My mom remembers me often wandering off to follow babies and young children when I was very young myself. That curiosity and fascination with little ones has proven to be lifelong! As I grew older I became a babysitter, nanny, preschool teacher and then went on to study psychology with a growing fascination around early development, attachment and early trauma. After a short time working within a therapeutic preschool and traditional child care setting I went back to school to get my masters in social work. Young children remained my focus as much as possible. And the desire to support parents in forming healthy, nurturing relationships with their children from the start grew deeper and deeper.
Once I graduated with my MSW I worked as a therapist with families with young children, many of whom had experienced early trauma, then as an administrator and innovator of programs. Over the years I also worked as a coordinator within a volunteer doula program, as a mental health consultant to childcare providers and parents, and as a therapist in outpatient, in-home and private practice settings. My favorite roles involved taking the latest information about how we humans grow, think and develop and using it to create workshops or programs to support parents and caregivers in understanding and meeting the needs of their babies and young children.
At the same time having a family and becoming a mother was something I longed for. Later than most I became a wife, as well as a step-mom to two amazing kids, and then after a long journey, when it seemed so unlikely my husband and I became parents to our youngest through adoption.
And even with all of my education and years supporting other parents and families (or maybe because of...) I wasn't prepared for how my world would be rocked by this new experience. Every facet of my life suffered in those early months and years of my baby's life, including my health (a life long journey and story in itself!), my relationships with my most cherished people, and my own sense of self. So, in addition to lots of training and experience, I now have my own catalog of observations, mistakes, challenges and lessons learned. This also led me to start a healing journey to reclaim and reshape all of those areas of my life including a year of studying wellness and nutrition through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. "
Bagwhan Shree Rajneesh
Among the many lessons I learned (or relearned) as a new parent were:
- This is a soul stretching journey for which we need layers of support! And yet we live in a culture that often leaves new parents isolated.
- Babies are a-w-e-some and are often our best teachers. They are exquisitely aware, conscious and present from the beginning in ways we can't perceive until we are intimately involved in their care and we have the luxury of s-l-o-w-I-n-g down. (Babies kind of demand it if we are understanding their language.)
- We need nourishing food, some uninterrupted sleep, time with our partner and time alone in order to meet our baby or child(ren)'s needs for connection, comfort and nourishment.
- Our first relationships from childhood are the foundation for our ability to navigate our most important relationships as adults and oftentimes healing is needed, again and again.
- Our physical health and mental well-being are intricately tied, as they are for our children.
- All behavior has meaning. Theirs and ours.
- Gentleness is called for.
- Waiting and watching creates space for them to develop strength, persistence, confidence and agency. It also gives us space to see our little ones more clearly.
So, whether you are just embarking on this intense and beautiful journey or are at a fork in the path and looking for support to find your own inner compass (again), I am here for you.