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The millennials’ conflict: Marriage, motherhood & careers

perfect happy family with woman doing and having it all

We want it all. In fact, some of us are encouraged to go for it all. Why not aim high? Aim for the husband, the babies and the top position in that company and all before you’re 35. There are women out there doing it. Why can’t you?

Can we all do it all?

It would seem that more and more, Western millenials want to know that we’re financially secure before we settle down and therefore also before we have children. Chasing the money tends to affect when and if we settle down unless we decide to aim instead to find life partners who are financially secure enough to take care of us so that money is never a worry. Interestingly, millenial men are also looking for women who can do it all – make money to help support the family and have as many children to carry on their legacy as they’d like.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

We know women do manage to do this but are all women capable of it? Might it be asking too much of some women? Despite battling with these questions, the majority of women largely still see marriage as a goal to be attained. It’s funny then that even if we do aim for marriage, a lot of females would choose to remain single and take care of themselves if we are wealthy enough to do so.

We’re all narcissists

Studies are blaming narcissism for this. We’re apparently the “GenMe” bunch. That’s difficult to argue with. In these social media’d out times, where you’re made to feel like your brand is more important than your soul, it’s hard for us to dedicate ourselves to anything that won’t bring us some form of instant gratification. You might have heard that marriage is hard work. Well, it’s true. It’s about two people and the average millennial may be too wrapped up in themselves to do the hard work that’s required to keep a marriage together. Narcissism could be to blame for the rate of divorce appearing to increase globally each year amongst us millennials. I don’t know about that explanation though. It might be a bit too simplistic.

Photo by Kev Costello on Unsplash

It can be a lot

Before you have children, you can think you have a concept of just how tough it can be; but you don’t. To mother and partner at the same time isn’t easy especially in the earlier years but throw in managing a career as well and it can start to feel like too much. Being a mummy on social media myself, I would say that a more honest narrative about motherhood is being pushed lately because I see more photos on IG, for example, of mothers in real life – bed hair all day, vomit on clothes and a less-than-tidy home are all being shown online. I appreciate photos like those because it’s important for younger females to see that #momlife can’t always be glamorous. Most of it isn’t.

Sometimes though, I’m not sure if I’m seeing these realistic images because I go looking for them. Maybe young women are still being presented with an effortless looking, picture perfect version in squares (IG) of successful women with their husbands and children. It’s concerning to think that any younger women are basing their decisions about when or if to settle down on the images that are pushed at them online. We should never be fooled into thinking it’s easy to “have it all”.

I know the fight is conventionally for women to have it all but apart from wondering whether we can do it all, I sometimes think, do we still really want to have it all?

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6 Things that can put a mum down

  1. Being questioned constantly on why you’re still breastfeeding your 4 month old when formula exists.
  2. Baby screaming every time you dare to take anymore than two steps away.
  3. Amidst the chaos and stress of caring for baby, being expected to also keep an immaculate home with small items like remote controls perfectly arranged perpendicular to the edge of the table. Many other mums do it. Why not you?
  4. Being called an overprotective mother when you show any hint of concern for the safety of your child. Let her chew on that plastic bag with her sharp little teeth! Who cares that she might swallow bits of it? That’s a sharp table corner that he could bang his head on? So what? Babies bang their heads all the time. Let’s watch him head straight for it. You do too much.
  5. Being made to feel like a smothering mother when you show any amount of affection to your children.
  6. Baby has hit one year old and still waking up a couple of times or more per night.

You know this is all meant very much in a tongue-in-cheek way, of course but when you’re in the throes of depression, it doesn’t take much to push you over the edge. It takes even less if you’re unfortunate enough to be around people who know how fragile you are but choose to try to break you anyway.

It’s maternal mental health awareness week. Mental health is a topic that’s close to my heart and I do believe that it should be close to everyone’s heart. If you feel like you may be close to some sort of a breaking point, you need to talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence. Ideally a professional. Look up free resources close to you. You owe it to yourself and to everyone who loves you.

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11 Vital topics of discussion before you have a baby with your husband

From first and second hand experience, I can say that not talking about certain things before you go ahead and bring another life into this world can make for a stressful and/or miserable pregnancy and first few years with your baby.

