Parenting as Spiritual Practice
Our child(ren) are our greatest teachers. I truly believe that. I also believe that they choose their parents specifically and intentionally in each lifetime based on what their soul wants or needs to learn in that specific lifetime.
Parenting can be messy. From sleep deprivation to tantrums to zero time for yourself, it's so easy to lose track of the bigger picture, and of ourselves. Before you know it, you're behaving in ways towards your child that you never could have imagined before they were born. Maybe you yell, maybe you're not as present or as patient as you had hoped, maybe you're not able to hold space for them in the way that you know they need when they have big emotions, or perhaps you find that you're unable to share in their joy because your own heart feels blocked or numb more often than you previously realized. It's easy to fall into feelings of guilt about not being a good enough parent.
What I want to suggest is that all of these 'shortcomings,' all of these so-called failings that every parent experiences (sometimes daily) are important opportunities for us to pause, reflect and go deeper into our own healing and growth as human beings (and as parents).
Our children so clearly show us our own wounds. This is such a gift. If we can notice where we are "falling short" then we can begin to look more closely at this particular aspect of ourselves to see what needs healing.
One of the things that my daughter has made me aware of more recently is just how rare it is for me to experience joy. True, spontaneous, uninhibited joy. I would watch her pick a flower, or notice a squirrel run across the fence and she would be filled with such pure joy. She would excitedly call to me, "Mommy! Look at this beautiful flower!!" She would belly laugh, smile and just delight in the experience as she would tell me what colour it was, what shape the petals were, and how sweet it smelled. One day as I was watching her do this I found myself wondering what that must feel like. I realized that I couldn't recall the last time I felt that kind of joy, as an adult or as a child. I delight in my daughter. I feel joy when I'm with her, but outside of her, I simply can't locate that kind of joy in my day to day experience. I'm sure that some readers can relate to this. I was immediately filled with an overwhelming amount of sadness. At what point did I lose this connection to joy? Did I still have it when I was my daughter's age? How could I reclaim it? I want my daughter to have a mother who is connected to joy (or at least can recall the last time she felt it!)
This moment was pivotal because it set me off on a journey of looking more closely at my own childhood, the dynamics within my own family growing up, and ultimately it led me to begin a process of reparenting myself that was the necessary next step in my own conscious evolution. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I am on the path and that's all that matters. There have been so many lessons already and I am grateful for each one.
If we slow down and take some time to reflect each day most of us will find that our days are rich with these opportunities to uncover more about ourselves and to journey more deeply into our healing. Allow your child to be your guide and remember that everything you integrate within yourself benefits your child as well. Working on ourselves is perhaps the greatest gift we can give our children in return for their bringing our awareness to our own wounds.