Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

Parenting Hacks for New Moms | Keeping Perspective

Whitney Casares, MD, MPH
August 29, 2018 12:00PM

This weekend, I learned a powerful lesson in motherhood perspective. My family woke up stressed. Both my kids and my husband were going for a week to the coast with their grandparents while I stayed behind to work. The flight was scheduled for 11:45 a.m., so at 10:15 we were in high-gear trying to get everyone out the door and ready for the big adventure. Like it always goes, my husband and I were a bit curt with each other as one we tried to make last-minute additions to our suitcases and keep the kids occupied at the same time. My toddler kept pulling everything out of the luggage and throwing it up in the air with glee.

“Rain, mama!” she squealed. 

“Feeling a little on edge?” my husband smirked as I sighed heavily in her direction and tried to pry her fingers off her make-believe tropical storm props. 

I felt myself trying to get back to mindfulness as we raced the clock.

Finally, we made it out the door but, closing our fence behind us, I saw something was missing.  Something big. In fact, two things. 

“Where are our cars?” My big girl asked. 

A Lesson in Perspective

I looked around, sure we had just forgotten where we parked them the night before but slowly it set in. Our cars were gone. Vanished without a trace. Kaplouf!

Yep, someone stole both of my cars right from in front of my house. Had we dropped the keys on our way in the night before? Our minds raced to retrace our steps. 

As we scrambled to the airport in a taxi and started making calls to the police and our insurance company, my daughter burst out into tears. 

“Someone took our cars? They took our things? Why would someone do that to me? I love our cars!” 

(By the way, our cars are not fancy in the least, she just gets strongly attached to her stuff.)

Losing Perspective

I may not have been in tears, but I was feeling the same exact way: completely violated and totally helpless. 

As we zipped along the highway, though, I realized I had a unique opportunity to reframe our situation, not only for my children but for myself. 

Gaining Perspective Back

Worrying Less About the Small Things

First of all, I saw how petty and small-minded I had been when we were preparing for the trip earlier that morning. Yes, we’d had a plane to catch and yes, my baby was cramping my style and my schedule, but my level of annoyance was in no way commiserate with the level of inconvenience I was facing. It reminded me of how often I handle all the other situations I referee with my kids (squabbles, tantrums, and power-plays) in the same over-the-top, reactive way—and that I can choose to treat my kids’ infringements like life-threatening emergencies, reacting abruptly without perspective, or I can choose to treat them like the minor hiccups that they (usually are). 

Using Bad Experiences to Teach My Kids Resilience

Second, I realized this was an amazing opportunity to teach my kids about prioritizing people over possessions. While my daughter worried about the loss of our vehicle, I worried about the loss of our financial security. My immediate thought was, “Do I have comprehensive coverage? How much will this cost me?” And, though those things are important, my child’s question about why someone would choose to take something that belongs to someone else helped me get to a place of deeper appreciation about what was NOT taken (my children), about what had NOT happened (a house break-in, a major car accident). Because she got so, understandably, focused on our things, it helped me pan out to the wider picture and end up….thankful. 

Making it a Teaching Moment

Lastly, I was able to give my children some insight into why things get taken, opening the door to an in-the-moment conversation about how we prepare for emergencies, accidents, and mayhem. About why we save some money and set it aside just “in case.” About how there are people out there designated to help us when things go wrong. About how sometimes isn’t all about enjoying the roses, it’s also about overcoming the thorns, building resilience along the way.

Back When I Had No Perspective

It made me think back to when I was a new mom, working out the details of breastfeeding, trying to make sense of sleep cycles and colic. I remembered how easy it was in the small, stressful moments, to think small. About how much better motherhood got once I started looking at the big picture, focusing on coping with versus changing my new mom day-to-day reality. About how all of us, when we’re mothering, can’t control everything, but can control our perspectives. 

 

Life’s not fair. It’s never going to be. And, while I’m not quite sure that “everything happens for a reason” applies to a robbery taking place literally in my front yard, the events of this past weekend, did, in the end, help me gain an even clearer vision of what’s important and what’s really not—and of how to teach my kids to understand why things ultimately don’t matter: the people we love do. 

If you are a new mom or an expectant mom, getting perspective and having the right expectations is one of the most important things you can do.

Originally published on www.modernmommydoc.com