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Category Archives: Mothering

Do you have a ‘Mama’s Boy’? Good!

I’ve been reading, “The Mama’s Boy Myth, Why Keeping our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger,” by Kate Stone Lombardi, and it made me wonder if I owe you an apology?

 

For years I have been encouraging mothers to “let their sons go towards men.” What I mean by this is for moms to take every opportunity to encourage their sons to ‘hang out’ with dad, uncles, elders, coaches, etc. — even when they are longing to spend their own time with him.

Best case, your boy is able to TELL YOU he needs his dad.

A mom called me because her son (8 yo) was having an overnight hospital stay and only one person could be with him. Mom called to ask me- nay, wanted me to TELL HER that she should be the one to stay with their son. When I asked her what her son had said, “Oh, he said he wants his dad to stay with him.” “Well, there’s your answer,” I said. She didn’t like that, not one bit. SHE wanted to be the one to stay with him – FOR HER – not for her son.

That’s the rub. When are you deciding for HIM – and when are you deciding for yourself?

She clearly wasn’t ready to “let her son go towards men.”

Boys carry a deep-seated question their entire lives: “What is it to be a man?”

Mom and other women are the primary influence in a young boys’ life – often up through the end of elementary school. This influence is vital – but it also means our boys miss out on having their primary “What is it to be a man” question answered each and every day.

Now the apology.

I apologize if I’ve led moms to believe that they should ‘back off’ or ‘opt out’ of mothering their sons. No, not that. I encourage you, dear mama, to balance your influence – even off-set – your influence and make sure there are strong, good men around to influence him, too.  And be ready to defer to them, more often than you might like.

In her book, Lombardi comments that moms are often looked at askance when they are “too close” to their boys.

Here’s what some Boys Alive! Facebook moms have experienced:

“By a man in a store. He kept glaring at me…”

“I was told I shouldn’t be walking my son into class or waiting by the classroom at the end of the day to pick him up. He still wanted me to do this so I kept doing so. At the end of the day you’re his mother, and you need to do what’s right for you and your son!! And bugger what anyone else says.”
 
“My boy is 12 now and no he doesn’t need me to walk into class with him anymore( though I do ask every now and then lol) but I stopped doing so when it was right for him not when everyone else told me to!”
 
“My almost 9 still asks to snuggle on a daily basis. I’m gonna snuggle as long as he wants because I know there will come a time he quits asking.”

Moms do experience some push-back from husbands and others, “You’re babying him.” “You’re going to make him a girl.”  In the research for her book, Lombardi, uncovered a deep cultural fear that by holding our boys close, they will be ‘sissies.’

This cultural fear, she writes, “…diminishes or ignores anything positive that women can and do contribute to their boys. It leaves both mothers and sons feeling confused and anxious about their relationship. And because of this distorted lens, the mother-son relationship has become the only parent-child combination in which closeness is viewed so critically and with such suspicion.”

We know we want fathers and other men to be “role models in teaching emotional literacy” to our boys. The problem is – many men weren’t raised to articulate their feelings. In many cases, men just don’t have it to give – they haven’t been shown the way.

That’s where mom comes in.

If she’s alert and aware, (and gentle about it) she can also help dad/husband/parenting partner to learn emotional literacy right alongside her sons.

In a study of how boys switch from being emotionally expressive as young boys to adopting a more ‘tough-guy’ approach as a young man, a researcher discovered the “one major factor that mitigates boys’ move toward toughness and autonomy is their closeness to their moms.”

So, moms, this Mother’s Day – celebrate your son and the emotional warmth you bring to him. Your nurturing and communication skills give him the tools he needs to be that next generation of fathers who really can help their sons express their emotional literacy, alongside of you.

And then he’ll have even more answers to his fundamental question: “What is it to be a man?”

Another great book on building your boy’s emotional vocabulary is: “Boy Talk How You Can Help Your Son Express His Emotions” by Mary Polce-Lynch.

 

Happy Mothering Day.

Kate Lombardi, author of “The Mama’s Boy Myth” just wrote THIS BLOG POST about her son whose is getting married. She concludes, “I’m not losing a son. I’m gaining a daughter.” That’s what we all want, eh?


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Do you expect too much from him?


“We’ve just moved across the country – he should be sad and missing his friends, right?”

 

“His best friend has moved on to other friends – shouldn’t he be worried about it?”

 

“He’s broken up with his girlfriend – he doesn’t seem to be sad about it at all.”

We worry when he doesn’t talk about his feelings or share what the events that SHOULD be a big deal in his life (at least we think so).

However, many boys (and men) don’t feel the need to share their deepest feelings all the time.

Sometimes, when big events have a big impact on YOU – you naturally think they should have a big impact on him, too – and they just don’t.

