I see you there, maybe a little bleary-eyed, maybe nursing a coffee or tea or a baby, running through the to-do list in your head trying to solve the impossible arithmetic of how to get it all done in a pandemic with no clear end in sight. Maybe every once in a while you contemplate what in the world it means to be a good-enough adult in these times.
Here’s what I know: parenting was already difficult--especially for the most marginalized among us- those experiencing systemic racism, poverty, bigotry. For most of us, this pandemic has placed an even tighter constriction on our breathing space if not caused a significant or complete rupture in our support systems.
In 1998 Cornell West and Sylvia Ann Hewlett published, “The War Against Parents: What We Can Do for America’s Beleaguered Moms and Dads,” describing the myriad ways various levels of leadership, policies and social systems in our country have abandoned poor and middle-class parents since the 1960s. It's not a downer- it's an honest accounting with some bold visions for solutions that, sadly, have not manifested. The bulk of the book explores what it means to try and be a good parent in a “parent-hurting” society.
That’s a pretty bold concept- the notion that we live in a parent-hurting society.
I'm not saying this to paint us, parents, as victims. I say this because it is a background to the lives we are living, it takes up some of the space between us, and makes up some of the connective tissue as well. I say this because we can be incredibly hard on ourselves and sometimes one another, and it's important we peel back the facade every once in a while and admit that the systems we have in place to support parents and kids are largely insufficient. The water in the goldfish bowl is stinky.
I say all of this because we need to be clear about what we're swimming in as we strive to make things better for everyone.
Part of being clear is also recognizing how parents everywhere, despite this backdrop, are doing their very best every day to do right by their children. We need to spend at least as much time recognizing the essential work we are doing as parents, all that we are doing right, as we do worrying about what is not working. We have to celebrate what's good enough as we reach to become who we were meant to be as people and as parents.
Here’s what I want for us parents: I want a place where love blossoms- in your own heart and in your family. In order to get to that place, parents need to feel heard and have support. I want a place where you can say “this is so hard!” and someone else can say, “I KNOW!!!!” and we can cry and laugh and feel relief that we’re not alone. I want a place where you can say, "HOLY SMOKES, Guess what I did RIGHT today?!" and someone is there to cheer you on without making comparisons or passing judgment. I want a place we can listen to each other well enough that we can finally hear ourselves think, and then discover what we need. I want a place where we advocate hard for connection within our families. Where parents develop skills for bringing laughter and play into their hardest moments with their children and learn how to care for themselves at the same time. I want a place where we can all breathe a little more deeply, and remember our own and our children’s inherent goodness. And one another's. Where we feel valued for all we’re doing right and supported to find new pathways when the old ways aren’t working so well. Where we feel well-rooted in our own support and ability to weather whatever storms blow in.
I want it so I’m creating it. This home is built on the bedrock of Hand in Hand Parenting which recognizes children (and parents!) are at their best when they feel connected.
I’ll be adding a new blog post each week that explores different strategies for parenting by connection. Throughout the month you can follow me on social media here and here sharing resources, tips and even some freebies, including a Well-Rooted Families playlist on Spotify every month to keep you bumping along with a little joy in your hearts. Starting in February I'll also be offering two free lunch-time support calls on the first and third Mondays of each month at noon. Toward the end of next month I'll be offering a 6-week parenting support group for parenting in difficult times, which starts Saturday, February 20th. Email me to register for any program offerings.
Welcome! (and wahoo! that you had enough time to read this entire thing!). I'll be here each week, fortifying my roots and building a strong foundation for connection. I hope you'll join me. In the meanwhile, think about (and maybe even share here, in the comments): what are you celebrating about yourself today?