About Laura Gillian
Parent Coach & Mentor | Certified Birth & Postpartum Doula
When I was in labour for my first baby and lost in a powerful contraction, a nurse gave some advice.
I was irritable and sceptical.
Me: Have you done this?
Her: Yes, I have two children.
Me: Fine. I’m listening.
If she had not endured this herculean journey, I did not want her advice. But she had.
So, I listened.
This is not to say that people who have not had similar experiences can’t help, but it really does help to know that they have also lived in the trenches, so to speak. With that in mind, these are the things that I would like to know about a parent coach before I hired them.
- I brought four individual little people into the world within four years and eleven months.
- That means that I was pregnant and /or breastfeeding for six years straight!
- I learned right from day one of baby number two that what works for one child isn’t a formula for success with the others
- Poop: toilet-training came easily to one out of four – just to show me that I wasn’t a complete failure. That equals 8 years of thousands of diapers, and hundreds of hours cleaning and sanitizing
- Sleep: I didn’t have broken sleep – I had broken wakefulness, meaning it felt like I occasionally slept. One night, I chose to stop counting the calls for Mommy. We were already at twelve and the night was only half over.
- I learned to:
- Laugh at disaster, such as kids barfing in stereo, right on cue, right in front of me.
- Practice being two-faced: Mad at one who deserved it, and instantly, kind and gentle to another. Just like that.
- Find ways to bring order that brought me peace, in terms of relationships, physical space, and my innate need for time alone
Moving and Marriage
- In the first six years of parenting, we moved seven times, twice continentally
- Our marriage was not thriving and collapsed
- I became a single parent to four kiddos ages, 4, 5, 7, & 9 – a whole new journey that I never would have imagined at the start
- Depression, while hovering around the edges in general, became a constant and central presence
- Fear of financial collapse, raw from early life experiences, exploded into deep and permanent anxiety
- I didn’t want to destroy my kids’ lives because of parental mistakes
- I couldn’t protect them entirely from my own struggles and there are things that I wish I had done better or differently
- I did really well in other areas, learning from my own childhood and translating that into lived experiences of unconditional love, reliable presence, and supporting them on their own paths in life
- I “circled the wagons”, creating a sheltered place, where we could build our own lives and family identity, and where I could keep them close and safe while they were still young
- The teen years are a follow-though of years zero to twelve, so I began planning in the earliest days, with memories of my own teen pitfalls urging me on!
- I focused on two larger goals: preparing my kids for life as adults in the working world & for future relationships – I wanted them to know how to be good life-partners.
Twenties and the Aforementioned Partners
- This is not as easy as imagined. My peers and I agree: we were warned about the newborn days, the terrible twos, and the teens, but nobody warned us about the twenties!
- There is so much to learn about engaging with our kids as grown-ups and with their life-partners!
- Being a parent of newly minted grow-ups is an intentional process in and of itself.
- I’ve had to see my kids as adults and respect their need to define that space. This was not easy for me. Actually, it was the hardest part of parenting so far!
- My youngest just turned 30 and I expect to do a whole lot better this decade!
- I am so privileged to have nine cute little squishies that call me Grandma Gillian (Some are now long and skinny but they still snuggle with me!)
- Having said that, this is a brand new journey of respecting that our kids make their own choices as parents and those choices are as likely as not to match what we think they should or should not do.
- I currently live with three of those grand kiddos and, as life would have it, there is no resting on my laurels, I am still challenged daily with how I engage and respond to life and those I’m blessed to live with.
Oh, Education! (almost forgot)
- My kiddos were the first in my family to go to university and I noticed that my critical thinking skills were lagging behind theirs (There is so much to be said about this under the teens, twenties and partners and grandparenting headings)
- So, I became a 49-year-old, first year undergrad, living in residence.
- And just because I can, I want to tell you that I graduated, magna cum laude (older students are homework nerds) with a Sociology degree. Thanks for listening
- I also have under my belt:
- Birth and Postpartum Doula certification
- A 30-hour “Infant Mental Health Promotion (IMHP)” program through Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children
- “Brain Story” certification with The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI), a network of professionals that applies leading research about early brain development and its connection to adult health.
On a personal note
It was a long time in coming, but I eventually recognized that my childhood challenges quietly and invisibly grew into debilitating roadblocks as an adult. I share this because I have a special concern for individuals who have a painful past informing their current lives.
I can tell you that you do not have to repeat generational behaviour. It’s hard work to change, but it can be done.
Without boring you with the details, but for the purpose of encouraging you who are reading this, my ACE score is very high; I have faced complex PTSD; and I still benefit from trauma therapy.
My goal in life is to help parents:
- With the day-to-day stuff of parenting
- To have a basic understanding of how this little person’s brain is growing and physically developing in response to the world around them (Yes, you read that right – a child’s environment influences the physical development of their brain.)
- To enjoy living together! Life doesn’t have to be the grind that we often find ourselves in
And to walk with those who face challenges from their own childhood, to:
- Identify the quiet stories that both inform and impede their parenting
- Recognize and find ways to reduce the impact of influential negative events. For some, this may also require the support of a mental health professional
- Strengthen and make conscious space for good stories – Yay!
I want parents with any background, and with kids of any age to:
- See their own strengths!
- Grow in confidence!
- Be proud of who they are and how they live with kids – big or small, under the same roof or in different cities
- Grow into respectful engagement that enhances the relationship as kids get older
- Be grandparents who can work through unexpected struggles. It’s not always as shiny as we expect! But it can still be great!
I have faced some giant mountains and I experience ongoing growth and success. You can too!
I can help!
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Sometimes a good old-fashioned phone call is the best way to determine your next steps.