This is a story about the power of supporting and validating the women in your life. It is also about the evolution of connection between women.
I met Adrienne nearly 20 years ago when my son, Eric, was only 12 years old and in middle school. Every year since kindergarten I scheduled a beginning of the school year parent teacher meeting to share with Eric's new teacher the personality, gifts and challenges of my painfully shy and extremely bright son...quite honestly, for both their benefits.
This particular year was important as Eric was not only entering a prestigious math and science academy with strenuous requirements, but also struggling with some heavy self-worth issues stemming from a difficult relationship with his father. Meeting with Adrienne, I found she was a bright, motivated young teacher very clearly focused on the needs of her students. What I remember about that day was that I felt confident that Eric would do well in her classroom.
It also did not surprise me that five years later, I would reconnect with Adrienne again when she was hired at Region 13 Education Service Center as a part of our superstar team working with schools awarded the competitive Texas Title I Priority Schools (TTIPS) grant. We did great work together in those years! Still so proud of that! During that time I also watched Adrienne become a mother and it was obvious that her same awareness and dedication to students would be a natural part of her journey as a mom.
Oh, and she was beginning motherhood just as I was proudly sending my son off to college.
What my co-workers didn't really understand back then was that "going on in the background" of real life had been a decade-long confusing journey of fear and loss, constantly trying to gain footing since my very complicated divorce in the year 2001. The long term trauma that comes from raising children with a narcissist does not really allow you to take good care of yourself, emotionally or physically....and in my case, it manifested as cancer in June of 2012. After recovery, I was ready to take my life in a whole new direction, entering a time of self-discovery that would ultimately be the purpose-driven life I have today. Adrienne was one of the few co-workers I continued to keep in touch with through social media. I appreciated that she always sent kind words for Eric. And I had a sense of her blossoming inner strength and was happy to follow and congratulate her in accomplishments, both personal and professional.
Here is where the evolution of connection comes into being.
In 2017, I received a very kind message from Adrienne reminding me of that conference so many years ago. She said ".... I still remember the day we had a parent teacher conference about how to support Eric. I really appreciated your honesty and commitment to support your son. I also appreciated your calmness. I told myself that whenever I had to talk with my child's teacher, I wanted to do it gracefully like you did."
I cried when I read that message. I even took a picture of it so that I would never lose it because, in that moment, it meant so much! Y'see, in that very toxic decade there were a lot of ill-intentioned voices that tried to convince me I was not a good mom. Despite all the time and efforts poured into a young man raised almost entirely by me, suffocating under the weight of those critical voices can really weaken even the strongest person's belief system. In just a few sentences she unknowingly provided a type of validation that I'm not sure anyone else could have given me.
Recently Adrienne and I have been meeting up for coffee. It's no longer a parent teacher relationship or even co-workers. Now we are just two friends having some great conversations about life, where we are and what's next. She asked me why did I reach out to connect in person again. I have a lot of respect for her professional opinion of my work and I envision us working together in some way in the future. The real answer to the question is that I feel like there are more ways for us to learn from and support each other. She is the same bright light filled with endless potential I saw the very first time we met. And yet I see that she doubts herself sometimes. Guess what.... so do I. The evolution of our relationship is a beautiful example that there are no teachers, only students. We all have something to learn from each other.
I'm already looking forward to our next cup of coffee.
I have a few day and evening openings for individual coaching sessions beginning in July, virtually or in person! I’d love to support you (or someone you love) in finding fresh perspectives, busting patterns, creating healthy boundaries, empowering yourself, finding purpose, and just generally living your best life. 1 hour sessions: In Person or Zoom