Pausing To Reflect with Lisa Foster
May 17, 2022

Embracing Our Children For Who They Are

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In this week's episode, join me for my lovely conversation with my friend and colleague Katie Morrell, ABMN Movement Practitioner and mother of an incredible pre-teen daughter. We discuss societal parenting pressures and the expectations placed on ourselves and our children. Katie and I talk about the importance of breaking free from those molds, slowing down from busy schedules, and allowing our children to cultivate their interests freely and organically. Please share your ideas, stories, and support on our Real LIfe Momz Facebook group at Don't forget to follow Real Life Momz, so you don't miss an episode. --- This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast.


Welcome to Real Life Momz. I'm your host, Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast where moms have real conversations, share resources and tell their inspiring stories. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about topics that parents deal with every day and to continue these conversations in our Real Life Momz, Facebook group, where we would love for you to become part of our community. Parenting is hard enough without the external pressures placed on us. This week, I invited my friend, Katie Morell, a mother of an incredible daughter, and a movement therapist to help me discuss, embracing our kids for who they are.

Hi, Katie. Welcome to Real Life Momz. Thanks Lisa. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to talk with you tonight. I'm so glad you came to the show today and I'm happy that you're helping me discuss, embracing our kids for who they are. This is a hard topic. I mean, it's really hard because you're like, what is that? I don't even know. I think it's just coming from a place that as a parent society, places, a lot of pressures on us of what good parenting looks like. I think, you know, for my kids, I feel like, you know, they have to be in certain activities or like, oh, not too much screen time looks bad.

Or like what a feed them. Maybe if they're not organic or they're eating sugar or whatever, you know, it's like all these like bad mom moves that. sometimes I get caught up in these outside influences of what parenting should look like that I forget and lose sight of who my kids are and what they do.

Do you feel that way? You have a daughter, and she's 11, right? Yes. Yep. She's 11 and yeah. I have a little bit of, you know, a different situation with, as far as like typical things that I hope she does or what not, she has some special needs, but there's always, and you, you hear all the time about different things that you should do or that you shouldn't do. You know, it's a tough thing to navigate. I think like, as a mom, what I've learned along the path is following your instinct and then also like letting your kids guide you a little bit.

I don't know how you feel about that. You have, they're very different. I love that you say guide, you know, I don't think I do that enough. So I'm going to go back a little bit because your daughter, you said it has special needs.

Yes. It is a different scenario but there's still expectations. Right? Absolutely. And I don't know. Do you want to talk a little bit about your daughter's background? Yeah, she was, um, she was born with, um, an anoxic brain injury. So we were actually in the beginning, you know, just told a devastating kind of prognosis and diagnosis. And what have you kind of along the theme of what I mentioned before is like letting your kids guide you or following kind of your instinct.

I knew instinctually that she was going to be fine. Now she has an injury. She has issues, but she's also far exceeded anything that doctors ever told us. So, you know, I think in that, like thinking about expectations for her, I had great expectations that she was going to be great and she was going to do well.

And yeah, so she's now a fifth grader. She goes to public school, she's pulled out for specialized instruction, but she's, you know, walking and talking and she's just doing great things and I've met her and she is amazing. She is amazing. And you've been an integral part in her life, like starting in the beginning as her PT long time ago. So yes, yes. I got to be her PT and I have to say, I may have been one of those limiting factors initially because, um, as a PT, you know, I had certain expectations from what I was seeing and offering things that you were really great.

I think what's great about you is that, you know, you don't see limits and you just see possibilities and, and you had a hunch that, you know what, I think there's more and you explored that and that, and that.

And, and I know I was, and we talked about it and I was open to all, I loved that about you.  I remember telling everyone about my experience with telling you that we were going to stop PT for a time and you were like very supportive and you made me feel really good as a mom. Cause you were like, you know what? Every kid has their own path. And some things work for some kids and other things work for others and keep me posted, let me know how it's going. I mean, it felt so good. Like, and I love that. I love that. You said that because as a parent, honestly, like, I'm like, why can't I do that in my own world?

