I read this quote on Pinterest recently, and it hasn’t managed to make its way out of my mind ever since. I know I’m not the only mother (or parent!) who has found this to be true – in fact most parents I speak to who take their roles seriously can speak at length about the changes that have been wrought in them since their children came into their lives.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, and have even started work on a new venture to help support parents, and mothers in particular, as they unlearn and relearn incredible things through the work of parenting.
But why does parenting cause such growth? What is it about caring for children that provides such fertile ground for our higher selves to take root?
Firstly, I think that this is more than likely the first time in our lives when our higher selves, our inner voices, our souls – whatever you like to call them – has a need to really, really be heard. This is more than likely the first time in our lives when we are not just responsible for ourselves, but for the selves of a tiny other person, and that deep, innate wisdom within us knows that, and knows that there is far more at stake here than before.
Of course, our outer selves – our egos – knows this too, but our egos are influenced by far more than what is true. We are told so many different things – leave your baby to cry, sleep with your baby in your bed, send your baby to nursery, carry your baby everywhere – and our egos have become so powerful in this disconnected culture in which we live, that we make unwise, and often irrational choices.
We leave our babies to cry because that’s what our sisters did, and their babies slept through when they were only 8 weeks old. We carry our babies everywhere because that’s what tribal mothers do and the science says it’s a good thing to do.
But wait! What is that we hear? Something is screaming ‘GO AND COMFORT YOUR BABY!’. Something is yelling ‘THIS IS TOO CLOSE! I HAVE NO SPACE!’. We feel panic, nausea, that horrible crawling skin, tense, tearful, confused. We feel like we’re in competition. We feel conflict between what one friend tells us to do, and what that best-selling book tells us to do. And all the while we have this screaming voice saying ‘THIS DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT!’
You know what that voice is, don’t you? It’s your voice. Not the voice you use to speak – not your ego. Your inner voice. Your inner wisdom. Your intuition. Your soul, spirit, higher self – call it God if you prefer. It’s the bit of you that knows the truth. The bit of you that carries memory of what your mother, your mother’s mother, and your mother’s mother’s mother did and knew. The bit of you that carries memory of what your ancestor who birthed her baby in a cave knew. The bit of you that knows your baby better than you think you know him, and that knows you and what you need better than you think you know yourself and your needs.
Before we have children – people who are dependent on us for physical, emotional and spiritual needs – it is far easier for our egos to drown out that voice. It doesn’t shout quite so loud because the stakes are not so high. It’s not so difficult for us to find the path back to our higher selves.
But our inner wisdom knows that there is a chance now to maintain connection for this next generation; that here is a chance now not to damage that thread between our baby’s outer and inner worlds, and that’s what all the yelling’s about. That’s why our inner voice becomes an inner scream.
If we were lucky enough to have the life up until now that has created a heart open enough to not only hear our inner voices, but to heed them as well, then that’s when true, profound, awesome (in the real sense of the word) growth happens. That’s when we say ‘Wow! My intuition was right! All those years I insisted on not letting my baby cry, and here she is – a confident, happy, well-rounded child!’ and we realise that maybe there is something within us that knows better than our egos. Maybe there is something there worth listening to.
And the more practise we get at listening to our intuition, our inner wisdom, the better we get at it, until we become so adept that we make few decisions based on what our egos are telling us – compete, grasp money and ‘things’, measure your self-worth on what others think of you – and begin to make true, wholesome, nourishing decisions based on what our souls are telling us - follow the path that continues to build and strengthen your soul, however tempting the other path is.
And that, my friends, is the very beginnings of enlightenment. I don’t pretend to be a mini Buddha. I am learning every single day of my life, and I know I will continue to do so as long as I live. But one of the things I have learned is that my higher self knows a million times better than my ego does what is best for me and for my babies…and that my children’s higher selves know a million times better than I do what is best for them, and connecting with our souls rather than our egos creates a richer, fuller, more inspiring life than I could ever have imagined.
Free Your Parenting has been running for nearly a year now, and I have learnt so much from blogging, and from dealing with my own demons in this last year. I feel that the time is right for an overhaul of the blog, and for the launch of a new supportive venture – look out for an announcement. Free Your Parenting is changing both its name and its appearance but its energy will still be the same – do what’s truly right for you and your family (oh, and the website address will still work). I can’t wait to unveil the new blog!