I have always been passionate about human evolution and the betterment of our world, but after having a baby my passion for helping the planet and others abruptly weaned as I began only to care about or feel connected to this one being. My entire focus became intensely about my daughter and motherhood. At times this reality made me sad, but mostly it confused me. How could you just disconnect from your passions overnight? And would I ever give care to put my energy towards anything else? (Yes.) In those early months I kept wondering if my passion for the world outside my tiny nucleus would ever return. As lost in bliss as I was, the memory of a life devoted to more would sometimes seep in. As my daughter grows with her relationship to the world around her and I am relieved of some of the intensity that comes along with the first couple of years, I can see glimmers of myself beginning to emerge again. Lately I can feel some of my creative, globally-focused energies flowing again! (If you have a new baby and are feeling like, "What is going on? Where did I go?" Don't fret. Just relax. You are where you need to be right now and soon the tide will change and more of you will emerge again.) I can now see that what I thought was a falling away of myself was really just a process of further embodiment. And what I thought was a falling away of my passion for evolution was really just a period of wisdom-gathering for that very passion.
Because as it turns out... Parenting is the ultimate laboratory for human potential and evolution.
Its demanding nature really pushes you to your edges and invites you to address the conditioning and wounds from your own childhood. That, in essence, is evolution. Consciously growing beyond your limitations, healing that which stands in the way of your full potential and rewiring early life conditioning. I think the hardest part of parenting is that, while we are the adults, we're not ALL grown-up yet. And it's those places and parts in us that will emerge, especially under the pressure, sleeplessness and demand of parenting.
I believe that our children are an integral part of our healing and karmic work. They are always going to mirror where we most need to grow in emotional maturity, patience, compassion, and capacity to give and receive. They are also going to expose where we are numb or blind, parenting in just the ways our parents did, using the same language and techniques even if they were not ones we would ideally want to use. Children show us where we need to heal, grow and cultivate better tools for dealing with the stuff of life.
In order to shift the paradigm of the human condition we have to start within our own small ecosystem- our family. Our relationships with our partner and children are where the best work can be done. I mean, marriage... amiright?! Well, kids hold an even greater button pushing power then our partners. There's this misconception that enlightenment comes from going off to a mountain top alone, or perhaps even on a yoga mat. We assume that the journey towards enlightenment is exclusively a solo one. While it is important to take the issues and insights that emerge for you into a private realm of reflection, I dare to presume that if your ego can boldly face what will arise for you in your most intimate relationships you are half way to heaven! Mindful parenting is a master level course in human growth. And I don't mean for the kids! Where better to grow lightyears then with a walking mirror held up to yourself at every angle, all day and night?!
Through all my own personal healing work and the work I have done with countless clients, I can tell you that disturbed attachment and emotional illiteracy is at the absolute core of our emotional "issues" and life struggles. Our culture is obsessed with proselytizing baby independence and focusing so much energy on physical milestones... walking, talking, solid food, etc. But what about emotional development? That is still a conversation working hard to make its way into the mainstream, yet it is THE conversation we parents all need to be having within ourselves and each other. (Sometimes I wonder if we want our babies to become independent quickly because the process of meeting their real needs provokes stuff inside of us that we don't want to be with?? Just a thought. Maybe we've just been listening to too many sources outside ourselves for too many generations and now it's time to tug our attention back inward. Now it's time to become attuned to ourselves and therefore our babes at even deeper levels.)
We all love our kids more then anything else under the sun, but can we gently allow ourselves to explore and expose how we are showing up for them? Most of us parents are too hard on ourselves as it is and I am weary of this conversation triggering the dreadful doubt, guilt and insecurity that can sometimes arise for us. I want to clarify that this isn't about "Am I a good enough parent? Am I F*$%ing up my kid?" This is about "How can I use this relationship (with my kid) for my own spiritual expansion and emotional growth?"
When I am triggered by my daughters behavior sometimes I feel the urge to scream wildly at her. Yeah, it's not a gracious experience. While I suppress actual yelling, an angry and inflexible energy does comes over me and I disconnect from her. Cold and disconnected is not how I want to show up, ever! but it happens from time to time. Having this awareness is the first step in transforming where I am coming from. Unraveling an insight into oneself can catapult major changes in your relationship. Those crappy responses that arise inside of me can get decoded through my awareness of it. It's important to bring it to light rather then just melting into the guilt we feel when we're not as "good" as we want to be in a moment. We always feel the ick of an icky moment and that's okay. To some degree its healthy to be aware of what feels in integrity with our values and what doesn't. Guilt is what happens when we don't know what to do with that awareness and that energy gets turned against us rather then us using it for our own healing and growth. (Next post will focus on conditioning, triggers and how to deal with them)
Because children require us to be truly unconditional, we can expect that our relationship with them will illuminate all the places we are conditioned and limited. When we find ourselves stretched to current capacity we are often encountering a place where perhaps we hold hurts of our own and are therefore arrested in our own development. These are the places our children will masterfully expose in us in order to help us heal and grow. We are not the know-all authorities here. These beings are wonderful teachers if we can humble ourselves to their offering. If we are brave enough to accept the challenge that our children are inviting us to face we will not only evolve as individuals, but we will help to raise a more evolved person. We can equip our children to go forth into the world and make it better by offering the modeling, the tools for emotional literacy and the experience of true empathy. This modeling of empathy not only heals and teaches them, it actually wires them on a cellular/neuro/bio level. THIS IS MAJOR. By the time we are 6 or 7 years old we are hardwired, etched. Everything else that follows in our life is layered on top of that foundation.
We have all heard someone say, "there is no manual for raising children!" This is SO not true. There are too manuals! Human development is a subject that many thoughtful and brilliant people have been illuminating for some time now. We may still only be in the surface of these super deep understandings about our full human potential and our preceding development, but we have a lot of profound material to work with! And I'm not talking about your pediatrician. We need to start being more discerning about that. These doctors went to school to study the body, not the mind. Very different. They barely even studied nutrition so be aware of that too. I'm talking about transformational psychotherapists, new thought leaders and neurobiologists. Over the course of the past 50 years many incredible people have contributed greatly to our human evolution. These are the parenting leaders we need to look to, not Ferber and Spock.
Coming to understand the various stages of human development and ways that we as parents can powerfully effect those stages for better or worse is a potent thing. And healing our own disowned shadows, really taking a look at our conditioning and projections so that we can help our children remain emotionally integrated, is vital not only to their future mental health and wellbeing but also to the betterment of the planet. Yes, THE PLANET.
Below is a shortlist of parenting educators and sources for support, insight, education and inspiration!