A story from The Push

When my daughter was born, I thought it my #1 job to instill ambition and inspire greatness. But could I handle such an enormous responsibility? Raising a child calls for intelligent, life-molding decisions ... every day! I couldn't even decide on a new sofa!

So I devised a "fool-proof" strategy: read a chapter from one of my parenting how-to books before bed; brainstorm a to-do checklist for tomorrow; review the current day's checklist. Encouraged self-expression. Check. Acknowledged curiosity. Check. Reviewed ABCs. Check.

Then, one evening, everything changed.

"Everything" began in my kitchen, as I prepared dinner and my toddler lay tummy down on the kitchen floor coloring. A swirl of green over there, a whoosh of black in the middle, a thoughtful dot of brown above the black whoosh, and her work was done.

"What is it?" I asked with enthusiastic inquisitiveness, just as the child rearing books prescribed.

"It's me Mommy. I'm on top of the mountain."

I shared that doodle and "caption" with my own mother the next day. Without missing a beat, she said, "If only you could see how your daughter sees herself! You guided her up that mountain, and not with any of your textbooks or lists. You did it by intuition. It proves that you've got the stuff to be a great mother. I knew that all along, but you had to figure it out for yourself. Follow your instincts and you'll do fine."

I framed my daughter's drawing and hung it next to my bed. I did this partly because it's a lovely drawing-once you know what it is-and partly to tickle my instincts awake every morning.

My parenting techniques took a huge leap forward once I began mixing textbook how-to with instinctive know-how. Eventually I unleashed those instincts across the board-at work, with friends, and especially when dealing with my three sisters. I had the power all along to accomplish some pretty great things ... I just had to look inside and trust what I knew. And guess what? I even bought a new sofa, which I still love, 14 years later!


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