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The only reason I feel remotely qualified to write any of the following is because I have been a dipshit parent. On so many occasions.


I’m guessing that I’m not alone.

Maybe that’s the first lesson here: Admit that you have most certainly been a dipshit at some point (perhaps many) in your parenting career, and you are one step closer to being less of a dipshit going forward.

You could call this self-awareness or humility or mindfulness. I like to call it being a full-grown person with a conscience.

We’re all flawed. We’re human. This is a sound (and obviously, inescapable) position from which to consider our parental predicament – or enlightenment, as the case may be. Even when we strive to be our very best selves, we stumble along the way, we lose patience and perspective, we grow angry and anxious, and we forget to take care of ourselves in many of the ways we expect our kids to take care of themselves.

Ironic? Yes. Pretty much unavoidable? Also yes.

Which brings me to a tenet that used to annoy me, but now brings me a measure of comfort: It is what it is. Things are what they are. A is A. “Rose is a rose is a rose.” You can’t change a rose into something else, and why would you want to? Nor can you change the relentless onslaught of parenting into something else, even though you might very much want to.

What you can change is your attitude towards it. For example, don’t be a dipshit like I just was and call it a, “relentless onslaught.” Robert Merton would tell you “the positive feedback between belief and behavior,” will make your predictions – even the false ones – come true. Why not, instead, make your self-fulfilling prophecy a little more positive?

Do you consider being a mom or dad the most important job of your life? This perspective helps me when I need to say no to work so I can say yes to my kids. Do you see parenting as an opportunity to challenge yourself in completely new ways? This kind of thinking grounds me when it feels like my personal goals are getting the raw end of the deal.

One Type-A friend of mine described parenting as a series of enormously humbling, sometimes ass-kicking reality checks, which, in her case, has helped her be less controlling, less overly structured, and more understanding of others. Now that’s a gal who’s making lemonade out of lemons.

Should we care if we’re not perfect? No. Perfect is not a thing. Or at least it’s relative and not for anyone else to define.

Will living life, and raising kids while you do it, be easy? Of course not, dipshit. Qué será, será. What’s next?

Should we approach this vitally important responsibility with a can-do attitude – the same can-do attitude we encourage our kids to have when they approach important responsibilities in life? Of course we should.

Will there be times (like tonight) when even a can-do attitude is no match for two cackling, drooling, manic boys on a double-snow-day high, who decide to play naked Wiffle-bat tag while also “brushing” their teeth? Damn straight.

I tried to be present with them in their moment there, but instead ended up declaring “Two minutes!” until stories and songs start dropping like flies should they fail to calm down, finish brushing, wash faces and hands, and get out of their stinking long underwear and into bed.

I was not smooth. I did not Jedi-mind-trick them into submission. I straight-faced it and relayed orders, even while thinking to myself, “Look at them. They’re ecstatic. Push too hard and everything will crumble. Relax, they can sleep in tomorrow.” I felt like two people at once – the actor on the outside unable to access the discerner on the inside.

Now they’re asleep, and I’ve had some time to think (and, of course, critique how I just handled that….) In any given day, here’s what I’m trying to do: accept my fallibility while simultaneously searching for ways to be less idiotic in the face of it.

This is basically why Dante spent the last 12 years of his life writing the “Divine Comedy”. He knew he was damned like every other mortal, but he nonetheless wrote more than 700 pages about an imagined, posthumous journey toward redemption.

Fortunately for us, we are not in hell or purgatory, and – news flash – we’re not in paradiso either. We’re here, in the exciting, unpredictable, impermanent, unhinging plenitude of our lives, just trying to figure it all out.

Our cups runneth over. So do our kids’ cups. We wind up cleaning up after ourselves, and them, a lot. Instead of bitching about it, (like dipshits), we could take a moment to notice that our lives overflow because they are abundant.

I’m not talking monetary abundance, (haha, yeah…no). I’m talking about the abundance of love that happens among families, even though it doesn’t always look like love. I’m talking about the abundance of friends, who invite you and the rest of the neighborhood to come over for sledding, and then they feed you, give you beer, and keep your kids an extra three hours so you can get some work done because you were supposed to start at 10 and now it’s four, and you still have to dig out the car.

There’s a reason Dante called his narrative poem a comedy even though all 14,233 lines of it muse on being dead. It’s because that desire to live (do good things, bad things, achieve things, feel things, fall in love) and propagate life (find mates, have sex, make babies, have more sex, and so on) is a total gong show – a flea circus for any aliens who might be watching.

Parenting clearly falls in there, too, but that word has such a how-to implication, and I’ve used it enough already. Like “working” or “schooling”, “parenting” can sometimes feel isolated from life as a whole, but it’s not isolated at all. It’s not even a category or a subset of life. It’s how those of us who’ve chosen to have children live. It’s us teaching other people about life.

It is life.

We forget that, existentially speaking, raising kids is where it’s at. We get mired in the details and freak out about the generalities, or vice versa. We get hardcore about stuff we might have been easy breezy about before. We think we’re going to be one way, and then we’re not, at all.

When I discovered I was pregnant with my first son, I immediately set about deciding what sort of a mother I would be. I would have a natural birth (no drugs!) and breastfeed pre-umbilical-cut-latch through age two. I would never co-sleep – not in a million years. I would not use disposable diapers unless they were 100 percent compostable and chock full of wildflower seeds.

As my children grew, I would feed them only the freshest organic foods prepared by my own two hands. I would can things and bake things while they played contentedly on the kitchen floor. I would not tolerate whining at any decibel. I would reject all toys made with fossil fuels or in anyplace resembling China. I would homeschool and Waldorf School and worldschool at regular intervals. I would document my child’s developmental milestones like a monastic scribe.

I would be the mother of mothers. I would rule the kingdom of my children with unwavering benevolence, stability, and grace. And they would adore me without fail.

From my current vantage point, this is all an enormous laugh riot. I get a real kick out of myself just thinking about it. How quaint! How strangely ambitious! How doggedly principled! How unrealistic and kind of irritating!

At the same time, I’m glad I was that hopeful and earnest. Why shouldn’t I have been? Those were legitimate, health-conscious, earth-loving instincts on my part. Every single day of those 40-odd weeks, I lived with that precious little orb of wild potential swirling around inside me, just dreaming about all the ways we would be together someday.

Did I ever dream that my kids would unravel me and then reassemble me again into a scrambled version of myself? Did I ever dream that I would feel so uncertain of the right thing to do? Did I understand that my own body would literally ache whenever my kids felt pain?

Could I have imagined I would say things like “Hey now, they’re called private parts for a reason, champ,” or “How many times have you dispensed that whipped cream directly into your mouth today?” Would I have thought I’d get totally conned by an eight-year-old, who convinced me of his hurt feelings when I found him hiding in the closet where he’d been playing video games on the sly?

The anti-climactic short answer to all that: No.

But the friction between who I thought I would be, and who I really am as a mom, is not what makes me a dipshit. I’m a dipshit when I judge other people for not standing where I stand. I’m a dipshit when I believe I need to act a certain way because some other parent said so. I’m a dipshit when I whine more than my kids do. I’m a dipshit when I expect that, because I got it right one time, that I’ll get it right every other time, too. I’m a dipshit when I forget to be grateful.

So, keep your head screwed on. Allow people their dreams. Look into your own eyes in the mirror and be honest about what you see. Listen to yourself speak to your children. And, with all your heart, shoot for nailing it most of the time and forgive yourself the rest.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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