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5 Ways I Rocked as a Mother

It has been amazing to watch each one of my children grow into adults these past few years. It leaves me feeling nostalgic for days gone by and grateful that I discarded conventional wisdom to raise them according to my own intuition. This list may not win me any “mother of the year” awards in the eyes of some, and yet, anyone who knows my three kids would tell you that I got something right. Here are five ways I rocked as a mother:

1) I let them swear.

I didn’t dumb things down or spell things out to exclude my kids from adult conversations when they were young. I never used “baby talk” with them. I didn’t censor myself in their presence. As a result, they heard me cuss, a lot. And they repeated what they heard. And I allowed it. My intuition at the time was that there were far more important battles to fight than this. Of course, I had some guidelines. I asked them to be respectful of others and not to repeat those words outside of our home. I led by example, moderating my own language when the social circumstances called for it. For the most part, this approach seemed to work. The exception was my second son, who often took things to the extreme. As embarrassing as his public outbursts of profanity were at the time, I ultimately took these in stride. Truth is, I can barely keep myself from laughing when I hear little kids cuss. It’s the random and unexpected nature of something so bold and shocking coming from someone so cute and small that makes it so damn hilarious. I’ve also heard it said that people who swear tend to be more honest because they aren’t filtering their thoughts. With that in mind, it seemed worth it to tolerate an F-bomb from my six year old with the hope that he would grow into a young man who felt comfortable opening up about his true feelings. I think that our current mother/son relationship is better than most, in that regard. Besides, my kids were also picking up on my use of kind words, like “thank you” and “I appreciate.” I figured they were getting a good balance. Here is a video of my six year old son’s expression of gratitude during a family camping trip. You will notice he follows this up by abusing a shrub while using age appropriate curse words.

2) I apologized.

I was seventeen when I had my first baby, nineteen when my second was born, and twenty-one by the time the third one arrived. Needless to say, I was still in the process of developing emotional maturity and there were a lot of bumps {major freak outs!} along the way. I lost my shit more times than I can count. I yelled and cried and stomped, throwing my own glorious tantrums to match theirs. But when it was over, and things calmed down, I always went to them and apologized.

At no time did I think I was any better than them simply because I was technically a “grown up.” If I treated them badly, I was not going to be too proud to acknowledge it and make amends. I told them that I wasn’t perfect, but that I loved them and I was doing my best. I asked them to be my partners in this adventure and told them that they could always tell me how they felt about my actions and I would listen. {That didn’t mean I would necessarily change things to suit them, but at least they knew they had a voice in the matter.}

3) I didn’t hide my feelings.

If I was upset about something, I didn’t try to hide it from my kids. If they asked me why I was crying or angry, I would tell them, as honestly as I could. I never wanted to brush aside my tears, put on a fake smile and say, “everything’s okay,” when it obviously wasn’t. They would know I was lying, and they would wonder. The truth, even if it’s scary, is easier to swallow than the unknown. If it was too personal to share with them in depth, I still acknowledged it, with the assurance that it wasn’t about them, it wasn’t something they needed to worry about, and that they were safe. I didn’t want to burden them with my issues, but I also didn’t want to shut them out of witnessing my experience, a glimpse into what it looks like to manage an adult life. Because I didn’t limit their exposure to real life situations, they were better equipped to learn how to navigate and cope with their own challenges within the safety and comfort of a loving family, as opposed to being sheltered their entire childhood only to have a rude awakening when they left the nest to start a life of their own.

4) I expected them to help with housework, and let them do it.

By the time my kids were ten, they had regular household chores, including dishes, taking out the garbage and doing their own laundry. I started out by showing them how to do these things to the standard I expected, and quickly realized that this was a recipe for disappointment and never-ending conflict. I needed to let go of some control and let them discover their own way. I had to actively choose to stop myself from stepping in to fix things for them or re-do work they had already done. I reminded myself to be patient as their skills improved with practice and age. Instead of being irritated that things weren’t perfectly in order, I began to relax enough to enjoy spontaneous moments of joy, like this:

Notice that my house looks like a tornado blew through it, but that doesn’t stop my goofy kids from having a great time. It is clear to me, how much the decision to allow and be patient has paid off when my teenage daughter regularly cleans the house {and bakes!} without me having to ask. She even arranges the couch pillows the way I like them.

5) I practiced my faith and let them find their own.

From the time my kids were very young, they knew I believed in magic. Real magic. I’m not talking about Santa Clause coming down the chimney or the Easter Bunny leaving presents in the yard. I get that these are cute stories that kids enjoy, but it never felt right to me to tell my kids things like, “you better be good if you want a gift from Santa.” It felt dishonest and manipulative. My kids knew from an early age that their Dad and I wrapped the presents. We celebrated Spring Equinox in March, regardless of which Sunday Easter happened to fall on that year. We still hid dyed eggs in the yard, but to them, it was just another fun spring activity that we did together.

Although I often invited them to participate in the simple rituals I would perform at the seasonal Sabbats, it was never an expectation that they would be interested in my spiritual practice.

My intention was to be an example to them, of someone who followed her own path, and allowed them to follow theirs. Sometimes, our interests would intersect, often in the form of Sci-Fi shows or cartoons about element benders and alchemists. Watching TV together gave us a fertile breeding ground for insightful conversation about life, the Universe, and everything. I was often thrilled to see what they would connect to and how. Like my daughter, at age seven, commanding the wind:

To them, it was all just play {as I believe any spiritual exploration should be when it comes to kids.} When I ask about their favorite childhood memories, my younger son and daughter always mention the time I let them play with fire. They were {mostly} supervised {as in, I was in the same room} as they held candles in the dark and pretended to be exploring a “spooky old house.” Some might say this showed a lack of responsibility on my part. I rather think it showed a lack of fear, and the presence of deep trust. In them, in myself, and in life itself. What can I say, that’s just the way I roll.

Blessings fellow travelers,


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