Out of the norm

The day that Charlotte forgot her backpack I was dying to tell someone about it, to talk it through, to get a nod of empathy and understanding. Some of my colleagues are young moms and I blurted out the story while we waited for a meeting to get underway. It went something like this:

“My youngest forgot her backpack this morning. I got a voice mail from her teacher asking me to bring it in, but … nope, sorry! She’ll have to get through the day without it.”

One mom gave me a puzzled stare and the other said awkwardly, “Well … I guess she’ll learn.”

“Yeah!” I said, “That’s the idea…” I started to say something more when I noticed they had both dropped their gaze to the floor with polite but uncomfortable half-smiles. And then someone quickly changed the subject.

Vicki likes to point out that this program is not for sissies. As time goes on and the tools and strategies feel more natural and become a way of being, I start to forget how different it is from what most parents are used to and how radical it sounds when you first hear it. Many of my basic beliefs about what a good mother is and does have been completely turned upside down. And I’m realizing that my new approach can be seen by some parents as a challenge and a threat to what they hold true.

And I suppose it is. This approach is revolutionary in its selflessness. Choose this path and you don’t get to be the ruler, the expert, the savior, the hero, or the leader. You give all that up for the sake of your child.

A good mother is simply nothing like I thought. It turns out, among other things, a good mother:

  • Ignores unwanted behavior
  • Lets her child fail
  • Resists the urge to help
  • Stays in the background
  • Withholds praise
  • Doesn’t come to the rescue
  • Bites her tongue
  • Relinquishes control

I say this now with confidence because I’ve lived it for the past year and it works. The results I see in my girls are all the evidence I need.

But it can feel lonely and overwhelming to even attempt to explain it all to the uninitiated.

So this post is really a thank you — thank you to all my readers and fellow bloggers and everyone else in the PonT community. You give me strength to carry on.

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Miscellaneous

11 Comments on “Out of the norm”

  1. Kristin Says:

    Thank you for writing this! You have hit the nail on the head! I run with a group of women and have shared some of my “moments” and get an overwhelming sense of how little they agree. And as you say, the evidence is in the changes we see in our kids.

  2. Debolino Says:

    I agree! Just grappling last night with allowing my son to completely forget about a big first-grade research project – of course he needs help, he’s only six, right? We won’t know unless we give him a chance. My dad especially has a hard time with the idea of letting them fail, feels a parent’s job is to “teach.” But that often looks like saving.

    • flockmother Says:

      So true. Even my husband will sometimes turn to me and urgently ask, “Can I train them?” which actually means, can I take over and do it the right way while they watch? This stuff runs against the grain for a lot of people. Talk about adding to the challenge!

  3. Judy Klima Says:

    I’ve been reading your blog and using you as my inspiration. My partner and I have been to Vicki’s class and are still not quite with the program yet. But we will be! I appreciate your blog so much – just so you know. And if you told me about the backpack I would have looked at you with admiration!

  4. breathebeast Says:

    you know, when I started motherhood I liked to think about how my child would be treated if we lived the way we originally evolved to live, in a tribe (yeah, I still think about this sometimes when I’m confused about how I want my relationship to be). I don’t see/imagine “tribal” moms doing their kids’ projects, or packing their bags, somehow. This way seems like its so much more natural for the kids (and moms).

    I love this that you wrote: “Choose this path and you don’t get to be the ruler, the expert, the savior, the hero, or the leader. You give all that up for the sake of your child.” That’s a real sacrifice. Of course, for the sake a relationship, it’s worth it, but so many of us are confused about that. Thanks for your voice.

    See you around the PoT blogs!

    • flockmother Says:

      I love thinking about human origins too and why we do what we do then and now. And I think you’re exactly right! There’s no way tribal women could do for their kids when there was so much to be done for the group. And I imagine kids were given important jobs right from the start. Makes total sense. Back to basics!

  5. Vicki Says:

    God, this is so fabulous. I can not adequately express my appreciation for each and every one of you and especially of course, to those 3 amazing girls.

    I so believe in tribes, and those joining me for the March 5th weekend will get a good dose of it.

    Love to each and every one of you and to all the mom’s out there who haven’t heard the good news (giggle here) and to the 1000’s of kids who will leave their parents home with confidence to conquer…well, whatever comes up.

  6. sally Says:

    I just copied and printed your list of what a good mother does, to encourage myself as I swim against the cultural current. I get energy for the swim knowing there are other fish in my school:-) Thank you for the honesty and pithiness with which you write.

    • flockmother Says:

      Thank you, your note gives me energy to keep writing about the swim! I like your analogy — our little school of fish going against the current. Supporting each other helps so much!


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