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True life: I was not prepared for motherhood

But I learned that "good enough" is enough.

True life: I was not prepared for motherhood

I was not prepared for motherhood. Not for the emotional being who was now my responsibility. Not for the craziness, the crying, the fussing, the whining, the whining, the tantrums and raging meltdowns and not for what they would stir up in me.
I'd fought hard to become a mom, to wear that badge and I was going to be a good mom, a good enough mom!

I could feel it in my bones.

I was sure it was possible.

Ha! Nature tricked me. I was blindsided.

I had NO IDEA of what was coming the day our daughter arrived, the day I was given the title... mommy! The glow of confidence rapidly melted away. The realization hit me with force: I didn't know what to do.

And the Shame, oh the shame! I'd convinced myself I was capable, but this little being with what felt like gargantuan emotions were stirring up the worst in me.

I felt scared of her and who I was becoming.

How could I change this? Change my reactivity.

The sense of isolation and aloneness was an expanding chasm.

Thankfully in my seeking, I stumbled on a new approach. It felt supportive. Non-judgmental. I sensed I might find myself and the good enough mom I felt, somehow, I could be.

I signed up for a 10-month program of weekly support and learning. To this day I believe this course saved me and my relationship with my daughter.

It broke the self-inflicted isolation I was creating.

I found connection and support. I found acceptance, with peers who believed in me. I could tell my whole story and could feel the trust had in me that I would find my way to be the mom I knew I could be.

Good enough feels great

With this safety net, I started to experiment with the Listening Tools they introduced. Five tools that were surprisingly easy to integrate into my parenting. Five tools that taught me the value of play, of setting limits calmly and of sticking around for the emotions my child felt so strongly. I found I could respond to her with less anger, less tension, with more calm and kindness.

My relationship with my daughter started to change for the better.

That was five years ago.

My daughter is now 8. I won't pretend life is always a bed of roses, but I struggle less, and I am better able to tune into my daughter and her needs, to parent gently, yet firmly.

The sense of being a good enough mom has taken root. And good enough feels great! The drama is diminishing.

Handling my child's big feelings calmly helps me work on the real issues, not just the behavior

Last night she came home from a playdate, out of sorts, and mouthing off at her dad and me at the smallest thing. You could say that she was looking for a fight. I invited her to come have a snuggle despite it all.

And she did. She accepted my offer of connection.

And I listened.

She mouthed some more. And I listened.

Leaning into me, she told me, in a small voice, that she had taken something from her friend's house without asking. She said, "I feel bad."

And I loved her then. I loved that she felt secure enough to share that. To trust me with it.

I listened and I let her know I could that she was good even though she felt bad.

She came up with a plan to make amends. And I felt proud that she could do that.

If I hadn't learned to decode the behavior she was showing us as something more, something bigger than just "acting out" or "being rude," if I hadn't learned to lean into her upset and to listen that way, I would never have known the true upset causing her to lash out. I would never have been able to be there for her when she was feeling at her worst. After all, isn't that what we want? To be there?

Originally posted on Hand in Hand Parenting by Miranda Fairhall.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

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Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

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Wooden doll stroller

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Sand play set

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Water play set

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Mini golf set

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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