Be the adult you encourage your child to be

Be the adult you encourage your child to be

As adults, we are quick to correct children’s behaviour.

“Treat someone how you’d like to be treated.”

“If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

“You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” (Which by the way, I don’t love because anyone is allowed to feel upset or have emotions, but I get the sentiment: you can’t always get what you want, and while you can be upset with that, you need to accept the outcome.)

This past week, I’ve seen far too many adults not heed the very words of advice we give to children, and WE should be the ones setting the example.

I’m talking about the fallout of the 2019 Canadian federal election. I’m not here to talk about whether the results of the election were good or bad: everyone has their opinion on it. And everyone is allowed to have their opinion on it.

The problem is when we go from stating our opinion to attacking people, and we all know we’ve seen it. Every Sunday during the campaign, I’ve had to read the comments under election stories posted to The Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post. I’m so thankful I didn’t have to moderate comments post-election, but all you have to do is open up Facebook or Twitter and it’s a shit storm of hate.

You’re an idiot if you voted this way, you’re a racist if you voted this way, we want to separate, you’re a redneck if you want to separate, blah blah blah. Enough.

Someone felt inclined to spray paint “cunt” across Catherine McKenna’s face on her campaign office. I have no words.

I hope I never have to read another comment saying, “Trudeau should be hung for treason.” Don’t think that isn’t posted often, because it is.

I’d like to remind people who write such things: be grateful you live in a country where you can express that kind of opinion in a public forum without being kidnapped, tortured, and murdered, because in many other countries, that’s what would happen if you dared to speak so brazenly.

Your kids are watching. Your friends’ kids are watching. And then you know what happens? They call each other names, and why wouldn’t they? It’s what’s being modelled for them.

Last week, my son nonchalantly told me two boys in his class called him a baby. That’s because someone called THEM a baby.

When a friend asked me this week, “How are you doing, really?” I lost it and burst into tears. I’ve definitely internalized everyone’s mean comments, and because I both love politics and work as a journalist, I can’t just ignore them. And like any parent, my heart breaks thinking of my child being picked on.

You are allowed to be upset about the election results. Almost everybody is, no matter who they supported. But if we go back to the whole “you get what you get, and you don’t get upset,” I would expect adults to be better able to control their emotions, their actions, their REACTIONS when their “team” doesn’t win. And that’s what happened here. A team wins, a team loses, we all move on with our lives. It’s not to say there aren’t real issues: there are. Name-calling is not how we find solutions.

Last week, a mother from Warman died in childbirth, leaving her husband with a newborn in NICU and two other little ones. All of a sudden, the outcome of an election seems pretty inconsequential, don’t you think? It’s definitely not worth telling your neighbour or friend they’re an idiot for voting a certain way. Her untimely death serves as a reminder of what is important, and that at the end of the day, we all want to be loved. We all want what is best for our children and our future. How we do that may look different for each of us, but we have more in common than not. Let’s hold onto that instead of exploiting our differences.

Adults, we need to do better. Children are watching. They are literally looking up to us, so let’s be the role models they deserve. The next time someone comments, “Kids these days aren’t very nice” or “Kids are bullies,” check yourself. Are you part of the problem or the solution? What kind of behaviour are you modelling? And let’s all commit to doing better and to choosing kindness.

Why I wish I’d known Darla when I had my babies: Angela Erickson

Why I wish I’d known Darla when I had my babies: Angela Erickson

This is part of a series called “I wish I had known Darla when I had a baby” so expectant moms can find me before baby arrives and invest in their health and their family with a postpartum doula

Being a mom is a tough job.

Being a mom while battling anxiety and postpartum depression makes being mom even tougher.

I’ve loved being a mom but there were many times where I had wished there would have been more support and understanding while raising my munchkins. I recall telling myself I could do it all on my own and if I didn’t, then let failure hang over my head. Feeling like I was never doing enough but felt like I was hanging on by a thread from exhaustion.

I’ve gotten to know Darla and in awe hearing how she is helping moms maneuver through motherhood. I can’t help but think, dang, where was my “Darla” when I was in need of extra support? I’m fortunate to have her in my world now and she still lends support, love and compassion just as I know she does for all those new mommas out there.

Why I wish I’d known Darla when I had my baby: Corie Wiebe

Why I wish I’d known Darla when I had my baby: Corie Wiebe

This is part of a series called “I wish I had known Darla when I had a baby” so expectant moms can find me before baby arrives and invest in their health and their family with a postpartum doula
I had my first child in March of 2016. I was 26 years old, in a committed relationship, and had been trying to conceive for about a year prior to succeeding. I was ready for this new chapter in my life. I was excited for it. The elation I felt on seeing the positive test was indescribable. And short-lived.
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My emergence into motherhood was rife with trauma, both physical and emotional. I don’t know what I expected the early beginnings of motherhood to look like, but I certainly was not prepared for the pain this transition would cause, especially emotionally. 
I became a Mom alone.
Oh sure, family came together to celebrate the birth, to meet Rhett, to congratulate us. But no one recognized the second birth, all too often eclipsed by the baby’s – the birth of a mother. This birth, in my case, was a storm. The kind you can feel coming by the tension in the air. The kind that promises to make you fear for your life by the threatening skies alone. The kind that – once you’re in it, demands all your attention be used to navigate your own survival.
By the time I went into labour with Rhett, I was already just trying to survive. I suffered with Hyperemesis Gravidarum for the first 20+ weeks of my pregnancy. I lost a significant amount of weight, and then I was shocked and upset (and shocked at my upset) to learn that I wasn’t carrying the little girl I’d been dreaming about, but a little boy instead. 
These were the first tidal waves. They were perceived as small, but were nonetheless impregnated with the threats of the storm on the horizon. A threat I could feel in my very soul.
I was still grieving the daughter I wouldn’t have when I went into labour — a labour that became a tropical storm of its own, ending with a vacuum delivery, hemorrhage, an abysmal apgar score, a jaundiced newborn, and a very unempowered me. 
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I was drowning – and between mouthfuls, lungfuls, of water I was expected to respond to “Isn’t he wonderful.” “What a beautiful baby,” “You must be so happy.”
I would grasp for answers while fighting for breath, fighting to find my feet, fighting to find the surface.
I would get close enough to hope, but I was being berated by tidal wave after tidal wave.
Rhett wouldn’t eat – tidal wave
He wasn’t gaining weight – tidal wave
Our feeding schedule, allowing me 10 minutes between feedings – each one a tidal wave
None of my friends in the city had kids. My family was 3 hours away and my husband’s was 5. Neither side had dealt with Postpartum Depression anyway. I was drowning and I had no village.
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My husband was frequently called home to save our son from his own mother. I yelled, screamed, at my 2-week old infant more than I’d ever yelled at anyone in my life. For offences like sleeping, or spilling milk out the side of his mouth. 
I would try to make him cry. I dreamed of killing him. I dreamed of running away so Mark could raise him properly, with love.
A coworker (who became a good friend) had a child around the same time as I did. We didn’t know each other well, but she tried to help. She’d take me to Mom Groups around the city, where I would try to make Mom Friends. I was desperate for a village, but not in a place where I could smile and chat and care about anything but this storm. I was still drowning, and it was still exhausting. Karen was trying, and I am forever grateful, but she was also going through her own transition into motherhood, and I knew I was a burden.
On top of these legitimate struggles, I simply didn’t know how to “Mom”. I felt no natural affection, I had never cared for a newborn, and I’m pretty sure intuition needs space away from constant and unrestrained fear. I researched EVERYTHING – a kind of hyper-vigilance borne to compensate my utter failure to love. I feared every cough, spit-up,and fever. My heart pounded in the space between each of his breaths, which I watched and counted, day and night.
These were the darkest times of my life. 
We came through them, we love fiercely, and our family has a strength that can only be forged through hard times, but I desperately needed a village. Women, newly unfolded Mothers, they need to be swaddled in love and fed the experience of the women around them. Not all hardship can be avoided, but not all struggles need to be endured alone. I was sure that no one had ever felt the way I did, and that was the loneliest struggle of all. 
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I met Darla after the birth of my second child – already an altogether different (and better) experience. I attended the Warmen Mom and Warmen Breastfeeding Groups, and I connected more readily with the amazing women I met there.
When Paisley was hospitalized at 2 months old, I learned just how valuable Darla was, as she messaged with me day or night – providing assurances, love, care, and hope for my daughter and for me.
Darla, like any postpartum doula, will come to your house and help you, but she has also, importantly, perfected her own way of coming to your heart, and healing with love, coffee, and friendship.
If I had known Darla, she could have helped me to keep my house up whilst also teaching me that the neatness of my home is in no way a reflection of my worth as a Person or a Mom.
If I had known Darla, she could have met my baby boy. She could have held him and looked at him with that face that says “Wow – look at this perfect baby”; A face my perfect baby never got to see. I know she would have, because I’ve seen her bless other perfect babies with it. 
If I had known Darla, she could have connected me with services and resources to help me cope, address feeding issues, heal, and grow into the mother I was meant to be. The mother it took me 3 years to find alone in the aftermath of my personal storm.
I wish I’d known Darla, because Darla knows how to accept, adapt, and love. Lessons I really could have used a guide in learning. She is an entire village in a single amazing woman, and not only that – she can build a village too! Even in the wake of tropical storms. 
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Why mom-to-mom support matters

