[Episode 7] How to connect with baby (and others)

Welcoming a newborn into your family is an intense physical and emotional journey. While many resources are spent on the physical, little is addressing the keys to connect with this new part of your life and slowing build your village around you. 

In episode #7 of "Moms talk with a French accent", La Petite Creme co-founders Cecile and Fanny share a vulnerable part of their own journey to help fellow mothers learn about how to connect with baby (and others) with co-host Dr. Varisa Perlman, a NY-based Pediatrician and Holistic Health Coach.

(full text transcript below the video)


Moms Talk with Dr Varisa Perlman [episode #7]: How to connect with your new baby

Cecile: Hello.

Fanny: Hi.

Cecile: This is Cecile and Fanny from La Petite Creme. Welcome to episode number 7 of our Moms Talk with a French Accent, and today we are talking about connecting with baby. So if you're here and you're pregnant or you just had a baby, welcome. We're gonna invite our co-host [inaudible]. Hello, everyone. Welcome.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Hi, how are you?

Cecile: Hello, Dr. Perlman. Welcome.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Good to see everybody.

Cecile: Good to see you as well.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes, back in New York, where [inaudible], but you know, it's so nice. [laughs] Still figuring out ways to keep warm.

Cecile: Yes, exactly. So we're here today, as we said, we're talking about connecting with baby. And we were just introducing ourselves. So we are Cecile and Fanny from La Petite Creme. We're the founder of a French diaper care solution and representing here out of sunny Miami. And we have with us Dr. Perlman. So if you want to give us a little intro about who you are.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Hi, I'm Dr. Perlman, Varisa Perlman. I am currently based in New York, and I am a pediatrician for 25 years and recently a health coach that works with parents to untangle things where we could be happier people and happier caretakers. So that's where we are these days. Yeah.

Cecile: So we're really into the depth about what we are trying to achieve here is to provide a platform and some insight to fellow parents because we're all mothers here at different stage of motherhood and parenthood. And we thought that getting together to share our personal experience and even our professional experience to the table onto how do we navigate those critical time in babies' life and parents' lives.

So today is about connecting with your newborn and connecting with people around you in general in the world of parenting and motherhood in particular. If we want to write maybe in the comments why you're here, what you're trying to take from this conversation, if you already have a baby and you don't really know how to connect or you're trying to navigate connecting with your newborn, or if you are pregnant and you're wondering what that means, maybe seeing the topic of the conversation, you're like, "Oh, I didn't really think about connecting with my child."

Or sometimes the topic is not really put forward. We spend a lot of resources in preparing physically and maybe logistically to a baby, but do we really prepare to meeting that person? Yeah. So that's interesting to get started there. I don't know. What was your experience, Varisa? You mentioned you had kids when you met with your baby.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. I think the most exciting part when I was pregnant was just the idea that there was this energy inside of you. And I think that that was the most exciting element was to be able to gaze into their face again, truly see their face beyond what my imagination is of what that would be. I think this is such an interesting topic. I felt like we've covered a lot of very concrete topics like picky eating and sleep and things that people commonly talk about when they talk about with children.

I think something to be clear from the beginning, and it's funny when you proposed this topic, it's interesting because over the course since I've spoken to you guys and seen you, what I find is actually interesting that we sometimes have—and it's nobody's fault, but there's always preconceived notions of what connection should be defined as. So I know that there is sometimes almost like a pressure on parents to feel this incredible connection with their family and their friends and their babies. And I feel like connection is one of those incredible things that need to be nurtured and understood. It's something that changes with time.

Sometimes if you have a very stressful pregnancy, you have a very stressful first couple of months, things are difficult. And if we create this mirage where everything is supposed to be this deep connection from the minute you see your baby, right? We have this in our mind, this is how it's supposed to be. And maybe when it isn't, maybe when it isn't what you think it's supposed to be like, you feel like you've failed in being able to connect with your children.

Cecile: Yes, and it's difficult to know what it's going to be. We talked about that when we talked about eating and welcoming your baby home and all that. You don't know until you know. [laughs]

Fanny: Yeah.

