved babies and kids since I was tiny myself and so all of this mental preparation for motherhood just feels natural to me. Occasionally I will have days where I feel uneasy about all the change that is to come. Truth be told, I am not the best with change. Never have been. Finances have to shift dramatically to accommodate a little person we are now responsible for. We have to set up maternity and paternity leave and begin looking into daycares. I am also bombarding myself with advice from all sorts of outlets to get ready for what is to come. It can get overwhelming.

There are so many different perspectives on pregnancy: what I can eat, what prenatal I need, how much I can exercise, what symptoms are normal to have, ect. Then I have all the tips on how to get ready for the baby: which diapers and wipes are the best overall, what essential furniture I need and which brands I should use, how to babyproof my house, ect. Oh, and then there is the actual birthing experience which turns out is a very hotly debated topic. Lastly, I have all the parenting techniques, bonding tips, and sleep coaching advice to sort through.

I also have to consider my sources: should I listen to a pediatrician, a Christian counselor, or a mom of 4 kids? Probably the best answer is to hear all these different opinions and then do what I deem best for my baby at the time. Nobody will know my baby girl and her needs better than me, God gave me motherly intuition for a reason. While I do want to make sure I am fully informed on the birth process and the best parenting tips, I know the most important thing is to love my baby girl with all my heart has to offer.

No matter how I feel internally, I am going to have to master showing up with love and gentleness towards her. Asking mom’s for words of advice, I consistently hear that the kids pick up on how you feel. They feed off of your energy. So, no matter how upset I feel with myself, I want to do my best to give myself grace to mess up. I want to forgive myself for days I do not have it all together and to realize that all the parent books in the world could not have prepared me for what I am facing and feeling.

Focus On the Family Radio had a couple podcasts discussing how easy it is to fall into the trap of over parenting. Here is the first one on this topic: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/episodes/broadcast/rethinking-your-parenting-strategies-part-1-of-2/ Parents often think the only way to be efficient as a mom or dad is by constantly lecturing or giving rules. Every situation does not have to be turned into a “teaching moment”. The podcast hosts were interviewing the authors of Gist: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids. I have not personally read this book but it is written by a pediatrician and a child psychologist who gave a very interesting synopsis. Co-author Michael Anderson said, “For one thing, most of the parents I work with are relentless lovers of their kids. And what that leads to is they misperceive that their job is to relentlessly parent their kids…

…What our job really is, is to relentlessly love our kids enough to parent them as little as possible, and that’s not intuitive.”

Michael Anderson, co-author of Gist: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids

The book posits that kids are smarter than we think. Parents can lay some ground rules and then give the kids space to be independent. The podcast mentioned a football coach that said, “I like an obedient player but not too obedient”. This coach went on to explain that a player that is too obedient without ever putting up some resistance or voicing his opinion, lacks passion. The authors of Gist say the same thing about kids. Children need room to grow themselves without being micromanaged.

One woman after reading the book Gist went to her 8-year-old daughter and apologized for being a helicopter parent. Her husband and she explained to their daughter that they believed she was capable of following the rules on her own. The plan was to see what her baseline behavior was for two weeks without any intervening (unless of course, it was necessary). For two weeks she sent herself to bed, did homework on her own, and cleared her dishes. Two months later when the woman was relaying this story to the authors of Gist, she said they still hadn’t punished their daughter for breaking any rules.

Just knowing that her parents had faith in her to do the right thing, really challenged her to show that she could do what was in her best interest. Now, not every kid is disciplined to that extent, and they need much more guidance. However, it is an interesting concept that parenting too much can be harmful to a child’s independence and self-exploration. I want to be the authority in my kid’s life and she will certainly not run the household. Yet, I do love to plan and plan and then plan some more. So, I am going to be extra cautious not to take things so seriously, and to be more lighthearted.

I will coregulate my child’s emotions without controlling her experiences.

I hope this post was a helpful reminder that life is unpredictable and so are the little humans we create. To some degree, their developmental stages can be anticipated but kids can not be put in a box. Each child is unique and I have heard many moms say their child prefers one bottle or baby swing to another. So, here is to finding a balance between not going into this parenting thing blindly and also being gentle with myself when I do feel completely clueless despite my best efforts!

