Introducing Motherhood Sessions
Hi Everyone my name is Dr Alexander Sachs. I'm a colleague and friend of US stairs and the host of another therapy. podcast called mother had sessions Russians. If you like where should we begin. I think you'll also really like our show each episode. I sit down with women who've come in with a question or a problem And we work on it together. We explore issues like guilt and burnout adoption and fertility career aspirations and disappointments. This and I'm so excited to share an episode from the new season of motherhood sessions. It's about a woman who grew up in a low income neighborhood and is now raising her daughter under much more privileged circumstances. She's worried about spoiling her daughter and trying to learn how to teach your do appreciate all that she has so. If you like this episode you can hear every episode of Motherhood Sessions for free on spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. I learned the value of hard work very early. On from the people around me. I grew up in a low income country country and and like you know things were never handed to us or to me or to my family or whatever like you had to work hard for them and to me. That's how it should be raising my little one in the US. I think I worry that She may not know her like she may not understand her own privilege. We arrived in this country with a hundred in one dollars and sixty seven cents. I have a master's degree and two bachelor's degree we own a home. We have a car. I mean I have a phone you know. We have a laptop at home. But that's not like it's an. I'm not trying to be funny but like it's a big deal and in my head I'm like I am so grateful and therefore I want to be able to have that be passed on. Yeah and it's nothing to do with her. She doesn't know when you're at. It isn't nothing to she's the sweetest. She is so sweet. He's loving and cuddly and so sweet but at the same time I you know I want her to be able to. Yeah no that there are people that that go without a lake. will she be generous while she kind while she was. She could human being if she ends up not being as appreciative or great faller maybe understanding her privileged alleged. Maybe I failed we. I didn't do my job in helping her get there. This is motherhood sessions. I'm Dr Alexandra Sacks. Today I'm talking with the woman were calling d. She lives in a quiet suburb of Washington. DC with her husband and two year old daughter. Dis Family is originally from India but she grew up in Kenya then at the age of nineteen she immigrated to the US with her family. They were seeking asylum after racially motivated. Violence flared up in their hometown down now twenty years later D.. His built a life of safety and stability but she's unsure of how to raise a daughter in such a different environment than the one she grew up in. I think my childhood was a mixed bag. How so so we lived In a coastal town. It's like a tiny island. The size of Key West is what I tell people. It's small we. It wasn't a super rich neighborhood. It wasn't like it wasn't I think it was like middle middle of the road by Kenyan standards It wasn't like high end but it wasn't complete like poverty But it is he's just very Idyllic Angelic you say in Yeah Very Lake laid back coastal type environment There was there. Was this building across from us. That was perpetually under construction. Kept joking owner kept running out of money after like one little little brick was being put on so there was always like construction site that gave us lots of fodder to do nefarious activities. But then at the age of fourteen May Dad died and I had to grow up very fast. How did Your Dad die here? I am sorry he had a heart attack. Yeah My d do you remember that day. Yeah he she had the my right in front of me My mom actually wasn't at home and I was sitting out sitting in the living room. Do My homework and he came the home and he just sort of like clutched his chest and like had trouble walking. And I didn't in my head I was like I don't know what's happening. Exciting to get help and he was his big band or he was mad six foot. You know I don't know to fifty pounds or something like that so little me. I wasn't going to be able to hold come up so called for my neighbors and said Hey I need I need help. You know that he's not doing well. Can you please come help. Blake look up like what's happening and that we need to call my mom like we. I think we need to take him to the hospital now. You must have been so scared. I was I just. I just wanted my mom there I was like. I don't know what I'm doing uh-huh and I don't know if anything that I'm doing is helping so I think I like. By the time my mom came home. The neighbors were already taking him Down and so then she went off to the hospital and I think he was pronounced dead upon arrival. We'll be worked on him or what they did to work. Come up It wasn't until very late that night. That like my mom came home and I just knew make. No one ever told me that my dad passed away I just knew And then in my culture the firstborn child actually the first born son takes on one like a bunch of responsibility as far as like things that need to be done for the funeral and and often the daughter doesn't get like much you know the boy child is given a little bit more sort of status or whatever but my mom my mom and sister. She's like she is my firstborn son. She should be there. She should be there so I got into only two. It's just you and your sister. Yeah and she is. She kept saying it she was like she is my firstborn son that like this all of a sudden like Oh aw I am her first son so I guess you describe this as being a time Roy. Feel like your childhood hood. Kind of the the innocence of your childhood ended. I think at the age of fourteen. I just knew all of a sudden I didn't I couldn't be a child and that I had to. I had to help my mom and you know she. She bless her heart. She's like an amazing mother. She worked so hard to sort of helped me and my sister Get through life but it was just very real to me that I just couldn't be this carefree kid Really had to figure out my life and I had a a little sister that that also dependent on me And so but I just feel like I took on a parenting role very very early and then we moved My mom she in her mind she was like okay. I have two girls I have to figure out how to get them situated in life and how to to sort of lake get us away From from where we were because increasingly like from a safety perspective It was part Away from a safety fifty perspective like just like the age that we were we had heard a lot of girls getting being raped and That belong to our skin color and all of that In your home