I’m not sure how I got to lucky, but I got to go out last weekend to attend and speak at the annual Power of Moms retreat in Park City. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Utah looked so green compared with Boston!
I love those retreats! The power in that room full of 85 mothers is almost tangible. I met so many amazing women, so deliberate in their mothering efforts. All of them taking time away from their busy jobs as moms to step back and think about the job they’re doing. I’m going away from it feeling full of ideas and inspiration.
I’m on the plane home now and feel so inspired and excited about motherhood. So ready to get back to my kids. Certainly I’ll crash on re-entry but before I do I want to write some of the things that really struck me this time around, things I felt inspired to change in our home and in my mothering.
Things are feeling a big broken in our family lately. I was hoping to come away from the retreat armed with some ideas of how I could alter our family systems in order to help our kids behave better, respect more, clean more, obey more, fight less, work more, complain less etc etc etc. But what I came away with instead was the desire to change things at the root. Before swooping in and altering our systems or introducing new ones, new consequences, more rules, I need to take a good look at the foundation we have under us. I feel pretty convinced that if our foundation isn’t built on love and enjoyment and positivity and praise anything we build on top of it will topple over.
I’ve been caught in a wave of negative mothering lately. This weekend as I’ve been away I’ve realized that the way I see my children is muddy and mired. Lately their weaknesses loom large in my mind, overshadowing so much that is good and strong and amazing about their little souls. And since children really form their self image in the mirror of their parents perceptions, how I perceive them is critical to their wellbeing.
How can I expect them to become their true selves if they can’t see themselves clearly. Maybe my main job as a mother is to help my kids to see themselves clearly.
So I’m going to work on altering my perception of them. There is plenty of good stuff to see when that is my focus. When I zoom out to see the bigger picture it’s easy to see them as beautiful, strong souls trying their best to figure out this world. Pushing buttons, trying on behaviors, figuring out what pleases and what doesn’t, where the boundaries are. That’s their job right now. These behaviors wont all spill into their adulthood.
Before changing any systems, clamping down on time outs, making a new and better list of family rules I want to make sure my kids know who they are. I want to spend my energies right now figuring out how to create a more positive environment in my home. A place where my kids can see themselves clearly because they stand firm on a foundation of love and acceptance.
I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to do this, but I think it starts by lots more affection and genuine praise and lots less criticizing. This is much easier to do with some children than others. But the ones who make it difficult are the ones who need it the most.
I’m determined to see the good. To offer them genuine praise. To cut out the criticism. To sandwich corrections with complements. To stop being (at least visibly) annoyed by their silly behavior.
I’m also more determined than ever to cut out lots of things that are non-essential to my priorities as a mother. I want more space in my life to enjoy the present. When I have more space in my life I’m able to see everything a little clearer. I have more patience, more energy to look past the frustrations of the present to the bigger picture. At the retreat my mom spoke about cutting your job down to the essentials. She encouraged us to make a list of the essential mothering tasks that we want to accomplish and then figure out ways to either delegate or delete those things that don’t light us up, that don’t help us towards mothering the way we’d like to. I love that challenge. Delegating and deleting are both hard for me!
Last I’m going to work on taking in the good in my life as a mother. In my presentation I talked about enjoying the present. How changing your perspective, zooming into details and zooming out to a bigger picture can help you enjoy the present more fully. I talked about this great book I read called Hardwiring Happiness, which explains why our brains are like “Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good.” How we can make all the good, beautiful stuff stick in our brains, changing the fabric of our brains to make us happier, calmer people. Fascinating stuff. I promise to write more about it sometime soon. I’m loving teaching my children how to take in the good.
I’m touching down. Time to test all this out. Even if re-entry is grueling (all the piled up laundry and kids who are a little mad that you left them) I’m all pumped up. I feel like I have a clearer picture of what I want to accomplish, how I want to love.
Thanks so much to my big sister Saren for creating Power of Moms. A huge labor of love and dedication to supporting motherhood. I love her.