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Motherhood is the scariest hood (part one)

Becoming a mom is undeniably a gift. A blessing, that unfortunately many women cannot experience in their lives. However, after two kids each, me and my co-writer have come to the conclusion that – like one of the funniest mama writers out there would say – motherhood is the scariest hood. And because no one should ever navigate throughout a scary neighbourhood alone, we wanted to start this new parenting section on the blog with some tips for partners about what it feels like to be a mom.

Number one: breastfeeding sucks (the energy out of you)

Literally. Breastfeeding might be a great bonding moment; some women really enjoy it (count us out of that group please). But it can also feel like your child is sucking up all your energy. Which is already at its lowest by the way, given that you have brought life to this world. Honestly, do you guys even realize what that means?

That was a rhetorical question. I perfectly know men do not understand what it means to carry a little human for 9 months, bring it to life and then breastfeed it. Agreed, it is very hard to know what that means when you cannot experience it for yourself (even if, let’s be honest, you could try a little harder to understand). But I gave up on male empathy years ago already, and that’s why we are here on a mission to help you get it.

It means that you have to function at your best in order to ensure that the little monkey stays alive; but you have to do it with the lowest physical and emotional resources and very little help (hold on that thought please, becasue we’ll get there in the coming weeks!). This goes without mentioning the pressure our society is still putting on moms about breastfeeding. Yes, everyone is free to choose the feeding method they prefer. On paper. In reality though, all you get in most hospitals is judging looks whenever you choose not to breastfeed. And probably, the most judging look comes from your husband, who knows that with breastfeeding he will not risk to wake up in the middle of the night to handle a crying hungry baby.

Therefore…

When a mom chooses to breastfeed, first of all be proud of her! Because it’s a sacrifice. Another one, yes. Second of all, be supportive and understanding, especially when she loses her shit on you. Because she will, oh she will. It is just a matter of time. Finally, do not even dare thinking that if your woman decides not to breastfeed you are safer! The bottle is as tiring (only without the hormones), especially in the first months when the baby needs to get used to the day/night rythm. And no, the “natural mother instinct” excuse will not work here. We all have survival instincts and women and men should equally play on those to survive in the scariest hoods.

Number two: self-esteem is at its lowest (little lies welcomed!)

Of course, we can see them too. The hanging belly, the dark circles under the eyes… they are totally something we’d be better off, too. Especially when our lack of energy is already bringing our mood down. But hey – you can lie! Believe it or not, you are not the only ones who suffer from watching their sex life go away.

We understand, it’s hard, but where is the team spirit here? Please, do not hesitate to throw in a compliment every now and then. We are already doing the same anyways – even though YOUR hanging belly is due to a beer addition, honey. Couple goals!

Also, please. Do not guilt trip us when we always feel hungry. It is not something we can control (hormones again – and/or a little buddy who is sucking out our calories, sometimes literally or just metaphorically). So, there is no need to point that out really. Unless you wanna risk it coming back to you like a boomerang. You do not want mama to get angry at you, do you?

Number three: empathy is a luxury we cannot afford at all times

When you are constantly trying to understand and anticipate your baby’s needs, it becomes super hard to feel empathetic for another human being (aka hubbies, wifies, kids, and we’re not even talking about parents or in-laws if we’re “lucky” enough to have them around). A mom’s brain literally shuts down when she hears her baby crying – which, in case you had not noticed, happens quite often.

So I guess it is fair to say that moms are allowed to feel no empathy at all for some of your daily drama. Like when you are feeling overwhelmed because you have not peed for the past two hours. Did you know that moms can be so focused on putting the baby’s needs first, that they forget to pee for a whole day?! To be fair, I have also heard this pee story from a newly dad, who has immediately become my new hero for that! So I want to say that there are exceptions, yes. Nevertheless, as I feel we are talking to the larger crowd of “non-mind-readers” here, may I just insist on the fact that taking care of the laundry has never killed anyone?

I can see how you might think we are totally crazy. Society taught you that women are empathetic by nature, and it’s just so natural for them to be, that you can expect that kind of compassion every damn time. Well, my friends. IT’S A BIG LIE! But hey, we warned you right at the beginning of this post: motherhood is the scariest hood, and not just for mothers.

I hope we have scared you enough for today. This is the beginning of a long, rollercoaster journey, so I’d stay tuned for more if I were you. Fun awaits!

A successful marriage in ten moves. True or False?

Here are my ten most important moves for a successful marriage. I have had some fun collecting thoughts and confessions from friends throughout the years and surprisingly, some of the false you will find down here once used to be my biggest truths…

Number one: you can’t change your partner, so stop trying. TRUE

It is probably thanks to your differences that you ended up together, only with time (and kids maybe?) you will naturally develop a very dark desire to change who your partner truly is. It usually starts with a series of blaming exercises like “why can’t you be more like me?”. This thing here is called Utopia and in order not to fall in the trap, you need to stay away from the temptation to focus on the differences.

Try to keep your eyes on the positives: if you keep reminding yourself the things that made you fall in love with your partner, you will be fine, even at challenging times.

Number two: just be yourself. FALSE

Hey hubbies and wifies out there! It is absolutely NOT because you can’t change who you are that you should just chill and not make any effort whatsoever to make your other half happy. Being yourself is not enough. Everyone knows that concessions and compromise are the keys to a long, healthy and successful marriage. Therefore, you can continue to be yourself, yes, as long as you also start making efforts to become an even better version of yourself.

