5 Ways to Succeed as a Mom Despite Your Traumatic Childhood

How to Succeed as a Mom Despite Your Traumatic ChildhoodI had a less than ideal childhood. Most of it I’ve sort of blocked out in some sort of weird attempt at mental self-preservation, but I know enough to know that it wasn’t ideal. I won’t get into the nitty gritty details or point fingers, here, but childhood was lonely. I also probably had anxiety since I was old enough to remember, and it was never addressed. And even today, I still don’t have the best relationship with my parents.

I often hear about how some women dream of the day they’ll be mothers themselves. They’ve planned it since they were kids. I laugh that off because I don’t understand it – being a mother was never part of my plan. Until one day, it was. And when I was newly pregnant, I was paralyzed with fear for so many reasons. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to be a mother because I didn’t have a model – I didn’t have a set of loving parents to show me the way. When my daughter was born in 2013, I had a full-scale meltdown. Maybe it was PPD: I really don’t know. It was the first time I really came to grips with my childhood trauma.

I often wondered in those early days how I could be a good mother without knowing what it meant to be a good mother. I felt lost and alone. And I know there are so many others out there who didn’t get the love they deserved as a child. Here are five things I’ve learned along the way to help me get to where I am today (aka a much better place):

Be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge that you didn’t have the role models you needed. Remind yourself that you are learning this all from scratch, without any sort of prototype to follow. Be kind and empathetic toward yourself. As they used to say at the Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings I attended, “be your own loving parent”. Take care of yourself in the way that you would wish your parents took care of you. Put your health and well-being first.

It is what it is. You may have not had the mother and/or father you deserved in life, and that’s not fair. Acknowledge that but don’t allow yourself to fall prey to victim-hood. It is easy to be a victim. It is difficult – and much more worthwhile – to rise above and to succeed despite the challenges you’ve faced.

Acknowledge your successes as a parent. This is something I have to do often. I truly feel that my difficult childhood paved the way for me to do two amazing things I otherwise would not have done: 1) to be the best parent I can be and to always keep my daughter at the forefront of every decision I make, and 2) to be as successful as possible to ensure she has the life she deserves and more. I didn’t have a great childhood, but I will do everything in my power to ensure she does. I think that perspective I gained from having emotionally distant/neglectful parents allowed me to rise above it all. I truly feel that on most days I am a decent mom. Why? Because I don’t have to compare myself to my own mother. I am not even playing in the same league.

Map out a plan. When I was pregnant, I think part of the reason I was so terrified was because I had never planned on being a mother. Due to my chaotic childhood, I never fantasized about being a mom. It just wasn’t part of the plan. Therefore, I had no idea what kind of mother I wanted to be. I didn’t know there were different discipline styles, etc. Once I thought about it – I mean, REALLY thought about it, I knew that I wanted to adopt a gentler approach to parenting. I set out a list of things I wanted to avoid as a parent, and I was lucky that we both agreed on it. It was helpful to have a guideline going into motherhood that I could follow. It probably seems mechanical to most, I know, planning out ‘how’ I wanted to mother, but I had no model. It didn’t come naturally to me, and I am glad I had a plan in place (at least – I established some basic tenets to live by). I knew what I DIDN’T want to do, which made it easier to think about what I DID want to do. That being said, I think it’s absolutely important to develop sort of a motherhood ‘mission statement’. How do you want your children to see you? How do you want them to remember you? What will be your ‘legacy’? How will you deal with conflict and difficult moments? What forms of discipline will you use – or not use?

Seek help when you need it. I’ll admit it – I’m glad I had a breakdown of sorts after my daughter was born. Why? Because it forced me to get the help that I needed – help that I should have received decades before. When my daughter was born, all of my childhood trauma came back to hit me in the face – HARD. It took me a long time to realize what was happening, but I know it now. I had been keeping all of the memories and feelings bottled up for so long, laughing them off, until my daughter was born and they came back to haunt me. Since 2013, I’ve been on a pretty continual journey to better mental health as a result, and I’ve addressed my childhood for the first time. I have learned more about myself in the 5 years since she has been born than I have ever learned about myself. I am eternally grateful that things happened the way they did – it resulted in my daughter having the mother she deserved. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone – a professional – about your childhood trauma, or any other trauma you have faced. Medication can help, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. I never had to rehash painful moments in therapy (which I think is a common misconception about therapy) – instead, I learned coping mechanisms to help me more forward DESPITE my childhood. I could not have crawled out of that hole without therapy.

Remember: you can be an amazing mother (or parent) despite your less than ideal childhood. I promise.

<3

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10 Free or Cheap At Home Valentine’s Day Date Ideas

Free Cheap Home Valentine's Date Ideas

Does anyone else feel like Valentine’s Day is sort of overrated, but yet you don’t want to let it completely slip by? I hate going out on Valentine’s Day. You see it all: the couples on first or second dates making awkward conversation. The tired parents (probably us) who just wanted to get away from their kids for an hour but who can’t muster up the strength to converse. The girlfriend who is obviously pissed that the boyfriend hasn’t popped the question yet. And a dinner bill of $200.00 minimum.

No thanks.

