Let's Get REAL!
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.
hushing the mayhem with music
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!
Magical Motivators for moms
By Momivate's "Atmosphere" CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
UGH! The dishes aren't done (again!), the laundry is ludicrous, and you sit defeated on the couch. You have a mile long list of things to do, but honestly, the motivation to do it just isn’t bubbling to the surface!
Do you ever feel like that? I surely have. And perhaps it’s because I’ve felt like this SO often that I have developed a list of go-to-strategies to help me bite the bullet and turn miserable mayhem into magical motivation.
I thought I’d share a few that have helped me, in hopes that they will help you too!
1. Make it fun! Maybe I’m just a kid at heart, because although I know I could just power through and get the job done, a big part of me says, “why not make it fun?” This is where your creativity comes into play and the sky's the limit, ladies! What would make this task A LOT of fun for you? Turning on the music and dancing while you go at it? (Yes, even if your children laugh at you!) Listening to a podcast while you work away? Or how about making it into a game? A few other ideas: I purposely buy my favorite scents for cleaning so I can relish the process more. And I’ve been known to let my mind wander as I work while planning a fun family frolic for the future.
2. Better with a buddy – Whether this is your husband, a child, or a really good friend, sometimes it is just easier as well as a lot more fun to tackle the work or a project with a friend in tow. While they help to shoulder the burden, you both enjoy conversation and even a few good laughs. Not only do you get something done that needs doing, but somehow, it seems less of a chore. And of course, the added bonus is that you simultaneously build a stronger relationship. When all is said and done, remember that turn around is fair play - you can offer to help them with what they need as well!
3. Set the timer – Sometimes the main problem is that I am overwhelmed. Have you been there? It just seems like there is too much to do, and where in the world do I start? So, instead of procrastinating, I tell myself, “I will only work for ten minutes at top speed, and then, if I feel like it, I can stop.” And sometimes I do just that and I honestly feel better because the task at hand is now significantly smaller and easier for the next time I have to face it. Other times, however, just rolling up my sleeves and really digging in produces momentum and my motivation soars. (Super Mom powers activate!) I find my mind actually enjoying the process and I don’t want to stop!
4. Reward yourself – I know that some people might look at this as “bribery,” but somehow, I don’t mind doing something if I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel: What sounds inspiring to you? bubble bath? a short nap? a few minutes with a good book? Or maybe a little snuggle time with your child? Make yourself a deal you can’t refuse, then follow through with it! A word of caution: While I have to admit I “love me” some chocolate, I would suggest steering away from food as a reward (at least on a constant basis) as we all know that would be trading one problem for another. And if all else fails, remember YOUR WHY! Think of the faces of your beautiful family and what they mean to you. You are worth it! They are worth it! Therein lies a reward in and of itself!
5. Reach out – If you find that your motivation is low for extended periods don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Goodness knows we ALL need it from time to time! What might this look like for you? Are you lonely? Who could you call for a good old-fashioned chat? Do you feel overwhelmed? Could you arrange for a sitter so you can hit your list head on? And what if you feel like sitting in bed day after day for weeks? If so, there is no shame in scheduling a trip to the doctor to help rule out or treat depression. Believe me, I’ve been there and I can assure you that there is help for you. You are not alone!
No matter what strategies you decide upon, I have faith that you WILL find a way. You can do this! You are enough and that magical motivation you need is waiting just around the corner. . .
By Diana Duke, Secretary on Momivate's MotherBoard
They say that patience is a virtue. Sometimes I wonder if it's a virtue I once mastered and then lost somewhere along the way. I think back to a time before I was a mother, when I had all of the patience in the world. I worked at a group home for children with disabilities and quickly found how much I loved it. As time moved on, I started a family and found myself venturing into other fields. However, at the top of my priorities was being a mother to my children. I had an amazing husband and, although we had our struggles, life was good.
I wish I’d had more time to be the wife I always wanted to be, but things took a turn for the worse and I found myself widowed at thirty-one. I completely fell apart for a while. I lost my sense of self, and that patience I’d had was now something that I was searching for. I feel that it is something I am really struggling with, yet all of the time everyone around me is telling me, “You have so much patience—I don't know how you do it!” I am constantly being told what a good mother I am and, though I am grateful for their kind comments, it leads me to wonder who I am.
I don't feel patient. I don't feel so wonderful all the time. I think we as mothers are often our own hardest critics. However, I am pretty competitive, so I have to believe that the bar that I set long ago for myself has to be attainable or I wouldn't have set it in the first place. I want to be happy, and I want my children to be happy. I find that getting back to the basics makes life so much easier. Being patient with ourselves, patient with our children, and being patient with those around us makes us kinder and more gentle.
