I’m in full swing with being a parent…my daughters are 5 and 7 years old. There are days when it’s wonderful and there are days when it all feels quite overwhelming. Since my work is focused on development, growth and new steps, I am musing about how parenting for me has been a practice in so many ways of my next step, my next growth and the source of my greatest fulfillment.
As a mother I have had little time for meditation retreats, long walks of contemplation and extended moments of silence. Not having this led me to question if I have been growing as a spiritual human being? It sure feels like every ounce of me has grown, has changed, has expanded and evolved in these past 7 years plus the 9 months of my first pregnancy. And so what has that looked like? Felt like? How do I put those shapes, colors and feelings to words? I also began considering how my path as a parent has perhaps been my own spiritual path and that along the way there have been countless practices leading me to where I am right now.
Parenting is a spiritual experience of being in service to another human being.
It is about serving with love and compassion.
It is a practice in loosening the grip of your ego.
It is about opening and growing your heart.
It is a continual practice in patience.
It is about absolute commitment.
It is about something much larger than any of us, no matter what age or life stage we’re at.
It is a practice of being totally in the moment.
It is a practice in slowing down.
It is a practice in being playful and childish.
It is a practice in giving of yourself.
It is a practice in doing the simple things in life; the mundane for some of us.
It is a practice in femininity.
It is a practice in containing and managing one’s anger – anger at all the losses felt as one becomes a parent. The losses are huge; but the gains are huge too. It is a practice in seeing that, acknowledging that and living with that.
It is a practice in coming to terms with exhaustion, ageing, a changing body (for both men and women), loss of energy, and changes in sexual energy and interest.
It is a practice in staying in rather than running away. Yes, there have been lots of times where I just wanted to escape from it all.
It is a practice in seeing your partner/your spouse in a totally different way.
It is a practice in love and contempt.
It is a practice in attachment and non-attachment to all the things you knew and were and could do before your child arrived.
It is a practice in moving ourselves out of the way to make room for another human being.
It is a practice in seeing how similar we are to other parents and what we all go through in raising our children.
It is a practice in growing a community of support.
It is a practice in easing up on our expectations; of the kind of baby we’ll have, of the kind of mother or father we’ll be, of what we’ll be able to achieve in a day/week/month…
It is a practice in deepening and widening our capacity for love, tolerance, patience, understanding and wisdom.
It is a practice in enlarging your heart…to depths and widths you never imagined you could go.
It is a practice in faith. It is a practice in believing in something so much larger, so much bigger than each of us.
It is a practice in laughter, joy, and hilariousness. It is the deepest and most fulfilling source of joy I have ever known.
It is a practice in turning your life upside down and then seeing how well you keep your feet on the ground. Good luck!
It is a practice in living with uncertainty, unpredictability, and constant change.
It is a practice in letting go.
It is a practice in forgiveness and in unconditional love.
It is a practice in seeing the bigger picture; that’s sometimes the only thing that keeps you going.
It is a practice in coming face to face with our deepest fears and our deepest and rawest vulnerabilities. It is a practice in facing the most difficult moments we’ll ever face.
It is a daily practice in decision-making, flexibility, quick responses, new moves and adaptation.
It is a practice in being the “you” that you most fully want to be…as your child gets to know you it’s as if you have a chance to start fresh.
It is a practice in heart opening, in the deepest and fullest love you might ever feel.
And so the list could continue…and it will with the years to come as my daughters grow into teenagers and then young adults. If I asked my mom today she could probably add much more to this list as she continues in every imaginable way to be a mother to me. And so with this I offer to myself to stop questioning whether I have been growing or developing spiritually over all these years. I give myself permission to stop worrying about that and to know and trust that all of me is a culmination of so much learning, the wisdom that comes from experience and a deeply felt life of love and love of life.
I hope that you will also consider giving yourself permission to relax and enjoy who and what you are already, today, right now.