Parenting is both the most challenging and most rewarding part of my life. There is always more to learn. However, there are a few things to which I’m committed: being present and being honest.
Being present is not always easy for me. I always have something going on in my head, and it’s easy for me to live in that world instead of the world around me. If I’m not lost in my own thoughts, I might be talking on the phone or checking e-mail. But my children need me to be present with them. I must consciously take time to connect. Mealtimes are great connecting points. I value being at table together. Not only do we feast on food, but we also feast on each other’s stories. Any follow-up needed is usually at tuck-ins. The security of being curled up under the covers seems to help my kids open up.
I guess it’s about being available. I’m a working mom, but I have some flexibility. There may be seasons when I’m working on a project that I have less time with the kids than at other times, but they are still the priority. I’ve got to stay connected.
When my son came to me with his broken heart, I could have said, “It’s okay. Stop crying. You’ll be all right,” silencing his words and shaming his feelings. This response may have been an indication of my own uncomfortableness with his pain. It’s hard to see my son suffer. I want to fix it, make it better. But I can’t. The best thing I can do is be with him in his pain. I shared my own story with him about making friends. I told him that there are times that I like to keep my heart locked up in a box because it can hurt to love people. We do life together, and then they move to Kansas or even Africa. Sometimes I think that if I didn’t make any more friends that I wouldn’t hurt. But I really do love people, so I take the risk to open up…again.
In order to be that honest with my son, I have to be in touch with what is going on in my own head and heart. That’s Self-Awareness. As I share my story, he knows that he is not alone and that he’s not strange for feeling the way he feels. Every time we share like this, the bridge between our hearts is strengthened. And that’s what life is all about, isn’t it – heart connections?