What feels like a lifetime ago, Austin was the land of unflagging sun.
During our first stint living here I rarely checked the weather forecast as it was always the same.
Sunny. Sunny. Hot. Hot.
(To that end I donated my rain boots when we left the Bay Area. I’m a moron that way.)
It seems I’ve either become Rain-Elsa (a thought which intrigues me) or the climate of the ATX has shifted the past few years.
Regardless, I can count on one finger the number of recent nights I’ve not been woken by a thunder-terrified nine year old and her not-at-all-terrified-but-always-up-for-adventure Doodle sidekick.
During the storms (usually happening during my worst hours of midnight or 1am) I’m usually pretty good about rising to the occasion and making myself MamaProud.
Even though roused from a sound sleep—I’m understanding and patient.
I can recall clearly enough *my* childhood fear of thunder to be able to mumble comforting words and roll over to make room for my two companions.
yep. this is how he sleeps, too. hashtag: bedhog.
I’m less benevolent, however, come morning.
I wake bent to a right angle from being squished, exhausted from from crappy sleep and highly aware how long my day ahead will feel as a result.
I’m less benevolent come morning until I remind myself of the drawing she once bestowed upon me after a particularly scary thunder & hail storm:
Her choice of words struck me that morning and have remained firmly in my mind since.
You are my safe person.
After I read her note I couldn’t stop thinking about the definition of the word safe (protected from danger and harm) and what an honor it was she chose that word to describe me.
What high praise it was from a child that she viewed me as the person in her life who could provide shelter from the storm.
Her choice of words sparked in me a wondering about the very idea of a safe person and when we, as grown ups, lose that in our lives?
I wondered if many would say (yep. Way over-wondering this entire thing, but that’s the nature of blogging yes?) we shed our feelings of having a safe person once we realize the world is chaotic and control is an illusion.
Last weekend I was running errands when, again, it began to storm.
I returned home and the Child greeted me at the door in a panic.
Where were you? I needed you!
I explained I didn’t hurry back since she was home with her Doodle and her Dad.
She again employed the phrase I’d pondered since our last sleepless night:
But you’re my safe person.
I was flattered. I was overwhelmed. I wondered if it was my (fingerquote) duty (unFQ) as mother to teach her to find safety in herself?
Here is where I now look to you, in the truest sense of old school horizontal blogging, and am curious what you think.
In the end is this what life is all about?
- Is our job as parent/child-mentor to teach children to find shelter from life’s (literal & metaphorical) storms within themselves?
- Is it our task to facilitate them growing become their own safe person? Is this the essence of roots & wings parenting?
- Do we grown-up types still have safe people?
Runner Girl saysJune 11, 2015 at 4:27 am
I don’t think I have a safe person now (my bofriend maybe?) but I also don’t think I had one as a child.
Food for thought as always, Carla.
Your daughter is lucky.
Barb saysJune 11, 2015 at 4:43 am
I think you have answered your own question, too.
It is our job as mother to create the roots and wings and teach our children they are all they need.
Great post, Carla.
Healthy Mama saysJune 11, 2015 at 5:08 am
I have read lately and not commented, but wanted to share here my experience.
I saw with my girls if I could help them feel safe then they could eventually re-create that feeling in themselves when I was gone/away.
Lovely thoughts here.
Allie saysJune 11, 2015 at 5:14 am
I agree that is the highest honor from a child, or anyone. I love thinking of a “safe person.” I feel like I have many and they each protect me in different ways. I love this and I love thinking about how, when I need shelter, I have many I can turn to. YES!!!
Christy saysJune 11, 2015 at 5:38 am
I as a grownup would like to think I am an independent person… but I do have safe people. Yes people. My husband of course. My dad, still and no doubt always as he will always be superman. My mom. My sisters. I need them all and I am okay with that.
I am still my kids safe person and I know someday they will not lean on me so much, that’s the goal and I am okay with that. ALthough I hope at least a little bit, I will always be a safe person,
Michelle saysJune 11, 2015 at 5:43 am
I don’t think we ever stop needing a safe person…
Cat saysJune 11, 2015 at 5:47 am
I never really had a safe person so I can’t be sure. The closest I had was my MawMaw, but we weren’t always close. (Distance geographically–not emotionally.) I think it would’ve been nice at my Peanut’s age, but I also grew to be very independent and comfortable (perhaps, too comfortable) with being alone and self-soothing. Hmmm. Good q.
