Parenting

Celebrating Fatherhood

I am lucky to have three important men in my life: my dad, my husband, and my son.

Two of those men are fathers, the third may become one someday. That’s his choice when he’s ready.

I wanted to spend a post talking about how much I love and respect these two fathers in honor of Father’s Day yesterday.

My Father

I could list all the things my father did like many Father’s Day posts do: sitting with me when I was sick, teaching me something important, or dispensing sage life advice when necessary. All of which he’s done.

Or I can write about two formative lessons he passed on to me. One was an individual incident and the other was taught my entire life.

While I was “daddy’s little girl,” that didn’t mean I had to be girly-girl. In fact, I was more like “daddy’s little tomboy” growing up. He taught me how to climb trees, build a tree house, shoot a bow, ride a bike, scare my mom, and not allow boys to push me around because I was a girl.

Never once growing up did I ever feel the need to adhere to a specific gender role from my father. He never told me “no” because it was unladylike, nor did he expect me to behave a certain way because that’s how it’s done according to gender.

He made sure I understood one thing: don’t be what other’s want you to be. Only be yourself.

One of the best examples of this in my life happened when I was around 11/12 years old:

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Parenting

I Wish I Knew: Toddlers

This is the final part in my series  “I Wish I Knew.” Read about what I wish I knew relating to pregnancy, birth, and babies in parts onetwo, and threeThis post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.

Culturally speaking, toddlerhood is equal to teenage years when it comes to least favorite times to be a parent. Toddlers throw tantrums without regard to location or convenience, refuse to move, refuse to eat, and are all around terrors. Add a hundred more pounds and you’ve got a teenager.

The narrative is this: when someone asks how old your little one is and you answer somewhere between 1.5 and 3 years old, you get that look of “may God have mercy on your soul,” and the question of “so how bad are they? they must be going through their terrible twos?”

I had a neighbor make a comment about Jai’s age yesterday when he was mad I wouldn’t let him put all his sidewalk chalk in water. He whined a little, but soon got distracted by the neighborhood cat who came to visit.

What I Wish I Knew

I am at the very beginning of the “terrible twos” stage so I still have a lot of naiveté when it comes to how Jai is handling the whole situation. But something I wish someone had told me?

It’s really not that bad. It’s not easy, definitely not saying that it is easy, but it isn’t as bad as I’ve been lead to believe.

My mother told me that parenting is only as hard as you make it out to be, so if you don’t take the necessary steps to help foster certain behaviors you want and help them manage the behaviors you don’t, then there’s a chance you will end up with an unmanageable child. There are other factors at play in this scenario: means, temperament, and patience.

Lots and lots of patience.

There were things I wish my parents did or did not do when I was growing up, so I am making adjustments to my parenting to reflect what I think might have made a positive difference in my life and therefore in Jai’s life. I am hoping to remain flexible enough that when I see something isn’t working I can adjust it.

Because I am currently involved with this developmental stage, I wanted to offer my thoughts on the questions I asked other mothers as well.

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Parenting

I Wish I Knew: Newborns & Babies

This is the third part of my parenting series “I Wish I Knew.” Read about what I wish I knew relating to pregnancy and birth in parts one and two.

We’ve all heard it before: I wish children came with manuals.

There are plenty of books out there with information on how to raise a newborn, websites with troubleshooting tips, and professionals on the daily morning news cycles citing the latest studies on raising children. Each helps in their own way, but sometimes the noise can be a bit much for new parents, particularly sleep-deprived parents.

For myself, I appreciate looking to friends and family for their experience and advice. I kept my ears open when I was pregnant and filed the information away when I spent time with other mothers about what I would do once I became a mother.

What I Wish I Knew

I am not an expert at parenting, and I will never consider myself one, but I actually felt comfortable with how I would parent Jai in the first year. Beyond the newborn/baby stage? It would be one baby step at a time.

My main goal was to keep Jai fed, clothed, diapered, and entertained throughout the first year. I wanted to approach it with a relatively casual attitude, something I picked up from several other mothers, and just go with the flow.

