As a young woman growing up in the 50’s and 60’s I didn’t contemplate any other occupation than motherhood. It was so much a part of what I expected to do I didn’t give it much thought. It was what everyone did. I looked forward to it. I expected to sail along doing what was required and best because I was made for it. It never occurred to me I wouldn’t know what to do and how to manage.
Don and I didn’t talk much about family and parenting before we embarked on this grand adventure. He was the second child in a family of two children. I was the oldest of nine. He assumed I knew what I was doing and I assumed I knew what I was doing. We never discussed how we would discipline, how we would manage chores, meals, vacations, schooling, the budget, etc. Frankly, it didn’t occur to us we might not agree on everything, we might not have all the information we needed. After all, we were in love, we shared the same faith, and parenting is what everyone did. It couldn’t be all that complicated.
But it was complicated!
Don and I had seven beautiful and amazing children, four girls and three boys. They currently range in age from 27 to 45. I recall with great fondness camping, fishing, sewing, cooking, crafts, Christmas, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, dance recitals, band concerts, baseball games, wrestling competitions and speech contests.
I remember the fun we had – breakfast on the tailgate of our old pickup truck at the park, a block from our home one early Saturday morning; quiet conversations with whichever child’s turn it was to help me weed in the early dawn hours; canning while lots of kids snapped beans and peeled carrots; reading to our children; dinners together, a daily occurrence; bath time, night time cuddles, sitting together at church, filling a whole pew, while tickling backs and squeezing shoulders. These were memorable and satisfyingly ordinary experiences.
I also have seared on my mind the struggles we shared as a family of nine – a husband who traveled for a living, drug abuse, premarital sex and a child born out of wedlock, thoughts of suicide, failure in school, smoking, alcoholism, lack of belief in one’s value as a person, quitting school, abandoning church, a mother who raged and yelled, managing feelings of despair, and coming to terms with same sex-attraction.
When it’s all shaken together and poured out how did we fare? Well, far better than we expected or than you might expect. Don and I had done just enough right and with a full measure of the grace of God thrown in, we all survived and, strangely enough, thrived. We’re connected and bonded in amazing ways. We look out for one another. The kids support each other and lean on each other. We’re still a family!
My story is the story of an imperfect mom. The story of our family is the story of an imperfect family. But over the last four an a half decades I have learned a thing or two about how to keep connecting despite rough weather; how to hold on to myself and not get lost in the business of raising kids; how to keep relationships growing when we can’t even agree on how life should be lived. I have learned to embrace myself with all of my imperfections and to do the same for our imperfect family.
You won’t, and frankly, can’t do everything right as a parent. Your children will struggle as they grow. You’ll struggle to do all that’s required in your chosen vocation of parent. It’s part of the process of being human, of being a parent, of being in a family.
I want to help you experience more joy right where you are, despite any troubles you may have experienced, may be experiencing or will yet experience. I want to help you do things now that will make all the difference for you and your children, regardless of their current ages and your situation. And with the grace of God, it will be enough for your family too. : )
Mary Ann Cazier Johnson was born into a large and boisterous family of nine children and survived to become the mother of seven equally boisterous and busy children. She has been happily married to her husband, Don, for 46 years and has 13 grandchildren aged 2 to 29. She started college at nineteen and finally finished, with a masters degree, in her forties.
Mary Ann has helped thousands of individuals and families to build better relationships. She is the founder of Relationship Transformations for Busy Parents, an online community reaching thousands of people each week. She is the creator and president of Family Connection Mentoring—a service of one-on-one mentoring for parents and their families. She is also well known in the homeschool community as The Home School Coach.
Becoming a Present Parent: Connecting with your Children in Five Minutes or Less is her first book on what she knows and does best – helping children and parents connect. She has been presenting her Presence concepts across the country in workshops and webinars for over seven years.
Mary Ann is a Montana transplant to Salt Lake City, Utah where she lives with her husband, Don. Her favorite pastime is reading and learning.