I wanted to take a brief minute to thank my readers for enduring my long absence from my mission of addressing isolation and postpartum depression. I have had some medical issues that have consumed my daily life. I have been struggling to care for my daughter and myself, and have been increasingly stressed about working my new job and the coming semester. I am seeking treatment for my pain now, and have had some encouraging results in this preliminary stage of recovery. Besides the issues I have been having, life has been wonderful. We are really focusing on living an intentional life, which in light of my medical issues needs to include a radical shift in priorities surrounding my health. For Janet, and for myself, I have to find a way to make taking care of my body and mind a priority. More to come as things arise. I am so happy to be back in this new year, focused and ready to take on this ebook, and most importantly, reminding women everywhere they aren’t alone.
Why do I keep going to classes, working part time, and being a full time caregiver if it’s so difficult? For my daughter, of course. I need to set an example for her, showing her with more than words that adversity doesn’t mean you have to give up. I want her to look at me and know that nothing worth having is ever easy, including raising a strong willed child. She will grow up knowing that just because someone or something stands in the way of a dream, you don’t have to give up on the destination. Sometimes you just have to take a different road to get there, and that’s ok. Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. I do it for my daughter, so she might understand her own challenges ahead, and know that she can deal with whatever comes.
I do it for you, my baby.
This is the honest truth of the matter- mothers are the worst when it comes to the blame and shame game. We blame other mothers, and are the largest contributer to the feelings of judgement and shame. We feel shame for leaving our kids in daycare, and shame for staying home and not bringing home the bacon. We feel shame for choosing breastfeeding by people who think it is sexual, gross , or indecent, but if a woman chooses to bottle feed or supplement with formula she is selfish or inadequate . We blame ourselves, and feel judgement from everyone, and yet we dish it out on others. We need to stop blaming and shaming each other. We don’t need to add the feeling of inaduqesy to the overwhelming burden of postpartum depression.
This is just a small tribute to some of the documentaries, podcasts, books and people who have made my life as a mother easier and more enjoyable. I owe them so much, it is difficult to explain and quantify. First, the author of Hip Mama and founder of HipMama.com Ariel Gore got me through the early days of motherhood. Through her experiences, and the insight of other mothers just like me on her podcasts, blogs, and selected readings on the website, I was able to survive my postpartum lows. It is an essential read for every mother. She gave me hope in myself at the times when I wondered if I would ever be good enough for Janet, and helped me realize that no matter how inadequate I feel at times, Janet wanted and loved me, not some other women who could have “done better for her”.
When surfing through Netflix one day while nursing Janet on my lap, I noticed the a title ‘Minimalisum, a Documentary About the Important Things.’, which caught my eye. I watched it once. Then again. Later I watched it a third time with my husband the same night when he got back form work. It was as if they were speaking just to me. I looked around at my chaos that caused me such stress, the house, shed and storage unit I could never clean and organize, the heaps of laundry, the dozens of unpacked boxes from moving to our home we hadn’t touched in over a year other than to shift positions in the room. This was it. I consumed all of their books and podcast shows so quickly it should have given me indigestion. I felt like I knew what I had to do, all at once for myself and for my family. Eight months later, I have gotten rid of over half our furniture we crammed into our home (it didn’t fit in our small space, I’m not just chucking furniture out the door!), as well as over sixty industrial sized garbage bags of things we didn’t use or need. Every item I’ve removed from our life has made room for things that actually matter, like spending time with my family, working on my novel and finishing up my degree. It has cut cleaning time down a ton, and we are still slowly going through things as we organize our home. It is a never ending task, assessing what is essential. If you get great value out of an armata of unused items and keepsakes in every closet, drawer and garage, then please keep them. Personally, I get more value out of a cleaner home, more time with my family, and less stress when I get home. Also written by the Minimalists, “Everything that Remains” and “Minimalism” are available in e book, audio book and print. Don’t forget to pass it on when your done with the book!
Through the side hustle podcast episode of the Minimalist Podcast (which is on Youtube, as well as Itunes), I found the books the “100 Dollar Start Up”, and “Side Hustle” written by Chris Guillbeau (available in print e book and audio book forms). These books changed my ideas about what someone who was as busy as I am could accomplish. It changed how I term ‘success’, and forced me to reevaluate what could be attainable. I learned that it’s possible to work hard sometimes so we can have the things that matter, no matter the rest of a persons schedule might look like. Sometimes in order to get something done, no matter if it’s starting a business or a passion project, sometimes all you need to do is sit down and do something. Peck away at it. Even ten minutes a day, and start something even if you don’t think it’s perfect. It probably won’t be perfect in fact, and that’s ok. You might win and you might fall flat on your face, but if you do nothing, you’ll be excluding yourself from the race. The bottom line is, you have to do something if you want anything to change. See the listing of ways to make a legitimate income from home on the side (coming soon!). There is no downside to having a second income, even a small one. By diversifying your income, it gives you more choices, more personal and financial freedom, and of course, more money.
“The Baby Book”, and others from the parenting library written by Doctor Sears has proven to be a must have in our lives. I don’t agree with everything in any child rearing book I have read, including this series, nor to I believe that anyone should blindly fallow another persons parenting philosophy without applying their own thoughts to it and tweaking it to suit their lives, but I believe they lay out a lot of good ideas on connection, feeding and bonding. I went through this book with a highlighter before my daughter was born (I was obsessed with learning as much as possible to be the best mother I could be). They have such detailed, yet easy to understand and apply parenting ideas, as well as nursing tips, personal stories from other parents, and so much more. I like that they employ an atmosphere of personal choice, without shaming those who don’t have the ability or desire to do it “their way”. They give you the tools, and you can take them of leave them.
I have found a variety of unexpected inspirations for parenting and living as a family in seemingly unrelated topics. In the homesteading and simple living Youtube channel “Dirtpatcheaven”, I found some really solid advice and insight into what is superfluous in family life. In this day and age, it is so easy to forget what is actually necessary to get through. It is refreshing to see a family like theirs (and if you want to learn how to flip houses, live frugally, travel with kids, or basically any farming task imaginable, look them up!)
I also found the Youtube series “Living Big in a Tiny House”, not only interesting and chock full of creative design ideas (and general coolness), but also because it showed me over and over again that living within your means and with the people who matter in your life can be more valuable than the short term purchase high. It reminds me to play the long game rather than giving in to the anchoring debt of living beyond your means, and for all intensive purposes, trading the purchase of huge status symbols (like over priced and oversized cars and homes) and little knickknacks for happiness.
Note: This is an ongoing list. This can’t possibly cover all of the invaluable inspirations of our family life, but these are perhaps some of the most prevalent at the moment. Keep an eye out for our second recommendations and inspiration page, coming soon!