Look at it with a ‘gender lens’:

Females tend to process events, feelings, questions, decisions, and all the emotions and detail that go along with them verbally.

Females LOVE to talk about emotions and events – and then talk about them some more!

Females discover solutions as they talk, answer their own questions, along with getting a hit of oxytocin (that “feel good” hormone) in the process.

Males, on the other hand, often don’t want or need to process emotional events in detail.

In fact, the less they are required to talk about them, the better.

Males tend to process inwardly – they don’t need to talk about every detail.

Males tend to process while they are in motion – running or playing basketball, for example.

Of course, we want our boys to learn to be comfortable talking about their feelings.  Absolutely!

It could help, however, to recognize that developing an emotional vocabulary and an understanding of feelings and processing and sharing them is a life-long process.

Notice:

He will talk – eventually – and it may not be when you think he should.

Bedtime.

In the car.

Days later.

Watch for the opening and then make sure you’re available to listen!


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Boy Talk #7: Four Tips to Your Yes

Guest author Michelle Ghilotti of Michelle Ghilotti, International shares her thoughts on having a happy life, so you can RAISE happiness, too. Michelle and I have known each other for years and I’m so happy to introduce you to her and her empowering work.
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She’ll be our guest on BOY TALK this month – save your seat here.

From Michelle:

FOUR TIPS TO YOUR OAKY, FULL-BODIED YES IN LIFE AND BUSINESS…

Ode to you, Creative Heroine…

As a creative woman, I know you want the yes you give in life and business to be an oaky, full-bodied YES.

In fact, you live for the oaky, full-bodied YES. (me too)

As my bookHow to Be a Walking Momtrasays, “Focus on your happiness so you can RAISE happiness.”

Life ticks in a beautiful way if we give the full-bodied YES to Self first.

Throughout the last 14 years in business for myself as well as the last 9.5 years as a mother, giving from this “overflow” is where my greatest happiness and success have come from (sure, there are other contributing factors to happiness and success, however, in keeping myself full or “filled up”, I’ve primed my internal environment to be able to give to the degree I lo-hove to give to others).

It’s this generosity of spirit that has grown my brand and contributed greatly to the equilibrium in my family life.

In short, we are able to contribute to the joy and success of others in a greater way by making sure our cups runneth over…

Personally, I can be a better Mom, Branding and Success Coach (to name just a couple of my titles) by being more in tune with what my body, mind and spirit need to be able to give and give greatly.

When we give to Self first, things feel different, work better and the quality of how we perceive EVERYTHING softens and is enriched.

Everything falls into place.

When we give from the overflowing cup vs. the cup desperate and thirsty for a few drops of tea or water, we are able to affect our brands, businesses, children and other important relationships in a way that truly stretches everyone’s happiness.

Everyone wins when you win.

It’s worth a more consistent try, well, let’s call it a more consistent DO.

How to Give the Oaky, Full-Bodied YES to Self First

1. Make it a must. Make YOU a must.

2. Make this your mantra: I focus on my happiness so I can RAISE happiness (in my family, community and world). Repeat this at least 3x every morning or when you most need it.

3. Clear your weekly calendar of the people or projects that are depleting you. Find that space, that clearing, for what you truly need and love.

4. Start doing the things each week and specifically each morning that truly fill you (you and only you). How we start our day and our week is likely how we end it, so start by diving deeper into you first thing: take the hike, hit that early morning yoga class or do that 10 minutes of meditation. And, if the early morning hours prove to be too difficult, no problem, no need to go into overwhelm. Create time for you each day during the block that serves your life (the important thing is that it happens). How will you savor life (and give to Self) each and every day? What will those ten minutes or hour be filled with?

To your week of the oaky, full-bodied YES. Cheers.

Life is good,
Michelle.
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She’ll be our guest on BOY TALK this month – save your seat here.

Boy Talk #7: Creative Heroine, You

Guest author Michelle Ghilotti of Michelle Ghilotti, International shares her thoughts on having a happy life, so you can RAISE happiness, too. Michelle and I have known each other for years and I’m so happy to introduce you to her and her empowering work.
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She’ll be our guest on BOY TALK this month – save your seat here.

From Michelle:
If you’re a mom, entrepreneur, writer, artist, creator or human, read on…

Everyday leadership.

Creativity is all about moving from problem to solution ~ and more quickly each time ~ so we may express more of who we truly are and *have* within.

In fact, everyday leadership and creativity are *both* about that; expressing who we know ourselves to be on a daily basis regardless if “everyone” likes it, if Facebook is used *for* it or if it’s what is en vogue with family or your industry…

Leadership and creativity don’t care about any of that. They care that you’re interested, really flipping interested in what you’re saying, doing and showing, not at all if you’re interestING. It cares not at ALL that you’re interesting.

