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9 Unforgettable Things My Mother Taught Me

9 Unforgettable Things My Mother Taught Me

In this chaotic and somewhat unpredictable world, filled with the stress of daily living, every woman can face challenges every day. Like never before, women fulfill multiple roles; at home, in the workplace, and in their personal lives. I sometimes refer to the current society as the “age of the superwoman” because of the high expectations placed on women.

In honor of my mother, whose birthday would have been January 31st, I am writing about some of the basic things she taught me that continue to help me survive in the world.

My mother was Miriam Eleanor Bresnahan, born in 1920. She was first and foremost a homemaker. She raised a family of seven children and was married to my father, Leo, a railroader, for 63 years. She passed away in 2010. She was 90 years old.

    Miriam Eleanor Bresnahan

    My mom was the emotional center of our large family. Each of us told her any problems we were having, but we also shared all our joys with her. She was an amazing parent and a dear sweet wife. She lived her days unselfishly devoted to the needs and dreams of her children.

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    She raised all of us (one boy and six girls) to be independent, to think for ourselves, and to work hard. She was tough, but gentle, critical but understanding, disciplined, but free spirited. I remember coming home for college and being amazed how she embraced an ever changing world by appreciating modern music and even dancing to it.

    Miriam was born in 1920 and grew up dirt poor, but then her life was transformed when she fell in love. I watched her grow and change over the years, and have enthusiasm for every single thing her children were involved in. She was beautiful, artistic, loved decorating, collecting figurines, crafts and sewing, and most importantly, she was a wonderful cook.

    She had a magnetism that no one could resist. She was loving and was loved very deeply. She had a way of winning people over, and when someone came into her home, they automatically became, in that instant, part of the family. To say she was supportive is an understatement. She was completely devoted to her children and her husband all her life. She was amazing.

      Miriam and Leo Bresnahan on their wedding day.

      Here are 9 important things my mother taught me:

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      1. Always do your best, no matter what you do

      She always encouraged us to participate in activities at church and school. We were encouraged to try and to try hard at everything.

      2. Speak up – your opinion counts

      I guess in a large family it just becomes a way of life to speak up, otherwise you might not be heard at all. But, mom valued everything we had to say and made us feel like our opinions always mattered.

      3. If you start something, finish it

      Whatever we did, or tried to do, she made it very clear that we didn’t give up. We learned determination that guided us all to become achievers in school and in life.

      4. You have talent, so use it

      My mom delighted in finding out just what the talents of her children were. She encouraged us to do the things we were good at.

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      5. Love your neighbors and be good to others

      Growing up in a Catholic environment, it was easy to learn to love your neighbors and to be good to other people.

      6. Treat others how you want to be treated

      The golden rule was a way of life for all of us, and she made sure we understood that.

      7. Always be honest, no matter what happens

      This was a major lesson at home, which we carried out into the world. Honesty is always important.

      8. Life is too short for fighting; admit your mistakes

      If there was a conflict, we were always encouraged to be the first ones to admit we were sorry. We didn’t waste time fighting with each other.

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      9. Have faith in God and trust in His plan

      Having faith in God was something our lives were built upon. The importance of this faith is one thing I have found impossible to live without in my life. I will always trust that God has a plan for me, and this trust keeps my life in balance.

        Here I am with my mother, Miriam Elearnor Bresnahan, on her 90th Birthday.

        I honor my mother by remembering the things she taught me. I can only pray that I am as good a mother as she was. Hopefully this list will inspire other women, as well as men, to reflect upon the lessons they are teaching their children in today’s challenging and ever-changing world.

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        Karen Bresnahan

        Photographer/Writer/Artist

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        Published on March 13, 2019

        What Makes A Great Place to Work Whilst Pregnant

        What Makes A Great Place to Work Whilst Pregnant

        Among women who had their first child in the early 1960s, just 44% worked at all during pregnancy. The latest figures show that 66% of mothers who gave birth to their first child between 2006 and 2008 worked during their pregnancy.[1]  It also showed that about eight-in-ten pregnant workers (82%) continued in the workplace until within one month of their first birth which has vastly increased from 35%. It is clear to see form the statical trends that more women are choosing to continue working through, and late into, pregnancy.

