Are the words motherhood and elegance compatible? Yes, according to our dynamic parenting and relationship expert, Dr. Miranda Fernande Walichowski, who explains how mothers through the ages have sought to successfully “have it all” and shares tips for modern day mothering
It seems that today’s motherhood connotes images of frazzled, hurried, disheartened, depleted, and dispirited women. Our lives seem to take on an increasingly externally and internally imposed busy-ness. This pace of life makes the idea of being a mother in the style of Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis an elusive, romantic notion of what motherhood could be. With modern day influences like First Lady Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, inspiring parenting examples persist today.
Audrey Hepburn once said, “I want to have a career without being a career woman.” It was said that her sons, Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti, did not always know that they had a mother who was an icon. Audrey’s sons describe her as the type of mother who made them feel that more than anything they were loved and that they mattered.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was a highly involved mother. She had deliberate and clear expectations for her parenting. She taught her children to be well-mannered, self-sufficient, respectful, and humble. Nevertheless, she was described as highly affectionate, playful, and fun-loving. Her maternal love was palpable to all in the loving and playful glances that she and her son John would exchange.
We pine for the romantic, elegant, and mystique of mothers of an era passed, but those inspiring figures don’t only belong to history. We delight in seeing qualities of that evanescent motherhood in contemporary women too, such as Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton. These women are an ennobling manifestation of what motherhood can still be.
First Lady Obama often champions issues of work-life balance. She is known to express that her primary responsibility is to her daughters, Malia and Sasha. The First Lady upholds her values when she says “I am a mother first.” Furthermore, she creates a sense of solidarity with mothers across America when she describes her insecurities about her parenting. She has expressed that “there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder or worry about whether I’m doing the right thing for myself, for my family, for my girls.”
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has brought a grounded perspective to parenting in the royal realm, as did Grace Kelly of Monaco. Middleton is going against customary parenting expectations and declaring herself to be a hands-on mother. She and Prince William are relying very little on nannies and opting to enjoy the realities of juggling parenting with their commitments.
YOUR PRESENCE IS REQUESTED
What is the secret to having an elegant motherhood? How does one capture that je ne sais quoi of women who brought and bring elegance to motherhood? The underlying quality of Audrey, Jackie O, Michelle Obama, Grace Kelly and Kate Middleton can be described as an attenuating ability to be fully present in the moment. That is what we find alluring about the women who embody the epitome of a mother.
Being fully present in our daily living seems to be a lost art. The world presents an intrusive busy-ness that can impede our ability to experience dulcet moments that can only come from being fully present in our one precious life. How does one hew to the art of being present? Here are a few suggestions:
- When spending time with your child, practice a quietus of all distracting thoughts. A good visual is critical to this step. Picture a box. I like to think of an antique chocolate box with well-aged patina on the hardware and hinges. Make a commitment to store all distracting thoughts in this symbolic box while you are with your child. Having a space to “place” your thoughts of all the things that you need to do, alleviates the brain’s tenacious grip on those thoughts. At first, you may find yourself constantly filling the box with inopportune thoughts. However, clearing your mind will become easier with practice.
- When spending time with your child, try to experience the world through your child’s senses. For example, things look different to a child who is standing three feet from the floor and looking up. You can sit on the floor with them and begin to see the world from their perspective. You can use the other senses to experience the world, just think about how things might taste, feel, smell, or sound from your child’s perspective.
- When spending time with your child during play, ask questions. Children may not answer questions directly or convey their feelings in a concrete way. For example, if your child is having a problem with a friend, there is a way to learn about your child’s true thoughts and feelings. You can ask what their favorite toy (doll or stuffed animal) thinks about a similar friendship dilemma. You will be surprised at how articulate a child will be in expressing his or her innermost feelings and thoughts when they can disassociate from them through play.
- Finally, and this is the culminating mastery point, envision what it is like to be your child. Imagine what truly delights them and why. Anticipate what they are thinking and feeling as you interact with them. The premise is to feel as if you almost become your child to fully understand your child. That is the deepest level of attentiveness and presence that can be had. Experiencing the world through your child’s perspective is the highest form of being present for your child.
Audrey Hepburn was known to say “love is action” and I couldn’t agree more. True maternal elegance requires much love and action. By mastering this technique of being fully present, the next time someone photographs you with your child, do not be surprised at what they will capture. The aura of an elegant mother will be realized in you. There will be something dulcet, a regal elegance, a donning of love that will inspire others to live the only life that matters. The life that matters is the one in which an individual is fully present.