There were a couple of approaches that I wanted to start almost immediately but scaled to Jai’s ability or development level:

  • Frequent bathtime
  • A bedtime routine
  • Taking time to explain something or giving him a quiet moment when he needed a break. That way it would be a habit for me when I needed to discipline him as a toddler

My thought process was that if he was used to each of these concepts when it came time to actually enforce them he would also go with the flow and minimize everyone’s stress level.

Something I didn’t know about was shift-sleeping. I mentioned this in a previous post, but when I commented to an acquaintance about the emotional and physical strain from lack of sleep I was feeling, they pointed me in the direction of working out a sleep schedule with Ash.

The idea is this: each partner takes a 6-hour shift at night to watch the baby while the other one sleeps during that block of time. When the time comes, the partners switch so each partner gets 6-hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. This gives each partner a chance to catch up on the sleep deficit and handle caring for a newborn better.

When Ash and I adopted this method of sleeping, it forced me to place a lot of trust in Ash’s ability to handle Jai without me for 6 hours at a time. I believe it helped Ash and Jai bond faster because while Ash wasn’t Mommy, he was another capable caretaker like Mommy.

This method was one that required my milk to come in and have enough stored for Ash or use formula to supplement, but I wish we had known about shift-sleeping from the beginning. It would have saved Ash and myself several weeks of tension and frustration. Some of the negative feelings came from my postpartum hormones, but I found that once I started getting a solid night’s sleep I was able to manage my emotions better.

Shift-sleeping fits in perfectly with my desire to go with the flow and because it forced me to trust Ash’s abilities, we were able to co-parent from the beginning. Once Jai started sleeping in his crib, we used a bassinet in our bedroom for the first month, we were able to resume sleeping on the same schedule in the same room. I know not every parent has a partner or even a supportive partner, so I acknowledge that this advice won’t help everyone.

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black cat cuddling baby
Parenting

Breastfeeding Struggles

For today’s post, I featured a photo I took when Jai was 3 months and my favorite cat used Jai as a bed. This doesn’t make for an easy nursing session and while it’s fun to show off silly pictures of cats making nursing difficult, struggling with breastfeeding is no laughing matter.

I struggled at first and then it got better. And then I struggled again and that got better.

This was my personal experience, so what worked for Jai and myself may not work for everyone, nor will you have to deal with the same issues I did. Please take what is contained in this post as suggestions/anecdotal evidence and not as universal fact. Please speak with a professional if you have any major concerns regarding breastfeeding.

Something to Remember

Prior to giving birth, I attended a breastfeeding class, took a bunch of notes because it is hard to shut the academic off most of the time, and requested a lactation consultant (LC) once I was in the recovery room. One thing that was never mentioned in the class or in the hospital, and this may be a failing on my birthing hospital’s part, was that there are two people in the process of breastfeeding.

It was only Jai and me.

I had the intellectual or logical knowledge of what to do and he had the instinctual knowledge. Unfortunately, I brushed aside instinct in favor of logic so I asserted what I thought was best on Jai. This is to say that when the LC came into the room, she shoved my breast into Jai’s mouth and snipped at me to listen for a swallow while holding his head to the breast. I tried to copy her aggressive manner of shoving the nipple into Jai’s mouth and keeping his head close so he wouldn’t move and prayed I would hear that swallow to indicate a latch.

Needless to say,  this manner of feeding was ineffective and did not work.

Both he and I got frustrated. I was frustrated because I wasn’t feeding my child and he was frustrated because he was hungry. I began to stress about my milk not coming in, that he’d be underweight and they wouldn’t release us from the hospital, the nurses were already getting judgemental over each box of newborn formula they brought in, and my hormones were working in overdrive.

I don’t remember crying, but I do remember feeling like a failure as a mother.