I know that it can be hard when you don't know where to start. But you just have to start where you are. So that is what I'm doing--jumping in and starting where I am. Even as I write this, I have found myself worrying; not knowing what to write about; stressing out that nobody wants to hear about my chaotic struggles. But we are human and we all have our own challenges. We need to be patient with ourselves.
Right now one of my challenges is the never-ending laundry pile--I never get to cross it off my to-do list, so I never get the satisfaction of completion. However, what I can do is set a goal for how many loads I can do today. That way I am able to cross something off my to-do list with satisfaction. I can go on and on about the steps I have to take to be patient with myself. We are all different; what works for me isn't going to work for everyone else. But each of us can do something to quiet those negative, self-defeating thoughts in our heads. What are some things you can do to be patient with yourself?
My twin daughters are in a kickboxing class at the local community college and this video was assigned to them as homework. It struck me as so simple that it is well worth the couple of minutes to review information we likely are already aware of but need continual reminders about. Moms, this is what we do -- we are the reminders, the repeaters, the consistent, kind, and friendly reviewers and encouragers!
From the YouTube Description:
Wellness means overall well-being. It includes the emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. Incorporating aspects of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, such as choosing healthy foods, forming strong relationships, and exercising often, into everyday habits can help people live longer and improve quality of life. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness may also help people better manage their condition and experience recovery. This short animated video explores the Eight Dimensions of Wellness and helps people understand the practical strategies and ways they can begin developing healthy habits that can have a positive impact on their physical and mental health. To learn more about SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative, click here.
The Value of...
If you want to know the value of...
ask a teenager who's been grounded.
ask a student with a research paper due.
ask a substitute teacher.
ask a guy getting bombarded with questions by the parents of the girl who is still upstairs getting ready for their date.
ask a basketball player, down by 1, in possession of the ball.
ask a gymnast.
ask a running back at a football game.
ask a bungee jumper.
ask a teenager who buys his own gasoline.
...a phone call...
ask the person who just put in a job application.
What would you add??
The Nike Ad from Decades Ago
Too often we are scared.
Scared of what we might not be able to do.
Scared of what people might think if we tried.
We let our FEARS stand in the way of our HOPES.
We say "no" when we want to say "yes."
We sit quietly when we want to scream.
And we shout with the others,
when we should keep our mouths shut.
we do only go around once.
Try something you've never tried.
Enter a triathlon.
Write a letter to the editor.
Demand a raise.
Call winners at the toughest court.
Throw away your television.
Bicycle across the United States.
Speak out against the designated hitter.
Travel to a country where you don't speak the language.
You have nothing to lose.
EVERYTHING to gain.
JUST DO IT.
Filling the Well Within (Song Lyrics)
In each passing mortal hour
All around me there is need,
There are hearts that yearn and tears that fall
And hungry souls to feed.
I must seek the Spirit's wisdom,
Learn compassion's gentle art,
For I cannot give with empty hands
Nor love with barren heart.
If I would bear my brother's burden,
If I would share my sister's grief,
Extend the hand of sweet compassion,
Offer the weary ones relief,
If I would ease the thirst of strangers,
And serve His children heart and hand,
I must drink of Heaven's wells o'erflowing,
I must learn to fill the well within.
I will serve my Savior gladly,
Seek his little lambs who stray;
But if I would lead them safely home,
I must know the way.
I must seek for understanding
That I may teach His children well,
If I seek to fill the soul athirst,
I must first be filled.
That I may bear my brother's burden,
That I may share my sister's grief,
Extend the hand of sweet compassion,
Offer the weary ones relief,
That I may ease the thirst of strangers,
And serve His children heart and hand,
I must drink of Heaven's wells o'erflowing,
I must learn to fill the well within.
By Sally DeFord
What does it mean to let go?
Being empathic -- able to feel the emotions of others -- can be a gift, showing compassion and wanting to ease sadness. It might also be stressful, since the other person is the one in charge of whether their complex emotions get resolved in healthy ways or not. Being able to "LET GO" is a skill that empaths must learn and practice! But what does it mean?
In high school, I took a class called Peer Facilitation, and it taught us how to keep ourselves emotionally level while reaching out to those who were off kilter. Here is one of the handouts from that class, which I've kept almost 30 years! It describes both what "LET GO" is AND what it is NOT.
May it help you in your journey as a mother, definitely a position of empathy! Also, a position with the temptation to try to control another person. Gaining this perspective, this ability to LET GO will make motherhood a much more enjoyable journey -- full of love instead of fear.
To "let go" does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can't do it for someone else.
To "let go" is not to cut myself off,
it's the realization that I can't control another.
To "let go" is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To "let go" is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another,
it's to make the most of myself.
To "let go" is not to care for,
but to care about.
To "let go" is not to fix,
but to be supportive.
