I’ve had this framed picture of myself with my two youngest babes taking up space on every desk I’ve had since someone took the picture, about 10 years ago.
Looking at it helps me stay conscious in this crazy human paradox we call parenting, though perhaps not for reasons one might usually think.
In the picture I am a fiercely dedicated young Mother – aren’t we all?
Head over heels in love with my bambinos, I accepted this honor of responsibility for another being’s life like a Samurai accepts his sword.
I remember being filled with such PURPOSE, such dizzying heights of LOVE & DEVOTION…I was the center of someone’s universe and they mine – this is what I’d been born for, this was my calling, this was worth any sacrifice, this I would protect with my very life…
This was pretty powerful stuff.
As though I were under the spell of a Siren’s song, I became completely seduced into believing that these precious children were actually mine and that I had finally found the elusive answer to my happiness & fulfillment.
I, like many of us, had long been convinced that the answers to my life were somewhere outside of me in the world, just waiting to be found. And I just knew that on that glorious day, when I finally found them, I would be rightly rewarded for all my years of searching and struggling.
I envisioned this reward as some kind of endless flow of certainty, freedom, purpose, love, connection, fulfillment & happiness…which is exactly how I felt holding “my” newborns for the first time, whenever I was the only one “my” young children would go to when hurt or upset or when celebrating new milestones that “my” children achieved.
All of a sudden, my top human needs were being met on a daily basis by adorable little beings that saw me as their whole universe and who I was not only allowed but expected to control and to mold into whatever identities, behaviors and attitudes were culturally and personally the most pleasing to me at the time. Wow!
But then they grew.
And, just as suddenly, my eternal source of joy and fulfillment started talking back to me, not always nicely. My source disagreed with my wisdom, often. My source outgrew my physical capacity to pick it up and put its undesirable behavior into a contained space until it pleased me again. My source got moody. Like really moody. My source grew into it’s own stubborn opinions and out of my ability to control it.
This sneaky seduction of my ego had allowed me to truly believe that my internal void could be filled from an outside source and so I had enthusiastically projected my own needs onto “my” beloved children, unconsciously and naively making them responsible for my happiness. Whoops.
We live in a plane of duality. Any external source of my happiness is at once also the source of my unhappiness.
What an undeserved burden for any child, for anybody, to bear.
And yet, before I stumbled onto this conscious parenting path, I was willing to let these children bear it. Not meanly, just unwittingly.
So, this picture stays on my desk, not just because I love these precious beings, I do.
Not just because it is an adorable picture of them, it is.
But also to gently remind myself just how closely alongside delusion I walk as I traverse this parenting journey.
How easily I am seduced into believing that the internal emptiness can be filled by the achievements or adoration of my children.
Seduced into believing that they came from me instead of through me; that they are mine to mold into whatever I want instead of to nurture into whatever they already are.
The picture serves me like a string tied around my finger, reminding me that I am their channel, not their source.
They have their own connection to their own source, as do I.
And when we “fill (our) own needs and feel satiated from within,” we are modeling for our children the only way, “we can truly be fulfilled and happy.” (Dr. Shefali Tsabary, April 28, 2015 appearance on Youtube’s MarieTV)
What greater gift could any parent attempt to give a child?