By Natascha Jaffa
I didn't know I was suffering from postpartum depression.
I'd had my daughter a few weeks before, but while I felt physically healthier, I found myself sinking in every other aspect of my life.
I didn't want people to come over to my house to see the baby. I wouldn't let my husband anywhere near my newborn, and it felt like all I was doing with my four-year-old was screaming.
I spent my days deep cleaning every inch of my house then crumbling into a pile of sobs when the baby woke up. My entire life had turned into a rollercoaster I couldn't stop.
I tried reaching out to my mother-in-law. She ignored me.
I tried talking to my husband. He didn't believe depression was anything more than a cry for attention (at the time--he's since come to a different understanding and I still love him. Lol.).
At my six-week follow-up appointment, I mentioned my feelings to my OB/GYN, and his response? "Why didn't you call me?"
In that moment, it was suddenly my fault I didn't realize what was happening. My fault that I didn't have the right education on postpartum depression so I could self-monitor or have an effective conversation with my husband. It was my fault I was in this mess and that I'd let this happen.
(Not really. Because my brain--and yours--is going to lie to you when you're suffering from depression)
That night, as dejection and hopelessness consumed me, I fantasized about suffocating my newborn with a pillow. For the first time ever, my thoughts scared me.
It was then I realized this wasn't just an adjustment period, and I had to admit that I wasn't managing. But, more importantly, I couldn't rely on my immediate family to help. I wasn't going to get their support because they literally didn't understand what I was going through.
It took months to unravel my feelings of worthlessness and accept that I needed outside help. Of course, I'd done my due diligence in knowing what postpartum depression was before giving birth and weighing the chances I would fall victim to it.
But when you're in it, you can't see anything except that dark hole you want to get out of.
I gradually got better. I got more sleep. I eliminated foods from my diet that made me feel worse. I drank more water and got more exercise. But the best thing I did for myself? I got support from another mom (not my mother-in-law). Just the simple act of us taking our babies on walks after the bus picked up our kindergartners and talking changed everything for me. I felt seen.
If my story resonates with you or if you think it someone you love is experiencing postpartum depression, please don't rely on other people to point it out to you.
👉🏻 Make the call to SAMHSA's hotline.
👉🏻 Make the appointment to see a therapist or a psychiatrist.
👉🏻 Reach out to a trusted friend, your OB/GYN, or talk to your significant other. And if that doesn't work, try someone else.
👉🏻 Advocate for yourself.
Because you are worthy. You are loved. You have value despite what your brain might be trying to tell you. And, no, we are not better off without you. Don't give up.
By Phyllis Moyes
Diversity is a buzzword for our day; it should be. Diversity enriches innovation and creativity, cultivates a feeling of just security, and helps every age, gender, race, or culture feel represented. But what if I told you that we (every human) have the same needs at the center of the heart? It's true! It doesn't matter who you are; everyone has Core Needs.
Look at this list. Do any or all of these resonate with your heart?
Basic Core Needs:
When Core Needs go unmet, Primary Emotions are activated. Look at this list and see if you can relate.
Examples of Primary Emotions
Primary Emotions usually set off an avalanche of Secondary Emotions. Can you relate?
Examples of Secondary Emotions
Here is a video clip created by BYUiDo.org that explains the concept well. (This video speaks about the Core Needs Model for bettering marriage but it is applicable to any relationship.)
Can I share an example with you that will help illustrate this idea better? From the time my daughter was in eighth grade and up until she graduated from high school, we had a complicated relationship. (Moms, if your child is in junior high, stop what you are doing now and hug them! Chances are, they need it.) I am grateful for hindsight because I can see the complexity of our relationship clearer now. I didn't have words for it then, but I have since realized that I wasn't angry (Secondary Emotion) with her; I was scared -- a primary emotion that came from my unmet core need for security. She was involved in a rough crowd, and they scared me. I didn't trust that her choices would keep her safe. Further, my core need for a genuine connection with her felt severed so I felt lonely (a primary emotion), which I usually expressed through the secondary emotion of anger.
For an even clearer illustration, pretend that you are hiking with your daughter when suddenly, a grizzly bear begins charging for her. Immediately, your heart starts to race; you are so scared (primary emotion). Fight or flight takes over, and you start charging for the bear, using a secondary emotion of anger. You are a warrior who will stop at nothing to save your daughter!
At that moment, what is the need? Is the need to be angry at the bear? No. The grizzly is an immediate threat to your core need of keeping your daughter safe, so there's a surge of fear (primary emotion), which triggers something inside us to fight; so we become angry and fierce.
My daughter also had unmet core needs. She was desperate for connection and security at home, but every interaction seemed hostile and contentious. Remember, I was in fear mode and expressed it through anger. She wanted to feel independent, have a sense of sovereign power, and feel respected and heard. But I was too busy feeding the worry from my own unmet needs.
Do you see the pattern? It is cyclical. We both had unmet core needs, leading to primary and secondary emotions.
I remember the day it changed -- or rather, I changed. I made a conscious effort to have ten positive exchanges for every corrective interaction. Sometimes it was hard because the fear was so great, but when I stepped back and took a breath, I could meet her core needs better. An interesting thing happened; when I met her core needs, mine seemed to follow.
As you engage your teenagers this week, ask yourself, "Which of my core needs are not being met, leading me to feel _____ (angry, anxiety, sadness, irritation, etc.?)"
And please be sure to also ask yourself -- or even your teen directly -- "Which of my child's core needs are not being met, leading them to feel ____."
My experience is that once the core needs are met, the emotions and relationship change organically.
By Haley Lachnidt, Momivate's Unique Circumstances CouncilMom
I asked people who identify with the LGBTQ+ community what they wish their families would or wouldn’t have said when they came out, and these were the responses:
“If my parents would have shown a little bit of support it would have made a world of difference. Instead, they took away all of my possessions that made me happy, they bullied and beat me. Now, they can’t understand why I can’t get close to them. I just wanted to be accepted. Now they tell me they don’t believe I’m really bisexual.”
“I wish my mom would have said something, anything at all. I wish my dad would have told me that he still loved me, rather than telling me I was going to fail at every relationship for the rest of my life.”
“I wish they didn’t tell me what I was doing is disgusting.”
“I just wish my sister wouldn’t have said ‘you just left an abusive relationship, you aren’t gay, it’s just a phase,’ not realizing I’ve been gay my whole life. I just hid my sexuality and forced myself to wear a straight mask in order to survive our family. My parents were the only people that didn’t know, and when I finally got the guts to tell them, my mom couldn’t shut up about how my brother is dating ‘a bisexual’ and how disgusted she is by it. I wish I could hear ‘I just want you to be happy, I love you no matter what.’ I know I will never hear that from my family, so I always make sure I say it to my own son.”
“I wish my mom hadn’t acted accepting and then requested I leave my identity at home when she’d invite me over. I wish she had the decency to say what she really wanted to say about it when I came to her the first time, instead of pretending and giving me false hope that I’m still accepted.”
“I wish my father hadn’t said I need therapy and would have accepted me along with all of my friends.”
“I haven’t told my family. I have known I’m gay since I was 11 years old and I have not told anybody. I did try to tell my mom when I first discovered it, and she questioned me like she didn’t believe me or trust in the fact that I know who I am attracted to. She’d go behind my back talking to my friends about how my taste in men has always been feminine men, but she’d also say it was only a phase. She acted accepting to my face, but I could see in her eyes and in the things she’d say behind my back that she didn't mean it. I’ve hinted it towards the rest of my family but I also listen to the things and the slurs they openly say when talking about the LGBTQ community. I don’t think I will ever tell them. I know if I did I wouldn’t have a family anymore, and that’s the loneliest feeling in the world. I just wish I could have a family, even if they don’t understand it, I wish they would just accept me as their family no matter who I love. I wish I didn’t have to feel like a stranger and an outsider in my own family anymore.”
“I wish my dad would’ve started using my chosen name and pronouns. I wish he wouldn’t have made me out to be the bad guy, like me being who I am was causing him pain.”
“I have been lucky. My mom has been absolutely lovely. I actually got this text from her the week after I told her. She had bought a decorative pillow with hearts in the shape of a rainbow and told me ‘bought you something, I love you for who you are.’ She asked some questions that you generally shouldn’t ask, but she gets a pass because I want her to ask me anything if it can help her to understand. She’s supportive, it’s just still new to her. I also got a text from my aunt after I spent a weekend with her and told her I have a girlfriend. She essentially said she will always be the leader of my fan club because I’m her girl, I’m me no matter who I love, and that the whole family will always love me for me, no matter what.”