Everyday leadership is about creating what we want to be a part of, and all regardless of what life, work, motherhood, romance or health, like that loyal feline, has brought to your doorstep to play with lately.

It’s about being a part of things such as resilience, authentic elegance, understanding, community, empathy, love and the simplest of joys…
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Though we forget sometimes that evolution bred creativity (and all things like it) into all of humanity, we’re all creative heroines. We are each leaders, leading not from the front lines necessarily, but from within, especially from within. A Creative Heroine and Loving Leader leads from the unique light that burns and burns like the midnight oil. The Light, who knows that being broken open, and sometimes over and over again, is exactly where her greatest talents comes from.

We do all of this, we move from problem to solution, exercise our creativity and lead by doing one thing over and over again: loving ourselves. We find ways, strategies, “tools”, we sometimes call them, mantras, bathtubs, gratitude practices, walks, love, runs, mediation, yoga, music and poetry more every day, maybe, so we’re able to waltz to the other side of us with agility, grace.

Pain is human but suffering is optional. I understand it more now than ever. And when I forget, I mantra, bathtub, practice gratitude, walk, love someone hard, run, meditate, yoga, play music, read or write poetry, some more.

Leaders, similar to the creative inside you, don’t don’t dwell, they decide. Creators, like leaders, don’t dance around the subject, they jump straight inside it, so they can more quickly swim out from under it. They keep moving forward because that’s what they keep realizing life is about ~ being part of the solution and not the problem.

You are a Creative Heroine and you will continue to create in life what you want to be a part of. It’s empowering and true. Feels good to hear, I hope. Each day is a clean slate to set into motion what you want and want to be known for and a part of, to expand, to be set free…

Paige Bradley, a sculptor I adore, does some of the most gorgeous work I’ve ever seen and felt. One of her pieces called Expansion shares who I believe the Creative Heroine is and of what letting the light within lead looks like. Of problem to soulful solution. Of you.

When you lay your head down tonight think of this ~> of the creativity and ability you have to lead your life (and in the process, without even really trying, helping many others do the same). Think of all that your light represents. Ask yourself, if I hadn’t experienced this, felt that or loved him/ her, would I be able to illuminate or decorate my life in the same way that I’m able to today?

Michelle
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Mother’s Day – Joy and Grief

Mother’s Day cards and reminders are everywhere at this time of year. My own grief wells up – my girls are far away, we won’t be celebrating together. The memories are sweet of Mother’s Days past, sure, but they seem so distant.

When I first posted this my own mother was nearing the end of her days – and I wondered each year if this would be our last Mother’s Day “together”?

Now, in 2017, this will be my second Mother’s Day without her. And I miss her – so much.

I came across this blog post from 2013 that spoke so eloquently about this double-edged holiday (aren’t they all?!) They encourage all of us to share it, so please do – giving credit where credit is due.

To all of you with tender hearts….

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“Let’s be real. Mother’s Day can completely blow sometimes.
You want to be cheerful. You want to be with the program. But some years there are all these little points of pain that will not go away.
The baby you never had.
The one you gave up.
The kid you lost to something bigger than you.
The child that slipped away before you ever held her.
The one that was never born.
The one you worry you’re failing.
The one that failed you.
The mother who’s so close and yet so far.
The one you loved so much who couldn’t love you back.
The one you could never love because it hurt too much.
The one you lost too soon.
The one who is slipping away.
The one you can never please.
The one you wish you could live up to.

There are no cards to honor these children or these mothers. There are no holidays to contain all the parts of you that fall outside the lines of generally understood sorrow or celebration.

But there is this moment, this incredible moment, where you can feel it all. Where for once you can’t stuff it down or forget it. Where you have to be with it, because it is not going away.

And here, my friends, is where something important happens. This is where we connect, where we understand we are frail, where we are human. Where we see in new ways what life means. Where we are issued a compelling and persistent invitation to mother ourselves. To cut ourselves the breaks we didn’t get. To ask for the help we always needed. To let tears come and say, This is how it is. I’ll ask in this one tiny moment, for the courage I need to let everything just be.

No matter what your point of pain or challenge today, I want you to know that you are not the only one. Somewhere over a silly Mother’s Day breakfast, there is a woman faking a smile who feels just like you do. Somewhere in a very silent house with no one to call, there is a woman who is tending the ache of her loss, just like you. Somewhere standing in a shower there is a woman who is feeling it all and letting the tears come, just like you.

