It Is Not Your Job

Our children want to be seen, to be known and to be loved. They do not need us as parents to feel responsible for “making” them. Our children already ARE. Our job is to support and guide them.

As I watch my four kids growing into the tots, tween and teen that they are today, more full expressions of the unique individuals I’ve known them to be since first breaths, first words and first steps, it is just that much easier for me to believe this very important concept:

It is not my job to make my children (fill-in-the-blank).

This frankly FANTASTIC revelation comes to me after years of parenting from a very different place. For years I parented believing it was my responsibility, nay, my duty and my moral obligation, to make my children a sometimes short and sometimes rather long list of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS depending on the moment.

Creative. Driven. Sensitive. Smart. Polite. Focused. Funny. Humble. Responsible. Outgoing. Patient. Kind. Generous. Empathetic.

My very important things list and yours might differ based on our upbringing, experiences, faith, age, cultural biases, education, gender, etc, but rest assured, if you know what it is to feel pressure from both inside and outside of yourself to make your child (fill-in-the-blank), then you know what I’m talking about.

Our very-important-things-place or VITP, is a not so fun, pressure-cooker like sort of place we parents go when we feel put upon by ourselves and/or society to MAKE our children something, especially when it is something our children are so very clearly NOT by their very nature. It’s a confusing and often self-contradicting place we drag our children when we fool ourselves into believing that as parents we have the power to MAKE THEM (fill-in-the-blank) by withdrawing our love, removing our favor, and resorting to tactics like shame, blame, bribery and manipulation.

Hadley bedtime poem

Some confusing messages that derive from this place might look like this:

“Be sensitive… but also be outgoing and fearless.”

“Dream big and think outside of the box… but also fit in with your peers, be compliant and do-as-you-are-told (i.e.: hug your grandma, put on your coat and go to the bathroom when I tell you to even when you say you don’t have to go or don’t “want” to… even when it goes against your intuition.)

“Be strong and lead… but also be passive, stop bossing your friends around and for God’s sakes don’t ask so many question or challenge the things we, your parents, tell you to be or do (or other authority figures for that matter – how could you embarrass us like that?!?)”

After 14 years of striving to catch my VITP in action, I’ve gotten better at recognizing it for what it is. When I feel the familiar tentacles of fear and not-enoughness taking hold, instead of surrendering to my VITP’s power, feeling off center, defensive, and blaming my kids for it, instead, I’m gently reminding myself to drop the chalupa. To step away from the wormhole sucking the whole-hearted love I have for my children out of me, a wormhole that would like to leave me with conditional love based on my approval/disapproval of my kids actions and beliefs.

we belong to each other

When I can catch my VITP at work these days, I say to myself:

“I can support these very-important-things I’m wanting to see within my children, but I cannot make them these things. My children’s true-est, most-powerful gifts already ARE. It is my job to love and guide my children such that they recognize and strengthen the already beautiful and intact attributes they already hold within themselves.”

Parenting in this way involves setting clear, firm, consistent limits when I see my kids moving off track (messy bedrooms, rude statements, mismanagement of time, etc, etc) but not from the angry, judgmental place my VITP wants to take me. If I truly want to lead and guide my children, I get to discipline them from my center. And yes, this entails saying “no” even as I craft my words to say YES— explaining what I want to see from them over what I do not. This entails being selfish if by definition “selfish” means my needs and wants are held right along side the needs and wants of every member of my family. This also entails letting go of the idea that I can love my family in a “perfect” way such that they will be happy and instead, embracing the truth that happiness is not the goal of parenting — my love and more full presence is. My willingness to grow right along side my child is. This road involves some NOT “happy” moments and that’s okay.

We ask our kids from as early an age as 2 or 3, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Instead of “A doctor/nurse”, “A baseball player” or “A ballerina!”, I imagine a world where our children reply instead, “What about who I am NOW? What about the things I love to do and be NOW? What about the things I think I’m good at doing and being TODAY?!?”