LGBTQ youth want nothing more than to be loved and accepted by their family. Family is the most important thing no matter who you love or who someone else in your family loves. When anybody, part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, has family on their side, facing the rest of the world becomes a lot easier than it would be without family.
LGBTQ youth face many challenges from the rest of the world. Challenges such as bullying, harassment, discrimination, stalking, and even trouble finding jobs or being allowed to participate in extracurricular activities at school, and the only reason for this hatred is because of who they can’t help but love.
With family on their side, the risks LGBTQ youth face as a consequence of harrassment and discrimination such as self-harm, suicide, mental illness, homelessness, and substance abuse can greatly decrease.
Hate does not counteract love. Love conquers all.
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Cultivate Leader
Have you ever noticed the oddities of life?
...like how the birthday cake you’re making never looks like the one in the picture?
Never mind comparing it to the picture – which is actually a cake made of four layers, so that means you actually have to use TWO cake mixes... but the picture won’t tell you that.
Pay no attention to the fact that the sad crack in your attempt at the cake will NOT stay “glued” together, no matter how much frosting you use to cement it together.
And don’t even notice the huge crumbs that are adhering to the once-white frosting (maybe some sprinkles will hide them!!). Perhaps, you conclude, the sides look better unfrosted anyway!
OR - Does it ever seem that the most meaningful conversation you get to have with your spouse is:
-- at the end of the day,
-- at the bathroom sink
-- while you are foaming at the mouth with an electric toothbrush wildly sputtering, unable in the least to utter a sensible word?
So, you play the game of charades or better yet – an impromptu sign language which you try to decipher without splattering toothpaste blobs on the mirror as you laugh through the hilarity of it all?
OR - Do you find yourself seething at the injustice of finding that there are always at least 3 diapers left in the package that absolutely WILL NOT fit your baby before they transfer to the next size up?
AND - Have you tried to mathematically explain why, with so few people in the family, every single cup in the house gets dirtied – including the measuring cups?
I’m probably not the only one who has had more than her share of Pinterest fails and foibles. But if my Better Crocker skills don’t take the cake at least my attitude will. If you’re like me, and even one of these scenarios rings true for you, this might be a good time to take a look at a happy principle that can help every mother and homemaker: realistic expectations. Yes, with a little reality check, you can take anything that comes with ease.
Did you know that some things are supposed to be imperfect?
Mismatched socks... scuffs on your best running shoes... sticky fingerprints on the fridge door handle... Almost imperceptibly, flabby bellies, burnt toast, and layers of dust just happen. Life happens!
There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with your family. It is what it is.
And it’s not only OK for it to be this way, it is supposed to be that way!
Take the coffee table for example – an innocent enough piece of furniture wouldn’t you say? But in a house full of children, is it really going to stay a focal piece impressively set with elegant table top décor? Of course not! You and I both know that even the best homes aren’t picture perfect.
We can expect that homes with children have their fair share of crumbs, smelly socks, broken figurines, lost items, scattered toys, ripped pages in books, smears on the sliding glass door, and on and on. It helps when I know that some things will inevitably happen, because it allows me a great deal of sanity for when the unexpected happens and things don’t work out perfectly.
In fact, if you can look at it with a smile in your heart, you might just find it so ludicrous that it provides a moment of laughter that you look back on with fondness.
While mothering my Littles, I frequently found peace of mind through a quote often attributed to Marjorie Pay Hinckley to help me remember that my priorities were just where they should be:
I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here, and that I really lived.
Expecting reality doesn’t mean admitting defeat!
I can expect, for example, that my children will make endless messes (and I will too), but that doesn’t stop us from cleaning it up at the appropriate time.
My communication with my spouse may be spotty at times, but that doesn’t mean we neglect our relationship. We regularly and consistently schedule time to be with one another to just TALK (most times without a dental implement in hand).
We are gloriously imperfect in each and every way, but we set goals, and give assignments. And we put our plan into action with a little elbow grease. We do it, remembering the WHY of it all – not to satisfy some plausible guest who never seems to stop by, nor even to catch up to the Jones family (although we admit that they ARE a nice bunch!) - but because we like it that way. In fact, we even enjoy it!
I am enough.
