Mission Mom
by Sheila Barak Graham

With God's help I am parenting my three teenage children while I work as business manager and director of youth ministry at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. For the past 10 years I have worked in youth ministry, developing a parish K-12 program.. I plan parenting workshops and youth retreats to help the entire family in their pursuit of faith education. My soul's present passion is to help prevent child sexual/physical abuse through the VIRTUS program and parent education.  We are all on a mission from God; mine is MOM.. Mom to my own children, Mom to my children's friends, Mom to the children I work with at my parish, and Mom to any child I meet! I can't escape it, so I embrace it. And now I share it.


If my kids tell me one more time to “chill out” I will scream.. Well, maybe I have been doing too much screaming already. Maybe, but really, how much is too much? When my throat is sore and my voice is hoarse? Way before that actually.

When things are so hectic at every minute and there is no time to sit back and take a deep breath, your insides can build up into a frenzy and the least thing will cause it to explode. This is not a good way to be a mom, but it seems to be the way things have been going lately. I honestly don't remember my own parents exploding about little things, but I think my childhood memories are washed in a soft rose color with little or no problems in my life at home. Lucky for me. Actually, lucky for my parents! I never had to calm them down. They were pretty serene and seemed to take the parenting thing so well.

Still, I would never have told them to “chill out” or “hang loose” or even “get real!” But maybe there are times when we need to listen when our own kids say these things to us. Maybe they see what we don't - that we are getting too busy, too stressed, too caught up in thinking we need to be super-mom or super-dad and never make mistakes and never be just average in our daily lives.

Maybe our kids are telling us in their own way to relax and calm down. They may often feel that we take our frustrations of a too hectic, too scheduled life out on them. Maybe we are affecting their lives in ways that we don't realize. They may feel and experience our tension and, sometimes, even our anger. Maybe we need to “get real and get over it.”

Maybe the next time my kids tell me to “chill out,” I should stop, give them each a hug and say, “You know, you are right!” Relax . . . and remember that parenting can and should be a fun opportunity!


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