Mahatma Gandhi once said, “My life is a message.”
I’ve thought a lot about these words over the years. What is in fact my life’s message? When I’m old and frail, what grand tale will my life amount to?
Those of you who know me, know that I’m incredibly passionate about my work. At the end of the day however, there are no work accolades or awards that can replace the primal need I have on a day to day basis – to raise my children well. I frequently remind myself that I have the opportunity to raise them once and once only, to give myself ‘wholeheartedly’ to the task at hand.
Hold up – does this mean we should forgo our careers, our own sense of purpose?
I believe happy and inspired mothers raise confident and dynamic children. In my experience, far too many mothers live precariously through their children, perhaps because they are unclear of their own life’s purpose or vision. This type of helicopter parenting is far from advantageous for our offspring.
Balancing various roles as a partner, mother and businesswoman, not to mention girlfriend and daughter – is friggin hard some days. What I’ve learnt however, is to hold a clear vision of the life I wish to lead, to start afresh each day, to dig deep and when life throws me a ‘debacle’, to ask What Would Love Do?
Sure, some days I couldn’t care less what love would do if the debacle involves someone who I’m raving mad at. When it comes to my children though, the answers tend to follow more easily. It’s true isn’t it? As mothers we are always our child’s number ‘one’ fan. Without a doubt, the greatest gift mothering has taught me is complete and unconditional love.
In light of Mother’s Day and sharing, here’s a snapshot of just two of the themes I tend to focus on with my brood. Remember that my eldest son is almost 16 and the other boys are 14 (well nearly), 11 and 7. Our house is bursting with testosterone and snappy comebacks and we regularly bounce between moments of teenage narcissism and, thankfully, pure innocence. God bless Arlo.
So here are just two goal posts that we regularly discuss:
– To be their own Map-Maker.
This means bravely participating 100% in their own success. Rather than sitting back, asking them to commit fully to their passions and to be resilient when life knocks them back.
– Be Respectful
As a family we believe it’s important to explore ways that one can speak their truth and be mindful of others involved. When this is our intention, we don’t need to back away from the truth even if conflict arises. The boys often remind me of this quote when I grow tired of the media battle I often face,
Our lives end the day we become silent about things that matter.
– Martin Luther King Junior
With the boys I love discussing ‘values’ and ‘qualities’ that I admire in people, communication skills and strategies. The benefit here is that they can also hold me accountable when I slip into moaning, being a victim, judgmental or thinking small. True, sometimes these reminders are just plain annoying and I simply want to ask them to speak less, but nothing slaps me into action more than my child confused by a lack of congruency with my words or behavior.
So without a doubt of ALL the blessings in life – my boys are the greatest gift of all.
I adore their spirited personalities and generous hearts. I simply hope that as their mother, I can be all that they need me to be and that I may to continue to inspire and guide them.
Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani