Sunday, May 19, 2024

Episode #78: Parenting Challenges: A Mother’s Story of Finding Her Value

Special needs parenting is hard! You can get lost in the process of helping your child through all the stages of growing up, and many parents lose themselves along the way. Our guest in this episode, Megan Gibson, understands how parenting challenges can cause a special needs parent to feel like they get lost along the way, and she’s made it her mission to help others find the freedom to be themselves. During this interview, Megan emphasizes the importance of staying true to your values and vision as a parent, even in the face of criticism or uncertainty. Throughout the conversation, Megan discusses her relationships, both past and present, highlighting the importance of surrounding oneself with supportive people who share your values and vision. She also touches on the difficulty of the transition when your children become more independent and offers guidance on navigating this challenging stage. Overall, Megan's journey is a testament to the power of resilience, self-awareness, and the importance of staying true to your values as a parent. Her story is not just about parenting; it's about personal growth, transformation, and self-discovery. Megan's willingness to share her experiences is both heartwarming and enlightening, offering hope and guidance to others on their parenting and self-improvement journeys. 📣 Connect with Megan: WEBSITE https://freedtobeyou.com/ PODCAST https://freedtobeyou.com/podcast INSTAGRAM https://www.instagram.com/freedtobeyou FACEBOOK GROUP https://www.facebook.com/groups/freedtorediscoveryou YOUTUBE https://www.youtube.com/freedtobeyou Learn more about Water Prairie: https://waterprairie.com Are you getting our newsletter? If not, subscribe at https://waterprairie.com/newsletter 👉 Support our podcast and help us share more incredible stories by making a donation at Buy Me A Coffee. Your contribution makes a significant impact in bringing these stories to light. Thank you for your support! https://BuyMeACoffee.com/waterprairie Music Used: “LazyDay” by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ Artist: http://audionautix.com/

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Show Notes:

Special needs parenting is hard! You can get lost in the process of helping your child through all the stages of growing up, and many parents lose themselves along the way. Our guest in this episode, Megan Gibson, understands how parenting challenges can cause a special needs parent to feel like they get lost along the way, and she’s made it her mission to help others find the freedom to be themselves.

During this interview, Megan emphasizes the importance of staying true to your values and vision as a parent, even in the face of criticism or uncertainty. Throughout the conversation, Megan discusses her relationships, both past and present, highlighting the importance of surrounding oneself with supportive people who share your values and vision. She also touches on the difficulty of the transition when your children become more independent and offers guidance on navigating this challenging stage.

Overall, Megan’s journey is a testament to the power of resilience, self-awareness, and the importance of staying true to your values as a parent. Her story is not just about parenting; it’s about personal growth, transformation, and self-discovery. Megan’s willingness to share her experiences is both heartwarming and enlightening, offering hope and guidance to others on their parenting and self-improvement journeys.

📣 Connect with Megan:

Are you getting our newsletter? If not, subscribe at https://waterprairie.com/newsletter

👉 Support our podcast and help us share more incredible stories by making a donation at Buy Me A Coffee. Your contribution makes a significant impact in bringing these stories to light. Thank you for your support!

https://BuyMeACoffee.com/waterprairie

Music Used:

“LazyDay” by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Artist: http://audionautix.com/

*******************

Meet Today’s Guest:

Megan Gibson is an Identity + Alignment Coach, Podcaster and Writer. An expert in the transformative journey of deep self-discovery, Megan’s specially formulated one-to-one process guides individuals to uncover deeply held intrinsic values and unique gifts. As a mother with grown up children, she understands the importance of leading by example in a world that lacks authenticity and vulnerability. Through the Freed To Be You Podcast, Megan inspires women to imagine a life and business where they no longer have to pretend to be something they’re not. Instead, she empowers us to embrace our authentic selves, step out of self abandonment and into full self expression. As a speaker, Megan shares profound insights and practical tools for unlocking personal clarity and emphasizes the importance of aligning one’s life and business with your values and vision, enabling you to take ownership and create the life you desire.

 


Episode #78: Parenting Challenges: A Mother’s Story of Finding Her Value

(Recorded August 7, 2023)

Full Transcript of Interview:

Tonya: Meg’s welcome to Water Prairie.

Megan: Thank you for having me.

You’re welcome. We, um, if you’re listening, um, Megs and I met about a week ago. Well, we met before that, but we, we recorded another podcast about a week ago. And um, and I’ll link that one in the notes here.

So if you want to hear the other side of this conversation on, on that one, it, um, it was, it was a fun, a fun time getting to know each other a little bit more. And I’ve been looking forward to continuing our conversation on this one. So, um. So listeners, we’ve been, if you’ve been following us for this season, we’ve been asking each of our guests to come in with three facts to kind of get you a chance to get to know them a little bit better.

And Megs has agreed to play our game of two truths and a lie with us today. And so she’s gonna be sharing three facts or pseudo facts, however you want to look at it. With us and your job as a listener is to decide which of the three is actually a lie. And you can either put your comments in the YouTube, um, comments down below, if you’re watching that.