Cecile: There is no way to anticipate, even from one pregnancy to the next, of how you are going to be because pregnancy and delivery is just such a big emotional and physical turmoil that you only know what you what you are and how you connect and who the baby is once it's there, which makes preparation very challenging.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. Because I almost feel you can't prepare for that. You don't actually know if you are going to connect or what that's going to look like and to what degree and to what element. And I think that, again, I'm always going to push us away from this performative parenting where we think we're saying the right things, where we're thinking the right things. But in the end of the day, parenthood is filled with ups and downs, with elevated moments and then moments that are completely devastating. And I think that the more that we can separate what we are expecting from what is the reality in front of us, the better because it's like a specter, it's a gaze that watches over us and makes us feel guilt.

I'm always cutting away guilt and fear because guilt and fear are pretty poisonous for parents. It clouds your judgment, it clouds your experience. So what I feel in terms of every experience in our lives, whether it be what we have during lunchtime, [laughs] trying to fall asleep, or going out with our friends, the most that you can ask of yourself is to be present, which means that while you're pregnant, just let go of what everyone's saying pregnancy is supposed to be.

One of the things that you guys talked a lot about is lifting a lot of taboos. Meaning that there are times during pregnancy that you're not so happy. You're not so comfortable. You're really stressed out. You don't feel supported. You may not be connecting with your support network because you feel you're not supported. I mean, there are a lot of emotions during that period.

And the more that you try to gloss it over and say, "Wow, everything was fantastic. I love being pregnant. It's amazing," and just keep perpetuating these myths, honestly, people will feel like, "I must not be connecting with my baby. I must not be connecting with this pregnancy because I'm pissed about some stuff. [laughs] Am I allowed to be pissed? Am I connecting with the right thing? What am I connecting with?" And I think that that is okay. I mean, I actually think that—I know that sounds weird, but the bad times connect you as much with that child as the good times.

Cecile: And yeah, that's what I was gonna say. Connecting doesn't mean you are in fusion or in complete agreement. Connecting just means listening to one another. To me, it's more like willing to extend your hand and reach for the other one.

One of the questions that we wanted to bring up is we hear a lot about bonding. So what does connecting means? Why don't we use the word bonding? Are they similar? Are they the same? Because bonding is usually the term that goes with your bond with your baby and it's important to bond, but we intentionally decided to go with connect. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: And I think that that's fair. I think you're pushing the envelope. You're trying to push people past the image that springs to their mind, that I'll hold this baby and all of a sudden, I'll be like, oh, washed over. There are many emotional moments that are actually incredible, but the most incredible thing is that children demand you to be present from a very young age. Even when you're pregnant.

The first one, I felt like I was very present because it was just me, the baby, and my mom, and work. And my mom would let me just take two-hour naps in the afternoon. So I felt very present with it because I had support, honestly. I felt like I was in a space where I could allow myself to get past all of the tasks, duties, and what's gonna happen with this? Am I nervous about that? I didn't get past it, but I definitely had a space for it.

The second one is tricky, right? [laughs] Because this other being is demanding you to be present. And everyone's like, "Well, you did it the first time, [laughs] suck it up for the second time." I felt the second one—I mean, I literally joked about, but I was literally pregnant and I was like, "Oh my God, the baby came out." The second one went so fast 'cause I didn't have that much. And I mean, I had a hard time feeling really connected to that pregnancy because I was just spinning.

It's an interesting question because when you asked me how do people try to connect with their baby? The magic of the connection, I can't speak to because, again, that's a very individual experience, but you will connect better with your child if you have support.

Cecile: For sure.

Fanny: Yeah.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: So maybe the discussion is, how do we best support ourselves so we can have those moments of connection?

Cecile: Well, that's taught at home, I would assume, the support from within your partner, and also your family and your friends who—it's sometimes tricky to become a parent for the dynamic of your family. I remember just becoming a mom within my sisterhood and with my mom, all of a sudden, I'm not just a person, it's kind of graduating to something else. [laughs] You become legitimate in something, but you also are expected to become more legitimate when the day before you were not. So it feels you're graduated without the certification, without the training to it.

And it's sometimes difficult because now people turn to you as now you're mom, but you're like, "I wasn't yesterday. [laughs] Why do you expect me all of a sudden to be reasonable and put together and have my stuff figured out when I don't?"

Dr. Varisa Perlman: No. Something that people always talk about is that it's not just the kid's first day of being there, it's also your first day of being a parent.

Cecile: It's your birthday by itself.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. Or round two. And even if you have a second kid, that kid's completely different. So there's no cheating. None of us come with a layout of how the rest of our lives will be together. So knowing that, knowing that nobody can cheat, [laughs] no one's cheating, it levels the playing field because sometimes I do feel that. You need to surround yourself with people who are really trying to honor your experience.

