Ask Toi: Do you think people should go to counseling before having Children?

Yes and no. I think that if you have had things happen in your childhood that affects your ability to raise your children then yes. If once you have children you notice things that come up, by all means run don’t walk and go to counseling. If you feel like your childhood wasn’t an issue than no. Not everyone has bad childhoods. If you feel like you did or as an adult even before having children, you yourself know or can feel triggers. Also regardless of being a parent or not, you can see a counselor to help you get better at self-care. Everyone I believe can benefit if that is a choice they take from speaking to a licensed professional.  Having children will test you in ways that no one can prepare for. It takes a lot more than knowing how to keep a child alive, feeding, or housing them to be a parent. Each child is here on this Earth for a purpose but some people don’t realize that the child rearing years can push them further away from their purpose if you don’t keep a clear mind and watch how you treat them. What we say, how we talk, what consequences we give matters. They aren’t just dolls for us to take care of and show off. They are humans who need guidance and we as parents are responsible in how we do it.

What I know is that regardless of children or not, I for one felt triggered having my kids. Part of that was going through postpartum depression. I have said openly that I went to counseling and took medication to work through my own issues.  During that time of counseling things that I hadn’t talked about or dealt with came out. I worked through them and continue to work through them. It doesn’t necessarily mean that my childhood was awful.  It meant that I found as an adult things that I would rather deal with to be a better parent.  For me my ultimate goal is to be the best parent for my kids. All three of them have different needs. I didn’t have to feel after going to counseling that I had to treat them the same as far as giving them the same exact method in how they receive correction.   It’s my job to find out what works best for them to be their best. It’s not about me, my ego, what my parents said goes, what my husband’s mom said goes, it’s about them and being to them what they need, period.

I for one don’t like yelling. However as a parent I find that if I am not mindful I will do it. I don’t want my kids raised in a home with yelling so when I was in counseling its something that I worked on to eliminate it. I don’t even take my kids around folks that do a lot of arguing or fighting. Should I find that we are in that type of environment I will immediately remove my kids from it. I think yelling is unnecessary. As a parent I can speak to my kids and give them respect and expect it from them without yelling to get my point across. It doesn’t mean that my patience tank as I call it is always full. When I find that it’s not I apologize and work with my kids to be understanding. This I found out how to do in counseling. I had to let a friend of mine know who was keeping my kids why one of my kids responded the way they do to yelling. It’s not that I want to keep my kids in a bubble but I do feel an in control parent can watch how they speak and that’s just as important to the message.

I have talked to other parents who stated that things in their childhood didn’t come out until they had children. I would say be proactive in dealing with it. I know I am not perfect but if I am constantly checking myself and willing to tweak what I do where my kids are concerned, I know and pray they have a good outcome from that. Sometimes I also think, if my voice is their voice would I want my kids to yell unnecessarily to my grandkids in the future?  If I am putting them down, who is going to pull them up?  There are parents who belittle their kids and then when their kids do “great” things they take the credit? I don’t want that. I want them to shine because their support system behind them helps them shine! All adults need to have an outlet whether they are parents or not. If anything is on our heart and mind and talking to a licensed professional is a good thing for self-care.

Having kids will bring out things in your childhood if its left unchecked. That is a good and bad thing. To fuse two different upbringing from my husband and I and knowing that we can take from both and find what works for us with our own takes a lot of finesse. I would say if you are talking about having kids that you have some real conversations on how those kids will be raised. It’s not the time to wait until they arrive.  Counseling is another way of helping to deal with those difficult decisions for any part of your life not just parenting. Also be prepared for those around you specifically parents to say things like you weren’t raised that way. It is true.  A lot of the things that we do for our children don’t mirror my parents or his mom. However end of day you have to take into consideration resources available, times, and your kids personalities and they way they learn. I would rather support their way of learning and have them find ways to be that much better than to only do what I was taught to please any one of the sets of parents. Parenting for where my husband and I are right now is a lot of meshing. We mesh both sides and what we see and what we deal with when dealing with our kids.

