A few months ago I was privileged to attend the fifth annual How She Hustles brunch in Toronto. The organizer, Emily Mills, invited me since many of the people in her network are aspiring writers and interested in learning more about ParentsCanada. How could I say no? (Plus, I love brunch.)
I barely know Emily but it’s clear from those who do, she is much admired for her ability to bring out the best in people and inspire them to get busy.
As I took my seat and tucked into some yogurt parfait, my table mate explained that I should put my “words of wisdom” on this index card that would posted outside the ballroom.
Soon enough, Emily was approaching with the microphone and it dawned on me that I would be sharing my words of wisdom. This was truth time.
I stood up and talked about the pressures that mothers feel to make the right parenting decisions, and the rise of parent shaming through blogs and social media. I talked about the need for parents to shut out all the judgy noise they might get from neighbours, school parents, in-laws and media, and to be confident in their parenting. My words of wisdom were “to be your own best friend”.
I stand by those words, but since writing them, I’ve had time to reflect and refine. I worried that people would take it to mean to be independent and not rely on others. But that’s not it. Assembling your support team of friends and family is crucial to being a successful and happy parent. My husband and I would be nowhere without the help of the “alloparents” who have enriched our children’s lives: besides our extended family, there are dance instructors, camp counsellors, elderly neighbours, teachers, hockey coaches, friends, faith leaders upon whom we depended, and I urge you to do the same.
When I say “be your own best friend”, I mean to treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. If you make a mistake, console yourself, don’t beat yourself up. Take yourself out for coffee. Think about the advice you would give to your best friend, and take it! (Oh, we’re so smart when it comes to other people’s problems, but seldom listen to ourselves.)
At the end of the brunch, Emily confirmed what everyone in the audience was dreading – that this was the last How She Hustles brunch she would be organizing. With a toddler and a newborn, she’s focussing her energy on her family for now. Sounds like she was being her own best friend.
Follow Janice on Twitter @JaniceBiehn
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, December 2014.