To "let go" is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To "let go" is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcome,
but to allow others to effect their own destinies.
To "let go" is not to be protective,
it's to permit another to face reality.
To "let go" is not to deny, but to accept.
To "let go" is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.
To "let go" is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.
To "let go" is to fear less and love more.
Are you convinced that screens are hurting our children's brains?
I am. Not just in theory but based on personal experience! Maybe not the way you think -- my case is a counter-example.
When I was 12 or so, my mom cut the cord off the TV because we weren't keeping the rules -- and so I enjoyed a very *rich* teen time frame despite being raised by a single mom, well within poverty level.
I was *rich* in my zeal for living a real life! I wasn't weighed down by expectations put into my brain by watching TV shows or seeing commercials about everything I couldn't afford and being convinced that I needed those things. I had free time to find out what was important to me and then do it!
I rarely felt "left out" when conversations about TV shows seemed irrelevant to my life. In contrast, my friends often felt left out when I described how I spent my time discovering and developing various hobbies, enjoying real-life social fun like impromptu pizza parties, long drives to interesting destinations, and long talks with my on-again-off-again boyfriend (our relationship was not defined by TV's examples). Yes, I still watched TV at friends' houses sometimes -- I wasn't against it altogether -- but those exposures solidified my philosophy that TV's pressurized influence would have greatly clouded my vision, and likely was blinding my peers from seeing their potential.
Nowadays, it's no longer TV alone trying to program our children's behavior and thought processes. It comes through so many screens that cutting one cord wouldn't make much of a difference! How can we help our children navigate this territory that's also new territory to us as parents? Is it really possible and plausible to keep them away from such a pervasive influence -- or is keeping them away the goal anymore? Despite my past that I'm proud of, I'm parenting in extremely different circumstances, and I've determined that the goal is not to avoid screens altogether, but to build the ability to manage screen time effectively, and ultimately flourish with screens.
Our family has a Family Technology Plan that is consistently being reviewed and sometimes revised as we encounter new situations that may not have been covered by previous drafts. As parents, we are straightforward with our children about how screen time (even educational screen time!) can be detrimental to our brains. Yes, we restrict the amount of time, redirecting repeatedly, and with the responsibility placed incrementally more on the child according to their age. Our goal is to help our children develop their own healthy habits, with a strong desire to be actively architecting their own lives rather than just watching someone else's scripted life through a screen.
If you haven't gained a conviction yet of the necessity for parents to be pro-active in their children's journey to safe screen use, please watch this documentary! Yes, the struggle is real, and so worth every effort!
The following is copied and pasted from the YouTube page:
For the first time in history, mental illness and suicide have become one of the greatest threats to school-aged children. Many parents still view dangers as primarily physical and external, but they’re missing the real danger: kids spending more time online and less time engaging in real life, free play, and autonomy.
What are the effects on the next generation's mental, physical, and spiritual health?
Childhood was more or less unchanged for millennia, but this is CHILDHOOD 2.0. For more resources and to download a community discussion guide and share with your community, please visit: https://bit.ly/32voKpY.
NOTE: Bark is proud to sponsor the free release of this film because we believe every family should have access to such a crucial, powerful resource.
Run Time: 88 Minutes
A Film by: Jamin Winans, Robert Muratore, and Kiowa Winans
Music by: Jamin Winans
parenting a child with cancer
By Kandis Lake, RN, BSN, guest blog post contributer.
Learning your child has cancer or another life-changing illness is probably every parent’s worst nightmare. While the medical advances to treat these life-changing diagnoses have never been better, it is still a very taxing experience for any family. Ways to navigate such a trying and difficult situation can include learning all you can about your child’s sickness, leaning on outside support, and knowing ways you can help your child and family cope.
Learning About Your Child’s Sickness
Any good healthcare provider will provide you with ample education surrounding your child’s sickness, and what the sickness will mean for your child and your family. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, ask doctors to clarify meanings, and repeat what you hear to ensure you understand the information being given you.
If you are not in a good headspace to understand what you’re being told, it’s a good idea to ask if you can be given the information at a better time. It is also a good idea to have another family member or support person receive the education with you, so you can both learn together and help each other remember and understand in times ahead. If you get home and think about something you need clarified, you can always reach out to your child’s healthcare provider to ask questions or get more information.
Study any materials your child’s healthcare providers have given you or resources they have suggested. Seek out reputable sources for further information. The American Cancer Society has a lot of information online about all types of cancers. Advocate for yourself and your family to ensure you understand what you need to, and can feel empowered moving forward.
