Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Charming Tale: My Latest Pet Peeve

All they talk about is their baby!*
They used to be able to hang out.
My friends are getting married and having babies and I'm here living my dream on the beach. I win! 
She/He seems exhausted all the time.
She/He  used to be so passionate about her career.
I’m so sick of hearing about baby stuff!
While all my friends are getting married and having babies and shit, I'm over here like: I'M IN SCHOOL BITCHES!
Everyone's over here like hey I'm having babies and I'm like hey who wants to get drunk and travel the world?

And my least favorite of all: “All my friends are having babies and I’m just trying to figure out where to travel next!” *

So I might get in a little bit of hot water over here but I want to deconstruct these phrases or even this way of thinking. These memes I find all over social media and the internet are the opposite of kind.  I can’t tell you how many people have said to me, “All they talk about is their baby. UGH!!!” They think I will empathize due to the fact that I DO NOT HAVE KIDS however I have felt myself cringing every time. I feel confused about why they are complaining about their friend’s newest member of the family. 

And here’s the thing, a woman who has just had a baby is a total bad ass. Let’s break it down. She has literally had a human life push it’s way out of her vaginal canal. Or had a little baby air-lifted magically via the C section. Either way she has gone through A LOT.  Why are we mad about this?  A woman has just given LIFE. Her entire body and brain has never gone through anything this dramatic and miraculous. EVER.

I recently had someone verbally gag when I said I was going to a baby shower and she said, “UGH, I mean are you into that kind of thing?”

Um…you mean procreation? You mean populating the earth?

I didn’t know what to say.

I can’t handle how straight up rude it is for people to disrespect women who are pregnant with babies or just had a baby and now want them to go right back to talking about their careers and passions and how they will lose the baby weight. I want to literally pull my hair out.

How would we feel if a baby squirted poop on us all day and was stuck to our nipple all day? How would our ears feel after hearing screaming all day? And then to have our friend come over and think it’s not glamorous enough for his/her taste. It makes me crazzzzyyyy. Her focus isn't on her latest hobbies or her most fun passions right now because she’s keeping a baby alive for crying out loud.

We need to give her some support. Tell her she’s a bad ass and remind her that we are not a shallow duck of a friend. And for that matter, let's give new fathers some support. When I told Scott about the memes he was offended for new mothers and fathers alike! 

It can't be easy for someone to watch the person they are madly in love with go through the kind of pain labor can bring on. It can't be easy to hear the woman you believe to be stunning, harshly critique all the changes her body is going through. If fathers-to-be want to talk about their partner's birth plan I think this should be okay. 

And as it's becoming increasingly more normal for men to stay at home with their babies as their partners pursue their career I think we should applaud this rather than resent the fact that these fathers are exhausted and talk about their babies all day long. From my work experience,  I've encountered lots of stay at home dads or dads who have full custody. They are so passionate about their kids from everything to their first words, their first steps, what they fed them and what kinds of toys they like and their education. Of course they aren't going to be able to grab a beer on a random week night when they have spent all day with their new baby and have to start all over again the next morning bright and early.  

Why would we act like we are so much better and cooler cause what…we can travel and we don’t have a baby screaming in our ears and gripping our boob?! 

So maybe breast feeding versus baby formula, cloth diapers versus disposable diapers aren’t your favorite subjects! But guess what? Is the DMV, paying student loans and doing dishes your favorite subject? No! But it's part of life. This is a new parent's world now and they are responsible for the tiny life they hold. (A little more significant than keeping our cars alive and dishes clean I might add)

If our friend went through cancer or a job loss or bought a brand new house or went on a big trip, would we be rude and say "I'm sick of hearing about your interviews, job applications, chemotherapy, or culturally diverse food!" It’s so inconsiderate. And yet we do it. I hear it all the time. 

Why is it okay to talk poorly of new mothers or fathers?! This is the season the mother or father is in and why can’t we embrace this season and hold them through it. It can be extremely hard and isolating as well as rewarding and exciting. But it certainly should not be met with patronizing statements.

 Why are we dissecting every new mother's move and every choice like she’s a celebrity in People Magazine. We discuss whether or not she went back to work. Whether she breast fed or not.  We discuss her weight and how amazing it was that she “lost the baby fat”. All the while she did something far more miraculous, inspiring and life changing than do a “before and after” shot. Let’s all remember she had to gain weight to BIRTH LIFE. 

And just a side note: those who have the resources and means to travel are lucky and are rare. Just because we ARE NOT having kids doesn’t mean we necessarily get to travel. Most don’t come from such a state of privilege in which recreational and personal travel is the norm. So while not intentional, we are hurting recent mothers/fathers AND those who cannot afford to travel for fun. The population I work with can only dream of that kind of luxury. It doesn’t mean they are any less independent, strong or free than us, it just means they don’t have the income for that plane ticket. And let's be real; mothers and fathers travel too because their babies can fly for free so it's quite extreme to declare that one gets to travel INSTEAD of having babies. Some do both. Some do neither. Let's be kind to all. 

In conclusion, let’s cut these new mothers some slack and stop saying, “All they talk about is their kids or babies!”

