"educated" SAHM needs intellectual stimulation - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Any ideas for how to satisfy my brain? I'm really glad to be a SAHM but was previously teaching college English/Philosophy and reading Goodnight Moon three times a day isn't really doing it for me. My 16 mo old DD is wonderful and we enjoy doing a lot together (especially active things) but I want to talk about literature, politics, philosophy. My DH does this sometimes but he's often too tired or we're absorbed by DD most of the time we are together.

Some things that have been helping are reading New Yorker, NYTimes online, date night w/DH, online discussions. I was teaching one class but it was still a lot of work to do at home and I found myself neglecting my own pursuits to correct papers. I do get together with some other moms with similar lives, but we just end up talking about poop, teething and our kids even tho we have the best intentions. Just hard to accept the change that my life is no longer about my intellectual pursuits.

I'd love to hear how other SAHMs feed their minds. Thanks!
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#2 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 01:43 PM
 
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Read books.
Join a book club.
Volunteer with an organization you believe in.
Write a novel.
Plan regular girls night outs where you go out WITHOUT the kids and do something non-kid related.

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#3 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 01:50 PM
 
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Joining a book club was a great escape for me. Esp. since the club consisted of single girls, married girls w/o kids, working moms, gay men and others who had different things going on in their lives other than babies. We not only talked about books but very little of the conversation centered about baby stuff.

Homeschooling mama of four fantastic kids and wife to one great guy.
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#4 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 01:56 PM
 
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Hi!

I just wanted to say that I echo your sentiment. I have not quite found what will keep my intellectual side satisfied either. I've just come out from 5 years academia and work...and my intellect feels like it's come to a grinding halt.


Reading and doing research has kept me stimulated, but not challenged like I want. Not sure what will help! I'm loving being a SAHM through and through though...

Writting a book seems like a good one. I generally find keeping myself really busy with activities helps.

Good luck!

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#5 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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I'm not "educated" formally, but I do have a serious need to keep my brain stimulated.

Reading obviously is a huge mental outlet and having a few people I can interact with that have similar interests helps.

I recently joined a book club.

I have my little activism side that I engage by piping up about things that matter to me. Writing to government officials, supporting causes I believe in makes me feel involved and alive.

Also just keep reminding yourself that while your life has changed, it will continue to change. Eventually you'll be sad because your kids don't need you as much- and then it'll be your time again.
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#6 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 02:58 PM
 
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I think most SAHM's, educated or not, need to find a way to stimulate their minds intellectually.

You could always take an online class (or on-campus for that matter). The other suggestions sound great, too. I enjoy reading, writing, researching and learning a variety of new things -- heck, just a decent adult conversation when the opportunity presents itself is stimulating enough.

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#7 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 03:02 PM
 
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I think the easiest thing to do would be to look for/start a group for mothers like you who want to discuss intellectual things. Make a rule that there can be 15-minutes of mama talk at the beginning and then, no more diaper discussions. Maybe it would be easier if you had a specific topic to talk about each week.
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#8 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 03:13 PM
 
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I think most SAHM's, educated or not, need to find a way to stimulate their minds intellectually.

You could always take an online class (or on-campus for that matter). The other suggestions sound great, too. I enjoy reading, writing, researching and learning a variety of new things -- heck, just a decent adult conversation when the opportunity presents itself is stimulating enough.
s

School is a fantastic outlet for me. I'm taking Summer off, but staying busy really helps me through the rainy season here in the PacNW. I usually take 1-2 online classes & 1 onsite class while my daughter is at her 1/2 day preschool 2x/week. My onsite classes are 1x/week, so the other day she's at preschool I can get a lot of work done.

The online classes usually intense & have prompt deadlines, but if you have time to post on Mothering you have time to for a virtual classroom

It's difficult at times to find balance, but practice helps. If you were just teaching one class then maybe school just isn't for you It's a lot of home work.

You could also pull up Syllabuii from classes that interest you & follow them at your own pace with books from the library.

Wife to my of 10 years, SAHM to my 2 beautiful homebirthed girls Sydney (4/29/2006) Kennedy (3/21/2010) & 1 super Newfoundland
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#9 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 03:29 PM
 
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The online classes usually intense & have prompt deadlines, but if you have time to post on Mothering you have time to for a virtual classroom
so true... I just need to ban myself from MDC so I can spend more time studying.

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#10 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 03:36 PM
 
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Read, read, read. Try some online classes 'for fun' that are challenging to you!
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#11 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 03:49 PM
 
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I took art classes at night for years. On and off with yoga. Meeting new folks and learning new skills can satisfy my brains for a time.

Book club is crucial. Find one that actually discusses the book. Some woman seem to think this is just an excuse for a grousing session. A time for them to get tipsy and complain about their husbands. Steer clear of those.

