Momology: The Art + Science of Mothering
by Shelly Radic
Moms are some of the world’s most resourceful people.
Consider Yamile Jackson. When her son, Zachary, was born 12 weeks prematurely, she invented “The Zaky,” a pair of hand-shaped pillows that could cradle and comfort her fragile son when she was absent from the NICU. Yamile’s creative idea was sparked by her son’s need and perfected by her own persistent research and testing. Yamile calls Zachary, now 8 years old, her Chief Inspirational Officer.*
Raising children inspires and draws out the artist and scientist in moms. As we shape our kids and the world around them, we are among the most creative, resourceful people on the planet. We have to be. Just as Yamile discovered in the NICU, our children look to us for love and comfort. They’re also looking to us for breakfast, lunch and discipline. Well, maybe they’re not looking for discipline, but moms know how important that is to throw into the daily mix.
Moms are artists, composing lullabies for colicky babies, making up word games on a long car trip and intuitively encouraging a preschooler to tell his imaginary friend about a sad experience. And with an old sheet, markers and masking tape, moms can turn a dishwasher box into a race car.
What happens when her kids fight over the race car? I remember testing an idea in which my kids switched off having “first turn” days. When my first test didn’t work so well, I added writing names on the family calendar. That solution brought relative peace for several years.
Moms are scientists, too. When faced with a mothering challenge, we ask questions, research possible solutions, create a hypothesis and test to see if it will work. In one naptime, a mom can ask friends on Facebook about biting and research solutions on her favorite website, and then test a biting deterrent in the afternoon.
Art and science. Although some moms may rely more on one than the other, mothering is most often a complex mix of both. It’s an ongoing, hands-on, creative learning experience, best done in the company of others — family, peers and mentors. Michelangelo couldn’t have painted the Sistine Chapel without assistants. Marie Curie worked alongside her husband and another scientist in her Nobel prize-winning study of spontaneous radiation. An authentic community provides space for experimentation, spurs creativity and encourages moms to persevere.
When asked what advice she’d offer other moms trying to develop innovative ideas, Yamile Jackson said, “First, follow your heart and be passionate about what you’re doing. Then, do your homework. Prepare, prepare, prepare and test before presenting a product to market. Learn about the process of developing a product, and don’t cut corners.”
As together we learn to be better moms, we need to be artists, passionately following our hearts. And scientists, researching and testing, doing our homework as we invest daily in our kids. Shaping great kids is too important for cutting corners.
Shelly Radic is the Interim CEO at MOPS International and lives in Colorado with her husband and their four children. She wrote the 2010–2011 MOPS theme book, Momology: A Mom’s Guide to Shaping Great Kids.
*From “Mom’s Preemie Son Inspires a Hands-On Product,” posted by Tamara Monosoff. Mominventors.com 2010/03/23.
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