If you are concerned with if counseling will work, I would say go to a few sessions and find out for yourself. I find that I feel better equipped for the time I went to counseling. I was given tools to work through me which in the end of the day will help in how I deal and heal with my kids. They are the best parts of me. I see myself in all 3 and I would hope the things that I didn’t master they master. I would hope that the things I wanted in my childhood I make sure they have and its beyond material things. I want them to feel secure in being them. I want them to be able to not hide who they are. I know they will not fit what I think they should be. I hope as they figure out who they are that they can count on me and my husband to love them through it. I pray constantly that I would choose my words carefully when interacting with them.

People give counseling a bad name. Going to counseling doesn’t mean you have issues with everyone, you’re weak, you are unstable and any other negative word choices people give it. The notion of keeping your business to yourself is the reason why people respond to life the way you do. You should be open to speak honestly about things without fear that if you do something is going to happen. Getting help is not a problem. You should be getting help and in that shows strength. If you are someone who needs a counselor regardless if you are a parent or not or if you are being triggered or not, go and get that help. I would rather someone be in counseling than to treat a child wrongfully indirectly because they were taught not to speak up.

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The Worst Advice I Have Ever Received…

So I think bad advice is any advice that is strictly from another person that doesn’t take into account your life. There is not one word that fits everyone. We think that just because it seems like good advice that it will work out all the same. But that is not the case. Just like with life advice seems to be work out differently and varies from person to person.

So let’s get to it…..having children is so super natural that after you birth them you know exactly what to do. It is not as natural as everyone makes it out to be. At least not for me. I knew how to do the basics, but there are a lot of things that comes with having children that didn’t feel as authentic as the books and folks makes it sound. Let me squash all the folks that would love to try to “go up on Tuesday,” I love all 3 of my children. So let’s squash that now. It was never lack of love but lack of mothering skills that I thought I wouldn’t be enough for them.

mothers

My pregnancy with each of my children were all different. Each pregnancy came with their own sets of issues. The bonding with each child also was different too. That is fine as I believe to this day that the difference with having 3 kids should always be taken into consideration with how they are raised. However when you add in the birthing experience and nursing, pumping or bottle feeding and all the things you must quickly learn, the natural instinct didn’t kick in like folks tried to sell me. Some folks said once the baby was out of your womb you would just feel like you had been having kids all your life. I have to STAWP you there, that didn’t happen. I felt like I was tired all of my life. I felt like I was overwhelmed all my life. I felt like I was not prepared all my life, but not one time did I feel like a champ of motherhood just from birthing my kids. I needed so much guidance. I got to shout out the mothers.  I don’t mean just women who have babies. I am talking about the old mothers that we lack today. It’s rare to find a mother of Zion like the old folks used to call them that would give you advice, had enough tenacity to listen, and be there for younger mothers. You see that, teach AND listen. It’s a lost art.

We love to tell folks that don’t have kids how great it will be. It is great if you are talking about the overall sense of accomplishment. We fail to tell folks the real of what to expect. Handing me my oldest child in the hospital came as a shock.  I didn’t get to connect with her right after birth due to her being premature and that made me feel like I had no clue who she was. I felt more connected to her in the womb than outside. Reality hit me like a ton on bricks. I knew how to feed her and told myself well the other things would come. It did but those first few months as she was sick, listening to everyone tell me what I was supposed to do didn’t feel as organic as everyone suggested.  I really wish I could go back and set a few folks straight about a few things. Having a baby is an outer body experience. There are more times that I felt like I didn’t know what to do or who I was becoming. That has nothing to do with the actual child but the preconception of what I believed as a mother in the early years. News flash, even after the 3rd child I still wondered if I having another one was a good idea. It was obviously, but that feeling of natural instinct is always shuttered by doubt and lack of information.

crescent moon and cloud wind chimes

Photo by NIKOLAY OSMACHKO on Pexels.com

I really hope that other mothers who I KNOW FOR A FACT have gone through this, would be honest. It’s not a lack of love for your child (ren) but its a lack of trusting in yourself or lack of information to the new expectations of motherhood. So let’s mark false to all mothers having this natural nurturing ways about them as soon as they birth. Overtime you get better. Over time you develop what your child needs. So although our womanly body is “made” to birth babies, the mind and the body and the emotions have to link together to make the whole experience better.  I applaud all women to understand that above thinking that it will all just come together like a jigsaw puzzle on its own.