If you’re listening or reading on the website, then you can go to our social media, to Instagram or to Twitter, and leave your guess on the, on the post that matches this episode. So Megs, what are your three facts that you wanna share with us?

All right. So first one is that I started out as a hairdresser. The second one is that I hate the outdoors. And the third one is that I was a vegetarian for four years.

Wow. Okay. So there’s a very different types up there.

Our topic today, um, is a little bit different from what we’ve done before. I wanted to focus after, after meeting Megs and talking about what she’s doing with her podcast, I wanted to bring her on and to talk a little bit about the health of our parents, because a lot of times we tend to lose ourselves.

In focusing on, on these little bundles of joy that come in with sometimes a lot of questions and, um, and if you’re a parent who’s listening to this, more than likely you have a child who has some extra questions involved. And so I thought we’d start, Megs, by having you share your personal story as a parent.

And then we’ll kind of jump off from there. So could you tell us a little bit about like your, your, your own journey? Cause you have more than one child. You’re going to be surprised, listeners, to hear how many she has.

Well, I have three that I have birthed myself and I have, uh, four that I’m lucky enough to, uh, to bring up with their dad. So seven all together now. Most of them are over 15 now.

One little one that’s eight. So it’s, it’s a busy house, but it obviously started out with one of those. Uh, so I actually became a mother when I was 23, uh, 24, my bad. Uh, and I always wanted to be a mom. It’s just something that I know not every woman is like this or not every girl is like this, but when I was little, I always wanted to be a mom and I wanted to be a great mom, of course.

And so. Um, I’m not, I don’t regret starting that journey at that young age at all. I was already married for nine years by that point, so I started early.

Nine years.

Yeah, I know. Yes, I was a baby. Um, so yeah, when he, when my first one came along, I. I just felt like I remember holding him and just feeling so the only, like someone said, how do you feel?

And I said, clever. That was just the word that came to mind. Like I just created this and birthed this, you know, he was eight pound five. I think it was, uh, so he’s a big bundle of perfect perfection. Um, and he was the most calmest baby and. It was amazing. And I, I did leave the hospital though and struggle to, um, to feed him and with a number of other things.

I was away from my family at the time. And, uh, he’s 21 in October now. So this is a long time ago. Uh, you can do the math and work out. But I, I did end up with, uh, with postnatal depression. And so that was a journey in and of itself for me as I’m becoming a mom. Um, but Riley, my oldest one, is still very calm, uh, loving, empathetic, giving young man.

Uh, and so he was my eldest, and then about 19 months later, I gave birth to my second son. Now, backing up a minute, I all, I really wanted a daughter as well. I wanted one of each. I actually ended up wanting four until, uh, I share the next part of my journey. Yeah, I always wanted a daughter. And so when I found out halfway through, when I had the scan found out that he was a boy, I was upset about that.

And so then I think my, my postpartum depression started before I had him with, with him because I felt so bad for feeling that way. Right about, you know, uh, and so the reason I shared this part of my, that part of my journey is because it really, I don’t know that I got over that until a lot later, um, because it did, it did.

Creep back in often that those down feelings and those feelings of not being a good enough mom and not being good enough in general, and so when Levi was born, it was pretty traumatic. His entry to the world was more traumatic and that he actually broke his collarbone During the birth. So that was and I’ve always kind of thought that You know, that, that has contributed to some of the things that he’s struggled with in his life.

I don’t know if you’ve looked into any of that, but I’ve definitely, you know, found studies that, that have proved that a difficult birth does tend to, you know, contribute to things later in life. So, but I, I loved him immediately, of course, uh, and I fell back into that, that role of trying to be the best mum I could be and get through my, you know, how I was feeling about it.

Um, And, as he got older, I found that he’s different, different to Riley. He was a lot more spirited, even as like a toddler. He was a lot more get up, he had a lot more get up and go. He was a lot more, um, assertive in the things that he wanted and didn’t want. Uh, which, you know, I just thought, well, they’re just different.

They’re all different. And I didn’t think anything about that. Until he, uh, was around four and not to get controversial, but I feel like he immediately changed overnight when he had his four year old immunizations in Australia. That’s all. And I, I know that that’s different to you guys, but we have like, there’s a whole bunch of them that they have at four and I, I noticed him change.

He started having, um, meltdowns that were this, just, it was, I mean, if you’re listening and you’ve had a, you have a child who’s literally just broken down in front of you and you have no idea what’s going on or what’s caused it or how to deal with it. And you already felt how I felt about. Being a mom, which is the opposite to how I dreamed about it as a girl, uh, it was really, really hard.

And so I already had another child by this stage, my third child, who was the daughter that I wanted, and she was as calm as the first one. She’s even calmer than, um, my oldest one. And so that’s when I kind of realized, like, something’s not right here. Uh, and it was around the time that he went to kindergarten.

Um, obviously, like again, I’m not sure when your guys go to kindergarten, but in Australia they go at four and he didn’t want to leave me. He didn’t want to, he was just, he was this child who was full of contradiction. Like he wanted to do everything himself and he wanted to do everything his own way, but he never wanted to be away from me.

