What to do When Mother’s Day is the Hardest Day of the Year

The Mother’s Dream

The Mother’s Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many women, Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year.  Perhaps you are one of these women who have little to no contact with your child, outlived your child, tried unsuccessfully to conceive a child, or lost your child through a miscarriage or abortion.  Just the mention of Mother’s Day brings to the surface the emotions you have long tucked away of disappointment, deep sadness, distress, dejection, and despair.

Yet you are torn because in many ways you have learned to move forward.  You avoid the crowded churches, shops, and restaurants on Mother’s Day, spend time with other mothers or your mother, or even remind yourself how grateful you are to have had a child.  But the heaviness in your heart is still there and despite the good moments of the day, you really can’t wait for the day to end.

Will it always be this way?  Yes and no.  Much like other holidays which exist for the purpose of remembering the lives that have been lost such as Memorial Day or Veterans Day, Mother’s Day will be for you a memorial of sorts.  It is a day to remember what was lost or never even gained in the first place.  But just as the anniversary of a person you lost brings back memories and feeling, over time, the emotions won’t be so intense.

How can I survive this day?  Reserve a portion of your day for the purpose of being alone with your thoughts and feelings.  Don’t take the entire day to do this or pretend that you don’t need to do it at all, instead take care of yourself and give yourself a gift of remembrance.  This is a good time to journal your thoughts, allow the tears to flow, and pray.  Then choose to spend your day surrounded with people who love you and are sensitive to your feelings.

What do I say to others?  Be honest.  If you really want to go somewhere on Mother’s Day, speak up; if you don’t, say so.   If you are sad, don’t pretend that you are not.  Set reasonable expectations for yourself and for others instead of assuming they already know what you are thinking or feeling.  Then communicate those expectations kindly to minimize the hurt feelings later.

Why am I having anxiety over this now?  Even if your loss occurred many years ago, you might find a sudden resurgence in your emotions this year compared to previous years.  While the intensity may be less than the initial Mother’s Day, for some reason, this year is hitting you harder.  This is perfectly normal.  Take a moment to reflect on your life and see if there is any new circumstance lately in a relationship or your environment.  Your increased anxiety may actually be misplaced anxiety over new things that you are not properly addressing.  By addressing the new things, the old issues will subside again.

Everyone has hard days during the year that are more difficult than others to get through.  Mother’s Day seems a bit crueller because everyone else appears so happy.  Just remember that you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings, many other women feel the exact same way and sometimes it takes the courage of one person to say this is a hard day to make a difference in the lives of others.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

The Lonely Side of Mothering

playgroundI have been told many times that the best years of my life are when I was a stay-at-home-mom.  The comment came from an older woman who looked at me with envy while I struggled to change a diaper in a restroom with another child tugging on my pants.  Or the comment came from a friend who was driving to work after just having dropped off her child at daycare while I’m at home picking up sticky Cheerios off the sofa.  Or the comment came from my husband who wished he could stay at home instead of going to work every day while I’m wishing desperately for adult conversation about anything other than the kids.  For me, some of the loneliest years of my life came when I “got to” stay home with my kids.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not being ungrateful for the opportunity to be at home and watch my kids take their first step, play on the playground, pick on their siblings, or have one of their countless accidents that resulted in numerous trips to the emergency room.  I’m extremely grateful for these moments and will treasure them for the rest of my life.  These moments are priceless and I’m looking forward to the days when I can share them at my child’s graduation, their wedding, or with my grandkids.

Admit the loneliness.  I am grateful but I was also extremely lonely.  Many days would go by when my only real adult interaction was yelling at the commentator on the TV over some stupid political decision.  Many more days would go by when I would stop and enjoy a bathroom break without interruption let alone a hot bath or a pedicure.  Still more days would go by when I would sleep for an entire night without being awaken by a frightened child, a hungry child or a sick child.  Worse yet, no one seemed to understand my loneliness.  Not the older woman in the restroom, not my friend going to work, or my husband.

Explain the loneliness.  I don’t blame the older woman, my friend or even my husband for not understanding my loneliness because I never communicated it to them.  I just listened to their comments and instead of interjecting my feelings about the matter, I stuffed it.  On occasion I would try to talk to them about it but it usually was mixed in with frustration and anger because I waited too long.  There are many ways to explain hard topics to another person and I never took the effort to even try because I was too focused on keeping up the image that everything was wonderful.

