By Momivate's "Energy" CouncilMom, Ericka Moore
I can be changed by what happens to me.
To say that we have experienced change these past few years is an understatement. Covid has impacted every marker of stability we have relied upon. Some of us have handled this change better than others and have become sources of inspiration to those who need it. Families have struggled to continue normalcy and children sensed this interruption. As mothers, we are sensitive to the needs of our children and this global impact brought out the need to protect and screen our children from its harsh realities. At times, shielding our children is necessary, but sometimes, during moments of change, it is good to teach.
Change is certain to occur and the way we respond can be the difference between learning a tough but difficult lesson or sowing seeds of anger and bitterness. I believe it is the key to navigating and overcoming any mountain. Oxford Dictionary defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Toughness.” It takes fortitude to continue a journey when met with obstacles. In order for a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it must struggle against the cocoon shell, then push its fluids down its wings so that the wings are strengthened to fly. That is the perfect picture of growth through resilience!
Listed below are five principles to improve resilience during moments of change. I am not a life coach, but I offer these principles as possible suggestions:
1) Understand you cannot control everything.
Control means safety and the lack of it can mean chaos. However, it is impossible to dictate and manage every detail of every situation in your life and the lives of those you love. It is okay to let go and prioritize the situations that need management. All situations do not need your influence.
2) Recognize that yours is not the only path.
Your knowledge and experiences impact the path you take in decision making. However, it may not be the correct path for another. Your way is not the only way. Do not be afraid to see another point of view.
3) Seek wisdom. (Accept that you may not know the answers.)
We like to think we know it all but we do not. There is no harm in seeking wise counsel. Speaking to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor is smart. It may save you time, money, and heartache.
4) Remember, this is only temporary.
Change is awkward and does not always happen on a schedule. It does not stay awkward forever. Eventually, change becomes routine, and routines bond families and help children feel safe.
5) Take care of your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical body.
It is vital to address mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical arenas in your life. Getting plenty of sleep, eating well, addressing stress, and nurturing your relationship with God is important. You are no good to anyone else if you are not being good to yourself. Remember to facilitate this for your children, also.
Growth and maturity are what keep us from becoming stagnant, and every experience teaches us more about the world and ourselves. Though some changes are forced on us, we can become stronger through them and see them as a chrysalis, enabling us to find new wings.
I have enjoyed the privilege of being a mother to over a dozen foreign exchange students over the years! My Hindu son from India openly and enthusiastically shared his religion with our family. Some of the stories are quite meaningful -- I've included one below.
After reading it, consider how this perspective might influence how we treat ourselves? Our husbands? Our children? It gives depth to our relationships when we believe in the dignity and potential of each individual.
At one time, all men on earth were gods. But they so sinned and abused the divine powers that Brahma, the god of all gods, decided that the godhead should be taken away from man and hidden some place where man would never find it to abuse it again.
"We will bury it deep into earth," said the other gods.
"No," said Brahma, "because man will dig down in the earth and find it."
"Then we will sink it into the deepest ocean," they said.
"No," said Brahma, "because man will learn to dive and find it there, too."
"We will hide it on the highest mountain," they said.
"No," said Brahma, "because man will some day climb every mountain of the earth and again capture the godhead."
"Then where can we hide it where man cannot find it?" said the lesser gods.
"I will tell you, said Brahma. "Hide it down in man himself. He will never think to look for it there."
The Mom in the Mirror
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you queen for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what *that* mom has to say.
For it isn’t your facebook or instagram likes
Whose judgement upon you must pass.
The woman whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
Some people may see all your beautiful posts
And think you’re free from all wrongs.
But the mom in the glass knows about the burnt toast,
And the flats and the sharps in your songs.
She’s the woman to please - never mind all the rest,
For she’s with you (and your kids) to the end.
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the mom in the glass is your friend.
You don’t need to convince the whole instagram crowd
That they’ll never know anyone dearer.
Adore your imperfect self and be proud
To love that real mom in the mirror.
For when you accept that perfection you lack
And pursue simple progress instead,
You offer yourself the best kind of feedback
And happier feelings are spread.
Other moms need to know that your struggles are real
And how optimism can play
A critical role in how you manage and deal
With life’s topsy turvy melee.
No need to complain, no need to hold back
Let authenticity be your goal
And the mom in the mirror will share her life hack:
“Be true to the mom in your soul!”
Many years ago, this little essay was included in the newsletter at the School for the Deaf in Washington State. The author was listed as Carol Turkington. I'm not sure how it came to be included in my pile of papers, but whenever I would thin them out, this one would get saved. May her message help you as you adjust to whatever Holland-type situation your baby has brought you too.
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like you're planning a vacation to Italy. You're all excited. You get a whole bunch of guidebooks, you learn a few phrases so you can get around, and then it comes time to pack your bags and head for the airport.
Only when you land, the stewardess says, ‘Welcome to Holland.”
You look at one another in disbelief and shock, saying “Holland? What are you talking about? I signed up for Italy!”
