Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mothers Who Move Me: Mrs4444

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I know a lot of moms. I have a great mom. I have a grandma who is pretty awesome, too. I have mom friends at church and work. I know moms online through local community websites as well as through blogging. And a lot of these moms… really inspire me. I want to highlight these women and their motherhood. I want to better understand who they are and how they parent and what motivates them and who they are inspired by. Because I think all great moms deserve recognition.

That is a face you might recognize. That is Mrs4444 of Half Past Kissin Time. I’ve been reading her for just about as long as I’ve been blogging, I think. I’m horrible at remembering how I find blogs and people. But I’ve been reading her for a while now and she is one of those women that I would just love to enjoy a few hours with on her back deck. She has a gift of warmth and welcome and humor on her blog. And when you get to know her a little better, you find out that she is an amazing woman.

She’s been married to her husband for 20 years. They have 2 children. Kendall (above) is starting her sophomore year of high school while Kyle is about to journey off to college.

Mrs4444 is a teacher. More impressive is that she is a middle school teacher. And even better… she’s a special ed teacher with extensive experience in students who have emotional-behavioral disabilities.

She is exactly the woman I would have worked with back when I was a social worker in therapeutic foster care. Each child had a care team that the social worker headed up. We would attend, arrange, schedule meetings, be present at court dates, meet regularly with foster parents, foster child. There were key adults in the life of any foster child- birth parents, foster parents, educators, therapists/support. Educators were vital to the performance and well being of those kids. A special ed teacher could make or break a foster child. Mrs4444 is one of those women that I would have loved partnering with and learning from when I was in the field.

Now that I am no longer a social worker but am instead a mom that faces challenges of parenting head on and seeks ideas and input from respected moms around me, I’m truly glad to know Mrs4444.

I asked her some questions about motherhood and life and such and found that she truly is the wonderful woman we’ve gotten to know through her blog.

I asked what she would tell her pre-motherhood self if she could…

You are going to be the type of mom every girl needs. You will be very close to your daughter and will have the relationship every mother hopes for. You will raise two beautiful, responsible, successful children who grow up in a healthy, loving environment. Relax. (Oh, and don’t worry--Kendall will be a wonderful baby and will NOT have colic (like her brother did.)

One thing that she and I have in common is that we both survived sexual abuse in our childhoods. When she shared with me that she was truly terrified that she wouldn’t be able to protect her daughter… I fully understood. I’ve certainly been there. I’ve personally handled it better than I thought I would as I approached certain topics and milestones. And I’ve had mothers who have helped to guide me through some of my fears.

I asked about her relationship with her husband and how that has impacted her mothering…

My husband is one of two kids, and I am one of nine with a large, extended family. I have the degree in Human Development and lots of experience with kids, so he mostly followed my lead when the kids were small. He gives me all the credit for our kids being so great, but we both know that he is an incredible dad, too; very involved, super-affectionate, and very open. We love each other, and the kids know it, which helps. Mark and I are on the same page (for the most part) when it comes to parenting, and if we aren’t, we talk about it to make sure we present a united front, compromising only behind closed doors. Early on, we were influenced by Barbara Coloroso’s book, Kids Are Worth It; it’s kind of been our bible.

Note to self: look up that book!

One thing I learned was that Mrs4444 grew up not having an emotionally open relationship with her mom (although she is close to her mom and loves and respects her deeply). It’s something she has talked about on her blog as well and she took important lessons from that. While she never felt comfortable talking about intimate subjects with her mother and her mother came from a “private generation,” Mrs4444 has focused on building an open relationship with her kids. Her kids know they can talk to her about anything. Her kids have seen her emotional side and how she handles different emotions.

I asked her what she thinks is an important thing about motherhood that she thinks others should know…

I think it’s important to know that if you haven’t dealt with your own childhood demons, you will not be the best parent you can be. If you were raised by a parent who had major issues (such as alcoholism, anger issues, etc.) it will affect you as a parent. Working on your issues with a professional could be the greatest gift you could ever give your children (not to mention your spouse!)

I completely agree. If I was still battling my personal demons… I feel like I’d be pretty worthless as a mom. That’s strong to say. But I couldn’t be as focused and here for my kids and husband without having gotten past a really ugly background.

