Last night I attended a Calling All Moms event. This groups stated purpose is “to encourage and support women in the profession of motherhood.” Cool chicks with me! The topic was conflict resolution and the speaker was Nancy Heche (Anne Heche’s mother). I was expecting to learn from the speaker, spend time with other Moms, and enjoy an evening out.

I was touched more by a stranger who sat at my table.

When we (my gal pal Nicole and I) arrived (a few minutes late of course) most of the brightly decorated tables were packed out but there was one with only one woman sitting there. I asked if we could join her. Her name was Nancy and we introduced ourselves and began exchanging small talk.
The speaker discussed the various and inevitable conflicts we all face in our lives and had helpful ways to frame conversations, asking for what you need instead of assigning blame (something too easy for me). Good reminders. What impacted me was when she talked about owning your feelings, how no one can “make you mad” but that is your emotion (even though you may have just cause). Often our feelings are a result of many things in the past that have piled up not solely the current situation. She then gave each table an assignment to discuss conflicts in our lives right now and pick the one that was most representative of us. The discussion at our table turned to a common conflict many of us faced. Our husbands coming home from work late and/or not understanding how much we needed a break after a long day with the baby. We laughed at the commonalities of our experiences whether we worked outside the home during the day or stayed at home with our babies. It is significant how being a mother immediately links you to other Moms. The joys and vulnerabilities that come with this role open communication doors that would otherwise remain surface level.
After more discussion Nancy opened up that her conflict was with her 21 year old daughter. She shared much more about what was going on in her life.
Her 25 year marriage to her husband who pastored a church recently ended in divorce after she discovered he was having an affair. Her 23 year old son is being sent back to Iraq for a second tour of duty and her daughter is not dealing with the divorce well and wants to move out. I could sense and feel that she was experiencing loneliness. Suddenly Jason coming home late did not seem like a conflict at all. I am so grateful to have him as a partner, lover, best friend, and father to Anni. We of course will always have issues to deal with and work thru but I am committed to the process of being married. It really is a process that requires total commitment, sacrifice, and compromise.
At the conclusion of the evening as we were getting ready to leave this woman shared with us from her experience. She was very humble and not “preachy” at all but shared from her heart and out of her own personal story. She told the young mothers at our table that she learned too late that no one but your self can make you happy. “Your husband cannot, your kids cannot, and you cannot put that role on them.” You have to chose time for yourself and ask other moms to listen when you need a girlfriend not expecting your husband to be everything to you. She also said to make sure we were not taking for granted that our relationship was healthy.
I thought it amazing that in the midst of her seemingly overwhelming hardships that she would share with us and have an outwardly focus. When I am upset it is so easy for me to turn inwards. Her willingness to share in the middle of her struggle reminded me of a sermon my pastor gave a few weeks back. He said that struggle and hardship is how God grows us up, how He molds us into the people He wants us to be. I am sure thru her ordeal she had and continues to have moments of pain, frustration, and anger but her openness to seeking healing is what impressed me. I admire her strength and courage.
As we were leaving I asked if I could pray for her because it really seemed that pat answers like “it will get better” and “there must be a reason for all of this” seemed so dis genuine. She touched me and I am thankful she relayed her message to me. I am reminded again that I can chose to be fully invested in my life right now as a Mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, even as I am in rediscovering who I am.

The speaker concluded her talk by sharing that when all else fails in conflict we can chose to offer a blessing. She defined blessing as releasing God’s power to change the character and destiny of the one being blessed. In the Greek bless means to ask God to interfere in our lives. As we choose to bless we also ask God to change us and I know I can use the interference.

  1. Anonymous says:

    so thoughtful, rox!I think it’s really interesting to put together the thought from your speaker that no one can “make you mad” with the thought from Nancy that no one can make you happy. I think it’s true that we have to learn to just like ourselves–learn how to take care of our own feelings–and that doing so makes us more open and honest with dealing with others. Also less needy, and that means we can approach our relationships by just appreciating other people, rather than hoping to get something from them. anyway, this is a really rich thing to think about. thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Your experiences always shape your worldview, including what you view as a challenge and how trying it is to deal with and move past it. At this point in your life, feeling appreciated and validated as a mother is a legitimate challenge. To handle these things with grace as you age and have greater challenges, as Nancy clearly has, is something we can aspire to and achieve by keeping ourselves open-always. What an intense night!