"Oh my God, you're feeling like that? Oh my God, my pregnancy was so amazing." "Your pregnancy is like that? Oh my gosh, wow." There's a lot of judginess that exists out there. And I'm sorry, it's amongst women. Men, whatever. They talk about nonsense, they don't do this. My husband will come back from a conversation with another guy, he barely even knows the guy's name. I don't even know what happens, But women, we start to entangle ourselves with each other. And in a good way, it's someone that you can be honest with.

Surround yourself with people that allow you to be honest about your experience, about what you're doing, and how you are connecting. And, again, I think it's so great to keep on describing connection is not always about only the positives. Connecting means that we are tied together and we are going to go through this together.

A lot of times when you ask a little bit, my kid's 20 years old, 18 years old, so it's a little bit cobwebby, but I do remember there was this incredible amount, especially with my first pregnancy, with Izzy, I felt we were both getting ready to be warriors together. And I'm not even sure what war we were [laughs] planning on fighting. But there was this solidarity that we are going to go through this together. And I think that the more that I allowed myself to understand that—We always have this—

Again, this goes back to the helicoptering generation, this whole idea that everything should be happy. Life is actually textured, and it's not always gonna be one note, happy,[laughs] It can't be like that. And it's actually beautiful on the ups and downs of it. And to have a partner in that, to feel your baby is your partner with that, is an interesting another model of a way to connect with your child.

And I want that to be important because when you are connecting with your kid in your pregnancy, you talk to the midwives, they talk about how the pregnancy really gives elements of their personality. That's why pregnancies tend to be different because you've got different personalities. And that's the beautiful thing. When you actually asked me, "What has been one of the most beautiful parts of having children?" to me is really, really honoring how different they are, how unique they are, and how they just mess with my life [laughs] in a totally different way, for better or for worse. But they just come in with their own energy that adds to my life.

Cecile: You're bringing a good point that I feel we expect—and I know it was for my own first pregnancy, it took me the longest time to even think about a baby. I was pregnant. So I had a belly and I had something inside that was growing into I would think about it, talk to it, but I couldn't see a child. And then when my baby was born, the first thing I told myself when she came, I was like, "Oh my God, it's a baby." [laughs] "Oh." As if I was expecting, I don't know, something else. But I was like, "Oh, now there is a human here."

And it's an interesting thing that, as you said, it's not necessarily learning that the baby is a baby. It's like who are you as a person. And it took me forever to link my baby to even a name and call my child by their name. I was like, "Hey, baby. Hey." Finding all kinds of nickname. And I think it took me three weeks to be able to address my child with their name. For some reason, there is a distance. I don't know if it was out of getting to make sure the name was matching or if it was a matter of we're not that close yet, [laughs] giving you a distance. But I noticed that. And I didn't feel guilty about it, but it didn't come naturally to just embrace, like "Okay, I know everything about you."

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah, I think that people need to be real that this is another person coming into your space. And when you give birth, you actually have given them up. They have left your body, and it's that kind of thing where—even the word "postpartum", they've come apart from you. And I think that in many ways, your personality and the baby's personality will color how you interact. I think it's really interesting.

I would love to almost amend the word. How to interact with your baby, how to interact with people around you. Because I think connection feels so—like you said, you're like, "During that time where I didn't call my baby by their name, [laughs] or I couldn't even come up with their name. Does that mean that I wasn't connected to them?" And I think that that's actually not true. I think that in many ways, you were forging an interaction with them, an existence of them and you that took—

Cecile, you're very—I don't want to say cautious, but you're a very thoughtful person. You're not like a flip it, like you know. You're not just like, "Oh my God!" You're just not that way. I think that you really feel the need to be very authentic with your feelings, which is why we're here, right? Because I think that that authenticity drives you to push others to walk towards that authenticity, right?

Cecile: Yeah, trying to stay true. Otherwise, you lose yourself. I mean, if you're trying to be somebody else, then it eventually doesn't line up and makes me feel uncomfortable.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] Right? It's that lack of authenticity. So I think that for you, I think that in many ways, to me, people have energy and they need to be appreciated for that. And I think that labeling things and—sometimes you'll see something and you're like, "Oh, this person totally looks like this name." And then another person is like, "I don't know. Is that really a fit? Is that really what that name should have been?" And in many ways, that's true to who you are. That you're like, "I don't want to just impose my thoughts of what this person should be. I really want to feel that this person needs that name, like that name honors them."

