The Wizard of Oz is one of my all time favorite stories. I can relate to the Tinman, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow respectively when I’m feeling the need for heart, courage, and brainpower. And in a deeper sense, I connect to Dorothy.
In my early years as a mother I thought I could find the answers to all of my parenting questions in a book. I believed that the experts could tell me how to raise my children. It took me years of seeking before I realized that the answers were not out there. Like Dorothy I thought I had to metaphorically travel far and wide only to find that all I needed was right here. What I lacked wasn’t knowledge, but trust in myself.
With this internal doubt, I went madly seeking outside myself for answers. I found lots. It was a mixed bag of answers, but I was willing to try it all because I thought someone – anyone – knew better than I. The fact was that no one knew me or my children better than I did. It took me many years and dozens of trips to our local bookstore to finally realize this. I’m still a huge fan of parenting books and parent education – I just know now that they are simply a resource from which to pull information that we can combine with our own experience and insights, not a quick fix, a formula to follow, or a means to an end.
Thankfully, my frenzied search was never in vain. I found some excellent resources and learned many things of great value that have stayed with me throughout my years of parenting. What I didn’t realize at the time was that those books and parenting classes weren’t a substitute for my own inner knowing. My lack of self-trust had me believing that I needed someone else to tell me what to do. The answers seemed to be “out there” somewhere. Like Dorothy, I hoped that there was a magic that would make my troubles melt like lemon drops. On the upside, my optimism and curiosity compelled me to continue my search for answers.
Fortunately, my perseverance led me right back to myself every time, and eventually I began to listen to my own inner voice. Everyone talks about a mother’s intuition. Well, I finally found mine. In reality, it was there all along, just like Dorothy’s ability to get back home. I just didn’t know it until I began to pay attention.
Parenting is one of the more humbling experiences in life. Around every corner is a new challenge. Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, flying monkeys come out of nowhere in the form of screeching toddlers and shouting teenagers. Like Dorothy and her crew, we must remain strong and stay the course.
What my own insights have taught me is that we can learn to meet our kids right where they are because no book or expert has the perfect formula since every child is unique. We must read what compels us, take what works, and leave what doesn’t. In parenting as in life, trial and error is key and learning from our mistakes is paramount.
Above all, we must always accept and embrace our children, especially when they are their worst selves; for it is when they are their most unlovable that they need our love the most. We are their parents for a reason, and we often know much more than we think we do. Because, the truth is that when it’s all said and done, there really is no place like home.