19 Jan
2016
Posted in: parenting
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Parenting and Advocacy

Last week was riddled with heavy parenting. I felt all the feelings from burning anger to heartbroken sadness to mind-numbing frustration. I lost sleep and had to remind myself numerous times that literally pointing my finger at someone or shaking them until I believe they actually understand what’s happening are not acceptable behaviors. There were meetings, emails and phone calls. I shed tears on multiple occasions and listened to one son lament about school in a way no parent wants to hear.

I’m a believer in giving people room to make mistakes, but I have my limits. My children will tell you when I say I’m done, you better get your act together. This mama had reached the level of done. I scheduled a meeting last week that my husband decided he would need to leave work to attend with me. We rarely require both of us working as advocate. His presence means two things: 1. I need an adult handler. 2. He’s done. His boiling point is much higher than mine. If he’s in your office, this issue needs resolved.

teen boy preparing for a Nordic ski race

When I held our oldest the first time 13 years ago, I remember thinking I would do anything for him. The instinct to do whatever it takes to protect that bundle overcame me. I’ve fought the urge to wrap these children in bubble wrap and keep them home with me every second of every day since that first day of motherhood. I protect while still letting them fail, get hurt and learn important life lessons in maddening fashion.

I never imagined that first day of mothering how important and difficult the role of advocate would be with our children. Allowing them out of my sight meant opening our world to the influence of others. Last week I wanted to take it all back. I no longer wanted to be around other children, other adults, or outside of our house ever again. My husband reminded me that I was not being realistic. We’re raising people to eventually contribute as adults. Apparently, we can’t do that if they never leave the house.

three children playing in snowy woods

Standing up in support of something I believe is best for my child can seem intimidating. Sometimes I start advocacy with no knowledge of the topic. When we were dealing with speech therapy years ago, I had to educate myself before setting a goal and making a push toward that goal. Discovering the best route to the best people to help me with my particular issue has, at times, had me rifling through bureaucratic channels. I spent one night last week with a highlighter in hand sorting through paperwork finding the key clauses I needed to support my beliefs. I’ve had countless conversations in my head plotting what to say if someone argues a certain stance.

Advocacy can be a long, meandering road filled with roadblocks and turnarounds. It can also be resolved with one phone call. I believe I’m firmly planted on a longish road not as near to conclusion as I’d like. I’ll continue to plead my son’s current cause until he feels comfortable with the outcome. Our children witnessing us advocate for them is important in building a relationship. Not only will I listen to what you have to say and watch what’s happening in your world away from me, I’ll stand beside you when your interests are not being fully considered or met.

 

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