What did you think it was going to be like? Becoming a parent, I mean? When did you realize that there was no turning back – before your baby was put into your arms? Or did the realization that parenting is a forever job sink in sometime later?
I found myself in full gratitude mode again recently as I got off the phone with my Mom. In my opinion, MT Buckner is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) when it comes to mothering. And I know that my FIVE other siblings would agree! Indulge me for a moment while I extol just a few of her many virtues…
She treats each of us an individuals.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but what I mean is that she’s never treated us in a way that didn’t authentically match up to whichever kid she’s parenting at the moment. Yes, there are some general “house rules” that apply to all of us (and there have always been consequences if we ever break those house rules) but she understands that there’s no cookie-cutter way of parenting! Each of us came into this world as unique individuals with different temperaments and abilities and she continues to meet us wherever we are at any given moment.
She’s present and available.
She knows what’s going on in each of our lives, who our friends are, what’s happening with our relationships and work life. She listens and makes us feel seen, heard and validated in our experience.
She’s an incredible cheerleader!
She’s supportive, but to a point. She’s honest and calls us on our BS and holds us to a high standard – without the use of guilt or shame. She only wants what’s in our best interest and celebrates whole-heartedly when good things happen, and quietly checks in when bad things happen.
She takes her role of parenting the next generation seriously.
She realized early on that mothering was her vocation. And my Dad made sure that we all honored and respected her in this role. She knows that parenting isn’t something that fits neatly in between the hours of 9-5, or something that ends just because her kids are adults now and no longer living at home. She’s always been our first and best teacher – and like all the best teachers of the world – continues to lead by example.
You may have noticed that I’m writing in present-tense.
Ya’ll, I’ve had a rough go recently. The past year and some change have been a “challenge” to say the least. So much going on in the larger world, yes… but I also lost my Dad – the GOAT when it comes to fathering! (Damn, I got lucky!)
Those of you who have children know that there’s an added layer to all of this. That layer is figuring out how to help our children navigate their world turning upside down! It’s a big ask – even for me. And I’m one of the most positive meaning-makers on the planet! But in supporting my four children through this time, I didn’t really honor all of the ways my own world had been turned upside down. Can anyone relate?
A few weeks ago, the “unprecedented times” tag was used once again, when the Pacific NW found itself baking, literally, under what the weather people called a “Heat Dome.”
I live in a 111-year-old house in Portland, Oregon. We only have one single window A/C unit that gets turned on 5x a year – maybe. For four days, my two older children lived in the basement while I lived and taught my classes from my bedroom, because the rest of the house felt like a pizza oven (it was 102 degrees in my house one night as I was going to bed!) There were so many others who more negatively impacted by this weather event than me or my family – I’m aware of that…
Which was just one of the reasons I had a breakdown and found myself crying – sobbing, actually – alone, in the dark. (My husband and two younger children were visiting family and enjoying the relatively cooler weather in Atlanta, Georgia!) You may know this about me… I don’t cry. I’ve been this way since childhood, so I was a little concerned about whether or not I’d be able to stop!
Mostly, I cried for my children. For the world that they’re inheriting and the problems that come with it. It was intense, but cathartic at the same time. I was proud of myself for reaching out to a few closely held friends and family the next day to let them know what was going on (not typical for me) and it gave me an opportunity to express gratitude for having them in my life.
But it wasn’t until I spoke with my Mom a week later that I was able to gain perspective and really feel like I’d moved through this intensity to the other side.
Over the phone and more than 2,000 miles away, she applied all of the mothering strengths that seem to come so naturally to her to help me – her grown-ass daughter – navigate this experience. The woman was still recovering from recent surgery, but we didn’t even get into how she was doing until the last 15 minutes of our hour-long conversation! My Mom’s even more amazing in this role, because she grew up without a mother of her own to act as a role model or how-to-guide!
I’m writing this today as a little love letter to my Momma, yes, but also as a love letter to all of you who are involved in this important work.
Parenting the next generation is hard and it’s a forever job. It never ends, not really. I have so much love for all of you who are doing this forever job without a parent as a positive example or role model to guide you.
Because all of us need someone who “gets it” when it comes to parenting.
We all need someone in our corner who will treat us like the unique parent that we are and who will be fully present and available so we can feel seen, heard and validated in our experience. We could all use a cheerleader to support and celebrate with us but continue to encourage us to be our best parenting version on the regular. And all of us deserve to have someone who really, truly understands that parenting the next generation is the most important work that we will ever do.
If you don’t have someone like that in your corner, let me be that person for you! I’ve had the most amazing example ever and I’m more than willing to share the wealth.
You can work with me in any number of ways as you prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting. And you can also follow me here on the blog as well as on Instagram and Facebook. Everything I do in my work is meant to create a warm and welcoming space for you to land as an expecting or new parent.
I get it… I’ve got you!
(Thanks, Mom. LOVE YOU THE MOST!!!)