Nellie saysJune 11, 2015 at 5:57 am
my mom is my safe person. We went through a rough past during the last 18 months and I felt like I wasn’t even myself. I believe all moms should be safe persons. It’s a tough job with a lot pressure but worth it!!
Coco saysJune 11, 2015 at 6:01 am
I was always an independent child, maybe because I couldn’t rely on my parents for various reasons? Now I see that in my efforts to always handle things myself. Hopefully my children feel more like yours.
Sagan saysJune 11, 2015 at 6:07 am
Yes – we always have safe people! Mr. Science is my safe person 🙂
I actually use the word “safe” a lot in my life – whenever I’m with friends, and we’re talking about something that’s challenging or controversial, we often employ that word. “This is a safe space – it’s okay to discuss things here!” It’s exactly the right word.
Susie @ SuzLyfe saysJune 11, 2015 at 6:46 am
My mom and Alex. I am lucky to have 2 😀
KCLAnderson (Karen) saysJune 11, 2015 at 6:51 am
I didn’t have a safe person as a child and rather than that turning me into an independent child (although in many ways I was), it turned me into a needy adult who went looking for love in all the wrong places.
And then I met Tim. He became my safe person…and I was able to grow and thrive and get those basic needs met. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I became his safe person and he was able to grow and thrive in ways that he hadn’t yet been able to.
I am now a proud late-blooming independent, autonomous woman who knows how to be her own safe person. Grateful that becoming my own safe person didn’t jeopardize what Tim and I have together.
Michele @ paleorunningmomma saysJune 11, 2015 at 7:18 am
This is too sweet 🙂 I think knowing that you are someone’s “safe person” is just as good a feeling as having one! My family – created and of origin are my safe people.
Rena McDaniel saysJune 11, 2015 at 8:03 am
I’ve been the “safe” person for my mom for as long as I can remember instead of the other way around BUT I also have that “safe” person and that would be my husband. When I become afraid of something or just overwhelmed with life I know he will make it all better. Maybe it is childish, but it has gotten me through some pretty rough times. I have this thing when I become overwhelmed and feel like I can’t deal with the outside world any longer I will say to him “I need you to put me in your pocket” and that’s how I feel. I just want to hide out inside his pocket because I know that no matter what happens he will protect me and keep me safe. This is his cue to take over for a little while. I had never had that in my life until him. I’ve always been the one in charge, the one to take care of everyone else, but sometimes it becomes too much then there he is. It gives me courage. I hope that doesn’t sound to stupid.
Chris saysJune 11, 2015 at 8:53 am
I’m SO there with you, Rena!! I was the Mom to my mother as well, and took that experience and used it in building a career for myself which involves being “the one in charge” much of the time. All that decision-making can be exhausting and overwhelming at times (even though I enjoy, appreciate, and excel at it), and allowing The Hubs to take the wheel and make decisions during those times is such an amazing blessing. I am blessed with a man in my life who not only understands this about me, but recognized it in me before I did. (and I thought I was SO smart…)
Christy saysJune 28, 2015 at 6:39 am
This sounds anything but stupid. It’s amazing that you have a man who understands the importance of being that in your life!!! God Bless.
Joanna @Makingmine saysJune 11, 2015 at 8:09 am
My mom is STILL my safe person. I think one of the biggest realizations after having kids was that I was now the safe person for two little girls – a huge responsibility and an even bigger honor
misszippy saysJune 11, 2015 at 8:50 am
I always and forever want to be my children’s safe person, but…it is indeed our job to help them become their own safe people.
Chris saysJune 11, 2015 at 8:50 am
I love this question! I believe our job is to teach our children to know when to find shelter – how to recognize danger (from within and without) and know the Safe People from the Not-So-Safe. Appropriate identification, if you will.
Of COURSE, finding shelter and safety within is ideal, but I don’t think it can (or SHOULD) be ALWAYS the case. I believe we must teach our children and ourselves, to reach out for help when they (we) need it. That we humans aren’t required or expected to carry all of the weight on our own shoulders and that there is no shame or failure in asking for help.
