Transcript: Ep 119: ME as a MOM
Welcome to the Us And Kids Podcast. We are glad you are here. I am Jan Talen, a wife, a mom, a grandma, and a marriage and family therapist.
I wanted to let you know that the Us And Kids Communication Program is open again! It is an effective and efficient communication program. Build your skills for connecting you with your spouse and your kiddos - at the same time. It's eight modules long. And has lots of professional support that leads you through great personal and relationship skills that will help to tone down the tensions and build up the connections. It's fun and it's practical. Check it out on the website today.
Welcome to the Us And Kids podcast. I am your host, Jan Talen. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, a wife, a mom, and a grandma. This Us And Kids podcast is about how to be married forever while you parent kiddos together. We know this is not an easy task. So I encourage you to subscribe to Us And Kids in your favorite podcasting app.
I'm glad you are here so that your marriage and your home can be fulfilling. Today we're going to celebrate Mother's Day. I don't think it's exactly mother's day cause that's on a Sunday and this (podcast) comes out on a Tuesday, but nonetheless, we're going to talk about moms. Now, dads who are listening here, don't turn this off and go “Nevermind…” because you're connected to a mom in some way or another, and this can be helpful just in understanding the mystery of being a woman.
And today we're going to talk a little bit more about finding and keeping the real me, the real person who is a mom, who's a wife, who's busy with so many things all around her world.
Do you remember when it started out?
Just as us, just as me and my spouse? Well, maybe even before that, I remember me. I was single. I owned my own body. I own my own brain. I was confident. I was sure I was in control and I was planned. Maybe I was organized. Sometimes I was fun and funny and many times I was interesting and interested.
I got married. I hung on to myself, but then. Oh baby! I became pregnant and that little person inside of me made me a little more cautious. And all of a sudden I became protective, more aware of what I did and the risk of what I did. My body changed. And I got through the chubby and the bumps and the curves. And the things (body shapes) I never had before. But I didn't totally feel like me anymore because of that body shift. I sort of felt like I had lost part of me. And then I went from being pregnant to holding that little person who was, oh my goodness!... was so floppy. I didn't necessarily really know how to hold all the parts without squishing or losing or dropping something.
My protectiveness went up. My “me” changed and the chaos in my brain also went up and I felt unsure and undecided and chaotic. I became far more serious about life and about what matters, but I also became sleepy crabby withdrawn. Wait, where was me? Where was me with the funny me, the happy me, the cheerful me and where did my body go?
Because nothing here, nothing in my skin fits my clothes that supposedly are laying on the floor over there. Well, where did me go? I'm sure you have part of this story too.
Let's think for a minute, how do we get our “me” back? We're going to look at some letters, first of all, by spelling me and then by spelling mom.
One thing we have to do is we are going to invite you to maintain that's the M in me maintain what maintain, how you think about yourself, maintain your kind thoughts. Remember that confidence and let some of that seep back into. Some things you are probably still sure about, and they hang on inside of you.
A small thing for me, it was after I had my first kiddo, I was pretty bumbled, but I was still sure I knew how to make sweet things to eat. I knew how to make a good no-bake cookie, peanut butter bars, chocolate chip cookies, Oreo dessert, and even homemade caramel corn. A lot of other things I wasn't too sure about, but that I could still do little but important in those moments where I felt so confused.
Some parts of your personality are still there. Don't let go of them. Hang on to them, maintain them, you by using them, by remembering to laugh or to be funny. Let those good parts of you come out in spite of the fear and in spite of the uncertainty, maintain those good kind thoughts towards yourself. I know after we've changed body shape and size and our tasks and the list of what to do, the expectations can just overwhelm us and we can hear a lot of negativity. Maintain those more positive thoughts.
Adjust what's appropriate. Okay. If you're really bumbling something up, then say, I know how to fix this and do it. You'll feel better. Maintain the good parts of you.
And now the letter E. This is about maintaining energy. That “E” is for energy. Well, how in the world do you do that? When you're so weary.
Part one, you make sure that you're eating real food because you'll have more energy, real food.
