Every Goddamn Woman Deserves “A Doula and a Willow Tree” So STFU! How Birth Trauma Was Triggered 6 Years Later.

Birth Trauma Isn’t Always Visible; Sometimes It Hides for Weeks or Even Years

 

It’s been nearly six years since my son was born. Since that day, I’ve educated myself on the system, the politics around birth and maternity care, and pretty much everything else birth-related. I am a walking encyclopedia of information and I have brought Improving Birth to my community. I hosted rallies every single year to bring awareness to the public of our invisible problem. I have connected with SO MANY women in the birth industry and those who were hurt by the system. I have helped women navigate their options and given them the encouragement to make their own choices. I have birthed one child at home on my own terms, and I have shared that story so many times and every time I share it I am brought back to that day and I smile.

But there are no smiles when I think of the birth of my son. There are often tears; they are shed or else held back, and my chest aches with the force of those sobs that fight and claw to be released.

It’s been six years. I have learned from it, I have beaten the odds; I had a vaginal birth just like I wanted. I got my homebirth with my second child. One might argue that my son’s birth was necessary to put me ON this path in the first place. I often think that too. I wouldn’t have the drive to do what I do if I didn’t know what it felt like to be hurt by the system of paternalistic maternity care.

But it still hurts. Six years later, I am not “over it”.

 

Birth Plans Do NOT Lead to Birth Trauma On Their Own

 

Other times of the year, it’s easier to move past that hurt, but not this time of the year. This time of the year everything affects me more, and I didn’t realize just how much I’m “not over it” until certain events unfolded so quickly last weekend.

Recently, the Duchess of Sussex had a lot of articles written about her birth plans and nasty comments were made by obstetricians and “birth experts” who essentially scoffed at a first time “geriatric” mother having a birth plan, let alone wanting a home birth.

I have seen this rhetoric before; hell, I see it ALL THE DAMN TIME. It’s kind of in the job description of Birth Advocate to be up against that kind of negativity often when giving information to women who might be receptive to it, but where others in the public forum will argue that “a healthy baby is all that matters” and call me all sorts of lovely names and insinuate that my children “deserve better”. The internet is not a kind place; it is far LESS kind to women who dare to question and challenge the paternalistic viewpoints of the maternity care system.

Women like me are “selfish” to put our “experience” above what is “best for our baby”. Women like me are “foolish” and “idealistic” to think that our “silly little birth plans” have any merit at all, that we have no one but ourselves to blame when things “go wrong” or just not as we wanted them to.

One might argue that my trauma surrounding my birth stems from my silly need to be in control. One might argue that my refusal to just let my body be cut into for the good of the baby was the REAL issue. That maybe if I hadn’t been SO insistent on my unmedicated birth that I might not have been so terrified of a little bit of “help” and maybe I wouldn’t have been on my back pushing for 3 hours with people yelling at me and me yelling “fucking leave me alone” over and over because it was all I COULD do.

Maybe if I hadn’t had my heart set on homebirth and not seen the hospital as such a horrible place to birth, that maybe I wouldn’t have cried for weeks when I was told I couldn’t have my homebirth.

See, that would make everything so much easier, wouldn’t it? If I just accepted and admitted that my expectations were “too high”, that I was “foolish and naive” and that really, I had a GREAT birth! I mean, look at that glow!

 

Hunter birth

 

How can we both look back on that day and be so angry, so sure that it could have gone any other way? Guess we shouldn’t have made a birth plan and just “gone with the flow”? But hey, it’s all okay because despite our foolish birth plan fantasies, we got what we wanted and we should be happy now, right?

 

Trauma Hides Behind the Oxytocin

 

Well, see, the thing about trauma is that it doesn’t show up right away; especially not after birth. We didn’t have time in that moment to process the feelings we had; we were focused on our boy. For the first several weeks we were enthralled with him; we did skin to skin on the couch and in bed, I nursed him on-demand, he rarely cried because he was always in our arms. We were PROUD that we had come out of birth relatively unscathed; I had a vaginal birth just like I wanted. I didn’t have to face that fear of a csection that had been looming for months, with everyone saying “oh, it’s not so bad, you won’t even care”.

But then, one particularly eventful day at the midwifery postpartum group drop-in, my midwife asked me if I was staying to attend the traumatic birth and breastfeeding support group. It was something she had created for moms to unleash their feelings about their births and breasfeeding struggles; a SAFE place where the words “a healthy baby is all that matters” were implicitly banned. I hesitated, because I didn’t feel I belonged there. I didn’t think my trauma was anything more than disappointment, but I had been struggling in other areas of parenting my son and I decided “why not?” I heard the stories; many of the moms had csections. I was the sore thumb sticking out, the unmedicated vaginal birther. How dare I claim my birth to be traumatic? Those were my thoughts…until it was my turn and I started to share my story, and I realized through re-telling it without the flowery justifications I had given everyone else, that I WAS NOT OKAY. No, I was FAR from “okay” with being talked out of homebirth, condescended and told that all that mattered was a healthy baby. I was NOT okay with the fact that upon sharing my fears with people I trusted, they said it “wouldn’t be that bad if I DID need a csection.” I was NOT okay with being on that fucking bed for 3 hours on my back because that wasn’t the position I had chosen, but was chosen FOR me. I felt betrayed by my husband for helping to lift me on the bed, but never voiced it. I still haven’t told him, but I have heard his version of our story, where he came into the room to see the midwife and the nurse struggling to get me to cooperate, and he saw ME screaming in pain, and he didn’t know what to do in that moment other than help them move me onto the bed when they asked him to. He was powerless in the face of the “authority” just as I was. I don’t blame him for it, I blame the situation.

That pretty picture of me holding our newborn after birth doesn’t show that while I was pushing and screaming in mostly frustration, my husband had tears rolling down his cheeks. He was scared for me, and sad for me, and he definitely had that “I don’t know how to fix this” look on his face. He felt as powerless as I did, and it was something I never fully realized about his experience until a year afterward and I had started dealing with my trauma.

Birth Trauma Can Affect Your Relationship

Think about that for a second: I was so busy caring for my baby and trying to make myself be okay again that I didn’t stop and think that maybe my husband was also affected by that birth and needed me.

When I overheard him tell his side of the story, I heard the echoes of trauma. When we were planning for our daughter, we both knew it was going to be a home birth BUT for 18 months after our son’s birth he had refused to even acknowledge that we might have a second child at all. I hadn’t heard his trauma then, and I had been so overwhelmed with my need to “get it right” that I got angry whenever he “threatened” my right to a do-over homebirth. I made lists of reasons why I was never going back to “the fucking hospital” and that I would be “kicking and screaming” if someone tried to drag me there. While I still pretty much stand firm on my statements that if I ever had another baby (not likely, as I’m still referring myself back to this letter I wrote) it will be at home, I was really hostile in my approach and it probably wasn’t very kind of me when he was hurting too, but not showing it.

 

Birth Trauma Led Me to My Calling, But It Can’t Run The Show Forever

 It’s difficult to admit to myself that I was too traumatized to care about anyone else’s feelings but my own. I came to Improving Birth very, very angry. I came to it with a fire that stemmed mostly from my own trauma, and this thought that I had to “fix” the system and “warn” women away from it. I approached it that way because in those early years I couldn’t see that there WAS any other side of the coin. Either women had rights or we didn’t, and telling us that we couldn’t do something was just NOT ACCEPTABLE.

It still isn’t, but after 6 years I can understand that my midwife’s hands were tied by a system that didn’t trust birth. The OBs outside my room had probably never even seen physiological birth. The hospital had probably seen more complicated births resulting from prolonged pushing and been quick to want to intervene. There was probably trauma causing their anxiety as this stubborn first time mother with an “unproven” pelvis walked into their facility, REFUSED to cooperate when the nurse wanted to take some blood samples to have on-hand “just in case”, DEMANDED to be “left alone”, REFUSED to get out of the tub, REFUSED vaginal exams to check her cervix, cussed at them, and then wound up pushing for 3 hours because she wasn’t willing to accept their help. Honestly, I can kind of see how that might have triggered trauma for them if they were not used to physiological births. The ONLY person in that room who had experience in physiological birth was my midwife; I was VERY wise to have hired her. It was fortunate that my son “stayed put” until the next day when she would be on-call at the hospital.

we are masking the trauma of childbirth

But despite seeing how my own hostility might have been difficult for them, the fact is that I was hostile and fearful BECAUSE THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN AND OUR CULTURE IS BUILT ON FEAR. Could I have trusted them to leave me to birth on my own terms, no matter how long it took? NO! I knew that I was on a clock and my time was running out. “WHY ISN’T HE OUT YET?” I cried. It wasn’t fear that *I* couldn’t do it, it was fear that I couldn’t do it IN TIME; that I wouldn’t be able to do it FAST, and on THEIR timeline.

With my second birth, that trauma and feeling that I wouldn’t be able to “follow the textbook” nearly fucked up my labor. I had to send the midwife away because those feelings started to come up during my 24 hour early/active labor and the doula and midwife were trying to get me into all kinds of positions to “progress” NOT because there was any problems, but because the midwife had already notified the hospital that a homebirth was happening and they had their little chart at the hospital and expected progress in order for me to be “allowed” to stay home. No progress or not “enough” progress for what was “reasonable” for a second birth (cue eyerolling) would have led to the pressure from the OBs telling my midwife to “convince” me to transfer to the hospital for “proper” care. AND I WASN’T HAVING ANY OF THAT PATRIARCHAL BULLSHIT!

So, when my labor stalled after 24 hours, I was faced with the choice to keep going, risking that the OBs would “pull rank” at some point, or say it was a false alarm and start again at a much later point after labor resumed. I wasn’t about to let the OBs dictate how quickly I needed to progress in 4 hours and I wasn’t sure that my body WOULD resume labor within that time. I wanted to sleep and I was getting a rest, so I sent her home. File closed, no one would know whether or not I went back into labor until I said so. But that stall in labor did rattle my confidence.

 

Sometimes The Step to Healing is Just Taking Back Control

In what should have been a time of peace and relaxation, my mind was spinning with plans and more plans. My heart was breaking, I was crying, I was scared. I hadn’t spoken to my husband at all. I had kept these thoughts in my head the whole time, because I thought that voicing them out loud would have made him think I was crazy, reckless, and selfish. I hid in the bedroom; truthfully I didn’t want to face him. I was afraid he would tell me “well, we tried, but we have to go to the hospital now”. I was afraid he would be angry if I responded “There is no way in hell I’m going back there and if you make me do it I will fight you the whole time and never forgive you.” Probably not the kindest thing to tell someone who has just as much invested in your child as you do, but then the words coming from a place of trauma aren’t often very kind or empathetic, and I wasn’t feeling at all like I WANTED to be kind. My birth plan was going to shit again and I wasn’t handling it well at all.

I didn’t realize that the trauma had affected him as much as it had, and that he had been re-triggered just as I had been, and now his brain was telling him that we had to take control and do it ourselves. When he asked if we might just have our doula and call the midwife “later”, the weight was lifted off my chest. I realized that Plan C was scrapped: No, I wouldn’t have to hide in the bedroom or bathroom and secretly birth unassisted and call him after it was done. I wouldn’t have to hide it from him, he was supportive. So we went with Plan B, and it was amazing taking that power back!

Every year on my daughter’s birthday, I am filled with feelings of power and pride at what I accomplished in the face of adversity. It’s my month of pure woman-power; I am a force to be reckoned with, and I am in a mental state of positivity. I come up with my best ideas around that time and for a few weeks afterward I am riding the oxytocin wave just as I did the day she was born. It is a complete contrast from what I feel at this time of year, only a few months later, and I realize that the amazing reclamation of my power in my daughter’s birth helped, yes, but it doesn’t erase the trauma of that first birth.

 

Triggers Will Always Be Harder to Manage At That Time of Year

I can say that the birth of the Duchess’ first child and the criticism it got from the obstetricians and anti-natural birthers triggered me. I didn’t realize it at the time why it was affecting me so much more than all the other shit I see on a regular basis. I mean, the woman has every right to choose as she pleases and the men are always going to say something about it, and she’s the goddamn Duchess of Sussex and the Royal Family always has some thing or another that the moms and moms-to-be are tsk tsked for. Didn’t the same thing happen with George’s, Charlotte’s, and Louis’ births? Didn’t people scoff at Duchess Katherine’s homebirth just as they have done to Meghan’s birth plans? Yes, they did. But Katherine’s son was a planned hospital birth like my son’s ended up being, and I was pretty upset that she was denied what she wanted for all 3 births. However, those births didn’t get the vitriol that Meghan’s plans did. ACOG hadn’t had their yearly meeting and the OBs hadn’t made their derisive comments about it. Katherine wasn’t called a “birth brat”.

doula and a willow tree

Maybe it was racism in addition to paternalism; I wouldn’t be surprised if it was, but seeing the crap that was said about her was awful and it was upon looking at the calendar and seeing the date that these remarks were said that it really brought to light what I was feeling. It’s MAY. This isn’t a good month for me. It’s too personal to read about a mother’s birth plans being mocked so close to the time when my own wishes were ignored and afterward the “aren’t you glad you had him in the hospital though?” commentary wasn’t helpful.

