I was 18 when I married and barely 20 when I gave birth to my first child. (I narrowly escaped the title of teenage mother). I was outwardly full of confidence, but inwardly completely ignorant. In many ways, I still held the attitudes of a teenager in the sense that I was determined to do things the opposite of my parents just to prove that I was an individual. This left me feeling pretty alone, so I looked to books and experts to tell me what was best for my baby.
I became a regular in the parenting section of the local Barnes and Noble . I would grab an "Everything" bagel at neighboring Noah's Bagels in the Fremont Hub and then head next door and just park myself there for hours, reading every parenting book I could find. (Money was too tight to actually buy books and the internet still involved a dial-up connection). Many of my friends were raving about the "What to Expect..." series of books. Wouldn't it be cool to just read a book written by an expert on babies that would tell me exactly what to do at every juncture of the first 2 years? Then there was Ferber, promising to "Solve Your (my) Child's Sleep Problems," once and for all.
Half of the women in my family felt that the most important thing I could do was to "get that baby on a schedule". My grandma said "When you have a baby, there is nothing else to do." I was overwhelmed, confused, stressed, and a little desperate.
The two topics that I was struggling with the most were how to get this boy to sleep and how to get him to eat. I was breastfeeding exclusively and co-sleeping, both of which were uncharted territory in my inner circle. In the midst of this confusion, I sought help from a gifted Lactation Consultant named Jannaki Costello. I sought her out as another expert, someone I was hoping would tell me WHAT TO DO. How long do I feed this baby? Do I let him sleep, or wake him up? How do I know if he is getting enough? Will I screw him up for life if I overfeed him? Jannaki didn't tell me any of those things, she simply said "Be a baby watcher, not a clock watcher. You are the expert on your baby"
I am not suggesting that I never read another book or consulted another doctor. I love to learn new things and stay abreast of the latest research. But now, I wasn't easily shaken or confused by the variety of opinions out there. I sought specific knowledge that I needed to BECOME the expert on my child and I applied with prudence only those pieces which I knew would serve me and my family best. I saw my doctor as a valuable source of medical advice and diagnostic expertise. I received his recommendations with gratitude and respect. That doesn't mean I always followed them. I recognized that he was the expert on medicine, but I was the expert on my son. He presented me with information and choices, and I ultimately decided what action I would take.
We must BECOME the experts on ourselves and our families. We must restore not just the happiness and health of Moms, but the confidence as well. We must re-enthrone Mom as the expert on herself and her children. Many women live under the false assumption that their doctor or their psychiatrist are the experts. They are not. They cannot be. They do not know you or your child as intimately as you know them.
When you visit your doctor, he visits with you for 5-7 minutes if you are lucky. More likely than not, you don't even see him. You meet with his medical assistant or nurse. In that 5-7 minutes, he is supposed to diagnose your problems and prescribe the right solution. We put so much faith in the doctor's ability to get it right every time that we obey them with God-like reverence and then sue them for millions if it doesn't work out. That is not fair to doctors or patients. Doctors are pretty honest about their expertise...after all their business is called a PRACTICE. They are still practicing....on you. They have not arrived an omnipotence or omniscience. They are not responsible for our health. It is an illusion created by modern society to help us feel safe, as if our lives are in the skilled hands of someone else who is All powerful and all-knowing.
The reality is that every single individual is responsible for their own health and well being. There are many experts in many areas, but only one expert in YOU. What if you don't feel like an expert? That's okay, the only real choice is for you to become the expert on you. Educate yourself, listen to your body, watch your family carefully, and equip yourself with powerful tools to aid in healing. Seek expertise and advice when needed, but never again surrender your innate knowledge and power to an outside expert. Heal yourself first, then use what you learn to reach out and bless the lives of those you care for.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
I talked to to a friend the other day who is really struggling with depression and burnout. Let's call her Jill. She's been struggling for a number of years. Jill has worked in the mental health field, so she knows what she's dealing with. She knows what the prescription options are enough to know she doesn't want those. She even has a pretty good understanding of how to take control of her situation naturally. Nutrition. Sleep. Exercise. Sunshine. Essential Oils. So why doesn't she just do it? Why don't we all just do it?
I observed an interesting phenomenon on this blog. When I shared the story of my depression, there were hundreds of page views. Everyone identified with my suffering. When I shared the simple solutions to my depression, the steps I took to climb out of that pit, there were less than 20 views. I've spent the last couple of months wondering why that is. When so many people are suffering, why not make the change? I think it can be summed up in one word.
Overwhelm. In a world where there is so much going on all of the time, especially for you, my audience, who are mothers, you simply do not have the time or energy to do one more thing, even if it's the thing that will save your life. As mothers, you are the hub of the home. You are the fixed point around which everything else rotates. The children, the meals, the budget, the cleaning, the driving, the doctors appointments, the school work, the church activities, and a hundred other things. Given that load, how could you possibly take on one more thing?
It reminds me of the book "If you Give a Pig a Pancake".
Are you familiar with it? It's a hilarious children's book full of circular logic.
Here's a small excerpt:
"If you give a pig a pancake. she'll want some syrup to go with it. You'll give her some of your favorite maple syrup. She'll probably get all sticky.so she'll want to take a bath. So she'll ask you for some bubbles. When you give her the bubbles, she'll probably ask you for a toy. You'll have to find your rubber ducky. The duck with remind her of the farm where she was born. she might feel homesick and want to visit her family...."
And it goes on and on and on. The pig's needs are endless. Everything the girl does to try and help simply creates another need until finally at the end of the story, the girl is tired and exasperated and the pig is hungry all over again! Sound familiar? When you as a mother are struggling with depression or anxiety, that's how life feels-like an endless, bottomless pit of needs that cannot possibly be filled. Susie needs a friend. Joey needs help with math. Sally's had a runny nose for a month. Totally spaced the dental cleanings 2 months ago. Make cute treats for the class Halloween party. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. And since we are afraid that the needs can never be met, we stand still and choose not to even try.
But what if it's not endless and it's not hopeless and it's not hard? What if your perception has been all wrong?
My experience with healing from depression and obesity has been exactly the opposite of the pig. My experience has been that as soon as we take the first tiny step, the clouds part and the light shines in. When the light shines in, we feel more hope. When we feel more hope, we have more energy. When we have more energy, we take more action. When we take more action, life just keeps getting better and better and better. It's not a simple addition problem. My health is at a -10 and so I must take 20 steps to get to a positive 10. It is more like exponents. I am at a -10 and I take one step and God multiplies it and magnifies it until my tiny step has become a giant leap.
So my question for you today is this:
"What is holding you back? What is keeping you from taking the first step? How long have your health challenges been an issue? What are they costing you and your family? In money, time, relationships, and joy?"
I want to invite you to join me on a free webinar on Thursday, October 23 at 7:00pm MST. I will share my experience and much of the research that led me to choose the path I did to deal with mood and focus issues for myself and my family. Click the link below for details and to request samples of the essential oils I like best for mood support to try yourself.