As you go about this day, know that over here, Ria and I have candles lit for all these unspoken things, and that we are holding the space and thinking of you. You — the faraway, soulful you — will be in our meditation and in our warmest thoughts. We are sending you light and love and the deep wish that you would know today of all days, nothing is wasted and we are together in ways we cannot always see but are just as true. That the night can never last. That even in our darkest moments, there will be someday, the surprise of a laugh, a comfort, a dawn.”
With so much love, hope and light,
Jen

P.S. Will you share this around? We know there are so many women who are feeling it today. And if you know you appreciate things like this, please sign up for our weekly messages at hopefulworld.org/join. Our hope is that everything we send out brings radical acceptance for who you are and relieves your suffering. Thanks!
photo by Patience Salgado of kindnessgirl.com


Janet here again…if you are overwhelmed with missing your mom, please reach out to someone you love – or reach out to me.  I’m here.  XO

 

Lazy Parenting = Less Than

Feeling less than?
Remember > and < symbols from math class? (I could never remember which was which.) Less than.
Greater than.

Parenting encompasses the full range.
Sometimes in the space of ‘less than’ a minute.

From parenting zen to parenting nightmare in less than 60 seconds. Has that ever happened to you? Our confidence is totally shot as our kid is melting down on the floor or pounding on our bedroom door – where we’ve taken refuge!

Finding grace in these moments can be tough.

Sometimes it isn’t until we are completely flattened with illness, depression, divorce, or overwhelm that we realize that doing less than actually adds up to greater than.

I’ve advocated “Lazy Parenting” for years.
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Lazy Parenting means less than while actually adding up to greater than, in the end. When you do less, be less, accomplish less, you are opening up the world for your kids to do more, be more, and accomplish more – or at least feel like they have the know-how, if they choose to use it!

Before illness flattens you – lighten your load.
What can your kids be doing for themselves?
When my girls were in 1st and 3rd grades, I was teaching (and very stressed) and we had a 30-minute commute to school. Mornings were NOT pretty at my house. I did not like making lunches and I guess that was pretty obvious to my girls. Without conversation, they began to take over lunch preparations. Viola`! They got what they wanted in their own lunches AND mom was a little nicer to be with on the morning commute! Do I advise this approach? No.

Learn from my mistakes and take a serious look at what your stressors are. And then ask for help and permission to be less than.

When we let go, our kids step up. As long as we are filling the vacuum, they will default to, “Mom will do it. Dad will take care of that. I don’t have to.”

Recently, a parent shared with me experiencing the pleasure her son had in cleaning up the mess he had made (milk spilled..you know). Instead of doing it herself, she gave him soap, sponge, towels, bucket…and showed him…and then let him do it.

Viola’! He continued to clean the floor even after the mess was taken care of — because he could and because she let him!

She might have been out laying in her hammock…you get the idea, right?

Where will you be less than?
Send me an email – tell me about it!
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(photo from Hammock Stands Australia)

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GOOD FORTUNE this Season

‘Tis the season…of DOING.
Hustle…Bustle…

Is this you?
“A wise man saw a woman running in the street and asked, “Why do you run?”
She replied, “I am running after my good fortune!”
The wise man tells her, “Silly woman, your good fortune has been trying to catch you but you are running too fast!”

Want to stop running and make it a “Season of Being” instead?
You can. Right. Now.
Here’s how:

1. Create some quiet time for yourself. (Takes HUGE willpower but do this, you won’t regret it.)

2. Now write, draw, or simply make a movie in your mind: Fast forward yourself to January 3, 2015, pause there and look back. What will matter the most to you? The cleaning, shopping, wrapped presents, hustle…bustle…? OR will it be “THE MOMENT”? You know the one: a look, a touch of the hand, a smile.

2. Amplify YOUR MOMENT as you look back by ‘turning up the volume’ on the mood you’ve created – yes, the one your deepest heart yearns for.

3. Roll up your sleeves, this might be hard for you, time to write down exactly/specifically/in great detail WHAT YOU WANT. (NOT what you don’t want). The more you “color” the images, the more likely they will be to unfold as you have pre-determined. (May sound a little “woo-woo” but try it, and prepare to be amazed!)

4. Now write down what is EXPECTED of you – or what you THINK your partner/kids/parents expect of you. Ouch – this could be a long list.

5. Time to get real – what can you comfortably and honestly do LESS of? What do you want MORE of? Consult with your partner, your family…and make some agreements.

Trust me, your kids will NOT remember the mountain of gifts, the groaning table of home-baked goodies – they WILL remember the mood you created, the connections you deepened, and the moments when you were fully with them in the present.

Try this list on for size:
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Enjoy your Good Fortune this season!

And speaking of presents: In his book, Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne says, “Too much stuff leads to too many choices.” And that can lead to: sibling conflict, overwhelm, wanting more because nothing satisfies, and is a HUGE contributor to YOUR frustration with- and nagging about- STUFF.

Interesting to contemplate: As toys became marketed in all seasons of the year (only since 1955), children’s play became less focused on activities and more focused on the THINGS involved – the toys themselves, as reported by Howard Chudacoff in his history of play.

Check out this blog for how you can have more with less. Toys, that is.

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