in our town there have been there had been a tax on young girls. Yes we actually new family friends. Whose little girl was you know kidnapped and taken away and it was just horrible horrible stuff off? You just don't want anybody to think about kind of thing and so I think that she in her mind was like I gotta protect my girls and it was gas. Yeah system systematically happening to people at least at that time people who were Indian and they were living in Kenya and historically. There's there has been tension in Kenya Amongst folks of Indian background who've been living there for a while there's tension between the Kenyans who were black and the Kenyans who are Indian yes there. There was racism between those two groups. I think so. Actually I know so. When Kenya was was colonized by the British they basically made Indians the lake perhaps the civil servants servants in the government or they gave them different positions of power? So I think that with that legacy I think that that that then has manifested in today. This a sense of like well. These foreigners have taken resources from US and now they're they're really well off and they're able to own you you know whatever bland or businesses homes at here. There's did it over and as I think so. Yeah I don't think people were very nice like two to black people either I saw some things that I'm just like this. You're you're not being very you're not treating people respect you know there's just this like there's a real division from your experience before your dad died before you were fourteen where you had a a real sense of harmony and safety in your neighborhood. Yeah I now is. You're talking to me. I'm realizing part of. It is probably also that the the Carton was lifted after my dad passed away and therefore I was exposed to perhaps more adult conversations may be I was exposed to a a bit more responsibility and all of that. I had to like maybe shift my my mind yet to think another different way existed me. My parents were always worried. Who knows wrong and so and so you moved you you you move because there was crime in your town that you are more aware of after you were fourteen and your mom was increasingly concerned about? I think that's I think that's it anything that she fell the because she was now solely responsible that this was it's all on her and that she felt probably you know she just couldn't they physically What's the word like she couldn't physically control things? Yeah and so if things would happen. She's like well I don't I don't have a I don't know for lack of a better word. CONSOL religion out of the foot. Tall Ma'am yes just like. I don't have a man by my side to like fight over the bad guys like this is probably what she was thinking. there's A. Yeah and then things that happen that Layton. I think that just made it harder. The just get got the urgency urgency for her to be like. We need to just leave. This is not good. I just don't see a good way and so I think you're you're worried about your daughter missing something because she's growing up in Washington. DC In and it was something you got that that seems important to you or something. You're proud of about that informs your identity in a very clear way. Yeah so I think the the the I ten to live in like night tend to live in like there's the ideals then that I see and I want to strive for those ideals But then I also realistically I know she's not going to have the same exact childhood like she's not right. It's not reality but in my brain but I want her to have this piece and this piece in this piece from your past from my past What are you what are you worried? Your daughter is missing by by growing up in the US. I worry that she won't know her roots to some degree. And that the that Matt that might lend itself to do not being grateful and appreciative of what she does have and I don't want her to lake. I don't WanNa specifically deprive her just so she can understand. That's not my thing either but at the same time I like it was hard for me to register for things for Our baby shower. I kept getting told by my friends and people that were hosting there. Were like you need to put more on here and like but that's enough like would much. Does she need. No people. WanNa Lake. Bless you they WANNA give and I'm like but she does. I need eight million stuff toys and not that we registered for that but she let the anyway You know it just in my head. I'm like I think I think I have a hard time with staf because I didn't have a a lot of stuff and therefore I find it hard when my child is being bestowed with stuff that I see that I'm like will will. She appreciate the stuff I worry that if she turns out to be spoilt lack lack of a better word spoiled well Brat. I'm just GonNa have our time with that and that will will she generous. will she be kind. will she understand that like there. Here is life outside her little bubble. Will you like her. I hope I always do but I think that's what you're afraid of. I think that's what you're anxious about Maybe you look so sad right now. I don't know it. I had a hard time liking her in the beginning. We I I might. I don't think I was officially diagnosed. But I think I had a little bit of postpartum. I think you know breath ration. Yeah Depression thank you. I think you know breastfeeding was hard. The early days were hard. She'd call egg. She cried for hours on end and reflux. We couldn't put her down. My husband like tell people tell people we have this joke of how him and I both were not horizontal talk at the same time for the first eight weeks of her life because we were holding her upright and was sleeping on a chair. which is they tell you not to do? The only way she she was quiet which wouldn't cry Any like very much. I think it took me time. Someone said to me that Lake you fall in love very slowly I I felt. I don't know where I heard that. But maybe like I didn't mm fall in love with her as quickly as most MOMS do. Or maybe a Lotta MOMS rebuild. Take time to bond with their babies to yeah and maybe I was looking sad tad earlier just now that I'm like and finally at the place where I like actually like her and now I'm like I don't I don't WanNa not like again. That was horrible back then because it felt out lake. You know everyone's joyous around the baby and I just couldn't feel joy into that feeling that I had which was first born or in her early days something like I hate that. I don't WanNa feel that way towards her pets. I think what you're nervous but that's what you're here to talk about your here to you plan and educate yourself and protect yourself for the future for how to think to think about how to parent Kid Who's going to have a lot of