Indeed, even if you’ve known your partner for many years, it doesn’t guarantee that you know the answer to these questions. Your partner may not have considered some of these before and may realise that they need to think about the answers longer than you expect.

It’s true that there’s very little you can do to emotionally prepare yourself for a baby but there are other ways to prepare. After speaking with some friends, I found that the main points of conflict arose from partners not helping out enough, in-laws/extended family butting in where they were not wanted and financial restrictions. Somehow though, husbands not wanting to help out with the baby seemed to be fairly easily forgiven compared to the other points! I wonder why.

I’ve come up with a list of issues that do need to be discussed and I suspect that it will grow in the future as I have more conversations with people and experience more of life as a mummy myself. If you’re about to become a mother for the first time, I promise that these questions will save you an invaluable amount of time and heartache. Ideally, they’re questions you should ask before you even conceive, in my view, but chances are, if you are reading this, you’re either already pregnant or already set on getting pregnant no matter what. These will be useful to you either way.

Enter your email below to get instant access to the list and if you do use it and it changes your perception of whether you really are ready for a baby, do let me know in the comments or by email: engenderedconversations@gmail.com.

Happy contemplating!

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Superwoman – tragedy & healing

This is actually our second cycle of actually trying. We just got married in December so we were preventing until then. The January I got really sick from the stress of the wedding. February was our honeymoon and our first attempt at trying. I'm 2 DPO [Days Past Ovulation] today  

