69: Along for the Ride

69: Along for the Ride

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

Along for the Ride

You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.

~Clay P. Bedford

Volunteer, movie star, spokesperson, relief worker, life coach, dog food model, and published author — an extensive résumé for anyone. Even more impressive when one discovers that these are all jobs previously held by my now fourteen-year-old son, most before the age of six. During the fourteen years I have been a mom, I have been employed in a variety of weird and wonderful positions and pursued equally as many passions in a variety of states, countries and industries. By the time Jackson was seven he had been to Australia, Fiji, the Bahamas, Antigua, Germany, Mexico and a host of other places.

When my husband died, my son was only two and a half — so ever since then we have gone everywhere together, inseparable (in a healthy, non-coddling, creating independence way of course). As we both adjusted to our new lives, I worked hard to create income and opportunities that would provide for us and be rewarding and creative. As I embarked on each new journey, so did he. Here is a brief rundown of my endeavors and my son’s role in each as I roped him into one experience after another — like Lucy and Ethel — committed to being a hands-on mom who spent quality time with her kid, while working full-time.

When I was consulting for a talent agency, they couldn’t find the right child to play the only speaking kid’s part so my son ended up in a television movie with Dean Cain. When I co-founded a relief organization after Hurricane Katrina, Jackson became a relief worker as well as frequent spokesperson on the local news (what is cuter than a seven-year-old asking people to donate and volunteer?). When I was teaching personal development seminars and doing training, Jackson would help greet my clients and could often be heard doling out unsolicited advice he remembered from the countless talks and sessions that he had attended. When I consulted for the Kabbalah Center, my son became our own resident Kabbalist explaining ancient philosophy to random people, including valet parking attendants, barbers and supermarket checkout staff. When I was working as a Master Trainer for Tony Robbins my son fire-walked, broke boards and helped deliver food to the homeless for Thanksgiving. Most recently, in my role at Chicken Soup for the Soul, my son has written and published two stories and become the model on our Chicken Soup for the Soul pet food — puppy formula. Sometimes begrudgingly — sometimes happily — he has been a featured member of every team I have ever been a part of. He has learned to interact with adults in a mature and respectful way and has always taken these responsibilities very seriously, even if he didn’t understand them and would have rather been home catching lizards or playing Xbox.

Through all of these adventures, one thing has remained constant: the love and connection that my son and I share. I have found ways to incorporate him as much as possible into my work so that we could spend more time together. I have sought out and been fortunate to have found opportunities that would allow for those special moments and ways to create memories. Today, Jackson is proud, resilient and strong. He tells the tales of his adventures with a smile on his face and a sense of accomplishment. My busy life and hectic parenting style have resulted in a child who is flexible and can handle anything life throws at him. His childhood has certainly not been conventional, but this busy mom wouldn’t have it any other way.

~Joelle Jarvis

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