And so there was this real separation anxiety that took place. And I think now knowing what I know, it was just that he, he didn’t. the world the way that we do. He, he had, he has, and still he’s 19 now, very, uh, tunnel vision on how he thinks things should be. And he’s always been like that. So he, um, he struggled going into school and that’s kind of when I, when I started to, to think, look, there’s something not right.

And perhaps we should, um, you know, see if we can get a diagnosis because he started. You know, preparatory school the following year, and there was no way he was going to get any help without that. Again, that’s how it is here. So, I did start going down that road and had this real contradiction, which I now understand a lot more having done some of the work that I’ve done on myself and now do with others.

I really didn’t want to have a label for him. Uh, but I did get a diagnosis and he was diagnosed with high functioning Aspergers and ADHD. And so he’s, he’s really, he’s still a very emotional child, like, as in, like, he’s, he’s a lot better now, obviously, but at that point he was very emotional, he didn’t, he would, one minute he would be fine, and the next minute he would be, you know, on the floor, or throwing things, or whatever, and so one of the things that I really struggled with, At that part in the journey was how that reflected on me.

And so there was this kind of like circle cycle that I would get in where I’m trying to help him. And this stuff would happen in public, it would happen in, you know, in the schoolyard or in the, you know, waiting to go into class, coming out of class, a lot coming out of class because he was just so overstimulated.

Uh, and so I felt, I started to feel ashamed of it and really it affected my, how I viewed myself and then that in turn affected how I parented and then it was just this cycle of, You know, not very nice feelings, which, as I said earlier, were never really dealt with as well as they could be because I had started, you know, with that depression that I had after becoming a mum.

So. Yeah, like that was kind of my, my intro into this world that we’re gonna dive into a little bit more. And so it really did affect what the dream and the vision that I had. Of what my journey through motherhood was going to be like, and what type of mother I was going to be, and, uh, you know, all the things.

And I, you talk about, you know, dreaming when you’re little, I think, I don’t know. I, I, I meet women who didn’t have that, but from the time I was born, it was like, I was going to be a mom one day. That was just how it, you know, I took care of everybody else’s children. I was, my mom talks about me being like 10 and 11 and all the children in the neighborhood be following me around everywhere because it was just, I was, I was the one everybody called to babysit.

It was just. Just that, that mom and um, and so it, I think a lot of times that is hard, especially when we end up with a child who has a diagnosis of some type, it, it goes against what we, what we pictured. Um, so, um, and then here you have three children and you’re still young, you’re still in your twenties during all this time with it.

Um, so, so to clarify, so in the States when the child turns five by September 1st, they start kindergarten. So you start. During preschool really, what, so some of ours will go to preschool and some will stay home until that point. Um, if our children have been diagnosed with a disability, then they will go at three to a public preschool, where they help to kind of get them ready, and that’s where they can provide therapies that they need during that time.

That’s amazing.

And then you talked about the preparatory, is that the next year after the kindergarten?

Uh, yeah, so prep is, uh, like your preschool. So we have kindergarten and then we have prep, preparatory, yeah, and then grade one. And so, uh, yeah, so we have a kind of.

So here it would be a preschool, a kindergarten and then grade one.

Okay. So just to kind of figure out where, where we are during that time. And then, um, so you don’t have the earlier MMR vaccinations at all. You have them later.

We do. We do.

You had them earlier too.

Even with a whole bunch of other things at ball.

Okay. So, so before they go into this public setting, they’re getting all their vaccinations ready, I guess.

Okay. So just to kind of, kind of put all that together. The majority of our listeners are in the U. S., but we do have them around different areas. And as we’re finding, whether you’re in Canada or wherever you may be, everything’s a little bit different. And what our. processes if your child’s in the public, uh, educational setting.

So thanks for clarifying that. So, so at this point, so you’re in your mid to late twenties now you have three children at home. You have a diagnosis. Now, how did you wrap your head around? Did, did you understand anything about Asperger’s or about autism at that time?

No, but I am somebody who. It is a bit of a sponge.

I love to learn. Okay. I like to understand how, uh, things work and why they are the way they are. Right. Um, I’m like that with human beings too. We’ll talk about that later. Um, but I, I did. I wanted to fix it because I was struggling. I didn’t know how to handle it. Um, I was, you know, on that cycle. So one of the things that I was very lucky to be pointed in the direction of this place called, they’re called Minds and Hearts and they specifically work with kids on the spectrum.

And so they met with the parents and the children separately and together, so I would have, um, half an hour to sort of talk to, to the therapist by myself. And that’s usually the point where I would cry a lot, uh, and write everything out and tell her how it’s been since the last session. And, um, and then she would have, uh, a good half an hour with him and he would, they would do, um, that he would have a chance to talk without me there.