        Unlike other developed world countries, the USA does not mandate any paid leave for new mothers under federal law,[2] though some individual employers make that accommodation and it is mandated by a handful of individual states. Finding what makes a great workplace whilst pregnant can alleviate stress and provide more stability for you and your family. 

        In this article, you will discover exactly the best places to work whilst pregnant.

        How Difficult Is It to Work Whilst Pregnant?

        Many people strive to find and attain good jobs. For pregnant women, however, that process is often especially challenging. After all, you’ll face extra obstacles that are unique to expectant mothers.

        If you are pregnant and need a job, then you’re definitely not alone. You are also not alone if you’re already employed and want to find a new job that is more family-friendly. Changing jobs while pregnant is something that many women consider, especially when they realise that their current positions may not be suitable for pregnancy or offer the benefits or flexibility that they’ll soon need. 

        Getting a job while pregnant may not be the easiest thing in the world to do, but it is possible.

        You can look for employment opportunities that don’t require too much physical exertion and that won’t cause you much emotional stress. Also, look for jobs that come with the chance to work flexible hours, offer good medical benefits, allow you to take time off as needed, and don’t require a long commute. In addition, it’s obviously wise to consider avoiding jobs that may expose you to toxins, people with communicable illnesses, or other physical hazards.

        The Pre-Natal Mamma’s Needs

        During pregnancy, there are many mental and physiological changes that a woman will go through. In understanding those changes, it is more clear which types of jobs and workplaces are more suited to you as a pregnant woman. 

        During pregnancy, the birth of your baby and the postnatal period, changes in the hormones in your body can have an effect on your emotions during pregnancy. These hormones and the changes can cause joy, fear, surprise and anxiety all of which can be assisted with necessary support and talking. 

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        The physiological changes are more varied according to each trimester:

        1st Trimester (0-13 weeks)

        In the first few weeks following conception, your hormone levels change significantly. Your uterus begins to support the growth of the placenta and the fetus, your body adds to its blood supply to carry oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby, and your heart rate increases.

        These changes accompany many of the pregnancy symptoms, such as fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, and constipation. During the first trimester, the risk of miscarriage is significant.

        2nd Trimester (13 – 27 weeks)

        While the discomforts of early pregnancy should ease off, there are a few new symptoms to get used to. Common complaints include leg cramps and heartburn. You might find yourself growing more of an appetite, and your weight gain will accelerate. 

        3rd Trimester (28 weeks – birth)

        Travel restrictions take effect during the third trimester. It’s advised that you stay in relatively close proximity to your doctor or midwife in case you go into labor early. The baby is growing bigger and stronger; the kicks can be quite powerful and your abdomen is becoming larger and heavier.

        Stretch marks may develop if they haven’t earlier in the pregnancy. Braxton-Hicks contractions- which are usually perceived as painless tightening can be felt. Lower back pain is very common and there may be more pelvic pressure and with this more frequent urination. 

        Swollen legs and feet are very common as are increased fatigue, interrupted sleep and a reduced ability to eat a full meal at one sitting.

        4th Trimester (Post birth onwards)

        Your baby’s fourth trimester starts from the moment she’s born and lasts until she is three months old. The term is used to describe a period of great change and development in your newborn, as she adjusts to her new world outside your womb. There are many adaptations, recovery and rest that you and your baby need through this trimester whether you have a natural or c-section birth.

        All of these considerations need to be in mind when looking to find a great workplace whilst pregnant — whether you’re looking to ask for more support from your current workplace, find a new job or enter employment. 

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        Next, let’s look at the factors that would define the opposite; somewhere you shouldn’t look to work whilst pregnant.

        How to Spot The Worst Workplaces to Work Whilst Pregnant

        1. Non-Negotiable Heavy Lifting

        Do you have to lift, push, bend, shove, and load materials all day? If you do, many experts believe you should ask for a job reassignment or quit by the 20th week of pregnancy.

        2. Toxic Environments

        The list of jobs that involve dangerous substances is miles long. Consider the artist who works with paint and solvents all day, the dry cleaner who breathes in cleaning fumes, the agricultural or horticultural worker who works with pesticides, the photographer who uses toxic chemicals to develop pictures, the tollbooth attendant who breathes in car and truck exhaust, or the printer who works with lead substances.