Ask Toi: How do I deal with my Parents thinking I’m not following old school parenting with my own kids?!

This is multilayered. This could have come up if you’re making comments about new school parenting is better. It can come up if you do something that an old school parent thinks is too new school. It could come up if you ask for advice from old school parent but then do the opposite.

Depending on when it comes up is how you proceed. There’s no doubt that old school parents believe and hold to their old school values. That can be from diapering to discipline. So if you are stating how better the new school way is better often times old school parents hear “you think you’re a better parent,” or they hear, “you think my ways are wrong.”

If the argument of who is better comes up during a time when the new school parent does something in front of an old school parent that could mess with the new school parent and you think you’re not good enough. You may feel pressure for approval and it can mess you up if you aren’t feeling it. If you ever ask an old school parent advice and then don’t take it, it could come off as a “why you ask?!” This is probably the most irritating interactions.

So here’s the thing:

1. Parenting is subjective: you won’t ever get to the point where you feel 100% feel that you are quite finding your rhythm and old school parents are super high fiving you! It would be nice but not everyone has that happy mesh.

2. Old school and new old school ways are within you. You will fuse them but only how much depends on you.

3. Try not to take everything said to heart. Between your own parents and finding your way and the world with their long laundry list of to dos and not to do it will be hard to find your actual way. It’s okay!

4. Trust your instinct-this is hard but necessary

When I had my first child she was born 6 weeks early and had to stay a few days in the NICU. I was fortunate that it wasn’t a longer stay. I relied on my own mother to guide me. She gave me basic parenting skills. However my child had a lot of health issues therefore I had to rely on the doctors for a lot that first couple of years. Probably more than I would have all things considered. A lot of folks was knocking me for it. I trusted my instinct, and did some give and take with those around me. I pushed through! You’re not choosing one side over the over. You’re choosing what you need to feel successful in parenting. Also it’s okay that old school won’t agree. Parenting comes with thick skin. Take things with a grain of salt. No the things that our parents did when we were younger will work now, times have changed but what’s the same is wanting better for your child, keeping them safe and healthy, and working hard to provide. Be gentle with yourself but stand strong in your decisions.

Heat Ain’t Stop the Show

So Philly is experiencing a heat wave. We are in a Red alert. So with that being said hydration is our friend. Staying cool and protected is the name of the game.

There are several events happening this weekend. I took the liberty of researching the options for the month and have linked my husband and I’s calendar to be in sync with the activities. This doesn’t mean that we will attend them all but at least we are aware. Today we decided to attend #phillyscoopfest. It is an ice-cream festival that has many vendors, some samples, music from all diversity, and it was located this year inside the Reading Terminal.

Little secret, I have never been to the Reading Terminal before. I know, I know why?! I’m not sure. But that is a thing of a past. I was there which is super surprising as much as I love my hometown market and one would think I would have ran to the Reading Terminal but nope! I finally made my presence known.

My family and I walked around and our first stop I tried a pineapple basil from Mom Pops. I loved it. They were dairy free, gluten free, everything free but what wasn’t free? Taste. I loved it. Since taking dairy out of my diet I’ve always on the hunt for non dairy dessert. The gentleman gave me a lot of coupons that I’ll be using going forward.

My kids all had a strawberry banana popsicle and I doubt they heard everything that was taken out of them and finished it before we made it to Bassett’s and we had such great ice-cream. I elected to have sorbet for the reasons already stated. It was good. The kids enjoyed their cups and my husband his cone. The staff was super organized and treated us well.

We made our way to enjoy our icecream and listen to music which was my personal highlight of the event! They also had prizes, a kid spot, tables to enjoy your icecream and food and it was great to see the diversity and fun without drama!!

Also if you purchase something at a vendor for at least 10 dollars they validate your parking for a discount. So all together it costs us 5 dollars for parking, for almost 30 of ice-cream, and memories were made for a family of 5 that is a win!!

After going to a friends house warming we decided to give the kids a break and recoup before heading to the Fireworks at Penn’s Landing. Naps went over and we missed the Army Band’s performance. Listen parking in Philadelphia is no joke and definitely during a holiday weekend. It took about 20 or so minutes to find a non paying spot but we found one.