Um, but he would also do, and this is from like when he was like five years old and they would do, um, drawing and play games and, and, you know, set up, focus on strategies to help him deal with the world around him, basically, um, more than, more so than deal with himself as to help him understand the world because one of the things that I’ve, uh, I came to learn is that they, they don’t really see things outside of their own, um, The way they see it is the way that it is.

So when things aren’t that way, that’s when they get triggered. Right? So she taught him how to understand the world around him so that he could relate to it differently. And I really loved that because I feel like that’s a very growth mindset space to be moving into immediately with this. So it was a really good organization.

I know there’s a lot of different ones out there and different ways of, you know, helping, uh, helping kids and helping parents, but I really loved their approach. Uh, and then, as he got older, and he started, uh, getting those boosts of testosterone that little boys get, then he started getting a little bit more, um, I don’t want to say violent, because he’s not violent.

He just, he just, it was, he was bigger, and he was louder, and it was more assertive, and so therefore it needed. different kind of attention, right? Because you can get out of hand. And so I was recommended go and see a pediatrician and they decided that they would put him on some medication. And let’s just say it was the worst nine months of my life and his, uh, without going into too much detail because I want to get back to, you know, what we’re talking about, but he ended up going from, you know, everything that we were dealing with. He would be, I would give him the medication in the morning, and then he would go to work, go to work, go to school, sorry, go to school, numbed out, and by the time, it only lasted six hours, by the time he got home it had worn off and Everything that he didn’t have, hadn’t had to deal with during the day hit at once.

So it was just a nightmare. So then they put him on another one that didn’t wear, wear off. And he wasn’t, it was actually for children, he was only 8 or 9 at the time. And you weren’t supposed to have it unless you were 14. He was also quite small, so they kind of, you know, had to cut the, the tablet up so that it was the right dose.

And anyway, long story short, he ended up suicidal. And that was terrifying. Yeah. So we got him off of that real fast. And, uh, and, and I actually. They said, you can’t take him off it, um, quickly. You need to wean him off it. Otherwise this can happen and that can happen. And I basically went home and threw them in the bin and let him run around in his underwear for six months.

We pulled him out of school and, and he was fine. He was fine. So I think what I learned from that was that I know my child, even though I didn’t understand what was happening, I learned a lot, a lot about what was happening. You have to go with your gut. I really learned to trust my instincts as a mom through that journey because it, yeah, there’s so many people that are speaking into your space, like different experts, different doctors, different therapists, and we have to trust our instincts.

And so I really had to learn how to do that as a mom because we do that anyway, whether we have children like that or not. And so I really had to do that one. And the biggest thing that was always playing in the back of my mind is how this was affecting my other two Children because I, my life revolved or our life revolved around, um, around him.

So, you know, they, they got the scraps of me a lot of the time because I really felt like that. And so then I had to deal with that, how I felt about that as well. Yeah. And so getting that education and understanding what was happening, uh, for me, it allowed me to tap into my own instincts as a mother. Does that make sense?

Yeah. Absolutely. We, we talk a lot of times about, and almost all of my parent interviews have been similar with us where you come to the point where you have to learn to go by your instincts. As, as, as you said, you know, your child you’re with this child 24 hours a day. A lot of times, you know, more of what, what’s going on. And you have a better chance of hearing what your child’s telling you than someone else because you can, you can read between the lines sometimes. And um, and so I, so a lot of, a lot of parents are saying the same thing. I came to the same thing myself. So um, so yes, I, I appreciate you pointing that part out because I think our new parents need to hear that they can trust themselves and um, they, they may need to get some education as they’re going through this, but, but they, they have a, as you say, a gut instinct.

They know kind of where they’re going there.

So, um, so thinking of it that way, how can parents find the balance between caring for the child, and as you say, not only caring for their child, but for their children, in your case. And. And many of our parents and also nurturing themselves because you’re so vested in him. And it sounds like at this point you were just so focused just in trying to help him survive because he was having trouble with the medications and with getting that balance.

And I’m sure. With just the insane, intense reactions that were happening with that first medication by the time he’s home and trying to do homework and family time, it affects everything. How do parents find that balance between all that care and the energy they have to put into their children and taking care of themselves and their own interests and their own passions?

Oh, that’s such a great question. As I got further into the journey and he got older and like after that medication, like after that point where we got him off everything in that six months that he was home. I changed his diet. I started to look for more, because it was medication, right? So then I started to look for more natural ways that I could help him because obviously that was something was happening chemically in the body, which is why they were trying to fix that.

So I started going down that road and as I got more into that space, I learned a lot about my own Mental health, my own physical health as well and what, the anxiety that I was dealing with because I would have so much anxiety, uh, about what was going to happen at any given moment, obviously as he got older, not so much, but definitely in this particular part of the journey that I was just referring to that I couldn’t even deal with myself.

So I had to deal with myself though. And so when we had that six months where we just had a reset. And all my kids, I took them all out and I homeschooled them all for six months. Um, I didn’t make them, they all wanted to do that. So, that’s what we did. And we had so much fun. We had so much fun because all the pressure of having to make lunches and be there at a certain time and um, do homework and do all of these things.