Embrace the loneliness.  Looking back over many years, I can now see that there will always be periods in my life of loneliness.  This does not define me as a person; I am not depressed, socially awkward, or have a dislike for people.  Rather the opposite is true in every way however I will still get lonely.  The only conclusion I can draw is that loneliness is on the full spectrum of emotions and I was created to experience all of the emotions, not just some of them.  How can joy be felt with suffering, how can peace be understood without strife, and how can communion be embraced without loneliness.

As our children grew, things got much easier.  The parents of my kids became my friends and they helped to bring back sanity and normalcy to a seemingly crazy life.  And now looking back on those years, I can honestly say they were some of the best years of my life but often with the best come some of the worst.

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Struggling with Parenting? Cautious Parents are Aware

Overprotective-Parents“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  This is one of your favorite quotes and your child already knows it by heart.  You are a careful planner in every activity with many detailed lists in order by priority and usually color coded for easy reference.   This is responsible behavior and irresponsible behavior is not having a plan because danger lurks behind every corner and you might be unprepared.   It is important that you set the proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of your emotions so you are very careful about what you say, how you say it and explaining why you do what you do.

You are a Cautious Parent.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.  If your child is like you, they will ask a ton of “why” questions and be thrilled that you take the time to respond.

The Good.  There is reason and logic behind every decision and you are more than willing to explain how you came to the conclusions that you did.  You love to share your knowledge of the world in detail and could go on and on about one topic for hours.  Your child enjoys having their own personal “Encyclopedia” who is very resourceful and can cut research time down to a matter of minutes.  Unfortunately, most schools don’t accept “Dad” or “Mom” on the works cited page.

The Bad.  You have a desire to share your wisdom with your child but too much information at the wrong time can do more damage than good.  Over explaining things does not equip your child to reason through things for themselves and frequently your child will be lacking in critical thinking skills as they have learned to just trust your judgment rather than figure it out for themselves.

The Ugly.  As an adult, if your child is still relying on your wisdom to guide their life, they will continue to flounder at nearly every job they do.  Still looking for someone to spell out every detail so they don’t have to think for themselves and risk making a mistake, your child will find comfort in menial employment instead of living up their full potential.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, cautious parents are aware so be aware and minimize the over explaining.

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting?  Begin with You

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Direct Parents are Motivating

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

mother and childIn your head you keep a constant ledger and running total of all the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  You carefully check the ledger daily to ensure that your kids are all getting equal time, attention, and punishment as the thought you might be unfair to one child is extremely painful.  It may sound exhausting, but the alternative of appearing to favor one child over the other is far worse than having to maintain the ledger.

You are a Bookkeeper Parent.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How are you doing?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting especially when accused of being unfair, undiplomatic and disloyal.  If your child is like you, they appreciate your fairness and see such an act as love.

The Good.  Because you pay attention to all of the little signs, the hurt feelings, and body language of your child, you really don’t miss an opportunity to show compassion, love and tenderness.  You are a gentle parent who tries hard to see things from your child’s perspective and given a choice you will side with your child over nearly anyone else including your spouse.  You really do care about your child’s struggles and you go out of your way to be understanding.

The Bad.  Rules are sometimes too flexible as you are more interested in understanding how your child could do such a thing rather than punishing them for violating a rule.  This can cause confusion for your child who quickly learns that by shedding a couple of tears they can win you over and reduce their punishment.  One comment from your child of “you are being unfair” is likely to send you in a tail spin as you examine your ledgers.  This becomes a great distraction from the real issue at hand and your child escapes without punishment.

The Ugly.  Your child will learn how to manipulate you and as an adult will manipulate others by using a person’s sensitivity against them.  They may even become uncaring to the point of ignoring the feelings of others all together because they see feeling driven people as manipulative.  This creates an unhealthy environment for their children who are likely to be more like you and less like their parent.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, bookkeeper parents are fair so be fair and minimize the hurt feelings.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting?  Begin with You

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting?  Cautious Parents are Aware

Struggling with Parenting? Direct Parents are Motivating

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving kids is a blast.  There are so many places to show them, so many things to explore, so many things to do and so little time.  It seems as if your calendar is always full and it probably is with birthday parties, trips to the zoo, new playgrounds, play dates with friends, soccer practices and just going to stores.  At home there are plenty of toys, games, crafts, and most likely an entire room devoted to the kids where they can play for endless hours.  You like all of the activity and encourage your kid to try new things constantly.