Number three: love is all you need. FALSE

Unfortunately, love is not enough, no. We’d be taking another wild journey into the magic world of Utopia if we’d tell ourselves otherwise. Sometimes you need compassion, understanding, a good chat, a break, a funny night out. And sometimes, your friends (who have a life too in case you hadn’t noticed) cannot give you that. I think we can all agree that it’s fair to expect all of the above from your partner too.

Number four: happy self, happy couple. TRUE

For years, I have been lying to myself thinking I could only be happy in my relationship. Worse, I was so deeply convinced about my interpretation of happiness that I used to blame my husband who’s always been very real about putting his self happiness first.

It’s okay if your husband has a hobby (as long as that hobby is not a 20-year-old SHE), and you should have one too! If you want a successful marriage you should focus on nurturing your inner self and maintain a certain individual space, hobbies and friends, without necessarily sharing everything. As long as both of you are aligned on this one, you are safe and you will see that you can be even happier when you are together.

Number five: don’t say it, just prove it. FALSE

Honestly you guys! You think that just because you stick around that’s going to be enough? OK, that’s kind of THE thing to do, I give you that. But what about saying it out loud too?

For some people here, the spoken part is as important as the lived one. Do not underestimate the importance of the words you say (or do not say), and this applies to both the good things as well as the bad. Try for instance not to go to bed angry with your other half (which – I agree – can be a hell of a challenge when your hubby is already asleep ten straight seconds after he has touched the pillow). But you’ve got to try! And if there is anything you really wish to discuss, note it down and bring it up the next morning. Do not keep things in for too long, or they will start to beat you up from the in inside.

Number six: never forget you are a team. TRUE

In the good and the bad times, know what team you are on and play for that team, and that team only. Strategy can be discussed, argued and changed, but when you play out of home you can’t play solo! This is even more powerful when you have kids. Those little humans can smell fear from kilometers, so stay united team parents!

And you, husbands out there: when you get home after we’ve been having the kids all afternoon (and by all afternoon I mean two very long hours between after-school and dinner time, which feel way longer than the whole Star Wars saga), do not criticize our educational choices the moment you get back home, cause you were not there!

Number seven: share the pain, share the gain. TRUE

Apparently, the ideal job is made by 70% of tasks representing your talents. Therefore, at home, if you are more talented for taking care of the kids cause you have patience – and your other half can barely handle two series of “and why is that mommy? why??” before feeling like burning the whole place down -, then you handle the kids. But each has to find a talent and lead with it (everyone has a talent, do not dare to say you don’t!).

Number eight: no secret garden. FALSE

I cannot believe there are still couples out there that think it’s good not to have any secrets. Come on, let’s be serious for a second here. Do you truly believe your loved one tells you EVERYTHING? I think that keeping small secrets from each other (and I cannot stress enough on the “small” here) is totally fine and helps keeping that little bit of mystery spark alive. It is fine not to share everything, with the exception of the important things of course.

Let’s say you should behave as you do in the workplace: take your liberties, pretend like you were in a very important meeting while you were actually on social all afternoon, but never sell your employer’s secrets to the competition.  

Number nine: don’t judge, be judged. TRUE

If you want a solid, successful marriage, you must have a sounding board throughout the journey. A fine selection of bad ass judges, who can review and criticize your couple inside out and without any filter, decency nor restraint whatsoever. Just like you were on The Voice. The secret here is to choose them right (so ensure you pick a devil’s advocate too, those can be of help every now and then).

Number ten: know your list and not his/hers. TRUE

Everyone has a list, even those who say they don’t. I’d say that up to five years into marriage, your partner will probably tell you there is only you on his/her list. However, with time you will get used to the fact that his list will be more and more crowded. And I think that’s fine, cause you have your list too, right? The golden rule for a long-lasting, successful marriage here is to only allow people like Jessica Alba and Leonardo DiCaprio. It is forbidden to fantasize on your partner’s best friends. And now, if you do not have a list (liar!), please go start one up.

Would you choose your partner everyday?

Let’s imagine for a second that you can choose a partner from a menu. Like you do at the restaurant really. Is your choice going to fall on the same dish everyday? Would you choose your partner everyday, again and again, even if you could really pick someone else instead?

Everyday pizza

My blog’s co-editor and friend A. has this theory, that someone would hardly choose to eat pizza everyday, when there’s full of other tasteful options on the menu.

He started hearing stories from friends, who have been in a serious relationship for many years (say 10+, mostly married). However, lately they felt the need to look for something else. Outside of their couple. This something else is mostly defined as sex, and I think we can fairly say that there’s no surprise in here. Keep in mind thought, that I still stand with those who are shocked about this being even just a remote possibility.

As you might have read on a previous post, I can barely share my food with my kids, imagine how I would react if my beloved husband was found having thoughts about looking for sex outside of our marriage!

Yes, but…

What has literally hit me like a bus is that, most of the times, their partners are aware and totally fine with that. And when they are not aware, it is justified as “yes but my first, serious and engaged relationship remains the most important and profound.

Basically, these people reckon that they find themselves attracted by other persons with whom they can just share moments. That’s it. They claim that they are not considering to split up from their partners.

As you can imagine, my first reaction to this story has been WTF! Followed by injuries in Italian and a heartfelt “this is crazy and f****** unacceptable!”. With time though, I am starting to think that my good friend A. might actually have a point.

Do women and men love in a different way?