I’ve wanted to write a tribute to my mother, Frances, for several reasons.
First, because I enjoy talking about her.
Frances is 91 years old, the matriarch of my family spanning four generations. She is vibrant, caring, gracious, active, loved by many and regularly uses her computer and smart phone to send me pictures and text messages.
This month she is starting a tiling project replacing some tiles around her bathroom tub – seriously!
Last summer her project was repointing the bricks of her backdoor steps. Last month she planted flowers in the church flowerbed.
She has survived two husbands – sharing close to 30 anniversaries with each of them.
The second reason I wanted to write this is because when I think about being her youngest daughter I feel lucky and blessed.
Instead of me having moments of defiance I had years of it. Defiance and friction between Frances and me showed up off and on during my teens, twenties and yes, into my thirties.
Yet she never told me how I should live my life, who I should date or even which career to pursue.
However several years ago she told me she thought I would have been a good artist. Her confidence in my artistic abilities was another blessing.
I also wanted to write a tribute to Frances because during my twenties she had a few parenting gems that I now realize match my role as a life coach. Admittedly, in my 20s I didn’t think of them as parenting gems.
During my twenties even though there was friction I desperately wanted my mother’s advice about how to live my life.
I tried to trick her (my methods weren’t very sophisticated – I was 20ish) by asking, so if you were me what would you do? Well if this were your situation…? I know you’re not me but if you were…? So, say this happened in your life how would you handle it?
All to no avail.
I can’t tell you how to live your life.
I do understand and empathize…this does sound like a hard choice.
My life experiences are different from yours.
This is something you will need to figure out on your own.
Well, what do you think you should do?
After I became a mother I realized the strength, patience and constant presence it takes to NOT offer if I were you advice.
I don’t always succeed with my son and let a well, why don’t you…advice slip from time to time.
Only recently during a life coaching class did the two, Frances' parenting and my life coaching, collide.
In a course lead by Terry DeMeo, called Transformational Coaching Intensive, Terry said about the role of a life coach, “We sit, listen and ask questions and the client finds their own brilliance.” This resonated deeply with me.
I thought of my mother’s ability to sit quietly, listen and ask questions while I fumbled to find my way on my life’s path.
I thought of how frustrated I was with her ability to sit quietly, listen and ask questions.
I thought of how I felt like I was moving at a snail’s pace to make decisions that might be right for me.
I thought of how as a mother, Frances should have added her two cents somewhere! Anywhere!
I thought of how over the years I’ve come to learn what I like – lingering in the morning; feel I can’t live without – reading before I fall asleep each night; and could let go of without a second thought – many things that I continue to let go.
My husband calls it being idiosyncratic.
I call it being perceptive, discerning, selective, and insightful.
We are both right.
Frances knew somewhere in me was a voice expressing my own brilliance.
She patiently held the notion that I knew myself better than she did and now I realize that too.
Her questions and non-advice attitude gave me space to figure out what the hell the voice was trying to say – as frustrating, slow and sometimes painful as it was – I trust my voice.
We express our brilliance when we feel safe, supported and unwavering acceptance.
I learned this first hand from Frances.
Frances, thank you from the bottom of my heart.