New Mother: A Letter for You

Hello new mother. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Just a few years ago you were…well, we won’t go there. But we want to welcome you to this new place, this cadre of moms. We are everywhere. Driving down the street. Walking to a bus stop. Hanging out at the checkout line at Target. Stopping at Starbucks to get a tall mocha latte {Well, the mothers with older/adult children are lounging at Starbucks. The younger moms are at the park trying to convince their preschooler that eating sand isn’t a good source of fiber.}

You’ve been blessed.

But just because you have been blessed doesn’t mean it will be easy. No sirree. It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had. Some days I’d rather scrub a toilet than take the time to put on the mother hat and calm a tantrum. But I’m going to take a bet and say you’ve had your hard days too.

baby

New mother, your little one is so very fresh. Fresh from the hands of God. I’m sure you’ve read all the books and heard all the advice you can, especially the advice about enjoying it now, because they grow up so very fast. I personally haven’t gotten to that stage of motherhood yet, but sometimes I look at my three year old and can picture him swaddled in a blanket in my mind’s eye.

I could say all of this nice, profound philosophical stuff, but really, truly: having a newborn stinks like a poopy diaper. So it can be hard for a mother to relish every moment.

I’d be lying if I told you that I was full of that “new mom joy” when I had a newborn screaming in my ear for hours.

mother2

I could definitely wait to become pregnant again. I looked at other mothers who had two, three, four, five, six, seven…children and thought they were smoking something. Pushing the one baby out took a feat of monumental, non-human strength. And the reward for my effort? Sleepless nights.

I despised the early days. Truly despised them. I wanted to give the Mother Badge back.  I didn’t like it when my husband started calling me “Mommy” instead of “Preslaysa.” I told him to stop doing so, but he didn’t want the baby growing up calling me “Preslaysa.” I lost that one. I felt like my life was over: that my identity would forever be lost in being a “mother.”

And I felt guilty about that. Was it a sin to feel this way? Shouldn’t a mother feel joyful and so in love with their new baby right now?

My heart wasn’t so sure.

I can’t sleep because I worry all the time about everything.

-A new mom

Still the guilt plagued me. Did God look down from heaven at me and say: “Preslaysa, I mean, Mommy,  is breaking all the Christian Mother Rules. Too bad we can’t take the baby back, give him to another mother. We’ll just have to play this one out and hope for the best.”

But I do remember when I felt the first ember of love toward my son. It was in the middle of the night. Husband was sound asleep after giving him the 2 a.m. feeding, but the baby was screaming.

So, of course, dutiful new mom was up.

I went to his room and picked him up out of the crib. Then he stopped crying {of course}. Then we walked to our tiny kitchen and the moonlight filtered through the half-closed, white blinds and shone on his cherubic face. His liquid brown eyes looked up in awe at the moon.

I looked up in awe at him.

But before that moment, all I can remember was that my house was a wreck. And all I did was change diapers, feed a baby, rock a baby, dress a baby, hope {and pray} a baby would nap. And maybe try to find some inkling of time for me.

I wasn’t in love.

Second time around, things were a little easier {a little}, but they were still hard. Second time around, I worried if both children were treated the same way. I wanted to be the Democratic Mother. Read this post about my struggles to be an equal opportunity mother.

But I can’t live life making sure the scales are always balanced. Love is love. Plain and simple.

I know a lot of moms feel this way. After taking all those childbirth classes and reading all those books, you think you’d be excited about parenthood. When all you’re really trying to do is make it.

We know what that’s like.

The point of this letter is to let you know that I’ve been there. Many women have been there. And that it’ll get better. Much better.

And since you’ve heard a lot of advice already, a little more won’t hurt. A few tips:

*Go to bed. Don’t try to be superwoman. You brought forth a new life. That’s super enough.

*Messy house is fine too.

*If you don’t want to entertain visitors, don’t.

*You may get down. You may get depressed. I suffered from a deep, prolonged depression prior to becoming a mother. After becoming a mom, the stress of a newborn caused me to worry that I’d sink into another depression. That’s a normal feeling. If you feel that way, seek out help. Don’t hide behind a Happy Mother mask.

That’s all. {Giving you a hug now.}

What were the early days like for you? If you are going through those days now, how’s it going?

Cornerstone Confessions

Battling Mister Blank Screen

I hate staring at a blank screen.

I hate staring at all computer screens, blank or busy. The blank screen is far too bright. It leads me down the wide, destructive road of twisty internet searches in search of…nothing, and it keeps me up past my normal bedtime.

Blank screen

Photo Credit: channah

For my writer-mind, blank computer screens are the worst. Blank computer screens are the antithesis of natural writing. They are abysmal, glaring eyesores which constantly remind me of  my lack of creativity, my lack of ability, and my lack of all the other “—ivity” words which I can’t recall at the moment because this computer has me up past my normal bedtime.

