Thursday, July 23, 2015

Being A Good Parent

What makes you a good parent?

Is there an online quiz you take somewhere? Who do you ask? Where is the checklist for me to run through to find out if I meet the criteria?

Is being a good parent measured in how many hours a day I spend with my baby? How many hours we spend as a family? How many kisses I give? How much my baby smiles and laughs? The fat rolls on her legs? The words I use to speak with her? The amount of time I spend reading to her a week?

I just don't know.

And I struggle with this. I don't know if I'm a good mom or not. P seems okay with it, so I should too, right? She laughs, she smiles, she giggles, she babbles, she has rolls upon rolls so I know she's healthy...but what makes me a good mom?

I take care of my baby. I hold her when she cries, feed her when she's hungry, lather her in sunscreen when she goes outside...but is that what really makes someone a good parent?

There must be a list of criteria out there one would need to meet in order to earn the title of Good Parent.

It bothers me I can't find this list.

I compare myself to others; it's human nature. I see what other moms do with their kids and wonder if I am doing that enough with my own. I hear how other parents talk to their children and wonder if my words are as kind, or if I hold P enough compared to other would I know? Who would tell me?

There are times at the end of the day when I sit down and think damn, I did good today. But then there are other days where I second guess everything I did. Did I hold her enough? Did we play enough? Did I talk to her enough? Oh my God...did I tell her I loved her?????

I hate those days. Those days make me question everything. Those days make me feel like a really shitty parent and there is no one to validate those feelings. It's just me. It's only me that can decide if I'm good enough, so on the days when I don't think I am, those are really hard days. And I hear from other people from time to time how great of a mom I am, but really, whose going to tell someone point blank they're a shitty parent? It's hard to know who to believe.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dear Working Mom

Hey there fellow Working Mom, how was your day? I know, you just got home from work 9.5 hours, you're tired, your feet hurt, your eyes are burning and your head is pounding. Dinner is burning in the oven because you had to drop everything to feed the dogs and change the baby. And there are probably days where you think it would be so much easier if you didn't have to work and could just stay home with that little baby and cuddle and play all day long, right?

Hey Working Mom, have you ever met a stay at home mom?

I remember my maternity days (a little too fondly) and thinking how bored I was. I felt useless. I was taking care of a baby all day, but what did I really accomplish? I sat on the couch, washed dishes, changed diapers, went to appointments, did laundry....but I never felt a sense of fulfillment. My work, however, did bring me this. Sound familiar? No? Good for you. Yes? High five.

Yes, I am exhausted at the end of my days sometimes and all I really want to do is sit on a patio with an ice cold beer and talk shit about my day with someone, and even though I can't do that, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Those maternity leave days were rough.

But hey there Stay At Home Mom, how's your day been? You've been puked on 7 times, got pee on your clean floors, stared at that pile of clean laundry on your couch that will never get folded for the last 2 weeks, listened to a toddler scream for three hours straight, have been holding in that poop for the last day and a half because you can't get some alone time? How the heck do you manage???? Props to you. I'm pretty sure you work harder than all of us. Your days are longer and typically filled with tiny people physically and emotionally tugging at you all day. You wipe boogers and go without showering, sometimes even forgetting to eat until dinner, and your last few moments before you pass out at night are spent scrubbing magic marker off the dining room table. Seriously, how are you doing this??

Us working moms tend to think because we leave our children all day for an office and then come home to take care of our families that we work twice as hard. This might shock some of you, but we don't. The stay at home mom is seriously made of steel. She has to be. She never gets a moment to bend or break. She has to stay strong all day. She can't take the day off and send the kids to day care just to get a few hours to be herself or run errands....she gets no PTO. She doesn't get a non-sticky, non-smelly work place....she doesn't get adult conversation (although sometimes mundane) all day long. She doesn't sit on the couch. She doesn't get to watch her favorite soap opera. Now that's not to say us working moms have it easy, either. We're away from our kids all day. Sometimes we miss milestones because they happen at daycare. We miss those babies. We don't always want to put that laundry away at the end of the day either. But we are not better than you. We do not work harder.

Stay at home or working in the field, we're all superwoman. We're not super human, but I'd like to think that some days we can get pretty damn close, and dammit, we ALL deserve recognition for that.

The ugly truth of PPD

I would like to warn you before reading this post that it is filled with raw honesty. It is vulnerable. It is honest in the sense that the ugly truth of PPD is about to become exposed. The following is a place of acceptance, not judgement, and a place where women who have suffered should be able to come and know they are safe. So here we go...

PPD is a cruel bitch. It doesn't care what makes you a good parent or a bad parent, what makes you caring or hateful, it only cares about itself. It cares about where it's going and where it's been, not where it needs to be. PPD could care less about you.

Like any parent, I was paranoid. I was worried. I was anxious, and I checked on my baby. A lot. And I read a little too much about what can go wrong. I read a lot about SIDS. I was paranoid of SIDS. In the hospital, I barely slept, lying there wondering if my baby was still breathing in the nursery, and when she slept in her bassinet next to me I laid there and watched her, making sure she kept taking breaths. Then we went home. She slept in a Rock N Play next to our bed for the first 8 weeks; until my medication was fully enforced, I should say. I watched her like a hawk. I was always making sure she was breathing. Sometimes I would blow in her face just to make sure she would react; I didn't care if that woke her up. But why did I care so much? PPD made me so numb to affection, to love, to giving a shit....that honestly, in that moment, I did not care if P succumbed to SIDS. Never once did I think of harming my baby, but the thought did creep up that if something out of my control happened to her that took her away from me, maybe that would be okay. It would be a relief, really. I could get back to my normal life. I would have Hubs to myself. I could be me again. I liked her, but I didn't really love her. I knew I could live without her.

What a horrible parent I was!!! What a horrible excuse for a human being! Well, no.....I wasn't. But I was letting the PPD win. I am a giving person. I genuinely care about others and always have, but I had never been so depressed before where I didn't care about myself or anyone else around me, except Hubs (yeah, believe it or not, his happiness and feelings were the only thing I cared about that kept me going). But my horrible parenting didn't end there.....there were times when maybe I burped P a little too hard, when I picked her up to soothe her just a little too roughly, when I set her down just a little too rigidly....there were times when I should have picked up the phone and called someone. There were times I should have put P in her car seat and just driven to the ER. I don't think I would have ever hurt P, or myself, but I was also able to get help after just 2 months post-partum. PPD escalates. It does not go away on it's own (trust me, I tried). I don't even want to imagine how much worse things could have saddens me to think I even let it get as bad as it did. But it happened. And it's okay. P is happy. She's healthy. I'm happy. I'm healthy. We love eachother. We play. We cuddle. We go out on the town. We go shopping. We travel. We're besties.

But I am lucky. PPD/A/P does not always stop there, at thoughts or mild actions. Sometimes it goes so far as to self harm, or much worse, death. And I want to tell you about the organization Jenny's Light. Jenny gave birth to a little boy in November 2007 and just 6 weeks later (the exact amount of time it took for me to confess to Hubs what I was really going through) her and her son lost their battle to PPD. Her story breaks my heart. But her story should inspire you. Their story should inspire you to stop the stigmas that follow PPD. Their story should bring you hope that you do not need to wait it out, or hope, that things get better. Their story should teach you that seeking help, going to counseling or being prescribed medication, is the best thing you can do as a parent. It makes you a strong person. It makes you a warrior mom.