The final instalment of the #MCM series is here (for now). My Mom Crush Monday today is none other than Lisa Traver. The woman who taught me so much about early childhood development, parenting and living life to the fullest. She is an infant development therapist and has been working with early childhood and infant mental health for decades. On top of all that, she is my mom.
Like the other 5 women in this series, adding my mother to the list was a no-brainer. Not only because of her career and awesome parenting, but because she has a perspective that many women cannot imagine experiencing, having had me at just 17 years old.
The door to being teenagers closed early, and being young, wild and free never really took off. They, both my mom and dad, were now a family, raising their daughter and had to adult before it was even legal to do so.
I think back to me at 17, 21, and even 25 and can confidently say, I was not ready to have a child at any of those ages. Ready or not, my parents did it. They got jobs, they got married and had my brother and sister 6 and 8 years later. From that day on, at the young age of 17, my mother put her life on hold, and did what most mom's do, put her family first.
Not only was my mother figuring out how to raise a child, she was still growing into who she was herself. My mother has never been an adult without kids. We grew up side by side. As she was figuring out who she was, as an adult and as a parent, I was growing up right beside her. There were times I wondered if having me at such a young age might of ever been a regret, if my parents ever felt robbed of their adventures, their journey. It never sank in deep though. Some of my earliest memories with my mother is of her telling me, on multiple occasions, that I am the best thing that ever happened to her and how grateful she was that I came into her life. My mother was born to be a mother, and raising happy and healthy babies is not only her passion, it's her life's work.
Now my mother has two grand-children, and her and my dad are empty nesters (for the most part, as my sister graduates University in the coming months) before 50 . This is where life gets interesting for them. To some parents, they might think that's the light at the end of the tunnel. No little kids, no obligations or programs to race to after work, but for my parents, it feels confusing and uncomfortable. All they know is who they are as parents, and they are now being adults for the first time without kids, ever. They don't have personal interests or hobbies to get back to, they need to seek them out and learn a new side of themselves altogether.
Since they never had a chance to "find themselves" through their teens and twenties, my parents are now handed an extra large dose of freedom with a side of "who am I?" Which is why I was most curious about my mother's answer to the question about how she took care of herself, and how she invested the love back in to her and her husband as well. Her response was real and I hope that by sharing her words with all of the moms who read it here, you think about what it means to take the time to invest in yourself and your husband. Not only for today, but for the person you will be tomorrow and years down the road. Never letting go of you, simply because you're a parent.
"I was a teen parent, I have literally never been alone in my life. Now that my children are adults and two out of three have their own homes and family, my husband and I are, for the first time, spending lots of time together. We boat, go for walks, hikes and go camping just the two of us. There were a lot of years when we were running kids around to activities and various sports. I have had such a busy full life that the first few times I was alone in my house I felt very unsettled. Life is much slower now and it is definitely an adjustment."
It isn't easy for some parents to take nights or even days away from their little ones. Trust me, I get it. What our parenting notebooks need though, is to help us understand the value in spending attentive and invested time in loving yourself and your partner. Not just a tired and distracted mom version of yourself, but as the real you.
My parents are happy and this life was meant for them, it really was. I do however now have a fresh perspective on the importance of keeping a life that is your own, on top of being a parent. By sharing their story I hope to influence a date night, or a night out for yourself, doing something your soul loves doing. Feed your heart, so your heart may continue to feed your family deeply and authentically.
What I preach, and will continue to teach to any mom I work with is balance. My mom and dad have a lot of learning to do, about themselves as individuals, and each other. Their lives, as my mom said, are moving at a much different pace and the distractions are fewer and further between. You want to make sure that when your children fly off and grow up and move forward with their lives, you enjoy the person you wake up to every morning and the one you see in the mirror the most.
To all my valuable readers, this week, try making a love list. Write down each member of the family, including yourself, and two ways you plan to show them how much you love them. Depending on their love language, you can really make it special by making it something you know they would really enjoy!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the amazing women who inspire me day in and day out in this #MCM series. It was such a pleasure to interview these women and share their words with everyone here. The response to this series has been beautiful and my gratitude to the readers runs deep. I plan to release a full-length book of each woman's answer to each of the interview questions in the coming weeks. Until then,
Show love, grow love
Happy Living Parents!