Wow congratulations on your marriage. Wedding stress is definitely an odd one - the weird combo of tiredness and happiness you experience after lol
Are you feeling any stress re ttc [Trying To Conceive] at all? From yourself or anyone/anything else? I hope not 
Thank you! That is so true! My body was like, we're done haha. 
I think the pressure I feel is from myself more so than anyone else. I wouldn't call it stress as of yet though. I turned 34 in January, so the age factor is there. My husband will be 40 this year so there's that. It's odd how we spend so much of our lives preventing and now the tables have turned. 
My mother in law has made comments but nothing malicious. My husband is her oldest so she really just wants that and I understand. I feel confident enough that if it gets out of hand, I am able to say something to her. 
My husband is just going with the flow, as usual haha. If anything he's liking the influx in sex
Lol @ influx of sex. I like how chilled it all sounds for you guys. Yeah I’m turning 33 soon and have just had my first and the sleep deprivation is making me feel like a second is out of the question! But I know in another 6 months I’m likely to feel very differently about that. 
I do sometimes envy women who started much earlier in life although other things in my life may not have been ready to cope with a baby if I’d done it earlier. Do you feel like everything is good to go and ready for baby? Ie. Finances, etc? And are you two decided on trying for more than one?
Haha right! Guys don't get it. 
Congratulations!! I love my sleep so that's going to be an adjustment! 
In general, my thoughts on being ready is if people wait til they are fully ready, no one will ever be ready. But for the most part, yes I do believe we are ready. 
I was in a catastrophic car accident almost 4 years ago. I had head injury, ruptured spleen, broken leg bones and shattered ankle. 9 surgeries later, I'm not 100% but I don't need my wheelchair or cane anymore. I am up to walking almost 2 miles nonstop, whereas a year ago I couldn't even walk a few houses down the block. I once thought having family was not in my cards because of this. I was wrong. 
I'm currently not working but am starting to look for part time work. My husband works and makes decent money. I did get a big settlement from my accident so needless to say, finances are good.  We do want more than 1, maybe even 3 God willing! 
That is amazing. So you’re blessed to be alive. Your kids are going to have one strong mummy! Thank God for your life!! It sounds like things are certainly in a good place financially - I think that causes some of the biggest issues when there’s a new baby so thank goodness for that. 
I’m still so struck by your experience. Were you already in a relationship with your husband when the accident happened?
Aww thank you so much!! That means a lot to me. 
My husband and I were only dating for 6 months when the accident happened. It was rough!! I was in the hospital for 3 weeks initially. Then released with a wheelchair and unable to walk. I had surgery after surgery to correct the initial mistakes the first surgeon created. Then I developed an incurable nerve disease, CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome). I had a spinal cord stimulator placed to help relieve pain (doesn't help) and it was messed up the first, so had to have another one. 
My husband stayed by my side thru it all. He's amazing, my rock and I don't know what I'd do without him. There were times were I didn't think we'd make it. My depression made me a bitter, angry person and I took it out on him. Therapy has changed not only my outlook but our relationship as a whole for the better!  
Ah so you did go through depression because of it all - as I was reading, I was wondering how you managed to stay positive when it was going on. You’ve gone through so much. I always imagine that people who’ve gone through the kind of tough times you have and managed to come through to the other side must now be some of the most positive people on Earth... able to withstand any situation.  Ok so clearly your kids are about to have two awesome parents! Your husband sounds amazing. How many men would manage to stick around through all that, I wonder. Probably very few. 
Are you able to drive again?
Ohhh yea. It was bad. Not suicidal but really bad. I lost everything, my ability to walk, shower alone, drive, lost my job. Mostly I lost my identity. I didn't know who I was anymore without a job to describe me. It's weird. Then my narcissistic mother decided to really test my mental health and would not talk to, wouldn't help me and to this day we don't speak. 
Therapy has really changed my life with changing the way I view and react to struggles and obstacles. With that reframing comes a newfound appreciate and awe for life. I truly think I needed a wake up call in my life and things happen for a reason. I was doing okay, living in my own house, working at a hospital, dating a great guy, but I felt mundane and like I didn't really have a purpose. This shook me and woke me up to treat my body better, ingest better food etc. I changed my life for the better in so many ways. 
He's amazing. I told him a few times he doesn't have to stay, that he could find a non disabled girl and go be happy... He called me crazy and said he's not going anywhere. 
I am finally able to drive! I got a new car last year. Granted I don't go far cause the PTSD is still lingering (I have therapy for that too) but I'm not afraid like I was. 
Do you mind me asking what you did for a job at the time? I find it interesting how much it formed such a huge part of your identity. 
I take it your mother took your depression rather personally then. 
Yes for therapy! Quite a big question but do you feel like you have now/are closer to some level of self actualisation because of therapy?
Your husband was just...👏🙌
I’m so pleased for you that you have the courage to even get back behind a steering wheel again.
Not at all, I was a medical assistant and then I was to start school in the fall to get my degree in respiratory therapy. I have always been drawn to helping people as well as medicine, so this, I thought, would have been perfect for me. And that all came crashing down with the accident. The tables had turned, I was now the patient and I didn't like it. However, it opened my eyes to the negatives within the medical field. How pain is truly subjective, how doctors don't believe their patients and think they are drug seeking. That, in combination with the extreme pain I had every single day, really took a toll on me. To not be believed and to have someone treat you as if you're in the wrong is indescribable. 
As much as I feel therapy has helped me to have a better insight, I also feel somewhat lost too. It's hard to explain. Because of the tables turning, as much as I want to work in the medical field again, I don't think I can conform to the mainstream anymore. I don't agree with a lot going on in conventional medicine right now. I had so many drugs pushed on me and was told that I'll be on certain ones for the rest of my life. That's not true. I changed my diet, starting exercising properly, started supplements and I have stopped all medication except one. I feel like the pharmaceutical field pushes these drugs to make profit and that's all. We're not taught to self heal, we're taught of there's a pill for it take it and then take another one to counteract the side effects of the first one, and so on.. 
I hope that makes sense. I feel lost in the fact that the area where I live isn't big on promoting self healing, we don't have a lot of health stores let alone homeopathic doctors offices so I have my work cut out for me trying to find a career where I can stay true to myself. 
Thank you! It was a big step driving again. PTSD is very real and super scary. 
I can relate to so much you’ve said about the pharmaceutical industry and of course being a patient in general. Clearly these are global issues and not just a problem in my tiny part of the world. I sincerely hope that by the time you’re done having children, you can see the way forward clearly re a career path that truly fulfils you. Whether it’s within medicine or not. Whatever you decide to do, your testimony/story is encouraging to anyone and that’s you helping people already!
One last question - is your relationship with your mother something you think you might want to re-establish in the future? Do you think reconnecting with her will have a positive impact on you as a mother or do you think you’d be a better mother without her in your life?
I've tried to re-establish a relationship with my mother on multiple occasions. She's sick, she needs mental help. I truly think she's a narcissist and views herself as the victim. I asked numerous times for her to be in my life to no avail. She refused to even come to my wedding, instead choose to threaten me with some secret knowledge she claimed she had that would ruin me and my marriage. After that I blocked her number. I thought leaving her child with broken bones and in a wheelchair all alone was bad but I forgave her. Now she was messing with my future, my family. I don't play that. 
I think it would be have a very negative impact on my life having her around, especially for my children. She can walk out of my life all she wants but I'll be damned if she pulls that with my children. If anything, she has taught me how not to be as a mother, so there's that.

