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The First Leg of the Parenting Stool: Connection

The following was our newsletter sent to the Wonderfully Wired community this month: It talks of the first leg of a stool that forms our role as parents:  Connectedness  . Your letters have affirmed that it struck a chord, so I post it here.  I think you are brilliant!

In our region this Sunday is Mother’s Day.  For mothers of Wonderfully Wired children, the role of mothering is often blurred with that of tutor, teacher, coach, nurse, counselor, dietician.... On top of that many of us also parent neurotypical kids. Does anyone else wonder if in all of this, you  still get to be just mum?

Maybe you are practicing remedial words with a reluctant dyslexic reader and wondering when you became a tutor.

Perhaps you’ve taken to coaching your kid in social skills, longing for him to make some friends and resenting peers who get  to be the moms that throw great birthday parties for many friends.

Maybe you’re scaffolding those lacking organization skills and feeling more like a PA than a mom.

You’ll remember that  this time last year I spent some months close to my son’s boarding school to offer the individual academic support he urgently needed.  I coached executive functioning skills (stay tuned for more this July), taught study methods and generally invested in building up a doubtful ‘disintegrating student’.

And around Mother’s Day I wrote these words in my reflections…I’m hoping they’ll be an encouragement to you.

“I was wondering: Can I still be mum when I am  forced to be the intervening educator?  

Then my teens made a fuss on Mother’s Day with coffee and scones, and beautiful letters. Judah wrote: 

‘You came and gave up everything to help me with school.  You are helping me realise that I am smart and that I am capable of passing grade 9. But you get up every morning and make me coffee which is a small thing but it means the world to me.’

 What a  sweet validation  that I am still his mum! That our relationship is still a safe space for him even when I’m demanding  a lot of effort from him.

Who would have thought a cup of coffee could do that?

Later I hear him on the phone to his cousin.  “My mom’s here to help me with academics for a while".  It strikes me that there is no shame in his statement,  no embarrassment either.

I’ve been so concerned that my involvement here would be a massive blow to his street cred.    But I notice something else in that statement to a cousin that takes my breath away:  Pride.

“Will your presence at his school  help his self-esteem, peer relationships and long term outcomes?” a concerned friend wrote before I came, voicing my own concerns.

In response to her guidance I made a plan with the housemaster that I would not work on campus.  I would fetch and return Judah daily.  I fully expected him to be covert about our mission.  Who needs his mom to come help him cope with life?

So I’m surprised  at this willingness to declare proudly that his mom is here to help him academically?

Perhaps I write this with a  puffed chest, still  gloating from that Mother’s Day breakfast. I hope though that it has more to do with wanting to put my finger on the heart of what our investment can mean to our kids.  

I make it my job to find useful skills to teach,  concepts to understand and coaching practices to learn. But I believe our most profound value lies in the message we give our child: 

 Somebody thinks you are worth it.  

Somebody sacrificed,  set aside time,  invested because he or she believed in you.

Somebody came when you waved a flag of disintegration.

Maybe the real gift I am giving Judah isn’t my certainty about how many hours must be spent studying math,  exactly what skills must be learnt to write a good essay,  or what accommodations he should learn to use.

Perhaps the real gift is this investment: 

 I’m here because I believe in you.  

I’m here because you are worth it. 

I’m here because you have what it takes.”

Back here in 2024 as you celebrate with your family this weekend,  please hear my heart: Not all mums need to, or are able to do what I was privileged to do last year. Your family will require something different of you. It’s not my actions that need to be copied. I’d rather you see that the more I study the more I see the profound value for each Wonderfully Wired child in the connection, acceptance and unconditional love you give.

From there anything is possible.

I’m cheering you on mom.  You are instinctively good at the most important part of seeing, supporting and celebrating your Wonderfully Wired child, and your children that are just wonderful too.  

Happy Mother’s Day


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