I remember those nights spent snuggled against my own mom’s warmth, a big bowl of popcorn resting on my knees as the buttery smell floated through the air. For a six-year-old, nights spent with mom, eating popcorn, and watching the Wizard of Oz were wonderful. And like every other six-year-old in 1983, my favorite part was watching Glinda the Good Witch float down from the heavens in all her technicolor glory.
Glinda was kind. Glinda was wise. Glinda was patient. Glinda had the good sense to guide Dorothy on her journey but allowed her to find her own answers. Of course, I didn’t realize these traits at six. Instead, I loved Glinda for her cotton candy dress, three-story tiara, and glittering wand that would make any six-year-old envious.
Fast forward to many years later when I became a mom. I stood in the nursery staring down at my little jaundiced child wrapped up like a burrito in blankets. She squirmed in the crib, her fists clenched as she screamed for me to fix some invisible problem only she could see.
Her father and I rocked, fed, and sang to her, but she still screamed with her arms flailing like she was hailing the nearest taxi out of town. I listened as her rhythmic cries echoed throughout our normally quiet house, and I wanted to cry too. Okay, I did cry. Then, in my exhausted state, I thought of Glinda.
I wanted to be Glinda. I wanted to be patient, wise, and kind, but I was frustrated and afraid because being a mother was different than I had imagined. “I should be able to handle this,” I thought to myself.
I took a breath and decided to choose patience over perfection and love over fear. I decided to become a mom. I picked up that screaming five-pound burrito and held her in my arms until she fell asleep. I channeled Glinda; I chose love.
Since my early days of motherhood, I’ve thought of Glinda countless times. When my son does the potty dance for the third time in the middle of the grocery store—I breathe, push my cart to the side, and channel Glinda. When my daughter comes home from school, face tear-stained and heart broken because another little girl wouldn’t let her play at recess, I wait, listen, and channel Glinda.
Over the years, I’ve learned the secret to channeling Glinda is simple but not easy; it requires a little patience and a lot of parenting from the heart. Here are a few things I’ve learned about parenting from the heart, or as I like to call it, “channeling Glinda”:
Think Love. Take time to observe your children, especially when they’re driving you nuts. Admire the way they giggle, the way their voices sound, or how the corners of their mouths turn down when they cry.
Also, take time to reflect on yourself as a child. What did you want from adults? Chances are that’s what your kids want too. “Thinking love” doesn’t mean your kids rule your life. Instead, it means setting boundaries, allowing them to fail, even disappointing them sometimes, but through it all they can turn to you for kindness and love.
Let the Wicked Witch out only on special occasions. We all have our Wicked Witch moments. That’s me when I lose control over a situation. I let her out when my kids run across the street without looking, get lost in a store, or put themselves in dangerous situations. What can I say? I’m a worrier. I figure those times call for the Wicked Witch because she gets their attention, but I always try to reel her back in when the situation is over.
Say adios to perfection. I was actually relieved when I finally realized that perfection wasn’t attainable. In the picture below my daughter hadn’t brushed her hair for our Christmas card photos, so I covered it with a hat. It wasn’t perfect at the time, but now I love this picture because it shows who she really is, tangles and all.
Just breathe. My fall back plan is usually breathing. The kids are fighting? Breathe. The dog has eaten my daughter’s dance shoes? Breathe.
There are many types of breathing exercises, but I like to keep it simple. I inhale and count, “One, two, three,” and then exhale while counting, “One, two, three.” My kids have gotten so use to it that they join in.
Return to Love. One day our houses will be quiet again while our grown children are navigating their own yellow brick roads. On those days, we ‘ll miss hearing them argue over who gets to sit next to mommy, and we’ll wish for it just one more time.
On those days, we’ll clasp our aged hands together and think how grateful we are that we were patient (and occasionally imperfect) moms who chose love. Why? Because our children will know that, no matter what adventures await them down the road, there really is “no place like home.”
QUESTION: What does mothering from the heart mean to you? How can you “channel Glinda” more in your parenting?
CHALLENGE: Take the time this week to mother from the heart. Observe how your children respond to it.
Photos courtesy of Amy Fonseca