I use Meetup and Meetin online to find groups of folks who love the things I love.

Good luck.
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#12 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 08:53 PM
 
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I have a radio in my kitchen and when I am in there, and in my car, I listen to our local NPR station. That allows me to be engaged/learning as I go about more mundane aspects of my day.

Katherine mother to DS 8/03 and DD1 9/06 and DD2 6/10
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#13 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Lots of good suggestions. I do have a wonderful book group that is fabulous, as is the time I have to read. But the group meets one day a month and I have to be diligent about reading since my day often doesn't allow for an hour of uninterrupted time. I can't read like I want to when my dd is awake.

Yoga & taking classes sound good but we don't have the $$ right now for daycare or class fees. I really don't think I could do a class anyway, that's a lot of time and for me requires much more focus than chatting on MDC. And writing a novel...are you kidding? That's exactly what I miss, I used to write a lot but there's no time (or $ to make time by hiring someone to do my chores or take care of dd) or energy to do that now.

I guess I really miss the extended time to focus and analyze, and as one person said, that time will return to my life in a few years when my dd is in school. For the time being, I'll really force more people in my life to discuss these things with me As well as making mothering my activism and analysis for the time being. Thank you for the thoughts, some great ideas!
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#14 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 09:03 PM
 
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i hear ya.... they totally killed me when they shut down the news and current events and politics forum!!! that was my source for non baby talk, mental stimulation, and intelligent debate...now i don't know what to do!!!
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#15 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 09:48 PM
 
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I've said pretty much exactly the same thing! Thinking of ways to gently discipline and teach my 2 year old is definitely an intellectual pursuit, but I do need activities that stretch my mind in directions outside my home.

But I completely know where you are coming from. I need some stimulating adult mental activity that doesn't involve my children. After my son was born, I became involved working with non-profits on causes that are important to me. I'm working with the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services and Solace for Mothers. I've also gotten out the house for Irish dance classes and I find that a very fulfilling challenge to focus my mind and my body in that way.

Is there other ways than teaching that you could put your education to use? I like the write a novel idea, and if not the length of a novel, for literary magazines and periodicals? Too bad, MDC doesn't have the politics and current events forums anymore, you probably would have been titillated by those. What about working from home? What about finding a community college to teach online classes through? The students' papers would be relatively short...

M.Ed. Mama to Chunka (1/07), Beauty (5/09) and Elizabear 3/12): Birth Doula (working toward certification) AAMI Midwifery Student, Advocating with Solace for Mothers & The Birth Survey

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#16 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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I decided to get my social worker's license activated again, and will begin doing some volunteer work a few hours a week. My plan is, in a couple of years, to work part-time. I can't handle it any more. And my MSW cost $$$ to get, so it'll be nice to put it to good use. My brain, too!!!
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#17 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 10:12 PM
 
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I am kind of a math geek and at the end of the day, when I need a break I like doing puzzles from here http://www.krazydad.com/puzzles.php

I am also trying to start writing and possibly submitting to some magazines.

And my husband thinks I should write a mystery novel.

And, well, we are homeschooling so that is pretty stimulating in and of itself. I am learning many things I never knew.
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#18 of 59 Old 06-23-2009, 11:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post
I think most SAHM's, educated or not, need to find a way to stimulate their minds intellectually.

You could always take an online class (or on-campus for that matter). The other suggestions sound great, too. I enjoy reading, writing, researching and learning a variety of new things -- heck, just a decent adult conversation when the opportunity presents itself is stimulating enough.
I've had a good time taking classes at community college--things like letterpress printing, off-set printing, writing classes, biology (just for fun). I can take a class and then take a semester off... And they don't have to be towards anything.

Book groups can be good.... of you can't find a good one, start one!

And reading. Writing letters that have more to do with ideas then the blah blah blah of day to day.

Find a project--write a book, learn to paint, learn a new language, it doesn't have to be a purely intellectual pursuit to be intellectually stimulating.

I struggle with this as well. Learning to cook strange things has also been fun, since you need to eat anyway, eh?

And know you are not alone, but it does get better... bonding with you child will pay off when s/he is big enough to have a really interesting conversation with, and share books with.

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#19 of 59 Old 06-24-2009, 02:00 AM
 
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Kudos to you mamas taking online classes! I couldn't take the pressure of exams or papers with a tiny baby.

I don't know what it is but I will go out of my way to make sure I read the news every day before my husband comes home so I have something to discuss with him but I always completely forget what I've read soon after - LOL!!

Lately, I have been so interested in learning about the economy. I found a very entertaining podcast explaining how markets work and I listen to the podcast while I cook or take dd for walks. I also read and write to the comments section of the podcast site. It is such a new field to me but I find it very fascinating and it definetly satisfies my intellectual side.

