Saturday, January 4, 2014

Motherhood; The Paradigm Shift

I wrote this today on a friend's social networking page;

 "You need to get out and go on a girl's Night Out. See a movie with some Girlfriends. Or go schedule playdates with other moms that have children close in age to you. Talk with them, comiserate and just be with women who are in similar situations as you, for a few hours. It helps! Motherhood is a supreme paradigm shift. We were single and free of commitments once. Being married makes you more responsible for yourself and your spouse. You can still do spontaneous and fun things before children. Your spare time does not have to be planned out as much. But when Women have kids and become a Mom, it changes our lives. We need other Women to rally around us then, support us. For us to remember, we are human beings with needs and wants, hopes and dreams. Being with other parents helps." This person is a new mom. She had stated that she has hardly any social interactions outside of school, and winter break had been very hard for her.

 Today I wanted to write about Motherhood. How has it changed my life?
How has it changed my outlook on life?
What do I do now, that is different from how I acted before I had a child?
 Has having a child affected my social life?
Has having a child affected my academic life, and my aspirations of goals?

 When I found out I was expecting I was very excited! It was Jan. 2, 2008 and I was working for a Daycare at the time. I was also going to school studying Human Development and Family Studies. I love Music, I was in Concert Choir at the University of Utah as a 2nd Soprano, I think I may have been in Institute Choir that year as well. I thoroughly enjoyed singing in Concerts and learning the music in class. I was going to try out for a Minor in Music, but decided not to once I found out I was expecting. I worked clear until Mid-August in the Daycare. I mostly cared for small babies and young toddlers; newborns to 2 year olds. I liked what I did, but being pregnant made me very prone to viruses and illnesses going around the center I worked at. I would often catch these viruses, despite my healthy diet and taking good care of myself. I worked on occasion with the older children 5-9 year olds. I decided to leave the job in August, one month before my son was born.

 My son was born in the fall; in early September to be exact. For about 2 months I was inside with him, in a tiny, dim lit apartment on the 4th floor of our old building. I was pretty depressed, not the severe baby blues, but my whole life had changed in one day. I had tried to teach my child to sleep through the night and he was up every 2 hours to nurse, he was a growing baby. I hardly slept at all! I remember watching Stephen Colbert Report and Late Night with Conan O' Brian and other shows at 1 or 2 AM. I would watch these pointless shows while nursing and/or changing diapers; while dealing with a newborn baby who would cry in the middle of the night. I admit I would sometimes cry with him when he cried. It was a coping mechanism for dealing with the major differences in my life. I felt somehow these distant shows would help me stay in touch with people in the real world, that there was life beyond my door. When he was about 8 months old I started taking him to the gym with me, to Mommy and Me Yoga Classes. I loved those classes, they were so relaxing. It was a Relief to see other women in my same boat, with small babies and children- reconnecting with the universe. Trying to remember that we were human again. That we needed each other to survive. Human bonding and contact with others like me, helped me thrive. I eventually started going to Spinning and Zumba classes and placing him in the on-site Daycare so I could get some much needed me time. I went back to school when he was almost 1. Most of my classes were online. I think they may have all been online. It still was nice to use my pre-mommy brain again. To remember how important learning and academics were to me.

 As a Mother of a five year old boy,I have had my share of hilarious experiences. When my child was 2, he was sent to his room for misbehaving- and when I came in to check on him he had slathered Zinc Oxide (Diaper Rash Ointment) all over himself, some of his favorite books and CD's and yes- all over the Zinc Oxide Tube and the carpet. This was the thick cream that was used for overnight Diaper Cream. It was also all over the sheets and his blankets. I took a few pictures before he woke up and I admit that I laughed and gasped. I do not recall if this was for nap time or bedtime. I do remember succinctly that the book he slathered the cream all over was called; "Oliver Who Would Not Sleep." I found that very ironic and funny. The next year it was baby powder. I sent him to his room for misbehaving and he found the baby powder and went to town with it all over his room! I mean everywhere! Baby Powder in his bed and on the wheels of his Bed Frame (a Car Bed). I was not trying to get him to go to sleep.

There came a time when he would just throw wild fits and everything I could fathom to stop them was no use. I would try calming him down with soft words, or giving him hugs. I tried validating his feelings, letting him shout and responding to him that I understood how he feels and I'd talk to him when he would calm down. Most of those techniques didn't work. So, I would let him scream and cry it out. He banged on the walls and furniture, would kick his bed and toys. He would throw toys at his door and hit his door with them. I wouldn't respond. I must sound like a really terrible Mom for saying this; but if you give your child attention when they misbehave, they are getting attention. And, they'll likely repeat the offense because they are getting noticed.

My son still has issues with negative attention, he may do things he's not supposed to, just so he can feel like he's getting noticed from adults- particularly teachers. Lately, we've tried ignoring him when he misbehaves. It helps because the attention for negative behavior isn't there, and the behavior doesn't continue. Yes, we try to use positive reinforcement more than any other kind of discipline. Although, he's had several toys and video games taken away for about a week at a time for not following directions and not listening. It's a process, and we're learning every step of the way as we go.

 Today before we go out on the town, or even just to dinner- my husband and I have to take into account time.
What are our schedules like? When does Mommy work?
When does Daddy go to school? What days and times does our son go to school?
What extra-curricular activities is our son involved in? Can we afford a babysitter?
Can Grandma and Grandpa watch our son for a few days so we can take a Mommy and Daddy break? Everything has to be planned out. I used to be a very spontaneous and talkative person. I was an extrovert. The life of the party, I enjoyed being the center of attention. Talking to anyone and everyone. Making all kinds of friends. I am more of and introvert now, just since becoming a Mom.

There is a part of me that needs the sacred time for Mommy. I need to write about my life. Even if it's only for me. I need to read a good book, to see a fantastic Opera or Movie with my husband. Have an adult conversation at Church with another Mom or Dad. I realize that I am unique and gifted, and yes, I am still in need of human contact and acceptance. I just had to accept myself first. Motherhood changes you. Whether you are married, single, in a committed relationship or a co-habitating relationship. It changes how you look at life. Even if you go back to work. Your child becomes the center of your universe.

 Chelsea Merkley January 4, 2014

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