If Only I Could Be Like My Baby…

If Only I Could Be Like My Baby…

I wrote a few days ago that my computer is broken, but b”H my husband is letting me use his laptop whenever he can. So here you go, enjoy!

This morning at the municipal baby clinic, the nurse handed me a new survey to detect postpartum depression.

The survey contained questions such as;

“Over the past week, have you felt worried for no valid reason?”
“Over the past week, have felt afraid for no valid reason?”
“Over the past week, have you cried for no valid reason?”

When the nurse jotted down my score of 3 she remarked “Kol haKavod! Great job!,” and I noticed that I had achieved the most cheerful score of any of the 5 post-partum JewishMOMs the nurse had seen that day.

But the truth is that I don’t think I’m actually feeling so much better than those other moms. First of all, because I wasn’t 100% honest on the survey (the thought of dealing with appointments recommended by a nurse who thinks I’m stressed out makes me even more stressed out than I already am). But more than that, I think that my summa cum laude survey mostly resulted from those four words “for no valid reason” and my personal interpretation of what is “valid” and what is not.

Yes, I HAVE been feeling more worried and fearful and teary than usual. But I also have abundant valid reasons to feel so! Life in Nachlaot, life in Israel, life in this human race of ours is challenging, especially since I’m tired and my hormones are jumping all around the place like the line an EKG.

For the past month since Yaakov was born, I have been binging upon book after book by psychologist Richard Carlson: You Can Feel Good Again, Shortcut through Therapy, and You Can Be Happy No Matter What.

Carlson’s central belief is that we human beings can ALWAYS find a valid reason to be depressed. If you manage to fix one problem, and you are happy for a short while, you will inevitably find another problem about which you can feel miserable.

He therefore recommends, as I see it, living like my baby Yaakov. Yaakov isn’t haunted and tortured by difficult memories (“it hurt SO MUCH when the nurse gave me that shot this morning, I just can’t stop thinking about it…”) He also isn’t worried about scary things that could happen in the future (“what if eema disappears one day and I am left all alone in this big, scary world to fend for myself…”)

Yaakov just feels good living in this moment.

He feels his mother holding and rocking him, and enjoys nursing and the relief of a good after-burp, and watches his siblings playing and horsing all around. And since he is not focused on thoughts of what was or what will be, in general Yaakov is happy.

So for this past month, with my hormones jumping all around EKG style, I’ve been trying to emulate my newborn son.

When I am under a thought attack, when I find myself obsessing yet again over difficult experiences that were or scary things that might be in the future and I feel myself getting pulled down, I try to focus on the blessings of the present moment instead: my hilarious two-year old crowned with her disobedient mop of golden hair, the mushy sweetness of the melon that is presently sliding down my throat, the cotton ball clouds that soar above my head without a care in the world.

I don’t always succeed. Sometimes the thought attack wins that day’s battle. But at least my goal is clear.

I aspire to grow up to be like my newborn son. Not stuck in the was or the will be, but rather blossoming in the sweet calm wisdom of the here and now.

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4 comments

  1. “For no valid reason” is definitely problematic phrasing. Who defines what a “valid reason” is?

    Another thing I would add is that living in the moment doesn’t always mean being happy. Sometimes the moment is sad, and we have to give ourselves legitimacy to be sad as well. The idea is not to hold on to either the joy or the sadness, to just let what is be, enjoy what is good and trust that what isn’t good will pass in its time.

  2. Sharon Saunders

    If you need help with anything you know you can call me!

  3. I highly recommend the book “The Happiness Trap” (by Russ Harris). He discusses how difficult feelings and negative thoughts come up involuntarily in all of us. The book offers amazing and effective strategies for unhooking ourselves from these thoughts in order to focus on living our lives according to our values rather than spending our energy on struggling with these thoughts and feelings.

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