Welcome!

I thought I would kickstart this blog by sharing a devotion I recently did on Matthew one. It started with the genealogy of Jesus, and the first thing I noticed was that a few mothers were mentioned: Ruth, Uriah’s wife-Bathsheba, Rahab, Tamar, and of course, Mary. Typically, genealogy traces the family history through males only. Fathers are thought of as the ones who pass on the family name or legacy. Yet, this scripture finds it noteworthy to slide some mom’s names in there. I think it is because these women played a vital role in the lives of not only their children-but the people their children impacted.

The Bible doesn’t necessarily make this connection, but if I learned from each of their stories growing up, I am sure their children gleaned wisdom from the examples their mothers laid before them. Not all of these women were stand up gals-like the dark pasts of Rahab the Harlot or Bathsheba the Adulteresses. In Bathsheba’s defense, some Bible scholars suggest that she had to follow David’s instructions to cheat on her husband because of the power imbalance between them. Otherwise, he could have killed her. Either way, God used these women who had unlikely and messy stories to teach us lessons.

Just like these women should not be looked over in this genealogy, women should not be dismissed as only caregivers or emotional support. They help-hopefully alongside a caring husband and community of other believers-to build the character of their child. What they instill in their child both verbally and through actions will pass on to their children’s children and so forth. Women have a vital role in the life of a child. Everything we do has a ripple effect on who they become. Now, this is not a fact meant to scare us because we obviously mess up quite a bit. We need to allow ourselves room to be imperfect. I love this post by John Rosemond (a Christian child psychologist) that I found this week: http://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10157051131663277&id=75412958276&sfnsn=mo
I am saying though, that we should not underestimate how keenly our children listen to our words and watch what we do, and structure their lives based off of what they see in us.

The second portion of Matthew one is about Joseph being told about Mary’s pregnancy. Can you imagine? He knew for a fact he had not slept with Mary and yet here she was pregnant. He probably faced all sorts of emotions: horror, embarrassment, betrayal, anger, confusion, deep sadness ect. After the Lord explained to him that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit, I am sure that he still wasn’t all that happy about the situation.

Yes, he may have understood the logistics of what was happening, and felt relief that he had not been cheated on, but I doubt he felt excited about explaining the strange phenomenon to others. I also doubt that others received the news well. A pregnant virgin? I imagine he felt humiliated and unsure how to process the situation. However, he did exactly as the Lord told him to and he married Mary. The Bible mentions nothing about Joseph arguing or resisting, he simply accepted God’s will.

I deeply desire to get better at simply trusting the Lord, but this is definitely not my strong point. I am not sure about you, but I often need to know the whole plan before I take something on. When I felt God tugging on my heart to write this blog, I felt overwhelmed like I often do. Here is my argument with God over several days:

Me: “How will I keep this up after my baby girl is born?”

God: “We will cross that bridge when we get there, I just need you to start.”

Me: “What should I write about? Why do I feel like my ideas are everywhere? I just want to know one specific direction. Just tell me specifically what I should focus on.”

God: *Laughs knowingly* (Poor guy is pretty familiar with my Type A personality)“We will get to that as your blog evolves. You just need to take the first step. It will all work out.”

Me: “How can I bring others to you when I have not been so faithful myself, is that not hypocritical?”

God: “Your journey back to me is just like countless examples of others you’ve read in the Bible about how easy it is to wander away, and yet I am always here with arms wide open.”

Me: “What if I am still figuring it out? I don’t know what I am doing.”

God: *Smiles with understanding and gentleness*“You won’t ever have it figured out. That is what I am for. You just need to draw near to me and let me do the rest.”

Me: *Sighs with frustration* “Okay, but that is scary.”

God: “Change often is, dear one.”

Me: *Giving in with reluctance and excitement* “Alright, I’m in.”

God: *Embraces me warmly and smiles*

Me: *Snuggles in with a peace washing over me*