Cecile: Yeah, and getting acquainted, right? Sometimes it's also like, "You're you, I'm me. Okay, now what do we do for one another?" [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: It's like, if I told you to meet someone today on Tuesday and Wednesday, give me their name, you'd be like, "What? I don't even know this person. How am I supposed to—" But again, there's all these, "Oh, you've been pregnant. Don't you know what name you should—" I'm like, "No, [laughs] I don't even know." It is a little bit arbitrary. We pick our kids' names. We don't know that much about them, and that's okay. That's the joy of it. That's wonderful.

But I think that we are just always pushing to impose our views of what things should look like. And I think it really colors and discourages authenticity. It really discourages it because when you speak to other people or when you present these ideas, people would feel like, "What if I didn't feel that?" or "When do I feel that?" And it's that kind of thing where it's an evolving picture.

Whether you like it or not, you are connected to your children. So let's just really lay it out there. Whether you like it or not, you are tied to these people. [laughs] And good times and bad. This is even more than getting married. This is hardcore. You can't get divorced from your children, okay? You can actually get divorced from your partner, [laughs] but you cannot get divorced from your children. So assuming that connection is already there, the real question is that how do we create a healthy interaction?

Cecile: I think that's pretty deep because sometimes that interaction, as you said, it's not like what we see on social media or what the world is telling us. "Oh, it has to be love at first sight. And it has to be like your heart is exploding when you—" Sometimes you're just like, "Eh." [laughs]

Fanny: Yeah.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Or you're angry. I've been at moments where I'm like, "Oh my god. Can you not go to sleep? Go to sleep." [laughs] I remember staring at this little baby, I could see the eyes in the middle of the night wide open. And I'm like, "Are you kidding me? Why are you awake?" [laughs] There is a whole lot of emotion that is the texture of your interaction with this kid.

Cecile: So as a professional, do you believe that raw presentation of emotion? Because I feel like sometimes we are told as parents, and that, "Oh, you should not yell or scream." You shouldn't express emotion basically because it can damage your child. What's your take as a professional on how much emotion they can actually see and take from us?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I mean, I definitely think that in the end of the day, like you said, this is our first time at it and we are human, and I think that there are times that we may even yell and scream and we may leave the room or we might be really frustrated and they are too. You look at a toddler, they don't seem to have any problems yelling and screaming, right? So everyone can yell and scream. That's not an issue.

I think that what's a little bit more where I fall in is when I really feel a parent is just completely without resources and completely without support because it's those moments when you lose your temper a lot and you are just not happy and you were really—and I'm not saying you have to be happy all the time, but you're just frustrated to that end. It is our responsibility as caretakers and also society to provide support.

So, again, let's assume that with children, you're connected with them. The question is that how do you connect with people around you so that you get that support? So shifting the focus, right? So with our children, we're always connected, but we could become better connected to our children, interestingly, if we have better support around us, I think.

Cecile: Okay, so how do we achieve that?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Okay, so authenticity is the word I'm gonna keep on putting in your head. Do not think that, "Oh, everyone tells me—" I had a mom the other day that I was talking to and she was like, "I go to these Mommy and Me groups and I don't really like the other people there." [laughs] And she's like, "But I'm supposed to have all my best friends from there. Everyone tells me go to these things and I'm going to be, oh my gosh, we'll have a whole group of people that they'll grow up with from this one Mommy and Me group."

This is not true, right? It just isn't true. Some people it is. Some people, they go there and they meet their besties and they all raise their kids together. I mean, it's like a movie. But most of us wander around the world and we connect with different people and maybe with people that may not have children or maybe people that are older than us or younger than us. And that's okay. Those are good connections. I'd rather you have more authentic connections than have these almost superficial connections that "you're supposed to have."

My husband grew up in a building in Brooklyn and he always had this dream—Everyone has different dreams, right? Some people, their dream is, "I want to go to a place where I can open the doors and there'll be a hundred children running down the street and my children will join in that, everybody will be all the same age." My husband, that's a a nightmare to him. [laughs] He's just a very urban city kid. And his dream is that there'll be an old man in this apartment, there might be a gay couple in this other apartment, there's other people who have kids who are teenagers, maybe one other family that has kids our age.