But the moment I shut out the intellectual learning and trusted my son to know what to do, he latched and within days my milk eventually came in strong. We were on our way to breastfeeding.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: My Ingredients to Self-Made Confidence

In keeping with wellness month, I asked Terez from Inspireme.Love to let me share her post about the importance of self-confidence and how to achieve it as a means for personal wellness. It fits in nicely with the theme of this month, especially when it comes to promoting resolution success. Enjoy this inspiring post and check out all her other social media accounts below.

This post originally appeared on her Inspireme.Love blog back in March 2018.


Do you feel powerless? You’re desperately fighting to lock out all the hurt that consumes your life, but it seems like the more you harden to protect your heart the more wounded you become. When was the last time you lived an entire day free from low self-esteem, low self-worth, poor self-image, self-rejection, self-blame, and negative feelings about yourself? Just all of it? A full day where you were in control of your feelings, your thoughts, and weren’t riding the roller coaster of painful emotions? You were fearless, confident, and fulfilled. If you struggle with loving yourself or parts of yourself, or are constantly fighting the temptation to resent others who have what you desire, then pour yourself a cup of coffee girlfriend and get cozy, because you’re not alone on this one and we’re about to dig down into those deep-rooted wounds that make each day so hard.

I’m going to first tell you something about you that you may not believe at first, but I genuinely hope that you come to grips with it, despite any daunting past years of self-doubt you have been abused by. You are powerful. You are capable of transforming your pain into opportunity. You have the ability to break free from self-loathing. You have the strength to be happy. You have the courage to look fear in the face and show it who you are. You have the heart to love every bruised and beaten part of your mind, your body, and your spirit. You have the resources inside you that will transform your interior and exterior life into one of joy and peace. You are the answer to all the questions you’ve cried your heart out over. Stop accepting that you are nothing but damaged goods, you’re past help, and you’re just going to keep living day by day sinking further into this black hole as though it’s part of your identity. It’s not who you are. You my dear are a fierce lionhearted heroine that can slay anything that has the nerve to step in your way, make you question your essence, and threaten to influence your power. You’re just amazing, let’s put it that way.

If you feel like your life is an out-of-control mess, and if you were to be brutally honest with yourself, you’d find yourself admitting that you gave up on life and yourself a long time ago, take it from someone whose been there, you’re more than your emotions, experiences, and circumstances, and you have the power to make something astonishing of yourself. Do what I did and become your own damn boss. Take control. Here are my ingredients to self-made confidence that have empowered me to overcome anything that challenges me to turn on myself and live unfulfilled. You’ll find that once you are walking in confidence you will be living a very different life.

SELF-WORTH

Do you feel worthy and deserving of a good and happy life? Your answer reflects your self-worth. If you feel unworthy and undeserving then you must strive to grow your self-worth so that you feel at your core your value in who you are justifies having an abundant life. When one has low self-worth they may feel worthless, that they belong in an unhappy lifestyle, that they deserve to be shamed, that their mistakes can’t be forgiven, that they need punishment, that they have to hurt themselves, or that they don’t deserve love. When one lives with low self-worth it is a very dark and lonely life. One often tries to quench the pain by things that boost their ego, such as puffing one’s self up and exaggerating one’s self. They enlarge themselves greater than they actually feel about themselves, leaving them unfulfilled.

Common behaviors that demonstrate this are bullying, mocking, putting others down, turning people against someone, attention-seeking, rejecting confident people, taking pleasure in making someone feel bad about themselves, deliberately hurting someone’s feelings, bad mouthing someone, spreading rumors, refusal to celebrate someone’s victories, rejoicing in someone’s mistakes, turning down an opportunity to support someone, projecting one’s insecurities onto others, belittling, insulting, throwing pity parties, taking envious action against someone, and measuring one’s own worth with status, wealth, achievements, beauty, popularity, respect, love, and admiration from others. The list goes on and on. When one measures their worth with the exterior they are perpetually placing value on something that is ever changing, such as the opinions of others. The result? One lives in an endless swing of high inflation to plummets of deep depression. There is no such thing as stability or safety. One lives fear-driven, hiding their authenticity behind a mask that they tie their identity to. (Perhaps a shot of whiskey would do us more good than coffee. Go get it girl!).

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