If you don't have one, get one -- QUICKLY! Research has shown that smiling causes your brain to release chemicals that make you feel good. Additionally, laughter releases endorphins in your body that allow you to relax. So, when you can only laugh or cry, do the former. It is more fun (and less expensive) than anxiety medication or therapy.
There's an old saying, "Attitude is everything." Keith Harrell, author of a book by the same name, agrees. He states, "Your attitude dictates whether you are living life or life is living you. Attitude determines whether you are on the way or in the way."
And remember, as a general rule, those with positive attitudes enjoy better overall health -- a true gift from you to your new bundles of joy. Just when things seem to be at their lowest point, remember: it could always be worse. When I was having a particularly bad hour during the first year with our twins, I would remind myself that there were women in the world juggling sextuplets or more that very second. That usually provided enough clarity to get me through those 60 minutes.
Many mothers begin to feel as if their lives are somewhat one-dimensional. They become convinced they are losing their own identity in the midst of raising their family. It is extremely important to carve out some time for yourself each day. Even if it's only to snuggle into bed at night and read People magazine or a chapter of a book that's been collecting dust on the shelf. Plan to spend time as often as you can with friends in the evenings or on weekends, and plan to do this without your kids when possible. Truly, you cannot take the best care of your family unless you are taking the best care of yourself.
Write this statement down and put it in a spot where you will see it at least once a day: "During this day, I will do the best I can to be a mother to these children with the information, wisdom and energy I have at this time."
Hours, days, or weeks from now there will be no point in looking back and saying, "Oh, if I had known THAT I would have done it differently." Of course you might have, but the bottom line is that you will never be able to go back to that exact point in time -- with the information that you now have -- and do things differently. You do the best you can with what you have to work with at the time. That's all you can expect of yourself -- and that's all your children expect from you.
You are going to get advice on childrearing in general left and right from family, friends, and women behind you in line at the grocery store. People are going to comment on your choice of breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. People will comment on how crazy the babies' sleeping patterns are (and how much of that is your fault).
Sit down and think about the people in your life whose opinions you really value. Now, are any of those people the same ones who you would imagine attempting to give you "advice" that really feels more like criticism of your parenting skills? I doubt it. So, when you want advice, ask for it from the people whom you generally believe will give it to you with your best interests, not their underlying opinions, at heart. For everyone else, smile and keep walking. If it happens in your own home, feign a migraine and retire to your room until the offender leaves.
As Zora Neale Hurston once said, "There are years that ask questions, and years that answer."
This year will most certainly do both -- I guarantee it! And I will make you the promise that my great friend Mollie always makes to me: You're going to make it!
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