Maybe it’s because I have so much in common with Heather that I know exactly what she’s talking about when she speaks of her heart gut or maybe it’s something we all understand but on very different levels.
The author of one of my favorite books speaks of a heart gut in much more clinical terms (he’s a Harvard psychology professor) but it’s the same idea. And he says that one of the worst things we can do as parents is undermine a child’s heart gut.
It is natural as parents to want to protect our kids from the ugly and the sad and the scary. But there are also ways to explain the ugly, sad and scary in a way that will not only develop their compassion and understanding, but also develop their heart gut.
Addie has a well formed heart gut. Whether it’s from being trapped inside my broken body at such an awful time or being with me through every treacherous step of my depression, the little kid is smart and in tune with what’s going on around her. The last few weeks have been no exception.
I have cried over the past few weeks. A lot.
Out of frustration, exhaustion, happiness and sometimes simply because it just seems like the only thing left to do.
Of course Addie asks why I’m crying, and while it’s tempting to hide and say that I’m not, I’m just going to the bathroom for a really long time or I have something in my eye…I don’t. I tell her why I’m crying. I explain to her the difference between a sad cry and a happy cry. And most of all I tell her it’s okay to cry, and that there are times when you are so tired it really is the only thing left to do short of pass out.
There have been times in our marriage that Cody has been tending to me when I’m not at my best. Addie comes in and asks what’s wrong. Cody will tell her “nothing” or “mom’s fine” and ask her to go out and play. He’s only trying to protect her from the scary and sad. Addie always catches my eye before leaving the room and gives me this look like “I know you’re not fine and I love you very very much but I’m going to listen to dad.” I always attempt a smile at her, or at least give her a look to acknowledge that her heart gut is right and to never stop trusting it.
And even more importantly, that I will be okay. Promise.
Do you listen to your heart gut? Do you encourage your kids to do the same?