You are an Active parent.  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  You are interested in the people in your kid’s world and usually use your kid’s interaction with others as an indication of how well-adjusted they are.  If your child is like-minded, this conversation is easy but if not your child shuts down and can’t seem to figure out why this matters so much to you.

The Good.  Your kids will not be bored.  If anything, they will be exhausted at times and crave some down time to just sit on the sofa and watch TV.  You most likely encourage them to participate in a wide variety of activities and are not easily upset when your child changes their mind to a completely different sport.  After all, you probably did the same thing as a child.  Regardless of your financial status, your child will have many adventurous stories to tell, have a lot of physical activity, and numerous types of friends.

The Bad.  Exhaustion from excessive activities and lack of proper sleep are two of the biggest down sides to active parenting.  There will be times when the excessive activities on your calendar are too much for you and your child to manage so someone is likely to get disappointed or hurt when you can’t deliver on a promise.  Your promises have a long shelf life with your child and as they get older, they will remember and remind you of all broken promises.

The Ugly.  Too much activity does not allow time for recollection, rest, and relaxation so your child may grow up struggling with finding a balance between activity and inactivity.  The numerous friendships that you encouraged your child to have and maintain may also be overwhelming for them causing them to run in the opposite direction away from friendships.  Finally, your lack of following through on promises is an unhealthy model for your child who may also grow up making and breaking promises.

Understanding your parenting style is not about beating yourself up and or pointing fingers at your spouse.  Rather it is about understanding your natural strengths and weaknesses so you can build on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.  Remember, active parents are fun so be fun and minimize the number of broken promises.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting?  Begin with You

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Cautious Parents are Aware

Struggling with Parenting?  Direct Parents are Motivating

Struggling with Parenting? Begin with You

sad-black-woman-378x329Parenting is hard work.  At times it can be overwhelming, lonely, exhausting, discouraging, exciting, joyful, rewarding, encouraging, and fun within just a few short minutes.  The wide range of emotions  you feel from excitement over watching your child finally ride a bike without training wheels to paralyzing fear as they ride that bike straight into an on-coming car is enough to drive you into some unhealthy potato-chip-eating-addiction.  Yet despite the stress, you couldn’t imagine your life without your kids and you try hard to be the very best parent.

So you read lots of parenting books, talk to friends, and listen to experts on how to be a better parent.  But how much time have you invested in understanding your natural parenting style?  Yes, how you were raised has a lot to do with how you parent both good and bad, but you are also born with a personality style that is directly comparable to your parenting style.  When you understand your personality and parenting style (and perhaps more importantly, your spouse’s style), you will naturally be a better parent.

Active.  It is easy to tell if you are an active parent just by looking at your family calendar.  Is it full of too many things to do with not enough time?  Do you find that when you have some down time as a family, you want to go and do something rather than just sit at home?  As an active parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Who”.  Who else is going? Who are your friends?  Who do you want to be?  Active parents have a lot of energy, are exciting to be around, and adventurous but they usually over commit or don’t follow through with promises.

Bookkeeper.  Imagine an invisible ledger which details all of the gifts, grades, thank-you notes, kind acts, punishments, harsh words, phone calls, and hugs for each child.  Now imagine trying to keep that ledger in balance so that one child is not favored over another, so gifts are equally divided, and punishment is equally distributed.  This is the bookkeeper parent who can do such a task in their head.  As a bookkeeper parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “How”.  How are you going to do that?  How do you feel?  How did you get that done?  Bookkeeper parents are very fair, diplomatic, and loyal but can easily get their feelings hurt in the process of parenting.

Cautious.  Danger lurks behind every corner which is precisely why a cautious parent is so careful about what they say, do or act because you would never want to be irresponsible about anything in front of your child.  Setting a proper example for your child in behavior, thought, and control of emotions is important to you.  As a cautious parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “Why”.  Why did you do that?  Why didn’t you finish that?  Why aren’t you doing it this way?  Cautious parents are detail oriented, analytical, and perfectionists but when pushed they can become irrationally moody and over explain.