They were gone. And so I got a chance to be with my other children and I got it and they got a chance to see Levi differently as well because He didn’t have all those added pressures So we kind of flew under the radar a little bit and we just did our own thing for six months and then We looked at food and we, we cooked together and we all went on that journey together and everything changed after that.

So I’m not saying that we never had another issue. We did, but I approached them very differently. And one of the things I uncovered was that I needed to focus more on me. So I needed to make sure that I was doing something. Outside of, uh, you know, outside of looking after him and that I was looking, uh, spending quality one on one time with the other two and all of that.

And so one of the things I did, and that’s not in everyone’s capacity, but at the time I was able to do is I actually got an au pair. So an au pair is a nanny that comes to live with you. So I invested, it was 12, 000, Australian dollars, for the year. Uh, I didn’t have to pay it all at once, I paid it each month.

Uh, for this, this girl to come and live with us. She was from Germany, so she was very strong, which was a very good thing. Um, but she came and, and lived with us and became part of our family. And she, I, I still tell her this now, she’s just got married herself. And, uh, she’s in her thirties now, but… She saved my life because it allowed me to, uh, to focus.

I had a little side hustle that I’d started on the side and it allowed me to go out and. Um, and have time for me and achieve something again and feel like I had something outside of everything that was going on. It also at the time, I haven’t really talked about this, but it took a big toll on my relationship as well.

Uh, you know, obviously, so, you know, it gave us time to, to spend together at that point. Um. It just helped so much. It really, really helped so much. So obviously, maybe you can’t go to that expense or go to that much of an effort, but the point I’m making is that I had to make time for myself. That’s the way that I chose to do it, the way I had to do it at the time.

But if you’ve got family or friends or someone around you that can just actually, you know, take the pressure off or you put time in your diary to make sure that you spend time with your other children, then… Do it because that’s the biggest thing was just kind of I realized that in that time in that reset time That that’s what I needed And so that was yeah, that was a really good decision to do that.

And and once I Experienced that I’ve always had something on the side now when I say that I mean I’ve Been in sales for over 15 years I’ve always sold, uh, you know, have a little side hobby on the side. I’ve sold jewelry. I’ve sold, um, Tupperware. I have sold thermomixers, if you know what they are.

They’re like a, um, a mixer machine. Uh, so many things. Skincare and, and yeah, I earned a little bit of money doing those things, but it really wasn’t about the money. It was about me getting out and being around adults and achieving something and I could run those businesses on, in my own time, on my own calendar because it wasn’t working for anybody else, but it could just be something as simple as, you know, just taking an art class or a dance class or whatever it is that, you know, you’re interested in, but I, you have to make time for it.

It’s just, there’s no, It’s not going to happen otherwise, you know what I mean?

And, and you’re mentioning, you know, that, that you were fortunate in being able to have, have someone come in. We were going to call it a nanny coming in, but having an au pair, um, but parents are listening. You may not have that, but as Meg said, you may have family, you may have friends, you may have a neighbor, maybe someone that you could swap time with where you take their kids one day and they take yours, but then you could, could have that time.

Um, and maybe even having a night out with, with your, your, your, your spouse as well so that you can have that time. Cause, cause we do know it, it takes a toll on relationships because you’re so focused on, on the kids. And especially if you have a really intense child, like, like you’re describing here, It takes a lot of energy.

And, um, so taking, taking that time there, but I was thinking too, here in the States at least, um, some parents may have access to a respite program where they, especially if their child is maybe, um, medically fragile, where they, they need specialized care, they may be able to plug in to there. So, so parents, um, check some of the other episodes where we’ve talked about the same or check with your state and see what they, what they provide for you.

You may have some type of, of benefits there. for under your child’s name to be able to have somebody come in. Um, so yeah, so, so finding those practical ways to, to get that coverage so that you can take the time for yourself. And even your example of saying, you know, you, you weren’t going away to work every day.

You’re working, you know, you’re, you’re still there accessible to the children if something were to come up. But finding that, that time. And I know you’re doing the podcast now too. I know for me, even though my kids are in college. They’ve been home this summer so, so the house has been full, but doing this is, is part of my relaxation.

So, you know, it may be work, but sometimes work can be just that communication with other adults and getting out. I can remember when my kids were little going to the grocery store sometimes was my time away just to, and it wasn’t talking to many people, but I was out of the house and I was doing an adult thing instead of just a child thing all the time.

Totally.

So, so we talked about finding time for yourselves. We talked about, about that. Um, can you give us, I know we, and we, those are some practical steps there, but can you give us some other practical steps or strategies, um, as far as finding who you were, getting your focus off the kids? So work was one.

Did you have anything, anything else that, that you have or are trying that are working for you?

Well, I’m on the other side of the journey now, in terms, like, he’s a fully functioning adult now at 19. Uh, there’s a lot I’m doing now, but leading up to where I am now, I, I wanted to get to know him differently as well. And so I, before I answer this question fully, I do want to say, because it’s quite possible that he may listen to this himself, that he has always been, Outside of that, fun.

