6 Things I know for sure about being a mom……

6 Things I know for sure about being a mom….001

“Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.”
— James Joyce

It’s not about me and it’s not about my children, it’s about the minds of the human beings I have been gifted to guide and stand with in times of trouble and triumph, laughter and rest.

In April of this year I wrote about how my older son came to me to tell me that he and his friends were going to move to Florida and make a life for themselves together, far from where they have always called home. They had no real plan other than this wild, 18 year old being impulsive, I gotta be free to be me idea. My first reaction was shock and speechlessness.

I’ve always been the kind of mom that doesn’t quickly fly off the handle until all information has settled in. Then I go a bit coo-coo if all the information doesn’t add up to logic on any level. I remember each time my kids would come home with a scraped knee and blood was everywhere and tears were everywhere I remained calm. I even caught myself each time thinking, “wow, I’m really calm right now, how am I doing that?” It was instinctual for me to behave that way. I don’t know why or where it came from it was just the way I always reacted to high stress situations regarding my children, keep them calm by remaining calm; my husband, not so much. I save all the “flying off the handle” at a moment’s notice just for him. What a lucky guy.

So I listened to what my son was saying and I decided that little by little I would throw up road signs for him to watch out for in the hopes that these signs would put enough doubt in his decision to leave and he would choose to stay home and keep going on the road he was already successfully navigating.  You know, those “what if”, “how will you”, “what will you do if” signs. Nothing deterred him and so he drained a portion of his savings account, packed his bags, quit his job and left. I deeply hoped that he would just take my advice and not put himself through all of this turmoil and hardship. For one very long month he navigated his own life, made his own decisions, experienced life on his terms and then…… he came home.

The very first thing my son said when he walked in the door was, “Well, that was quite an experience but I don’t think I want to go back. It wasn’t what I thought it would be.” Are those not the words a mother wants to hear? (Just so you know, when he left the room some time later, I did a little jig in the kitchen, twirling myself around and around with a smile on my face so big that my cheeks hurt.)

What happened next was life changing and again left me speechless. My son decided to enroll in a university not too far from home but far enough away that he would have to live there. He knew the financial implications of a decision like that but it was what he thought would be the next right move. He thought also that living at school would be a better life experience than having to navigate his life completely on his own, away from most of his other friends, and away from access to home. As a backup plan he made an appointment with the community college where is started as a freshman and decided that just in case he didn’t get in to the university he would give himself this final option and talk to an adviser there.

He picked up the mail on his way to his appointment at the community college and waited until he parked in the parking lot before opening the letter from the university. He didn’t get in. The university did not like his first year college grades.  Disappointed, he got out of the car and headed in to the community college and met with is adviser. The adviser was very honest and blunt with him telling him that if he wanted funding to be reinstated, if he wanted to attend any university after community college, and if he wanted to pursue the degree he was planning on then his grades needed to go way up and his commitment needed to be true and sure. When that ordeal was done he took himself to his old employer and asked for his job back. It wasn’t easy for him to actually take those footsteps toward this final decision. He said he was nervous and a bit shaky to have to actually go back to community college and to have to face his former boss and colleagues but he said he knew what he had to do and was glad to have the option as opposed to no option at all.  He got in to his old school and he got his old job back, both welcoming him with open arms and big smiles. Is that mature or what? Who is this kid?

When he came home to tell me what he did, I just stood there with my mouth open, again, speechless. This is becoming a pattern with him. What I noticed right away was that not one time did my son complain, or show an angry face or balk at the choices that were taken away from him or express anger in any way. His attitude was one of calm but disappointment and most of all perseverance. The disappointment came from within him. He was disappointed in how he performed at school and how that led to him not getting in to the school he wanted and the funding he desperately needed and he was disappointed that he wasted time in not working. However, he then said that he viewed this as his second chance and he wasn’t going to screw it up this time. How did the boy become such a man overnight?

What I know for sure about being a mom is this….

1)       Keep talking. Most importantly keep talking even when you see and feel like you are not getting through. Know that you are. When the words come from your heart, when you are completely engaged in your child’s well-being the words will come and they will get in. You have to trust this most of all.

2)       Keep believing. I knew deep inside of my soul that my son was capable of making good decisions and that he was just lost right now. I knew who he imagined himself to be when he “grew up”. Don’t give up what you know to be true about your children. Believe in them and they will ultimately believe in themselves.

