Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing mother, Pam!
As a young child I remember asking my mom how she knew so much about so much, intuitively knowing that she possessed this great, vast knowledge of how to live life and get things done well. Her response was that I would learn overtime, just like she did. I am still asking her this question over various topics of advice she provides. The last answer she gave me two months ago is that she “has 30 years more experience,” ha! She is right. And I am lucky to have her. To me, a mark of a good mother is someone who wants to teach, tend, and help grow the child. Even after all these years (30 of them), she still is ready to share her wisdom when I ask for it. I think that is amazing. Most folks might have considered retirement at this point; it is lovely that is not the case with her. Even adults need their mother’s specific help and guidance from time to time.
There are two questions pivotal to my parenting success lately: “Why?” and “How does that make you feel?” The “why” is courtesy of my child, who will ask why ten times before satisfied with an answer. Once, we drove past a Walgreens and he asked what it was. I explained. He asked a follow-up “why” to my explanation. I continued to elaborate, and he continued to ask why until we got all the way down to scientists in laboratories creating medicine to help sick people. I was quite impressed with that conversation and how asking why got us as far as it did. So, I use this technique on him, too. When he says that something is dumb, I ask why. And I then he says, “because it’s stupid!” To which I reply, “But why, specifically, is it dumb and stupid?” At this point he is forced to use more words. Once he actually answers the question, I pull out my most favorite question of all, “How does that make you feel?”
Asking someone “How does that make you feel?” is so simple, yet radical because we rarely ever ask it. When was the last time someone who was not your therapist asked you this? I am guessing it has been awhile. The recommendation to ask this question came from the book Parenting With Love And Logic. This book has been so helpful to me because it showed me the detriments of certain parenting tendencies that I employ, in addition to illustrating how people can become good parents. I highly recommend this book if you have young people in your life! I have found great success and enjoy a deeper conversation and connection when I apply this powerful question. I am grateful to have it in my toolbelt, not just as a mother but as a person.
In this time of motherhood, I feel like I am in both worlds of baby and grown child: we are walking the path of transition. In a single day exists cuddles, innocence, softness and self-sufficiency, learning, doing. Yesterday he barged in the door and declared, “I’m making a cheese sandwich!” and proceeded to open cupboards which do not possess cheese nor bread. I appreciated the gusto, his assumption and trust in himself that he can and will do this on his own; that he can identify a want and seek out the means to the end is everything. The teaching, the tending, the growing of this child is at the root of it all. May we grow even deeper still.