Smiling womanHolidays are known to be stressful times for many of us. High expectations, family tensions, forced “happiness,” and rigid traditions can cause sadness and frustration. All we can see are our perceived failures at creating a life that meets some ideal of what our lives “are supposed to be.” But let’s be real, that perfect life is unattainable because it doesn’t exist. Who of us doesn’t have some dysfunction in our families and our lives? No one I know.

One key to coping is remembering that everyone is coping with something. Behind every closed door is a dysfunctional family of sorts. It can take a while to realize the truth in this statement but as we move away from our birth families and open our eyes to the realities of the crazy world we live in, we realize that dysfunction is a long continuum. I used to put the Cosby Show family on the highly functional end of the scale. Now that we can see behind that particular door, how wrong was that??? Where would you place yourself on the functional family continuum? Not as good as some, but a lot better than many?

The other key to coping that I like to suggest is to treat yourself like the child you don’t [yet] have. What would you do for your child if you saw that she was struggling with stress, disappointment, depression? You would take care of her in any way that you could. You would try to make her feel better. Not only would you would recommend counseling, you would find a counselor, make the appointment and drive her there yourself. You would pay for it. And you would take her for an ice cream sundae afterwards.

While you are waiting for that child, get in touch with your inner child, find out what would help her and take care of it for her. Here are my suggestions:

  1. Make sure she has the time she needs to do the things that will help her most. Replace the things that unnecessarily suck her time and replace them with things that will comfort and de-stress her.
    • Weekly or monthly massage appointments
    • A series of acupuncture treatments for infertility
    • An infertility support group, either live or on-line
    • An on-line meditation group, like Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s
  2. Find her a local counselor and make her an appointment. Many hours of counseling go unused each year because people don’t realize that their medical health care insurance will pay for it. Look into it for her and sign her up for a 6-week session. This site will help you locate counselors with experience helping infertile women and couples:
  3. Change her life. Now may be just the time to help her to find a new trajectory for her life. What has she always wanted to do but hasn’t had the courage?
    • Start a craft shop on Etsy?
    • Go back to school for photography?
    • Become a bartender? A poet? A hip hop dancer?

      Have her fill in the blank, then work through the steps it will take to do that. This can help her envision a future she wants to be in, and give her things to do that make her feel optimistic and accomplished.
  4. Be kind to her. Do her favors. Make her smile.
    • Watch comedies with her at least once a week.
    • Buy her a mattress top comforter. New slippers. A microwavable shoulder wrap.
    • Get her nails done regularly, and her toes, too.

This Mother’s Day, commit to taking care of your inner child and her mother – you!

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