Direct.  There is no beating around the bush with a direct parent; whatever they are thinking will be stated in a short period of time and not always at the most opportune moments.  There is no question as to who is in charge if you are a direct parent, you are and your child knows it.  As a direct parent, your favorite questions will be centered around the word “What”.  What are you doing?  What are you trying to accomplish? What is your point?  Direct parents are goal oriented, focused, and motivating but they can easily overpower a child and miss an opportunity for tenderness.

Knowing your style of parenting compared to your spouse’s style might just be the life-saver you need in preparation for your next parenting argument.  All of these styles have good, bad and ugly elements as one style is not better than another.  Rather, a child does well when all styles are represented and a more balanced approached to parenting is taken.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Related Articles:

Struggling with Parenting? Active Parents are Fun

Struggling with Parenting? Bookkeeper Parents are Fair

Struggling with Parenting?  Cautious Parents are Aware

Struggling with Parenting?  Direct Parents are Motivating

Are You Making Your Kid Angry?

Technically, no one can “make” you angry unless you give them that right.  While it may seem as though the actions of another person are “making you angry”, in actuality it is your set of experiences, emotions, beliefs, and ideals that cause you to get angry.  For instance, one person may become angry at being cut off while driving while another person may not even notice the action.  The difference between the two people is one person took the action as a personal offense while the other person did not.  The person cutting you off did not “make” you angry; rather you became angry because of how you perceived their action.

So while another person can’t “make” you angry, you can “make” your kid angry.  Why the double standard?  Because your kid is a child and you are an adult.  With maturity comes the ability to temper or control your responses which is the idea of having “self-control”.  But for a child, they have not reached this level of maturity and are unable to demonstrate self-control so they display immature behavior which is characterized by a lack of control over their responses.  Literally, you can “make” a kid feel a certain way because they are not fully in control of their responses.  Therefore, as the adult, you are responsible for “making” your kid angry.  Ephesians 6:4a warns, “Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them.”  But just how are you “making” them angry?

Not listening.  Easily hands down the number one complaint kids have about their parents is that they don’t listen to what they are saying.  Too often as a parent, you are trying to get your point across and don’t stop long enough to make sure you understand your child’s point of view.  Then, because they are a child, often they really don’t know what they are really thinking or how they are feeling, so they default to anger.  No, they are not able to speak clearly, they are a child.  No, they are not able to counteract you point by point, they are a child.  But give them some time and soon as teenagers they will become more and more like you, not listening and counteracting you point by point.

Assuming the worst.  Just to make things more complicated, kids don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say.  While this is a nice lesson to teach them, assuming the worst motive or attitude about your child sends a subtle message that they are not valued or their opinion is not valued.  This brings on anger in your child just as you get angry when someone assumes the worst about you.  When you assume the worst about your child, they interprets this as “I am no good”, “I can never do anything right”, or “I am to blame for everything”.  The negative consequences of a child learning this at a young age is that it will not leave them as an adult.  For the rest of their lives, they will struggle with a positive self-image which you helped to foster.

Seeing yourself in them.  When you see your child behaving and speaking just like you while making all the same mistakes you made, there is almost an immediate angry response on your part.  It seems to come out of nowhere, one moment you are able to speak calmly and the next you are flying off the handle.  There is no rhyme or reason except that you were triggered by a past event or mistake and watching your child suffer through the same mistakes you made is more than you can handle.  The problem is that your child doesn’t understand your anger and they instead internalize it.  They become angry with themselves for “making” you angry.  In the moment, you child is not likely to respond badly but give them a couple of years and the resentment will build and turn to intense anger.

Ok, so you have made a few mistakes or more likely, made more than a few mistakes in “making” your child angry but it is not too late.  You can stop “making” them angry by simply doing the opposite of what “made” them angry.  You could listen to what they are really saying, you could assume the best about your child, and you could divorce your behavior from your child’s behavior.  After all, they have their own journey to make based on their own decisions and it is not necessarily the same journey you have made in life.  The decisions they will need to make in the future are made best when not heavily influenced by anger from their parents.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.