3)       Keep being you. My children count on me to be me and all that entails. I talk too much and admit it, I cry when what I am trying to convey what touches my heart so deeply that I can’t hold back and I don’t hide my tears from them, I yell when I am at my fraying point and just so overwhelmed at their behavior, I stop talking completely when I know that I don’t have it in me to say something helpful or kind. Your honesty and authenticity is what they count on most of all. It is what sets you apart from the rest of the world and the people in their world. You become the one person they know will live in truth for them and with them.

4)       Keep the faith. I knew from my core that my son’s path was on the right track well before he decided to leave home. I believed with all of my heart that he was making a mistake but had faith that he would come to understand what I already knew. Faith is an unshakable belief in something or someone; it is confidence in that something or someone’ it is believing in something unseen. It doesn’t mean that you don’t question within yourself what you know for sure. That is natural but keep the faith anyway.

5)       Allow them to make mistakes. Each of us has free will. The greatest lessons learned are the ones that touch us from the inside out. My son couldn’t possibly understand or learn from just my words or my own experiences. He needed to feel for himself and experience for himself what I was trying to tell him. As hard as it was for me to know what he was up against I had to let go and trust enough that he would find his way. That trust alone allowed for him to create, on his own, the pathways out of his own mistakes. When he told me what he had done in terms of school and his job he was filled with self-pride. AWESOME!! It means everything that he took action to help himself out of a bad situation and it came from within himself. Now he knows what he is capable of. Now he has started the pathway to trusting himself and his own decision making processes. Now he sees and feels the difference between when things are “right” and when they are not “right”. Isn’t that what a parent wants for their children, that feeling for their child of “I did this”?

6)       Remember what it felt like when…..The greatest advice ever given to me was from my mom when my first child was born. “Lisa, remember what it felt like when you were 5,7, 10, 13, 18, 21…” etc. Staying in touch with who you were will help you better understand the roads your children will travel and navigate. Their personal experiences may not be exactly like what you went through but the life lessons are the same. Keep your heart open and your words flowing and your hugs at the ready.

bigmattThere will absolutely, guaranteed be more mistakes down the road but the fact that I now know he can learn from those mistakes and prevent them from becoming failures is uplifting and encouraging and respectful. I now have a much deeper respect for my son and I don’t see him as a boy anymore. I can now start to see him as the man he wants to be and I realize that it is going to take some getting used to in how to relate to this man I see before me. And just for a moment I allowed myself to also realize that my role as “mom” has just shifted and I allowed myself to miss the young mother of a young boy I used to be. It made me want to have another baby and start again but then I thought, no. This is right, this is the next chapter; this is how it should be. There is a time and season for everything and I welcome the time with open arms and a most grateful heart.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness.”—Thich Nhat Hahn

I have to say that my son is happy. He is happy with his decisions, he is happy with his action steps and he is determined and ready to take even more control of his life and all that goes in to making his life. He has always had an idea of the man he wants to be and now he feels like he is on the right road toward becoming that man he sees in himself; and he did it all on his own. Fantastic!

Please share with me your experiences about motherhood. It would be an honor to stand beside you on your journey through this amazing experience.

Lisa has been featured in Parent Magazine and in the book Stay-At-Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money by Liz Folger.

Coaching is a great vehicle to help navigate through those sticky tough, tumultuous times of parenting, career and life itself. If you would like to see how coaching can help please write to me lisa@journeyoncoaching.com and let’s chat in a judgment free, empowering, uplifting space.

 

 

Are you the adult you want your children to become?

baby jessica 001 Whispers from my Wallpaper…..

                     Are you the adult you want your children to become?

Dr. Brene` Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher, author and teacher, asks this very important question in her book, Daring Greatly. If you haven’t read the book I highly suggest you do. Go directly to chapter 7 and read through this enlightening chapter on “Daring to be the parent we want our children to be.” It helps if you read the book from the beginning but if you are a parent struggling with this crazy, mixed up world and feeling that perhaps your way of parenting seems like it is just not enough then read this chapter first.

I never thought twice about becoming a parent. It was just the natural, expected course my life would eventually take. I, like so many before me, wanted to do things a bit “better” than my parents did it while also putting my own stamp of parenting that was  a bit different from how they parented, but overall I hoped that I would be as good at parenting my own children as my parents were for me.

Joseph Chilton Pearce writes, “What we are teaches our children more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.” Our job is to love ourselves and accept ourselves first if we want the same for our children. This is a hard thing to do, accept and love ourselves in order to be accepting and loving toward our children? I do have the capacity to love and be loved and I want to love and be loved by those that I hold most dear. I really feel that what is most important is empathy. To be able to feel and understand what others are feeling.