I can be happy without being Pinterest Perfect. While the Internet world of “reality” sometimes creates a facade of perfectly clean homes, the Gerber baby who never cries, and homes decorated to a “T,” I can be happy with what we have and who we are becoming. I may also (heaven forbid) go without some of the niceties of the luxury homes in order to allow myself to spend more time concentrating my efforts more closely on building a strong home and family. We can also give ourselves credit for being creative, even if it means that we make a mess for a while. We are, after all, learning, growing, and developing together. In fact, we are a living, breathing work of art! I suppose the casual passerby may judge me and my efforts (or seemingly lack of them), but that judge won’t be me. I will give myself grace allowing me and my family space to be real humans. We ARE indeed “good enough.” We can have strength and self - confidence to do and be and achieve in real albeit imperfect ways.
By Meagan Waite from the Discovery Family Coalition
Dr. Seuss, the beloved children’s author, wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” on a bet. The co-founder of Random House Publishing, Mr. Bennett Cerf, wagered that Seuss couldn’t write a book that had fewer than 50 unique words. Seuss won 50 bucks, and we have a piece of literary art with which one cannot help but rhyme along.
If you haven’t read it, you should. It can get you thinking about the relationship between what you believe and what you experience. It can encourage you to think outside the box (no would-nots, could-nots for you!) and try new things. It can give you courage to show resilience in the face of challenges, opposition, and adversity.
Yes, reading can do that for you.
March is National Reading Month. It has been designated as such in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March 2. My Discovery Destination! is celebrating. How? With a Discovery Hunt, of course! In fact, we bet YOU that you are going to love this Hunt, and we dare you to try and prove us wrong.
Oh the places you’ll go! It’s easy! Download the GooseChase app and search for the Hunt with the name “Oh The Places You’ll Go” (named in honor of Dr. Seuss, as is this article) or with the game code “SEUSS”. You are going to want to get started right away. The Hunt is full of Adventures that are educational. They are fun. And they have the ability to strengthen your family and build resilience in your children.
Yes, Discovery Hunts can do that for you.
By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
Snuggled up in my arms, my little grandson stares up at me with his big beautiful innocent eyes. Together we rock back and forth in the overstuffed chair singing song after song and I’m convinced that I love him more every second! As I sing, my mind wanders back to yesteryear when my babies were tiny and I sang song after song to them – hoping to relax them and hush their sleepytime fears. Hoping to instill in them the things I knew were true. Hoping to fill their hearts with the love that I had for them.
It’s amazing how magical music can be! Music has a way of touching our hearts and filling our memories with the best things of life.
Music was at the heart of the home I grew up in, so naturally, as an adult, I shared it with my children. We sang lilting lullabies and fun children’s sing-along recordings. We also offered xylophones, harmonicas, recorders, and rhythm instruments for the little ones to explore creating their own sounds.
As a classical musician, I knew the benefits of classical music: an increased learning capacity, creativity, and self-esteem, to name only a few. Knowing that our children weren’t going to grow up on a farm (like my parents did), we still wanted to teach them hard work, patience, and discipline. We decided to instill these values through formal music lessons! Thus, we became the beneficiaries of practice sessions, morning-noon-and-night! We eagerly attended recitals and concerts galore! Music sweetly and simply lent a soothing atmosphere to our home and even our car, as we traveled to and fro.
Music became a parenting friend that would quiet the mayhem of the moment. When life became a little hairy and scary and the decibel level was a little too high, I would nonchalantly pop in a CD of classical music or church hymns (my secret weapons!) and - voila! - an essence of calm and peace would descend! Soon, things would settle down.
With a house full of rambunctious kiddos, we found that with a little creativity, there seemed to be a song for every situation that could gently persuade, teach, or motivate. Songs to make diaper changes more pleasant, songs to make hair washing less scary, songs to help children cooperate when it was time to brush their teeth. Sometimes songs distracted us from the mundane and helped to pass the time while we did the dishes or other chores. At bedtime, songs even helped us march up to bed in a happy way! We became a train connecting arms at the shoulders and chugging up the stairs singing, “Choo choo choo, what’s coming down the track?” The person in the lead would “pull the whistle” and up we went.
Music was an unseen friend that added joy and spontaneity to our lives at just the right time! Sometimes the music was a toe – tapping “Turkey in the Straw” for a Thanksgiving program! Or the girls would make up choreography to a whimsical children’s song, their fancy dresses swirling in a wide circle. Sometimes a child surprised us with an unsolicited solo of a kindergarten-melody as they stood atop a make-shift stage (aka a chair in the dining room). And impromptu Family Talent Shows gave us rousing marches, emphasized by mini flags in the front room!