So, this month I have realized that it’s going to be hard seeing this stuff everywhere. It’s going to really, really hurt and nobody will understand that hurt. I truly hope that Meghan DID get her home birth, but if she wound up having the hospital birth as some tabloids are now saying she did, then that is going to affect my feelings and that’s okay. And Meghan, if you did end up having a hospital birth and it’s not what you wanted, and you see all the “I told you so” comments and the goddamn ACOG doctors nod their heads and say “well, we called it”, just know that there are women out there who have been there and it’s okay to not be “okay” right now. You go do what you need to do, and give the nay-sayers a big middle finger, even if it’s behind closed doors where the paparazzi can’t see you give it.

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Stop Telling Moms They Can Get Rich Selling Lipstick!

said no one ever

 

MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) has a long-standing history of targeting mothers with their promises of “a better life” for women and their families and subsequently stealing their money.

Now, before the moms IN MLMs get their panties in a twist, I will concede this point: If you genuinely LOVE a product and signed up to get a discount on things you WANT, then good for you. If you make some money off selling a few things, good for you! If you are not looking at this as a get rich plan and aren’t shilling your wares in an attempt to scam others out of their money so you can make double diamond goddess status, then good for you.

But if you’re trying to convince someone to join your “team” by saying they can make $50,000 a year or more, then this article is a reality check.

 

You see, it all sounds very lovely; an extra $50,000 a year? And you get to spend time with your family? Who wouldn’t want that, right?

BUT there’s that pesky thing called math. You know, the kind of math that your directors probably don’t want you doing?

 

Well, too bad, because let me just break this down anyway: YOU WILL NEVER MAKE THAT $50,000!!!!

This isn’t me being “negative” it’s just reality and common sense. It’s only possible to get that much “passive income” if you scam thousands of people into buying products.

 

I did Mary Kay and fell for their little scam about 10 years ago. I didn’t do the math, but I also wasn’t really “serious” about “the business” either. I honestly just liked the makeup. I still got talked into buying inventory, which sucked, but lesson learned.

 

Anyway, we got 50% commission on anything we “sold” to people. But we had to place an order first, which came out of our pockets, so basically we were buying product and then getting the money back if we sold it, except half of that money had to be claimed as “income” instead of a refund where someone else pays money to take it off your hands. And if you’re placing an order for yourself, you’re getting NONE of that money back. You only make money if you sell.

Thing is, there’s a commission for your “upline”, which is when you don’t have to make ANY money yourself, someone else made the sale FOR you. Your upline gets paid that commission regardless of whether or not this order was a personal sale or you actually managed to sell something. So they’re obviously going to encourage you to buy product. The people at the top of the hierarchy make more money than those at the bottom because they are getting the commission from all the people who are placing orders.

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Back to that $50k… for that to work, we are going to temporarily take out taxes and go with whole numbers.

$50k in one year, divided by 12 months means that you would have to bring in $4,166.66 in profit. At 50% commission that means you would need to average $8,333.33 in sales per month.

There are 365 days in a year. This means that you would need to make a profit of $136.98 per day, or $273.97 in sales.

So, in order to achieve that goal of $50k all on your own, you would need to work EVERY DAY to make $273.97 in sales.

 

In Mary Kay the average target for sales per customer was that we wanted $100 per face. That means that you would either have to convince one person to spend $2,73.97 in product, or see at least 2-3 customers AND convince them to spend $100 in product. And you would have to repeat that success EVERY DAY.

This means you would need to have at least 30-31 customers who bought something every month, or placed orders of at least $300 per month. Customers, NOT consultants. Remember, your consultants only give about 5% commission.

Don’t want to work THAT hard, right? So say you did “build a team”. You get 5% commission. Let’s even assume that the directors got more at 10% and the people at the top got 20%. I’m being generous here.

MLM-meme

So, how do you make $50,000 in a year without actually having to work every day (or at all)? Because let’s be honest, “the dream” is that you would make money in your sleep, right?

 

Well, at $100 per face, you make $50 if you sell the product yourself and $5 if your consultant sells for you. If you’re a director you make $10. Higher up, $20 per sale.

 

$5 a day for a year is $1,825. So a 5% commission means that you would need at least ONE consultant to make a $200 order per day JUST to make almost $2k extra each year “doing nothing”. BUT you want to make much more than that, right? So you would need at least 27 consultants placing $200 orders each day. Except not everyone is going to want to place $200 orders every day, because that’s crazy! Nobody wants to work that hard all the time! So, let’s assume you only wanted those consultants placing a $200 each month. No, you would need 820 consultants under you to make a $200 order every month and give you that passive income.

As a director, you only need 410 consultants making a $200 order every month.

At the top of the hierarchy, you only need 205 consultants making a $200 order every month to make $50k without doing ANYTHING.

 

Are you starting to see WHY the focus is REALLY on “building your business”? Why, they don’t even NEED you to SELL product at all, they just need you to consistently BUY it from them, with the thought that if you can get just one more person on your “team” you might get that coveted car or trip. Except you won’t even get it unless that person consistently makes at least one $200 order every month!

 

THIS is why MLMs are predatory. What is $200 to the people at the top? It’s nothing at all. They don’t WANT you to just do a $200 order, they want you to spend a lot more. Whether that goes onto a credit card or you suckered your family and friends into spending more than they should have on things they really didn’t need, it’s all the same to them.

You are essentially SHOPPING for things that are overpriced, except you are encouraged to get other people to shop at that same online store with you and then you “make your money back” but not really, because you just spent $200 on makeup or nail stuff or essential oils and you really couldn’t afford it in the first place!

I have seen women take the money they were going to use on rent to buy into these consultant “opportunities” and here’s the thing; that starter kit cost almost $200 didn’t it? So if you sign someone up EVERY month, you make $200 for the company, but that’s not YOUR commission. YOU don’t get paid until THEY place an order, remember? And if they don’t place a BIG order (you know, because they’re BROKE and only convinced ONE person to buy a $20 lipstick) then your commission is next to nothing.

 

Look, if you like the products that’s fine. We all like what we like. But the grossness of MLMs isn’t the products, which can be legitimate, it’s when people sink all their money into it thinking they will get rich. It’s when people then try to convince OTHERS to sink THEIR money into joining the “team” and throw out ridiculous numbers that make NO FUCKING SENSE once you break them all down.

Yes, hun, someone in the company IS making $50k per year in their sleep, but they created the company.

The Truth About Millennials and PC Culture You Probably Don’t Want to Hear

“Suck it up”

“Back in my day we just let things go.”

“Everyone is too politically correct. We can’t say anything without offending anyone.”

“Well that’s just life! Get over it!”

Too often I hear this crap both online and in everyday interactions with people of an older generation and sadly even my own generation. I often am guilty of chewing these people out, even if they’re close family members, and passionately talking about all the injustices in this society and how we need to BE BETTER!

I don’t know, maybe it’s because I come off as an angry feminist, or maybe it’s because I’m a “spoiled millennial” or maybe it’s just that what I’m saying is so truthful that it makes people uncomfortable, but in response to my passion I’m often told I need to just let things go. Birth rights come to mind as one thing that I’m “not supposed to talk about”. People will say “well back in the day you were just grateful for a healthy baby and a live mother”. Older women will comment on how they never really shared their birth stories as freely as women today. Some will be thankful for that change while a lot of others will try to shame us for complaining and try to put us back in our place.

Actually, that’s the real problem with the attitude toward us “spoiled, outspoken millennials” who “are too sensitive and too offended by everything”: it’s not really that WE are the problem, but that the past generations are uncomfortable to recognize their part in the oppression of others. They don’t want to admit that maybe by just staying silent and “not talking about that stuff” they allowed it to happen much longer than it should have.

It wasn’t THAT long ago that same-sex couples had to pretend they were simply roommates/very good friends if they were to have any semblance of a life together. There are still older people finally coming out as LGBTQ and the reason for coming “out of the closet” that late in life isn’t that they just didn’t know until then or that they somehow just decided to change who they were, it’s because when they were teenagers it wasn’t SAFE for them to be who they were. In an oppressive heteronormative patriarchy they faced serious repercussions if they deviated from the prescriptive norms of their time. That meant that they had to pretend they were straight and once they were finally free (thanks to decades of normalizing same-sex couples in the media) they wanted to shout it out loud and celebrate their new freedom.

I strongly believe that 99% of the problems in society would be solved if we dismantled the patriarchy.

If violence wasn’t seen as an admirable quality we would have more non-violent conflicts.

If nurturing qualities associated with women were seen as acceptable for all sexes then we would have more equality for fathers both in the workplace and outside of it. Change tables would actually BE in all the bathrooms as a matter of default, not some added “perk” that men have to beg for. Paternity leave and maternity leave might not have to be split and fathers might be able to take more time off work to care for their sick kids instead of being asked “well, what about your wife? Can’t SHE stay home?”

If women were as valued as men then young boys would never hear the words “you throw like a girl” or “only sissies cry over that”. ALL emotions would be acceptable. My son could watch My Little Pony and nobody would bat an eye and I wouldn’t have to arch my brow at them and say “there’s nothing wrong with liking My Little Pony is there?” in that tone that makes it quite clear don’t you dare start with that patriarchal bullshit in my presence or I will tear you a new one. 

If women were seen as real people there would be no rape jokes or ideas that women somehow owe guys their attention because they were “nice to them”. As if that’s somehow reason for me to just give up my right to decide for myself if I want to go out with you. We wouldn’t have to come up with a million excuses or find ways to let the guy down easy to not hurt his ego. We wouldn’t be looking over our shoulder to make sure he’s not following us and waiting for a moment to pounce. We wouldn’t constantly feel like prey.

If the patriarchy didn’t exist then EVERYONE would be valued as a human being. There wouldn’t be racism or sexism or sizeism. There wouldn’t be a need to worry about Political Correctness because everyone would stop and think “how does this affect other people” before it was even said.

But getting back to the problem with us Millennials, the reason why we are “so sensitive” is simple: we are in the middle of a HUGE cultural shift. We have the past generations who still remember when “the gays stayed in the closet” and “women knew their place–at HOME” and we “were more modest” and “didn’t talk about unpleasant things” and “just did what we were told” and “never questioned authority”. They remember when they could just turn a blind eye or pretend they didn’t hear when someone told an upsetting story that challenged a societal norm. They remember when they could tell themselves “I’m sure it wasn’t THAT bad” and “she must have led him on” and “well what did they expect to happen if they acted like that/dressed that way?” To have all those things brought to light today and have a very loud group of young people shout “this is not okay with us” is probably really uncomfortable. It probably makes them feel like we millennials are just not happy with things the way they are…and they’re right. We AREN’T happy! And for the first time in history we have the perfect outlet to really voice how unhappy we are.

Some of the older generations have already joined us in our cries of THIS HAS TO STOP and for those who would rather just “live life in peace” that’s uncomfortable to have the truth shoved in their faces. I have a solution for those people who would rather bury their heads in the sand; get off the internet. We don’t want you here if you’re just going to keep telling us we’re “making a big deal over nothing”. We are NOT going to let you silence us.

Political Correctness isn’t censorship; it’s compassion. It’s seeing that things can be said TACTFULLY instead of in a way that makes someone feel “less than” in society. You can still express your feelings without being an asshole.

All the people complaining about “millennial parenting” miss the real point when they complain about the “lack of discipline”. The REASON the peaceful parenting movement exists at all is because it is a direct response to the problems in our society. We came here because we recognize the lack of empathy and compassion in our society and WE WANT BETTER FOR OUR KIDS. We are raising the next generation and we just happen to be doing that in the decades that will likely be marked in history as the “cultural shift” that SO MANY have been working toward since humans first started being assholes and oppressing their people who didn’t fit into the narrow box of what they deemed “acceptable”.

“You can’t turn on the TV today without seeing someone who is LGBTQ shoved in your face”.

Good. Back when I was in highschool it was controversial that Willow and Tara were a couple and they DIDN’T EVEN SHARE AN ONSCREEN KISS UNTIL HALFWAY THROUGH SEASON 5. People would act like total assholes to Amber Benson simply because she played a character on TV involved in a relationship with Alyson Hannigan’s character. Why? Because back when I was in school being LGBTQ was to be “other”. It wasn’t accepted as normal, but as a “publicity stunt”. That’s why Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera shared a kiss during a performance for the Grammys; it wasn’t because they were a polyamorous couple, it was because in that culture it was a spectacle for 3 women to kiss on-screen.