I’ve always said that’s lucky that he was so cute because that made it all easier. But he’s super smart. He’s a really, really, really intelligent. And so what I always struggled with was the gap between his emotional intelligence and his IQ. So that’s where, especially with, um, with Aspergers and high functioning Aspergers is they’re so smart.

They really are. They really are so smart, but they are emotionally, they’re a lot younger than, than they actually are. And so as well as that, they get older, so they look a lot older than, than they’re acting.

Right, right.

And I’m leading somewhere with this. Where I’m going with this is, I started to understand that more.

And I started to obviously do some of my own work. I’ve always been really fascinated with human behavior, never really got the chance until sort of this next period I’m talking about to really kind of look into that that much. But I am now an alignment coach or a life alignment coach, which basically means that I help people uncover their true identity, like who they really are, uh, and, and unpack the past and find the rescue, all the gold and the wisdom that, that there’s, you know, that’s been intrinsically placed there from all the things that we’ve been through and repack that in a way that serves us moving forward. So there’s a lot of gold in my story.

There’s a lot of wisdom in my story that I didn’t view that way. At this point in time, I didn’t really like thinking about it. It was hard. It was traumatic. There was anxiety. There was all these things. And when I started getting into what I’m doing now, which was about eight years ago, I saw the value in it and I saw the things that I’d learned.

And I really. started to go on that journey and so what I want to get at is that if even if you’re struggling right now and It feels like you know Heavy and hard there’s a lot of things that you’re learning that you’re maybe not aware of right now, and so when I got into coaching I I had to walk my talk, let’s say that I’m not somebody who can work with anybody who’s not doing what they’re telling me to do.

So I had to be that kind of coach as well. Uh, I really started to go deeper with my own work, understand myself better and free myself up from the guilt and the shame and all the feelings that I talked about earlier and see how much I had to offer the world. And so, that part of, this part of my journey has really been about healing myself.

So coming through, healing, understanding myself, as he got older he didn’t need me as much. Right, so I did a lot of mindset work with him in his sort of mid to, early to mid teens. Um, where we would just reflect something would happen and he would handle it how he handled it. Which was not always the best way.

And when we would wait, I would wait until he was calm and then I would sit down and I would just talk to him about it and we would just get introspective. I taught him how to be introspective and reflect back what he thinks he could have done differently and how he would do it next time. And look, it didn’t always work.

It’s taken a long time to get, but he is now gone from, from a child who is not very naturally empathetic. He’s a lot more empathetic now. Is he as empathetic as my daughter? No, she’s very very empathetic But he’s a lot better than he is now and I really put this down to like just stepping into that myself like stepping into that journey myself and then taking him with me and Helping him understand the good things about himself, you know Helping him understand what the positive things about how he is like he’s really really smart He picks things up really easily, but he has to be, he has to want to do it.

So there’s a lot of him realizing like, you know, some things we have to, sometimes we have to do things we don’t like, but we can choose to do them and then we might enjoy them more. Right, right. So helping me understand himself, but also me understanding me more. And so that’s really led to, uh, I really want people, and him as well, and especially people who, Who a little bit more neurodiverse like he is where I want them to see the value that they have.

I want them to really understand that they have something unique that’s, that they can offer the world and don’t have to be like that to like everybody. So now what I, I do is I help mums who are over 40 who feel that void of their children getting older. Right? Uh, for me, it was a massive void because once he was older and he didn’t need me.

Like you could see he, there was a lot that I didn’t have to do anymore. It was a big void. Um, so when I, who am I without that? Because that was a big part of my life, I had to rediscover who I was without that. But we all go through that, men too. We all go through that, um, without getting into the detail, cause it’s not what we’re talking about.

But I also lost, um, my marriage and through all of this, so that was another void that was created that I had to rediscover who I was without that relationship, without needing to be his full time carer, which I’m super proud of that, you know, I am genuinely proud of the man that he is, my son I’m talking about, um, because it’s been a lot of work for him to, he has a license.

He gets around. He wants to be a DJ. He’s got all these dreams and aspirations, and he’s fine. I didn’t think it would turn out that way. So, you know, celebrating him and then getting to know me. And so now I really want to help other women, mums with all the kids, mums with what I’ve been through, what I’ve been through.

Rediscover their identity, their sense of self in a way that helps them feel inspired by themselves as well, freed them up to be themselves and then have the second half of their life, which is we’re only halfway through, right? Be amazing and do something with all that beautiful wisdom that we’ve gained through that journey.

That’s unique to us.

But I think in a, you’ve described what a lot of our parents can, can connect with, whether they’re in the throes of that toddler time, preschool time, elementary time, even we’re so focused on helping our kids because they have, some of them are just, they’re just very tightly wound and they just need some protection and shelter.

And then we need, as you say, we need to help them kind of learn how to integrate into the world, because the world is there. They, they have to live in this world somehow. You’ve, you’ve accomplished a lot by the time you get this child. Into high school and and beyond. So now at 19, almost 20, you know, you, you, you can hear it in your voice.

