Accidents Happen (If We’re Doing it Right)

My baby's pushing a year old, and she's not the most physical kid you ever saw.  She can get around by rolling, but her attempts at crawling look like she's trying to do the breast stroke.  She's generally content to sit in one place with toys strewn around her.

So we were a little surprised when she came home from daycare with a shiner.  She'd rolled herself into a corner and tried to get out face-first.  And every time I look at that sweet, gorgeous, bruised face, I want to hold her close and never let her go.  It's an impulse I can't give in to, for both of our sakes.


Having it All (Sort of)

I'm obsessed with trade-offs.  If you ask me, "What's life about?", I'd answer, in a heartbeat, "Trade-offs."  If you say, "Can people have it all?", I'd respond, "They can have a lot, if they're realistic in their expectations, and make the right trade-offs."  It's an imperfect world.  There's a finite amount of time.

My theory of trade-offs, which I rely on in my personal and professional life, is this: You have to explicitly recognize the choices you're making and the impact they have on what you value most (yourself, your relationships, your work, etc.), and realize that you'll have to sacrifice or cut corners somewhere.  The work is figuring out where the give is.  What's left is the best life for you.


Personal Disclosures: The Sequel

My inaugural blog post was called Personal Disclosures.  And in my post Tale of Two Rookie Moms, I wrote about my therapy work with a stay-home mom who was struggling emotionally.  I told her how hard maternity leave was for me, and how I felt so much more myself, so much more balanced, so much more capable as a mother, by going back to work.   My client seemed grateful that I'd been so self-revealing.  It seemed to free her to consider all her options, and choose her own path.

That's what personal disclosures by a therapist are supposed to do for clients.  But I've always shied away from inserting my own experiences in the therapy session.  Nowadays, that's much harder to do.


It’s Not All About the Kids

New parents hear it all the time: "It's not about you anymore; now it's all about the kids."  Selflessness is in.  Selfishness is out.  Got it.

What's always struck me is that there's no word in the English language for maintaining a healthy self.  I'd propose one: Self-ness.  After all, if one end of the continuum is selfishness, and the other is selflessness, shouldn't there be some middle ground?  Perhaps self-ness is that middle ground.


Tis the Season for Stress

This past weekend, I had a customer service experience with a manager so appalling that the assistant manager felt the need to step in and say apologetically (and by way of explanation), "She's had a really rough night."  My husband said later, only half-jokingly, "Doesn't that manager know you reserve that stuff for those closest to you?"

Now that the holiday season is in full swing, a lot of people are feeling the stress.  So much to get done, and the sense that it's supposed to look effortless, coupled with the belief that we should be happy and grateful for our bounties.  That often  leads to irritability, and who's the lucky beneficiary of that?  Those closest to us.


Assertiveness Skills

My baby is the most decisive person I know.  She'll grab the book out of your hand, turn it over for one final moment of contemplation, and toss it high in the air.  Done.  Decision made.  No regrets.

A minute later, I might reintroduce the book.  She'll consider, but as if she's never seen it before.  It may receive attention, or a lob. What's notable is that it seems to be an entirely new decision for her, and one that she'll make easily.

Babies are entirely in the moment.  My daughter never steps back and wonders what'll happen if she's  wrong.  She's got no past and no future, no to-do lists, no reprisals or reflection.  She feels her feelings with abandon.  They gust through her, and then pass like a storm.  She communicates like no other.  She doesn't say, "Maybe I need to sleep now," or, "Perhaps I'm hungry."  No, she knows exactly what she needs.

I envy her.


Gobble Gobble: How Entitlement Eats Appreciation

"I deserve to be happy," says one client with a tear-stained face.

"I don't deserve to be treated this way," says another.

"He doesn't deserve me," wails a third.

In a sense, all three are right.  Yet none of them is happy in their relationships, or with their overall lives.  And with Thanksgiving upon us, it's a good time to reflect on why that might be, and see if anything instructive can be found.


Use It or Lose It

Last weekend, my husband and I had a night away from the baby for the first time (she's just past ten months).  Some parents have told me that seems so soon; for others, it seems incredibly late.  If we had local family, I'm sure it would have happened for us sooner.

In fact, we'd arranged an overnight trip four or five months ago during a visit from my mother, but our baby wound up making other plans: She caught a virus that caused her to spend four nights in the pediatric ICU (the PICU.)  We were never given any reason to believe she would die, though it was still a frightening and emotional experience.  To have some perspective: Our daughter was in the PICU, but she was far and away the healthiest baby there.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Attack of the “Shoulds”

"I should be happy."

"I should be having a great time."

"I should have been appreciating the moment with my daughter.  Instead, my mind was on the laundry that needed to get done, and how to get her down for her nap, and..."

These are thoughts expressed by some of my clients.  I've also had them myself.  Not that "shoulds" are relegated to parents alone, but I know that for me, they've gotten a lot louder since I had a baby.  And the "shoulds" are toxic to mental health.


The Other Bonding Time

In a moment of narcissism, I googled "Bonding Time Blog."  I guess I just wanted to see my name up in lights.  What I found was the Family "Bond"ing Time blog, which chronicles the lives of Nathan and Elisa Bond, 38 and 36 years old respectively, who were diagnosed with Stage III rectal cancer (Nathan) and Stage IV breast cancer (Elisa) within months of each other.  They have an 18-month-old daughter Sadie.

The blog recounts their experiences, replete with MRIs, brain scans, chemo, and days on the playground with Sadie.  Some entries are moving; some are funny; some are instructional without being pedantic: how to balance living like there's no tomorrow, with living like there's absolutely going to be a tomorrow.