The Sensitive Mother

Being a mother has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far–but also the most challenging.

The most challenging part of motherhood occurred for me three weeks ago when my maternity leave ended.  Going back to work and leaving my four month old son everyday has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  I’m still constantly sad knowing that he’s not with me during the day.

Because I feel everything so deeply, my maternal instinct to be with my child was so strong (and still is).  Even though my son is with a trusted and loving relative, it still feels so unnatural for me to leave him everyday.  The first week back to work, it felt like my heart was being torn out every morning when my husband left with the baby.

It is still so difficult everyday to leave my son but it has gotten easier as the weeks go on.  I still feel torn all the time–I want to be strong and make money for my son but I also feel so strongly that I’m going to miss out on his life if I don’t stay home with him.  I also feel that I know what’s best for him right now, and it just doesn’t make sense to leave him everyday.

I do have faith that the difficulty I’m facing right now is preparing me for what’s to come in my life.   God’s plan for us is flawless, and every event in our lives teaches us a lesson.  One of the lessons for me may be to relinquish control, trust in God and the universe, and, ultimately, choose love instead of fear.  I sense that my fear of change is holding me back.  I can learn to settle into the changes in my life and trust that they are happening for a reason.

Becoming a mother has changed me to the core.  My desire to be more authentic for my child runs deep, so how can I possibly be the same person I used to be at work?  It’s impossible.  So I will do my best to set boundaries at work, saying no to anything that I don’t feel passionately about.  I will use my time more efficiently, closing my door in order to block out the noise and really focus  People may not like this new me, but I must do what I have to do in order to be the best working mother I can be.

Ultimately, being a mother makes me a better employee as well–more efficient, more compassionate and empathetic, more focused, and more loving.  My son is already pushing me to grow, and he’s only four months old!  Children are so much wiser than we can possibly imagine.

My journey of motherhood has been amazing so far.  I feel such indescribable love for my child and am so grateful that he’s in my life.  I sense that he is here to help me grow into the person I’m meant to become–a better, stronger, more loving, more patient, kinder person.  He is already in the process of teaching me so many important lessons–about trust, love, acceptance, patience, courage.  Now, everything I do and say in my life is a model for him–it makes me want to be braver, stronger, push through my fear of failure and making mistakes, choosing love over fear in every moment.  This is what I want to teach him, and I know that our children learn what we live, so it’s so important for me to be a better person in every moment because he’s always watching and listening.

So, I will be the best mother I can be.  I will not compare myself to other mothers, I will take it easy on myself, I will say no to anything that I don’t feel passionately about, and I will trust that all of this is happening to make me a better mother and person.  I will wake up every morning knowing that I have to take care of myself and find my joy in order to teach my child that we create our own happiness.

To all the working mothers out there, how do you deal with the challenges of being a working mom? Please share your experiences and advice in the comment section.

 

 

 

Men and Sensitivity

I find it very disheartening that our society makes life difficult for all sensitive souls but I think it can be especially difficult for highly sensitive men.  Men are often taught to hide their feelings away instead of expressing them.  This is dangerous because suppressed feelings are never really gone.  Instead, they build up and then explode in fits of rage or long bouts of depression.  Because men are taught that it’s not socially acceptable to show their feelings, this often results in their feelings being numbed.  This means that they no longer feel anything because they’ve denied their feelings for so long.  In highly sensitive men, who feel much more than the average person, this often results in addictions such as drugs and alcohol.  Because they feel so much, and have been sent the message their whole lives that this is inappropriate, they must turn to drugs and/or alcohol to stop them from feeling.

Parents can stop this cycle by encouraging their children to express their feelings in a healthy way.  We can talk about what the child is feeling and what an appropriate outlet for the feeling might be.  If they’re feeling frustrated or angry, they can take a walk, punch a pillow, or, if in private, scream.  If they’re feeling sad, we can encourage them to let it out in the form of tears or just talk to us about why they’re feeling this way.  If they’re feeling anxious, we can let them take a break away from others and do some deep breathing exercises or use a calming jar.  If they’re old enough, we can encourage them to keep a journal, writing about their feelings daily to help release some of what they may be carrying around.  It’s important that all children, especially highly sensitive children, are taught healthy outlets for releasing their emotions.  I would like our generation to be the one who changes the stereotype that men can’t be sensitive and instead encourage our children, whether male or female, to embrace and accept their feelings and sensitivity, so they can grow up to be well-adjusted adults.