Today I can watch a show on the CW and see a mixed-race couple and the colors of their skin are not the central conflict of their relationship. Back in the 90s when a white character started dating someone of color it was considered “progressive”. Today it’s normal. Nobody cared that Bonnie Bennet was black and dating Elena’s brother Jeremy. Admittedly I was a little surprised when Bianca Lawson played Shay Mitchell’s love interest right in Season 1 of Pretty Little Liars, but that was mainly because she also played Kendra on Buffy the Vampire Slayer way back in the 90s and is older than I am. It was more a “how is she still playing a teenager” kind of shock rather than “she’s in a relationship with a girl!” shock. Actually that show was a prime example of how not a big deal same sex couples are today. Emily remained true to her sexual orientation the entire series and even had a happy ending with another main character and even had children with her. How’s THAT for progressive?

“So if it’s already in the media then they don’t need to keep shoving it in our faces. It’s NORMAL now”.

No, it’s not. There is still a long way to go before the future we want for everyone actually becomes a reality. Yes, younger generations are starting to change things and be more open, but as long as we have people FIGHTING THESE CHANGES it’s not going to be enough. As long as the harmful messages are absorbed by kids it’s not going to be enough. And THAT is why we need to be mindful of what we say. THAT is why we need to listen when someone says that something is offensive. Obviously I’m not talking about the bigoted groups of people who thing Feminism is “offensive to men” or the religious zealots who think a females cleavage is “offensive”, but when someone says “hey, maybe don’t make that joke about rape/race/sexual orientation etc” or “hey, that message doesn’t actually mean what you think it means and is perpetuating a culture we are working to change”, LISTEN TO WHAT THEY ARE SAYING. You don’t have their same experience, but that doesn’t mean you get to decide that it’s “not that bad”.

As a woman I know what it’s like to be dismissed as “emotional” or a “crybaby”. I have had guys ask me such inappropriate questions in the classroom as “do you have pubes?” and I was told “your gigantic breasts make it hard for me to concentrate” when I told them to turn around and do their work and LEAVE ME ALONE. I have had guys tell me that my real problem was that I “just really need to get laid” when I would tell them to fuck off. The older I got the worse it got. And in response to my complaints I got told “well, if you’re going to dress like that…” and “maybe he just likes you…”

I know I’m lucky. As a cis-straight-white woman I would be at the top of the hierarchy just below cis-straight-white men. I probably enjoy the most rights out of all our oppressed groups and should feel grateful, right? Except I was born with a heart that loves deeply and I have compassion. I may be “lucky” but I still know how much this society sucks for women and I can only imagine how much worse it is for people of color and the LGBTQ community. I do my best to pay attention to their experiences, however different they may be from my own, and to honor their truths. And so when I learn some new information that I didn’t have before about their experiences I strive to do better. I won’t be dressing up my daughter as Pocahontas because she is representing a real person and a real culture and their story is far from the lovely narrative Disney put out in the 90s. And people may complain that they don’t get to dress up like Pocahontas without some “fragile snowflake” saying something about it, but when you get past the spoiled “but I wanna just be ignorant and play like I used to” argument it comes down to this: It’s not nice. It’s making light of the suffering of another group of people for your own amusement. Would you dress up as a “dead fetus” for Halloween? I seriously hope not, because if you answered “why not?” then you are a seriously fucked up piece of shit and I hope you never breed.

I don’t claim to be perfect. I have just as much room for growth as the rest of humanity. Even marginalized groups of people can have moments where they lacked self-awareness; that’s part of being human. I’m not asking anyone to be perfectly PC all the time and never say what’s on their mind. I’m not asking for censorship. I think that whitewashing the past and pretending it didn’t happen isn’t helpful. We can still enjoy old films and books and see them as being a product of their times and realize how far we’ve come as a society. I can read Gone With the Wind and think “wow, that was a different time but this actually used to happen. I’m glad we’re working toward a better way”. Maybe, again, as a woman that’s easy for me to do. I am well aware that if I was born in the past my life would seriously suck worse than it does now. I would probably be burned as a witch for my “heresy” in daring to question anything, let alone challenge the patriarchy as I do. If I was even born a few decades earlier, perhaps advice would have been given to my husband that I needed a good beating to put me in my place. Decades further into the past I might not have even had a choice in who I married.

My point is that once upon a time all these things I enjoy today in our culture were criticized by the older generations who have long since passed. You really think that the parents of the first suffragettes were pleased with what their daughters were doing? You really think that the first mixed-race relationships were widely accepted in society? You would only be fooling yourself if you believe that every great movement toward societal change was met with enthusiasm from everyone; that it didn’t come at a huge cost to the people who fought to make things better. The difference between then and now is that NOW we have a much bigger audience. We have the internet. The 90s opened the door for change to happen at a much faster rate, for atrocities to be brought to light immediately and for us to be able to keep the conversation going from the comfort of our own homes where we wouldn’t have to fear an army coming in and shutting us down before we even got started. We can even remain anonymous if we like, and we can say all the things we were once too afraid to admit because we have others like us out there who are sharing their truths and encouraging us to share ours.

As for our shift in language, that is also very necessary because words have power. Thinking they don’t is foolish. The way we say things matters. Take for instance the way we talk about birth. I refuse to say I had a “natural birth” because the word “natural” is triggering to people, but also it is a very broad term. What is “natural” to one person isn’t to another; it’s a qualitative statement. I have had women who were induced tell me that they had a “natural birth, and it was so painful they would never do it again”. They really mean they had an unmedicated birth, with an induced labor. Or someone will assume that a vaginal birth is “natural” regardless of whether or not they were induced, on a fetal monitor and flat on their back with an epidural. A mother who had a cesarean may feel that “all birth is natural”.

So I don’t use that term because it is too broad a definition. I say I had a physiological birth to indicate that labor started spontaneously and was not augmented or impeded in any way. I say it was unmedicated because I did not have any drugs for pain relief or even an IV. I say it was a spontaneous vaginal birth (not delivery) because I birthed the baby without assistance of forceps or vacuum or episiotomy and I say BIRTH instead of “delivery” because I did all the work and my midwife was there to SUPPORT me. When people say “who delivered your baby” that implies that the mother was passive in the experience, not the one doing all the work. It is disempowering and perpetuates the idea that women are “not allowed” to make their own decisions about their births. I HATE it when a mother says “am I allowed…” when asking about what to expect in birth. It’s just more of the same patriarchal bullshit that has no place in society today.

I know that being PC isn’t ALL about birth, but I use it as an example because it is the subject I am most familiar with (that, and women’s rights as a whole). I am not a person of color and I am a cis-straight woman so I won’t pretend to understand the issues that people of color and the LGBQT community deal with as fully as someone of those communities. I only know what I am made aware of, and truthfully before I had children I wasn’t aware of the problems with maternity care. I didn’t see it as a feminist issue. I didn’t think that the rising csection rates were a big deal and I thought that birth was supposed to be traumatizing. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and when I didn’t know I said some pretty stupid things. I held really stupid attitudes and beliefs. I will admit that. But the thing about beliefs and attitudes is that they are formed by the information that one gets on a subject and CAN change over time as one is exposed to more of that thing they held an opinion on. When you move away from black and white thinking and start realizing that maybe you don’t know as much as you thought, you can choose to seek out information you didn’t have before. I may not have the direct experience, but if I hear of oppression in a culture I do my best to learn more about it. I want to be aware of what messages I’m sending out because I have kids now and they are watching me. If I’m to raise my kids to be part of the culture that destroys the patriarchy, then I have to be willing to change my perceptions that might have been culturally insensitive and adopt new language to address those things so that people can feel more comfortable expressing their truths without fearing for their safety.

Maybe in a few more decades this won’t be such a big deal anymore. Maybe “PC Culture” won’t need to exist in the way that it does right now. But in this current version of our world it DOES need to exist because that’s how change happens. We cannot go back to the old ways; the old ways were full of silence and fear of what others might think of us. It denied people their right to be who they were, free of persecution. We can talk all we like about the pretty ideals of equality and we can tell people to be “more accepting”, but without the action that our “spoiled, fragile snowflakes” keep calling for, we aren’t going to get very far. We don’t say “that’s offensive” just because our feelings are hurt. We say it because we are trying to change a culture that is harmful and no longer represents who WE want to be. We don’t want to go back to the way things were. We like having our rights, thank you very much, and we won’t stop pointing out all the ways things could be better. If you don’t like it, well, you’ll be dead in the next century anyway so it won’t really matter. The world as you knew it IS going to change and you can either accept it and stop whining about the “millennials and their PC culture” and HELP us, or you can be one of those people in history that our future generations will shake their heads at and think “how could they have been okay with that?” Personally I prefer to be on the right side of history, even if no one remembers my name.

 

How Our C-Section Rates Got So High

 

It seems like the media is talking about the ridiculously high csection rates again and the questions get asked. Why are the rates so high? What is it about mothers today that’s causing 1 in 3 births to end in major surgery?

You wanna know WHY we’re in this mess? I’ve been asking that question for 5 years now, ever since I was aware of the issue. And many birth advocates have been doing it a lot longer than I have.

Here’s how you get a recipe for an unnecessary cesarean. Please keep in mind that this isn’t referring to the 15% of cases when a csection is actually necessary, nor is it referring to the breech and twin births where a csection may or may not be needed. This is in reference to the countless cases of mothers who could have had a vaginal birth but were robbed of that because of factors they were not aware of that were deliberately undermining their confidence in their bodies and that contributed to their “needing” that cesarean.

 

Start with one first time mother who isn’t aware of her rights to informed consent and refusal.

GP refers her to an OB. Does not mention midwife as an option for low risk women.

OB starts off relationship with “patient” telling the mother all the things she’s “not allowed” to do.

OB refers “patient” for tests; makes certain to word things in a way that makes it seem mandatory instead of optional.

OB starts performing cervical checks in the last month to give the mother false hope that she’ll have her baby “soon” or NO hope because “nothing seems to be happening yet”.

not a crystal ball

Mother spends last week of pregnancy wondering if she’ll ever go into labor on her own.

OB convinces the “patient” that the due date is an expiration date for the pregnancy. Makes no mention of the fact that very few women actually go into labor on their due date OR that full term is anywhere from 37-42 weeks.

due date estimations

Mother exhausts herself trying to go into labor by her due date. Gets discouraged when all her efforts “fail”. OB does not ever explain that THE BABY is the one that triggers labor and that she could still have a few more weeks to go.

OB schedules an induction for 41 weeks or 10 days past the due date because of “policy”.

Mother further exhausts herself trying to go into labor on her own and avoid the dreaded induction. She turns to online communities for help, but sadly is just given MORE false hope, induction horror stories, and a few comments that a healthy baby is all that matters. If she is lucky she might get a comment from a birth advocate or doula informing her of her right to informed consent and refusal, but months of indoctrination and disempowering language has undermined her confidence to actually refuse.

Mother “fails” to go into labor by the induction date. Her body and baby aren’t ready because she might be one of those women who gestates to 42 weeks or just past 41 weeks. Nobody informs her that induction of a first time mother can triple the risk of cesarean.

Mother experiences a very horrifically painful labor because Pitocin creates intense contractions that are much stronger than what nature intended. Is convinced that this is how all labors are. Gets the epidural she hadn’t wanted because the pain is too much. Is not told that the epidural could lead to restricted movement making it harder for the baby to navigate the pelvis.

“Fails to progress”.

cascade of intervention

OB decides to do a csection for “failure to progress” or “fetal distress”. Never mentions that the induction is the reason for that.

Mother is led to believe her body couldn’t labor well on its own, that birth is horrifically painful, and that a csection is “easier”.

Mother gets pregnant again. Goes back to the same OB that cut her the first time.

OB uses a VBAC calculator on her. Fails to mention that VBAC calculators are inaccurate at predicting a VBAC and then puts conditions on VBAC. Tells “patient” that she must go into labor by her due date (because that worked SO well last time) or else it’s a repeat cesarean.

VBAC supportive vs tolerant

OB starts doing measurements in late pregnancy to “guess baby’s size” even though fetal size is not a true indication of whether vaginal birth is possible. Tells mother baby is “bigger than the last one”.

OB does cervical checks in the final month. Tells mother she’s either making progress or not. Discourages mother further that her body isn’t working the way it “should”.

Due date approaches. OB has already scheduled a csection in advance. Mother tires herself out trying to go into labor on her own. Gets more comments about healthy babies, csections being “safer” and very few or no mentions of her right to informed consent and refusal, current VBAC guidelines, or current evidence that is contradictory to what her OB is saying. Months of disempowering language and power imbalances has made her less likely to question her OB or say NO.

Mother does not go into labor by her due date (because BABY ISN’T READY) and has the repeat csection.

Mother finally learns the truth. Mother decides she doesn’t want to repeat the same pattern anymore. Mother does research on VBAC and learns she was “bait and switched” during that second pregnancy. Mother decides enough is enough and finds out that few to no OBs will accept her desire for a VBA2C. Is told she “has to” have a repeat csection.

