I had my daughter a week before my 37th birthday – so I’m a little bit of an older first-time-mom. And maybe it’s with several years of business ownership, personal and professional development experience, big responsibilities and life lessons behind me that I’ve come to realize I have a less-than-typical perspective on life. For a long time, it came so naturally to me, that I believe I was blissfully unaware of this! It wasn’t until I began to surround myself with a new mom community, that the disparity was magnified to me on this microcosmic of motherhood.
Arduous is Admirable?
Over the years, I’ve come to notice that the majority of the population thinks there should be accolades and awards for their level of life or situation difficulty. As though the worse off their circumstance, the more praise they deserve. I overhear others tell stories of struggle (we all have them, of course), only to be “one-upped” by how much worse someone else has it. As a society, it seems we’ve become attached to the concept that arduous is admirable. I wholeheartedly disagree. Why do we do this? Why do we, as a society, seem to focus on how hard things are – when the reverse perspective offers so much potential in our lives?
I’ve looked forward to becoming a mom for years. I’ve always known it was in my future, and was thrilled when my husband and I found out we were expecting! I was excited to experience pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the changes that were inevitable becoming a new mom. After all, for a decade I’d had the honor of assisting women through their pregnancies in my chiropractic practice. I’ve been excited for the elevated potential to which I’d be able to help others once gaining personal experience to add to my knowledge and understanding.
Unexpected “Mom Guilt”
It wasn’t long into my pregnancy, however, that I started to feel “mom guilt.” But the mom guilt I experienced was nothing like I’d heard about. Most moms seem to talk about how bad their morning sickness was, or how swollen their feet were, or how much they disliked the changes happening in their body as their baby grew. I don’t think that bringing up the negative was intentional – just a “default” perspective. In the past, I’d most often been in the position to offer practical solutions to these concerns. That was my job – and I loved it! But when having conversations with other women strictly as just another soon-to-be-mom, what I noticed was unexpected.
It came as a surprise to me that when encountering other soon-to-be mothers and sharing my beautiful story, they didn’t want to hear about the amazing experience I was having. Instead of hearing, “wow, that’s fantastic!” or “I’m so excited for you!” I received comments such as, “must be nice” that weren’t necessarily meant in a positive and uplifting way. Now that my baby is 3 months old, I still find it hard not to share how much I enjoy being a mom, and how proud I am of what an amazing baby she is. If I tell someone, “she has slept through the night since she was 4 days old,” the most common response is, “don’t tell any other new moms that!” For some reason, I realized, it seemed that most wanted to hear and share only the hard stuff.
No question, while it’s important for everyone to share and be encouraged during these times, and reach out for help when needed. We need to support each other! But only focusing on and conversing from this perspective doesn’t truly serve anyone. If we shared the amazing and positive stories (we all have those, too!), wouldn’t we all be in a much better position to help each other?
My husband and I spend time consciously choosing our values – and making decisions in our life based on those values. As chiropractors, one of our very highest values in both our personal and professional lives is health. You can guess, then, that before becoming pregnant, I had been taking excellent care of myself, just as I advise my patients. And after finding out I was pregnant, those health-conscious decisions were kicked into overdrive – because now how I treated my body would directly impact my baby! My pregnancy, purely from a subjective standpoint, was a very atypical experience than what most women share. Sure, I was tired some days – but my body was growing another human – that’s to be expected, right?! To me, that is just a sign to go to bed early, get some extra rest. At 14-weeks, I felt my baby start to move for the very first time, and consciously spent quiet time waiting to feel that little life signal to me her strength! Throughout the day, I’d talk to her and read or say many affirmations (I suggest telling your unborn baby, “you’re a great sleeper!”). How can we shift our consciousness and perspective to come from this positive, uplifting viewpoint?
Rising Tides Lift All Boats
We should all be sharing the positive stories, as a way to encourage others. As they say, “rising tides lift all boats,” and the same holds true for sharing positive experiences and ideas.
My husband would ensure I had smoothies waiting for me in the refrigerator when I woke up most mornings. He’d play relaxing music as we enjoyed great conversation over dinner almost every evening, and draw me a bath before bed many nights each week. He was supportive, a great listener, and intentionally present. I worked out regularly, got plenty of sleep, ate nourishing foods, and took supplements religiously. During my pregnancy, I was the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been. I was thrilled to be planning a drug-free home birth, and sought out beautiful birth stories from others who had experiences similar to what I desired for myself.
During those 10 months (yes, I didn’t give birth until 43 weeks and 2 days), I most definitely had hard days to master, challenges to overcome, and fears to conquer. It has never been in the hard days, challenges or fears that I took pride. It was in the mastering, overcoming and conquering that I found fulfillment. Isn’t this what we should all be focusing on, talking about, and encouraging each other with?
And now, after a pregnancy of thoughtful planning, intentional choices and conscious thought – I find myself blissfully enjoying motherhood. And I want so badly to share what I’ve done to accomplish this ease in my life. How I’ve so naturally, but consciously established an amazing balance of work, family and self-care. I want to help others experience what’s possible – that they, too, can “let it be easy” and take pride in that! How can we, as a collective society, begin to shift our paradigm away from the idea that arduous is admirable? We will teach our daughter that with hard work, determination and conscious intention, it’s admirable to “let it be easy.” We have already begun to do so in many interesting ways. One of the newest affirmations I say to her comes from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s book, “The Power of Intention.” “You have an endless stream of green lights before you!”