Discipline for the Highly Sensitive Child

Highly Sensitive Children (or HSCs) seem to internalize everything.  Even a look or one word from a parent to warn the child when they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing may stop the HSC, because they want to do the “right” thing.  However, this doesn’t mean that discipline is not needed.  Just like every child, it’s important that HSCs have clear boundaries and standards that are expressed clearly to them by parents.  It’s helpful for rules to be set and gently expressed to the HSC.  Parents can discuss the rules with their child (depending on the age of the child) and make the rules together.  Consider making a rule chart with your child like the one below:

house rules

When HSCs have tantrums, it’s usually because they are overwhelmed with the situation or their surroundings.  Hold off on disciplining them until you can get them to calm down.  If the child is not acting up to your standards, make sure you discuss it with them later, letting them know it’s not acceptable and telling them why.  Shame can be a problem for HSCs, more so than with other children, because they can tell when they have disappointed someone with their words or actions.  So, make sure you don’t use guilt or shame to discipline your child, even in subtle ways.  Instead,  talk with them about why they have acted the way that they did.  Explain to them in a clear, simple way why the behavior is inappropriate.  “We don’t hit anyone because we may hurt them.  We don’t want other people to fear us or think we want to hurt them.”  When your child talks to you, really listen to them.  Crouch down to their level, and look them in the eyes.  HSCs need to feel heard, so make time for them, even if you may feel frustrated by their behavior at times.

Sensitivity in Children

I am currently reading a book called “The Highly Sensitive Child” by Dr. Elaine Aron, and I’m hooked.

According to Aron, sensitivity is a genetic trait that is present in approximately 20% of all children.  This trait has survived evolution for a reason. In other words, we NEED this trait to survive in order for our society to improve.  In our crazy, fast-paced, digital world,  nonsensitives have been thriving because they can handle it.  They can handle stressful work environments, unreasonable deadlines, and overstimulation.  HSPs, on the other hand, are being pushed to the sidelines because we are more thoughtful, we don’t make decision as quickly because we marinate on the questions longer, and we need a calmer work environment.

In reality, both sensitive and nonsensitive people are needed in every profession.  So, it’s essential that, those who have sensitive children, understand how their brains work.  It’s so important that sensitive children grow up feeling confident and loved, so they can spread their gifts to the world when they grow up.  The world needs more sensitivity in order to balance out the insensitivity that dominates.

Sensitive children tend to have more tantrums than nonsensitive children.  That’s because they feel so much–they need an outlet to release their emotions.  Here is a tool that can be used with sensitive children (or any children, really) who become worked up.  It’s called a calming jar. When a child becomes too worked up and emotional to function, squat down to their level and talk to them in a calm voice.  Tell them that they’re going to take a break.  Tell them to breathe deeply, and practice taking deep breaths with them.  When you feel they’re calmed down a bit, give them the calming jar, and let them sit and shake the jar.  Watching the colored liquid and glitter will calm them down.

Here is another link to an anti-anxiety kit for kids.  This is brilliant and could be used for any age.

Check back later this week for more tips!

Happy New Year!!

2015 is a year of action!

Growing up, I always felt different.  Too deep.  Too emotional.  Too weak.  For many years, I let others make me feel ashamed of my sensitive nature.  People were constantly telling me “Don’t be so sensitive” or “Lighten up,” but sensitivity is such a deep part of me that I heard it as “Who you are is wrong” because I knew that it would be impossible for me to become less sensitive.  When I found out about the highly sensitive temperament, it changed my view of the world and myself.  Now, I know I’m not “too anything.”  I’m just me.  Even though our society is a little behind on this, I see sensitivity as my greatest attribute.  Instead of spreading war, violence, and negativity, HSPs spread love, compassion, empathy, and kindness.  We need to hear their voices in the world.

It’s important that HSPs stop hiding their unique trait and start shining!  This year, let’s start showing our strength!

Ghandi said it best: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

Do you sense important and exciting changes for 2015?  If so, please share them below.