Brain Blender

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Recently, I was asked to write an article on the topic of parenting. It took me a week to agree to the project, a month to write the first draft, and I am limping along here with the final post six weeks from the actual deadline. The assignment has me reevaluating both my role as a writer and as a parent. I realize one is optional and the other is not, but I care passionately about both and yet I am so far from expertise or even maturity in either field. Both are on the puree setting in the ‘ole brain blender, and the result is a whole lot of delete… delete… edit… delete… that sounds stupid…. delete… edit… you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about… delete.

Last week, I stumbled on this parenting article, and not only did it make me laugh out loud, but it breathed some fresh inspiration into my otherwise lacking motivation. Pieces like this make me A. want to be a writer, and B. want to write so accessibly that it makes the reader say, “I’ve so done that… thought that… said that!”

Here’s an exert from the article, 10 Types of Irritating Advice for Parents:

Family, friends and more or less total strangers feel a compulsive urge to give advice… Here are some of the worst forms of advice. Be warned.

1. Bossy books from bossy self-appointed experts.

Have new parents been robbed of their decision-making powers?

Why else would there be so many irritating books telling them how to behave. There are more than 70,000 parenting books on sale. They hide behind cutesy covers, all jelly colours and gurgling babies, but look within and it’s more like a drill sergeant marching parents around the nursery.

These experts don’t want to help young parents, they want to become leaders of cults. There are rules for everything and rule number one is that all the other rules are going to make everyone miserable. It’s going to end in tears, usually from the parents.

2. Unbearably competent (borderline patronising) friends.

Make that ex-friends, because it’s not normal to have life so well organised.

You know the sort. He’s baking organic vegetable snacks while she’s teaching the two-year-old how to count in Catalan.

They organised the right school moments after conception. They know everything, you know nothing.

Their baby has never cried, never thrown up on the hire car, it never even really seemed to be a baby at all, but was more like a middle-aged Archers’ fan hidden in a macrame shawl. And please, please, please don’t tell us how to be like you.

They do it better in France.

They’ve got a second home there, they drive down in the summer and they come back with that certain je ne sais quoi.

The quoi in question is usually along the lines of how much nicer French children’s clothes are and how French children can eat in restaurants without looking like they’ve been face-painting with guacamole.

And they just can’t resist giving you that little tip, that little special bit of advice picked up from an old French villager. Just learn how to say non.

I high recommend treating yourself to the whole article. It is a worthy and hilarious read, and a comforting reminder that when it comes to parenting, all of us are in the same brain blender trying to keep the lid on our kids, our homes… our sanity one day at a time.
Hang in there today. You are not alone!

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Just add water

Hello, my name is Salina Beasley and I am a chronic over-achiever. I always have been. It’s obnoxious really. I was the Hermine Grainger type in school– finishing papers 2 weeks early and doing the extra credit even if I was already acing the course. What can I say? I’m a doer. All right, that’s putting it mildly. As I write this, I am looking at a row of titles I so diligently studied before I had my first child, and I have to laugh at myself. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually thought I could ace the “mommy” test if I read all of the right books and followed all of the right advice.  My “just add water” approach to parenting would have been very effective for raising puppies or chia pets perhaps, but not children. Nevertheless, when my son, Salem was born, I was so overly confident that whatever this little pooper could dish out, I would be ready for it. [Insert disclaimer here: Moms, please do not hear me making light of post partum depression. It is a very real thing (even if Tom Cruise doesn’t think so).] Anyone that has gone through it can attest to the hormonal free-fall, the mind-numbing exhaustion, or the fact that every 2 hours it feels as though there is a piranha attached to your breast sucking your very will to live. “Nipple soreness”…. Talk about putting it mildly. Who thought that was an accurate description? Clearly someone who never breastfed before… probably a man…. probably Tom Cruise. Anyway, the point is that I began to suspect that perhaps someone had tossed out my “A” score with the placenta. No parenting book could have prepared me for how difficult it would actually be. My husband, Clark, and I kept asking each other, “Why didn’t anyone tell us it would be this hard?” He thought that all parents were part of a secret society sworn to downplay the reality of life after birth. Our friends with kids would see us all disheveled, looking like poster children for the world’s worst hangover and in a very inaugural way put their hand on our shoulder as if to say, “you are now a parental conspirator avowed to disguise the truth from childless unsuspecting. You are hereby entitled to use mild phrases like ‘baby blues’, ‘low energy’, and ‘nipple soreness’. Welcome to the fellowship.”  I can look back on it now and laugh at my own ignorance, but in real time, I feared that life, my body, my marriage, and my nipples would never be the same

One afternoon, my friend Lindsey came over to see Salem and I. She brought fresh bread and a list of daily activities I should do as an alternative to jumping off the nearest bridge. The list went something like this:

1.    Take a shower

2.    Put some makeup on even if you don’t plan to leave the house

3.    Pray and journal

4.    Get some fresh air

5.    Do something for yourself

6.    Spend time with friends

Here suggestions were so simple, but little by little, over time, the fog lifted and I began to feel sane again.

What are some of the things you did to rediscover life after birth?