What do you remember from your childhood? Tom Petty said, “I’m not really sure but it seems I remember the good times with just a little bit more in focus.” Do you? Or is it the trauma and difficulties that are really clear, remembering them in vivid detail? I am a visual learner but some hard things have made it really difficult to bring childhood images into focus. I remember really good trips to Disney which has made it my Happy Place ever since. My parents seemed to be different there. Away from their difficulties they could spend real time with us, distracted only by the magic. They smiled more, we laughed more. This is in sharp focus for me.
I also now realize, as an adult, how much they tried to keep from me. I know it was not appropriate for me to know most of it, but I felt it all. I am a highly sensitive person. Nature or nurture? Probably both. I felt a lot of things growing up and had very little training in how to deal with them. I think this is why I love Mr. Rogers' mission so much. Fred said, "“Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” I try to share what I can now with my teens. I know they can read me like a book. I wonder what memories will be in sharp focus for them. I think we as moms try very hard to engineer all these memories for our kids. I don’t know that older generations did it as much as we do.
Take for example, free play, I think (and am convinced by much research) that playtime is very formative for young brains and experimenting with your world is a good gift to give children of any age. Give and take in playtime is great for building relationships. We work so hard and often pay for structured playtime but I wonder if it is the best way. It seems this current pandemic and our long quarantine time has shown us what are the more necessary things. One thing I feel it has revealed is the need for the arts in our lives for restoration. I am willing to bet that you listened to music, watched a show or other broadcast of some live entertainment. If not, I am sure you did something creative. Designing your space differently or making something from scratch is creative and restorative. So if you have read this far you are probably waiting for me to get to the part about your newborn. Well, I do ramble but I also have a purpose for this topic. It is this, I want you to build joyful memories starting now. A big smile when you pick them up from a caregiver, no matter how your day was, is a start. Begin a bedtime song tradition with your newborn. Each of my three daughters had a song all through childhood, my 12 year old is the only one who allows me to still sing it. It is not a kids song. I sing a little piece of a Frankie Vallie song to her, “who loves you pretty baby, who’s gonna help you through the night, who loves you pretty (baby), who’s always there to make it right?” It became part of our bedtime routine and it was a comfort and a signal to get ready for sleep and something just between us. You don’t have to be a good singer, it can be a song most wouldn’t sing to a baby, or you can pick something other than a song. I have another thing I do with my middle daughter. It was really cute until Mother Gothel in Tangled did something similar and kinda ruined it for me. We then adapted it as my daughter got older and we still say it sometimes,
Me: “I love you.”
Middle Daughter: “I loved you first.”
Me: “Can’t be, I loved you the minute I knew I was having you.”
MD: “I loved you before that. You loved me first tech-nic-cally, but I loved you first for real-ly.”
And I let her win.
It just kind of grew from a game we played. You will find your own ways. As you change a diaper, maybe you sing, "Head, shoulders, knees and toes." And it makes the change a little easier because it is a distraction. Find the joy in the little moments and one day you will have a memory and so will your child of the fun things you did in the day to day. They will be a little more in focus and maybe the harder ones you could not orchestrate will be in the background. Maybe mask wearing and long days at home without friends will be in the background. But long uninterrupted time with mom or dad was a memory in sharp focus, when you had time to play and smile and laugh with them. Hang in there, I see you and your valiant efforts to take care of your children. It will bear fruit in time.
I watched an “old” movie last night. 27 Dresses. If you don’t know or recall the plot, here’s the quick version. Jane spends her life caring for everyone else. Primarily as a bridesmaid/ wedding planner, she thinks she has no needs of her own. She is holding out for the day when she gets married and every one of those 27 weddings she had been in would be reciprocated by her friends being that caring person for her. She realizes this is a problem through a reporter who is also the love interest. He sees her value in just being herself and she begins to show some assertiveness. However, since she has no experience doing this, self-care and getting her needs met stuff, she swings really far the other way, hurting people she loves.
Why am I telling you about this movie? What could this possibly have to do with a postpartum blog? Much in every way!
It has to do with my absence and it has to do with your showing up for your baby.
Let’s start with my long absence from blogging. I am Jane. Not in the wedding sense but in life. I spent a crap ton of time, at least 25 years, but possibly my whole life, people pleasing. I actually prided myself in the ability to make people like me. I could not fathom a person that I could not turn into a friend. Well, I was very good at it but at a cost to myself. A big cost. I would make sure I went above and beyond in everything I did. (Now I still do that professionally but I have learned my boundaries are important so it is healthy…I think?!?) I was authentic to a point but I could say something in a way that made it seem like I agreed with you but I really did not. Not good, very unhealthy.