Jody - Fit at 57 saysJune 11, 2015 at 9:04 am
I think we all need a safe person no matter what age & that person may be different depending on the circumstances. As adults, many of us have gone thru circumstances that make us not want to trust leading to not allowing safe people to help us… something to work on for many…
Coach Henness saysJune 11, 2015 at 9:28 am
My family was my safe people as a kiddo. As my siblings were much older, they were equally as safe to me when I was small as my parents. Things that scared me changed from monsters in the dark to “What if I fail?” as I got older. In college, I wrote my parents a note saying that I had courage to risk failure (study abroad, move to LA for a job, etc) BECAUSE I knew that if everything fell apart they were just a phone call away. Not the same but not entirely different.
Becki @ Fighting for Wellness saysJune 11, 2015 at 9:39 am
So touching. I consider myself an independent person (and was always a very independent child), but we all need at least one safe person, no matter how old we are.
Beth Havey saysJune 11, 2015 at 9:53 am
My mom was my safe person and late in her life I was hers. Now my husband is my safe person. We all need one. Two of my children live far away, but they know I’m here for them when they need a safe person–someone who can offer advice and love and always be gentle and understanding. I think one of our greatest successes would be raising our children to become safe people for others.
AdjustedReality saysJune 11, 2015 at 10:45 am
My husband is definitely my safe person. As a kid, I was WEIRDLY independent, but it may have been because I knew my parents had my back.
Lisa @ RunWiki saysJune 11, 2015 at 10:49 am
This is a really interesting topic and brings to mind an occasion where I was talking to my child about how he was safe in our house, that it was his “safe place” and a trusted friend pulled me aside later and said, “when you refer to your house as a “safe place” you are implying that the rest of the world is unsafe.” It really hit home and made me realize that it is very important to not only teach a child that the world is pretty safe ( the Mr. Rogers things about there are more good people and only a few bad) but also to remind them, when they feel scared, of all the times that they were brave. “Remember the time you marched on the roller coaster, or got through a shot at the doctor.” Simple times when they got themselves through a difficult situation. Parenting is not easy!
Susan Bonifant saysJune 11, 2015 at 11:13 am
Carla, interesting question. I don’t think we can become our own “safe” person as long as we are going to encounter fear, panic, irrational responses because I don’t think we can operate on both levels at once. I do think we should become our own friend and therapist, for sure, but I can’t imagine not having someone, even by phone to reassure me when I know I’m coming apart.
pia saysJune 11, 2015 at 11:17 am
My aunt says I was born independent and maybe I was. If you asked me who my safe person was when I was a kid I would have said my dad. But really, always, it was my mother
I was stalked in my early 30’s in the early 1980’s by a former boyfriend everyone loved—and many blamed me. Not my mother. When the police wouldn’t act, when my father told me i was too bitchy she went to the library and learned all that she could about stalking. She told me he was obsessed. None of us had ever heard that expression in that context before. She helped so much and much later I would become an elder abuse expert.
I guess I became many people’s safe person. All because of my mother.
Katherine Lewis saysJune 11, 2015 at 12:41 pm
This is just heart warming. Thank you for sharing. We all need a safe person. (Or three!)
cheryl saysJune 11, 2015 at 1:12 pm
For so many years I was on my own and didn’t have family close by- so I resorted to friends in those times. Now it’s my husband I guess-but I usually “handle” things pretty well on my own and don’t remember the last time I needed to feel safe, except for one morning when I was almost hit by a truck….yeah, I guess he felt me pretty safe then when I got home…
Dr. J saysJune 11, 2015 at 1:19 pm
Nice concept, Carla!
I think it’s important for most of us to have someone to turn to for safety.
Even if it’s only in our prayers.
Jessica Hartman saysJune 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm
I think everyone has a safe person (or people, or tribe), to a more or lesser extent. Safe people/tribe/environment allows people to feel confident to take more risks. Without that, everyday life can feel risky.
Laura @FitMamaLove saysJune 11, 2015 at 6:07 pm
No answers here, but this is the sweetest thing. <3
mimi saysJune 11, 2015 at 7:33 pm
Just as total safety is an illusion, so is total independence. All of us are interdependent. It’s okay that we grow up to find most of our safety from being competent to handle adult responsibilities, but we can never lose that deep connectedness, and maybe the sense that we all have safety in helping each other.
jill conyers saysJune 12, 2015 at 7:14 am
Everyone needs a safe person. Even adults. My husband became my safe person when I didn’t even realize I needed one. To your first 2 questions, as parents, yes.
Chris saysJune 13, 2015 at 4:02 pm
While it is important to learn self-reliance to some degree, having someone to lean on when you weaken emotionally is an asset in life that has not been properly appreciated in today’s society.