Take Care of Yourself and Get Outside Help
Be sure to take care of yourself so that you can handle your difficult situation in the best way possible. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your child. If your child is staying in the hospital, take advantage of working with a social worker and case manager to ensure you and your child are provided with everything you will need when you go home. Many hospitals have a chaplain whose job is to help patients and families care for their spiritual needs. If your child is being cared for at home, take regular breaks by setting up respite care (when a healthcare professional, such as a nurse, temporarily cares for a patient at the patient’s home).
Accept your feelings about the situation you are in without judgement. Talk to a friend, family member, or counselor about the difficulties you are facing, or write your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Talking and writing can help you process your experiences and help you better cope. There are online support groups for a wide variety of situations and illnesses. An online group could connect you to other parents or caregivers who are going through something similar.
If you have other children, seek a balance of personally caring for them and asking for help to care for them as well. This could be a very difficult time for them and they will need help and support through it. You will likely need help caring for them while your child is sick.
Utilize any church or community support available. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during such a difficult time for your family. It can be hard to ask for and accept help, but doing so is in your child’s best interest, as well as your own. The less stress you feel in regard to all aspects of your life, the more energy and focus you can put into supporting and bonding with your child when he needs you.
Cheryl Harris’s son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when he was two and a half years old. Cheryl said, “Almost more than the sleepless nights and endless tears during that time, I remember the amazing, wonderful good people who showed up for us.” She describes friends, family, and hospital staff giving immense support.
Her own parents drove across the country to help, and her mother stayed with them for six whole months. They had friends that brought gifts for her child, and others offered to watch her one-year-old since Cheryl was so frequently at the hospital and at appointments. Friends and family who didn’t live near them sent the family frequent words of comfort and love.
Many people also find strength and support in spirituality or religion. Faith or spirituality can be very helpful in coping for some. Cheryl remarked about her faith, “I am so grateful for the gospel and the knowledge of God's plan during that time. I knew no matter what may happen, everything would be okay.”
Helping and supporting your child
The most important thing you can be doing at this time is helping your child. You will best accomplish this by taking breaks and accepting help yourself, as discussed above. Take time to address your child’s concerns and answer his questions. Speak to him about what is happening in a way that is appropriate for his age and level of understanding. The American Cancer Society has some great advice for communicating in age-appropriate ways here.
When asked how she helped her young son, Cheryl said, “I prayed for and tried to have an abundance of patience and stamina. That was absolutely necessary. I cleared my schedule and dedicated my life to comforting him in any way I could.”
Your child will likely feel a range of emotions as he lives with his illness, as well as because many aspects of normal life are altered because of it. Be a safe space for your child to express thoughts and feelings, free from any judgement or shame. Resist the urge to try to change those feelings. Every time your child has difficult feelings, it gives you the opportunity to strengthen your relationship through supporting him. Having a strong and secure relationship with your child will in turn help him build resilience and confidence, and also give him the tools to navigate difficult feelings in the future.
Cheryl kept a blog during her son’s battle with cancer. One story illustrates the need children have for their parents: “He woke up once while they were taking his vitals and was in pain. His little body tensed up and I could tell it hurt when I moved him. He asked to ‘give Mommy hugs,’ which means to hold him chest to chest, bear-hug style, but when I picked him up he was so rigid and stiff and couldn't relax. I called for more pain meds. I asked him where it hurt and all he said was, ‘Mommy kiss it better.’ He's said that a lot the past few days. That has been the hardest part for me.”
Helping your child cope with stress, navigate difficult emotions, and express himself could prove to be extremely difficult, especially if you haven’t had a lot of experience with healthy coping and emotional expression yourself. A child life specialist (often employed at pediatric hospitals) or a counselor can help you and your child with this.
Recognize things that comfort your child. It may be a pacifier, blanket, special toy, or favorite book or movie. Whatever comfort object there might be, allow your child to have it readily available. Be sure hospital staff and any other caregivers know ways your child likes to be comforted. Like Cheryl with her son, be there to comfort him yourself as much as possible.
It can also be important to try to incorporate some routine and normalcy into your child’s life. This can include doing schoolwork, socializing with family and friends, playing and being silly, and having some routine to his care. Let your child take opportunities to enjoy being a kid. Find ways for your child to maintain sibling and family relationships.
The ways you can help your child with illness as his mother is monumental. You and your family will be empowered through learning and understanding as much about the illness as you can. As you take care of yourself and to seek and accept help from others, you will better be able to care for your child and be there for them. You can play an important, unmatched role of providing support and comfort to your child during this very difficult time.
Cheryl’s advice to other moms who experience something similar is “Let people help you. Take care of yourself. Let things go that don't matter. Count your blessings along the way and recognize and appreciate the beauty of all those who are trying to help. It will lift you.” Cheryl’s son received cancer treatments for five years. He is now a healthy, thriving eleven-year-old.
For more information see:
Kandis Lake, the author, is a professional health writer and can be found at www.healthwriterkandis.com
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