Friday night I had a holiday Secret Santa party with some women friends. All moms. All divorced. All single. All unique! The youngest age 42, the oldest age 57. Collectively, we are the mothers of more than 20 children, ranging in ages 13 to 30. Our rather small group consists of women who work full-time, part-time, spend time volunteering, or have returned to school to pursue new passions or who were forced to begin new careers in order to pay the bills. The personalities of these amazing women are as diverse as their career paths, life narratives and their beverage of choice.
During the party, I looked around at the 10 gorgeous, intelligent, courageous, eclectic group of women and I thought about the crazy and wonderful stories we had shared over the last few years since we had formed our little posse. Stories of obstacles and joys, worries and regrets, accomplishments and love gone bad, of faith and profound heartbreak. I wondered about all they had experienced that were in part, what had eventually led them to be seated in my living room, surrounded by holiday decorations, laughing and gossiping, playing Cards of Humanity, and having a few cocktails as we celebrated the season.
The next day my phone was pinging away as texts from each arrived to thank me for hosting and for having a jolly good time. And included in all of the texts was a similar version of the sentiment, “I am so thankful for our little village….you all feel like family.” I suddenly realized the common denominator of our group; true compassion and understanding of the heartbreak of divorce. Similar to childbirth, a woman really doesn’t know what it’s like unless she’s experienced it. Women can be supportive and compassionate, but true empathy and understanding comes from the shared experience.
Most of us in our group have stories of friendships suddenly gone belly up and of being excluded by people we thought were friends in the post-divorce confusion and dust-settling. People take sides. It’s what happens. And it hurts. In this season of celebrating family and friends, perhaps we can expand our idea of what ‘family’ is to include those people in our lives who give unconditionally, who don’t judge, who accept us for who we are with all of our dents, our limitations, our vulnerabilities. In this season of giving and receiving, we have discovered we have been given one of the greatest gifts of all; the gift of true friendship.
“A newborn already has nine months of experience when she is born.” ∼T.Berry Brazelton, pediatrician, researcher, author
Babies are really smart!! In utero, babies are already learning. They can recognize the voice of their mother at birth. They know her by her smell. They let you know what they want without using the skill of language; they use sounds, behaviors, and physical movements. A baby’s cry differs in pitch according to the baby’s present need; hunger, tired, soiled diaper, cold/hot, etc.
According to T.Berry Brazelton, spending time with your baby, observing their behaviors and listening to their cues, allows you to become more attuned to your baby and to how they try to communicate with you. This phenomenon is a learning process and can some time. So moms, be gentle with yourself if at first you don’t understand what your baby is trying to tell you. Spend time with your baby. Observe your baby. Learn your baby’s cues. You and your baby are building a relationship with each other. Your baby will help you navigate the sometimes frustrating process of learning their needs; at first, it may be a process of elimination but then, once the cues are learned, knowing your baby’s needs becomes less of a guessing game and more of a relational skill. More about this in my next post!
Some biographical info on the legendary Dr. T. Berry Brazelton! This 98 year old gentleman has been a steadfast advocate for children and families for over 65 years. In his work as a pediatrician, professor of pediatrics, and author, he has written over 200 scholarly articles and 28 books on childhood development and parenting. His most well-known book, Infants and Mothers, 1969, has been translated into 20 languages. He developed the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) in 1973. The NBAS is used to observe the physical, neurological, and emotional wellbeing of babies. In 1993, he founded and developed the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Brazelton is a professor emeritus in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. For more information on Dr. Brazelton’s Touchpoints on childhood development, visit http://www.brazeltontouchpoints.org. Biographical information was taken from this site.
Dressed in the costume of Disney’s Fairy Godmother, I attended my first Halloween Stroll on Saturday, October 29th, in East Milton Square. It was a terrific way to get out in the community and meet families and children. Costumes were endlessly creative and adorable! Young and old alike were costumed as ghosts, fairies, firemen, SWAT team members, witches, characters from popular movies and books, skeletons, sports figures and more!
Parents, I wanted to share with you how well behaved and courteous your children were. Kudos to your efforts to teach manners. It shows!!
And to all of the moms to whom I was able to give a bar of my dark chocolate mom candy! It gave me such pleasure to see the look of surprise on some of your faces and then delight as you were acknowledged and celebrated for being a mom! I appreciated the hugs and the one kiss I received from moms who were truly touched by being recognized.
Moms, your job is the most difficult and the most important job there is and it’s 24/7, nonstop. What you do on a day-to-day basis is valuable and integral to the healthy development of your children and your families. My wish for you today and every day is to remember your value because moms matter!
The end of summer means that some parents are getting ready to drop off their child at college for the first time. For some parents, they’re secretly high-fiving each other when their child isn’t looking, but for some, it’s a very emotional, traumatic experience. Here are 3 tips for managing the inevitable parental adjustment.
The following is a brief fact sheet on how President Obama’s 2014 Affordable Care Act was written to enhance the health care of pregnant women in the US. Found on Kaiser Family Foundation website; https://www.kff.org