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.