Mother appeals to the online community. Gets shamed by the mainstream community for “putting her birth experience above her baby”. Is told it’s “too dangerous”.

Mother is constantly told to just do a repeat csection by everyone she knows. Risks of uterine rupture are a constant topic of discussion as a way to discourage her/scare her.

risks vbac

Unless she can empower herself to ignore all the negative comments she probably will give in. So few women have a will strong enough to withstand the scare tactics and coercive language. If she has a few stronger voices standing up with her, she’s more likely to succeed in a trial of labor after cesarean or multiple cesarean.

This can go one of two ways: Mother hires a different care provider, possibly even a midwife. She might do a homebirth or choose to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. If there’s a VBAC ban in that hospital then she would also need to arm herself with the laws of informed consent and refusal because coercive tactics may be employed to obtain her “consent” for a repeat csection. If she stays home, she likely has an empowering VBA2C unless there is a true complication that arises and the midwife advises that she transfer to the hospital (very unlikely).

If the mother has no access to midwifery care or a truly VBAC supportive OB, she will likely be “bait and switched” again unless she manages to beat the clock and have a spontaneous, precipitous labor where there’s no time to get to the OR to section her.

If she has NO supportive voices of friends or even strangers on the internet telling her that what she wants is even possible or how to achieve that goal, then she might feel like she can’t do it and agree to a repeat csection.

The more csections she has, the more likely these scenarios will repeat themselves. I personally have a friend who had a VBA3C and she indeed had to fight for it. When she achieved that VBAC it changed her. It made her into that strong advocate that would be a voice to encourage other mothers seeking VBAC. She learned the hard way, as so many women do, that the system is not designed to support vaginal births.

We have too many csections because we have too many inductions scheduled before 42 weeks without medical cause.

We have too many csections because we have too many repeat csections scheduled on the due dates or just before, without medical reason for it.

We have too many csections because too many women are being led to believe their bodies don’t work and that they “need” interventions that they actually don’t. We have too many csections because not enough people are out there informing mothers of their rights to informed consent and refusal, evidence based practices and guidelines, and the difference between a care provider who is truly supportive and one that is placating their patients but fully intends to call ALL the shots later when it’s much harder for them to refuse without real or imagined consequences.

We have too many csections because there are too many OBs out there who operate under a patriarchal viewpoint of knowing what’s “best” and who would rather do what’s easiest for them in terms of convenience, profit, and liability. And sadly, they overshadow the GOOD doctors and the midwives out there who ARE serving mothers and giving them the empowering births they deserve, EVEN when those births have unexpected outcomes. 

We DON’T have too many csections because mothers are older, heavier, or less healthy than in the past. That’s just a scapegoat that the OBs doing all the unnecessary csections like to point to in order to take the spotlight off their own practices. But for over 20 years they’ve known the truth. They’ve ALWAYS known what they were doing was causing more csections and they still take the credit of “saving lives” because that’s easier too and the mothers generally don’t know any better. And the ones who DO know better? Well they’re condescended to and called “difficult” and they’re treated like a problem client who is more concerned with her birth vision than her baby. And I’m sick of their bullshit games, so I call it out when I see it.

Cascade of intervention save life

Mainstream parenting forums are made up of all kinds of mothers. Many of them disempowered and scared to go against “doctor’s orders” even when it’s clear that the doctor is lying to them. And others will get pissed at me for telling those mothers that they can say NO. And still others will say the same thing I am and share their own heartbreaking stories; their warnings to not fall for the same tricks they had. Their pleas for another mother to avoid the treacherous path that those of us who do this work can all see coming from miles away. Doulas know. Maternity care nurses know. Midwives know. Birth advocates know. We ALL know. We hear the stories, we help the women who were burned in the past and are now struggling against the obstacles of their first birth as they seek a more positive experience. And we are often punished and scorned for it.

But we persevere. Why? Because we know that many won’t listen the first time or even the second, but eventually they will. And when they do, we will be there for them. We always knew their bodies weren’t broken.

I Stopped Commanding My Strong Willed Child to Get Ready For Bed: My Experiment With Playful Parenting

playful parent

It’s been a few months since I decided to stop disciplining my kids and while it hasn’t been a complete transformation (yet), my goal is progress, not perfection. I do sometimes yell. I sometimes lose my temper and punish my strong willed little boy, but I have learned to forgive myself and I make an effort to admit when I’ve made a mistake and done something I shouldn’t have. My son will say “Mommy, you yelled at me. It hurt my ears.” And rather than say “well, if you hadn’t done x I wouldn’t yell!” I say “I know. I am sorry I hurt your ears. I don’t like yelling and I don’t want to do it. I am trying hard NOT to yell but I am only human and sometimes when I get overwhelmed by big feelings I forget and yell. Does that happen to you sometimes?” He will then tell me that yes, he doesn’t always want to hit or scream or throw his toys, but his body takes over and he can’t stop. I tell him that I will help him try to stop, and then we discuss how we can solve the problem in the future. Sometimes it works, sometimes he’s overtired or hungry or overwhelmed and hits anyway, but I have seen him in the moments when his sister is in his space and he DOES try to make an effort to solve the problem before he hits her. Unfortunately she’s 2 and doesn’t always get the message he’s trying to tell her, so we still have some work to do. BUT it’s progress! That’s the goal, right?

The managing of emotions is still in the works and my little boy doesn’t always feel like talking about how he’s feeling right away. Usually he has to have the tantrum first or be distracted temporarily before I can address those feelings, and that’s something I have a lot of trouble doing because I prefer to address the issue NOW! Believe me, it’s a source of contention with my husband too, who also likes to process his feelings on his own first before he is ready to address them. If I’m honest with myself I would say that I’m just really uncomfortable with leaving those feelings “unresolved”. I get anxious and can’t handle feeling anxious; I want THEIR feelings that are affecting me to “go away” and be “fixed” so that I don’t feel that energy anymore. So having a son who is very much like his dad in that he might not tell me how he feels for several hours is really difficult sometimes. Especially when I KNOW which emotions are underneath their anger and it’s so obvious they should just figure it out already and move on!

The Things I Haven’t Mastered Yet

Emotional regulation isn’t easy when one is trying to learn how to manage oneself AND happens to be a freaking empath who feels other people’s emotions even when they act “fine”.

I can deal with the constant addressing of feelings about 60% of the time without issue, but I still have a lot of work to do and it’s probably going to be something I’ll always have to remind myself to do. I notice it a lot when I talk to people; I’ll address their problem first, then I will stop myself and think “wait, they need their emotional needs met first” and backtrack. It still feels awkward to address the feelings in a genuine way. I used to say “it’s okay” or ” look on the bright side” or try to “fix” the feeling to make it better and move on. It is still uncomfortable for me to dwell on certain feelings when I believe that I’ve already addressed the issue. I mean seriously, I get that you’re disappointed that we can’t go to the park today because of the rain. It really sucks. You were looking forward to it, yes, I know. We can go another day. Here’s an activity we CAN do. Yes, I heard you the first 56,000 times you said it. You want to go to the park even though it’s raining. Yes, I can see how sad you are…(GET OVER IT ALREADY! OH MY GOD JUST STOP!!! SERIOUSLY THERE ARE A BILLION OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO BESIDES GO TO THE FUCKING PARK!!!)

Obviously that last part is in my head, but I’m pretty sure the empathic responses I give my 4.5 year old start to lose their empathy and start to sound robotic and annoyed after a while. So the whole emotions being rehashed over and over…really not my strong point.

Why I REALLY “Have To” Use My New Tricks

What IS my strong point? Playful Parenting. I’ve become the master of that, as long as I’m not too drained (too much empathy can drain me because I’m an introvert and people’s emotions are siphoning of my energy) and as long as my kid is in a good mood. If he’s overtired, hungry, overwhelmed, or overly emotional then the tricks don’t work the way I like them to, but 90% of the time I get a much better level of cooperation out of him than the other ways.

Here’s what happens when I try to do the “other” things, as an example of just how strong-willed my little boy is:

Commanding

Me: It’s time for bed. Go brush your teeth, go pee, put on your pull-up, get into your pjs, and climb into bed.

Him: NO!

 

Bribing

Me: We have time for two stories tonight if you go brush your teeth and start getting ready for bed right now…

Him: NO! I don’t WANT to go to bed! I don’t WANT two stories!

Me: Okay then *shrugging*

Him: NO!!!! I WANT two stories!

Me: Then go do what I asked.

Him: NO! Little (insert insult of the month here)!

 

Threatening

Me: If you don’t get ready for bed right now you won’t get a story.

Him: Fine, I don’t WANT a story! I’M NOT TIRED!!!!

Me: GO. TO. BED!!!

Him: NOOOOOO!!!

 

Giving Choices

Me: Do you want me to brush your teeth or do you want to do it?

Him: Me!

Me: Okay *hands him toothbrush*

Him: NO! YOU do it!

Me: Okay *tries to take toothbrush back*

Him: NO! I want to do it!

Me: Okay, then do it.

*little brat just stands there with his toothbrush in his hands, refusing to do anything until I find myself locked in a power struggle*

 

Asking Nicely

Me: Can you go get ready for bed now?

Him: Mmmm, NAH!

 

So yeah, this kid took every single trick from the conventional parenting methods and showed me just how futile they were with him. I HAD TO get creative. When I found How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen, I finally found something that would work. I created the EVIL Mr. Plaque Man!

Playful Parenting for the Win!

Who is this nefarious being? Well, he comes out at night after dinner has ended and bedtime routines must begin. You know he’s coming by his evil, maniacal, deep laugh.

MWAHAHAH!

My son will pause in whatever he’s doing. He’ll say “no, not yet!” then run to the bathroom. Then he will say “go, Mommy! Make him talk.”

And so I say in my supervillain voice: “I am the EVIL Mr. Plaque Man! I have come to drill holes in Hunter’s teeth!”

And he will say “Oh no you don’t, Mr. Plaque Man! I’m gonna get you!”

He teams up with Super Toothbrush and Mighty Toothpaste. Sometimes I mess up on their names and my son will correct me “NO, Mommy, it’s Super TOOTHBRUSH!” Clearly he’s paying attention, so that’s a win for me. He asks me to do the teeth next, so I’ll use my high pitched squeaky voice “oh no! Save us, Hunter!” and he’ll brush and giggle and I’ll say things like “MWAHAHA! I’M SENDING MY PLAQUE MONSTERS TO THE BACK WHERE HUNTER WILL NOT REACH!” And my son will remember to brush those back teeth super well because he won’t let his arch nemesis win this round!

At the end I will say “ARGH! YOU BEAT ME AGAIN, HUNTER! BUT I’LL BE BACK TOMORROW!”

And that’s how I get him to brush his teeth.

Then I change focus. He was slow at putting on his pjs and used to insist that I dress him. I would attempt to fulfill his request and get kicked for my trouble. It was frustrating for me and would end in his tears as I walked out of his room and told him “no story tonight” even though that was really punishing both of us. My son is super active during the day. I can ONLY get him to cuddle and sit for a story at bedtime. It’s our special time. So “no story” really sucks. I hate “no story” nights.

So now I created The Resistant Clothing. I do the voices of his pull-up and his pjs. They don’t want to go onto my son. They say they want to be free. I say “now pjs, it’s your job to be on Hunter. You have to keep him warm.” and they will say “NNOOOO I don’t want to.” and I will argue with them as I make the bed or tidy up the room as my son giggles and puts his pjs on. I do the same thing for getting him dressed to go out as well. And if I just say “go get dressed” my son will sometimes comply but other times he will say “make them talk, Mommy”.

I’ve done this for food, too. My almost-5 year old delights in biting off the many heads of his sentient chicken nuggets, fries, vegetables etc. He’s kind of sadistic about it, but I won’t worry too much about that since I also have a messed up sense of humor and yet haven’t murdered anyone and stuffed them in a wall or anything.

When Dad Doesn’t Use the Tricks

When I don’t use the tricks, the kid will dig in his heels. I see it all the time with my husband (who once could get him to do anything, but now is suffering the same frustration I have been since he was 15 months old). Barbara Coloroso calls it the second “Age of Rebellion”. 2 year olds rebel against mom, 5 year olds against mom AND dad. Teenagers rebel against the entire older generation. So having already gone through the first stage, I’m kind of enjoying that my husband is now experiencing that frustration too, but also I feel bad because he’s not working with the same tools I am. He tries, but these things take practice and you have to know when to use them and use them correctly. My husband works 90+ hours every 2 weeks; he isn’t around enough to catch on as quickly and it takes much longer for him to learn the tools by watching me in my more triumphant moments and trying them out for himself. It’s not to say he hasn’t picked up on it though. He’s slowly learning and when I catch him using one of my tricks I feel pride that he was paying attention and felt it was worth trying.