Why can't I tell myself, I know they have their own path. It's okay if they don't need that. Right. Sometimes you need another mom.

Absolutely. That. So, yeah. So thank you. I really learned a lot from just being on the journey with you, but that was really cool, but yeah, I love going back to the guiding. Cause I feel like there's a lot of, and I don't know if you feel the same, but I feel like there is a lot of pushing schedules nowadays, you know, be doing activities, right. They should be so many activities should be in soccer or whatever it is. There has to be anything. Right. you know,  I don't know where it's from.

I'm horrible at quoting things, but I not, uh, I mean maybe six months ago I read something about the beauty of boredom and that boredom is such an important part of learning. And for our children, especially to not be burdened with a million activities and us trying to make them, you know, Excel at everything, you know, just having time when they're not doing and they're allowed to like use their imagination or daydream or, you know, that's massive kind of brain change and growth, then I don't think we value in our society that much.

We're so go, go going all the time. Right. Yeah. And I honestly, so I have an introvert, right. And my son isn't going, my daughter. My daughter will join everything. She is the go, go, go. I can't, and I'm not pushing it because she's just, she's going too fast. She's already gone before I push my son on the exact opposite. He's the stay, stay, stay, you know? And I'm pushing him and what I didn't realize, um, that honestly COVID did for us was because of the whole lockdown, the shut down, there was nothing right. And what I saw was a huge shift in my son when he didn't have to do anything, he loved being home. He loved, you know, being on his computer or, you know, going for a walk or quiet things that didn't involve sort of groups. Um, he started just to shine, you know, he became more animated and I felt horrible, really.

Like it felt horrible because I felt like my son should be in, you know, uh, you know, should be hanging out with friends after school and then going to be in this club or do this. Like, I felt like I had to keep pushing. And I think it must've felt bad for him. Like he must have felt like he was disappointing us because he would always be like, no, I don't want to do that. You know? And instead of like listening and letting, like you say, let your child to guide, you know, we didn't do that. But when we shut down, there was nothing else to do. So now I could let him guide me if you will.

And, oh my gosh, he blossomed into this like human being. That's amazing. Still not a joiner, but he goes now when he goes to school, he's much more confident.

He's much more social, really just changed. And it was that quiet space. That thank goodness was, you know, in a good, bad way. Right. And I don't know if I would have allowed it because I would have been in this parenting mode of go, go, go, totally Lisa, I have a similar situation. And it's interesting. Like obviously everything comes back COVID has been such a huge part of our lives and really an impactful thing that will, you know, affect us for ever.

And we'll always remember this time, but for my daughter, same thing, as far as expectations and filling her schedule and doing a lot of things with her, I was taking her to speech lessons like five days a week for 30 minutes a day. And that's an intense schedule, but I really felt like that was an area where she needed a lot of support and some help.

And over the years, there were times when I went to her speech therapist and I was like, I'm wondering if we should a little break. And, then the speech therapist was amazing and we loved her, but she was like, you know, I don't think she needs a break. I think she's doing great. And she always convinced me that we should just keep going. So then COVID hit. And there was no, no choice. The obvious choice was like, oh, we're not going to do speech anymore. And our therapist came to us and she said, you know, you can do online. And you know, I'd be happy to do that.

And I remember I wanted to appease her and I set up an online session and it went amazing because she knows my daughter very well. And it was easy to kind of allow that to be a successful thing for her.

But in my gut, I was like, you know what? This is like the perfect opportunity to take a break. Like we can do this at this point. And let's just see. And over the course of that summer, my daughter started expressing herself so much more. She started putting together longer sentences, a more authentic expression and thought, and I was like, gosh, you know, like sometimes it's not all about pushing things on our kids.

