When In Doubt, Pause...

Friday, March 27, 2015

By Amy V. Slater

First off, I have to say that I love being a mother. I don''t mean to sound trite, but I love being a mother to my 3 daughters. This isn''t to suggest that it has all been champagne and roses...

Since my divorce four years ago, I have found more space and energy to be present as a mother. Because I have more time to nurture my spirit, I am available to my daughters in new and magical ways. I am consciously slowing down so that I can be mindful of what I say and of the lessons we can learn together. I cannot help but reflect on my experiences with my own mother when I am nurturing the relationships with my girls.

In fact, just the other day, my youngest daughter (10) starting talking about the "gifted" program at her school. She said that the kids that are not "smart enough" are left in the classroom while the "smart" kids go learn harder things. Needless to say, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I heard her describe it this way. I was quick to respond by telling her that it wasn''t that she and the others are not smart enough rather that the other kids are seeking additional challenges in school. This topic hits me deeper than most as I lived through this as a young girl.

In my day, the "gifted" kids were pulled out from the classroom to attend what was called "Special Class." That in and of itself is a problem for me. That left the rest of us somehow feeling not "special." As a child, I had been pulled out of class for testing in the office just to be told to go back to class, and that they weren''t ready for me. I was to be tested for special class. The whole point was to make sure that kids did not have time to anticipate the tests and to avoid anxiety through the process. Well, that plan was dead on arrival since I was given a false alarm.

Hours later, I was asked back to the office and was full of fear and anxiety. I had a fear of test taking and now it was exaggerated as I had time to stew about it. When I got to the testing, I answered questions before they were asked and was anxious through the entire exam. I can still remember the tests of patterns and blocks and numbers; the cold feeling I had in the sterile room next to the Principal''s office. Failure was not an option. Yet, sure enough, my score was not sufficient for placement in "Special Class," so I was, by default, NOT special.

Here is where the parenting lesson comes in. From the moment my mother found out about this, she wrapped me in her arms and said, "you ARE special." Now, it was not her words that have stuck with me all of these years, but rather her actions. You see, the kids in "Special Class" had to arrive at school an hour earlier than the regular kids. And, of course, all of the kids I carpooled with were in special class. That meant that once a week, my mom had to drive me to school without the others. On those days, my mom created a special class just for me. We would sit on the love seat in our family room and read books on dinosaurs. We had taken a trip to the bookstore to purchase books exclusively for our special class. The books were special. The time was special. My mom was special. And most of all, I felt special.

Fast forward 40 years, and I still remember how I felt sitting beside my mom with that book in our lap. I think about this often.

It is easy to get swept away by the to-do(s) in our lives.

Take the time to pause.

To listen.

To see.

To love.

I believe that being a mother is the most important and most rewarding job I will ever have.

The pause makes me a fully present mother.

For more about Amy...