My children called my mother Nana. She was my rock, but she died in 2007. And I miss her every day. Still. I have had time to reflect on my personal upbringing, and I now believe that Nana was a closeted Momma Addict (MA)!
My mom worked full-time at Sears & Roebuck and retired as a successful manager; nevertheless, she attended nearly all sporting, academic and social events which involved all four of her children. I always knew that I could look out into the audience and see my mother smiling up at me while I performed. But seriously, whose mom could resist hearing her child playing cutting edge symphony music on a clarinet?
I believe Nana showed me that working full-time outside of the home did not impact her ability to be fully involved in all aspects of her kids’ lives. She knew our friends and everything we were involved in; therefore, Nana appeared to be the all-knowing, all-powerful Wizard of Oz!
She was unfailingly present at my school events and activities as well as attending the field hockey, basketball and soccer games of my three siblings. Perhaps my memory has become fuzzy over the years, but I recall Nana being extremely involved in all aspects of my life and decision-making. As an adult, I could bring up any topic, and she would immediately begin a discussion about why it was or was not a good idea. She would recall details of my life that I could barely remember.
I do have to acknowledge that because I was the baby of the family, it is possible that I received an extra dose of her MA behavior. Or maybe I recall her extensive involvement in my life so clearly because I am her only child who bore children; consequently, she was simply unable to retire from being a MA.
All I know is that Nana seemed like a superhero. She knew things before I could tell her. It was weird but comforting. She also knew exactly how to get me back in formation when I drifted off course. Nana was the sounding board I need to keep me balanced. When overworked with work and kids and life… I would call her to vent. We would talk for hours.
My young daughters often ran into my bedroom and saw me propped up on the bed talking on the phone, wildly gesturing for them to not make so much noise. They would climb on the bed, play with toys and wait for me to hang up, which I did not do quickly enough for them. They left to find other things of interest to do and later returned. Irritated voices moaned to me…
“Is that still Nana?” Yup.
They knew that it was going to be a long night; consequently, daddy needed to be enticed to play or they simply needed to enjoy each other’s company. I was getting recharged and re-balanced. At this point in my life, I can appreciate that those marathon phone calls served the purpose of getting my MA fuel tank reloaded!
Nana was also an excellent referee for determining if my MA actions were within a reasonable range or not. At times, I obsessed over something that one of the girls did that pushed me near the edge of losing control. I explained my plan to redirect the behavior and sought her approval to jump in…head first! I loved getting confirmation that my actions were justified.
But I often was overruled. Nana could stop me in my tracks and redirect MY actions with two words: “Now Debby …”
Quiet. Calm. But there were definitely undertones of steel in her voice. The tone told me to rethink my course and to get back in formation. Unquestioningly and unhesitatingly, I reassessed the situation and gave another point of view a more fair assessment; and then, readjusted my attitude.
Yes, I was a grown woman who could be immediately subdued by an expert MA command!
Now to be clear, Nana’s tone was not the same tone that was used by my grandmother, the original Nana. Old school Nana would belt out a loud “Deborah Ann” which resulted in an immediate head jerk followed by a heart racing full body turn. This tone made me run out of the fear of God. These old school commands were effective but much too harsh for my liking!
The phrase “reeling your kids in” with your words is an old school term. I am old school. And, to be honest, I dearly miss having cues to get back in formation. For the past 10 years without my mother, I have felt like a young toddler sprinting naked in the back yard. I do what I want! No rules! No checks and balances.
However, I believe life works better with checks and balances. I cannot imagine how things might have been different if I still had access to Nana, my personal MA, to help me guide and shape my girls. To help keep me from obsessing and over-reacting to things. It’s a different era to raise kids; however, having a trusted voice of reason to tell me, an accomplished surgeon, that my thought process was flawed. Priceless.
Life is full of challenges for all of us, and we have to do the best you can with what we’ve got. Some of you didn’t grow up with a mother as she may have left early in your life for some reason, or you may be estranged from your mother with a poor relationship. You just need to forge ahead and do the best you can.
But you’ve got to find a way to check yourself. Just reading books or a favorite blog doesn’t give you all of the answers. No one author, not even your favorite parenting guru, has all the answers. There are very few absolutely clear answers when it comes to parenting; therefore, I suggest that you find a person to help you check yourself.
Someone who checks your thought processes before you head too deep down a wrong rabbit hole. A person who can help guide you to get back in formation. A loving woman who can be your Nana.
The Nana effect is powerful. Mothers are fierce in their determination that they are doing the best for their child. They often are blinded by their beliefs and argue that their path is the BEST path. Let me remind you: there is no best path.
I need young moms to understand that they should research and make their own decisions; however, they need someone in their lives who will balance them out. Keep them in formation. Not someone who simply supports their choices, but someone who can make them look at the other options in a more objective way.
3 ways the Nana effect is important for mothers everywhere
1. The Nana Effect calms you down
When you are fighting and spiraling down a rabbit hole, fiercely clinging to a belief or plan, your Nana will make you stop. She will talk in a soothing fashion and slow those emotions. The Nana effect is almost hypnotic. You are compelled to quiet your racing thoughts.
2. Nana can make you truly listen to other points of view
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who disagreed with you? And you find yourself waiting for a turn to argue your point? Well, you are not really listening to their point.
A Nana can effectively argue BOTH sides of the situation and bring up the true pros and cons. Sometimes it can take your breath away when you realize the other option is not as awful as you had thought.
3. You are sent back to fix the situation
Whether you decide to change your final position or not, Nana will turn you around and send you back into the situation to fix it. Perhaps you will apologize for not listening. Or better explain, with less emotion, your point of view.
Either way, once the Nana effect has taken hold of you, you will feel empowered to handle the situation in a more objective mature way.
If your mother is not in your life or is unable to serve as your Nana, I encourage you to look elsewhere. Motherhood is hard and having a Nana to help you during the tougher times is invaluable.
I view my MA role in three potential phases. The first phase, which consisted of raising my girls from birth to self-sufficient women, is nearly complete. Nana was present to help guide me for part of this phase; however, as an empty nester, I now need some self-reflection to rethink my thought processes going forward. I want to be sure that I am back in formation and tuck away any excess MA tendencies before entering my second (single adult children) and third (potential grandparent) phases.
I believe that becoming a content creator is serving as my new checks and balances system. The simple act of writing my thoughts or speaking my truths out loud has helped me acknowledge and accept what I have done well and what needs to change. I am researching on my own and finding those other options This blog is my new Nana. Make sure you are using your Nana as well!
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