My mother was by far the most important person in my life. The impact of what my mother modeled, taught and lived her life by is responsible for who I am as a person. She passed away nearly 28 years ago yet still lives everyday in my heart and mind…and in my work that I passionately pass on to every parent I can.
I was born and raised in New England, the oldest of five children, 3 girls and 2 boys, in that order. Like all children, I spent my childhood believing that everyone lived as we did…believing our “normal” was the way of life for everyone. As I got older and began to socialize outside of my home, going to friend’s houses for play dates and sleepovers etc, I would occasionally notice how certain things were done differently in other families. I don’t recall feeling as though there was a right way or a wrong way, but I do remember feeling uncomfortable with some of the differences. I was, however, always keenly aware that most of our friends, when given a choice, always wanted to play at my house rather than theirs. This made me feel good, although I was never really clear about their reasons.
When I reached my teen years this became even more evident. Like most teens, life was about socializing…period! And through conversations with my friends planning to do whatever was happening next, I was exposed to how other parents communicated with their children.
This was when I first understood how very fortunate I was to have the parents I had been blessed with. I was treated much differently by my parents than most of my friends were by theirs. In fact, more than once during my high school years friends would ask if they could talk to my parents about a conflict they were having at home. And my parents always agreed and did their best to help. I grew up being really proud of my parents…especially when my friend’s parents would reach out and thank my parents for helping!
My parents always maintained a mindset that allowed for mistakes, although I hesitate to use that word because our “mistakes” were always seen and treated as opportunities to learn and do better. (And Lord knows I sure created a ton of “opportunities” to learn from!)
My parents raised me to understand the power and responsibility I had in what happened in my life through my thoughts, beliefs and choices. They treated me in a way that gave me a sense of value and importance. I was encouraged to develop my own thoughts, ideas and beliefs. It was clear that they wanted me to understand that it was my life and it would be and could be whatever I chose it to be. They instilled in me that I had that power…no one else. They also provided us with a strong belief in God. And that this higher power was where my first and most important alliance was…that through this power, I gained mine.
The value my parents placed on one’s individuality and power of choice led to my interest in human psychology. I was fascinated as to why people made the choices they did and how they dealt with life situations.
When I got married and became a parent, I instinctively began raising my daughter as I had been raised. Feeling so blessed to have been raised in such a loving and conscious way, I was always depending on my mother for her input and suggestions. I valued her mothering instincts and wisdom.
As life would have it, my dear mother learned shortly before her 50th birthday that she had inoperable brain tumors and was given a year to live. My daughter was in second grade at the time and had been diagnosed with ADD and so my dependence on my mother’s input had increased tremendously as I had no knowledge (Neither did the educational community at this time!) of learning disabilities.
I assumed the role of primary care-giver for my mother for the last year of her life. As we lived in the mountains of Vermont and were headed into the long winter season, it was decided that it was best for her to move in with me…
Between the many doctor visits and attempted treatments, my mother and I shared the most amazing, loving and beautiful experience that I will treasure for eternity. My mother had been trained as a professional seamstress, however her passion and joy was in being a mother and grandmother. I remember asking her one day how she felt about dying so young…She said, “I have been blessed with five amazing children and have lived to see them all grow up and begin wonderful happy lives…if I have one regret, it is that I will not be here to see Cally (my daughter) do the same.”
The impact of my mother’s words sent my thoughts into the future and all of the times that were ahead of me as a mother when I wouldn’t have her to talk to…I wouldn’t have the benefit of her experience, wisdom and instincts. I shared this with my mother and she came up with a plan. She suggested we talk about those things NOW! And so we did. For the next almost year, every chance we got we played the “what if” game.
I would start with, “What if Cally wants/does/chooses/feels/etc…. (Fill in the blank)?” And then my mother would share her insights. Of course this would lead to hours and hours of conversation about my mother’s philosophy on family, parenting, children and childhood. Most of which I took extremely detailed notes on.
A lot of what my mother shared I already knew from being raised by her and my Dad, but she seemed to enjoy these talks so much that I let her share and expand to her heart’s content. After all, it was a much better subject to focus on than the situation at hand.
My mother did pass away not quite at the one year mark. My life changed forever and seemed to stand still for a period of time. Knowing what my mother expected of me after her passing (she was very clear on this as well during our time together) I pulled myself together as they say to move forward. I will never forget the day she told me, “Denny, when the time comes, you need to honor your feelings, not ignore them, do as I have taught you to do, take care of yourself”. She continued, “As my daughter you will need to grieve, but as Cally’s mother you will need to be strong. I have confidence you will find the right balance.”
I raised my daughter using much of what my mother had left me as her legacy, “The parenting notes” as she called them. I fell short sometimes but when I did I would go back to the notes and do as my mother had taught me, look for the opportunity to learn and do better.
In 2006, when the movie The Secret hit the airwaves and received world-wide attention, I was blessed with an “Aha” moment that brought a tremendous amount of clarity to my life, my childhood and my parent’s wisdom. I finally had an understanding of what my parents set out to teach us. It now had a name…it was called “The Universal Law of Attraction”. To my amazement everything I learned as a child was discussed, explained and referred to in this newly released “secret” as a principle of the law of attraction.
I haven’t any idea how or where my parents gained the insight to raise me as they did. My mother was a seamstress by trade and my father a carpenter but somehow they instinctively believed in the values, power and validity of this concept long before we had a name for it. Somehow it was “in” them and became the basis of what they wanted me to know about life.
And now over 28 years since my mother passed on, my daughter is grown and I am now a grandmother…still referring to “The Parenting Notes”. ..and my passion and my joy is the same as my mother’s, to nurture children. This passion is at the core of everything my company, Awakened Parenting, stands for and teaches.
My mother not only gave me life, an amazing foundation to live my life by, but also inspired what has become my deepest desire… to pass on what she gave me to all of you. I will always be eternally grateful for the blessing of my mother.
Happy Mother's Day!