What is that? That is food that has protein in it. That is meat, dairy eggs, and cheese. It's not sugar. It doesn't have any protein in it. The bowl of cereal, a little bit of protein, but not much. I'd rather that you ate an egg or use some complex carbs. Eat some good veggies that also have a good amount of protein in them. Make your sugar count low. And that means low alcohol too, because it's going to help you maintain the energy you're going to need for being a mom.
What else do we want to do? We want you, as you, part of maintaining energy is to move your body. Sometimes we end up in this depressed place. We sit and we know our survey beat, but then we're tired.
So then we sleep and then we wake up when it's time to nurse her baby again. And so, ah, the circle goes round and round and we spend much of the day sleeping. By the end of the day we wake up and we're so tired from not moving.
Maintaining the real me will include moving your body. Take that little one on a walk to maintain some of that energy. [00:07:54] You have to also maintain some body movement.
Another part of the E: (we're going to have more than one E in our Me) is we want you to also maintain some expertise. There are things, you know, if you knew how to cook before you have a baby, you probably still also know how to cook. If you know how to work some magic on something electronic or a computer or social media or something like that, you probably still know how to do that.
Use your skills wisely and maintain your expertise. If you have worked in a more professional workplace somewhere, read your journals, read the articles, keep up on your professional identity, hang on to the expertise in terms of knowing how to relate to yourself and how to relate to other people.
This isn't easy.
Now all of a sudden, so much of the conversation is around the baby and every sentence is interrupted by what the baby needs. Do you still have the expertise? Work on using it? You've been using it for years. Continue to practice building good conversations, interesting conversations, being interested in others and interested in yourself.
These are places of expertise and we want you to continue to use them to hang on to your identity as yours.
And finally the last E before we go onto the word, mom is this one E stands for escape, where escape to your spouse, escape to your good friends. If the timing's right, escape to work, escape means move away from the ugly identity and words that are in your mind.
Take a minute sometimes to just escape from being all mom and go back into the identity of being yourself. And that identity is being a good adult. You know how to tell good stories and you know how to laugh, you know how to encourage other people, you know, how to support your spouse and how to be real and how to be vulnerable.
Keep those places of life, energy expertise alive. And keep some space for yourself. Find time to escape into your journal and to music into some exercise. If you find it fun, find time to escape into house cleaning, or just cooking up a storm in your kitchen. Those places that really rejuvenate you use. So those were words about me keeping your own identity.
Now we're going to talk about me.
So those words, maintaining your energy, your expertise, and your ability to escape are important.
And we're going to now also talk about being a mom.
First M stands for that moms often have a mental mass. Huge amounts of thoughts are going around in their brain. Now, some moms look at me and laugh and say, no, that's not a mental mass. [00:11:22] That is a mental mess because being a mom takes a lot of mental ness, a lot of thinking, a lot of organized. And it can often feel like our mental mass, our brain is a mess and I won't disagree with you. It can be hard to make sense of your little one's tears, your two-year-olds language. What are they saying to me?
A three-year-old's temper tantrums and determinations and your four-year-old's logic in what looks like manipulation even though they're problem solving. They're not manipulating. And when all three of those littles - your little one, your two year old and your four-year-old -are all interacting at the same time and being normal, crying, babbling and problem solving in a four-year-old way.
How can a mom think like all of those kiddos without becoming a mental mess, right? Give yourself some credit, mom. Thinking like a little one, even though you used to think like that too, can be very taxing. Remember they are being normal, healthy little humans. They're not out to get you. Lower your fear. You will figure it out.
They are plenty patient and they'll continue to push their communication until they feel like you have connected with them. They mostly want to be understood and loved, and you do know how to love. So do that first because it will help your mental mess become more organized. The puzzling words will make some sense and those tears will stop swirling their words and their needs will make some sense and we'll have some sensible solutions.
The other day, I was with a six year old who was wanting more snack food. How many snacks she had was too many to count. But she was really more bored than hungry. She was pushy, a little sneaky in her efforts to get more sugar snacks.
The four-year-old was also bored, but didn't want to separate and go downstairs to play. So he was sort of hanging around him, pestering his sister.
The one-year-old wasn't feeling so great. And just wanted to be here. And I had to get some chicken in the Instapot. Not a big job, but I needed four and a half minutes to make it happen.
