Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hormonal Shifts of a Pregnant Woman

For a person who does not have first-hand experience with the hormonal shifts of a pregnant woman, it can be hard to believe that it will happen. Some pregnant women are irritable, some yell at their partners, while other expectant mothers are just surly. Some may not have any visible hormonal outbursts at all. My husband has been lucky personally in that I have not had too extreme of an emotional roller coaster while pregnant. I swore at the refrigerator and had a few small hormonal episodes, but nothing too major. Sure, he has gone to bed a few nights and wondered if he would see the light of day, but overall nothing too bad. That said, I would like to share some admissions about my hormones during pregnancy and things I've said or done to my partner during a hormonally charged state. * I yell at him a lot and question everything he does. *I cry every time we argue. And sometimes I get mad at him and start an argument when its not necessary. Then I tell him he needs to not argue back so it doesn't upset me and that makes me cry more. Poor guy! he's so confused...but he understands its my hormones. and when I've calmed down, i explain why. * I cant stand the smell of my husband! Every time he is near me I feel sick (he is very clean so it's not a hygiene thing) but he gets pis*ed of because I do everything to stay away from him when he gets home and I don't know how to tell him. * Even though he did tons of things for me, I STILL yelled at him, and I feel really horrible about it now! I found that if I had problems with other people or just a bad day in general, I took it out on him even though he didn't deserve it. * I LOVE to cry! He wisely said nothing, let me cry it out. I then cried even harder while I apologized for being such a silly, selfish, unreasonable beast. Everyone's experience is different, but expectant fathers should be fully aware that hormones may rear their ugly head at any time during pregnancy. Do keep in mind that pregnancy is a wonderful time and pregnant women are beautiful, so tell her.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My child did what?

Everyone does it. Everyone talks about other people’s kids. Mostly, it’s good-natured jokes about bad hair cuts and pot bellies and crooked teeth. But, all of us have to admit, sometimes it’s more. “She’s a tough one” or “He’s a wildcard” or “We steer clear of so-and-so.” Some kids trigger our protective instincts and in the company of a like-minded mother, a small objection to a specific behavior can become a broader critique of character. This will never stop, even between friends. The most honest feedback you can hope for is a factual account of an eye-witnessed event, for instance, “Today after school, I saw your kid smack my kid.” And I know plenty of cases when even this seemingly essential information is withheld. It’s understandable. Nobody wants to tell a parent that their child has been mean, or rude, or bossy since today’s victim is tomorrow’s bully just as today’s mortal enemy is tomorrow’s best buddy. Anyway, who wants to sound like an uptight tattletale? It’s not just kids who want to seem cool and laid back. And most of the time, it’s hearsay. Are you really going to risk seeming holier-than-thou based on the half-baked report of a six year-old? The thing is, if you choose to bite your tongue and give an incomplete report of the playdate—“It was great!” when the truth was “Your kid whacked my kid on the head with a Barbie doll”—then you can’t turn around and tell someone else. If you choose to stay silent, you have to actually stay silent. If you find you just can’t keep it in, the only person you should really talk to is Barbie Swinger’s mom. Even if you’re afraid of how she’ll react. Even if you’re afraid that she’ll, oh I dunno, write a column about it. Giving a parent negative feedback about their child is a small act of courage. Just ask my son's kindie teacher Mrs. Pang who shared some things about my son's behavior that turned me inside-out for 48 hours (during which she was witness to several of my own “areas needing improvement”). Why is it so painful to come face to face with our children’s flaws? In my case, the pain came from two different places. One, it’s unsettling to think that other people can see something that you can’t. Our effectiveness hinges on our ability to see our kids’ clearly. I tried to dismiss Mrs. Pang's reports, believe me, but they were quickly corroborated by two other parents, convincing me that I have been asleep at the wheel, a wheel I thought I had been white-knuckling. After all, just like everyone reading this right now, my children are my top priority. The second cause of my pain? My big fat ego. While my children happily work their way through developmental stages of autonomy, identity and separation, I cling. I realized this last year when my wise friend Susan said, “We are not our children.” Was there ever such a simple and obvious statement with such sweeping implications? Susan went on to say, as I was sharing my theory that my son is hot tempered because my dad is hot tempered too. "Anne, we influence them, we do not make them.” If everything that is said about your child is essentially something said about you--your parenting, your nature--you and your child will be operating at a considerable disadvantage. Attaching your ego to your child--their reputation, their behavior, their happiness--is the exact opposite of lifting them up. It’s putting rocks in their backpack, making everything they do weightier than it needs to be. Beyond that, it’s impossible to see them clearly if they are obscured by a giant mirror showing your reflection. In my life as a mother, this was a growth spurt. This was when I let some blood back into my knuckles. This was the time I decided to stop talking about other people’s kids with anyone but their parents. And this is the time I learned to hear feedback and push past all the rotten self-doubt and defensiveness and just see it for what it is: a little gift.