Totally in love with my sweet dd (March/09)
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#20 of 59 Old 06-24-2009, 02:47 PM
 
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I read a book every week or every 2 weeks. My DH and I pick topics to discuss that really stimulate us and its a lot of fun. Joining groups is a good way too. I will be going back to college in about 2 years, online though to be a Midwife. I have already been to college once, but when I became pregnant I became a SAHM.
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#21 of 59 Old 06-24-2009, 09:36 PM
 
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I'm finding it helpful to study something I never had any interest in or knowledge of before - history. I started it because I'm planning to homeschool and thought I had better learn some (I never learned any of it in school), and at first it felt like it would be a chore, but now the interest has taken on a life of its own and I'm enjoying exploring a new area. So maybe a subject you never wanted to explore before could become a very satisfying new interest.

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#22 of 59 Old 06-24-2009, 09:44 PM
 
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-go to school
-debate hot button topics online
-hang out w/ someone i can talk to (ok so right now that is only my mom and sister but still that's better than dd's plush dog )

Mama to expecting Babe 2
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#23 of 59 Old 06-24-2009, 09:45 PM
 
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I read, a ton. I joined a feminist book club, I started a writing group for mothers in the area, and we meet, the kids play, and we drink coffee and share our writing prompts, and I try to get out a bunch of times a month with friends. I also have a part time nanny so I can work on my writing/work and other interests.

It's important. Keeps ME sane, and my daughter is happier when I'm 100% attentive and not wishing I were discussing the Second Sex somewhere ;]

If you ever wanna chat we can talk other stuff besides poo diapers

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#24 of 59 Old 06-24-2009, 09:47 PM
 
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I have a similar background to yours, OP, and I have done a lot of the things that pp have mentioned -- volunteering on the board of a "crunchy" organization, taking child development and child psychology classes via distance ed, book clubs, etc. I have to say it is wonderful to be doing the child development classes because I learn a lot, and my homework often involves doing observations of my own kids, which is not onerous. Some moms scrapbook their kids' childhoods; my kids will have a folder of observation reports and papers written about their development

I wanted to add that when I am really needing some intelligent adult conversation, I turn on highbrow talk radio -- usually CBC, but sometimes other stations I come across online. Sometimes I send email responses to shows, so it feels like a conversation. Or I listen to podcasts. Or books on cd from the library. My body may be washing dishes or changing diapers, but my brain is listening to science news or an interview with a radical poet, or an audio of a classic novel I never got around to reading....helps keep those parts of my brain and soul alive.... A big CBC fan in my life once told me that listening regularly to CBC radio one for 4 years was a pretty good substitute for a general BA degree in terms of education, and I could buy that, actually...

ETA also, I mostly lurk on a couple of Listserv lists for early childhood educators and psychologists -- fields I have a strong interest in but not an expertise in. I used to participate in these kinds of lists in my own former field (English, 18th c-19th c) and the quality of discussion amd thought can be very exciting.
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#25 of 59 Old 06-24-2009, 11:00 PM
 
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Try something you've been dying to learn, something so unique. For me, I'm learning a language, greening my thumb at gardening, reading, and blogging.
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#26 of 59 Old 06-25-2009, 12:16 AM
 
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I haven't read all of the replies so I apologize if my suggestions overlap too much!

I joined a book club so I'll ditto everyone else who said that. I love my book club and read WAY more now than just our 1 book per month.

Have you thought about auditing a class? That way you don't have the workload but still the stimulation?

Do you have any sort of debate/political groups in your area that you could join?

What about volunteering in a place that could be mentally stimulating?

I have seriously let my mind fade. I was in academia and I am now smack dab in the middle of SAH Motherhood to a toddler. I should really take my own advice

Mom to Nora - 04/07 and Brendan - born still at 23 weeks - 07/10
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#27 of 59 Old 06-25-2009, 02:16 AM
 
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This has nothing to do with you personally OP, but when women I know IRL have complained that they were bored while SAH because they were too "educated and intellectual" I always thought to myself, "if you are so smart then why can't you think of something to do." It is one of those statements that often leave some SAHMs feeling put down or self conscious if worded the right (wrong?) way. Especially when it is dripping with that "it may be good enough for *you*..." tone of voice.

In all seriousness, I do get the need to stimulate your mind. I think there are so many factors that make it difficult for some women to make the adjustment to staying at home without feeling bored. Often being at home makes it necessary to find a whole new set of people to hang out with (because everyone else is at work all day). And getting to know other moms usually happens by discussing kids. Once you get to know some women who you have things in common with it is easier to get beyond the mommy talk. That took me 5 YEARS to do. Sometimes the only common ground I have with people is the fact that we both have children.

Also, some people are self-motivated when it comes to keeping themselves fulfilled, others are not. Neither way is the right way, we are all unique. Some need a little help looking outside of the way they used to do things.