So I took out the bag with little baby wind-up chicks that I had bought for Easter fun. You can wind them up and they hop around.
I was holding the one-year-old on my lap. I pulled the six-year-old in close. I was chatting with her about what might be in the bag, wanting to distract her a little bit from what other snacks she might be thinking about.
So we were wondering what might be in the bag and about how she would react. What was in there? Would she have to share it?
Could she share ?
In her mind and space, could she do that? What if she didn't like it, then what would she do? Well, she was a little bit squirrely, but I paid direct attention to her. She was able to relax a little bit more and to make a tentative plan B in case she didn't like what was in the bag.
She could hear me, my tones, my intrigue, and was adjusting her muscle tension. As we talked, (if you want to know more about that muscle tension in her control listen to episode 116), she was relaxing and sort of mellowing out. As I stayed calm, she could calm down and let her brother be a little less pesty and a little more interested while baby sister just sat on my lap, watching what's going on.
My brain was a bit of a mental mess in figuring it out. But as we talked and connected, my mess became a little bit more of an organized mass, and we opened the bag and we played together with these four baby chicks and duckies that I had brought home.
It's not easy to keep your mental ness in an organized fashion. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort. I don't think you're going to be a perfect mom. It's okay. Just remember that you can take the space to take a breath. And as you do, when you relax your own self, your kiddos are going to relax too. And then so much of the other stuff sorts itself out.
Let's go onto the letter, O. This is about being organized. How did I organize? I had to remember to slow down. I had to write it down. I had to remember to put it down, not much in terms of the alcohol, but I had to remember to put down the list. Because in order to organize, I had to give myself time to write the list, time to organize it, so it made some sense.
And then I had to remember to eat real food. And those delicious, no-bake cookies are delicious, but they're not real food. Our brains, our mental messes and our mental mass organizes itself when we slow down. The brain pathways and the electrical circuitry can actually send whole thoughts through, and that will help us organize.
This is often a new way of being organized in the way we were before we had kiddos, because there's a new blend of being efficient. I would stack things on the stairs about what had to come up and what had to go down. I chose what laundry to fold and not to. I had to perpetually adjust priorities because all of a sudden I'm hugging a sad or a sick little one instead of getting the ironing or the dishes done. Should I do the dishes or should I get the living room vacuum?
What should I do? Should I make lunches while I still have some brain? And then do dishes later when I didn't have a brain, because then at least I wouldn't miss what I had to get in lunches being organized. We'll help you be okay with your soul and your mind and your being. Remember that in being organized, it can be okay to ask others for their help from your kiddos to your spouse. Sometimes hiring somebody is good to do.
Organization isn't easy and it will be new and rearranged every day or 14 times a day. Give yourself some grace as you try to get all the things done because being a mom is a huge job.
The last M in mom is being married and making those connections with your special adult person, strong and steady and stable.[00:18:50] This isn't easy, especially not when you're wearing your mom hat, but sometimes it's good to remind you to also wear your married hat so that you are mom with the dad and the kiddos, because it's a lots of fun, but also that you're also married together. Married with joy, married with perhaps some mischief.
. Remember, we're going to maintain, and we're going to be efficient. We're going to find ways to exercise and we're going to find ways to hang onto our expertise. All the other E was we're going to find ways to escape.
But we're also going to be aware that it takes a lot of mental energy to be a mom, takes a lot of energy to be organized. When we can calm ourselves down and pull ourselves together and remember that we are married and are working to keep our connections with our spouse strong and stable.
The Us And Kids Communication Program is available for you and for your spouse. It will give you the opportunity to learn how to think and react to all those different and challenging marriage and parenting spaces in an effective and an efficient and compassionate way.
We teach parenting skills and marriage skills in the same course. So you have the same language between each other - when you're talking about your kiddos or with each other - and the same skills. We just teach you how to apply them differently when you're talking with your spouse or when you're talking with your kids.
For this podcast, there's a free printable and on the website, there's a free workshop.
And if you have questions, you can use the connect with me page on the website to send me an email and I will connect back with you. I look forward to meeting with you and talking with you soon and hope that you have had a wonderful Mother's Day!