Last night as Steve and I were cleaning up the kitchen, I asked him if he had read all of the comments from my parenting book post. He sighed and said, "I did. People want and need so many different things. Did asking help or did it stress you out?"
I leaned against the counter, let out a huge breath, and smiled, "For the first time since I started writing this new book I feel excited and clear. Those 150+ comments and 300+ emails were exactly what I needed. I'm ready."
I always struggle with writing. For me, the process is very much like the famous quote from Red Smith: "Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed." The parenting book has been tougher than the others because it's such vulnerable topic. The veins that need to be opened are tender.
Reading through your ideas, suggestions, and "please don'ts" was invaluable for me. What I learned in the process surprised me and changed my entire outlook about the book:
I'm not a parenting expert, I don't want to be one, and I'm not sure that I even believe in the idea of "parenting experts."
I'm a researcher and a parent. A mapmaker and a traveler.
As a mapmaker, I've spent a decade studying the paths to wholeheartedness and I've developed a strong understanding of how families forge these paths and stay on them. The map was drawn based on the stories and experiences of thousands of people who walked down different trails that were all heading in the same direction. There wasn't one model, one expert, or one way.
I've learned that wholehearted parenting is about engagement and awareness, not perfection or outcomes. I've learned that raising children who engage with the world from a place of worthiness - who believe they are enough - is almost subversive in our culture and doesn't happen by default.
As a parent, I'm trying to create and follow a path that leads our family toward love and worthiness. That doesn't make me an expert, that makes me a fellow traveler. I climb and stumble just like everyone else. There are days when it all makes sense and I can hold space for the uncertainty and vulnerablity, and there are days when I don't know how I'll make it through another night of baths and tuck-ins.
The only thing I know for sure is that embracing wholehearted living and parenting has made a profound difference in our lives. It has brought us more joy, more courage, and instilled in each of us a deep sense of love and belonging.
I am so grateful for the light that you brought to what has been a somewhat dark process. You helped me realize that there's only one book that I can write . . . it's the one based on what I know, who I am, and what I'm learning.
Thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.