So I did this for years in my marriage too. I tried very hard to have no needs. In a narcissistic marriage that is important. I gave all I had to make our life work. I asked for very little for myself. I advocated hard for my children but often lost and got manipulated. If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, get counseling, seek others who can help you see the truth! Please! I waited too long and it cost me so much. Anyway, all that to say, I spent so much time and energy pulling for something that was not working because I was pulling alone. I am now divorced and recovering, it is a long road back up because it was a long road to the bottom of that relationship. The last year was spent in that process. Being a single mom of 3 young women, I had lots of work to do. Now that I am working from home and promoting my course and online coaching for moms, I have more time to write. I completed my course during our 3 month quarantine. I also had a daughter graduate and several birthdays. It has been a very full time period. Moms work so hard, you guys! I hope I can regain you as readers of my blog, if you are out of this stage in life, pass my site on to a friend. She needs support, just like you did. Maybe even more in this time of isolation.
Now, how does 27 Dresses have any thing to do with showing up for your baby? What did Jane forget? She did not remember how important it is to take care of yourself. I have met many moms who get so caught up in the day to day drudge that they do not even know what makes them feel good and cared for. Self-care and getting needs met is so important. When Jane finally realized her needs, she swung to the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of caring for everyone else, she became self-righteous. She hurt people she cared about, some of her closest relationships. I have seen this time and again with people that love each other. The baby takes a lot of work and the baby care becomes a chore instead of a joy. Get the baby quiet so you can have time for… usually work, in my experience.
If you can be present with your baby when she needs you and when she doesn’t (nap, enjoying a bouncy seat or tummy time in a baby proof area) get what you need, a special drink, a phone call to an adult you love, a nap yourself. Oh it makes such a difference in how you show up in the relationship with your baby. If you have support people, losen your reigns a bit, ask for help tidying up, or doing laundry (if they wash a little different than you , its ok). Please, take a drive or walk alone for a breather. These times are hard already, in quarantine with your family can be even harder. Especially if you are not taking the time and joyful activities you need to get refreshed. Please make it a priority. You won’t swing so far in the other direction if you balance your needs with the needs of others before it gets bad.
Mommies, you are amazing. Keep doing your important job with joy! The future is counting on you.
Mommies!!!! I did it! Celebrate with me! My course is ready for you and your friends and family. Give it as a gift. Buy it during your pregnancy or if you are in the thick of postpartum. I am so excited. I think this will give you the gift of confident mothering. My goal is to give you the pep-talk and then the tools to thrive in the newborn stage for your baby and your postpartum period. I cannot wait to meet you. This week you will be hearing a lot from me as I share more about this. I am also working on a facebook group and membership forum to help you find your tribe. Let's journey together. Paula, Certified Postpartum Doula
Hi, awesome followers, mommies and supporters,
I am just days away from having my course go live. I am so excited to share all my experience with you. I have named it, "The Confident, Tenderhearted Mom." It was a lot of hard work but I know it is going to be so useful for new moms. It was a labor of love. It took a lot of learning to get the tech part accomplished. I felt so unsure and naive. It was similar to being pregnant and then having a baby and then trying to figure out how to do this crazy motherhood thing. Now the stakes with a course definitely don't feel as high as having a newborn, that's true. But I grew the course and labored to bring it to you and then tried to figure out best how to nurture it and prepare it for its purpose. The course has an important purpose. To help you prepare for postpartum, thrive in postpartum and make confident decisions. I am a wise woman in this area and I want to be part of the tribe that helps you feel strong and resilient and successful as a mom. I cannot wait to show you this new baby. I'll let you know when it is ready for you. Just a few wrinkles away from being completely ironed out. Love to all, Paula certified postpartum doula AND course creator.
Hi, My name is Paula and I am a course creator! It's pretty incredible but it is a goal of mine that has been in the works for some time. I am really excited to share my experience and knowledge with you. I am almost done with the writing of it. Next step is creating some video/audio for you busy moms who would find it easier to listen to the content than to read it. I want it accessible for everyone. It is 20+ years of experience designed to give you confidence in your informed decisions. It will NOT be a course in dictating your decisions about your baby. There are too many people out there telling you exactly what THEY think you should do for your newborn. I want you to have me, a wise woman (in this arena anyway), by your side to help you know you are doing a great job and give you some of my tips that you can choose from. But again, I'm going to empower you to make choices that fit you and your baby. If you are ready to get a free sample of the material and see if you are going to be in my premier class, please add your email address in the box below. You are going to come away from this feeling like a "Confident, Tenderhearted Mom."