In reality, there are so many interesting and wonderful things to do in a day. And finding ways to do them while caring for children adds a whole new level of creativity. What are your interests? What have you always wanted to learn? Now is the time to do it. Not only do you have the ability to create your own schedule (with some limits of course), but you will also be setting a great example to your dd in doing so.

For me, I set a goal of something new to learn each year. One year I learned to knit. Another year I learned to build simple things. Then I learned about renovations, now I am trying to tackle growing things (my second attempt, the first one didn't go so well). Aside from that I love to research things. It is a great hobby, and since becoming a mom (4 times) I am never out of subject matter. I also read as much as ever (generally I have 4 books on the go) and am sure to devote time each week to other things I enjoy (physical activity. thrift store shopping, knitting, whatever other handiwork I am into ATM, etc). And generally I manage it all with only being away from the kids 2 hours per week. I consider working it all out to be like Tetris. Just rearrange it all until it fits

It is harder with a first (or only) child because you are really their main source of entertainment as well as their playmate. Also, you are in the beginning stages of figuring out how your Tetris puzzle will fit together best. Give it time, figure out what you miss the most and think about all the ways you can get that underlying need met. It may not be in the way you are used to, but exploring all the possibilities is the very best part!

Good luck!


 

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#28 of 59 Old 06-25-2009, 03:33 AM
 
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This has nothing to do with you personally OP, but when women I know IRL have complained that they were bored while SAH because they were too "educated and intellectual" I always thought to myself, "if you are so smart then why can't you think of something to do." It is one of those statements that often leave some SAHMs feeling put down or self conscious if worded the right (wrong?) way. Especially when it is dripping with that "it may be good enough for *you*..." tone of voice.

In all seriousness, I do get the need to stimulate your mind. I think there are so many factors that make it difficult for some women to make the adjustment to staying at home without feeling bored. Often being at home makes it necessary to find a whole new set of people to hang out with (because everyone else is at work all day). And getting to know other moms usually happens by discussing kids. Once you get to know some women who you have things in common with it is easier to get beyond the mommy talk. That took me 5 YEARS to do. Sometimes the only common ground I have with people is the fact that we both have children.

Also, some people are self-motivated when it comes to keeping themselves fulfilled, others are not. Neither way is the right way, we are all unique. Some need a little help looking outside of the way they used to do things.

In reality, there are so many interesting and wonderful things to do in a day. And finding ways to do them while caring for children adds a whole new level of creativity. What are your interests? What have you always wanted to learn? Now is the time to do it. Not only do you have the ability to create your own schedule (with some limits of course), but you will also be setting a great example to your dd in doing so.

For me, I set a goal of something new to learn each year. One year I learned to knit. Another year I learned to build simple things. Then I learned about renovations, now I am trying to tackle growing things (my second attempt, the first one didn't go so well). Aside from that I love to research things. It is a great hobby, and since becoming a mom (4 times) I am never out of subject matter. I also read as much as ever (generally I have 4 books on the go) and am sure to devote time each week to other things I enjoy (physical activity. thrift store shopping, knitting, whatever other handiwork I am into ATM, etc). And generally I manage it all with only being away from the kids 2 hours per week. I consider working it all out to be like Tetris. Just rearrange it all until it fits

It is harder with a first (or only) child because you are really their main source of entertainment as well as their playmate. Also, you are in the beginning stages of figuring out how your Tetris puzzle will fit together best. Give it time, figure out what you miss the most and think about all the ways you can get that underlying need met. It may not be in the way you are used to, but exploring all the possibilities is the very best part!

Good luck!

Best. Post. Ever.

Wife to my of 10 years, SAHM to my 2 beautiful homebirthed girls Sydney (4/29/2006) Kennedy (3/21/2010) & 1 super Newfoundland
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#29 of 59 Old 06-27-2009, 07:19 PM
 
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I'm in three books clubs!
One is for "fun" books, things like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Another is a classics book club. Help me. We're reading Pilgrim's Progress.
And then I'm in a feminist book club.

I listen to NPR all day long.

And I have a goal of learning more and more about homesteading and cheesemaking, etc. etc.

Find a hobby and make it your passion.

secular classical-ish mama to an incredible 5 year old DS and an amazing 6 year old DD.
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#30 of 59 Old 06-27-2009, 09:02 PM
 
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I also LOVE CBC for mental stimulation. That also gives me something to talk to people about :"so I heard this thing on the radio... what do you think of it?"

I spend a lot of time analyzing my own life. I've always been into psychology so I spend a lot of my time seeing how my mother's way of raising me created the habits/traits/fears/strengths etc in me and how her decisions created certain patterns in my life and THEN I look at how I might be able to break those patterns in myself, my mother AND myself by changing the way I raise my child. THAT is intellectually stimulating (and I can do it while reading goodnight moon).

Good luck!
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