Little papers, big deal

My “Makin’ It Easy” Centering group has grown used to seeing me wander around with scrap paper and scissors, handing them little slips of paper and asking them to jot down some notes and thoughts for our discussion. I’ve grown very fond of this tactic for starting group discussions.

At Session 4 I asked them to write down goals they had for themselves for the next 1 and 5 years of their lives (besides parenting). Then we talked about their goals, some of which included getting their own place, finishing school, losing weight, and a bunch of other things. And then we talked about how having another baby would impact those goals (and how none of them had a goal of having another baby in the next 5 years), so we then discussed all the birth control options available to them postpartum.

Then at Session 5 I had them write down “One thing I like about the way I was raised that I want to continue as a parent is…” and “One thing I didn’t like about the way I was raised that I want to change as a parent is…” Then we tossed them into a basket, shook them up, and read them out loud. And, true to the nature of this wonderful group, the discussion that resulted was fabulous – heartfelt, fearless, and supportive. Here were some of the most memorable parts of it for me:

  • The woman who was terrified of being a single mother for her son, but remembered her abusive father and was determined that her son’s life will be different. And the group reassuring her that they feel like they know her well by now, and are sure she is strong enough and smart enough to be an excellent single mother.
  • The importance of sitting around a table for dinner – how many of them never did that growing up, but want to now.
  • The group brainstorming about the difference between disciplining your child and being “too strict.” Many of them liked having parents that brought them up with a sense of discipline, but some others felt like their families were overly strict to the point of being punishing.
  • The real-life experiences of domestic abuse – how it can really look and feel. I’ve always said, “You can’t bring together a group of 10 South Carolinian women without having at least one domestic violence survivor in there.” The survivors in the group spoke to those who have loved ones in abusive situations about what they can do to be supportive of their loved ones. And we commiserated with each other about what it feels like to be so hurt and angry about how someone’s treated you or someone you love that you really want to kill them.
  • One person brought up that she wants to be “transparent” with her kids. I had never heard this before except in terms of government actions, so I was surprised about it. It makes sense, though – kids want to know what is going on and why, and they appreciate getting honest answers.
  • That there is NO SUCH THING as the “perfect mother.” We agreed that we are going to be imperfect, but we’re going to try, we’re going to learn as we go, and we’re going to be honest with our kids about it all.

These ladies aren’t having their babies until August, but I’m already dreading missing them when they’re not pregnant and seeing us anymore. They are a wonderful group of women and I am learning a lot from them and very much enjoying their company every two weeks!

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