Rachel's Story

As a Parent

Being a mother to an infant came surprisingly easy to me. I fell in love with my son, and 23 months later, my daughter. Besides the sleep deprivation part, caring for an infant’s needs – even the lengthy and inconsolable crying – seemed all part of the job I signed up to do. I have fond memories of being with my kids as babies and toddlers tromping across the floor in a marching band, going to the moon on rockets fashioned by stools, masking tape and string, reading endless books, and exploring outside.

Juggling two was not always easy but it was still manageable, UNTIL… my daughter began to walk and develop a will of her own. The proverbial you-know-what hit the fan for me and my sense of control and patience were tested beyond what I knew was possible. I sometimes found myself angry and I quickly realized that my reactions and strategies for dealing with challenging behaviors were not good for me, my kids, their long term development, or our relationship. 

I had a mature adult brain (or so I thought!), and it was no match for the irrational brain of a toddler. I found myself throwing my hands up in the air in exasperation with no idea of how to handle the many normal but frustrating behaviors, situations, and interactions with my kids. My children’s strong emotions were my strong triggers, and without any tools or much awareness of my own emotional state, I would react strongly to them. This was not OK for me. I knew my go-to reactions weren’t helping my kids grow into healthy adults, and I knew I had to rein myself in. With time, support, and much practice I learned to soothe my own emotions so I could be there for my kids in theirs.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of things I did well with my kids too. It’s just that I focused on the hard times and I wanted more ease, harmony, and confidence in how I was raising them.

 

 

Becoming a Parent Educator and Coach

At the same time, I became fascinated with child development and all the myriad of experiences that mix together to create the adult that a child will someday become. I will admit that really I wanted the golden nugget of truth to raising children – I wanted the answer. I wanted a formula. If I added in half of X, three-quarters of Y, and two Z’s, I would end up with a child who thrived in adulthood. That thrive part was always on my mind. Actually the part about messing up my kids was mostly on my mind. I was all too aware of my family’s past and my present, and just as aware of how both of those could impact my kids’ future. I wasted a lot of time worrying about how I responded to my kids in any given interaction. 

My curiosity about the parent-child relationship and child development, my strong desire to give any child the best possible start to life, and my own personal experiences in being a parent and raising kids led me to go back to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Parent and Family Education. Along the way I was introduced to Vicki’s work through my sister who lives in Vermont. I interviewed Vicki for one of my classes for my degree. I took her “Parenting on Track” dvd class, and I followed her work from my home in Wyoming. While I also incorporate the work from others I have been exposed to along my journey, the more I listen to Vicki, the more enamoured I become with her approach. Vicki has an uncanny way of translating Adlerian psychology into words that make sense to those of us in the trenches. I soon found that her words would pop out of my own mouth when teaching classes or working individually coaching parents myself.

 

My kids are now 13 and 15. The combination of their growth, the learning I did about parenting, and importantly the work I did for myself has made being a parent much more enjoyable. I will admit that while I loved my kids immensely (and still do), parenting was extremely hard for me. I think being in the trenches myself gives me the empathy and understanding needed for working with parents who find they are there themselves. 

I am beyond excited about the serendipity that brought me to begin working with Vicki. I have come to understand that there is no exact formula for raising children (see an article I wrote about that here). There are too many variables, personalities, circumstances and environments. Yet I do believe, and research backs this up, that certain conditions help kids thrive. Strong boundaries, deep love, encouragement, acceptance, connection, sensitivity, and teaching skills are all important for children as they grow into adults, and Vicki’s approach helps you get there!

From wildlife to wild life

I was trained as a wildlife biologist and spent my early career studying coyotes and wolverines in the mountains and valleys surrounding Grand Teton National Park. While learning about and being part of the landscape still tugs at me, my kids drew me toward a different passion. Ten months after my son was born I took a leap of faith – a radical 180° turn – and took a doula training at the Seattle School for Midwifery. I worked with families prenatally, during labor and delivery, and in the postpartum period for over ten years, all the while exploring ideas about parenting and child development. 

I have been teaching parenting classes and working with parents individually since I finished my master’s degree in 2016. I look forward to joining this community and furthering Vicki’s message. Parenting is messy, it’s hard, and it sometimes sucks. At the same time it can be joyful and filled with laughter, contentment, and wonder. We can tip the balance so we feel this harmony more often than not, and it’s often easier done in a community with others. Let’s dive in together!