Other times I know he’s overtired and short on patience and he’ll command our son to do something and get resistance, and I’m thinking to myself “that’s not going to work”. And of course it doesn’t work because they are both strong willed and resist being controlled. If I’m in a good mood, I’ll step in to help. If I’m drained, then it’s a bad day or at least a bad few hours before I can recharge.

That’s the other thing to keep in mind, btw. THESE TOOLS WILL NOT WORK IF YOU DON’T RECHARGE YOURSELF.

Why I NEED a Break (and demand one)

I know that a lot of articles stress “self care” and that there’s also this attitude that parents don’t GET a break. You are expected to just suck it up and deal with the issue. Well, I say that’s bullshit! Of COURSE I deserve a break, and damn it, I am going to DEMAND one. I don’t care what the oldschool attitudes are! I am not JUST a mother; I am a person with needs. I took care of those needs before kids and I am still going to take care of them now. What I NEED is to have some time to myself at least every few days, if not every day. I NEED that time to myself because I am an introvert and being around people is draining. I NEED to recharge so that when the kids come to me with their feelings, I can address those feelings and mirror them. I have found that I have a limit to how long I can function without a break from people. I get little warnings that come up.

Level 1 is when I get so tired and drained that I just want to sleep. I don’t want to do anything and can’t focus on anything.

Level 2 is when I run out of patience. I start getting snappish, I have less tolerance for whining, and I start to run out of empathy. I’m functioning on autopilot and might “stress clean” and get frustrated when I can’t get things done.

Level 3 is the danger zone. I HATE Level 3. I don’t want to BE in Level 3. Level 3 is when all my empathy is gone! I start to yell and punish again. I stop being the fun, playful mommy and start acting like a drill sergeant. This tells me that I need a break within the next day or things will get much worse. I have trained myself to start demanding a break at this point and I get very anxious if that’s not possible.

Level 4 is when I know I have to get a break NOW! It is the worst level and one I very much wish to avoid because THIS is when the spanking mother I never wanted to be comes out and I become the worst version of myself. I DESPISE this person I become; she is an evil demon. She rages and scares her kids. She gets out of control and I have a very difficult time reigning her in. I see her less and less since I started demanding more help from other people. Even the members of my family who don’t believe I really NEED the help will get called on, and I have just started ignoring their opinions on what I “REALLY need to do” (which is often change my parenting style back to the “old ways” that worked for THEM, and doesn’t address that I actually WANT to parent differently). If I know my husband is going to be working a lot more and that I may not be able to get a break in the usual way (having him take the kids for the day) then I will call on my backups. And if I have to break down and cry and tell them that I’m at my breaking point, then I will do that because if I’m at Level 3 already then a simple change of scenery or taking the kids to the park is NOT going to cut it. Taking the kids ANYWHERE is just going to add to my level of frustration because at Level 3 I am in no condition to be around ANYONE. If the kids act up at the park I will lose it. I just know that about myself.

It’s important to know ones limits

I have been working very hard at looking at myself and just where those limits are in my efforts to do better than what I was taught. I WANT to do better because those tactics that come out in Level 3 and 4 are exactly the things I remember vowing I would NEVER do to my own kids because of how awful they made me feel growing up.

I remember just wanting to be heard, and so now I work at hearing my son when he’s upset. I try to look past the action (throwing his toys or hitting/screaming etc) and dig down to the feeling behind it. I address that feeling and I tell him that I sometimes feel like that too, so that he knows it’s okay to have those feelings and that he’s not bad, he’s just a little boy who got overwhelmed by his big emotions. I want him to have a healthy relationship with his emotions. I don’t want him to feel like he needs to push them away and I don’t want him to feel like he “can’t deal” when other people express their own feelings. It’s not any way to live life! It SUCKS! I don’t like that when my husband is upset and just needs someone (me) to vent to, my first instinct is to point out how he’s thinking about it all wrong or what he needs to do to fix it, or just giving the wrong tone with my empathy so that the words sound hollow. I don’t like that instead of addressing feelings when things get heated, my first instinct is to just hide in the bedroom all night until it all “blows over”. I know from my reading that this isn’t a healthy response to other people’s emotions and that if I’m to do what I need to do for my kids, I have to change this first reaction.

A BIG reason to change

So that’s my update on my Peaceful Parenting journey! I started this back in January (though technically I was reading the books in December) and now it’s April. I’ve cut WAAAAY back on sending my son to his room so that it only ever happens when I’m out of ideas and out of patience. I stopped sending him to the corner, stopped taking away his toys as a punishment for not cleaning them up (they only get taken if he’s throwing them, and only the toys that can hurt or break something or someone), and I try to use playful parenting tactics rather than command him to do something.

It doesn’t always work and I still have a long way to go, but the more I keep at it the less I yell.

As an added thought for this month, my son was playing with his sister in the tub earlier this week and accidentally broke something that REALLY wasn’t good. When I came in there I saw the toy in his hands and he looked at me in fear. He started to cry. He said “I didn’t mean to. I’m sorry!” I didn’t immediately see what he had done (I had been finishing up the dishes while listening intently to the giggles of the kids and had only heard a splash, a crash, and an “oh no!” from my son. I should add that I was calm that day. I had managed to get some rest the night before and though my husband was at a friend’s place helping him with his truck that night, I was only at Level 1. I had only yelled once that day and I had caught myself. So the look of terror in my son’s eyes was heartbreaking to see. This poor little soul was sobbing. He was so scared that he had done something SO bad that he would surely be punished.

It was pretty bad. Repairs would have to be done and my husband wouldn’t like it, but it WAS an accident. I knew that he hadn’t meant to do it. He had been playing and trying to make his sister laugh. He’d gotten too excited, he lost control of where his toy landed. Accidents happen. Had I been right there, I probably couldn’t have stopped it from happening and couldn’t have predicted it.

What shocked me was that he had already tried to “fix” it. He had cleaned up the broken pieces and put them in the garbage and done so rather quickly considering that I had rushed in there to see what had happened. And still, he was crying. He was inconsolable.

“Don’t yell at me.” he cried. “Don’t hurt me.”

He has been spanked before. I am not proud of it. It’s a source of deep regret and shame, as well as self-loathing that I have raised my hand to my child, but it’s a reality. And that reality is what caused that fear in his eyes. And I hated myself for it. I hated myself SO much that in this moment when he accidentally broke something, his first instinct was to beg me not to hurt him.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” I said as calmly as I could. I told myself in my head “this is not an emergency. Your child needs comforting.” And I told him to get out of the tub.

He cried harder. He begged me not to hurt him. I calmly said “I’m not mad, sweetheart. It was an accident. You need to get out and so does your sister. There might be broken bits you can’t see”

He kept crying. His sister whimpered, not sure what to do. Mommy wasn’t upset, but Brother was and it was confusing. I took her out of the tub first, looked her over, and determined that she was okay. No cuts. I toweled her off and got his towel and wrapped him in it and hugged him. I told him that he seemed so scared and I was sorry and that it was okay and that I wasn’t mad at him. I told him I was just happy he wasn’t hurt because he could have been cut (he did have a small cut on his toe upon further inspection, but we covered that with a band-aid and he didn’t even make a fuss until I pointed it out). I told him we needed to tell Daddy.

Fear returned, and I hated THAT too. This is what punishment does to kids. It makes them fear, even when they don’t need to. It makes ME feel such shame and guilt that WE were the cause of that fear. So I held him, rocked him, reassured him. And still this little boy was unsure of me. “You’re not going to yell?” he kept asking. He really didn’t believe that I wasn’t upset. I told him “well I don’t like what happened, but it was an accident and can be fixed. I know you didn’t want to break it. You wanted to make your sister laugh. And when the toy hit that thing and broke it, that scared you because you knew it was not a good thing to do. But you tried to clean up the mess, and that was good that you wanted to keep your sister from being cut, but YOU could have been hurt too. I’m glad nobody got hurt. That could have been very dangerous.”

I called my husband and told him calmly what happened and how upset our boy was. I was relieved that he got my message in my tone that he needed to be very careful how he addressed this. He was calm and echoed what I had already said; this was an accident, it’s okay, and that we would fix it.

My boy went to sleep that night knowing he was truly special and loved, and that he would not be punished for his accident, no matter how bad it was. But I lay awake much longer and I thought about his little face full of tears and it broke my heart. It made me resolve to keep at this new way of parenting and to keep rejecting the old ways until that awful, scary, angry mother becomes nothing more than a distant memory of the time when Mommy didn’t know any better. I want him to KNOW that I recognize how much that scared and hurt him, and how sorry I am. I don’t want him ever thinking that spanking and punishment was justified. I don’t want him thinking he’s “bad”. I want to give him everything I didn’t know I had needed as a child; all the love and understanding that my parents hadn’t known to give even in my worst moments. It’s easy to be that kind parent when the kids are “good”, but when they test your limits that’s when you really have to work at it. And it’s moments like what I experienced this week that show you how your kids actually see you when you’re at your worst, and how often you’re at your worst.

The Legacy I Want to Leave Behind

This week was an eye-opener. It really pushed me to do more to be better for him. So I will continue to work on my demons. I will continue to figure out just where my limits are and find ways to fulfill my needs so that I reach the worst levels only a small fraction of the time, if at all. And I will continue to show my poor little boy that Mommy really ISN’T going to yell at him and that she certainly doesn’t want to hurt him no matter what he does, because those things are not okay to do to the people we love.

And hopefully those messages will stick with both of my children and my future grandchildren won’t ever know that fear that I saw in my son’s eyes. Because at the end of my life, when my children are grown and look back on their childhood and share memories of me, I want them to remember the funny voices and the characters we made up together. I want them to recall fondly my stories of Evil Mr. Plaque Man and the Resistant Clothing. I want them to remember Mommy Panther who catches her little baby panthers and Mommy Kitty who snuggled in her son’s lap. I want them to remember Kid Mommy who reversed roles and pretended to be scared to sleep alone; who made her children giggle uncontrollably. I want them to remember the crafts, the movie nights, the baking, the story time, the bedtime snuggles, the made-up songs with their names and the sing-alongs to Disney show tunes. I want them to have so many favorite moments with me that they can’t pick only a few, and I want them to know without any doubt that I loved them. In the end of my life, I want to know that I was the best mother I could be for my kids with the knowledge I had at the time, and that I never stopped trying to be better for them.

People can roll their eyes at my parenting all they want. I don’t believe kids need to “obey”; that’s not the most important thing. Obedience doesn’t get you very far as an adult and can actually work against you. So I’m not choosing obedience anymore; instead, I’m choosing love. And if LOVE is going to get me kicked out of the “good parent” club, then so be it. I wasn’t much for following others anyway.

I’ll Trust My Body With Birth, But NOT With My Period

Today marks the day I officially say “Fuck this shit!” in regards to my menstrual cycle.

I have been considering it for years. I deliberately got pregnant with my daughter to put off the hell that is my menstrual cycle. I’ve talked to other women about it. Many of them urged me to reconsider. They told me that I could make it better. I entertained the thought that MAYBE I would be okay. MAYBE I could accept my cycle. MAYBE it wouldn’t be so bad?

I looked up Hormonology. It seemed like a lovely thought so I downloaded the app. I tracked my fertility when I sensed that my breastfeeding days were nearly done. I read up on how to make things “better”.

And then today I felt the cramping of my pre-menstrual days. I felt the rage fill me. The exhaustion combined with the pain and the awful feelings of just being “blah” and not having a good time.

I tried the Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and popped the Vitamin E and the Ibuprofen just like the articles suggested I do in order to lessen the cramping.

So now instead of transition-like cramping I went down to early/active labour cramping. Yeah, no. That’s not good enough for me.

NO cramping is what I want. NO exhaustion. NO hormonal crappy feelings of not enjoying life!

So today when my son had to go to the doctor for his cough to get a refill of his inhaler and some medicine, I piggy-backed on that appointment. I asked for my birth control pill prescription.

I considered waiting until I actually GOT my period to start the pills, but then I had another few hours of cramps that made me want to kill everyone around me and stab out my own uterus. So I took the first pill.

The cramping has not gone away. I might still get my first period 2 years post-partum in a few days or this might just be a false alarm as my body prepares for it next month after my daughter’s birthday, just as it did with my son.

Except regardless of what happens, I know one thing for sure. It will NEVER happen again.

You can argue that I’m screwing with my hormones or that I’m messing up my body, or robbing myself of the “good” things of having my cycle. I won’t get that rush of energy in my Week 2, I won’t have a natural rhythm to my moods etc.