Why mom-to-mom support matters

If you haven’t already heard, I will be facilitating a support group for moms on select Tuesdays out of Warman Physiotherapy & Wellness. Our first meeting is this week, so I thought it would be timely to give a real-life example of what a difference a little bit of support can make.

Imagine you are a mom whose toddler has built a beautiful wall of blocks at an indoor playground, but when he comes back from a snack, another child has dismantled it. He’s upset, and you empathize: he worked so hard on that, and it’s a big deal to him. Perhaps you’ve even been in this exact situation!

No amount of empathy or “can I help you build it again?”or distraction or leaving him alone helps: he cries and cries and cries and cries. Real tears, at times screaming. To the point that you now have tears in your eyes and take a break to cry in the bathroom, because you have no idea how to make it better and you were already having a tough day. A couple moms give you empathetic smiles, one mom asks your toddler if he’d like to join them on the slide. Such little gestures that make you want to cry more, but in a good way: because these moms get it. They understand how it feels, and they want to help you.

This is exactly why mom support groups are powerful: they build us up, let us know we aren’t alone. At times we definitely FEEL like we are alone, or like we are the only person who has ever been in a particular situation, but I assure you, you are not. Somewhere, and some point, another mom has been there, and she gets it. She will cry alongside you and laugh with you at the situation once enough time has passed.

And so I hope you will join us for the Warman Moms Support Group. Motherhood can be hard, but you aren’t alone, and you were never meant to do it alone. See you Tuesday.

Marriage is hard and even harder after kids

Marriage is hard and even harder after kids

First comes love, then comes marriages, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.

So the saying goes. Then it’s happily ever after, right? Right?!

If only life were that simple and linear. I don’t have to tell you that it’s not. It’s full of bumps in the road and U-turns, and even though Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest may tell you otherwise, no couple has the perfect relationship or family – they just show you what they want you to see.

Marriage is hard, and it’s even harder after you have kids.

Nobody really tells you that when you get married or if you take marriage prep classes (and even if they do, you probably don’t listen or believe them at the time). Just like a wedding is one day and marriage is meant for life, birth is one(ish) day and raising a child is for life – and so with that comes a lot of change! Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and part of preparing for your baby’s arrival should involve giving some thought to how this change will affect your marriage and having a conversation with your partner. Here are some thoughts from me and other moms on marriage after kids.

Probably the biggest key to life after a baby (and marriage in general, I suppose!) is communication. Your spouse is not a mind reader, and neither are you, so if you want something, tell them. As one mom says, “If you want sex, say it. Everyone is too tired to guess.” On the flip side, if mom doesn’t feel like sex right away or physically can’t (which is totally normal postpartum), find other ways to be intimate that make both of you feel loved. Remember that her body went through a huge transformation physically and emotionally, and it may take her a while to be comfortable and confident in her own skin.