Hello tenderhearts followers and guests,
Welcome to blogpost, quarantine edition. I truly hope you are surviving the times and are healthy. I am praying for my readers and my clients. This time has lead to things we have never experienced before. I am used to going to the grocery stores before a snowstorm, on the east coast here, and seeing empty shelves of bread and milk. (apparently that is staple snowstorm food). Corona has left us with empty shelves of every kind and where it is empty they seem to be re-stocked with fear.
I, like many people, am home without income. A blessing to me has been that the one family who is a regular has paid me to not only keep their place as a client but also to "do the right thing." I am so thankful for their kindness. They have also sent Amazon gifts of fun crafts to do while quarantined. I have also dropped off care packages to friends' porches to give moms of littles something new to do. Hand-me -downs from my house.
As a new mom you have been given a gift of time. Stay home and really learn about your baby. Look for her cues and really focus on her. When you feel stressed take a step back and think about the situation. I have found so many times in my experience of 25 years + that the problem is rarely that the baby is so much of a handful but that all the other things you would like to do are keeping you from reading her cues and responding.
I hope you are using this time well. Besides being a mom of 3 teen girls and my very rewarding doula job, and this blog and creating a course for you all, I'm also a children's church director. Here is a little taste of what I shared with the parents of Point Community Church, Somerset NJ
I just wanted to reach out to those of our congregation with children or have a role in a child’s life. As anxious a time in history as this is for us, your children have even more confusion and possibly fear. Our job for the children we love is to try to make a safe place for them. Helping them feel that you care about them and that their feelings are valid is a huge task. I am going to be posting resources to help you understand what is appropriate to talk about and what things you can do to help our children in this very different time. You can reach out to me and I can email you with the resources. (church members are on slack app)
Try to find the joy in this time we have been given. I want to read the quote I found from Mr. Fred Rogers and then the guidelines the staff of the Fred Rogers Center at St Vincent’s college posted. Read below
I’ll post this as well as some videos and talks about how you can help our PCC children and any children you may influence better understand what is happening and that the adults who love them are keeping them safe.
Blog readers: I'll post more while I am here in quarantine. Please follow me by sending your email and keep checking back for more helpful posts during this trying time.
There are many more resources at
The Fred Rogers Center
Please support their wonderful work and legacy.
As I said months ago, life happened. AND it just kept on happening. To be completely transparent, as I try to do in life, there was longstanding betrayal, emotional abuse and a divorce. My daughters and I have spent the last 10 months in trying to recover and create our new lives. It has been hard as people have come forward to share the ways they tried to protect us from the betrayal. Wave after wave of stories washed over us. Some so hard to believe.
We rebuild now, as the strong daughters we are. I see resilience and life, just like the trees in my yard are coming out of dormancy and beginning to bud again. I feel that way and I see it in my daughters.
My story has redemption in every page.
Part of the rebuilding is getting my blog back on track and working towards that lofty goal of having a course for you. I know some of you that have been reading for a while have toddlers or even pre-schoolers now. If this blog isn't relevant to you anymore, could I ask you to please send a link to a friend. Thank you! I am so filled with joy when I see moms in community, growing strong. being resilient themselves. Keep following your God given intuition and look for the joyful moments to help sustain you. Blessings, Paula
Life has happened and therefore we are....
Mostly my personal life but also this site. Working currently on a really intensive newborn parenting course that I hope to roll out in September.
Please keep checking back or join my email list for updates. Hope you are doing well awesome mommas. Check in again with you soon.
Its Springish here in NJ and things are blooming and rain seems daily. We have been feeling a bit better because we have been able to venture out a bit more. I wonder if you have felt the same. I also have days when the outside makes me feel guilty. You should really go out, we have not had nice weather. I want to still be in my hygge attitude. I like blankets and books and snuggles. A LOT!!! Now don't get me wrong, I don't have that kind of leisure but when I do have time, that's how I wish to spend it. The other day I got a longer nap for my daycare child and I decided to take that monitor outside and I took my shoes off and sat in the chair and put my feet in the grass. You know what happened? I came inside after 30 minutes of reading and had at least 4 large welts from mosquito bites. I did get some good vitamin D feels to compensate for my itchy ankles.
