Are Your Expectations of Your Spouse Totally Unreasonable?
The Five REAL Reasons You Keep Losing Your Shit on Your Kids
Up until the mid-20th century, marriages were, essentially, business arrangements, and in many cultures they still are. Families merged to increase power and land-holdings. If you ended up with an affinity for your spouse, that was a bonus, but it certainly wasn’t the impetus, and women had almost no choice in the matter whatsoever. Families had children, not because of a biological yearning, but because more hands were needed to support the family business, and indeed the family itself.
Single-family homes, while seen as early as the 15th and 16th centuries, really began to boom with the advent and proliferation of the automobile. With cars came greater freedom to commute, and housing spread into more rural areas, which led to greater and greater space between us. We left our family homes, found our partners, and moved into these new single-family dwellings, white picket fences and all.
The Long Game
If you’re like most moms on the planet these days, you lose your shit on your kids. And then you drop them off at school and sit in your car sobbing, because you’re pretty sure you broke them, and you feel so guilty, and sad, and demoralized, and, and, and…
Or you spend the evening cooking dinner, cleaning up, finishing up work projects, helping with homework, juggling six thousand balls, and they’re not listening, not brushing their teeth, not helping, and you lose your shit on them, and an hour later they’re in bed, and all you want is a do-over.
In my work with moms over the last five years (and in my 11 years as a mom myself), I’ve been able to identify the five real reasons moms lose their shit on their kids—and none of them have anything to do with you having shitty kids, or being a shitty mom.
Five No BS Tips for Giving Up Control
Yesterday was a shit-show with my kid. Epic fucking shit-show.
My son is in the throes of pre-teen hormonal craziness; let’s start there. Let’s add that I am totally perimenopausal and my patience is at an all-time low. It’s like a permanent state of PMS up in this jayjay, and the combo is, well, let’s just say my son and I are in a hormone-infused horn-locking dance that would put bighorn sheep to shame.
It’s not cute.
Yesterday we had a weird amount of time to kill after school before going to a doctor’s appointment. We opted to come home for 15 minutes, have a snack, and then turn around and go back out, rather than try to kill 30 minutes in the no-man’s land of the doctor’s office (and with a kid like mine, you don’t want to try to kill 30 minutes somewhere that doesn’t have a climbing structure, a trampoline, or wifi).
So we go home, snuggle with the puppies, and I offer to make my son his absolute favorite snack. Which involves cooking.
While I make the snack, he disappears, and within minutes I hear the TV on.
Setting Boundaries With Your Kids
There’s nothing like being in relationship with other humans to get you to give up your controlling behavior. Other people don’t always do what we want, so controlling them is pretty futile. Duh.
But for many of us, letting go of controlling behavior is, in a word, terrifying.
I don’t use the word “terrifying” hyperbolically. For those of us who grew up in chaotic environments, the slightest deviation from our carefully mapped out plans can send us into a state of deep panic. And when we feel ourselves dipping into panic or terror, we desperately escalate our attempts at control, often clawing at the people around us…and usually sending them running for the hills.
But why do we do this?
That Time My Saboteurs Won and Fucked Me Out of a Successful Acting Career
There is a common misconception that boundaries are all about the other person.
Not taking responsibility for setting our own boundaries, and then blaming other people for crossing them is kind of like building a house out in the forest and expecting the deer and bears to build the fence around your property for you. It’s kind of insane.
Believe me, I’d know. I did it for years.
Admittedly, there are two types of people in the world: those who have a healthy respect for other people’s space and limitations, and those who see other people’s boundaries as goals.
Our kids are usually the latter, and it’s with them that we have to work extra hard on setting (and maintaining) healthy boundaries.
The Mind and Body Are One System
I am sitting on the subway, slowly slipping lower and lower in the cold, hard, plastic seat, the skin of my thighs stretching, pinching. I’m trying to make myself small. I’m trying to escape.
From every angle my own face is staring back at me, upside-down, from folded-over pages of The New York Times. I’m on the same page as the crossword, above the fold. As each passenger gets on, they unfold, re-fold, re-adjust their paper, and another me stares back.
In this one week my picture has appeared in almost every newspaper and magazine across the country, from People Magazine to The New York Times. I am on the brink of the kind of success most actors dream about...
Five Reasons You Need to Work On Yourself to Become a Better Mom
I was reading an article this morning about the Gut-Brain Connection in kids with ADHD, and this sentence stopped me in my tracks:
“...95% of the body’s serotonin can be found in the gut, which is why it’s often referred to as the “second brain” or “gut brain.””
Serotonin is “popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.” (Wiki). In fact, SSRIs, the most common type of antidepressant, are a chemical booster of serotonin. I’m a pretty educated woman around this stuff, but until this morning, I thought serotonin was in your brain.
95% of it is found in your gut. Ergo, if you have an unhealthy gut, it could affect how happy you are.
Click below to read more about depression and anxiety and how what you put into your body might be affecting your moods, as well as my own story on how I manage my own depression and anxiety...
How To Talk to Your Kids So They Will Listen
I'll say it till I'm blue in the face, but if you want to the best mom you can possibly be, you really do need to work on yourself first.
Here are five reasons I think this is vitally important:
- Children’s success and happiness in life is most strongly correlated to their emotional intelligence. In a study published in 2011, children were followed for 50 years, from childhood well into adulthood, and it was scientifically proven that their success and happiness in adulthood was directly related to their levels of emotional intelligence. Sure, they could have learned that in adulthood, but how much cooler would it be if your kids learned that from you? Working on yourself in specific and strategic ways—increasing empathy and objectivity, becoming better able to notice and name your emotions so they don't take over in tough times—boosts emotional intelligence. If you do this work here and now, your kids are raised with it. If you don't, they're raised in the shitstorm of your past. You have a very real choice before you...
You Cannot Have It All
There is a popular saying that states: “The meaning of any piece of communication is the response you get.”
What this means is that you are actually responsible for being sure that your communication lands the way you intended it to, and if it doesn’t, you are also responsible for adjusting your communication to be sure that it does.
Including with your kids.
Here’s how things usually go:
Mom, calling from the other room, or peeking around the doorway: "Come to dinner," "Please get ready for bed," "Get your shoes on,” “Brush your teeth.”
10 minutes later mom comes back in to find kid still on iPad/Xbox/Legos/book…
Mom loses shit.
Here’s where the communication breakdown occurs:
On Turning Forty Five
One of the greatest lies being told in the world today is that women can “have it all.”
I see self-help gurus, personal development leaders and spiritual teachers spew this shit all the time. It’s a way for us to feel like we’re fucking it up, ALL. THE. TIME. If we could just keep our houses better organized, if we had better systems for this that or the other, if we could just BE BETTER HUMANS, we’d have this.
This promise that there is a “there” there somewhere, this panacea of a Balanced Life, has sold millions of books, magazines and coaching programs—and kept a multi-million-dollar self-help industry afloat.
Part of the strategy is that if there continues to be a promise, and it continues to be elusive, you’ll continue to seek it, and buy more products in search of it.
I call bullshit.
The cold hard truth is that we simply cannot have it all.
As adults, as parents, as mothers, we make hard choices every single day...
Is Positive Thinking Bullshit
I turn 45 on Wednesday.
Until it was right on top of me, I didn’t exactly think about how this would feel. It’s a birthday and I tend to like my birthday. I get a massage, take the day off, and indulge in… me! Plus there’s all that Facebook love! What’s not to like?
But this? This is a huge hump.
I’m now closer to 50 than to 40.
What the actual fuck?
Today, here’s how this whole birthday thing is looking and feeling (I’m premenstrual, so I admit this might be looking and feeling a little bleaker because of that. Cruel nature.):
On Tuesday, the day before my birthday, I am having a cervical biopsy because I had an abnormal pap. Regardless of the results, cervical biopsies SUCK. They hurt like hell. They’re invasive and send your body into trauma-shock for a while after. My body takes longer than the average person’s to heal from every trauma it’s ever experienced—major foot surgery, a c-section, and, yes, a cervical biopsy and LEEP procedure in my 20s. So, yay. This year on my birthday I’ll be recovering from someone taking a giant, un-anesthetized snip out of my cervix.
I’m single. I’m getting to that age where the guys I check out are more interested in the women in their 20s, and the guys who helicopter me at parties are pushing 60...
There Is No There There
A few weeks ago I watched a video series by a business coach named Todd Herman. In one video, Todd talked about the difference between an “OW Mentality” and a “WOW Mentality,” and told the story of meeting two business owners, each of whom had a different mental outlook on their businesses. Todd said he could predict, just from their outlooks, which business would succeed and which would fail. Spoiler alert: Todd predicted that the one with the WOW Mentality was going to succeed, whereas the one with the OW Mentality would fail.
The business owner who looked up and saw only the mountain left to climb, how much further there was to go until his goals were accomplished, was destined to failure, while the one who turned around and looked at all she’d accomplished and felt the rush of her successes thus far pushing her up the rest of the mountain was going to succeed.
This is nothing more than a reframed conversation about the power of positive thinking, but sometimes a re-frame can be really powerful and hit you right where you need to be hit.
I’m not new to the whole positive thinking movement. After all, I’m a life coach and these are things I teach and sometimes often preach.
But it’s time for me to get super honest about this shit, because since watching Todd’s videos, I’ve been in a mental pickle about this whole OW to WOW Mentality thing...
Compare and Despair
We have this notion in Western Culture that there is this place…this very special time in space where there’s no adversity, and that when we get there, we will have no more worries; we'll finally be ok. It’ll be rainbows and unicorns and everything will be amazing, if we could just get…there.
“When I have more money, I’ll be ok.”
“When I lose 10 pounds, I’ll be enough.”
“When I meet the perfect man, I’ll be safe.”
The truth is that there is no there there...
I used to feel like shit about myself every single day. I felt small and insignificant. I wasn’t skinny enough, not toned enough, not rich enough, my relationship wasn’t good enough, my legs weren’t long enough, my stomach not flat enough, my clothes weren’t cool enough, I wasn’t funny enough…
And you know who made me feel like that?
I would see a mom out in the world—walking down the street, at Starbucks, in line at the grocery store, on the subway… On social media.