Motherhood and Zen

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my varied roles; partner, friend, business owner, creative, photographer, mediator, psychologist, housekeeper, educator, healer, mother…

Mother?! Holy crap! That’s like the most important job there is!

I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘motherhood’ and parenting and the hard work of raising balanced, emotionally secure humans.

What’s right and what’s wrong? What do I believe is best? Where do I fit most comfortably on the parenting style continuum? How do I want my children to see me? What do I want them to learn about being human from me?

Because I have to be that person.

These small people hold me accountable for being the absolute best version of me available with my current operating system. As I learn and grow and evolve, expectations will shift. As always, ‘when we know better, we do better’.

With this goal in mind, more and more of the time, I succeed. And as time goes by, with practice and repetition, I build new neural pathways. I update my operating system. Or as I like to say, I “level up”.

Kids have state-of-the-art bullshit detectors, leaving no real choice but to get zen…fast.

I’ve been a work in progress since 2003. That’s what motherhood is, a work in progress. On-the-job training. With only the future of our species at stake- no pressure, right?

Anyhow, I digress…

I like to think of this whole motherhood gig like this…

I am their tour guide to this experience festival we call life. It’s my job to let them explore while offering relevant information all while keeping them safe and without putting too much of a damper on their good time. I am not a queen, or a dictator, or a jail warden… and I will neither parent, nor guide their education, as such.

From a distance, what we’re doing could easily be called “free range parenting”.  But I’m not really a fan of living inside of boxes, no matter how alternative. I believe my philosophies on parenting, and childhood, and adulthood, and life go so much deeper than the latest trending headline. I say these things, and I also realize that parenting is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. I understand that for a great many families, our way would simply not work.

However, I do mean to start a conversation, to get people thinking about this sacred path we’ve been entrusted by the universe to walk with these sweet souls we like to call ‘our’ children. That claiming of ownership has always made me feel a wee bit uneasy. I guess that’s where I’ll start, with the assumed ownership that seems to go hand-in-hand with what our society has taught us about child-rearing.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not perfect. I get fed up, I fall into ruts and take it all for granted. I have my impatient moments (sometimes days), and I forget that they’re not mine to control. I forget that my place as mother is to stand by them, to hold their hands until they’re feeling steady enough to let go. That can be literal, as T hangs on tightly to my fingers, slowly learning to balance, each step on his shaky new legs a great victory. It can be metaphorical, as I do my best to support the biggest of our littles, offering an ear and an open heart, as she begins her journey through the challenging terrain of the tween and teen years.

I read this quote, almost a decade ago, in Mothering Magazine…

Remember, you are not managing an inconvenience. You are raising a human being.

And all these years it’s stuck with me, the most beautiful mantra that has lead to exponential personal growth.

I, too, have moments where I just want to tell them what to do and I really just want them to listen. Because gosh darn it! I’m their mother and they ought to respect me.
They ought to respect me for that time I didn’t intervene with sperm meeting egg?
Oh wait… now that I am thinking about it, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
That’s kind of just part of the package with any healthy, fully-functioning mammal.
Yep, the happenstance of their place here earth side really doesn’t entitle me to their respect.

Yes, I do a lot for them on a daily basis, but what I do are things that they are not yet capable of doing and whatever the circumstances, I am the reason they are here. I brought them into this world and it’s my responsibility to care for them until they are capable of caring for themselves.

I suppose one could say that “I brought them into this world” = automatic respect.
I’m just not comfortable with demigod status. I am, after all, a mere mortal.

So clearly, my only option is to be a person they respect. This is probably the most difficult, albeit more rewarding, option. 

I become a person they can respect by respecting them; true respect doesn’t come from force or coercion.

So here I am, with a decade of trying to be a better person under my belt, still working through my shit. I am sharing it with you here, hoping it might aid you through your own thought processes as you trudge through all the outdated versions of yourself on your way to a future filled with more brightness, more joy, more love.

As always, much luck to you, my fellow earthling, as we embark on this journey… this beautiful act of co-creation.

As together we hurtle through space, struggling and smiling and singing and dancing our way along… all the while giving thanks to the stars that we’ve been entrusted with this sacred task we call motherhood.