You can only imagine my excitement when I heard I would be attending Oprah's Lifeclass in Chicago!!
A few weeks earlier, I had received an email from a fellow psychotherapist named Marianne living in British Columbia. Having sent her a review copy of my novel STRIPPED DOWN RUNNING, she sent me a message with her glowing reviewing, remarking, "I'm going to Oprah in January, I hope to be able to give her this copy of your book."
I replied jokingly, "Oprah! That's awesome. I wish I could come with you."
On a sunny December day, I shouted with surprise when I received this email from Marianne, "I have decided to ask you to join me to Oprah's Lifeclass. Your book really made an impact on me."
Jumping off my chair screaming, much to the shock of my two young boys, I typed, "Seriously? Because I will absolutely take you up on that offer! Seriously??"
"Seriously," was her simple reply.
I started howling, bouncing wildly all over the living room. My oldest son shouted, "Mommy! What's wrong?"
"Oh nothing is wrong sweetheart. I've just been invited to go to Oprah."
He looked at me intently then dropping to his knees to continue playing. "Okay," he mumbled.
Marianne said I was invited on the condition I had personal experience with the topic of "fatherless sons." As a parenting educator, I had worked with some, but wasn't sure it was a fit for me. Then I realized I was raised by one. A fatherless son for the purposes of the show is someone who was raised by either a physically or emotionally absent father.
In my quest to be as prepared as I can for this Lifeclass discussion with Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant, I have been reading books written by fatherless sons and interviewing adults with this experience.
So, my question to you is, What is your experience with fatherless sons? Are you married to one? Raised by one? Raising one yourself? What would you say has been your greatest challenge due to this dynamic? And secondly, what was the one thing you found the most helpful in working through that challenge?
We are going to have a conversation about this over on my facebook page so if you would like to join us, please visit www.facebook.com/andrea.m.nair or search for "Andrea Nair—parenting educator." You are also welcome to leave a comment here.
I will write all about my experience in hallowed Harpo Studios when I return. We are not allowed to offer gifts to Oprah or bring in our phones. DAMN! That means my plan to get my novel in her hands or a photo of us together are likely shot. Two episodes are being filmed while we are there ¾ we have been told to plan to be at the studio between 8am and 2pm that day so I should have time to get creative!
Now to decide what to wear!
Photo credit to dbrekke; Flickr
I have given up trying to be a perfect mother.
When my first son was born, I stared at him in awe thinking okay maternal instincts, you can kick in now. But as months went by, I was sad with the realization I would rather be away from him more than with him. As a psychotherapist, this felt like an extra stab because I was struggling and had the training to help myself—but that didn't seem to be kicking in either.
Today I am so incredibly thankful for that experience because as the years rolled by, baby number two arrived, and more challenges came with lots and lots of tantrums; my need to make everything better focused my career into parenting education. Hey, I learned so much about handling the tough-stuff, why not pass it on!
In the process of not feeling satisfied with just surviving my days — I wanted to thrive, dammit — I came up with some pretty cool techniques, met wonderful colleagues , read lots of amazing books, and found fabulous sources for evidence-based parenting information. All of this helped some of my parenting goals become a reality, and others attainable to reach.
In working toward one of those goals which was to raise children who don't let their anger turn them into assholes or bullies, I experienced just how intensely kids can stir us up. On more than one occasion, I found this posted by desperate mom, "Two-year-old for sale. Cheap." Thankfully I have learned how to pause, making the difficult shift from rage to rationality. Most of the time. Um, some of the time. I would love to share what has helped me with you.
There is no *right* way to parent. We need to stop judging each other. Each parent has different goals, different childhoods, and different skills. We are all in this parenting maze together.
Instead of wanting to be a perfect mother, I want to be a rested one because when I am rested, I can hear my own good sense and have the patience to act on it. I also want to raise kids who can do big feelings without being flattened, handle the world when it gets rough, feel able to be themselves, have the courage to speak up, and love with their whole-hearts. Oh, and attend as many live music concerts as I possibly can, discovering a new favourite red wine along the way. Would you like to join me?