I get that it’s a sacrifice. I wish I could enjoy those things. I wanted to try to enjoy those things. I did download that app, after all. Unfortunately, my uterus is an irritable bitch and unless there’s a baby on board, she likes to torture me. So thank you, but no thank you. I don’t need a Diva Cup. I don’t need an app. I just need to not have to worry about my cycle anymore. I tried to do it a different way, I really did. You have no idea how much it sucks for me that I have to stop my cycle from even starting up again. I’m fascinated by what a woman’s body is designed to do and I wish I could study my own rhythms, but the reality is that this pain makes me cranky and stabby. This pain doesn’t go away no matter how many Ibuprofen I take pre-emptively. It doesn’t go away or lessen no matter how I alter my diet in the weeks leading up to it. My body isn’t trying to tell me to rest or slow down because I followed the freaking guidelines on how to handle each week and feed my body what it needs and yet here I still am in bed with a heating pad, wishing I’d just listened to myself and gotten the birth control last month instead of waiting and giving this whole cycle thing another try.

I stand by my original feelings regarding my period. It sucks, it’s painful, and I don’t want to do it anymore. If there’s a price to pay for not having another period, I’ll pay it when that time comes. But right now I have to think of what’s better for my kids, and my kids don’t need a rage-filled mom who can’t even get out of bed one week out of the month.

If You Don’t Want Your Wife Acting Like Your Mother, Stop Treating Her Like She Is

Lazy husband at the couch and his wife

 

Note to husbands and husband-like partners: IF YOU’RE TIRED OF YOUR WIFE ACTING LIKE YOUR MOTHER, STOP TREATING HER LIKE SHE IS!

I’m sure you’ve heard this scenario before. A wife calmly reminds her husband that he has an appointment or “nags” him to do some task he’s put off for weeks and he explodes! He acts like her simple request or reminder is a horrible insult to his male ego; that she thinks he’s incompetent or something. If he’s particularly upset, he’ll even tell her “STOP ACTING LIKE MY MOTHER!” The wife is often shocked at her husband’s outburst. After all, her request was reasonable or her reminder was appropriate. She knew her husband had been putting off this task for weeks and she was probably tired of waiting for him to figure out that it really needed to be done. She knew her husband was likely to forget he had that appointment because he always tends to forget that he has an appointment. In truth, his wife is merely taking on the role that her husband unwittingly had her take on.

So here’s the thing: We don’t set out with aspirations to act like a mother to our husbands; it just HAPPENS! And WHY it happens is simple; we learn to expect that our husbands aren’t going to do it BECAUSE THEY NEVER DO IT!!!

Their response when we point out that we’re taking on this role is “well, why didn’t you just ask me?”

There is a brilliant comic that illustrates why this is a problem, but I can sum it up a lot quicker: MOTHERS ask; WIVES expect. If we have to ASK our husbands to do things that should be obvious, like perhaps wash the dishes in the sink because they’re sitting in the sink and their wife is otherwise occupied, then that is putting us in the role of the mother.

WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO ASK GROWN MEN TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE!!!!!!

Need a shirt washed? Well, how about instead of waiting for your wife to ASK you to do the laundry because she can’t get to it that day, you just assume that she might not be able to get to it that day and DO A FUCKING LOAD OF LAUNDRY!!!

Frustrated that there are dishes in the sink and your wife hasn’t gotten them done yet? HOW ABOUT YOU WASH THE FUCKING DISHES?

Is the garbage piling up and you know it’s your job but your wife hasn’t yet asked you to take out the garbage? HOW ABOUT YOU TAKE OUT THE FUCKING GARBAGE BEFORE YOUR WIFE ASKS YOU IN HER “ANNOYED VOICE” FOR YOU TO TAKE IT OUT?

See, we don’t start off as the nagging, annoyed wife. Here’s what actually happens:

Wife notices that the trash is full. Wife knows that it is her husband’s job to take out the trash and that the husband has agreed he will do it. Wife leaves the trash for her husband. Time passes. Wife notices that it’s been 2 days since her husband agreed to take out the trash. Wife notices that husband has left his plate/glass/empty can on the table/counter. Wife picks it up because it can’t be left out all day. Continuing with her other chores, wife hopes that the fact that SHE IS CLEANING THE HOUSE will cause her husband to notice that chores are being done and maybe he will remember to take out the trash. Husband comes home and immediately sits down to watch TV or play with his toys or whatever other non-chore thing he wants to do. He shows NO indication that he is going to remember the trash. The wife, trying to stay calm, reminds him that he needs to take out the trash. Husband says he will “later”. Wife reminds him that it’s been sitting for 2 days and the garbage truck is coming in the morning. Husband gets annoyed and says he KNOWS that, and that he doesn’t need her to remind him. Wife senses husband is irritated and tells him that she doesn’t mean to nag him, but he said he was going to do it 2 days ago and she really needs him to just do it now.  “Stop acting like my mother!” is his response.

Or

A wife has been finding that all the tasks she’s had to do for her husband and children lately are more than she can handle on her own. She tells her husband (after he gets annoyed that there are dishes in the sink or no clean shirts to wear) that she has too much to do. He tells her “you should have asked for help then” in response. The wife bites her tongue even as she fantasizes about beating her husband with the frying pan she’s washing.

 

Did you notice the actual problem with either of these scenarios? If you’re a wife, you probably got it right away! “The husband is an idiot!” is likely the response. If you’re a man, you probably are clueless because after all, the wife didn’t ASK him for help. If she had just TOLD him what she wanted in the first place then there wouldn’t be a problem, right?

NO!!!!

IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE OUR JOB TO TELL OUR HUSBANDS WHAT THEY NEED TO DO!!!!

MOTHERS spend all their time asking things of their children. We point out that the cup needs to go in the sink, not be left on the table. We tell our kids that their toys need to be picked up after they’re done playing with them. Their homework needs to be done before they go to sleep. They have that report or test next week they need to work on/study for. They need to help out with the chores. They need to remember to feed the cat. Please clean your room. Please help me with the dishes. Do you see how I’m struggling with these bags, maybe you could get the door? Maybe instead of running straight to the TV you could notice that you left your shoes in the middle of the floor and there’s homework/chores that need to be done so don’t sit there for hours while Mom is busting her ass cleaning!

But husbands are NOT children. We go into our marriages assuming that our partners are just as capable of seeing the mess or the problem that needs solving. We assume that because they are adults that they should be able to SEE the pile of laundry on the floor and think “oh, right! I should probably put these in the laundry basket, or better yet, I could wash them myself since I’m not doing anything right now and it looks like my wife is busy at the moment.” We expect that if our husbands are in the kitchen and they notice that the dishes haven’t been washed, that they’ll start washing them. When instead we get eyerolls, tantrums, and complaints that there are no clean dishes, we get annoyed. We think “he’s a grown man! Why can’t he just stop complaining and WASH THE FUCKING DISHES?” Because while the husband complains about the dishes not being done, the wife is picking up the husband’s dirty clothes off the floor, throwing the empty can in the recycling bin, or picking up some other mess that her husband just left without thinking anything of it.

And then later, when the wife, tired from cleaning all day, forgets to turn off a light or put something of hers away IMMEDIATELY, her husband is quick to point it out. He then expects HER to pick up her cup or turn off the light, rather than do it himself because he spotted it.  And if the wife points out that to her husband, he will say “if you wanted help you could have asked instead of given me that attitude about it”.

WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO ASK!

Guys, try to understand this concept and ladies show this to your men the next time they pull this crap: Husbands who expect their wives to tell them what needs to be done are treating their wives like their mothers.

Every time you wait for your wife to tell you what to do, you are making her act like your mother.

Every time you expect her to remind you of something important, you are treating her like your mother.

Every time you think she should just ask you what needs to be done instead of using your fucking eyes and looking around the room before you sit your ass down, YOU ARE MAKING YOUR WIFE ACT LIKE YOUR MOTHER!!!

YOU are the one who put her in that role! YOUR behaviour is what has led to her taking on that role that you seem to resent so much when it no longer serves you. She LEARNED this role from YOU! In the beginning, she assumed you were capable of doing what needed to be done. When you repeatedly left dishes in the sink to pile up, she eventually gave up and washed them. When you repeatedly left your clothes on the floor despite her picking them up and putting them in the laundry basket in front of you, she gave up on you picking up your clothes and putting them in the basket. When you repeatedly forgot important appointments or things that needed to be taken care of in a timely manner, and then later said “well YOU forgot to remind me about it” in response when you were suddenly scrambling to make it to that appointment or take care of that task before then deadline, you taught your wife that she needed to become your secretary and remind you of your appointments and obligations. YOU did this to her! YOU showed her that you were incapable of doing these things on your own! YOU showed her you needed those reminders and that she had to pick up after you all the time. IF YOU WANT HER TO STOP ACTING LIKE YOUR MOTHER, STOP ACTING LIKE YOU’RE HER CHILD!!!!!

How do you do that? THINK BEFORE YOU SIT!

When your wife wakes up in the morning she thinks of all the things she needs to do that day. While she is doing these things, she notices other things. So she goes into the living room to clean up the kids’ toys and notices that the floor needs vacuuming. As she pulls out the vacuum cleaner she takes note that it will need emptying soon and the filter cleaned. So she picks up the toys, notices that the mats need to be wiped down, wipes those down, vacuums, and empties the container afterward and cleans the filter. She washes out the sink, notices that the dishes from last night need to be put away. She puts away the clean dishes, notices that the cupboard needs a quick tidy up and does that too. She sees that it’s getting close to lunch time so she starts to plan the lunch menu and remembers to also take out something for dinner as well. She starts lunch, prepares for dinner for later that evening, and recalls that she needs to do a load of laundry. She gathers up the clothes that were left on the floor and washes them, then puts the clean clothes into the dryer. She takes the clothes that were already in the dryer to the bedroom to fold and put away. There is still a long list of things she had planned to do, but she is unable to get to them. Exhausted, she takes a moment for herself and forgets to put something away that she had been meaning to get to. You see that she forgot to put the thing away and make a little comment about how she needs to finish what she started. She wants to kill you.

Now, here’s what typically happens with husbands when they’re asked to do something: You are asked to take out the trash. You notice that your wife hasn’t yet swept the floor and step in the dirt around the garbage can. You gripe about this. You take out the trash. At the door you notice your wife forgot to put the kids’ shoes away. You kick them out of the way, annoyed. You come back inside. You notice that you tracked dirt into the house and it will need to be cleaned up. You tell your wife that there’s dirt on the floor. She tells you she will get to it when she has time. You complain about her “attitude” and watch TV.

Here’s what your wife is thinking: ”He stepped in the dirt near the trash can? WHY wouldn’t he just clean it up before he took out the trash? Really, a simple pair of shoes in the middle of the floor has him upset? Just move them! How many times do I have to pick his shit off the floor or put it away? And now he’s tracked dirt into the house and yet he expects ME to drop everything I’m already doing and take care of it for him? Can’t he just bust out the vacuum cleaner like I do every time I make a mess unintentionally? And instead of just fucking doing this shit himself he’s going to bitch about it and then sit on his ass and watch TV? Seriously? Does he not see that I’m currently washing dishes that we ALL ate off of, cooking dinner that we ALL are going to eat, and that I still have a pile of laundry to fold that we ALL contributed to?”

Is it any wonder she has an “attitude”?

Guys, if you don’t want your wife thinking you’re an incompetent child, maybe you should stop acting like an incompetent child. Next time you see that she hasn’t gotten around to washing the dishes, do this:

Shut up.

Just shut the fuck up about anything negative you have to say.

Don’t complain, don’t whine, don’t comment on how there’s dishes in the fucking sink. SHE KNOWS THAT THERE ARE DISHES IN THE SINK!!!!!!!! Just pick up the damn cloth, turn on the tap, and WASH THE FUCKING DISHES! And if you are thinking “but she’s the one who washes the dishes and if she wants help then she should just ask me” I want you to shut up right now and think “what would my wife do if she saw dishes in the sink?” If the answer is “she would wash the dishes when she had a spare moment or ask me to help out” then congratulations, you aren’t as helpless as you pretend to be! You DO know what to do!

Now GO DO IT and your wife will magically transform before your eyes into the sexy woman you fell in love with instead of the nagging shrew who seems to think she’s your mother!

 

 

 

Lies My Parents Told Me: What I Mean When I Say “Know Better, Do Better”.

 

me

Years ago, my father gave me the most important piece of future parenting advice I ever needed to hear: “Be at least one step better than I was. Do better.”

I took that advice to heart. I questioned what I was taught. I questioned my upbringing as I learned new information that contradicted what I had been told. And I DID BETTER.

What my father didn’t tell me though was how in the process of learning to do better, I would come to a lot of shocking and often painful realizations about myself. There would be things that I would learn that I wouldn’t want to face because they would confirm what I had lost or never had.

When I learned about attachment theory, I felt that pain so strongly. I realized that most of my problems stemmed from my lack of emotional regulation; mainly, my difficulty relating to others, dealing with other people’s emotions when they get intense, and how I feel both insecure and suffocated in relationships. I realized that my constant fear of being alone was a result of my insecure attachment. I learned that punishment was a big factor in how I ended up seeing myself. I have struggled most of my adult life trying to re-learn the things I should have learned in childhood.