things that you didn't have a child and had apparent that type of a person so that she can grow up as someone who you do like the take your kid with your the values that you're proud of and then I worry that m. i. swinging the pendulum the the other way overly indulgent or harsh harsh overly harsh on her worried that you're you're becoming spoiled. Yes yes the my husband. He's kind gracious man. He loved so oh well and he loves her soil and like I can see their relationship and sometimes I'm like why can't I just relax and just enjoy her. Why can I just feel like I can just enjoy her and love on her? Without worrying. You know that lake by Lovey on her unresolved resolve. Wrigley said the word like unabashedly. If I love on her unabashedly that she's going to be okay. I think I feel like I need to hustle to get myself in a stable situation That I can't really fully relaxed because you know what if something were to happen. When what if the bottom water fall out again and so then I'm like I really can't fully fully relax? Do you think that you are still working through some feelings about what was kind of taken away from you at the age fourteen. And and maybe you have. There is some grieving that you're still doing about about that. And that perhaps that may get stirred up for you at points as you look at your daughter and her sort of the comforts and privileges that she will have I think so I mean I. I didn't I didn't think about it before with this as an in the clear crisp way like you put it I I think that's also something that I struggle with. A lot is as you know what they if I have the whole myself. If I allow myself to fit feel full will the fullness of joy in the fullness of life it tastes dot and then all of a sudden that fullness is taken taken away I am going to be shattered so I feel this need to always be protecting myself. And that's taking taking away the joy of mothering for me God. I never realized that applied to set right now however we slice this. I think they're allowed a lot of different ways to look at kind of like the fear he walked in with. And what it's really about. I think the general theme here is that the fear you walked in with the. You're not going to be a good enough mother. You're you're not going to be able to accomplish something that you want in your mothering to raise a mindful child with privilege but I I I think but what it's really about and the work that is going to get help you resolve this. Fear is about Canna revisiting some some unsolved wounds from your past from that abrupt ending of the sweetness Kness of your childhood when you grow up very fast at age fourteen and I think you have some more grieving to do there so that your your story can feel a little bit more healed and whole and so that you can have some emotional space to view. Your daughter story is as new as different but I think grieving as is that. I think that there is a part where I'm like. It wasn't fair for me. ETA Not grow up without my dad like I. She has something that I don't have. And how dare she and I'm like that's not fair way. She didn't choose at neither did I. I think it's it's hard for you to trust this thing that you're providing for your daughter because it was ripped ripped away from you because I think you came in and you were locating the problem. Oh outside outside of you in these places that made you worried. Am I raising her in a place where. She's not going to be a person who's thoughtful of her privilege which she has diversity but I think the the problem. The thing that you need to work on is not outside. It's not as much in like the day-to-day parenting choices as it is. I think about the inner work mark of healing this grief. That is from your own. Childhood Hood is being activated by raising a child. And I think what's so so powerful today is that you've gotten in touch with some projection that I think has been happening where you know because you have had so much real trauma and loss and I think you're this fear about whether or not you're going to do a good job as a mom. I think there's more than one way to learn the lesson of being grateful for what you have. You learned it by not not having you were grateful for what you had because you did not have you do not have a telephone. You did not have at a certain point of father right. But that's not the only way to learn about privilege the challenge on just going to be the teacher daughter about what she has and what other people don't have while she's not being deprived of anything. And that's uncharted territory for me. I don't know how to do that. Well you haven't lived through yet. Yeah but this was sort of the whole beautiful plan here. You know that was the plan. Annalong is for your family. It'd be in a different place than where you begin your mom. She did not. Don't want your daughter her granddaughter to be in the same position as you. She wanted to move her family forward. That that's part of why she left at her home. And so you know you're you're exactly where your mom worked very hard for you to be this confusing in place of having and also being thoughtful. I don't think that's going to be so hard. The teacher little girl that it's hard to teach a two year old that because two year olds. Don't understand abstract concepts so right now you're not gonNA teach it to her but yeah and understand. I think that's that's not the hard part. I think you're gonNA find that to be easier than you fear. I think what the hard part is is healing. Your Own Wounds and reckoning with your own grief about what what you when you were fourteen may think cure rate. I think I think like experiencing joy fully is hard for me. It's a Lotta work. It's a lot of work. Oh my gosh. But it's worth it. It's worth it because it's going to give you a clear her to see your little girl and her separate childhood. That is a separate story from your story. It's going to help you be a better mom. Yeah I think so. I think that it feels hopeful you to have it. It's not even a leak. I think our conversation has just been really hopefully right now. I feel really a hopeful to some degree that that there is a way to work through some of this. It's not just mental hamster wheel. You know we turning thing that I gotta do this. GotTa do this and what about that like. It feels hopeful that there is this other thing that has been completely stone unturned not turned yet that maybe that their ways to work on this. That might help. The mother had sessions is a production auction of Gimblett media and spotify it's produced by Peter Bresnahan. Our editors are Devon Taylor and Nazanin Rafsanjani Music and mixing by Emma Monger. And we'll have a brand new episode next week.