I had two separate experiences last week which led me to the same conclusion, we must embrace the intangibles of the parent journey to first prepare, and then ensure success and happiness for ourselves, our children, and our futures.
That’s a pretty lofty statement but as I’ve tossed it around in my mind the last few days, I can’t escape the truth of it.
My first experience with this concept was Tuesday while attending a networking holiday party.
I ran into a fellow business owner who is also becoming a trusted friend and guide on my entrepreneurial journey.
She’s a photographer, and as she gave out hugs between snapping pictures, we talked about business, and the impact of the holiday season. I commented that December must be a busy time for her with all the parties and so forth, she agreed but also offered it’s all relative. You just never know.
“But it must be nice to have a tangible product,” I countered. “You know, your work, you take the picture, people get a picture. Parent health coaching is a little bit tougher to get your arms around. You can’t touch, taste, see, or smell it. It’s not tangible, ya know?”
To my surprise, she disagreed.
“Well now, I believe that parent coaching and what you do is very tangible,” she said. “People come to you with pretty serious issues or goals they can’t reach on their own, and you help them solve them, change, or move forward. I think that’s very tangible, especially for those that need it. I’m sure those you’ve been able to help feel that way too.”
I was really floored.
Sometimes, we can get so mired down in our own stuff that it takes someone else to drag it out and put it right there in your face again. Perhaps standing in a room full of businesspeople, who in many cases actually produce something you can touch, taste, see or smell, made me start to second guess it.
When I was in my own struggle to be a healthier person, a better person, and a better parent, it was pretty damn tangible for me to get to the other side and stay there. That process was what provided me with the blueprint of how to get there and how I developed the program I use now to help others facing the same challenges.
That process and the change realized through the experience is what you can "feel" and I’ll not forget that truth again anytime soon.
The second experience occurred on Thursday. I read an online article about a woman seeking advice for an issue in her relationship.
In the article, she described how her relationship with her husband is one-sided and she feels unsupported and disregarded.
They have two children under the age of two and the husband, who earns the larger salary, has left the childrearing and homemaking duties to her. He chooses to spend his time the way he likes and “helps out” by sitting with one child while she’s bathing or feeding the other child and anything else that needs attention.
She has essentially assumed the role of the “active” parent and he has found the easy way out.
She goes on to say that when she reaches her limit of overwhelm, and tries to get him to support, engage or otherwise help, it leads to an argument, and he accuses her of nagging and badgering him. He complains he won’t be treated that way and has threatened divorce several times.
As the article continues, she confides that the primary issue is childcare and support around the home, all other aspects of their life together are good, and she does still love him. However, she would like his help but knows she’s not going to get it.
She concludes that after a recent flare up, she feels he will actually go forward with getting a divorce. Of course, she has fears, concerns, and everything else that comes up with this course of action and asks for input and advice on what readers would do in this situation.
At this point, you’re probably thinking I would weigh-in with some “health coachy” wisdom, but remember, this post is about embracing the 7 intangibles of the parent journey so that’s where I’m headed.
Out of curiosity, I read the replies first before exploring my own thought-process any further.
I was very pleased to see the first two were more from the perspective of addressing the writer first. It wasn’t about “He’s a bad dude,” and “What a jerk.” It was checking in on her and making sure she realized that she was a priority too and deserved support.
The third comment was from an attorney that said, “I know this is tough, I’m sorry you’re experiencing this, but Lawyer-up now so you know your rights and aren’t caught with your diapers down.”
It was written a lot better, but you get the gist.
However, the attorney’s not wrong. Which is sad.
So, as I thought through what I had read, it struck me even more that this is a tough one because there are so many things going on here.
I won’t get into all of them but it’s safe to say the writer likely saw some signs with the first child, and that’s where the intangibles come in.
As parents, especially moms, the most important intangible is taking care of you first, as the first two commenters pointed out. Unfortunately, parents don’t know that early on, and we throw ourselves into nurturing our children and making our house a home. This applies to both men and women as well.
When we become parents…
We don’t think about the tough times, everything is going to be great.
We don’t think that our partner will be less enthusiastic about the day-to-day parenting activities than we are, everything is going to be 50/50.
We don’t think our children will ever be the cause of great stress or concern, and you end up with a wild card.
Finally, we don’t think that our partner will one day just call an audible and walk off the field, much less do it, and then the “D” word is thrown out there.
These are the intangibles we didn’t plan for.
These are the intangibles that knock us for a loop.
The preemptive intangible that trumps them all....self-focus. Not selfishness, as modeled by the writer’s husband.
Self-focus is the knowledge and strength that whatever happens, you’re still you and you will be okay. You only get this by staying connected to who you are, after the wedding, and even after the fourth child.
The intangibles of the parent journey include:
Acceptance that people and things will change, often.
Our expectations are not reality, and never will be.
Making time for yourself will be necessary, vital, and non-negotiable.
Setting and keeping boundaries in all aspects in life is not mean or rude.
Keeping dreams and goals just for you will unite you with your destiny.
Speaking up and standing up for yourself is courageous.
Being forward thinking, proactive, and doing what needs to be done so you can walk away, if necessary, should never be Plan B.
When we marry, we take on the concept of “we” to our own detriment sometimes. You don’t have to or shouldn’t have to give up any of these after becoming a couple or a parent.
How do I know? I did it for a while. Too long in fact.
I threw myself full force into being the best wife, mom, employee, party planner, cook, housekeeper, hostess, you name it.
I tried to keep all the balls in the air. Smiling like a cartoon character yet seething inside like a villain. It felt horrible, it made me act horribly to those around me, and it ended horribly. With me compromising myself for everyone around me and it just wasn’t right.
It took some time to remember “I” was me prior to becoming part of “We” and I pulled the nose up before the crash.
My decision and ability to stop being "Mrs. Fix It" helped not only me, but everyone around me.
❤️ There was no divorce, there was understanding.
❤️ There were no concrete solutions, we learned to compromise and flow with what came our way, as partners.
And things changed.
You couldn't touch it, taste it, see it, or smell it, but you could certainly "feel" it.
We can feel it when we are in control of our life and our outcomes. It’s the best intangible in the world.
As I started to step back into my own power back then, the following words came to me, and I wrote them down:
Did you give up “Me”
To become “We”
Or support another other than “Thee”
It’s time to “Be”
“He,” “She” or “Me”
Who is once again “Free”
This has been my guidepost since that day.
It helps me embrace the intangibles of the parent journey you need to hold most dear, being aware of the challenges and striving for that “feeling” of freedom of putting you first provides.
This is the advice I would give that troubled mom. You can love your husband, but always love yourself more.
I wish her peace, love, and most of all the strength to lean into the intangibles that will bring her that feeling of freedom and help her move forward, even if she's moving forward alone.
Take care and be well,
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