If we asked our children these three things daily in the way we parent, we just might get a closer look at each one’s very nature and stop deluding ourselves into thinking that we are MAKING our children (fill-in-the-blank).

In this new year, I hope you will join me in letting go of the notion that we MAKE our children (fill-in-the-blank) and instead, declaring the following:

“My job as mom/dad is to SEE my children – to know them and to love them – as they come to better know and love themselves.”

love imperfections

xo

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Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

You Are Braver Than You Believe

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

When we are hurting, these words from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh are easy to forget. At some point in our lives, we each need reminding. It is in those moments we find ourselves leaning into another person (a friend or sometimes a complete stranger) who in their compassion and love reminds us.

We ARE brave. We ARE strong. We ARE smart. No matter how fearful, weak or broken we may feel in that moment.

Sunshine After The Storm

Sunshine after the Storm: A Survival Guide For The Grieving Mother strives to do just this, sharing honestly and with compassion the journey of a mother’s heart after the loss of a child , be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss.

The book is free on Kindle until October 17th, 2013 and it’s authors would love to see it in the hands of as many people as possible. Mothers. Fathers. Spiritual leaders. Medical professionals. This heartfelt and inspiring collection is for anyone who finds themselves in the midst of loss.

My essay in Chapter Three, “The Things People Say”, is born of my personal experiences with repeat miscarriages, my struggle to ask for the things I needed, to forgive and to receive. In all, the book offers more than twenty “survival tips” and thirty unique perspectives from moms with both shared and varied experiences of infant loss and healing.

You may never know which of your friends this book is meant for, as in loss, most tend to hold their hurt close to the chest, which is why I am asking you to help us help others feel less alone in loss by sharing this link far and wide.

Thank you from the backside of my healing heart for passing this along, that another mother (or yes, another father) in their loss might feel less alone.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

xo

—–

When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:

Miscarriage and Loss

Waiting

“How to explain the inner workings of a mother’s heart who just knows there is another child waiting to be born to her?”

 

Waiting from Generation Mindful on Vimeo.

You do not need to have lost a child to know what it is to question, to doubt yourself, or to hope against all odds for a miracle.

This is my story from the magical day I presented it live in front of hundreds in my home town of St. Louis Missouri, and on Mother’s Day no less. I hope it speaks to your heart in some small way. More than anything, I hope my story encourages you to ask whatever it is that is on your heart, to listen, and to follow — even if (especially if) it doesn’t make “sense” to your head.

What is on your heart today? Do you know what it is to wait? What questions have you been asking and what, if anything, are you hearing in return? I know it takes something to share, but I’d love to hear from you below.

xo

————

I write here and on My Mommy Manual‘s Facebook page about the connection we are, reminding myself and others to look inside for instructions. I also write about the spiritual journey that is life after loss at In The Face Of Loss and Pinterest as well. If you are a fan of conscious parenting and education, please join me and others at Generation Mindful and here on Instagram where we advocate for PLAY, and helping the generations to slooooow down and to simply connect.

Related Posts:

Time to Mourn

I Don’t Want to do Something Wrong

Growing in Motherhood

Rainbow Babies

photo (3)

Project SHARE: Add Your Story

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Life is a journey, not a destination” and so it has been for me with loss and healing, more of a way I travel than a place I ever expect to arrive.

If you are a mother who knows the grief of losing a child or the dream of one to infertility, miscarriage, still birth or early infant loss; if you see your experiences as significant; if you feel that you are on a spiritual journey and that healing is more a way to travel than a place one arrives, I am writing this to you.

First, let me say, I am sorry. Ours is a group I wish no mother belonged to and yet here we are, together.

I know the pain of repeat miscarriage. I know the healing journey it has set me upon and I am writing about my experiences for other women that know grief, that in their loss they may feel less alone.

If you believe our lives are best when they are shared, please join in Project Share. Will you add *you* to the book I am writing? 

