What was the most surprising thing about becoming a parent?
Other than finding out I was pregnant?! I guess realizing what my own mother had experienced and gaining greater respect and understanding for her. When I asked why she never told me she loved me as a child she said, “Of course I loved you. I made your packed lunches every morning, didn’t I?” That’s fairly typical of a British parent from the ’60s when people didn’t talk about their emotions. But after my son went through a stage of wanting tuna sandwiches and me nearly retching at 6:30am each morning, I couldn’t have a clearer picture of the love my mother had for the three of us.
Tell us about one of your proudest parenting moments.
My little boy (who is now 22 years old and a strapping man) has often made me proud. I admire his compassion for other people despite having had some hard knocks in his life. I have also always been amazed by the workings of his brain. My favorite moment was when I had installed him in his car seat (always a struggle) and remembered I needed something in the house. “You can stay here for a few seconds or come with me to the house,” I told him. Neither appealed, and he let me know what he thought of the choices he was being given when I returned. “Do you want a banana up your nose or pee-pee in your ear?” In other words, it’s no choice when you don’t like either of the alternatives. I still chuckle when I think about how analytical that little brain was and it makes me wonder about what we teach at Echo about the stages of brain development!
Was it difficult for you to participate in this project? What strength did you pull from to get past the fear and contribute?
The only thing that was difficult was knowing how much of my personal story to write. I still have to negotiate the professional world and it could be embarrassing to have everyone know your business (there’s that British upbringing).
Do you believe participating in this project has changed you in any way? If so, how?
Yet to be determined. We’ll see if the board fires me!
What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your children?
Aren’t we learning every minute of every day? Our children do us the very great favor of reflecting ourselves back to us. Often it is not a pretty picture. I just wish I could have learned these lessons when my son was younger, before the unconscious patterns had the potential to become part of his wiring too. However knowing about neuroplasticity, I can only hope that everything I subsequently learned at Echo about trauma and the practice of nonviolent parenting will be what shapes the way my son parents, and that my grandchildren will reflect the hard won lessons of patience, empathy and unconditional love.
When you are not writing or parenting, what do you love to do?
Watch Dance Moms. It’s my guilty pleasure, but no, I would not recommend the way people on that show communicate as something to emulate (but what fun would it be otherwise?)
Louise Godbold is the Executive Director of Echo Parenting & Education. In addition to leading the agency, Louise teaches professional development workshops on childhood trauma and has been part of the effort to position the agency as ‘thought leaders’ in trauma-informed parenting and child-centered trauma-informed practice. Louise has worked for over 20 years in the nonprofit field, both in nonprofit management and as a consultant.
Louise is the author of Last Chance at Normal and is a contributing writer for ACEs Connection.