Tending the Flame: The Art of UU Parenting

by Anne Godlasky

Note: This month, I asked Anne Godlasky, one of the parents in the Tending the Flame circle, to reflect on her experience in that group. I’m so glad she agreed to do so. Robin Pugh, Director of Lifespan Faith Engagement

I signed up for Tending the Flame: The Art of UU Parenting not knowing how on Earth I’d make room for it — worn out from working, schooling and parenting under the same roof, with no end in sight; already feeling behind in every arena without the weight of a new commitment. But how to be the kind of parent I want to be, a UU parent, was need-to-know information. I raised my virtual hand immediately, for my children’s benefit. But it ended up being for my own.

Before the first session, Robin promised: “We’ve designed a program that is informative and heart filled.” She doesn’t lie. Like the Coming into Connection and Family Chalice Circle curricula, Robin and Rev. Kim asked thought-provoking questions within a framework that tenderly but effectively guided discussion.

After the very first session, I came to look forward to our monthly meetings. The two hours flew by in a blur of laughter, vulnerability and storytelling, punctuated by stillness, meditation, poetry and prayer. Children and pets often made cameos. All were welcome.

Even though I’m a remote member of UUCWC after leaving New Jersey in 2019, I got to know the ten other parents better than I ever had chatting in the coffee line or by the swing set (when I inevitably had one eye on my kids about to spill lemonade or battle over Legos). I learned about these members — their children, their challenges, their philosophies — and they learned about mine. It’s the type of camaraderie that can only be formed between parents going through it. But unlike nearly every other parental space, Tending the Flame was a judgment-free zone. “This is a safe space,” one mom said during our last session. We all nodded in agreement.

“I love these people,” I said to my wife after one session, still smiling. I chose to invest time, attention, energy and emotion. I got back so much more. Tending the Flame was a way of tending to myself, as I, like many moms, seldom do. And my teachers-classmates had a way of renewing my faith in the goodness of people, as UUCWC always does.

Anne Godlasky and Jessica Mark are members who live with their two girls in Rockville, MD