He always wanted us to live amongst a lot of other people because he felt like it gave us a better perspective of what is really out there in the world versus this sheltered space. So when you ask me, "Who do we connect with? Who do we hang out with?" There was a period we knew some kids, but some of the kids we would meet randomly at the park. It wasn't in a playgroup. It's that kind of thing where it doesn't have to be anything. It just is the way it is. I think it's really important to keep reminding yourself.

Cecile: And also, on the Mommy and Me type of groups, because everybody is at the same stage of life, it's just gonna be also promoting comparison. And then that can be very beneficial because sometimes you're like, "Oh, you're dealing with the same thing." But more often than not, it's either verbally expressing that, "Oh, my kid does that. Yours doesn't do that." Or not verbally, just being like, "Oh, I just noticed that she did her hair today. I didn't have time to do mine. How does she do it?"

And it might be adding to that guilt and fear and all those feeling of not being enough because you're comparing to people who should all feel like they should be on the same wavelength as you are, but you don't know what's behind those groups. Maybe somebody is never put together except for that group because it's a platform to show off, or something like that.

So you're right, if you just surround yourself with people that are different, then the chance of comparing might be less, right?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. One of the things that's interesting, they talk a little bit about this idea of third spaces. I don't know if you've ever heard about it. So it's not your house and not your workplace, but places where generally doesn't cost a lot of money, but it's places where people congregate. And in our modern-day society, we don't have that that much.

One of the reasons we personally moved from a very, very suburban atmosphere in Michigan to more of an urban atmosphere in Miami, and then ultimately in New York is that, we found that in Michigan, it would be a hundred houses, and they would have one playground. But when you go to the playground, it didn't matter what time of day, there were never any children there. So where are all the children? All the children are in the swings in their own private backyard. Everyone's in the swings in the private backyard. Nobody goes to the park.

And it sounds strange, but we've created this modern day idea that things should all be structured. It sounds strange, but people used to just drop off a kid at a friend's house, right? I'm gonna do some errands. And the kid figured their way around that house or what was going on and you got to do your errands and you didn't have to make it into a play date where I would now be best friends with the mom. Maybe I'm not best friends with the mom. [laughs] Maybe I'm not really. Is that is that so terrible? Even as a [inaudible], you feel like, "Am I supposed to be best friends with this person? Just because my kids like each other, does that really mean that I should really befriend—"

Fanny: No.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: No? [laughs]

Cecile: [laughs] Fanny's like, "No, no."

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs]

Fanny: Too much connection here. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: No. [laughs] To me, I feel like, again, we have these ideas of how everything should be. And in many ways, what that can leave you with is the feeling of not being supported, of not being able to connect with who you're "supposed to connect with." And I find that that is where we start to feel, again, guilty. Am I not giving them a good childhood because I'm not connecting with these people? And then who's their friends going to be?

I remember we would go after school when the kids were younger. I would pick them up from school and I would go to this diner. And if I went home, my kids would just gorge on junk food while I was making dinner. I figured I would at least go get some soup for them, maybe a sandwich, and just let us do our homework, and then once we get home, I can play defense a little bit longer. But we would go there and there's just one little—this old man who was there all the time and he had a little chess board. And my kids were really young. They could barely understand, but he would try to teach my kids how to play chess.

So Izzy would go and I would do homework with Andre and then we would trade. I don't even know his name. [laughs] I don't even know who this person was. But he was someone that my kids, for some reason, connected with. And he connected with us. And he became part of my support group. He became part of who was in my world for my children. And it was very random and organic and it was a space that was there.

I have a guy when I walk down the street, my fruit guy, I buy stuff from him once a month, but I say hello to him every day that I see him, and he's a part of my support. I will probably never know his name. He will never know my name, but he is part of my third space.

Cecile: It's part of also those elements of stability that people are here in that world. I mean, we talk about a lot in the previous episode about embrace the chaos. But in that chaos, having a few anchor points, being like, "At least the fruit guy is still here." [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] I was going out of town, we were going to Miami. And my husband thought I was crazy. So the person that takes my dry cleaning, she's this wonderful Indonesian woman. You have to go deep down into the alley to go see her. My husband's like, "I'm not going." I'm like, "She's wonderful." I go and see her. But I had to tell her that I was going out of town for two weeks, so she wouldn't be worried about me. And she said, "Oh, thank you for telling me," because I'm there twice a week. And she's like, "I would have been worried that something happened to you."