My youngest son is going through a hard time right now trying to figure out himself and his place in the world. Life is changing very rapidly for him, taking twists and turns that he, in most cases, has no control over. As I watch him struggle, I worry whether I’ve given him all the skills he needs to live as an adult, and I spontaneously feel guilty for what I see as my failures. This was the vibe I was getting from my son. I was feeling guilty thinking that I had done something wrong in how he was raised and I wanted to “check in” with him on this. Where is his sense of belonging, worthiness, self-confidence right now?

According to Dr. Brown guilt says, “I did something bad” as opposed to shame which says, “I am bad.”  When we apologize for something we have done, make amends, or change a negative behavior into a positive behavior in order to better align with our own values, the influence on ourselves, our children, and our world is positive. Getting our thinking and our actions back to zero, back to “normal” is like finding the level playing field. Just because our bodies have matured on the outside and we are now labeled “adults” doesn’t mean our insides have kept up. When our children feel shame or guilt and display behaviors that make us feel embarrassed we very quickly go back to a time in our own lives, in our own story when we remember feeling that too.

“The sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” –Carl Jung

As parents we have the choice, but more importantly, the obligation to show our children that it’s okay to screw up sometimes by turning mistakes into successes through learning from them. We show our children that they are not alone in the life struggles they go through by telling them stories of our own struggles with a simple “me too” which opens the door to great communication and safe spaces. When we share our guilt and vulnerabilities with our children we not only mature our own adult insides but we make it normal for our children to let life’s experiences and vulnerabilities be okay. Their stories and our story help their insides mature as well. We are telling them that it is so okay to have chapters that don’t quite feel so good. Ultimately, it is what can be learned from each experience, good and bad that makes the story worth telling.

Reading through Dr. Brown’s book I had to ask my son if he feels doubt about himself in any way, if he feels vulnerable, if he feels like he has made mistakes that he is letting define him now, if he feels like he belongs with us as a family member, because I know he doesn’t feel like he belongs at school or with the kids he goes to school with. Dr. Brown talks about “belonging” as requiring us to BE who we are. Well how do we know how to be who we are if we don’t really know who we are?

“ Belonging”, says Dr. Brown, “is being accepted for who you are; being somewhere where you want to be and where the people around you want you to be; getting to be “you” no matter what is happening in your life or the decisions you make.” My son and I talked at length about these definitions and I am so happy to say that he does feel like he belongs, he just feels like a disappointment sometimes. I get that. I’ve felt that way a time or seven in my lifetime. I was so happy to be able to normalize his feelings with a resounding , “me, too.”

I needed to help my son know that disappointment was okay and that it was a good measuring stick to help shape his road map toward becoming the best adult, the best person he can be. The relief on his face was palpable. His sense of “belonging” to the outside world will come as he moves through it and works with the world. But I needed to make sure he understood that he unconditionally belongs with us – his family, his foundation. Disappointment will happen throughout his life but it will diminish to “every once in a great while” instead of the “oh so often” feeling he has right now.

“Let your face speak what is in your heart.” –Toni Morrison

When your child walks into a room do you first notice what he/she is wearing and make judgments and criticize or do you light up at the miracle that just walked in the room? Actions do indeed speak louder than words even if your actions are as simple as a smile, a welcome hug or an expression of belonging and worthiness.

There is a body language to parenting that we sometimes forget to incorporate into our job as a parent. Our bodies need, no, must remember to speak with emotions like compassion, engagement, empathy, attention, “me, too” and “I get it”. My mom said to me just before my daughter was born, “never forget what it felt like when…..” I have taken this to heart and let it guide me through every age and stage my children have achieved. It was this way of thinking that helped put me in my son’s shoes to get the conversation started about where he is at right now.

We can’t be perfect parents, husbands, wives, children, etc. because there is no such thing as perfect but we can be perfectly imperfect with the love we express. We can be messy and we can be ourselves and we can be our story. Let your face speak what is in your heart. Journey On with your children through the rest of your story and show them that their story is just as great and can be greater.

If you would like to learn how coaching can empower you to live life with purpose and perspective please write to Lisa for a complimentary 30 minute coaching consultation to lisa@journeyoncoaching.com and watch for Lisa’s forthcoming book, “A Leap of Faith.”