        3. Proximity to People with Communicable Illnesses

        Working with or exposure to certain bacteria, viruses, or other infectious agents could increase your chances of having a miscarriage, a baby with a birth defect, or other reproductive problems.  Some infections can pass to an unborn baby during pregnancy and cause a miscarriage or birth defect. Infections like seasonal influenza (the flu) and pneumonia can cause more serious illness in pregnant women.

        4. Extended Hours of Standing

        Cooks, nurses, salesclerks, waiters, police officers, and others, have jobs that keep them on their feet all day. This can be difficult for a pregnant woman, but it might be downright dangerous for her unborn baby. Studies have found that long hours of standing during the last half of pregnancy disrupt the flow of blood.[3]

        Key Factors Creating a Great Workplace whilst Pregnant

        1. Flexibility

        You might feel tired as your body works overtime to support your pregnancy — and resting during the workday can be tough. Having an employer or job that provide care and is understanding to your needs is hugely beneficial.

        A compassionate and empathetic employer will understand morning sickness; they will facilitate changes in working hours to accommodate your energy and assist with the smells from the work kitchen. 

        They will also enable you to remain flexible to snack as and when you want to – crackers and other bland foods can be lifesavers when you feel nauseated. Nad eating small frequent meals are similarly saving you as your meal quantity decreases.

        2. Compassion

        More employers are learning that the idea that pregnant women are willing and necessary contributors to the economy and are capable of adding long-term value to their organizations. 

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        Employers that follow good practice in maternity can improve the experience of pregnant employees and new mothers and encourage them to return to work following maternity leave.

        A good relationship between a pregnant employee and her line manager is essential to the successful reintegration of the employee following maternity leave.

        3. Stress Reduced

        Stress on the job can sap the energy you need to care for yourself and your baby.

        To minimize workplace stress, take control. Make daily to-do lists and prioritise your tasks. Consider what you can delegate to someone else — or eliminate. 

        Talk it out. Share frustrations with a supportive co-worker, friend or loved one. 

        Practice relaxation techniques, such as breathing slowly or imagining yourself in a calm place. Try a prenatal yoga class, as long as your health care provider says it’s OK.

        4. Adaptable

        As your pregnancy progresses, everyday activities such as sitting and standing can become uncomfortable. Remember those short, frequent breaks to combat fatigue? Moving around every few hours also can ease muscle tension and help prevent fluid buildup in your legs and feet. 

        Using an adjustable chair with good lower back support can make long hours of sitting much easier — especially as your weight and posture change. If your chair isn’t adjustable, use a small pillow or cushion to provide extra support for your back.

        Elevate your legs to decrease swelling. If you must stand for long periods of time, put one of your feet up on a footrest, low stool or box. Switch feet every so often and take frequent breaks.

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        Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Consider wearing support or compression hose, too.

        5. Financial Support

        Financial strain is one of the leading causes of peri & post natal depression. Employers can support employees by offering them benefits beyond the statutory minimum, for example training mechanisms to help them cope with balancing work and family commitments. 

        The employer should conduct a performance review with the employee prior to her maternity leave to boost her confidence and encourage her to consider how parenthood and work will fit together.

        Key Take-Aways

        If you’re working while you’re pregnant, you need to know your rights to antenatal care, maternity leave and benefits. 

        If you have any worries about your health while at work, talk to your doctor, midwife or occupational health nurse. You can also talk to your employer, union representative, or someone in the personnel department (HR) where you work. 

        Once you tell your employer that you’re pregnant, they should do a risk assessment with you to see if your job poses any risks to you or your baby. If there are any risks, they have to make reasonable adjustments to remove them. This can include changing your working hours. 

        If you work with chemicals, lead or X-rays, or in a job with a lot of lifting, it may be illegal for you to continue to work. In this case, your employer must offer you alternative work on the same terms and conditions as your original job. If there’s no safe alternative, your employer should suspend you on full pay (give you paid leave) for as long as necessary to avoid the risk.

        Look for employment opportunities that don’t require too much physical exertion and that won’t cause you much emotional stress. Also, look for jobs that come with the chance to work flexible hours, offer good medical benefits, allow you to take time off as needed, and don’t require a long commute. 

        Your current employer may need to offer you different types of work or a change to your working hours. If your employer can’t get rid of the risks (for example by finding other suitable work without any reduction in pay for you), they should offer you suspension on full pay.

        Featured photo credit: Alicia Petresc via unsplash.com

        Reference

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