God forbid they would talk about the human life they brought forth. Am I right?!

It’s not okay to downplay something as special and meaningful as having kids. They are sacrificing a lot of themselves to have them and I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. 

Many of our moms did this for us. My mom did it for me! And guess what...she also went on to travel, write a book, get her Masters degree, her PhD and be a professor. But I can assure you she wasn't telling new moms to stop talking about their babies or bragging about her next travel adventure and calling people bitches. Good grief, she's much too classy for that.

I think if anything we can celebrate them and communicate our needs and wants with them (because after all, friendship is a two way street). If our friend who just had a baby goes MIA for an entire year, we have some space to say something! And if we are truly going through a grieving process about not having children, or finding someone we want to grow a family with, rather than saying "I win! I'm at the beach!" maybe talk to a safe friend, check in with a therapist, ask God to help you face the loss rather than make everyone else feel bad about having children. And if you happen to be someone who has decided not to have children, that is okay too! But that doesn't give us a right to judge those who are having children. 

And just for the record, all my friends ARE having babies and I be like YAY!!! And also, want to see 500 pictures of my new puppy?!

*I would like to note that being a mother or father is not the only identity one may have. One can be a parent as well as a creator, artist, writer, doctor, educator, sister, brother, daughter, son, friend and etc. I am not advocating that a female or male's significant role is only motherhood/fatherhood. We are all shot through with the divine and are image bearers of God. 
** Also how is "my friends are having babies" and now "I'm traveling" connected? It doesn't make sense. People with babies travel. People without babies travel. It's like two phrases that don't belong together. It'd be like if I said, " People be brushing their teeth... I'm gonna buy a goat" Or "People be farmers....I'm gonna go be a doctor" Or "People be in school...I just be farting" Or "People loving that beach life....I be like gonna go grab a coffee" Or "Going to the gym.... I be like I just bought a puppy!!!" Or "People be itching their butts....I be like I slept for 10 hours!"  Or make me stop pleaseeeee....

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Last Minute Therapy Intervention When You Are Running Low On Creativity

It's nearing the end of the school year you guys! Kids are taking tests, going on field trips and planning their summers. As a school-site based therapist I am doing more paperwork, closing out files and filling out end of the year forms. With all of this, sometimes it's tricky to think of something creative and fun to do with our clients as we head into summer.

So I decided to create a calm collages! What are they exactly? Basically they are a collage of pictures a that inspire feelings of calmness and relaxation for your client.

You will need:

A pair of scissors
A glue stick

What I do is go through the magazines beforehand and cut out images that I think might be calming or relaxing. I do this so that in session we don't spend the whole time just flipping through a magazine discussing celebrities or agonizing about what actually makes us feel calm.

I also do this because I would rather "screen" (especially working with elementary aged kids) what kind of content they see. I don't want them to have to feel inferior as they flip through endless pages of massive homes and perfectly clean and decorated rooms (how I love you HGTV) or pictures of celebrities before and after shots of weight loss. Ugh. #notcalming

After you've cut out a whole piles of magazine clippings you can just have them ready in case you want to use this intervention at a moment's notice or feel that it would benefit your client if they are feeling especially stressed out, anxious or angry. It's also a great thing to give them before they head into the summer. They can hang it up in their room and look at it when they are feeling big feelings. It's a very fun way for them to access their coping skills rather than just writing down a list in pencil.

You can introduce the intervention anyway you want. Sometimes having them close their eyes and practice deep breathing is a good way to start brainstorming about coping skills that help calm. Or you can jump right in! Depending on how large your paper is, have them pick 5-10 images that inspire the feeling of calm. You can play music or just talk while they choose images and then paste them to their paper. After this is done, I have them discuss why they chose their images. And that's it!

I made one as well for example and because yes I need a calm collage too. With my upcoming exam quickly approaching I too need to be reminded of what relaxes and calms me. My collage includes:

Washi Tape
A Bubble Bath

If I was to add one more thing, it would be my puppy Lenny when he is sleepy. He is quite wild when he is not tired so that can be more activating than relaxing. My mornings with sleepy fuzzy Lenny when he is just waking up are some of my favorite!

What things help you feel calm? What are your go-to therapy interventions?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Puppy Love

We have a puppy!!!

Amidst working two jobs and studying for my MFT licensure exam I have felt swallowed up in the hustle and bustle of it all. I have felt like I am underground and my hope is that I'll come up for air come June after I've taken the exam. 

But I simply have to tell you about our newest family member and share some pictures. While raising a puppy is quite a bit of work I can't think of something more comforting, cozy and calming then coming home to our little Lenny after a long day.

We received Leonard about 2 months ago from a local animal shelter. Apparently little Lenny was a stray wondering around either in Mexico or Imperial County before he was picked up. Their best guess was that he was about 4 months old. And his breed is a total wild card but he is supposedly a mix between a shepherd, pug and beagle. 

I am SO grateful we are able to rescue the little guy and give him a forever home. We are madly in love (almost embarrassingly so). He has brought us so much happiness and laughter. I can't imagine being without a dog now. Here are a few pictures!