“Ma they are talking about YOU because you talked about ME!” My oldest son called to tell me I had made the news. Not about my recent award for business but about my article I wrote about my favorite subject, my children. He was laughing but I could hear the concern in his voice. “Not everyone will like what I write,” I reassured him. I reminded him of some his poems that I am still trying to figure out.
We chatted about Twitter, my post that got a few folks up in arms, and we discussed what others say I said. We ended the conversation laughing about another incident from his childhood that he knows will make the paper one day. “Ma, you are crazy, got to run”. I held the phone for a second thanking God that I am at a place in life when hearing my son call me crazy was a not a sign of disrespect. It reminded me of my relationship with my mother. It took us much longer to find that peacefulness. My mother has written for years about her life as an educator raising her family in the middle of nowhere with a well known political father. I remember saying to her, “Mom, you said that?” Now, my children are expressing the same words to me.
I realized I had become my mother when she came for a visit several months ago. She was looking at copies of INspired Living and thumbing through the Tennessee Tribune. Throughout the issues were stories of friends, business encounters, and stories about life. My mother, author of several books, ran a newspaper for years and publishes a small community paper now. She brought her paper with her for me to read. “It gives me something to do,” she said. My blogging started years ago to help work through some challenging issues that knocked me off my feet. It was a joy to turn on the computer and write a few words. My book shelf was brimming over with self-help books that did not make sense or help.
My stories, at that time, were about what was driving me insane, work-life balance and trying to raise children that seemed hell bent on raising themselves. Trying to figure out how to be superwoman, supermom, and a business owner was mind numbing and unobtainable. I could not do it all and my failures were up front and center. Admitting I did not have it all together was the first step to moving forward. Sharing with others how not to fall for the myth that we can do it all lead to several writing assignments that were therapeutic.
Parental Wisdom’s publisher asked me to give advice for an online column with millions of readers and soon others followed. My volunteer work with the Oasis Center also became part of my storylines. Volunteering helped me to see I was not alone. My concern about my children and how to balance our life as I managed family values with the harshness of the real world was complicated. I realized young people were experiencing life that collided at the intersection of perception and reality. What I experienced as a child in rural Mississippi was not the experiences of teens from Brentwood to Hendersonville and every place in between. My children were bright and street smart but also naïve. Television gives us glimpses of the world but it can also distort our vision as well. I vowed to not look at life through rose color lens.
I am closer to me children because of our hiccups and mishaps over the last several years. But they are still young people who need guidance. As they are starting and finishing college, I am learning not to smother them but a momma bear will always be a bear. They have given me many sleepless nights but they have also given me many years of joy as well. My stories may not be your story and that is okay. My parents taught me part of enjoying life is to experience people. Especially, people not like you. Everyone has a story. It is what makes us unique and wonderfully made. I encourage everyone to take time to hear from others who are different. It will enrich our lives and help us see our community from diverse perspectives as we get to know our neighbors and learn from the knowledge of others.
My children are my sources of strength, inspiration and motivation for me. My family experiences makes me certified ‘crazy’. But that craziness has produced a determination to live life to the fullest and to help make our community a better place for everyone. As I mature and season with life, I have learned that if you are not being talked about you…then you are not doing anything.