Just as trees, flowers, soil and water change from season to season so does a mother. Nobody can tell you how to be a mother. It’s a part of you that manifests itself in little ways each day. Whether you had a great role model in your own mom, or not, have read books by baby and parenting experts, mothers can look to the natural world and their own natural essence for insight and respite.
If you don’t already, pay attention to the seasons for mothering lessons from the natural world.
A tree in winter may look ugly and bare but its branches will soon grow buds, leaves, and fruit. Every situation will change. You may want to force a change, but that will often backfire when the conditions are not right. A group of trees does not become a forest because someone said: “grow, grow, grow.” Like the forest, a parent can only show patience, acceptance, and diligence when progress seems slow. Share winter’s wisdom.
Watch if your children hesitate to bloom. Be curious. Listen, the way you would to crickets chirping. You will hear a chorus of sounds and rhythms. Spring is about promise. What do your children need to overcome their reluctance? Maybe a story about a time you felt hesitant. Maybe a story of a time when they overcame an obstacle in the past. Share what you know about spring.
Feel the joy of summer – its long hours of daylight, warm sun and blue sky. When we are most comfortable may be the best time to get out of the box and travel somewhere new even if its around the block or across the world. Novelty is great for our brains and a change of scene sparks the imagination. To swim in lakes, rivers and oceans rekindles our connection to what sustains all of life. Climbing hills, watching the night sky, and walking prairie paths refreshes our sense of wonder. Share summer’s shimmer.
Fall is a time of letting go. The tree sheds its leaves with a bright canopy of color. As mothers know, letting go is part of the job. Birds, bears, fish and other members of the animal kingdom know instinctively when its time to let go. But it’s sometimes hard for moms. I read a story by Madeleine Albright, the first woman to become U.S. Secretary of State, about when her overprotective mother sent her away to a Swiss boarding school at the age of 10. Ms. Albright cried all the way there (her mother probably did too). But of that year away, she wrote: “I learned French, I learned to ski, I learned to be in a place that I wasn’t at all comfortable in, and I had to make it comfortable for myself. I learned to be independent. That year has stood me in good stead forever.” Share fall’s favors.
Throughout the seasons go ahead and be simple, natural, and confident with your kids. When a friend of mine had a miscarriage the doctors posed biological reasons, her husband assured her they would try again, but it was her mother who said: “Pregnancies are like flowers. Some bloom and others don’t, even when they are planted side by side with the same amount of sun and water.” This simple thought from her mother brought my friend great comfort. We all aim to hit the right chord at the right time. Sometimes, like turtle doves, we do!