Episode 42

The Motherhood Unmasked podcast with Vanessa A. Harris Legacy and Lineage

Legacy and Lineage

Back in Episode 25, I led the charge to slay those destructive family cycles.

Thanks to Sarah Jakes Roberts, today, I’m circling back around the other side of the coin, so you leave a legacy richer than the one you inherited.

Listen to Episode 42

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Homework: Write the Vision

Circle back to the legacy vision statement you worked on and add in the good in your family legacy you want to continue. What are the precious gems among the rocks you inherited? The blessings you want to pass on?

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Episode 42 transcript

I know. You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.

And your family tree can make your family dynamic—rocky. But what are the gems among the rocks worth holding onto?

Join me for a heart to heart on today’s episode.

Hey there, Mama Bare. Vanessa here with compassion, candor and clarity for you, the mom who realizes sorting laundry isn’t the only sorting that happens in families. There are hand me downs from family members that need sifting through too.

And I’m so glad you’re here so we can think through what that looks like.

Because if you don’t, you’ll be stuck in the overwhelm of a cluttered soul: a bunch of stuff taking up space but having no proper place.

I’m one of those podcasters who doesn’t listen to a lot of podcasts, but one I regularly enjoy is Sarah Jakes Roberts’, Woman Evolve podcast, which is all about a woman’s journey to becoming the best version of herself.

Recently, she made a comment that so intrigued me I wanted to unpack it here with you.

To paraphrase, she talked about there being two sides to the coin called lineage. The blessings passed down as well as the curses.

And the tendency is to overemphasize addressing the cycle of bad habits and negative tendencies—and for good reason, since they wreak havoc in our lives.

But if you do it at the expense of holding onto the blessings, you leave too much on the table.

And that struck me.

Because you know how us mamas do. You’re listening to me while doing 10 other things, which is the beauty of a podcast over watching a video.

I was in the middle of cooking and who knows what else when her words stopped me.

Because she was right.

I talked with you about Slaying the Cycles, the harmful mindset and behaviors running down your family tree in episode 25.

It makes sense I tackled that first because not only is diagnostics my super power, I’m a diagnostician by training. So I’m totally wired to find the problem and prescribe a solution.

But there’s also a place for prevention—which was the focus of my second residency. That’s the field of medicine where you support preemptive behavior, which includes continuing what’s working while you change what isn’t.

You and I need that double-sided approach in doing the homework from last episode—outlining our legacy.
What’s been passed down in your family that’s worth keeping? What are those positive narratives and disciplines that if you get so caught up in rooting out what’s wrong, the good will slip through your fingers, leaving your family no better in the long run?

I say it all the time. You want to keep the baby, so don’t throw it out with the bath water! The baby is a blessing. What are the blessings in your family line worth holding onto, even fighting for?

Why do I say fight! Because it’s so easy to remember the bad. The struggle is holding onto the good in the midst of it.

Years ago at the dinner table, I started asking my family what was their high and their low for the day. I don’t remember who I got that from because I’d love to give them credit, but as soon as I heard it, I was all about it.
It’s mainly to get insight on what’s going on with them during all those hours away from home.

But it also serves to keep a balanced perspective about your life. As tragic as a given day feels, there’s still something good about it somewhere that’s worth keeping in the forefront.

So Sarah’s statement was a welcome reminder for me to make as much of the good I inherited and pass down as the bad I want to slay.

And it didn’t take me long to realize my unwillingness to settle and be confined to a box, my courage in the face of adversity and my work ethic are themes running down both sides of my family that I treasure.

When my father left his tiny island nation at fifteen years old after burying his mother and sailed two weeks to England where he had no family, you know what that was? Him refusing the narrative that his life was over and all he could ever have was on that tiny island in the Caribbean.

It still doesn’t make sense to me he thought to do it and had the gall to follow through except he has uncommon courage in the face of adversity. And you better believe when he got to England, he worked harder than every man around because he didn’t have his mama to feed when times got tough. He lived “if you don’t work you don’t eat” before he ever read the Bible verse.

Those life lessons I heard around my dining room table growing up soaked into my soul and emboldened me as a child. So, when I said I wanted to be a doctor and some people around me in the Bronx raised their eyebrows, I continued unfazed because I knew who I came through and the story won’t die with me.

I fight to instill those lessons in my children because those character qualities are counter cultural.

You don’t have to go further than social media to see everything quick, convenient, and cute glamorized over the patience, diligence, and wits needed to ground you in your pursuits. Nothing in the culture supports those values, so it’s up to my husband and I to live it and drum it into our children—regardless of their protest.

Because it’s those very qualities that made us who we are and kept the junk we also inherited from totally consuming us. So there really is nothing like joining prevention with prescription.

This week’s homework is to go back to the legacy mission statement you started last week and add in the gems from your family you want to keep as part of your legacy.

And if you’re having trouble thinking of what to write, first of all, this is not a graded assignment and, two, we’re not trading papers or smart phones. So, no one will see what you wrote, and it doesn’t have to be formal and formatted.

Just make note of the things you’d love to find your grown children believing, saying, doing and continuing with their own children. And they’re not doing it because you’re there and they feel obligated but because they’ve experienced the benefit.

Now I’ve shared a bit about what I want to pass on, but every mama is different, so our legacies will be also.

And if you’re game, I’d love to hear what’s on your list. Comment on this episode’s post on IG or leave me a message on my website at vinelifefaith.com/podcast. That’s also where you sign up for my email with links to monthly heart to heart articles, resources to help you shine as a woman and a mom, and how you can to support the production of this podcast.

When you sign up you’ll get instant access to my family function welcome gift which includes the 7 daily affirmations for moms, a chore chart which I always say is the best self-care for moms, and my 8 easy tips for bringing a little structure to the chaos at home. All 3 of these are my gift to you when you sign up for my emails at vinelifefaith.com/podcast.

Before we close out, I just want you to know you’re doing great. You’re parenting in tough times and you make your fair share mistakes like the rest of us, but if you’re listening to this podcast, that means you’re showing up and doing more than hoping it all works out. Your presence in your home makes a difference and I’m honored to play a part in helping you own your influence as a mom.

Have an amazing day and remember, when it comes to you being the mother of your children—YOU are the woman for the job. Take care.

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