You may or may not know that aside from writing a column in our wonderful The Cross Timbers Gazette, I am a parent coach. I have worked with parents of middle school and high school kids for five years now and I enjoy helping families create happier, healthier, more functional home environments and shift out of white-knuckle mode to get through the teen years.
You may also know that I work as a Program Coordinator at Cook Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) in Fort Worth. I recruit, train, facilitate and oversee programs that allow parents who have had children treated on campus volunteer their time and experience to the many programs that enhance family-centered care at CCMC. I started in the position in January 2018 in part because my husband Tom left the corporate world to pursue his dream of entrepreneurship by helping families plan memory-filled vacations.
His business name carries the word cruise in it, and, as you can imagine 2020 has been devastating to his “there is no plan B” persistence to build a profitable franchise and a team of travel consultants who also benefit from sharing their love of travel and helping others.
It’s been a difficult year for more reasons than just the financial hit, though I’d say that is at the heart of most of the other things we’re trying to navigate as we close in on three decades of marriage.
Part of the angst of the last half of the year is that I decided, after much anxious contemplation, to leave my position at Cook Children’s at the end of 2020. While it is an amazing place to work, trying to balance being a conscientious employee, build a business that I am passionate about and believe can contribute to the world, while remaining a present parent to the two high school students still living at home had me physically, emotionally, and spiritually depleted. There were many days when I’d be driving home from Fort Worth thinking, “I just can’t do this anymore.”
I was trying so hard to be what everyone else needed me to be. What everyone else felt was my job was to support our family. One of the main reasons the job was so beneficial for us was it covers our health insurance.
There came that day in July when I decided I had to be done. I couldn’t preach “be a present parent to your children” and not be doing that myself. They aren’t babies, they’d been doing a great job of being independent and taking care of what needed to be done and staying out of trouble during COVID.
But I knew, I knew in my gut, that teenagers (even the well-adjusted ones with good heads on their shoulders) can begin to feel neglected and look for validation in unhealthy choices if no one is around in the periphery. Our kids need us in their lives. Not 24/7 as if they are fully dependent newborns. But also, not at the end of a long day when we literally have nothing left to give them. Even older kids need parents around enough, and in mentally and physically sound ways, so as they encounter the regular bumps of adolescence, and the stuff we never could have imagined or had to navigate, they have someone to lean on.
We are the calm in their storm. And the cost of trying to do it all was too much.
It’s hard to take a leap of faith and make a decision that might deeply affect your entire family in a negative way. But it’s equally hard to know you may one day regret the decision to stay safe and never really find out if you were capable of changing the lives of other families in a way you thought you had the potential to do.
So, as you read this column know that my 2021 word is intention. I left my job and I am taking a huge leap of faith to intentionally help families by speaking publicly, leading small groups, and coaching parents’ one-on-one. And, because mothers are the emotional barometers in their families, they are my focus. When moms are physically/emotionally/spiritually in alignment with their inner wisdom, they lead their families with confidence. And that is something we desperately need more of today and in the future. I know this, because I am living it.
What is your word for 2021? Have you spent some of those quiet moments stuck at home contemplating life and what is really important to you or how you can contribute to making the world a better place?
Take this column as the nudge you said you needed to give yourself permission to live this year with all you’ve got!