I think that parenting consciously comes down to not abandoning the journey to self on entering parenthood.
Society seems to encourage us to let go of ourselves when we become a parent. You know, put the kids first sort of thing. But how can you be attuned to your child in a healthy way if you are not first attuned to yourself?
A while ago I attended an adult’s party where a whole lot of moms were present. I became acutely aware of what the ‘mommy talk’ can actually do in interpersonal situations. There we were having a long chat which revolved around ‘the kids’ and the talk was lively but at the end of a whole conversation I walked away with very little sense of each woman there. We were hiding behind ‘mommy-ness’.
When you become a parent you have a ready-made identity which society allows, even applauds, you to exchange for your individual identity. That daunting question, “Who are you?” can be answered proudly by saying “I’m a mom.” Heads will nod sagely. It is after all, as Oprah keeps saying, the hardest job on earth. But where does the individual human go behind that screen? When people who don’t want children say that classic line, “I’m too selfish to become a parent.” What is it they mean? Do they mean they are not willing to give up their ‘self’ in order to take on the ‘selfless’ identity of ‘parent’?
Children of parents who did not focus on their own shine, who had cast aside their own independent identities to take up the Parent Identity, tell me how they feel burdened by the pressure of being the life and identity of their parents. Do not confuse this with being a stay-at-home parent. People who love to be parents are shining who they are. I am talking about that tendency to forget ourselves or ignore our needs or use being a parent to make excuses about why we are not following our own dreams.
I know society approves of the give-yourself-away teaching but I don’t know that parenting requires selflessness. In fact I rather think that it doesn’t. I think that parenthood is about the Self – coming closer to the true, whole Self – not about choosing to exist for another. If parenting is a powerful way to meet and love your Self then it’s a bizarre idea that we must ignore that and look to our children to make us feel good and whole. Then the pressure is on the child to live not only her own life but her parent’s too! Not to mention the aroma of resentment that might tinge the parent’s giving because he or she feels unsatisfied…
Of course we are used to thinking of someone who holds onto Self as ‘selfish’ but we really need to examine that notion that being for another is ‘good’ and for self is ‘bad’.
When you live life with your whole self you bring your most precious gifts to your children (and the world). Casting aside Self casts away those gifts too. You are the only one like you in the whole world! Why on earth would you cast that aside? Why would you not appreciate it? How could that be good for your children – or anyone else?
Think about what each of your parents did with their Self? How did it affect you?
Don’t hide who you are in order to be a ‘better’ parent. Shine, shine SHINE! Being unashamedly who you are – warts, flaws, imperfections and all – is what will be best for your kids – and you and your partner and the world and the universe and all the little ants and flowers….
What say you?
For more on being selfish: http://eilataviram.com/is-it-ok-to-be-selfish/
Yep, I know those mommy conversations. Thanks 🙂
This reads like a strong first chapter to a book. 🙂
Ah Rachel you are onto me 😀
Remember I told you I am working on a project? It’s almost finished and I will let you know more as it unfolds. You have unwittingly been cheering me on because you specifically have commented excitedly each time I posted a section from it. So thank you for your support. I look forward to presenting it for you to read in its entirety.
Actually I just made myself laugh! I outed myself. This is actually a section from the book about parenting that hasn’t yet found it’s publisher. The other project is another one I’ve been writing quietly.
Excellent. It is your message, but even more distilled and pointed. I am looking forward to your project!