Doing your “hamwork,” part 1

July 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Today I am pleased to share a guest post by Kristin B. Hodson, CSW, LCS and Alisha Worthington, BSW, SSW. First, here is some background about them…

Kristin B. Hodson, MSW, LCSW
Founder, Psychotherapist, The Healing Group
Kristin prides herself on offering hope, compassion and professional expertise in a warm and safe environment. She holds a Master of Social Work, Clinical and Medical, from the University of Utah, and a Bachelor of Social Work, International Emphasis, from Brigham Young University, Hawaii. She also earned an Associate Degree in Psychology from Salt Lake Community College and is pursuing a Postpartum Doula Certification through DONA. For Kristin’s full bio, visit www.thehealinggroup.com.

Alisha Worthington, BSW, SSW
Educator, The Healing Group
As a mom of six children and an educator at The Healing Group, Salt Lake City, Alisha shares her knowledge and passion for motherhood in a nurturing and non-judgmental environment with women of many backgrounds and perspectives.
She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Brigham Young University and is a board member of the Utah Friends of Midwives. For Alisha’s full bio, visit www.thehealinggroup.com.

Doing Your “Hamwork,” Part 1

There is a classic story we love to tell about three generations of women standing in the kitchen getting ready to bake the Christmas ham. After years of watching her grandma and mom prepare the ham, it’s now the turn of the adult daughter. She gets out her large roasting pan, takes the gorgeous ham and unceremoniously lops off two large pieces from either side of the ham and throws them away. Horrified the grandma asks the daughter why on earth she would do such a thing? With a confused look, she replies “Because that’s what my mom always did!” The mother shoots back that she only did that because she watched her mother, the grandma, do it. The grandma heaves a sigh and says the only reason she cut off the ends of the ham was because she didn’t have a pan big enough to fit the whole thing!

The point of this story is we as women and mothers have generations of mothering traditions passed down to us directly and indirectly. There may be something in your mama toolbox that was actually something your grandma or great-grandma used
to do. However, without questioning if those things are in fact good for you, your mothering style and your family, you may be metaphorically lopping off the ends of perfectly good ham just because that was what was done.

One such area that demands a closer look is the time immediately after a baby is born. It is such a whirlwind of newness, of feedings, of bodily fluids, of sweetness and of despair that we sometimes don’t realize the immense changes taking place physically,
emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The demands made of a new mom are astonishing and sometimes we tend to downplay the difficulty because we are trying to “do motherhood” like our moms and grandmas did—without understanding they had hard times, too, as well as the context of their circumstances or the limitations and strengths of their time.

These passed down ways of thinking often show themselves in the form of a “should.” I “should” be able to handle a baby, the house, and my husband completely on my own. I “should” be happy and grateful to be a mom 24/7 and “never” admit I feel more like a zombie from “The Walking Dead” than anything else. When someone sincerely asks you why you are doing “such and such” and the majority of the time you answer with the phrases, “Because I should.” Or, “That’s what I’m supposed to do.” It may be time to question the origins of all those “shoulds” and “supposed tos” and figuratively quit wasting so much ham.

Stay tuned for part 2…