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Look how perfect! The photo, not the marriage. No marriage is perfect, don’t be fooled! It takes work, but like anything that does, that makes it rewarding. (We were just babies ourselves here! I think we both have substantially more grey hair now….)

Don’t just assume one of you is going to do the housework. Would you like your partner to do some chores you used to typically do? You need to ask him and have a discussion – don’t just assume he will. And dads, don’t just assume because mom is home that she will be able to do all the housework and cooking, because taking care of a baby takes A LOT of time (watch this video to see just how much!).

“I found that discussing expectations for each partner for chores/activities helpful because the parent at home often gets the ‘well, what did you even do today’ talk (well, I kept an infant alive so think I did pretty stellar) but deciding ahead of time or having that discussion if it’s a strain is necessary,” says one mom. “If you can discuss or make strategies ahead of time, that is great.”

If you are both too busy for housework, consider hiring a house cleaner, even if it’s temporary. If it alleviates stress, it is worth it! If you can’t afford someone, ask family or friend for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I always say it is a strength, not a weakness, to ask for help.

Tell your partner you appreciate them. This works both ways. Don’t come home from work and ask a mother what she did all day. And don’t discount how hard dad works at his job and then has to come home and help maintain the home and care for the baby and you (postpartum is hard for dads, too). And if something is bugging you, talk about it and don’t sweep it under the rug: the longer you leave something, the more the little things grow into big things and lead to bigger arguments or resentment.

“Always remember to continue working on your relationship as a couple because one day the kids will move out and it will just be the two of you again,” one mother reminds us.

Put down your screens and actually spend time together. We recently made a pact to put down our phones and computers for at least an hour in the evening so we can either visit or watch a show together that we like. For us, this is sometimes the three of us, but that’s what works for our family. Maybe it works better for you to do this after your baby or toddler goes to bed. Maybe you’re open to doing “date night” or “movie night” with your little snuggled in your arms. There is no right or wrong answer – just that you spend time together.

“I am a firm believer that our marital relationships need a reboot every once in a while, as in you need to do something that is specifically meant to help build your relationship in a good way, whether that’s taking a course or class together, or for us, a week camping with just the family to reconnect without handheld devices is a must,” says one mom.

Taking a class or going away may not be possible when your little is a newborn or infant, plus it will depend what help you have around (do you have a trusted babysitter? Do you have family or friends who can watch the baby while you go out for supper or play volleyball together?). Start small and as your child gets older, it will become easier to do the bigger things (I promise: it does get easier!). Remember, in the scheme of things, this is a small window of time. It’s for now, not forever. Your baby will only be so little for so long, and when that time has passed, part of you will long for when they wanted to be held in your arms. Try to be patient – one of the many parenting lessons our children teach us.

Respect each other’s parenting styles. Just because dad doesn’t do things exactly as you do, doesn’t mean they aren’t just as good. Realize that as long as you both have the same values and end goal, you might reach it a bit differently. Then again, if one of you is opposed to spanking and the other thinks this is a good discipline tool, you need to have a discussion.

Remember that your children are watching you, and children model the behaviour they see. So, tell your spouse you love them and what you love about them. Show them affection through words, hugs, and kisses – and of course do the same for your children!

As a married couple and family, do we do all of these all of the time? Nope – we are not perfect! But we are happy and solid, in case anyone is wondering if that’s why I wrote this blog (my mom might wonder!). I wrote this, as always, to help other moms and parents, because we’ve all been there in tough times, and to remind those who are there that they are not alone.

Is the above a fool-proof plan for a perfect marriage? No. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, nor a perfect plan. But as long as you both remember your life will change after a baby and vow to keep working on your relationship, you’re on the right track. It’s a work in progress, and you will have ups and downs, but hopefully you can continue to navigate the journey together.

If you would like help planning for this big change in your relationship, book an appointment with me to create your custom postpartum plan to make that transition as smooth as possible.

 

 

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