This is a picture of what I hope this book will look like one day soon. I have written to the artist, Monica Sabolla Gruppo, who created this beautiful handmade journal to tell her how much I love it and she has given me her blessing to post it here. It’s been an inspiration. This is what my book looks like in my heart even now as I am writing it.

One day soon this project will result in something tangible we can put our hands around. Something to be written in, to be shared with another mother who is having to say goodbye too soon. Here’s how you can be a part of it too.

To participate in Project Share: simply make some time to sit and reflect back on your journey. I have written a short list of questions for you to reflect on below. After you have had time to sit with them, write your thoughts down and send them to me. I am honored to be on the receiving end of these sacred stories.

Please send your reflections as follows:

1) Via email to tuckersuzanne(@)sbcglobal(dot)net, subject “Project Share”

2) Copy and paste your original piece into the body of the e-mail. No attachments please.

3) Please include your name, your baby’s name, type of loss, and a blog URL if applicable.

4) All submissions may be edited for clarity.

5) Submissions due by 12/31/12

6) I will write a thank you to each participant, mentioning you by your full name, first name alone or “pen-name” in the book’s foreword so please note how I might best thank you in your email.

By submitting your reflections, you are giving me permission to publish the entirety or portions of your submission in electronic (web-based and eBook format) or print publication. Introspection and gratitude are this project’s sole compensation and you retain all writes to your written reflections.

Here is a beautiful example from a mom who posted her reflections to her blog. Your responses may be a word, sentence or many paragraphs long. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no right or wrong way to participate in this project. Here are the questions.

In your experiences with miscarriage: What happened? How did you feel? How did you grieve? How did those around you feel and grieve? How did your experiences affect you spiritually? What was your greatest challenge with miscarriage? What, if any, was your greatest gift or life lesson?

I will hold you in my heart as I read the responses you send me. Some of your experiences will be directly quoted in the book while others will influence my writing in ways I can’t even begin to know or express here in words, but if you participate, you will influence this book.

Blessings to you on your journey and thank you for being a part of this project by mothers who know grief for mothers who know grief. Together may we share our lives that another mother’s heart finds comfort and peace.

xoxo

—–

I believe that when we follow our bliss, anything is possible. If you know what it is to lose a child, be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss, I hope you walk with me and other moms that have lost a child, because this journey we’re on is better when we are holding hands. 

Related Posts:

I Don’t Want to Do Something Wrong

Go Tell Them All I Did Not Die

How to Fall

Remembering

Remembering…

I am not the same person I was before miscarriage, before our angel babies Leo, Mary, Tucker, Lily and Nina forever rocked my world.

I feel my angel babies making a difference every time I sit down to write to you.

I feel them in my heart when my second daughter tells me how she feels her angel brothers and sisters are looking out for her.

I feel them when our eldest daughter, now twelve, draws her family portrait at school with me, her dad, her two sisters and brother and herself surrounded by five cupcake stickers; the stickers she only later tells me are her angel brothers and sisters.

And I feel them when, last month, celebrating fifteen years of marriage, I experienced a love there between my husband and I, stronger in spite of (or maybe even because of) the times we pushed away from one another, grieving so much loss together but more often, separately.

I am remembering my baby angels today, something I usually do privately or maybe here with you or with other angel mamas; but today I will do this publicly, with friends and family and some that may not quite understand why.

I will do this because October 15th is a day for the world to remember angel babies and the ones they left behind, that we may know we are not alone.

If you have lost a child, know that I and many, many others are remembering with you today. We want to wrap you in love and light. We want to listen to you. We want to say your baby’s name aloud.

Write your angels name below and we will say it aloud with you, that all those that come here know, your angel is remembered.

xo

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By Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

I Don’t Want to Do Something Wrong…

My friend Desi wrote to me last night wanting thoughts on how she might best support a friend:

My girlfriend just lost her baby. She was around 27 weeks. I don’t know what I need to do. I am going to mail a card tomorrow, but I don’t want to do something wrong at this sensitive time in her life. What can I do for her?

