That’s What Happens When Women Who Love Themselves Raise Kids

Welcome to this week’s blog post and a new feature I’m introducing!

This and all of my future posts will now be recording and available for listening on SoundCloud.

So, when my weekly newsletter and blog post land in your inbox each week, you can plug me in and listen if you’re not able to read it right away.

Let me know what you think!

Here’s this week’s post recording:

https://soundcloud.com/laura-mccauley-wagner/thats-what-happens-when-women-who-love-themselves-raise-kids

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My friend Maggie (that’s Maggie and me in the photo above) has a son who is an artist and performer, and he is BLOWIN’ UP the world living his dream and sharing his art.

I have a daughter, Grace, who makes her life a work of art.

Her chamomile tea, her daily yoga practice, her self-directed photo shoots around the city, how she listens to Beyonce’s Lemonade over and over again like she’s writing a thesis about it.

Maggie’s son, Jack, is on a concert tour right now and he landed in our hometown last week for a much-anticipated, sold out show.

I’m a middle aged mom who follows him obsessively on Instagram, and I’m so proud of to see what he’s creating in his life.

The other day I took a screenshot of Jack’s Instagram page and texted Maggie:

 

“I fucking love your kid. Our kids.”

 

Maggie’s reply:

 

“That’s what happens when women who love themselves raise kids.”

 

Drop. The. Mic.

And Maggie and I have the privilege of raising a total of four amazing out-of-box, loving and creative human beings — both of us have been doing this for about 20 years of our adult lives.

I believe that when we think of what it means to raise happy kids, we often think first of all of the stuff we have to DO as mamas to “make it happen.”

Sure, I have a lot of things I want to do for my kids that I hope will contribute to their livelihood; but when I really think about what has made the greatest impact on their lives, it is tied more into who I am BEING than what I am DOING.

That’s what my friend Maggie spoke to when we had that text exchange while I was in TJ Maxx getting stuff for my Lavish dinner that day.

Think of all of the choices we have:

Breast feeding. Bottle Feeding.

Daycare. Stay at home.

Working outside of the home. Stepping away from the career path for awhile.

Montessori. Waldorf. Regular ol’ awesome preschool.

Almond milk. Cow’s milk.

Soda. Not on your life.

Public schools. Magnet. Traditional. Private schools. Catholic. College prep.

Loving the “baby” stage … or not so into it, but loving your babies, just the same (#me).

High school. Gap years. Travel. College. Career.

High school. Creating art. Making videos. Going on a national tour.

There are so many choices and so many ways to “mom” and raise kids, but when I think of what has had the greatest, most positive impact on my kids, it’s been when I’ve thought about and answered these questions:

“Are you a happy woman?

 

Do you like who you are?

 

Do you like the choices you’re making for your present and future?

 

Are you as thoughtful with yourself as you are with your kids?”

 

And shit — don’t think I’m putting these questions out there to you as yet another measuring stick for women to deal with, as in, “wait — I’m not sure if I’m happy — I’d better figure that out and complete that task — I mean, not breastfeeding and the shaming around that already fucked with my head back in 2001…”

Please know that coming from me, those are questions born of love. I think that when a woman — mom or not — raises those questions with herself, it’s an opportunity for life to blossom. It’s an opportunity — if you are raising kids — for them to blossom.

Let those questions be a curious whisper from within — not a demanding yardstick to measure up to.

My work is about inspiring and motivating women to make simple and significant choices to move forward in their lives with intention and happiness.

And when a woman heals or changes her life for the better, that is what heals and changes the world.

 

And if you’re raising human beings, a happy woman raises kids who carry that forward.

 

They will heal and change the world with their contributions, their interactions, their art, their compassion, their activism and their inventions.

What you DO as a woman and as a mom is so important — don’t get me wrong; but being decisive about the woman you want to BE — that’s a magnet for your desires and the beautiful life we all want our kids to create.

I asked my friend Maggie to tell me more about “that’s what happens when women who love themselves raise kids,” and I thought about this within the context of my own life.

Here’s a list of 10 thoughts and points-of-view that have shaped us. Maybe they can help you.

  1. Make your own rules. Like I said, there’s an unending list of things we’re told we “should” do and boxes to tick, but look at all of the choices and remind yourself, “I get to decide. I get to decide what works for me. I get to decide what works for my family.”
  2. You have choices. Decide which choices are most powerful for you. See the beauty in that; and I’m not just talking about the choices about what you are going to do or where you’re going to be, but what you’re going to think. What you think about yourself and what you think about your life are choices.
  3. You can be flooded with self-doubt / second-guessing and still love yourself. It’s a chronic condition for parents; My friend Maggie says, “There are days I have doubts about myself and whether I’m ‘lovable’, but mostly I like myself. I have to forgive myself a lot, as I have tremendous failures like a bad memory, forgetful nature, and too-flexible attitude at times.” I think we all deal with that shit, and yet still, as my other girlfriend Susan Hyatt says, we are “still over here being awesome.” Remember that.
  4. Our capacity to love ourselves is our capacity to love others. If we can be forgiving, patient and caring with ourselves, we can extend that same forgiveness, patience and care to others, including our kids.
  5. We teach silently, through our actions and our choices. Our kids learn silently, by watching and mimicking. If they’re seeing a mama that’s happy, engaged and connected, they are soaking that up. It doesn’t mean that if they see us have shitty days or witness us making mistakes, being sarcastic or mean, that they’ll be screwed up; it just means we always have an opportunity to teach ourselves and them about resilience.
  6. You have a right to have OR forgo home-cooked meals and scheduled dinner times. Maggie: “My husband and I failed, utterly, and miserably, at providing home cooked meals for our kids. We had dinner with them the vast majority of nights, but it was often carryout, basic breakfast, or restaurant meals. They did not develop sophisticated palates, but they had a happy set of parents who weren’t cooking at a stove simply because they “should” — we were happy, even as we were flawed.”
  7. Self-love is the voices of our parents playing back in our heads. The love and the positivity we have for ourselves radiates through to our kids, and we can only hope that their thoughts and self-concepts are equally as positive and supportive.
  8. Let your kids have experiences you may not have chosen for them. Maggie’s son, Jack, is an artist and performer who’s been burning his path to express himself and claim fame (there’s no shame in Jack’s game — he wants it all) since he was about 12 years old. “It was a calculated risk, and one that we hoped was the right choice. We stayed close to him, we talked about what he might be seeing, we fed his young mind with complex ideas and challenged him to grow and develop, to be a leader, and to make good choices.”
  9. Healthy parenting is a very wide road. We can all have a million doubts, worries and anxieties about “doing it right.” Let yourself have them and know that you don’t have to be perfect. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your kids. And all of you will enjoy the world around you.
  10. When your kids both thrill and terrify you, that could be a good thing. When your kids see the world as place for them to explore, to find out what thrills them and pursue their passions, that thread runs back to you, girlfriend. I see my daughter Grace exploring uncharted career paths and muscling up against rules and opinions at her school. She’ll be out of the country for two weeks and doing a mini internship in Manhattan by herself this summer. It scares the shit out of me and thrills me at the same time. It’s her spirit. These are her choices. And where’s the genesis? She got it from her mama.

If you’ve been hanging out with me for awhile, you know my work in the world is helping women from all walks of life speak their truth to power and create a full and happy life — what I call a Body of Work.

If you need a strong female ally in accountability, inspiration, strategy, love and grace, I’m right here, and I’d love to work with you.

 

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