With littles on the loose, life is more pleasant with a song in your heart. In your home or on the go, music has the power to create a sort of a haven that smooths the creases of chaos and lifts the spirit. So, whether your family chooses to learn an instrument or two, sing at top volume in the shower, or pop in a favorite CD, music is the power to make any moment a happy one!
By Esperanza DeLaLuz
Today when this world is so often in chaos, it is critical to remember what is important and what lasts. Too often the world, in general, demeans the role of homemaker. It seems to say that being a homemaker is what you do when you aren’t smart enough, strong enough, driven enough, or educated enough, to work outside the home. And that is clearly not the truth.
Making a home is much more than cooking, cleaning, and washing—you can hire those things out, if you have enough money. But you can’t pay someone to be your child’s mother. You can hire a babysitter, even a nanny who becomes devoted to your child—but that is still your child, and no one can love that child as you do, with love that is visceral, concrete, and unshaken.
Homemaking is mothering, too--making an environment where the people you love are able to grow and dream and feel safe. Homemaking is creating a haven, a breathing space, and a refuge from the world. Homemaking is helping children build a relationship with God.
Being a mother has challenges; it is not a job for the weak or the lazy or the selfish. But even if, like me, one has tendencies towards those things, it is amazing how much one improves when those tendencies interfere with the well-being of your child. Suddenly, selfishness becomes getting and doing and being whatever your child needs. Laziness is converted to opportunities to cuddle and sing, read stories and rocking your little one. And weakness—well, turning weakness into strength is something we model for our children. Inspired by our children's needs, we gradually become less weak, lazy, and selfish.
So, making a home for your children—your family—that is comforting, safe, and clean is nice, but it’s secondary to the love you have for your family. You do it because your family needs it—and hopefully they appreciate it (and learn to help)—but loving comes first. So, when you stress about how little housework you have managed to get done because you have spent your time mothering instead of cleaning, think of this charming little poem:
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ‘til tomorrow,
For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.
-- Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
By Sam Allred, Momivate's Music, Inspiration, and Laughter CouncilMom
Anyone who has spent an entire day with kids knows that it can be overwhelming and difficult. Many days are full of laughter, playing, and joy. But some days are full of tears and tantrums - all day long.
On those bad days, it is easy to start down a spiral of stress and frustration and those emotions have a huge impact on our kids. That’s why it is important to know how to change your bad days into good days.
Here are a few tips you can try the next time you’re having a rough day at home with the kids:
1. Get Outside!
If you're cranky, then the kids are probably cranky too. Dishes and laundry can wait for an hour while you take the kids on a walk or to the park. Let your kids run, soak up some sun, and explore. Being outside is a fantastic mood lifter.
2. Set the Timer for Ten Minutes
If you are feeling overwhelmed with a to-do list a mile long, tell the kids you are setting the timer for ten minutes, invite them to help, and do everything you can before the timer goes off. Do the dishes, tidy up, switch the laundry over, take out the trash, sweep the kitchen, or whatever else is an immediate need. You will be surprised at how much you are able to accomplish in a short amount of time. When the timer goes off, stop your chores and focus on your kids. In a few hours, set the timer again. After a few ten minute sessions, hopefully you will have most of your chores done.
3. Talk to Someone
Adult relationships in motherhood are so important. Talking to a friend about life can be a great stress reliever. We all require connection to thrive and it can be hard to feel connected when you only talk to tiny humans all day. Make sure you can talk to somebody about your struggles, your hobbies, your current favorite TV show, or whatever else you want! Consider joining a facebook group or a support group for mothers in your area.
4. Listen to some Mood-Boosting Music
Music has been proven time and time again to distract us from fatigue and exhaustion, elevate our mood, lessen anxiety, and even improve our health. Play a favorite album, find some fun action songs to get the kids moving, or have an impromptu dance party in the kitchen.
5. Give Yourself Grace
Remember that you are a good mom. Having a bad day as a mom does not define you. You are allowed to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Everybody has bad days occasionally. Let your kids see you practice the important skill of turning a bad day into a good day. If you find yourself having bad days more frequently, make sure you make yourself a priority by taking a break and practicing self care. You cannot pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first.
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