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Leslie's Parenting Story:

My face lights up when they walk into the room . . . but it wasn't always so.

Travel back with me to 2005 and peek into my home life. It was not pretty and I was not cute. On a daily basis I found myself in pitched battle with a preschool aged "attorney" who was not yet 4 feet tall. I could easily manage the chaos of a busy Emergency Department yet I was outmaneuvered routinely by the 3 year old we let live with us. There were semi-permanent scowl lines embedded between my eyebrows. My mouth was pinched and there was a shrill quality to my voice that was really unattractive. Yelling became my default mode of communication at home and my young lawyer matched me decibel for decibel. I didn't have nearly as many of those idealized moments I had envisioned while pregnant . . . heads bent together, smiling over a puzzle; piggyback adventures into the "jungle" of our back yard or giggling loudly while reading a silly book. I was not happy and my little boy was defiantly miserable.

My Something-Has-Got-To-Give moment came on a particularly brutal morning that can only be described as Norman Rockwell-The Dark Side. It was a school day where dawdling and procrastination had been raised to performance art status. A used Overnite Pamper was "delivered" by one child to the head of the other. A long and crazed chase followed through two levels of our home and even into the garage. Grape juice was knocked over, hit the kitchen walls and looked convincingly like blood spatter. A breakfast bar got trampled and somehow became embedded into a lovely rug that would require $250 to clean if it were ever to be lovely again. High-pitched screams filled the house and the opportunity for a timely arrival anywhere evaporated. All of this had a dismantling effect on my sanity. I stared unhinged at these children who clearly had no regard for me. It seemed like a very good time to BELLOW . . . and I let it rip. Oh the sweet release!

My impressive volume (briefly) tamed my two children. So they were put into car seats and driven to school. I used the-football-hold to muscle my boy, kicking and screaming into his classroom. His parting words to me were these: "You are NOT good at being a Mom!" I then walked his little sister to her teacher, while she whimpered pitiably and did a good job of looking blameless. OMG, I thought, they're going to write a Mommy Dearest book.

My clothes were wet and stuck to me, my "do" was undone, my heart was racing like no workout I had had in months and I felt wholly defeated. At which time I looked up to see a sign seemingly made exclusively for me, offering parenting classes right there at the school. Was this the sea parting? Was the world conspiring to show me the right way? Did signs actually drop into view on cue? So it would seem!

My sanity and my smile were the first dividends from that class. But the biggest return was learning how to see beyond the surface of my kids' misbehaviors and address the issues at their root cause. I learned the importance of trying to walk in their shoes and trying to see through their eyes. That change in perspective was pivotal in shifting my relationship with them and ultimately giving them the mother they needed and deserved. I took the class to find ways to "fix" my hardheaded kids. But I underwent the transformation and as if by magic they were changed too.

The foundation principles of mutual dignity and respect that govern the parenting practices I now teach have had lasting resonance. They have helped me put the heart back into my Mom-Job. I went from just trying to survive their childhood to being alive in the process. I LOVE THIS STUFF! That I have happy kids who trust me with their concerns and accept my guidance is a direct result of that first class. That I see them grow steadily in empathy, accountability and resilience stems from those early lessons. Parenting involves love and patience as well as skills . . . skills that can be learned and developed.

Let me be clear. Messes are still made at my house and tempers erupt from time to time . . . we have not become residents of mythical Stepford. My approach to these challenges is what has changed and what allows me to have peace of mind and peace with my children. I recognize that I am traveling into maturity with them, that my growth and development is tandem with theirs. Daily it is clear that my own quest to be a better person and parent is as much the goal as guiding their journey into responsible adulthood. I share this journey with each class I teach. And each time I teach, I learn something from a parent that helps me see my own kids through better eyes. Parenting is demanding work. But it CAN be a funny and wonderful ride. I can't imagine NOT teaching these classes. I can't imagine NOT sharing what I have learned. I can't imagine NOT having this passion in my life.

Why don't you try to imagine sharing your quest with me? You can ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

Read Leslie's Bio



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