Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rod Smith and the Mercury Newspaper!

I am not a great one for keeping up with the daily newspaper, however, when I do read it, I always go straight to the column written by Rod Smith. I enjoy reading his words of wisdom and also get a kick out of some of the stories that are shared!


Rod Smith is a family therapist who lives in the USA. He used to live in Durban; and in fact he is my friend's cousin's wife's uncle! ~ sorry Sandi, I just couldn't resist adding your comment in! :)


My mum (who is visiting from New Zealand) passed me Monday's Mercury and said "read this, he talks a lot of sense!" (Out of interest, I left home at the age of 17!). She was right, it does make a lot of sense ~ but, it got me thinking! Sure, I can relate with all that Mr Smith said ~ but, what happens when you have a special needs child? On the spur of the moment I sent him a quick email, without telling anyone in my family! I did think to myself  "I wonder if he will write back?" and then promptly forgot all about it!


Today, late afternoon, I was pottering around in the kitchen, sorting out Nick and organising supper.  My mother comes into the kitchen waving the newspaper in her hand......... she says, "Oy, this sounds like you!!"


Well, would you believe it, the dear man had published an edited version of my letter and replied! Oh my word, that man put a big lump in my throat and some tears in my eyes. Thank you so much Mr Rod Smith for your meaningful words, they are truly appreciated.


Here is Mr Smith's original post....


The Mercury
Monday
August 29, 2011


You and Me
by Rod Smith


It's a frequent theme in my office and in letters: "He'll always be my baby" or  "Once a mother, always a mother," and, "A mother's work is never done."  This is usually sighed rather than said. It usually precedes a story of a successful man or woman who seldom visits or contacts his or her mother.
These sentiments deserve challenge. There is no question that once you are someone's mother that is a fact - but mothering does end.
I'd suggest the healthier the mother, the earlier in her child's life, perhaps beginning around 16 and culminating at around 22, she plans to have worked herself out of a job.
It's replaced, and the transition is of course gradual, with becoming a respectful friend of one whom she has successfully mothered.
I know this is an unpopular thought.  I know so many women are defined by their role as mother. I know I am challenging something primal.
But, successful mothering ends.
Healthy adult men and women want mothers to be friends, first. They don't want an adult who needs to be a mother in order to exist.
If the sighs cease and the lamenting ends perhaps adult sons and daughters will find staying in touch a whole lot more rewarding and meaningful.


Rod Smith is a family therapist who lives in the US. E-mail questions to Rod@DifficultRelationships.com


~*~
Here is my email to Mr Smith.....


Dear Mr Smith
I read with interest your article in the Mercury Newspaper, dated August 29, 2011. You wrote about mothers and stated that successful mothering does end.  I fully support all that you said and I feel that I am doing a great job with my 15 year old son. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my son, however, I am beginning to let go. I am excited about his future and the role that I play in his becoming an independent young man, who will one day in the near future leave us to spread his wings.
However, Mr Smith, I have a little problem! I also have a 12 year old son with severe autism. I also feel that I am doing a great job with him; however, this young man will not be spreading his wings. I am worried about his future and I am not sure that my mothering will end. We don’t have the facilities in South Africa to accommodate my son. I really don’t think it is going to be possible to work myself out of this job.
Do you have any advice for me?
Best wishes
Di Maitland
Durban
South Africa
~*~


Here is Mr Smith's column in today's Mercury newspaper!



The Mercury
Wednesday
August 31, 2011

You and Me
by Rod Smith

A READER 
writes:


"You wrote that successful mothering does end.  I feel that I am doing a great job with my 15-year old son.  I adore my son, however, I am beginning to 'let go'.  I am excited about his future and the role that I play in his becoming an independent young man who will leave us to spread his wings.
However, I also have a younger son with severe autism. I also feel that I am doing a great job with him but this young man will not be spreading his wings.  I am worried about his future and I am not sure that my mothering will end.  We don't have the facilities in South Africa to accommodate my son.  I really don't think it is going to be possible to work myself out of this job.  Do you have any advice for me?"


Your letter moved me deeply.  It shows once again that there are always exceptions to general measures of emotional and family wellness.  Your letter also reveals the diversity and the beauty seen in families.
As your younger son grows up, and as you develop the support and community you need for your own support, you will all train each other and strengthen each other for the difficult and beautiful road ahead.


~*~

6 comments:

  1. Di, that's a wonderful thing you have done. So much media and poular culture just completely ignores the experience of SN families and there are times where I tune out thinking, 'well, that's not relevant to us.'
    I love the irony of your own mother pointing it out to you!!

    :)

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  2. I am so pleased to have been able to encourage you. Now, tell me, how am I related to who? Tell me the names so I can connect the dots.

    Rod Smith
    www.DifficultRelationships.com

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  3. Well done Di. I think more media should cover the daily aspects of parenting a special needs child. Its time people realise that parenting a child with special needs does not mean your alone in the world. People should be sharing and learning from each others experiences.

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  4. Hi Mr Smith... here is a bit information for you!!

    Sandi Koenig...... Hi Di. It's all very confusing and rather distant!! My cousin Ian Johnson is married to Charlene Arthur (now Johnson). Charlene's mum is Jenny Arthur who is Rod Smith's sister!! Get it???!! Charl and Ian live in Aus!

    Best wishes
    Di

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  5. Di, your letter and Rod Smith's reply brought tears to my eyes. It is certainly such a concern that we all carry in our hearts every moment of every day, yes even us HF autistic Moms. Its a scarey world with so many people ready to grab all they can for themselves, how are our naive children going to make it. We hold our breath pray and trust all will be well while in our souls we know that we are going to be needed for a very long time.
    I salute you for what you do to bring awareness to the plight of our children. You are a very special person and I feel honoured to have known you.
    Janet Robson

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  6. WHat I loved about this is you helped him to realize that there is always something ELSE to consider ( black and white is not all that common)...that our opinions need to be seasoned with being able to relate to different perspectives! I love that you gave him a piece of that ....and surely he will use that in the future. You my dear have made a deposit in his thinking...for perspective shaping!! :) Whoot whoot
    Kathy

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