And it's about just like letting them be like, like your son, he doesn't have to be in these group things. And he doesn't have to always be going and then he can blossom. And my daughter can blossom with time off from stuff, time off it to grow and then having space. And it's funny because we actually, where I work as a therapist yeah. Changed our models. A little bit of that therapy where we would see kids, for years, you know, before years, we're still seeing kids because, you know, they needed it. But what we started doing is doing like more six month blocks where we would see them a long time, but then we give them off. But they do have time because it's so important. You know, it's funny because as a therapist, I can be like, well, it's so important for kids to be a kid and who enjoy their kid without all these things. But right. Once you're, when you're in the parent role it's alot harder.

It's harder to see, you know, you feel, you need to be steering and balance, but maybe it's not. I mean, it's important for us to guide of course, like, yeah, I was talking to my husband before and I was telling him the topic. And of course I was like, this is why you're not on Real Life Momz.

Cause I was getting a little defensive, but he had a good point. Cause he was like, well you need, you need to balance, you know, like a kid who wants to say, be on the computer all day. Like my son is a gamer, right. We need to balance that with going outside and that is important. But who's to say what the balance really is it my job to say, okay, well, you know, more time outside, less time on the computer, like who, who creates that balance. Exactly. And I think just like, you know, in the theme of our topic today and just embracing who they are, I think you're right where just a lot of outside chatter and things that just things that we hear as parents of what, how it should be and how it shouldn't be,  those things come into our head and it's like, oh my God.

Like, you know, and then we lose sight of like our own child and what they're doing right in front of us, you know? Yeah. And I think that's the thing is really being able to listen and then appreciate our kids. You know, I feel like there's all these pillars that are built that I think we try to live up to. And I think when you break them down, then, um, then our kids shine, right? Yeah, absolutely. You know, you you're familiar with my work and my teacher and I'm doing a workshop right now.

And this workshop that she's provided is really for parents and caregivers. So it's less for practitioners, but I decided to take it because I love just learning from her and, hearing her message and whatnot. But one of the biggest things is one of the big messages and themes of the work is from fixing to connecting and it totally fits with what we're talking about right now.

You know, like in everyday life, when we're always trying to like get our kids to do this, do that, what have you it's it's not necessarily that we're fixing them, but we're just trying to like fit them into a box or like mold them or like have them do what we're supposed to. And like, if we just slow it down and take time to connect with our kid and our, our children, I think then like they can shine. They can like become who they want. Then, then we can also discover what their interests are, who they want to be.

It's I think the minute we have a child, I think it's interesting how we have an idea of like what their life may be or what, what we want their life to be. And I think a lot of times it falls very in line with like how our life was like, I loved ballet when I was a kid and I do adult ballet lessons when I can.

And so I thought, oh, of course, I'm going to have my daughter be in ballet. And then she has special needs. And it's like, oh my God. And like the whole boat is rocked. Like I think like in that there's a great lesson of like, gosh, does, does my daughter want to do ballet? Right. Is she even like it special needs or not? Right. Exactly. Like just any kid, like yeah. You know, she likes music and dance, but no, like finally we went up the lines in ballet classes for a while there in the first few are just fun and easy and simple.

And the minute it got to like, actual, you know, uh, positions and she would lay on the ground and be done, like, okay, she doesn't like it, so it's fine. You know? But, um, yeah. Yeah.

Sometimes that's their own, not even outside expectations. Right. But our own, our own wants. Absolutely. Right. And, and I see that all the time. I mean, I always wanted to be a soccer mom now grantedL played soccer for a hot second. I hated it. And I've always wanted to be a soccer mom. I wanted to cut those orange slices so badly, not one plays soccer. Um, hilarious.

And you know, me and I was like, what? And that was me pushing because I want it, I can cut oranges for anything. Okay. Bring them to random soccer games. My kids do not need to be in them. I feel like when you can really let go of that, it is impressive to see how cool your kids are. And even think like, you know, parent teacher conferences, right.

