Adoption, motherhood and leadership

I am not maternal. As a kid even, I didn’t seek comfort, even when it was offered. I relished in it in small doses or got enough of it before I could even remember. I don’t ask myself about the past. Not anymore At least. Instead I’m finding my balance to do well in my late 30s.

Imagining the future, I thought I would be a mom of boys because of my more distant temperament. But God saw fit to give me daughters. Who inherited none of our genetic code. They express their love in lavish ways, and ask for love in return. Loving them has been more fun and easier than I thought.

This year I wanted to run wild. I am responsible and committed, and I never give up. But my determination was tested to the bone. Questioning myself so much became mentally exhausting. A sense of humility on the journey of parenting is essential, because we never arrive, we were know in full, and even if we would not change anymore (which is impossible) our kids change, out of their control and ours. I’ve been a youth leader, and because it was my first experience in a leadership role, it was challenging, but not nearly as hard as the years that followed. I didn’t know how much I don’t know. The obliviousness made the journey sweet. My intuition was unaltered and my heart was true. I just didn’t have all the skills and confidence that come with experience.

In the professional world, I felt many eyes watching, and I had to refine my skills fast, and apply them with professionalism. The people were harder to inspire, and I was stuck with them. Many, most of them were older than me. But I had my own leaders to listen to or lean on.

Then came parenting. It tested everything I knew. It was sweet as a mutual agreement. As my daughter would say when she was five, being a boss means to take care of people and tell them what to do and sometimes show them how to do it.

For about a year, to end nonsensical disagreements in the house we would ask: “who is the boss” and she would say the parents are. We stopped talking about who is the leader of the household, but maybe we should.

This year my eldest daughter tested all my patience, till the last ounce. I have wanted to throw in the towel, and it scared me, because these are the little issues. What will it be like in 10 years when she is 17? You think I exaggerate? Have you had to work with a kid to do scoliosis stretches for a year straight? Without evident results, and without an end date in sight. How do you motivate someone who has lost interest or faith in the exercise. Being playful is not my forte. I motivate with seriousness. But let me tell you: I’ve gotten to the other side and counted my wins where I could, motivating with a playful approach, encouragement, shoulder to shoulder exercising, swimming, kineto-therapy, doctor appointments. I’ve relaxed some. I try not to nag. I empower and I support. And I see a change in her attitude of late. As my heart softened and allowed for empathy to be felt through the bone.

This is the hardest exercise in leadership I have ever had to go through. And to be honest, a maternal instinct applies to helping my daughters feel safe, inspired, led, as much a a group of grownups who look up to you to guide and protect.