I am Margaret Webb, a parenting/life coach, former teacher and mother. My  son has apraxia of speech, ADHD and is on the autism spectrum so parenting has been NOTHING like I expected. To be perfectly honest with you, this all sent me into a major tailspin!

What about all of the things I had read about in “What To Expect When You’re Expecting?” I don’t remember reading the part about “what to expect when your child is not doing what you expect them to be doing!”

My son has been on his own developmental timeline from the very beginning. It was really frustrating as his mother to try and figure it out and I felt alone since no one I knew was experiencing anything like this. At the time it all seemed so BIG and I felt like I had to be strong, as though if I let my true feelings of sadness, anger, and fear show, everything would fall apart.

In addition to what I was experiencing with my son, I had stopped teaching because we were moving a lot due to my husband’s work. I had essentially lost who I was as a person without the labels “wife” and “mom.” I was taking care of everyone else and not feeling particularly successful at it, after all my son wasn’t speaking or playing like other kids so I couldn’t have been a very good mother. Now, I knew this wasn’t true but at the time, it sure felt like it!

I tried everything I could think of to make myself happier – I organized, de-cluttered, exercised, ate, drank, avoided, controlled and none of it made any difference. I hit a low point and knew there had to be another way. I HAD to find myself again or I was literally going to drive everyone I loved away.

The day after a serious conversation about this with my husband, I discovered life coach Martha Beck through Oprah’s O Magazine and was hooked. She spoke my language and could laugh at the craziness of whatever life threw at her – something I needed so, so badly. I read her books, starting with “The Joy Diet,” attended small group retreats with her and began not only finding myself once again, I learned how to parent my son in a way that felt good for me and made our relationship so much better.

As I relaxed and coached my own thoughts and beliefs that were causing me pain, others began relaxing around me, particularly my son. I didn’t need him to be any different from who he was and boy did he appreciate that shift! I have learned how to bring more peace and joy into my life and I look forward to helping people who are ready to do the same!

Here we are, not having to “do” anything but just “be” in the moment.

I had an interesting conversation a few months ago with a man who has an autistic grandchild and he said,

“When I need her to be a certain way, I leave feeling like a failure and we are both frustrated with each other. When I allow her to be who she is and try to connect with her on her level, it feels so good and there is true, unforced connection.”

I decided to take Martha’s life coach training in April of 2011 and became a certified Martha Beck coach in February of 2012 because I want to help other parents who are like me, they love their children more than anything but struggle with parenting a child who is not at all what they expected. I’m here to say that it’s okay! I’ve been there and completely understand yet also know it doesn’t have to remain a struggle.

Here I am with my mentor Martha Beck. (Photo by June Bayha.)

I’m also a Sagefire Institute trained Nature Based Coach which means that I use nature as a way to help my clients see and hear what they often cannot see and hear when they are caught up in their daily lives. What drew me to nature? I’d spend hours outside as a child, sitting in trees, making leaf forts and dream homes out of clothesline, clothespins and old blankets and sheets. Reconnecting with that childhood passion has given me permission to do little things for myself that allow me to get lost in what I’m doing, in essence, to play again! When was the last time you got lost in play?

Me :-)

I love to use nature as a coach because personally, the lessons that have stuck with me the most have been those learned when out in nature and trying to make something happen. I’d get so caught in my head that I wouldn’t notice what was working and what was not. I’d be exhausting myself trying to save the world when an easier way would be looking right at me with just a shift in my method or thinking. This has been crucial for me especially in situations that are particularly challenging, like trying to fix a dangling chandelier by myself, or when I get that “I must save the world all by myself” feeling.

“How you do anything is how you do everything!”

I have participated in two equus coaching workshops with Koelle Simpson that completely changed how I parent. A horse mirrors what is going on within a person without judgement, a lot like my autistic son. This experience made me aware of the how my intentions (or lack of), attention (too much or too little) and tension had an impact on everything I was doing or not doing. When I’m upset or anxious, my son gets agitated or anxious and will follow me around REALLY close which I now understand is him trying to stay safe because in his mind, if I’m feeling like that, there must be something wrong. Realizing this and seeing it through the horses was crucial in creating a shift in how I engaged with my son and husband. This has brought us all so much more peace and joy.

Inspiration to Creation Equus Workshop March 2012 with Koelle Simpson, Diane Hunter and Abigail Steidley. (Photo by Scott Steidley of Anamsong Media.)

Another fabulous result of me finding me, was that one of my original beliefs that “doing things for myself would be selfish” could not have been more WRONG!

In doing more things that made me happy…

  • I became a better wife and mother.
  • I became more interesting and fun.
  • I was more peaceful and had my own ideas to share.

My journey began with not knowing who I was or how to find peace and joy in parenting a child who is not what I expected and along the way I’ve learned to incorporate all hat sorts of things bring me peace and joy?

  • playing tennis (especially when I win!)
  • sharing meals with my husband
  • hearing my son giggle
  • a pumpkin spiced latte
  • sitting outside doing my sit spot while the sun rises over the trees
  • seeing the moon
  • watching squirrels run through the trees
  • the smell of chili simmering while the sounds of football are in the background
  • floating on the water, looking up at the clouds
  • plaid (can be on anything, just makes me so happy and feels so good to me!)
  • getting into a round pen with a horse to play
  • laughing at the absurdities that take place every day in my life
  • connecting with like-minded people
I look forward to all of the fabulous connections I am going to be making with other people, who like me, want to live their life with as much peace and joy as they can!

Love and gratitude for you,

Margaret