Isn't this just like motherhood. It's not what you thought but it is good. It is not the idyllic picture remember this one...
Its not all filtered and smiling and sleeping babies. The haze is probably your tired eyes and you are smiling because you finally got her to sleep and now your smile turns to fearful grimace as you try to lay that girl down without waking her up again. The struggle is real.
But when you step back and re-group and think about all the good in this time of hard, you absolutely can see straight. I came inside searching for the balm for my bug bites and realized how good my toasty warm body felt after a short time. I had read a few chapters of a book I absolutely loved, too. I had done some important self-care and I was better for it.
You are a better person for being a mother. Your self-sacrificial giving and your momma bear fierce love for your child are creating a new being. Comparing this you to the old you will not do! Stop that right now! (I used to be fun, I used to have adult conversations, I used to have sex, LOL). You can still do all that and seek them out if you are feeling depleted. However, also celebrate the new being you are, a strong and gentle and amazing creature who is nurturing a LIFE! You GET to share the things you love about God's world with your child and influence forever who they will become. Its daunting but really rewarding too. Bonding with a child is a gift you give them forever. It sets them up for psychological health for a lifetime. I think that is one of the greatest things a person can do for another person. DO NOT DISCOUNT being a MOM!
Hugs to all who are struggling this week! I am praying for you.
I am working on a course so please get on the email list to be first to get the details.
I'm Mister Wookie and I approve this message:
Hi Mommies! I am excited to tell you I have been working on a course for you dears. I want to provide you with a place you can come with all your questions and a place for a tribe to gather. So I wish I could say that I am working hard but mostly I'm scared and talking myself out of it because while writing and nurturing and holding babies is all in my skill set, technology is not. But I care so deeply about my passion of helping new moms and babies that I press on. I am reading so much lately about brain formation and how important early bonding and attachment are for emotional and physical health. I cannot wait to pass it all on to you, in a really fun and approachable way. SO it is all still in the works but I am so excited about it that I really want to let you know about it as I am working on it. If you want to be in on it when it drops, be sure you sign up for emails. I am also working on special email content just for you. Please pray for me as I work on this, especially for my confidence and for the technology side because I do not yet have the finances to hire people who know how do video (or the fancy couch and paintings that all vloggers seem to have. lol.)
Ok. On to GIFTS, We all have them! Do yo know what yours are? There are literally millions of gifts to consider. Everything from a strong stomach to handle dirty diapers to an ability to know what your child is feeling. That is a huge spectrum. Really I want you to start to give yourself a gift...some credit. While I believe all good gifts are from God, He delights in our using them. (as I always say, I am preaching to myself here because I always forget.) Today I am reminding myself that I made a warm and cozy Easter celebration, yesterday. I could say, it was easy to prepare stuff, ham in a crockpot, a quick brussel sprouts recipe, pop-n-fresh dough, etc. I could think about how grumpy everyone was getting up earlier for Church breakfast before Easter service. I could have remembered a family member's poor attitude that kind of put a damper on things at the end or their sneaky way of doing what they did. (which reminded me of the dysfunction that exists in our extended families). BUT today I choose to remember how I made my house a nice place for my children and my husband and all who attended. I choose to remember how I made some memories with my children who are quickly getting to adulthood themselves.
The gifts then are so unique to each person. My gift is the ability to look beyond the mundane and get to the meaning. The gifts might be something you possess yourself or something you bring to your family. Here are some categories of gifts to get you thinking about yours..
Praying for yourself and babies
Desire to Bond
Being "for" your children and spouse
Being "there for" them
Your specific skills
Quest for learning
Showing up every day
Being there for them
Exactly who your children need
Seeing the best in yourself and children
Service and Helping (being an example of care for others)
Growing your relationship with God
There are so many more but I ask you to please, please PLEASE, take a step back from the mundane and busy life of motherhood and pick out some things you do well. Think about those things. Think about how you might have learned them or maybe they were with you since as early as you remember. Give yourself a minute to say, this is hard work but I am rocking....
Yeah, I rocked Easter dinner hard and I rock making my girls feel good about themselves and I rock being an example to them of the importance of helping others. I do that well. I would love to hear your comments. What do you do well? Please get on the email list too, so you can be in the know and on the first to receive list. Once I get this course worked out there will be contests and freebies! Be the first in line!
Thank you for all you do in the lives of your children and others, it is the most important work.
Paula is a single mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula