a soft place to land

I must admit that I wasn’t overjoyed to attend the latest Badass Mama’s Circle. After missing the last meeting, I couldn’t remember if this circle felt safe.  Although I appear to be someone who always says what’s on my mind, I’ve become more careful with my vulnerability. I need to take the temperature of this room tonight before I share myself.

When Jenni says we are going to talk about motherhood, I breathe a little easier because this topic joins us all together. Talking about where we are at in this mothering journey makes sense. Still, when Jenni just opens up the discussion with an invitation to share, I bide my time and wait for someone else to speak.

Soon enough, though, I see that the moms seated around me are people I can be myself with. This is no small thing, feeling like it’s OK to share my parenting struggles here. Even fifteen years into this journey, I’ve learned it smarts when I think people are criticizing my mothering style. But tonight I find my ramrod straight spine curve into a c-shape as I seek the back of the couch and relax into its cushions. Ahhh, yes, I can listen and also be heard here. I can talk about what it’s like to watch my older daughter start driver’s education or contemplate the four weeks this summer she’ll be away from home.

As all of the moms share both hard and good parts of their relationships with their children, I write down phrases in my notebook. There’s the “future tripping” and “past tripping” moms spiral into when we worry about our children. And the phrase that reminds us to trust the process: “development will happen.”

I’ve never heard this phrase. I gather it means growth happens on its own timetable, and parents needn’t push it. We can focus on the relationship we have with our child instead of honing in on skill development. As Jenni says, when we care about the health of our relationship with our kids, sometimes we step back our aspirations for them, academic and otherwise. We can trust that if we prioritize relationship and growth, that there’s time ahead to handle learning needs.

Ah, I think, I wish I knew this phrase and the idea behind it when my youngest was struggling with learning delays six years ago. But still and yet, I can see how I did intuitively focus on growing a strong relationship with her. I slowly figured out how to help her learn and feel safe at school while making home her island of contentment. In the rearview mirror, I can see how I became a safe place for my daughter to land.

I hear this idea reflected back at me as another mom voices a similar phrase: she wants to be a soft place to land for her child. How hard it is sometimes to actually be a soft, safe place to land! How we need to stop past tripping and future tripping and take in where our child is right now, to see them before us so we can be what they need in the present moment. When we get it right and we are holding our child’s tender heart with love and affection during and after the storms that arise, how right mothering feels.

When mothering isn’t going the way we want it to, we need a safe, soft place for our mothering hearts to land, too. Where can we take these hearts and minds that need cushions and shared conversation to figure out this parenting puzzle?

As stories about our mothering journeys filled the air around me, I realized this Badass Mama’s circle is a soft place for its members to land. While we talked about mothering, a member pointed out how grateful she is for this circle. I nodded in agreement. It’s no small thing to look around this room tonight and realize I can be myself here and also let the other members really be themselves, too. To listen and really hear. To talk and feel heard.  I find myself gathering up the “Ah, yes, me too” sentiments. I need the shared realization that mothering is a hard and worthy endeavor, along with a space to catch my breath, cry if I need to, and laugh every time. I felt myself take in one deep breath after another, thankful for these shared hours. I left refreshed and ready for another day of mothering, another 24 hours providing a soft place to land, after receiving this soft place offered to me.