Again, I will never know her name. She knows my name, but it's that kind of thing where she's part of my third space.

Cecile: Okay, that's a really good concept too because it feels like if we make that third space something tangible, then that means we need to allocate time to that third space, and it's okay to allocate time to that third space. So it's not only personal, like home, work, but it's valid to have that third space be almost as big as the other two.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Well, they say that there are some theorists out there believing that part of our rise in modern-day world for anxiety and depression is because we're steadily destroying our third spaces. We really aren't investing in our third space. And I think that it's tricky because a lot of our third spaces, cost is an issue, right? So it's a situation where, well, can you join that club? Can you join that activity? Do you have enough money to join that? So if you don't join that activity, then do you have a place that you can go to? Not really, right?

And so it's that kind of thing where parks, being able to bring your kid to the park and just letting them run around randomly is something that is changing. And we need those spaces because not everyone can afford all the classes and all the different things that people do. But there's something really wonderfully organic about them seeing people from different backgrounds, from different socioeconomic levels, just be amongst humanity.

Cecile: So then I'm going to open it to something that might be tricky, but does social media replace that third space? Or how does it play in that? 'Cause it feels like the more we grow as a society, the more the virtual takes over on a lot of aspects of our personal and professional life.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I mean, this is a service, even what we're doing right now. This is a third space. This is a third space for some people. This is an hour out of—we're here every two weeks. We are trying to create a third space. And I think that one thing that we're going to learn, that we are only learning because we didn't grow up with it, versus our kids who did and are growing up, I think they're called Alpha now, they are growing up with social media. My kids grew up with an iPad to visualize, but there wasn't any download and post part. It was just like when you look at the iPad, you would just see random videos of them.

Cecile: It's a portable TV.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Another way to record people. But this download and post part is something that is now unique to Generation Alpha, right? Generation Alpha, one thing that I'm hoping is that they become wiser consumers of social media because when you watch TV, there's a lot of great TV and there's some awful TV, right? Same idea, that not all social media is bad.

And I think that trying to use social media—I think the thing that's amazing about social media is that people can literally physically live in different parts of the country or in different houses. I'm working with a group of women right now who are great girlfriends, but they're all working pretty hard. They're all nurses. So our space together becomes a third space where they can hang out with each other, but physically, they're one step, having to take care of a 1-year-old and also have to go to work. So it was very difficult for them to physically see each other all the time.

So social media can be, if used in a productive, healthy way, a very good third space. And I've seen some other forms use it as a space where people can just go there and just talk about the texture of life. Now, where social media isn't great, and I think that is a lot of posting the perfect pictures of your children, the most amazing pictures. And I think that it's that kind of thing where some of that is good, but I don't think most of us naturally—you have to push yourself to be authentic. It's really tempting to post all the great pictures [laughs] and all the good times. And that's just human nature. So that's no fault of anybody. Who wants to do—

But at the same time, I think, like you said, Cecile, it starts to not feel comfortable when all you present is the positive. It's not good for you, it's not good for your kids, it's not good for the world.

Cecile: It's also a high standard to keep. If you post something good for a month, then if the next month you can't keep up, then you put the expectation out there that that's the level that you're at. And you're setting yourself up for failure because it's like, "Oh, if I hadn't said that I was able to do that, then I wouldn't feel miserable for doing just average." [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Well, it was interesting because there was actually a study done where they were—it's a little element of frustration tolerance, but they would have children who were told, "You're really smart. You're so smart. You're really smart." And the other kids, like, "You're good, but you're okay. You struggle a little bit, you're okay." And then they handed out a task. And it said, "This task is a really difficult task, and this task is a really easy task. Which one you're gonna choose?"

And people would be like, "Oh, well, the smart people, obviously they're gonna pick the more difficult one, and the 'dumb' kids that we've labeled are gonna pick the easier one because they're 'dumb', right?" [laughs] And actually, it was the exact opposite. Smart kids were terrified of failing. And all the "average" kids were like, "I don't care. [laughs] I'll grab one of them."