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Motherhood in the age of social media: why comparison is robbing me of joy

comparison-robbing-me-of-joy

Did you know there was once a time where mothers parented without Facebook Mom groups? I almost wouldn’t believe myself if I hadn’t experienced it briefly – VERY briefly – myself.

The first couple of months after my daughter was born were the most isolating months of my life. It was a constant debate between: “Is this activity worth my having to shower?” or, “Do I want to risk a nip slip in this particular location?” or “Should I disrupt my baby’s carefully curated nap schedule so I actually interact with the outside world?” All very important questions when you are a depressed, sleep deprived shell of your former self and you have a mostly unhappy (and constantly hungry) baby.

Until one day, when a friend casually mentioned that Facebook groups for Moms exist.

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Join Mom Hustle Atlantic!

Mom Hustle Atlantic

Introducing: Mom Hustle Atlantic! 

You all likely know by now that I’m constantly seeking out ways to improve my work/life balance as a busy Mom. It’s become SO important to me as I enter my profession and try not to let it dictate my time during my daughter’s most formative years. As a lawyer to be, I often hear horror stories about how the profession isn’t geared toward women – especially women with children – and I want to change that for once and for all. I firmly believe women shouldn’t be forced to make the choice between motherhood and a challenging/rewarding professional career.

So, when my blogger friend slash working Mama extraordinaire Dedreanna of Adventures at Home asked me if I’d be interested in partnering with her to create a group geared toward working Mamas, I was all over it! How could I say no to something I’m so passionate about? And, just like that, Mom Hustle Atlantic was born!

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5 Ways to Get Out of Your Mom Funk

I have to preface this blog post by stating the obvious: I love being a mom. I really do. My heart bursts multiple times a day with the most ridiculous, gut-wrenching kind of love. It’s something you don’t truly understand until you have a kid. And it’s something that makes it all worth it, day in and day out — even on the hardest of days.

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My Word for 2018 + How to Set Goals You Can Actually Keep

How to set goals you can actually keep

Happy 2018!

Didn’t 2017 feel like it was the longest year ever? There was so much jam-packed into one year – both good and bad. I thought 2018 would never come.

I know it sounds cliché, but I’m such a sucker for a new beginning. The former student in me still feels this way in September, too. I love the feeling of having a ‘blank slate’. I love setting goals and all of the possibilities that come with a new year. The new year feels fresh with promise. This year, I’m focusing on:

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5 Life-Changing Ways to Reduce the Mental Load of Motherhood

mental load

It seems as though the ‘mental load’ formerly talked about only by the most hardcore feminists has suddenly turned mainstream and is actually pretty topical these days (thank the lawd for that, TBH). If you’re lucky enough to be following me on Instagram or on Facebook, you may notice that I’ve been ranting about it now for weeks. #sorrynotsorry.

This comic describes the mental load of motherhood (in the context of working mothers) better than I ever could. I challenge you to read it and NOT get riled up about it.

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FREE Download: My 2018 Blog Goals Workbook!

It’s time to make your blog goals come true!

While I’ve been blogging since 2015, I’ve only recently begun to learn about blogging and its potential to create long-term income. Which is perfect for me, because: a) I’m an introvert; b) I have always wanted to write for a living, and c) (and, let’s be honest, here) I seem much cooler online than I do in real life.

So, this year, I’ve resolved to treat blogging like a business and not a hobby. I’m going to be hustling my little heart out, and I hope you are, too. So, I created this 2018 Blog Goals Workbook to help you set goals and targets to hit as a blogger.

Blog Goals Workbook

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Introducing My FREE 12 Day Self Care Challenge!

12 Days Self Care Challenge

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You guys! I’m so excited to announce that I’m kicking off my FIRST EVER(!) daily challenge!

What’s it all about, you say? Self care! And it couldn’t come at a better time — the lead up to Christmas. 

“A challenge before Christmas? Another thing to add to our to-do list?”

This is a different kind of challenge, I promise.

The holidays are an extremely overwhelming time for Moms. There are Christmas concerts and recitals, parties, gift exchanges, and many — MANY — trips to the mall. Many of us feel overwhelmed, exhausted and frustrated. The ‘to-do’ lists grow longer and longer. We’re up late hours into the night wrapping presents and cleaning the house. We’re skipping meals, sacrificing our sleep, and self care is the LAST thing on our minds.

Sign up here!

That’s why I’ve created the 12 Days of Self Care Challenge. I’m challenging you to take some time for you, Mama, every single dang day up until Christmas day. It’s SO important to take that time to breathe and refresh. This will allow us take a more ‘mindful’ approach to the holiday and focus on the little moments as opposed to what’s outstanding on our ‘to-do’ lists.

Each day for the next 12 days, you’ll receive an e-mail from me outlining the day’s self care ‘task’. I’m asking you to take 10-15 minutes of your day to focus on yourself. I’ll be doing it right along with you. And, I’d invite you to post on Instagram using the hashtag #LM12DaysofSelfCare so we can all support one another.

Remember — take a deep breath, and focus on the moments. Our kids are only little once, and if we can take some time for ourselves, we will be better able to handle whatever life throws our way this holiday season.

Sign up here!

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