Like, it's fun to hear. I learn a lot sometimes from them. Sometimes I don't learn anything. I'll put it out there. Of course it's five minutes that they talk and like, okay, great. But occasionally I will get a teacher that will say something and I'll go, huh. That's exactly who he is. Oh, wow. You know him that well, and I've been his parent for how long, like, oh my gosh, that's exactly who it is, you know? And um, and I always feel like that's really cool to hear because they're just like observing and they're not pushing.

Right. Totally is. Yeah. And it's just like, again, then like coming back to embracing who each of them are individually. It's really cool to like come to the place when we can, like, and it's almost, I think sometimes like you mentioned, the teacher sometimes seeing things about maybe your son that you're like, wow, like how did they, you know, but I think like stepping out of ourselves as a mother sometimes, and like just looking at your kid is like who they are.

Like, gosh, we have inherent things that it's our job to make these kids into something. Right. No, that's a good point because I do think there's a pressure of where they're going to end up. Right. If we don't do the right steps or have them in the right things totally. But if they don't end up in a good place. Right. And that, that feels like a lot of pressure for me, because I think at the end of the day, what we really need to be doing is whatever the path they are on giving them the confidence, what they're doing is good.

It's just them. They don't have to be anybody else, but themselves. Oh, it's huge. Right. And as far as just self-confidence goes that's, that's it, I think in like my daughter's path and it being different from other kids and a little bit slower and things, that's one thing that I've been able to, um, really recognize is like all the little things along her journey, or however you want to say it, but it's, it's important.

And it is sometimes like, ialmost maybe nothing  to a parent of another child that kind of has an easier go at things. But for us sometimes like the littlest things are like so incredible. And, and I'm the first one there to be her like biggest cheerleader of like, yes, you know, you put a five word sentence together or you are starting to kind of learn how to like run a little bit or you sort of are writing a letter, you know, you know, um, so little things, but they're big and it's important to really make our kids, let them know that we're proud of them and that they're doing a great job, you know?

Yeah. Cause if they can get their confidence in an environment that they feel safe absolutely. You know, then that's going to shine in other areas. Totally.

Sky's the limit then. Right. Like they'll, they'll keep trying other things. So here's a question for you. How would you describe your daughter? What's her true self? Oh my gosh. Like, you know, just in a nutshell she is joyful, like she's just, uh, she's a loving, sweet, caring, empathetic person. Like, um, you know, it's interesting in,  all of the things that maybe one would look at her from the outside in and you know, it's so easy for people to kind of go, oh, they can't do this.

Or they can't do that. Or they're not, you know, whatever, you know, uh, I have an older kind of like a grandpa figure in our lives. He's such a dear person in our family. And he was over at our house not too long ago. And, um, he gets, uh, kind of spasms in his leg and he had this spasm and he had to move over to our couch and sit down and my daughter would not leave his side.

And she just sat with him and had her arm around him and pat her hand on his leg. And she just sat with him until he felt better. And it was so endearing. And so quintessential my daughter, like it was just her entirely. And it's who she is. She just, she cares deeply about people and she feels a lot. And she's yeah. She's just a total joy. I'm lucky to be her mom. Oh, I love that. Yes, totally.

 I could totally see her. Yeah. We'll have to make her a little therapist too. I don't want to put any expectations. She can be whatever she wants right now. She's telling me she wants to be a chef. So who knows? Oh, that's amazing. Yeah. It's pretty fun. I feel like I have less control, become teens, easier to embrace them for who they are, because you don't have as much say.

They will become who they're going to be. And that's kind of an interesting message in all this too. Like eventually, you know, there's only a limited amount of time or kind of as parents, I guess we feel like we do have control over who they are or what they're going to be, but ultimately they become who they're going to be. And so like, let's just start from there and like embrace who they are and be okay. Like, that's, that's an amazing gift that we can give our kids.