You’re proud of who he’s become. He’s who he is though, because of your leadership and your guidance and helping him get to this point. So the two of you have worked together. He’s, he’s taught you a lot through the years, but totally my biggest that you taught him as well. . .

He is definitely my biggest teacher for sure.

Yeah.

So, so I love what you’re doing because you’re, you’re in a position to be able to help these moms. who may not see the value that they’ve had, the strength that they’ve brought through these years to start maybe redirecting that into investing into who they are and what difference they can make beyond just, just their little family and to the world around them too.

So, um, so I think it’s really important. It’s exciting what you have the chance to do now. And because you started so young, so you’re, you’re still young to be able to do this.

Yes, I am very blessed in that way.

But of course, of course, you said you still have an eight year old, so you’re not quite done yet.

Oh no, no, no. Well, yes, I do. I do. We now have Luke’s eight year old, so my youngest is 15. Uh, I, we get to do it all again together, so yeah, my new partner and I are very, one of the, you know, one of the things that I love about him is that we’re both kids first. It was one of the things that we connected over pretty much straight away and wanted to know more about each other because of that.

So we have them all under the one roof every second week, which we love and yeah, we, we often say we get, we get to do that again with him, you know, like bring him up together and his mum is amazing too, by the way, he’s excellent. Um, so we’re very lucky, but, uh, yeah, he’s a cutie. That’s for sure. Very, very different to mine.

Great. So we talked a little bit earlier about getting the respite care, having someone give you that break. Um, can you talk any about finding that supportive network? Um, especially cause, cause now you, you’ve been through change, not only in you pulled the kids home. During that time, just to kind of regroup and we, we did a similar thing with our family as well when they were a little bit older, um, which was one of the, it’s my favorite year of the kids growing up because we had that time together and, um, but.

So you had that you also had other change because because you were talking about your relationship And so you would have been by yourself for a while during that time before before you had your your current partner So that supportive network those times of change how how important is that network?

And how do you find that supportive network or are you able to speak to that?

Yeah, no, I can I was, I was pretty lucky, actually, to be honest. Um, well, there’s not really any luck in the world, is there? It’s labor under correct knowledge. Uh, but I, I was, I’m, I’m some, I love people. So I am somebody who I’m not afraid to, to reach out to those around me and.

And, um, you know, and say what I need a lot better at it now than I used to be, but, um, I always had people around around me. So I had a supportive, uh, family at the time, but, but we lived sort of away, like, about an hour away. So that wasn’t always possible. Uh, this is when. We took on the nanny because we needed someone in the house all the time, um, but after that and in the last sort of four or five years where I have been by myself, I have my coaching community, I have my clients, I think the biggest thing though is I know who I am, I know what my values are, I know what I need and I know how to ask for it.

That’s not always been the case. But when we get, when we do that deep inner work and we learn what we need, we learn what we need, we know what we need to align with values wise, then we can ask for what we need from the people that are going to be able to give that to us. Yeah. And I think that’s really important because I’m not going to say I always got that right because that wouldn’t be true.

I did have a patch there where I was not being me and I hated how I felt. Which, we can always go back and really focus in on how we’re feeling at the time, or if we’re around somebody and it doesn’t feel right, we know. Um, but yeah, I, I think that it’s surrounding yourself with people who have the same values as you, you obviously need to know yours, but the same values you want to be going in the same, have the same vision and and genuinely want care and want to help, help you.

That would be my answer to that, I think.

I like that. I like that. All right. So a final question for you before we get into to a little, little piece. I want to talk, talk about what you’re doing now, but I did want to ask. So for our parents who are maybe getting near the end of that caregiving time, and the kids aren’t needing them as much because they’ve done a good job, they’ve, they’ve gotten them ready for, for being these young adults that they’re becoming, um, any advice for Those that are having a hard time with that transition and not being needed as much anymore.

Oh, this is a big one. It’s hard. It’s really hard. My eldest has just moved out this weekend, depending on when you’re listening to this, but from the recording. And so I’m going through this in a big way because he’s been my rock for the last four or five years before, obviously he’s my partner now. But, uh, it’s hard.

I think, you know what, let yourself feel the things you’re feeling, but like, let’s not try and. Hide them or escape from them in unhealthy ways like it’s okay to feel that way And I think the best thing that you can do is just to turn inward and Really start to to get to know yourself ask yourself things like well, what?

What am I going to do now? Like, what, what do I want to do? What do I like to do? You know, uh, you can ask yourself all sorts of questions, but if you’re having trouble answering those questions or even finding the right questions to ask, then that’s when you, I would suggest reaching out to somebody who can help you go on that introspective journey and, and try and navigate that transition.

Healthily. Right? So, we want to make sure we come through that. We don’t want to do things that are going to create wedge between you and your children either because we want them to grow up and be successful and, you know, self sufficient was always my goal.

It’s our job as parents to get them ready for this stage.

So we need to not get in the way of that. And it’s, it’s not easy because we want to hang onto them and protect them and you know, um, and keep nurturing them, but we need to let them go. And we need, and I think the best way to do that is to focus on yourself. Yeah.