The crowd was plentiful. From Spruce Street Harbor to the actual fireworks it was a great night!

So here’s to more events, family time, and not letting anxiety hold me into the house!

Good Reports: My Hysterectomy Update

So I’ve blogged about having a full hysterectomy last year. Although it might be quite private for some, this was one of the best things that happened to me. It helped me to push my life in the right direction.

I’ve been super honest about the journey. I’ve talked about how I started to attempt to lose weight and then hit a wall. I found that I was getting a lot of the areas of my health in line and then bam I was sick, having horrible headaches, and my cycle was so off it made no sense.

After losing so much blood and my blood being so low and at the point of having a second dose of iron infusions, I decided to have a complete work up. I went to two specialists who worked together and came up with the plan and because of them and always God my life has improved tremendously. My hematologist walked me to my OBGYN specialist in person and we all sat down together and came up with a plan. They were hands on and made sure I didn’t feel stuck.

Yesterday I went to the doctors and was told that everything looked great. I had lost the weight and more, my body had healed, and that I was the model patient. I also had a note from the nurses who said I was a joy and made them laugh even though I was in so much pain. To be honest that had to be more pain medication induced than anything. I also was told that I would still need to come back to have my exam done but that I didn’t need to send off anything to a lab since go figure there is no uterus. Such a great turn from last year when I was at my wit’s end, sleeping all the time, etc.

Sleep Patterns

So let me tell you real of what I had to get used to while I healed. There are a lot of women who have had and will have a hysterectomy for various reasons. I personally had already had my tubes tied before the surgery and yet I felt a weird sense of lost after the surgery. I had various dreams of babies quite often and if you add that my body’s clock was off, the insomnia took over the first few weeks. I was sleeping like a baby. No not let men do (some) when a new baby comes home, the kind where day is night and night is day type of sleep. I didn’t regulate my sleep pattern until well over 2 months and I had been back to work by then. It may have been well into 3 months after the surgery.

Sex

Please like I’ve said if you’re coming to read this part to hear about my bedroom secrets let me stop you now! Sex does change after surgery. Some women experience dryness that makes sex super painful. Some have no drive. A lot of that depends on the healing process. Let me also note if your doctor hasn’t cleared you don’t try it. That means do NOT have any form of sex or place anything in your vaginal area. If you do you will regret it. Get a new hobby as you heal. Make your partner wait a minute too. It’s either that or find yourself back in the hospital or injured! It ain’t worth it! Sex was the last thing on my mind during healing. I was trying to master things like getting in and out of bed, going to the bathroom, and pain management! I had zero issues waiting. However my paranoia did creep in once I was cleared. I did have to find a good rhythm and relax. I was scared that there would be a lot of pain. My husband and I waited 1-2 more weeks after I was cleared.

Hair Growth/Hair Falling Out

My hair didn’t fall out. That is a blessing. I honestly thought it would since I had braids AND when I was postpartum with my kids my hair was falling out in clumps. I figured hey this surgery is sending me into menopause surely my hair is going to hit the floor! It did not!! However I found hair in other unwanted areas. It has leveled out and I personally think it had a lot to do with me being on hormone replacement therapy patches for a while. I got off of that soon after the hair discovery subsided and also it caused me to have heart palpitations. I thought there’s no way I’m going to look like a Chia Pet and feel like I’m having a heart attack too!

Weight Gain

After I had lost quite a bit of weight before the surgery I was paranoid that I would look pregnant as I recovered. I had a plan! I ate what I wanted for the first few weeks and by few I really mean 2! Uber Eats got all my money after my husband went back to work. Standing to prep food or cook was team too much! However I could use my strength to track those deliveries answer make my way to the door. After that food fun was over I stuck to the portion size and types of food for the remainder of the time since working out was out of the question.

Do I still get hot flashes? Yes. I think they honestly started back up in the last month. I had several months where it didn’t happen at all. I do think with the start of the new job and adjusting is contributing to the increase of the flashes. I am confident I will level out soon!