I also ask you this, what has been the best way for you to connect with your daughter? Know who she is? Yeah. I mean, I think, you know, for me and my daughter,  it's really like slowing down. It's like just taking time and like, you know, I'm really interested in, especially since she has different issues and she learns in a different way and things have taken slower in general, our path has been slower, you know, it's forced me to really embrace that actually, and then learn from her and give her the time and be curious about her experience.

Yeah. I can't be the ringmaster or whatever all the time. Like I really feel like I have to allow her space to like, show me what she's ready for, what she can do or what she's interested in. And, and then we can like work off of that the minute I'm trying to be like, do this or say we're working on writing or something. I mean, gosh, it's a catastrophe so many times because I'm like trying to impose how we're supposed to do something on her.

And it's just a nightmare, but the minute, like we're, I'm a little bit, I'm like more flexible and open with just what's going on here. And now then like things come out really naturally. And then she is able to kind of show me what she can do and or how she wants to do it, or, yeah, I think it's really in just taking, taking the time and taking the time and listening.

Absolutely. I am thankful for that downtime that I got to learn a little bit more and I think they also grew there that time too. And just like you said, when things slowed down, you know, and I think that's important because I do think we are a society where we are doing it all the time, whether it's ourselves working, or kids going, going, going, you know, I think if we can give any advice is to take a day, you know, whether it's once a week or once a month  and do less and get to know each other.

Absolutely. Yeah. Total gift. I have a girlfriend who has a daughter with special needs and she goes to a thousand therapy appointments a week and whatnot. And the other, I think what it was two days ago or something when we had a really bit of a cold spell and, uh, she posted a picture of her two kids at the kitchen table doing crafts.

And she was like, the cold weather allowed us to cancel afternoon appointments and you know, how lovely is this or something? And I was like, yes, like that's where it's at. Yeah. Right. Like just taking that time and being home and like just allowing the space and slowing down and all that kind of stuff to just like, enjoy our kids for who they are. And I do get that all the time. So as a physical therapist, I do get parents all the time thing, you know, do we need to come every week?

Or can we do every other week? And whenever that's brought up to me, I always like have like a little red flag that says, okay, let's think about this. Cause what are they saying? Yeah. And I, and I always realized that, you know, if it's an infant or a young child, it's kind of like, they need that time just to be a parent.

Absolutely. And if it's one, if it's an every other week appointment and that other week, they get to just be a parent that's part of therapy too, you know, very valuable. And, and now talking to you, it reminds me, you know, they're also getting to know their own kid and seeing improvements because they have the time they're not running the appointment or every single thing. Right. Is there anything else you think you want parents to kind of take away or no?

Oh my goodness. You know, I think we, uh, is, has been such a lovely conversation, you know, I think that, um, just agreeing and coming to the idea that yeah, our kids are like magnificent people. Right. And so like, let's just like allow them to shine, be who they're going to be. And, and yeah. And then just being, you know, being proud of that and embracing them for who they are. It's like, I don't know. I just, I adore my daughter. I can tell you are in love with your children. 

It's so great. So, you know, just, um, yeah. I don't know. It was just a fun conversation. Yeah. I know. Thank you. But I do, I feel like I've learned a lot and it makes me want to listen even more to my kids and not feel so pressured to have expectations of them. Yeah. Agreed. Yeah, absolutely.

Thank you for listening to this episode. I love that Katie reminds us that sometimes we need to slow down all the running around and just let our children grow some days. We just need to take a step back and take time to get to know our kids for who they are. If you are looking for advice, resources, or just need support from other moms pop into our Real Life Momz, Facebook group, we would love to hear from you, and don't forget to follow Real Life Momz. So you don't miss an episode.

Katie MorrellProfile Photo

Katie Morrell

ABM Practitioner

Proud mom of an 11-year-old girl. I am a movement practitioner working with kids, babies and adult with special needs.