I guess it’s just a deep thought sorta day for me…

Due to the fact that this blog is mainly professional in nature and was intended to be an outlet for writing that serves a professional purpose, many of you might not even know that I’m pregnant- let alone that I’m experiencing some complications related to my pregnancy.  Unfortunately, in my line of work, too much personal disclosure is frowned upon.  Therapists constantly walk a fine line between the need to have real, human connections with their clients and keeping their personal selves out of those connections to some degree for the benefit of the client.  I tend to be quite comfortable sharing my experiences as a parent.  I do so in hopes that I might be able to connect with others as a fellow imperfect person who happens to be willing to bare my imperfections and accept yours so that we might be able to collaborate to support you in meeting your goals.

Anyway, the reason that I bring up my pregnancy complications in such a public forum is because there’s a very small chance that I might not make it through this pregnancy/childbirth.  With medicinal technology where it is today, chances are actually quite good that everything will be fine and this winter we’ll welcome a healthy baby girl into the world.  It’s human, though, to spend some time thinking about that small mortality rate.  I would also argue at this point that it’s healthy to spend some time thinking about our mortality in general.  When looking at a single digit percentage chance that I might die, it occurs to me- what are the chances that I might die of something else entirely either before or after the birth of my child?  It could happen, just as easily as I could be one of the few women with this pregnancy complication who don’t make it.

It’s uncomfortable, thinking about death.  Especially with regards to my son and the thought that he’ll outlive me (heaven forbid he doesn’t, that thought is simply too uncomfortable for me to touch).  Someday, I won’t be there for my son anymore.  As the sun sets on my life, it will wipe away the opportunity to tell him things I need to say, to teach him things I want him to know.  This will be the case whether it happens when I’m 80, or early next year- and I have no way of knowing which it’ll be.  Furthermore, I’ve always been certain that his life will be my greatest accomplishment.  He’s my opportunity to contribute to the world a person who can make a difference, even if it’s just by being a good father/husband/person himself someday.

We frequently hear inspirational quotes encouraging us to live each day as if it were our last.  I’ve often taken just a moment to absorb these in agreement, then quickly discarded the thought.  I’ve opted instead to pretend as if I’m immortal.  Granted, we shouldn’t spend too much time dwelling on this for fear of letting our lives slip away while we worry about our death- but we should pay attention to those reminders to take the time to tell others how we feel and settle our lives as much as we can so that we can leave with pride someday.

So here’s a few thoughts for you, now that I’ve depressed you a bit (sorry).

How would your child remember your life/relationship if it were to end right now?  What can you do to make that more closely resemble what you’d like it to be?

What things haven’t you said?  What wisdom haven’t you passed on to others?

I know it’s uncomfortable, but if you can- spend a little bit of time with that discomfort.  To feel is to be human, to be alive- even when the feelings aren’t pleasurable.  There’s much to be learned from all emotion- the good, the bad, the ugly included.

In the interest of practicing what I preach and saying what I feel needs to be said, I want you to know that you are a capable, valuable and wonderful person.  Whatever connection you and I may have, I can tell you that I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to touch your life and that you’ve touched mine (even if it’s just while you take the time to read this post and nothing more).  Whether I leave this world early next year, or not for another 70 years, I’m glad to have taken the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.  I hope you have a deliberately lovely day today.

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Self Care

 

Well, it was bound to come up at some point, so why not go there now?  I talk to nearly every one of the parents that I work with about self- care.  I tell them how important it is for their child to see them taking care of themselves and how important self- care is in approaching situations with their children in a productive, calm manner.  I give a pretty good talk, actually.  It’s convincing.  And, I’m somewhat full of crap when I give it.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe these things to be true wholeheartedly- I just really suck at practicing them myself.  I’ve even been guilty of telling my child that I have to go about my day even though I should be taking care of myself when sick, because who else will do the laundry (or whatever other chore needs to be done)?  Wow- let’s think about the messages I’m conveying to my child when I haven’t been centered enough to be deliberate in my interactions with my child.

I can’t stop to take care of myself because who else will take care of all this stuff, if not me?

Here’s the messages:

–          No one else in my home is able to do what I do.  That’s not true or kind.  My husband and my son are both able to switch a load of laundry for me, and it’s not nice to imply that they’re not capable human beings.

–          The laundry is more important than taking care of myself.  Is that how I want my son to feel about life?  That the chores are more important than our own well- being?  Nope.  It’s not.

I want my child to take care of himself with confidence when he’s older, no guilt.  Even now, I would love it if he’d say “I’m feeling sleepy, so I think I’ll go lie down early.” (Wouldn’t that be amazing?)  How could I expect that he would take that initiative if he’s never seen me do it?

The first step is getting yourself, and your child, to be able to identify your needs.  It may be a bit easier to start with times that you’re feeling ill- we all know we need rest, hydration, nourishment, etc.  Practice there, and then move on to other times; when you’re feeling cranky, or not very patient.  Tell your child- “I’m feeling crabby and need to take a few minutes of quiet time.”  And then go do what you need to do to center yourself again.  The benefit here is twofold:

  1. Your child will see you taking care of yourself and will gain these skills through their powerful ability to observe and apply.
  2. When you come back from a break, you’ll feel more centered and able to deal with parenting purposefully.

Then, to help your child apply this to their own lives- try offering them supportive suggestions when there’s something you think they need, rather than insisting on it.  They’ll feel empowered to actively seek out what they need on their own, and that’s an awesome thing.

We all want to teach our children to live life to the fullest, but we can’t do that if our children never see us enjoying and caring for our own lives.  I’m going to make it a point to work on practicing these skills more consistently- then maybe someday we can move on to asking for help when we need it.  Who’s with me?