I love my friend. She is the mom of two, her baby just months old. She has never lost a child, but in her compassion, she is reaching out to learn how she might best support her friend. This is the sort of person everyone deserves to have in their life when bad things happen. I was (am) lucky enough to have friends and family like Desi, but so, SO many are not.

Here is what I wrote back, my immediate reply to a friend asking for advice. It took me all of about 48 seconds to write… and instead of adding to it or making it pretty, I thought I’d share with you just as it was, not in spite of its unedited-ness, but because of  it. (Sometimes our heads just get in the way…)

do listen. just listening, with your whole heart, without a need to make it better or make it go away… this is the most powerful thing you can do.

do be compassionate in your listening. you do not need to have had a loss to be of comfort to her.

do tell her you are sorry. that you are thinking of her. over and over, many times. those are really the best words. you can tell her in a card, in a gift, in a phone call, in a meal you drop by.

avoid fresh flowers. they die and can be a sad reminder when eventually they need to be thrown out.

ask her how she is. talk to her about her baby and call her baby by her baby’s name.

never feel you are best not mentioning it because you don’t want to “remind her” because, trust me, she won’t have forgotten and likely she is thinking about it anyway.

do not give her advice on how to feel. ever. things like “everything happens for a reason” or “at least you have another child” or “well, your baby is in a better place.” These words ring empty and do not comfort most in their loss.

do sit with her while she cries. drive over to give her a hug if she lives in town; even if she tells you she is okay and doesn’t need you to do this, hug her.

do ask if you can buy a plant or a tree for her to plant in her babies memory so she can see it’s life cycles and remember her sweet baby angel with each passing season.

do offer to help organize the memorial service. a balloon release or something of this sort where all can remember her baby with her. lots of ideas online.

do put this on your calendar for this time next year. remember this day with her then as she will be thinking about it. it may be a tough month even. likely nobody else in her world will be remembering along with her (unless she is really good at creating this sort of support in her life) and you remembering for and with her… this is a great, great gift.

give the gift of you. your heart. your listening. your tears. your understanding. your permission for her to grieve. she may denying these very things to herself. i know i did.
—–

you are a real gift in her life. you are a good friend to even ask.

 

What would you have replied? (And thank you ahead of time. I plan to add your thoughts to JOURNEY.)

xo

 

 

PS: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day is coming up October 15th. This might be a nice time to remember a friend’s loss for and with them.

—–

I believe that when we follow our bliss, anything is possible. If you know what it is to lose a child, be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss, I hope you will walk with me and other moms here, because this journey we are on is better when we are holding hands. Join and receive email support and inspiration for the journey of life after losing a child.

Not For a Reason

I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. I used to say this, but I don’t anymore.

If everything happens for a reason, would it not follow that there is but one reason for the things that happen? What if my reason and your reason don’t match? Who gets to name it?

How can we apply reason to all the unreasonable things that happen in this world and to what purpose?

For most all of us who have lost a child, these words ring empty. Though meant to comfort, they leave us with more questions than answers, directing us in our grief to search our minds for what possible reason could exist to explain our pain.

Rather, I would offer that everything in life can have meaning. Why get stuck thinking about reason when we can turn to the heart of the matter for meaning instead? In meaning, we can have endless interpretations; my meaning different that your meaning, though neither one right or wrong in the naming of it.

For me and in my life, even the most tragic of events have had the power to draw me deeper into the fullness of life. In each, I have found meaning.

How about you? What do you believe?

To join other mothers walking with loss, click here.

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By Suzanne Tucker, co-creator of My Mommy Manual.com. Join her and other moms on this journey called motherhood, because life’s better when we hold hands.

Go Tell Them All I Did Not Die…

Tears. Puddles. Choking feeling in my throat as I just clicked on this song, written for another mother with an angel baby. Baby Jack. Taken early in his life at just nine days old.

The song moves through me. Around me. Lifts me up even as it tears me down. The pain is still there (when I allow it.) This song brings me there. My breath carries me through it.

Thank you Spirit for this beautiful reminder today of my babies in heaven. [Read more…]