I asked her how she would define success in parenting…

I think you’re a successful parent when your kids are happy, do their best in school, and respect others and the world around them. Successful parents have established boundaries for their children (their kids understand their role and that of adults.) All of this said, unhappy kids are not always the result of poor parenting. I have a lot of respect for parents of children with disabilities that make parenting especially difficult. In those cases, a parent who doesn’t give up, no matter what, has my utmost respect and admiration.

I have to admit I breathed a sigh of relief on that one. I’m working really hard to establish boundaries with my kids. I believe that this age, these early years, are when the foundation is laid to understand those boundaries. If I try to wait until they are in middle school… well, I’d be getting a lot of calls from teachers (or worse- the police or something. Eep!).

Finally, I gave her a chance to give any last bits of advice or quotes or inspiration…

It’s a child’s natural inclination to feel like they are the center of the universe. I think it’s important to teach kids boundaries and self-discipline. You have to think of your job as also preparing your children to be productive members of society, not just your family. (That is, unless of course, you plan to have them live with you forever.) In your intro, you mentioned that you’d like to know who inspired me as a mom. In addition to my own mom, I have also been very much inspired by people who are open with their emotions. I grew up holding a lot of secrets, and I have always been drawn to people who are willing to call call a spade a spade. My friend Terri’s mom, Ellen, was direct and (sometimes brutally) honest, and I remember being very inspired by her bravery and openness as a woman. She passed away a few years ago but is still a big part of the kind of mom I am today.

Whenever I post about one of my struggles with parenting, I always hope that Mrs4444 will swing by and offer advice. Whenever I share joys and successes in being a mother to my kids, I always hope that Mrs4444 is proud of me. She’s someone that I cherish for her opinion, insight, and experience.

She is one of the Mothers Who Move Me.

14 comments:

Mrs4444 said...

Wow, Liz. Just wow.

I have to add that you are a mother I would love to know IRL, because I've seen your wisdom, love, and dedication and know that you, too, have a lot to teach through your example. It's easy to parent kids who (like mine) have easy temperaments and mostly embraced the boundaries we set up for them. You are facing one of the greatest challenges of your parenthood right now, and you are handling it beautifully. Keep up the great work :)

Eternally Distracted said...

What an absolutely fabulous post :0)

Leticia said...

I only just recently found Mrs4444 and it was right here on your bog, Liz. Thanks for that! It's what I love about blog friends...you meet some of the best inspirational people on these sites!

I love the new feature, and look forward to finding more moms who may move me too, Liz!

Leticia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leticia said...

I consider myself blessed to know Liz in real life. I gotta say I think she's the bomb diggity! I wish we could find more time to hang out! We're kindred spirits, and while we walk 2 different paths it's amazing to me how much our paths intersect when it comes to our parneting, values, and morals.

Everyday Kathy said...

What a nice tribute to Mrs. 4444. I am always so happy when she takes time to visit my blog and share her great wisdom. She is awesome as are you. I'm loving the people my blog has helped me find! Thanks for a great post!

(P.S. I have a little get to know you Award/challenge happening on my blog and I included you! No pressure,participate only if you wish!)

Melisa with one S said...

Great tribute! I love her too. :)

Anne K. said...

What a great Mom! I totally agree about dealing with childhood "stuff" before having kiddos. I can't imagine trying to do things differently with Will without naming and resolving a lot of that old stuff.

noexcuses said...

Beautiful tribute to Mrs4444, as well as it coming back at you. I wish I had half the wisdom that you have at your age.

Great post!

BLOGitse said...

Stopping by from Saturday Sampling.
What a beautiful post...
As a mother of two I know how it was when they were young...Now I'm 'free' (kids adults; having their own liffe) and enjoy expat life 100% :)
Have a great weekend!

Mary said...

I've been following Mrs. 4444 for a while now. She is incredible!

Karen & Gerard said...

Mrs4444 is a wonderful person and I enjoyed reading this interview with her. I am a regular follower on her blog and enjoy reading it.

Stopping by from Saturday Samplings.

Kristen said...

I love Mrs. 4444--I've been following her for a while too. I really enjoyed reading this--thank you so much for a few more insights!! She's a mother I'd love to get to know IRL too!

Mrs4444 said...

How cool is this?! I love that you linked it up to SS and got some more play. Thanks again :)