But they explain there’s been a change of plans and that you've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
“But I don’t know anything about Holland!” you say. "I don’t want to stay!”
But stay you do. You go out and buy some new guidebooks, you learn some new phrases and you meet people you never knew existed. The important thing is that you are not in a slum full of pestilence and famine. You're simply in a different place that you had planned. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy, but after you've been there a little while and you have a chance to catch your breath, you begin to discover that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland has Rembrandts.
But everyone else you know is busy coming and going from Italy. They're all bragging about what a great time they had there and for the rest of your life, you’ll say, “Yes, that’s what I had planned.”
The pain of that will never, ever go away.
You have to accept that pain, because the loss of that dream, the loss of that plan, is a very, very significant loss.
But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to go to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.
Text about the embedded YouTube video was written by Regan Barnes, ChairMom of the MotherBoard at Momivate
Do you ever wonder if all the effort you are putting into motherhood really matters? One of the goals of Momivate is to convince you that your endeavors to raise your children are instrumental in lifting society. The Ted Talk embedded below, "Why Most Parenting Advice is Wrong," seems to be antithetical to our foundational venture to activate moms. Please take 17 minutes to listen to this professor of neuroscience—and fellow mother—and then let’s discuss how she’s actually in agreement with Momivate at our core.
I confess that my skin crawled when this professor revealed the final conclusion of the metastudy! I’ve never considered it to be my goal that my children turn out to be just like each other—not even my identical twins! The scientists are using mismatched logic to conclude that loving parents want to simply program children like computers, dismissing the children’s innate talents, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses.
Part of what makes motherhood so worthy and needful of our best efforts is the challenge inherent in patiently working with the individual aspects of each of our offspring. Because we love them, we’re committed to determining, through a continual, loving process of trial and error, how each child responds to various parenting “techniques” and adjusting accordingly.
By using the illustration of a butterfly controlling a hurricane, the professor convinced me to keep listening. Butterflies are so meaningful to Momivate that they're featured in our logo. The metamorphosis from a creepy-crawly insect to a beautiful creature of flight is symbolic of the changes Momivate wants to bring to the role of motherhood, as well as the potential our children have to transform and grow wings of their own.
Despite my initial distaste for the scientific study, I’m glad I continued to listen to this professor and notice that she never comes to the conclusion that the butterfly should NOT flap its wings . . .
Knowing that my "hurricane child" would not even exist without me is a compelling concept in the face of the overwhelming odds described. The fact that my flaps cannot determine the final outcome of the hurricane doesn't stop me from sending winds of love with each beat of my wings.
If my children were to sense that I chose not to guide them because too many other cultural or environmental forces seemed to overpower our (mine + my child’s) efforts, that's when my wondrous hurricane-child’s indomitable spirit would lose its own sense of ability to change the world. We butterflies must flap—first, to create the hurricane, and then continually so the hurricane will expand in its own whirlwind of potential.
Yes, moms, there are many forces influencing our children, and we must do what we can to increase or decrease the effects of those forces as we deem necessary. We can do that best when we acknowledge that ultimately, control outside of ourselves remains impossible. Outcomes, though somewhat predictable due to patterns discovered over centuries of research and observation, simply cannot be guaranteed when it comes to parenting.
This professor's final point about dragon parenting is incredibly potent: to love as fiercely as the winds of the hurricane, being present in each shared moment, acknowledging that time together is all we really have, so let's make that time enjoyable for the sake of both mother and child, not because of trying to control outcomes.
For instance, when I read a parenting book that helps me improve my listening skills with my children, I must do it for the sake of truly hearing my children, motivated only by my love for them, NOT because said book promises that the improved listening will push the right buttons and, ta-da, the end result is a robot who obeys my every command!
If I work towards goals—including becoming the kind of parent my younger self always wanted—it must be a personal struggle to fulfill my potential rather than a scheme designed to calm the destructive storm that I regard my child to be. My children’s exposure to my exertion empowers them to set goals that, in essence, funnel their hurricane power and focus it towards self-actualization. Even though there will always be myriad forces impacting them, they’ll build their own strength and wield their own power to mitigate those forces, and ultimately gain control of their ability to transform the world.
Mothers, hear out this professor's final points and let those be what sticks with you rather than worrying about or being turned off by the "science" that she refers to at the beginning. You matter because YOU ARE THE BUTTERFLY—and every movement of your wings contributes to that hurricane child of yours, even if it doesn't control them.
From the YouTube Description:
Parenting books promise to show people how to raise happy, successful children, and in the process to reveal why each of us turned out the way we did. But the science of child development tells a different story about how parents influence children—a story that may shock, unsettle, and ultimately reassure anyone who has ever been a parent or a child.
Yuko is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her work investigates child development and environmental influences on children’s thinking, using behavioral, neuroimaging, and computational approaches. She is an elected fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association. Her work on child development has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1998, and has been published in top scientific journals and featured in The Atlantic, The Today Show, and Parents Magazine. She co-edited two books on brain and cognitive development, and co-authored a computational cognitive neuroscience textbook. She has received awards for research, teaching, and mentoring.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
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