I don’t blame my parents for not knowing what they didn’t know at the time, but I also can’t ignore the pain that it causes me. The grief I felt as I realized that the way I was parented in early childhood was truly painful and that regardless of how I had acted out to “deserve” that punishment, my childhood self had only been seeking love and acceptance. When she didn’t get that love and acceptance, she got scared. She acted out because she was angry, and instead of her parents recognizing that anger she was punished for “having an attitude”. It’s no wonder that I still don’t know how to handle my emotions well. I stifle my feelings until they finally get to be too much, and then I lash out at people. I throw an adult temper tantrum.

The more I read about emotional regulation, the more the lights turn on in my subconscious and I start to see the scars of my childhood clearer than ever.

I see that lonely, scared, anxious little girl who cried in her bed at night but nobody ever knew; or if they did, they never came to hold her and rock her (I should know; I cried often back then).

Much like how I learned that circumcision without medical necessity was a lie that was inflicted on generations of men “for their own good”, how the patriarchy has lied to women for centuries in order to control them, and everything I’ve learned about physiological birth, the things I learned about attachment theory and how it relates to me had me questioning everything I had been indoctrinated to believe from childhood.

It made me weep and rant and scream and rage at the injustice of it all! I felt betrayed. As a mother myself those feelings were magnified further because I understood what the books meant about parental instincts. How often did I feel that visceral pull to my children when they were in distress? How often did I want to just wrap my arms around them and take that pain away?

Knowing how powerful that feeling was, it is difficult to accept that when I was that small child in distress, the caregivers I was dependent on stood by and let me cry. They didn’t help me work through my feelings. They punished me for screaming, for “carrying on”. They told me to “grow up”, “suck it up”. “Life’s not fair!” they said.

The phrases that my books suggest I use with my kids were things I never heard as a child, and THAT hurts. How much nicer would it have been for someone to acknowledge that I was afraid or sad or angry, but that they would help me through it? Instead of “That’s enough!”

“Go to your room, young lady!”

“Watch your mouth!”

“Don’t you dare talk back to me!”

“Because I said so!”

“It’s just a ___! You’re making a big deal over nothing”

“You’re too old to be freaking out over this!”

“Suck it up!”

“Grow up!”

“Some kids have it so much worse than you! Be thankful!”

“Stop whining about things that aren’t important”

“You’re being ridiculous”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

I wrote out a letter that I will never publish and never send, but even as I wrote it, I cried. I felt the pain of being that little girl all over again with every word, even as I worked to forgive the person who had caused that pain. It was hard; it was like opening up an old wound that I’d long since tried to bury under a million bandages and anesthetize with a dozen painkillers until I could pretend it wasn’t there at all.

But I had to do it for my children. In reading those books on emotional regulation, I realized that I will never be able to accomplish what I’m determined to do for my children until I heal myself. I have to examine all the ways in which I was taught the wrong ways of handling my emotions and all the ways in which I wasn’t given what I had truly needed. It’s the ONLY way I will be able to help my own children work through the same feelings that I had as a child, so that instead of teaching THEM to shut down those emotions, I show them that ALL their feelings are okay.

Because when you know better, you do better. And while I know that I am only working with the current information that is available to me NOW, my willingness to change and evolve will become the most important lesson my children will ever need to know in order to do better than I did.

Snow White Was Kind of AWFUL

I’m a Disney Princess lover and a HUGE fan of all things Disney. I’m not ashamed to admit that I know the words to all the songs and have sung “Whistle While You Work” as I clean up the house in spite of the fact that I can’t actually whistle. Naturally, as a mother I have gone from just being a closet Disney fan to fully embracing my Disney obsession. Hey, when you have little kids it’s so much easier to justify being part of the Disney Movie Club and buying up all the DVDs every time there’s a sale.

Well, last week I sat down with my almost-5 and almost 2-year olds and put on a classic: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I know that the film gets a lot of criticism for the whole “unconsented kiss” thing, which okay, I GET it. I’m feminist and I’m BIG on consent. But just to get this out of the way, Snow White KNEW the prince! She even told the Dwarves that she “fell in love” and that “he was so romantic, I could not resist” and that “someday my prince will come”.

What does that tell you? Well, it’s pretty clear that he’s her true love. He’s not some random royal dude riding through the forest and coming across some girl he doesn’t know; he’s clearly someone who is destined to break the spell/curse later on. In the original tale that wasn’t the case, and actually it’s a LOT creepier. Snow White is about seven years old when the dwarves take her in. It’s clear that “time passes” but not so clear how MUCH time passes. For all we know it could be seven years (making her 14) or ten years (17) but still she’s a freaking teenager. And this prince comes along and he says “hey, I like that pretty girl in the glass coffin. Give her to me and I’ll take her to my castle to put among my other weird ass trophies” or that’s how it comes across when I read it. There’s no kiss, but the jolt of the coffin his men are carrying bumps the piece of apple from the sleeping girl’s throat and she wakes up. Then there’s this whole thing where they call the wicked queen to the castle for the wedding and make her dance to death in iron shoes from the fire, but whatever.

The point is that Disney thought that it might be better received if the prince kisses Snow White because he’s sad to have lost the girl he’d been searching for all that time. The dwarves likely allowed it because this guy is clearly the prince Snow White sang about. And the kiss is the freaking antidote to the curse! It says so right in the witch’s spell book.

“The curse of the sleeping death can only be broken by love’s first kiss”. Not sure how that would work if Snow White didn’t have a true love before biting into the apple, but it doesn’t say “until some random dude comes by and kisses the victim” so what exactly is the problem here?

Consider the viewpoint of the prince for a minute; he thinks she’s dead. He’s kissing the girl he loved goodbye and is surprised that she wakes up. Yay, happy ending! The prince came and they were reunited. He’s not some random guy, they had a (brief) history and the beginning of the film to set up their story and Snow White obviously was waiting for him to come find her someday. This is not the story one should be criticizing for lack of consent. The original fairy tale, certainly! The one Sleeping Beauty is based on, again definitely! But the Disney version is NOT that and there’s so many other things I take serious issue here with!

What could be worse than a kiss that breaks a spell? Well, for one thing Snow White is TERRIBLE!

No, really, she is just AWFUL! Her shrill voice aside, here’s the things that really make me wonder if that sweet exterior is all an act of a sociopath or at the very least a spoiled brat.

She plays with the prince’s affections

Okay, so this might be one of those “it was a different time” sort of deals, but I really don’t get the whole love story of her and the prince. She’s singing at her wishing well, saying “I’m wishing for the one I love to find me today.” So what happens? The prince rides by, hears her, and hops the wall of the courtyard to serenade her. And she runs away! I don’t get that.

She could have stayed and said “hey, my stepmother dressed me in rags and treats me like a slave. I’m the true heiress to this kingdom. You should take me away right the hell now and then together we can wage a war and take back my kingdom!” But does she do that? Nope!

She runs up to her little tower, plays the shy little maiden and he’s pouring his heart out to her in song in pure Disney style. And she kisses a bird, has it fly down to him to kiss him on the lips, and then she just closes the curtains and leaves him there. He’s standing in the freaking courtyard of a palace he wasn’t actually invited in, and Snow White doesn’t even seem to care at all. Oh no, she’s just going to play hard to get while her stepmother stares daggers at them from another window.

The queen is an actual WITCH! She could do anything to that prince that she liked. She could cast a spell on him to make him fall for HER. She could turn him into a wild animal. She could kill him or have her guards kill him right in front of Snow White. I’m having a very hard time suspending belief here that the queen would actually have let the prince hop the wall without any guards or hired assassins coming out to kill him. And this is even MORE unbelievable when she later discovers that he is literally the antidote to her curse on Snow White!

Queen Captures Prince

WHY would she not have had him killed? WHY would Snow White have even put him in that position? Is this an old-timey thing? Were women really supposed to demure even if the guy was potentially in danger of being locked in a freaking dungeon full of skeletal remains of prisoners who were clearly starved to death and had pitchers of water just beyond their reach?

Thirsty prisoner

Which brings me to my next point…

Snow White HAD to know that the queen was evil

It’s never explained what exactly happened to her father, the king, but technically this IS Snow White’s kingdom. SHE is supposed to be the one in charge of things. Yet somehow it’s accepted that she’s to become a scullery maid. So she’s working WITH the servants and we all know that servants would be privvy to a lot of the seedy underworkings of the castle. Somebody had to be noticing that people were going into the dungeons and not coming out. Probably GOOD people, too, because an evil queen isn’t likely to punish evil people for doing evil things because HELLO, EVIL!

Book ends

Are they made into her own macabre decor for her dungeon?

What exactly is “the penalty” if her underlings fail her anyway? Is it death? Probably, but not specifying HOW is part of the mystery. If you look in the background of the dungeon scenes there are a LOT of skeletons. Who were those unfortunate souls who wasted away to nothing but bones? Were they servants who were perhaps fond of their true monarch and had somehow tried to put Snow White on the throne? Did Snow White know about them? Did she ever wonder what happened to them? Did she just turn a blind eye?

Seriously, this queen is so clearly bad news and Snow White is just all “la la la, singing a song about having a prince come find me even though I am the rightful heiress to this kingdom”. She could have rallied the servants to her cause. She could have gotten word out to SOMEONE who was loyal to her father. Hell, if she wanted a prince so badly she could have sent out envoys in secret to go out and tell every other monarch that she needed a husband and they might all have banded together to free her and kill the queen.

Snow-white gangster

But noooo, that’s not our princess! She would rather sing to the birds and scrub the stone steps of a courtyard; and seriously that makes even less sense! Honey, you’re outside! The steps are NEVER going to stay clean so maybe just sweep them off and call it a day, okay?

scrub steps

She didn’t care what happened to the huntsman

Okay, so she’s off in the glades with the huntsman who was basically threatened to kill her or else (“you know the penalty if you fail”). Obviously something very bad will happen if he doesn’t do what he’s told to do, but he risks his neck for Snow White because she’s his Princess and he isn’t willing to kill an innocent girl.

Snow White learns that the queen wants her dead. So she runs away into the woods. But does she even think of that huntsman again? Does she wonder if he’s okay? Is there an unfinished sequel where she goes back to her kingdom after waking up and asks if the guy is okay because clearly the queen figured out that he tricked her? WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THAT POOR MAN???? Did the queen kill him and his entire family before setting off to find Snow White? Was it on her to-do list after crushing the dwarves with that boulder? Did Snow White ever think to reward him for sparing her life and telling her of the queen’s plan? Somehow I doubt it because she’s very self-centered and seems to just expect others to do what she says because she’s Snow-freaking-White. Did you not listen to the beginning of that song? Well, let me refresh your memory…

She didn’t freaking clean the house, the animals did all the work!!!!

Let’s get one thing straight: Snow White did fuck all and expected a bunch of forest animals to pick up the slack for her so that SHE could have a place to stay (maybe) with the owners of the house she just broke into. She knocks on the door, nobody answers.

“Guess there’s no one home,” she says before inviting herself in through the front door. She sees that the house is a disaster and starts tsk tsking the fact that nobody has ever cleaned the place. “You’d think their mother would–” she starts off saying.

Their mother would WHAT, Snow? Get off her lazy butt and clean up the place to your standards? Now my house isn’t nearly as bad as the dwarves’ cottage, but I’m sure that the washing machine covered with dust would probably just as easily offend your precious princess eyes. Seriously though, you’re in a cottage that is dirty but nobody is home to actually clean because they are out working. Do you think they have time to clean? NO! And did YOU even have time to clean the whole place by yourself? Probably not, but then YOU didn’t have to waste so much time and energy DID YOU? NOOOOO, you just had your animal friends whom you JUST met do all your work for you.

“Now YOU wash the dishes” she says to the animals by the sink, “YOU tidy up the room” she says to another bunch of critters, “YOU clean the fireplace” she says to the next group, “and I’LL use the broom”!

First of all, HOW is that a fair deal? Okay sure, let’s have forest animals do all the drudgery of washing the dishes, cleaning the cobwebs out of the ceiling beams, and meanwhile here’s this spoiled little rich girl twirling around with a broom and a dust rag and singing her little song. She piles a bunch of clothes onto a young buck and doesn’t even bat an eye as he stumbles out the door to drop this load of washing into the pond for her. And who is washing that laundry? NOT Snow White! Heavens NO! She is far to perfect to be concerning herself with actual scrubbing and leaves that to the raccoons and the turtles. The birds will hang her washing for her on the line to dry! She’ll sweep the front step and keep singing away as the animals do all the work she said she would do.

And then as a reward for all that work she goes upstairs and falls asleep on the beds without even bothering to turn out the lights or put on her own blanket, because why bother doing that when you have furry slaves at your beck and call willing to do every little task for you?

snow-white-and-the-seven-dwarfs-34

To add insult to injury, those poor little forest animals didn’t even get to rest after all the work they did. They had to hightail it out of the cottage not even 5 minutes after they climbed onto the beds for a nap.

