June 16, 2016 —

She’s nothing like I ever imagined – she’s even better. 

I never imagined she would have curls. I never imagined that she would be so pensive and keen, yet so boisterous and witty. I would have never believed you if you told me she would rather watch a Monsters, Inc. movie any day of the week over Minnie Mouse. 

Every day, I sit on the edge of my seat as her personality continues to develop and unfold.

It’s funny how she isn’t exactly how I imagined her to be before she was born, yet I feel like I’ve always known and loved her kind heart and charming essence. To me, she’s perfect. Perfect in the sense that I’ll always be in love with this child, in spite of any mistakes or bad decisions she may make. My heart will always swell for her. But, as this almost 2-year-old becomes more and more inquisitive and venturesome, I recognize the need for constant support and powerful influence to keep her safe, healthy and guided.  

And as her momma, I will always help direct her down the right path, and will try to prepare her to head in the right direction when I’m not around. But, I need help. I need help from God, my husband, my family, my church, educators, neighbors, other parents and caregivers, and any other adult that may play a part in her life. So, from mom-to-mom, parent-to-parent, friend-to-friend and community member-to-community member, I ask you this: 

  • Please tell me if my child is ever doing, or thinking of doing, anything that you think is unhealthy or unsafe. 
  • Please talk to me if you ever think she is in danger of being hurt by someone or something, or is in danger of hurting others or herself. 
  • Please tell me if you are concerned, even if you think I may not be. 
  • Please know that I am a momma bear, but I will listen to you. 
  • Please know that I will take what you say seriously, and even if I don’t agree or respond in a way that you find appropriate – I will appreciate your care and concern for my child.

Often we are told to “mind your own business,” right? But, I am asking you to make my child your business. I recognize that talking to moms, dads, grandparents or caregivers about their child’s behavior, health and safety can sometimes be uncomfortable. Here are a few tips from my perspective as a mom. Feel free to comment with more tips and considerations. 

  • Let’s establish an alliance up front. Let’s agree that we will be open and talk with each other about any possible concerns. Talking about it up front makes it easier and more approachable if and when the time comes. 
  • Don’t put off telling me. Time can be of the essence, especially with risky behaviors. Prevention and early intervention are key to making sure my child continues to lead a safe and healthy life. 
  • Keep in mind that I may have a number of different reactions. I may initially be in denial (but will think about what you said). I may be relieved that someone else is confirming some fears that I already had, but haven’t been able to talk to anyone about. I may be worried, or even unsure of what to believe. The point is, no matter how I feel or react – you did the right thing. 
  • Be honest. Tell me the source of your information, but don’t sugarcoat it and don’t exaggerate it. I have the right and the need to know all of the available information, so that I know how to best address it. 
  • Approach me from a place of love, friendship and concern. Facts and educated opinions are important, but playing the blame game isn’t helpful. As parents, we already place an enormous amount of blame and guilt on ourselves, even for the little things. The last thing any parent needs to feel is attacked or judged. Also, address the issue, but do not label or make personal attacks against the child. Have a conversation, not a confrontation. 
  • I completely understand if you consult a counselor or other trusted professional that can provide advice, help and resources, or if you talk to a police officer if a crime and/or imminent danger are involved. But, please be confidential and limit your discussion on the issue with others. And, please people, don’t post about it on social media. NOTE: I do not read into cryptic and ambiguous posts, so that is not an effective way of telling me. 
  • Offer help, resources or advice if you have any and if I’m open to it. Offer an ear if you feel comfortable listening and I feel the need to talk. 

I’m the first to admit, this would be a tough conversation to have. It’s a conversation I never want to be a part of, as the initiator or the recipient of the information. But, as a friend to other mothers who have lost their children to substance abuse or other preventable tragedies – I know this message is imperative for the well-being of our children. 

And as Rory dives, speeds, crashes and falls into her toddler years, I realize that I have many mountains to climb to help her reach her fullest potential. But, with a great deal of help and open communication from others, I can’t even begin to imagine how amazing she will be. 

Mom-to-mom, we are in this together.