As I was listening to some heartache from one of my kids the other week, an image came to mind. I saw a crack. Like the kind you see when the foundation of a house settles or when wood splits. I then felt the split, the wound, the crack in my own body (for them). Left alone and unfilled, wood begins to rot, structures lose their strength- our bodies, their bodies, do the same.
When you start out having children, no one tells you about the many heartaches you will have to relive. Through your children’s eyes, hearts and souls, you will feel the pains of rejection, self-doubt, and any other discomfort that is a part of growing up. You will feel their hurt. You will think back to your own life experiences when you felt broken.
While listening to my child’s hurt, I then pictured that crack filling in with love. As adults we are empowered with life experiences that can help heal them, to give them the tools to help make them whole again. I then pictured sprinkling their wounds with seeds of love, assurance, advice, courage, and affirmations. And like a garden, you cannot just plant the seeds and expect to return to a blooming plant. Conversations are the rain that nourishes those seeds. Love is what helps them bloom again.
I know everyday is not all sunshine and roses. It’s really difficult as a parent to do and say all the right things. During the times when I feel tired and lack the energy to be their sunshine, I think about how only a few words and a smile makes all the difference in the world to them. Impatience. Sometimes I feel impatient. But impatience is the desire to have our own needs met first. And while we certainly need to take care of ourselves, a few meaningful words go a long way. I write this to remind myself- I can be guilty of not really listening. When I am not listening, I see disappointment and the cracks expand. They want to know that they are being heard, being loved.
The tip of the iceberg is not even here (for us). They are 10 and 12. The real heavy matters that are a part of growing up are on our horizon. If you are standing on that iceberg, tend to their gardens with conversation and love. Keep planting those seeds with patience. The pressures of getting good grades, fitting in socially, dating, driving, trying to be an adult while still being a kid, can really wreak havoc on their foundations. Both the parent and child are battling for external power. Talk about what it means to be reverent. With reverence, there is no need for a power struggle. If we revere one another, a mutual respect comes to life.
We want our our kids to grow up to be whole. They will hurt, we will hurt, and together we will patch one another. However, there are limitations on how much repairing we can do, as they need to eventually lead the way. I picture handing each of them a tool box after showing them how to use the tools. We can still come together to work, but ultimately they need to be able to use the tools on their own, so they can fill in their foundations and make their own gardens grow.