And the truth is that when it comes to kids, we're all—when it comes to smart or dumb, listen, when it comes to raising children, we are all dumb. [laughs] We are all novices. We are all inexperienced. We are all just trying our best. But if you start to like, "Oh my God, you're such an amazing parent. Oh my God, you're amazing. Oh my God, everything you do is amazing," and then something crappy happens, you're like, "Oh, I can't deal with that. That's terrible. It's awful." When really it's not that awful. Shit happens. [laughs]

Fanny: Yeah. You don't feel secure to say it yet.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah, you have an unrealistic—but you wanna maintain it. You're terrified of losing that label. And that's where that dissonance between the reality of what we have to do—what our job is as a parent and as a person—which is to remain present and authentic, gets cut by this fear of failing. And that fear of failure is something that—we created that. We created that monster.

Cecile: And it's easy to find. We're guilty of that, trying to just be on top of it, just trying to always be like, "Oh, it cannot not work." But you always bring up the thing that it will eventually turn into something else. [laughs]

Dr. Varisa Perlman: And I have to say, listen, I'm still working with my life and my children and everything. But I feel like when there are those moments where things are like, "Ugh," right? I just feel like "ugh," I feel like when I come out of it and I figure some stuff out and I learn something from it, I'm like, "Boy, I would have never—I'm so lazy. I would have never pushed myself to get out of that if that didn't happen." So it made me stronger.

So I think that that is the only way that you can look at the way that life comes to you. You have to always be at the ready because life doesn't—Again, go with the chaos, go with the learning and the pain and then like, "Oh, I gotta figure this out. I gotta work through this."

Cecile: Also opening up about—so if by now you've watched all the seven episodes that we went through and you're like, "Yeah, I'm embracing the chaos," maybe we owe it also to one another to share that. And when people ask how you're doing, it's also like, "Okay, I'm surfing the wave. I'm trying. I'm flowing right now," but also sharing that it's okay to be in chaos and being in chaos is a process and enjoying that process is okay too. It's not either "I'm good," or "I'm not good". It's like, "I'm there." [laughs]

Fanny: [laughs] I'm doing it.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: So now the question that's on the table is that how do you connect with other people. And in a positive way that will feed you so that you have that support, so that when you're with your children, you feel present with them.

So I'll give you an example. My son went to a performing arts high school and my two great friends from there, all of our sons played music together, and all of our sons have their crazy. They have things that they do fantastic, that they're brilliant, and then they have things where they're just lunatics, crazy. And whenever we would see each other, like, "Oh my God, what did you do? Oh my God, do you do that? Oh my—" and literally, when we get together, it's not like, "Oh my God, my son is so amazing." It's like, "My son is a fricking idiot. [laughs] Why did he do that?"

We all love each other's sons and we all love each other's kids beautifully and we support them, but we also know that they're human, we're human, and that's what joins us. That's what joins us. Not this whole fanfare, everything is perfect. No. There are elements of wonderfulness and there's elements of struggle. And that's what's woven us.

Cecile: And sharing that with other people would prevent you from sharing it in the bad way with your child, right? Because I firmly believe that there's an element of sharing also, you going and embracing the chaos with your kid to some extent, but they understand that you have no clue and at least they give you some grace for having no clue. So they're trying to be part of the resolution sometimes when they get slightly older. But having the ability to vent. And we do a lot of that together. We're lucky enough to be close friends and we're family at this point. So she know my kid, I know her kid, and we're good at unloading. I can't imagine what happens.

Fanny: We get vent time.

Cecile: So it's good because when we get home, we're more like, "Okay, the big part of the emotion is out and now I can take a step back and laugh about it," or just be like, "Yeah, Fanny agrees." [laughs]

Fanny: [laughs] Somebody's on my side anyway.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: I think that the hardest thing with modern-day world, even with social media, is that it's very easy to feel alone. And I think that when I am able to share authentically with other people who may understand, I am allowed to not feel like I'm the only one. And whatever your experience is, I can guarantee you too, there are millions of people who actually feel as you do.

And I think that is the problem when you have children, because we've created so much performative parenting, is that we've literally shut out that window because everyone's trying to put on their game face all the time. And in the end of the day, it is not easy, it is hard, and it's amazing, and it's fulfilling, but it is filled with emotion.