Aw well it’s a good thing that you’re very clear about that situation. Almost funny that I thought this would purely be a conversation about ttc lol.

Haha right but things happen for a reason and the conversation went this way for a reason

...

I'm currently 5 DPO so I'm praying I have good news in the coming weeks.

I’ll be keeping you in my prayers. Trusting you’ll have some good news soon

I know you’ll still on the road to full recovery. Are you going to have to take any extra precautions when it’s time for childbirth ie. to protect your spine, for example?

Thank you so much!! I've talked to my doctors about my spinal cord stimulator in relation to pregnancy and all of them agreed that it poses zero risks. I would like to have childbirth be as natural as possible so I'm hoping to not have to have an epidural but if I did, it would be placed higher up on the spine than where my device is, so that's a plus. So, no, not really. My only worry is the swelling that can and most likely will take place in the feet. With CRPS, a bad flare makes my foot bluish red, swollen and hot to the touch and I don't know how my body will react to pregnancy. So I'll just have to take it all one day at a time, as it happens!

Ang, Detroit, Michigan, USA
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Marriage with a newborn

Has having a newborn been tough on your relationship?

Having a newborn has been really tough on our relationship. With a tired recovering body and demanding newborn who refused to sleep in her cot for the most part, you tend to feel exhausted for those first three months. Breastfeeding makes you feel like your body is no longer yours and it takes some getting used to.
If you haven't dragged your other half to antenatal classes or had a serious chat about each others' expectations before they arrive, it can be a plethora of disagreements and surprises. Be it dummy, no dummy, Co sleeping, breastfeeding versus formula or just who is expected to do the dishes, I had many surprises and ended up arguing a lot with my partner. Then the jealousy kicked in that I wasn't working and despite me feeling exhausted, to him, it seemed like a holiday. I didn't feel like that at 3am trying to get a baby to sleep.

What advice would you give a first time mum who’s worried about her relationship making it through? Or do you think you don’t know the answer to that yet? 

I would say to do a few things that I didn't manage.
Sit down before baby arrives and talk through your expectations with each other includes household chores, finances, mat [maternity] leave, going back to work hours, and importantly, parenting styles.
At least this way, you can try to agree on some things before the baby is thrown into the mix. If this doesn't work, try to lean on whoever you can for support - siblings, parents, etc. to get you through those first few months.

Has having a newborn been tough on your relationship?

Having a newborn has been really tough on our relationship. With a tired recovering body and demanding newborn who refused to sleep in her cot for the most part, you tend to feel exhausted for those first three months. Breastfeeding makes you feel like your body is no longer yours and it takes some getting used to.
If you haven't dragged your other half to antenatal classes or had a serious chat about each others' expectations before they arrive, it can be a plethora of disagreements and surprises. Be it dummy, no dummy, Co sleeping, breastfeeding versus formula or just who is expected to do the dishes, I had many surprises and ended up arguing a lot with my partner. Then the jealousy kicked in that I wasn't working and despite me feeling exhausted, to him, it seemed like a holiday. I didn't feel like that at 3am trying to get a baby to sleep.

What advice would you give a first time mum who’s worried about her relationship making it through? Or do you think you don’t know the answer to that yet? 

I would say to do a few things that I didn't manage.
Sit down before baby arrives and talk through your expectations with each other includes household chores, finances, mat [maternity] leave, going back to work hours, and importantly, parenting styles.
At least this way, you can try to agree on some things before the baby is thrown into the mix. If this doesn't work, try to lean on whoever you can for support - siblings, parents, etc. to get you through those first few months.

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