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Lessons for Everyday Parenting
The Connective Parenting Newsletter
Lesson: Mother's Day Thoughts
This is not going to be a "hearts and roses" Mother's Day greeting. I'm going to tell it like it is. You mothers are in the trenches every day and there's no sugar-coating it.
I decided to see what Wikipedia had to say about Mother's Day. It described it as a celebration honoring mothers and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. I was particularly stuck by the last bit—the influence of mothers in society. Ha! I said to myself.
If we mothers actually influenced society, society would be quite different. For instance:
Instead, we continue on with so many of the pressures that seem unique to woman. Does this sound like you?
- Tough love, harsh punishments, isolation, withdrawal of love to coerce children to obey would not remain the standard of our cultural parenting. Honored instincts would eliminate these methods.
- Mothers would have equal pay in the workforce and flex time to meet family needs.
- Working mothers would have 6 months (at least) paid leave and an optional 6 additional months unpaid leave.
- Birthing would be government subsidized.
- The right to an abortion would not even be a question.
- Mothers who choose to stay home to raise children would get enormous tax deductions for their time, energy, and expertise in raising the future of society.
- Parent education would be standard procedure.
My buttons are mostly cumulative because I have perceived lots of stuff as my responsibility that isn't, hence I feel obliged to fix and bear the burden of countless things that have nothing to do with me."
- "Reactive to my kids' behavior and protective of myself
- Burdened by over-responsibility
- Exhausted by over-thinking
- Unclear over boundaries between kids and myself
- At times, joyless—because that is what adult life is after all—I believed.
- Buttons pressed by feeling responsible, and also by trying to fix everything, by the exhaustion of feeling that I must meet every need and resentful of people who expressed needs—because after all, I had to address them.
- Annoyed by kids and others who don't perceive their role as easing life along—the belief from my up-bringing: you grease the wheels of community.
This was written by a mother in one of my groups as her job description before she took the "Buttons" class. She sees her job differently now but for most of us, it requires a mondset shift to becaome aware of the bill of goods we get sold by our parents and our society growing up. It is sometimes a herculean task to understand boundaries, to know what is our responsibility and what is not, to putting on our own oxygen mask first before helping a child. Making that shift to caring and having compassion for herself is a journey.
Speaking of journeys, my gift to one of you mothers this Mother's Day is one of two wonderful books, The Gift of an Ordinary Day and Magical Journey written by a dear friend, Katrina Kenison. Either of these books will be your friend through the ups and downs of your journey toward letting go—letting go of old messages that hold you down. I am giving away two autographed copies to the lucky Mother's Day winners. Read more about the books and how to enter in my blog (intro below).
Here's to you mothers who deserve a break and don't know it. So much of the responsibility you take on doesn't need to be there. But somehow if we let any part of it go, then we feel guilty, we think we're not doing enough, and believe we must be lazy.
Also congratulations to you mothers who may be staring at an empty nest. NOW we realize what people meant when they told us, "Appreciate every minute, it goes so fast." But when you are in the trenches you have no point of reference. You just know you're exhausted and want a break. You don't know that break will come sooner than you think.
And as much as you may feel drained by the day-to-day, moment-by-moment stuff of parenting, I also know you wouldn't trade it for the world. There is nothing harder, yet nothing more fulfilling, joyful, and heart-opening than a child looking to you for guidance and acceptance to carry him through his childhood.
Here's hoping you get some of that goodness on Mother's Day. Blessings to all of you for persevering in the most important job on earth (and don't let anyone tell you it's not).
Bonnie Harris, Connective Parenting
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