Overall I would do it again. I had 3 c-section with my 3 kids and I felt like I was prepared for the surgery and knew what to expect. Thankfully due to a little prep I had everything ready after I came home too. Shout out to Dr. M for all that he has done. I’m glad of the support of my family and friends during the journey. Now I’m just glad to be able to live a true healthy life! I’m glad that unlike many women who find themselves having to have a hysterectomy that I have my 3 kids. Not every women will experience childbirth and I’m grateful. Again I encourage all to be on top of their health. If something isn’t right or doesn’t feel right then speak up. I don’t even want to think would could have been had I not put myself first!

My Mother’s Day hope for my children

I absolutely love being a mom. I get so much flak about what I do but honestly I love the tight schedules, the prep, and the joy from being on point with them. I’ve learned from trial and error that there is no perfect Mom. So there are many more times now where I can look at my to do list and roll my eyes and get it done at a later time. That’s major for me! I do a lot of self care to get through! However with my children when I look back at the memories we have created it makes me have some reference in the art of being a mom. Here is what I want for them:

  1. To be dope and know it: this means that they understand what they bring to any table, own a room and never compromise themselves for anyone!
  2. To be respectful but stern: I want them to give respect and command it but handle habitual line steppers! There is no settling for bad behavior for any reason not even from me! Gasp! How can I teach them if I’m dishing it and hiding behind “I’m your mom so I can mentality?”
  3. To be what they want! This is such a large statement and I pray daily to enlarge my love even in the areas of disappointment. I know it’s coming and I would hate to be the type of mom who turned their back on their kids when they needed me most!
  4. To love themselves! This is a daily thing! I want them to show themselves they are worthy so anyone friend or foe will know how to treat them!
  5. To make a stand! I’ve always been one to go against the grain and I can stand even alone! I need to be passionate about what they believe in!
  6. For long lives- I pray that they can live out their dreams and that this world doesn’t kill their spirit with all the negativity and foolery that is around

Of course there’s more for them I desire! But if I can raise them to love God, love themselves, and show love towards others while commanding respect and not taking a bunch of crap along the way, I’ve done my job! I’m not the usual mom! I’m okay with that! My husband and I’s job isn’t to have a bunch of folks stand in agreement with us. It’s our job to create a home full of love, acceptance, guidance and a few side eyes along the way!

No one laughs harder than our home and we will do what we can to keep it that way! I love my children and grateful I was chosen to be their mom!!

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms near and far!!

Motherhood the No Manual Life

So Mother’s Day is coming up and we as moms will be thanked for all the things that we do. But I need to take a pause on the things that we as mom get, the no manual life.

There is no manual yet a thousand fingers point in telling you how it should be done. They tell you what’s acceptable and what’s not. Outside of neglect and abuse these fingers that point don’t get how much all the criticism breaks you down.

When I first became a mom my daughter was sick due to being born 6 weeks early. All of a sudden I had a thousand folks telling me how to dress her, how to stay home and never go out, how I was doing it wrong and I was gonna mess around and make her worse. The crazy part is that due to her health I had to rely on my doctor and even with following every protocol, guess what? She was hospitalized too many times to count. I sat in the hospital with great support BUT the ones pointing their fingers wasn’t visiting or calling to check on the baby. The same ones wasn’t lifting a finger. My second hospital visit I made up my mind to trust my instincts and that I wasn’t allowing folks to tell me what to do with my baby.

Now don’t get it twisted that didn’t mean I wasn’t listening to sound advice. It simply meant I wasn’t allowing folks to stress me with their bad advice who wasn’t going through what I went through nor had they been around a preemie who had asthma and all that it entails. It meant walking away mid sentence when people crossed the line. It meant shaking my head and disregarded 80% of folks. It meant not even giving information to people who too many times would only want to know so I could hear later down the line “you know she messing that baby up.”

Guess what?! As I ignored the negativity, my confidence spiked. I was able to let my guard down and enjoy motherhood. I was able to develop my own protocols. My daughter and I became closer. We were a pair and we were happy and eventually healthy. She will be 9 this month and my support system has changed but not by much. The reason is simple, smaller tighter circles is how I roll. Simple parenting works for me. No more high stress. And now with 2 more kids since my first one, we are doing quite well.

Every first time mom I encourage them to trust themselves. To get around like-minded parents or those with sound advice that works for them. To worry less about trying to please everyone! There is no manual but you can get through those first years weeding out the bad or outdated information. You can mix some old school with new! You can trust yourself!