Snow White doesn’t give a damn about the dwarves’ safety

Grumpy is the voice of reason here. He points out that the queen is evil and a witch and she could “swoop down and wreak her vengeance” on all of them. Snow White doesn’t seem phased by this. “But she doesn’t know where I am” she replies cheerfully. Then she bribes them with baked goods and a clean house knowing full well that they would agree to that (and also knowing that she has an army of forest slaves at her disposal). But we ARE talking about Snow here, and maybe she just is oblivious to her privilege in this case.

She is also pretty damn bossy for someone who is essentially a house guest

Okay, is it gross that the dwarf men don’t wash their hands? Yes. Did Disney just want to make a silly song about washing and eating with manners because it’s a family film? Also possible. But the way she goes about her request is pretty much a demand. What would you say if you invited someone to stay with you and they immediately pulled rank and told you that you couldn’t have a bite to eat until you made yourself more presentable for dinner?

Personally I would remind that house guest whose house it is!

She treats her servant animals like crap after all they did for her!!!

I just can’t get over this whole animal servant thing! If I could train my cats (or even my kids) to do all my chores for me while I cheerfully sang a song MAYBE I might understand Snow’s motives a little better, but I really don’t think I will ever understand WHY they put up with her after this!

So you’re a little exploited forest animal working for your new unquestioned mistress who somehow controls your will by singing. You’ve worked your little paws and beaks and tails off for her gain and then you see this creepy old woman in the forest coming toward the house. You sense immediately that she’s evil and try to warn your mistress. But instead of thanking you, she shoos you away and scolds you. She takes the creepy old lady into the house even though she has been told numerous times in the past 48 hours (or less) that the queen is a witch and can disguise herself as anyone and that she wants to kill her.

Now if I was that forest animal I would be thinking “you know what? SCREW THIS BITCH!” Before she came along life was just fine. At least there won’t be any more dishes to wash or laundry to scrub!

But no, these forest animals are much more forgiving than I would be and they run off to the mine to tell the dwarves (who are also slow at figuring out what’s going on) and then what do they get in the end for all their trouble? Snow White leaves with the prince. It’s back to the forest for you, little animal slaves! Snow will have human servants to boss around in her new palace. Which brings me to my final issue with this princess…

Snow White doesn’t care about her own people

The queen is dead. Presumably the king was dead long before this adventure began. So while Snow is slumbering in the forest for a year or more (it was never specified how many seasons passed) the kingdom Snow abandoned when she ran into the forest has been without anyone to rule it. What happened to that kingdom? Shouldn’t Snow have had the prince take her home to her OWN castle first? Would that not have crossed her mind at all? Even if she’s super keen on marrying this guy she met once a year ago (or longer) because of true love or whatever, she should still think about maybe stopping by her own lands and making arrangements to have them tended to while she joins the kingdoms by marriage. I know Once Upon a Time addressed this, but THAT Snow was way more awesome than this animated first draft of the character.

I don’t even see them as the same person because the OUaT Snow was at least considerate enough to LEAVE so her friends wouldn’t be in danger. THAT Snow willingly took the apple, knowing she would be under a curse, because it would save the people she loved.

 

 

But this one is either a closeted sociopath who likes to force others into doing everything for her, or she’s just incredibly stupid and can’t see her own privilege.

Snow_white_09

 

 

 

No More Time Outs! What Happened When I Stopped Punishing My Kids

We need to reframe our thinking when responding to our kids. When I stopped thinking of my kids as giving me a hard time and started seeing they were having a hard time, I was able to respond to their feelings instead of their behavior. Peaceful Parenting really does work!

My child is not giving me a hard time… My child is HAVING a hard time

 

About a month ago I made a bold decision that surprisingly no one challenged me on. I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t see the post, didn’t read it, didn’t care, or if they were just so shocked by what I said that they couldn’t think of a response that would be diplomatic enough to express their disappointment with me.

Whatever the reason, NOBODY has commented on that post and I haven’t heard a word about my new approach to discipline–or more accurately, the complete absence of it.

I will admit right now that I haven’t had a perfect transformation (yet). I still yell sometimes and there are still those moments when I want to just give up and MAKE my son behave. But I haven’t given into that strong urge that stems from my own lack of emotional regulation and for that I’m freaking proud of myself!

It’s been a rather interesting several weeks using this new model of parenting and it helps that I’ve been reading Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids every night and using the new tools that I’ve found in the chapters as well as in “The Whole Brain Child“, the latter of which I photocopied and taped to the cupboard doors in my kitchen. My son isn’t magically transformed into an obedient child, but things are definitely easier than they used to be. To put it simply, when I got rid of punishment I got results a LOT faster and with far less drama!

Power Struggles are Disappearing

It wasn’t always enough to just offer him the choices or calmly tell him what he needed to do. At certain times of the day (the morning, before mealtimes and a few hours before bedtime) it didn’t matter how nicely we asked him to do something (even something that he would probably want to do, like turn off the TV to get dressed and go out with Dad), he would put up a fight. He would scream “NO, Little Shithead!” He would throw things if we stepped in and just turned off the TV on him. He would turn a simple request into a huge power struggle and our default solution was always to tell him that if he didn’t stop right now he would lose his privilege we were offering him (“that’s it! NO park/bedtime story/treat at the grocery store/going out with Daddy later”).

I always hated that ultimatum because it was as much a punishment for ME as it was for our kid. If he lost special Daddy Day then I lost Special Mommy By Herself For a Few Hours Day. Lose the bedtime story and I lose that special time where it’s just me and my son settling down to read. No treat? Great! Now we’re dealing with a hungry AND angry kid in the grocery store who keeps whining for a treat anyway.

It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t working. And it made life SO stressful!

So what happened when I took those threats away? I turned the request into a game. No, seriously, everything I wanted him to do that he didn’t want to do has become a game when the initial request is met with unreasonable defiance.

Doesn’t want to pick up his toys with me? “How fast can you pick these up? I bet I can beat you to it! Oh no, you’re so much faster than me! Oh no, you’re going to win! Uh oh, I’m almost done…oh no! You beat me because now your sister is helping you! Yay! We’re done! Now we can go and play your game! Good job!”

Doesn’t want to brush his teeth? “Race you!”

Doesn’t want to put something in his room? “Can you do it before I get to 30 counting? Oh wow! You got it done in 24 seconds!”

Fight anger with more play time!

Sometimes the suggestion of a game wasn’t enough. Sometimes he was just so crabby and he would hit me. In the past I would immediately send him to time out in his room. He would scream and throw things and hit even more. I would spend an entire afternoon fighting with that child to stay in his room and stop acting out. I would take every single toy he owned and put it in my room and tell him he could have them back when he stopped hitting or throwing things. He would just get angrier. He would hurt his sister, he would hurt the cats, and he would hurt me.

I don’t punish him or even react to him hitting me anymore. I stop, I take a deep breath, and then I attack him…playfully!

I channel all that frustration with him and transform it. I say “THAT’S IT! I HAVE HAD IT! YOU’RE GONNA GET IT NOW!” I say it in my “fake mad voice” and then I grab him, thrown him to the foam mat that I lay down in the living room and I tickle him until all his hits and kicks and “mad” is out of his system.

It releases his frustration, he stops hitting, and then afterward he’s more willing to play my clean up game.

When he can’t calm down I change his focus

We have a big tree in our yard and squirrels live in it. When my son is bouncing on the couch and I need him to stop but he’s too wound up I no longer MAKE HIM sit. I don’t threaten, I don’t even yell. Yelling never worked and would lead to violent outbursts in the past. Obviously trying to calm him down would mean that the last two tactics I use (game playing and wrestling him into “submission”) would rile him up more. So I pretend there’s something outside the window.

“Shh!” I say. “Listen! Quiet! Watch!” I point out the window at the tree. “Did you see him?”

My son will stop and look out the window (there’s nothing actually there, but he thinks there is) and I keep watching. I tell him in a whisper that he has to watch and be quiet.

Sometimes he’ll spot a bird or a cat I didn’t see, other times he’ll say “he went home” and either way he has stopped jumping on the couch. He’s calm and I can then tell him “hey, would you like to do a craft/color/work on your letters with me?” And he will settle down to work on something quiet.

 

These are just some of the things I’ve started doing with my son instead of punishing him (his sister is only 22 months old and so wouldn’t be punished for anything right now anyway) and I am amazed at how much better the days are going.

Sure, he’s still got an explosive temper and he doesn’t always want to do what I ask him to, but he’s also ONLY 4 YEARS OLD! And he’s doing much better than a lot of kids his age; the final visit with the child development specialist confirmed that last week. She actually said “I’m not needed here; you’ve got this!”

As for whether or not my son is actually learning to control himself, well he was playing with his sister and she destroyed his block tower. He said “Mommy, she broke my tower but I didn’t hit her, no.” And when he has accidentally hurt me or even hit me out of anger HE is the one apologizing and it’s without me having to say anything to him. “I’m sorry I hurt you, Mommy” he’ll say. “I didn’t want to but my body was controlling me”. He gets it. He is working on his impulse control and the older he gets the easier it will get.

What about the baby?

His sister is probably going to be my biggest “experiment” but I don’t know if it would be an accurate comparison because she’s more laid back than her big brother was at her age. Their personalities are like day and night, despite being raised nearly the same way.

I do know that it is easier to calm her down when I acknowledge her feelings and just give her a hug.

“I know, that scared you”

“Yeah”

“You want to go play now?”

“Yeah”

“Okay, go play”

 

Progress, Not Perfection

I will say this now: I am NOT a Perfect Parent. I don’t aspire to be one either. I am still learning and I don’t plan to ever stop learning. But one thing that this new approach has shown me is that I am finally making progress after years of not knowing how to handle my spirited child(ren) in their most difficult moments. More importantly, I am no longer as frustrated as I used to be. I don’t yell as often as I did. I am actually succeeding in my goal not to spank.

Today my child tested my patience. EVERYTHING was a battle. It didn’t matter how many times I tried to redirect him, wrestle and tickle him, or cuddle him. He was just in one of those moods where NOTHING works.

But even when I was about to lose it on him, I was able to stop. I got SO close to that breaking point when I would normally storm off and lock him out of my bedroom or worse, spank him, and I DIDN’T DO IT.

I grabbed him, I dragged him into his room, I threw him onto the bed. I was SO angry with him because he would not stop hitting me or his sister and he BIT her. He had called me a “Shithead Mommy” and I was DONE!

But I stopped. After I threw him on the bed I stopped. I laid down on the bed with him and I just held him. He was crying and saying how sorry he was and begging me not to hurt him because he knew that he had pushed me to my limit, and instead of telling him he was to stay in his room until he was ready to calm down, I just lay there. I held him. He started to cry and I picked him up, no longer feeling that rush of adrenaline, and I rocked him.

And after he was finished crying he wanted to watch a movie in his room so I put on Fern Gully.

Did he act up again after that? Well, yes he did. He’s 4 and he’s dealing with some really big emotions. He needs to feel safe again after all that punishment he’s faced in the past. All those times when I would send him to his room and yell and take his toys hardened his heart. He was scared to cry so he acted out with anger instead. But he is acting out LESS than he used to; that’s the difference. He’s calming down faster than he did a month ago.

A few hours later I told him that hitting isn’t okay. I said “I’m learning to control my body and you need to learn to control yours. What can you do instead of hitting?” And then we came up with some ideas on what we can do.

It’s WORTH The Effort!

It’s going to take time, a lot more effort, and a lot more patience. But I’m confident that I will be able to get him to a point where he won’t need to repress his emotions and he won’t need to hit to release any frustration. Considering that emotional regulation is what’s severely lacking for many males in our society, this is HUGE! If I can raise my son to know how to control his anger AND deal with his feelings, then I will be doing every woman he ever dates a huge favor. I will have succeeded in raising a man who will not EVER hit a woman OR use his size to intimidate or control her. I will have raised a man who also won’t hit or bully others to get what he wants and more importantly he will go into parenthood with a gift of emotional regulation. He will have a new parenting model that will benefit my future grandchildren.

So yes, this new way of parenting takes a lot more creativity, patience, and it’s time consuming. I’m not going to get results overnight. He isn’t going to immediately comply with every request I make, but the long-term goal has always been to raise a MAN who will do right in this world because it’s right, not because it’s expected. My goal is to raise a human being with true empathy and compassion; someone who won’t “just follow orders” because someone evil is threatening him into compliance. I want to raise human beings who question the authority when the rules are unethical or marginalize a group of people unfairly. I want them to stand up against injustice and to recognize that injustice. I want them to smash the patriarchy!

The very LAST thing I want to do is raise another asshole like the ones I see on social media all the time. And if I do my job right, maybe, just maybe humanity might not be so doomed after all.