I broke my ankle.

I fractured my ankle. My fibula, to be precise.

(Spoiler alert: It was a last September, and I'm almost fully recovered.)

But what ended up fracturing last fall was way more than a bone.

I missed two planned Spartan races due to my fracture.

At the time, the fracture and healing period felt like such a set-back.

But it was actually a much-needed reset.

I'm a single mom with 80% custody of my daughter.

When LP was a toddler and I was not the primary breadwinner, I prioritized her experiential learning and contributions.

When we baked and I knew she might spill flour on the floor, I still handed her the measuring cup.

I made space for the mess of her learning.

I included her in household chores even though they took twice as long with her "help."

I made time for the slowness of her learning.

Then somewhere, along the way of becoming the provider and protector on top of the caregiver, I ran out of time and capacity for the messes, for the slowness of doing things together, and for taking time to involve her.

I thought the fastest way to do it all was to do it myself.

I turbo cleaned the house at night while she slept. I organized and laundried and vacuumed and mopped and grocery shopped and cooked as much as I could without her so I could get it done quickly.

As a result, at five, her primary role in our family became doing whatever the heck she wanted while I chased a never-ending to do list.

A few days into hobbling around our house (you never realize how many stairs you have until you're on crutches) and doing everything at half my normal speed, I realized this fractured fibula "set back" was actually a reset.

I needed LP's help. With a LOT.

Oh boy, I thought, she's going to hate this. Here comes the complaining and the whining for help.

I underestimated her.

"Okay, Mama!" "Sure, Mama!" "I can go get that, Mama!"

(Other than one grumbled, "I want old Mama back," 😆 after a particularly long day) She responded to my need for her help by stepping up in ways I didn't even know she was capable.

LP carried laundry baskets up and down flights of stairs (after helping fold it and before putting hers away).

She stepped up to feed and let out our dog.

She vacuumed her bedroom and mine.

She brought me my water bottle anytime she noticed it wasn't within my reach.

My lack of capacity ended up being a beautiful invitation for her to show up for our little family.

She accepted it, and we've never looked back.

Turns out she was leagues more capable - and willing - than I gave her credit for.

I think we all do this with our kids at some point in their growing up.

The only way to know if we are underestimating them is to stop assuming the

Maybe we underestimate their ability to play independently, so we hand them a screen they didn't even ask for yet.

Maybe we underestimate their strength, so we carry their backpack for them before and after school.

Maybe we underestimate their creativity, so the first time they say they're bored, we solve it for them.

Maybe we underestimate their ability to recognize what needs to be done, so we bark out orders without waiting for them to observe the situation (oh 👋 it's me).

When we do this, we fail to create the space for our kids to surprise us, to blow our socks off, and maybe to surprise themselves.

They crave purpose. They're equipped to solve boredom. They want to contribute.

We have to make space for them to do it.

Their confidence, self-worth and self-determination will thank us.

Jenna Lee "🤞 my next parenting lesson won't involve a broken bone" Dillon

PS - Want to learn how to not only involve your child in household duties but actually raise a kid who does this stuff without being asked? Hunt, Gather, Parent is your resource. I can't recommend this book enough!

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