Nice. I know we need to wrap this up soon.

Um, if, if our listeners want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?

Yeah. So, I mean, I would love to speak to anybody who’s resonated with what I’ve been saying, um, and mainly around, like I said, around getting to know yourself, uh, because it’s not. You need that reflection sometimes.

You need someone else to look in and see what you’re not seeing. So the best way to get in touch with me is just to reach out to me on either my website or Instagram is my favorite place to hang out. If you’re, if you like Instagram, you can DM me there. But I’m sure we can put some some links in the bottom there for us to connect and yeah, I would be happy to jump on a call and see how I can help.

And that’s something that I offer. Complimentary just as a starting point just to make sure that I’m the right person to help you with that because there’s a lot of people out there that do the type of work that I do. And I think that you really can’t tell until you talk to somebody and you feel their vibe and you know that.

You know, you actually, you know what, this person gets me and they’ve been where I’ve been and I want to be where they are. So let’s take that journey, you know.

All right, so I’m going to put the links in the show notes, but tell us what is the website name?

Oh yeah, that’s a good point. Um, well, funnily enough, and it won’t be come as no surprise that my website is called freed2bu with a D.

Uh, and the D is important, uh, Tonya, because I could have it as free to be you, but. Freed, the D is like, it represents being on the other side of this journey, right? Like the journey’s never ended, but we’re, we’re in the second half, right? So we’re freed from that part and now we get to be us. So it’s freed with a D.

And that’s dot, dot com? Dot com. Okay. And your Instagram handle, what is that?

Freed to be You. Everywhere. If you go and search freed with a D to be you on any platform, you’ll find me. I’ve claimed them all.

So for those that want to find her, if you didn’t get it from that, check the show notes, it will be there with an active link for you as well.

So we get you there. But speaking of Freed to be You, tell us about the podcast. Tell us about what else you’re doing. Any projects coming up or anything like that?

Well, the podcast is, you can see, I like to talk. I don’t have an issue with that, um, at all. I wanted to, to be able to share my story in a way that would inspire other people to take themselves on.

So the, it has one purpose and is literally to give you permission to take that journey and take that step and free yourself up. And I talk a lot about self abandonment, which is not always bad, but you can hear that inside of my story, there was a lot of that. And we don’t really have a choice sometimes as mums, but other than to abandon the self in order to survive and look after our children.

Uh, so I talk a lot about that, but I really talk a lot about coming out of that into being fully self expressed. And so I, I think that until we feel free to do that, um, we’re always going to be self abandoning in some way. So that’s what my podcast is about. I share a lot about. Um, people’s stories who have been through this journey, um, people who work in a similar space to me, but it was a lot about parenting as well and relationships because that has been a big part of my journey and project wise.

Well. At this point in time, I’m still just offering my coaching. So I, um, I work one on one with people inside of a program called Ultimate Contribution Uncovered, and it’s a one to one program over eight weeks. It’s a deep dive into who you are. But it’s also extremely practical on the other side, where we set you up with a vision and a mission and goals inside of a framework so that you can go and align your life with those discoveries.

So it’s not just about this. Bluffy journey where we kind of figure out who you are. We obviously then need to learn how to be that. And so there’s a big part of that, um, process is actually learning how to step into it. Yeah. Uh, so again, the first step to do that would be to get in touch with me and make sure that that’s the right thing for you.

And I can share a little bit more about how that looks.

Excellent. Excellent. Well, this is, this is exciting. I, I like what you’re doing. It’s why we, we first met because I, um, I felt like we, we, we connected with our son’s stories with each other, which, which was a fun, a fun connection there. And our boys are a year apart, so they’re both.

My son’s turning 21. You’re just turning 20. So they’re, they’re right there, the same stage of life. Um, and it’s, it’s, it was, it was kind of fun to see the parallels between our journeys with them. It would be interesting if, if the boys ever, ever met each other, what their reaction would be to each other.

Yeah, that’s so true.

So we have a DJ and an athlete, so we’ll see. Maybe, maybe, maybe you never know.

You never know.

Well, Meg, thank you for taking the time to talk with us today and to, um, to share your story with us and also just some of the challenges of, of how our listeners can, can apply what they’ve heard from you.

So I, I really appreciate it. So thank you.

Thank you for having me. It’s the first time I’ve really shared this, uh, this part of my journey in this much depth, so it’s been an honor and, uh, thank you for giving me the space.

Well I, I appreciate your children being willing to let you share a little bit about them too, because I know it does, it does ask a lot to share their, their, their story as part of your story.

So, so thank you.

Tonya Wollum

Tonya

Tonya Wollum is a disability advocate and host of the Water Prairie Chronicles podcast which connects special needs parents with resources to help them navigate parenting a child with a disability. She is the mother of 2 college-age children who have each grown up with a disability. That experience, along with a background in education, led her to create the Water Prairie Chronicles to help share what she has learned with parents of younger children to help them know how to advocate for their children.

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