with @the.truth.doctor, Dr. Courtney Tracy
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
- Unspoken Messages To Moms About Having A Career
- The Social Expectations Of Mothers
- Dealing With Mom Guilt
- Finding Your Stride When Motherhood Doesn’t Go As Planned
- Communicating With Your Partner
- Differentiating Our Values As Parents From Trauma Responses
Do you work as a mother or spend time on a hobby? Motherhood is hard enough without losing those other pieces of ourselves that are so important. But society has a clear idea of what a mom should be, and it’s not always juggling corporate calls and leaving daycare pick up to your partner.
Dr. Courtney Tracy the Truth Doctor is going to help us unpack unspoken messages to moms and why we should ignore them.
Unspoken Messages To Moms About Having A Career
We always talk about how we can have our dreams as a woman, but sometimes it seems like as a mother you lose that. “I definitely pressure myself a lot, or I had pressured myself a lot in the past, but that is likely rooted in the unspoken messages of society and our perspectives on mothers as a whole,” Dr. Courtney said.
“You anticipate who you’re going to be as a mother, and then you realize you’re a mother in the stream of your life as it is,” she said. “Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want it to. I had to accept that this was motherhood for me.”
For Courtney, this meant having an emergency c-section when she wanted a vaginal birth, and anyone who has had a cesarean can tell you the recovery isn’t easy. It also meant facing an eviction, career changes, and changes to her own mental health—mental health changes after having a baby are normal even without all of the external factors she struggled through—with a three-month-old. And the first step to getting through all of that was accepting it.
Like many other moms, Courtney’s experience started with IVF. If you struggle to conceive, the disconnect of what you thought motherhood might be, and how it actually is can start before the baby even gets here.
When we examine the idea of the perfect mother, she has a bit of a form. She sacrifices everything for her children. If we want to embrace modern motherhood and have a career and other things in our life, we have to relinquish some of the responsibility.
“We’re each an individual human, and we each show up differently for the individual humans that are our children,” Dr. Courtney said. People sometimes assume her son may not get the affection he needs, because she’s the breadwinner, but her husband is actually the more nurturing of the two.
“You are your own human being. Your children are their own human beings,” she explained. We need to reevaluate this myth that we’re the best caregiver for our children, because if we can’t trust our partner, or parents, or a trusted sitter to help with childcare, we won’t be able to explore the other parts of ourselves.
Dealing With Mom Guilt
Guilt can be a value-based emotion. We may feel guilty because our children see their teacher at school more than they see us even if it’s because we’re working to help our family. But it’s a value-based emotion. You value spending time with your kids, and it bothers you when you don’t.
Dr. Courtney told us when she feels this way, she knows she’s missing connection. She may clear her schedule for a few days to spend time with her son. But it doesn’t have to be that extreme. Maybe you could do something as simple as reading a bedtime story or watching a family movie after work.
“When I am around myself, I’m hugging him. I’m brushing his hair,” Dr. Courtney said. “Those things help me with the guilt, because I can see in his face that we’re connecting.”
There is a myth that in order to have a strong bond with our kids, we have to spend all of our time with them. It’s just not true. You can have fifteen minutes of really connected, attuned time with your child or hours of disconnected time.
Finding Your Stride When Motherhood Doesn’t Go As Planned
It wasn’t always the plan for Dr. Courtney to be the breadwinner. She actually planned to hire employees and work less. But then her husband got publicly arrested, and she had to fire him.
That meant she had to work more. She had to manage the appearance of her clinic, managing all of their clients, and their employees. Her husband had to step up and take over being the primary caregiver, and after such a traumatic experience, they both struggled with mental health and trauma responses.
They moved to Orange County where Dr. Courtney is from, and she started the truth doctor right after they moved back. She didn’t plan for it to take off the way it did, but The Truth Doctor resonated with people.
She and her husband realized the roles they fell into playing worked out for both of them. He was very nurturing and was equipped to be the stay-at-home parent, and she was equipped to be the breadwinner.
For a while being the breadwinner meant telling her husband, “This is what I need you to take care of this week.” But as her schedule has become more controllable, parenting has become more equal.
Communicating With Your Partner
Communication is invaluable. Dr. Courtney explained that communication has been the most helpful tool in adapting to parenting and in allowing her and her spouse to each adapt to their new roles.
She and her husband actually have monthly meetings to discuss where their son is developmentally and what his goals should be for the month. They set goals and rules for working toward them. There isn’t anything to argue about, because they’ve agreed to parenting choices beforehand. They also have similar meetings to focus on their relationship.
This is genius. We’re used to working this way at our jobs, because having everyone on the same page helps projects and company missions move through the pipeline smoothly. Why have we never thought of this when dealing with the most important thing in our lives—our families?
Differentiating Our Values As Parents From Trauma Responses
“I definitely think that some of our values are shaped by our trauma, because our trauma shakes up what we think about ourselves and the world. It changes the way we protect ourselves moving on,” Dr. Courtney said. “Values don’t always have to have actions and trauma responses usually do.”
“The value can stop the trauma response,” she explained. Dr. Courtney grew up in a multigenerational household with a mentally disabled uncle. He didn’t understand how to use the bathroom, so sometimes he would just use the restroom like a toilet.
This resulted in the bathroom being off-limits for periods of time and for a small child learning to potty train, it also resulted in wearing pull-ups longer than usual. Because of this childhood trauma, it’s very important to her that her son progresses with toilet training age appropriately.
A trauma response might be to rearrange her life, so she can stay home and ensure he’s potty trained properly in a timely manner. “But will that really solve the problem?” she asked. Probably not. Rearranging a kid’s whole life can be counterproductive to potty training. The value stops the trauma response.
This is one of many places in parenting where being aware of your values can be really helpful. If you feel like you aren’t sure what might be a trauma response, and what might be a value, download The Motherhood Roadmap. That can be a great resource in figuring out what’s important to you.
Whether you’re the breadwinner or not, life changes when we’re thrown into parenthood. Resentment can become part of our relationship with our partner either way. If you’re struggling with resentment or it’s affecting your relationship, the Unpacking Resentment Workshop is a good resource to help work through this.
Dr. Courtney Tracy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Doctor of Clinical Psychology who has become one of the most recognizable names on social media regarding mental health. Trailblazing with an amassed online community of over 1.7 million followers, Dr. Tracy uses her platform with two goals in mind: to teach about how the body and mind work through psychoeducation and to destigmatize mental health in all sectors of our human existence. She’s pioneering a new wave of authentic professionalism and offers an unparalleled voice in the world of mental health.
- American Influencer Awards: Vote for Dr. Courtney!
- Dr. Courtney’s Podcast
- Unpacking Resentment Workshop