the first week of school is over, and we are on to the next. I wanted to share something that surprised me last week, a feeling of being untethered, or floating, or maybe even a little...lost? popped up and filled me for a few days. I can't exactly pin it down but it was there. it was confusing to sit with it and wonder what it was, until I realized this is the first time in 4 years school started and I'm not working full time.
somehow having "work" grounded me, or gave me a false sense of security around my role as mother. I didn't spend the last year focusing on my parenting skills (or lack thereof) and drastically changing a lot of habits and patterns in our home to get swept up in a wave of lostness that happens when your kids leave the door. so I was maybe even a little upset that I was feeling this.
the strangest thing happens as your kids age, in our home it almost feels as if they need me even more. they don't need me to tie shoes or pack lunches anymore (unless we are late), they don't even necessarily want or need my advice about homework or friends as they enter the teens. but they need ME. they need me just around. and not only physically, but more than that, they need my presence. I think each mom has a different equation of what works for her as far as pursuing her life's path, mothering and making it all fit together. sometimes there is only room for one or the other, sometimes we are failing at both. whatever it is, it's up to us to find it.
as I've been physically home more, that doesn't mean that I've been "home" with my kids. I can be lost in instagram or facebook, work emails (I still work part time and love it), reading a book or just zoning out as I avoid chores. what they really need beyond my physical presence is my spiritual presence. my awareness. my openness for them as they grow.
I think I was only able to recognize the gap between where I was and where I was able to meet my kids because I grew my own connection to myself, and could feel our disconnect. this is what I've been focusing on for the past few years. I'm so grateful I did the work because I probably never would have realized the root of our issues was not being present with myself or them.
“It’s no surprise we fail to tune into our children’s essence. How can we listen to them, when so many of us barely listen to ourselves? How can we feel their spirit and hear the beat of their heart if we can’t do this in our own life?” ― Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent
so here I am, trying to be here for my children. in their own right they are not mine, but I am most definitely theirs. I signed up to be their protector, mentor and guardian. I signed up to be the first person to love them and teach them unconditional love and acceptance. I signed up to sit with them through upset and heartbreak and silently cheer on their successes. they need me, but I can't need them. I think needing them causes that sense of emptiness and loss when school starts, they go away to school or marry.
I am grateful for them, and I now see how they've reached played an essential role in my becoming a better person. I don't have to force myself to be something I am not anymore, and neither do they. “Once you accept your children’s basic nature, you can contour your style to meet their temperament. To do so means letting go of your fantasies of yourself as a certain kind of parent and instead evolving into the parent you need to be for the particular child in front of you.”
As you can tell I just finished the book The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary and it was perfect for what I needed right now. It reaffirmed what I need and what my children need.
I don't know what you or your kids need, and that doesn't matter. because we have our own journey ahead of us. for right now that means me home a lot, and present a lot. I do believe you can work and still be present when you are with your children. and each child needs different levels of your energy and attention. it's the most delicate scale. too much attention and energy towards them and their needs and they will pull away and revolt. too little attention and energy towards them and they will pull away and revolt. basically they are all like little picky cats with their own idiosyncrasies and needs and wants. "don't look me too much in the eyes. only pet me when I'm eating. I don't like people" you get my drift ;).
“You would need to ask yourself, “Do I really know who my child is? Can I create the space within myself to know my child each new day, one day to the next?” To do this would require becoming silent in your children’s presence, freeing yourself of all distractions, and attuning yourself to them in a state of curiosity and delight.”
and then we focus on being present and aware. because...
our job as parents is not to cater to their wants.
our job is to react and fill their needs, and teach them how to do the same.
“Whether you have an infant or a teen, your children need to feel that just because they exist, they delight you. They need to know they don’t have to do anything to earn your undivided attention. They deserve to feel as if just by being born, they have earned the right to be adored."