Cecile: But it's hard to break that. And especially when you're a new parent and you're tired and your hormones are everywhere, to be able to crack that shell and be like, "Hey, it's hard," and bring words to it because sometimes you don't even know. You're just like, "Oh, I'm miserable." So finding the right people to listen to and be strong enough to say, "Hey, I don't know, but something is not sitting right," that takes a lot of courage, too.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Lots of courage. And so beyond the fact of feeling more courage, but then if you have another layer of guilt on top of it where it's like you're not supposed to feel that way, come on. How are you supposed to feel supported ever? It just doesn't make any sense. And so when I'm actually able to be together with other people that I can really show my authentic feelings of what's going on with my kids, I'm able to come to my kids and really value them for good and bad, to really see their texture and to appreciate their kookiness [laughs] and the ways that they inspire me and the ways that they drive me nuts.

And I can appreciate and be present with them because I know I'm so supported that this whole experience is validated. I think we just need to feel validated that we're not crazy. [laughs]

Cecile: And that's a good, again, choice of word because sometimes by support, we feel like it's people who are doing stuff for us. But validation can come in many forms that is not physically doing something, right? As you said, you're getting validation from that guy at the diner just by the fact that distraction that you have. He's not supporting you in the sense that he's not babysitting for you, but he's validating because he's engaging in your relationship and your parenting in some way, right?

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah, he's part of my space. He's entered the space where my children are and our experience and his experience and my children are understanding that they are not the center of the universe and that there are people who are older than them and that they should show their respect, but that they have a lot to offer them, that their experience is just as important as a little kid's experience.

Cecile: And when we talk about finding your village, it takes a village, I think it's also representative. Again, the word has been chosen for that reason, that the village is not an army of old men in their 20s. So it's not an old woman with young kids. A village has older people, younger people, the police, the mayor, the cleaning people—

Fanny: The teacher, the nurse.

Cecile: Exactly. So a village is a mix of a wide variety of people because each one of them play a role into-

Fanny: In your life, yeah.

Cecile: -making a community.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. And I think that a lot of times, we gain—even the crossing guard, we gain—they were a big part of my life because as we would walk by, say hello, say thank you, make eye contact, you know what I mean? They were a part of my kid's life. But I think that people have to understand that you may come home and you're like, "Oh my God, I don't really do play dates. I don't really do mom's group. I just wanna hang out with my kids at home." Yes, that's fine.

And you've already experienced the world with them if they go grocery shopping with you. Life is actually filled with a lot of people who are more than happy to be part of your village. And even just a hello and a goodbye and an interaction, that is still very valuable in validating your experience as a parent. You don't have to do all that stuff that exhausts everybody. Your kids also need some downtime where nobody's in their space, nobody's in your space, everyone's just chilling. That is precious time as well.

But we just, I feel like, have all of this—again, partially because of the way we are with social media, that like, I'm in this playgroup, I'm in this mom group. Oh, look, here's 20 families all on vacation together. Wow, this is how it should be. [laughs] It's a little overwhelming 'cause I'm like, "What the hell is this?" If you do that, fantastic, you've got a whole group with you. But at the same time, everybody's experience—it doesn't necessarily mean that you're doing a better job of connecting with your kids because you have this whole apparatus. It doesn't have to be like that.

And I think when I was really thinking about what I want to do, in part, when we were talking about this idea of connection, is really throwing it out—Again, I think one thing that you guys really want to always do is open the net, cast the net wider so that people break free from what they feel like they're "supposed to do." And maybe that's because of our experience of being maybe "not of this culture" or being from an idea that you have to understand that there's a million ways to cut this. And it can be very fulfilling in so many different ways.

So you don't have to always feel like there's a prescribed way that life has to be with your children. As long as it's authentic and you're present, you just can't ask anything more from a parent.

Cecile: So we hope that is going to bring some peace of mind and food for thought for everybody who's watching this. We're super happy to have you again, Dr. Perlman. And for this concept which—our kids are already big now and if we had those conversations before, it would have changed our journey for sure. So we hope that what we're discussing here will help other parents out there to hopefully get a better wave of that chaos on a daily basis.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [inaudible] with your whole suit on, with your whole surf suit on.

I just wanted to say shout out to the family that said they are from Miami Beach.

Cecile: Yes.

Fanny: Yeah.

Cecile: [inaudible] around here for sure.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: [inaudible] [laughs]

Cecile: Thank you everyone for watching, and we'll talk again in two weeks for another episode. It was Cecile and Fanny from La Petite Creme and Dr. Perlman from New York.

Fanny: Bye.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Thank you.

Cecile: Bye.

Dr. Varisa Perlman: Bye.


Watch other episodes here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1dpfz3OiZoOwHuST-GmH9sTD0TfF3rIp

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