What is my normal bedtime? I don’t even know. This crazy computer screen has scrambled my brain.

To battle these technological stupors, I often turn to my small notebook.

blank screen

Photo Credit: christgr

 

The pages in my small notebook are a gentle shade of tan, easy on the eyes and gentle on the mind. Ideas abound in my small notebook. Even the physical act of writing, pen to paper, quiets my scatty tendencies and centers me. Yet at times I still get stumped, and when I do, I engage in this series of writing prompts:

My Battle Plan Against Mister Blank Screen
  1. “I want to write a (story, article, scene) about….” (write about this for 5 minutes)
  2. “The topic that interests me the most is…” (write for 5 more minutes)
  3. “Ten points that I could cover in this (story, article, scene) are…” (write for 10 minutes)
  4. Take the most interesting point from number 3 and write on it for five minutes. Repeat for the second and third most interesting points for five minutes each.
  5. In this (scene, article) the central dramatic conflict/argument is…. (write for 5 minutes)
  6. In this (scene, article) the central dramatic conflict/argument is resolved when…. (write for 5 minutes)

After this, I usually have a something nice and messy and meaty written in my small notebook. Something which I can now type all over that annoying, blank computer screen.

So there you go Mister Blank Screen. This writer has beaten you once again.

All My Belongings Book Review

All-My-Belongings-e1398228643110All My Belongings

A new life and a new identity can’t protect Becca from a past that refuses to go away.

After spending years running from the shame her father put on her family, Jayne is determined not to let him steal her future in the same way he stole her childhood. Changing her name to Becca Morrow, she moves to California and settles into a new life and new job caring for ailing mother of handsome young businessman, Isaac Hughes.

But just as she’s wondering if she and Isaac are headed for a relationship, Becca’s patient passes away under unusual circumstances. Suddenly, her past catches up with her and the unnerving details of her heritage threaten to destroy all sense of home and all hope for love.

Even if she could clear her name, a phone call wraps a suffocating shroud around her heart. Her estranged father needs her help. But can Becca open her new life to the man who ruined her past?

My Review

Wow, this was such a compelling story I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. The author handled the topic of dementia with care and grace. The characters came across as real people who dealt with serious issues. After reading this book, I am adding Ruchti to my list of to-read authors.

CRuchti-145About the Author

Cynthia Ruchti has more than three decades of radio broadcast experience with “Heartbeat of the Home” radio and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. Find Cynthia on the Web at www.cynthiaruchti.com.

Screaming Mamas: This One is for You

Screaming mamas, I have another confession. I too am a screaming mama. I scream like a toddler and/or a baby. Only I’m not a toddler, and I’m not a baby. I’m in my thirties. Therefore, my screaming is ultra-un-normal. Ahem, abnormal.

Why do I scream? For starters, my children scream, and sometimes–okay, a lot of times–I rationalize that screaming louder than my children will beef up my parental authority. It’s a reflex, knee-jerk, bad on all levels parenting technique.

screaming mamas

Photo Credit: ralaenin

It doesn’t work. My children giggle at me and continue on their merry misbehaving ways. Screaming has become ingrained in me, and I don’t like it. I recall one morning, during my quiet time, telling God that I WON’T SCREAM TODAY. (I wrote that in all CAPS in my journal because sometimes you just gotta get your point across to Him.) Soon as I hit the floor, I started screaming.

Can you believe that my prayer didn’t get answered? I couldn’t believe it either. What was I to do?

Pray still.

Hug still.

Love still.

And use those “I-message” communication techniques I read about in my Early Childhood Education class. Oh yeah, I have two college degrees, but I took some Early Childhood Ed. classes last year to help with my parenting skills. I pulled out the college textbooks for this one. Surprisingly, none of my textbooks said anything about screaming mamas like me.

Praying, hugging and loving on my children are as natural to me as screaming. (Don’t ask me how that makes sense, just accept it.) I-messages are odd. I-messages are assertive. To me, it’s easier to scream than to be assertive.

How Screaming Mamas Can Be More Assertive (Sort of)

This is assertive:

“Son, I feel angry when you blatantly ignore me after I asked you to sit at your chair for lunch. Do you know that I was in labor with you for TWENTY FOUR HOURS…UNMEDICATED?”

“Daughter, I feel upset when you howl for your sippy cup instead of asking politely. MY EARDRUMS CAN ONLY TAKE SO MUCH.”

But assertive must be done. Don’t want to be that frazzled mom anymore. Perhaps I can do baby steps. One I-message a day? Oh, and the textbooks say I have to look them in the eye when I say my special I-message.  That’s lot of steps to navigate, but I’ll try.

Are you a screamer? Or am I the only one? Let’s talk about it.

Guest Blogging On Seekerville Today

Hey folks,

I’m at Seekerville talking about how to juggle writing and parenthood! Stop on over and join the fun.