My son is about to be 3 years old in few days. He is in the age of inventing stories, role playing, learning about himself and also about resisting his parents. There is nothing that I love more in my life than being a mother to him. I could never imagine the incredible pleasure and joy I will draw from the simplest moments of cuddling and inventing funny names or watching him eat.
But this love comes also with the most haunting questions and worries. And I feel that now it is more pressing than it was when he was a baby. I sleep (usually) through the night, but questions about education, my responsibility and influence are rising frequently and the answers are less clear and simple. I don’t follow any clear agenda and I have much more questions than rules or answers. So who am I as a mother? What ideas do I follow?
The Challenge of Conscious Parenting
I find parenting in our generation a challenging task in a very different way than it was for generations before us. Living in a fairly affluent society with very good social care, our challenge is far from the need to feed and provide education to our kids. There is a personal challenge in bringing up a human being, nourishing their potential, supporting their nature and educating them to be a good hearted person, competent, curious and open minded. We want so much for our kids! We want to save them from any difficulty or trouble and in the same time we want them to grow to be strong and confident. We want to do what is best for them, but what is best? We can find 100 contradicting answers that will only get us (me) more confused.
Awareness of Our Influence
I am acutely aware of my responsibility and the influence I have on my son’s mental, emotional and physical development and I think that I share this concern with many parents. Every choice that I take, my indecisions or ignorance would have an impact on who he will be and his capacities. And this raises countless questions regarding every minute of the day: Should I send him to kindergarten or not, how important is having a routine, how much stimulation and extra activities, how strong boundaries I should set and how, what is best to say in every moment, and on and on.
More than that, as I am aware that much of his learning is through imitation and is learned on a very fundamental level of body from body, I am aware that my experience of myself, how I feel and how I am dealing with different issues in my life might have even a greater influence. And what does it mean regarding my emotions provoked by him? I know that when I am calm I manage the situation better but sometimes anger is the most authentic reaction and maybe also relevant. And learning that anger is allowed, same as other emotions is also a necessary lesson. Well, more questions.
One of the dangers that I meet myself is dealing with these responsibilities and worries by trying to control; to control what he does and experiences, how he develops, control myself and the family and more than that fall into a tormenting guilt feeling of failing to do so or not doing enough. But this would also be counterproductive – wouldn’t it? Passing to him these inner-conflicts and guilt is not what I want.
Projecting on my son my own expectations of myself or my own fears is another tendency to watch out. It is just so easy to want for them what we didn’t have, or fear for them our personal fears. Taking their difficulties as well as success and referring to it as our personal failure or achievement would be the same. It would overload them with irrelevant expectations and rob them from their own rhythm and freedom to be.
Trust his Nature and Strength
I found that I need to level up these worries with trust, most of all trusting him. He came to the world with the intense wish to live, develop and prosper. His curiosity, learning capacities and playfulness were not given by us. It was there from the moment he could communicate, to check out, ask question or run away. His first move a second after managing to crawl was running towards the forbidden bottles on the floor, laughing and inviting us to play with him. He has his own nature, talents, abilities and charm and I have to trust that they will lead him in his development and growth and allow him to discover the world on his own note. It doesn’t mean neglecting my responsibilities, but finding the balance between doing what I can and letting him meet life on his own term.
My Best is Good Enough
I can only give myself, my love and attention. I do that to the best of my ability. My love and devotion stretch my capacities to become a better person for him. It is something to cultivate but even more – to trust. I am doing mistakes and sometimes I snap out, and I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I am listening and learning and that should do. We both do and we both have the strength to recover from what is needed and grow.
Coming Back to What I Know Best
I know that feeling my body brings me back to my senses, to my self-confidence and the feeling of safety. Also in my communication with my son, I find that touch and play are extremely important. When we lie on the carpet, cuddle and touch, talk and play, there is so much intimacy and love that we can pass to each other and it is always helpful. He can rest, feel his body, invent, tell me what he wants and play with me. We connect and build trust with ourselves and with each other.
Also when things are not going exactly as he wants and consequently not as fun for me, I find that physical communicating and touch can be helpful. I can respectfully find when he allows me to be there and when my support will be helpful and help him to feel his body and emotions, while I am holding or touching him. It helps him to recover and come out of his mood to his play and interest. Our verbal communication is of course extremely important and goes perfectly together.
Open Questions and Awareness
I still don’t have concrete answers. But I think that allowing the questions to be open demands me to be more curious of the situation and learn to know him and myself better. I feel that there is a balance to be found and then lost again, between the attempts to create a perfect environment for growth for our kids and letting them be themselves, including fight some fights. We can only strive to be endlessly more conscious of both poles and genuinely aware of the child’s spirit.
If there is anything that I would want to teach him is exactly that; to do his best, fail and recover, have open questions and have deep connection with himself and his surroundings.
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