With busy schedules, mounting societal pressures to perform, and an abundance of distractions, parenting can be a tough job. Everyone, experienced or not, has an opinion on how children should be raised and quickly offer solutions. We can easily become overwhelmed and lose confidence as we drown in a swirling pool of voices and expectations. When this happens, we fail to nurture the greatest gift we have been given as parents; our heart.
One Friday morning, I found myself at the best garage sale ever. Imagine, a 6-foot long table covered in assembled Lego sets for only $40! As a mother to one avid Lego builder, I bought the entire collection. Christmas was approaching and I could imagine the excitement for this little guy! Then, as I turned to leave, I saw a bookshelf and boxes full of books. Not just random books but early teen adventure series; a sweet spot!
My twelve-year-old is a voracious reader and loves books just as much as I do. In years past, our relationship has struggled. During times when we couldn’t talk nicely to each other, books created a common ground and opened up a safe form of communication. I would read what he was reading just so we could have something to talk about. It was a sweet connection point and as I stood there, I kept wishing I had his input on which books should join our collection.
As I headed home, I had the thought to go get him from school and take him to the garage sale. I brushed it off, called it unnecessary, and laughed at the pile of 30 books I had already purchased. He is at school, after all, and we have plenty of reading material. I hid the books for Christmas and moved forward with the day, but the thought came again even clearer. Who pulls their child out of school for a garage sale!? Despite my efforts to dismiss the idea, it persisted.
Finally, I threw up my hands and followed my heart. When I picked him up from school, he looked at me like I’d lost my mind and questioned, “You picked me up for a garage sale!?” By now, my excitement was bubbling over and it didn’t take long for him to join in. In no time, we were both full of excitement as we sorted through the remaining books. Finally, as we walked to the car he declared, “We just bought 25 books for $16. That’s as much as one hardback book, Mom! Best garage sale ever!”
I allowed myself to be in the moment with an open heart, free of judgment, and it was fabulous! I feel such energy as I think about the joy we shared that day and the future connection these books and this experience will bring.
Parenting is a multi-faceted adventure. Routine, structure, limits, boundaries, and natural consequences all play an important role in the healthy development of children. Countless books and programs have been written to guide parents in these areas. It is my belief, that equally important is the need to nurture and parent with heart. It is our powerful guide in this parenting journey. My invitation is to allow yourself to listen to and trust your heart.
I don’t know of a parenting book or program that would suggest taking a child out of school to go to a garage sale; nor am I suggesting that. It simply worked in this situation. Each family and parent-child relationship is unique. It could have been gifting a book after school, sharing a treat and talking about the next book on the list, or simply creating a few moments to relish in the strengths of this child. Quite simply, there is not always a perfect set of steps to follow. When we allow the heart to guide as we teach and love our children, we invite a quiet sense of calm and confidence. It is that sense of confidence I invite you to claim.